Bon Vivant's written and pictorial diary of her culinary adventures that will amuse and excite your virtual taste buds...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Yu's Garden (of Earthly Delights)

Below, can this noodle whore go anywhere without ordering a bowl of wonton noodle soup?

Ever since my brother got married, mumsy has discovered that it’s easier for him to fly to China to visit his mother-in-law than it is for him to drive to Los Angeles (from San Diego) to visit her. This past Mother’s Day, said brother and his bride drove up the 101 to Hollywood (ok, Dear Reader how close is Silver Lake to both the 101 and Hollywood?) to attend an anti anti Beijing Olympics rally but had no time to stop by and visit for even five minutes. It has come down to this: if we want to see him we have to meet him in Orange County.

But since he has started taking us to Yu’s Garden this is not such a bad thing. Not only is the food good it’s also incredibly cheap. There is a menu that you can order off of but it’s so much fun to choose from the various hot and cold delicacies from their “deli” case. Two items piled on a plate costs just under $5; for a buck more you can get three items.

Plate No. 1 consists of star anise braised chicken “drumettes” and a sesame seaweed salad (or maybe it’s gong cai?)

Plate No. 2 consists of a yuba (tofu skin) salad and a wonderful chopped green bean salad with ground pork. The green beans had some type of really yummy sour funky flavor in it (this was my favorite dish, I could have eaten it all day long.)

Plate No. 3 consists of more tofu salad (can you ever get enough?) and “drunken” chicken. These two dishes go so well together.

Add another plus to this place: there is a Ranch 99 and a fro yo place that serves LAMILL coffee in the same complex.

Update: since I'll be en Napa for Thanksgiving, male sibling will actually be going to mumsy's house for dinner; I guess it was me who he was avoiding all along.

Yu’s Garden
5408 Walnut Avenue, Suite H
Irvine, CA 92604
(949) 654-2366

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Santouka Ramen - I would kill for a bowl of shio ramen right about now

The weather has been perfect in Napa and the pool has stayed blue. It takes me about 30 minutes to get to my favorite food stores in Berkeley. The best Ranch 99 is in Albany. I have finally found a way to avoid driving through American Canyon to and fro Napa. Could anything lure me back to LA now? Perhaps there is one thing, something that I cannot find even up here: a steaming bowl of Santouka’s shio ramen with special pork.

Surely, Dear Reader, you’ve this experience: you taste a dish for the first time and it’s so brilliant that you remember it forever. I had this experience when I tasted the miso ramen with special pork:

And the spicy miso ramen:

However, both miso ramens pale in comparison to the shio ramen:

How can I describe the taste? To paraphrase my good friend, Monsieur De…, it’s just so fucking sexy. Now, with very few exceptions, other ramen broths just taste like salted water to me. You take one sip of the shio broth and you say, “wow!” – it’s just so rich and deep in flavor. Is this what umami tastes like?

Let’s get a closeup this luscious pork:

Now, I’ve felt this way about ramen before. The meal that I had at Momofuku Noodle Bar in October ’05 was one of the best in my life (and I went to Per Se during that trip as well).

How did the miso ramen at Santouka Ramen compare to glorious Momofuku Ramen last year?

And which is the favorite between the two this year? Let's hear the verdict:

If you are really hungry, you can get ramen sets with various rice bowls like salmon roe and more pork!

I’ve recently discovered that there is a Mitsuwa Marketplace in San Jose but unfortunately, no Santouka Ramen (it appears that along with Downtown LA and San Gabriel, San Jose is the only other store in the country without a Santouka.)

Santouka Ramen
Mitsuwa Marketplace
3760 Centinela Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90066

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