Monday, May 18, 2015


A few weeks ago, I was able to meet up with Weezermonkey for lunch (yay!) and we decided to check out Redbird, a newly opened restaurant in DTLA. The space is formerly the Vibiana Cathedral on the outskirts of Little Tokyo so needless to say, it's well-lit and gorgeous. The day was hot, so we opted to go for a lighter lunch. And I just realized that the above photo was taken by her.

new caledonia shrimp, grits, cocoa nib chipotle mole

burrata salad, sweet and sour pears, duck proscuitto, pistachio, red watercress

gnocchetti sardi, Maine lobster, black trumpets, nettles, tomato confit

grilled prime hanger steak, crushed peewee potatoes, wild broccoli, black garlic gremolata

A bit on the pricey side but all-in-all a great lunch! The hanger steak was amazing ... well cooked and tender. It was probably the best deal on the menu for lunch. The chicken potpie also looked really good but the weather was way too hot to have potpie. Too bad we skipped dessert cause it would have been interesting to see if the greatness would continue. Until next time ...

Can't wait to try the next place with you, Weezermonkey!

114 W Second St, Los Angeles, CA

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Seattle - Staple & Fancy

Our last night in Seattle was spent at Staple & Fancy, which incidentally was right next door to The Walrus & The Carpenter. There are a TON of amazing places to eat at in Seattle but Lady Ducayne (who left the trip at the end of the Vancouver leg) raved about the family dinner at Staple & Fancy. For $50/pp, we got the below items which was tailored for our party of three.

We were able to sneak a peek at the table next to us and see the items that they got for family dinner and some were a bit different, as they had a party of four. You can also order a la carte if you don't want to partake in family dinner but for the amount of food we got? Totally worth it!

Family meal consisted of "a bunch" of appetizars, a pasta, two entrees, a cheese and a dessert. As stated, if there are more people at the table, then the number of pastas/entrees/desserts increase.

housemade speck, crouton, microgreens

radicchio, frisee, arugula salad with proscuitto, candied walnuts, parmesan

cornmeal fried oysters, Calabrian chili aioli

mozzarella, housemade tapenade

seared ahi tuna, red peppers, avocado puree, cucumbers

parsnip puree, fried sage

beef tartare

pappardelle pasta, beef bolognese, root vegetables

swordfish, cauliflower, fingerling potatoes

strip loin, braised escarole, pancetta, parsnip puree

l'tour cow/goat/sheep milk cheese from France, quince paste, marcona almonds

dark chocolate hazelnut terraine, salted caramel, chocolate gelato

panna cotta, huckleberries

The last dessert was extra, as one member of our party loved panna cotta and couldn't resist getting it.

I can't rave enough about how good this meal was. If you find yourself in the area, I definitely recommend going for dinner one night. At one point, I honestly loved it more than The Walrus & The Carpenter (sacrilege!!) ... and as of now, I'm still debating. Sorry, oysters.

Staple & Fancy
4739 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, Washington

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Seattle - The Walrus & The Carpenter

I've always wanted to go to The Walrus & The Carpenter in Seattle. Though it is for slightly morbid reasons - I mean in the Lewis Carroll poem ALL THE OYSTERS DIE. Even in the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland, they all get eaten. And if Disney can't put a cheery spin on this poem, basically no one can. 

I wish I could say that we spared the poor oysters when we went but ... that didn't happen. Case in point:

Oyster choices of the night (4 each) - Evening Cove, North Bay, Flapjack Point, Treasure Cave, Baywater Sweet, Hama Hama, Blue Point, Penn Cove Select

Sorry, oysters. You were delicious. Especially the North Bay ones, which were the unanimous table favorite. We also ordered other dishes to try out cause you can't live on oysters alone.

uni profiteroles

roasted beets, whole grain mustard

steak tartare, egg yolk, rye toast

marinated octopus, red onion, potatoes, ballymaloe bread

ling cod carpaccio, titone olive oil

raw spot prawns, fried shells

smoked trout, lentils, walnut, onion, crème fraîche

fried oysters, cilantro aioli

key lime pie, cherry compote

We went 30 minutes before opening to guarantee a seat, as the restaurant is tiny. Overall, the meal was good and the oysters were good but I'm not sure if there were any dishes that I'd die to go back for. The uni profiteroles were fantastic and the table loved them - but would I wait 30 minutes just to eat them again? I'm not sure. They were the special of the day anyways so there's probably no real chance of having them again!

However, the place is such an institution that I'd definitely recommend going at least once to check it out. The food won't disappoint!

The Walrus & The Carpenter
4743 Ballard Ave, Seattle, Washington

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mustard Broccoli Chicken Salad

Sorry the above picture isn't the best. I cooked half of the contents of my refrigerator last night so there was absolutely no time to take out the nice camera so I resorted to using my phone camera. Plus my coworkers keep asking me for this recipe (Hi Sona! Hi Judy!) so I need to get this post up ASAP!

There are several ways to make chicken breast for this recipe:
(1) Buy a rotisserie chicken from Costco/Ralphs/Pavillions/etc, eat the delicious dark meat and save the breast pieces for this salad
(2) Buy bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. Rub with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 350degrees for about 25 minutes. Remove skin and bone, cut the chicken into pieces.
(3) Buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Rub with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and cook on the stovetop grill until done. If the pieces are huge like mine were last night, grill for 10 minutes on each side over medium heat and then finish in a 350degree oven for another 10 minutes or so. It's better to grill for skinless/boneless instead of oven roasting because the lack of skin and bone takes away from flavor, which the grill imparts onto the chicken.

Confused? Hopefully not. But the above is a great way to get cooked chicken for all recipes - salads, soups, just to have grilled chicken for a healthy dinner, etc. The recipe below is a rift on a Ina Garten recipe but I definitely health-ied it up.

Mustard Broccoli Chicken Salad
1 1/2 lb cooked and cut chicken breast (about 6 cups)
1 lb broccoli florets
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup chopped dill or tarragon (to your taste)

1 200g container low-fat Greek yogurt (I used 2% Fage)
1 1/2 Tbsp mayonnaise
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp whole grain mustard
1 Tbsp red or white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp kosher salt

Season chicken with salt and pepper (if not cooked yet) and cook. In the meantime, cook the broccoli florets in salted boiling water for about 1.5 minutes, just to get the raw taste out. Drain immediately and either shock in an ice bath or run under cold water for about a minute to keep the bright green color.

Mix the ingredients for the dressing together. If you're cooking the chicken to order then pour about 1/3 cup of the dressing while it's still warm, after you've cut it up. The warmness of the chicken will soak up the dressing.

Combine the chicken, broccoli and tomatoes. Mix in the dressing until everything is moistened and the amount of dressing is to your preference. Gently stir in dill or tarragon to taste. Don't skimp, it makes all the difference!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Las Vegas - L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon

Dining at Joël Robuchon is a dream of mine. A pricey dream. But L'Atelier is the cheaper (albeit still on the pricey side) way to experience his cuisine without springing close to $500! I definitely took advantage of this opportunity when my mom and myself were in Vegas on Christmas Day. My dad and brother weren't coming until the next day so I convinced my mom that dining here was a great idea. Win!

Most of the space is for counter seating, which is great because you can see the kitchen at work. The interior is super sleek and modern. Very Vegas-feeling. I really liked the pops of red against the black.

There are multiple menus to choose from (3 course, 5 course, a la carte) but we decided to go for the Seasonal Discovery Menu. Cause my frugal dad wasn't there to stop us. Now on to the food!

bread course

foie gras parfait with port wine reduction and parmesan emulsion

shrimp carpaccio with lemon vinagrette

meli-melo of celeriac and truffle with granny smith wasabi mayo

sea scallop cooked in the shell with chive oil on an artichoke jus

foie gras herb tortellini served in a boullion with matsutake and white soy sauce

seared turbot filet, shellfish butter with crushed fingerling potatoes and black truffle

entree option 1: veal hanger, chanterelle mushrooms and comté gratinés maraconi

entree option 2: caramelized free range quail stuffed with foie gras served with mashed potatoes

sour cream mousse, cranberry sorbet and oat tuile

spiced "cremeux" on sage crumbles with ginger ice cream

The meal ended with tea and I loved the attention to detail given to even that - look at the little printed chocolates that came with out tea! This meal was so amazing, totally lived up to my expectations and everything was executed perfectly. The foie gras ravioli, mashed potatoes, quail and veal hanger were definitely stand outs but I can honestly say that each and every dish was delicious.

Can't eat like this every day but on a special occasion - it's worth every penny of the splurge.

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon
MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada