Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Monterey Trip Part I: Hula's

We started off the day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Here are some pics:

Then we headed over to Hula's for lunch.

622 Lighthouse Ave
Monterey, CA 93940 (831) 655-4852

I had been to Hawaii and was hoping to catch some of the island flavors here. We had:

Island Style Poke: Fresh Island Catch Marinated In Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, Seaweed And Onions.The lunch portion was huge about 14 oz of fish cut up in one-inch cubes. I ordered this raw and it had pretty good flavor.

Abalone-Style Calamari Sandwhich: This was another huge portion of seafood that was OK. There was not enough flavor to cover the large pieces of calamari.

The Hula Burger: With Maui Onions, Hula Sauce, Lettuce And TomatoYour standard burger not too memorable.

Fresh Catch Of The Day: Mahi-Mahi with a sauce.

I would give Hula's a 10/20 = Average. I would or would not eat here again. It would depend on my company.

Friday, September 21, 2007

La Fiesta Taqueria

La Fiesta Taqueria
1105 Alhambra Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95816
(916) 454-5616

I had the chorizo tacos and the BBQ pork tacos. The chorizo tacos were good, but the BBQ pork ones were a little tough and dry. My friend had the beef burrito and she said it was one of the best burritos that she has ever eaten. Their avocado sauce was fresh because it was a nice bright green, which you do not see everyday.They have some of the classics like linguica and cabeza tacos. I really need to go back and check those out.

Avocado sauce

Beef burrito

Chorizo and BBQ pork tacos

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Chicago Ethnic Grocery Tour IV

Thai Grocery store was next. In the back, they have a place where you can buy freshly fried fish. Other things of note that I saw were Thai eggplant and Luk Chup (fruit-shape desserts made of mung-bean flour with natural coloring). As we were walking out of the store, we saw a stack of the infamous durian. There were quite a few so I wondered who buys this on a regular basis.

Thai Eggplant

Luk Chup

Middle East Bakery was the next stop. Here we got to see all sorts of interesting grains and lentils. This was the first time I saw red lentils and red rice. We sampled Za'atar which I had only seen on Iron Chef America. They were many interesting desserts like a jar or nuts filled to the brim with honey and raisin and walnut sausage. Yes, I said sausage. They string raisins and walnuts together and dip it in honey to form multiple layers. Lastly the sample of fresh savory pastries stuff with chicken, broccoli, cheese, olives or a combination of the three was great. I hear that he sells these to Whole Foods. So you can actually buy from the source.

Raisin Sausage

Red Lentils
Red Rice

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die

The 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die

The hamburger is a symbol of everything that makes America great. Straightforward, egalitarian, substantial, and good-natured, it is also a little bloody at times.

It may come big and ungarnished, the East Coast ideal, tender and untroubled by bones or gristle, everything you look for in a filet mignon but seldom find. It may be the West Coast model, swelling with vegetation, brimming with health and well-being, piled high with all that a seed catalog can provide. A great burger, regardless of regional differences, instills a sense of optimism and fulfillment, that all is right at the table or the counter or the woodgrain, screwed-to-the-floor, fast-food booth.

At its best, it eliminates the need for conversation or the urge to glance up at the TV over the bar. If you find yourself eating silently, eyes closed, ignoring everything around you, even the unavoidable burger-joint din, you have come upon a burger that can be pronounced a success.

Here are the 20 best burgers in America:

20. Hamburger SandwichLouis' LunchNew Haven, CT
19. Our Famous BurgerSidetrack Bar and GrillYpsilanti, MI
18. Hamburger Poag Mahone's Carvery and Ale HouseChicago
17. Double Bacon Deluxe with CheeseRed Mill BurgersSeattle
16. Hamburger & FriesBurger JointSan Francisco
15. Build Your Own BurgerThe CounterSanta Monica
14. HamburgerJ. G. MelonNew York City
13. CheeseburgerWhite MannaHackensack, NJ
12. HamburgerBobcat BiteSante Fe
11. Grilled Bistro Burger Bistro Don Giovanni Napa, CA
10. Number FiveKeller's Drive-in Dallas
9. CheeseburgerBurger Joint, le Parker Meridien HotelNew York City
8. HamburgerMiller's BarDearborn, MI
7. Buckhorn BurgerBuckhornSan Antonio, NM
6. California BurgerHouston's Santa Monica
5. Kobe SlidersBarclay PrimePhiladelphia
4. Rouge BurgerRougePhiladelphia
3. Not Just a BurgerSpiced Pear Restaurant at the Chanler Hotel Newport, RI
2. Luger Burger Peter Luger Steak HouseBrooklyn
1. Sirloin Burger Le TubHollywood, FL

Monday, September 10, 2007

Bread Store

Bread Store
1716 J St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 557-1600

The one thing that I dislike about Sacramento is that a lot of the good places in the city for lunch are closed on the weekends! To name a few:

  • La Bonne Soup Cafe
  • Sampino's Italian Deli

So I ended up going to the Bread Store

I had their signature sandwich; Cuban panino, heavy with roasted pork loin, ham and Swiss cheese on grilled ciabatta, with pickles and "Caribbean aioli" (a mix of lime juice, cilantro, chipotle, mayo, salt and black pepper). This is their interpretation of a traditional Cuban sandwich. This sandwich was huge! I would say it was about 16 oz, more than enough for two people. The grilled ciabatta was warm, chewy and crunchy at the same time. The roasted pork had good flavor and the ham was a little more subtle. Both meats matched well with the bread. I could not really taste the Carribean aioli and the pickle could have been sliced a little thicker; I barely noticed it was there.

Overall, it was a good sandwich. Sad to say I have never had a good, authentic Cuban sandwich so I cannot tell you which one I like better.

The other sandwich I had was a hot pastrami. I liked it because it was not super thick like New York pastrami sandwiches. The rye was nice crunchy and had just enough rye flavor to match well with the pastrami and not overpower it. They balanced each other nicely and the cheese was nice and melted too. This one is another solid sandwich that I would eat again.

Lastly for dessert, I had a pumpkin muffin. This was OK. I think it would have been better if they made a pumpkin spice muffin. If it had cinnamon or some curry spices it would have been really good. The pumpkin flavor was barely there and was flat. So I would pass on this muffin the next time and try another one.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Chicago Ethnic Grocery Tour III

The next stop was the Devon Market that caters to mainly Eastern Europeans. Here we see a lot of the same fruit and vegetables. They have a wide variety of wines form Eastern European countries such as Romania. The great thing about this market is the freshly baked bread. As you start to approach the bread section, the scent of freshly baked bread begs you to take a look. From what I remember a huge loaf was about $1.59. They also had fresh bread stuffed with cheese, meat, spinach or a combination of the three.

Thai Grocery store was next. In the back, they have a place where you can buy freshly fried fish. Other things of note that I saw were Thai eggplant and Luk Chup (fruit-shape desserts made of mung-bean flour with natural coloring). As we were walking out of the store, we saw a stack of the infamous durian. There were quite a few so I wondered who buys this on a regular basis.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Cho Dang Tofu House

I have been here a few times. The Hae Mul Bi Bim Bop, the marinated short ribs and most of the tofu dishes are all pretty good.
It is the Dol Sot Bi Bim Bop that keeps me coming back.If I was Korean and my mom made Dol Sot Bi Bim Bop then I think this is how it would taste. Beef, rice, spinach, carrots, bean sprouts, and some hot bean paste in a ketchup bottle (they don't use an egg) thrown in a iron bowl (not stone as some places do). It is one of those things that is so simple, yet so umm...good almost divine.

So a torchon of foie gras at the French Laundry or Cho Dang Tofu House's Dol Sot Bi Bim Bop? It's a toss up, it really is.

Dol Sot Bi Bim Bop (Sample picture only; my camera battery ran out)

Cho Dang Tofu House on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Chicago Ethnic Grocery Tours Part II

The next place was La Unica that has food for all types of Latin cuisine. Some of the unique items I saw were the quince and mango jellies that were sliced and place on crackers with cheese to provide a sweet contrast. Block and cone sugar and chocolate was interesting to see as well as purple corn. People of the Andes make a refreshing drink from purple corn called "chicha morada" which is now recognized as a nutritive powerhouse due to its phenolic content.

The interesting thing was the eating area to the side. Walking past the store front, one would never know that it has a restaurant in the back. We took a little break and tried a few foods; yucca (pan fried?) with some picked onions and two types of plantains. The yucca was very starchy and dense. It tasted like a potato, but was a little grainier. I could see how the yucca could make food go a long way because it was filling. We also had a fried sweet yellow plantain that was tender almost creamy. The green plantain was lightly fried and then pounded flat and fried again. It was like a very dense potato chip with just a light hint of sweetness. The sweet lemon and a sour orange we bought from the Rogers Park Fruit Market added a nice amount of acidity to the plantains and cut some of fat. The rest of the menu was pretty varied including Cuban sandwiches and some Peruvian dishes.