Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dog Day Afternoon

Duly inspired from a photo of an LA hot dog taken by fellow CCB heapster Sausagehead, K and I set forth on a semi-dangerous mission to find some overly decorated versions of the classic Americano favorite. While I had originally picked a couple of hot dog havens in Reseda for this experiment, it just seemed too damned far (later perhaps) so we took the rapido drive to Pasadena instead. Our first stop was The Slaw Dogs where the list of dogs, links, toppings, and sides is long and wide. K opted for the summery Picnic Dog: grilled Vienna all-beef, BBQ sauce, onion rings, potato salad, and pickle spear. I went straight in for The Original: steamed dog, beer chili, shredded queso, mustard, chopped cebollas, and cole slaw. K handled her dog with relative ease while mine was certainly a knife and fork affair. Unfortunately, we skipped the Belgian style (or sweet potato) fries here in order to save room for later. The Slaw Dogs also maintains a creative daily dog special board along with a solid selection of international cervezas.
Next item on the agenda was the Dog Haus only a few blocks away. This place boasts the motto: best of the wurst, so I felt an obligation to include it in our tubular research.
Packing an impressive arsenal of sausages, burgers, and sides the Dog Haus is truly locked and loaded. All Haus Dogs come with a signature 1/4 lb. all-beef skinless served on King's Hawaiian bread (3 rolls split together). This is a bold bread choice because it ensures a sweetness that some purists might snub, but for me it worked out just fine. K went 'healthy' with the Sooo Cali: mixed greens, aguacate, tempura fried onions, diced tomate, and spicy basil aioli. Noticing a connection between my favorite dog (Tijuana style, yes they are better south of the border) and an item on the menu, I ordered the B.L.A.S.T: smoked bacon, lettuce, aguacate, sliced serranos, tomate, topped with mayo. We also ordered some papas fritas but after entering into a coma de comida about halfway through I can't seem to remember much about them. Everybody loves hot dogs which is why they remain a vast and ever-changing food topic. I look forward to addressing (eating) this dynamic subject again but I think I'll wait until the real dog days of summer come steamrolling through the Southland.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Old Habits Die Hard

I'm sure you know the feeling of craving Indian/Pakistani comida and lots of it right? We've all been in this dire situation and luckily there's a simple way to deal with it. Find a local lunch buffet and go for the oro. Today, I decided to relive some fond memories of working a tipico day in the sometimes glorious and occasionally mysterious ciudad of San Francisco. Not that the work was always agreeable, but the camaraderie regarding comida was (and undoubtedly still is) second to none. My first stop was Mezbaan under the old Pasadena Hotel where the steam table was still in full swing. Although the selection here is on the small side, the quality is muy grande: salad, sauces (including an excelente chutney), fish pakora, veggie samosa, tandoori pollo chunks, superb basmati rice, chicken korma, daal, saag, and spicy eggplant all served with a dense naan. As and added bonus I chatted up my waiter who, like myself, walked into this place for the first time that afternoon. This earned him some stern looks from the cashier but my telepathic "sure, he's a shitty server but what a nice fellow" glances back seemed to really smooth things over.
True to SF form, I followed this feast up with a trip to the candy store. After a snappy jaunt down the arroyo, I arrived at Galco's soda pop stop in Highland Park (since 1955) which truly is a mecca of bottled beverages of all shapes and sizes--seltzer and cerveza included.
 Perusing the aisles of Galco's has to be some of the most thirst quenching research known to man. And while I didn't exactly find the items I was looking for (Exhibits A and B), I did make off with a some noteworthy sodas: Cheerwine, Bundaberg Root, and Nesbitt's orange with a roll of Bottle Caps thrown in for good measure. My reenactment of days of yore was a standing success except for the lack of good company, Doors references, and most importantly all those vitamins wrapped in worn and crinkled foil.
 For JG, who always had a thing or two about food.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Burmese Please

In celebration of Burma's first open election in viente anos (which was mysteriously won by the incumbent military junta) and more importantly the imminent release of political prisoner and personal hero Aung San Suu Kyi, I decided to dedicate this weekend to my favorite Southeast Asian comida. What Burma lacks in civil liberties is inversely made up for on the dining table. Geographically situated between India, Thailand, Laos, and Southern China; Burma is almost fated to have excellente grub. LA, strangely enough, has a general lack of Burmese restaurants so I started the festivities with Yoma Myanmar in Monterey Park. I had to put on the restraints when I saw the noodle menu (especially Nan Gyi Dok) and resigned myself to order a lunch combo instead: beef curry, fish cake curry, arroz, and a daal-like vegetable soup. Unfortunately all my photos of this plato are terrible, but after talking with the uber friendly waitstaff about my short stay in the border town of Tachileik I asked for an order of fried samusa just to be safe. These little wonders (papas and cauliflower) are served with a mouth-watering sauce flavored by cilantro but is inherently smooth and spicy like an old-fashioned Burma-Shave. More to follow...
Greetings from Inglewood, CA home of The "Fabulous" Forum, Hollywood Park Racetrack, Randy's Donuts, Brian Wilson, and the cozy Mutiara market.
 This Halal cafe specializes in tandoori, kababs, and biryani but serves a few standard Burmese dishes (owner hails from Rangoon) on the weekends. I took this golden opportunity to order up a bowl of Ohn No Khao Swe (a very close relative to Khao Soi): wheat noodles, coconut milk, and curried pollo garnished with cilantro, crispy shallots, dried chiles, hard-boiled egg, and limon. K had curry on the mind and went for the daal-lamb combo: chunky lamb and lentil curry, salad, naan, and basmati rice. The gregarious proprietor of Muriata not only told us about his ethnic roots but also informed us that the secret of making good food is to cook the rice perfectly so it "stays long". I have no idea what that means but it seems to be working.
 Our last stop on the mission of Burma was another Muslim influenced hash house (this time in Culver City) that serves Burmese cuisine after 5 PM and on weekends. The fragrant Jasmine market has a small grocery with an even smaller Burmese menu, but I'll have to take it as it comes.
 I felt an obligation here to order Mohinga the unofficial national dish of Burma. This hearty and gritty soup is typically eaten for desayuno and consists of vermicelli in catfish soup with banana trunk, onions, boiled huevos, garlic, and fried chickpeas. We also added a side of Keema Paratha (spiced ground pollo stuffed in flat-bread served with pickled slaw) to round out the meal. Well, congratulations to the people of Burma for the promise of a brighter future. And, if there are any Burmese nationals reading this who are handy in the cocina, just know that the second largest city in America is awaiting your fantastic comida. Don't say I never did you any favors...

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Heartfelt Missive

If there is one item on the menu that even the most passive comida admirer will undoubtedly have a strong opinion about, it's bound to be pizza pie. Whether the best is found in Chicago, Rome, or a lonely teahouse along a Himalayan trail; folks love to tell you "how it is". As for myself, having lived a number of years in Nueva York, I was exposed to some of the great local pizzerias like Grimaldi's, Patsy's, and Ray's (but which one?). I must confess that although I found these fine establishments tasty, I'm just not sure that I have the pizza "know-how" to write a cultured review on the subject. In fact, my novice skill level has kept me from attempting a pizza entry on CCB thus far, but after receiving a clandestine video from Rackics I acquired the needed inspiration to give it a go.

Fortunately, K and I didn't need to travel to Seoul on Sabado to set our sights on a Korean influenced pizza parlor. We weaved our way through traffic to the interestingly named Pizza & Chicken Love Letter for an unhealthy dose of wings de pollo and specialty pie.
Although the main focus here is the sweet potato gold pizza, we ordered the Love Letter Combo #3: bulgogi pizza (basically a classic supreme with marinated barbecued carne), una docena original crispy fried wings (complete with a stainless steel bone receptacle), crunchy ensalada (shredded cabbage, corn, dressing, hot sauce), tangy pickled radish, and a pitcher of cola all signed and sealed with a beso. The pizza was certainly passable but the wings (plain yet flavorful) were well above the typical barroom standard. Next time I'll be sure to order the spicy chili wings (served with loads of diced ajo). It's sad to say that none of our fellow diners broke out into a comida dance in or around their comfy red booths. Maybe we shouldn't rely so heavily on others and start working out some snazzy moves of our own. One thing's for sure, with the handful of coupons we scored I intend to come back for seconds real soon. Kamsamnida!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Haunted Tank

Recently, I was reminiscing about my favorito chilhood comic book GI Combat which periodically featured an otherworldly series entitled: The Haunted Tank. This flashback in turn reminded me that there happens to be a military museum/graveyard on Rosemead Av directly in the line of fire of some primoroso comida. So on Friday, hungry and warlike, I set out to Tankland for a bit of armored history. The abundance of outdoor exhibits here (mainly from 1940's though mid-1970's) include: tanks, troop transporters, jeeps, artillery, ship guns, ambulances, amphibious craft, and ordnance. Truly an amazing place to walk around, my experience was further enhanced by a lively conversation with one of the owners. I certainly had more than a few questions in between his mechanical rants such as: "How in the hell did they start those World War I tanks?" and "Do you remember that meth head that drove a tank on the freeway in San Diego?". After getting my fill of the mighty landships, I slowly clanked towards Monterey Park for a fix of steaming Xiaolongbao.
Pulling in at Mama's Lu, I ordered camaron wonton noodle soup with an order of juicy pork dumplings. I know this may seem excessive but dipped in sliced ginger and vinegar these little "baskets" go down like generic oolong tea. Although the skin was a bit thicker here than other local Shanghai style cafes, it served to contain the succulent broth nicely when handled with comida sticks. The sopa was also noteworthy, served bland intentionally, I added chile sauce and a dash of soy to accompany the bok choy, flat noodles, and cerebrum shaped wontons. All in all I would say that this luncheon was not only tasty, but also practical and efficient, much like the trusty M4 Sherman. Kaboom!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Surf N' Turf

I'm not quite sure what brought me to the doorstep of La Playita on Lincoln Blvd. a few weeks ago, but after I found some fotos on mi camara I decided to piece together the details. Actually, the details don't really matter; what matters is that this roadside taco shack serves up some apetitoso comida. I ordered two tacos al pastor, one steamed shrimp, and one pescado (broiled, minced, mixed with salsa) plated with some gratis rice and beans. After grabbing some pickled products, I headed up to my favorite Santa Monica picnic locale the finely manicured and transient adorned Hotchkiss Park. Named for a savvy Victorian Era businesswoman, the grassy slopes here are situated on a perfect angle to dine and recline.
While enjoying my mini-feast, I slipped into one of those half daydream half people watching modes but still maintained focus on the intense flavors. The puerco was excellent and I like that the mariscos tacos weren't the typical fried varieties. Other than that, the rest of my experience remains hazy. Maybe I was traumatized by top-notch tacos, maybe I fell asleep. Either way I'm delighted to add La Playita to my mental list of "must have" tacos, check it out.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


When I arrived at the Cleveland aeropuerto last Domingo, I moseyed downstairs and found the highly efficient taxi dispatch office with an eager attendant waiting to dash me off in any multitude of directions. Before I could finish stating my destination she handed me dos slips (one for me, one for the driver) with the address and a predetermined fare. Duly impressed, I had a pleasant drive with a friendly cabbie but when I handed him my card to pay there was no place to swipe it. In fact, he broke out the old carbon paper and made the imprint rubbing briskly with a tube of chapstick. I couldn't help but wonder if this was some type of metaphor for what was once the "foundry" region of our great nation. On one hand seeming to be at the forefront and on the other slouching into something obsolete. Progress and disrepair. Actually, I was just hoping my trip wouldn't blow. With that said, I am pleased to report that my feelings of angst were unjustified and that the city of Cleveland (although a non-freezing version) has been nothing short of remarkable. After my two day fill of museos and historic campuses, I took a long walk in the drizzle up through Murray Hill to Coventry Road anchor point of Pacific East Restaurante.
The sushi here was well worth the trek: Blue Fin toro (muy buttery), Tai, Aji, Hirame, and Unagi with a spicy Hamachi cut roll. Served with some cold sake this plato hit the spot, but wait (like the slogan of my hotel) in Cleveland you can "expect the unexpected". This place blindsided me with a bonus Malaysian menu, and a decent one at that. I intended to order more pescado but I took a break and asked the sushi chef for Roti Chanai instead, extrano no?
I love the crispy warmth of this dish: fried and flaky flat bread served with a hearty curry (con pollo and papas). This stuff would make an excellent daily desayuno if it wasn't equivalent (most unfortunately) to eating two grande donuts covered in meat sauce. Now I understand the lesson from the taxi ride. It wasn't so much an outdated inconvenience as it was a pleasant surprise. I mean that is probably the last time in my life I will witness a carbon copy used on a credit card. I wonder what happens next when I take the train towards Lake Erie to check out Johnny Cash's tour bus at the Rock Hall, thanks Cleveland.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The District

Having spent many hours as a youngster in and around the fine institutions that line our National Mall, I felt a distinct nostalgia upon returning to our fair Capital for the first time in over a decade. K and I met up with the amazing Piderclan (AP, V, and lil' O) for some good old-fashioned sightseein'. Of course wandering around enormous museums hungry is near suicidal, so before being reunited with outdated dioramas, preserved giant squid, and suspended airplanes we stopped at Lincoln's Waffle Shop for a greasy desayuno. Situated across the calle from Ford's Theatre and directly next door to the casa that he died in, Lincoln would have surely come here for a syrupy stack after watching "Our American Cousin" had he not been so inconveniently shot behind the left oreja. Besides serving decent blue-plate specials, Lincoln's does a bustling lottery business but what really makes this diner unique (as V found out) is the full bar in the basement complete with some Capitol Hill suits soaking up their morning suds.
 After a long day of learnin' stuff, K and I parted ways with our little tour group and hightailed it down to the Potomac waterfront (still ahead of rush hour) for an express blue crab feast. We hit the cooked seafood stand and made our way to the floating 'eat-in' patio with a dozen crabs (Old Bay seasoned), a throwaway mallet, and a sackful of hushpuppies. I managed to occasionally glance up at the afternoon tour boats as a break in our mechanical routine of cracking shells and pinching meat (with frequent dips in the vinegar cup). Following a much needed hand washing, we flew across the George Mason Bridge leaving the Pentagon in our dust, heading south and out of sight. Next time in town I'll be sure to have West African comida on the radar. Until then, godspeed D.C.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Khao Soi 2: Electric Boogaloo

9/02/10 was a particularly auspicious day on the calendar in the LA area because it happened to numerically coincide with a certain upscale zip code. Instead of preparing for a potential cataclysm, the mayor of this well-to-do ciudad called for a ritzy celebration of all things (comida included of course) 90210. I did what any hungry reveler might do on such an occasion and went in the complete opposite direction towards Thai Town. The object of my lunchtime quest was the always delectable, yet often elusive, Northern Thai dish: khao soi. In an ongoing study of this culinary masterpiece (see previous entry here), I entered into the quiet Pailin Thai on Hollywood for some systematic research. Although not listed on the menu, this family-run cafe will gladly accommodate all those in search of a golden bowl: spicy yellow curry, egg noodles, pollo (thigh and leg meat), cilantro, and crispy noodles served with pickled cabbage, shallots, green onions all topped with a healthy squeeze of limon. The results are conclusive: khao soi can and should be consumed daily if at all possible. Further findings: Pailin, the heavily mined and newly appointed Cambodian Province, has long been known as a stronghold for the Khmer Rouge well after their demise in 1979. While this region was fiercely logged and stripped almost clean of its abundance of precious stones, thankfully (possibly due to Kola migrants from Burma) one overlooked (albeit edible) gem still remains intact today...yep, a distant cousin of delicioso khao soi. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Shining Star

While speeding up the Glendale freeway, K and I were flagged for a pit stop that veered us down into Glassell Park, cosmic coordinates of Tacos La Estrella. One doesn't need a telescope to spot the constellations on the menu at this quaint fonda. I ordered a carne asada mulita (homemade masa pressed flat, grilled and sandwiched con queso, carne, cabbage, and salsa) with a taco de pastor on the sly. Although a 'little mule' is destined to be sterile around the barnyard, this is definitely not the case at the taqueria table: fluffy yet crispy, warm and slightly greasy, the mulita has a flavor that could easily spawn a multigenerational telenovela. K, who is a big fan of shoes, opted for the always practical carne asada huarache: elongated and fried masa topped with carne, cabbage, onions, queso, salsa and radish. I should also add that the pastor (while not shaved off the spit) is stewed to a tender loving perfection. One thing to remember before blasting off to La Estrella is that they keep banker's hours (but open daily) from 9 to 5. This is due, at least according to my observations, to the fact that the family lives in the casa directly behind the restaurante. You can't have people roaming around at all hours looking for delicioso tacos while trying to relax with a cucumber facial and a crossword puzzle, now can you? Anyway, I certainly think there is room enough to put one more star (one you've actually heard of) on the Hollywood walk of fame. Keep your eyes peeled.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Long March

At the toll of the lunch hour on a magnifico summer day, I found myself in Venice Beach searching for some quick comida before taking a long siesta in the sand. Luckily, I recalled that a newly formed lunch combo has been instituted at Mao's Kitchen. A bit torn between Chinese and a pulled puerco sandwich, I ultimately decided to take an amended page from the Little Red Book ("An army without tasty eats is a dull-witted army, and a dull-witted army cannot defeat the enemy.") and dine like a dutiful comrade. Despite being designed to "serve the people" with its flexibility concerning menu substitutions, some people would argue that Mao's isn't real Chinese food at all. At this point, I will take a slight diversion. Let's take my order for example:
Surprisingly flavorful hot and sour sopa, spring roll, sesame and yam beef (lightly batter-fried carne, snow peas, tomate, yam in spicy-sweet sauce sprinkled with toasted seeds) and steamed rice. According to the menu, this recipe comes from Nanjing in the Jiangsu Province. Even though China maintains a single time zone, its geographic size weighs in at a vast 9.6 million square kilometers. Imagine transporting this dish to Urumqi in the Xinjiang Province where it would certainly be considered non-halal, possibly bland, and maybe even inedible. With that said, it seems that real Chinese cuisine is dramatically regional, thus the Americanized version is just another offshoot of a diverse culinary system. This is not to say that it's always good, nor would I be so presumptuous as to even mention it in the same sentence as the Eight Great Traditions (oops), but who hasn't experienced a little rush when finding that neighborhood joint that's a little better than the rest. Maybe Mao's would be that go-to spot if I lived in Venice, but I'd definitely have a closer look around just in case. Oh, and make sure to BYOB fellow comrades.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Way To Go, Joe

With a few horas to kill before I was scheduled for a pick up at the Long Beach airport, I decided to do some comida recon deep in the corazon of Cambodia Town. After a successful mission (will be returning with numbers to confront the Khmer cuisine here ASAP), I drove towards the eastern border of this little enclave to a well-established watering hole by the name of Joe Jost's. Founded in 1924 as a barber shop & pool hall, Joe moved his fledgling taproom to its current location in 1933 (after a devastating earthquake) and began slingin' cervezas and sandwiches following the lift of prohibition in 1934.

I promptly took a bar stool by the front window and ordered a schooner (around 18 oz.) of frio Busch beer, a Joe's special (homespun polish sausage {complete with a clever slit down the middle to house a thin dill pickle strip}, slice of swiss queso, mustard on rye bread), and dos pickled eggs. These briny huevos are puckered along with a distinctive yellow chili pepper that is found in almost every pub, burger joint, and deli in the LA basin; then served over pretzel sticks con sal y pimienta. Despite being up half the night with strange dreams and a solid case of heartburn, I would certainly have this exact set for lunch everyday if I were alive in 1935. As for amusements, JJ's has it all: slick shuffleboard table, keg cam, cell phone booth, snooker, and an astounding archival display of the bar's calendar history (wink, wink).

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's Not Crazy, It's Katsu

With the X games in town for the weekend I knew that K and I needed to add some 'extreme' to our Sabado comida search. So, after knocking a few ideas around we happily decided on katsu. What's so radical about breaded cutlets? Nothing usually, but today was a definite exception to the norm. We found ourselves standing outside the Brown Derby Plaza (site of the original restaurant) in Koreatown on a muy busy section of Wilshire Blvd. Tucked away in a corner like a nutty relative, the elusive Wako Donkasu awaited us with open arms.
This Korean take on the Japanese favorite is downright delectable. After ordering your desired form of katsu, a bowl quickly arrives filled with toasted sesame seeds along with a mortar to crush them all to atoms for a homemade katsu sauce right at your table (brillante!). K went in with gusto and got the puerco katsu combo: perfecto cutlet (thick, juicy and crujiente), shoyu udon, cabbage salad, potato croquette, shrimp tempura, pickled chiles and radish. I went for the curry puerco katsu which proved to be a mighty trayful: same jugosa cutlet over arroz smothered in curry with all the fixins plus miso soup. All this comes with cold barley tea and a call button that illuminates a mini scoreboard by table numero for any whimsical comida needs. Since I can't say enough about this place, perhaps I should say no more and simply leave you with an image of the colorful cantina next door, salud!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saint Rose

On a recent sojourn up to California's bountiful wine country, I was able to reaffirm a few things about my innermost likings. Front and center was the shock and awe that always seems to come when finding regional Mexicano comida that keenly catches the ojo. After snoozin' in, B and I headed over to El Michoacano for an early almuerzo. This friendly cafe serves up tipico platos along with a full page of Michoacan specialties. B opted for fried camarones con rice, beans, tortillas and salad; while I went straight for the enchiladas placeras (Morelia style): tortillas dipped in salsa roja filled with cotija queso then lightly fried and topped with shredded cabbage, jalapenos, carrots, crema, and cotija sprinkles. These come flanked by the meat of your choice: grilled pollo, carne asada, fried quail, or pescado along with some spiced 'home papas'. My next affirmation was that Pacific oysters (Tomales Bay varieties in particular) are by far the greatest shellfish in the whole wide mundo. On Sabado, B and I took the windy drive down to Marshall to pick up our own little harvest of bonita sweetwaters. We managed to make off with 59 smalls and a dozen extra-smalls before they sold out for the day, and hightailed it to back the casa for an epic oyster feed. These gems of the sea are perfecto raw or steamed with a pleasant briny, sweet flavor. And lastly, I was able to rekindle my appreciation regarding the mystical qualities of hot tubs. These bubbling devices can prove strange, if not slightly awkward, but once you're engaged it truly is a relaxation not to be missed. While I was a tad disappointed that this tub wasn't actually a time machine, I was more than grateful for the roiling solace to ponder my thoughts (eg: "oops, I just spilled my cerveza, how embarrassing." or "Man, my fingers sure are getting pruned" etc., etc.).

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cinderella Of The Pacific

Apparently the best fish tacos in Ensenada are not found in the Baja Peninsula at all, but rather on Hillhurst Av near Los Feliz Village. This is the unusual statement (which also doubles as the taqueria's name) that hangs high overhead for all passersby to lightly ponder. Tacos (literally "plug" or "wadding" originally in the sense to fill a hole and then beautifully adapted to refer to maize tortillas folded around comida), especially mariscos varieties, are something of a religion for me so I hastily ventured inside to fill the hungry hole in mi estomago. The carta here consists of three things: pescado taco, camarones taco (both frito of course), and bebidas (jamaica, horchata, or tamarindo). I ordered dos pescado, uno shrimp with a cool tamarindo and waltzed them over to the excellente salsa bar, which is really what makes this eatery shine: finely shredded cabbage, crema, radish relish, "hot guac", picante salsa with or without mango, mild salsa, and a tangy salsa with pineapple. During my feast I tried to recall if I even had a fish taco on a recent road trip to Ensenada...I certainly remember cocteles de mariscos, the mural at Bar Andaluz (circa 1930), Hussong's cantina, and the pharmacist with diazepam in his shirt pocket but nothing specific about fish tacos, muy curioso. I suppose I can't fairly say whether these tacos are better than those served in Ensenada, but I do know that the grimy port town by day turned little glass slipper wearer by night made a culinary mark by frying up tacos de pescado. Whatever the result, Best Fish Taco In Ensenada hands down has the best fish taco in Los Feliz, did I say that right?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pieces Of Eight

Back in the days of Elementary School, if I recall correctly, we were customarily handed a mimeographed calender every month that briefly described the lunch carta for each day. These comida timelines were typically highlighted by wily entries from the school staff such as: Manager's Choice (spaghetti and meatballs or Salisbury steak without fail), Teacher's Choice (sliced turkey con green beans) or my personal favorite Janitor's Choice (always a Big Virginian {caliente ham and queso on a roll} with mashed papas and gravy). So today, while standing in a government line, I maintained this tradition and left the comida details to others to fall where they may. Auspiciously for me, K shrewdly decided on dim sum (a logico choice that can both satisfy the peckish and nearly famished alike) as we headed due south to 888 Seafood Restaurant in Rosemead. While we arrived on the late side (around 1 pm), the carts were still in full swing. The numero ocho is perhaps the most important symbol in numerology worldwide, and this is no exception at the triple eight. We received our first wave of dumplings (mainly camarones) from name tag "809", then came the friendly "830" with some bbq buns and puerco potstickers with leek, next (upon my request) "810" told a busy busboy to fetch an order of Shanghai dumplings; which were cleverly served in individual cups out of the steamer so as not to waste the soup, and lastly "808" topped us off with seafood rice balls as I eyed the elusive "887" strolling away with the congee time "887". This little theme worked so well that I will wholeheartedly accept a comida recommendation from anyone who reads this. Not only will you be exalted in a future CCB entry, but I will also send a small token of appreciation. Basura's Choice of course.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Weekend At Bernie's

Last Viernes I took some time in between futbol matches and walked under the 101 freeway to the ambitiously named Historic Filipinotown barrio for some local style comida. The object of my short hike was Bernie's Teriyaki: a well-worn, no frills, and borderline hilarious establishment that is best known for its Filipino inspired lunch platos of grilled pollo served with beef or pork skewers over lightly fried arroz. Here I should mention the Bernie's quirk. They routinely get an extremo amount of take out orders from businesses downtown and, even though these good people have been at it since 1977, you have to wait behind the order in front of you (which may have 20 platos easy). This is when you get to play the "see who cracks first" game as impatient and hungry clientele begin to squirm and curse mildly under their breath. I, Solo Basura, even got a little edgy but maintained my focus on the consummate pro next to me (perfect poise, lots of makeup, eye of the tiger) who, after her numero was ultimately called, sauntered away with just a single piece of pollo (a solemn comida dedication truly to be admired). What's so special about Bernie's then? Actually, not much. Why is there room for Bernie's in mi corazon? It's tasty and muy barato, great for people watching, and best of all you can suck down a 24 oz Orange Bang for some pocket change and a dream. Oh, and let's not forget the moist towelette.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Castle

Yucatecan cuisine is even cooler than a deep cenote on a caliente Quinta Roo afternoon. I am more than obsessed with this unique facet of mexicano comida, and was amped to slide downtown on Sabado to Mercado La Paloma home of Chichen Itza (the restaurante that is) for a Mayan style almuerzo.While K and I kept it pretty simple, due to an impending Padre's day feast, this stall really has it all. We both opted for tortas: K had cochinita pibil (carnitas con pickled onions) and I grubbed on poc chuc (thin sliced puerco, fire-roasted onions and tomate, black bean sauce). Both were served with a tasty potato salad and we added to the mix with an order of dos salbutes: fluffy corn tortillas, topped with lechuga, charbroiled turkey, onions, pepinos, tomate, and avacado. They also serve classics like panuchos, tamales, sopas, and papadzules. This last item (corn tortillas moistened with pumpkin seed and epazote sauce, stuffed with hard-boiled huevos and topped with tomate salsa) brings back memories of my last trip to the peninsula where, by a lapse in communication, I accidentally double ordered the egg-laden plato. We tried to down as much as possible (to be respectful to the little old cafe owner), but still received an inquisitive: "Todo esta bien?" in the end due to the mass amounts of uneaten papadzules. Needless to say I have yet to order them since, but I have a feeling it might make an excellente side dish to the lechon al horno (cochinita pibil made proper with suckling pig) they dish up at Chichen Itza every Domingo morning. With this kind of jugosa carne on the docket, I'll have no problem at all fitting right in with the church crowd.