Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Veggie Grill

The Veggie Grill on Urbanspoon

A vegetarian friend at work recently introduced me to a vegan restaurant in El Segundo which is aptly named "Veggie Grill." They specialize in dishes featuring their "veggie proteins" including Chillin' Chicken, Too Good Tempeh, Veggie-Steak, and Veggie-Steak Burger. These proteins can be served in some super-fresh and vibrant salads or as sandwiches on their whole grain rolls. They also have some fabulous sweet potato fries.

I just love both the dishes I've tried here: first it was the Carne Asada sandwich with marinated Veggie-Steak on a delicious roll with a side of slaw. Next I tried the kale salad with blackened Chillin' Chicken.. delicious! I felt like I was getting my week's worth of nutrition in this light but satisfying dish.

Fake meats have seriously come a long way. I also want to post about a vegan cafe in San Jose next.. but it seems these places have in common a way of making delicious marinades, sauces, and cooking styles to really make these proteins pop.

I can't wait to go back!

The Veggie Grill
720 S. Allied Way
El Segundo, CA 90245

Friday, March 27, 2009

Daikokuya's yummy yummy pork bowl

Daikokuya on Urbanspoon
I've been posting a lot of quick reviews on Yelp.. so my apologies for the lack of restaurant reviews here. I usually just post here if something is very good and leave the mediocre reviews for Yelp.

Anyway, I decided last night as I took a bite of leftover pork bowl that it was in personal top 10 list of the best things I have ever eaten.

I am talking about the Shredded Pork Bowl at Daikokuya in Little Tokyo. They actually specialize in Ramen. The most popular meal there would be a big bowl of Ramen with a "side" rice bowl with shredded pork, chicken teriyaki, tuna sashimi, or other items. But, I love the pork so much that I just get the meal-sized portion and skip the ramen.

For $7.50 you get an amazing small cabbage salad dressed with a magically delicious creamy dressing, oh, and some miso soup. Then .. dum da dum.. enter the pork bowl. It's bit sized pieces of fatty pork belly and cooked onions covered in an amazing sauce. This sits on perfect Japanese rice and is topped with a bunch of sliced scallions, pickled ginger, and a sprinkling of nori (toasted seaweed). It's heavenly. It's also a great deal because I always take half of it home.

You can find Daikokya on one of the main drags in Little Tokyo, East First Street. There are a ton of Ramen shops on that street, most of them empty, but you will always see a crowd waiting outside of Daikokuya. The wait is never long though, and I don't mind sitting at the bar..I've never actually gotten a table. This place is great comfort food on a weekend afternoon..

They also have a location in Costa Mesa and they will be opening one in Monterey Park. Check it out, they even have their own Youtube channel.

327 E. 1st Street

Los Angeles, CA

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Coq au Vin

I've been taking the amazing Pro 1 course at the New School of Cooking. There have been so many wonderful lessons and so many delicious recipes that this whole time I've been overwhelmed when thinking about what to post. I started writing this long post about the first class with everything I learned about stocks.. but it became too much and I gave up on it. I wish I had time to write posts like that. Alas, I decided to just start posting some of my favorite recipes from the class.

Coq au Vin
This dish was part the second of two classes on poultry. We've made a ton of delicious chicken over the past two weeks, but this one was one of my favorites. I made this dish last night and was really happy about it because I think it's a beautiful thing to learn how to make the classics. Coq au Vin literally means "rooster in wine". The sauce uses a lot of wine and actually turns the chicken a red color. The flavors are bold but they meld together very harmoniously. My teacher tells me this is a classic "braised" dish wherein the pieces of meat go through two steps.. first a browning and then a slow cooking in liquid. I think this dish is great for entertaining a large group because it is almost a one pot dish and much of it can be prepared ahead of time and then pulled together right before serving. Plus the name surely impresses : )

  • 6 oz pancetta or super thick cut bacon
  • One 3 to 4 pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 12 pearl onions
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 cremini or button mushrooms, whole or halved.
  • as the pearl onions.
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 3 sprigs thyme (a sprig is a small bunch of branches, not one twig)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup chopped tomato, no skin or seeds. Use the concasse method, or canned is ok.
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • chopped parsley for garnish
  1. Prepare your mise en place so everything is ready to go. Slice the bacon into 1/2 inch pieces so that the areas of meat are uniform. Most of the fat will cook off. To peal the pearl onions easily, drop them in boiling water for a few seconds, then remove. The onion should squeeze right out of the skin.
  2. Cook the bacon over medium heat in a straight-sided saute pan large enough to accommodate the chicken pieces. When most of the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, remove from the pan and set aside. Remove some of the small black bacon bits from the pan before adding the chicken.
  3. Brown the chicken in the fat on both sides. Start with the skin side down. The chicken is ready to turn when it doesn't stick! Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Add the onions and mushrooms to the pan and saute until the onions are slightly browned and the mushroom liquid has evaporated. Remove the mushrooms if they are cooking faster than the onions. Add the garlic and cook one minute more. Add the flour to make a roux. (Keep stirring everything).
  5. Stir in the wine, tomato, thyme, and bay leaf. Stir in the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken and cover. Cook until tender, or until a meat thermometer reaches about 170. (About 30 minutes or so).
  6. Remove the chicken and onions from the pan. Set aside. Strain the liquid into a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer. Simmer/boil on medium-high to reduce by about a half inch. Remove from heat. Stir in the butter.
  7. Pour sauce over the chicken, onions, and mushrooms. Garnish with the bacon and parsley.

Serve with egg noodles, rice, or potatoes.

Variations/additions: We added a little sherry in addition to the wine. Julia Child also used to finish her sauce with a little raspberry jam.

Below is a photo of the dish.. I guess it didn't come out so great on the iPhone.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Carnival Cruise Food and a New Indian Restaurant go-to in Santa Monica

Sorry I haven't posted, folks. I was sick for a week, then I went on vacation for a week, then I started a new job this past week so I've been really busy. We went on a Caribbean cruise last week on Carnival. I've posted in the past about how good the food was on the Princess cruise we took. Well, sorry I can't say the same about Carnival. The breakfast and lunch buffets were straight up bad. We ended up getting continental breakfast delivered every morning (cereal and milk, or very good bagels with salmon and cream cheese) so, that was a good option. You could also get pizza and burgers practically anytime, and those were decent. Sometimes there was a good dish during the lunch buffet. We never tried the "seated" breakfast or lunch. The seated dinner was decent overall. A few times the meals missed the mark.. the red meats just weren't of good quality, but I do remember the lobster bisque, shrimp, and some other dishes being very good. The coffee was straight up awful! I would like to go on another Carnival cruise though, because it really is fun with all the entertainment and fun things going on, but I will have to bring my own coffee next time.

And now for something completely different.. last night we were driving around looking for some Indian food and we stumbled across the All India Cafe on Santa Monica Blvd. It was great! We got the Lamb Saag and the Chicken Nirvana which were both very tasty and interestingly spiced. The ambiance, service, and price was also very good. This will now be our go-to Indian food close to home.

All India Cafe
12113 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA