Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dumplings and Pork Chops

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I was watching Anthony Bourdain's "The Layover - Taipei" a couple of weeks ago.  I figured that a must stop was at the famous "Din Tai Fung", which he did at the end of his trip.

I've had friends who have waited up to two hours in Taiwan to sample Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings).  So, when I see pictures on Facebook or they tell me about this incredible soup dumplings place in Taiwan, I tell them that Din Tai Fung has two locations in Southern California and the longest I've waited is 35 minutes.

Din Tai Fung's mascot

When you check in at Din Tai Fung, they give you an order sheet and a number.  If you've never been, there is a picture menu on the window.  Usually the first-timers are in front of the menu trying to figure it out.  Once seated, your orders start coming out of the kitchen.

To help you out, here's what Jay Eats and some of my favorites:

 Shrimp and Pork Wonton
with Spicy Sauce

It was a new item for me to try,
but I think it needs to be a bit spicier.

 Shrimp and Pork Shao Mai

A favorite...


Pork Chop Fried Rice

The pork chop is cooked just right,
not greasy at all.

Take a good look on the order sheet,
I've ordered the pork fried rice before and
when it arrived at the table, no pork chop.
Yes, it's happened more than one time...

Now for the reason to go...
 Juicy Pork Dumplings

Xiao Long Bao
Soup Dumplings

Be careful, the soup inside is really hot when they
bring it to the table.

Have it with some
Just add a bit of Black Vinegar

Sticky Rice and Pork Shao Mai

Different texture and something that I thought
would be just OK, was actually good.
If you don't like sticky rice, may not like it...

There are two Din Tai Fung locations, the two buildings are right next to each other.  The original location opens first and 30 minutes later the new side opens.  Hence, the new side stays open later too, the hours at each place are staggered.  Each has the same menu and you'll get the same Din Tai Fung experience.  

1108 S Baldwin Avenue
Arcadia, CA 91007
(626) 574-7068

(Second Location)
1088 S Baldwin Avenue
Arcadia, CA 91007
(626) 446-8588 

While you're at the original location, checkout the JJ Bakery across the parking lot, they have a lot of great breads, cakes, and pastries.  Walk through the parking lot over to the shopping center behind, lots of great places to eat there too...

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats

Korean Pork BBQ Heaven

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I love trying new places and love Korean BBQ!  Although I've been hearing about Palsaik from various sources, it took me awhile to get there.  Located in a shopping center, the restaurant is hidden behind the BCD Tofu House on Western, lots of free parking.

My friend explained the name "Palsaik Samgyupsal" means "8 colors bacon" or 8 different flavors of pork.  PORK? I Can't Wait!  Palsaik Samgyupsal Korean BBQ is a famous pork belly restaurant in Seoul, a second U.S. location opening in Buena Park.  

While we waited outside for a table, my friend suggested we order the Palsaik Set Menu ($49.99).  It's comes with the 8 different pork flavors, seafood stew, green salad, mushrooms and vegetables for the grill, and two types of kim chee.  It was more than enough food for at least 3 people, you can also order additional dishes.

Once inside, the interior is not your typical Korean BBQ restaurant, it's more on the contemporary style and the tables are spread out.  The tops of the stools you sit on open up and you can store your belongings inside, just remember to get them when you leave.

When seated, you'll notice they don't have any chopsticks, spoons, or napkins on the table.  There's a drawer under the table that has all of that, so help yourself...

Here's What Jay Eats...

We started off with a green onion pancake

Our adventure began by sitting in front of two burners, one for a tabletop griddle and the other was for our seafood stew.

Seafood Stew

Crab, tofu, sausage, and vegetables.
Considering there's a chili pepper on top,
the miso broth wasn't spicy at all.

Once the green onion pancake was served, it was time for the 8 flavors of pork served on a board that explained each flavor.

From Top to Bottom
1.  Wine
2.  Original
3.  Ginseng
4.  Garlic
5.  Herb
6.  Curry
7.  Miso
8.  Spicy

Servers cut up the pork strips
when ready

Second set of pork strips
with vegetables and two types of
kim chee grillin'

Time to Eat! 

We ended the meal with kim chee fried rice
that they make in the seafood stew pot.
(or you can finish with rice soup)

Photo by Palsaik
Interior of Palsaik

Overall, it was a great dining experience.  Loved the different flavored pork and grilled kim chee, the seafood stew and kim chee fried rice were the bonus of the evening.  They do have a couple of beef options that you can order, but we stuck to pork belly.  I loved the service here, they took care of us and did all of the cooking, something I wasn't used to...

863 S. Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90005
(213) 365-1750

Monday - Saturday 11 am - 12 am
Sunday 11 am - 11 pm

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Unless otherwise noted

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

No Sushi Chef Required!

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Yes, No Sushi Chef Required!

It's been about 7 years since I last looked at sushi robots and I'm sure the technology has improved vastly since then.  

I was invited to see some of the latest sushi robots at Suzumo International Corporation, one of the handful of companies producing such equipment.  Suzumo's tagline is "We Love Rice" and after seeing their robots in action, I can see why.  

Being trained in sushi, there are many factors that can affect the final sushi piece.  The main factor is the rice, it can be overworked and starchy or the grains smashed together.  The rice in sushi should be individual grains and not packed too tight.

Suzumo Sushi Robot

Suzumo's Kiyoto san demonstrates
the 30 cup sushi rice mixer

He adds in steamed rice, sushi vinegar,
the mixing attachment, and hits the button.

There are 3 different presets that you can use,
based on rice volume and mixing time.

After 4 minutes in the mixer,
the sushi rice is ready.

No rice on the floor here...

I've been to restaurants and had rice that has been 
over mixed and mushy, but each rice grain 
here was in tact and had a nice flavor.

And it only took 4 minutes 
(vs. 20 minutes by hand).

I'm sold...

50 Cup Sushi Rice Mixer
for larger volumes.

Kiyoto san filling the hopper
with sushi rice.

Confused as to how a robot can make sushi?

Watch this video...

Make sense now?

 For food service, the sushi rolls and nigiri sushi
comes out consistent in size and texture.

The only way to mess this up is not steaming
the rice correctly...

Kiyoto san demonstrates how the nigiri sushi
robot can form the rice piece, an operator
places fish on top, and then the robot
individually wrap each nigiri piece.

The only thing it doesn't do is dip it in
soy sauce and wasabi for you.

 (Left) Kiyoto Takachiyo (Suzumo), Lam, and Jesse Hiraki

We all enjoyed the demonstration!

Thank you for allowing me to join in.

1815 W 205th Street, Suite 101 
Torrance, CA 90501
(310) 328-0400

Photos and Video by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats