Monday, October 28, 2013

Chengdu Taste - San Gabriel Valley

Pin It

Every time I've driven by this San Gabriel Valley restaurant, I've noticed the amount of people outside waiting.  It doesn't matter what time of the day or night, there's always a line.  This tells me something must be really good AND people are willing to wait for whatever it is they're selling. 

My friend Bill mentioned that he wanted to check it out and organized a group dinner, he even went early to get in line.  Before heading over to the restaurant, I took a look at Yelp to see what people were ordering.  One of the comments I saw the most, is the wait.  Be prepared to wait an hour or two, cause they only have 50 or so seats.  The dish most talked about or ordered was the "Boiled Fish in Spicy Soup."   

While we waited for our table, we decided on which dishes 
to order and had a plan of attack when we were seated.

None of us had been there before and I'm sure 
there are other dishes we should've tried, 
but this is what we ordered.

Part of the appeal of this Chengdu-style
cooking is the spicy dishes.  

NOTE:  Although they have a lot of spicy dishes, 
they also have non-spicy dishes too.

See What Jay Eats...

Mung Bean Jelly Noodles with Chili Sauce
1 Chili Pepper icon on menu

This was a nice appetizer to start.

It was a nice combination with the noodles and
chili sauce, but there was something a tad sweet.

Kung Pao Chicken
1 Chili Pepper icon on menu

It was good, not really anything special tho.

Toothpick Lamb with Cumin
1 Chili Pepper icon on menu

Not sure why it had 1 Chili Pepper on
the menu, I didn't think it was that spicy.

I did see this dish on a few other tables as
we were leaving the restaurant.

 Twice Cooked Pork
1 Chili Pepper icon on menu

Loved the pork belly and leeks.

 Boiled Fish in Spicy Soup
1 Chili Pepper icon on menu

This was our "must order" dish that we
saw on Yelp.  It was one of my favorites
of the evening.

It reminded me of fish poached in hot sauce.
This one was served in the chili sauce it was
cooked in, lots of bean sprouts and other
vegetables at the bottom of the pan.

This is a must order dish!

 Flavored Pork Ribs
1 Chili Pepper icon on menu.

This dish reminded me of salt & pepper pork chops.
Although cooked with chili peppers, didn't think it was
spicy enough to rank 1 Chili Pepper on the menu.
But by this point of the meal, I've had a lot of spicy.

House Special Tea Smoked Duck (Half)
No Chili Pepper icon on menu

I love smoked duck, this one has the crispy
skin on it.  Not sure why it was served with
steamed buns?  No sauce was served with it.

I really enjoyed the food, each dish that we
ordered was solid.  Didn't have anything that I 
wouldn't order again in the future.  I can see why
everyone ordered the fish, it's very good.

I was glad to be able to go with a group
of friends and to try different dishes.  I'm not sure
if it's worth a wait of an hour or more tho.

I would go back and have the
boiled fish in spicy soup!

Service needs improvement, nothing major.
In order to turn tables and get people served
in a timely manner, it's the little things that will
keep the flow and get people fed and on their way.
Things like refilling water glasses, removing
empty plates, and packing leftovers 
will help to turn tables and reduce the wait.
BUT there's more to it than just these things...

Give me a call, I'll train your servers
to give exceptional service , serve more customers,
and make more tips in the process.

Chengdu Taste
828 W. Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA 91803
(626) 588-2284

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats

Friday, October 25, 2013

Mutual Trading Co's Annual Japanese Food Expo - 2013

Pin It

The 25th Annual Mutual Trading Co.
Japanese Food & Restaurant Expo
Pasadena Convention Center
October 19. 2013

I've been going to the Mutual Trading Co Show almost every year since 2000, I even attended their show in the NY/NJ area.  Mutual Trading is one of the oldest Japanese food distributors in the U.S.  Based in the Los Angeles, MTC has sales offices in Honolulu, San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Boston, New Jersey, and New York.  Mutual Trading has beautiful showrooms in Los Angeles and New York City.  I should do a post on their showroom one of these days...

Ready for the breaking of the 
sake barrel to open the expo

 Once inside, lots of food, beverages,
equipment, knives, and products of all kinds.

With 88 vendors, 30 from Japan,
this event had over 2,000 registered attendees.

At the entrance, I ran into my friend 
Tommy Kosaka (chef/owner - Sushi Dragon
and Mr. Kosei Yamamoto (President & CEO, Mutual Trading) 

I look forward to seeing Mr. Yamamoto each year at the show
and around Los Angeles at various food events.

See What Jay Eats...

 A yakiniku sandwich

It was actually a good sandwich

Katsubushi - shaved bonito flakes.

Dried bonito (smoked and dried solid) is
shaved (like wood shavings) and used to make dashi,
the mother of all Japanese stocks, soups, and sauces.

This is how to do it old school and 
still the best way...

with square noodles 

Not the typical round noodles

For some reason, I now prefer the square noodles
over the round ones.

My kind of toy store

Masamoto-Sohonten Ltd is a premiere
Tokyo knife company and
has been family-owned for
six generations, dating back 150 years.

If you visit Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market,
look for the Masamoto knife stall

 Every year I look at the sushi knife at the top,
it's for cutting multiple sushi rolls.

I wouldn't even know how to sharpen it

The 30 cm yanagi was added to my
Christmas list, but I think Santa would
say that I'm about $2K over budget.

A really nice knife... 

Mr. Masahiro Hirano
Masamoto-Sohoten LTD.

Hirano-san engraving knives
for customers.

He engraved two of my knives
many years ago.

Food Safety Seminar

I'm always interested in food safety and wished
more restaurant owners and kitchen staff
would too.

At the Zojirushi booth

I'm not used to working with rice cookers
that aren't at least 20 cups. 

Binchotan - Japanese charcoal

Now I want yakitori

New product, not sure how I would use it...

So many vendors to meet
and lots of samples to try.

Scallop with Yuzu Kosho

A citrus flavored Japanese chili pepper paste,
one of my favorite Japanese condiments.

 Sun Noodle was here and so was the line.

They have an array of noodles
for almost every kind of dish.

 Along with their Ramen Lab broths,
one stop shop for noodles and broth
for ramen menus.

 Fish broth ramen

My friend Tommy Kosaka negotiating 
the price of a yanagi. 

My favorite yuzu juice 

Yuzu is a Japanese citrus 
with a clean taste

Matsuri Brown Rice

Wasn't the typical brown rice
that I'm familiar with... 

One of the reasons why I attend these shows,
to see new products.

This one is a frozen takoyaki product,
not bad for a frozen item.

Tuna Cutting Demo

I ran into friends and missed the demo

But I did get to taste it.

Not just food and equipment,
but they also had dish and glass wear on sale

Mr. Hirano giving a demonstration on knife sharpening. 

It's now audience participation time 

One of the best imported Japanese beers.

I'm surprised we don't see more of it around town...

Time to head over to the crowded
beer, sake, and sochu tasting area.

Sorry, my pictures of the beer and sake area
didn't really turn out too well.
They were really out of focus, not sure why...

It's not that I attend these shows only to see all of the new products
or to fill up on free samples.  But to see friends in the industry,
run into chefs I've worked with or vendor reps I've met in the past.
Unfortunately, this is a trade show and only open to those
in the restaurant industry, otherwise I'd say to attend next year.

You'll just have to check back with me next year on what's
new in the Japanese food arena...

Mr. Kosei Yamamoto

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats

Korean Duck BBQ

Pin It

Restaurant has Closed
Gung Jung Sulrangtang & Duck
in Stanton, California

For those who follow me on Instagram, know that I love Korean food.  I love eating soondubu jjigae (spicy tofu stew), bibimbap, and anything grilled.  So when I heard I can have Korean style bbq with duck, I had to check it out... 

See What Jay Eats...

Smoked Duck 

The smoked duck comes with various vegetable 
wrap options and served with white kim chee
and accompanying pickles.

The smoked duck was really good,
I could've eaten each component separately.

Note:  I forgot to take pictures of the banchans (side dishes),
was too busy enjoying the Korean food discussion,
but I will say that they were delicious.

The grill was brought out and was time for
Duck BBQ!

Gung Jung gets their ducks fresh each day,
you can tell by the vibrant color.

There's nothing like cooking vegetables
in duck fat.

I even enjoyed the red peppers, something
I haven't enjoyed since working at my first restaurant.
I sliced and diced red bell peppers for days...

For me, the mushrooms were the best!

After the duck was cooked, the pickled onions
were great with the grilled duck
AND dip the cooked duck in the vinegar,
even better!

Gung Jung Sulrangtang serves this with mustard
that you can add to the pickled vinegar to enhance
the dipping sauce.

I loved the bean rice 

Once the bbq was completed,
duck stock was set up at the table

Another plate of fresh duck was brought out

A beautiful plate of vegetables arrived too... 

Duck Shabu Shabu!

Great tasting with the duck stock
and loved all of the fresh vegetables.

In some respects, this was my favorite of
the night, maybe because it was so different
and something I've never had before.

Once the shabu shabu was completed; 
rice, an egg, and seaweed were mixed in.

It was a good end to a delicious meal.

But Wait, there was more...
Spicy Duck Bone Soup

Since we were at a duck restaurant,
we tried the duck bone soup,
it's spicy but with a great flavor.

I learned that every Korean meal
has soup served near the end.

Now that I think about it, my Korean friends would
opt for soup and the non-Koreans, like me, 
would have the kim chee fried rice...

I don't eat much rice anyway,
as my dad would say, "are you sure you're Asian?"
But I do love kim chee fried rice!

Some might say they don't like duck because it's too oily,
gamey tasting, etc.  Once you have really fresh poultry,
served in a simple way, it's really good.  I don't usually eat a 
lot of duck, but then again I've never had it grilled like this or
 in shabu shabu. 

I'll be back to Gung Jung Sulrangtang & Duck!

Gung Jung Sulrangtang & Duck
10330 Beach Blvd.
Stanton, CA 90680
(714) 484-1008

Monday - Sunday 8 am - 10 pm

They have some great sounding morning specials,
but that will have to wait for another time...

Note:  I was a guest of Gung Jung Sulrangtang.
Portions shown in these pictures are not necessarily 
the portions served during regular hours.
All comments and opinions are strictly my own.

 Photos by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats