Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lessons from the Kitchen at Al Bacio

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Unfortunately this restaurant has closed.

"A bottle of red, a bottle of white  
It all depends upon your appetite
I'll meet you any time you want
In our Italian Restaurant"

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant - Billy Joel

*Photo by Al Bacio Ristorante Italiano

My friend and fellow food blogger @backyardbite invited me to an Italian cooking class by Chef Christian Simionato at Al Bacio in West Hollywood.  Usually on Grammy day, I'm busy cooking at one of the after-parties.  But this year, wasn't feeling like making 1,200 servings of something and without hesitation gladly accepted Amy's invitation.  

About a dozen of us arrived at the restaurant on Grammy Sunday around 11 am.  Chef Christian welcomed us and after putting on aprons, we all headed to the kitchen.  

First up was dessert
Chef Christian setting up the apple tart for the oven

I can't believe how simple this apple tart recipe was
and turned out to be wonderful dessert.
Considering that I don't bake, I leave that to the professional
pastry chefs, but I'll probably give this one a go at it.

Next up was to cook the raw octopus

Before the class began, I was talking to the chef how
I learned to cook octopus was to beat it up to tenderize
and then cook it to a rubbery and chewy texture.

The chef could have cut it with a butter knife, it was that tender.  

After working with a few chefs who showed me their way to cook 
octopus, I finally learned how to cook it so it's tender and not chewy.

Audience Participation Time! 

The chef showing us the art of pasta making
and then it was time to flex our muscles.


Rolling pasta out to make tagliatelle 

Tagliatelle pasta done, Check!

@TammyLaLaLand did a great job 
with the veal bolognese sauce,
under Chef Christian's supervision of course. 

Gently simmer until the sauce thickens

As the bolognese continues to reduce, 
next was to make a blood orange sauce for dessert.

Once the bolognese was ready, Chef Christian
cooked the pasta and plated the dish.

The milk gelato is ready for tasting

All of the components are now completed...

Chef Christian sharing some of his food knowledge

I've worked with different restaurateurs and chefs, 
in different kitchens, with all kinds of cuisines.  
The ones you can truly learn from are the ones who are 
passionate about food and willing to SHARE their knowledge.
Chef Christian is one of the them...

I'm always interested in learning more about food and
preparation.  I was able to pick up a handful of tips from the chef.

This cooking class is for anyone from a novice in the kitchen
to someone who just loves to eat.  The chef and the staff are
welcoming and very knowledgeable.  The dishes selected
are ones that you can make at home, recipes were supplied. 

The chef did mention that each class will be a different menu,
classes will be announced on their Facebook page.

it was time to take off our aprons and 
take our seats at the patio table.

See What Jay Eats... 

Mozzarella Di Bufala

We were lucky that one of the restaurant partners
returned from Italy with some freshly made mozzarella
the day before.  Mozzarella Di Bufala with olive oil and
fresh ground pepper is awesome and this was REALLY good! 

Al Bacio Salad
Octopus, potato, tomatoes, shaved carrots, fennel, lemon, and olive oil.

I've had a salad similar to this before, but
the octopus was not even close to being this tender.

Tagliatelle with Veal Bolognese Sauce

A simple, yet flavorful, sauce that went
well with the hand-made pasta.
The chef used a semolina flour from Italy
that made the difference in flavor.

Baked Apple Tart with Blood Orange Sauce and Milk Gelato

Not sure if I've had an apple tart that I'll remember
for awhile (and got the recipe too), it was nice with
the blood orange sauce and the milk gelato.

It was a nice way to spend Grammy Sunday without
thinking about serving up to 3,000 people.  Met some
new food people, met a couple of people whom I follow on
social media but have never met IRL, had some wine,
good food, and learned a few things too...
I'd say it was a Good Day!

aka Amy T. Shuster

8741 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 657-1182

Lunch:  Tuesday to Friday  11:30 am - 2:30 pm
Dinner:  Monday - Saturday  5:30 pm - 10:30 pm
Closed Sundays

Cooking Classes:  One Sunday a month
See their Facebook page for details.

Follow them on Twitter

Photos by Jay Terauchi
*Unless otherwise noted
Jay Eats Worldwide

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Saga Continues... I mean, the Sriracha Continues

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At least for now...

I'm not sure if you've heard, the maker of Sriracha WILL continue to produce this magical sauce, at least for now.  Some may know it as rooster sauce, the hot sauce with the green top, Asian hot sauce (funny, I've seen Sriracha in many non-Asian places too), etc.  Whatever name you know it by, many were caught off guard by the halt on production.  

The back story in a nut shell, Huy Fong Foods (the maker of this Sriracha) has received complaints from their Irwindale neighbors about the strong odors coming from the factory.  With these complaints came an injunction to halt production that could cause the odors from the chills used in their famous sauce.  

Huy Fong Foods' Sriracha

As of the week of January 6, 2014, a spokesperson for Huy Fong Foods' stated that they "plan to resume shipments at the end of the month."  

I'm not choosing sides and I haven't experienced what the neighbors were experiencing, but I can say that I've been to a hot sauce factory (not Huy Fong Foods) and the processing of chills do give off a pungent odor that's strong for the eyes and throat.

But for now, the Sriracha continues...

My Favorite is
the chili garlic sauce.

Just in case something happens again
and I can't get my Sriracha,
I'll still have my emergency stash...

If you have no idea how to make it...

Pass the Hot Sauce!
For now anyway...

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats Worldwide

Sunday, January 12, 2014

San Diego: Tajima Ramen

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I don't get down to San Diego much these days.  For some reason on this trip, I wanted ramen.  After confirming with my ramen friend, Keizo Shimamoto of GoRamen.com, I headed over to Tajima Ramen to try their tonkotsu ramen with Kakuni pork.  

See What Jay Eats...

Tajima Ramen
House Tonkotsu Broth

A rich pork broth, served with 1/2 an egg,
bbq pork, green onions, and seaweed.

A nice rich taste,
not really pretty to look at,
but a good taste to it.

Seared Tuna Tataki
with fried garlic chips and ponzu

I wanted to try their seared tuna,
I wished that the ponzu had a bit more
of a citrus punch to it, but that's
how I like it.
(Thanks to Sushi Nozawa)

The Kakuni Pork 

The pork was tender,
it was slow cooked and had good flavor


Housemade pan fried pork dumplings

The service was attentive, the
food was pretty good, AND they stay open late.
I would go back again.

4681 Convoy Street
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 576-7244

Monday - Friday:  11:30 am - 2:30 pm
5:30 pm - 10:30 pm
Saturday - Sunday:  10:30 pm - 3 am

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats Worldwide

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My Favorite Manapua

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There are dim sum places in Honolulu that are really good,
but I prefer heading over to the manapua shops.

Manapua is similar to a steamed bao
with bbq pork, but not found in
dim sum restaurants.

There are many manapua places,
such as Char Hung Sut, Royal Kitchen, 
Island Manapua Factory, or
Chun Wah Kam Noodle Factory, just to name a few.

All are good, most people have their
favorite place, mine is
Libby's Manapua Shop in Kalihi.

See What Jay Eats...

Pork Manapua, Pork Hash, and Half Moons 

The Pork Manapua is a steamed bun with a
sweet pork filling, just like a Chashu Bao.

Pork Hash are steamed dumplings filled 
with a denser pork filling, similar to Shu Mai.

 Half Moons

Half Moons have a Ha Gow type of skin,
filled with the same filling as the pork hash.
(Hawaii friends please let me know if
I've got this one right) 

No styrofoam food containers here,
old skool style box...

Don't forget the Chow Fun Noodles!
(sorry no pics)

Libby's Manapua is a takeout only place,
you even help yourself by filling small
cups of soy sauce and spicy mustard.

I usually pick up some manapua on the
way to the airport for the flight home.

410 Kalihi Street
Honolulu, HI 96819
(808) 841-2253

Wednesday - Sunday
6 am - 2 pm
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

If you're leaving Oahu and heading
to the airport, Libby's is on the way
off of Nimitz Highway.

The have their own parking lot too...
(I'm from LA, easy in and out access)

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Luscious Dumplings and Noodles

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When I was in college, a friend invited me over to his house, his grandmother from Taiwan was here and she was making her family's favorite beef noodles.  The broth was very light, not like the darker broth beef noodles that I've had around town.  OK, so I've been out of college for awhile now and recently tried Luscious Dumplings with some friends, thanks @KristieHang (you'll see why later).  It's has the same light broth and very similar to what my friend's grandmother made many years ago, but she used more ginger.  The winner here is combining a bowl of noodles with dumplings, see combos below.

This is my kind of place, they don't mess around with every kind of protein and different varieties of dumplings.  They have 7 kinds of dumplings, 7 different soup noodles, baby bok choy in oyster sauce, stewed bean curd, and 3 soup and dumpling combos.  That's It!

They have 2 locations and both are small restaurants, the dining room holds about 20 people (or so), I wouldn't go with more than 4 people.  Plan to wait, I've been lucky and only go when I don't see a line outside.  Service is fast, noodles come out first and then dumplings.  I love the chili sesame sauce on the tables, not too spicy but goes great with the black vinegar and dumplings.  When you check-in, they'll hand you an order sheet.  I suggest that you checkout their menu online before you go, as they do not have a menu at the restaurant.  The servers are more than happy to answer questions about the menu or make suggestions if you ask them.  

See What Jay Eats...

My favorite noodle dishes

 Stewed Beef Noodles

Very tender beef and my favorite one.

 Stewed Pork Noodles

How can you not like pork belly?
It was a close second...

 Salted Pork Noodles

The pork isn't braised in a sauce and understand
why it's salted flavored.  Otherwise, no taste.
Pork and salt...Mmm

 Beef Brisket Noodles

I thought this would be my favorite and went back a second
time to try it.  Maybe because I'm so much into Texas style
bbq brisket, not much else compares.

Stewed bean curd and celery appetizer

Baby Bok Choy

I come here for the combos...  

You pick your noodle (regular size) and have a choice of dumplings:  
1.  chive, pork, egg, and shrimp (5 pcs).  
2.  cabbage, pork, and shrimp (5 pcs).
3.  pan fried pork chive pockets (2 pcs)

Chive, Pork, Egg, and Shrimp 
5 pieces

Cabbage, Pork, and Shrimp
5 pieces

Pan Fried Pork Chive Pockets
2 pcs

The combos are $7
It's a good amount of food for the price.

I've been a regular customer of Luscious Dumplings, at least once a week, since before Thanksgiving.  In one week, I had noodles 3 times at both locations.  I've tried just about everything on the menu and have brought several friends.  This is why I am thanking @KristieHang for getting me hooked, actually I've been a fan of noodles and dumplings for awhile.  When I happen to drive by and there's no line, I usually stop in.


San Gabriel Location
704 W. Las Tunas Drive
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 282-8695

Monday:  Closed
Tues - Sat:  11 am - 1:50 pm;  5 pm - 7:50 pm
Sunday:  11 am - 1:50 pm

Monrovia Location
919 W Duarte Road
Monrovia, CA 91016
(626) 821-0518

Monday:  11 am - 1:50 pm;  5 pm - 8 pm
Tuesday:  Closed
Wed - Sun:  11 am - 1:50 pm;  5 pm - 7:50 pm

I do suggest getting there no later than 30 mins before closing,
otherwise the kitchen closes.

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats