Sunday, June 29, 2014

Taste of South Coast Plaza - June 2014

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As a college student, I had two jobs, one was talking my way into the prep kitchen (of a restaurant I had no business being in) and working my way up to the sauté station within 2 months.  Not bad for someone with no previous kitchen experience (years later went to cooking school).  My other college job was sales in Men's Sportswear at Nordstrom, not just any Nordstrom but the busiest store in the Los Angeles region (at the time).  If you knew me back then, you'd find me in the food court wearing a suit, shirt, tie, and shoes all from Nordstrom. Today I'm usually wearing a polo shirt & shorts.

Put a food event together (and invite food people) with shopping at South Coast Plaza and you know I was there...  Not to mention that I'm starting to spend more time in Orange County and need to stay on top of the restaurants in the area.

Of course I started off this tasting with dessert,
served in an area sectioned off in the Crystal Court.

Our hostess, Kristie Hang,
welcoming the invited guests
to sample the menu offerings 
from the various South Coast Plaza 
participating restaurants.

See What Jay Eats...

The Italian and the Turkey sandwich
from Z Cafe

This was a good start, love sandwiches
that use good ingredients.
Save room for their cookies too...

Lomi Salmon 

Had the pleasure of meeting 
Executive Chef Michael Doctulero.
Got to hear a bit of his using products from
local farms and sustainable fisheries.

I'll be in to sample more! 

Had a nice chat with Tiffany Teixeira and Morton's chef.

I found out that Morton's Santa Ana
has some wonderful events throughout the year. 

A Braised Beef Short Rib Sandwich
from Morton's The Steakhouse

Nuff said...

Orecchiette Pasta with Marinara

I could've eaten the entire pan,
love when a dish is simple
and let the ingredients speak for themselves.

Prime Rib Sandwich
with horseradish cream and house-made chips,
with a side of the famous creamed corn

It brings back memories of my family's dinners at
Lawry's The Prime Rib for special occasions.
Notice how much horseradish cream, love it!

With some new friends,
notice who's still eating?

I love meeting food people and sharing food information.

But today, I was talking so much, didn't get
a chance to sample all of the food
and meet all of the participating restaurants.

Here's a list of the other participants

Season's 52
Vie de France

When I'm shopping, I'm usually thinking what can I get that's fast
and convenient?  Not what's good?
There are a lot of good restaurant choices at South Coast Plaza

Not to mention the Opening of Din Tai Fung
in August 2014.

Thank You!
Sarah Kruer

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats Worldwide
©Jay Terauchi

Tacolandia 2014

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There were two food events that I was trying to decide if I wanted to go or not (both on the same day).  One was the LA Street Food Festival at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and the other was Tacolandia at El Pueblo de Los Angeles (Olvera Street).  Last weekend was the DTLA Night Market, a few vendors told me they would be at the LA Street Food Fest and to stop by.  I was still debating if I was going or not, until Jeffrey Shimamoto called and invited me to the Sold-Out LA Weekly Tacolandia.  

Well that was an easy decision...TACOS!!!

 We arrived 30 mins before the gates opened at 3 pm,
we were within the first 100 or so in the General Ticket line ($25 - $35).

Although the Premium Ticket line ($45 - $50) was just as long.
In addition to access to the event and taco samples,
 a premium ticket included a VIP gift bag and 5 drink tickets. 

There was a Tequila Garden ($20)
with sampling of up to 10 - 1/2 oz servings of tequila and wine.

When the gates opened, 
we headed to the Westside of the plaza
to begin our taco adventure.

 OK, so we followed the guys behind us in line,
they seemed to have a plan and knew
which vendors to hit first.

See What Jay Eats...

 First Taco of the Day!
From the Mariscos Jalisco truck

We were off to a great start...

Aquis es Texcoco had a very tender goat taco.

North Africa was represented,
Revolutionario LA Food

Chicken Tajine and Cauliflower Taco
from Revolutionario LA Food

I asked for the chicken tajine, but the chef
insisted I have the cauliflower too, no arguments here.
Flavors were really good!

 Did someone say Pork???

Pork Skin Taco 

Their other menu item was a pork stomach taco.
I didn't want both, since we had
so many more tacos ahead of us. 

The skin was braised and very tender,
some people may not like the soft texture.

Jeffrey did share his stomach with me.

I mean, he shared a piece of his pork stomach taco...

 It's getting a bit crowded now.

At Guerrilla Tacos

I've been to their truck, a very creative menu
(in a good way) and today was just as good. 

I don't exactly remember what was in their taco,
but I enjoyed it, look at that shaved truffle.

Nuff said...

It was a beautiful day in Downtown Los Angeles

I almost showed up with a white shirt on
to eat tacos...

One of two places I wanted to sample their tacos
(other was Guerrilla Tacos) 
and the longest line of the day.

I joked with Jeffrey Shimamoto (Ramen Burger),
now is his turn to wait in line for food...

Read my Eggslut post HERE

Eggslut Taco

Braised/Fried Nueskes Bacon
Roasted Garlic Ricotta,
Fried Quail Egg, Salsa Roja,
and Pickled Potato on a Flour Tortilla.

It needed something extra, but I enjoyed it.

Cochinita Pibil Taco
from Chichen Itza

A whole pig marinaded in Orange & Achiote 
and roasted in a banana leaf.

This was a good cochinita pibil.

Sautéed Octopus Taco
with Hummus, Rocoto, Huacatay, and Jalapeño  
from Picca

Very tender octopus and one of 
my favorites of the day.

Lobster-Chorizo Fundido

Chunks of lobster tail and house made chorizo
topped with a tequila cheese sauce  

It was small, but tasty

By this time, I lost count on how many tacos we had.

 But there's always room for Celito Lindo...

My favorite at Olvera Street,
serving taquitos since 1934.

I was so full, I could only have one,
love the avocado sauce.

Mexicano Flautas

One More Thing...

Dulce de Leche and Guava & Cheese Taquitos
from La Monarca Bakery 

We had to finish off Tacolandia 2014 with dessert!

I was glad to see different ingredients used, from cauliflower 
to octopus, and each taco was a unique experience.

Although we didn't get to sample all 40 or so tacos,
we did have a great cross-section of what makes
Los Angeles a great place for tacos.

The salsas and hot sauces ranged from 
pretty good heat to WOW, FIRE!  
I'm wondering how these don't burn through the bottle.

The only disappointment were the long lines for
beverages, which were longer than the taco lines.

It might have been better to have a booth just
for canned beers, soft drinks, and water.

We hit the drink sample booths to quench our thirst
and the lines were 2-3 people at most.
Besides, I was introduced to some new beverages.

Thanks Jeffrey Shimamoto for the invite!

Does it look like we had 14 tacos?
I lost track of the official count.

I had my fill of tacos today,
good tacos...

Sorry to anyone who calls me within
the next couple of weeks wanting
to go eat tacos.

If you love tacos, I suggest you look for the 
LA Weekly Tacolandia 2015
and get tickets early.

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats Worldwide
©Jay Terauchi

Friday, June 27, 2014

Recap DTLA Night Market 2014

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I didn't think I would have a recap post of this inaugural 
DTLA Night Market.  
Although I was in attendance, let me explain why...

Back in February, journalist and foodie, Kristie Hang, introduced me to the brother and sister team of Mama Musubi.  I've been a fan after having their 24 Hour Pork Belly musubi at one of last year's 626 Night Markets at Santa Anita Park.

With Mama Musubi's Carol and Phillip Kwan

We hit it off and discussed a menu idea to collaborate on.  They invited me into their kitchen and we came up with a poke idea.  Mama Musubi uses great products and you can taste the quality in their musubis, so we knew the poke had to be just as good as the rest of their menu. Thanks to Kristie Hang who announced our "secret menu" item in LA Weekly.

Now you know the background story...

Photo Courtesy of Kristie Hang

How could I say NO to working with one of the most popular vendors at 626 Night Market?  If you don't believe me, just look at the long lines when Mama Musubi sets up their booth.  I knew the pressure was on and didn't want to disappoint their fans. 

I heard a couple had waited in line, picked up their order of poke, and then got back in line to order another one.  Another couple had driven in from Orange County for poke, I hope they weren't disappointed.  We thank everyone who came out for this secret menu item. 

Photo Courtesy of Kristie Hang
A shameless poke plug

I knew this shirt from competing in the 
Sam Choy Poke Festival on the Big Island
would come in handy one day...

I was busy serving up poke and didn't
do my usual wandering around looking
for new food finds.  But here's what I did enjoy.

See What Jay Eats...

 I know I'm bias, but it was pretty good.

Wasabi Ahi Poke
Tuna, sweet onions, scallions, sesame seeds, 
and a pinch of Hawaiian salt.

Poke is an appetizer in Hawaiian cuisine.
It means to slice or cut.

You can't have just one

What's a 626 Night Market event without
a musubi picture?

 I visited another friend with a long line
Photo Courtesy Ramen Burger
 and got to try the special Ramen Burger 

It had a nice flavor to it,
without just being spicy hot.

Team Ramen Burger West Coast
does an amazing job coming up with
creative new menu items that gets
me in their line at each event.

Look for the Ramen Burger brick and mortar
location in KTown. read about it HERE

Photo Courtesy Ramen Burger
 I guess it's no secret now...

 Grilled Corn from Oh Thit!

If you follow me, you know I love corn!  Grill it and it's even better.  Our booth was next to Oh Thit! and I was lucky enough to sample their menu offerings.  I loved their corn, it's grilled and topped with a scallion oil and lots of green onions.  It reminded me of a pho place I used to visit, they would serve scallion oil with their pho ga (now I want pho).

Oh Thit! isn't just about grilled corn, they also served grilled meats! 

Usually I avoid the grilled meats at these types of events, most of them are over-cooked, dried out, and disappointing.  I have to admit, Oh Thit! had one of the best grilled meats I've had at a festival setting (or night market) in a long time, flavorful and very tender.  

They serve two types of Vietnamese style grilled skewers, pork and filet mignon.  Both are very good and I'll be in their line at the next 626 Night Market.  

 What a Great Combination!

Mama Musubi's Wasabi Ahi Poke with Oh Thit!'s Pork Skewer
and what I ended up eating on Saturday...

Another favorites of the DTLA Night Market

I enjoyed the Cheeseburger dumplings
and Ginger Pork dumplings.

But my favorite was the vegetable dumplings,
which are vegan friendly.
YES, vegan!

Their ingredients are locally sourced from organic producers.
Their handmade dumplings can be found at Good Egg Los Angeles.

 Uni Cream Tater Tots

In my "Night Market Survival Guide", I mentioned to use social media to find something that you might have missed. Thanks to a couple of people I follow, I was able to find and order these beauties.  From Lotza Tots, they had a variety of tater tots, but the uni cream caught my attention. I did enjoy these and look forward to trying more at the next 626 Night Market.

One more thing...

It Could Happen!

Mama Musubi's Poke with the Ramen Burger

I didn't really have a chance to walk around
and checkout all of the food like I normally do.

I wanted to get a Japa Dog, but didn't have
time to wait in line.

What else did I miss? 

See you at 626 Night Market in July!

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Unless noted
Jay Eats Worldwide
©Jay Terauchi