Monday, January 30, 2012

farewell, gonpachi

sorry for few days of missing in action!
i had a super busy weekend which lacked much sleep that lead to yeah, well sickness-

this morning, i read from eater la that gonpachi restaurant on la cienega is closing tomorrow
you can find the article right here

since i actually liked this restaurant for their beautiful japanese garden, perfectly-lit lighting, their nice ambiance that is suitable for date nights as well as night out with friends, tasty food at affordable price . . . 
i decided to pay a little tribute to gonpachi beverly hills

not only did i like the restaurant, i actually enjoyed their bar quite a bit!
. . .  enough that i actually visited just for the bar part on an occasion-

crispy sweet potato chips & a large hot sake
pocket monster
drink for grown children
with haamonii smooth, calpico & sprite
zensai mori awase: chef's sampling of appetizers
i like trying chef's samplers or chef's menu!
ebi shinjo
crispy fried shrimp dumpling with sweet yuzu chili sauce
this is really yummmmmm-
sumiyaki sirloin
robata grilled prime angus sirloin with garlic uni butter on steamed rice
with green onion, shitake & cress
pumpkin zensai
chilled sticky balls in a roasted kabocha pumpkin custard sauce
with vanilla bean ice cream and red bean paste, topped with almonds
one of the best dessert ever!!!

as you noticed, it was really more of a "farewell" for a nice restaurant than introducing you to a new spot until it tortures you enough to check it out, but hope you enjoyed few photos & that you do try gonpachi torrance at the miyako hotel 

additionally, i guess that also means no more actor sighting, as chris owen who is famous for his role in american pie, actually worked there as a waiter

good bye, gonpachi! 

i am now happilyfull ♥ 
see you on my next adventure!

Friday, January 27, 2012

a very mexican dinner

it all started with fresh radish sighting at the market . . .

. . . because i love those red radishes with lots of lime, while eating $1 tacos at the taco stands . . .
i had sudden craving of, well . . . tacos!
and i decided to have a taco night with the family 

next day, in order to get fresh ingredients for the taco night, i was ready to head to the market!
that's when my sister said "just tacos? can you make some tortilla soup too? and why not the spanish rice?? and horchata???" 
i believe she was half-joking at first or not . . .
but it did stuck with me as i drove to the market
now . . .
i've never made the tortilla soup but i said "why NOT try!" 
after that, it was shop shop shop

of course, buying the ingredients was easy, because all mexican food involves around the "basics"
but that meant a lot of things to wash, chop, mix, grill, boil, all at the same time! phew!
yeah, i ended up staying in the kitchen for 2hrs preparing, mainly focusing on really getting the flavors of the soup, because i am pretty picky with my mexican food ;)

so let's get on with the cooking! 

stir few different colors of peppers (i added red, yellow & orange)
+ onions
+ red onions
the longer you cook, more flavor you will get out of it!
also add in salt + pepper for flavoring
cook until golden
+ add in some taco seasoning for flavor
i cooked some chicken with taco seasoning on the side 
which you can dump in the pot!
i also added chopped tomatoes, including the juice you get from chopping
time to add chicken stock
add tomato paste to add "color" and "flavor"
add black beans after draining out the juice 
already looking more like tortilla soup, no?
add diced chili in the pot
i like corn, so i added the whole can of corn 
close the le creuset & keep boiling
longer you cook, more flavorful your soup will be! 
this was a major fail
 because while rushing, i cut the tortilla strips wayyyy too thick!
but you get the point!
use dried tortillas or bake some tortillas for the soup
i topped it off with lots of cheese because i lovveeee cheeeeeese!

i love guacamole!!! with no cilantro, please!!!
my guacamole has deeeeeeeeeeep flavor to it & it uses the avocado grown fresh from our very-generous avocado tree!

perfect guacamole is sooooo goooood that you can eat it pretty much with everything!
tacos, chips, dip fresh veggies, or even add it on top of the tortilla soup you just made

let's make guacamole!
+ avocado + lime juice
+garlic + serrano chilis
+red onions
+tomatoes +salt +pepper
mix mix mix

& the sides
1. spanish rice, which i actually cheated by making the packet ;)
2. "marinated for 2 hours before cooking" steak for tacos
3. lightly baked tortilla for the tacos

spanish rice
skirt steak 
baking tortillas

& the final meal!
i was pretty exhausted after spending so much time at the market + cooking, so didn't have the time to make the table pretty in time to serve dinner for the family (we eat kinda early~)
so please excuse the table setting ;)

a very mexican dinner

once again, i apologize for "not the best of photos" as i was busy cooking! 
but hope you enjoyed it & try making the tortilla soup yourself if you haven't already ;)
mine came out so good that my mom is telling me to make more already!

i am now happilyfull ♥ 
see you on my next adventure!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

got cheese risotto? . . . in a giant block of cheese?

i am a big "bar-foodie" 
yup, i like going to bars, not to drink, but to eat their food! 

although i have completely stopped drinking for quite some months now,
there were times when couple girlfriends of mine & i would go to a bar,
order bunch of food during happy hour (way more than we can handle) without ordering any alcohol & sit there chatting for hoursss . . . which made the servers frown at times on busy nights because we were just taking up spots "eating" and not "drinking", as they mostly make business by selling alcohol,  not food

nevertheless, whether you like to drink or not
i am sure many would find japanese izakayas enjoyable as you can pretty much nibble on little bit of everything while grabbing a drink after a long day of work to wind down-

not sure what a izakaya is?
wikipedia puts it simply as "is a type of japanese drinking establishment which also serves food to accompany the drinks; they are popular, casual places for after-work drinking.  you order food & drinks throughout the course of meal as desired and unlike other japanese styles of eating, food items are usually shared  by everyone at the table. izakayas always offer wide variety of all sorts of dishes"

thankfully, i am surrounded by so many great japanese izakayas by living in los angeles area . . . but one of my favorite izakaya is definitely musha
one of the reason why i like coming to musha is because unlike some izakayas where it's smokey from yakitori or is crowded with drunk 20s, the torrance location actually is somewhat "homey"! 

it's a party!

 i learned the true joy of a ice-cold-beer after college, once i started working . . .
until then, i never used to appreciate beer at all because it made me full too quick & it got warm too fast & i didn't think it tasted good at all!
i don't know what it is about beer, but it really is more of a refreshing cold drink rather than alcoholic beverage after a tough day at work
just remember the voice that says "please drink responsibly" *wink*

whether it be bottled beer
or japanese draft beer by glass which is 10x better than american beers
or you share it by pitchers with friends
or you decide to drink a girlish sake
or even iced-oolong tea like myself,
have a drink & chat with friends over delicious izakaya food

 enough about drinks & onto musha's food!!!
their small dishes are all yummy and you won't be too disappointed with whatever you pick!
but i did notice that i keep choosing some of the same dishes over...and over...and over again, so i'd say some definitely are tastier than others (i will mark those with a star*)

i recommend that you try their signature dishes + grill + carb dish that will actually fill you up
and personally, i don't get much of their sashimi menu because i prefer to go to sashimi restaurants to eat those-
here are some of dishes that made the cut on the "photo-worthy" challenge ;)

ebi mayo mayo*
udon vongole
ai kamo ponzu
kabocha croquette
baguette gratin
buta kikuni
this was on manager's recommendation as "pork belly boiled for 4hrs
to tenderize and reduce fat; a block of this pork is so soft that you can
cut it with chopsticks"
buta kimchee*
musha's fried chicken*
musha's fried chicken*
spicy tuna dip
also on manager's recommendation as "you must have seen spicy tuna
in a roll, but we serve as a dip; try this with a crispy rice cracker"
tarako kimchee udon*
typhoon char-han

& last but not least . . .
musha's cheese risotto is really a must because it's just special! 
and it tastes good too, with strong bacon flavor (i mean, bacon-anything is good, right?)

it is on the manager's recommendation menu as, and rightfully so too, "italian dish with japanese creation. japanese grain brown rice cooked with chicken broth. then pan fried with bacon onion and a touch of heavy cream. served in a whole cheese bowl to your table"

but do remember that the cheese bowl is only for the show; you do not get to eat out of it, which disappointed me on my first visit ;)
so, a word of advice for follow photo lovers? take photos while the servers scoop out the risotto! they will pause for you, but you really can't wait until they are gone, because you will just be left with a dish of risotto which won't make the photo very special

musha's cheese risotto**
musha's cheese risotto**
musha's cheese risotto**
musha's cheese risotto**
musha's cheese risotto**
black sesame ice cream with honey

& an additional perks for those looking for chill places for a birthday party!
this is so cool!!! 
they turn off the light of the whole restaurant to sing you birthday song + the kitchen does a fire show to get people excited!!! 
. . . i felt so bad for whoever that had to do the fire show that day because there were three birthdays that night in the span of less than an hour! he must have been sweating in the back, swinging the wok! 

i wish i actually was able to give you detailed food description, as their website didn't do a very good job explaining other than few that made the manager's pick! so i will make sure to make an "update" to this post next time i visit musha again!

i am now happilyfull ♥ 

see you on my next adventure!