Friday, March 31, 2006

Daily Gluttony's Secret Weapon

Either I really have a death wish or I really don't give that much of a hoot about my job because I have an important meeting with the president of our company today at 1 o'clock...

...and I brought kimchee, amongst other garlicky things, for lunch.

Now you tell me, should I do the gum & mints? Or not?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Hangovers, Broccoli, and Gnomes--Oh My!

George the Gastro-gnome had a bit too much to drink last night. He went out with the guys and didn't get home until 5:15 am this morning.

Which is why he doesn't have much energy to fulfill his sous-chef duties today. In turn, I decided to keep things simple. I found a broccoli salad mix by Eat Smart at Costco that I thought would go well with some sandwiches.

"George, can you get up for a second so I can show the nice people what the box looks like?"

Hesitantly, George rolled his stumpy little self off the box and staggered off to the side.

"You think you can manage making the broccoli salad while I make the sandwiches? All you have to do is mix everything together," I asked him.

He was on his back, eyes closed, mouth agape. Suddenly he turned his little head, stared at me and said, "Fuck you."

Allrighty then. I guess I'm making lunch by myself.

I guess I should have left poor George alone. All I had to do was mix some broccoli florets, shredded broccoli stalks, carrots and red cabbage, sunflower kernels, bacon bits, dried cranberries. and some sick looking mayonnaise based dressing together and it was done. It was something that was simple enough to put together myself, but everything came in a nice little box for $5.99, and it was perfect for a day like today where convenience was key. The dish was reminiscent of a cole slaw but more texturally interesting because of the broccoli florets, nuts, and cranberries, and also had a nice smoky tinge from the addition of bacon bits.

"George, do you want some?"

No answer.


He'd disappeared from the kitchen and into the bathroom where the horrors of last night's festivities were coming back to haunt him. I guess I'll have to save a plate for him. Poor guy.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Vocabulary Lessons: Red Corner Asia, Thai Town

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do think I have a pretty good command of the English language. Uh, that is until I've eaten at the second restaurant in two weeks whose name contains the word "corner" and isn't located on a corner.

Now that I think about it, maybe it was those stupid Princeton Review SAT classes that my mother sent me to when I was in high school. Yeah, the Princeton Review. For SAT's. Where every Saturday morning for like two months we'd go to this community center in Berkeley and listen to this hippie chick with hairy armpits talk about the best ways to use process of elimination. They did teach us some Latin word roots, but my thing about vocabulary is that if you don't know it, you don't know it. Like they're really going to teach you the whole dictionary in 30 hours of class.

"Do you guys know what a conflagration is?" Hippie Chick asked.

The class looked puzzled.

"It's just a big mother fucking fire!" she exclaimed.

I'll give Hippie Chick credit for that, because to this day I've never forgotten what a conflagration is.

OK, so though I've done quite a bit of reading in my lifetime, vocabulary has never been my strong suit. I don't like to use it; in fact, I think my brain has a natural block towards big, flowery words. Hey, but I did score in the 1300's on my SAT's, not too shabby, huh? Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to get me into what the Chinese call See-tahn-faht (Stanford) or Hah-fuht (Harvard). Sorry Mom, I know you meant well. But I did manage to get into UCLA, right? And I know what a conflagration is!

Well you'd think that I'd know what a corner is too. Because that word is not too fancy. Last week, I tried to make some sense of a Korean resaturant's claim that it was "
The Corner Place," when it was undoubtedly not located on a corner. This time, I visited a fairly new restaurant in Thai Town named Red Corner Asia that only scored two out of three on first impression. Because it's Asian, but it's not red, and it's not on a corner or in a corner. Perhaps it was called such because it has corners?

If it wasn't my vocabulary that improved after going to Princeton Review and college, then at least I can say that I developed a some impeccable research skills and a fine knack for getting to the bottom of things. It would be this same knack that would lead me to the
restaurant's website where I would finally find some truth. Here's what it said:

Red represents love, good fortune, Thai red chilies and the red-hot flame of our BBQ grill.

Corner is a place to sit and relax in comfort with friends and family.

Asia comes from our unique blend of Asian foods that you will love at RCA.

Red Corner Asia (RCA) is a place for you and your loved ones to relax while enjoying the finest Thai and Asian dining experiences.

OK, see? Explanations! That's all I ever asked for!

But it wasn't like I didn't enjoy my dining experience at Red Corner Asia. I'm just a little obsessive freak, that's all. In fact, I've been there three times in the last few weeks if that tells you anything.

When Isaac and I go out to dinner together, we sometimes want atmosphere and good service, and hence, we know we have to pay a higher price for it. Other times, we want our bill to total less than 15 bucks and so going to a dumpy-dive is OK. What's cool about Red Corner Asia is that there's somewhat of an atmosphere and great service all for a little more than dumpy-dive prices. Located in Thailand Plaza, a mini mall that's home to such places as Ruen Pair, the Thai dessert place
Bhan Kanom Thai, and the old home of singing Thai Elvis' Palms Thai, Red Corner Asia is the perfect location for a cheap date. The clean and spacious interior is painted in warm, contemporary tones. Dim lighting during dinner and the soft sounds of bossa nova or crooner vocals even make the place somewhat romantic, at least by Thai Town standards. Now you know I like the typical Asian greasy spoon as much as the next guy, but it's always nice to have options when you just don't feel like dealing with oil slicked floors, sticky menus or grease-filmed tables.

Your Not-So-Typical Thai Town joint

Speaking of sticky menus, two pages of mine were stuck together the first night we tried Red Corner Asia, and not two seconds later, a waitress zipped by to bring me a new menu and to apologize for the condition of the first one. The restaurant's owner, a really pleasant mannered Thai gentleman, also made sure to ask if we enjoyed our visit as we were getting ready to leave. He obviously didn't recognize me the second time I went to the restaurant to pick up a takeout order because he asked me if it was my first time at the restaurant, but no matter--the point is that he cared to ask, right? And as if they didn't already win the "Wow-No-One-is-Ever-This-Nice" award, they even brought me an ice water as I waited for my order. On our most recent visit, they gave us nothing less than decent service, and yet apologized to us for the slow service due to being short staffed. Now normally I'm skeptical of people that are too nice, but I've observed the folks at Red Corner Asia interacting with their customers and they're actually just...nice. Imagine that.

The food here isn't the best Thai food I've ever had, but it's pretty darn decent. I'd give their pad thai about a B+ which is an outstanding accomplishment in itself because you'd be surprised how many places fuck up such a simple dish. Red Corner Asia's had a good balance of sweet and sour flavors as well as a good ratio of noodles to other ingredients (meat, or in my case, fried tofu, as well as peanuts, beansprouts, etc.). I only wish the dish was just a smidgen more on the dry side. But that's just me, and all in all, they do a pretty good pad thai.

This earned a 3.3 GPA

As is with all Thai restaurants that offer a "choice of meat" with their a la carte items, the quality of the meat is always so-so, it's whatever's around the meat that you have to pass judgement on. Not surprisingly, the beef that we chose to go in our panang curry was a tad on the tough side, but the sauce itself was delicious. Along with the choice of meat, Red Corner Asia also gives you a choice on their spicy foods as to how how spicy you want it. We ordered this dish "medium spicy" and were quite pleased at the nice kick that the creamy coconut-milk based curry had.


"But why don't you want it spicy???" I whined to Isaac as he ordered a fried rice. I wanted the restaurant's Spicy Fried Rice with chili & basil, but as we had already ordered the panang curry, he wanted something a little more tame, and so I let him order a regular combination fried rice. The rice was fluffy and seasoned well, the pieces of chicken and pork were tender and the shrimp were pretty plump. A little generic I'll say, but it was good in a very basic kind of way.

Keep it simple, stupid

With the restaurant's papaya salad with blue crab, though, I got my wish as far as spiciness is concerned. It was the first time I'd ever tried green papaya, a food that I'd been very hesitant to try since yellow papaya has always smelled and tasted like ass. My brother was the one to reassure me otherwise. "No, trust me," he said, "green papaya is nothing like yellow papaya. It does not taste like ass." I also ordered this dish medium spicy and thank goodness I ate it at home because what I got was a conflagration in my mouth. But I kept eating it and eating it because it was just so damn good--refreshing, crunchy shreds of papaya, long beans, and a wedge of cabbage tossed with chiles, fish sauce, dried shrimp and whatever it is that they use for heat. The raw blue crab was fresh and whatever bits of crab meat we had the patience to pick out were good, but we could have done without it. Nothing against the crab; we're just lazy. By the time we were done, I think I had downed two huge glasses of water. Talk about a huge mother fucking fire.

Apparently, this is what a conflagration looks like

As with their pad thai, I wish their chicken pad kee mao and Chinese broccoli with crispy pork were a wee bit less on the saucy side. I also wish they offered their pad kee mao with ground chicken rather than regular slices of meat; I like the contrast between the little tasty bits of meat and the wide sheets of spicy noodle and chunks of bell pepper better. Despite the lack of ground chicken option and the slight oversaucing, their pad kee mao was nevertheless tasty. Same thing with the Chinese broccoli dish...the chunks of fried pork belly were perfect--fried to hardened perfection on the outside and revealing a nice smoky tenderness on the inside, a layer of crispy but luscious fatty skin to top it all off. Having that wonderful slight bitterness, the Chinese broccoli was the perfect combination of crunchy and leafy. And the sauce...well, it was perfect for eating with warm and fragrant jasmine rice, but the amount was in my opinion just over the "little too much" mark. I had to drain some of it out of the take out box when I got home. It made for one hell of a tasty leftover lunch the nest day though.

Oooh, saucy...

And you are quite saucy yourself

What I wasn't too thrilled with were the restaurant's angel wings (sorry, no picture!) of deep fried boneless chicken wings stuffed with glass noodle, ground pork and onion. The wings definitely looked better than they tasted, and they tasted, well, bland. A few swipes in the dish of bright red sweet & sour sauce helped but not by much.

Red Corner Asia's menu is pretty comprehensive and even includes some "Thai with a twist" dishes such as Kung Pao Pasta, Thai Style Sukiyaki, and a dish they call Volcano Chicken which consists of a whole roasted chicken served on a flaming platter--a chicken conflagration of sorts. I don't know if I'll be trying these anytime soon--I think I'll stick to the more traditional Thai dishes--but it's nice to know they're available.

I could go on and on with words and descriptions about this place, but all I have to say is that after three visits with tasty food and excellent service, Red Corner Asia is a pretty fucking good deal. Is there a word for that?

Red Corner Asia
5267 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Monday, March 20, 2006

Kiss Me, I Cooked Irish: Daily McGluttony's Corned Beef and Cabbage

I remember it clearly, though perhaps not so fondly. It was March 17, nineteen seventy-mbghppphr, and I was being pinched to death at laughed at by my second grade classmates because I didn't wear green for St. Patrick's Day. In order to save me from more physical and mental bruises, my teacher was nice enough to cut a square of green construction paper and pin it to my sweater. "It's St. Patrick's Day, dear, you have to wear green otherwise you'll get pinched!" I wondered why my mother hadn't told me this when she helped me get ready for school that morning, and when approached about it after I got home that afternoon, she was more clueless than I was.

I forgave my mother because even though I was a little tyke, it was obvious to me that this was just another one of those
Western traditions that my old school Chinese parents just didn't follow. We had all the Chinese New Year bases covered, that's for sure. I had all of those traditions pounded into my head since birth, but St. Patricks Day? Eh, not so much.

So it came as a big surprise, then, when Mom & Dad busted out with the corned beef and cabbage on the same day that their kid endured a torture that would scar her for the rest of her life. I'd never had it before, so curiously, I asked about the hunk of pink meat and cabbage wedges that sat in the Corning Ware on the table. "It's corned beef and cabbage," they explained, "people eat it for St. Patrick's Day."


So let me get this straight. You let your kid go to school green-less so as to be harassed by mean children, you've never heard of the wearing green thing, but you do know about corned beef and cabbage? Talk about being scarred for life.

I ate the dish of confusion with trepidation, but liked it, the fatty, salty meat blending so well with the leafy texture of the boiled cabbage. Of course, our family ate it with rice, which was perfect after the grains had soaked up some of the juice from the brisket. As years went by, I never, ever forgot to wear green on St. Patrick's Day again, my family continued the annual tradition of cooking their corned beef and cabbage dinner, and I came to figure out that it was not so much St. Patrick's Day that they were celebrating, but the fact that corned beef brisket and cabbage are dirt cheap the week of March 17th. The whole family was fed well for like 2 bucks and that, my friends, is always reason for celebration.

As I grew older and started living on my own, I continued the tradition of cooking corned beef and cabbage every St. Patrick's Day for a group of friends. This year, of course, was no different except for the fact that we cooked our brisket two days after the fact due to our recent busy schedules. I didn't even get a chance to go shopping for my annual dinner until last Thursday the 16th, and pulled my hair out driving around Alhambra trying to find a brisket. Albertsons was sold out, the Alhambra Vons had closed down permanently, and third store, Max Foods--some ghetto grocery store on Valley--finally had what I was looking for. And it wasn't even the cheaper, $0.69/lb point cut brisket...that had sold out and all they had left was the $1.99/lb flat cut brisket. I had a tradition to uphold, so it would have to do. With two heads of cabbage at $0.25/lb, I still got out of the market for under ten bucks, but was a little bummed that I couldn't do it for under 5 or six dollars like I normally do. Geez, the influence parents have on you!

Corned beef and cabbage is probably one of the easiest meals to make. Just put the bloody brisket into a large pot with the enclosed seasoning packet, cover with water, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to simmer for about 2 hours or until tender, adding water if needed. Remove brisket from water and "dry out" in a 300 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add cabbage wedges to brisket water and boil until tender.

Bloody brisket anyone?

Although I did make a pot of rice to go with the dinner, I cooked some roasted red potatoes seasoned with olive oil, dijon mustard, garlic, rosemary and thyme for the starch part of the meal. The crispy skinned potatoes provided some nice body to round out this ultimate comfort meal.

You say potato, I say cheap dinner

Isaac and our friends were very satisfied, and me even more so because I was able to feed five people for about ten bucks, keeping the family tradition very much alive.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Four-Play: Four Things Meme, L.A. Style

Should I even be participating in this "unlucky number" game? Well, I'm not that superstitious, so here goes:

Four Jobs I've Had In My Life In L.A.:
1) UCLA dorm cafeteria worker--pure slavery. How dare they put a petite 5'3" girl on "pots duty" by herself? Fuckers.
2) Retail Bitch
3) Information Systems Lackey
4) Merchandise Planning Ho

Four Movies About LA I Could Watch Over And Over:
1) Swingers
2) L.A. Story
3) Clueless
4) Go

Four Places I've Lived All Over L.A.
1) Westwood--when it was still happening and Contempo Casuals was in the Eurochow dome
2) Culver City/Palms
3) Koreatown--aah, how I miss the sound of the tamale lady and the produce truck
4) Downtown--cool, but not as cool as everyone thinks

Four LA-Themed Shows I Love(d) To Watch:
1) Six Feet Under
2) Curb Your Enthusiasm
3) Beverly Hills 90210 (shut up, you know you watched it too)
4) Three's Company (so what if the Regal Beagle didn't really exist?)

Four Places I Would Vacation At In LA:
1) Are you kidding me???

Four L.A. Based Websites I Visit Daily/Frequently:
Franklin Avenue
2) The mouthwatering food blogs on my blogroll
Los Anjealous
4) Go Fug Yourself (not necessarily LA based, but its about fugly celebs so it's gotta be at least 90% LA, right?)

Four Of My Favorite Foods Found In LA:
1) Daikoku Ramen and gyoza at
Daikokuya, Little Tokyo
2) Hummus and cabbage salad at
Skaf's Lebanese Grill in North Hollywood
3) Diddy Riese cookies in Westwood
4) Chinese broccoli w/ crispy pork belly at
Swan Thai, North Hollywood

Four Places In LA I Would Rather Be Right Now:
1) Back in the Valley having lunch with my old work chums.
2) At UCLA, if I were learning. I miss academia.
3) Anywhere near the water as long as it's clean and not crowded.
4) My house.

I think everyone's already been tagged for this, so I'm leaving that alone. Thanks Yoony of
immaeatchu for tagging me!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Explaining The Unexplainable: The Corner Place, Cerritos

OK, what the fuck. Over the last few weeks nothing but wierd-ass shit has been happening to me. Like what? Like alien lemons, a massive cold that just came out of nowhere, jacked up chicken recipes, mighty good izakaya that didn't fit on my table, a horrible dining experience with the punks over at Dolce Enoteca, the list goes on and on. And if that wasn't enough, I just found out that yet another friend of mine has decided to pack up and move to San Francisco. He's actually the fourth friend of ours in like three months that has made the decision to leave sunny LA and relocate to the fog-one-minute-blinding-sun-the-next-I-can't-make-up-my-mind-if-it's-going-to-be-warm-or-cold-City-By-The-Bay. Go figure.

This soon-to-be-LA-ex-Pat had some explaining to do, so we met up with him and two other friends at a place that, not surprisingly, had an unexplainable name.

Though one could say that The Corner Place is located in some sort of plaza that is technically on the corner of South Street and Gridley Avenue in Cerritos, the restaurant itself is not on the corner. There is a bank on the corner. And however you want to look at it, The Corner Place is behind or next to the bank. So if there were no pre-set plaza, and The Corner Place were all by its lonesome, it would not be on the corner. It would be one or two places down from the place on the corner. But it would not be the corner place. And yet somehow, it is The Corner Place.

Or maybe I was just thinking too much into it. Which is why instead of pulling my hair out I decided just to go with the flow and enjoy a nice dinner out with fiance and friends.

With its 70's brown boothed interior, it's obvious that this supposed "Corner Place" (OK, OK, I'll stop it...) used to be some sort of family friendly coffee shop like Coco's or Denny's in the past, and really, you wouldn't really know it was a Korean restaurant if you didn't notice the the grill plates on the tables or that the hostess greets people in Korean. Our friend took care of all the ordering for the five of us, meaning the rest of us spent less time looking over their menu and more time grilling our San Francisco-resident-to-be friend about why he's straying. It wouldn't have been difficult, though, to grill him and peruse the menu at the same time as the menu is pretty no-nonsense Korean, offering a small but comprehensive variety of meats to barbeque, jigaes, bibim bap, mandoo, pa jeon and other popular dishes.

How do you say Coco's in Korean?

Aside from its name (what????), The Corner Place makes things even easier by offering a couple of combo dinners for four which offer meat choices, some type of side dish and two large Hite beers for under sixty bucks. Bulgogi (sliced beef rib eye) and Dak Bulgogi (chicken) were our meats of choice for Combo #1, and were decent, especially when dipped into the little dishes of sesame-salty oil or eaten with the tangy shredded lettuce and scallion salad on the table. Panchan was plentiful: little dishes of things I kinda know the name of like baechu (napa cabbage) kimchi, oi (cucumber) kimchi, kong namul moo chim (seasoned bean sprouts), moo saeng chae (seasoned daikon)--and others that I really don't know the names of like seasoned seaweed, boiled cubes of potato, seasoned cubes of gelatin, and broccoli with a thousand island-like dressing--blanketed the table.

The meat made sense, I guess

A virtual wallpaper of panchan

A warm bowl of mu woo gook, or beef and radish soup, was good for the soul (and my sinuses!) on a chilly March evening, but an order of kimchi jigae was even better! The spicy reddish-orange stew of kimchi, pork and tofu boiled and bubbled inside a mini black cauldron. The stew is eaten by dumping a few spoonfuls of rice into the bowl and scooping heaps of the hearty concoction into your mouth with a big spoon which I totally love because it makes me feel like a kid again, and who doesn't like that?

Oh Stewy Night...

But perhaps the best part of our dinner were the bowls of cold noodles that came at the end of the meal. I can't remember the name for the life of me, but I can tell you how the noodles that our waitress graciously cut and divided up into individual bowls were taut and chewy, that they sat in a cold clear gingery broth that was flecked with scallion and chiles and that the dish did a great job of rounding out a meal that was otherwise packed with heat.

Cold, but not as cold as San Francisco

The Corner Place provided not an excellent, eyes-roll-to-the-back-of-your-head meal but a pretty decent one, so despite the its misleading name (yeah, so I opened my big fat mouth about it again, so what?), everything made sense. Now as for our friend leaving us, well, I'm not so sure. I mean, like he needs a job or anything.

The Corner Place
19100 Gridley Avenue
Cerritos, CA 90703
(562) 402-8578

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Daily Gluttony Goes Roswell

Relax, I haven't forgotten about you.

I've just been taking some time off to visit my family, recover from a heinous fucking cold, and plan a wedding. I'll be back next week with more posts, I promise. In the meantime, here's something to tie you over: I'm at my parents' house again this weekend and believe it or not they're still keeping the alien lemon in captivity. So I decided to go Roswell on it in order to get to the bottom of things.

And no, there is no "fruit" in the "fingers."

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Please Welcome My New Baby Brother

Having witnessed the most mutant looking lemon I've ever seen in my life, I am now convinced that my parents breed aliens in their backyard.

I should know. I'm one of them.