1st Annual Bites at the Beach

What a great turnout for the 1st Annual Bites at the Beach. The event was sponsored by Stella Artois and the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce with a portion of the proceeds going towards the Surfrider Foundation. Beer and food pairing = a very happy palate. Each booth featured a dish that was either savory or sweet along with a craftbrew that would compliment the taste of the bite. Their were two panels in the afternoon hosted by Food Network star Adam Gertler. The panels included food experts, chefs and brewers that answered questions about the industry and their craft.

The Manhattan Beach Studios backlot was a perfect setting for this event. I’m gonna get craftsy and make a neckholder for my beer glass and napkins so both hands are free to sample more food at next years event.

 

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Chevonne and I making sure to get a handle on our swag from Stella Artois and Samual Adams.

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Manhattan Beach Studios Backlot which I totally thought was a real little town when we first got there. HA!

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Food Network star Adam Gertler hosting the first of two panels scheduled for the day.

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Sampling the Belgian golden strong made with duvel yeast with the brewers, Pacific Gravity.

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Petros in Manhattan Beach had amazing little bites of heavenly mousse, chocolate and slivered almonds on a spoon.

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Eagle Rock Brewery on Roswell St, LA was in the house!!!! Definitely worth checking out at www.eaglerockbrewery.com

Are You A Food Mixologist?

Written by EatinAsian creator Kimlai Yingling
Published on Huffington Post Taste

In the past half-century and definitely in my generation global ingredients are more available. Food has become super cool! We’re a curious generation and we’ll mix and match different ingredients to see what new concoctions we can come up with. Now whether it’s acceptable to our palate is another story, but we are willing to try. It’s not about perfecting the prior generations amazing recipes. It’s about putting our own stamp on it, adding more bold ingredients and trying to invent a dish based on an already strong foundation.

As society evolves it’s become more common to come from interracial parents and with that comes the introduction to two different types of foods. My mom will cook an entire fish (bottom feeders not excluded) without letting one inch go to waste and incorporate a ton of fresh Asian vegetables. My dad loves casseroles, coconut cream pie and anything and everything fried in vegetable oil. I couldn’t have come from two more different food worlds. My mom was always trying to incorporate American ingredients into her Vietnamese/Chinese dishes when she came to the states. Because she was married to my dad, (a Caucasian) she toned down, we’ll call it Americanized, her Viet dishes that were normally cooked with heavy fish sauce. She learned to use American ingredients that were foreign to her. To me, fried rice isn’t fried rice unless it includes sliced up hotdogs, which of course have been fried on both sides giving it that extra crunch. I don’t think your going to find hotdog-fried rice on any Chinese restaurant menu.

Food has become an art form. The spices and ingredients have become color palates, the skillets and pans are blank canvases and the final product might as well be an edible Picasso. Combining two different food styles has become mainstream and definitely more acceptable and exciting.

My mom went through a phase of being fascinated with Mexican tacos. Asians have their own type of taco shells called Banh Trang Goi Xoi that are made from tapioca flour and resemble corn shells except they come in a variety of colors. We eat with our eyes and love colorful things! We would use these tapioca shells instead of Mexican corn tortilla shells as our base. We used ground beef but it was cooked with oyster sauce not traditional taco seasonings of cumin, paprika and chili powder. We kept the shredded lettuce but added cilantro and topped it off with tomatoes but added ketchup. OY! And burgers weren’t just burgers with the traditional ketchup, mustard and relish combo, our burgers were topped with spicy kimchi and if it needed a bit more salt we busted out the Kikkoman bottle. And how about America’s most beloved and popular dessert, the Apple Pie, we couldn’t just leave that alone now could we? We created the Durian pie. (Durians popularity to Asians is comparable to apples popularity with Americans)

There is so many unexplored food combinations that it just seems natural to want to mix one good dish with another for optimum flavor results. For example, we now have mac and cheese meatloaf balls, we use ramen to create hamburger buns and pizza crust and a successful example is LA based entrepreneur and Chef Roy Choi’s use of Korean and Mexican flavors, which inspired him to create the Korean taco. However my foodie friends, there is a fine line between a Picasso and graffiti. I was eating at a restaurant in San Diego when my friend and I found a little spot in the Gaslamp district that specialized in flat breads with creative toppings. My sirloin flat bread literally came out with everything on it but the kitchen sink. I actually felt bad for only eating two bites (it drives me nuts to waste food), but the flavor profiles were so bland and it was too difficult to get past the 3 inches of arugula and crouton topping. I couldn’t pick it up, I couldn’t fork it and I sure wasn’t going to try using my portable chopsticks. This was one mash up that should have stayed plated on ceramic not flat bread.

The possibilities to create edible masterpieces are endless. Do you have a favorite mash up? Leave a comment or send a tweet. We’d love to hear your feedback.

My Life, My Style, My Ao Dai

“My Life, My Style, My Ao Dai”

What a beautiful night for a fashion show. The east facing patio of 9021Pho provided the runway for the joint effort between Chef Kimmy Tang 9021Pho, GlobALLhealth and HIPE (Healthy Initiatives through Peer Education), which falls under the Vietnamese American Non-Governmental Organization Network (VA NGO Network). The essence of this collaboration of Vietnamese cuisine and fashion was to bring awareness to the betterment of women’s health and instill a feeling of empowerment.

The night was hosted by Linh Kochan and showcased the evolution of the Ao Dai from traditional to modern. The Ao Dai is an iconic symbol of the Vietnamese culture and is well known for capturing the elegant frame of a woman. The 3 featured designers couldn’t be any more different. HoaiSang Nguyen showcased his ability to stay true to the traditional design of the Ao Dai. Designer ThuyCuc Nguyen stands out using silk fabrics from Vietnam tying in unique accessories, hand drawn designs and embroidery to create the “wow” factor in the body slimming gowns. And the final designer did what I didn’t know could be done. Christine Truc Nguyen captured the high fashion world by turning the Ao Dai into a sexy and elegant dress, that can be worn to any social event.

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The highlight of the night that most people were excited about was the introduction of the Dragon Shoe by Fashion4Freedom. Each shoe is hand carved out of lychee trees in Vietnam and takes about 18 days from start to finish. Fashion4Freedoms mission statement is to address designs, environmental impact, and social responsibility as integral tenets of their operation. The profit goes towards education, community rehabilitation, and opportunity for economic development for those disenfranchised & exploited.

Money raised from the “My Life, My Style, My Ao Dai” event will help reduce the rate of teen pregnancy and abortions in Vietnam. With almost 300,000 abortion cases a year Vietnam is ranked 5th in the world for most procedures performed.

For more information and to get involved click on the links below

CLICK HERE VA NGO NETWORK
CLICK HERE gobALLhealth
CLICK HERE 9021Pho
CLICK HERE Fashion4Freedom

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Thai pork packets with jasmine rice

Thai Pork Packets with Sesame Jasmine Rice

Recipe by Chef Perry

This simple recipe is full of flavor. You can also use chicken breast slices instead of the pork.

  • 3/4 lb. boneless pork ribs
  •  1 med. head of cabbage*
  • 2 medium carrots*
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 1/2 orange
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/3 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1 dash white pepper

Mise en Place

Prepare and preheat grill* to medium. Core and shred the cabbage. Shred the carrots and combine with cabbage. Cut pork ribs crosswise into 3/4-inch slices. Skin and mince the garlic. Juice the orange.

In a bowl, combine the salsa, peanut butter, honey, orange juice, water, fish sauce, garlic, ginger and white pepper.

Prepare the Dish

Divide the pork evenly among the sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil (spray each sheet with a bit of cooking spray, first).
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Top each with equal amounts of cabbage and carrot mixture.
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Pour the liquid mixture evenly over each packet.
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Seal with double folds.
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Grill**, covered, 6″ inches from medium high coals for 15-20 minutes or until pork is fully cooked and vegetables are tender, turning once and rearranging packets on grill.

Notes: *Cabbage/Carrots: time-saver – replace the cabbage and carrots above with 2 cups julienned carrots and cabbage mix.

**Grill: You can also bake the packets in a preheated 450 degrees oven for 20-25 minutes or until done.
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Sesame Jasmine Rice (5b)

Yield: 2 servings   Active Time: 5 min.   Total Time: 25 min.

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup jasmine rice
  • 1/2 Tbsp. sesame oil
  •  1/2 tsp. butter
  • 3/8 tsp. salt
  •  1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

In a large sieve, rinse the rice under cold running water, 2-3 minutes, and drain
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In a 2-quart saucepan, combine water with the rice, sesame oil, butter, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; stir once.
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Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Put a clean dishtowel under the lid, and let stand off the heat, covered, for 5 minutes.

Add the sesame seeds, fluff with a fork, and serve.
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Perry P. Perkins is a third generation professional chef, instructor, and cookbook author. He focuses his love of cooking on barbeque, traditional southern fare, and fresh Northwest cuisine.

Perry is the executive chef at hautemealz.com

What’s the Difference Between Lychees, Rambutans & Longans

Written by Kimlai
Creator of EatinAsian.com¤
Featured in Huffington Post Taste©
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Lychee martinis have been hitting the scene for a few years now and remain a pretty popular beverage, but there is definitely more to the lychee than meets the eye. The white tropical fruit on its own is juicy and sweet and its two lesser known cousins, the rambutan and the longan are widely popular among Asians. I remember eating lychees a lot when I was little. I never had much of a sweet tooth for cookies or chocolate but I was always obsessed with Asian desserts. So a brief backstory. My mom is Vietnamese and my dad is Caucasian and they met in Vietnam. They got married, left Vietnam and I was born at an Army base in New Jersey. We headed to Panama, then spent a quick few years in Spokane, Washington and finally planted some roots in the dirt (literally) in a town called Tri-Cities, Washington.©
©The grocery stores didn’t offer a wide variety of fresh tropical Asian fruit, so going to the Asian aisle of a western grocery store was such a treat yet so extremely limited at the same time. I seriously thought that Vietnam was a city in Thailand and that Mexico was super small and all the men were dark in color with sombreros. I learned later on that the grocery stores “authentic” aisle was NOT to be used as map to distinguish different countries and the people on the products were models and not to be confused with the locals.©

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I always got to pick out my own cans. Lychees, black jello, heart of palms, thank goodness the pictures on the cans were bright and appealing. In my teens my mom and I went to Vietnam to visit her family. During our layover in Thailand she handed me a branch of these little red balls with prickly things popping out of the skin. It was soft enough to peel. I didn’t know it was a rambutan and that it was full of juice and was unsuccessful at my first attempt to try one of these little guys because the enormous amount of sticky juice tied all my fingers together. Fast forward to me finding somewhere to sit and grabbing a handful of paper towels before trying to break into one of them again. The fruit was delicious and I quickly became a fan of the rambutan fruit. Once we got to Vietnam I saw the fresh lychees and was also introduced to the longan. All three tropical fruits are indicative of Asia. If the fruit is picked straight from the tree or purchased fresh you can visually tell them apart.

 

Similarities

All 3 have white flesh
All 3 have a big seed in the middle. I’m going to advise to steer clear of accidentally taking a bite of the seed but then again, if you don’t accidentally do it you really won’t know for yourself what it tastes like. By the way it is not edible.
All 3 grow on trees
All 3 can be eaten out of a can or straight off a tree branch
All 3 when mixed with alcohol taste alike. The lychee sitting on the bottom of a lychee martini glass may very well be a longan.

 

Differences

The Rambutan is a hearty looking piece of fruit and is comparable to the size of a golf ball. Its outer skin is red with soft yellowish & neon green prickly pokers all around it. The flesh is white with a big ole seed in the middle. The rambutan has a sweet creamy rich flowery taste and is very refreshing.

Image courtesy of Rawich

The Lychee is a tad bit smaller than the rambutan. It has a red outer skin as well but the skin is rough. The outside texture reminds me of how I think an elephant’s skin would feel like. The lychee flesh is very similar to the rambutan in regards to texture but the taste is not as rich or creamy. The flesh is white and again, you will find a seed in the middle. The lychee is crisper and not as sweet. It has just the right balance of not to sweet and not to tart, that I could eat a pound of them without feeling full! The Asian market has plastic gallon jugs that are filled with individual jellied lychees and I’ve been known to eat an entire container.

Image courtesy of kongsky

The Longan has a light brown smooth outer skin and is also called the dragon eye fruit. The flesh is white and there is a black seed in the middle, hence the name, Dragon Eye fruit. While they all have a black seed in the middle, the ratio of seed to fruit is almost perfect in a longan and looks like an eyeball when cut in half. This fruit has a more tart and distinctive flavor.

Image courtesy of sritangphoto

Of the three, my top pick is a tie between the rambutan and the lychee with the longan coming in last. I recommend doing a taste test and since everyone’s taste buds are different I’d love to get your feedback with your taste test stats.

Best Vegetarian Asian Food in the San Gabriel Valley

By Kristie Hang

Thanks to a sizable Asian and Buddhist population in the San Gabriel Valley, there are many scrumptious eateries with scores of vegetarian and vegan options. What’s unique about Asian vegetarian dishes is that the dishes imitate their real meat counterparts. There’s no salad on this list: we’re talking faux chicken, deep-fried pork chops and other fun “meat” items on the menu. (Pro-tip: To avoid the crowds, steer clear of the 1st and 15th of every month on the lunar calendar because that’s when Buddhists celebrate the bodhisattva Guanyin and eat vegetarian all day.)

1. Bodhi Veggie Cuisine is one of the more gourmet Chinese vegetarian restaurants in the SGV.

Bodhi has a very extensive menu with lots of pictures to help you decide. They offer lunch, dinner, and large banquet sets for bigger parties. Lunch specials start at $5.50. All lunch options come with either white or brown rice or pumpkin congee and steamed or fried buns. Bodhi doesn’t use MSG or artificial flavors in their food.

Standout dishes: Yam with kumquat jam, lotus buns, pineapple fried rice, almond milk pastry dessert.

TIP: They also have online ordering for pick up.

Bodhi Veggie Cuisine is located at 3643 Rosemead Boulevard in Rosemead, (626) 569-9888.

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photo by Kristie H.

2. Fine Garden Vegetarian Restaurant

Vegetarians can enjoy dimsum too! Fine Garden is the only all vegetarian dimsum restaurant in the SGV. The shui mai (pork dumpling) is made with soy crab and tastes just like the real thing.

Standout dishes: BBQ “pork” buns, lotus leaf with sticky rice, har gow (shrimp dumplings), radish cake, pumpkin and taro hot pot, almond tea pastry dessert, and vegan Tiramisu cake. Best part of Fine Garden? They serve dim sum all day long!

Fine Garden Vegetarian Restaurant is located at 841 West Las Tunas Drive in San Gabriel, (626) 282-2282.

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Photo by Alice C.

3. Bean Sprouts

Bean Sprouts is a Taiwanese vegetarian café with a Western twist! Lunch specials start at $6. The rainbow crunch roll is a must-order. It’s filled with carrots, alfalfa sprouts, lettuce, and mayo. If you are vegan, be sure to let the staff know so they can use their vegan mayo.

Other standouts: pan-fried radish cakes, ‘beef’ noodle soup, pineapple fried rice.

TIP: Lunch prices end at 2 p.m.

Bean Sprouts is located at 103 East Huntington Drive in Arcadia, (626) 254-8708.

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Photo by Christine D.

 4. Thien Tam

Thien Tam is a Vietnamese mom-and-pop shop with only a handful of tables. However, their vegan/vegetarian options are full of flavor and worth the wait. Their faux lemongrass chicken is a big crowd pleaser.

Other standout dishes: egg rolls, pho, beef noodle soup, and Vietnamese ‘crab’ and tomato noodle soup.

FYI: Cash only.

Thien Tam is located at 10345 Garvey Avenue in El Monte, (626) 579-1050

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Photo by Sharon H.

5. Vege Paradise

Vege Paradise is located upstairs in the notoriously-hard-to-find-parking Focus Plaza. Their vegetarian dishes use minimal salt, oil, and do not contain MSG. Lunch specials range from $6 to $8 and come with complimentary soup and choice of pumpkin porridge or rice (white or brown).

Standout dishes: breaded and deep fried mushroom, stewed cabbage roll, pumpkin bisque, three cup chicken, and tiramisu cake.

TIP:  Lunchtime meals are much cheaper than dinner.  It’s the same food, but different pricing. Vege Paradise also has a stamp card so if you go enough times, you will get a discount.

Vege Paradise is located at140 West Valley Boulevard in San Gabriel, (626) 280-5998.

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photo by Kristie H.

6. Happy Family Restaurant

Happy Family is a Chinese vegetarian chain restaurant located throughout Southern California with a huge AYCE buffet option. An entree a la carte runs around $8-10, so the $15 all-you can-eat selection is a better deal. Your order comes with complimentary white or brown rice, a small serving of salad, and tapioca dessert.

Standout dishes: fried basil chicken nuggets, ‘kung-pao chicken’, fried eggplant, sushi hand roll,

Happy Family Restaurant is located at 18425 Colima Road in Rowland Heights, (626) 965-9923 and at 500 North Atlantic Boulevard in Monterey Park, (626) 282-8986.

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Photo by Ray S.

7. Salathai Restaurant

Salathai specializes in Thai vegetarian food. Their lunch specials start at $5.99 and are available until 3 p.m. Each meal comes with your choice of soup or salad, rice, brown rice, or fried rice. The dishes are full of flavor and spices. You won’t be able to tell you’re not eating meat!

Standouts: Papaya salad, larb, BBQ chicken, satay, yellow curry, fried banana dessert, and mango sticky rice.

Salathai is located at 7258 Rosemead Boulevard in San Gabriel, (626) 287-5850.

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Photo by Corrina A.

8. QQ Kitchen

QQ Kitchen is a mom-and-pop shop that serves very affordable vegetarian Taiwanese food. They have vegetarian versions of traditional Taiwanese favorites such as pork chop rice, oyster omelette, stinky tofu, noodle soups, steamed Chinese buns, popcorn chicken, to name a few.

A entrée will run you about $5 and come with complimentary soup. QQ Kitchen does not use MSG.

FYI: Cash only.

QQ Kitchen is located at 9441 1/2 Las Tunas Drive, Temple City, (626) 292-1128.

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Photo by Eileen T.

 9. Hsi Lai Temple Vegetarian Buffet

Do you want go to a Zen place and eat some healthy food too? This vegetarian buffet is located inside the Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple.

The food served changes frequently because much of it is donated from local businesses, community gardens, and from volunteers. It’s like going to a friend’s home and enjoying a homemade traditional Chinese potluck. The eating area is open from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. and there is a $7 minimum donation for admission, which goes towards operating the cafeteria.

The food is healthy, simple, and tasty. The buffet often has tasty soup, tofu, veggies, tempura, curry, sweet potato, zucchini, noodles, a salad bar, and a fresh fruit bar. Most of the time, there is a vendor off to the side that makes fresh custard cakes. After you eat, you can also go check out the temple grounds.

Hsi Lai Temple Vegetarian Buffet is located at 3456 Glenmark Drive in Hacienda Heights, (626) 961-9697

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Photo by Will L.

10. Ha Tien Quan

Although Ha Tien Quan isn’t exclusively a vegetarian restaurant, they do have a very extensive vegetarian menu so your carnivore friends can enjoy something as well. I’ve spoken in length about how much I love their bun mam before, (insert link to my top Vietnamese food article), and they make comparable vegetarian version to the anchovy noodles as well as all their other dishes.

Ha Tien Quan is located at 529 East Valley Boulevard in San Gabriel, (626) 288-1896

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photo by Kristie H.


HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Loving Hut

Loving Hut is a vegan chain that available around the world. Their dishes are Asian-fusion so you can find teriyaki, pho, vermicelli, BBQ pork, curry, chicken nuggets, spring rolls, among other dishes on their menu.

Loving Hut is located at 621 West Main Street in Alhambra, (626) 289-2684.

Garden Fresh Vegetarian Food

For lunch, you can choose from a two, three, or four item combos at Garden Fresh that come with soup and white rice or brown rice. The menu changes daily. If you’re into juices, Garden Fresh also has a menu full of different organic, freshly squeezed juices, teas, and smoothies.

TIP: There is a small market inside the restaurant that sells organic Chinese groceries and vegetarian Chinese frozen dumplings.

Garden Fresh Vegetarian Food is located at 16034 Gale Avenue in Hacienda Heights, (626) 968-2279.

TIP: To avoid the crowds, steer clear of the 1st and 15th of every month on the lunar calendar because that’s when Buddhists celebrate the bodhisattva Guanyin and eat vegetarian all day.

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Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Kristie Hang is a TV Host, reporter, and avid world traveler that spends 3 months a year in Asia. She has an affinity for bizarre foods and is also the co-founder of the 626 Foodettes Blog, a hyperlocal food blog highlighting culinary options in the San Gabriel Valley. CLICK HERE to follow her on  Twitter