Category Archives: *East LA

Monja TaiKer 艋舺台客

18558 E Gale Ave
Ste 108
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
 
monjaca.com
http://www.yelp.com/biz/monja-taiker-rowland-heights-2
 

Monja TaiKer has 2 locations.  I’ve only been to the Rowland Heights location, but supposedly there’s also a location in the SGV.  The Rowland Heights location is located in the mega-plex off of Gale,  which has boasts Half and Half TeaHouse, Music Box Karaoke, JJ Bakery Cafe, and the Magic Restroom Cafe.  Free parking is relatively easy to find, either the surface parking or the underground parking.  I’ve been to Monja twice, and haven’t had to wait for a table.  But the restaurant is medium-sized, so during peak times, I think it’d be about a 20-30 minute wait.

Monja TaiKer serves traditional Taiwanese food, ranging from small eats 小吃 like spicy wontons 紅油抄手 to assorted stewed goodies 滷味, to soups like four-flavor soup 四神湯 and pork chop noodles 排骨麵.  Portions are pretty generous and the taste is authentic.  Feels like you’re in Taiwan!

 

The assorted stew combination 攪和攪和.  There’s tofu slices, seaweed and stewed pig ear.  It’s a cold dish, but nicely flavored with a bit of a kick.  Mmmm…. $5.99

 

We had heard that Monja has really good beef noodle soup and they do!  This is the tomato sauce beef noodle soup 招牌茄汁牛肉麵.  The broth is light yet packed with flavor.  There’s lots of tender chunks of beef, with stalks of bok choy.  You can select either the thin or thick noodles.  We ordered the thick noodles, which has similar consistency to udon noodles.  Really good!  $7.50

 

We also ordered the house specialty – the Monja Red Grain Pork Noodle Soup 艋呷燒肉湯麵 with the thin noodles.  The Red Grain Pork is basically Taiwanese-style bbq pork 紅糟肉.  The Monja version is crispy on the outside yet juicy on the inside.  The pork comes on the side, and there’s both dark and white meat.  🙂  The noodles are in a pork broth, topped with stewed minced fatty pork and sprinkled with scallions.  Yummy!  Easily shared among 2 people.  $7.50

Atlantic Seafood & Dimsum Restaurant

500 N Atlantic Blvd
Ste 200
Monterey Park, CA 91754

(626) 872-0388

http://www.yelp.com/biz/atlantic-seafood-and-dim-sum-restaurant-monterey-park-2

atlanticsf.weebly.com

 

This is my favorite dimsum restaurant of late.  Atlantic Seafood is conveniently located in the large shopping center, on Atlantic, where the huge AMC Theater and wide range of restaurants are located.  Free parking is easy to find in the attached parking structure.  Finding the restaurant, however, is a bit tricky.  I almost couldn’t find it, when I went the first time.  So, make your way to the 24 Hour Fitness near the corner of Atlantic and Hellman, and you’ll see the restaurant located on the second floor.

Atlantic Seafood is a huge restaurant.  However, it gets very packed during the weekends.  If you want to avoid the crowd, go before 11:30am.  Otherwise, expect at least a 40 minutes wait.  Atlantic Seafood serves traditional dim sum, served in the rolling carts.  The carts circulate pretty often and if you don’t see what you want, just ask a waiter — they’ll usually bring it around to you. Service is pretty fast and friendly, although the dimsum cart ladies are a little pushy and will try to sell as much dimsum as they can!  😉  All of the dimsum that I’ve tried at Atlantic Seafood is very tasty.  Oh, and ALL the dimsum dishes are $1.88 each on the weekends (and only $1.58 on the weekdays)!  ^ ^

 

The meat-stuffed rice cakes.  Crispy on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside.  Mmmm….

 

1. The shumai is excellent and is a little bigger than other dimsum places

2. The leaf-wrapped sticky rice (no-mai-gai) is also tasty

3.  Steamed custard buns seemed like they’ve been in the steamer for too long – the filling wasn’t runny anymore.  Maybe they would be good if they were freshly steamed?

 

Eggrolls – stuffed with bamboo inside.  Very crunchy and delicious.  Loved it!

 

Beef meatballs had pretty good flavor and texture.

 

The egg tarts were fresh and so good out of the oven!  The crust is flaky and the filling is full of yummy egg flavor.  Mmmm!

 

Other notable items that I forgot to photograph were shrimp dumplings (har-gow), tofu pudding (do-fu-hua) and the fried rice.  I can see why this place is packed during the weekends!  Give it a try if you’re in the area.  🙂

Savoy Kitchen

138 E Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91801

(626) 308-9535

http://www.yelp.com/biz/savoy-kitchen-alhambra

 

CASH ONLY

 

All of my friends have raved about the Hainan chicken rice at Savoy.  For some reason, I just haven’t had a chance to try until recently — maybe it’s because there are simply too many food choices in the area.  Good thing I got there relatively early for lunch (around 11:30am) — the seats were all full inside the restaurant, however, outdoor seating was available.  I’ve heard that the usual wait is anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour.  There is only street parking available, and that can be a little tough to find, so be prepared.

Hainan chicken is basically steamed/poached chicken.  It is then chopped into slices and served with a side of rice.  During my time in Singapore (the birth place of Hainan chicken rice), the ones I’ve had usually had the chicken drippings mixed into the rice, to give it extra flavor.  Outside of Singapore, I’d say Savoy makes a pretty good version of Hainan chicken rice.

 

The store front.  There are benches outside for the waiting crowd.

 

Jot down your name and the number in your party on the clip board, just outside the restaurant.  Also, indicate if you’d like to be seated indoors or outdoors, or any. Then, wait to be seated.

 

 

The menu.  Lots of choices!  I will have to come back to try their other dishes.  FYI – there’s free refill on the iced tea with lemon!

 

The Hainan chicken rice.  The chicken is really juicy and tender.  Loved the ginger sauce, it complements the chicken perfectly.  And the rice was fluffy and flavorful. Yum!  $6.95

[Arcadia] 626 Night Market!

The 626 Night Market will be this weekend at the Santa Anita Park!  There will be over 150+ vendors and food trucks, with entertainment (including Youtube sensation Jason Chen!).  There is an admission charge this time (I’m assuming to cover the venue and the free parking):

ADMISSION: Free Parking
$2 / person 4PM-6PM
$3 / person after 6PM
Free for ages 12 years and younger

And here’s the list of vendors!

http://www.626nightmarket.com/626nm_July_Map_sm-1.pdf

Seafood Village 避風塘

684 W Garvey Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91754

(626) 289-0088

http://www.yelp.com/biz/seafood-village-monterey-park

 

Seafood Village is a great place to host large gatherings.  It’s authentic Chinese food, and everything is served family style.  I’ve been going to this restaurant a few years now, and quality has always been consistent and portions are generous.  I’ve only been during dinner times, but I’ve heard the lunch specials are quite good as well.  There is a parking lot for the restaurant and I have not had any problems parking in the lot.  But in case the lot is full, there should be plenty of street parking around the area.

 

In addition to the menus at the table, there are pictures of the popular dishes plastered along the walls of the restaurant.  So, it gives you a better idea of what to order – just point at the pictures!  🙂  There is a good selection of live seafood, you can scope them out at the tanks.  If you are going to order live seafood, make sure to check the prices with the waiter – most of the seafood is charged by the pound. White rice is provided, and is automatically added to your tab at $1 per person.  Tea service is complimentary and the servers come quite frequently to refill the hot tea.

 

Here’s what we ordered from our recent dinner – just enough for a party of 7:

 

Stewed peanuts are served as a complimentary appetizer.    But the peanuts this time were not stewed long enough… it was still a little hard.

 

The house special crab – 避風塘炒蟹.  The crab is charged by the pound.  The crab is first deep fried, then stir-fried with garlic and scallions.  Yummy!  It just takes a little patience to get all of the crab meat out.  The crab is based on market price – crab season is starting, so it was $5.99 a pound last weekend and this was 3 pounds of crab.

 

Stir-fried pea sprouts in garlic 大豆苗.  The pea sprouts were really fresh and flavorful.  $12.99

 

Seafood Village also has its own version of the lettuce wrap, with ground chicken 避風塘雞鬆.  They gave us like half a head of lettuce to wrap all this chicken!  Not bad at all.  $10.99

 

Stewed duck with tofu and peanuts this is half an order – 滷水鴨豆腐.  The duck and tofu was stewed pretty well, but again the peanuts didn’t seem like they were stewed long enough. $12.99

 

Lamb pot 雙冬羊腩煲 -lots of lamb meat with shitake mushrooms and tofu skin in the pot.  Perfect for winter!  $13.99

 

Double-cooked fish 剝皮牛魚 – the fish slices are fried, then cooked in a sauce with red peppers, celery and onions.  The fish meat is really firm, and tasted great with the sauce.  $14.99

 

Seafood Village also has traditional Chinese desserts.  This is the white wood-ear with gingko nuts and taro 白果芋泥.  The taro is so smooth and tasty!  $6.99

 

After the meal is finished, the restaurant also serves everyone with a bowl of red bean soup with clear tapioca 紅豆西米露。

Akasaka Restaurant

14926 Clark Ave
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745

(626) 336-0871

http://www.yelp.com/biz/akasaka-restaurant-hacienda-heights

 

Akasaka is located in the middle of a residential area in Hacienda Heights, seemingly out of place for a Japanese restaurant.  But, don’t let that fool you.  This place has been around for over 40 years.  It’s best known for its HUGE chirashi bowl (one order serves 2-3 people), which has all sorts of seafood and fish.  All of the menu item portions are pretty generous too.  Just a warning, their sushi rolls are 3 times the size of regular sushi rolls.

Food is always consistent.  Service is pretty great and fast.  Make a reservation, if you can, otherwise sometimes the wait could be horrendous.  Parking wise, Akasaka does have a small adjacent parking lot.  Once that’s full, there’s usually lots of street parking available.

Regardless of what you order, everyone at the table is served with a small salad and miso soup.

   

 

The famous chirashi bowl – it has spicy tuna, salmon, eel, scallop, uni, albacore tuna, monkfish liver, yellow tail, salmon roe, tobikko, squid, octopus, sweet shrimp, tuna tataki.  The sushi rice beneath the mountain of seafood is really yummy too!  $38.50 per order

 

Rainbow roll with tons of fish.  $28.50 for 8 pieces and $18 for 4 pieces.  This is the 4 pieces order, like I’ve said, the portions are huge!  The fish is so fresh and melts in your mouth….

 

Crunchy roll – with avocado and tempura shrimp.  It’s coated with tempura crumbs.  Yum!  $18 for 8 pieces, $14.50 for 6 pieces

 

Spider roll – fried soft-shell crab sushi coated with masago.  So good!  $18 for 8 pieces and $12 for 4 pieces.

 

Tempura udon – big bowl of udon accompanied by assorted tempura (shrimp, eggplant, italian squash, sweet potato).  My friends said this was pretty good!  $11

 

We were there for a birthday.  Just when we thought we were done with dinner, the waitress brought out a big cake, on the house!  Not sure if they make it in house, but the cake was really moist and tasty.  What a great surprise!

 

We also ended up with some sushi-shaped lollipops, compliments of the house.  These are so cute!

 

Bollini’s Pizzeria Napolitana

2315 S Garfield Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91754

(323) 722-7600

 
 
 
My bro had raved about this place ever since he’s first tried it, saying that it was one of the best thin crust pizzas that he’s had.  So finally, one day, since I was in the area, I went to see what the fuss was all about.
 
Bollini’s is located in Monterey Park — yep, a little out of place amongst all the Asian restaurants.  But don’t be fooled.  Bollini’s serves up some pretty authentic Italian food.  Be warned, street parking is limited, and it is cash only (although there’s a small ATM inside the restaurant).  Here’s what we ordered:
 
 
Instead of the usual bread at Italian restaurants, Bollini’s serves up pizza crust tossed in garlic pesto oil.  Mmmmm…
 
 
Arugala Salad – arugala greens with fresh corn, smoked bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, goat cheese and red wine vinaigrette.  Light and refreshing!  $9
 
 
Seafood cioppino – shrimp, mussels and clams in a tomato and white wine stock garnished with fresh herb and lemon.  Lots of chopped clams!  The soup had a little bit of a kick to it, and not as thick as some cioppinos I’ve had.  If only there was bread to dip the sauce in!  $12
 
 
This is a large 16″ pizza.  At Bollini’s you have the option of to build your own pizza, or select from a list of 20 combo pizzas.  We chose 2 from the list, and they are able to do half-and-half.  Half of our pizza is the fungi e tartufi (garlic and mushrooms) and half was the porco (sweet fennel sausage, 3 pepper sausage, bacon and tomatoes).  Both were really good.  The crust is thin yet is able to hold up the toppings.  Both of the sauces were flavorful, and the toppings were fresh.  Yum!  The pizza is pretty big – between the 3 of us, we couldn’t finish it. $16
 
 
Next time I go, I’ll venture onto the pasta and main courses!

Cuban Bakeries – Portos vs Tropicana

Sorry for the long hiatus, things have been a bit crazy (to say the least) in the world of Wander Foodie.  So I hope you guys have been all doing well!  Hopefully the food blog will be regularly updated from now on – I know there are a lot of back-logged posts!  🙂

So today’s post is a comparison between two popular Cuban bakeries, both located in Downey.  Porto’s is pretty well known and an established chain in LA.  Tropicana Cuban Restaurant is more of a local mom-and-pop shop.  Here’s the verdict:

Porto’s Bakery & Cafe
8233 Firestone Blvd
Downey, CA 90241
(562) 862-8888
 
 
This Porto’s location is fairly new and is its own stand-alone building off of Firestone Blvd.  Finding parking was a breeze (either street parking or in the adjacent free structure).  The place is pretty big, so it was easy to find a table.  Lots of pastry and sandwich selections.  First, go up to the counter and order/pay.  Then, find a place to sit and your order will be delivered to you.
 
Potato balls, with meat filling inside.  Good flavor and filling!  I heard the Tropicana version tops this one.  $0.90 each.
 
Guava and cheese pastry. Pastry was flaky, with light guava flavor.  I like the one from Tropicana better – even though it’s less flaky, there was more guava flavor.  $0.75 each.
 
The Cubano (Cuban sandwich) – slow roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickles on Cuban bread.  Comes with plantain chips.  So yum! $4.85.
 
Guayaba (guava) smoothie. There’s actually no dairy in this.  Basically it’s just guava juice ice blended.  Good flavor, but I prefer my smoothies to be creamy, instead of watered-down when the ice melts. $3.39.
 
 
Tropicana Bakery & Cuban Cafe
 
Right when you walk into Tropicana, you’re hit with the local diner vibe.  The wait staff fits into the Cuban theme with the Cuban style hats and shirts.  There are quite a lot of items on the menu, ranging from breakfast items, to sandwiches, to entrees, stews and finally desserts.  I actually like this style better, since it’s less of a crowd than Portos and it’s good for any time of the day.  🙂
 
Spinach empanada – stuffed with spinach, ricotta cheese and artichoke hearts.  It’s a good size with lots of ricotta filling!  Great to snack on before the entrees arrive.  $1.65
 
Guayaba and cheese pastry.  Like I mentioned above, I like this one better than Portos.  More guava flavor.  Yum!  $0.85 each
 
American coffee – free refills!  I heard the coffee was pretty decent.  $1.50
 
I think this is the frita cubana sandwich – Cuban style hamburger made with ground beef, chorizo and pork.  First time I’ve ever seen fries stuck to the buns of a sandwich, but I heard it was pretty tasty.  $5.95
 
Spinach & cheese omelet.  Good portion and well made. Even came with a few strawberry slices on the side! $5.95
 
Ropa vieja entree – shredded flank steak simmered in garlic, tomatoes, onions and bell peppers.  The meat had been stewed for a long time, so it’s nice and tender, with tons of flavor!  Comes with plantains and rice.  $12.49
 
In terms of drinks, I like Tropicana’s way better.  This is the papaya shake – thick but not too sweet.  There’s no papaya shake/drink at Portos… $3.89
 
You can also order coconut juice in a can, which tasted pretty good.  $1.59

Ojiya

15904 E Gale Ave
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745

(626) 855-3500

 
 
 
There are a few Ojiya locations.  The Hacienda Heights location specializes in yakitori.  Located inconspicuously in a strip mall, this place serves surprisingly good food.  Parking is a breeze.  There are quite a few tables, so it doesn’t take long to snag one.  Ojiya also takes reservations!  🙂
 
 
 
The menu is quite extensive – ranging from the yakitori specialties, to typical izakaya dishes, to sushi rolls, to personal-size hot pots, etc.  Everything was good!  I like this place better than Shinsengumi because there’s more variety at Ojiya, and the prices are more reasonable.  There’s also a daily specials menu (yes, those of you who noticed the date, I know I’m behind on the restaurant posts  :p) :
 
 
 
 
Seared albacore sushi
 
 
Salmon nigiri
 
 
Rainbow roll
 
 
Beef tongue – unlike other places, it’s a thicker cut at Ojiya.  More beef flavor… mmm…
 
 
Crab salad – pretty refreshing  $5.95
 
 
Chicken skewers
 
 
Pork, shitake mushroom, eggplant and okra skewers
 
 
Fried calamari.  My bro, the calamari expert, said this was pretty good.
 
 
One of my favorites here – oyster hot pot!  The broth is full of seafood flavor and there’s a decent amount of oysters and vegetables in the pot.  I would be happy to just order this.  $12.95
 
 
   
Tempura udon.  The big plate of tempura comes on the side, light and crispy.  Yum!  $11.80
 
 
Caterpillar roll – I heard this was pretty good
 
 
Grilled squid – yes, it’s the whole squid.  Charred on the outside but still tender.  Makes good beer food!
 
 
The yaki onigiri is also pretty good.  Beware, they’re pretty sizable portions.  $2.50 each
 
 
We ordered a lot of sushi and yakitori.  Between the 7 of us, I think total bill came out to around $250 including tip, so pretty good for a yakitori place.

Cakes! Cakes!! And more cakes!!!

My birthday was a few months ago already, but I’ve been meaning to post up all of the wonderful cakes that I had eaten in honor of my birthday.  So finally, here’s a post dedicated solely to the birthday cakes!

Special thanks to my family and friends, who went through great effort to make sure that no cake and bakery was duplicated.  The cakes were all my favorites!!!  🙂

 

Cake #1:  Milk ‘n’ berries from Porto’s

3614 W Magnolia Blvd
Burbank, CA 91504
(818) 846-9100
 
 
 
 
Like the name suggests, it’s similar to a tres-leches cake, except that it is also filled with mixed berries and topped with whipped cream.  Mmmm….
 
 
Cake #2:  Mango mousse from JJ’s Bakery
 
2370 Crenshaw Blvd
Torrance, CA 90501
(310) 328-6668
 
 
 
One of my all-time favorite cakes.  It’s several layers of rich and creamy mousse mixed with several layers of moist cake.  The mango flavor is not overpowering and not too tangy.
 
 
Cake #3: strawberry shortcake from Angel Maid Bakery
 
4542 S Centinela Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90066
(310) 915-2078
 
 
 
Fresh strawberries and cream are sandwiched between two layers of moist cake.  The result?  Yummy deliciousness.  You can choose the toppings on top of the cake.  This one is with mixed fruit.
 
 
Cake #4:  strawberry tiramisu from 85C Bakery Cafe
 
Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center
2700 Alton Pkwy, Ste 123
Irvine, CA 92606
(949) 553-8585
 
 
 
 
If I remember correctly, this tasted more like a strawberry mousse rather than a strawberry tiramisu, but it was good nonetheless!  Every time I go to 85 Degrees, I usually just make a bee-line for the freshly-baked breads.  I’ve been missing out on the cakes!
 
 
Cake #5:  sesame cream puff ring from Patisserie Chantilly
 
2383 Lomita Blvd
Ste 104
Lomita, CA 90717
(310) 257-9454
 
 
 
 
This was basically one giant cream puff, filled with sesame cream.  It was the most unusual birthday cake I’ve ever received.  The crust was light and crunchy.  The sesame cream filling was wonderfully bursting with sesame flavor, and enhanced the taste of the puff.  Yum!  On Chantilly’s website, this is called the Paris-Brest Sesame.