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hhlodesign

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  1. hhlodesign

    Reports on Hong Kong dining

    Don't tell anyone from Taiwan that! While it may be true that many mainland Chinese (including my parents) fled to Taiwan when the Communists took over; Taiwan can only be seen as part of China as interpreted by the Chinese government. The food, culture, language, etc. of native Taiwanese differ immensely from those of the mainland Chinese. In fact, the current ruling government of Taiwan seems intent on remaining independent from China, despite the wishes of China. As far as I understand, should China attempt to re-take Taiwan by force, the US have already pledged to come to Taiwan's aid. That being said, this appears to be the appropriate forum for posting about our trip to Taiwan. Far be it for eGullet to address international diplomacy through the naming of their forums. Sorry to ramble on off-topic. I just wanted to continue my string of being censored.
  2. Good for you for dropping whatever excess weight you thought you had and being fitter. I just have to point out that you can't really judge how "thin" (or for that matter, how healthy) a person is by clothing size, since brands size differently. Have you checked your BMI? I know it's flawed and doesn't work for people with huge amounts of muscle (like body builders), but you can use it as a rough guideline if you'd like. ETA: Oops, this is Ling posting. Forgot to log out.
  3. A/B/C, I must admit, I've skipped a few of these blogs in the past few months. But when I heard this amazing holy trinity would be gathering at Abra's Southern French kitchen, I had to stop in to say hello. Damn! I wish Lorna and I could come over for real! So glad you are enjoying your time over there Abra. Although we miss you back home!
  4. avoid ma's, the chinese restaurant, if you don't fit their desired customer profile if you know what i mean. i brought my cousin and her family on a visit to disneyland last weekend, and we were treated so badly that i'm still angry about it. we stopped by for dinner soon after it opened, and there were still only a few filled tables and so plenty of open tables. yet, we still had to wait ten minutes to get a table. that should have warned us something was up. and, then, they sent us into this little ghetto, away from all the other customers, as if the restaurant did not want other customers to see us. and, then, the insults and slights continued for the rest of our dinner. and, oh yeah, the food wasn't even that good. their bread is famous but i found it to be rather greasy. ← I really enjoy Ma's and try to get there whenever I am in SoCal. Regarding your service problems, any frequent diner should know that seating people depends not on the number of available tables, but on the number of available servers. I've never had anything but impecable service from everyone there. Even dining with my "white" friends! The thin version of the bread is better than the thick version. I'm not sure what their preferred profile is, can you be more specific with these "insults." I can't imagine anyone insulting a paying customer.
  5. Yes, I took forced Lorna to try her first Tommy Burger. She was not impressed. A&J restaurant is at Jeffrey and the 5 in Irvine. Simple cheap chinese eats. Mandarin Restaurant in Fountain Valley is also very good.
  6. My wife, older daughter and I are all previous cast members (read: employees) of the Disneyland Resort. In addition we have been annual pass holders for years. That being said the following opinions are just that, my opinions. I not anything close to a restaurant reviewer. Outside of Club 33 there is no always-open Fine Dining within the parks. Disney's California Adventure first: When the park first opened there were 3 Fine Dining restaurants. Mondavi's effort and Wolfgang Puck pulled out pretty quickly, then Disney's own restaurant in the Hollywood Backlot went away. The other 2 restaurants are now operated by Disney, the one in the Hollywood backlot was converted into a specialized theather for a kid's show. In DCA there are 2 regularly open wait-staff restaurants: The Wine Country Trattoria (with a wine tasting bar near it) and Ariel's Grotto (dining with Disney Characters visiting the tables: food is not the main feature). Side note on the Trattoria: my wife and I asked for the reciple for a soup they served us and the waiter disappeared for a few minutes. When he returned he handed us the label off of the box from this out-sourced soup. We didn't care that it didn't come from their kitchen, even if we were a bit surprized, and still order it accasionally. The Pacific Wharf Cafe serves soups and salads in freshly-baked-on-the-premisis (sp) Boudin Sourdough bread bowls. These make a great lunch. You can get microbrewery beer or margheritas if you want to opt for something besides soda. The rest is just various fast foods, edible but not memorable. Over in the Disneyland Park, Cafe Orleans is now a wait-staff restaurants. Foods not bad but way short on value for $$ paid. There is a patio dining restaurant on Main Street (Carnation Cafe) that has wait-staff. This is one of our 2 personal favorite place to eat in the park. The other is Redd Rocket's Pizza Port. I think the pizza should be outlawed for unashamed blandness. However they do a nice job on salads and they have a pasta dish (Chicken Fusilli) that helps keep me from dieting while there. The French Market is very uneven in food quality. I've had good (for a theme park) meals there and had food that they should be ashamed to serve. We haven't been to the Blue Bayou in for a year or so but we the meals we've had have been worth the money. A quick story in repsonse to a post way up the thread. About 2 years we went to Disneyland specifically to have dinner at the Blue Bayou. When we asked to be placed in the stand-by line they stated that they weren't doing that. I asked to speak with the hostess' lead and got the manager instead. I explained that we were long-time pass-holders and the only reason we were there was to eat at the Blue Bayou. Since we were only a party of 3 he choose to see to that we got a table. We were thankful for his understanding of Disney guest service. On to Downtown Disney. First off you should know that we don't eat down there very often. We had had a few good meals at the Jazz Cafe. So when we took other family with us that was our destination. Bad service, bad food, just an embarrasing night for us after all of our touting. Haven't been back. The Uva bar is a fun place. The Rainforest Cafe is ok for food but great for kids. Naples is both kid-friendly and tasty. Haven't tried Tortilla Joe's yet. Haven't tried the House of Blues. Haven't tried Catals proper (they run the Uva bar also) but something about the place puts me off when I walk by. Don't let my irrational bias affect your choices, however. I've eaten at the Napa Rose in the Grand Californian once and was wowed by the experience. We are going to take my father in law there for his birthday in September. He's a long-time member of the Orange County Wine Society and leases a 120 case wine locker. This is the restaurant for him. Back to the Disneyland Park for a second. Don't let the good smells coming out of the vents at the Gibson Girl Ice Cream place on Main Street fool you. The Ice Cream is fine but the waffle cones are a waste of money and calories. This doesn't cover everything but highlights what we like and avoid. ←
  7. Ling and I will be at Disneyland this Thursday. Is Club 33 open to the public? Are there any good dining options in Disneyland?
  8. Damn! (to paraphrase from someone else here on eG ) "That's a pretty baller trip!"
  9. hhlodesign

    Our sample NY itinerary

    Love your report! It seems as though you both had similar experiences as Lorna and I had last December at many of the same places. This makes me curious since all of the factors that go into how a restaurant is experienced are so variable and subjective. I wonder if these places are so consistent with what they are doing that two couples can visit 6 months apart and have almost exactly the same experience. Makes me wish we took everyone's advice and hit EMP as well!
  10. hhlodesign

    Our Portland trip

    Our final meal in Portland was not really in Portland. We could not leave the city without making a stop at Podnah's. I didn't know what kind of reputation Portland has for BBQ, but since Seattle is such a BBQ wasteland, just the hint of decent BBQ had both of us drooling. Considering our Saturday consisted of nonstop eating; 10am Le Pigeon, 1pm Kenny and Zuke's, 3pm Pix; we had no appetite for BBQ at 5pm when we arrived at Podnah's. We decided to order a few things and try a bite of everything while it was hot, before packing it all up and driving 3 hours to Seattle for a wonderful dinner of smoked meat! We got an order of brisket and Prime Rib With sides of greens and iceberg wedge with blue cheese Even though I wasn't hungry in the least, the smell of the meat permeated the car. I made the 3 hour drive in 2 hours and 20 minutes so I could tear into the meat. It was really amazing! The brisket was some of the best BBQ I've ever had. The smoke flavor was very intense throughout. The prime rib was juicy and smoky as well, but I think I got more smoky flavor from the brisket. We definately like the brisket the best of the two. We shared some with our neighbor from Texas. He said it reminded him of home!
  11. hhlodesign

    Our Portland trip

    I agree wholeheartedly with what you are saying Abra. "Interesting" is always of utmost importance to me when looking for places to eat and menu choices. However, "interesting" must also be excecuted well, or it just doesn't win me over. Take the quinoa breaded chicken for example. Like I said earlier, the breading does not lend itself well to the crispy texture one expects when ordering a fried dish. The fact that it is breaded with something out of the ordinnary does not make up for this fact. I'm the first to order things that I've never tried before, but I'll also readily admit when intersting items just don't work for me. Given your example above (and having not tried either item yet), I'd order the quinoa breaded yucca root over the buffala mozz every time. But in this particular case, I enjoyed the buffala mozz much more!
  12. hhlodesign

    Our Portland trip

    I was really looking forward to our dinner at clarklewis. My good friend Jason had recently been promoted to sous chef and promised us a fabulous meal. He did not disappoint. First off, I love the space. Industrial, yet comfortable. I can just imagine how lovely it must be on a sunny summer evening witht he garage doors all open. Jason greeted us at the door and told us we would be having the Chef's menu. We sat down, ordered a bottle of Argyle Brut, and the parade of dishes started coming. They arrived in waves of 2 and 3. First wave: Radishes with sweet cream butter and sea salt. I'm not a big fan of raw radishes. But, I'm a huge fan of butter and salt! Sage and parmesian mineral water battered asparagus with spicy aioli. I really liked this dish! Perfectly fried, not too greasy. I'm not sure if I ever had deep fried asparagus before. It's a good candidate for the fryer! Ken's artisan demi levain with leonforte olive oil, sweet cream butter, and sea salt. Glad we got to try Ken's bread, as I was way too full from lunch to even consider buying a loaf that afternoon (and Lorna was busy eating her THREE pastries!) The bread is very good. I thnkn I would have prefered the crust to be a bit crunchier, but that would be my only complaint. Second Wave: House made buffalo mozzeralla on grilled ken's bread, with salt and olive oil. This dish was really incredible. There is something to be said about really great ingredients simply prepared to celebrate the ingredient. In one bite, I could get the freshness of the cheese, the grassy olive oil, the perfectly grilled bread, and of course, the salt! Bulls blood beets with caper cornichon salsa cruda, and shaved ricotta salata. Again, great ingredients simply prepared. All the flavors compliment each other well. Belgian endives with dungenous crab, wild fennel pollen, chive, celery hearts, lemon cream. This was I dish that I enjoyed, but maybe had a bit much going on. Unlike the two other dishes on the table. The individual flavors were not distinct in the dish. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed it very much. Third Wave: Asparagus and ricotta ravioli with toasted pinenuts, black truffle butter, and parmesian. My favorite dish of the night. The pasta was perffectly cooked. Each flavor was distinct, yet complemented each other perfectly. I loved, loved, loved, this dish! Cavatelli with braised pork shoulder, calabrese salami, rosemary, and tomato conserva. All the pasta was house made, and it shows. The pastas were all perfectly cooked, and had a good tooth. The cavatelli might now be my favorite pasta shape. It holds the sauce well, yet is still meaty and you can get a good amount of pasta in each mouthfull. This particular preparation was good, but the kind of sauce I've had many times before. Risotto with house made fennel sausage, onions, sage, english peas, and pecorino romano. Such wonderful flavors in this dish! I like bolder flavors in my food. This dish stood up and took a bow before the nigth was over! There was a hint of red pepper flakes in there as well. We were at first disappionted with the dish because we thought the risotto was too dry, not creamy enough. It had almost a fried rice quality to it. Obviously this is not what you expect when the server calls it risotto. Even though I enjoyed the dish immensely, I couldn't help but thinking (the whole time I was devouring the dish) why it was so dry. It was only the next morning at brunch with Jason that we found out the the dish was prepared exactly as they wanted it. It seems they fry the rice with the ingredients first then add just enough brodo for the rice to absorb a bit of the flavor. They do not keep adding liquid to get the creamy consistency the one expects from risotto. I think it would have been nice for the server to explain this to us. Lest we wonder if the kitchen messed up the dish. Fourth Wave: Alaskan Halibut with butter stewed baby carrots and leeks, and a tarragon prosecco sauce. I wasn't too excited about the halibut dish, but enjoyed it very much. The fish was poached in the butter as well. Which is probabley why I enjoyed it so much. I didn't really traste much tarragon or prosecco though. Braised Buffalo short ribs I found the meat itself to be a bit tough and chewy. I think it may have benifitted from a longer braise at a lower temp. Or maybe the cut of buffalo just needs more fat. That being said, the buffalo was served on king oyerster mushrooms and bruschetta. The oyster mushroom, on a piece of perfectly grilled bread, dripping with reduced braising liquid was one of the best things I've eaten! I remeber thinking that I have to make this dish for me vegetarian friends! Then I remembered the braising liquid. Of course! That's why it tasted so good! Fifth Wave: Desserts. I'll let Lorna write about these. I was a bit too full and still reminiscing about the oyster mushrooms. What a fantastic meal at clarklewis! I'd say that every dish was good to very good, with a few outstanding dishes. Thanks Jason!
  13. hhlodesign

    Our Portland trip

    For lunch on Friday we tried the highly recommended (Abra!) Andina in the Pearl District. The Peruvian Restuarant also has an outpost in Seattle called Mixtura. We had yet to try either. The room is simple and colorful without being overly assaulting on the senses. We started with two cockails. The Pisco Sour: And one made from vodka, passion fruit and habanero peppers: I loved the passion fruit cocktail. Very unique and had just the right amout of spice to it. The Pisco Sour was also good, but not unlike any othe pisco sour I've had (maybe that's a good thing) We were told that we had to try the ceviche. We ordered the classic Andina preparation with Hawaiian Ono. It was nicely prepared. I found the flavors a bit too subtle for me. Next, we shared a series of tapas style dishes. Stuffed, fried, yucca Very tasty dish. I love most things breaded and fried. This was stuffed with cheese. Even better! Grilled Octopus With rocoto capered chimichurri. Very nice texture to the octopus. Grilled perfectly. I loved the piquillo peppers. Stuffed Piquillo peppers: they were stuffed with quinoa, cheese, and serrano. I would have liked to taste more serrano. Chiccarron de pollo thinly sliced chicken piced breaded in quinoa and deep fried. I wasn't very keen on the quinoa breading. It wasn't as crispy as I would have liked. Not a very memorable dish for me. All in all, I enjoyed our meal and Andina and was happy we treid it. Although, it was not an exceptional meal for me. I am always excited to try new restaurants from cultures I am unfamiliar with. Maybe we did not order correctly, but I found many elements to be repeated throughout many dishes. I also expected bolder flavors. We'll try Mixtura in Seattle in the near future to see how it compares.
  14. hhlodesign

    Our Portland trip

    We had an incredibly fun time in Portland and hope to make the short trip again soon. Pok Pok came highly recommended by almost everyone. Therefore, i think my expectations were a bit too high. Although I enjoyed the meal, I probabley was looking for a transcendant Thai food experience. The Flank Steak Salad was my favorite. The sticky rice accompanyment was a nice foil to the very spicy sauce. I enjoyed this dish very much. The game hen and green papaya salad didn't do much for me. I found the sauce to be a bit sweet for my taste. I'm not really into chocolate, but really enjoyed meeting Jesse, the owner of Cacao. He really has a passion for what he is doing and the shop is very nicely designed and well stocked and organized. The hot chocolate we tried was incredibly rich and flavorful. I think I would have loved it if I cared at all about chocolate. I thought Sagahun provided a very nice counterpoint to Cacao. The two shops could not have been more different. Where Cacao was refined and stylish, Sagahun was dripping with personality. And both (according to Lorna) serve great selections of chocolates. I was really just saving my stomach for dinner at Apizza Scholls. I have been looking forward to trying this every since I heard about it. The crust really is a revelation. Its not about the super thin Neapolitan style so prevalent in Seattle these days. Also not about wood burning ovens and certification crap. It seems to be about making great pizza. Which is a by-product of making great crust. I think the gas oven at 800 degrees does wonders for this style of crust. It's consistent and the char on the bottom was very evenly distributed. I was amazed at how stiff and crunchy the crust stayed. I'm sure the lack of tomoato sauce helped the crust from getting soggy on the Tartufo Bianco (my favorite!) but the Amore also held its form very nicely. It really is one of the best pizzas I have ever had.
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