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Pearl River Deli- Los Angeles (Chinatown), CA

Opened at the start of 2020, Pearl River Deli (PRD) is a burgeoning Cantonese food concept operated by chef Johnny Lee , located next to Howlin Rays in Los Angeles' Chinatown's Far East Plaza. Extensive forum posts on Food Talk Central ( 1 , 2 ) and articles published by  Eater , Los Angeles Times , amongst other outlets, have highlighted the innovative cooking going on: a focused menu of Cantonese classics with the volume turned up alongside weekly specials featuring cuisines not limited to Thai, Vietnamese, Yunnan, and more. Hence, on a recent outing in Los Angeles, I had to make a stop here to experience PRD for myself. I phoned my order in via phone, and got an expected wait time of 20 minutes. The estimate was correct, with my order just about to be boxed up when I arrived. Notably, pickup was rather safe, with payment done at the doorway entrance (hand sanitizer available),  a vinyl shield protecting the employees from the outside, and all employees wearing masks. Outdoor
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Tangzhong Milk Bread

Lessons learned while making a loaf of tangzhong milk bread: 1. Patience: Let the dough come together for a while before deciding whether you need to adjust the recipe. 2. Gratitude: Putting a number of ingredients together and after some proofing and you get a shiny, soft, and elastic dough. Note that the dough is really soft and might be a tad sticky. Don’t be too tempted to add additional flour or else you may not get as tender/soft bread. [story of my 2nd attempt] 3. Amazement: After baking your kitchen might just smell like a bakery! The bread is also soft, fluffy, and fragrant (thank the combination of milk, eggs, butter and sugar). Gasping and being happy like @scottloitsch did in a recent @nytcooking video on making bread for the first time ? Not unexpected. Thanks @kirbiecravings for the recipe ! Finally (almost 10 years later) came around to trying it.  View this post on Instagram Lessons learned while maki

Rajdhani Restaurant- Artesia, CA

Recently brought to my attention was thali. Literally, it describes a metal plate in which is used to serve food. But, it also be an eating experience--where food comes in an all-you-can-eat format. Unlike a buffet however, the employees at thali restaurants serve the food directly at your table, refilling your thali as you progress through your meal. A friend of mine noted Rajdhani Restaurant in Artesia, CA as a good example of such experience in the Los Angeles area. Known for its vegetarian thali, the restaurant is quite popular. Indeed, we waited for around 10 minutes before getting a seat.

Maccheroni Republic- Los Angeles (Downtown), CA

Maccheroni Republic specializes in "artisan handmade fresh organic pasta" at an affordable price point, and is quite popular in the city, having long waits (now made more convenient, with a Yelp waitlist feature ). We decided to check it out for lunch during their DineLA week earlier this year. Stopping by at its opening time for lunch (11 AM), we didn't need to wait long for a table, as the waiters quickly brought a small queue of customers waiting outside to their seats both inside and outside of the restaurants. The interior was rather cozy with tables located quite close to each other, so we opted to sit outside, which was kept warm in a rather cool morning with several heaters.  Alongside each table was bottles of oil (both olive and chili) and vinegar to accompany the bread, which was crusty outside and soft inside.

Kobunga Korean Grill- Los Angeles (University Park), CA

Kobunga Korean Grill, a fast-casual Korean barbecue restaurant, is opening its first brick-and-mortar outlet at the USC Village, a multi-use residential, dining, and shopping complex located adjacent to the University of Southern California's University Park Campus. Funded by Kickstarter , Kobunga aims to make Korean barbecue accessible to the larger population. They recently soft-opened (this Wednesday) and will be having their grand opening this Saturday. Housed in a small storefront, no seating is available inside the restaurant, although ample outside seating is available. Ordering is done at the counter, and one can wait on the side for their order. Menu options include a "Build Your Own Plate" option as well as a salad driven option where two types of greens can be paired with a choice of dressing and protein. The Build Your Own Plate option includes a choice of protein (Short Ribs, Bulgogi, Pork Belly, Marinated Chicken, and Soft Tofu), base (brown rice, white

Lao Xi Er Noodle House- Arcadia, CA

Lao Xi Er Noodle House (老西兒面馆) is a recent entrant to the San Gabriel Valley noodle scene, specializing in Shanxi style noodles. Located in the southern part of Arcadia, Lao Xi Er adds a different perspective to a mélange of varied dining options located less than one block away from one another, not limited to Italian ( Alex Di Peppe's ), Vietnamese ( Pho-licious ), Japanese ( Mako Sushi ), Mexician ( Cabreras ), Taiwanese ( Cafe Fusion ), and Chinese ( Fishing Boat Chinese Cuisine ). After hearing about Lao Xi Er from Clarissa Wei's post on  Eater , we visited and since then, Lao Xi Er has become one of our go-to places for noodles. Within its small, humble surroundings (there are around 10 tables in the restaurant), the husband-wife duo and their team serves up a small selection of noodles, soups, dumplings, and a handful of appetizers and entrees that are quite well-executed.

State Bird Provisions- Fillmore District, San Francisco, CA

State Bird Provisions is an "adventurous, inventive, delicious, thoughtful contemporary American restaurant"  that has received major praise , and happens to be one of the hottest spots for dinner in San Francisco. So when I found out we could secure a late night reservation here on a recent trip, I put it on our to-do list.