Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Hope everybody is having a good time right now. It's almost New Year's in California! I hope everyone will continue to do their best next year, and I hope for myself to get this blog fully running! These past days I have been organizing photos to put onto the blog as well as learning how to use Photoshop for the photo editing.
Again, Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Embassy Chinese Restaurant: Great food!

Located right next to San Gabriel Blvd., this restaurant has a great location and has great Chinese food! We have been coming here for many years, but it hasn't been until this year that I started taking photos of this place. Been taking so many photos of this place already and still haven't written a review yet on it! I am so behind. And since today we went there, I decided to write the review today. Sorry but no exterior or interior photos like I usually like to take on my daily basis.

For this visit, we came at lunch, where there were lunch specials. The items were very affordable compared to another restaurant that we have been recently visiting, Green Island (which that review will be up on Tripadvisor soon...but I didn't get into our recent visit there). Green Island's entrees start from 6.50 onward, but here it's slightly lower. The most expensive entrees are only 6.25 (not including the Chef's special portion) which is very affordable. Plus, the portion sizes are very large compared to some of Green Island's items. The only thing missing from the restaurants would be something called "wok-hey"- the flavors at Green Island are a little bit more strong.

Anyway, when we just entered the restaurant, it started smelling like coconut, which was very unusual. But what was it? Complimentary soup that was cooking which made the whole restaurant smell!
Closeup- Coconut with stewed meat soup

The flavors from the soup were pretty rich and very meaty. You could actually smell the coconut as you drank the soup! The pieces of coconut were not really tender but crunchy. Nice to gnaw on if you wanted to. One of our family members said that they would have liked another bowl of this soup too as they liked it.

Preserved Veggies with Pork

The first item to come was "Muy Choy Kow Jok" or preserved veggies with pork. The pork was very fatty like it should be for this dish, and the flavor was great. Lots of soy sauce, and this dish great accompaniment to the steamed rice that was also again free.

Stir-Fried Green Beans

The next item that came was a platter of crisp, flavorful green beans. There was aplenty of small pieces of pepper, dried shrimp, and preserved vegetable which added lots of flavors to what would have been a pretty much regular dish. Green beans are fried lightly (see the wrinkled skin?) in oil and then are stir-fried with other ingredients. The frying does add fat though for people who are very health conscious, but I think you could probably tell them not to, but it would probably taste different.

Spinach with Black Pepper Beef
One of the dishes that one of our family members loves. The black pepper sauce adds some kick to the dish and the beef is very tender. Spinach is wilted but not crisp though.
"French Style Beef Stew" with Noodles
We were looking at the menu today and we were interested in this item. And so we asked our waiter for some information on this dish, and he just said it was French style beef on top of noodles. I don't think he knew what he was saying as what came out didn't look like that at all!
It looked more like beef stew curry on noodles instead. The sauce had some curry flavor but overall the dish was not very flavorful. Noodles at least though were fresh but not chewy- I like chewy though. For 7.25, we would not have ordered this again.
Fried Fish with Sweet and Sour Sauce
Also called "Muh Lou Ban Phai", this came last. I think they did have a problem with this dish as all our other items came, and then nothing came afterwards. And so we asked if it came yet, and about 5 minutes later it came. Probably they didn't even cook it beforehand! This probably was made very fast, but it's one of the dishes I like.
The fish was very tender and was smooth- probably due to cornstarch. Outside was slightly crisp, and the sauce was a strong with the sour flavor. With rice though it tasted great!
We'll be back soon to this restaurant! Look forward to bigger photos with a watermark- I'm just loading the photos straight from my computer right now. I know really truly appreciate all the food blogs I am reading even more as these posts take aplenty of time to upload, write, and publish (this took me about 30 minutes and maybe even more), I'll probably talk about some other past items we had later on. Hope you liked my first restaurant post and have a happy holiday!

Embassy Chinese Restaurant
218 South San Gabriel Blvd.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Tel: (626)-286-8148

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Green Island: Modern and Delicious

One of the newest restaurants in Temple City on Las Tunas Blvd., we recognized this restaurant before its opening, and thought we should visit it when it is open someday. One day, one of our family members ate here and said it was pretty good. Their friend even said it was really scrumptious. And so, one day, we visited this place, and discovered it to be a really yummy restaurant that had great parking (parking lot in back with lots of spaces), location (go down a street and you'll enter the 10 freeway...close to Arcadia), and know the rest!
We've been coming here to the fact I have now gathered 35 photos! I recognized to be this: If I don't post and organize these photos together, the longer the queue it will be. The longer queue it is, more photos will be waiting and so will be more dishes to comment on. So I decided to do more of a photo style report on this place.
Grand Opening Plant

The 3 Big Tables
Booster Table view when you put you camera up above

I think one can see from these top photos that this is a very modern style place. And it is- really! Most of the customers come in from the back, including me, since they usually park in the back parking lot which although is a little bit narrow, has a good amount of space. When coming in from there, you will see a bar area, restrooms, and also three tables with clear beads hanging from a wooden circle up above, which are the big tables. Walk further into the restaurant and you'll see the kitchen up to view, and in the middle you'll see seating. But to the farthest right is the best part of this restaurant- Booster tables with speakers and a personal Viewsonic LCD TV!
Farthest side- integrated TV! The TV's on the other side are not hidden like this.
For a first time visitor I would certainly pick the booster tables. We sat there during our first visit too. In addition, the booster table seatbacks are higher than usual, which gives you more privacy- the other thing you can easily see is either the table across from you, kitchen, and/or outside. You also won't get bored when you wait because there are speakers for the TV so that you can hear the TV. Some people have been trying to find the speakers and where they are but have not been successful though. They are actually on the foamy part at the top of the seatback near each end of the table, but they do not have a loud volume so that only you can hear it.
Stone Pots
These are one of the things that makes this restuarant special. Some of the dishes are cooked in the stone pots (or cast iron pan) which keeps the food warm and makes the food taste very fragrant. Due to the heat the scent of the food goes out to many places. Usually ends up onto you- when you go back you'll smell (typically- only one time it has not been so). I think it is because of this they charge high prices- they must be really hard to clean and to purchase!
Look! The kitchen from viewing from outside but VERY close to it! Do you see the red lights flashing near the bottom left with many lids? That is the electric cooker used for cooking pot rice and other things- another restaurant (Tasty Garden) also uses this.
In the front there is another section probably to cook smaller dishes like peppers with shrimp filling... but they seem to be non stick stir-fries which to some people they might not like. The manager also sometimes cooks there but I've only seem him do that once.

Huge vats of drinks boiling away!
More cooking action- the farthest to the right person is putting something onto the griddle and the left chef to the back is pouring out the lobster curry which is a "special" dish according to them.
More cooking action!

Hand Made dumplings! The person was watching me though so I didn't want to bother her and make a video of it. She was actually multitasking- working on the griddle and working on making these dumplings.
Turnip Cakes on the Griddle
Obviously the other best part in this restaurant is their giant see through kitchen. You can see most of the action going on, from food prep, plating, and cooking. It's pretty close to getting a first hand view of a restaurant kitchen when you are close!

Chinese Tea
Lemon Iced Tea

Before I get on too much about talking about the restaurant itself and not the food and drink, above are two of the drinks we like the most. Chinese tea as you can see is served in a very nice clear glass cup and the tea is sitting inside a strainer. Lemon Iced Tea is not on the dinner menu, but we asked one time, and got it! They serve a good rendition here that is not too sweet.
If you are here at lunch there will typically be a "business lunch" menu, where the items are cheaper (but most are smaller). You will also get a drink like the ones above. Unfortunately one can only get 1-2 refills, but it actually depends on who you get the drinks from- the "light green" shirt servers count your refills a lot, while the "black" shirt servers do not care as they are doing their work for cleaning and serving.

Fried Rice noodles with Fishball strips- Lunch Serving

Fried Rice noodles with Fishball strips- Lunch Serving

Fried Rice noodles with Fishball strips- Regular Serving

Our by far most frequently ordered dish is this dish because one of our family members likes it a lot and orders it every single time- but after the blackish serving at the photo right on top, they said they would order something else. This dish other than the fishball and the rice noodle has some cabbage, onions, and green onions. In addition the regular size has mushrooms as well, and the regular serving is slightly larger than the lunch serving.

Curry Fishballs with potatoes

We've only ordered this once. It is the same size as the sesame rice ball with walnut dessert soup near the bottom. Anyway, it's the same curry as all the other curries, but not as hot. There is some coconut milk used, and there is a slight sweet flavor. Fried potatoes and very tender fishballs accompany it (in the curry)

Roti Paratha

I've seen them make this by themselves by pouring batter onto the griddle in a round circle, but this tastes very similar to the Raya Puff Paratha that you can get in the supermarket. Like Raya, this was very oily and buttery and slightly crisp. I think they gave us 2 full circles of Roti for 2.50.

Chicken Curry (Lunch)
Chicken Curry (regular)

Have eaten this 2 times but then have stopped for no reason. The chicken though is bony (kind of tastes like it came after cooking in a soup- but the curry flavor masks it), so be careful when eating it. Curry is like the same as the fishball curry but this comes really hot, and really thin. I don't get how they make their curry so thin and not thick. Anyone know why?

Lobster Curry with French Bread (not Roti anymore! They now serve more bread. This was taken when this restaurant was very new and had little customers)

Curry is the same taste as the chicken and fishball curry,but this was spicier. The lobster was slightly overcooked and dry though, but this was during it's first few weeks. French bread was typical usual bread with a crisp crust and soft interior but that quickly changed as it got cold. Probably this dish has changed from what we view it as!

Eel Fried Rice before Mixing

Fat Beef Fried Rice (Direct translation...don't remember the english name of this dish!)

Stirring and cooking the Eel Fried Rice

I think this is one of the great dishes they have. However, if they serve it to you really hot, be prepared for lots of great smoke. You'll find that when you leave you smell the same as the dish! They actually will mix everything in front of you which is very nice, and the outcome is a very fragrant and good tasting fried rice (but no egg). There is corn in every fried rice dish which adds some sweetness. Somehow I can't find out what sauce they use. When all mixed together that sauce makes the dish taste great! And when some of the rice gets stuck to the sauce and is stuck to the pan, it makes a very flavorful and delicious "crust". Just don't get it out too late or it will become charred (unless you like that). Both eel and the Fat Beef are good but it really depends on the stirring capability and how hot the pan is- remember to stir. You are practically still cooking the dish! We added some plain rice to save some space as our table was small, and the rice got warmer than when we got it! The pan is really hot as well so be careful- one of our family members got hurt once.

Sea Cucumber

This dish we ordered for the first time and it was pretty good! I think the sauce again made it special. Somehow Green Island does well with their sauces to make people think it tastes really yummy! However the sea cucumber was very good too- it was well cleaned and not too chewy but also not lumpy. Lots of green onions and onions went in and since they were not cooked too long we dumped them into the fried rice pan which made them cooked.

Peppers with Shrimp filling

I would call this one of the more expensive dishes and not that great of a deal but for people who love spicy stuff this dish is perfect for you! The sauce served along it is great with rice and the shrimp filling is not overcooked and tough. Peppers are spicy- not like your typical big pepper with filling that some people eat.

Beef Noodle Soup

Pretty expensive for the price. The serving is again small and the noodles are slightly chewy. Broth as you can see is pretty clear and simple. It's a simple bowl of soup if you like that but it is expensive compared to Mandarin Noodle Deli across the street which has a big bowl of gelatinous , flavorful soup along with lots of beef and chewy noodles!

"Shou Daei Gai" (Chicken with green onions, brocoli, and onion)

This is one of the best bang for the buck dishes when coming for lunch- it costs the same as the chicken curry but it's in a big bowl! The chicken is the same like the curry chicken and it is fairly simple with green onions, onions, and brocoli as well as a brown sauce (probably their special sauce again).

Gai Lan w/ Dai Dui Yu (Chinese Brocoli with dried fish)

This was a so-so dish as when we got it this time, the gai-lan was bitter tasting which it is not supposed to be. Dried fish added some great, intense flavor and was fried to a crisp. However it tastes really similar to dried scallop though! Is this supposed to be? I have never eaten dried fish but dried scallop many times so that is why.

Shanghai Style Nian Gao/Rice Ovalettes/Rice Cakes

This was extremely chewy and there were lots of vegetables including onions, green onions, and cabbage. I would not order this again as the nian gao was exceedingly chewy, which I personally don't like. Also it was a pretty small serving for the price!

Eel Pot

Again a very flavorful dish with lots of green onions and onions! The eel is very bony so be careful. I would say this should not be eaten if you are a kid as if you accidentally swallow in a bone it can be pretty bad. But for the people who can eat this it is very flavorful and yummy.

Sesame Rice Balls with Walnut Dessert Soup

The only dessert item we have ever ordered here. It comes with five of the rice balls which has a sesame filling (yum!) and walnut soup. Sesame rice balls are very chewy (good!) and sweet, and the walnut soup is nothing special- they did add in some walnut but they also did use walnut powder. In addition, it got thin when we stirred it several times which meant they used starch to thicken the soup- not naturally thicken itself.

Overall a great place to eat but slightly pricey. Great food and great smell to their dishes. The dishes have lots of "wok-hey" which makes the dishes taste really great. It has been hard finding another restaurant that is similar to them in that category!
Hopefully I didn't sound too advertisement like which I do often...

Green Island
9556 Las Tunas Drive
Temple City,CA 91780

Green Island Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Starting Now

My first post! I'll start with some information about myself. I enjoy eating, cooking, and traveling in my daily life, and so this is why my title is Eat. Travel. Eat! You eat in your daily life, and when you also travel, you want to try out new foods, variations of food, and maybe different versions of what is available in your area, and so that interest in eating, for me at least, is why I put an exclamation mark at the ending.
I'm part of a family of 4, and I am the one who likes to do all the trip planning, and also helping out with cooking, providing knowledge, and researching. I also have an interest in many other things such as products, architecture, airlines, cars, animation, and other things, and so there will be posts on those things as well. The main areas the blog will cover will be around Southern California, and other places when we travel.
If you are interested in what I have already done about writing about food and family travels, I am also a member on Tripadvisor. You'll probably find some posts that are from there, as well as some posts from this blog that will be posted on Tripadvisor as an review as well. In addition, I am not affiliated with another website that actually had the same title as my blog (what a coincidence! And our title has pretty much the same meaning- but I never looked at his website until after I already made this blog) Please enjoy your day and bear with me as I get more familiar with blogging!