Saturday, January 31, 2009

Maki and Sushi Fusion Sushi Cafe- Arcadia

There aren't many places that serve sushi in Arcadia, after you subtract the supermarkets and buffets that offer sushi in Arcadia. And this place is one of the restaurants that has a sushi bar. By no means, it is not as great compared to sushi restaurants in LA (like Sushi Gen), nor as fresh, but for the location, this is a good place for your value too.

And not only that, it is also a business lunch hangout. In fact, the entire plaza which Maki and Sushi is in, which also has BJ's and Sesame Grill, is filled with cars during the lunch period. The entire parking lot is mainly filled to the brim on weekdays. You'd expect weekends to be even busier, but no, that isn't true. Lots of the businesses also in the plaza are closed during the weekend, which then means more parking spaces. But sometimes, it is like the weekday: filled to the brim.

The interior is pretty dark. I didn't get that great of a shot of everything though, as obviously, the restaurant was pretty full and even if you take the picture outside, the people inside can see you very clearly. Anyways, as you can see from the pics, there is lots of dark wood as well as blacks, whites, and reds.

Overall, the space is kind of narrow. The tables are pretty close to each other, and they seat two people (put them together and it becomes a bigger table!). In addition, there is also a small TV (a big TV would not fit the space at all) near the bar (the curved area in the first interior photo), which usually is tuned to a sports channel.

Specials are also posted on the sides of the walls as well, which obviously change from time to time. Usually though, you'll see fresh oysters, which are indeed fresh. On the oysters they add some green onion and masago which is nice.

After selecting your choices, you will automatically get a bowl of miso soup. It's nothing special, just miso soup with some seaweed and tofu. You will also get edamame, which basically is basically young soybeans in the pod; and they are also salted as well. However, we didn't get any this visit, but maybe it is because it also appeared in what we ordered: a "lunch box".

Or you could call it a bento box if you wanted to. You can pick one item (6.95), or two(9.95). They kind of trick you by putting two lists of choices, which can trick people who are ordering two items to order one item from each column. However, you can actually pick anything. Some people will do this: ordering two hot dishes (ex. Chicken Teriyaki and Beef Ribs), which for some people may be a good deal as the serving sizes do not diminish anyhow. But for us, since we also like sushi together with the meal, we picked a sushi item as well as a hot item.

All of these lunch boxes come with a lightly cooked oyster which hasn't been cooked way too long, edamame, a mound of rice, a orange wedge that has also been sliced for easy removal, and a salad with a choice of peanut or ginger dressing. We like the ginger dressing, which is tangy. The oyster has a light smoke taste to it, and the sauce is also a little bit smoky too.

And so here we are with one of the two lunch boxes we ordered. This came with a salmon roll and beef ribs. Portion size is not small; you'll get pretty full. The beef ribs are marinated in soy and have a great flavor. And those salmon rolls are of a good size, and have cucumber in them as well.

The salmon teriyaki and california rolls are also excellent as well. The California rolls are not real crab but imitation, unlike Tokyo Table which uses real crabmeat. However, it is still good, and you can taste every item put in. The advocado is also very buttery and not ultra ripe or hard, which doesn't happen all the time in sushi places.

And oh...the salmon teriyaki! Teriyaki sauce isn't the ultra sweet type but is slightly sweet, and the salmon is cooked very nicely. It's not fully cooked, and the inside is still very moist, buttery, and tender. The outside though has a crispy skin (yum!) and the fatty part tastes well, fatty with the fish oils...

Besides these lunch boxes though, we also like the vegetable udon and sushi combo, which is yet again another great deal. The udon broth isn't ultra salty, and there are lots of vegetables inside. You pick which sushi you want, and the serving size for those are just as big as the lunch box servings, and they are even plated very nicely too.

Maki and Sushi is our auto choice when eating sushi in Arcadia; it's a good deal, and the food is fresh and yummy. The servers are efficient and friendly, which just makes the experience better.

Maki and Sushi Fusion Sushi Cafe
302 E. Huntington Dr.
Arcadia, CA 91006
(626) 462-9600

Maki & Sushi Fusion Sushi Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 30, 2009

利強記北角雞蛋仔 (Lee Keung Kee North Point Eggette/Egg Waffle)- Wan Chai

It's tucked away, near the side of the Henessey Road Wan Chai MTR exit. Nearby, there is a McDonalds as well as a Arome Bakery and the Wan Chai Computer Centre. But what is this place? One of the best places we have encountered in Hong Kong for egg waffles, or "Gai Daan Zai".

But, before you settle to buy something in the area, be careful. There are also also other vendors* selling the egg waffles on a not so pernament looking cart. Just know, that this place has a pernament space. The signage will tell you where you are.

Another hint is this: all the pictures of celebrities as well as many food reviews. Coming in the first time during our summer trip, we didn't really care much about this; we had no knowledge after all. Our way of buying egg waffle is to buy it wherever there is a vendor that sells them. In the past, it has brought us good results; all the egg waffles tasted excellent. Apparently though, in these two years, we can't do that anymore. We find egg waffle shops lacking in quality. It's either WAY too crisp to the fact it is simply hard to even chew, or the inside is all air. And that is a sign of a very bad egg waffle. Sigh.

Then why here? Well, if you have guessed by the celebrity photos and reviews, I think you know why. These egg waffles are simply scrumptious. However, North Point Egg waffle doesn't just sell Egg waffles though. They sell a wide variety of savoury snacks as well as the famed Egg waffle.

We did try out the fishballs as well as stuff like shumai on one day, and they were pretty good; very tender, but there wasn't enough fish flavor. However, they were steaming hot and with the sauces they provide, it is a great treat.

No, it isn't ultra clean either. But sometimes, being ultra clean can yield out bad results. You know in this type of place, you are getting the authentic thing. And those sauces? Very flavorful on the savoury items. You however should not put them on the egg waflle....unless you wished to.

What is here? The shumai steamer as well as the egg waffle machines. This isn't Tasty Garden in Arcadia, where the mold for the egg waffle is like one of those Waring Pro Rotating waffle makers. Here, it is just simply 2 plates, not really connected to one another. It's only to the skill of the egg waffle maker to align everything together. Sometimes, they do so, but sometimes, they do not. But still, the egg waffle is still delicious!

Those shumai steamers are also all over HK. You can find those shumai in MTR stations, street vendors like this place, as well as even in restaurants and all sorts of other places. One place in Tsim Sha Tsui's MTR serves them with soy sauce. That was our intoduction to a shumai that was only filled with a fish filling.

See the char? See the mess from the batter? This is a sign of Yum. And the person in the back is rolling a finished egg waffle. It creates a rounded form which will help when you are hand carrying it.

And after a quick while, we order, and we actually have to wait for the egg waffle to be cooked! A great sign of freshness. Some places just leave the finished egg waffles out for display, waiting for an purchaser to eat it. And that is when quality slips. You see, after a while, the egg waffle loses its heat, and when a egg waffle is cold, you can't really taste the egg batter any more. It tastes sweet with no other special stuff.

After about a 1 to 2 minute wait though, the egg waffle is ready. You pay 11HKD. (What??? One usually pays 10 or less.). As you get the egg waffle from the cook though, you know why. There are actually holes in the bag so the egg waffle's steam will not condense and make the egg waffle lose its crisp! Cool feature. Maybe that is why they sold it for 11HKD- those special holes.

11HKD though is not a ultra high price compared to places like the Avenue of Stars, where they cost 14+ HKD. Anyways though, it is still cheaper than Tasty Garden. By a whole lot. More than half the price! And so, we enjoyed it. And we came back.

But what did the egg waffle taste like? Not really sweet, and slightly chewy and moist in the middle. It was crisp on the outside, but not to the point it became hard to chew. You could really taste the egg, and the sugar was a good compliment, unlike some stores. In other words, this was a great egg waffle. The short wait was also, much worth it.

*Update April 27,2011: A newer post with current information about this place is at this link: Day 2: 利強記北角雞蛋仔- Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Embassy Kitchen Lunch Visit #2

It's been almost a month between this post and last time's lunch post. Which also means one month into the operation of the blog! Isn't it a coincidence? The next restaurant post was for the same place as I wrote a month ago. Wow!

A rainy day plus busy events that were occurring from one end to another end brought us to here, which was more near the midpoint of the distances. Kind of late on arrival (about 12:30 or so), but we were served nicely and there were not too many people.

The interior as you can see, is simple, but also a bit upscale. Dark colors blend in with brighter colors. Light wood tones are also there. Pretty simple, but a little more upscale compared to some Chinese restaurants.

Being lunch, there was a lunch special menu as always. I like it here as the costs are cheaper than Green Island (5.25+ versus 6+!), but the servings and food are just as good or better. It's less of a cafe style setting but rather more of a higher end restaurant setting.

Another great addition coming in for a lunch special is that you get soup as well as hot tea. At Green Island, you get a drink, but here you get soup and tea. The soup for today was a stewed meat soup which was very flavorful. They typically give out this soup more than the other soups they have for the Lunch Special.

We ordered a little more than usual being a busy day, and we tried items that we haven't had in a long time. Here are the results!

This is the Bamboo Pith with fried tofu in shrimp roe sauce. Make sure you order the one with shrimp roe sauce and not the "egg tofu". The Egg tofu one is simply said, horrible. The frying on the outside is rough and weird. Unusual is the word!

Bamboo pith with fried tofu in shrimp roe sauce though is very good. It's one of our favorite dishes. The bamboo pith gives the whole dish a little bit of the flavor, and the sauce is great on rice. And the tofu is crisp on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. Totally worth the 7.25, and yet it still doesn't cost as much as Green Island's higher end entrees and is a bigger serving too!

One of the party members ordered a oyster omelet, which was okay. The egg was fluffy and flavorful and was folded several times, and there were several oysters in the omelet which were also pretty flavorful and not overcooked.

Black pepper beef with spinach was just as good as last time. Maybe even better too; the spinach was not cooked as long so it had a better chew compared to limpy, completely cooked spinach. The beef, as usual, was tender and spicy.

Obviously, something was added to this Salted egg with meat "pancake". The meat was very very tender, but it was very flavorful too. And the soy sauce served on the bottom was great with rice, as usual.

The last item that came was this Fried fish filet with corn. They use cod for the fish so it is very tender, and the frying was crispy. Corn sauce though was a little bit bland; I would have liked more of the sauce as otherwise the fried fish was pretty plain by itself. But for those who want fried fish but don't want sweet and sour sauce, this is a good choice.

Leaving the restaurant we were very full, and at less than 10 dollars a head it was a good deal too compared to some restaurants nearby!

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

Embassy Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Embassy Kitchen Restaurant Index

Links to all the posts I have written about Embassy Kitchen (Embassy Chinese Restaurant):

Embassy Kitchen: Several Dinner Visits
Embassy Kitchen Visit #2- San Gabriel
Embassy Chinese Restaurant-San Gabriel

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

The Las Vegas Trip Dec 2008

Here is a index to all of the posts I have done on our visit to Las Vegas in December 2008. Obviously, I am still in progression doing these posts so this index will grow larger as I write more on our trip:

Hotel reviews:
Mirage Part 1: Public Spaces
Mirage Part 2: Rooms
Mirage Part 3: Views from the room
Mirage Part 4: Terry Fator Theatre, Conference Areas, and the Roasted Bean

The Palazzo 2008 Review Part 1: Introduction, Check In, and Public Spaces
The Palazzo 2008 Review Part 2: The Luxury and Bella Suites
The Palazzo 2008 Review Part 3: The 44th floor views

Restaurant reviews:
Cravings Buffet (Photos and Review)- Las Vegas (Mirage)
Cravings Buffet (Videos)- Las Vegas (Mirage)
Lotus of Siam- Las Vegas
Panevino- Las Vegas
Sam Woo BBQ- Las Vegas
Woo-Las Vegas (Palazzo) (CLOSED)
World's Fare Buffet- Las Vegas (Riviera)
Yunnan Garden- Las Vegas

Places to visit:
Showcase Mall- Las Vegas

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Arcadia Garden Cafe Index


Here are all the posts on Arcadia's Garden Cafe:

Arcadia Garden Cafe: Breakfast!
Arcadia Garden Cafe: Afternoon Tea & Extra Photos

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You may not copy my photos, videos, and/or text without my permission. If wish to do so, please contact me via email first at eattraveleat (at) gmail (dot) com and read my Attribution and Copyright Rules so you know how I would like you to credit my work before taking any action. Thank you!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Green Island: Visit #3

This has truly become our Sunday lunch place/ restaurant to go to at anytime. New tradition for 2009...but for this time we tried the pot rice and the braised duck with taro which were some items I haven't written about before. The top photo shows how the restaurant looks like in the back; most people come in this way.

The door brings you to a hallway that looks like this. The restrooms and the drink prep area are all here, as well as where they store their menus :).

Drinks Area
Interior Shot

For this visit, we sat near the window, as we wanted to have a view. But...that decision was a VERY bad decision. One should not sit near the window, unless they have no choice. It was scary. Do you know what happened? Because the windows are floor to ceiling, people can watch in. But what was scary was this old lady in a wheelchair. Now, I don't mean to be a mean person, but this lady was intruding our privacy. She actually would stop at each table near the window, and give us all a STARE and look at the food items. And then, move on to the next table. Very scary! And yet, she didn't eat here. Instead, she moved on with her motorized wheelchair.

There were also other people doing weird stuff...

We had ordered and got our items beforehand so it was too late to change tables. A learning experience? Yes!

One of the new items we tried today was the Braised duck with taro (6.99). Now, this "taro" isn't what one usually would think of taro. Most think of taro as the filling in breads and cakes, as well as also used in some ice creams. However, this taro was just cooked to the fact it was really soft, and then nothing else was added. The braised duck had lots of duck flavor, and the sauce also had lots of duck flavor. Good with rice!

This was the Chicken rice pot which was cooked by electric. It's like what Tasty Garden does to its pot rice as well. I liked the chicken, which was very tender and slippery (cornstarch addition), as well as the rice which was slightly dry and slightly oily. The rice crust was also good too, after you added the soy sauce and that dried up a little bit.

And here is the pork belly with cabbage pot. The sauce that comes in this is always good with rice, and the cabbage really soaks up all the flavor from the sauce, and so does the fatty pork belly which is cut like bacon.

We also ordered the sauteed Green beans with fish cake, which this time had lots of the sauce they add to the green beans. The fish cake as always, was salty and very flavorful. Quick note, but this photo was from a past visit; this time, the green beans were not so "Green" like this order from the second visit of this year; it was a little bit white (frying). I personally think my photo right up here trumps their photo on their menu as their green beans are not a vibrant green on their menu.

Overall, another good Sunday visit at Green Island, other than the fact that some people were staring at us while we were eating which pretty much ruined our dining experience for the first part.

(Chinese new Year (Sunday) visit will be posted soon)

Other posts on Green Island:

Green Island Visit #2 2009 (Lunch)- Temple City
Green Island- Temple City

Green Island
9556 Las Tunas Drive
Temple City,CA 91780

Green Island Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Garden Cafe: Afternoon Tea & Extra Photos

It's not everyday we go for afternoon tea. It's only when we are in a situation where we have to eat lunch late or dinner early. And this visit was one of the days we needed to eat dinner early.

Why here? We didn't even know if Garden Cafe had a afternoon tea menu; Tasty Garden does however. But while driving, we did not get a chance so that we could turn into Tasty Garden. So, not wanting to make a U turn, we headed up to Garden Cafe which was on the route.

The interior obviously, inline with the other Garden Cafes, is very modern. When I first went here for the first time, I thought WOW. This design was not very familiar; it was instead striking and very intriguing. However, as time past, we got used to it, but it definitely feels very contemporary. The Arcadia location seems to be the one who started the new design language- the other locations of Garden Cafe then played copycat and renovated to look like the Arcadia location.

(Frozen Yogurt that they own. A lonely place!)

And besides the Garden cafe itself, there is also a Frozen Yogurt place, obviously to attract people who love froyo. The charge is the same as Pinkberry, or almost. 3 toppings is 4.95, 2 toppings is 3.95. I've only seen one customer eat this though, and the final product didn't look like what you would get at Pinkberry or some place which you don't serve yourself. It was more...messy and not as nicely decorated/swirled.

And before we get off topic towards froyo....

The afternoon tea menu was GREAT! There were many selections; you could make a HK noodle soup and pick from two toppings (including things like wontons,etc.). Items like Roti Paratha with curry sauce were on the menu, as well as chicken with E-Fu noodle and many other items. I would come here again for afternoon tea as the items are more interesting compared to Tasty Garden. But Tasty Garden has its HK Egg Waffle for its advantage. Plus, Garden Cafe charges 50 cents more for a iced drink, but you can get hot tea or coffee for free.

And here is the hot lemon tea. Mash the lemon and the sugar together, and then adding the tea makes a great lemony breverage.

And here is the hot milk tea, which was also free. It came with some evaporated milk as well as condensed milk. The milk tea was very smooth, and had a very bold tea flavor. Very good! We also liked the addition of evaporated milk; it's better for the people who don't want their milk tea to be too rich (by the condensed milk).

My dish was the lemongrass pork chop with egg and rice. This dish seemed like a copycat of the Vietnamese grilled meat on rice dishes, but without the nuoc cham on the side and no pickled carrots. The pork chop was similar to the Vietnamese grilled meats, but not as bold as those meats, and you could also get some lemongrass flavor, but not a whole lot. The egg was crispy, slightly greasy, and cooked just right. Pretty good dish in general!

We also ordered a Beef with Egg white on rice noodle soup. As you can see, there is almost NO soup on this! The beef and egg mixture tasted like West Lake Beef and Egg white soup; slightly peppery. Cilantro also was again a copy of West Lake Beef and Egg White soup. Slippery rice noodles with a good chew were also added in a big mound. In the end, we asked for some soup, and they gave us some soup; and they didn't charge extra! The soup is a simple meat stock.

And we also got this regular priced chicken rice noodle, which came with egg, vegetables, and some preserved vegetables. The rice noodles were just as good as the beef and egg rice noodle soup even after microwaving later on at home.


And as promised, here are some extra photos to look at. They are on Tripadvisor too :).

Hainan Chicken Rice. This dish is pretty good; the meat is flavorful, and the rice has a very good chicken flavor. Cucumbers have sesame oil on them and the ginger and green onion oil is great on rice.

Surf and Turf- two different meats on one plate.

If I remember correctly this was the beef tounge curry.

And lastly, here is some complimentary soup with saltine crackers. You can chose from a "Loh Shun Tong" (like a milestrone) or the cream soup (corn and ham). This is obviously the cream soup.

Garden Cafe Arcadia
850 S Baldwin Ave
Arcadia, CA 91007
(626) 446-0688

Arcadia Garden Cafe on Urbanspoon