Sunday, March 7, 2010

Phoenix Food Boutique- Arcadia: Meals and Late Night

Exterior of Phoenix Food Boutique Arcadia

Phoenix Food Boutique is not just a fast food style food and drink place, but also one that attracts quite a bit of customers at night for late night eating AKA "siew yeh". It attracts us for both reasons, but mainly now just for their sweet black sesame puree dessert soup. Online, their website states this type of Phoenix a place for quick casual dining "pan asian" style. I don't necessarily think of Phoenix Food Boutique "very pan asian" a la Woo in Las Vegas, but they are mostly modernized to fit the tastes of today's young generation.


Inside Phoenix, it is all modern, sometimes even dark in some spots of the place. There are several coolers, offering desserts, beverages, and appetizers for to go. This is no full service restaurant. Instead, just sit down at an open table, and you'll get your menus shortly. Order at the counter or flag an employee. Instead of usual thick plastic soup spoons, you will get flimsy take out spoons if they are not being used to "serve" the dish with. Plenty of differences, yes? Pretty much the only exception is the service when there is no one there. And also, the beat filled catwalk music still reigns here, as it did in Phoenix Inn. It gets into your head if you listen to it, but if you babble along with a companion you will barely even notice it.

On our "first" visit to appear on the blog, after we were told we needed to wait for a table at Sinbala, we drove next door (or across the walkway/turn right if you are walking as you are considered as a "patron" already in the other parking lot) to Phoenix, which just had one open table for us to sit down. Nice!

Since it was chilly, we ordered a noodle soup. We also ordered a plate of fried rice for next day's lunch. :) This was just a light snack, after all- we had eaten dinner but wished to have a bit more.

Soft Spareribs Noodle Soup
Yay, Sony W90! (6300+ and counting; taken as the D90 was not with me as I wasn't planning to take any photos)

We ordered the Soft Spareribs Noodle Soup (6.45 USD) as we thought this the "soft spareribs" written in Chinese meant a slow cooked soup with bone that was simmered for a period of time, but no. Instead, there were pieces of five spice flavored beef stew meat which had delicious pieces of soft bone. Soft bone, if you haven't had it yet, is slightly gelatinous on the edges usually and has a light "crunch" when biting it. Good for the body, if nothing else. The soup was a beef broth which was speckled with fried ginger pieces and scallions/cilantro. I certainly enjoyed the noodles, as they had a pleasant bite without being too chewy. But, Tasty Garden just a block away has better noodles in my opinion.

Beef Fried Rice

As for the Beef Fried Rice(6.45 USD), it was actually quite oily, but a good deal if you did not want to go to May Mei (same pricing). Serving fried rice in a bowl was a bit unusual for such a large serving, but how about I just concentrate on the fried rice now? Strips of lettuce were added for a light crunchy, and oily scrambled eggs were cooked to wispy thin. You pretty much can only get wispy thin scrambled eggs with lots of oil and high heat. Ground beef was dispersed throughout the fried rice and was lightly seasoned. Overall, a very lightly seasoned dish- not in a good way, as it was almost like eating oily rice with the saltiness of the egg, the richness of the beef, and the light crunch of the lettuce providing all the flavor, which wasn't much. Eileen of Eileen Likes to Eat seems to have the same opinion- barely any flavor. It was also too oily for our tastes. Fried rice IS oily but this was quite a bit oily. In the lunchbox, even when mixed with several scoops of brown rice, it left the plastic lunch box with a oily surface that was shining like a sun. I'll provide you an example of "exceedingly oily" when I write about Chang's Garden, also just footsteps away.

On our "second" or "last" visit, we came yet again for the sweet black sesame dessert soup but had dinner there instead just for you readers. ;)

Phoenix Counter

Here is a better picture of their counter close to the cashier's desk. This was taken with no look at the viewfinder or a live view screen. Crazy angle and tilt? Maybe. 1000+ ISO? Whoops- night does not equal restaurant lighting.

Lo Mein Portuguese Beef Stew

Our items were fast to arrive, like usual at Phoenix. This was the Lo Mein Portuguese Beef Stew (6.45 USD). "Portuguese Beef Stew" actually means a lightly seasoned beef stew curry or in other words the beef had just a hint of the curry flavors. (Taken out after simmering to make beef broth? Could be.) The noodles were standard and were flavored with some of the curry sauce but were lacking a bit of the usual pull of the noodles you would see at Tasty Garden. Plentiful spinach, dispersed throughout the noodles, added some greenery to the plate. All the beef was quite tender. Overall, one of the better noodle dishes (lo mein and noodle soups are better here at Phoenix compared to their stir fried noodles), but we still used a half bottle of red vinegar! Less vinegar equals something that can stand out by itself, you see.

Hainan Chicken Rice
(Big and plump chickens used for this dish, not a smaller, more flavorful chicken like "Vikon")

I ordered the Hainan Chicken rice (5.95 USD) after debating on Korean style chicken or this, but unfortunately this version of Hainan Chicken was very bland. The chicken was just boiled in plain water, and probably marinated with a bit of salt for some time. There was not much of the flavorful chicken that I look for in a good Hainan Chicken rice. I could taste some chicken flavor but not a lot, but my taste buds are a tad more sensitive compared to most people. My dining companions just thought this was just chicken pulled out after cooking it for chicken broths- uh oh! Rice was a bit clumpy/sticky, with barely any chicken oil/chicken flavor. The ginger oil brought in the flavor, but it itself was filled with salty oil (which I removed) and basically tasted like salt with ginger. No scallions a la Green Island wich also serves a better (not Hainan) chicken than here. For a Hainan Chicken rice fix in Arcadia, I would recommend Garden Cafe's version of Hainan Chicken Rice, which costs about the same, over Phoenix's version. But what do you expect? Phoenix specializes in drinks and desserts, not savory foods. Plus, they are more of a fast food operation than a HKSC (Hong Kong Style Cafe).

Singaporean Style Fried Vermicelli

The flavorless syndrome also affected the Singaporean Style Fried Vermicelli (6.75 USD) that my other companion ordered. Hmm...the chef seems to be very lighthanded on the flavors here...and we use very little salt in our cooking! The chef just used a hint of soy sauce, salt, the like- but no curry powder. The eggs and the other ingredients added as much flavor as they could, but additional help was needed in order to finish this- like chili sauce from the Hainan Chicken rice, red vinegar, et cetera.

Morning Glory with Garlic

Luckily, the Morning Glory with Garlic, was bursting with flavor and was delicious. Packed tightly onto a tiny plate, the serving may have looked small but actually was a good amount for the price of 5.50 USD. Tons of minced garlic added pop and a liberal sprinkle of salt and probably some MSG brought the crisp ong choy to life. This was a good vegetable choice to go along with our other items we ordered.

Sweet Black Sesame Puree
(First visit- hard photo to take as it was DARK)

Sweet Black Sesame Puree
(Second visit- plenty of light!)

To end both of our meals at Phoenix we ordered the Sweet Black Sesame Puree (2.50 USD) (Dessert Soup). What is extremely good about this dessert is the richness of the sesame and the thickness of the soup. The fragrance of the sesame appears when the spoon reaches the mouth, and the deep flavors of the black sesame bombard your senses with every sip. No soupy, extra sweet dessert soup here. This is good stuff! Better than the other choices available, and something that isn't as easy to make at home due to the fine grinding of the sesame. It's why you pay 2+ dollars for a bowl of it here for a very, very good rendition of it.

Other diners enjoyed drinks and desserts like fruit and coconut tapioca, cookies, cream puffs, and gelatins. We did not take part of those, but they are quite popular items at all Phoenix locations.

Overall? An okay place for a quick dinner (faster than Hong Kong Style Cafes), with the desserts being more worthwhile. Phoenix was always famous on their drinks and desserts side of the menu, after all.

Phoenix Food Boutique
1108 S. Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91007
Tel: 626-446-7668

Phoenix Food Boutique on Urbanspoon

Phoenix Food Boutique in Los Angeles


Dave said...

Not a very big fan of their food. But Mango Tapioca drink hits the spot every time.

tigerfish said...

I love the soft bone of chicken and pork...yea...don't like the meat, prefer the soft bone.

No curry powder in the fried vermicelli ? :O

EatTravelEat said...

Yeah, their tapioca drinks are quite good, if not a bit pricey. I did see them sneaking a sip or two of each drink as they filled it up too much- they used a small spoon to take out some of the drink to their own small cups.

I know! So weird! Even hotel buffet Singapore style fried vermicelli in the Middle East is better. Bah...