Sunday, October 30, 2011

Easy Earthen- Rowland Heights, CA

 Easy Earthen, Rowland Heights, CA: Exterior

Easy Earthen is a new, smaller outpost of the original Earthen Restaruants located in Hacienda Heights, Calfornia, that features the most popular items from the original Earthen in a short, one page menu.

Easy Earthen, Rowland Heights, CA: Menu  
(click on the picture for a larger version @ flickr)

Easy Earthen's setup is also relatively simple. The customer orders and pays at the counter instead of at the table, and all food items from the menu are presented in color on the large poster boards. Servers do however take care of the rest of the experience, bringing the items to the tables, asking for any necessary items, filling up on water, and busing tables.

Easy Earthen, Rowland Heights, CA: Small House Chicken

The House Chicken (7 USD for the small size) is a very popular item at the original Earthen, and is done in the same style at Easy Earthen. The chicken is firm, if not a bit boney, but it is the garlic sauce that makes the dish definitely worth ordering. It was fabulous with the bed of sliced cucumbers below the chicken, and we even requested an extra saucer of the sauce to dip other items into.

Easy Earthen, Rowland Heights, CA: Julienne Carrot Salad

Service was exceptional that day thanks to the watchful eyes of the manager's wife from the original Earthen and the manager at Easy Earthen. They gave us this julienne vegetable salad, which consisted of julienne carrots, bell peppers, and scallions with a tart vinegar dressing. On that hot summer day, it was extremely refreshing to have something cold and light to start the meal.

Easy Earthen, Rowland Heights, CA:  Pork Steam Dumpling (8)

Dumplings arrived next at the table. The Pork Steamed Dumpling (8) (5 USD) is relatively light in flavorings, rather showcasing the pork's flavor instead in small, neat packages. The dumpling skin is thin, yet chewy.

Easy Earthen, Rowland Heights, CA: Pork Pot Sticker

The Pork Pot Sticker (5 USD), on the other hand, takes the same dumplings used for the pork steamed dumpling dish, and pan fries the dumplings to a crisp.The crispy factor provides additional flavor to the dumplings, but I like these pot stickers or the dumplings dipped in the garlic sauce more.

Easy Earthen, Rowland Heights, CA: Beef Noodle Soup

The Beef Noodles Soup (5 USD) is a smaller portion compared to the original Earthen, but packs the same spicy and moderately beefy flavors.

Easy Earthen, Rowland Heights, CA: Beef Noodle Soup Noodles (old version

What has changed from the original Earthen are the noodles. The manager commented that making fresh noodles was not possible in the small kitchen, and so they found these flat noodles which are ordered from a supplier. Since then, Easy Earthen has changed the noodles for the beef noodles soup, and so I do not know how those will taste. We felt the noodles at the original Earthen were better than these noodles, which were not very chewy and thin and flat.

Easy Earthen, Rowland Heights, CA: Combination Plate 1

We also ordered the Combination Plate (10 USD), which consists of a large platter filled with various julienne vegetables, shrimp, imitation crab, and fen-pi noodles. However, this is not the entire dish.

Easy Earthen, Rowland Heights, CA: Combination Plate (side)

A side dish of napa cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and beansprouts is meant to be mixed with the noodles to complete the dish.

Easy Earthen, Rowland Heights, CA: Combination Plate Mixed

Mixed together, the combination plate is quite refreshing and has some heat due to the mustard in the dressing. We like the chewy noodles which contrast with crunchy vegetables and tender shrimp, eggs, and imitation crab. The garlic sauce, placed here, also makes for a delicious addition.

Easy Earthen, Rowland Heights, CA:  Pan Fried Veggie Dumpling

The Pan Fried Veggie Dumpling (more commonly referred to as "chive boxes"(jiu cai he zi) ($5) is not vegeterian. Like some other restaurants, Easy Earthen adds silverfish to the usual mix of clear glass noodles, chives, and eggs. I don't really care for the doughy texture of the outside though.

Easy Earthen, Rowland Heights, CA:  Making Green Onion Pancakes
(making green onion pancakes)

Easy Earthen, Rowland Heights, CA: Green Onion Pancakes

We do like the Onion Pancakes (3 USD) however. Light and thin, these pancakes are crisp and speckled with plenty of green onions. We wish that the onions were more fragrant though. These are great eaten with the garlic sauce or the house chicken. 

Easy Earthen, Rowland Heights, CA: Pork and Pickled Bun

The manager ended our meal with some complimentary Pork &Napa Bun(s) (5 USD). We took these home since we had already ordered a lot for four people, but we liked how the bread was soft and the meat not heavily seasoned with additional ingredients.

Easy Earthen provides most of what people like at the original Earthen at lower prices and in a convenient, to-go form. It is a great option for those who often order take-out due to the high-quality plastic containers used to pack the food; do reuse these containers to conserve the environment though! Although Easy Earthen is smaller, the flavors produced here are just like that of the original Earthen's.

Easy Earthen (Facebook)
18303 Colima Rd. Suite A
Rowland Heights, CA, 91748
Tel: 1-(626)-964-2800

Easy Earthen on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mitsuwa Marketplace: Sanukiseimen Mugimaru and Miyabi-Tei- Costa Mesa, CA

Sanukiseimen Mugimaru/ Don Don Tei

Three new vendors have joined Costa Mesa's Mitsuwa Marketplace food court: Sanukiseimen Mugimaru, Don Don Tei, and The Loft Hawaiian Restaurant. On my last visit, one companion and I tried out Sanukiseimen Mugimaru while my other companion went to Miyabi-Tei.

Sanukiseimen Mugimaru: Tempura Counter

Sanukiseimen Mugimaru has a cafeteria style layout; first, line up at their udon pictures, and then tell the employee what you would like to order from the menu. With udon, the freshly made noodles will be heated/boiled up at that time and the noodle bowl will be heated up in the same cooking water, with the employee moving the bowl around. I find that unsanitary, but they did pass certification! For onigiri or tempura, continue to the counter where you can select as many items as you would like. The next stop is the cashier, where you can get utensils as well as condiments including sauces, ginger, green onions, and fried tempura batter bits for extra crunch on your udon.

Sanukiseimen Mugimaru: Beef Udon

During our visit, the menu was quite limited, but now the menu has expanded to include more items and applications. All of the items are not too expensive--this beef udon was less than five dollars! Although the portion size is not substantial, it makes for a great light meal. The beef udon has plenty of chewy udon noodles along with the beef and onion slices topped with a scoop of soy-sauce-based broth.

Sanukiseimen Mugimaru: Udon and Curry Rice Set

I had a combo of curry rice and the kari udon combo; although the portion size is the same for both items, the price is discounted.

Sanukiseimen Mugimaru: Udon

The Kari Udon is the simplest of the udon options; it is just the soy sauce based broth with freshly cooked udon noodles. I enjoyed the simplicity of this dish; the green onion and tempura bits that I added enhanced the dish quite substantially.

Sanukiseimen Mugimaru: Curry Rice
(green onions and ginger (cream/yellow color in the background) added as condiments)

What I actually enjoyed was the plate of curry rice; I found this somewhat ironic since Sanukiseimen Mugimaru specializes in udon and tempura. Unlike the typical Japanese curry, this curry was not extremely thick, and plenty of ground beef, onion slices, lotus roots, and carrots were dispersed throughout the hearty, yet somewhat thin curry sauce. If the curry udon also offers this curry, I am very willing to visit here again sometime soon!

Miyabi Tei: Hot Soba, Sala, and Curry Rice Set

My other companion, tried out a hot soba, salad, and curry rice set from Miyabi-Tei instead.

Miyabi Tei: Hot Soba
Miyabi Tei: Salad
Miyabi Tei: Curry Rice

My companion really enjoyed this set, just like we enjoyed the chicken cutlet curry set from our previous visit; we even ordered another of this same exact set (with cold soba) to go for a friend! We chose the hot soba this time around since the weather was windy, but a cold soba option is available for no extra charge. Like our previous visit, all the other items were delightful to eat; fresh, simple ingredients put together at a reasonable price. It was fun trying out two variations of curry rice this visit; Miyabi-Tei's curry is a thick curry sauce, while Sanukiseimen Mugimaru has a thinner, more colorful curry chockful of meat and vegetables.

We had a great visit this time around and can't wait to go yet again to Mitsuwa Marketplace; each visit reminds us of how food courts can place quality ingredients and reasonable pricing together. Plenty of people atre food from The Loft Hawaiian Restaurant, and if I do get the opportunity to revisit Mitsuwa Marketplace I will review it!

Mitsuwa Marketplace
665 Paularino Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Sanukiseimen Mugimaru on Urbanspoon
Miyabi-Tei (Mitsuwa Marketplace Food Court) on Urbanspoon