Friday, December 4, 2009


I just had one of the best Japanese meals I have ever had in my life.
It was unbelievable.

Jonathan Gold had given it a raving review:

Kiyokawa is
"home of Satoshi Kiyokawa, possibly the best unknown sushi chef in Los Angeles at the moment. His multicourse omakase dinners are epic, kaiseki-style feasts; seasonal, imaginative meals that, while not cheap, rival their equivalents at places charging two and three times as much. In my decades of reviewing restaurants, Kiyokawa may be the first place I was tempted to keep for myself."

Must be good...

didn't know it would be this good.

Except, the revered JGold forgot to mention one thing...


Satoshi-san appears to be dancing as he prepares his delectable omakase. With an colorful array of the freshest fish fillets before him and a long sharp knife in hand, Satoshi appears to be performing an intricate dance with his ingredients. He assumes a confident stance as every long, smooth stroke of his knife cuts the fish before him like it was butter. The molding of each nigiri seems to involve his entire body. Rocking back and forth, fish flying from hand to hand, the rhythm of his movements seems to help to create impeccable pieces of seafood and rice. I always knew the preparation of Japanese cuisine was an art form--I had just never seen it in such a dynamic, flamboyant way. Without a doubt, sit at the sushi bar so you can marvel at Satoshi-san's moves while enjoying his interpretive, flawless creations. Watching him at his art added as much to my experience as each delicious bite.

There are pictures out there of the omakase at Kiyokawa by that I find to be absolutely stunning. These are mine. They're as much for you as they are for me to help me as I reminisce about every impeccable bite of that dinner.

Throughout my childhood, I visited many of the best sushi restaurants in Tokyo or in Taipei with my family. I've had my share of omakase meals. Nothing has captured my heart as much as Satoshi's omakase. It might be because every course involved my absolute favorite ingredients, from uni to foie gras to fresh abalone and black cod. There are my favorites ANYWHERE. Now my favorites are at Kiyokawa.

265 S. Robertson Ave
Beverly Hills, CA
(310) 358-1900


cucumber, spinach, lotus root, burdock root


bluefin tuna from Spain, Santa Barbara sea urchin, fresh abalone, halibut, freshly grated wasabi

Satoshi asked if I had any preferences when it came to sashimi. I answered: "anything that comes in a shell!" This resulted in deliciously fresh abalone, creamy sea urchin, and later on, sweet scallop. I was in heaven.


seared foie gras, marinated sea urchin, snow crab on cripsy wonton, seared hamachi with japaleno, kumamoto oyster with cavier and gold leaf, halibut in hot oil

This was a plate full of little treasures. I can't even find words to do them justice. Each little compartment held two bites of the most perfect flavor and texture combinations I have ever encountered. While reminding me a little of Japanese bento boxes in how it was organized, this dish was a very modern take on Japanese cuisine in both taste and presentation. I loved it.


daikon, silken tofu, taro in broth

Don't let the seemingly bland and boring look of this dish fool you. It was delicious! The broth was good but the most amazing part was the piece of daikon in the back. It was so good! Spoon tender while maintaing its texture, the daikon had soaked up the flavor of the broth and each bite only made me want more.


miso marinated black cod

I love miso marinated black cod. I've never had it paired with a salad. Ingenious! The salad was dressed in sesame oil and was perfect for balancing the fatty goodness of the cod.

The next dish was a amazing "japanese matzo ball" soup. It was a big ball of light fluffy tofu mixed with sweet scallop that was deep fried and then put in a thick clear soup. SO GOOD. I only wish I had taken a picture of it before I devoured it all. I was trying to eat it some of it before the soup made the entire ball of goodness soft. I got a few good mouthfuls of tempura in soup before the whole thing disintegrated into the delicious soup.

After that soup, I was officially starting to get full. The final plate of nigri was just the thing I needed. Some more fish and sushi rice!


tuna, halibut, mackerel, scallop, uni


black sesame ice cream

Such a delicious departure from boring green tea ice cream. I LOVE black sesame and this ice cream was probably the best I've had in a while. It was so good, it inspired me to make black sesame macarons during xmas break ;)

**I know it's taken me more than a month to finally put up this post! Christmas break meant I was in the kitchen all day at home and actually making food rather than sitting at my desk at school just looking at food blogs all day. There will definitely be a LOT of blogging for me in the next few days! :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Food Truck Frenzy

Initially I had planned on writing a separate post about each food truck that I visited. However, today I realized that I'm just a little bit over the whole food truck craze in LA. Therefore, they are all getting lopped together into one looooong post. You might notice that I've been posting a lot more frequently these past few days. Why? It's almost finals week here at UCLA and the best way to procrastinate? FOOD BLOG.

The food from food trucks is only good for instant gratification. They're fast, they're affordable, they're everywhere, but after the first few bites, you realize, "this food was definitely made in a truck." That being said, I've only tried 4 of the ever-growing number of "gourmet" food trucks in LA. For the sake of curiosity, I will continue to try whatever food truck I happen to run into.

It should be noted that the only reason I had started a Twitter account was to follow food trucks.

Here's my review of the food trucks I've sampled so far.

Kogi BBQ Taco Truck
Korean BBQ tacos, burritos, quesadillas, etc.

Kogi tacos have become synonymous with the start of LA food truck scene. They are basically tacos with a Korean twist. Little soft corn tortillas willed with your choice of short rib, spicy pork, chicken or tofu. All their tacos come topped with the following:

  • sesame-chili salsa roja
  • julienne romaine lettuce and cabbage tossed in Korean chili-soy vinaigrette
  • cilantro-green onion-lime relish
  • crushed sesame seeds
  • sea salt
  • garnished with lime wedge, orange wedge and red radish wedge
Indeed these tacos are tasty, especially the first time you taste one. Whenever any of my friends come in from out of town, I immediately check my twitter to see if the Kogi truck happens to be around UCLA that night. Everyone should experience the Kogi taco at least once.

However, I suppose I've had the luxury of eating Kogi tacos too many times. If I stumble across the truck while I'm making the trek back to my room after a long night of partying, I usually let out a squeal of joy. I then gorge myself on multiple tacos. At that moment, nothing could be tastier than a Kogi short rib taco. The next morning...not so much. After too many of these experiences, Kogi no longer appeals to me as much. Also, is it just me or does everything on their menu tastes the same...


Kogi BBQ Short Rib Taco ($2.00)
This is my favorite out of all their meat choices. The sauces add just the right amount of heat and the romaine lettuce topping is what makes the taco.


Special: The Pac-man Burger
($5.00? specials prices vary from $3-$7)
Every week the Kogi truck comes up with a different special. One week, it happened to be a burger stuffed with all three kinds of meats plus the usual toppings and cheese. Tasted exactly like a taco except soggier because of the use of a burger bun instead of a corn tortilla...

Nom Nom Truck
Vietnamese "Banh Mi" Sandwiches

I've only had the Nom Nom Truck once. They usually come around UCLA during lunch time when I'm normally sitting in class with my stomach growling. Before an accounting midterm a few weeks ago, I decided to dine on some Banh Mi for good luck.

They have a lovely combo that includes a 6-inch sandwich, 2 tacos, and a drink for $7. I think its safe to say that the Nom Nom truck is one of the healthier food trucks in the LA area.


Lemongrass Chicken Taco and BBQ Pork Taco
(2 for $4.00 or 1 for $2.50)
These was okay. I liked the pickled vegetables. Both kinds of meat were unmemorable.


Grilled Pork Banh Mi ($5.00)
I enjoyed the sandwich more than the tacos because I felt the meat and pickled vegetables went a lot better with french bread rather than corn tortillas. Next time, I would only order the sandwich.


Special: Pork Spring Rolls (3 for $5)
This was disappointing...not nearly as good as some spring rolls I've had at pho restaurants. The sauce wasn't very tasty either.

Get Shaved
Hawaiian Shaved Ice

Sadly, I have not gotten shaved ice from the Get Shaved Truck. Fail. However, to my defense, by the time I discovered this truck, it was already pretty cold outside. They like to come to UCLA late at night and shaved ice just isn't very appealing when its dark and windy outside. I have only tried their fall special. The first time I had it I thought it was delicious. I didn't want to share any of it! However, it was also the night before my birthday and my bf and I shared a few celebratory shots right before. The next time I got the same dessert, it just wasn't half as good.


Creamy Cheesy Pumpkin Pleasy ($5.00)
pumpkin break withe cream cheese ice cream, caramel, candied pecans, and whipped cream
The pumpkin bread was a little dry and the ice cream a little sweet but mix it all together with the caramel and crunchy pecans and it was actually not bad.

Dainty Cakes
Specialty cupcakes, sweet and savory crepes

I just tried Dainty Cakes' cupcakes and savory crepe today. This is what pushed me to finally write up this post. I was excited. I happened to see the truck there and thought to myself, "I must have some cupcakes!" I REALLY wanted to like the food. Sadly, for a truck with such a cute name, the cupcakes were a huge disappointment...


Red Velvet Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting ($3.00)
The cupcake was dry with hardly any flavor. The cream cheese frosting tasted like it came out of a tub from the supermarket. I feel bad whenever I give somewhere a bad review (especially when the people who work there were so nice!) but this cupcake just wasn't good. :( One bite and I was craving for a Sprinkles red velvet cupcakes.


Savory Crepe ($5.00)
filled with cheese, spinach, and bacon
The crepe was topped with what I'm guessing is a mixture of ketchup and soy sauce which I found to be a comforting and familiar taste. The overall flavor of the crepe was good with the slightly sweet wrapper contrasting with the smokey bacon. However, it was way too oily! The fat from the bacon should've been rendered out a little more. I like my bacon crispy, not with flabby pieces of fat! The whole crepe was drench in the bacon fat/excess oil. Otherwise, the flavor combination was great.

LA food trucks...I haven't lost all hope in you!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Molasses Cookies


Molasses Cookies
Recipe adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
makes about 2 dozen

2 1/2 cups of all purpose, unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) room-temperature unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 large egg

1/2 cups white sugar to roll cookies in before baking


1. Sift together dry ingredients--flour, baking soda, salt, ground spices

2. Cream butter on medium speed in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes. Add brown sugar and cream until fluffy. Add egg (preferably also at room temp) and cream until incorporated

3. With the mixer on the lowest setting, slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet.

4. The dough will be sticky. Separate into two portions and wrap each in wax paper. Let the dough chill in the fridge overnight or if in a hurry, chill for 30 minutes in the freezer.

5. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

6. Once the dough is chilled, remove from freezer/fridge. Make balls of dough that weigh about 21 grams (to ensure consistent size) each or a tablespoon each if you do not own an electronic scale. Roll the balls of dough in sugar. These cookies will spread in the over so place only about 8 cookies per silpat-lined baking sheet. Gently press down on each ball of dough until it is about 1/2 inch thick before putting in the oven.

7. Bake for 12-14 minutes.


I absolutely LOVE molasses cookies. There is nothing like a warmly spiced, gingery molasses cookie to really make it feel like the start of the holiday season. I used to always bake my default gingersnap cookies that have a very similar flavor but are crunchy and crispy in texture. This time, I felt like making a chewy cookie. I did some research and ended up with these. I was VERY pleased.

Perfectly soft and chewy in the center, with a slightly crispy edge, these molasses cookies definitely satisfied my holiday sweet-tooth. I increased the spice amounts in the recipe and ended up with a wonderfully spicy cookie. Being rolled in sugar also makes these cookies beautiful and sparkly to look at!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Rose Macarons

Rose-Infused White Chocolate Ganache Macarons
adapted from a recipe found on Cannelle et Vanille

I am macaron-obessed. I realize more and more people are starting to get into the macaron craze. I've aspired to create perfect macarons since the day I recieved my first hand-held mixer as a gift. Since then, I've been pursing the perfect macaron. They're tricky little things to make. I've got the technique down enough so that mine always develop the little "foot" now but I'm still not satisfied. I won't be satisfied until they taste as good as the Laduree macarons I had in Paris!

These turned out okay. I wanted to tint them a light pink and use some rose flavored syrup in the white chocolate filling. I found some sprinkles and decided to add them on before baking. They were little snowflakes. It's almost Christmas-time so it works! I will be trying them again soon and experimenting with different flavors.



Sunday, November 29, 2009

Earthen Restaurant, Hacienda Heights

I am very much a NorCal kind of person. I hadn't explored much of LA outside of Santa Monica, Westwood, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, etc. Although as a result of the unfortunate need to be near Rose Hills Memorial this past weekend, I got a chance to taste a few restaurants in the surrounding Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights area. Chinese carbohydrates have a comforting quality even in the worst of times.

Earthen Restaurant
1839 S. Azusa Ave.
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745


Seafood Noodle Hot Soup [$6.50]
I wish I could take more heat! The noodles were so delightfully chewy but the broth was too spicy for me to handle. I am such a wimp. Sadly, I only had a few mouthfuls before I had to move on to another dish.


Hot & Sour Soup (S)[$6.25] (L)[$7.25]
Not too spicy, not too sour--a well balanced hot and sour soup


House Chicken (S)[$7.95) (L)[$10.95]
This was some delicious chicken! No wonder this dish is a must-order at this restaurant. While already delicately spiced and flavored, the hidden crisp cucumbers under the chicken thigh meat also kept this dish from being too heavy.


Green Onion Pan Cake [$3.25]
Not too greasy at all! While not having as many layers as I expected, the dough was nice and chewy and most importantly, I didn't feel like I was eating oil-soaked pieces of bread.


House Vegetable Dumpling (2 pieces) [$4.95]


Pork Dumpling (10 pieces) [$6.25]
These dumplings had an obviously homemade skin that was so wonderfully chewy! Although the pork filling was nothing profoundly different or tastier than other versions I've had, the chewy, doughy, wrapper was great.


Fish Dumpling (10 pieces) [$6.75]
I don't usually go for fish dumplings...however, these were delicious! The filling was nice and tender and fresh. There was no fishy taste! I wish I hadn't been so busy downing one dumpling after another so that I could've taken a picture of the heavenly filling. Easily the best dumplings I've had in a while. I can't compliment the dumpling wrapper enough.

Not only was this restaurant a good deal, but the food was also very well prepared. I wish I'd taken a picture of the restaurant itself. There was a slight wait to get into the restaurant but once you're in, the ambiance was nice for such a busy place. There were no sticky floors or table tops yet the food was authentic and good! Just what my family and I needed after a difficult week. FYI, avoid the Thanksgiving buffet at the Pacific Palms Resort unless it if your very LAST choice. We had no other choice and I experienced the worst buffet of my life.