Thursday, April 29, 2010

Saul Cooperstein Deli 2010

Anyone who did not attend the Deli 2010 Hatchi event at the BreadBar Century City missed out. It was an orgy of refined-deli foods, all presented beautifully and seductively whether it was steaming hot soup served in a double-walled glass soup bowl or thin, succulent slices of pastrami piled-high on a piece of rye. The only downside was knowing that all those delicious creations would be available for that one night only.

At $8 a plate, this was one of the best and most memorable meals I've had in LA recently. Perhaps it was the novelty of recreating traditional deli foods in non-traditional ways that piqued my interest. Perhaps it was simply my love for good pastrami. All I know is, as my friend Denise and I shared our way through each of the 8 offerings, we were continually enthralled and delighted by the dishes placed before us.

It seemed appropriate that Saul Cooperstein, SBE's Managing Director Business Development, would now take a turn in the BreadBar kitchen. SBE's Restaurant division is responsible for bringing some of the biggest names in the culinary industry to Los Angeles. These include Michael Mina with XIV by Michael Mina and José Andrés with The Bazaar at the SLS Hotel--restaurants where I've had wonderful experiences. More than a third of the guests chefs previously featured in the BreadBar Hatchi series, including Michael Voltaggio, Marcel Vigneron, and Waylynn Lucas were veterans of The Bazaar. For more info and an interview with Saul, visit Food GPS.

With flavors closely associated to traditional Jewish delis, Saul created dishes that provided the comfort of deli foods while transforming them into something never seen before. This he dubbed Deli 2010. He drew obvious inspiration from his friends in the restaurant industry--from what I could tell, namely José Andrés with the spherifications and tomato-melon skewers (just to name a few).

Everything was executed perfectly. The level of attention that went into the event--from menu-planning to menu-printing--was obvious. The 8 dishes progressed from lighter fare to more robust and hearty dishes. I overheard the table next to us (people who worked with Saul) talking about how Saul went to a specific store to find the specific kind of paper he wanted to print his menu on...a little hardcore but the paper did feel nice :)

Saul Cooperstein Deli 2010
@ the BreadBar Century City
10250 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90067
tel: 310-277-3770

We had a 6PM reservation and was the first table seated thus it was still quiet and calm in the restaurant. While the ambiance of the BreadBar is nice, it does get a little loud once all the tables are full. The sun was still out when we began our meal and the lighting was perfect for taking pictures of the beautiful dishes. As the evening progressed, the tables started filling up in the blink of an eye (most of the patrons seemed to be acquaintances of Saul) and my pictures became a little less pristine by dessert.

Matzo Ball Soup
Clarified Chicken Stock, Smoked Matzo Ball, 'Chicken Noodles', Soup vegetables, Horseradish and Fresh Dill

A steaming hot bowl of matzo ball soup is not easy to photograph. My pictures don't do it justice. The glass soup bowl that the soup was served in was beautiful. I would love a set myself. The soup itself was just as good. Texturally, the 'chicken noodles' were exactly like noodles found in chicken noodle soup. Flavor-wise, it was simply the pure essence of chicken. Pretty pleasantly surprising. The matzo ball, however, was of the denser variety. The mini root vegetables in the soup were also delicious. Look how cute that baby radish is! or is it a baby turnip?

Bagel with Lox 'Nigiri'
Puffed Rice, House Cured and Smoked Wild King Salmon, Dill Cream Cheese, Smoked Salmon Roe and Red Onion

This was another gorgeous dish served in an interesting plate. I couldn't stop snapping pictures of it. While it wasn't big on substance, it was big on flavor. My friend D looked at me and said, "This taste exactly like lox!" The smoked salmon wasn't excessively salty at all and the salmon roe provided nice pops of richness. I'm sure we could've both eaten like 10 of them and still craved more.

Reuben Croquettes
Japanese A-5 Wagyu Rib Cap Corned Beef (Saul's Corned Beef), Béchamel, Gruyere, Jalsberg, Sauerkraut and Toasted Caraway Seeds all Coated and Fried in Rye Bread Crumbs with Thousand Island

One of the richer courses we encountered, it was still very well-balanced. While it was deliciously creamy inside, the bread crumb crust still managed to be so delicately thin and crispy. The little dollop of thousand island dressing on top completed the reuben flavor profile.

Lamb Pita
Deboned Rack of Lamb, Cured and Smoked with Vadouvan and Traditional Spices, Toasted Pita, Cole Slaw 'Tzatziki'
--Served with a Melon and Pickled Tomato Skewer

The transition from the rich croquette to this lamb pita is a perfect example of how well thought out the menu was. The tzatziki was incredibly refreshing with the flavors of greek tzatziki but the texture of cole slaw. The vadouvan cured lamb was tender and slightly sweet. The toasted pita folded up into the perfect mode of transportation from plate to mouth. The pickled tomato and melon skewer completed the bright-tasting dish.

Sky High Sandwich
Warm Veal Pastrami Stacked High on Pumpernickel with Sweet and Hot Mustard
--Served with Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips

This pastrami sandwich was ridiculous! It was so good. I'm drooling just thinking about it right now. The veal was sliced so thin and spiced so wonderfully. It was sweet and juicy and perfectly salty. I've never had pastrami this orgasmic. Each bite of the tender meat almost brought tears to my eyes. The salt and vinegar chips, on the other hand, literally brought tears to my eyes--some were way too vinegary! However, they were interesting because the potatoes themselves were sliced so thin and fried to such a crisp that it was like eating salt and vinegar air.

Saul's Pastrami Sandwich
Japanese A-5 Wagyu Rib Cap Pastrami (Saul's Pastrami), Served Warm on Jewish Rye with Deli Brown Mustard
--Served with a Half Sour Pickle Spherification

Saul's Pastrami is cooked sous vide to medium rare instead of being steamed to well-done like traditional pastrami made from brisket. Although this is his signature dish, it was a little bit on the fatty side for me. Obviously the flavor is in the fat, but it was just a little too much. And had I not just inhaled the beauty and perfection of the veal pastrami minutes before, I might've enjoyed this sandwich more. Still, it was without a doubt, a formidable pastrami sandwich, and I didn't leave a single scrap behind--not even a sliver of fat. The sour pickle spherification tasted like a freshly-made pickle when eaten with the disk of cucumber underneath and was a nice foil to the richness of the sandwich. Obviously this was one part of the dish Denise and I couldn't share. Spherifications are meant for personal enjoyment ;) Thus, our server graciously brought out another one for us.

Cinnamon Babka French Toast, Vanilla Bourbon Maple Syrup, and Orange Blossom Ice Cream

By this point, we were more than ready for dessert. Traditional babka is a yeast dough baked in a loaf pan with cinnamon or chocolate and topped with streusel. This take on babka did not disappoint. It reminded me of bread pudding--but bread pudding to the hundredth power. It had crunchy edges of caramelized cinnamon sugar and a gooey, sticky sweet center. This was the best french toast/bread pudding I'd ever had. The orange blossom ice cream reminded us of a orange creamsicle but in a very good way. Our only wish was that the quenelle of ice cream had been larger!

Cream Cheese Ruguelach, Passion fruit "Apple Sauce" and Crispy Passion fruit Meringue

Sadly, the rugelach were unmemorable. Merely pieces of what tasted like puff pastry. At least they were warm. I love the flavor of passion fruit and meringues are one of my severe obsessions. I had such high expectation for this dessert. The passion fruit "apple sauce" was the only thing that made this dish worth eating. The meringues I prefer to pretend didn't exist on the plate. They were soggy and sticky--not anything like a meringue should be.

Even with a slightly disappointing parting dessert, Denise and I still left completely satisfied and raving about the food. I've said this before and I'll say it again--it is ALWAYS infinitely more enjoyable to eat with people who also enjoy food. Luckily, she was also very accommodating and didn't mind me snapping a few pictures :)

If Saul's approach for Deli 2010 was to have fun while presenting approachable deli flavors using both techniques and products that would not likely be found in your average corner deli, he more than succeeded. My craving for a veal pastrami is almost unbearable right now. Too bad the pastrami at the corner deli can't even compare.



When Kevin invited me to a blogger tasting event at Nakkara--a Thai fusion restaurant on Beverly Blvd--I gladly invited the invitation for three reasons. 1) I haven't met Kevin in person yet, and I've been an admirer of his blog kevinEats for the longest time. 2) I love Thai food. I can't turn down Thai food. 3)It was scheduled for the day after my accounting midterms. I knew I'd be needing some cheering up. What could be better than a special 13-course tasting menu at a Thai restaurant with a group of fellow food bloggers?


Nakkara on Beverly
7669 Bevely Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90039
tel: 323-937-3100

Nakkara Mieng Kham
toasted coconut, cashew nut, dried shrimp, diced lime, Thai chili, red onion, and thick sweet mieng sauce

We started with this nice one-bite offering wrapped in a cleverly cut and folded leaf of romaine lettuce. Inside the lettuce was all kinds of yummy things. The most apparent was the dried shredded coconut--present in the wrap and the accompanying sauce. Amy of theroamingbelly convinced me this was a one-bite thing, so I put the entire thing in my mouth. It was a very BIG bite for me but a wonderful bite when my teeth found the little wedge of lime hidden in the lettuce. It provided such a nice refreshing burst of citrus.

Spicy Filet Mignon Skewer
grilled filet mignon, bell peppers, green curry sauce

The ensuing dish was also a nice one-bite deal. A skewered piece of tender beef, resting inside a shot glass full of delicious green curry. Needless to say, I downed the sauce in the shot glass after the bite of meat.

Garlic Lamb Chop
grilled marinated lamb chop, crispy garlic

This was a nicely prepared lamb chop--cooked to a good temperature, perfect amount of lamb flavor. While I am usually not a fan of the taste of garlic cooked to a crisp, it worked in this dish. The squeeze of lime was also a nice touch. The bell pepper garnish (which we saw in the previous dish and will see in some later dishes) was used too excessively in my opinion. Bell pepper has a beautiful color as a garnish, but also such a strong flavor.

Peking Duck Rolls
Peking roast duck, romaine heart, rice paper wrap, Hoisin & Sriracha dipping sauce

This dish reminded me of vietnamese spring rolls--light and refreshing. I always get excited when I see duck on the menu but in this case, the name Peking duck was a little misleading. To me, Peking duck implies that some crispy duck skin is involved. There was only duck meat in the roll. The sauce was also a little too salty and overpowering for me. I preferred the roll without the sauce.

Big Surprise!
steamed mixed seafood, coconut milk, red curry paste
calamari, scallop, shrimp, crab meat

Such an intriguing name for a dish! This is the restaurant's signature dish and it didn't disappoint. The serving vessel itself was fascinating--the owner explain that he had brought them from Thailand and that is it usually used for a dessert dish. In this case, each little compartment contained a nice little "surprise" of calamari, scallops, and shrimp topped with curry-soaked crab meat. I had initially thought that there would be a different "surprise" under each lid, but it turns out they were all the same. No complaints though! Just the act of revealing what was underneath those little domed lids was exciting!

Shrimp Tom Yum
hot and sour broth made with aroma of fragrant herbs, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, fresh lime, and chili

Nice clear broth that was refreshing--just your typical Tom Yum soup. The lemongrass and lime flavors were very apparent. I enjoyed it and actually preferred it to the other soup of the night.

Chicken Tom Kha
coconut milk and hot and sour broth made with aroma of fragrant herbs, galangal, lemon grass, and chili

Both the soups were poured at the table, which I always enjoy. This soup was basically like the Tom Yum just with some coconut milk added into the mix. It was a little heavier but still good. The pieces of chicken were a little bit dry though--ironic since they're in soup?

Green Papaya Salad
shredded green papaya, cherry tomato, green beans, chili lime dressing

I actually really enjoyed this salad. I usually stay away from green papaya salads because I've had a few that are ridiculously spicy. This one was at the perfect heat level for me--just a nice warm burn at the back of the throat. Sweat wasn't beading up on my forehead, I wasn't downing the entire glass of water. It was actually very refreshing. Although usually topped with peanuts, this salad came topped with cashews. I applaud the choice of cashews because it provided a nice, sweet, smooth, creamy touch of nuttiness.

Soft Shell Crab Panaeng
deep-fried soft shell crab, crispy basil leaves, Panaeng curry paste

If soft shell crab is on the menu, I order it. Here, it was a little overpowered by the sauce. However, overall it was still very delicious--just not the best Thai soft shell crab I've had...

Crying Tiger
flamed grilled marinated rib-eye steak, dried chili pepper sauce

This was my favorite dish. The marinated steak came with a great tangy sauce. There was something crunchy in the sauce--I'm not quite sure what it was but it was really good. The meat was cooked to a good temperature again--as was apparent in most of our meat dishes. The accompanying crudités were also a nice touch of freshness.

911 Catfish
deep-fried catfish, young peppercorn, Krachai roots, red chili paste

Tasty, but by this point I was getting pretty full. I managed to eat two pieces of it, but now that im thinking about them and im hungry, I wouldn't mind eating a few more. I'm also not quite sure why it was named 911 wasn't particularly spicy, although I'm thankful for that.

Seafood Pad Thai
the most popular street food in Thailand + the freshest seafood from the Pacific coast

I found the pad thai to be too sweet--even with a generous squeeze of lime. Come here for their other dishes. This was the only one that really didn't work for me.

Surf & Turf Fried Rice
grilled filet mignon, shrimp, ginger fried rice

The shrimp found on this dish were very similar to the ones on the pad thai. Thankfully, neither was overcooked. The bell pepper in the fried rice was very apparent, while the ginger not so much.

Mango & Sweet Sticky Rice
Thailand's traditional summer dessert

The mangos were delicious! Perfectly ripe, not stringy, and definitely tasted like the wonderfully, smooth, sweet mangos I've had in Asia. Not the dry, stringy ones that I've gotten a few times here. The sticky rice was a little sweet for me but probably perfect for most people. I just loved the mangos!

Nakkara's business card describes itself as a "Thai-inspired" cuisine and it is just that. We had some lovely dishes that evoked familiar flavors associated with Thai food, while remaining at a perfect level of spiciness. 13 courses was a lot but we worked out way through each one happily.

It was so great to eat with everyone there!
Felicia of The Food Ledger
Kevin of Kevin Eats

Nakkara in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Sunday, April 25, 2010

L.A. Times Festival of Books--Alice Waters

Things I learned from Alice Waters today:
(in addition to her usual championing of fresh, locally grown vegetables and her edible schoolyards)

1. Alice had originally named Chez Panisse after a character in a Marcel Pagnol trilogy. Panisse is also a chickpea-based bread from the south of France. Literally sounds like "pain de Nice" or "bread of Nice." Worked out nice.

2. Chez Panisse is celebrating its 40th anniversary next year and Alice is currently working on a cookbook to commemorate it.

3. MUST visit Hollywood Farmer's Market SOON. It sounds like heaven.

4. Appreciate radishes more--they are delicious with salt (trés français) and are beautiful.

5. Need to invest in a giant stone mortar and pestle to make young fava bean purée or simply some pesto.

6. Always toss a salad with your bare hands.

7. Will only use kosher salt from here on out. Ina Garten apparently wasn't reason enough for me. It takes Alice Waters to convince me kosher salt is the way to go. None of that "powdery" iodized salt will do anymore.

8. When cooking outdoors, sport a pink parasol. Cute and functional.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

L.A. Times Festival of Books--Top Chef and Ruth Reichl

Ruth Reichl was at the L.A. Times Festival of Books today. The Festival of Books is held on the UCLA campus. I live on campus. There was no way I was missing this opportunity even with a massive amount of studying to do for two accounting midterms next week. I should actually be studying for those right now, but this seemed more urgent :)

This was how the event was titled:

"Betty Fraser, Chris “CJ” Jacobsen, Antonia Lofaso & Stefan Richter, authors of Top Chef Quickfire Cookbook, with special guest judge Ruth Reichl, author of For You Mom, Finally and Tender at the Bone, among others"

If you weren't reading closely, or if you're a Top Chef fan, you might not have even realized that Ruth was going to be there.

I suspect Ruth made an appearance because before she the restaurant critic of The New York Times and then editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine, she was first the restaurant critic of The L.A. Times. They certainly did not make it seem like she was there to promote her newest book, Tender at the Bone.

I also suspect most of the people filling the rows and rows of chairs in front of the Cooking Stage today were fans of Top Chef and not Ruth Reichl. Many of them didn't even know who she was. This suspicion was confirmed through a casual conversation with the girls who happened to be sitting next to me. One girl came to the Festival of Books specifically to have her Top Chef Quickfire Cookbook signed. No idea who Ruth was. Fine, so they're Top Chef fans. I am too, but I am also a Ruth Reichl fan. I recently started reading her books, starting with Garlic and Sapphires, and I have to say, I'm in love with them.

Thus, what ensued on stage made me a little irritated. After a good 15 minutes of Top Chef trivia, the chefs participating in this makeshift quickfire were introduced. Ruth got a 5 minute introduction, after which she was positioned awkwardly on the tiny stage, behind three scrambling quickfiring chefs. I could barely see her.

To make things worst, Stefan was the other "guest judge" and host for the event. Anyone who's ever seen an episode of Top Chef that had Stefan in it knows how egotistical and slightly irritating he can be. Well, he's not much better in real life. Granted, it is entertaining at times, but when he repeatedly cut off Ruth's comments and remarks, it became just plain rude. He also made no effort to acknowledge her presence on stage. Finally, it got so awkward that Antonio had to speak up about how she only agreed to attend the event because she knew Ruth would be there, and what a great honor it would be to cook for her. Antonio was also the only one to mention anything about Ruth's career as a restaurant critic by providing a little anecdote about how restaurants in New York used to always be on the look out for her and how no one know what she looked like because of her disguises. However, when Ruth did get a word in she was great. Funny, yet elegant. She just seems so put-together and so graceful to me.

Obviously, not everyone in the audience got to taste the results of the quickfire. The challenge was to make dishes inspired by their favorite novels in 30 minutes. CJ's was The Old Man and the Sea, Betty's Like Water for Chocolate, and Antonion's Under the Tuscan Sun. Ruth's magical ability in describing food was apparent as she described the complex taste of CJ's swordfish, the ingenuity of Betty's fried avocado, and the crisp, clean taste of Antonio's Ahi crudo--perfect for the warm sunny day. Of course, it ended with a tie :)

I had to run back to my room, luckily my room is like 5 minutes away, to get my copy of Garlic and Sapphires for Ruth to sign. When I approached the signing table tent, there was a pretty long line of people waiting for to get their Top Chef Quickfire Cookbook signed. I asked where I could find Ruth Reichl. Just go to the other side of the tent they told me. There was no line for Ruth's signature. All the better for me. However, Ruth seemed unceremoniously wedged into a little corner of the table. When I asked to take a picture with her, she said she couldn't stand up, she was wedged in so tight. Of course, an exaggeration, but still. Really? All the other Top Chef contestants had plenty of elbow room to do their signing.

I understand this was billed as a Top Chef event. I'm just feeling a little miffed for her. I'm not sure why Ruth Reichl was even there. What does she have to do with Top Chef? She seemed more like an afterthought when she should've been the main attraction. Although, I'm glad I got the opportunity to see her in person. It made my stressful weekend a little more bearable :) And tomorrow...Alice Waters!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Shilin Night Market (士林夜市)

Why is the Shilin night market one of the best night markets in Taiwan? Cheap, yet DELICIOUS, eats would definitely be at the top of the list of reasons. It is also one of the biggest and most famous night markets in Taiwan--encompassing many little alleyways, buildings, and even a newly constructed indoor food court. I have never been inside the indoor food court although it seems to be a very successful mix of modern amenities and traditional street fare. There are more than enough street vendors outside to keep me occupied and satisfied. I would say no trip to Taiwan is complete without a night at the Shilin night market. It really is quite an amazing experience.


I also love the Shilin night market for sentimental reasons. There is a stand that sells every imaginable kind of hair tie, hair clip, hair band...basically all hair accessories under the sun. I've been using hair ties from that stand for who knows how many years. When I go, I buy enough hair ties there to last me a year. Are they better than the ones you can get anywhere else? Maybe not, but I refuse to use ones NOT from that stand. There are stores here that I always walk into. There are ones that I never do. I've been to this night market so many times, there are places that I walk to compulsively.

I have so many childhood memories here. I remember one especially humid summer night. I had been begging my mom to take me to the night market--I had wanted to look at all the little trinkets there (This was before my obsession with food, but not before my obsession with little things that are cute) Finally, my mom caved and we drove all the way from our house to the night market. Five minutes after stepping outside the car I was dripping with sweat from the heat and humidity. Five more minutes of pushing through the huge crowds of other sweaty people and I looked at my mom and said, "I think I'm ready to leave now."

I supposed most of my memories regarding the Shilin night market are with my mom. I know that she also has many memories of being at the same night market when she was younger. Most of her memories are from her college days of hanging out with friends at the night market. Nowadays, the crowd is still mainly young adults, out for a night of good, cheap eating. The Shilin night market is very light on the wallet :) However, there are also many tourists. But the crowds of bumbling tourists only adds to the ambiance of a night market. The more the merrier. Although, luckily I can navigate this night market like a local, and not an overwhelmed tourist ;)

There is, without a doubt, a plethora of sights and smells and raunchy looking foods to try at the night market. I am not about to claim that I have tried them all. Heck, there are still some parts of the night market I have not yet explored. However, the following food stands that I'm about to disclose are a few of my favorites--the stuff that I absolutely HAVE to eat each time I'm there...the stuff that YOU absolutely have to have if you're ever at the Shilin night market.

Shilin Night Market Favorites
hours: around 4pm until well after midnight
metro station: Jiantan Station on the Danshui line


Blurry, I know, but it was difficult taking a picture of it while walking during nighttime. I couldn't waste time stopping and finding appropriate lighting. I had to attack it before it got cold!

Pig blood cake. Pieces of pig's blood and glutinous rice on skewers pulled from a wooden steamer, dipped in soy sauce pasted and brushed-on hot sauce, takes a tumble in some peanut powder before a sprinkling of cilantro. If no one told you this was pig's blood, you wouldn't know. You'd preoccupied with how delicious it is.

Following something hot and salty, we need something cold and sweet. Time for some "snow flower ice" or "snow flake ice." I have no idea what to call this in English. Essentially it's shaved ice, but shaved much finer into "sheets" of ice. Also, it's not really ice made with's more like frozen blocks sweetened milk. Thus, the resulting bowl of shaved ice is a creamy, sweet pile as light and fluffy as freshly fallen snow.

They offer flavors other than milk (the original) including coffee, peanut, green tea, and some others. I always go with the milk flavor topped with some condensed milk and stewed red bean. This is the best bowl of shaved ice you'll EVER have. I have yet to have better anywhere else.
Look for the shop with the line out the door. Trust me. Stand in that line. The shop across the street with essentially the same menu and absolutely no line might seem tempting but don't do it. Always go where the line is. I feel bad for the shop across the street but there is a reason why one is packed and the other is essentially empty. It just doesn't cut it. My mom and I went in there one time and were so disappointed, we had to eat another bowl at the better shop right after.

No time for breaks at the Shilin night market. There's too much to eat. After that icy bowl of milky sweet goodness, I'm ready for something salty again. This time, in the form of a GIANT piece of fried chicken. GIANT. This thing is the size of my face. On busy nights, the line for this stand overflows on to the street, potentially impeding traffic. This is definitely one of the most popular and well-known stands at the Shilin night market.

Although it's size might be a little intimidating for some, me included, once you take a bite, it'll be hard not to consume all of it. Who knows how many pieces of chicken, breaded in some mysterious concoction that results in a ridiculously crispy, yet chewy crust, is deep fried until golden and dropped into the waiting hands of customer every night. A sprinkling of chili powder adds a spicy kick that only makes it even more addicting. It's delicious and I've never had fried chicken like this anywhere else.

Okay, even my bottomless-pit of a stomach gets pretty full by this point in the night. Luckily, there is an endless amount of things to see and places to shop at the night market. I love dogs and there's a row of pet shops that we usually walk by. It's sad seeing them caged up but they're also incredibly cute at the same time. At least they all have street-facing views in their cages I guess. Even if you don't go in the pet shops, you can see them from outside. For those looking to buy a little puppy, these little poodles and maltese are actually pretty expensive.

I saved the best for last. This is one stand you CANNOT miss if you ever visit the Shilin night market. They make scallion pancakes they way they should ALWAYS be made--deep-fried, topped with an egg, and drenched in a delicious sauce. There is nothing better than taking a bite of the crispy pancake, breaking open the runny egg yolk of the fried egg it was topped with, and then taking ANOTHER bite WITH the runny egg yolk. It's amazing how something so simple can be so good.

They have trays and trays of dough waiting to be rolled out and immediately dropped into the hot oil along with an egg. I don't know how they get the dough so chewy. It's amazing. I don't know how long they've been using the same pot of oil and I don't want to know. However, the deep golden brown they get on the pancakes kind of indicate that the oil has been around for a while.

I have no idea how long this stand has been here. All I know is, my mom loved these when she was young too. They've been featured in newspapers, magazines, etc. Although they were probably dirt cheap a few years back, they are currently about $0.50 for one fried pancake without egg and almost $1 for one topped with a fried egg. Go for the one with the fried egg. You'll thank me with you see the runny egg yolk.

As a child, my mom and I made a pact every time we went to the night market: we could eat whatever our hearts desired but we were not, under any circumstances, going to admit any of the eating we did to my slightly more cautious dad. Who knew what kind of bacteria-ridden ice was used to make that delicious, pillowy mound of shaved ice? Who knew how long that cauldron of oil has been frying up crispy, golden disks of dough? I like to think of the night market as an adventure for your taste buds, and a challenge for your stomach. The food is amazing, the mixture of smells is intoxicating and nauseating at the same time, and while it's origins may be questionable, in the end I say it's worth it.