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Sundae in the Park

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Everything posted by Sundae in the Park

  1. What an excellent children's museum! We really enjoyed our first visit there, but, having been, there are a few insider's tricks to enhance the visit: there is a ton of outdoor space so loads of sunscreen is a must bring swim/wet gear, as the outdoor ponds/stream are best enjoyed with water shoes and the ability to dry off (towels, change of clothes, etc.) if you plan to use the baby/small toddler room, parents must also wear socks to enter/chase your kid it is located in a large park, so if your kids haven't had enough fun, you can picnic, frolic in the fields, and play on the equipment before/after the museum you can bring your own food!! there is a LOT to do, particularly if you kid likes to play in water. You should be able to spend as long as your kid can tolerate away from home, because there really is something for everyone (that is, kids under 10 or so) to do Our kids most liked the water play area and the outdoor physics-based stations. We didn't really spend much time in the nature center or climbing areas (they are really good!), which really surprised me about our usually monkey-like children. Absolutely recommend if you're in the area with younger children.
  2. For the past month, they've pretty much just eaten curry and noodles/rice/roti (and sometimes all 3), with apples and mandarin oranges on the side, and peanut butter, toast, and yogurt when they are not in a curry mood. Moving is hard, but Malaysia (we are here for the school year) is curry-licious.
  3. All flights on American from LAX leave from the AA terminal, INCLUDING INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS. Ask me how I (now) know this. It's only the next terminal over from Tom Bradley but it is confusing and a giant pain if you've got a ton of luggage and a couple of sleepy babies with you.
  4. Doctored up some chicken/veg broth with wine, soy sauce, and powdered ginger, onion, and garlic to make a quick soup for using up some dried Asian noodles, also adding a chicken breast, shredded, and a few handfuls of chopped, frozen kale. Not bad at all! And it went well with another loaf of no-knead bread. We aren't going to have a problem using up that bread flour after all...
  5. Loaf of no-knead bread (6-hr rise, still looks and tastes great, like magic!), chicken Katsu, jap chae, cucumbers, and lots of fruit. Last night we had pan-fried, walnut-encrusted White Sea bass. Actually a little heavy - the fish was amazing and didn't need that much help. Made red beans and rice earlier in the week and now I think we're done cooking for a few days.
  6. We're starting to eat down the pantry, which might results in some stranger meal mash-ups. In the meantime, last night we had a perfectly normal dinner of grilled chicken thighs, roasted zucchini and carrots, cucumbers, brown rice, and All The Stone Fruit.
  7. We are Frito-ing as well! Made a batch of chili last week and the leftovers weren't a popular choice until we got some Fritos to eat with it... This weekend we made some doctored box curry (Golden Curry, medium heat) with lentils, potato, carrots, peas, and chicken, and also the Creamy Almond Mughlai Cauliflower using this recipe. The creamy sauce tastes like a great homemade korma and our personal preference was to nix the star anise, add more chili flakes, and minimize the sugar. To eat up some of the leftovers, I layered the cauliflower curry over microwaved a potato (don't laugh, I really like the texture and it's so quick and easy) and topped it with a fried egg. SO GOOD!!! For sides we've been eating the heck out of the stone fruit lately. We are basically made of cherries and nectarines at this point.
  8. Pizza, takeout, ice cream. They are living their best life and we don't have to cook. We can't do this forever but in the meantime...😎
  9. Now this place is interesting! We visited the Cerritos location and Creamistry's gimmick is that they make your ice cream fresh-to-order in a billowing cloud of liquid nitrogen. While the process is very much a gimmick (and makes the line move rather slowly), there's no denying that their technique yields an extremely dense and rich ice cream. Apparently the flash-freezing process eliminates or minimizes the formation of ice crystals. One nice aspect of the available choices is the variety of bases - organic, vegan, etc. Our group tried a bunch of the flavors and they were all strong/bright/tart, as appropriate, and there are a ton of candy-n-more type toppings to choose for additional customization. The chocolate combustion we tried was basically the ice cream version of fudge - airy, this ice cream is not. In fact, their own description of their product is "decadently rich and luxuriously creamy ice cream with virtually no overrun!" There are many locations (60 now, primarily in CA, AZ and TX, with apparently hundreds more of franchises in the works) and a huge expansion push that reminds me of the 5 Guys story. Incidentally, the use of liquid nitrogen keeps the stores nice and cold, which is additionally refreshing on hot days. It was a bit expensive, about on par with any premium scoop shop these days, but I like that they have a genuine element of "can't get this anywhere else" and it's a fun treat.
  10. Went to the Class 302 Cafe location in Cerritos and wasn't super enthused. The drinks are big and colorful but were wayyyyy too sweet, with no compensating tartness, for my tastes. Our group had several of the boba drink options (tea, smoothies, etc.) and I didn't care for any of them (soft boba, ugh). It looks like other locations have an interesting self-serve option, sort of like the Pinkberry of boba spots, but the Cerritos location is counter service only where they make your drinks. I noticed that shaved ice was big with the other patrons while we were there (well, also it's summer). I didn't see if the Cerritos location has hot food but it is available at other locations, according to the online menu. Has anyone else been? The self-serve boba bar might be interesting.
  11. Chicken katsu has been unlocked!! My husband has been working on it and found the right combination of ingredients and technique this weekend. The chicken (thigh) was juicy and tasty (because...salt), the panko breading was thin and crunchy, and the bottled sauce was the right kind of tangy (we never stock mustard so our homemade sauces hadn't been cutting it). We made a cabbage slaw (sesame vinaigrette) that paired really well and served it over rice, though it would be a great combo on a nice bun as a sandwich.
  12. We live to serve 😉 There have been a LOT of popsicles and ice cream sandwiches consumed in our yard after dinner lately...
  13. My kiddos have been eating rice + cucumbers + meat (pulled pork, grilled salmon or chicken, sauteed bee, etc.) + fruit all summer, and we've been pretty happy.
  14. Grilled sockeye salmon with a dry BBQ-ish spice rub, served with rice, cucumbers, sauteed zucchini, and chopped mangoes. It was more or less a deconstructed version of this recipe minus the avocado, and I think we'll just follow the salsa recipe as well next time since it was quick and easy and everyone liked it.
  15. In addition a full suite of typical Taiwanese bakery items, J.J. Bakery in Arcadia (I've only been to that location) also has a limited selection of cooked/hot breakfast/dim sum foods (at least in the morning), making it an even more attractive alternative to Din Tai Fung when the lines are too long. We've had the turnip cakes (no longer crispy on the edges if it's been sitting there a while, but otherwise quite good) and the big meat and vegetable buns (very good. I love giant buns, and the fillings are flavorful, plentiful, and not at all sketchy tasting/feeling). It's great fast food. I've also run in an grabbed bakery items before/after a DTF run many times, and they have always been good, if not particularly memorable. In case it's not obvious, they also serve hot and cold drinks, including boba drinks. The one time I got a boba tea it was perfectly fine.
  16. I've been back to the Oxnard location a bunch of times, and also to the location in Cerritos. The menu has changed slightly in Oxnard, adding several options (octopus, Korean fried chicken, addition of Cajun sauce options etc.). It's quite a steal, value wise, since the price has remained the same ($20 for dinner and $15 for lunch), the meat quality is decent, and the menu has grown a bit. The Cerritos location was a little eye-opening. There's a much larger Asian population down there so we tried a bunch of things we don't get up here - Hawaiian flap steak, miso-marinated hanging tender, soon du boo, more premium cuts in general. All were good to very good (and I felt that the meat was slightly higher quality than at Oxnard), and great for an AYCE concept. Both locations have quick and able service and long lines during peak times. I tried a macaron ice cream sandwich at the Oxnard location (didn't see whether they had them in Cerritos) and it was surprisingly good for coming out of a freezer case (displayed in the restaurant - I hadn't tried them before due to turnover concerns) - I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't stale and not crazily sweet. The dessert and drinks are the only things not included in the base price. We took our large, picky, mixed-age family group there (Cerritos) over the holidays and it was a terrific choice.
  17. Oh, yeah. This is a great place for breakfast, lunch, or snacks if you're in Glendale or Burbank [Also now in Downey]. Their fried potato balls (with meat in the middle!), in particular, are so not LA.
  18. I've been meaning to try 101 Noodle Express for a while, since it specializes in some of my favorites items in Chinese cuisine - noodles and dumplings. I had passed it over in favor of trying other places because the flagship item, the Shangdong-style beef roll, isn't my favorite. BIG MISTAKE. Turns out I didn't like them as much at other places simply because they weren't as good. Here, they are the highest expression of the snack, consistent and omnipresent at every table for a reason. The crepe-like bing is thin, flaky, and rich, but not oily. The beef is high-quality and sliced uniformly thin. There is just enough cilantro, scallions, and salty-sweet bean sauce to bring balanced flavors and textures. In case you aren't familiar with the beef roll (I think A&J recently put a version on the menu, but I never tasted it there), here's a nice description. The balance and uniform thinness of the layers, as well as tight wrapping, is key. We ate most of our roll at lunch and promptly ordered another to go (they travel really well!). We also got some dan dan noodles, which had a tiny kick but weren't particularly spicy (which we were expecting, since this is decidedly not a Szechuan place) and the hand-torn noodles were pleasingly chewy. We didn't have room for dumplings, but the many plates of pan-fried dumplings we saw scattered about the room were plump and had golden, crunchy-looking bottoms. We were at the Alhambra location, which is a casual strip-mall spot serving budget-friendly, simple, snacky food until late night (1 AM). They have a few other locations in Arcadia, Culver City, and Irvine. I learned one thing about their operations from their website that I find very promising for visiting other locations: 101 Noodle Express boasts a central, factory-like kitchen to secure quality control of its franchises.
  19. I’ve been to a few outposts of Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill, a local-ish chain, which has 16 locations all over southern California and, oddly enough, one non-CA location in Springfield, VA. It’s a reliable and reliably nice place for more-than-decent BBQ, good salads, and solid service. I know that sounds like I’m damning it with faint praise, but I’ve actually been quite a few times because it’s such a general people-pleaser. I like the tri tip in all its forms – entrée, sandwich, salad – it’s always tender with lots of beefy flavor (similar to Buckhorn Grill in northern CA). The peanut slaw, with its vinaigrette base, is a standout side. I’ve had the slaw at several catered and potluck lunches (they do a brisk takeout business) and it’s gobbled up for a reason. I’ve also tried the brisket, chicken, and pulled pork, and all are fine-good, but I prefer the tri-tip. The hot, buttered, garlic rolls are also worth eating, even if you’re limited carbs! The restaurant is decorated with warm wood and mostly (or all) booth seating, and the servers and hosts are well-trained and friendly (and younger and good-looking). I think I’ve been to 3 or 4 different locations and they all seem to be similar. They work well for meals with coworkers or picky groups, and I’ve even done an interview there! All in all, going to a Wood Ranch is very much like going to a branch of the Great American Restaurant group.
  20. Thanks Sheldman! I've heard so many good things about Rooster and Pig and we would have gone there except we ODed my poor husband on Asian food over Chinese Xmas. Next time!
  21. Its location as a stand in the Mercado la Paloma might lead you to believe that the food at Chichen Itza is casual or ordinary…until you notice the line (all afternoon, when I was there, and mostly of Spanish-speaking people) and the beautifully composed plates of colorful, book-cover-worthy food (not by accident – the owner wrote Sabores Yucatecos: A Culinary Tour of the Yucatán). The closest comparison restaurant I can think of is Los Agaves in Santa Barbara, for style of service and quality of food and presentation, though the menu at Chichen Itza is a much shorter list of curated Yucatecan specialties. You order at the stand and receive a # for your order, and the servers run the food out to you. They also bring silverware and drinks, and the tables/chairs are big and solid, nicer than most food-court operations. Based on many recommendations, we tried the cochinita pibil (prettily mounded, long shreds of incredibly tender, juicy pork, in a tangy sauce), fish tacos (crunchy, well-seasoned, and bright), plantains (nicely fried), and panuchos (basically a shredded turkey taco, with the tortilla fried – I thought it was dry but it was my husband’s favorite dish). Our friends got the tikin-xic (fish fillets in a citrus sauce over rice – I want to add this to our order next time), pork tacos, more plantains, and chips and salsa. Almost everything was sprinkled with the pickled red onions (which I ordinarily don’t like but in this case found delightful. Thank goodness.) Except for a few bites of the rather ordinary rice and beans, we polished off everything with gusto while proclaiming it delicious. Prices are so gentle you feel as if you’re getting away with something. The location is low key and families abound so fear not in bringing small children (though you might have a hard time finding a high chair). It’s less than a mile from USC and Exposition Park (home of the California Science Center, Rose Garden, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County), so pairs perfectly with a day of exploring. I might not walk the distance, due to on-ramps under the highway and slight sketchiness of the neighborhood, plus there is a parking lot at the Mercado and some street spaces available. Really can’t recommend this place enough - I can’t wait to go back!
  22. Still love this place, with a slight preference to the Northridge location when it sensible to go there instead of the Encino location (we almost always get this as takeout on the way home from somewhere in LA, so the distance difference from the 101 is small but significant, but at late hours only Northridge is available). Though it hasn't been practical to try a back-to-back tasting, the cooks at the original location seem just a little more seasoned, with the spicing and balance just a smidge more deft. Though they have a huge menu, with specific Northern and Southern specialties, we have stuck mostly with our Northern favorites, the khao soy and kang ho (the noodles never stick together, it's loaded with vegetables, and has a distinctively tangy curry flavor). We've also tried several other ordinary noodle dishes and apps (all are fine-good-great, but unmemorable compared to these dishes, though my husband really like the angel wings [stuffed chicken]) and a few of the more interesting plates from the Southern menu (very good), but these dishes are what we crave. They take a lot of care with takeout orders, lining containers with foil, individually packaging all the little spices/sauces, and making air vents to preserve crispness as needed. They were on the LA Weekly's Essentials list of restaurants last year but fell off this year, which might actually be the sweet spot of publicity (they were slammed several times when we stopped by last year, and shortly after publication the FOH folks at least were adorably clueless that they had made the list) for visitors, as they seem to remain busy but you can get your food in a reasonable amount of time. We originally found them while looking for late-night food coming home from Six Flags Magic Mountain (a GREAT roller coaster park, and I'm saying this as a huge Cedar Point fan). It's really at an excellent location if you need good food at odd hours (or any time!) coming back to the city from the north. The Encino location is open until midnight on Friday and Saturday, and Northridge is open until 2 AM on those days for the college kids
  23. We use our toaster oven a LOT in reheating pizza, when we bother to reheat.
  24. You can order dim sum all day! And by that, I mean morning till night, every day (10 AM -10 PM weekdays, 9 AM - 10 PM weekends), so you can show up at odder hours to beat the crowds (still a small line at 2 PM on a Sat., but we were seated immediately because we had a large group and could take one of the family banquet tables). There are lots of pictures of the most popular dishes on the menu, which is helpful if you're not sure what you're looking for. There are quite a few sweets options - regular and Macau-style egg tarts, lots of "golden" bun options, yam, taro, etc. The sizzling beef udon is expertly stir- fried and very tasty (enough that the adults didn't *quite* want to cede all of it to the kids, as originally intended) and we enjoyed the sticky rice as well.
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