Tuesday, August 24, 2010
not taipei/LA: GLORIA's CAFE, LUDOBITES 5.0, UMAMI BURGER & CALIFORNIA CHICKEN CAFE
I've been a bad blogger. Instead of writing about food, I've just been daydreaming about it. In attempt to kick my semi-writer's block created by my return to the Taipei heat and humidity, I'm going to torture you with what we can't have (unless you're lucky enough to be in LA, of course). I have lots and lots to catch up on about my previous Taipei eats, but until then we will drool together.
1- GLORIA's CAFE
Heaping plates of El Salvadorian and Mexican food, complete with pools of beans and rice, and service with a smile makes Gloria's Cafe one of my favorite spots to hit up in LA. Ever since ordering the carne adobada on my first visit there over a year ago, I can't seem to want to order anything else.
My sister said she doesn't even like plantains and she thought that these were good.
We also went a little crazy ordering both the Mexican and El Salvadorian tamales with two different sauces to try- the El Salvadorian tamales tasted a bit smoother and creamy, while the Mexican tamales had the familiar courser, yellow corn masa texture. Both were the best tamales I've had in awhile.
2- LUDOBITES 5.0
Before I left for Taipei, I got the Golden Ticket of the foodbloggers' world- which was a coveted reservation to Ludobites 5.0. The reason why reservations were so hard to get? Chef Ludo and his team don't have a permanent restaurant- instead he rents out different locations and reinvents a menu to kick off that chapter. So everyone in LA has a limited window (usually a few months) to try out the food which has had food bloggers buzzing and me drooling on many occasions (who wouldn't over foie gras croque monsieur?!)
Ludobites 5.0's menu included dishes like goat cheese soup with bacon, lardo, tofu, green apple and frisee salad; foie gras with chinese bbq sauce with miso eggplant; steamed duck with crispy skin puree and white peach with balsamic (my 2nd favorite dish of the night); raw waygu beef over somen noodle; and campfire smores with a side of guacamole ice cream, but my favorite of the night was the Poached egg, Potato Mousseline, Santa Barbara Prawns and Chorizo Condiment.
The dish sounds and looks deceptively simple, but it was actually perfectly thought out and executed. To have a complete dreamy bite, it was like hunting for treasure. You needed to scoop up the creaminess of the potato, the soft egg, the bite of prawn and saltiness of the chorizo. I could eat this for breakfast and lick the bowl clean.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of Chef Ludo's imaginative creations while spying on him in person at work, as well as just having a nice dinner out with friendly service led by Ludo's wife, Krissy. It was my first time and hopefully not my last.
3- UMAMI BURGER
I'd been wanting to try Umami for awhile, but never managed to make the drive out to Hollywood. But luckily for me, they have a location in Santa Monica now (in Fred Segal) which wasn't too crowded when we chose it for a lunch meeting on a weekday. The menu has about 8-9 burgers on it, but I recommend getting the signature Umami burger, best suited for those who like a bit of sweet with their savory. Don't forget to rock the sweet potato fries and cheesy tater tots too.
4- CALIFORNIA CHICKEN CAFE
If I could find a Chinese chicken salad in Taipei that matched the one from CCC, I'd be a happy camper. But it's hard to find a good salad here, much less a Chinese chicken salad.
5- MARIE CALLENDER's
And last, but not least... the strawberry pie from Marie Callender's. Big, juicy strawberries bathed in sticky sweetness countered by a bite of the flaky crust. Hopefully this will still be in stores at the end of summer when I go back to LA in a few weeks. And speaking of seasons, does anyone know why strawberries are in season in the winter in Taipei, but during the summer in the states? It always confused me!
So there you have it... some of my LA meals from my most recent visit- some old favorites, some new.