Posts tagged ‘los angeles’

May 26th, 2014

Bread and Chawanmushi

Everybody has a favorite carb.  Depending on my mood, my favorite carbohydrate is either Japanese rice or noodles.  My husband?  His choice is predictably, bread.  One time, I left him to fend for himself for his meals, and found out later, that he ate two baguettes by himself in a day. I like the smell of freshly baked bread and eat it at restaurants, but I never brought a baguette or any bread home before I started dating my husband.  One of our first dates, we went to a restaurant which name contains bread and bar for lunch.  Two of his favorite words.  We ordered a bread basket, expecting lots of freshly made warm bread.  Unfortunately, they didn’t deliver anything close to our expectations as we got scraps of bread pieces.  Right there, we established the unspoken code of “NEVER ORDER THE BREAD BASKET”.

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Bread Plate | Faith & Flower

Fast forward five years to the current day where we just realized that we’ve ordered a bread basket twice in a few week…and even more surprising, one was my idea.  Faith & Flower, a rustic Californian restaurant opened near our home, and a few weeks ago, they started offering brunch.  The menu offers a variety of interesting selections.  You can get something familiar like twice cooked potatoes or something exotic, like “Chawanmushi”, which is coincidentally my favorite dish of all time.  It’s a traditional Japanese savory egg custard made with eggs and seafood stocks, but at Faith & Flower, it’s made with lemon dashi and chicken confit.  The brunch also offers their signature dishes,  “Eggs Benedict Pizza,” and “Oxtail Agnolotti.” Both are available on their lunch and dinner menus as well.  I usually order something interesting so I was deciding between their handmade ramen or their Chawanmushi, but since my husband ordered the potato, fried egg and a bread plate, I picked a protein instead of a carb.  Western style Chawanmushi.

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Chawanmushi | Faith & Flower

The bread plate came with a couple of slices of chewy and hazel nutty oatmeal bread, right out of the oven (with the proof being a slight burn on top) croissants, and a pistachio bun with butter and homemade berry preserves on a pretty French antique looking plate.  Very pretty. Even prettier: the bread.  All three kinds of unique, fresh and warm bread made me happy, but the highlight was the pistachio bun.  It was soft, moist and had the perfect density, with a pistachio creme and citrus zest on top.  We were hooked.  Everything that came after was good, but my husband and I were already discussing how we could come back the next day and get this bread plate again. Fortunately or unfortunately, one of us has to work on weekends for while, so we didn’t get to revisit this gorgeous plate of bread for a couple of weeks, but we did talk about it a few times, so that counts.  All that changed this Sunday while I was making us brunch.  I made a call to the restaurant and ordered the bread plate to go.  I had to, because now, I understand the beauty of good bread.

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Pistachio Bun | Faith & Flower

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Crispy Egg | Faith & Flower

 

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Crispy Twice Cooked Potato | Faith & flower

 

 

August 1st, 2011

Mexican rice

As a Japanese person who only grew up with one kind of rice, short grain Japonica, it was an eye opening experience to see so many other varieties from around the world. I quickly learned that rice is not interchangeable.  For example, Indian rice is completely different from Chinese rice.  And while I love Japanese rice the most, I sadly learned that it doesn’t go well with Thai curry. As I’ve slowly begun to acquire a taste for Mexican food, I have to add another variety of rice to my plate.  Until recently, my only opinion of rice from south of the border was that it looked orange and had a saltier taste than I was used to.  Who would have thought a single visit to a Mexican restaurant in a questionable part of town would completely change my mind on the subject.

Salsa and Beer in Los Angeles is that restaurant.  Like most Mexican places, the menu includes  the traditional staples, like tacos, fajitas, and chimichangas, served in big portions with not so big prices. Thought the food is great, the service is sometimes slow, which isn’t a bad thing, as their large menu takes a good half an hour to get through.  On our first visit, I finally got to understand what my husband went through in Japan, as I asked him what practically every dish was on the menu.  I’m still not fluent in Mexican food, but luckily for my husband, I know exactly what I want: a side order of Mexican rice (which comes on a huge entree plate) and a green salad.  When I place my order, I know deep down that the server is really thinking, “Just because you’re Asian, you don’t have to order rice you know…we have lots of good food!” Maybe that’s the reason I feel compelled to mention each time that, “you have the BEST Mexican rice!”

My usual complaint regarding Mexican rice is the texture.  For some reason, it always reminded me of the prune-like fingers you get after staying in the bathtub too long. On a personal note, I never was a big fan of peas in a rice dish either, so I had my reservations on that first visit. But from the first taste of Salsa and Beer’s rice, I had to stop and think, what makes this rice so delicious?  I knew it wasn’t just me wondering that, because even my rice hating husband was cleaning his plate. What makes it so special? It looks perfectly cooked because it is perfectly cooked.  By itself, it’s a tiny bit salty, but when mixed with green salad and creamy habenero salsa, it becomes a savory explosion.  I’m so obsessed with this rice, I literally want to eat it every day.  And, as usual, I’ve been trying to duplicate this dish.  Have I been successful in finding the secret to its great taste? That’s a story for another day.