Saturday, July 31, 2010

Vegas trip...Lunch at Julian Serrano

Aria Hotel also has a very nice spa area. After spending hours in the spa in the morning, we were very hungry for lunch.

We decided to check out Julian Serrano inside of Aria. It's a modern Spanish tapas restaurant. White Sangria after swimming tasted especially nice.

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First, we shared a few different tapas dishes. I loved the squid a la plancha and seviche. The stuffed piquillo pepper was very nice, too.

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I also had the seafood rice from their lunch menu. It was flavored with saffron (just like paella), and very tasty. We also had churros for dessert. I enjoyed the lunch very much.

In the evening, we checked out the hotel and drove back to LA.

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On the way back, we stopped by at Peggy Sue's 50's Diner, which is located about half-way from Vegas in Yermo for quick dinner. The road between Vegas and LA is basically the desert and there is little choice of restaurant. My American friends said it's a very typical American diner and it would be fun to check it out. I had a cultural shock.

Vegas trip...Dinner at Sage

Before the trip to Maui, I had a trip to Las Vegas to check out the new Aria Hotel with friends.

We stayed at their luxury 2-bedroom suite at Aria Sky Suit, and both the room and the view were really gorgeous! Since we drove from LA, we didn't get this particular service, but if you fly and stay at Aria Sky Suite, they send a limo to pick you up at Las Vegas Airport.

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For dinner, we went to Sage, which is one of the fine dining restaurants at Aria. They offer the sophisticated "new American" cuisine by Chef Shawn McClain. We did the 6-course tasting menu ($125) and paired with the wines we brought. The corkage fee at any of the restaurants in Aria is $35/ bottle. It was indeed a very sophisticated delicious dinner. I especially liked the foie gras brulee and the beef dishes. The dessert was nice, too. I loved the canele.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Power salad...Thai-style vermicelli with seared Fiji Albacore

To serve with the donabe rice and miso soup...

I also made a "power" salad dish. It was Thai-style vermicelli salad with seared Albacore. I got the very fresh wild-caught albacore from Fiji at Fish King, so I made the pan-fry and sliced them. Vermicelli was soaked in the very hot water for 5 minutes and cut into bite-size length. Then, it was tossed with some lettuce, blanched snap peas, carrot, red onion, scallion, cilantro, tomato, roasted almond, sesame seeds, donabe-steamed eggs, and jumbo shrimp (pan-fried with dry hot chili, ginger and garlic in sesame oil). What a nicely balanced dish! Here's the recipe for the dressing.

Dressing for Thai-style vermicelli salad

2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons nan pla (fish sauce)
1.5 tablespoons agave nectar
some la-yu (hot sesame oil)

1. Whisk together the ingredients.
2. Toss with the salad ingredients.
*You can also whisk together only the first 4 ingredients and drizzle la-yu over the tossed salad at the end.

I love the summer taste.

Back to Donabe Cooking...Miso Soup and Rice

After coming home from traveling, I always have cravings for the very simple donabe comfort food, which are simple miso soup and rice.

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So, I made the classic tofu and wakame seaweed miso soup (with my homemade miso) with the soup & stew donabe, "Miso-shiru Nabe", and (half & half) white and brown rice with the double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san". These humble donabe dishes really hit my spot and I just never get tired of them.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Trip to Hawaii (Oahu - July 2010)...Pho near the airport

We left Kahului Airport of Maui in the morning and arrived back in Honolulu. Until our flight going back to LAX, there were about 3-hour layover. We wanted to go back to Mitch's for sushi lunch, but we were told they were not open yet. Darn.

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Instead, our friend (the owner of Mitch's) took us to Ba-Le Sandwich shop near the airport, because I said I feel like Vietnamese pho. He said they make really good pho and banh-mi!

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In their menu, I found "Vietnamese Seafood Saimin". I was very curious, so I ordered it instead of pho. It was basically pho with the saimin noodles. The pork broth was mild and nice. Jason had the beef pho special. The beef was tender and nice.

When we came back to Los Angeles, it was already past 9 pm local time. We were hungry for pho again! So, we went to Pho Cafe in our neighborhood. It was already after 10 pm on Monday night, but the place was packed and there was the waiting outside. I found a new item in their menu, so I decided to order it. It was the cold noodles with grilled fish. The fish was coated with dill marinade. It was very good.

The next day, I was still "hangover" from Hawaii, and really wanted to eat the fish tacos. So, I had grilled fish taco plate at Las Glorias del Buen Comer in Silver Lake. The dish made me miss the fish tacos from Paia Fish Market even more!

Trip to Hawaii (Maui - July 2010)...Final dinner at Mama's Fish House

The day on the beach was a lot of fun. Time flew so quickly.

In the evening, most of the guests of the wedding gathered again in the ocean-front garden and we enjoyed each other's company over wine and appetizers.

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Later in the evening, 5 of us went to Mama's Fish House for dinner. It's a historical ocean-front seafood restaurant in the North Shore of Maui. On the wall inside of the restaurant, you find the pictures of so many celebrities who dined there in the past 30+ years. All fish in "today's fish section" of the menu are fresh-caught, and they even list the name of the catcher by each fish.

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After the amuse-bouche (ginger tomato soup), we had Moelua (Goat Fish) Cheviche and Spicy Squid with Wasabi Sauce.

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Hana Ono (caught by Daniel Goldberg) - Hawaiian Style...with baked Hana banana, slow-roasted pork, lomi-lomi tomato. Molokai Sweet Potato, tropical fruit, coconut milk and Mama's fresh poi. I was so happy that the fish itself was simply prepared (pan-fried) and it was so fresh and flavorful. It was a nice dish, although the price wasn't so reasonable ($45!). I also had a taste of Crispy Kalua Duck, which one of my friends orderd, and thought it was very nicely prepared, too.

I was glad our final night of the trip was very Hawaiian-style.

Trip to Hawaii (Maui - July 2010)...Back to Paia Fish Market

Luckily, I didn't have any hangover in the morning after the wedding, although I had a blast and drank a lot of wine all night long!

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We spent most of the day in the beach again. I did some boogie boarding, too.

For lunch, we went back to Paia Fish Market, because I was craving for their fish and wanted to eat more before leaving town the next day. This time, I had the fish choice of the fish was wild-caught Opah. It was delicious!!

Jason had their Mahi Mahi Fish & Chips. It was also wonderful. I wish we had this restaurant in LA, too.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Trip to Hawaii (Maui - July 2010)...Fantastic Wedding!

The wedding of my dear friends was truly fantastic. The whole event was filled with love and happiness. I had an honor to be one of the bridesmaids (my first time!), and I was just so happy to be at the special moment. The bride was as gorgeous as Goddess!

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The ceremony was followed by the Champagne toast and dinner. The bride and groom are the real foodies, so they planned a wonderful gourmet dinner for us! The hot food was catered by Bev Gannon Restaurants. She is one of the most celebrated chefs of Hawaii and her restaurant, Hali'imaile General Store, is considered to be the best in Maui. Both the duck and braised beef short ribs were outstanding. There was also a sushi bar at the dinner! The sushi was catered by the owner of Ichiban Okazuya Hawaii, which is a very popular Japanese take-out restaurant in Wailuku, Maui. The sushi was so fresh and delicious. I kept coming back for more.

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What a wonderful time I had!

After the dinner, the party kept going on with the live music until 2.30 am!!