Americanized spins on Asian food scares me. There. I said it. Maybe it makes me seem like a spoiled brat, but I need the real authentic stuff. So, with much trepidation I made my way to Ling & Louie’s in Scottsdale. But, what makes Ling & Louie’s different is that they own up to the fact that they know they are not authentic and fully embrace making food that is more of a fun spin on Asian-inspired than any real attempt of authenticity.
The Mekong Plaza in Mesa is a great place to get real, authentic Asian food to bring people back to their roots or at least to get them away from crappy Americanized Asian food. And among those more traditional restaurants is something that doesn’t fit the mold at all. It’s called Kingo Bowl, and it has taken the concept of rice bowls with molecular sous vide.
In preparation for traveling to Borneo, I wanted to get a taste of Bornean food. This, of course, is not an easy thing to do, but when you live in LA pretty much all food is a possibility. Thus, I found myself with my Bornean traveling companions at Borneo Kalimantan in Alhambra. This place is more focused on the Indonesian side of Borneo, and although we were heading to the Malaysian side it still seemed as close as we were going to get. Plus, it also had Singaporean and Malaysian, so we weren’t completely off.
Summer out in San Gabriel means 626 Night Market. It’s easily one of the greatest events LA has to offer and there are only a few chances to visit. I popped in for the August 2016 iteration and came out so full and so happy. Below were my highlights.
Bacon and Avocado Musubi – What Floats UR Boat
This place specializes in literally only 3 musubi options and they are all nothing like what you would expect from “sushi.” If you get all three they come in a boat, but I needed to conserve stomach space and stuck with one filled with chipotle caramelized bacon and avocado. The avocado was insanely creamy and the bacon was insanely perfect. The rice and seaweed added perfect balance to an already great mix of food.
Las Vegas (and particularly The Strip) is a place of excess, and sometimes this only translates to excessive prices for subpar food. Yet, if you know where to look, you can find hidden gems much more common than winners in Black Jack. Fat Choy is one of these, located in the classic Eureka Casino, which seems to be a place made only for locals.
I don’t know about other people, but when I tell someone I just went to Las Vegas, the first question is “Where did you stay?” The next question, though, is “Which buffet did you eat at?” Perhaps it’s because I’m a food blogger, but I tend to think it’s because the buffets are just so damn good that gluttony in Vegas is just a more interesting sin than gambling. Plus these days, you can gamble on sites like www.boomtownbingo.com/high-life-bingo-review on your phone and so you can have your cake and eat it too. Thus, on my most recent outing to Vegas the buffet of choice was Wicked Spoon in The Cosmopolitan.
Few restaurants have been on my to-eat list longer than Jitlada, a Thai spot in the middle of Thai Town (which itself is kind of in the middle of Hollywood). The original plan was just to meet a couple of friends for some authentic eats, but we ended up biting off a lot more than we had planned for. You see, throughout the evening we had sporadic, then more significant conversations with Jazz, the woman (and Iron Chef competitor) behind the whole place.
What do you call a restaurant called Abricott? Do you pronounce it like apricot? Do you slow it down and enunciate everything? Or do you just refer to it as “that Asian place down on Lake”? I prefer the latter option, because at the end of the day that’s really what it is. Abricott is loaded with a variety of different Asian offerings, like Korean, Chinese, Thai, and all that jazz. On this day, though, it was the Thai that struck me.
When your Taiwanese friend invites you to grab some Taiwanese food, it is wise to listen. Yes, even when that Taiwanese food is all the way in goddamn Allison Park. So we took a long journey out to the suburbs to see what Chow’s had to offer. We found the place sadly empty, but at least it wasn’t full of white people.
EDIT: Grit & Grace is now a noodle bar, but I’m guessing it is just as delicious as before.
While some parts of the country might have Asian fusion around every corner, Pittsburgh has (most likely for the better) avoided much of this. There is, however, a spot downtown called Grit & Grace that has welcomed that sort of cuisine. It starts with a little something they call American Dim Sum. It’s nothing at all like actual dim sum aside from the fact that it is in small servings, but it is quite delicious. We had some of the Pork Belly Bites (with orange, chili, garlic and ginger) and Kimchi Balls (with rice and cheese). They were both incredible, and the balls surprisingly so because I have a rational hatred of kimchi and these tasted nothing like it.