Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Carthay Circle - Disney California Adventure

Hi everyone! I've been missing for awhile and haven't been as inspired to post, though I have a huge backlog of stuffs from the last six weeks. I think I've dusted myself off though ... and it's because Vanessa and I went to Carthay Circle at the Disney California Adventure yesterday. The restaurant opened on June 15th, along with Buena Vista Street and Cars Land (from the Pixar movie). Totally sweet. Everything was boarded up for awhile during construction but the grand reveal was last Friday. The entire park was even closed the day before so they could get everything ready.

Though not as hidden as Club 33 (I swear, I looked for that entrance for years), Disney California Adventure now has their own version of an ultra-exclusive private club ... 1901. The entrance is right next to Carthay Circle, but has its own doorman guarding the door. We tried to talk our way into even a glimpse of the interior, but no such luck. Can someone find me a job that will allow me to be able to afford the $25,000 initiation fee and the $10,000 annual membership fees? Who am I kidding - there are people out there who can totally afford this and still cannot get a membership.

The interior is beautiful and awesomely air-conditioned. Yes, I know it was only 80 degrees yesterday - imagine how crowded this place will be in the summers! (Un)luckily, my annual pass blocks me out starting this week anyways. The downstairs is a lounge area, and the dining room us up a flight of stairs. Am I boring you with these descriptions, etc? Feel free to scroll down until you start seeing pictures of food, if you want. I won't be insulted. I know what you're here for.

We were seated at a really nice table (esp since we had such a late lunch reservation). Service was very attentive and gracious. But then again, what do you expect of Disneyland? While we sat, we could occasionally hear sounds of a parade or performance but the restaurant was amazingly quiet and soundproof. You wouldn't even know you were in the middle of an amusement park.

Pimm's Punch - Pimm's No 1 liqueor, Plymouth gin, strawberry, lemonade, crushed ice

complimentary olive bread

halibut ceviche, avocado, tomatillo-cilantro essence, crisp plantain chips

Carthay house biscuits - white cheddar, bacon, jalapeno, apricot honey butter

pan-roasted lamb rolitini, baby artichokes, leeks, sun-dried tomatoes, green olives, roasted garlic cloves

grilled veal medallions, grilled proscuitto wrapped peaches, haricot verts, roasted almond vinagrette

toasted lemon pound cake, marinated blueberries, lemon curd cream, tahitian vanilla chantilly

Our lunch lasted two and a half hours, and the time just flew by. The food was really good, though I think the strongest were the appetizers and the dessert. I felt like my veal was a bit overcooked ... and also not in medallion format? But the ceviche and lemon pound cake were lovely. Vanessa thought the house biscuits tasted like Hot Pockets ... but in a very good way. I'd definitely come back again.

Also, if you order either an appetizer and entree, or an entree and dessert, you get Reserved seating tickets to World of Color. Lunch gets you the first showing and dinner gets  you the second showing. I had never seen World of Color before this, so having front and center seating to watch the show was definitely awesome. Plus we checked out Cars Land as well! No actual riding the rides though because the wait times were pretty crazy, even for a Monday.

Yup that one at the end is Vanessa's picture of me. Asians taking pictures of Asians taking pictures of their food. Awesome. Go to Disneyland!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Shanghai No 1 Seafood Village Part I

Shanghai No 1 Seafood Village is a relatively new restaurant that has opened in the plaza next to the 99 Ranch Focus Plaza complex. I think the space that is occupies used to be a movie theatre? Whatever it used to be, it has now been transformed into an elegant restaurant with fancy decor - so unlike most minimalist style Asian restaurants. And you definitely pay for that ambiance in the food prices!

See, check that out. Chandeliers. The place's decore and plates are very reminescent of Sea Harbor, which also has expensive Chinese food. I will never do a post on Sea Harbor because I don't think I'll be ever going again, but I remember once we went and ordered lobster tail balls. The waiter took our order and then came back and told us the chef recommended that we order TWO lobsters because we had a party of eight and one lobster ball per person wouldn't be enough. My dad agreed, and as the waiter was leaving, he casually asked how much it was per lobster. The answer was $80 ... what?! I think our meal for 8 people came out to be over $1000. That's totally insane, especially in the Asian community. But I digress.

We had to wait 45 minutes for a table on a Saturday night at 8pm, but that was ok. The sad thing is that they ran out of the Shanghai pan fried buns ... after we had ordered them. But we got to eat the xiao long bao at least, so I'm happy about that. At least we tried one of the signature items.

Shanghai juicy pork dumplings (xiao long bao)

stir fried crab roe with Japanese noodles (udon)

braised pork in brown sauce in old alley (dong puo ro)

crab roe soup with bean curd noodles

crab roe with tofu

boiled pea sprouts in porridge water

The food was good, don't get me wrong but not outstanding enough to pay the prices for. There was A LOT of crab roe on the menu, which was fantastic. The xiao long bao were also really good! There was a lot of depth of flavor that I think Din Tai Fung in Arcadia has been missing as of late. That always used to be the go-to place for xiao long bao for me, but I think the quality isn't the same as it was when it first opened up. Fun fact, my family went Din Tai Fung the weekend after the grand opening and waited FOUR HOURS IN LINE. Yea, they were that gung ho about eating there.

However, and I hate to say this, but make sure that you check your bill at the end to see if you've received all the items. There were a few mix-ups for us: (1) we had ordered another dish instead of the crab roe with tofu but the waiter wrote it down wrong (my dad decided not to send it back); (2) we didn't get the Shanghai fried dumplings so we had to make sure we weren't charged for the dish (we weren't); and (3) we had ordered an additional shrimp dish which never came, but was included in the total bill (the waiter asked if we were sure we didn't receive it - WTF).

We weren't the only table with bill issues either - the table next to us were also charged for a dish they didn't order. My mom told me that sometimes Asian restaurants will sneak in an extra dish or two onto a bill at a large table because chances are, two people will end up fighting to pay the bill (hey, we're all seen our parents battle it out with someone to pay) and will just shove a credit card at the waitress without looking at the bill. Then bam, the restaurant makes an extra $40 or $50. Sucks to say, but it does happen - always check your bill! It was a good meal but I don't think we'll be returning.

Shanghai No 1 Seafood Village
250 W Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Playground Part I

There's a show on The Food Network called The Great Food Truck Race. On season two, The Lime Truck won the challange over the course of seven weeks and used the prize money to open a gastropub/bistro restaurant in Downtown Santa Ana. Yay for SoCal! Represent!

Playground opened to some mixed reviews, which is partly due to their ordering system. You sit down wherever you want and a waitress or waiter will come over to you to hand you menus and set the table. When the place first opened, a lot of complaints over Yelp was that people were confused about the ordering system, but everything was smoothed out quickly. When a group of friends and I went for brunch, everything was fantastic. I've also gone for dinner before as well,  but the pictures are two dark to post. Both times, we've shown up as the staff was sampling dishes before service and were always generously offered to sit down, grab a fork, and help them taste and critique. You don't have to tell me twice.

chilaquiles - guac, fried egg, cotija, chips

Ghirardelli chocolate short stack

maple glazed prime pork flat iron & egg

fried chicken & waffle

The staff is super accomodating and super friendly. I'm glad we went - everything tasted terrific, though be forewarned that the portions are not very big (with the exception of the fired chicken & waffle). I'd say three orders between two people would be very satisfying. Plus, people can't resist a huge beer menu in the morning.

playground DTSA
220 E Fourth St, #102, Santa Ana, CA 92701

Monday, June 4, 2012

Proof Bakery

I've heard and read some rave reviews on Proof Bakery, but have never tried it out. Atwater Village is located in this strange area off Hwy-2, somewhere between Glendale and Silverlake. It's a quaint little place, but not somewhere I pass by often. However, when Boyfriend was out of town in New York (yes, I'm back to updating that week again, after my Black Hogg and Osteria Mozza posts), I had a dentist appointment and was able to drive right past Atwater Village on the way from El Segundo into Altadena.

The space is small and the tables were all filled when I went, but it was full of natural light. The counter is set up so you have ALL the goodies in front of you and it makes it extremely hard to order. I like tasting a bunch of items so it was really hard for me to hold back and remember that I'd have to eat all the pastries by myself, since there was no human garbage can at home to shove leftovers upon.

who can resist this display?

chocolate chip cookie

valrhona chocolate croissant

salted chocolate caramel tart

lemon tart

strawberry rhubarb galette

Not to worry, I didn't eat all of this myself - I brought the lemon tart, chocolate tart and galette to work on Friday and had my coworker eat half of each with me for breakfast. Everything was great, with the salted chocolate caramel tart being my favorite. But then again, if you put a salted dessert in front of me, chances are that I'll eat it and love it.

Also, my asset manager always laughs at me when he sees me doing it but I'm perfectly ok with having cake for breakfast. When I was a kid, my mom would always give us cake for breakfast for a couple days after birthdays, because we'd buy a sheet cake from an Asian bakery and there would be leftovers. Is this an Asian thing or just bad parenting?

Proof Bakery
3156 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039