Monday, June 28, 2010

Spice Xing - Rockville, MD

Friday was date night with the bf, and before watching The Karate Kid (good flick btw) we had Indian food at Spice Xing. The restaurant was on Washingtonian's Top 100 Cheap Eats list, so I wanted to try it. We haven't had Indian food in a while anyway. I kept pronouncing it like "Spice Sing" but the bf corrected me, and it's "Spice Crossing" haha. Located in Rockville Town Square, the parking garage on Gibbs St is $1 as well as in front of Regal Theaters on Friday nights and free on weekends. There is also metered street parking. The closest metro stop is Rockville on the red line.

The interior is really pretty with booths and nice chairs wicker-looking chairs. I liked the floor to ceiling windows, and the outdoor seating.

They have a beautiful lit up bar, and gorgeous drapery over the main dining area.

They also had colorful mounted photographs of spices on the walls.

For our appetizer, we ordered the 'Tamarind Glazed Prawn (Jumbo shrimp with a tangy glaze)' for $8.25.They were really big shrimp! The glaze was flavorful and went well with the dipping sauce. The veggies on the side were spicy! I wish there were more than 2 shrimp for the price though.

For my entree, I ordered the 'Paneer Makhni (Farmers cheese in a burnt butter-tomato sauce) for $12.95.<I  love all Indian dishes with paneer, and this was awesome. They gave a lot of paneer, there was a great balance in flavors and was a bit sweet.

The bf ordered 'Malbari Chicken (A southern coastal curry with coconut)' for $12.95. He liked it a lot, and said the chicken was very tender and not dry at all.

Each entree came with perfectly cooked basmati rice, some cabbage slaw, and delicious green beans.

We ordered some 'Garlic Nan' for $2.75 since there as a lot of curry, and we needed either more rice or bread. This was the best nan I've ever had. It tasted better in my dish because it's tomato-based and somehow reminded us of pizza.

Everything we had there was good. The service was nice, and the place is really pretty. I think the entrees were priced reasonably, but the appetizer was a bit pricey. They have a huge dessert menu - 10 items. We were so full though, but they looked good. 

100 Gibbs St
Unit B
Rockville, MD 20850
(301) 610-0303
Spice Xing on Urbanspoon

Mon-Thu 11:30 am - 9:30 pm
Fri-Sat 11:30 am - 10:30 pm

Monday, June 21, 2010

Momofuku's Crack Pie

I hope everyone had a great Father's Day! I made Momofuku's Crack Pie after stumbling upon it Momofuku for 2 and Almost Bourdain.This is a very sweet, chewy, delicious pie that I think looks more like a tart. Beware, it pulled out one of my fillings today!! (Argh) Really good, has a butterscotch flavor but feels similar to caramel. It's addictive!

Momofuku Milk Bar's Crack Pie
Servings: Makes 2 pies (6 to 8 servings each)
Note: This pie calls for 2 (10-inch) pie tins.

Ingredients (Cookie for Crust):

2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (3 ounces) flour
Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) sugar
1 egg
Scant 1 cup (3 1/2 ounces) rolled oats

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar and sugar until light and fluffy.  

4. Whisk the egg into the butter mixture until fully incorporated.

5. With the mixer running, beat in the flour mixture, a little at a time, until fully combined. Stir in the oats until incorporated.

6. Spread the mixture onto a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking sheet and bake until golden brown and set, about 20 minutes (Pay attention, or the edges can burn like mine did). Remove from heat and cool to the touch on a rack. Crumble the cooled cookie to use in the crust.

Ingredients (Crust)

Crumbled cookie for crust
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 1/2 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Combine the crumbled cookie, butter, brown sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until evenly combined and blended (a little of the mixture clumped between your fingers should hold together). Divide the crust between 2 (10-inch) pie tins. Press the crust into each shell to form a thin, even layer along the bottom and sides of the tins. Set the prepared crusts aside while you prepare the filling.

Ingredients (Filling):
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus a scant 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon milk powder
1 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup plus a scant 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 egg yolks

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, salt and milk powder. Whisk in the melted butter, then whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla.

3. Gently whisk in the egg yolks, being careful not to add too much air.

5. Bake the pies, one at a time, for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake until the filling is slightly jiggly and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the pies and cool on a rack.

6. Refrigerate the cooled pies until well chilled. Serve cold, and the filling will be gooey. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Slice and enjoy!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fresh Grill - Bethesda, MD

Happy belated birthday to my love! I took him to Bethesda's new burger place Fresh Grill for his birthday dinner since vacation kind of drained our funds. He's not a foodie anyway, so a juicy burger is his kind of meal. There is metered street parking and metered garage parking. The closest metro station is Bethesda on the red line.

Clean, modern, casual interior. I like the dark wooden tables, bricks, and the lack of clutter. They have 4 flat screen TVs, a projector screen and outdoor seating!

Open kitchens are fun for me because I like watching people cook, and seeing the behind-the-scenes action.

They offer a few bottled beers and on tap ($3-5). I want to try that Shock Top next time.

They also offer glasses ($7-8) and bottles ($25-35) of wine!

Go USA! This is the drink special they are offering now during the World Cup.

All of their burgers are a 1/2 lb of Grade-A, certified Angus beef. Crazy specifications, but that ensures the meat is awesome.

The bf and I both got a bottle of 'Hank's (Black Cherry) Soda' for $2.50. This is my new favorite soda. It is insanely good! It tastes like drinking black cherry Italian ice. Does this come in 2-liter bottles? I'm definitely getting this anytime I see it sold anywhere.

They offer around 10 burgers with fun names and appealing flavor combinations. As well as non-beef options like chicken, fish, and salads. You can also build your own burger with toppings ranging from free to $2 each.

I ordered the 'Hangover (burger topped with eggs, Applewood Smoked Bacon and cheddar) for $9.95. All house burgers come with lettuce, tomato and mayo and house chips. WOW. I didn't have any prior expectations, but it was one of the best burgers I've ever had in my life. The meat was cooked medium-well, but it was SO juicy and tender that it could have been well-done and it wouldn't have mattered. I also liked how the patty was flatter making an even amount of meat in every bite. Some burger places make their patties too thick and almost sphere-like. The Applewood Bacon was thick and sweet. The egg was sunny-side up, which is exactly how I liked my eggs. There was just enough mayo on a French bistro bun and all of the veggies were fresh. The cheese wasn't too overpowering either but was nice and melted. The ingredients worked so well together that I'd definitely recommend this to anyone. Oh yea, isn't the presentation with the knife so cool?

The bf ordered the 'Dragon's Breath (pepper jack, red onions, charred jalapeno peppers, fire sauce and house slaw) for $9.95. I didn't take a bite because I would have DIED, haha. Usually the house slaw comes on the burger with the fire sauce, but he got them on the side. He loved the burger, and thought there was a good amount of heat where he could still feel his taste buds but satisfy his desire for spiciness. He has been talking about this place all week, and says it's the best burger place he's been to so far.

It's a great place for kids (and big kids) to come play arcade games too!

We stopped by last week during their soft-opening as they were still finalizing their menu, website, etc. They offer a very popular fish sandwich called 'WGF (World's Greatest Fish Sandwich), which the bf said he'd get next time. They season daily and sear-grill their burgers to order. The burgers range between $7.95-13.95, which is can seem $, but normal for local burger places like Ray's Hellburger and The Burger Joint. The freshly-made house chips were a nice change from french fries. They were thick and crunchy, and just enough food since the burger was filling. I'm actually going back sometime next week with some friends, so hope to run into you guys!

4905 Fairmont Ave
Bethesda, MD 20814
(301) 656-3882
Fresh Grill on Urbanspoon

Mon-Thu 11am - 10pm
Fri-Sat 11am - 11pm
Sun 11am - 9pm

Monday, June 14, 2010

I Heart SoCal - Part 2 of 2

Here's the 2nd half of my Southern California recap. Here's Part 1 if you missed it. I think we actually ate more on the 2nd half of our trip! Warning - A TON OF PICS...

Day 3 - Orange County

2700 Alton Pkwy
Ste 123
Irvine, CA 92606
(949) 553-8585

This bakery is to die for. I'm not usually a big fan of "Asian" pastries but this place is delicious and crowded. There were so many items and people were walking around with trays and boxes of goodies.

When we 1st walked in, we weren't sure how this place worked because it was so chaotic. There are 2 lines: cake/drink line and self-serve pastry line. If you want pastries: pick up a tray, some tongs and go nuts! We chose a Blueberry Cream Cheese Bun, Garlic Cheese pastry, and Egg Custard tart. They also individually wrap each item for you! I'm not exaggerating when I say each item was so yummy. We killed them in about 3 minutes and wanted to get more, but we had other places we wanted to try.
85°C Bakery Cafe on Urbanspoon

13260 Jamboree Rd.
Irvine, CA 92602
(714) 731-1615

2 stores down from 85C was this glorious froyo heaven. My avid readers know I frequent froyo places often, and this place, no joke was the BEST one I've ever been to. Even better than my beloved Caliyogurt (gasp!). They had 16 self-serve flavors! Sorry, but the DMV doesn't offer that yet. The flavors were very fragrant and not watered down. It was also the cheapest place I've been to at $0.30 an ounce.

The mochi was so soft and fresh. The fruit variety was crazy, and I loved the cute colored spoons.
Yogurtland on Urbanspoon

Thousand Steps Beach
Ninth Avenue And Pacific Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92652

One of my friends told me about this place and it's a really cool, more private kind of beach. Laguna Beach is a really beautiful beach town with crazy houses built on the sides of mountains overlooking the ocean. Nice life...

I wouldn't say there were actually 1,000 steps but maybe 200? It wasn't bad going down (except for the thought of accidentally falling down that whole thing), but walking up was burning my legs, haha.

Many homes around there had their own private steps down to the beach, which also looked crazy.

It was very secluded and you couldn't see this beach from the road. I felt like I was on the MTV show 'Laguna Beach' because everyone there looked like they were rich high schoolers. It was a really cool spot to get away and check out a local secret.

Mission San Juan Capistrano
26801 Ortega Hwy
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
(949) 234-1300

The bf told me I needed some culture in my life (me? oh please), so we went to a mission established in 1776. It was a gorgeous landmark that has been kept up very well for the public to visit. They allow you to visit some of the old rooms the brothers and priests used to live in. It was around $9 per person.

The old Spanish architecture was just cool to see. I felt like I was in Europe.

Their main church was very ornate and golden, while the outside walls were starting to decay (as you can see) and gave it a more ancient feel.

Some of the coolest and unique looking flowers were planted at that site!

Lee's Sandwiches
9261 Bolsa Ave
Westminster, CA 92683
(714) 901-5788

Westminister is also known as "Little Saigon", so we stopped by to get some Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) for lunch. This place is like a deli and store in one. You can order food and pick up boxed goods, coffee grounds, etc. There are tables inside and outside to grub your food at. FYI they are a 'Cash-only' spot.

These were so cheap! Around $2.50 each for a skinny 10" sub. I got the '#1- Lee's Combination (Ham, Headcheese, Pate) and the bf ordered a '#6- BBQ Pork (Sliced B.B.Q Chinese pork)'. We ordered them with the veggies inside, and we enjoyed them.

We also shared an 'Iced Coffee with Condensed milk' for around $3. This was the 1st time I had this drink with crushed ice and for some reason I liked it better. This coffee was the perfect combo of strong and sweet, so it was made right.
Lee's Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

Asian Garden Mall
9200 Bolsa Ave
Ste 312
Westminster, CA 92683
(714) 891-2122

Across the street from Lee's Sandwiches is probably the focal point for that community. It's a really big structure/mall with 2 floors of stores. I'm not kidding but most of the place is jewelery stores, and I don't know why or how they all survive!

On our way out they had a drink place that caught our attention.

They had some CRAZY drinks, most of which I had no idea what they were. You had so many options to put in your drink other than just black tapioca balls. Some of them had jelly, basil seeds, beans, etc.

So overwhelmed by the choices, we kept it simple and ordered a Thai Tea with bubbles (boba). This was the best Thai Tea I've had in bubble tea form. Usually they're either not strong enough, sweet enough, or too creamy. This one tasted exactly like one from a restaurant!

The mall also had 3 'Japanese-cutsie' stores upstairs (sorry I didn't take a pic), and the bf got me this tuna sushi stuffed animal. It's also our only real souvenir from the trip since we didn't buy much (sales tax is $$), so it's sitting on our couch.

Seal Beach Pier
Main Street & Ocean Ave
Seal Beach, CA 90740

It seemed like a very local beach with families, low traffic and lots of space. I didn't actually see any seals there, but I'm sure they used to be there hence the name.

It was my 1st time on a pier that I can remember, and it was really cool how it goes straight over the ocean. There's even a restaurant at the end of it. Lots of locals were fishing off of the sides too.

600 Pacific Coast Hwy
Seal Beach, CA 90740
(562) 431-1186

We met up with my cousin and her son at Koi for some sushi that night too. It's been years, so it was a great opportunity to catch up with family again. The baby was adorable and I made sure I sat next to him at dinner.

They offer a lot of special rolls, which weren't the cheapest, but we ordered 4 since we were hungry. The fish was all very fresh, but it did take a bit for our food to come out.
Left: Seal Beach Roll (Shrimp and avocado rolled with salmon in thin sheet of cucumber) for $13.
Right: Alaska Roll (Snow crab and cucumber) for $7.50.

Left: Rainbow Roll (Tuna, shrimp, salmon and yellowtail pressed over rice, with smelt eggs and avocado inside) for $13.
Right: Super California Roll (Freshwater eel and smelt eggs on top of a California roll) for $14.
Koi Sushi of Seal Beach on Urbanspoon

Nijiya Market
2130 Sawtelle Blvd
Ste 105
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Neighborhood: West Los Angeles
(310) 534-3000

It seemed a bit out of the way to drive to Little Toyko since we were already on the coastline, so we went to West LA to check out this tiny area with Japanese stores and restaurants.
This market wasn't huge, but it's way bigger than any Japanese market I've been to in the DMV. They had some really cool candy like banana flavored Kit Kats! Everything was way expensive though because they are imported.

We picked up some flavored Calpico (non-carbonated yogurt soft drink) and Raspberry and Passion Fruit Kit Kats. The Kit Kats tasted strange to me but the bf liked them.

Hurry Curry of Tokyo
2131 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Neighborhood: West Los Angeles
(310) 473-1640

Late-night eats for the bf, I was way too full after eating all day. Luckily we got the last table because it was packed. Their menu also offered a large amount of spagetties, which I found random, haha.

He ordered their most popular item, 'Chicken Cutlet Curry (A tender breast meat filet lightly breaded in panko flakes fried to golden brown and served with curry sauce) for $9.95. He ordered his curry with medium spiciness, and thought it was good but that the actually chicken was a bit bland. He thinks Temari has the best curry.
Hurry Curry of Tokyo on Urbanspoon

Day 4 - LA Beaches and Irvine

Soowon Galbi
856 S Vermont Ave
Ste C
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Neighborhood: Koreatown
(213) 365-9292

I wanted to check out Koreatown for lunch and found this place on Yelp. I think it was going to be impossible to pick a place without Yelp or a recommendation because there were a hundreds of Korean BBQ places. It was a tiny restaurant filled with smoke from the grills, so I smelled like it all day.

We didn't want to spend a ton of money on lunch, so we didn't get any BBQ, which almost defeated the purpose of going there since they're known for their Galbi.
I ordered the 'Hae Mul Pajeon (Seafood pancake with baby shrimp, octopus, squid calamari, scallops and green onions) for $15.99. It was so delicious! Fluffy with just the right amount of chewiness and crispiness. They gave you a dipping sauce for it that I really liked.

The bf ordered 'Bimim Naeng Myun' which had very thin, chewy noodles. I'm not a fan of it because it's a cold, spicy dish.
Soowon Galbi on Urbanspoon

Oh yea, LA traffic especially on I-10 and on the weekends is not fun...

Venice Beach
1531 Ocean Front Walk
Los Angeles, CA 90291

This place is sensory overload. Graffiti walls, basketball courts, tennis courts, skate park, gym, side shows, people, shops, roller skaters, bikes, marijuana prescriptions... you name it.

The boardwalk is filled with people, and it's a really interesting place to check out "freak shows", and really just people watch. It's a very vibrant area and people are being active outdoors.

The beach was also full of people. Families, friends with boom boxes, and couples. Water was freezing and it was overcast at pretty much every beach we went to. I've heard it's a June thing.

My feet can't draw that well apparently...

Santa Monica Pier
200 Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica, CA 90401

The weather once again wasn't great, but it was still very crowded on the beach and the pier. There is so much sand on that beach, it's huge!

This pier is quite neat because of the amusement park, arcade, vendors, trapeze school, and acts. We didn't have the chance to check out the rest of Santa Monica like the Third Street Promenade.

The ferris wheel in the back lights up at night!

There was an intoxicating aroma as we walked on the pier, and it was coming from the churros cart. We bought one, which they fold in half, and it's around $3.50, which is expensive!

3221 Donald Douglas Loop
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Neighborhood: Santa Monica
(310) 390-6565

I found out about this restaurant on an episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. They offer insects! Oddly, it's attached to the Santa Monica airport, and we sat next to the window overlooking the runway.

We ordered the 'Taiwanese Crickets (stir-fried, raw garlic, chili pepper, Asian basil served on a bed of potato sticks) for $10. There were probably 30 of them.

Look at them!!! They weren't that big, and didn't have legs but still had wings. We were feeling adventurous, so we finished the entire platter.

They were surprisingly VERY good! They tasted like garlic, and didn't have an earthy taste at all. They were just crunchy like the potato sticks. The 1st cricket was a bit nerve-racking but after I enjoyed it so much, I ate the rest of them like popcorn.

We couldn't just eat bugs for dinner, so we also ordered 'Filipino Grilled Pork with a garlic-vinegar dip' for $14. It was so tender, and I love the charcoal flavor on the meat. Without the dip, it tasted like galbi for some reason.
Typhoon on Urbanspoon

Irvine Spectrum Center
71 Fortune Dr
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 753-5180

We loved Irvine so much, we decided to drive back down for our last night. We stopped by this gorgeous outdoor mall. Can we have outdoor malls with palm trees and Christmas lights? The stores were typical of any mall (Macy's, Forever 21, Apple, etc) but it was just very pretty.

Guppy House
2730 Alton Pkwy
Ste 101
Irvine, CA 92614
(949) 851-9788

This restaurant was packed at night! There was a waiting list and a line out the door. They were playing great music and I liked the decor with the back lighting.

This is the reason why we came - shaved ice! Do you see how large this thing is? It's their 'small'. We ordered the 'Mango Shaved Ice' for $11.99. It prob had 2.5 mangoes on it and could serve 6 people. It was so good and sweet with the condensed milk.

Another specialty is their 'Butter Coconut Brick Toast (Rich creamy coconut butter on homemade thick toast slowly baked in over, drizzled with chocolate and caramel) for $4.99. This thing was huge too! The coconut butter was so good, I don't think it needed all of that bread.
Guppy House on Urbanspoon

Sticki Picki
2700 Alton Pkwy
Ste 221
Irvine, CA 92606
(949) 756-8567

We randomly stumbled upon this sticker picture place! I haven't seen these booths since high school, so we decided to take some pictures. They have a bunch of different booths at different prices, which range from $7-15 (expensive), but you can customize your pictures on their screen.

Don't we look like we're in high school? lol Don't mind my messed up hair either.

In-N-Out Burger
9149 S Sepulveda Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Neighborhood: Westchester / LAX

We were so full from all of the junk we just ate, but you CAN'T go to the West Coast and not get In-N-Out burger. So we were there with all of the late night club crowd and after-prom kids.

We ordered 'Med Fries' and 'Cheeseburger with onions'. In-N-Out is my favorite fast-food burger chain, and it's so unfair it's not on the East Coast!

Day 5- LAX

Gladstone's at LAX
1 World Way
Terminal 3
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Neighborhood: Westchester / LAX

Our last day was just us going to the airport. We got to our gate 2 hours early because "someone" was scared we were going to be late. This was the only restaurant in our terminal, so we decided to get breakfast.

We ended up sharing this 'Breakfast Burrito (Scrambled eggs with Sausage, Jack Cheese, Fresh Tomatoes, Onions Jalapeno, and Fresh Herbs. Served with a side of Pico de Gallo and O'Brian Potatoes) for $10.99. I found the whole breakfast menu to be overpriced, but surprisingly the dish was really good.
Gladstone's at Lax on Urbanspoon

We had a great time, and wish we could have stayed longer to check out more sites like Beverly Hills and other places we've missed. Hope this helps as a reference guide for some places to check out on your next vacation to SoCal!