VIDEO: The Inside Slurp On Ramen Champ’s Revamp

Tonkotsu Tan Tan

Tonkotsu Tan Tan

Hi all! I know it’s been a while, and I’ve missed you guys tremendously while on the road, in the air, on overnight trains, boats and auto rickshaws in the 10+ cities around India and Hong Kong I was visiting this past summer.

I encountered some obstacles in the health department on the trip, but I’m all good now and back in action here in LA! Stay tuned for a ton of travel food, sights, sounds and protips to come in the form of videos, photos and stories. They’re coming very soon!

But for now, I’d like to dish some local food news, starting with a preview of Ramen Champ’s upcoming re-opening. Because who doesn’t love a warm, hearty bowl of comforting ramen?

Here’s a sneak peek at the new Ramen Champ menu in action:

A few food blogger friends and I got to taste a variety of bowls, and genuinely enjoyed every strand of noodle and every sip of broth.

The soy-based vegan “meat” was a bit sweet for my taste, but I suppose its purpose is to balance the traditional saltiness of the broth. Other than that, the spinach noodles, crispy garlic and complex broth of the vegan ramen made it a true winner for herbivores and omnivores alike.

You can find more on visiting Ramen Champ at their 2nd floor location inside LA’s Chinatown Far East Plaza here.

The conclusion? Whether you get the Original Tonkotsu ramen, the Tonkotsu Tan Tan noodles, the Hot and Sour ramen or the Vegan ramen, you can’t go wrong. They re-open October 2 under new ownership, so I definitely suggest you go check it out if you’re a ramen fan. Cheers!

Ramen Champ Noodles vegan

VIDEO New Opening: 4th Street Market, SoCal’s Most Epic Food Hall

Watch the video for a taste of the good eats you can find at this hip new food hall!

Check out the 1-minute video for a taste of the good eats you can find at downtown Santa Ana’s new food hall!

There’s a hip new food hall in town, and it’s the best one I’ve seen yet! Located in downtown Santa Ana, this new hub of cutting-edge eateries and small food businesses just opened and is ready to please palates.

My wonderful foodie friend Kelli and I ventured over to the new space over the weekend, and we were impressed at how it exceeded our expectations for design, variety, and innovation in their food offerings.

Tanayas Table 4th Street Market Food Hall

I started off with a Radical Botanicals rawktail, which is a raw (non-alcoholic) cocktail made with citrus and coconut milk. It was so delicious, and really settled my stomach to prepare my body for all the awesome food we were about to consume.

Tanayas Table 4th Street Market Radical Botanicals Pressed Juice Raw

Although there are 15 highly select food and drink vendors (there’s even a bar called Recess, by the Playground folks!), we finally settled on the Thai “khao soi” noodles from Jason Quinn’s Noodle Tramp, and the tater tot pork poutine from Stockyard Sandwich Company.

The noodles had a perfect bite and chew to them, and the sauce was rich in flavor and complexity. The tater tot poutine had juicy pork, plus a fried egg on it… so in other words, it was also amazing! The video above has more on these dishes.

Tanayas Table 4th Street Market Khao Soi Noodle Tramp Poutine Stockyard

After enjoying our food in the outdoor patio decorated with bold, colorful graffiti art and planters, we went back inside for some dessert.

Chunk-N-Chip really stood out to us, and what caught my eye the most was their champagne cookies and their French toast with bacon ice cream! I had to get it in sandwich form, I tell you. Who doesn’t want a little libation AND breakfast in their dessert, right? Ha.

The storefront is the ice cream sandwich maker’s first brick-and-mortar, as it started as a food truck. Claudia, the lovely owner, told us they are expanding their flavors and cone options. For now, they have brownie and red velvet waffle cones, but they will soon be rolling out at gluten-free, vegan cone.

I also went behind the scenes to create this video for the making of their brownie batter cones. Trust me, you need to try it for yourself!

Tanayas Table 4th Street Market Chunk N Chip Ice Cream

There is so much more to try at the newly opened 4th Street Market, and I can’t wait to be back soon for the rest.

Check out the video above for the food in action, as well as some shots of the awesome decor. LOVED the quotes from famous foodies on the ceiling!

To find out more on the 4th Street Market, and for hours and directions, go here. Until next time, cheers!

VIDEO: Inside Koala Tapioca, Westwood’s Newest Eatery + Boba Spot

TT Koala Tapioca Jasmine Sea Salt Green Tea Boba

The Taiwanese-Vietnamese fusion café concept that started as a food truck just opened in brick and mortar form, right in Westwood.

I decided to take my fellow Bruin friend Anshu along with me to our old stomping grounds to check out the media preview event for the new joint, Koala Tapioca.

Looking back on our four years at UCLA (and plenty of excursions in Westwood), it’s crazy to think how much has changed in the area. However, with the addition of Koala Tapioca to the Westwood Village scene, it’s safe to say that this place is a valuable addition.

Check out the one-minute video for the inside scoop (and sip!) on the hottest new cafe in Westwood.

Check out the one-minute video for the inside scoop (and sip!) on the hottest new cafe in Westwood.

Koala Tapioca was founded by recent UCLA graduates David and Vincent, who had a solid business strategy coming straight out of college.

While their brick and mortar location was in the works with construction and permits, the duo used that time to get a food truck going to do some market testing with their product.

TT Koala Tapioca  Popcorn Chicken

Popcorn Chicken with Fried Sweet Basil

They perfected their food with low overhead costs, while also building a solid social media following in the meantime.

The truck, previously called Koala Tea, was a hit… and now they’re ready to open their doors, with great momentum behind them in the form of loyal foodie fans and Twitter followers.

Banh Mi

Banh Mi

Koala Tapioca offers a variety of unique and traditional coffee and tea drinks (with boba, if you’d like!) as well as Taiwanese and Vietnamese food. The fact that they have free Wi-Fi and board games is just the cherry on top! All I can say is I wish we had this place when I was at UCLA.

Check out the video above for a peek at the tasty snacks and drinks that this awesome little spot in the heart of Westwood has to offer.

TT Koala Tapioca  Snacks Drinks Spread

You can find more information on visiting Koala Tapioca here. Stay tuned for a Dine LA Restaurant Week new opening post coming soon. Cheers 🙂

Sriracha Series, Part 1: Sriracha Festival Brings The Heat to L.A.

This post is Part 1 of a three-part series dedicated to the modern holy grail of hot sauces, sriracha. Stay tuned for a Halloween-themed post and a behind-the-scenes look inside the sriracha factory!

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

See the stellar spicy sweet & savory foods in action at the 2nd Annual Sriracha Festival!

The 2nd Annual Sriracha Festival hosted by Josh Lurie of Food GPS & Randy Clemens, author of The Sriracha Cookbook was by far the hottest event to hit Los Angeles this past weekend, taking place at the historic Chinatown Central Plaza. As an avid heat seeker, this was an event I especially looked forward to this month, even with a total of three events to attend that very same day!

By far, the Sriracha Festival showcased some incredibly unique and impressive eats. Chefs and mixologists alike highlighted the versatility of the most trendy chili sauce to date with creative uses in savory and sweet dishes, as well as in cocktail form.

Beachwood BBQ Sriracha Ribs

Beachwood BBQ’s sriracha-glazed smoked ribs

The Mexican chocolate fountain you see in the video above is to dip crispy, sriracha sugar-dusted churrones (similar to chicharrones) courtesy of Eagle Rock Brewery, whose beer on tap included Witbier and IPA. And those meaty smoked ribs being doused in sriracha BBQ sauce come from Beachwood BBQ.

The deviled eggs also featured are not your mama’s deviled eggs. They’ve got a chicken skin crumble and sriracha caramel on ’em, thanks to “Top Chef” contender Mei Lin. Speaking of a great sauce, Willy B’s pork belly had some great flavors from their hot sauce.

That pork belly though.

That pork belly though.

Mud Hen Tavern’s Kajsa Alger served a smooth, creamy sriracha-braised pumpkin purée with white chocolate yogurt and basil oil, along with some fresh greens for texture… and the flavors came together beautifully. Meanwhile, “Next Iron Chef” & “Chopped” alum Nate Appleman of Shophouse served a moist and flavorful pork and chicken meatball with tamarind vinaigrette and green papaya slaw, along with a Thai basil and cilantro salad with crispy garlic.

Crawfish mac 'n cheese with house smoked Andouille sausage by Little Jewel of New Orleans

Crawfish mac ‘n cheese with house-smoked Andouille sausage by Little Jewel of New Orleans

Newcomers on the scene such as The Gadarene Swine and Little Jewel of New Orleans served diverse dishes such as a vegan crispy yucca with sriracha and avocado mousse, and a not-at-all-vegan crawfish mac ‘n cheese with house smoked Andouille sausage, respectively.

Last but not least, you know Eggslut brought the heat (and the longest lines!). Chef Alvin Cailan dished out his spicy pork tan tan men and explained (see video above) that the dish, topped with a seasoned soft-boiled egg, togarashi and bacon, symbolized the debut to their new Ramen Champ concept, set to open in Chinatown by the end of the year. You heard it here first, straight from Alvin!

Eggslut debuted their tan tan noodles from their new concept, Ramen Champ opening soon.

Eggslut debuted delectable tan tan noodles from their new concept, Ramen Champ opening soon.

The smoky bacon, tan tan noodles with a bite, the spicy kick from the togarashi, and the perfectly cooked egg with a soft yolk made for a splendid symphony of flavors in each sizeable bowl.

I also appreciated that there were plenty of cocktails and ice cream to cool palates down for another round of spicy goodness. There were frozen treats such as McConnell’s sweet cream and salted caramel chip ice creams, as well as cooling drinks like a cucumber jicama beverage by Hollywood bartender Jason Bran. However, being the sriracha fanatic that I am, my cocktail and ice cream of choice still incorporated sriracha… in very innovative ways!

Amaretto Sours with a Mango and Sriracha twist

Amaretto Sours with a Mango and Sriracha twist

Jason Bran mixed up a DiSaronno cocktail with mango, lemon and sriracha (see video), while Santa Barbara-to-L.A. transplant McConnell’s Ice Cream scooped pumpkin pie ice cream with a generous drizzle of thick, crave-worthy sriracha caramel. So simple, yet brilliant when paired with the pumpkin ice cream!

Pumpkin pie ice cream topped with sriracha caramel

Pumpkin pie ice cream topped with sriracha caramel

Crème Caramel LA brought their “Holy Petit S’mores” to the party. Want to know what those are? Buckle up before you read this: A sriracha marshmallow layered on a dark chocolate fudge brownie, dipped in white chocolate, rolled in graham cracker crumbs and sprinkled with sriracha honeycomb dust! The marshmallow had just a little kick, and complemented the chocolatey goodness of the brownie.

Yup, there is sriracha in there too!

Yup, there is sriracha in there too!

My absolute favorite dessert of the night, however, came from Red Bread. They served up plates of their (deep breath…) Whole Wheat Crusted Sriracha Black Bottom Meyer Lemon Custard Pie! It was heaven in a pie slice. They also served a Sriracha Apple Crumble Pie, which was a great sriracha-fied version of the classic American dessert. But I can’t deny that it was love at first bite with the Meyer lemon pie! That layer of sriracha-chocolate bliss on the bottom was superb, and I could eat it anytime, any place I tell you!

Thanks to the L.A. Sriracha Festival for a delicious experience. From what I heard while chatting with repeat attendees, last year was great… and this year was even better. I have no doubts that the Sriracha Festival will continue to impress in the years to come. Also, props to the fest for donating a portion of the proceeds to Food Forward.

Extra sriracha on that Greenspans Grilled Cheese, please!

Extra sriracha on that Greenspans Grilled Cheese, please!

Stay tuned for more heat in the next two installments of the Sriracha Series, right here on Tanaya’s Table!

An Update From L.A. Food & Wine

Well hello there! So I’m in the midst of 6 (yes, SIX!) different food events this weekend, and I’ve got two down so far. Talk about a blissful food coma!

Here are some of the fun highlights from L.A. Food & Wine’s Asian Night Market. Cameos include talented chef personalities Jet Tila, Aarti Sequeira and Nguyen Tran… plus I eat coconut curry snails. Yes, SNAILS! Check it out here:

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Click above to see my favorite moments of L.A. Food & Wine Asian Night Market… and to see how the snails were!

Phew! More highlights and photos of all the innovative food and creative cocktails to come (peanut butter matcha sesame oil cocktails, say what?!). Alright, I’ll be priming my stomach for more food now, because I’m off to the Lexus Grand Tasting and will be reporting back shortly!

For realtime updates, you can always follow me on Instagram and Twitter for some other fun, exclusive tidbits from each of the events… and my crazy, unpredictable foodie life in general. I’d love to connect with you guys and see what you’re eating and experience, too… Cheers!