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!
Last night, the All-Star Chef Classic turned the L.A. Live event deck in downtown Los Angeles into an epic restaurant stadium. Thanks to Tastemade, who sent me to cover the event, I got to experience the exquisite five-course dinner menu for myself!
I was planning on going to my regular MMA kickboxing class, up until a few minutes before I was about to leave for the gym. Then, I found myself quickly getting ready for a fancy fine dining event and rushing to downtown L.A. for a night to remember! I’m very grateful for the opportunity.
Not only did we witness live demos from five of the immensely talented top chefs in America, but I also got a chance to speak with them about their food! It was a memorable evening, for sure:
Sitting in the restaurant stadium is an amazing feeling. It feels larger-than-life but also has an intimate vibe, as there aren’t a ton of rows so that no one feels too far from the action. Everyone in that room had one thing in common: we are all passionate about high caliber food.
Each of our five courses were paired with wines, and each plate looked so pretty I had to admire it (and pay homage by taking lots of photos and videos!) for a considerable amount of time before taking a bite. Hey, I was just doing my job! 😉
A breakdown of what was served:
First course, by Michael Cimarusti of Providence
Santa Barbara spot prawns roasted in salted butter, with citrus and nori. Paired with a 2012 Sauvignon Blanc.
Having recently developed a very slight (and majorly unfortunate) allergy to crustaceans, I was unable to taste the prawns, but the accompaniments were delicious… and the noises my fellow dining companions made after eating this course gave me reason to believe that this dish was every bit as good as it looked.
Second course, by Daniel Patterson of Coi Restaurant
Spring vegetables in a honey-lemon broth, with herbs and flowers. Paired with a 2012 Sauvignon Blanc.
It was indeed “springtime on a plate,” as the San Francisco chef described his own dish. The herbs and the honey-lemon broth brought this delicate dish together. Hooray for healthy, pretty food!
Third course, by Nancy Silverton (always one of my favorite chefs to talk with!) of Mozza
Roasted carrots with ceci and cumin vinaigrette. Paired with a 2012 Pinot Noir.
The warm notes from the cumin and the perfectly roasted carrots gave such great flavor and texture… and the yogurt on top brought a cooling element and balanced the entire hearty vegetarian masterpiece.
Fourth course by Wylie Dufresne of Alder, and previously WD~50
Lamb loin with black garlic romesco, pickled ramps and dried soybean. Paired with a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.
The lamb was perfectly succulent, the ramps added some acidity, and the black garlic romesco gave the entire dish such a deep, rich umami flavor. Holy moly.
Fifth course, by Christina Tosi of NYC’s Momofuku Milk Bar
Apple pie cake with miso butterscotch, sour whipped cream and pie crumble. Paired with a 2012 Moscato… & (unofficially) Stella Cidre.
Oh man, where to start. The cake was moist, with the crumble adding the perfect crunch. The miso added more savory umami, and complemented the flavor of the apples so well. The sour whipped cream brought it home with a delicious tanginess to balance the sweetness of the cake. This is what dreams are made of, people.
Petit Fours by Christina Tosi
Momofuku’s famous “Crack Pie”
We ordered a full-size pie (yes, I had it shipped!) from NYC a few years ago, and it was pretty incredible. This was a nice bite-size version, but I do wish it had more of the addictive filling. Oh Christina, how you always leave us craving more and more! With how good her desserts are, no amount will ever be enough, I think.
Moral of the story: Not that I’m saying to always choose eating over working out, but when the right opportunity presents itself, being a little spontaneous and saying “yes” more than “no” can truly do wonders for how much you get out of life. Trust me on this!
Backstory: Went to Berkeley back in 2013 for a few hours to visit a friend. Heard of CREAM, the Berkeley-based ice cream sandwich place that always has a huge line. Pressed for time, we bypassed the line, hoping to try it someday.
Flash forward to present: CREAM has opened in Downtown Los Angeles, right near USC on Figueroa. The line for free ice cream sandwiches wrapped around the block, but I had to bring you guys the “scoop” (pun totally intended), right?
Here’s what we got, and a word from Hector, the owner of CREAM (which stands for Cookies Rule Everything Around Me, by the way):
Check out the one-minute rundown on CREAM, the newest ice cream sandwich on the block.
The final verdict for me is that it’s worth a try, but they will never come close to what Diddy Riese has done for UCLA and Westwood (which CREAM is said to be trying to do with the USC area).
I have attended both schools and yes UCLA is my alma mater so there is a slight bias by default, but nothing beats Diddy Riese in its history, charm, authenticity, and just the OG experience in general.
Their cookies also go better with the ice cream, in my opinion, but I will say that when the CREAM cookies get soaked in melting ice cream, they have a delicious texture and flavor that makes me very very happy.
They also have ice cream made in-house & vegan options… but what I really love are the toppings you can add to your ice cream cookie sandwich. Everything from Oreo pieces to sprinkles and gummi bears.
However, I wish they had a few more unique flavors, and that their salted caramel had more saltiness to it. I wasn’t mindblown for all the hype, but it was a very solid and satisfying ice cream sandwich. Plus, the service was great.
Go check CREAM out for yourselves in you’re in the downtown area, and share your verdict!