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

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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!

Seasons 52 Fall Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Tanaya's Table Seasons 52 butternut squash soup

This stellar soup has a secret ingredient!

Now that we’re in the midst of Fall, like many people, I often get a craving for thick, hearty soups that warm the body and comfort the soul.

Recently, thanks to Braun Thermometers, I had the opportunity to attend a cooking class by Seasons 52 Executive Chef Russell Johnigan at their Westfield Century City location. It was there that I learned the secret to a wonderful savory soup without any of the cream or butter that’s found in most hearty Fall soups… and I’m excited to share it with you!

The secret ingredient in this recipe is the tart apples that balance the sweet richness of the butternut squash, all while giving the soup great body.

TT Seasons 52 chef demo 1

After Chef Russell graciously showed us his culinary ways and we got to taste the final product, I was amazed at how luxurious the soup tasted without adding much fat. I also love that this soup is completely vegetarian, and heck, it can even be vegan!

What’s also really cool is that all items on the Seasons 52 menu are under 475 calories, and the smaller portions are under 275 calories. They also change up their menu throughout the year as ingredients go in and out of peak season.

It’s a place you can go to feel fully satisfied and also good about your choices at the end of your meal, and I’ve always felt that way when dining there.

So here it is, my new go-to hearty but healthy fall recipe, courtesy of Seasons 52 Executive Chef Russell Johnigan:

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

Ingredients:

1 whole butternut squash – about 4½ cups, packed
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored & sliced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium Spanish onion, peeled & diced into ½-inch pieces
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 quart low sodium vegetable stock
1 teaspoon Chipotle Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Kosher salt

Garnish:

1 apple, washed & cut in small slivers
1 dollop sour cream, reduced fat
1 pinch chives, finely sliced
1 pinch pumpkin seeds, toasted

Method:

• Preheat oven to 350ºF. Cut squash in half lengthwise, and spoon out seeds.

• Place squash halves and apples on foil-lined cookie tray, cut side up. Combine sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle mixture evenly over squash. Roast squash and apples for 45 to 60 minutes, or until tender. Cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, or until able to handle. Scoop pulp from skins. Reserve pulp for soup.

• Heat oil in soup pot at medium heat. Add apples, onion and ginger. Sauté for 5 minutes, until tender and sweet. Add vegetable stock. Stir in cooked squash pulp. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Add Tabasco, honey and salt. Puree in a blender until smooth.

• To serve, garnish the puree with any combination of: apple slivers, sour cream, chives, toasted pumpkin seeds.

Tanaya’s Table note: I also love using crème fraîche atop soups, and imagine that this soup would be wonderful served with a dollop to stir in. When making this soup at home, I also added a little sriracha sauce to the mix. The soup is a great base to improvise with, depending on what you’ve got and how creative you want to get!

TT Seasons 52 chef demo 3

The entire meal was delicious. Juicy roast chicken, hearty butternut squash soup, decadent desserts under 275 calories served in shot glasses!

After savoring the soup, we also learned Chef Russell’s secrets to creating a juicy Roast Chicken, and his tips on how to properly use a thermometer to check the temperature of your chicken.

The takeaway: make sure you insert the thermometer on the meatiest parts, and whatever you do, don’t let the meter touch the bone. This causes it to read a higher temperature, falsely indicating that your chicken has been cooked long enough.

Luckily, while it may be a little complicated to properly take the temperature of your chicken, Braun’s new no-touch forehead thermometer makes it super easy to take the temperature of those special humans in your life. Because keeping your children at the right temperature is just as important as keeping your chicken at the right temperature!

We got to try out the nifty new thermometers on one another, and everyone was amazed at how accurate the thermometer was when reading from up to 2 inches away from the forehead versus when making direct contact! Amazing.

This is the latest technology out there, and with cold & flu season upon us, it definitely makes life a lot easier to know you can quickly and accurately gauge your loved ones’ temperatures. You can find out more on the Braun website. The best part is that the indicator reads within seconds and lights up green, yellow or red indicating the severity of the fever.

We learned all this while devouring the chicken with an onion jus that Chef Russell had whipped up for us. Stay tuned for the Seasons 52 roast chicken recipe… here’s to staying well this holiday season!

New Opening Sneak Peek: Ice Cream Lab Comes To Pasadena

Come with me behind the counter for a sneak of Ice Cream Lab's newest location. (Had to represent for the Lakers since today was the season opener!)

VIDEO: Come with me behind the counter for a sneak of Ice Cream Lab’s newest location. (Had to represent for the Lakers since today was the season opener!)

What if your ice cream could be made to order, going from the creamy liquid base to the frozen treat you know and love… in mere seconds?

Look no further, because Ice Cream Lab makes its desserts with liquid nitrogen, freezing your ice cream right before your eyes in a mystical cloud of nitrogen smoke (vapor, if you want to get technical).

What’s even better is that more Southern Californians will get to experience this magical ice cream, because Ice Cream Lab Pasadena opens its doors for its grand opening tomorrow at noon.

The mayor will do the ribbon cutting and they’ll be giving away free ice cream all day. Their ice cream comes in traditional flavors and creative combinations like Salt Lick Crunch, Blue Velvet and Banilla.

A breakdown of each of the three year-round specialty flavors (also shown in the video above):

  • Salt Lick Crunch – Organic vanilla bean ice cream blended with crushed salted pretzels and homemade caramel sauce, topped with sea salt
  • Blue Velvet – Organic vanilla bean ice cream blended with homemade blue velvet cupcakes and cream cheese frosting
  • Banilla – Organic vanilla bean ice cream blended with organic locally grown bananas, homemade caramel sauce and crushed Nilla wafers
Flavors: Blue Velvet, Strawberry and Salt Lick Crunch

Flavors: Blue Velvet, Strawberry, Salt Lick Crunch

I’ve been to the Beverly Hills location a few times, and uncharacteristically (since I usually love to try different things) I end up getting my ultimate favorite, the Salt Lick Crunch, almost every time. I’ve sometimes snuck spoonfuls of other flavors from my friends before, but it was nice to be able to get a taste of the entire original menu at this private pre-opening tasting they hosted for me!

The strawberry had real pieces of strawberries in it, and you could taste the freshness of each of the flavors. However, my ultimate favorite still stands, as the Salt Lick Crunch is just exceptional! The creamy ice cream studded with crunchy, salty pretzel bits just hits the spot… and that drizzle of oozing caramel over the top doesn’t hurt, either. 😉

I also had the chance to go behind the counter to see up-close how they make their ice cream, and boy is that liquid nitrogen cold… between -346°F and -320.44°F to be exact! You can check out the crazy amounts of liquid nitrogen smoke in action in the 1-minute video above.

Behind the counter liquid nitrogen action

Behind-the-counter liquid nitrogen action

The staff was friendly and warm, and the decor is similar to the larger Beverly Hills location, with quirky graffiti-style murals in icy blue tones. The interior is otherwise sleek and white, fitting well with the molecular gastronomy theme of their product.

What I love most about Ice Cream Lab is that they use locally sourced fresh ingredients that you can see and taste — none of those suspicious-looking artificially flavored and colored bottles spotted at some other liquid nitrogen ice cream spots. They also use kosher ingredients and don’t use any additives. Can’t complain about that!

Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry and Cookies & Cream are also on the menu, with vegan options like sorbets and more to come, including a seasonal vegan pumpkin flavor. After a few weeks, the Pasadena location will be serving seasonal flavors too, like the Beverly Hills location now does.

Birthday tip: They give you a free waffle cone on your special day, as well as a free Ice Cream Lab tote bag. Check out the other swag they have in the video above!

The glorious Salt Lick Crunch has the perfect balance of sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy

The glorious Salt Lick Crunch has the perfect balance of sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy

The second Ice Cream Lab, opening in Old Town, is located at 16 S. Fair Oaks Ave. Pasadena, CA. You can also check out the Ice Cream Lab website for more information.

Ice Cream Lab also plans to open a third location in Little Tokyo in the near future. The Pasadena grand opening is tomorrow, so get yourself some ice cream… because it’s always ice cream season here in L.A.