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

Ordering New Menu Items Off iPads At STACKED: Food Well Built

Tanayas Table Stacked iPad Pink Cocktail

I still remember the time I got to treat my family and friends to a dinner out after landing a new job. We decided to keep it local, opting to go to STACKED: Food Well Built.

I was excited to show them how they could customize their own dishes on the nifty iPads at this hi-tech spot by the Cerritos mall. A few years ago, it was an even newer concept, so it was extra fun to see our culinary creations come to life.

My family loved the experience, and ever since that day I’ve had an extra special association with the STACKED in Cerritos. Thus, you can imagine how enthusiastic I was about getting an invite to a media dinner they were hosting, with new menu items.

Tanayas Table Stacked Burger

The new Short Rib Sandwich, with an egg on it.

I tried the short rib sandwich with horseradish aioli off their new sandwich section of the menu, and even added an egg to it… because you can do that at a place like this.

The food is so customizable that co-owner Paul Motenko told me they even have 139 gluten-free options, across all categories of their menu! There really is something for everyone here.

It’s quite the thrill to build your own mac ‘n cheese burger, top your pizza with pastrami, or even put potato chips on your pasta… or include all the superfoods you want in your nutritious and delicious salad.

Heck, you can even customize your own milkshake or ice cream sandwich on that iPad! Then, it comes to life when they bring it out of the kitchen on onto your table… and it’s every bit as good as you imagined it would be when you were creating it!

Check out all the items I tried here, including candied bacon and a Cadbury Egg seasonal milkshake:

Check out new menu items in this one-minute video inside our media dinner!

Check out the new menu items in this one-minute video inside our media dinner!

To visit STACKED: Food Well Built, you can find all the info on their website. Stay tuned for a lot more foodie finds to come. Cheers!

Inside The All-Star Chef Classic: American Masters Dinner

Tanayas Table All Star Chef Classic - Wine Glass Logo

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:

Tanayas Table All Star Chef Classic - 1 Santa Barbara Spot Prawns Michael Cimarusti

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.

Tanayas Table All Star Chef Classic - 2 Daniel Patterson Coi San Francisco Vegetables

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!

Tanayas Table All Star Chef Classic - 3 Nancy Silverton Roasted Cumin Carrots

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.

Tanayas Table All Star Chef Classic - 4 Lamb Loin Black Garlic Wylie Dufresne

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.

Tanayas Table All Star Chef Classic - 5 Miso Butterscotch Apple Pie Christina Tosi Momofuku

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.

Tanayas Table All Star Chef Classic - Momofuku Milk Bar Crack Pie

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.

Tanayas Table All Star Chef Classic - Red Carpet 2

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!

Find out about upcoming All-Star Chef Classic events this weekend by visiting the official site. You can join Tastemade and follow me here. 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!

VIDEO: The Taste of Mexico Media Preview Night

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

As summer winds down, one might think that food festivals are also on the decline. Well, that’s not the case here in Los Angeles, and a prime example of that is The Taste of Mexico, taking place on September 27 at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in downtown. Last night, I had the opportunity to attend their media preview night to get the early scoop to share with you!

The festival, celebrating Mexican food, heritage and culture, was founded in 2010 and has grown exponentially over the past four years. For the first time, the food fair is expanding to include a daytime family brunch event in addition to its annual evening of food, drinks and dancing.

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Thanks for the torta education, Torta Company!

The Torta Co., part of the Lotería Grill family, served up a variety of tasty tortas, including ones with poblano peppers, Oaxacan cheese, breaded chicken cutlets, sirloin tips, a tuna melt and even a take on the PB & J!

Mezcal and tequila made for a festive evening, but my favorite were the Micheladas were served from Guelaguetza’s famous Miche Mobil. They were made with Montejo beer, a Mexican pale lager that debuted in the U.S. for the first time just a few weeks ago at Dodger Stadium. It was exciting to get a first taste, as it is slowly rolling out here in specific markets.

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

An array of colorful dessert samplings from Compañía de Café.

Another favorite of mine was from Yuca’s, which not only had a warm demeanor in serving us, but also had amazing food like the Nuevo Relleno, a Pasilla chile oozing with cheese and chunks of portobello mushroom. I soon after learned that Yuca’s is also a James Beard award-winning restaurant! Well-deserved, for sure.

Candela Taco Bar had a refreshing spinach & pineapple agua fresca, and Artesana Pops’ spinach & pineapple popsicles were another great take on the same fruit-and-veggie power couple.

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Mexikosher’s plate was diverse in texture and flavor.

Finally, “Chopped” champion and Season 12 “Top Chef: Boston” contender Katsuji Tanabe of Mexikosher served a big hunk of miso-marinated pastrami with figs, peaches and a habanero sauce. Check him out presenting his dish in the recap video below!

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Get a preview of the variety of Mexican fare you’ll find at Taste of Mexico!

There were many more tasty bites throughout the night, so check out the rest with the family or some friends on 9/27!

 

The 4th Annual Taste of Mexico essentials:

September 27, 2014 at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes

Farmers Market Family Picnic: 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Dinner, Drinks and Dancing: 7 p.m. – 11 p.m.

 ¡Salud!