Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Thai Town Noodle - Hollywood, Los Angeles

Our first visit here was years ago. We were touring Hollywood area and stumbled into this hole in the wall establishment. It was a mom and pop business and they barely understood English. We managed to order rad na which was fried wide rice noodle with gravy. And the taste left a deep impression on hubby. He spoke highly of them and insisted that we must try to find them again on this visit.

I was happy to find out that they are still around. It's a good sign because restaurants come and go and those that lasted are usually good ones. This time we brought companies, my bro-in-law and his wife who speaks Thai so we were more eager to try new stuffs.

The place was still the same, just a few tables and counter seats. They also have another two tables for outdoor dining. The menu was in both Thai and English with pictures to help you choose. It wasn't too hard for us, we ordered Thai boat noodle, spicy pork noodle soup, rad na (fried wide rice noodle with gravy) and pad thai. Within minutes we got our orders and all were delicious. My bro-in-law's wife, Riri, claimed that they all tasted as authentic as the one in Thailand. We didn't just stop right there. Second round came, and we got pad see ew (fried rice noodle) and sweet and sour noodle soup (kwe tiau tom yam). It was a fantastic afternoon. I hope they will still be around the next time I visit LA.
Thai Town Noodle
5136 Hollywood Blvd,Los Angeles, CA 90027 (323) 667-0934

Monday, March 30, 2009

Northern Style Tom Yum soup

My out-of-town guests this time, my bro-in-law and his wife had been very generous to us. Beside giving us the excuse to take them touring So-Cal and Vegas, they also brought a new culinary experience for us. See, Riri, my bro-in-law's wife is a cook. Her family had owned and run restaurant in northern Thailand of Chiang Rai for over twenty years. We visited the restaurant years ago and still couldn't forget all those out-of-this-world dishes that were served there. Me and hubby loved Thai food but all this time could only do Tom Yum soup and green curry. My green curry was pretty authentic because Riri showed me on one occasion when I visited them in Canada. But other than that I always wish that I could do a few more Thai dishes.

Now my dreams had come true. This past weeks, Riri with the help of her husband had provided us some very authentic Thai dishes. I took notes and pictures and hoped that I could come up with the same dishes in the future. This is some of my notes.

Northern Style Tom Yum Soup
2 stalk lemon grass, bruised and cut about 2 inch long
6-8 lime leaves, torn
fresh galangal, about 2 inches, sliced
4-5 shallots, bruised
a bunch of basil leaves
5-6 red chili (thai chili)
2-3 deep fried dried red chili
Vietnamese vegetables (I couldn't remember the spelling now)
Fish sauce to taste
Lime to taste

Contents: white fish fillet and enoki (or other mushroom)

More Buffet - Luxor Hotel Las Vegas

We didn't plan on having buffet here on this trip to Vegas. I was thinking of between Bellagio or Wynn Hotel due to higher reviews on those two buffet. BUT the voucher provided by Luxor lured us into their buffet restaurant. I sent my bro-in-law and his wife to scout the selections. They were our guests after all, I didn't want to decide on such big issue..ha..ha.. They came back saying that's fine, we should give it a try.'s really hard to not make use of that $25 voucher especially in this kind of economy.

Price person for lunch was $14.99. But lunch was only served until 3 PM. We went there after we checked in and was a bit late for lunch so we paid dinner rate which was $19.99. After the vouchers were applied, we only needed to pay extra $36.06 for four. Selection varies from steak, turkey, shrimp cocktail, a few options of sushi roll, Chinese food, Mexican food, Italian food, dipping sauce for pita (hummus and the friends), and salad bar. Nothing really stood out , but the desserts were the highlight of our buffet. Very nicely made and were actually pretty rich too. I wasn't a dessert person but I gave them a try anyhow because they looked so delicious. :)

More Buffet
Luxor Hotel
3900 Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Woke up this morning feeling so much rested than the rest one week. We came back last night from our road trip Los Angeles and Las Vegas. I don't usually have much trouble sleeping in a hotel but this time it's just different. I woke up feeling sleepy and totally tired. Probably spending too much time on the road and different bed just didn't help.

The first few days of our trips we got rooms at Best Western Monterey Park. It turned out to be a lot better than expected. We never been to this part of LA before. On our previous visit, Pasadena has been the spot we chose to rest. This time I chose Monterey Park because it's more economical. ha..ha..considering we have to get extra room for our guests.

In the end I actually liked this location the best. The room may be the smallest among the three locations we stayed but it had best upgrades. The blanket was not the usual hairy hotel blanket, it was actually a comforter like the one we use at home. The bathroom was small that it was hard to go in and close the door ..ha..ha.. but it was clean. Rooms had 32inch flat screen TV with HBO and some asian channels like Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese. And of course, complimentary breakfast is always appreciated. Since this location seemed to be frequented by Taiwanese visitors, they even provided tea eggs for breakfast beside the regular hard boiled eggs. Awesome.
Later we spent a night at Best Western Anaheim Hills. This BW location seemed to be pretty new. Rooms are bigger with more standard size bathroom. Microwave and a small extra kitchen sink was also provided inside rooms. This proved to be handy since that night we actually did take out and ate in our rooms. Swimming pool was a lot bigger, almost half the size of an olympic size swimming pool. It could be useful to do laps if only the weather was warmer because pool wasn't heated. Cable didn't exist here.

Last portion of our trip was Las Vegas. We got deals at Luxor and I was expecting the hotel to be the highlight of this trip. The three and half stars seemed to promise something better than just Best Western. But we made mistake by accepting rooms on fifth floor so there wasn't much of view from our windows. Tried to ask to exchange rooms but front desk said to try again the next day which we didn't. When we checked in the line was as long as the check in line at the airport.

Because of the shape of the hotel (pyramid), elevators were only available on each corner of the pyramid. And only certain elevators stopped on certain levels. It took us about fifteen minutes to find our rooms on the first day there. Later we found a glass tube elevator that nobody seemed to use but it was a lot more convenient to get up and down with it. So for the rest of our stay we used that elevator and we never met any other occupants of the hotel that use it. We even called it our private elevator.

Rooms we got were so basic, not even a coffee maker was provided. But of course, there were three locations of Starbucks in the hotel. TV had the most channels compared to Best Western we stayed. All in all, this hotel was my least favorite during this trip.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Make your own soymilk at home

I remember helping my mom to make soymilk when I was a kid. It didn't seem like a difficult process. So after putting all the ingredients together I decided to do it on my own.

Ingredients :
2 cups soy bean
cheese cloth
sugar to taste
Vanilla (optional)
Pandan leaves (optional)

The night before, rinse the soy beans twice in a pot. Pour the rinsing water out. Put water to soak the soy beans. Make sure all the beans are covered under water. Let the beans soak over night so beans will be soft the next morning.

soaked soy beans

Put the cheese cloth to cover a sauce pan. We're going to use it to strain the soy bean pulp later on. My cheese cloth is in shape of a bag. I've seen cheese cloth that is only a piece of flat cloth, then you want to put in on a strainer so when the pulp is poured onto, it will not collapse into the sauce pan.

Get the blender ready. Scoop the beans from the pot along with the water, roughly measure about 1 cup and pour them in the blender. Pour about 2 cups of water for each cup of beans. Turn on the blender and blend until beans turn into pulp. Pour the soy bean pulp onto the cheese cloth. Pick up the cheese cloth and squeeze as much milk out as possible into the sauce pan.
Continue with the rest of the beans. When finish squeezing the pulp. Put the sauce pan with the soy milk on the stove and bring to a boil under medium heat. Put in sugar to taste.
If using pandan leaves, shred a few pandan leaves and tied them into a knot and boil together with the soy milk.

Soy milk can be served either hot/warm or cold. I like both depends on the weather. The smell of the freshly made soy milk brought me back to child hood memories.

Cool off the milk and put them in glass bottle, it will last up to a week. I don't know whether it will go further than a week. I didn't have the chance to find out because mine was finished within days.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thousand flavor soup

I like making soup. It just takes a little chopping and it easily feels you up. And on cold days like right now, it will bring warmth to your body. On days that I have time to make my own chicken broth then I'd start from scratch. Otherwise I have short cut that can still generate a good pot of soup without sacrificing flavor.

half large size onion, diced.
2 carrot stick, diced.
2 celery stick, diced.
4 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
1 can of your favorite soup. I like tomato based soup
1/2 cup pasta sauce (optional, only if it's available)


Put diced onion, carrot and celery in a pot along with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

Open your favorite can of soup and pour the content in the pot. Stir well. If using pasta sauce, put in pasta sauce in the pot and stir well. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Thien Long Restaurant - San Jose

This section of mall was relatively new. It was adjacent to Target and across from the mall with OSH in it. The first time we passed by we were on our way to a pho restaurant in the same mall as OSH. That new section seemed to promise of something new to try so we told ourselves that we'll be back to check it out.
One Saturday we were back there and saw this Thien Long Vietnamese Restaurant and decided to give it a try. I ordered a seafood pho and wawa, my room mate, ordered sweet and sour seafood and we shared a plate of spring roll.

Their seafood pho was standard with fish cake, prawn and crab leg. Wawa loved his sweet and sour seafood. The broth was a bit orange color and I suspected they used tom yum paste for it though it wasn't very spicy. There was some sort of spongy pieces shape in there that I couldn't tell what on earth was it. I believed it was some sort of vegetable.

The spring roll was the highlight of our visit. The regular Vietnamese spring roll (goi cuon) was usually made of slices of prawn, lettuce, rice noodle, bean sprout, thin slice of pork wrapped in a layer of rice paper. The Thien Long version was slightly different, instead of thin slice of pork, they used strips of barbecue pork, very tasty with hint of smoky flavor. Yum. Will definitely go back for those.

Thien Long Vietnamese Restaurant
3005 Silver Creek Rd
San Jose, CA 95121
(408) 223-6188

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sony ericsson z750a, you're mine now

After so many sleepless nights, I finally decided on getting the sony ericsson z750a. I had been a Nokia user for as long as I could remember and I love Nokia. Talking about being fanatic. I haven't gotten any other phone from cingular yet since I signed up with them almost ten years ago. I bought my own Nokia through eBay two years ago but something changed within cingular that made my Nokia 6288 didn't perform as optimal as it could be when I first used. Some other user suggested me through the cingular forum to call them (cingular) to find out whether they changed their frequency but I thought it wouldn't help me that much. So I gave up my Nokia.

The Nokia that is offered by cingular right now was just disappointing so I had to settle with sony ericsson. I was actually excited about my new phone and couldn't wait patient enough for it to arrive. I almost drove wawa, my room mate, nuts about it by calling him every ten minutes asking whether my package had arrived.

Having had bought an unlocked cell phone before which came with handsfree, USB cable and even memory card made me expected as much of this sony ericsson. So I was totally disappointed when I found out that the box contained nothing but the phone, charger and manual book. So that was my first disappointment. And I was expecting to see some application that I had been accustomed to my previous Nokia. So there was another disappointment. Needless to say I was ready to pack it up and send it back. But wawa stopped me from it. I looked through the cingular website again and couldn't find anything that is better and cheaper than the one I have chosen. So i gave up. Sony ericsson z750a, you're mine now.

The reflective shiny mirror like surface made it hard to put my own cell phone picture in this blog. So I have to 'borrow' it from website.