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Monday, April 27, 2009

Zapped

Author : Carol Higgins Clark

It's a Jack and Regan Reilly mystery series. It's my first time reading this mystery series so I have no expectation. I only knew it's a new book by Carol Higgins Clark and I always look for new books to read.

Story was based on the night when New York City had a blackout. Lorraine Lily, a promising actress who just came back from London and found out that her husband was divorcing her and had sold their loft to their neighbor. Lorraine had a secret safe in the loft where she kept very valuable letters that can destroy her career if fell into wrong hands. Georgina Mathieson a disturbed girl that was trying to find a prey to revenge on. Her boyfriend dumped her for her room mate and ever since she had gone around to find guys that looked like Huck, her boyfriend. Georgina would then drug them and brand them on their arms.

Jack and Regan Reilly were the new owners of the loft. Wally was one of the contractors that was working on the loft already found out about the secret safe and had hired his friend, Arthur to break into it. Lorraine, Georgina, Wally, Arthur and others found their way into each other during the blackout. Will Regan able to stop Georgina before she hurt another victim ?

I found out the novel was easy to read. The mystery was light and not as heavy as like Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch. I would look for this series again if I see another one in the future.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Phil's Fish Market & Eatery - Moss Landing

A client at my office recommended this restaurant to us. Before we went I yelped it just to see what others think about it. It actually got tons of reviews. Average 4 stars. Pretty good. Based on the reviews I decided to try their cioppino. The owner of Phil's, Phil DiGirolamo actually had a battle with Bobby Flay on one of the Food Network program - Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Guess what the theme was ? Yup cioppino. So I guess it must mean something.

The place wasn't hard to find. We were quite familiar with the Moss Landing area, having been going to the beach there quite a few times already. We never thought that a few miles down from the beach was where a few restaurants were located. Phil's location is not really very strategic compare to like The Whole Enchilada that was by Hwy 1.

From yelp, I knew that we have to order at the counter and then our order will be delivered to the table. It wasn't hard to figure out where to order because there was a long line for that. While queing up I saw there were a bunch of pics of one particular dog, or I assume one dog though I saw on one pic there were at least 5 of similar looking black Scottish Terrier. Anyhow, the line moved pretty fast. We paid for our order and hubby found a table while I went to get our water. Yup..you have to get your own water/soda. The server will only bring your order to your table. If you want more bread, there's a counter where you grab your own bread. So in a way it feels like a fast food place.

The food. The cioppino was abundant. We ordered it on bowl instead of bread bowl. There were lots of seafood in it. Fish, bay scallop (for some reason, watching the show I was believing that we were going to get sea scallop), crab legs, decent size prawn, a few huge mussel, a few clams. They were all good. I did find the crab a bit salty instead of its natural flavor. I wonder whether they were presalted. It's a bit too salty for my taste. First few spoonfulls, hubby found it a bit bland so he insisted on spicing it up. After a few spoons of tabasco added to it, he finally declared it good. I agreed. I think a bit more chilli flakes could make it better.

The squid & chips was nothing special. I was expecting it to be fresher, but it didn't give a good impression. Squid was rubbery and tasteless. Dipping sauce was ranch and cocktail sauce which according to hubby was not as good as just plain old ketchup. For the price, I expected better of the dish, but it didn't happen. I think in the end the cioppino had the best value. I happened to look at our neighbor who ordered his fish & chips, and it didn't look appetizing either. If we go back, I would try another dish and probably stay away from the deep fried. I have a feeling they reserve the not so fresh seafood for deep frying because it will cover the smell.
Phil's Fish Market & Eatery
7600 Sandholdt Rd
Moss Landing, CA 95039
(831) 633-2152

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Savoy Kitchen - Alhambra

Found this restaurant last minute before leaving San Jose on our trip. Was surprised to know that there's a Singaporean restaurant in Alhambra. At least that's what it was categorized under on yelp.com. Almost all reviews were positive and almost all of them were raving about the restaurant's specialty which was hainamese chicken rice.

It wasn't hard to convince hubby to check out the restaurant because he is a hainamese chicken rice biggest fans. It's rather hard to get our guests because one of them is a noodle afficionado. I wasn't sure whether they serve other stuff. But our guests gave in and so we went.

We couldn't find the restaurant on our first round. On the second round, I asked to be dropped a few doors down so I could look at the number one by one. Savoy Kitchen is a small restaurant. Inside holds about 4 tables that total seat about 12 people. They have a few more bar style seatings and around 5-6 tables by the road side. Even though it was quite chilly but a lot of people actually preferred to sit outside. So we had no problem getting in because they had enough seats left at the bar.

Looking around I saw a lot of people ordered chicken rice so without thinking I chose chicken rice. Beside chicken rice they serve a few other pasta dishes. My guest ordered pasta with marinara and roast chicken.

Chicken rice had a good portion of chicken and rice. It also came with the ginger garlic chili sauce. But unlike in Singapore, it didn't come with the soup. Soup can be ordered separately at a price of $1.99. None of us ordered soup so I can't really comment on that. The rice itself was a bit salty and greasy for me. The chicken was boneless but unfortunately a bit fat so I had to try to remove the fat that was hidden between the meat. The chili sauce was pretty good but it looked like it had been thickened with corn starch. Interesting.

Well, I know it was not easy to find good hainamese chicken rice here in the US. So far it had been quite a challenge. It's almost like a quest. We went to quite a few Malaysian restaurant and always tried to order hainamese chicken rice. None of them quite up to par. It's tough especially when we always compare it to the one in Singapore.
The roast chicken with pasta was okay. Nothing special with the chicken nor the pasta with marinara sauce.
Savoy Kitchen
138 E. Valley Blvd.Alhambra, CA 91801
(626) 308-9535
Closed Sundays. Cash Only.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mickey on stick


Took this picture on a recent trip to Disneyland, Anaheim. When it's close up, you can't really tell what they were. Those were apple covered chocolate dressed up as Mickey Mouse. So adorable !

The Piano Teacher

Author : Janice Y K Lee

Claire Pendleton arrived with her husband in Hongkong in 1953. Through an acquaintance, she got a job as piano teacher for Locket Chen, daughter of Melody and Victor Chen. One day at a party, Claire met Will Truesdale. After that Will seemed to be everywhere. Before long, they were involved in an intimate relationship. Will was one of war survivor from the 40s during the occupancy of Japan in Hongkong.

I found the story line interesting but not deep enough. I don't understand the need to portray Claire's desire to 'pick up' small items at the Chen's residence. I feel sorry for Claire because she was married to Martin without love. Will on the other hand is still living in the past, couldn't let go of Trudy. And Claire is just a lonely woman entangled in this post-war situation.

In the beginning, the novel looked like those romantic love story novels. But I found the love story wasn't very intense. The author tried to put in some espionage to stir up the story but it didn't quite help. In the end the novel was just like half cooked. Interesting idea but not so much on implementation.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Rad Na - fried wide rice noodle with gravy

Recipe courtesy of http://www.thaitable.com/. I made adjustment based on my few attempts.

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:
1 tbs yellow bean sauce
2 cups water
6 tbs vegetable oil
3 tbs tapioca flour
1 tbs sugar
2 tbs mushroom soy sauce (or kikkoman)
2 cloves garlic
1 lb fresh flat rice noodles.
2 tbs dark soy sauce
2-3 stalks chinese broccoli/gai lan
1/4 lbs pork, thinly slice (optional). I used 8 medium size prawn instead.
Coat the pork using 1 tbs tapioca flour. Set aside. Mince garlic. Mixed 2 tbs tapioca flour with 1/2 cup water. This will be the based for the noodle's gravy. Cut chinese broccoli into 2 inch pieces. If broccoli has big stalk, make sure slice them crosswise to make it easier to cook later on.

Break the rice noodle into strands so they'll brown evenly when fried.

Using a non-stick pan, heat up 4 tbs of oil. Fry the noodle when oil is hot. Put in 2 tbs dark soy sauce. Stir well. Don't worry about noodle clumping up or breaking into pieces. After 5 minutes when noodle is heated through. Take noodle out and set aside.

In a pot/pan that is big enough to hold all the ingredients, heat up 2 tbs of oil. Fry garlic and pork/prawn for 1 minute. Put in chinese broccoli and stir well for 2 minutes. Pour in 2 cups of water. Seasoned with yellow bean sauce and mushroom soy sauce to taste. When the sauce starts to boil. Put in tapioca starch that has already been mixed with water a little bit at a time. Check consistency. If you like it thick, you can put more starch. Stir well until gravy becomes clear. Turn off the heat. Put in the sugar and stir.

Plate noodle and top it off with gravy. Sprinkle some white pepper powder to taste.

Enjoy !



Marathon Training

With the rate I'm going right now on my training I don't know whether I would be able to do San Francisco marathon this year in July. :( I only have 3 more months to go. And I barely able to do half marathon yet.

This weekend I managed to push myself to run for two days in a row. I haven't done that for a long time. In fact I don't remember ever done it in the past. ha..ha..So that's something. The question is whether I'll be able to continue doing it consistently.

I realized running alone is tough on spirit. When you get tired you just want to stop and walk instead. Or worst you call it a day and go home. A lot of time, your body can actually push further but your head telling you otherwise. When running with my husband, I felt like I need to show him that I can do it. And he always tells me to keep on going.

Today after running I felt so hungry and was craving for hot dogs..ha..ha.. I wanted hot dogs from Costco. We went home and got in the car. I was dreaming about the juicy hot dog and cold soda. Darn it by the time we got there, the parking lot was so empty. I then realized that they're close today for Easter. :( So we went home and made rad na instead.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Korean drama is better than Japanese (contains spoiler)

The last few days I've been going nuts on Boys Over Flowers (Kgotboda Namja). Having had to stop halfway to wait for the series to complete, I finally got my cravings back and just couldn't stop.

While waiting, I had the chance to watch the Japanese version (Hana Yori Dango) which I think on story line, probably, was closer to the original comic Hana Yori Dango. I was planning on making comparison which I did a bit (http://sweetcumi.blogspot.com/search/label/japanese%20drama). Now that I came to the end of it, I can say that the Korean version was more dramatic. ha..ha..Well, they are king of dramas anyway. I didn't know any famous Japanese drama after Tokyo Love Story (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokyo_Love_Story) but that was soooo classic from the 90s. But look at Korean dramas, I can name few that made it internationally - Winter Sonata was certainly one of them; My Name is Kim Sam Soon; My Girl; etc.

All in all, the comic itself had provided good story line. Korean version had better casting for F4, in my opinion. All those handsome and pretty faces made you want to come back for more. While Japanese version didn't really get to me until their second season when some of the F4 members had makeover on their overall outfit and hair style (Mimasaka Akira looked lot cuter with his longer unruly hair).

-- Warning, spoilers ahead --

The Korean version portraying Jun Pyo and Jae Kyung all the way to the wedding day. I liked the chapel scene when they whole thing was cancelled. It was lot better than Japanese version of Shigeru, Domyouji and their parents meeting up in a room. Well, it was a business meeting but it just didn't show much urgency. Like the whole thing was arranged, but there's no urgency for them to get married. But I like the casting for Shigeru better than Jae Kyung. The casting for Shigeru was prettier. Jae Kyung to me seemed a bit ordinary.

On the Korean version, I loved the scene about Jan Di and Jun Pyo's picnic day before Jan Di left him to go to fisherman's village. It's romantic yet ended so sad. It's like eating bitter sweet chocolate. While the Japanese version was breaking up wet soaking under heavy rain. It's just sad.

I also liked the ending part of Yi Jung and Ga Eul seemed to go somewhere promising of a relationship. Their Japanese characters on Hana Yori Dango didn't end with anything but friendship. But it wasn't sad though, it was portrayed playfully like anime. ha..ha.. No sad little girl being broken-hearted.




But too much drama sometimes just didn't do well. I don't understand the part that Jan Di couldn't swim just because she was hit by a chair trying to protect Jun Pyo. Huh ??? That was one serious hit. I also didn't understand why Jun Pyo's mom's assistant asked Jan Di to come to visit JP's dad that was in coma. I thought maybe his dad would wake up and feeling grateful to Jan Di. But it never happened. The whole part about Jan Di visiting JP's dad could probably be deleted and still wouldn't affect much of the story line. Hmm.. ???

all pictures courtesy of www.kbs.co.kr

Monday, April 6, 2009

Namya Curry

Hubby got this namya curry paste quite a while ago. He cooked chicken with it once and it turned out pretty weird. ha..ha.. Recently my bro-in-law and his wife came to visit us. His wife, Riri, is a good Thai cook. Well, she grew up in a cook family, her family ran a restaurant in Chiang Rai, northern part of Thailand. She straightened us up by showing us how that namya paste should be used.

Ingredients:
3-4 tablespoon namya curry paste
1 stalk lemon grass - cut crosswise in 1/2 inch length
1 white fish fillet - tilapia or catfish - cut into 1 inch chunk
1/2 can 13.5 fl oz coconut milk - about 200 ml
1/2 bag bean sprout - about 200 gr
1/4 lb green bean - clean, cut into 1 inch length
3-4 eggs - boiled, peeled and cut lengthwise in half.
handful of basil - wash and dry
1 pouch of chinese pickled cabbage (hamchoy) - sliced thinly
10 fish ball - cut in half (optional)
1 bag of rice noodle stick

Preparation:
Put 1 cup of water in a pot and boiled the cut lemon grass for about 10 minutes. Then put the fish chunks in and boiled for about 10 minutes or until fish are cooked through. Using a spatula, scoop the fish chunks out and put in the pestle. Using a mortar, mash the fish into paste. Or use the food processor to mash the fish into paste. Set aside the fish boiled water for mixing later on.

Get another pot and pour in coconut milk, namya curry paste and fish paste. Stir well and bring to a boil. If it's too thick, use the reserve boiled water set aside earlier to make it thinner. Sauce should not be too thin or too thick. Season with fish sauce to taste.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, throw in bean sprout and take it out quickly. Set aside. Do the same with green bean.

Cooked the noodle based on instruction on packaging. Put noodle in a bowl, top with sliced hard boiled egg, pickled cabbage, bean sprout, green bean and basil. Scoop curry sauce on top of noodle mixture and then mix them well like salad.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Banh Mi Che Cali - Alhambra

As we drove along Valley Blvd in Alhambra checking out the restaurants, we saw Banh Mi Che Cali that seemed to be busy and always has people walking in and out. Knowing that we'll be in the area the next few days, we told ourselves that we would have to check that place out.

The first time we went there, we got curry noodle, pho tai nam (noodle with rare steak), bun thit nuong (noodle with bbq pork and shrimp) and spring roll. I wasn't hungry that night so I shared the noodle with hubby and mostly just drink the soup of the bowl. Soup was tasty and wasn't loaded with tons of msg. Curry noodle came with lots of chicken but mild in flavor compared to like South East Asia curry. Bbq pork and shrimp noodle was huge in portion and flavorful.

We were pleasantly surprised when the bill came, the price for our meals was a lot cheaper than SF Bay Area. With that amount paid for dinner, we'd have money left for dessert.

Speaking of dessert, they have huge selection of dessert and also ready-made package food like spring roll, sticky rice, etc on the side. We didn't have room for dessert that night but we came back the night after to try it. And we went too late and they already ran out of a few things. Oh well. We'll be back.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

End of rainbow




Seldom did I get to see full rainbow. This was one of those rare chances. Location : Hwy 15 north to Las Vegas, NV.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bhan Kanom Thai - Hollywood, Los Angeles

If you happen to be in Thai Town, Hollywood, and still have room in your stomach after visiting any Thai restaurant there, make sure you stop by this place. It's located at Thailand Plaza in Hollywood. The name is Bhan Kanom Thai (http://www.bhankanomthai.com/). They specialize in Thai dessert. Dessert ?? Did anyone say dessert ??

They sell various imported Thai snack and also freshly made dessert like the crispy crepes (khanom buang). Honestly when we went there, I was so full that I didn't understand why my bro-in-law even wanted to check the place out. But then I saw them making the crepes there and I decided I HAD TO give them a try. Where else can I find them later if I missed that chance ?

The crepes itself was probably like ordinary crepes - crispy. The middle part I think was coconut milk and different toppings - orange and yellow. One was sweet and the other savory. I tasted smell like jasmine flower, but I couldn't quite sure what it was. It was good. Make sure you eat them hot or else they'll turn soggy later on.

Bhan Kanom Thai
5271 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027 (323) 871-8030

Cheapest way to clean your laminate floor....

and also very effective. All you need is a roll of paper towel, water, vinegar, sprayer and some muscle..just kidding. :)

I had this laminate flooring for almost five years now. The first few years I never really worry too much about cleaning it. It's dusty most of the times, I use a few layers of toilet paper that I attached to my dust mop. The toilet paper picks up all the dust and hair also occasional crumbs and sand. Then I just throw away my toilet paper and use my handheld vacuum to clean up the rest of crumbs and sand. But I noticed lately that the floor started to pick up foot prints. We don't have pets, so it's more like grease or dirt from human foot prints. I didn't really want to spend money on some floor cleaner not knowing whether it's going to work out. Not to mention whether it's going to ruin the shine of the laminate. Looking it up online, I found suggestions to use combination of half water and half vinegar.

So getting off earlier from work today, I got to work. Got on my knees and spray the water vinegar mix. Pick up my kitchen towel and just wipe the moist away. Laminate floor should not be left wet or moist. So make sure all the moist is wiped away. I was satisfied with the result. Best of all, there's no chemical smell. Yes, there's smell of vinegar, I open our back door and windows and the smell went away as soon as I was done.