Showing posts with label crab. Show all posts
Showing posts with label crab. Show all posts

Eat Drink Style Ondal 2, Mid-City Los Angeles - The Four Acts of Ondal's Spicy Crab Soup

Ondal 2, Los Angeles

When it comes to avoiding wastefulness, you've got to hand it to the Koreans, over any of the ethnicities in Asia.  Each asian country has its way of using up every part of an animal or vegetable but I've noticed that the Koreans definitely shine in the double-meal category.  There's shul lung tang, a dish that is made from boiling discarded leg bones and oxtails overnight to produce a thick, white soup accompanied by various boiled meat and green onions. The meat from the bones usually graduates to a spicy beef soup or even for bbq. If you've eaten spicy korean tofu stew, soon doo boo, you'll sometimes have rice served in a stone pot, known as dol sot. After the rice is scooped out of the stone pot, water or barley tea is then added to create a makeshift 'soup'. The taste from the burnt brown rice adds a subtle char to the soup which is then in need of salt and pepper for taste.  I enjoy the burnt pieces of rice but have yet to finish a full bowl of tea soup.  I've also seen many people in restaurants, particularly males, finish up a particular stew or soup and then dump in another bowl of rice to sop up the soup. My Korean friends from high school would always do the same thing with their instant kimchi bowls... eat all the noodles, drink some soup, add rice and finish up everything – making it a double meal.

Last week, this observation on Korean 'double-mealing' has been taken to another level after my coworkers and I tried a place known for their spicy korean crab soup, kkot gae tang.   I had seen Ondal 2 many times, partly because it sticks out like a sore thumb in a pre-dominantly African American and Latino part of Mid-City Los Angeles.  And the sight of a silly looking Sanrio-style crab on the sign only makes the place more approachable.   

We walked in and were greeted by two servers.  TVs blared the latest world news in Korean.  All in an empty restaurant at 12:30.  We were handed menus and right away, my eyes went straight to the prices.  $55 for a medium sized crab soup.  I was well aware of it through some reviews on Yelp but with only three people, we had better be starving to make this even worth it.

Ondal 2, Los Angeles

My coworker PR was wearing a light shirt and asking for trouble.  A spicy orange soup is a force to be reckoned with especially if you still have the rest of the workday to survive. He took his placemat and constructed his own bib/napkin.  As you can see, not much real estate and straight up looks stupid haha.

Ondal 2, Los Angeles

Luckily, our server saw us messing around and quickly brought over some official Ondal 2 aprons.  She then stared me in the eye, closing her eyes to focus better and asked if I was Chinese.  She spoke both Korean and Chinese, and only made this a better experience for us since we could communicate.    

Ondal 2, Los Angeles

After munching on some side dishes, we saw our server come out of the kitchen with a large steaming pot and all three of us were stoked.  It was simply beautiful.  Four decent-sized crabs comfortably enjoying a hot tub moment.  I had never seen crabs like these, especially with the red circular markings which probably denote the crab's sex.  The server told us that these crabs are straight from Korea.  Did they come dressed in black?  I wonder if they like K-clubbing, have a singing contract, excel in online multiplayer games and binge off soju all day long.  Not that I'm profiling or anything, just saying.  

Ondal 2, Los Angeles

Ondal 2, Los Angeles

Ondal 2, Los Angeles

What you're about to see is not a double or triple meal, but a quadruple meal.  For us consumers, Ondal 2 is somewhat economical.  For a Korean crab, it is a nightmare that they have to relive over and over and over and over again. Imagine knowing that fate has brought you to this very restaurant on Washington Blvd.   The meal we had here really plays out like a Saw-like horror movie broken into four cruel, yet delicious acts.  And just a note, a coworker of mine has emphasized the fact that is dish is not particularly native to Korean cuisine, but more so a culinary creation that has caught people's attention.

Ondal 2, Los Angeles

Act 1 - The Shell
Once the pot of crabs is set down on the table, it is brought to a boil.  Our lovely mortician then takes each crab shell and begins to compile a dish that reminds me of a Brazilian favorite known as casquinha de siri.  A crab shell is hollowed out and filled with a mixture of goodies, and then baked or deep fried.  Great stuff.  This was a little different and dare I say, much better.  Here at Ondal 2, they only use female crabs so that Act 1 can exist.  The server takes the crab shell and begins to add crab roe, rice and bean sprouts into the shell.  And tops it off with a nice shot of crab-flavored soup from the hot pot.  

Ondal 2, Los Angeles

I'm not sure that I would feel right eating meat from an animal's skull, but this seems perfectly moral and legal to me.  The soup is really, really tasty and just full of crab flavor.  The roe was good as usual and went well with the crunch of the bean sprouts and flavored rice.  This rocked.

Ondal 2, Los Angeles

Act II - The Claws & Legs
The server then proceeds to make use of the handy Korean scissors.  I've grown to love the usage of scissors, especially with cutting meat.  It's the Korean version of arts & crafts time.  The soup is so spicy that any bacteria on those scissors stands no chance of proliferating.  She hacks up all the claws and legs, making the four crabs into forty various pieces.  At this point, it looks like sheer disaster.   

Ondal 2, Los Angeles

This particular type of crab really is something new to me.  The meat was almost more textured, and I could feel the many muscle fibers.  It was not overly sweet and very easy to pull out of the shell.  I pulled out all the claw and leg meat and ate them with soup.  Again, very tasty. 

Ondal 2, Los Angeles

Act III - The Broth & "Noodles"
At this point, we are getting pretty full.  We had already eaten a concoction served in a crab shell and numerous pieces of claw and leg meat.  Not to mention that the soup was also pretty damn spicy.  I was starting to break into sweat and the server seeing this, just gave us our own pitcher of water.  Good thinking.  She let out a sinister laugh when I ask her if there'll be more.  Her pupils turned red like a demon's and I knew right then not to really question her anymore.  Nevermind I asked!  She takes out all the bean sprouts and crab parts and dumps them in another bowl.  The hot pot is refilled with more stock and zuccini slices and onions are added and brought to a boil.  

Ondal 2, Los Angeles

Out of nowhere, she pulls out a piece of dough wrapped tightly in saran wrap.  She plays with the dough a little, giving a little tug here and there and begins to rip the dough into flat shapes of 'noodles'.  This is known as su jae bi, and somewhat similar in texture to Korean rice ovalettes.  These were pretty fun to eat.

Ondal 2, Los Angeles

Ondal 2, Los Angeles

Act IV - The Fried Rice
By now, we were way too full.  The thought of taking another bite of crab was tough but again, I saw our server back with her shenanigans.  This time with a small plate of white rice, seaweed and sesame oil.  My coworkers just shook their head in disbelief.   

Ondal 2, Los Angeles

The server added some sesame oil in the pot that once housed the soup, the noodles, the crab parts, crab roe and crab shell.  Then rice, seaweed and of course, crab stock, was added.  All this done at the table by the multi-tasking Korean server.  Why did I have a feeling that this would be killer? 
Ondal 2, Los Angeles

Do you now know what I mean by Korean 'multi-mealing'?  I think I took a few bites of this before tapping out with the ref.  We couldn't do it.  We ended up doggy-bagging the rice, soup and remaining crab parts  All of which could provide a full snack for two people.  This was good after adding more crab stock and some soy sauce.  

Ondal 2, Los Angeles

Whether or not the Korean tradition of 'multi-mealing' emerged from periods of poverty in Korea or simply because Koreans enjoy stuffing their faces, I find myself still thinking about this particular meal in which I, along with coworkers, really got to know these four crabs.  Inside out.  The $55 is jarring at first, but once you see how much food you get, it's quite a deal.  I highly recommend getting this medium and asking for your own paste to spice up your broth.  I'll be back here again.  I heard the steamed beef hot pot and monkfish hot pot is good as well but I don't know that I can veer away from crab.  Thanks for reading.

Hot Pot Recommendations
Medium = 3-4 people (I recommend 4 people at least)
Large = 5-6 people
X-Large = 6-8 

Ondal 2
4566 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA  90016
(323) 933-3228

Eat Drink Style Buu Dien, Chinatown - Keeping It (Bun) Rieu

Buu Dien, Chinatown Los Angeles - Bun Rieu

Chinatown, Los Angeles. A one square mile area that some call their weekly lunch spot or see as purely a wasteland of elderly people, junk shops and wandering tourists. For those that have ventured and tasted SGV, it is futile to search for better food in Chinatown. Understandably it’s a spot for people that don't want to make the drive out to the San Gabriel Valley, where the real food is. You won’t find lip-stinging Hunan food. You’ll never kiss a juicy pork dumpling. Nor will you slurp a solid bowl of beef noodle soup. It doesn’t exist in Chinatown because it’s not what the people want. You’ll most likely find all of your food drenched with sweet n’ sour sauce and receiving your bill with a fortune cookie on top. Sadly, a lot of people consider the food to be authentic “Chinese” food. If that was Chinese food, I’d rather go vegetarian. And what a lot of people don't know about Los Angeles’s Chinatown is that it's not really comprised of Chinese. In actuality, most of the Chinese food that you've eaten in Chinatown is Cantonese Chinese food, similar to Hong Kong-style Chinese food... but made for non-Chinese. Got it?

Of course the majority of the establishments are Chinese restaurants and various businesses, but it would be unfair if we did not recognize the efforts of the ethnic Chinese minorities that really do shape the character of Chinatown. But in the last decade, there has been an influx of Mainland Chinese, Chiu Chow Chinese, Cambodian Chinese and Vietnamese Chinese. A lot of them operating small noodle shops, jewelry stores and general eateries. You just read the word “Chinese” how many times in that last sentence, but there is a difference. And believe it or not, not all Asians look or eat the same. One thing in common with those ethnic minority groups are noodles. You probably won't find me in a joint like Empress Pavilion or one of those television-network Chinese restaurants like CBS/ABC. What the hell is that about anyway? I avoid those entirely. But you will find me in the noodle shops.

It's hard to find authenticity in Chinatown, I know because it seems like everything is offering the same food. But if you look really hard, you'll find some hidden gems. When it comes to noodles, the ethnic Chinese minorities reign the 1 square mile kingdom. Hong Kong wontons don’t exist here like you would think, not even in SGV. Places like New Kamara and Mien Nghia offer decent bowls of soup noodles for under $7, guaranteed to make your belly shiny. There are a few other Cambodian Chinese places that are so so, and you would surely find better stuff in Long Beach for sure.

For me, I think the Vietnamese options are on the light. Outside of Pho 87 on Broadway, I haven't found anything worth stopping for. All of the other pho restaurants I've been to are below the batting average. There is also Leena's truck, Nam Thai, on Spring/Alpine which offers a few Vietnamese staples such as banh mi, banh cuon and bun thit nuong, with the banh cuon being purchased from a factory daily. But her truck has been in operation since the lates 80s and runs independently from the Los Angeles food truck scene.

Amidst the salad bowl of ethnic cuisines, tourist traps and overpriced food, I’ve recently parted through the brush and bullshit and fell upon Buu Dien, an earnest, mom & pop, sandwich shop in a lonely stuccoed strip mall. Jonathan Gold recently heralded this place as one of the best banh mi shops in Los Angeles. And they are good. But he may or may not have overlooked something that I find to be quite delicious and what Buu Dien should be recognized for. I’ve been here a few times over the year to pick up sandwiches and one day I noticed a sheet of paper by the entrance: pho, chicken curry and bun rieu. For $4 each. Can’t be good, too cheap, right? You’ve had the first two, but may I suggest you meet bun rieu? A dish that consists of a crab and tomato broth with vermicelli noodles and various toppings. This originates from North Vietnam and can be topped with snails, tofu or even dill fishcakes, the way I had it when I was in Vietnam.

Buu Dien, Chinatown Los Angeles - Bun Rieu

So on a hazy morning, I walked in to Buu Dien. The lights were shut off and the room was illuminated solely by the blue overcast light from outside. There was an old TV blaring out headlines in Vietnamese and I could hear the quiet gurgling from the coffee maker nearby. A heated display case offered you its delicacies – cured pork balls, fried pork patties and banana-leaf wrapped goodies. Some signage on the wall colored in Vietnamese/French-like typography advertised the available drinks. A clock shaped into the country of Vietnam ticked away. There was another display case that stored various Vietnamese drinks, patés and Vietnamese meatloaf (cha lua). On top, there were packages of instant noodle bowls – I wondered who actually bought these. There were stools scattered around, like they had walked away from tables on their own. The tiles on the floor were slightly cracked and freshly mopped. All that was really missing were some red and blue plastic stools and napkins tossed all over the ground. This feels like Vietnam, and I already liked what was going on in here. This was your typical Vietnamese food establishment selling various culinary knick-knacks.

Buu Dien, Chinatown Los Angeles - Bun Rieu

Buu Dien, Chinatown Los Angeles - Bun Rieu

And then an older man with glasses popped up from behind the counter and said hello. “Hi, how can I help you?” How about cooking me something delicious, I thought to myself. I ordered bun rieu and he smiled with surprise. There was another gentleman slurping down a bowl of bun rieu like he was in his happy little world. I took a seat and waited for my bun rieu.

Buu Dien, Chinatown Los Angeles - Bun Rieu

Cha Chien/Hue
I sometimes think the Vietnamese can start their own fast-food like corporation by packing one of these patties in between some lettuce and bread, and sell it in some happy meal like form because this stuff is great. It's used in banh mi, in bun rieu and possibly as informal wedding dowry.

Buu Dien, Chinatown Los Angeles - Bun Rieu

Nem Nuong
These are Vietnamese style meatballs that are cured and then either grilled or deep fried. Used mainly in sandwiches or eaten like a meatsicle.

Buu Dien, Chinatown Los Angeles - Bun Rieu

Bun Rieu
My attention was averted when I heard the sound of approaching footsteps. Mr. Pham's slippers slid across that tiling, holding a tray full with everything I needed to get my meal on. There was the bowl of noodles gently breathing heat, a plate of lettuce, herbs and lemon and hot sauce. He placed everything on my tiny table and said "enjoy".

Buu Dien, Chinatown Los Angeles - Bun Rieu

But before he could leave, I asked him about the missing component... shrimp paste (mam ruoc). He again looked at me like I was new to this delicious dish. I told him I can't eat it without my shrimp sauce. Most people have a love/hate relationship with this pungent, if that's even the right word, sauce made of ground fermented shrimp. Although we had the Lao version of this growing up, shrimp paste never failed in triggering a response in the form of a plugged nose, "eeeewwww" and a quick sprint for the hills. But I love it and have grown to love it the more I use it. Like it's good for my health. I cracked open the jar and it was almost done with. There was nothing but a plastic spoon cut off at the end to fit within the jar. I say you skip this part if you aren't ready to dip your own chopsticks or use the spoon provided to dig up that purple paste of pungency. But if you do, the addition of this sauce with some hot chili, lemon and herbs form yet another yin-yang relationship within Vietnamese food.

Buu Dien, Chinatown Los Angeles - Bun Rieu

There are many versions of bun rieu out there, the crab paste and snail ones being the most popular that I've seen. Here at Buu Dien, Mr. Pham's wife, Hen, does her with a huge piece of crab paste. Her mudball-like sculpture of crab, shrimp and pork is nothing short of delicious. As the crab paste sits in the soup, it soaks up the broth like a sponge – with every bite, more tasty and juicy than the other. I love this.

Buu Dien, Chinatown Los Angeles - Bun Rieu

Don't eat this naked. You must eat it with bean sprouts, lettuce and herbs. Squeeze of lemon.

Buu Dien, Chinatown Los Angeles - Bun Rieu

I learned that Mrs. Pham indeed makes all of her meat delicacies. This cha chien was delicious. It's no wonder her banh mi sandwiches are tasty as well. You throw this into any Subway sandwich and you'll finally have some flavor in your food.

Buu Dien, Chinatown Los Angeles - Bun Rieu

If I had not stopped here for banh mi sandwiches, I would not have found this. Finally a break from my usual soup noodles at New Kamara. And for $4, this only makes the meal that more special. It wasn't the best I've eaten, but still very good. I love Vien Dong in Little Saigon, for its dill fish cake patties and snails in their bun rieu, but this to me feels more home-cooked and reminiscent of the many soup noodles I ate on a red stool in Vietnam. All that was missing was some balled-up napkins on the floor, the constant sounds of motorcycle motors and honking and the sweat-inducing humidity. Thanks for reading.

Eat Drink Style Happy Mother's Day Dinner - Mom, the Eternal Ass Kicker

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner

Ever since I started walking, my mom was there to make sure I didn't get into trouble. She passed on mannerisms that her mom had pass, as well as providing the natural love, care and attention a mother burdens herself with. But we as children don't usually respond the way they want. That's why there is something called 'ass kicking'. It comes in many forms. Sometimes it makes you cry, sometimes it makes you angry and sometimes, it outright HURTS. My mom's method of shaping me into a proper gentleman... a feather duster. Not just any kind, but one made in Hong Kong. It looks soft, fluffy and purely for cleaning right? WRONG. You switch the ends of it and you've got the Chinese Ass-Kicker. Two things for the price of one – now that's a deal in any Chinese person's eyes.

I remember one time when I was 5. My sister and I were out in the front having productive fun, like throwing rocks over at the neighbor's yard. You kids nowadays have cooler things to play with like all-too-real video games and internet. Back then, we only had rocks and Garbage Pail Kids - take your pick. An hour later, after my sister and I had grown tired of chucking rocks into the neighbor's pool. I hear the most ear-deafening scream of my name.

"DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY
LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN
NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!"

The second I heard that, I knew very well where my ass was destined. My sister and I quickly scoured the living room of our tiny house and took refuge in a nightstand behind the couch. I looked over at my sister, who looked liked a deer in headlights. The door opened and it slammed. I could hear her footsteps in the living room and could hear her running around the house. Every time the footsteps got louder, my sister and I ducked our heads into our knees, shaking. FUCK. We were so fucked. And all of a sudden, I see my mom's face at the end of the nightstand. NO GOOD. She told us to get out and we sat there like still wildlife. MAN, we were so fucked. I eventually walked out and I can still remember the look on her face. NOT HAPPY. I admitted to throwing the rocks at the neighbor's yard because I was bored and didn't have those all-too-real video games and internet. Next thing I know, she's equipped with Mr. Feather Duster. And I looked over at my little sister who was really feeling bad for me. She looked so sad. I slowly turned around and closed my eyes. THE END.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner

Before you call any social workers, you'd be glad to know that after this one incident, I didn't get into any trouble until I was off on my own. No more visits to Mr. Feather Duster. My sister and I got our ass whooped as little kids, but we now understand the importance of it as adults. She meant well, as did my dad, who instead of using the feather duster, preferred his right foot. And we thank them both for keeping us in line.

So here we are on Mother's Day 20-plus years later. I'm married now to a woman I love dearly and on the path to starting my own family. Mom will become a grandma one day and will be there to see our children. But one thing is still on her agenda... kicking my ass. Not the feather duster way... but with health, work, saving money, buying a house, blah blah blah. It never ends. But its what a mother does. I have to say that my mom and dad are the biggest influences in my interest for cooking and nothing makes them happier than providing them with soul food. This year was different though... it was our first time doing a dual Mother's Day dinner for my mom and Jeni's mom.

We decided to do seafood as the dinner theme. Making me eat seafood as a kid was the bane of my mother's existence. I was food poisoned at an early age by some Chinese-style black clams and it traumatized for nearly 20 years. TWENTY YEARS without SEAFOOD. My sister used to shake her head and say, "you don't know what you're missing," while devouring something delicious like Chiu-Chow style garlic fried crab. Jeni and I got up early and headed to our favorite farmer's market in Hollywood. We had been so busy during the week that we didn't have time to plan the menu. But that's where farmer's markets come in handy. With some spontaneity and creativity, you can make a fine meal with the purveyed goods. Not to mention the freshness of the food.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner White Shitake Mushrooms

Some young shitake mushrooms. An earthiness that goes well with seafood.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner English Peas

Sweet, crunchy English peas - good enough to be eaten raw with a little salt and spice.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Fruit Bowl

Jeni made a delicious fruit bowl with the farmer's market fruit with wine and simple syrup.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Manila Clams

Manila clams from 99 Ranch Market. Not so Farmer's Marketish, but hey we're not rich.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Filleting Turbot

One of the hardest things for me is thinking of a fish to cook with. There are just way TOO MANY. Check out 99 Ranch and the filipino market, Seafood City, and you'll know what I mean. I wanted something light and remembered a delicious fish I had at Wylie Dufresne's WD-50 in New York. Olive-Oil Poached Turbot with Smoked Bulgur and Coffee-Saffron sauce. The turbot is a goofy-looking flat fish found mainly in the North Atlantic.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Carlsbad Blonde Oysters

I always pay a visit to Rob of the Carlsbad Aquafarm. He's a super nice guy that really enjoys watching people eat oysters. Not in a creepy way. He's just passionate about his seafood. I picked some Carlsbad Blondes because of their delicate cucumber finish. You can find him at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market on Saturdays and at the Hollywood Farmer's Market on Sundays. $10/dozen oysters.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Alaskan King Crab & Haricot Vertes

Alaskan King Crab, Poached Egg & Haricot Vertes Frisee Salad
I mixed the king crab with my favorite, smoked paprika, and the haricot vertes in some creme fraiche, lemon juice and S&P. Served it on top of some frisee with Jeni's citronette vinaigrette with a poached egg. The idea here was to crack the poached egg over the frisee and bring in the crab and green beans. It was very light and fresh.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Poached Egg

ED&B Mother's Day Dinner Manila Clams and Chorizo Sausage & Leeks

Manila Clams with Spanish Chorizo, Leeks & White Wine
You can't go wrong with clams + butter + wine. I sautéd some shallots, spanish chorizo, garlic and leeks and added the clams. Then I poured about a 1/4 bottle of white wine with some chicken stock and dropped in some butter. Cover the pot for a few minutes until you see the clams open up and stir them around, making sure all that delicious juice gets inside the clam shells. Note: I used to do this with Mexican chorizo and I think it tastes better with Spanish chorizo because it's more firm and spicy. Serve this with some toasted bread slices so your guests can sop up all that goodness.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Pan Fried Turbot & Shitake Mushroom, English Pea Spatzle

Pan-Seared Turbot with Shitake Mushrooms, English Peas & Spatzle
I originally wanted to poach this in olive oil and thyme but I didn't have enough olive oil. Instead we pan-fried the fish in a skillet. I had marinated the fish about an hour before in some olive oil, thyme, pimenton (Spanish chili powder) and S&P. The fish took about 5 minutes on one side over medium heat, just long enough for the skin to crisp up. I have to say, I have never had a more milky/moist fish like turbot. It is fabulous and highly used for its delicate flavor/texture and similarity to halibut. In fact, it's BETTER than halibut. Our moms were flipping out on this fish because they had never heard of it. The combination of the delicate fish, earthy shitakes, crunchy peas and buttery spatzle was perfect.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Sauternes Cake & Fruits

Farmer's Market Fruit & Cake with Frozen Balsamic Vinegar Cream & Sauternes Syrup
We found this cake for $1 at 99 Ranch and just topped it off with fresh fruit and cold balsamic vinegar cream. This was an excellent way to finish off the seafood dinner.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner

To my mom, thank you for everything - love you.
And to my Mom #2, I'm glad we're one family now.

Eat Drink Style The Boiling Crab, Alhambra - Redux

Boiling Crab Alhambra Redux

On Sunday night, my new family and I sat back in our seats in relief and satisfaction. We were at Boiling Crab, and examined the aftermath of our seafood genocide. Our hands sticky with sauce and spices; the outer edges of our lips slightly burnt from the slight heat. On a large piece of white butcher paper lay the remains of the insects of the sea. Shrimp completely stripped of its natural clothing, crab shell pieces smashed like a car in an accident and tiny crawfish severed at the midpoint. It was in fact, a battle scene the insects of the sea had no chance of winning. But they were doomed to begin with the second they entered The Boiling Crab in Alhambra. These guys are either boiled, steamed or deep fried. From there, they are lathered in your choice of sauce – the whole garlicky, lemony, spiceful, buttery sha-bang in our case. And finally, tossed into a plastic bag and shaken up till they are painted a new color. Oysters, catfish, gumbo – are also on the menu but not what they are known for.

When we first opened the bag, you couldn't see much but orange objects, yellow corn and brown sausage slices. But the smell, man... I suddenly remembered what a lovely ingredient garlic is. Name one thing with butter, garlic, wine and spices that tastes bad – sans the whole Olive Garden menu. I reached in first to grab my first shrimp. I removed the head and went straight for the brain, the sweetest part of the bugger in my opinion. Then I cleaned off all the sauce on its arthropodic body. And after removing the shell, I took that shrimp back to Garlicville for a night on the town. Damn. That. Was. Tasty. We looked at each other and nodded – oil all over our hands and mouth.

When the waitress cleaned up our table and handed us the bill, I had to ask:

Me: "Do you sell this sauce?"
BC: "No."
Me: "You should bottle it up and sell it."
BC: "Yeah. Just come back again!"
Me: "I know. But for now, may I have two plastic bags please?"

Like my mom from Hong Kong would do or Asian for that matter haha, I dumped all that sauce back into plastic bags. I do not usually do this, but I have finally found an exception. Even at one point, extending my arms up so that I can push out all the sauce from the large bags. Jeni's mom laughed. But I didn't, I had serious game face on. I don't joke around when it comes to sauce like this. Afterwards, we quickly went to 99 Ranch to buy a pound of shrimp. I went home and threw them right into the Boiling Crab marinade. I swore I hear the shrimp scream, "Yayyyyyyyyyyyy" – they continued to scream and cheer until I tied up the bag.

The next day, all I could think about was my shrimp. I brushed my teeth twice, but I still smelled 'Le Cologne de Garlique'. I would look at the time and countdown. Ok, 4 more hours till it's on. Almost time for Boiling Crab Redux.

Boiling Crab Alhambra Redux

I even bought some fresh corn and found some Trader Joe's chicken sausages – threw them into the sauce party. There was major happiness going on in there.

Boiling Crab Alhambra Redux

I threw maybe 8-10 scoops of garlic sauce onto the sausages and corn but reserved the rest for the main event. Versus boiling the shrimp, I decided to take it to another level by doing it Hawaiian style. I cooked the shrimp no longer than 4-5 minutes total since they were so large. My only complaint with BC is that the shrimp were overcooked. But that's ok, the sauce more than made up for it. These shrimp tasted awesome and I think the shrimp trucks of Hawaii or Uncle Moki's might have something to aspire to now. Boiling crab, thank you. And thanks for reading.

The Boiling Crab
742 W. Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA 91803
(626) 576-9368
www.theboilingcrab.com

A review of the Garden Grove, OC location by super-foodie & poet, Elmomonster.

Eat Drink Style Anti-Valentine's Day Dinner

Anti-Valentine's Day 2009 Cafeteria Tray

The last time Valentine's Day actually mattered to me was in my prepubescent years in elementary school - you know, the days of innocence. For this day, you begged your parents to spend their hard-earned money on cards bearing Warner Bros. & Disney characters, heart-shaped candy that tasted like chalky meth and for that special special someone in your life, a small stuffed animal or something. It was honest, unadulterated fun. But, I had my system of distributing cards. I'd save all the crappy cards like Yosemite Sam or Three Blind Mice for people with cooties or didn't pick me on their kickball teams. These jerks wouldn't get any candy at all – not even the heart-shaped meth. They would get the stock message written on the copy without even a signature. Then there was the middle-tier friends who were cool to me and talked to me, but would never trade their delicious fruit snacks or fruit roll-ups for my asian delicacies like haw flakes or seaweed rice crackers. These racist friends still got a crappy card but some candy that actually had taste, AND a curvy autograph. And the final group to receive cards were for the ladies only. More likely than not, you liked more than one girl and that's why you'll see more than one Pepé Le Pew or Mickey/Minnie cards in that box – for 10-year old players like you. Now these were the cards I spent most of my night working on. I could see my mom smiling as I tried to profess my love in my limited kid vocabulary. I would say deep things like...

"You are sweet, pretty, cute, smart, beautiful, pretty, cute, sweet, fast, funny and cute. Hope you like Pepé Le Pew. Love, Dylan."

Attached to the card that was nicely sealed, I'd give like 5-7 candies. It was a simple yet fun time for many of us. And Jeni I promise, she means nothing to me haha. You are " sweet, pretty, cute, smart, beautiful, pretty, cute, sweet, fast, funny and cute" to the 100th power.

But now, as you get older, this particular 'holiday' requires you to fork out more and more of your hard-earned cash. In a relationship, shouldn't everyday be a test of one's love and devotion for a significant other? I took Jeni to Hometown Buffet a few years back, but this time, we wanted to do an Anti-Valentine's Day thing with some friends. I decided to tie the dinner theme back to elementary school... when looking 'cool' meant bringing your lunch in a brown paper bag, and buying cafeteria food on a tray meant you were a broke loser. Harsh!

Anti-Valentine's Day 2009 Bleu Cheese Burger with Caramelized Onions and Fried Egg

Bleu Cheese Burger with Fried Egg, Watercress & Caramelized Onions
Father's Office, you either hate it or you love it. I think Chef Sang Yoon does a good job on the burger but I think it's too sweet and a bit strong on the bleu cheese. And he's missing one component that, for me, takes food to another level… fried egg! I marinated ground beef with bleu cheese chunks, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, minced onions, cayenne pepper and S&P. Let that sit for an hour or two in the fridge covered with saran wrap and mold your burgers. Caramelize your onions and if you're not using a sweet wine like port, add a little sugar to give your onions a nice sweetness. Serve with arugula tossed lightly in a vinaigrette or try it with watercress, which has a delicate mustard taste that I enjoy.

Anti-Valentine's Day 2009 Crab, Macaroni & Cheese with Scallions & Smoked Paprika

Alaskan King Crab Macaroni & Cheese with Scallions & Smoked Paprika
I love crab, and I love macaroni & cheese – this dish was a perfect mesh of flavors. I made a cheese roux with flour, butter, milk and whatever brand of grated cheddar cheese and mixed the sauce in with the macaroni shells. I then sautéed the crab quickly with some garlic, smoked paprika, shallots and smoked paprika. Just enough to wake the crab up. Add this on top of the macaroni & cheese or mix it in. This was really good.

Anti-Valentine's Day 2009 Garlicky Tater Tots

Garlicky Tater Tots
I don't know anyone that dislikes tater tots, especially kids. Versus eating large fries, tater tots were the perfect finger food. I sautéed some garlic and parsley and lightly mixed them into the freshly baked tater tots. For dipping, I mixed in some curry powder into some ketchup (inspired by Wurstkuche in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles - review coming soon!) for a nice kick. For your snobby friends, try mixing the tater tots with grated asiago cheese and a few drops of truffle oil – good stuff.

Anti-Valentine's Day 2009 Chocolate Cookies

Save the Best for Last Cookies
Always the one thing kids are eyeing as they chomp down on soggy chicken nuggets and vegetables. Thanks to Sandra for baking these tasty cookies.

As we ate, we drank great Belgian beer from Cap n' Cork in Los Feliz and enjoyed the sultry sounds of my Valentine's mix, Cheesy & Sleazy, still available for free download.

C&S Full

Anti-Valentine's Day 2009

Thanks for reading.