This is my dad and his sister. My aunt is the oldest out of 6 followed by my dad. All of my family has immigrated to Canada making my cousins 2nd generations. From my dad's side of the family, my aunt Betty is the only that resides here in Los Angeles, California with her 2 daughters that live up in San Francisco. I'm not sure what the term is in Cantonese, but I am pretty sure these 2 are best friends. They spend every Saturday having breakfast together for almost 2 decades. With that being said, my aunt recently moved to San Francisco a year ago for her retirement, and to be a caretaker for her first granddaughter, Abigail. With the mentality that my aunt was leaving, I remembered how sad this whole situation must've been for these 2. My dad doesn't talk much about it, but I knew he was saddened.
Wow. Writing this makes me a bit choked up with them staring at me in this photo.
I decided to be breakfast buddies with my dad now that my aunt has moved (John comes along of course). This means a lot. This means no sleeping in, up at 9AM to meet my dad at the same Chinese Cafe that he likes. No matter if I sleep at 3AM from shows, coming home late at night, or hungover in the morning. The breakfast still goes on. This has become one of my sacred mornings that I cherish.
My aunt and her first daughter (don't want to say anything that makes my cousin Celia feel a certain again.. ooops!), came to LA to finish up some errands. I am happy I got to catch dinner with them, because I don't have much family in LA, so it's amazing and always a fantastic time to be around each other.
This is definitely one of my favorite dishes. I actually grew up eating at Phoenix in Chinatown in DTLA. That location has been around since, I believe, 1960, so just imagine the history and the type of classic Chinese dishes that are served there. This chicken is served cold. Extremely comforting over a big bowl of hot rice. The cold sauce will slowly melt through the rice, heavenly. Yes, I would 100% recommend to order this.
I don't even know how I would explain this. Ong Choy is a water spinach. The stems has a nice snap and crunch to them. The soft leafy parts get really tender as you cook them through. I normally like to order this with fermented soybean, but my family felt like the shrimp paste.
Come on, have you seen my dad? He needs his beef. I think that's where I get it from. This is something we would order, but it made it to our table that night. Tender, and the sauce was not too powering as it looks. The rice always acts as support to any saucy dish.
The tofu fried with a simple corn starch batter, topped with seafood that's cooked in a broth with more corn starch to thicken. This is something we always order. I don't know why, we just do. I like to splash a little soy sauce and chili oil. Just a simple sole, shrimp, squid, canned mushrooms and snow peas.
This is a classic Cantonese dish. But, beware. The melon is obviously bitter. We eat it because the taste is acquired, and it's good for you. My parents would always cook this for me as a detox, especially when I had pimples or oily coughs from eating too much fried foods. People always ask me what I do with my skin. Besides drinking a lot of water, I grew up eating stuff like this and Chinese herbal tea drinks. Let me know if you are ever interested and I'll talk about that.
The sea bass was really butter and cooked to perfection with the fermented black bean and garlic sauce. They normally add sugar to the bitter melon to balance out the bitterness, but not so much in this case.
You guys... do know I'm Chinese right? This is one of those "what's wrong with this?" foods that is second nature to me. I don't find it disgusting. I am hooked on the taste. and my brother eats this too. He likes the ones especially with the dirty brown bits inside. No not really, but we joke around with that. I can tell that Phoenix, in Alhambra, doesn't really serve this too often. Some places that I order this from, have more finesse with the presentation. Like, a green onion is stringed through, fried, and sliced in an angle, presented in perfect alignment. This looks a little like... "Oh shit! someone actually ordered the intestines tonight! do we have anymore?". I have a lot of leftovers still. I cleaned out the gutter, and popped it in my breville at 450 for maybe 10 minutes to crisp it up. SO much better. Oh, and it comes with a sweet and sour sauce that helps with this, none. MAN UP AND EAT THIS! One of my favorites if done right.
Black rice, with coconut cream and jelly. One of my favorites and something that my dad taught me to make growing up. You can find mixed black rice in any asian market to make this at home. I'll look into it and share it with you. This is sweet, hot, a little sticky, but thick. The coconut milk/cream thins out this hot dessert. It's really lovely, and different. I'll bet you've never had this before.
But.. this might be my new favorite. Yes, Durian has a strong scent, but I love it. A lot. I'm a secret Durian lover even though it's not a secret anymore. Durian.. is like.. a sweet rotten onion. Ok that doesn't sound delicious, but I don't know how else to describe it besides that. with the black rice... and the coconut noodle.. Oh MAN! I need a large spoon, with Homeland, and I can be a caveman for THE REST OF MY LIFE. Don't you like moments that make you feel that way? I live for those. If you've never had durian, make sure you have a group of people to try it with. Chances are you won't like it. But, you never know.
And that was that. My aunt left 2 days later. It was easier to say bye this time since it wasn't a vacation visit. My next trip will be to San Francisco. Are you ready? I can't wait to visit Chinatown, by some Chinese sausages, and make some cooked rice.
Eat well, Travel well, Family first, and always, food within reach.