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Phoenix - classic Chinese cuisine

Phoenix has been around since 1965. One of my recent posts (here) about Phoenix in Alhambra was opened in 1997. 

My father immigrated to the States in 1980, and like most Chinese immigrants, a lot of them resided in Chinatown. Makes sense right? My dad lived right across from Phoenix, so you can imagine how often he ate here. There's a server there, that has been working for Phoenix in Chinatown since 1981. That means my dad has been there longer than he has.  

Our whole family would come dine here pretty often for their signature Phoenix boneless chicken. Not knowing much as a child, I didn't know how precious the food actually was. When people ask me, what's a good authentic Chinese cuisine, I would have a blur. Like.. Besides white rice? Because I know we eat that. Without that we would die. But after many food adventures, I always find my most comforting Chinese food memories, besides my parents cooking, but to be kept here.  

It was a late dinner this past weekend, and my brother David and his girlfriend Angela were coming home after a vacation trip to New York. As tired as we were, we couldn't say no to a family dinner at Phoenix. I finished a Taco tasting for Tacos Tu Madre that day, had 3 drinks, then edited and blogged for 4 hours. Yeah I was pretty tired.

I didn't think I was hungry until the menu items were thrown around. Phoenix chicken... Salty Sour pickled cabbage... Fried intestines... I don't need anything to have my palate awake and read to eat.  

At the Phoenix in Chinatown, here is where you will find dishes that are not served at other locations. 

Salty sour cabbage and Beef

This is one of ours, and definitely my dads favorite dish. This may sell out sometimes depending if they have the pickled cabbage or not. The owner of Phoenix still makes the cabbage, in house, himself. The dish is also sweet which marries nicely with the sourness of the cabbage. The portions are also pretty hefty. 

Phoenix Chicken with bone

I grew up eating their boneless chicken, but have come to realization that I love this with bone in so much more. And honestly, I like to pick at the bones for the meat. So much more flavor, and besides, I am a professional at his. Ask people who know me. By the way, this was a half order.

Water Spinach with Malay sauce (excuse the blur)

One of our favorite veggies (I know everything is a "favorite"). As mentioned before, the leaves soaks up so much flavor of the Malay sauce (or any sauce you pick). The stems has a nice snap. I love chewing this with my rice. The rice soaks up the sauce, scoop one big bite, veggie, bite of chicken. Pretty damn perfect. 

Tangerine Fish Fillet  

I love this dish! Only if made correctly. I'm not sure if they make the sauce in house, but assuming they do because it turns out slightly different sometimes. It's a little tangy, and has a nice round of sweet notes from the tangerine. The pineapple and green peppers are a good palate cleanser. And, these aren't as crispy. A lot of Chinese food, is breaded so it can adhere to sauces better. Like a lot of different cultures, this technique is widely used.

Deep fried pork intestines

Squishy interior, crunchy ext. What more can I say? This is, however, an acquired flavor. I'm not expecting everyone to be popping a few of these in their mouths and enjoy the flavor and texture. But if you can get pass what you are eating, you just might, actually fall in love. Hey, eating this is like white rice to me. It's hella normal and it's not disgusting at all. A salad with no meat is disgusting. Sorry. 

Braised Oxtail with dried bean curd

Another specialty you will only find here. A big Cantonese cuisine that was also made in our household. The oxtail is braised for hours in Asian spices like 5 spice and ginger, probably 50 kinds of soy sauce, till its fork tender. Though I think this needed a good 1-2 more hours, it was still very flavorful. And look at all that tail.  

Chili oil  

Ummm yeah this was for me. Always order this with your food. I eat the Jalapeños and everything.  

Family always first (Candid)

Going back to my dad. It's amazing and scary how time flies. I know I'm young, have so much ahead of me, but being here just makes me feel some of the most important memories are passed.  

My dad and the waiter that had been working there for over 30 years, were discussing past workers at Phoenix. Some retired. Some passed away. My dad would think some workers were young, but those memories were long gone as they are 85 now.  

If you are ever in Los Angeles, and want Chinese, Cantonese, food, come here. To this location in downtown. And take a look around. It may seem updated because it had been renovated not too long ago, but there's still a warmth here that you won't find anywhere else. The veteran that has been there for 30+ years is basically, the only history we have left of that place.  

And always, look at their menu board for their specials. It's written in Chinese, but I'm sure you may ask a server to assist you.  

Now go bond with your family and loved ones. Moments like these are not only for the holidays. 

301 Ord St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

daisy  

 

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Tacos Tu Madre

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Tacos Tu Madre

Hello,

Today I've gotten the opportunity to enjoy an amazing treat hosted by Damon Eats (@damoneats) for the soft opening of Tacos Tu Madre.

Tacos Tu Madre is a little shack with dia de los muertos art outside of the restaurant. Being a taco lover all my life, this was definitely a tasting I am excited about. I grew up eating street tacos such as: lengua, cabeza, buche, chicharron, Suadero, and tripas. So you can imagine my appreciation for the craft.

Tacos Tu Madre is a contemporary take on the classic tacos with a few spins on ingredients such as Duck Foie Gras.

Menu

Menu

Prices are still unknown at the moment, but you can see a large variety of tacos to test. Come with a group. Or someone who is really hungry that can eat. Like me. I always like to eat. So you can try a lot of them.

Course

Chorizo Eggs

This was one of our favorites, hence the first image. The chorizo had good flavor, and was not dry like a lot of chorizo I've had. The eggs were cooked perfectly over easy with a surprise ooey gooey center that became a finger licking madness. I was a bit intimidated by the size of the chorizo, but it was perfect with the eggs and handmade tortilla. I would definitely order this in a burrito.

Ahi Tuna

Another favorite. I'm a huge fan of a simple tartare. Simple, some dishes should be left that way and they did a great job at this one. The tuna was plump, was perfectly seasoned and not overly dressed with the sesame oil, ripened avocado, with a touch of furikake. I would love them to make a LARGE crunchy taco out of this. Just saying.

Fried

Fried Chicken and Fried Shrimp. I love fried anything. Especially in a taco. I have to say, their tortillas held up really well for all the dishes. The chicken had a tangy worcestershire/katsu sauce. The shrimp had a good fresh take with crema, salsa and pickled onions. Both were perfectly fried, and seasoned ever so slightly.

Taco Porn

Top Left: Asada, carnitas. Bottom Left: Korean, Al Pastor.

Delicious everything. Though, I did feel some tacos didn't need cheese. It masked the flavors of the marinade and seasonings of some dishes, but the cotija that they used was very tasty.

Drinks

Don't forget to tip the bartender. At food events with open bar, people think the bartenders are just there to pour you drinks. No. It's common courtesy to tip the bartender even if it's free.

All drinks were exciting and fun. And Yes. I think I drank all 3 in less than an hour. No I am not an alcoholic, I just like cocktails. The one with the lime is their El Diablo: Tequila based, Ginger Beer, and Creme De Casis. Vampire Punch is the one with pomegranates: Gin Based, Compari, Orange Juice and Soda. Death before Dinner is the Vader looking one: Rum Based, Grapefruit, maraschino, lime, and a few drops of charcoal.

Sweets

Horchata Slush

This was so freaking amazing. I can't even tell you how good this was. It was a perfect warm day in Los Angeles in the high 80's and this will definitely be something I will be driving out here for. You taste the creaminess and roasty flavors of the rice, with the perfect amount of sugar and cinnamon ratio. I'm so glad this was something I did not miss and definitely something I don't regret going in my belly.

Red Velvet Churros

We waited a long time for these because they ran out. But it's ok. When there's a wait, it gives you every right to drink. These churros are denser than what I'm used to, but their cinnamon sugar and cream cheese frosting were delicious.

And then, it all came out at once.

When churros fly out of the kitchen, you need a photo bomb huddle. What's not to love right?

It was a very fun afternoon spent with local foodies, eat a shit load of tacos, and have plenty of drinks. The turnout for this event was great. This shack is small and quaint, so make sure you don't bring a family/friends of 10 and expect to find seats. Opening tomorrow, November 1, I am appreciative that I was invited to this social media event. What better way to snap photos of food, but with a group of foodies who get it.

I took over 200 shots today. Pretty impressive.

1945 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

By the way, they open late, so yeah. Drunk or Hungover, they will take care of you.

Happy Taco Hunting!

Daisy

 

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Phoenix south eash asian cuisine - Alhambra

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.

Now. FOOD.

Phoenix Boneless Chicken.

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.

Ong Choy with shrimp paste

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.

Beef Steak in Black Pepper Sauce

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.

Seafood with crispy tofu

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.

Bitter melon with sea bass

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.

Deep Fried Pork Intestines

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.

Durian, black rice, coconut jelly and coconut milk.

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.

Stay tuned.

Eat well, Travel well, Family first, and always, food within reach.

Daiisies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday Donny Wu

Ok. Took some of the worst pictures this night for Donny's birthday. I haven't mastered shooting in dark light... and the amount of old fashioned I was drinking didn't help either. We had reservations at Arroyo Chophouse in Pasadena. The chophouse is one of the Yorbas and Donny's favorite places to celebrate a birthday. And when they do, they do it big.

Old Fashioned $16

We... had a lot of these. This was the Donny birthday drink. Every year for his birthday, most of everyone will have this as their drink of choice. It goes down so smooth which makes it a dangerous cocktail. Based with bourbon or rye, the orange twist and bitters makes me a happy girl. Don't forget to drink your water (oops).

Connie, Michael, and Scott.

They made it to my decent photos. Before the camera shakes... and more old fashioned.

Shrimp and King Crab platter. (Alaskan Crab $18, Jumbo shrimp cocktail $14)

First off, the shrimp was supposed to be cocktail shrimp, so this (BBQ Shrimp) had to be returned. When the dish came back, everyone were immediately digging in to one of the largest shrimps I've ever seen used for cocktail. And by the way, it was DELICIOUS. King Crab? DELICIOUS. Everything was extraordinary.

Raw oysters - Market Price

Yeah I don't remember what kind of oysters these were. Just call this post a failed post. BUT, we ordered 2 dozens of the small oysters that they have since they carried 2 that night. These oysters were spectacular! Cold, clean, buttery, had a nice snap with a sweet finish.

Foie Gras $20

We (as in Donny) ordered 4 of these. It was melting your buns good. Food gasmic in your mouth good. It actually made my mouth feel sexy if that makes sense. It doesn't huh? Well this was one of the best Foie Gras I've had. It's simple. They use a thick piece for every order. A literal explosion of flavor in your mouth, and one of my absolute favorite decadent things to order.

Wagyu New York $85

The Wagyu New York strip came in at 14oz. I was underwhelmed by how chewy it was.. With that being said, it did have good flavor, but it definitely didn't meet the expectations of a Wagyu Steak. American Wagyu or Japanese Wagyu, I've had both, and this was a bit disappointing.

On the other hand, I tried their Wagyu filet mignon, and that was much tastier coming in at $51.

Wagyu Rib Eye $88

Of course Donny ordered the Wagyu Rib Eye. The texture of the steak was also underwhelming. The fat in the steak however, was very flavorful. For the price, I would definitely order their regular rib eye...

 

 

 

or their Tomahawk:

Tomahawk Chop $110

This beast, made for a carnivore, came in at a womping 2 1/4 pounds. No knife, just gram the handle and chop it off like this was your last meal. Yes, 2 people can share it and maybe even 3. But you are about to die, so skip the onion ring and eat this up. I'm salivating all over again.

Donny making his wish

Of course, Donny ordered every single dish on the menu minus the Souffle. I say skip the dessert next time, and order yourself another Foie Gras. Just saying.

Creme Brulee

Um so yeah. I do have more photos, but it's pretty blurry. Just like the rest of the night.

yeah..

$1,666 and tip wasn't even included? Bold. We strolled to Old Town Pasadena. Crashed the Blind Donkey (btw yummy burgers), had more old fashioned, water, and played a few rounds of Shuffle Board. Followed the birthday boy to Kings Row Gastropub. And then, ended up in my first UBER ride to another place that I had no idea existed. From there, there were blue liquid shots. I lost track.

And guess what? I drove everyone home! I'm SO AWESOME!

And the next day?

Hungover as F!

Mother F'ers. Happy birthday Wu! till whoevers birthday is next. I will be hibernating.

Life is good.

Daiisies

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Chinese Herbal Rib

This dish was something my dad loved to make and another one of those dishes that I took for granted growing up. I'm glad that I am still young enough to appreciate it and not older. I wouldn't want to regret missing out all the comfort foods that I grew up eating with my family. Having breakfast with my dad every Saturday has been something that I've been doing religiously. No matter what circumstances, even if I'm hungover, I'll still meet him for breakfast.

-- Wow... a car drove by right now with "Hotel California" BLASTING. Just saying.. that person needs to chill.

One of the things my dad loves to talk about is the food that he makes. This is what brought us to this dish that I'm going to show you. The dish consists of a herbal mix and spareribs. I will be using Pork ribs for this because that is what I have.

Herbal Mix

You can try to make your own, but honestly, unless you are trying to open a restaurant that specializes in this, just get the package. Don't trouble yourself because it's not worth it. You will probably find this mix at every Chinese market near you like 99 Ranch.

Water was filled about 1/2 way in a standard stock pot. While you are waiting for the water to boil, bundle the herbs that come with the package. I also peeled 6 cloves of garlic to be thrown in. Once the water boils, add your meat, garlic, some black fungus (Cloud ear fungus), and your herb bundle. As the ribs cook, you will notice some of the fat floating to the surface. Remove the top layer of fat with a ladle. I let it boil on medium high for about 30 minutes. I would then add about 3 tablespoons of salt and 1/2 a cup of Kikkoman soy sauce. I reduce the stove to low-medium and let it go with the lid on for 2 hours.

When the meat is fall off the bone or for tender, your dish is ready. Go grab some somen noodles and cook it with some boiling water, strain, and top it off with the herbal soup, rib and black fungus. I served this along with some pan seared baby bok choy.

You may also add some pre-fried tofu that is sold in packages to the last 30 minutes of cooking. This dish is heavenly with some hot sauce. This dish has a strong renown herb flavor, but it's something Chinese people eat and also healthy for you.

If you make this and never had it before, I would love to know your thoughts and suggestions.

Happy eating!

Daiisies

 

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