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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Awesomelyest True Acticle On Authentic Chinese Food

Posted by mikenopolis on April 1, 2011

Joe Soong wrote an article on AlhambraSource.Org regarding Los Angeles County’s Chinese restaurant’s public health ratings. As much of a borderline germaphobe as I am. When it comes to good food, if the food ain’t spoiled, spit on, dropped on the floor or wrapped with a dirty cloth, I don’t care much, bring it to me. From what I’ve read, the Health Department picks on many aspects of the restaurant, not just the food. So in some ways, a restaurant can cook the best food, but still have a “C” rating if their dish washing detergent is too close to the food areas, or the temperature of the gravy is a degree off, etc. Main point is, thje rating does not indicate the quality of the food, but the quality of the kitchen, which CAN be an issue, just not necessarily on your visit.

Please go HERE: http://www.alhambrasource.org/stories/aamericanized-bbetter-cchinese-abcs-san-gabriel-valley-chinese-restaurants for the original article.

Here’s the Article (I copy and paste these because some sites change the URL over time and I don’t want this to be lost, I’ve had many broken links in the past)

A=Americanized, B=Better, C=Chinese: the ABCs of San Gabriel Valley Chinese restaurants

Photo by Albert Lu
by Joe Soong, Community Contributor,
March 31, 2011

As a Chinese-American who happens to have many non-Chinese friends, I have been asked many times for recommendations to Chinese restaurants. To help, I have created a tutorial in how to determine if an establishment is a legitimate purveyor of genuine Chinese cuisine.

In Los Angeles County’s restaurant rating system, each establishment is graded on numerous factors, with an “A” being the highest possible grade. However, a different, informal rating system applies to Chinese restaurants. Here’s a summary of the Chinese system that, like the Los Angeles County rating system, also appears as a letter grade in the restaurant’s window:


“A” = Americanized. This is the least desirable rating, where the food establishment focuses too much on superficial attributes such as cleanliness and proper food temperatures. Instead of real Chinese food, it features mundane Americanized entrees such as sweet and sour pork and egg rolls. A real Chinese restaurant does not proudly display an “A” rating.


“B” = Better. This means the restaurant is better than an “A”, but not as good as a “C.”


“C” =Chinese. Real, homegrown Chinese food is served at this establishment. You won’t find reviews for these restaurants on the local TV news.

There are many factors that distinguish a superior “C” restaurant from other inferior Chinese restaurants. They are as follows:

1. The restaurant clientele must be minimally 95 percent Chinese and they will be speaking any one of the numerous Chinese dialects. Don’t worry about feeling out of place. Most patrons will be focused on their food and not on who walks in through the front door.

2. A real Chinese restaurant uses circular tables that can crowd up to 12 people at each table. If you’ve been to a Chinese wedding, you know what I mean. To guarantee equal access for all, the entrees are placed on the round, rotating Lazy Susan in the center of the table.

In contrast, many Americanized Chinese restaurants have long rectangular tables for larger groups. This works well if everyone orders their own entrée (non-Chinese style) or if you don’t mind being bothered by repeated, constant requests to pass entrées around to everyone else.

In inauthentic Chinese restaurants, the wait staff will make pleasant small talk and will periodically check up on you to see how you are doing. This may not be the case in a real Chinese restaurant. So, if you don’t see your waitress again until it’s time for the check, don’t worry, it’s not personal.

3. The wait staff will not be native English speakers and may have difficulty communicating with you. This is a positive sign because it indicates the waiters and waitress were hired to serve a primarily Chinese clientele and the restaurant most likely prepares the food accordingly.

In other words, you will be served real Chinese food. On the down side, because of the language barrier, there is a high likelihood that at least one of your entrees will be a dish you did not order. Enjoy the braised pork spleen.

4. In a restaurant serving true Chinese food, the menu almost seems to be an afterthought, which is a good thing. This means that the food establishment did not spend too much time on it, primarily focusing its efforts on the food. The menu will be a minimal affair, most likely composed of simple, laminated, and possibly food-stained Xerox copies. If the menu resembles a wedding album with a fancy cover, pictures, and possibly designed by a graphic artist, then the restaurant is probably not authentic.

In a real Chinese restaurant, the menu was probably created by the same person who hired the wait staff, ordered the vegetables from the wholesaler, and who looked at you like you were an idiot when you asked him if he could take the chicken out of the Kung Pao Chicken because you are a vegetarian. Remember, in a real Chinese restaurant, the customer is right only some of the time.


5. Item descriptions in a Chinese menu are also telling. In a fake Chinese restaurant, entrées are described in flowery, verbose prose to persuade you to select the item. In an authentic Chinese restaurant the food sells itself. Let’s use barbeque pork buns as an example:

Fake Chinese restaurant: Shanghai steamed buns – Sweet, succulent, Shanghai style barbequed pork in a steamed bun, hot to the touch, but oh-so-tasty in your mouth. A true pearl of the Oriental, from the Great Wall of China to your dinner table – $3.75 each

Real Chinese restaurant: Pork bun – 3 for $2.25

6. The most important factor of all: Don’t worry if the restaurant doesn’t look like your idea of what a restaurant should be. That’s part of the fun and adventure of living in an area with the diversity of Southern California. Try a restaurant you’ve never tried before, order an entrée you’ve never tasted and maybe discover your inner Jonathan Gold. You just might be pleasantly surprised…

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Posted in Food, Travel | 1 Comment »

Scallops With Mushrooms Recipe

Posted by mikenopolis on April 1, 2011

I found this recipe from a health conscious foodie named Christina G., you can find her version on her blog:

http://caghua.blogspot.com/2010/12/more-mushrooms-please.html

This recipe is very forgiving, use as much mushrooms, whatever kind you want, add as much scallops as you like, large or small, seared or just plain, scallops and mushrooms goes well together…just be sure not to over salt, over sauce or over cooked the scallops. Taste test before you serve!

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Steamed Fish Paste & Tofu Recipe

Posted by mikenopolis on April 1, 2011

I often cook the dishes my parents made for me growing up. I decided to make a video of this one. It’s very light and healthy. This ain’t Panda Express’s Chinese food so if you are an “unadventurous” eater. Go have a salad.

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Cooking Is Not Hard

Posted by mikenopolis on April 30, 2010

I’ve been cooking for as long as I can remember. And when I say cook I don’t mean instant noodles or make a sandwich. I mean really putting in fresh ingredients, spices, pots, pans, stove, oven and grill, etc. Part of the reason I’ve cooked for so much of my life is because both my patents are handicapped so I did a lot of the thing around the house to help out. I am who I am today because of all the things I had to do for them as a child.

A few of my friends saw a recent video I posted up on YouTube of me making wontons (basically Chinese raviolis). I made the video because someone had one and wanted me to teach them how it was done. Many were not only surprised that I cooked, but that I cooked authentic Chinese dishes. Really it’s not that hard. One simple search on Google and you’ll be making great dishes in no time!

For those of you who don’t cook or are “afraid” to cook. You need to learn it. Not only because it’s a good skill to have. But because depending on someone else is never a good idea. And eating out everyday is not only expensive but also extremely unhealthy.

Recipes are to be followed but there’s usually no need to be perfect (unless you are baking a cake, then it is crucial). Make something a few time and before you know it you’ll just be addind a “pinch” of this and a “dash” of that.

Most important things. Make sure you always cook pork and chicken thrououghly. Have good clean up habits. And always taste test before you serve others!

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Customers Are Always “Right”

Posted by mikenopolis on January 22, 2009

I love to use Yelp to preview or review restaurants because I believe in “regular” people’s opinions when it come to food. Food magazines and their professional food critics are just too picky. Unless it comes down to more sophisticated things I don’t need them.

Yesterday, a few “yelpers” got into a discussion about what a restaurant owner wrote back to a reviewer who gave him 3 stars out of 5. Read for yourself here [Click to enlarge]:

Now keep in mind that 3 stars is an okay average and that Fuego Bistro has an average of 4 stars based on 24 reviews thus far: http://www.yelp.com/biz/fuego-bistro-phoenix. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always known that customers are always right not because they really are, but because word of mouth is the best advertisement. You don’t treat your customers bad because you would lose potential customers. When I used to work in the women shoes department at Macy*s (stop with the Al Bundy jokes, it put me through college, paid for my car and rent…along with my other 3 jobs) I was averaging $2,000 a month part-time, you know why? Because women love their shoes and they have friends who love shoes. It’s like a pyramid scheme but I’m the one on the top (well Macy*s corporate is, but I was close to second or third). The lesson here is DON’T BURN ANY BRIDGES! Since my first taxable job at 13, I’ve always known that you don’t treat anyone bad because they can one day help you directly or indirectly.

In this tough economy, I’m sure most of us are being very careful with our investments and financial decisions. I myself have cut back on my gadgetry spending a bit, turning off more of my computers instead of letting them run 24/7,  carpooling in my girlfriend’s Mini Cooper instead of driving my less gas efficient Honda Element. However, since I’m lucky enough to still have a decent income,  I’ve tipped more generously when it comes to eating out. Plenty of people are now saying they won’t be going to/back to this place. It really doesn’t affect me since the place is in Arizona, but seriously, there was no need to do this so publicly, he might as well have put out a commercial/advertisment saying “I don’t care if you don’t like it!”.

Posted in Food, Idiots, Rants | Leave a Comment »

I love Yelp.com

Posted by mikenopolis on June 26, 2008

I’ve been on this site on and off in the past year or so, but only recently joined and contributed my reviews of restaurants this past month.

In case you didn’t know, www.yelp.com is a community of foodies and outies? (people who go out to places) who provide their reviews and opinions of the places they’ve gone to.

After finding a bunch of great places to go to, I haven’t been to my “usual” hangout spots in a while, it’s great finding new things!

Posted in Food, General | Leave a Comment »

Santee Alley, Los Angeles, California

Posted by mikenopolis on April 6, 2008

Once in a while I like to head over to “Santee Alley” in the heart of Los Angeles (near Olympic and Los Angeles Street) it’s a busy place where you can buy a trunk load of stuff for $50!, I was looking for a few new caps which you can get for like $3, I’m pretty sure they make them “illegally” like not getting permission from the Anaheim Angels to put the “A” on the cap, but I didn’t care, just need something cheap to cover up my bed hair once in a while.


This is what the crowded “Alley” looks like with all the people looking for bargains. Make sure you look at the floor when you walk, there are always weird dirty puddles!


I guess it was my lucky day! I actually saw a few sellers get arrested!!! All their money and merchandises were confiscated, I guess that’s what you get for selling pirated DVDs, CDs, Counterfeit Purses, Sunglasses and Watches! Seriously, it’s weird that this doesn’t happen all the time considering how much illegal things are sold here! It’s funny how much business they get, majority of the time, I look at the stuff they sell and I just can’t believe people would buy such cheaply made fakes. Example: a fake Gucci purse that looks like a child of a Guess purse and a Coach purse.




While I was in the area, I decided to get a Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog from the street vendor…Keep in mind, eat this stuff at your own risk, make sure you get a fully cooked one! This guy doesn’t make his too good, and I totally forgot to ask him to add everything on it (Onions, Bell Peppers, Relish, etc…)

Posted in Food, Idiots | 1 Comment »

Good Friday – No Work!!!

Posted by mikenopolis on March 21, 2008

Wow, I have the day off because it’s Good Friday…yeah I know it’s GREAT! I LOVE MY COMPANY!

So my girlfriend and I decided to go have Dim Sum because the place is always crowded on the weekends…and of course, it was crowded on Friday at 10:00am. Look at this! it seems like this is where old Asians hang out on a weekday afternoon. I need to move.

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Japanese Ramen

Posted by mikenopolis on March 9, 2008

My mother and I went to “visit” my father’s grave at Rose Hill Memorial Park today and decided to have lunch at Foo Foo Tei Ramen House located at:

15018 Clark Ave, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745, USA

As usual, their food was great, it’s not the best Ramen I’ve had, but it’s one of the better one’s within the area. Here are some pictures of their food.

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Ummmm! I love Todai!

Posted by mikenopolis on October 17, 2005

The first time I went to Todai was before they became a big chain they are now, it was in the early 90’s in the city of Torrance. the place was dark, the buffect stretched into three rooms, one for cold Sushi, Roll, etc. the next for hot food, then the last one for dessert. As a kid with high metabolism, it was heaven. When the chains started popping up that “classic” Todai closed down, wish I had pictures…

If you have never been to a Todai and like Asian food (Japanese to be exact) you need to find one and try it. Todai is a Japanese buffet, unlike many Asian buffets I’ve been to, they are very clean, no slippery floors here! Food is always fresh and the presentation is an art!

It is on the pricer side though, expect to pay about $15 for lunch and $25 for dinner per person. I would suggest starving yourself a few days to get your money’s worth. They usually have lobsters during dinner, get ready to fight the crowd for it!

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