Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Been super busy the past few days, but here is a quick post on pineapple cakes. I went home a few weeks ago in order to see my grandmother who was visiting from Taiwan. She brought with her a lot of snacks including mochi, preserved plums, dried beancurd snack and pineapple cakes.
Pineapple cakes don't really taste like cakes. They are maybe more like a cookie. The outside is like a shortbread crust and the inside is filled with pineapple jam-type filling. You can find pineapple cakes at Ranch 99, and you can even find them with other flavors. I don't particularly like the ones at Ranch 99. You can usually find them at chinese bakeries as well, which taste a lot better though also cost more.
I used to love pineapple cakes when I was little, but then for a while I didn't like them too much. A few years ago, my close friend, who is originally from Taiwan, and I were having a discussion on our favorite snacks from Taiwan and she said her favorite was pineapple cake. I was so surprised. I didn't know why she wanted pineapple cakes when they were readily available in chinese grocery stores. Then she went to Taiwan and came back with all these pineapple cakes and gave me a few. And then realized what she was talking about. The cakes she brought back were so good! Each was individually wrapped in pretty cold boxes. The crust was rich and buttery and the inside was sweet and chewy.
Since then, the last few trips to Taiwan, I've always bought back pineapple cakes. My aunt has taken us to all different stores specializing in pineapple cakes. I've sampled ones with pine nuts inside, cranberries, and others. I've had ones with all different types of pretty packaging.
Chia Te Bakery has been voted #1 for pineapple cakes. I'm not sure if they are # 1, but they do make pretty good pineapple cakes. I only wish that their packaging was a bit prettier.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Yi Mei Chinese Pastries
736 S Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754
When Boyfriend and I used to go to Monterey Park, we had no idea where to go. If yelp was around, we hadn't discovered it yet. And we didn't read food blogs either. So we would just go into a random place and try it out. Since I've started food blogging, I've collected a list of places I want to try out in the Monterey Park area. The week before we were to make our trip, I was so torn. I didn't know where to go! Too many places were on my list. I went back and forth, constantly changing my mind, reading every review possible. Finally, I settled on Yi Mei Chinese Pastries.
Yi Mei Chinese Pastries sells a variety of Taiwanese dishes, including all the usual breakfast items. The best thing is that they serve the breakfast dishes all day long.
Yi Mei is a very small shop with just a few tables. While we were there, all the customers either got stuff to go, or were there to order their steamed buns. Apparently their steamed buns are pretty popular. When we were there, we saw displays of them.
Since we had no where to go, we opted to eat at the empty shop. The lady who took our order was really nice.
We started off with the Taiwanese meatball.
A Taiwanese meatball (ba wan) isn't like a normal meatball. The outside is a chewy, mochi like texture. Though much thicker and chewier than mochi. The inside is filled with ground meat. I was disappointed when this came out. It was so flat and the sauce didn't taste right. The inside meat tasted pretty good though, but the skin wasn't right.
Next, we got beef noodle soup.
Boyfriend has been craving NRM a lot lately. While eating this, he proclaimed he could eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner every night. I wasn't very impressed with this version of beef noodle soup. First, it had sour pickled vegetables. While this is often found in Taiwanese beef noodle soup, I'm not very fond of it as it makes the broth taste sour. The meat also wasn't that flavorful. And the noodles weren't that great either.
Next, I ordered a rice roll (fan tuan)
At my grandmother's old place in Taipei, there was a rice roll vendor right in front of her building. Every morning we would go down and get fresh rice rolls for breakfast. It was fun watching him make it. He had different ones. Salty ones, salty and spicy ones, ones made with purple rice, white rice, and also sweet ones filled with red bean paste. I preferred the salty and spicy ones with purple rice.
A rice roll is like a burrito/sushi roll. The inside is usually a chinese fried crueller (yu tiao), dried shredded pork, and pickled vegetables (usually the spicy pickled radishes).
The rice roll was pretty good. The crueller was still crunchy. Sometimes places use old, no longer crunchy cruellers which ruins the taste roll for me.
We also ordered a green onion pancake.
The pancake was pretty good. It had a good amount of doughiness and a good amount of onion flavor.
Finally, I ordered an oyster pancake.
While the sauce was right, the oyster pancake was completely wrong. It's supposed to be like a pancake, with a chewy flour base, egg, oysters and some vegetables smashed into the pancake. This was a giant omelette with all the vegetables and oysters sitting in between the folds of the omelet instead of being blended into the batter. Plus there were way too many vegetables.
All in all it was a pretty disappointing experience.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Groupon has come to San Diego. About a month ago, I was contacted by the people working at Groupon. Everyday they have a deal of the day for the San Diego area. The idea is to use the buying power of a group to get deals. Except that you don't actually have to be with this group for activities, just for the initial buying. Once enough people have bought the said featured deal of the day, the "deal is on." So far it seems that the number needed to initiliaze the deal has always been met. I've seen some great deals lately, so I wanted to share the site with you if you haven't heard of them. The deals vary. Sometimes it's a gift certificate to a restaurant for 50% off, sometimes it's a discount on cruise tickets, etc. For example, today's deal is a 53% discount on the gondolay cruise in Coronado. I didn't even know this existed! The cruise tries to emulate the feeling and sites of Venice. A one hour boat ride, complimentary appetizer or dessert, ice bucket and wine glasses and you can bring your own wine, Italian music, normally costs $89. Through today's groupon, you can get it for $40. Pretty nice! Boyfriend and I jumped on today's deal and have jumped on a few others. You might want to check them out. http://www.groupon.com/san-diego/
San Diego restaurant is still going on for some restaurants. While the official restaurant week ends September 18, a lot of restaurant have extended theirs an extra week. Some of the restaurants I know that have extended are George's, Oceanaire, and the various Cohn restaurants. You can visit www.sandiegorestaurantweek.com for menu.