Archive for the 'El Monte' Category

Burritos La Palma – El Monte

Burritos La Palma - El Monte

Work has been busier than ever, which means lunching on leftovers most days while basking in the glow of my computer screen. It’s a highly productive routine, but a girl’s just gotta take a burrito break sometimes. Amirite? One recent Friday, I gathered a posse of burrito-loving colleagues and headed to El Monte. Both Bill and Jonathan have vouched for Burritos La Palma‘s muy excellente wares, so I knew we were in for a treat.

Burritos La Palma - El Monte

La Palma is a traditional burrito stand from Jerez, Zacatecas. According to Bill, the Bañuelos Lugo family opened the first one in 1980 on Las Palmas Street. This location is the mini-chain’s tenth total and the first in the U.S. 

Burritos La Palma - El Monte

Even though La Palma looks like a fast-casual establishment with its prominently displayed register and menu board, the restaurant offers full service at lunchtime. While our burritos were being made in the kitchen, a basket of chips and salsa kept us munching and happy. Continue reading ‘Burritos La Palma – El Monte’

Kim Hoa Hue Restaurant – El Monte

Kim Hoa Hue Restaurant - El Monte - Los Angeles

Even with an endless parade of new restaurant openings in Los Angeles, my current obsession is an unassuming eight-year-old Vietnamese spot in El Monte. My friend Thien introduced me to Kim Hoa Hue Restaurant a few weeks ago, and I’ve already been back three times since. This place is really something dac biet.

Kim Hoa Hue Restaurant - El Monte - Los Angeles

Whereas most Vietnamese restaurants in town serve a menu of the country’s greatest hits, like pho, bun, and the like, Kim Hoa Hue specializes in Central Vietnamese fare, specifically the cuisine from Hue. As Vietnam’s former imperial capital, Hue is renowned for its sophisticated cuisine, developed by the cooks of the royal court.

Kim Hoa Hue Restaurant - El Monte - Los Angeles

On each of my visits here, my dining companions and I feasted like kings. Never missing from our spread was the Hue Combo ($6.25), a sample platter of delicate delights: banh beo (steamed rice cakes topped with shrimp and cracklins), banh nam (rice cakes embedded with shrimp and steamed in banana leaves), banh bot loc (shrimp and pork dumplings), cha (steamed pork forcemeat), and banh uot tom chay (rice sheets stuffed with minced shrimp).

While my mother and grandmother were particularly fond of the banh beo during our lunch, it’s impossible for me to choose a favorite—winners all around, I say.

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{swoon} Phở Bò at Phở Filet

Pho Filet - South El Monte

Linh Phuong Nguyen makes my favorite bowl of southern style pho bo (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) at Phở Filet, a worn-in restaurant straddling the border between Rosemead and South El Monte. While the filet mignon that comes standard with every bowl is a cut above the rest, it’s Ms. Nguyen’s unparalleled broth that distinguishes her product from the dozens of pho hawkers in town.

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Gioia Cheese

Gioia Cheese, Inc. - South El Monte

Heaven is located 9.7 miles from my house on an industrial stretch in South El Monte. Don’t believe me? Well, then you’ve probably never tasted freshly made burrata from Gioia Cheese, an Italian-style fromagerie owned and operated by Vito Girardi since 1992. The unassuming factory churns out 2,000 pounds of the creamiest, stringiest, most delectable burrata daily and delivers it to restaurants across the country. Gioia is one of a small number of domestic burrata producers, and best of all, its wares are available for sale to the public.

I’ve been meaning to procure a hefty stash for months, but didn’t make the trip until my mom rolled into town to celebrate her 58th birthday. My present to her was a three-course celebratory feast, and gooey mounds of burrata were slated for the starter. A half-pound probably would’ve sufficed for the evening’s meal, but I went ahead and hoarded two pounds for good measure ($6 per pound).

Gioia Cheese, Inc. - South El Monte

I blasted the AC on the car ride home and refrigerated the tubs as soon as I arrived at the apartment. Without any preservatives in the product, I wasn’t taking any chances with spoilage. For those unfamiliar with burrata, here’s a quick primer from the article “Burrata di Andria” by Gary Allen on Leite’s Culinaria:

Burrata cheese begins life like other mozzarellas, with rennet used to curdle the warm milk. Whereas for fresh mozzarella the curds are plunged into hot whey or lightly salted water, kneaded, pulled to develop the familiar stretchy strings (pasta filata), and then shaped into whatever forms, during the making of burrata the still-hot cheese is instead formed into a pouch which is filled with scraps of leftover mozzarella and topped off with fresh, rich cream, called panna.

Gioia Cheese, Inc. - South El Monte

Even though I’ve eaten burrata dozens of times at restaurants, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I cracked open the lid. The cheese was pristinely white with rounded edges and a smooth surface. The perfection of it all reminded me of a cityscape after a fresh snow fall. Burrata inspires the poet in me.

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