A recent girls’ night out brought me and my gal pals to San Gabriel’s Phong Dinh Restaurant. I’m not sure what constitutes a roaring good time for you and yours, but for me and mine, it’s a killer baked catfish. I roll with the best posse ever.
Thien An in Rosemead has always been my go-to spot for baked catfish, but we decided to try Phong Dinh this evening at the recommendation of my friend Thien. She promised that the catfish here was even better than the one at Thien An.
According to the restaurant’s menu, Chef and Founder Minh Trang was the first to introduce baked catfish (ca dut lo hau giang) to the area in 1994.
Before the star of the show arrived, accoutrements were scattered about the table—a large platter of herbs and lettuce, pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber spears, vermicelli rice noodles, rice papers, and best of all, a tangy-sweet tamarind dipping sauce.
Our waitress revealed that the recipe for the sauce came from her aunt, who hails from Can Tho. Now that I’ve experienced this seriously awesome sauce, I can’t ever go back to eating plain ol’ nuoc cham or mam nem (fermented anchovy dipping sauce) with my catfish. Consider me a changed woman.
Continue reading ‘Phong Dinh Restaurant – San Gabriel’
I eat at Good Girl Dinette a lot. The food makes me swoon, the chef makes me laugh, and the location makes good sense. While I normally leave my “fancy” camera at home when I dine here (a blogger’s gotta chill from time to time), I made an exception on my latest visit with Nastassia because I wanted to photograph some of the newer menu offerings with my newly upgraded camera—Wings! Pâté! Pie! Lights, camera, action.
Before delving into the obscene amount of good food that Nastassia and I ordered for dinner, a quick plug for the upcoming Good Girl Dinette pop-up at Bloom Cafe on April 10, 17, and 24. Chef Diep Tran is bringing her signature dishes, like chicken curry pot pie, to Mid-City, so swing by for dinner if you’re in or around the neighborhood. Your stomach will be glad you did.
And now, on to the eats! Nastassia and I started off with two appetizers. The first, Caramelized Ginger Chicken Wings ($7.50), were inspired by thit ga kho, a homey Vietnamese braised chicken dish.
Whereas the traditional preparation yields flabby chicken skin, Diep avoids such unpleasantries by crisping the exterior before coating each piece in a sticky, sweet garlic-lime glaze. We requested “spicy” wings, which meant a flourish of serrano pepper confetti.
Continue reading ‘Good Girl Dinette Keeps Getting Better and Better (and popping up in Mid-City soon!)’
Our final meal in Honolulu turned out to be my favorite of the entire trip. From start to finish, The Pig & the Lady impressed us with its fun, fearless, and thoroughly delectable Southeast Asian-inspired fare.
Chef Andrew Le and his mother, Loan “Mama Le” Le, initially launched The Pig & The Lady as a pop-up restaurant and farmers market stand before finding a permanent home in Honolulu’s Chinatown. While Chef Le trained at the Culinary Institute of America, Mama Le is strictly self-taught. When the two collaborate in the kitchen, pure deliciousness happens.
The restaurant’s porcine theme is echoed throughout the space, from the napkin holders to the menu. The wet snouts and curly tails set a playful tone all around.
Continue reading ‘The Pig & The Lady – Honolulu’