Mar 2020

Yi Mei Deli – Rowland Heights

Yi Mei Deli - Rowland Heights

When it comes to Taiwanese breakfast, I haven’t had reason to veer from Monterey Park’s dependably great Huge Tree Pastry, but a recent lunch meet up in east San Gabriel Valley introduced me to Yi Mei Deli. With three locations in Southern California (Rowland Heights, Chino Hills, and Monrovia), Yi Mei Deli serves up a solid Taiwanese breakfast.

Yi Mei Deli - Rowland Heights

My dining companion Juliam ordered the genre’s greatest hits, and a few sleeper ones too. We settled into a communal table, and the food arrived hot from the kitchen as soon as it was ready.

Yi Mei Deli - Rowland Heights

First up was a duo of breads: a twisted cruller (you tiao) and a baked sesame flatbread (shao bing).

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Mar 2020

Melisse – Santa Monica

Melisse - Santa Monica

Chef Josiah Citrin closed Melisse about a year ago. After retooling for most of 2019, the restaurant reopened last December with just 14 seats. Though the new Melisse’s footprint is much smaller than its previous incarnation, the institution continues to dazzle diners with the kind of refined hospitality and fancy flourishes that make fine dining such a treat.

Melisse - Santa Monica

The $295 tasting menu, which includes nearly a dozen courses, takes diners on a familiar journey, with lighter, more seafood-centric dishes at the get-go and heartier proteins to finish. What makes a meal here particularly special are the table-side touches sprinkled throughout the experience. Plus, the unbeatable views of the open kitchen from every seat in the house.

Melisse - Santa Monica

Dinner began with a trio of canapes: a crab tart with sesame and trout roe, a purse filled with wagyu beef tartare, and a seaweed chip topped with wild Japanese amberjack.

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Feb 2020

B-Sides: Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup Edition

1919 Lanzhou Beef Noodle - Arcadia

At the top of the year, I ate bowls upon bowls of Lanzhou beef noodle soup from over half a dozen specialists in Los Angeles while trying to wrap my mind and palate around the Hot Dish for a feature on Eater LA. With its ropey, hand-pulled noodles and gorgeously clear broth, I never tired of the noodle soup even though I ate it for weeks on end.

Still, on occasions when I was dining out slash researching with a companion or two in tow, I took the opportunity to taste other specialties on the menu. Below are the best of the b-sides. Mmm…

Lanzhou Noodle House - Walnut

Though the Lanzhou beef noodle soup at Lanzhou Noodle House in Walnut was one of the weakest that I sampled, its cold fried tofu appetizer was terrific, with a generous slicking of chile oil and light crusting of sesame seeds.

LAN Noodle - Arcadia

At LAN Noodle in Arcadia, The Astronomer and I were taken aback by the seemingly simple scallion noodles. Whereas scallion noodles are usually stir-fried quite straightforwardly with soy sauce and scallions, the ones at LAN arrived in a shallow soy sauce broth with crisped and browned green onions heaped on top. The dish’s innovative composition and nuanced flavors gave the famed beef noodle soup a run for its money.

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