Oct 2020

Feasts From My Trunk: Taiwanese Breakfast, Cambodian Sausages, and More

Jeff's Table - Highland Park

Not much has changed since last. With the pandemic running its course and the upcoming election looming in the not-so-distant future, I’m still trying to make sense of it all while seeking out moments of joy. Amid all the chaos of 2020, I’m truly grateful for the family, friends, and good food in my life. I’m also thankful for this 14-year-old blog and its community of readers, so thank you. Here’s a rundown of where I’ve been eating lately…

A&J Seafood Shack - Long Beach

It’s hard to believe that Long Beach is the furthest I have traveled since March. Located on the corner of Anaheim and Obispo on the edge of Cambodia Town, A&J Seafood Shack is absolutely worth a trek for incredible Cambodian cooking.

A&J Seafood Shack - Long Beach

On the surf side of the menu are fresh lobsters hacked and stir-fried with aromatics, along with garlic shrimp that rivals the trucks on Oahu’s North Shore.

A&J Seafood Shack - Long Beach

Don’t overlook the turf-side of the menu. The grilled beef baguette sandwiches are seriously fantastic, while the Khmer sausages served over steamed white rice is worthy of obsession. Every taut and caramelized link delivers an avalanche of smoke and funk.

Gamboge - Lincoln Heights

Another Cambodian newcomer is Gamboge in Lincoln Heights. The takeout-only operation has an adorable sun-soaked patio in the back.

Gamboge - Lincoln Heights

Canned sardines in tomato sauce was a lunchtime staple growing up and Gamboge serves a scratch-made version that’s truly irresistible. Gently braised in tomatoes, onions, and garlic, the meaty sardines meld into the sauce. It’s served with a sturdy baguette that makes for a trusty vehicle to deliver simmered sardines and sops up all that’s left with aplomb.

Medan Kitchen - Rosemead - Los Angeles

In the Before Times, the parking lot of the Duarte Inn hosted Pondok Kaki Lima, a Saturdays-only outdoor food bazaar serving some of the best Indonesian cooking in Los Angeles. For those missing homey Indonesian fare, Medan Kitchen is here to save the day. This takeout-only operation serves pre-packaged meals, along with sweet and savory dishes, prepared by local cooks.  

Medan Kitchen - Rosemead

While everything on the daily-changing menu is worthy of a taste, the pork satay is truly great. The pork was tender, while its char and caramelization just right. Served on the side are nasi impit (compressed rice cakes) garnished with fried shallots and a fantastic peanut sauce full of richness and spice.

Honeybird - La Canada

After a routine week of distance learning and remote working, a recent Friday night called for a change of scenery. After picking up a whole fried chicken, biscuits, macaroni and cheese, Brussels sprouts, and a slice of salted honey pie from Honeybird, our family high-tailed it to nearby Hahamongna park to feast. The wings and thighs were the first to go — nicely seasoned with craggy crusts and juicy dark meat. The biscuits, dotted with cheddar, chives, and bacon, and served with a maple-vanilla butter, paired like a dream.

Today Starts Here - Chinatown

The fine folks behind Pine and Crane in Silver Lake and Joy in Highland Park debuted a Taiwanese breakfast pop-up a couple weekends ago in Chinatown called Today Starts Here. On the menu are the genre’s greatest hits including fan tuan (rice rolls stuffed with a fried doughnut, hard boiled eggs, pickled mustard greens, and pork floss), dan bing (crepes filled with eggs and vegetables), and sweet and savory soy milk.

Today Starts Here

After picking up our haul on Hill Street, The Astronomer, June, and I made the short drive to Los Angeles Historic Park for lunch under the shade of a tree. While every dish was carefully made and quite delicious, the fan tuan — with its textural contrasts, pickley notes, and abundance of pork floss — dazzled most. June lost her first tooth eating the fun tuan!Also fantastic was the silken tofu with ginger syrup for dessert.

Jeff's Table - Highland Park

Sandwiches travel exceptionally well, which is probably why I have been eating so many of them. The Jeff’s Special from Jeff’s Table in Highland Park was a showstopper with hand-sliced pastrami, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, and comte cheese on rye.

Paper Rice - Pasadena

I learned of Paper Rice, a new Vietnamese spot near the corner of Fair Oaks and Union in Old Pasadena, while rounding up brand new restaurants on Eater LA. While the offerings appeared fairly standard with banh mi, spring rolls, and noodle bowls headlining the menu, two unique items caught my eye: xoi chien and the sauteed salad.

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While the latter, crisp-golden sticky rice disks filled with ground pork and woodear mushrooms, whisked my tastebuds to Saigon where this snack is commonly sold streetside, the latter brought me back to my hometown of San Diego where iceberg and romaine salads topped with onions and boiled eggs were served at dinner. The fish sauce dressing, fortified with lime, garlic, chiles, and drippings, tasted wonderfully nostalgic — all that was missing was the dented, pale pink plastic bowl that Grandma always served greens in. 

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We’re living through unprecedented times, and I’m finding that small joys, like supporting local restaurants and catching up with old friends, keep me going. So keep your head up and stay safe.


One year ago: {swoon} Spiked Lemon at Spago Las Vegas
Two years ago: {swoon} Anchovy Pizzetta from Chez Panisse Cafe
Three years ago: 
The Arthur J – Manhattan Beach
Four years ago: 
Slacker.
Five years ago:
 N/Naka – Los Angeles
Six years ago: {swoon} Grilled Cheese with Pastrami at The Hat
Seven years ago: 
“Old Chengdu Traditional Dishes” at Dan Dan Tian Shui Mian – Chengdu
Eight years ago: Umami Burger – Pasadena
Nine years ago: Son of a Gun – Los Angeles
Ten years ago: Crest Cafe – San Diego (Hillcrest)
Eleven years ago: Maple Bacon Biscuits
Twelve years ago: Phở Hòa- San Diego
Thirteen years ago: Cơm Tấm – Broken Rice
Fourteen years ago: Jim ‘N Nick’s – Birmingham

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2 thoughts on “Feasts From My Trunk: Taiwanese Breakfast, Cambodian Sausages, and More

  1. Aloha Cathy, you really had me starting to worry about the well being of you and family with the very long delay in posting on blog! I am very happy all are safe and well still exploring various cuisines of California ethnic populations.

    It is very nice to see and read of a California Cambodian restaurant (A.J. Seafood Shack) paying tribute to Hawaii’s North Shore Shrimp Trucks by writing on their menu; “Inspired by Oahu’s North Shore shrimp trucks” as a description for their garlic shrimp dish.

    What most people do not know is the shrimp are harvested directly from the shrimp farms just before cooking so they have the ultimate flavor farm to table taste no one else can duplicate. Also, most people do not know State of Hawaii due to its pristine pathogen free waters used in shrimp farming now supplies most all the broodstock shrimp to shrimp farms world-wide.

    Hawaii has the only commercial seafood auction house located between Tokyo, Japan and Portland, Maine and has the largest New England lobster pound outside of New England for keeping North Atlantic sweet hard shell live lobsters alive in pathogen free cold waters. I actually now consume more live kicking hard shell Maine lobster living in Hawaii than I did living back in New England.

    Hawaii is also the largest supplier of seed corn to mainland U.S.A. as there are 4 plantings of sweet corn on the cob a year in Hawaii due to 365-day growing cycle.

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