We headed to Far East Plaza early on Saturday for an early lunch, as in 11am early. There’s so many places opening shop in this plaza that I had to come back to check it out. This time it was to try out a Taiwanese restaurant recommend by a friend, Lao Tao. Yes! I’m so happy that I don’t have to drive into San Gabriel Valley to satisfy my Taiwanese craving. The shop is located upstairs on the second floor of the plaza. It’s pretty easy to find.
It’s a casual spot. Order, take your number, and pick a seat. Your food and drinks will be brought out to you while your chopsticks, forks, and napkins, well, you grab those yourself. No stress in that. The place feels like the local shops you run across in Taipei, unpretentious and very inviting. We chatted with the staff for a bit and picked our seats. Plenty to choose from.
The food came out quick. Of course, no one else was there. Still, glad to get our food quickly so we could start our day. The spicy foods we happen to pick used Sichuan peppercorns. The kind that numbs your mouth. Although, it’s not over the top to the point you can’t taste the food. I’m so happy about that. It let me taste the ingredients and daydream about being back in Taiwan. I think I’ll be back here again. The pork belly rice is on my next list.
727 N Broadway #207
Los Angeles, CA 90012
+1 (213) 372-5318
Verdict: A place to try if you know your Taiwanese foods and need a fix, a good fix.
We were fortunate enough to land reservations Friday night during the opening week of Senia. A restaurant that specializes in farm to table cuisine leveraging the culinary skills of Chris Kajioka and Anthony Rush, former chefs at Per Se, a restaurant by Thomas Keller. I should also add that Anthony had worked at the French Laundry before Per Se. So once I found this out I was eagerly awaiting a wonderful feast. And I have to say, they did not disappoint.
The menu was a little confusing having a section on snacks, plates, and sharing. Thankfully, the staff was super helpful describing what to order and how much we should order for a party of six. The snacks were just that, small portions for tasting. The plates were meant to be shared though one person could easily finish it off for a light meal. We wanted to taste more of the menu and only had a couple of orders where we ordered two for the table. Those were the bone marrow and the lasagna. A move we weren’t going to regret after tasting the lasagna. The share menu items were portioned for three to five people. Again, allowing a group like ours to sample more than one item.
Once we ordered, the courses came out at a steady pace with the staff being very responsive. And it wasn’t like only our server was helping out. It felt like everyone on the floor was helping each other clear tables and refill glasses. That’s a great way to run things.
Overall I was very impressed. Even more so that it was opening week where most restaurants take several months to get things in order for both food and wait staff. This place had it down. I’m looking forward to revisiting Senia in the future!
Note: I had to use my camera phone. So the images won’t be up to bar with my other photos. Sorry.
75 N King Street
Honolulu, HI 96817
+1 (808) 200-5412
Verdict: A must go for finer dining and creative takes with locally sourced ingredients.
Yes. I had to do laundry, because I packed light on this trip expecting to do a lot of shopping and I mean a lot. But lo and behold, I couldn’t find anything I liked. That didn’t mean I was a picky shopper, it was more like I couldn’t find my way around the malls. They are all interlocked in some way in the labyrinth of the MRT stations. I felt lucky to find any sort of directory. And once I did, I didn’t recognize most of the stores. So basically, I was wandering around hoping to see some cool new threads. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and I found myself in the Chinatown doing laundry. But not all was lost. The Tanjong Pagar part of Chinatown, I hear there are four more areas, had some food shops. So during the wash cycle at a 24-hour-no-need-to-add-detergent laundromat, I ventured out for some food.
The area, as you could imagine, had more food toward Chinese tastes. After combing four block, twice, I finally found a place. It served bak kut teh, a pork rib soup, that’s on my list of things to eat. Glad to have found it in a small center of shops. This salvaged my uninteresting time after work.
Looking back at it, I think this day was mostly Chinese food influence. For lunch we went to have claypot chicken. Something totally on the Cantonese side. Rich hearty flavors helped me polish off two bowls of rice. Overkill for lunch to most people. Me, on the other hand, was exactly how I want to spend my afternoon, in food coma heaven.
These events were usually about opening up the traditional Chinatown facade to DJ’s, food trucks, and street vendors, a sorta night market, neon style. However, this night was not only in honor of Chinatown’s 75 anniversary, but it was about the unveiling of the first Bruce Lee statue to be raised in the U.S. And if you have read the news recently, there’s some complications in getting this to be permanent. Whatever happens, I guess I’m glad to see this in person. Though I have to say, the statue looks a bit out of proportion, like the creator fashioned the body after the Capcom character Fei Long, which was of course, a tribute to Bruce Lee. Still, it was great to see this tribute.
We spent the rest of the evening eating, drinking, and visiting some of the open art galleries around Chinatown. A fun use of the first half of the evening before really drinking the night away. They had a beer garden with local brewers and a stage with a live band. Pretty crowded. The beer ticket mechanism soon became annoying, so it was off to Little Tokyo, to Weilands, to knock down endless amounts of beer until they closed.
Don’t worry, we sobered up before heading home.