Thursday, June 14, 2018

ARAWAN (LAS VEGAS, NV)

Arawan
953 E Sahara Ave
Ste E-14
Las Vegas, NV 89109
www.arawanthaibistro.com
Tel: 702.734.7799
Cuisine: Thai
$$$ ($30-$45)
Mon, 6/11/2018, 2:30pm reservation
    (4 Piglets)


Arawan is a Thai restaurant located in the same strip mall as the original Lotus of Siam restaurant(my favorite Thai restaurant in the States). It was a spontaneous lunch date since I was pressed for time for my flight back to LA.

Interior


The restaurant was actually larger than what I expected. It was nicely decorated and the chairs were super comfortable. It was simple, yet elegant.

The menu itself was large but not overwhelming. There was a variety of the usual dishes to choose from, i.e. noodles, soup, curries and rice dishes. I wanted to stick with their most popular dishes.

Larb ($14.00): Ground chicken tossed in spicy lime dressing with rice powder, red onion, green onion and cilantro-served with lettuce. The larb was actually quite tasty. We asked for mild and it was the perfect level of spice. I  thought it was refreshing since the lime cut through the heaviness of the dish.

KA MOO ARAWAN ($15.00): Stew pork hog with boiled egg and steam Chinese broccoli. This dish was nothing special. It was tasty, but reminded me of a Chinese dish my mom would make than a Thai dish. It has a slightly sweet taste from the soy sauce and the Chinese broccoli was cooked perfectly.

Complimentary wontons

MY FAVORITE DISH. ARAWAN PAD THAI ($22.00): Fresh prawn wok-stir fried in a tamarind sauce with rice noodle, slice chicken, peanut, green onions and bean sprouts-wrapped with lattice egg and side of crushed peanuts. This dish was amazing. I normally wouldn't care for pad thai, but the watier recommended it and said it was one of the most popular dishes. Seriously though, I can totally see why...it's beautifully presented and there was tons of flavor. The pad thai wasn't overly sauced and it wasn't dry either. It was made perfectly. At $22, it better be though.

DUCK RED CURRY ($18.00): Roasted duck in a red curry coconut milk broth with red peppers, zucchini, tomato, grapes, pineapple, asparagus and sweet basil leaves. The flavor of the curry was good but it wasn't anything memorable. I thought the duck was quite dry and it was disappointing. The pineapple was actually a nice touch to the dish but that was the only thing great about it. I would pass.
Overall, I thought Arawan is a decent Thai spot if you want a change from Lotus of Siam. The place is also known for desserts, but unfortunately, they do not serve it during lunch. The service was good, always making sure the water was full. The food was served pretty fast as well. I think what made this place stick out was the pad thai and I would literally just visit Arawan for that noodle dish.

Notable Dishes: Arawan Pad Thai

Friday, June 1, 2018

LA COLOMBE (CONSTANTIA, CAPE TOWN, SA)

La Colombe
Silvermist Wine Estate

Main Road, Constantia Nek
Cape Town, 7806
South Africa
Tel: +27 21 794 2390
Cuisine: French-Japanese inspired South African
$$$$ ($50+)
Fri, 05/04/2018, 7:00pm reservation
     (5 Piglets)


Have you ever visited a place and wondered why one restaurant is far more exceptional than the others? What exactly makes the restaurant the best restaurant in the city? I contemplated these questions as I arrived in Cape Town. I've traveled the world and eaten at a number of three-michelin star restaurants (including Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy) and La Colombe has been consistently ranked the best restaurant in Cape Town. I managed to snag a reservation for my last night in South Africa. I simply wondered if it lived up to the hype.

Interior
The wine
Nestled in a beautiful winery in Constantia, La Colombe sits at the top of the Silvermist estate. It's about a half hour drive from the city on a good day. The views are simply spectacular and you're transported into a world where you are just one with the food.

As you ascend into the restaurant, you're greeted with a vast array of delicious amuse bouche to make you want more. You anticipate that the meal will be exceptional upon the first bite. The warm, freshly made sourdough bread complemented with the spiced pork lard simply melted in your mouth. I was looking forward to the meal. I decided on the gourmand, which is their elaborate tasting menu.


Gourmand:
Amuse Bouche
Sourdough, Spiced Pork Lard, Salsa Verde
Course One: Tuna "La Colombe"
Course Two: Mozambican Langoustine, Kerala Style Chicken Wing, Snoek Dressing, Coriander, Sweet Potato
Course Three: Korean Style Springbok, DUkkah, Romesco, Hoisin
Course Four: Seared Scallop, Glazed Sous Vide Pork Belly, Sweetcorn, Spiced Coconut
Course Five: Palate Cleanser: Lemongrass, Ginger, Pomelo, Kalamansi
Course Six: Linefish, Mussel, Black Forest Ham, Tarragon, Veloute
Course Seven: Lamb Loin, Braised Neck, Tenderstem Broccoli, Turnip, Pickled Red Onion, Smoked Garlic
Course Eight: Boerenkaas, Jerusalem Artichoke, Pear, Pecan Nut
Course Nine: Roasted Ivoire Namelaka, Pineapple, Chamomile, Sesame, Honeycomb
Amuse Bouche
Course one: La Colombe Tuna
Course One: unopened
Course Two: Langoustine
Course three: Springbok
Course four: Scallop

Course five: Palate cleanser
A closer look
Course six: Linefish
Course seven: Lamb loin
Course eight: Boerenkaas (cheese)

Petit Fours
Coffee..so good


Chefs James Gaag and Scot Kirton managed to construct a menu that was well thought out to bring out the flavors of every ingredient. Everything from the tuna served in a tin can to the dessert consisting of a moist sponge cake of pineapple was simply put: an orgasm in my mouth. The chefs managed to permeate flavors that were surreal. The meal from start to finish was an experience that truly was unforgettable. This is essentially why La Colombe is awarded as the best restaurant in Cape Town; the restaurant does live up to its hype. The service was on point, from filling the water when necessary to timing the food perfectly. The ambiance, though could be a bit noisy at times, was clean and sophisticated. The only thing left standing is the necessity for the Michelin guide to credit this restaurant it truly deserves.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

PEKING TAVERN (DOWNTOWN, LOS ANGELES, CA)

Peking Tavern
806 S Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
www.pekingtavern.com
Tel: 213.988.8308
Cuisine: Chinese
$$ ($15-$30)
Sat, 04/07/2018, 8:30pm reservation
   (3 piglets)


In the basement of a bank in downtown Los Angeles sits a Chinese gastropub. Peking Tavern serves street food that would be commonly seen in Beijing, hence the name Peking.

Upon going down the stairs, you are greeted by the hostess. We were led to a table in the near empty dining room. There was communal seating in the middle of the room, which many people were flocking to as well as the bar area. The ambiance was very cool and bar-like but with a hint of Asian inspiration (minus the Kobe Bryant mural). I did appreciate that they seemed to be all about LA; however, I was disappointed with the service. It took them 15 minutes to take our order and a good amount of time to get our food. Most of the time spent at the restaurant was waiting and not eating.

Kobe Bryant

The bar area
MY FAVORITE DISH. KOBE BEEF POTSTICKER ($13.50): Pan fried Kobe beef dumpling with reduced ginger vinegar glazing. I thought this dish was delicious. It had a crispy skin coating and the filling was moist and juicy. It was a bit different but in a good way with tons of flavor. It was similar to a pork dumpling but 10x better.
BEEF ROLL ($10.00): Sliced braised beef shank with cilantro, green onions, sweet and savory sauce in handmade wrap. I thought this dish was good but a bit dry. I didn't taste much of the sauce. The wrap itself is delicious. It was perfectly crispy with a chewy texture. It's worth a try.
BEEF NOODLE SOUP ($9.50): Braised beef shank with fresh noodle, Chinese sauerkraut and cilantro. This was pretty good. I thought it had a lot of flavor but it wasn't the best noodle soup I've had. I did enjoy the noodles. I'm a noodle girl so any type of noodles I'm a fan of.
SPICY MANGO MARGARITA ($10.00): Tequila, Cointreau, Mango Nectar, Sriracha, Lime Juice. I loved my drink. I thought it was absolutely delicious. I could definitely taste the sriracha and the mango balanced out the spiciness. It's a great way to enjoy the meal.
Overall, I thought Peking Tavern was just ok. I was mostly turned off by the wait time and the service. It seemed as though only two people were working the dining room for a Saturday night. Additionally, the food was good, but it didn't blow my mind. I did enjoy the potstickers and the drink. If they could improve on the service and improve on the other dishes, then maybe this place could be a hit.

Notable dishes: Spicy mango margarita and Kobe Beef Potstickers

Monday, April 9, 2018

FOODIE CON (@THE REEF, LOS ANGELES, CA)

Foodie Con
1933 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Foodie Con
$$ ($15-$30)
Sat, 04/07/2018, 10:30am-5:00pm
   (2.5 Piglets)




Foodie Con is an event supposedly made for foodies. I thought I would step into heaven when I arrived, but it was somewhere in between Earth and Hell. It wasn't anything I expected and it lacked the food component that I was hoping for. 

At $40 for a VIP ticket (luckily I was comp'd), I was anticipating a plethora of food samples, food dishes, and everything else in between. What we actually experienced was a Farmer's Market where you have to pay to get in. There were more vendors trying to sell or market their merchandise than actual food tastings and restaurants promoting their food. Additionally, VIP didn't get you much other than a secret room with a big blow up swan and unicorn and extra seating for picture taking. Below are some pics of the event...



The only thing that was really free...ramen to take home

The VIP room

Silent Disco

One of the very few food vendors selling their food

The room
Overall, I would say that Foodie Con is a pass. There needs to be vast improvement in terms of vendors...ie less vendors and more restaurants/food promotion. It is called Foodie con and as the name implies, I expect more food for foodies. The beer area with beer tastings were probably the best part from the whole event, offering glasses of beer to taste. There was a silent disco was interesting, but not amazing. The only good thing was getting free ramen cups.