June 18, 2011

Los Angeles - Umami Burger

Did not get out of bed until 2pm I believe. Thank goodness I had eaten a hot dog before going to bed or I would've woken up with the worst hangover. We decided to hit up Umami Burger for a late lunch. Umami has multiple locations all over LA and around the US. We arrived at the La Brea location around 3:30pm and waited almost an hour for a table. We were starving by the time we finally got seated. The interior did not look like your average burger joint. This was a high-end restaurant with sleek modern decor. Overall, delicious food. I think their signature burger was one of the best burgers I've ever eaten. I hear some locations are better than others though. Now if only Umami would come to Hong Kong...

Iced Green Tea: a bit on the sweeter side

Market Salad: fresh crisp greens, tangy vinaigrette dressing

Truffle Burger: delicious patty topped with house made truffle cheese and brushed with truffle glaze. I think what makes Umami's burgers stand out is their soft, toasted, slightly sweet buns. It really brings the whole burger together.

Umami Burger: Their signature burger: patty + parmesan crisp + tomato + onions + Umami ketchup = burger heaven. All the flavors and textures combined really well. This burger had a slight Asian taste to it. I think it was probably in the seasoning of the patty and the homemade ketchup. The patty was juicy and well seasoned, the onions were sweet, and the parmesan crisp added a nice savoury crunch. They make their own ketchup, which tasted fresh and "umami" (sorry I couldn't think of a better word!). You have got to try this!

Truffle cheese fries with Umami ketchup:  Fries were not too greasy, and the truffle cheese was fragrant. They skimped on the cheese though, as you can tell from the picture.

Verdict: Delicious burgers, long wait. Looking forward to my next visit though!

Update (July 14th 2014): This location actually closed down, but there are still 9 other locations in LA. 

May 30, 2011

Los Angeles - Apple Pan

LA is a gastronomical heaven, no doubt about that. Our first stop after landing was Apple Pan in West LA (10801 W Pico Blvd), one of Tiff's favorite burger joints. I could understand why. It was old school and authentic, with only bar seating and an open kitchen in the middle of the restaurant. Crispy fries came on a paper plate and our iced teas (unlimited refills!) came in styrofoam cups. Don't expect to get any fancy sauces for your fries, strictly ketchup! The menu hasn't changed since 1947. I ordered a Steakburger (pictured) and Tiff ordered a Hickoryburger. These burgers were amazing. The beef patty was juicy and had a distinct charred flavor, the onions and pickles added that sweetness and tanginess and the cheese was gooey, resulting in a messy, but happy, eating endeavour. Tiff's Hickoryburger was essentially the same as my Steakburger but with an excellent smoky BBQ sauce. We were already full after the burgers but she insisted that I try the Apple Pie. Out of this world! Perhaps one of the best apple pies I've ever had. The pie crust was buttery, flaky and slightly salty, and the chunky cinnamon-y apple filling was lovely. They gave us three scoops of vanilla ice cream to go with it! I loved how it was sweet and savoury, hot and cold all at the same time.

The Apple Pan on Urbanspoon

March 11, 2011

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries with Crushed Macarons

It was my good friend's birthday celebration dinner and I didn't know what to get her, so I made her these beautiful cheesecake stuffed strawberries topped with crushed vanilla macarons. They are so simple to make yet they look like you spent a lot of time and effort on them. Much more impressive than chocolate-dipped strawberries!

Wash and clean your strawberries. Try to find strawberries that are similar in size, but not too small, or you won't be able to get much filling inside.

Core the strawberries with a corer/huller/paring knife. Be sure not to cut through to the bottom or the filling will leak.

For the filling, I used store-bought cheesecake (single serving). There was only blueberry left at the store, but I would recommend getting a plain one if available.

Mash up the cheesecake and whisk it a bit to give it the consistency of buttercream.

Put the creamed cheesecake in a ziplock bag and cut a hole in one corner for piping.

Pipe the filling into the cored strawberries.

Crush your macaron, but not too finely. Large chunks here and there make it more visually appealing.

Finish by topping the strawberries with the crushed macaroons. Serve within the hour or the macarons will start to get soggy.


For 6-10 strawberries, depending on size


1 medium slice of cheesecake - preferably plain
1 large macaron


  1. Core the strawberries, taking care not to cut through to the bottom.
  2. Mash up the cheesecake until it reaches a buttercream consistency.
  3. Put the cheesecake into a ziploc bag and cut one corner. Pipe into the strawberries.
  4. Top with crushed macarons.

March 10, 2011

Vancouver - Burgoo

Comfort food at its best! I am a huge fan of Burgoo. I've been to their Point Grey location four times and it gets better every time. Burgoo is like a high-end diner/bistro that serves classics like BLT and onion soup but with a contemporary flair. It is a relatively small restaurant but super cozy. The decor is mostly wood and there is a fireplace mounted on one wall. When you walk in, you are instantly greeted by the familiar scent of fondue. We were seated by the window (great for taking photos of food I recently learned) and I could feel the heater by my feet. It felt like I was in a log cabin somewhere in Switzerland where people come in to warm up with a decadent meal by the fireplace.  

Strawberry Lemonade: delicious chunks of sweet strawberries cut the sourness of the lemonade, making this a super refreshing drink (I get this every time I come! There's also an alcoholic version for those who want a little kick in their lemonade) 

Burgoo Biscuits: warm flaky scones with cheddar and parsley - great with butter

Decadent French Onion: roasted onions in rich beef broth with country-style croutons slow baked with gooey Gruyere, Emmenthal and Mozzarella - what sets this apart from other onion soups is that it comes with three different yummy cheeses and a lot of big crouton bits inside the soup, so it eats like a meal

Burgoo BLTCG: your classic BLT + Cheddar + Guacamole with house mayo served on toasted filone -  The guacamole adds a delightful creamy texture to the sandwich and the cheese ups the saltiness, which I love. The filone is toasted to perfection - definitely a must try!

I got their sandwich + salad combo with spinach salad: drizzled with thyme vinaigrette and topped with purple onions, apple slices, bacon bits and crumbled feta cheese - great textures, great salty flavors but I thought the vinaigrette tasted only like olive oil.

Other items I loved: Butternut Squash soup, Straight Up Tomato soup, Brie Fondue, Guacamole, Bruschetta

Note: Some of their menu items tend to change seasonally 

Verdict: Amazing comfort food, great atmosphere, but not recommended for those on a diet!

Burgoo on Urbanspoon

February 9, 2011

Vancouver - Rodney's Oyster House


This was my first time at Rodney's. We ordered a dozen Oysters (Kumamoto, Kushi and Fanny Bay were my favorties), Fish & Chips, Fresh Lobster and Scallops Fettucini. The fish and chips were mediocre. The chips were a tad soggy and the fish wasn't flaky enough. The batter was thick. However, the oysters and lobster were incredibly fresh and tasted of the sea. The oysters came with an array of sauces, from wine vinaigrette to specialty hot sauces. The lobster came with a side of hot boiling butter for dipping and delightful rosemary roasted potatoes. The fettucini was al dente and the scallops were perfectly cooked. Overall, really delicious food! The decor was simple and it sort of felt like we were on a boat or something, lots of wood and marine accents. Definitely very casual. You can choose to sit on the main floor on high bar stools where you get a good view of the seafood/oyster bar, or you can sit on the second floor on "normal" chairs and tables. We went on a weekday around 2pm and it was quite empty, until around 3pm where a sudden influx of people came in because oysters were HALF-OFF after 3pm!

Verdict: Very fresh oysters and great vibe. Attentive service. Come for the happy hour!

Rodney's Oyster House on Urbanspoon