Eat This Now: Chao Phraya Pad Thai

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Jasmine Thai’s Chao Phraya Pad Thai Topped with Egg. (Photo: Christine N. Ziemba)

Get yourself to Jasmine Thai on Valencia Boulevard and order the #46b asap: Chao Phraya Pad Thai Topped with Egg (as opposed to #46, their regular Pad Thai). Trust us on this one: The “b” version is one of our favorite dishes in the SCV.

Chao Phraya Pad Thai Topped with Egg: Thin rice noodle stir fried with chicken and shrimp, egg, tofu, red onion, crush peanut, chili powder, and sweet shrimp radish.

At $10.95, it’s a generously portioned noodle dish that stands apart from the standard (i.e., bland, boring or super sweet) Pad Thai found about town. What makes the Chao Phraya different is that heat—an extra kick of chili powder that contrasts the inherent sweetness of the dish.

Here’s what it looks like right out of Jasmine Thai’s kitchen, topped with that scrambled egg(s). Who’s hungry now?

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Jasmine Thai
23360 Valencia Blvd.,
Valencia, Calif. 91355

661.254.2012

10 Favorite Bites of 2015

Since the New Year is a time of reflection, SCVFoodie thought back to the many great meals and sumptuous bites of 2015 (and tried to forget the craptastic ones). So in no particular order, here are some of the more memorable and tasty moments from the past year, in pictures.

1. Lobster Sausage

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The Modern (New York): Lobster Sausage, spaghetti squash and lobster bisque in The Modern’s Bar Room.
 

2. Filet Burger

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The Morrison (Los Feliz): The Morrison’s Filet Burger is a beef patty topped with seared filet mignon, creamy port-salut cheese, marrow butter on an English muffin.
 

3. Uni (Sea Urchin)

Ceviche Project

Ceviche Project (Los Angeles): The Ceviche Project is a great pop-up dinner series, which most recently had a residency at The Mondrian in West Hollywood. The uni dish they served at the August dinner was simply sublime.
 

4. Smoked Salmon Tartine

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Republique (Los Angeles): The Smoked Salmon Tartine with avocado, capers, pickled Persian cucumbers, red onions on multigrain toast was a great choice for brunch on a hot summer day.
 

5. Candied Bacon

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Charcoal BBQ (Silver Lake): The Candied Bacon (crisp, thick and applewood smoked) is crack. So so addictive.
 

6. Donuts

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Donut Friend (Highland Park, CA): You can’t go wrong at the gourmet donut shop, Donut Friend, with its signature and limited-edition creations.
 

7. Turkey Sandwich

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The Original Sandwich Shoppe (New York): Almost every time we’re in the city, we try to make it to Greenwich Village for Rudy’s Fresh Roasted Turkey Sandwich. It’s one of our favorite sandwiches in the world.
 

8. Shrimp and Grits

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Rascal: We attended a whisky pairing dinner (led by our bud Whisky Guy Rob) at this neighborhood joint on La Brea and had a great Shrimp and Grits pairing.
 

9. Lobster Sandwich

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Doug’s Seafood (Bonita Springs, Florida): While Doug’s serves up both Maine- (with mayo) and Connecticut- (drawn butter) style lobster rolls, we preferred the sandwich that featured the lobster meat, with light mayo on sourdough bread toasted until golden brown.
 

10. Wild Boar

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Redbird (Los Angeles): We attended a Single Pot Still (Midleton Distillery) whisky pairing dinner at Neil Fraser’s Redbird in Downtown L.A. The Grilled Wild Boar Tenderloin with celery root puree, wild mushroom and pepper cress was the night’s standout dish.

Eat This Now: Rita’s Frozen Custard and Italian Ice

Chocolate-vanilla custard twist at Rita's in Stevenson Ranch. | Image: Christine N. Ziemba
Chocolate-vanilla custard twist at Rita’s in Stevenson Ranch. | Image: Christine N. Ziemba

Tucked away in a sad strip mall in Stevenson Ranch is Rita’s Ice, Custard, Happiness, serving up cold treats that have been summertime staples in the Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey areas for the past 30 years. It takes over a long-time vacant spot left by a Cold Stone Creamery’s short stint.

Rita’s has two basic products—Italian ice and frozen custard—which customers can mix and match in various combinations (though we tend to keep ours separate). 

For the uninitiated, Rita’s water ice is much smoother in texture than a Sno-Cone; and it’s not carbonated like an ICEE or Slurpee. But best of all, flavors are made fresh daily and served within 36 hours of mixing—so not all varieties are available at once, which is a good thing. They offer traditional flavors like Alex’s Lemonade, Blue Raspberry, Cherry and more exotic flavors like Sour Patch Kids Red, Guava, Passionfruit and Peanut Butter & Jelly.

Now, Rita’s Frozen Custard is similar to soft-serve ice cream, but thicker, smoother and tastier. Frozen custard includes egg yolks added to the cream and sugar (the basic ingredients of ice cream). It’s higher in caloric and fat content, but worth a splurge. The both times we’ve gone to Rita’s, they’ve had the basic flavors of Chocolate, Vanilla and Coffee, and we indulged in the chocolate-vanilla twist both times. Ahhh-mazing.

The most popular treat at Rita’s is the Gelati, which is an Italian ice flavor topped with a custard (and probably the next thing we order off the menu). You can add toppings to various menu items at Rita’s, but the water ice and custard flavors are that good that they need no embellishment. 

Rita’s Ice, Custard, Happiness
25802 Hemingway Ave., Stevenson Ranch
661.714.6841
Open seven days noon-10 pm

Meal Deal: Get the Ramen at Mr. Sushi

This Ramen Combo was a deal at Mr. Sushi. | Photo: Christine N. Ziemba
This Ramen Combo was a deal at Mr. Sushi. | Photo: Christine N. Ziemba

If your appetite’s bigger than your budget, Mr. Sushi in the strip mall on the corner of Valencia Boulevard and Cinema Drive, has a great meal deal. For $8.95 at lunch or $9.95 for dinner, order the Ramen Combination.

In addition to getting a vat of ramen (a noodle soup dish)—with which you can add various toppings like seaweed, corn, additional pork, etc., as well as alter the spice to fit your palate—the combo allows patrons to chose a “side dish.” But this side dish, we’ve found, can be a meal in itself. Choose from: the California roll, spicy tuna roll, assorted sushi (five pieces) or sashimi (six pieces).

This 'side' of spicy tuna comes with the Ramen Combo at Mr. Sushi. | Photo: Christine N. Ziemba
Spicy tuna roll

We’ve ordered the spicy tuna roll twice, and each time, the cut roll was a pretty generous, stuffed six-piece roll. By the time we finished the tuna and started on the ramen, we were nearly full and could only get through half of the soup dish. (Unfortunately, you can’t really take leftover ramen home because the noodles get too mushy.)

If you’re starving, the Ramen Combo is a way to go. One caveat: Mr. Sushi’s ramen, like many others, is packed with sodium so just beware if you’re watching the salt for dietary purposes.

Mr. Sushi
23360 Valencia Blvd. Suite D., Valencia
661.254.3855
Open seven days a week for lunch (11 am to 2:30 pm) and dinner (5-10 pm).

Lunch Deal-o-Rama: Toppers Pizza

You can't top a Quick Lunch deal at Toppers.
You can’t top a Quick Lunch deal at Toppers.

We had already heard good things about the Ventura County-based Toppers Pizza even before it took over and completely redesigned the old King Chef Buffet restaurant space on Valencia Boulevard.

The 20-year-old pizza company is perfect for families and large parties with its large pie sizes and generous salad bar offerings. (What’s even better is that most of the salads are one-trip only, limiting the gross-out factor for those skeevy about communal eating.)

It’s still crazy busy during weekends, but here’s a little pro-tip: Go during lunch for great meal deals. For $6.15, they offer a Quick Lunch—a lunch pizza with two toppings and a small salad bar. If you’re not into salad or not that hungry, just order the Lunch Size pizza (with two toppings) for $4.05.

The thick-crust pizza comes out tasty, quick and piping hot. When you have an hour or less for lunch, it’ll do the trick every time.

Toppers Pizza
23710 Valencia Blvd, Valencia
661.222.7888

Would You Like a Little Adobo with Your Burger?

The Adobo Burger with a side of Belgian fries at The Oinkster.
The Adobo Burger with a side of Belgian fries at The Oinkster. | Photo: Christine N. Ziemba

If you happen to be at The Oinkster when you’re asked that question, then the answer should be a resounding “yes!” Trust us on this one.

SCVFoodie was at the soft opening of Andre Guerrero’s second Oinkster restaurant on Vine Street in Hollywood last month, and we were fortunate enough to choose anything on the menu to sample. After long consideration and pouring over choices that included chili burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads, pastrami, we chose “the one.” [The Oinkster’s Belgian fries are just a given.]

Since Guerrero’s Filipino, we imagined that his adobo could be almost as good as our own Owa’s (SCVFoodie’s late grandmother), so we went for the Pork Adobo Burger: A Pork Patty served on a Pan De Sal Bun with House Made Pork Adobo, Garlic Aioli, and Pico de Gallo.

[Adobo refers to both the Filipino dish that can be made with chicken, pork, seafood etc., as well as the cooking process. Adobo uses vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic, with the meat simmering in that mixture.]

It was amazing. The pork adobo on top of the patty was tender and slightly acidic, garlicky, but that was all perfectly balanced by the sweetness in the pan de sal bread.

Owa would be totally jealous.

And this just in: The Oinkster’s Eagle Rock location is holding its Burger Week IV from June 2-8. The week-long celebration of the burger features creations available for one day only.

The Oinkster / Hollywood
776 Vine Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90038
323.536.9248
Sunday to Thursday: 11 am to 11 pm
Friday and Saturday: 11 am to 12 am

The Oinkster/Eagle Rock
2005 Colorado Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90041
323.255.6465
Sunday – Thursday: 11am to 10pm
Friday & Saturday: 11am to 11pm

Best Chicken Noodle Soup in the SCV?

Dinks chicken noodle soup rules the SCV. | Photo: Christine N. Ziemba
Dink’s chicken noodle soup rules the SCV. | Photo: Christine N. Ziemba

Despite the fact that we’ve had beautiful weather during this Christmas break in Awesometown, it’s still the dead of winter. Meaning it’s cold and flu season (just wait until this warm weather ends for the bugs to really kick in.)

And what does the body good when feeling lousy? Besides ginger ale and acetaminophen, the third weapon in our arsenal is good old chicken noodle soup. Nicknamed “Jewish penicillin,” it’s been around for ages. As early as the 12th century, the Jewish philosopher and physician Moses Maimonides touted the medicinal benefits of chicken soup—and added that it was a tasty food to boot.

While canned soups like Progresso and Campbell’s will do in a pinch, our favorite chicken noodle soup in the SCV is made by Dink’s Deli (we prefer the no-frills original location in Granary Square).

Why?

Because a bowl of their soup is enough for a meal—and then some. You can see and taste the carrots and celery. The noodles are broad and are short enough to fit on a soup spoon. And unlike other soups, this version doesn’t taste like it’s swimming in half of the Pacific Ocean’s salt supply. Dink’s also serves up a side of crisp bagel chips which complement the soup perfectly.

If you know of a better soup in the SCV, let us know in the comments section. And you don’t have to wait for your winter cold to try the chicken noodle.

Dink’s Deli & Bagel Bakery
25860 McBean Parkway
Valencia, CA 91355
661.284.6057