Saturday, July 31, 2010


When I went to Than Long Restaurant in San Francisco a number of years ago, I ordered the garlic noodles. They were so buttery, oily rich and garlicky. From then on... I would always make it a point to go and have their garlic noodles when I am in the West Coast. I just loved their garlic noodles.. I stopped looking at the menu after my second  time, all I order is the garlic noodles and their roasted cracked  dungeness crab... It is so GOOD ... and I never get tired of it....

So, I spent some time in the kitchen the other day, trying to perfect MY version of Crustacean's garlic noodles. I slowly added the seasonings little by little, trying to get as close to the original taste as possible. I think my garlic noodle recipe is as good as they get to the one I had at Crustacean.

Here is my version of the Garlic Noodles of Crustacean


1 lb. fresh noodles ( you can also  use spaghetti )
1 tbsp. rice wine
1/2 tbsp. Maggi seasoning
1 tbsp. Nuoc Nam ( Vietnamese or Thai ) fish sauce
1/2 stick of unsalted butter ( anchor )
1 1/2 tbsp. mashed garlic ( with their skin on )
chopped parsley for garnish


Rinse the noodles with cold water and set aside.

Bring water in a large pot to a boil, add noodles, and a dash of salt , lower heat to a simmer and cook until tender ( go beyond normal, chewy al dente). Ladle out and reserve 1/2 cup of the slightly thick cooking liquid. Drain noodles but do not flush it with water.

With the 1/2 cup of noodle liquid, return to the stove and simmer. Add a splash of rice wine, several dashes of Maggi seasoning sauce and fish sauce.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add 1/2 stick of unsalted butter. Once it has melted, add the garlic. Cook stirring frequently for 1 - 2 minutes, until softened and just about to turn color. Do not let the garlic burn. You want the garlic to sweat and release all the flavor into the butter. Once the garlic is soft, add the Maggi-rice wine-fish sauce mixture into your garlic butter and continue to simmer and the liquid is reduced. Taste test and season with salt and sugar as needed.

Turn off the heat  -- but keep the pan on the stove.  Toss in the noodles right in the sauce pan, and coat the noodles with the liquid....It is best that you use tongs when you toss the noodles in the liquid. Stir the noodles until the sauce clings to the noodles and there is no more liquid visible in the skillet.

You can also add in more fresh garlic if you want a really intense garlic flavor. You can add more butter to add a final rich note. Serve at once.

ps.   I am still trying to figure out  how to make the roasted dungeness crab... as soon as I get it ... I will post it here..... so WATCH OUT FOR IT!!


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dining at Crustacean-Beverly Hills

If you live by the Bay Area or the Los Angeles Area, I am sure you have heard of--  and most likely dined in the famed Thanh Long Restaurant better known today as Crustacean. Their signature roasted cracked dungeness crab and garlic noodles won over foodies, food critics and aficionados like me. The original place was in San Francisco (on Judah Street ) and is owned by the An family who hails from Vietnam. The Crustacean attracts a diverse crowd ranging from the jet set to tourists and families.... and what do they all have in common???.... a soft spot for fabulous seafood. The legacy lies in the " secret kitchen " --- which is a completely enclosed kitchen within the main kitchen. The kitchen is off limits to all their employees. This is where the family prepares the legendary garlic noodles and roasted cracked crab using their secret recipes that was passed down for three generations.

The Crustacean Restaurant in Beverly Hills is one of the premiere seafood-serving hot spots in the city. It is also great for a romantic evening ( they have booths ) or group dining. Reservations at the Crustacean is a MUST.... and their service is very pleasant. The price is a little on the high side..... but the delicious meal is worth every penny....

Monday, July 26, 2010

A day at Huntington Gardens Part 5- The Desert Garden


Finally my last post of the Huntington Gardens. Thank you for sticking with me. The Huntington Desert Garden is a fitting place to end. This garden was stunning; with wonderful plants in a well designed garden. You should definitely put it in your place to visit when you are in Los Angeles.

The Huntington Desert Garden is by far the largest themed garden I have seen. It covers 10 acres of various desert plants collected all over the world. This garden has the most complete species of more than 5000 cacti and succulent plants. When one talks about the Huntington Garden... they always tell you not to miss the Desert Garden. I love the alienness of the Desert Garden with all its spiny cacti.  It is really so large that it is mood altering to just wander its paths.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A day at Huntington Garden Part 4- The Lily Pond and Conservatory


The lily pond at the Huntington was inspired by Monet's garden at Giverny. There are some benches were you can sit down and rest your tired feet... When I got to the pond.. there were a couple of ladies with their easels trying to paint the scenery.

It was so peaceful to look at. I saw kois, turtles and ducks swim around the lilies, lotus plants and papyrus. I had ample time under the blazing sun to take some photos. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A day at Huntington Gardens Part 3- The Japanese Gardens

Our next stop..... THE JAPANESE GARDEN

The Japanese traditionally revere nature and their gardens are a quiet retreat from the pressures of life rather than a place to show off.

The Japanese Garden is a masterpiece of landscape design. The features of this traditional garden lure photographers like me. The Huntington's Japanese Garden is one of the oldest in America. This is definitely one of my favorite gardens in Huntington Garden. It is so peaceful and zen-like.

A perfect place to escape to when you just want to take a deep and meaningful breath from the hectic pace of city living. There 3 elements found in a Japanese garden.. They are water, rocks and plants.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A day at Huntington Gardens Part 2- The Chinese Garden

THE CHINESE GARDEN - The Garden of the Flowing Fragrance

This garden is one of my favorite gardens at the Huntington Garden , the other one is the Japanese Garden. The Chinese garden or the The Garden of the Flowing Fragrance is the largest classical garden outside China. It is the latest addition to the Huntington Garden. Incorporating the natural geology of a landscape the architects carefully arrange the scenes you encounter to create a story, like the stories you see on their painted ancient scrolls.

I suggest that you just flow along, photographing whatever catches your interest ( like what I did )... I didn't know where to start... There was  simply too much here to see and describe which you should capture in your camera.

Far from the frenetic pace of modern China, hidden behind the walls of San Marino, a placid garden links botany with poetry with the elegant grandeur of its ancient civilization. The Chinese Gardens opened in 2006. They hired  11 stone artisans from China to install the hand-carved bridges and to place the stones all around the lake. Another 50 Chinese wood carvers, roof tile experts,  and stone pavers to work on the structures inside the Chinese garden. Nearly all the materials used except structural steel and concrete materials came from China.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A day at Huntington Gardens Part 1- The Rose Garden

I have seen botanical gardens around Asia.. like the Orchid and Botanical Garden in Singapore, the Orchidarium in Chiangmai, Thailand and in the States--- I have seen the Hakone Garden in Saratoga, The Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanical Garden in Arcadia and now the Huntington Garden. Visiting these places gives me an opportunity to take a lot of photos and admire the many plant and flower species. Each of the botanical gardens I have visited had their strong and weak points... I have enjoyed all. 

Today Ernie and I decided to go and see the much talked about Huntington Gardens at San Marino. The Huntington Gardens or THE HUNTINGTON for short is owned by Henry and  Arabella Huntington. We decided to make our own version of a walking tour around the 120 acres of the Huntington. We carefully planned which themed garden we were going to visit and both of us agreed to leave out the art galleries and exhibition halls for another visit to the place.

If you are planning to go to the Huntington, make sure you are wearing your most comfortable walking shoes because there are 120 acres of themed gardens with an amazing variety of trees, plants and flowers. You can walk across the expanse of lawns to admire the fountains and statues, sit on a bench under the shade of a beautiful massive tree.

I have decided to make a couple of blogs on my visit to HUNTINGTON -- so you will be able to  appreciate the place like I did. So... please follow me as I take you on a tour around the gardens!!!!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

CAFE BIZOU- An Upscale Cuisine

I love staying in San Fernando valley when I visit Los Angeles. Ernie and Lulu live in Encino.....According to Lulu, Cafe Bizou is a ZAGAT rated restaurant. There are lots of places where you can go to dine...  there are expensive restaurants like Delmonico's, Cafe Bizou , Ruth's Chris, Maggiano's, La Frite, Villa Piacere, Pinot in Studio City,  and Morton's Steakhouse in Woodland Hills.... and there are mid range restaurants like Casa Vega, Spazio's, Katsu-ya, Benihana, Jerry's Deli, Cheesecake Factory and Rosti's.

Cafe Bizou has 3 locations-- Pasadena, Sta. Monica and Sherman Oaks. Lulu, Ernie and I went to the one in Sherman Oaks. It is located on Ventura Blvd. --- a 15-minute drive from where we live.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Post Birthday Celebration at Paradise Cove

If you are looking for a secluded beach spot to enjoy a beautiful sunset with a cocktail in your hand, spend an afternoon at Paradise Cove in Malibu. Paradise Cove is located just off the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and it is privately owned by Bob Morris.

It is a lovely, laid back spot to get something to eat and sit back to enjoy the sun and sand. The place is absolutely gorgeous and you can easily see why it is called PARADISE COVE. The beach attire is 100% casual. Paradise Cove is located at 28128 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. It is North of Pepperdine and South of ZUMA beach.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Exploring Downtown Hollywood

Since it was a nice cool night --- Lulu, Ernie, Ciony and I decided that we drive down to Hollywood and visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grauman's Chinese Theater and Kodak Theater ( where they hold the OSCARS every year ). Come with me and follow my little tour downtown Hollywood...