Sunday, May 18, 2014


200th post!! It's been almost 2 years since I started this blog, and the food has been crazy. I wanted an ambitious project for such an important post, and this was perfect :)

I hadn't heard of the term porchetta until my last Chicago trip, during which a friend recommended that we get the porchetta sandwich at Eataly because "it's the best sandwich I've ever put in my mouth." Unfortunately, they only had it on certain days of the week and we missed it, but it got me really curious about what porchetta is so I looked it up when I got back. Porchetta is a type of Italian pork roast and traditionally they debone an entire pig, season it, then roll it up and roast it for hours. The simpler way to make this for the average person (who lacks a giant oven and the means to purchase/ debone a whole pig) is to to roll a pork tenderloin within a layer of pork belly and roast.

Khoi and I split this project between us -- he was in charge of the roast, and I prepared the other components of the sandwich (he took on the more challenging part). We followed a recipe from one of my favorite blogs and it was incredible.

Khoi's roast, resting fresh out of the oven after five hours.

The spread. I made salsa verde, and brought bread and mustard for the sandwich.

The porchetta was transferred to a cutting board for carving. When we were cutting off the twine, the crunchy pork belly skin made the most succulent crackling noises, oh man.

We cut off the ends, since there's bits of tenderloin sticking out and we wanted only the pieces covered in belly.

Slicing with more crackling noises, yums.

Porchetta on toasted ciabatta, smothered with salsa verde and dijon mustard. I was originally planning for regular sandwiches, but ended up eating mine as an open-faced sandwich since I wanted a greater porchetta to bread ratio. The flavors were so great together -- it was herby, citrusy, spicy, incredible. 


I snagged Book of Mormon tickets for us a few weeks ago, so we headed to Broadway after dins. Best day ever ^^

It's this time of year :(

(Source: exocomics)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Cafe Istanbul + earlier that day

I've had my eye on Cafe Istanbul for some time, partially because I have a soft spot for Mediterranean food but moreso because I'm a sucker for cool decor, and I was curious as soon as I saw the pics on Yelp. We finally had a chance to stop by for dins on Saturday.

Enormous chandelier -- they got three of these guys throughout the dining area.

Apple tea! Basically a hot apple cider but there was something... Mediterranean-y about it? The cup is teeny but it came with free refills -- I wanted to just sit there and keep requesting more until they closed but I didn't want to be that customer.

So awkward -_-;

Complimentary bread and dip! Always makes me happy :)

Doner Kebab - hand carved marinated ground lamb and beef. It resembles a gyro platter, but way more food and higher quality than your typical gyro.

My lamb shank, which was the weekend special. It's wrapped in eggplant and sits on a bed of root veg and it was crazy succulent. The meat was fork tender and just falling off the bone, the flavors were perfect, and it was just healthy enough. I'd say that this ranks among the best lamb dishes that I've tried (and I've tried a lot), and was infinitely better than the last time I ordered a lamb shank.

Waiting area, what cool-ass plates

I would definitely come back. Next time I'm ordering the Sultan's Favorite -- I have no idea what's in that dish, but it caught my eye when I was checking out the menu and it has such a cool name, ergo I have to try it eventually.

And a few pics from earlier in the day. We stopped by the topiary garden downtown.

I want a puppy, any puppy...even a topiary puppy will do.

Harassment -_-;

3983 Worth Ave.
Columbus, OH 43219
(614) 473-9144

Friday, May 9, 2014

Muso Japanese Express

I can't believe that this gem of a place exists in Columbus. I came here yesterday night for dinner, and all this food was ~$15 total. It tasted great and the place was cute but completely empty. I'm a tad worried the business won't survive (this place opened a few months ago after the last restaurant here closed, likely due to lack of business...) so I'm doing what I can via social media to help promote them. I really hope that they'll catch on and stick around, so that I'll have a constant supply of takoyaki :)

1644 N. High St.
Columbus, OH 43201
(Phone number is not online...)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Soondubu Chigae

This is one of the items that I miss the most about living in Los Angeles, and one of the things that I can't find easily in Columbus. I think there's maybe only one Korean restaurant in the city here that serves it, and when I went and ordered it, it was only okay but not great (not BCD great anyways).

This was the recipe we used (another one by Maangchi, yes). I didn't have my DSLR with me so I didn't take step-by-step, but she does a great job explaining how she does it in her post. I've tried making soondubu before using a different recipe, and while Maangchi's wasn't the best I've ever had, it's one of the better recipes out there and it just hits the spot.

The spread: soondubu chigae (tofu soup), pajeon (pancakes), potato salad, lemonade, and rice. Yums.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Tres Leches Layer Cake

I mentioned a couple posts back about how I had big food plans for Cinco de Mayo. I ended up hosting an inauthentic potluck for almost Cinco de Mayo on Saturday over the weekend, for which I made several dishes: white chicken quinoa chili, sriracha beef nachos, and this tres leches cake here which was a hit. We passed around slices and there was 1/2 a cake left initially, but then we started playing card games. One of the guys was grazing on the rest of the cake during the game, and pretty much finished the rest before anyone realized it -_-; I had hoped to save some leftovers for myself... 

I think the reason that this cake is so good is because it's reminiscent of an Asian bakery cake (posted about here and here). The major difference is the three milk soak, which made an already wonderful cake even more moist and delicious. It's a lot of effort to put this together, but totally worth it since it's not something that can be easily purchased from a bakery and also because it tastes as good as it looks.

Recipe slightly adapted from Live, Laugh, Love, Bake

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs, separated into yolks and whites
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 + 1 tsp vanilla extract, separated
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Dash of cream of tartar
  • 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 12oz can evaporated milk
  • 1/4 + 2 + 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, separated
  • 1 packet gelatin
  • 8 tsp water
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 lb strawberries
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F and prep two 9" cake pans by cutting out circles from parchment paper and putting them into the bottom of your pans to prevent sticking. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup of sugar, and beat until it's creamy light yellow in color.

Add milk, 1 tsp of vanilla, flour, and baking powder, and beat until combined.

In a separate large clean bowl, beat together egg whites, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and a dash of cream of tartar. Beat until stiff peaks form.

Fold the egg whites into the flour/yolk mixture, being careful not to deflate the egg whites. A silicone spatula will work best for this step.

Pour your batter into cake pans, and bake for about 30 minutes until it passes the toothpick test.

Here's the cake fresh out of the oven! Let cool.

Cover two plates with plastic wrap. Loosen the cakes from their pans by running a knife around the edges, then flip onto plates. Remove parchment paper clinging to the cake.

Make your three milk soaking syrup by combining the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and 1/4 cup heavy cream. Stir well to mix. Discard 1 cup of the milk mixture since it's a bit much -- I put it in a tupperware and used it for coffee creamer for the next few days

Use a fork to poke lots of holes into each cake. Pour half of the milk mixture onto each cake layer, going carefully and slowly i.e. wait for it to soak up some of the syrup before pouring on more. Cover with more plastic wrap and refrigerate it until you're ready to construct your cake (up to a day). 

When ready to put your cake together, transfer your cake layers to the freezer (the idea is that you freeze them slightly so that it'll be easier to put together). Prep your decor by cleaning strawberries, cutting off the stems, and cut into thin slices. You only need about 1/2 a pound of strawberries if you want to decorate it like I did mine -- I have more strawberries than that pictured here for snacking purposes.

Make the stabilized whipped cream by blooming a packet of gelatin in 8 tsp of water for 5 minutes, then microwave at 15 second intervals until melted (stirring in between). If you see any clumps of gelatin that won't dissolve, remove it from the mixture before proceeding. Wait for gelatin to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, beat your remaining heavy cream and your powdered sugar slowly until foamy. Concurrently while continuing to beat slowly, stream in your melted gelatin and then increase the beater speed. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form. 

Remove one cake layer from the freezer and unwrap. Spread with whipped cream, layer on some strawberry slices. Layer on more whipped cream on top.

Remove the second cake layer from the freezer and unwrap, then place it on top of the first layer.

Cover the entire cake with your remaining whipped cream (an offset spatula is best for this task).

Decorate with more strawberry slices. (I forgot to take a picture of the next chocolate ganache drizzle step, but warm the remaining 1/4 cup of heavy cream in a small pan until barely bubbling, then turn off the heat. Add 1/2 cup chocolate chips and stir well until smooth. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a ziplock sandwich bag.)

Snip off a tiny corner of your sandwich bag containing the ganache, then drizzle onto your cake for decorations. Some of the milk soak is oozing out of the cake and pooling at the bottom, yum. I'm sipping on coffee with leftover milk soak as creamer as I'm writing this blog post, and alas it's making me crave more cake :(

Yangnyeomtongdak (Korean Fried Chicken)

Deep frying is a recipe deal breaker for me, usually. I feel guilty loading my food into a large vat of oil, so that by the time it's time to nom, I'm often not hungry anymore. It's also a tad dangerous to have so much hot oil in the kitchen, and it's annoying to dispose the oil afterwards, so when I see a recipe that involves frying I usually just skip it. This recipe however is too good to pass up. Also, Khoi did most of the work. All I did was lend a hand here and there, and then pigged out >:D

Recipe slightly adapted from Maangchi

  • 3 lbs bone-in legs and thighs
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup potato starch powder
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sweet rice flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 6-7 cups of canola oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup
  • 1/4 cup gochujang (hot pepper paste )
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Night before: prep your chicken by rinsing it clean with cold water, and then tossing with 1 tsp ground pepper and 1 tsp salt (this helps draw water out from the chicken). Refrigerate until you're ready to cook.

When ready, add 1/2 cup potato starch powder, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup sweet rice flour, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1 egg to the chicken. Mix well with your hands to coat completely.

Prep your oil for frying by adding 6-7 cups (about 2 inches) of canola oil to a large, high-rimmed pot. Use a thermometer to heat up your oil to around 350F, which should take around 7-8 minutes on high heat.

Add your chicken pieces to the oil and fry for 10 minutes. After this time, remove the chicken pieces from the oil and let rest for about 5-10 minutes.

 (We fried up some steak cut fries while waiting for the chicken to rest ^^)

Return the chicken to the oil (after we removed our fries of course) and fry for an additional 10 minutes.
While the chicken was frying, we made the sauce by heating up 1 Tbsp of canola oil and 4 cloves of minced garlic in a pan, then adding 1/3 cup ketchup, 1/3 cup agave, 1/4 cup gochujang, 1 Tbsp apple vinegar. We let it simmer on low heat for about 7 minutes (being careful not to burn the sauce) and then turned off the heat to wait until the chicken was done.

 Double fried chicken, done and ready for sauce (I stole a drumstick to nom on without sauce at this time...)

Add the sauce to the fried chicken and toss.

 Plated Korean fried chicken, ta da!

We garnished the chicken with sesame seeds, and served it with cole slaw and fries (with sriracha mayo) for sides.

The chef is so pleased with his work, as he should be :)