Food Pic Friday: Hash House A Go Go

Food Adventures, Las Vegas
Andy's Sage Fried Chicken and Waffles

Andy’s Sage Fried Chicken and Waffles

Waking up in Sin City? Nothing will cure that debauchery-induced hangover better than the outrageous offerings and massive portions at Hash House A Go Go situated in the newly renovated center-strip hotel The Quad (formerly Imperial Palace).

Pictured here: Andy’s Sage Fried Chicken & Waffles | Two sage fried chicken breasts with hardwood smoked bacon waffle tower, hot maple reduction and fried leeks.

The chicken and waffles is a must-have and any menu item that has the word “tower” in it is no joke. The presentation is absolutely ostentatious — at the base is a stack of waffles that have strips of bacon cooked INTO the centers (like someone laid the porcine crack onto the waffle iron itself before sealing it shut), then two large chicken breasts with a beautifully crunchy coating, all topped with a pile of crispy fried leeks and stabbed through the heart with a giant steak knife and perhaps the longest sprig of rosemary I had ever seen (…aside from that one year in college when I bought a mini rosemary bush that had been trimmed to look like a Christmas tree).

Luckily, the taste lived up to the hype of the many positive reviews, the glorious plating, and the grand procession as it is gingerly carried to your table. I will admit though, the excess bested me and I was not able to finish it on my own (it’s definitely meant for sharing!). The sweet maple reduction combined with the fatty greasiness of fried chicken skin contributed to the diminishing return, despite the blissful first bite. At just under $20, go ahead and splurge on this breakfast that is sure to soak up all that alcohol and keep you feeling satiated all day long.

Viva Las Vegas!

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Check out Hash House A Go Go: hashhouseagogo.com

The Quad Resort & Casino
3535 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109

See their Yelp reviews here!

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our-growing-edge-badgeThis post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things, and this month’s theme is dining out: eating at new restaurants, trying new dishes, or exploring new cuisines! We’ve been to Vegas many a time, but this was our first visit to the famed Hash House A Go Go… and you can bet we’ll be squeezing it in to our future itineraries, if only to satisfy my chicken & waffle cravings!

This month is hosted by Ash at Organic Ash over in Auckland, New Zealand.

Cheers!

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Mon Ami Gabi – Paris, Las Vegas NV

Food Adventures, Las Vegas

While wandering the Strip, one can’t help but notice the towering Tour Eiffel, a 1:2 scale replica of the iconic Parisian monument. And ever-bustling with throngs of diners, there’s that one restaurant situated right in the front of the hotel, with an excellent view of the fountain show at the Bellagio across the street. That one restaurant, one we’ve walked past and thought “We should go there someday” many a time, is Mon Ami Gabi. Self-described simply as a classic French bistro, Mon Ami Gabi turned out to be an excellent brunch spot that’s totally worth the hype (though perhaps, not the consistently long wait for patio seating).

What's a classic French bistro without a fresh baked baguette?

What’s a classic French bistro without a fresh baked baguette?

We were open to seating options so we were seated right away. (I overheard that a patio table would be at least a 30 minute wait, and it was not a particularly busy day in Vegas!) We lucked into a table in the enclosed sunroom; with the chilly weather outside that day, I think we got a great spot! Be warned – the main indoor dining room did seem a bit dark for daytime dining, though I’m sure it would be romantic for dinner or supper.

Chicken Liver Mousse Pate

Chicken Liver Mousse Pate

We wanted to try so many of the tempting dishes on the menu but restrained ourselves to a few selections to share. First, the chicken liver mousse. We Californians miss our foie, so we were excited to indulge in its rich decadence. The burgundy red wine mustard added a great acidic punch to cut through the fat, though the buttery brioche would have none of that! The pate was firm yet spread easily over the toast… La belle vie!

Closeup on the Toast and Pickles

Closeup on the Toast and Pickles

We love charcuterie and found this to be a wonderful way to start our morning!

Oysters du Jour

Oysters du Jour

A well-timed respite from the fattiness of our first starter, a half-dozen of the day’s shucked oysters arrived just as we popped the last bites of brioche into our mouths. I forgot to ask where the oysters were from, but they were a great balance of sweet and briny… not particularly special but certainly fresh and enjoyable.

Mussels Mariniere

Mussels Mariniere

Martin and I have been on a mussel kick lately. After exploring the vast selection at Meet in Paris and making our own marinere style at home, we still could not turn down the opportunity for more. These mussels were quite sizable and, though the menu description listed white wine and herbs, were drenched in a good amount of butter. But if you ask me, it’s not French without butter!

Frites

Frites

We shared the full order, adding frites to make it our favorite moules frites. Their signature hand-cut fries were thin and wide, a shape that yielded an awesomely unique texture. The middle was almost chewy, and the edges were golden and crispy. I really enjoyed them! (I can only imagine how delicious they would be as part of the house specialty steak frites.)

Seafood, butter, wine... it's the good life.

Seafood, butter, wine… it’s the good life.

So this may not necessarily be hangover food quite like Earl of Sandwich, but if you’re looking for a brunch hot spot with satisfying food, an excellent view, and a taste of the leisurely French lifestyle, come sample the offerings of Chef Terry Lynch at Mon Ami Gabi. The menu looked impressive and we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface (escargots, duck confit, and tartines also caught my eye). Á votre santé!

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Check out Mon Ami Gabi: monamigabi.com

Paris Resort & Casino
3655 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109

See their Yelp reviews here!

Mae’s Cafe – Garden Grove

Food Adventures, Orange County

Mae’s Cafe… I used to drive past it all the time when I lived in Garden Grove. It’s situated right next to one of the most consistently busy In N Out Burger locations, and you can even see the Mae’s Cafe marquee from the 22 freeway! I was always curious about the unwavering blue and yellow sign and what lay beneath in the ordinary-looking restaurant. My best friend C was in town and wanted to meet up here to catch up over lunch — a divey diner, he called it. Mae’s Cafe is open 24/7 so he had plenty of high school memories of late-night meals with friends; maybe it was where all the cool kids hung out because I had never set foot in there until just last week.

Steak & Eggs at Mae's Cafe

Steak & Eggs at Mae’s Cafe

When we first walked in, well… we were tackled by a bear hug from C. But then we were warmly welcomed by the woman behind the counter; a closer examination of her name tag revealed that she is in fact Mae of Mae’s Cafe! That was a great way to start our experience and I was looking forward to the food to come. I had done my research beforehand (read: looked up the menu online) and I knew I wanted one thing — THE MANLY MEAL. I kid, I kid, although that only $14 for steak, potatoes, AND a choice of pancakes, waffles, or French toast, my wallet was tempted to dive in. Challenge… not accepted.

New York Steak & Eggs with Hash Browns

New York Steak & Eggs with Hash Browns

Instead I went for my all-time favorite diner dish — steak and eggs. Mae’s offers a choice of sirloin, t-bone, New York steak, or porterhouse (or for the strong of heart, country fried), and I opted for the New York steak with my eggs sunny side up and runny. The steak arrived rare to my liking, though this particular cut was a tad chewy. Nothing a dip into luscious egg yolk couldn’t fix! These are all served with your choice of hash browns or lyonnaise (pan fried) potatoes as well as toast, English muffin, or biscuits & gravy. As you can see in the photos above, I went for the hash browns – extra crispy and a beautiful golden brown. Now my readers, I’ll bet you know me well enough by now that you can guess what I ordered for my bread accompaniment….

Biscuits and Gravy

Biscuits and Gravy

Not the prettiest plate in the world, the biscuits were absolutely drenched in a thick, white country-style gravy. The gravy was savory and hearty, but the texture was a bit odd — even visually you can tell it resembled cottage cheese. Still, the fluffy buttermilk biscuits underneath sopped up the all the flavors and were really comforting in a stick-to-your-ribs kind of way.

Breakfast Fajitas

Breakfast Fajitas

C ordered the breakfast fajitas — a hot skillet piled high with strips of steak, ham, onion, and bell peppers, and topped with a dollop of refried beans and mountain of cheesy scrambled eggs. It was a man-sized meal (though not the Manly Meal) served DIY with tortillas and salsa. C said it was difficult to choose between this and the John Wayne’s Favorite, but he seemed to have zero regrets as he dove into this sizzling platter.

Le French Dip

Le French Dip

Martin was in a lunch-y mood and decided to go for Le French Dip. Because adding “le” makes it more French, I guess. The menu described it as “thinly sliced beef on a French roll, served with au jus dipping sauce,” but as we soon discovered, the beef slices were generously thick. They seemed to be a bit dry, so he let them marinate in the piping hot au jus which perked them up and made for a more enjoyable sandwich. The fries sounded crispy as Martin crunched next to me in the booth we shared, never offering me a single fry. :( The sandwich came with a pickle (reasonable) and a carrot stick (odd?).

The conclusion? It was a divey diner as promised. But the staff was no-nonsense yet attentive, the food was decent, the iced coffee was pretty good, and most importantly, it was a great place to share a booth with friends and enjoy a leisurely conversation over breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. Or any meal really, since they never close. Definitely better than Denny’s, that’s for sure!

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Check out Mae’s Cafe: maes-cafe.com

9062 Trask Ave
Garden Grove, CA 92844

See their Yelp reviews here!

Hoover’s Beef Palace – Templeton, CA

Central Coast, Food Adventures

Our trip to the Central Coast was wrought with visits to awesome places with hilariously awesome names. After our dinner at Crazy Sushi Fever in Atascadero, we woke up the next morning ready to continue our Central Coast adventure. First, we needed some fuel to start our day, and where better to brunch than a place called Hoover’s Beef Palace? Seriously.

Hoover's Beef Palace

Hoover’s Beef Palace

Hoover’s Beef Palace, a quaint little greasy spoon just off the 101 freeway, is a down-to-earth, no-frills, country-style diner. A pit stop for many truckers and locals, it was the kind of place where I got some funny looks for taking pictures of my food. It was also the kind of place where about 1/4 of the menu was filled with “Meat & Eggs” plates. My kind of breakfast!

But first, coffee.

But first, coffee.

There’s nothing quite like diner coffee. Good ol’ basic black coffee, no fancy origins or special roasts, but most importantly, it didn’t have that gross acidic aftertaste. Sip on a cup o’ Joe while admiring the walls adorned with photos of county fair prized pigs, John Deere memorabilia, and portraits of cowboy hat wearing sheriffs (mayors? city officials? hard to say).

Martin's Tri-Tip Steak and Eggs

Martin’s Tri-Tip Steak & Eggs

Martin shared a fascinating tidbit with me recently. Did you know that tri-tip roasts were originally made popular by the Central Coast? Since we were in the ‘hood, Martin decided to pick the West Coast’s contribution to barbecue for his meat & eggs. The steak was a bit chewy for my taste, but temperature (rare) was perfect and the seasoning was spot on.

Alice's Rib Eye Steak & Eggs

Alice’s Rib Eye Steak & Eggs

I decided to go with the rib eye steak and eggs. Mine too was cooked perfectly rare and seasoned generously with a simple combination of garlic salt and black pepper. Just like Dad used to make! The farm fresh eggs were beautiful sunny side up with their golden runny yolks. The hash browns were crispy they way I like them. Just when I thought I couldn’t be happier….

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

… our side orders of biscuits & gravy arrived! We each got a half order that came alongside our meat & eggs plates, but it was a ton of food and we could have easily shared one. The white gravy had bits of sausage sprinkled throughout and the buttermilk biscuits hidden underneath soaked up all of that hearty goodness. I had a soft spot for Southern comfort food and these biscuits and gravy really hit the spot.

So if you’re visiting SLO County, be sure to swing by Hoover’s Beef Palace for a satisfying rancher’s breakfast before heading up to Paso Robles for wine tasting or nearby cities for fruit picking. Don’t be alarmed if people give us city folks funny looks for “checking in” on our phones or snapping a photo or two. The regulars seem to know exactly what they want and come here for the large portions and small town vibe.

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Check out Hoover’s Beef Palace Restaurant:

401 N Main St
Templeton, CA 93465

See their Yelp reviews here!

Dim Sum – 888 Restaurant – Rosemead, CA

Food Adventures, San Gabriel Valley

Brunch is definitely the “thing” to do in Los Angeles on sunny weekend mornings. But as much as I love my crab cake benedicts and mimosas, there’s nothing that quite compares to a dim sum “brunch.” Dim sum is traditionally known as the food that accompanies yum cha, a session of enjoying tea with the main star being the tea and the dumplings, etc. acting as secondary characters. In the US, dim sum is commonly used to refer to the whole meal inclusive of tea. The meal includes fried or steamed dishes such as bao (steamed buns) and dumplings of all shapes, sizes, and fillings.

Dumplings

Dim Sum Dumplings

One of our favorite places to partake in dim sum is 888 Restaurant in Rosemead, Martin’s hometown. The food is pretty darn good, the service is friendly enough, the prices are very affordable, and they serve dim sum until 3pm. 3pm! That means we could sleep past noon just like the good ol’ college days and still make it there from the Westside in time to enjoy a smorgasbord of dishes! Yes, this happens quite often.

Here are some of our favorite dim sum staples:

1) Har gow (pictured above, left): steamed dumplings with a clear, chewy rice flour wrapper encasing a ball of shrimp and ginger. A dim sum staple, this and shiu mai are the most popular dumplings, but fear not — the dim sum places know this too and always have plenty available for purchase.

2) Xiao long bao (pictured above, right): Taiwanese steamed soup dumplings. They don’t quite measure up to the ones at Din Tai Fung, but if you’re really craving it, these soup-filled pork dumplings will hit the spot. Don’t forget the vinegar!

Sticky Rice (before)

Sticky Rice (before)

Sticky Rice (after)

Sticky Rice (after)

3) Lo mai gai: savory sticky rice steamed in lotus leaves. Tender, gooey rice drenched in saucy braised pork, fragrant with the infused aroma of the lotus leaf wrapper — so yummy!

Tripe & Daikon Stew

Tripe & Daikon Stew

4) I’ve seen this referred to as “niu za” but if you ask for tripe, usually they’ll know what to give you. A hearty bowl of daikon (radish) cubes and stewed beef tripe in a flavorful broth, this one is one of the more “adventurous” dishes but definitely give it a go.

Xia chang fun - shrimp rice noodles

Xia chang fun – shrimp rice noodles

5) Xia Chang Fun: sheets of freshly steamed rice noodles rolled up with whole shrimp and served drizzled with a sweet soy sauce. This is one of our all-time favorite dishes, reminiscent of Vietnamese bánh cuốn. Prepared properly, the noodles will have a chewy, not mushy, and the shrimp will be just cooked and tender.

Turnip Cake

Turnip Cake

6) Luo buo gao: blocks of doughy rice flour containing bits of turnip and occasionally other add-ins like taro or Chinese sausage, sliced and pan fried to order. These are a bit greasy (they’re oiled to keep the blocks of dough from sticking to each other, and then oiled again to keep the slices from sticking to the griddle) but oh so delicious. Even on days when I’m trying to be “good” and healthy, I can’t resist the roasty-toasty aroma wafting from the cart.

Turnip Cake Cart

Turnip Cake Cart

Yes, friends, I risked ending up on Asians Taking Pictures of Food in order to capture this moment for all of you. I hope you enjoy it.

Bor Lor Bao

Bor Lor Bao

7) Bor lor bao: literally translated as “pineapple buns,” these sweet treats do not necessarily contain pineapple at all! They are named for the crust, which cracks and crumbles like the scales of a pineapple. The top is crispy and flaky, the bottom is soft and fluffy, and the filling is usually a sweet eggy custard. So good!

Mango Pudding

Mango Pudding

8) Mango pudding: Martin’s favorite dim sum dessert, this mango pudding is often prepared using the boxed mix, but sometimes we luck out and find a place that prepares theirs with fresh mango puree. Don’t forget to have it drizzled with milk!

Sweet Tofu

Sweet Tofu

9) Doufu Hua: freshly made silken tofu served with a ginger-infused simple syrup, this sweet warm dessert is the perfect way to end a dim sum meal.

Dahn Tat (Egg Tarts)

Dahn Tat (Egg Tarts)

10) Dahn tat: Flaky layers of dough make up the tart base, each tart is filled with creamy egg custard. These are an iconic dim sum dessert, but watch how many you eat — the custard has plenty of egg yolk and you know what makes the tarts so flaky? Lard. Still, life’s too short not to enjoy one or two every once in a while.

These are just a few highlights of our favorite dim sum dishes. Not pictured but noteworthy is the ever-popular char siu bao, a.k.a. barbecue pork buns a.k.a. manapua (for all you Hawaiians out there!). Warm, fluffy steamed buns filled with a sweet and salty pork filling, these are the perfect “starter” item for first-time dim sum goers.

One of the biggest appeals of 888 is that they still serve dim sum the fun way – with carts pushed through the aisles, navigating the maze of tables in the dining room. You can peruse the offerings in their cart and point to what you want or ask for it by name (see a few of our pointers above!). They then stamp your order sheet according to the price range of each dish, and when you’re stuffed to the brim with dumplings and (if you specified) chrysanthemum tea, a guy in a suit will come over and tally your bill with mind-bogglingly quick mental math. Definitely a unique experience!

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Check out 888 Restaurant:

8450 E Valley Blvd, Ste 121
Rosemead, CA 91770

See their Yelp reviews here!

PS: If you’re craving some soy sauce chicken, check out the small barbecue shop located just behind the restaurant (it’s an extension of 888) that has ducks and sides of pork hanging in the window. If you come in the afternoons on the weekends, sometimes they’ll have dim sum leftovers for sale (I’ve been known to snag some last minute bor lor bao this way).