Saturday, December 27, 2008

Roy's Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine

For my 23rd birthday, The BF took me to Roy's Restaurant in Chicago! Being a HUGE seafood lover (as I was raised in Hong Kong, where seafood is more prevalent than burgers) he had a pretty good idea picking where to take me. The BF ended up ordering a three-course menu, and I ordered separately. The overall verdict? YUM!!

We started off with edamame instead of a bread basket. The BF and I went through 2 bowls of 'em.

Appetizer #1: Maine Lobster Dim sum This was a huge hit with the both of us. The creamy sauce and the light foam complimented the rich flavors of the lobster inside the dim sum. The skin of the dim sum was slightly chewy (in a good way) and packed with bold lobster flavors inside. AWESOME!
Appetizer #2: Prosciutto Wrapped Tiger Shrimp & Goat Cheese Polenta, served in a lemon caper & herb sauce Clearly there is no polenta because we asked for no goat cheese. Neither I nor the BF are big fans of goat cheese after a BAD BAD experience at Oceanique (Evanston, IL). The shrimp and spinach tasted exactly like it looks. No surprises there.
The BF's Entree: Hibachi Salmon Glazed with "Crab Dynamite" served with Sesame, Chive Butter sauce This was salmon topped with a REALLY thick glaze that had extremely bold flavors, which masked the fishiness of the salmon. It was a little heavy from my perspective, but I think The BF loved it. I just got a huge kick out of the marinated cucumbers on the side. hehe
My Entree: Roy's Classic Trio - Hibachi Grilled Salmon, Roy's Original Blackened Island Ahi, & Hawaiian Style Misoyaki Butter fish, a sampling of our 3 classics in their traditional preparations It wasn't served in that order, but form the left there's the tuna, then salmon, then butter fish on the right. The BF and I both agree the butter fish was WAY too salty, but the meat was tender and flavorful. The salmon had a fabulous sauce and met expectations. I think the true winner of the show was the tuna. It was seared to perfection, the sauce was to-die-for, and everything about the meat was above expectations. I loved it, as you can tell.

Dessert #1: Mini Creme brulee
A free birthday treat from Roy's

Dessert #2: Roy's Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle Flour less Chocolate Cake with a molten hot center served a la mode
True to its description, this was like a hot semi-sweet brownie with a gooey middle. The ice-cream was the high quality vanilla that had little black specks from the vanilla bean, and the tart raspberry sauce that framed the dish added a new dimension to it all. Note that this was actually quite a bitter brownie, but it worked extremely well with everything else on the plate.

We scraped the dishes clean. YUM! I'd totally come back, but I wouldn't try anything twice.
Thank you Roy's for a wonderful night, great food, great service, and tasty food!
And more importantly, Thanks to the BF for taking me. :)

Taste: 4 (Some too-salty dishes prevented the 5)
Atmostphere: 4 (VERY crowded on a Friday night)
Value: 3.5 (Pricey, but very very delicious. Prix Fix menu a good deal if you like what's on it)
Highly recommend this if you haven't been and you love fusion foods!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Shaved Ice from Irvine, CA

Following 7 days of an AWESOME vacation frolicking in Vegas and LA with my bestfriends from college, I have finally returned to the blizzarding Chicago. As depressing as it is to return to freezing weather and the lack of Chinese food selection, I have come to appreciate the fact that at least I DID get to go on holiday. Plus, I have discovered just how much desire I have to go to dental school on the west coast. California is THE Sh*t. Period.

Yummah. Our shaved ice is topped with red bean, mochi, mango, bananas, and kiwis!

With that, I leave you one of my last memories from Irvine California. That is - I present to you shaved ice from Mochilato. We ordered the Junior size, "half-and-half". Meaning, half of it is Japanese and the other half is Italian.

We were halfway done. You can see lots of red bean hidden in the mound. Below that are hints of pink and white gelato, which tasted like vanilla & cotton candy. We weren't the biggest fan of that, but the green tea ice was delicious.

Our shaved ice took 4 people to finish

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Homemade Pizza for amateurs

I'm never going back to store-bought/restaurant pizza's in Chicago again. Unless you're a deep-dish pizza lover (then you would probably want to pay Giordano's a visit) OR a super thin-crust pizza lover (you would go to New York).
Left half: Curry tomato chicken fiesta
Marinara, stir-fried curry chicken with onions, mushrooms, spinach, & cheese
Right half: Cheeseless seafood delight!
Diced shrimp & squid, imitation crab meat, spinach & marinara
Method: Stretch out your dough on the baking surface, decorate with your ingredients (already cooked to prevent salmonela), bake at 35o degrees for ~20 minutes! (depends on when the cheese melts)

This is toasty fresh, full of ingredients, and customized!
For the crust, we went to Trader Joe's to pick up ready made dough.
A special note: To keep the dough from sticking to the foil, don't use foil - use parchment paper.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Death by Chocolate Cake

Totally worth the hours of baking, waiting, pudding-cooking. I'm never ordering chocolate cake at a restaurant again!
We weren't patient enough to wait for the home-made pudding to beef up in the fridge...hence the messy insides - but still, it's the imperfections of the cake that make is SO home-y.

Moist, delicious, bitter-sweet, & beautiful. Here's the recipe too! Merry X'mas?
Pudding Ingredients
3 cups milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons cocoa (preferably Dutch processed)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
8 ounces semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
Cake Ingredients
1 1/2 cups plus 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa (preferable Dutch processed)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup brewed coffee, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the chocolate pudding: Combine 2 cups milk with 4 tablespoons sugar in a small saucepan and bring to just under a boil.
In a mixing bowl, combine remaining sugar with salt, cocoa, and cornstarch. Whisk in remaining 1 cup unheated milk. Gradually whisk cocoa mixture into hot milk. Heat, over medium heat, stirring, until mixture thickens and starts to bubble.
Whisk together eggs and egg yolks in a small bowl. Temper the eggs by adding a few tablespoons of the heated milk. Add the tempered eggs to the saucepan and stir for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and whisk in chopped chocolate and butter. The pudding should be relatively thick and will firm up when cooled. Cool, cover with plastic wrap and reserve in refrigerator for at least 2 hours (overnight is even better!).
To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter 1 (9-inch) cake pan and line with parchment OR PAM it.
Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Reserve.
In a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar until thick and lemon-colored. Beat in vegetable oil. Alternately add dry ingredients with buttermilk, scraping the bowl once or twice. Add the coffee and vanilla to form a thin batter. Divide between prepared cake pans.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Invert onto cooling racks, peel off paper and cool completely.
When cool, split cake in half with a serrated slicing knife. Spread bottom layer with the reserved chocolate pudding, layer cake on top, then spread another layer of pudding on top.

*optional: Sprinkle top with walnuts
*Note: You'll have lots of pudding left, but serve it on the side with a slice of cake so you can vary how "custardy" you want it to be. Alternatively, you can also just halve the pudding recipe. :)
Makes 12 servings