Monday, November 24, 2008

Merging My Blogs

So I've been thinking of merging my LA and travel blogs to just Gourmet Pigs at

Hopefully you guys think this is a good idea?

Anyways, on the travel side, I have tons of reviews coming up ... soon:

Santa Barbara: Hungry Cat

New York:
Jean Georges
Angelo's Pizza
Momofuku Noodle Bar
Fleur de Sel
Gramercy Tavern
BLT Market
Center Cut

So anyways, will be posting those, and I'll update the lists and post a feed here, but you should be checking Gourmet Pigs instead!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fresh Seafood, Preserved Eggs

Our current seafood restaurant in our hometown (Surabaya): Layar Seafood.

They have tanks and ice trays filled with live seafood right as you are walking in. Lobsters, crabs, fishes, clams, frogs. You name it. When you order, you just tell them how big a fish/crab/lobster you want. We've been going there every time I've been home (which is only once a year).

This time, we started with some frog legs :)
The frog legs here are nothing like what I've had in North America. Much more tender and flavorful here! Not like chicken at all. This particular one is made with some nice sweet soy-based sauce.

Then we went to their signature dish, "Kepiting Telur Asin" - which means "Salted Egg Crab"
As the name suggests, the sauce on the crab is made from Salted Duck Eggs (aka. Telur Asin). The salting is a method of preserving the eggs by soaking them in either brine or salted charcoal.
I thought loading the fresh crab with preserved eggs was somewhat ironic - but it is soo delicious so who cares!
A yummy savoriness filled my mouth with each sauce-laden bite of crab.

We also got some boiled crab with garlic broth
Good, and the freshness of the crab definitely stands out here. But flavor wise is a lot more subtle than the salted egg one, so we definitely liked the other one better, especially since we ate it first. This one tasted rather bland after eating the other. Should've started with this first.

I also have trouble finding good watercrest (Kangkung) dish in the US, so I ordered some here:
Sauteed watercrest/kangkung and shrimp in slightly spicy sauce.

A great meal throughout! Their ingredients are fresh and we can't seem to go wrong with any of the offerings here. Hopefully it will stay open next year as I plan to come back again and again. The Crab with "Telur Asin" is their unique dish and it would be such a shame if I can never eat it again!!

Layar Seafood
Jl. Raya Bukit Mas 109 Surabaya
Phone: 031 5683716

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bar Tartine Brunch - Order Wisely

Out of town foodie, trying to find brunch in SF, where to go?
I've been to Tartine before and loved it, so when someone suggested Bar Tartine (after telling me how great the uni there was), I accepted it.

Although I was worried there might be a long line, it actually was not bad. My friends arrived first and they managed to get a table by the time I got there. We asked the server for suggestions, and he mentioned the duck confit sandwich, the pork belly sandwich ....
But I saw sweet corn + scrambled eggs and I didn't listen to him ... Bad mistake.
The sweet corn was pretty good, but there wasn't quite enough of it to make the dish work. The eggs in particular were terrible. Bland and watery ... come on, can't they pick a good egg? Free range perhaps, for the price I'm paying?
Didn't finish this dish - didn't want to :/

I did try my friend's duck confit sandwich, which was Excellent. I'll probably come back, for the duck confit, but I will definitely be wary of what to order ...
Listen to the waiter's suggestions ... and perhaps nothing else.

Bar Tartine
561 Valencia Street (between 16th & 17th streets)
San Francisco, CA 94110
p. 415.487.1600

Bar Tartine on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Slanted Door, Slight Disappointment

I finally went to the lauded Slanted Door and was really looking forward to it. Got a lunch reservation and headed there straight from SFO. We didn't want to eat much since a lot of food-ing was coming up, so we decided to share 2 appetizers.

First we got some steamed clams, with garlic+basil.The clams were good and the broth was very tasty. A little spice and heat and a lot of flavor. Liked it quite a bit although we thought it was pretty standard. I can get this at a lot of Asian places for cheaper and it would be just as good.

Next we got some Niman Ranch ribs - I wanted some meat!
This turned out to be not that great. The ribs were kind of tough, and they weren't that flavorful. The Niman Ranch ribs I bought at Trader Joe's and cooked myself at home were better, IMHO!
So this really disappointed us.

We thought the Slanted Door was hyped up way too much and the food we had didn't quite justify all the hype. Did we order wrong? If so, please tell me. What should I get? Why all the hype? Is it worth another try?

Slanted Door
1 Ferry Building #3
San Francisco, CA

Slanted Door on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 4, 2008

puccho (japanese candy) cupcakes!!!

My friend sent me this picture. Aren't they the cuuuutest cupcakes EVER?

I want them I want them!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My newfound love ...

cusquena negra
Originally uploaded by burumun

The Cusquena Negra/ Cusquena Malta beer is my perfect beer.
I first tried this in Ayacucho, Peru.
It's like the handsome dark man, slightly sweet, and absolutely smooth.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sopas and More

It was our last night in Ayacucho, and we were all super tired. We were planning to go out and have dinner and hit the town, but it ended up not happening. So we all decided to just eat at our hotel instead. We've actually never really done this except for the daily morning breakfast buffet. But I was actually quite looking forward to it! (Since we pretty much hit all the good places in town anyway?Maybe, maybe ...)

I saw someone eating the Sopa Criolla before, and I just had to order it this time:It is glass noodles in the 'creole' soup (which was like a yellow curry), topped with ... a slice of bread and a fried egg!! By the end about half of the table ordered this :)
It was really flavorful and delish~. I didn't dig the bread that much, but that egg really made the dish in my opinion! Mmm .. now I'm craving it, wonder where in LA I can get this :/

They also serve up some delicious plaintains. This was pretty much our dessert ;)
Someone got these potato slices with cheese, and some type of creamy sauce (?) on top:
I didn't get to try this, but according to this family, it was just amazing.

As far as vegetarian options go, they also have the vegetable tortila:
It really looks more like an omelette in my opinion ... but don't those fries look good?

Now that we know how good the hotel food really is, if/when we come back for the mission trip in Ayacucho, we'll probably end up eating here more often :) Convenience factor is a plus, too.

Santa Rosa Hotel
Jr. Lima No. 166
Ayacucho, Peru

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Gimme that Alpaca!

To get to Machu Picchu, you have to fly to Cuzco and then take a train to Aguas Calientes, so we stayed a night at Cuzco and took a city tour. Before I left I went on Chowhound to find recs on where to eat in Cuzco and decided to try out Pachapapa in Plaza San Blas, and chowhound rarely steers you wrong :)

We started with some ceviche.

The ceviche was pretty good, the onion flavor was a bit strong, though. In my mind I can sitll taste the one from La Mar in Lima, which just blows this one away ... But still, not bad.

We also got some alpaca anticucho, since I've been curious about alpaca meat.

This was probably my favorite dish during ALL OF MY TRIP!! This particular alpaca meat was otherworldly! Very tender, and marinated just right. Too bad we were sharing these 2 skewers with 6 people ... I could've eaten 6 of them on my own. And now that I'm writing this I'm having a ba~d craving *drool*

For our entree, half of the table got the ever-favorite, lomo saltado.
I got to try a bite, and it was delicious. Again, the meat was tender, and the sauce is just right- not too salty.

Some other people got the other 'lomo' dish, some type of stew.
It was a pretty good stew, but the meat is not as tender, or flavorful, as the lomo saltado.

I myself, had to go for the other 'alpaca' dish. It was also some sort of stew.Unfortunately though there was not much alpaca meat in it. It was actually "alpaca jerky" so they were little slivers of meat. While it was still good, you can't really taste the meat with such small pieces. The stew itself, however, was delicious. It was a very familiar flavor that I can't quite put my finger on.
Oh, and the plaintains were amazing and sweet.

We ordered the flan for dessert. I don't remember what it was called - I believe flans are called "leche asada" in Peru?A delicious flan that seems to be in accordance with the other flans I've had in Peru - an extremely rich and milky one compared to the ones I'm used to in the US.

I desperately want to go back to Pachapa, if only for that alpaca anticucho, but all in all everything we had was very good and enjoyable, and I would definitely recommend this place to anyone who's passing through Cuzco!

Plazoleta San Blas 120
Cusco, Peru

Check out the $1 Mystery Auction at

Friday, July 4, 2008

Pizza heaven in Peru?

It was our first night in Ayacucho, Peru and we all were trying to figure out where to eat. The people who've been there before seem to be avidly recommending Antonino, a pizza place by the Plaza.

Pizza? In Peru? I wasn't sure about this idea, but when you're in a group you do as the group does, so pizza it is. As it turned out, I was in for a pleasant surprise.

When we got there they weren't even open. They opened the gate halfway for us and we bent down and crawled inside. At first it seemed like going into a secret place - maybe a mafia hiding place, but it turned out they were just not open yet. Because of this it also took them a while to serve us and we were starving by the time the food was served - which may make this review completely biased :)

We ordered the Antonino special pizza which has ham, chorizo sausage, mushrooms etc.The cheese was still melty and stretchy. It could barely hold up the slice of pizza but on the other hand I love this type of cheese on my pizza! It makes it very "cheesy" if you know what I mean ...
The chorizo also goes with the pizza really well. All in all I really, really liked it.

We also ordered the hawaiian pizza, which has ham, pineapples, AND peach. I'm not really sure how the peaches tie into the hawaiian theme but hey, whatever. I love peach.
This dinner was apparently the beginning of a series of pizza meals in Peru since it seems like everyone serves pizza ... especially in Aguas Calientes (the town by Machu Picchu). None of the other ones can beat Antonino but I have definitely changed my view of eating pizza in Peru!

Jr. Cuzco Nº 144
Ayacucho, Peru
Telf.: (0051) (066) 31-57-38

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


What is "chifa"? Chifa is the typical Chinese cuisine found in Peru, and uses Peruvian ingredients.

We went to a place in Ayacucho called Chifa Samsi - a place that actually seems to be run by Peruvians.
Some of the dishes seem pretty standard. We had some fried rice, which in Peru is called "Chaufa"
It tastes like regular fried rice, except of course the rice used is different and it's also cooked firmer/dryer than the Chinese style. Over this trip I've grown to like the Peruvian rice ...

Someone recommended the 'wonton soup', which turned out to be waay more than your regular wonton soup.
Aside from the huge portion, this wonton soup contained some duck, chicken, vegetables, etc, and was THE best wonton soup ever!

Apparently they really like fried wontons, since they garnish every dish with them ... and drizzle them with some sort of sweet and sour sauce.
None of their dishes was particular spicy, even their curry dish. Most of the sauces was also on the sweeter side.
Overall it's a pretty good rendition of Chinese and we all enjoyed our meal. I'd go back for the wonton soup ... :)

Chifa Samsi
JR. 9 de diciembre 212
Ayacucho, Peru

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Eating My Week Out of Ayacucho

We spent a week in Ayacucho, Peru, for this medical mission (see
We worked our tails off but it was very gratifying and fun :) I encourage anyone interested to check it out!

I was working all day long the whole week, so the only real meal (besides the complimentary breakfast at the hotel) was dinner. Oh, I also occasionally manage to get a couple of empanadas on the way to work!

The first day we got there though, we got a tour to see the ruins of the Wari tribe. On the way back we stopped at a local market, where I tried a traditional/local dish, cuy. What is it you ask? It's a guinea pig ...

The first night, we went out to eat - surprise, surprise - pizza. We went to a small place called Antonino's which is pretty popular - at least among the mission participants as far as I can tell.

We also went to another favorite - El Nino, which offers an extensive menu of Peruvian food (and also, pizza).

Then it was time to try the Peruvian influenced Chinese cuisine - Chifa.

On our last night, we couldn't figure out where to go, so we ate at our hotel, Hotel Santa Rosa, which actually has really good food! Should've eaten here more ...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lima: Antica, a rustic Trattoria

Our last night in Peru, we waited at someone's home in Barranco until it's time to go to the airport. I really wanted to go to Astrid y Gaston, or Rafael - but we were short on time and these places don't start serving dinner until 7.30 pm. We decided to go someplace nearby (walking distance) in Barranco.

Again, most places in Lima do not open until 7.30 pm for dinner. We finally went into this Italian place that was open, Antica Trattoria. It's a cozy, rustic place that reminds me of both a ski lodge and a wine cellar. When we came in, there was no other customer. There was someone behind the counter rolling the dough for this bread which we later had fresh from the oven:

I don't need to tell you guys how good a bread fresh from the oven is. Also, the olives that they serve with the bread were amazing! I've been growing tired of olives lately but these ones reminded me how scrumptious they are.

We had a big (BIG) lunch at La Mar earlier, so I just went with sharing some bruschetta.
Someone else ordered this one and I couldn't figure out what it's called.
Anyway, it was delicious, but I may be biased because of the melted cheese ... The bread that they use is also good.

This one, I believe, was the 'Classic'. Diced tomatoes and basil. Basic and refreshing.
A couple people at dinner didn't have lunch so they went ahead and ordered the Osso Buco, served with polenta.
The osso buco was tender and delicious. It is not as good as the best Italian places in Los Angeles, but is definitely one of the better ones I've had. All in all, this place is up there with the GOOD Italian places in LA.

It's kind of amazing how much Italian food we ended up having in Peru (Pizzas! They have pizzas everywhere! Every place in Aguas Calientes seems to sell pizza) ... but I was also surprised at how good they are.

Antica Trattoria
San Martín 201, Barranco
Lima, Peru

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lima: La Mar, Take One

Our first meal in Peru was at the cebicheria La Mar, one of Gaston Acurio's restaurants (chef/owner of Astrid y Gaston). Tons of great ceviche and other food - what could be a better welcome to Peru? We went back there for our last meal before leaving Peru again!

The seating is semi-outdoors and the sea breeze (La Mar is just a few blocks from the beach) makes it extremely pleasant.

For this first visit, our hosts took care of all the ordering - I tried to figure out what we had on my second visit. I still couldn't figure out everything, but I'll tell you guys as much as I can.

We started with some "cauza" which was mashed potatoes topped with a variety of seafood cocktail.
They were good, but really, I'm just waiting to have some ceviche:
We had the ceviche "mixto" which contained scallops, squid, fish, shrimp, and abalone - with some potatoes and corn in their classic "leche de tigre". Best ceviche I have ever had. And the second plate of the exact same dish that we ordered was just as good ;)

We also had one of the "tiradito" - which is Peruvian carpaccio, basically. I wasn't able to figure out what this particular one was called on the menu, but it was delicious:

We also had some langoustines, served with mushrooms. Both the langoustines and the mushrooms were amazing, IMO. I tried ordering this again the second time around, but couldn't find it and accidentally ordered "langosta" instead.I didn't know at the time that that meant lobster ... oh well, I guess I can eat that too O:)

I'll say this again ... the mushrooms were also just absolutely amazing.

We also had some sort of grilled tuna and octopus. I thought this dish was just okay. It was good, but nothing special and is the weakest out of everything we had that day.
We also got some sort of Peruvian rice dish - similar to Paella, and I absolutely loved it. I tried looking for it again the next time but couldn't figure out which one it was.
Since we were sharing, I didn't get too much of this rice dish and now I'm just drooling while writing this ....

During our first visit we had the lucuma+chocolate cake for dessert.
I liked this cake a lot that I bought lucuma gelato later on - but apparently I don't really like the actual lucuma fruit or the gelato. (The lucuma yogurt they sell in the stores is yummy though).

We also got the cherimoya with some sort of milk/sugar cream.
This was delicious and everyone liked it. Some of them have never had cherimoya before so this was a good intro.

If you make it to Lima, don't you dare leave without first coming to La Mar.

La Mar Cebicheria
Av. La Mar 770
Miraflores, Lima, Peru
Phone: 51 1 421-3365
Open: Tuesday - Sunday, 12:30 to 5:00 p.m.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fries with that Guinea Pig?

I took this title from a T-shirt we saw somewhere in Cusco, Peru.
Yes, guinea pig is a typical local fare in Peru. And yes, I tried it (how can I claim to be a food blogger otherwise? Seriously).

I tried fried guinea pig (aka. "cuy") in a market near Ayacucho, Peru on the way back from a tour to local ruins of the Wari tribe. I got 2 fried thighs (see the feet? Uh huh ...) served with corn and potatoes.
How was it, you ask? I have to admit I liked it. Some people who got the white meat part did not and said that there is not much meat. It's true that there isn't much meat, but the meat that was there tasted like tender rabbit meat. The skin is crunchy - although it was more disturbing to eat than the meat ...

I also have to admit that I took the feet off before I can proceed to eat it. And that I could not stare at the buying/selling transactions of the live cuys taking place in front of the market, in the same way that most people do not want to see cows actually slaughtered before eating their rib eye steaks ...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lima List

We spent 2 days in Lima, but overall we didn't get to try out /too / many places. The reason being our first meal was at La Mar Cebicheria - which equaled a 3 or 4 hour 'lunch' which prevented dinner, and it was sooo good we had to come back on our way out of Peru!

For the last meal, we were short on time and since most places don't start serving dinner until 7.30 or 8 pm we decided to walk around the neighborhood of our "base" in Barranco, and finally stopped at a cozy Italian nook Antica Trattoria.

When I come back next time though, I really wanna try Astrid y Gaston, Rafael, and Rodrigo :)

Monday, June 2, 2008

SF Dine About Town Starts!

The San Francisco Dine About Town starts today!!!
Guys, go and enjoy the prix-fixe deals while you can. Too bad I can't make it :( I really want to go try out these places while I can get good deals ... A16, etc *sob*

Anyway, check out the restaurants at the OpenTable site
Duration: June 1 - 15, 2008
Pricing: $21.95 lunches, $31.95 dinners; prices are per person and do not include beverage, tax or gratuity

Report back to me ... lemme know what I missed out on!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Strawberry Fest! 2008

We made short trip to Oxnard on Sunday for the annual strawberry fest! I've never been before so I'm pretty excited. Admission was $12, not cheap but seems like that's the going rate for these festivals these days :( Why can't everything be free, hehe :P

Walking in we saw a bunch of children's rides and also bungee jumping etc. But we were going straight for the foods. In the food court area obviously we saw a bunch of booths selling strawberry desserts like this one:BYO shortcakes, strawberry parfaits, smoothies, chocolate dipped strawberries etc.
The chocolate dipped strawberries were going for around $2 each - again, not cheap.

My eyes wandered to this row of roasting corn here, and immediately I went in line. First of the day! Love that corn!
And here's my roasted sweet corn. Yummm!
I do loo~~ve good roasted corn, and the one they had here was pretty darn good!

We also tried some key lime calamari, served with some creamy watercress pesto sauce.
I almost burnt my mouth biting into it :) Tasty, but the breading tends to crumble as you're trying to bite off the calamari. The key lime flavor is yummy!

I also had to get this thing called Strawberry pizza! It's really kinda like strawberry shortcake :P except they do actually use pizza dough.
After eating this I had an idea for a REAL strawberry pizza ... I'll have to try it out and let you guys know how it turns out :)

Another "festival food" fave of mine ... smoked turkey leg!
Again, lucky for me this festival had good ones! Cooked just right, not dry - pretty juicy :P

And of course, before we left we had to get the real loot of the day. Fresh strawberries! Got this 2 dry-pint pack for $16.
Just look at them! Don't they just look de li ci ous?? Big, red, sweet, and juicy. We had a bunch as soon as we got home, but even the rest of it wouldn't fit in the fridge ... I brought some to my group meeting the next day.

I also got some strawberry plants. This 6-pack was $10. Hopefully I can keep them alive long enough to give me strawberries ;) There are a couple on there already, as you can see here.
I'll do better watering you guys this time around, promise! hehe.