Esquire Dinner at Playa

Last November 28 Playa hosted a pre-fixe dinner celebrating Esquire Magazine’s 2011 Best New Restaurants in Los Angeles featuring chefs from Playa (Chef John Sedlar and Chef de Cuisine Kevin Luzande), Sotto (Chefs Steve Samson and Zack Pollack) and Ray’s and Stark Bar (Chef Kris Morningstar).

autographed menu

autographed menu

The back of the menu provided some background on the chefs.

Three Generations of Chefs

Three Generations of LA Chefs

There’s also 3 or 4 cocktails created to commemorate the event but of course I forgot to take a picture of the menu since I wasn’t drinking anything alcohol that night for fear of aggravating my already splitting headache.

pescado crudo/ finger limes/ peruvian aji amarillo chile

pescado crudo/ finger limes/ peruvian aji amarillo chile

True to Playa’s plating style, this dish came with a square plate printed with what one would find in the pages of Esquire magazine. I can’t get enough of this dish. It just woke my palette and got it ready for an absolutely tasty dinner.

huitlacoche tortelli/ cotija/ pumpkin seeds

huitlacoche tortelli/ cotija/ pumpkin seeds

It’s creamy, delicious and the pumpkin seeds provided that crunchy texture.

braised rabbit leg/ chestnut chile sauce/ purslane/ aged nantes carrots

braised rabbit leg/ chestnut chile sauce/ purslane/ aged nantes carrots

The rabbit leg was a bit salty for my taste but it was nicely counterbalanced by the creamy with a kick chestnut chile sauce. The carrots were tasty. One thing I find odd in the whole thing was the purslane. I suppose it’s purpose was to round out the creamy heaviness of the whole dish but all it did for me was to provide a “grassy” taste.

chilaquiles alla sarda / pana carasau/ lamb tonque and neck/ tomatillo/ egg

chilaquiles alla sarda / pana carasau/ lamb tonque and neck/ tomatillo/ egg

This dish by the chef duo at Sotto is not your usual chilaquiles, instead of the usual tortilla the bottom of the dish is lined with pieces of pane carasau which is a thin flatbread Sardinian in origin. Topped with super tasty and tender lamb tongue and neck meat. Topped again with soft centered egg. A bite meant a taste of everything dipped in the runny yolk. A very heavy, rich bite indeed.

venison/ charred maize/ juniper berry sauce

venison/ charred maize/ juniper berry sauce

Another rich and heavy dish, the puree though was heaven together with that berry sauce.

spiced chocolate mousse/ salted pumpkin seed sauce/ guava frozen yogurt

spiced chocolate mousse/ salted pumpkin seed sauce/ guava frozen yogurt

This is the perfect way to end a great meal. It is my little piece of cloud 9 on a plate. All the components go well together. I could’ve licked the plate and still want more. (now that I’m thinking about it, I should’ve licked my plate!)

Another memorable dinner full of heavenly dishes. These chefs truly deserve the title Esquire bestowed upon them.

to go goodies

to go goodies

On our way out, they gave us goody bags with these delicious homemade oreo cookies…of course they didn’t last very long.

I’ve already been to Playa and Sotto twice but I’ve never been to Ray’s and Star Bar. But have no fear I plan on going as soon as I can.

xo, Emilie
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President Thai Restaurant – Pasadena CA

>>This blog entry originally posted at http://foodtruckadventure.com <<

Years ago when the San Gabriel Valley was the hubs’ area at work, we used to  go toPresident Thai – Pasadena for lunch and dinners (pre-blogging years). I’ve always found the food good and authentic.

President Thai Pasadena

Recently we got the chance to revisit the restaurant twice in a week and I’m glad the exterior aesthetics hasn’t changed.

entrance

I have always liked the intricate wood carvings that’s part of the design theme.

interior

close up of wood carvings

While you’re waiting for somebody to take your order or while waiting for the food to arrive, you can feast your eyes on the decor, the intricacies of the wood carvings or if it’s not your thing you can always pull out your phone.

So these are some of the dishes we had on those two days that we came by for dinner (because I neglected to take a picture of the dessert).

rice

Anyhoo, I love how most Asian restaurants have really elaborate rice serving bowls and  this is no exception.  Look at the intricacies on the metalwork.

Crabmeat Fried Rice $9.95
Crabmeat Fried Rice $9.95

The Crabmeat Fried Rice has both real and imitation crab meat. This one though has more real than imitation. This is already a meal in itself.

Chu Chi Shrimp $13.95 - pan fried shrimp in red curry and coconut milk
Chu Chi Shrimp $13.95 – pan fried shrimp in red curry and coconut milk

The Chu Chi Shrimp in this establishment is quite different from those in other restaurants. Their version is less creamier, more bite (chili factor) despite the fact that we asked it to be “mild” on the spiciness scale. Taste-wise it is really good. Chu Chi Shrimp has always been a family favorite and this one garners a thumbs-up from the troop.

Chicken (White Meat) Panang Curry $10.95 - all white meat chicken, red curry in coconut milk and peanut sauce
Chicken (White Meat) Panang Curry $10.95 – all white meat chicken, red curry in coconut milk and peanut sauce

Another family favorite is Panang Curry and we ordered it in all white meat chicken. The sauce (like that of Chu Chi Shrimp) is less creamier although it’s not lacking in taste. This time however, I prefer the creamier version.

President's BBQ Duck $11.95 - stir fried BBQ duck with chili, bell peppers, onions and basil
President’s BBQ Duck $11.95 – stir fried BBQ duck with chili, bell peppers, onions and basil

The President’s BBQ Duck is special. The vege combo balances out the richness of the duck. A balanced dish showcasing the duck.

Chinese Broccoli with Crispy Pork $11.95
Chinese Broccoli with Crispy Pork $11.95
another view of Chinese Broccoli with Crispy Pork $11.95
another view of Chinese Broccoli with Crispy Pork $11.95

We had the Chinese Broccoli with Crispy Pork on both instances that we were there. That in itself would tell you how much we loved the dish. The crispy pork just elevated the dish from being just another vegetable dish. I would order this again and again. And President Thai’s version has a very high meat to vegetable ratio. The best in this regard compared to it’s counterpart in Thai Town and the San Fernando Valley.

Chicken and Pork Satay $9.95
Chicken and Pork Satay $9.95

We had the Chicken and Pork Satay on the recommendation of our server. It was an ok dish. Nothing extraordinary. Peanut sauce was good.

Overall, our return visits just proved that while it may not be my favorite Thai restaurant in the world, it is a solid choice when you’re in that side of town. You can always count on to have good service and their restrooms are clean. They do have a parking space but on busy nights it might be a problem but they now have a very courteous parking attendant that helps with parking issues.

President Thai
498 S. Rosemead Blvd.
Pasadena, CA
open daily 11a-10p
626-578-9814
http://www.president-thai.com

xo, Emilie
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