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July 5th, 2008

The REAL 4th of July post

What better way to celebrate America's birthday than with a little Asian food porn? Yes, we spent our Fourth in Alhambra, shopping at bootleg Chinese video stories and the 99 Ranch Market grocery store (which we realized was so much cheaper than our local groceries that we'd actually save money driving there to shop, including current SoCal gas prices). For lunch we chose a Korean tofu house and had a spectacular meal of seafood pancake (see below), dumpling tofu soup (served so hot it looked like a little bowl of bubbling lava), and of course about a dozen fabulous side dishes of pan chan, including whipped sweet potatoes, seaweed in a delightful smoky sauce and the usual kimchis. It was all insanely good, especially the seafood pancake, which had an interior so light and fluffy it was almost mousse-like in consistency. Even the drink was delightful - a house blend of green and brown rice teas, served iced. Cost for this feast? Twenty bucks. The restaurant itself was also lovely - wood paneled, decorated with displays of traditional bowls and sake containers (we also enjoyed noting that there were no condiments on the tables - none needed, to be sure!). If you're ever in the vicinity of the big shopping center at the corner of Valley and Del Mar, we highly recommend the Korean Tofu place (on the second floor). There's even a Hello Kitty store right below them.

At the 99 Ranch House market I did something I've never done but always wanted to: Bought a bag of fresh lychees. Turns out they're easy to peel - that red rind looks spiky, but is actually soft and can be removed with just a thumbnail, and of course the fruit beneath is wonderfully sweet and juicy. I stuffed myself with lychee at home yesterday, and found it even makes a fabulous natural tea sweetener.

We always marvel at the lone Amurrican restaurant along Valley Boulevard, a Norm's, at which there's invariably a line of fat white people (we, of course, were the only non-Asians in our restaurant). You people are in the middle of the greatest collection of Asian restaurants in the U.S. and you eat at effing NORM'S?! As Ricky Lee cried out, "Couldn't we get surgery to become Asian?"

Here's the Big Kahuna hisself with our delectable meal: