KaSoy Pop Up: Mien Noodle Soup

A month ago I attended a pop up dinner at the home of my Instagram friend @dishingoakland. The theme was Mien food cooked by Instagrammer @laneylaneyfong.  
Our appetIzer was a broiled chicken wing with asparagus spears and came with an unforgettable Mien sauce. The sauce had very similar ingredients to a fresh Mexican salsa, but used roasted tomatoes that really made it pop.  
The main was KaSoy which was the reason for having the pop up. KaSoy is a popular and traditional Mien noodle soup. The dedicate and flavorful broth used for KaSoy is cooked with bone marrow for a number of hours, way before we arrived. The bowl of rice noodles, beef balls, vegetables, and fabulous broth is topped with a signature saucy ground pork mixture. There was a communal plate of chopped green onions, cabbage, bean sprouts, and cilantro if we wanted to add more. Individually we were also given chicharrones and a lime wedge to add to the KaSoy.
Chef Laney also prepared our soup bowls with hot chili sauce. I definitely thought it was spicy, but not so much that I couldn’t handle it. There were two diners that needed their bowls prepared with less spice. We recommended that this be self administered in the future.
At the end of our meal, our host baked some cupcakes and quickly whipped up some homemade strawberry frosting for dessert. It was light and was a nice treat to end the meal.
I was fortunate to attend this small pop up dinner where I was able to experience KaSoy noodle soup for the first time. As a noodle soup lover, I enjoyed it very much.  It was also great fun to meet others that enjoy good food. Follow @dishingoakland or myself at @510foodie on Instagram to find out about potential KaSoy pop ups in the future.  

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Epic Roasthouse: Not Quite Epic, But Certainly Worth A Visit

Last week I had my holiday luncheon for work. It really is the highlight of the year as we venture out to the City and have a great meal. Every year we are fortunate and get to go somewhere really nice. This is actually the third year we have gone to Epic Roasthouse, probably because the food is always excellent and the location along the Embarcadero is beautiful.

The luncheon started with wine or cocktails and some lovely passed hors d’oeuvres. It gives us time to mingle and celebrate with everyone in our department.

For the first course, we had a choice of Butternut Squash Tortellini or the Gathered Greens. I split the appetizer with one of my colleagues so that we could experience both. The tortellini came with cauliflower purée, maitake mushrooms, and a brown butter sauce. This was really amazing. It was a mouthful of deliciousness. Did I really agree to share?
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The greens were topped with grilled grapes, sunflower seeds, and a white cheese and champagne vinaigrette. It was a simple salad and paled in comparison to the tortellini. I was actually glad to have half the salad so that I could lighten up my meal.
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The choice of second courses were beef, fish, or vegetarian. I couldn’t share the beef with my colleague because she likes her beef well done and I don’t. My Grilled Filet of Beef came prepared close to rare as requested with potato wedges and broccoli rabe. It was a solid dish.
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My coworker who was sitting on the other side of me ordered the Wild Striped Bass with butterball potatoes, caramelized onions, basil pesto, and chorizo. I had a small taste of her fish which melted in my mouth. It was moist and buttery and made me think I made the wrong choice for appetizer.
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No one at my table ordered the Winter Vegetable Medley which came with roasted acorn squash, wild mushrooms, baby carrots, and beet greens. I’m sure the vegetarians would have enjoyed that nice variety. It definitely sounds like it would make for a nice side dish.

There were two choices for the dessert course so I was back to sharing. The Apple Turnover came with two turnovers so it was easy to split. It came with homemade vanilla ice cream, almonds, and caramel. The warm turnover was light and perfect and had my name all over it.
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The Chocolate Pecan Tart was presented with cinnamon ice cream and a pecan tuille. This was much richer than the turnover so again I was glad to split both for better balance. If you enjoy chocolate, you might want to call this one dreamy.
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Epic Roasthouse is a nice place to enjoy a great meal while spending time in the City.

Manti: A Turkish Delight

Last night I was at a cooking party and the theme was Turkish food. When I learned of the theme, I immediately thought of making manti or meat filled dumplings. I found a recipe online and winged the instructions as I was making them. I had some trouble rolling out the dough, the manti needed more salt, and it seemed to have taken a very long time. Although everyone seemed to have enjoyed the dumplings, I wanted to improve my skills. Since I still had meat filling, I decided to give myself a manti mulligan and have a do over this evening.

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup of water
1/2 cup of ground beef
1/2 cup of finely chopped onions
8 oz of plain yogurt
1 clove minced garlic
salt and pepper
2 tbsp of your favorite chili oil

Directions:
1. To make the dough, pour two cups of flour and 1/2 tsp salt in a mixing bowl. Add 2 eggs and blend together with your hands. Once eggs are mixed in you, will need to add approximately 1/4 of water to get the dough to form a ball and not stick to your hands. If it gets too wet, add a little more flour. If it gets too dry, add a little more water. Once you get the dough to the correct consistency, cover your bowl with Saran Wrap and set aside for at least 30 minutes.
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2. Using a cheesecloth or a lot of paper towels, squeeze out the water content from the finely chopped onions. In a bowl, mix the onions to your ground beef and then season with salt and pepper.
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3. With some practice with my friend’s late father’s pasta maker last night, I did not have to pull out a rolling pin this evening. Divide the dough into four pieces using one piece at a time. Put the remaining dough back in the bowl covered with the Saran Wrap. This keeps the dough from drying out. Roll out the dough in a pasta maker on a thin setting or as thin as you can get with a rolling pin.
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4. On a floured surface, using a pastry cutter or a knife, cut the sheets into 1 x 1 inch squares.
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5. Fill each pasta square with a small dab of the meat filling.
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6. One at a time, take a meat filled square and pull each of the four corners diagonally to the center and squeeze the four sides closed. Place it on a floured baking sheet and repeat until done.
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Now that you’ve made 1/4 of your dumplings, repeat steps 3, 4, 5, and 6 until you’ve made all the dumplings.

7. Add the dumplings to a large pot of boiling water. Add 1/2 tsp salt. When all the dumplings float to the top, cook for another minute and then remove them from the water onto a large platter.
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8. Mix the minced garlic into the plain yogurt before spooning on the manti.

9. Drizzle your favorite hot chili oil on the manti.

10. Enjoy!
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The second time was a charm! The making of them was much smoother than last night. They were better seasoned as well. I love these little dumplings. I have been to a few Turkish restaurants in my life, but never had them as good as these homemade ones I made myself. I guess I’ll have to travel to Turkey to find better.

KoJa Kitchen: A food truck to follow

On one of my lunch time walks in Downtown Oakland, my colleague and I passed a few food trucks parked on 12th Street. I always get excited about food trucks, but this one particular truck caught my attention because of the large LCD monitors displaying their menu. KoJa Kitchen was the name. We didn’t plan to eat there this time around. I went ahead and asked a customer what she thought of KoJa Kitchen. She said she had already bought her lunch before she realized KoJa was here, so she now has two lunches. She even offered her first lunch to us. I didn’t accept her lunch, but that is a pretty good praise to waste her first lunch so she can have KoJa.
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Koja Kitchen was part of the recent Eat Real Festival in Oakland. I remember the lines being really long. I decided that I better follow KoJa Kitchen on twitter so I could know when it would be parked again on 12th Street. This time I planned ahead with my walking partner that a walk and a stop at KoJa Kitchen was in order this past Thursday.

We each got a Kalbi, or short rib KoJa. Amazing chunks of Korean BBQ short ribs were laced between two discs of rice patties in lieu of a bread product. My colleague and I agreed that they were scrumptious. Although the rice patties were unique, it was the meat that shined.
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We shared an order of the kamikaze fries. These criss cross fries were layered with minced bulbogi, or Korean BBQ beef, sautéed onions, kimchi, and green onions. Surprisingly with all the condiments on top, the fries stayed crisp and were delicious.
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I remember the KoJa Kitchen customer, who had two lunches, got a dessert too so we tried the mochimisu. It is a tiramisu with chocolate mochi. I really like traditional tiramisu, but the texture of this one with the mochi didn’t really work for me. I can pass on dessert next time because there will be a next time. Follow KoJa Kitchen on Twitter.