Saturday, May 25, 2013

Apple Pie Cookies at Xa Sweet & Savory Cafe - Orange

This is the first ever guest blogger review in Monster Munching. The piece this week will be written by my better half, who is so obsessed, so addicted to the apple pie cookies that Shawn Xa makes at his Xa Sweet and Savory Cafe in Orange, she has cast aside her usual aversion to writing and decided that if I wasn't going to wax poetic on how wonderfully chewy, crispy and addictive these cookies are, she would!

And she's right! They deserve more than just the few words I dedicated on my OC Weekly review of Xa. We have, in fact, returned almost weekly to feed her apple pie cookie addiction, buying dozens at a time. In some cases, we've waited for them to cool down on the baking racks so that Shawn can seal them up in their individual plastic satchels. In so doing, we are lucky to have also tried them while they were still warm and slightly gooey from the oven.

Other weeks she has bought loads of them and the other unique cookie flavors Xa makes (such as S'Mores swirled with melted marshmallows and sprinkled with graham cracker dust) for her office, so that she can share them while proselytizing their greatness to her co-workers.

For Mother's Day she packaged them up in gift boxes tied up with colorful ribbons.

So far, everyone my cookie preacher has blessed with these cookies agrees that they don't just uncannily taste like real apple pie, with the crystally crunch of cinnamon sugar and real bits of apple embedded inside each perfectly formed disc, they are also one of the best cookies they've ever eaten. These cookies are worthy of a whole post here, she said. And she's going to write it.

She has even thought of the perfect blog nom de plume for herself: since mine is elmomonster, hers, she says, will be cookiemonster, in honor of these cookies.

So without further ado, here is cookiemonster's piece on Xa's apple pie cookies!


Quite the wordsmith isn't she?

XA Sweet and Savory Cafe
424 S Main St Ste C
Orange, CA 92868
(714) 539-4275

Inka Mama's - Santa Ana

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thailandia - Fullerton

A good rule-of-thumb on determining whether a Thai restaurant is owned and operated by Thais? Count the number of condiments on the table. The more you see, the more likely it is one.

Observe what I saw at Fullerton's Thailandia. We have sambal oelek (ground chile paste), naam plaa phrik (sliced Thai chiles in fish sauce), phrik dong (pickled chiles in vinegar), and phrik pon (dried chile flakes)--a quadruple power play of hot, hot, hot and hotter.

Why all the condiments? Thais like to customize their dishes to their individual tastes. And this isn't even the most I've seen. At other Thai restaurants, there has been granulated sugar, Maggi sauce, ground peanuts, and trusty bottles of Huy Fong Food's Sriracha (which is actually just a version of a Thai chile sauce of the same name) on the tables.

Now, I must warn you that the presence of these condiments does not guarantee greatness, nor authenticity; but man does it make everything better!

On the appetizer sampler we ordered--a platter of egg rolls, fried shrimp, shrimp rolls, and crab rangoons--I slathered, dribbled, sprinkled, and applied so much from the condiment array that my ears glowed red, my brow dripped with rivulets of sweat, and I was panting like a shaggy dog in August.

It may have even skewed my impressions on the pad Thai and pineapple fried rice we ordered, which my friends thought was simply okay. But I wasn't eating the same dish they were. Every spoonful of mine had at least three explosive rounds of Thai chile from the naam plaa phrik...which would be the way I'd eat everything if every restaurant I go to were owned by Thais.

2500 E Chapman Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92831

The Black Trumpet Bistro - Huntington Beach

Friday, May 10, 2013

Pita Grill - Irvine

Force of habit and cheapness rules my daily work-lunch routine. At least once out of the week, if it's not Yoshinoya, then it's Wendy's. At Yoshinoya, I add extra chicken skin to whatever I happen to order (even the beef bowl), and at Wendy's I turn their baked potato into a sort of improvised shepherd's pie by fluffing up the potato good and soft with the butter and sour cream, and then slowly working in their chili. Try it yourself. You'll love it.

But there's now a third on the rotation. Pita Grill is a special place. A place that serves food I didn't expect a place like Pita Grill to serve. Their kebabs explode with juice and cooked to any degree of desired doneness. Twirling columns of meat are shaved with a handheld device that whirrs and whinies. The most popular is the chicken, piled in snowy mountains and eaten with pita bread after being slathered in a potent garlic toum, one of the best I've tasted which is as good as, if not better than, Zankou's.

And then there's the veggie plate (shown above).

For a little less than $10, I can choose any 5 items from their mile-long side dish display, a pick-and-choose array full of veggie entrees that I actually want to eat, including a krab salad I took an immediate liking to. There's also well-seasoned falafels (two per order); fried cauliflower so addictive you forget it's cauliflower; hummus as smooth as butter cream; and many more items that would cost a fortune if you ordered it a la carte.

Pita Grill
3800 N Barranca Pkwy. Ste N
Irvine, CA 92606
(949) 552-7482

Urban Seoul - Irvine

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Pudding and Boba Milk Slush at Capital - Irvine

I may have mentioned that I am addicted to the pudding and boba milk slush with “special sauce” at Meow Meow Café. This has proved to be a problematic addiction. I live in Orange County. Meow Meow is in West Covina. I've explored the alternatives here in OC and until recently, none have measured up. I even tried Half and Half, which was supposed to be known for the drink, but found that it was lacking that certain something that makes Meow Meow's drink so irresistible--a drink that I willingly make the drive to West Covina almost weekly for it.

This last weekend, after another long slog to my milk slush Mecca, we discovered that Meow Meow Cafe was closed. There was a sign on the door that said they'll be shuttered for two weeks for "beverage training"...whatever that means.

So back home to OC we went, sad and milk slush-less, but not before I remembered that Capital at Diamond Jamboree offered two pudding-and-boba milk slushes (or something like that) for the low price of $5. Meow Meow charges that for one!

Was it the catnip that Meow Meow's concoction was? No. But it is actually good in a different way. The slush has an almost pandan-like flavor to it; the boba is soft and pleasureable. And although absent the addictive brown sugar syrup Meow Meow's drink uses, Capital's has a gentle sweetness all its own.

It is the closest to Meow Meow's yet, and most importantly, half the price...because if I'm addicted to Meow Meow's drink, I'm also to bargains.

2700 Alton Pkwy Ste 127
Irvine, CA 92606
(949) 252-8188

Hue Oi - Fountain Valley