This is the dish you aren’t eating at Mian

Spicy Tofu Custard
With all the hype about their saucy noodle soups and savory wontons, it’s understandable that you overlooked the Tofu with Minced Pork in the appetizers section of the menu. Don’t let the unexciting name put you off though, because the Tofu with Minced Pork is one of the best dishes on the menu.

Warm, custardy tofu comes topped with bits of pork, crispy fried noodle, a savory sauce, and the perfect sprinkling of peppercorn, sugar, chili flakes, and a scattering of vegetables. Every spoonful of this dish is a disco in your mouth. The fried noodle is reminiscent of the crumbs of at the bottom of a package of instant ramen. The crunchy vegetables are a necessary counterpoint to the softness of the tofu. This definitely isn’t the mild, comforting doufu hua you’re used to eating from the northern Chinese restaurants in the morning.

LA Weekly Burgers & Beer

This past Saturday was the LA Weekly Burgers & Beer festival. In addition to being a weekly alternative paper, the LA Weekly is also a food festival churning machine. The weather was great, the crowds were manageable, I received free tickets from the Weekly, and I somehow snagged free parking. What more could I ask for?

One of the better burgers was Barrel & Ashes’ burger bite. With so many stands offering burgers and so little stomach space, I appreciated that they did away with the top bun to focus on the main ingredient: a great patty.

Unlike most of the vendors here, Badmaash didn’t play it safe. Instead, they went with a full-flavored, aggressively spiced lamb patty burger. Their strategy paid off because it was one of the burgers that stood out.

Word on the street is that Cassell’s has a really good, no frills burger. Their rendition of it at the festival may have looked plain compared to that of Animal’s or Pink’s, but they stuck with the basics and excelled.

Another bite of something different was El Cristalazo’s shrimp slider. The perfectly cooked shrimp went surprisingly well with the usual burger accouterment.

Overall, the festival was a success. The venue was perfect, with enough room and shade to be comfortable. Most of the lines were manageable. The beer selection had a little something for everyone, instead of being super heavy on IPA’s. My two favorite beer vendors there were McLeod’s and Phantom Carriage. Will would have preferred at least one stand doing a veggie burger, but I can see how that would be a risky gamble for a vendor.

I thought that an afternoon full of eating burgers would put me off them for a while, but going through the pictures today, I wouldn’t have a repeat of a few of the bites I had yesterday.

Blackball Desserts

BlackBall DessertsBlackball is one of the many Chinese-style dessert shops opening up in the SGV.  It replaces the now defunct Hong Kong dessert shop formerly known as Benser Tasty.  Blackball specializes in house-made grass jelly. If the term ‘grass jelly’ scares you, don’t go running yet. Blackball makes the scary black gelatinous dessert palatable with a bunch of add-ins.  Green bean, red bean, konnyaku jelly, chewy sweet potato, chewy taro, and cream.  The combinations are endless. BlackBall Desserts

On a hot summer day, I really wanted the cooling properties of grass jelly, so I ordered up a bowl of it with green bean, konnyaku, and the chewy pillows of sweet potato and taro.  They’re like gnocchi’s sweet, denser cousins.  Unlike the grass jelly that plops out of a can, the jelly here is softer in consistency and not as herbal.  The sweetness of the other toppings do a good job of balancing out the grass jelly, so good in fact that I felt like I was eating an actual dessert instead of something mildly healthy.

While I’m sad that Benser’s mango and black rice dessert is now just a distant memory, I’m glad that a worthy dessert shop has taken its place.  The heat-lowering qualities of the grass jelly will probably entice a few diners exiting Boiling Point with fire in their bellies across the parking lot.

Blackball Taiwanese Dessert
250 W Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 872-6865