Dirty Hippy Granola!

Homemade Granola

I’ve been on a granola kick recently and it’s just so damn expensive to buy the pre-made stuff from the store. I found a granola recipe from Slashfood and got inspired, so I made a trip down to the food co-op to pick up some stuff from the bulk bin to make my own granola.

It was tempting to get the ready-made granola in the bulk bins there, but I somehow resisted. I picked up rolled oats, dried black currant, sliced almonds, and pumpkin seeds. Granola was actually really easy to make.

I mixed together 2 cups of rolled oats with 1/2 cup sliced almonds, 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/4 cup sesame seeds, less than 1/4 cup peanut oil, less than 1/4 cup maple syrup, and a dash of molasses. I put it on a baking sheet, baked it for 40 minutes on 300 degrees while stirring every 10 minutes. After, taking it out of the oven, I mixed in the black currant and it was delicious. The molasses gave it a great smokey taste.

The only thing I’d change is probably taking out some maple syrup and replacing it with honey or brown sugar syrup so that the granola could be chunkier and stick together better.

Chinese Breakfast Showdown 3: Mei Lin Tou Chiang

Brunch @ Mei Lin

Tipped off by an LA Times writeup about the best Asian breakfast restaurants, the BF and I tried Mei Lin Tou Chiang this weekend.

The article claims that it has the best soy milk around, so the first thing we ordered was a savory dou jiang. I don’t know what other places the LA Times journalist tried, but I thought the soy milk at Mei Lin was pretty ordinary. It had none of the creaminess or nuttiness the article claimed. The toppings for the dou jiang, pieces of you tiao and preserved vegetables, were good and salty and as a whole, the bowl of dou jiang was satisfying, but not the best I’ve had. The BF and I both agreed that Four Seas in Hacienda Heights has better dou jiang.

Brunch @ Mei Lin

There was a print-out advertising this savory crepe I haven’t seen in many places, so I jumped at the opportunity to try it here. The last time I had it, it was from a street stand across the street from my hotel in Shanghai. It’s an egg and flour crepe wrapped around a you tiao, some sweet and salty paste, and cilantro. You can ask them to put an egg in there too, which I forgot to do here, but makes it tastes fantastic. Mei Lin’s version of this was good, but would have been better if the you tiao had been fresh.
Brunch @ Mei Lin

Lastly, we ordered a plate of the vegetarian shui jian bao. They’re buns that are freshly steamed and pan-fried at the same time. They were the highlight of the meal thanks to their pillowy soft, moist, slightly sweet exterior and their savory filling of cabbage, cellophane noodles, and woodear mushrooms. The soft top made a fantastic complement to the crispy pan-fried bottom.

It’s worth mentioning that Mei Lin’s you tiao is different that that of Yi Mei’s and Four Seas’; they have more of a Shanghai-style you tiao where it’s more dense and flaky than airy and crunchy. I like both types, so it’s nice to have the choice.

The owners who were working behind the counter were accommodating and patient with my questions about which items were vegan and which were not. They didn’t even flinch when I asked if the buns could be made vegan. I didn’t get a chance to try out their fan tuan (rice rolls) at Mei Lin, but of the breakfast foods I did try, I prefer the ones at Yi Mei and Four Seas more. What I will come back for though, are the shui jian baos.

Mei Lin Tou Chiang
1257 E Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91801
(626) 284-1868
They’re in the same plaza as Lee’s Sandwiches, but all the way down, almost to the Valley market in the back.

For previous Chinese Breakfast Showdowns:

Chinese Breakfast Showdown II: Yi Mei vs. Four Sea

It’s time for Chinese Breakfast Showdown Part 2. Part 2? Where and what is Part 1? It’s Yi Mei vs. Yung Ho. This time, I will compare Yi Mei Monterey Park (review) to Four Sea in Hacienda Heights.
Four Seas (Hacienda Heights)
First and foremost is the savory dou jiang (soy milk). There was a bit of misunderstanding at Four Sea after I ordered a vegan version (sans meat floss) because they brought out the normal version but after I informed them of the mistake, they brought out the vegan version. Even though they left out the green onion, the dou jiang at Four Sea is creamier and has a richer taste than the one at Yi Mei. There was also more you tiao (oil crueller) in this one, which I like.
Four Seas (Hacienda Heights)
Next was the fan tuan (rice roll). As usual, I ordered the vegan version of this as well. It had the oil crueller inside, crushed peanuts, veggie meat floss, and dried nori. I thought this was comparable to that of Yi Mei even though Yi Mei’s version doesn’t have the nori. While Yi Mei’s fan tuan is delicious when it comes with a freshly fried you tiao, I have to say that the addition of nori in this one at Four Sea taste better.
Four Seas (Hacienda Heights)
The BF ordered cold sesame noodles (len ban mien) at Four Sea and they tasted about the same as they would at Yi Mei. It was impressive that the noodles were still firm after sitting in the plastic to-go box for so long, but the sauce wasn’t anything special.
Four Seas (Hacienda Heights)
Last but not least was the egg crepe. It’s basically a crepe with scrambled eggs inside. I prefer the one at Yi Mei to the one at Four Sea because there’s usually more green onion in Yi Mei’s. The one at Four Sea tasted a bit bland and the crepe was a little too oily.

The ambiance at Four Sea is nicer and there are a lot more tables — I might take a bigger group (or a hot date!) there, but if it were just me and the BF, I would rather save the gas and stick with Yi Mei in Monterey Park. It’s closer and a bit cheaper.

View Larger Map

Four Sea
2020 S Hacienda Blvd
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745
(626) 330-3088