Ratatouille (Confit Byaldi)

Originally a rustic French summer dish of stewed vegetables, ratatouille is perfect for combating the autumn chill.

Soon Dubu Chigae (Korean Soft Tofu Stew)

There's something incredibly homey about a big, earthenware bowl filled with clams, tofu, beef, and broth.

Smoked Cha Shao (Chinese BBQ Pork)

Normally found hanging in the windows of Chinese delicatessens, cha shao is a marinated, slightly sweet, slow roasted pork with a deep crimson color and radiant finish.

Niko Niku Ramen Recipe

A meaty, braised pork ramen in soy broth that puts on smile on everyone's face.

Smoked Salmon Tarragon Pasta

A refreshing pasta of summer herbs and smoked salmon, perfect for staying cool during summer.

2/25/2009

BBQ Chicken - Irvine, CA

(Pictures for this review taken with my Canon PowerShot SD800is.)


(Olive Original Chicken)


Southern-fried chicken is one of life's perfect pleasures. Locked in an armored shell of crunchy batter, the chicken is practically steamed in its own rich juices. The intense heat gelatinizes and draws collagen and marrow out from the bones, then forces it into the meat. Biting into a well-prepared piece of fried chicken is an experience akin to eating deep-fried stock; a lip-smacking good time.



The opening of Diamond Jamboree, Irvine's latest Asian mega center, brings a new wave of spectacular Korean, Japanese, and Taiwanese eateries to an area of Orange County second only to Little Saigon for great Asian eats. Among them is my latest go-to place for Southern-fried chicken; BBQ Chicken. A restaurant which, ironically enough, serves no barbecue chicken at all.



Any American barbecue enthusiast worth his disposable plastic bib can tell you that true BBQ requires a dry rub, charcoal, and smoke, the holy trinity of this slow-cooked art. Keeping these immutable tenets in mind, BBQ Chicken's "Barbecue Chicken" isn't actually barbecued, it's grilled. What's more, while the grilled items on its myopic menu are good, where BBQ Chicken really shines is with its Southern-fried chicken. South Korea, that is.


Turnip pickles


In the past, my fellow SoCal food bloggers have raved about the crispy rendered goodness of Korean fried chicken, as epitomized by Kyochon Chicken (1 2 3 4), the reigning king. They've had good cause. Like frozen yogurt and designer cupcakes, Korean fried chicken is one of the latest food fads to sweep the Southland. The crack-like combination of parchment-thin, crispy skin and gelatinized meat tossed in spicy sweet sauces is highly addictive. Before BBQ Chicken opened in Irvine, I had to head out to Stanton or Los Angeles for my fix. For good or ill, Cat and I can now glut ourselves on these fusion masterpieces from the comfort and convenience of our own town. Dangerous...


(Seasoned Chicken)


There are three basic ways to enjoy fried chicken at BBQ Chicken; flakey, meaty, or crispy. For the flakey parts of the equation, we have the Olive Original Chicken (pictured top), Red Hot Drumsticks, and BB Wings. Crusted with panko crumbs and fried to a light blonde in Spanish olive oil, these dishes are the closest to classic Southern-fried chicken. The use of panko crumbs increases the crunch factor, while the olive oil adds a slightly bitter, complexly floral bouquet to the meat. Other than the Red Hot Drumsticks, which are coated with hot sauce, the other dishes are simply seasoned with a little salt. That's all they need.

If you're into the meaty portion of the spectrum, the Seasoned Chicken is superb. Boneless, golf ball-sized nuggets of thigh meat are tossed in your choice of sweet, sweet & sour, sweet & spicy, or extra spicy sauces. I'd recommend the sweet & spicy, a tangy blend of chilies, garlic, and syrup.



However, the other two sensations are mere window-dressing when compared to BBQ Chicken's coup de grace. Representing the crispy side of the triangle, the Teri-Q Gold Wings (pictured above) and the Teri-Q Gold Sticks are the epitome of BBQ Chicken's Fry-o-lator arts. Thinly battered wings and drumsticks are slowly fried at lower temperatures until all of the subcutaneous fat has melted away, leaving moist meat tightly encased by crackling, flavorful skin. The finished product is given a light, candy coating of sauce before serving. Each sublime bite of skin and meat is best enjoyed with one of their complimentary turnip pickles as a chaser. You know, so you can look you mother in the eyes when she asks if you've been eating properly.


BBQ Chicken - There's no barbecue on the premises, but they've got some damn good fried chicken.


Bill:

Olive Original Chicken (5/10 pcs) - 9.25/17.00
Red Hot Drumsticks (5/10 pcs) - 8.99/17.50
BB Wings (10/20 pcs) - 7.99/14.99
Seasoned Chicken (8/12/24 pcs) - 6.50/9.25/17.99
Teri-Q Gold Wings (10/20 pcs) - 7.99/14.99
Teri-Q Gold Sticks (5/10 pcs) - 8.99/17.50


Flavor: A
Ambience: A
Service: A
ROI: A

Overall: A


BBQ Chicken Irvine
2750 Alton Parkway, #111
Irvine, CA 92614
1-949-752-2001
Chain website

Other locations:
Buena Park, San Diego, Seattle, Elk Grove, and Garden Grove


Read these reviews of BBQ Chicken by my food blogging friends:

2/23/2009

Pamela Sheldon Johns 2009 California Tour - [FoodVibes]

(What are FoodVibes?

As a food blogger, I regularly get emails from publicists, publishers, restaurateurs, and business owners eager to share information about their latest projects, great deals, and upcoming events. Sure, they're looking for some free publicity, but a lot of it is interesting stuff. Rather than just keeping it to myself, it seemed like a good idea to make this information available to the general public. However, I wanted to be able to differentiate these posts from restaurants or products I'd reviewed myself. That's why I've created the [FoodVibes] tag to mark food news I've received from third party sources.

Please Note: Unless otherwise stated, I have not sampled this product, business, or event, and am not personally recommending it. FoodVibes are informational tidbits I've chosen to pass on because I think other food lovers might find them interesting.)




Respected cookbook author and instructor, Pamela Sheldon Johns, has begun a culinary tour of the west Coast to promote her latest cookbook, 50 Great Appetizers. An American ex-pat living in Italy, Johns teaches cooking classes in Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Campania, and Piedmont. According to her bio, she's "... an international juror and lifetime member of Slow Food, a former national board member of the American Institute of Wine & Food, and a professional member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals." Google Book Search has a preview of the book available here.


(Lemon Chicken Escabeche)


As part of her tour, Johns will be spending the next two weeks in California, teaching classes and seminars on cooking and entertaining at locations across the state. Readers who are interested in attending will find her California teaching itinerary at the bottom of this article. Chubbypanda.com has received permission to share Johns's recipe for Lemon Chicken Escabeche (pictured above). This recipe, and others like it, are contained in 50 Great Appetizers. Enjoy!

Lemon Chicken Escabeche
—From 50 Great Appetizers by Pamela Sheldon Johns/Andrews McMeel Publishing

Escabeche is a Spanish dish of poached or fried fish in a vinegar- or citrus-based marinade. This Mexican version uses chicken and gives it a Latin flair. Be sure the chicken is completely cooled before you dice it, or it will shred.

4 lemons, halved crosswise
2 cloves garlic
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1⁄3 cup pine nuts
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chicken stock (page 104)
1 whole skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 red bell pepper, seeded, de-ribbed, and diced
3⁄4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1⁄4 cup diced jicama
Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • Scoop the pulp from the lemon halves with a grapefruit spoon or teaspoon, reserving the pulp and juice. Strain the juice and set aside. Cut a small slice from the bottom of each lemon half so that it will stand upright.

  • Make a cilantro pesto: With the food processor running, drop in the garlic. Add the cilantro leaves, pine nuts, reserved lemon juice, and olive oil. Process to a smooth paste and set aside.

  • Bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the chicken breast and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until opaque throughout, about 20 minutes. Remove from the stock and let cool (reserve the stock for another use).

  • Dice the cooled chicken and put it in a bowl. Add the bell pepper, corn, jicama, and cilantro pesto and toss to mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.

  • Place a lemon half on each plate. Spoon the chicken mixture into the lemon halves and serve. Serves 8.




Pamela Sheldon Johns Cooking Class, Seminar, and Book-Signing Schedule
Schedule is listed in chronological order.


CARLSBAD, CA
The American Institute of Wine & Food (AIWF): Seminar on Olive Oil
Sunday, February 22, 3:30 pm
Sheraton Carlsbad Resort, 5480 Grand Pacific Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008 –Phone 858.759.4848
Pamela presents an overview of olive oil production, with a discussion of the different regions, varieties of olives, and agricultural and production practices. Olive oil tasting, including Pace da Poggio Etrusco, her own organic extra-virgin oil, produced at her farm in Tuscany. Short cooking demo will include recipes from 50 Great Appetizers.

Sur La Table: Cooking Class
Monday, February 23, 6:30 pm
1915 Calle Barcelona, Space #130, Carlsbad, CA, 92009 - Phone 760.635.1316
Menu: White Bean-Rosemary Crostini; Crispy Parmigiano Shells with Mixed Greens; Baby Artichokes; Bite-Size Polenta Squares with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes; Potato-Red Onion Flatbread; Marinated Mussels and Clams; Roasted Garlic and Leek Soufflé

NEWPORT BEACH, CA
Sur La Table: Cooking Class
Tuesday, February 24, 6:30 pm
832 Avocado Ave., Newport Beach, CA, 92660 – Phone 949.640.0200
Menu: White Bean-Rosemary Crostini; Crispy Parmigiano Shells with Mixed Greens; Baby Artichokes; Bite-Size Polenta Squares with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes; Potato-Red Onion Flatbread; Marinated Mussels and Clams; Roasted Garlic and Leek Soufflé

LOS ANGELES, CA
Sur La Table: Cooking Class
Thursday, February 26, 12:00 pm
6333 W. Third Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90036 - Phone 323.954.9190
Menu: White Bean-Rosemary Crostini; Crispy Parmigiano Shells with Mixed Greens; Baby Artichokes; Bite-Size Polenta Squares with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes; Potato-Red Onion Flatbread; Marinated Mussels and Clams; Roasted Garlic and Leek Soufflé

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA
Let's Get Cookin’: Cooking Cass
Friday, February 27, 6:30 pm
4643 Lakeview Canyon Road, Westlake Village, CA, 91361 – Phone 818.991.3940
Menu: White Bean-Rosemary Crostini; Bite Size Polenta Squares with Gorgonzola and Sun-Dried Tomatoes; Asparagus Wrapped with Bresaola; Mozzarella, Basil and Cherry Tomato Skewers; Prosciutto and Stracchino Pinwheels; Tramezzini of Crispy Pancetta, Tomato and Lettuce; Prosecco Cocktails

OJAI, CA
Ojai Culinary Studio: Cooking Class
Saturday, February 28, 2:00 pm
315 N. Montgomery, Ojai, CA, 93023 – Phone 805.646.1124
Menu: Potato-Red Onion Flatbread; Mini-Salmon Cakes; Grilled Scallops Wrapped in Pancetta; Homemade Baba Ghanouj with Toasted Pita Triangles; Stuffed Grape Leaves with Dilled Yogurt; Provencal Tomato and Basil Tartlets; Grilled Baby Vegetables

SANTA BARBARA, CA
Santa Barbara Winery: Seminar on Olive Oil
Sunday, March 1, 2:00 pm
202 Anacapa, St., Santa Barbara, CA, 93101 - Phone 805.963.3633
Pamela presents an overview of olive oil production, with a discussion of the different regions, varieties of olives, and agricultural and production practices. Olive oil tasting, including Pace da Poggio Etrusco, her own organic extra-virgin oil, produced at her farm in Tuscany. Short cooking demo will include recipes from 50 Great Appetizers.

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA
Central Coast Culinary: Cooking Class
Monday March 2, 6:30 pm
2078 Parker St, Suite 110, San Luis Obispo, CA – Phone 805.541.2253
Menu: To be announced

SAN MATEO, CA
Draeger's Cooking School: Cooking Class
Tuesday, March 3, 6:30 pm
222 E. Fourth Ave., San Mateo, CA, 94401 – Phone 650.685.3704
Menu: Pinzimonio – Crudites with Pamela’s Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil; Spicy Bread Twists with Pesto Dip; Rice Croquettes Filled with Gorgonzola; Savory Winter Tart with Cavolo Nero Kale; Italian Ruby Chard Custard; Grilled Eggplant Rolls Stuffed with Herbed Ricotta; Polenta Bites with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

DANVILLE, CA
Draeger's Cooking School: Cooking Class
Wednesday, March 4, 6:30 pm
4100 Blackhawk Circle Plaza, Danville, CA, 94506 – Phone 650.685.3704
Menu: Pinzimonio – Crudites with Pamela’s Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil; Spicy Bread Twists with Pesto Dip; Rice Croquettes Filled with Gorgonzola; Savory Winter Tart with Cavolo Nero Kale; Italian Ruby Chard Custard; Grilled Eggplant Rolls Stuffed with Herbed Ricotta; Polenta Bites with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

LOS GATOS, CA
Sur La Table: Cooking Class
Thursday, March 5, 6:30 pm
23 University Ave., Los Gatos, CA, 95030 – Phone 408.395.6946
Menu: White Bean-Rosemary Crostini; Crispy Parmigiano Shells with Mixed Greens; Baby Artichokes; Bite-size Polenta Squares with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes; Potato-Red Onion Flatbread; Marinated Mussels and Clams; Roasted Garlic and Leek Soufflé

SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Sur La Table: Cooking Class
Friday, March 6, 6:30 pm
77 Maiden Lane, San Francisco, CA, 94108 – Phone 415.732.7900
Menu: White Bean-Rosemary Crostini; Crispy Parmigiano Shells with Mixed Greens; Baby Artichokes; Bite-Size Polenta Squares with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes; Potato-Red Onion Flatbread; Marinated Mussels and Clams; Roasted Garlic and Leek Soufflé

Ferry Market: Seminar on Olive Oil
Saturday, March 7, 12:00 pm
One Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA, 94111, Phone: 415.693.0996
Pamela presents an overview of olive oil production, with a discussion of the different regions, varieties of olives, and agricultural and production practices. Olive oil tasting, including Pace da Poggio Etrusco, her own organic extra-virgin oil, produced at her farm in Tuscany. Short cooking demo will include recipes from 50 Great Appetizers.

SONOMA, CA
Ramekins Cooking School: Cooking Class
Sunday, March 8, 11:00 am
450 W. Spain St., Sonoma, CA, 95476 – Phone 707.933.0450
Menu: Pinzimonio; Bagna Cauda; White Bean-Rosemary Crostini; Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola Bruschetta; Chicken Liver Crostini; Mozzarella, Basil, and Cherry Tomato Skewers; Bite-Size Polenta Squares with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes; Prosciutto and Arugula Mini Pizzas; Pepper-Crusted Tuna, Onion and Pepper Skewers

2/22/2009

I'm Back (Again) - [Crazies]

(Pictures for this article taken with my Canon Rebel XTi, Canon PowerShot SD800is, and Canon PowerShot SD100.)


(Chinese New Years hot pot feast we whipped up at elonweis's place.)


Happy Chinese New Year!

Wait. That was last month. Come to think of it. I missed the regular New Year. Christmas too. In fact, I haven't posted in about three months.

Erm...


(Christmas Tree at Cat's parents', December 24, 2008.)


I think I've got an excuse that some of you may even buy. I got promoted in the first week of January.

Yup, promoted. A really big promotion. Damn near a miracle in this economy. Since then, my already busy schedule has kicked into super-hyper-overdrive. I haven't really slept in the past two months. A whole bunch of 12-16 hours workdays and weekends later, I think I've finally got a handle on everything. ... I hope.


(Playing for sympathy with a cute beagle.)


So, I'm back. I hope those of you still out there, lurking behind the tumbleweeds, dust bunnies, and crickets, will join me again my culinary meanderings. There's still a lot of great food out there. Let's find it together.


(Shameless attempt at bribery.)