Steakhouse Dinner at Home


As soon as the news of Pon Pon’s arrival reached my BFF Maya, she hopped on the next flight from Portland to come meet the little munchkin, and to rescue us from what is perhaps the most challenging time for new parents  – the first week!

It was a real blessing to have her in town, not only to be able share this special moment with my best friend, but so that we can receive a much-needed comfort and hands-on, practical advice from a mother with a track record raising a fine, young boy. In between consoling me while I burst into tears for no particular reason (lack of sleep + hormones = one hot mess) and helping me as I awkwardly feed Pon Pon (never thought feeding a baby can be this tough), she ran errands for essentials and even cooked an amazing steak dinner for us!

The last time I had Maya’s famous, restaurant-quality steak dinner was back in 2011, after I completed the Portland Half Marathon, as the meal has become a ritual for me and Kevin to indulge after running a race in the Oregon town. It didn’t require me to put on a pair of running shoes this time, but I guess childbirth can count as an athletic event!


A perfectly-seasoned T-bone steak, cooked to perfection! I usually like my meat medium rare, but I resorted to medium, since I’m breastfeeding.


Grilled asparagus with garlic. Look at the size of these spears!


This is her famous potatoes. They taste so good, Kevin and I are convinced that they are laced with cocaine.


She even prepared a decadent molten chocolate cake for dessert. The chocolate goodness oozed out from the middle!  She even went out and got the ramekins because we didn’t have any.

Thank you, Maya, for everything!  You are truly our angel! 🙂

Old-Fashioned Fun: Parkway Grill


Kevin and I spent Saturday evening with friends Joe and Deb at Parkway Grill in Pasadena. They are also expecting a little one next year, and Deb and my due dates are coincidentally only a few weeks apart! This is the second baby for the lovely couple, and we received many wonderful advices — some hilarious and some a bit scary lol — from the veteran parents over great good and (virgin for the moms-to-be) drinks.

Our wonderful evening became even more fabulous because the food at Parkway Grill was just perfect. This Pasadena landmark reminded me of a fancy restaurant my father used to take the us family on his company holiday party.  We were one of the youngest people in the restaurants, and the place had the real, old-fashioned steakhouse feel that I adore.

We shared an order of Tiger Shrimp Corndog to start, which were very creative in its naming but really no different than a regular tempura shrimp … but Thai-inspired sauce was delicious.


I really wanted to lick the bowl to get the last bit of the lobster bisque!


Here’s my main dish – truffle infused chicken with vegetables. This was one of the best chicken dishes I’ve ever had.


Kevin ordered a New York steak.

I have to admit that I used to hate mommy talks before I became pregnant. Some people are natural baby lovers, even if they weren’t a mom themselves … and I was definitely NOT one of them!  I just didn’t get all the fun behind talking about a state-of-the-art baby stroller, breast feeding, stretch marks, and swollen feet. I think I lost touch with lots of party-girls-turned-moms-to-be over the years because we no longer had anything in common, which, now looking back, was such an unfortunate thing. I wish I stayed more open minded, interested, and supportive, during the most exciting time of their lives.

Now that I’m pregnant, I am incredibly thankful for mothers who listen to my rookie concerns and offer sound advice, and especially for all the non-parents who tolerate my enthusiasm over burp cloths and swaddle blankets!

I am so blessed to have so many wonderful friends in my life.

Great Summertime Dinner: Beef Tataki

My fiancé and I were thinking about cooking up sizzling Korean BBQ at home for dinner tonight but the idea of heating up a grill pan in this scorching heat terrified us, so we decided to enjoy beef more appropriately with Beef Tataki (“tataki” means “seared” in Japanese).

I grilled a piece of New York steak (salt and peppered on both sides) to medium rare, sliced it into bite-size strips, and marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, grated ginger and garlic, sesame oil, and a little drizzle of honey for about two hours. I didn’t use measurement for this but as a general rule, you would want to put in more vinegar than soy sauce, probably a 2:1 ratio. I grated 2 cloves of garlic and a ginger about the size of my thumb, and chopped one bunch of scallion for flavor and a little bit of crunch.

The result is a refreshing summertime dish that is served perfect chilled – so wonderful especially in the 100-plus degree heat outside. The recipe was inspired by my mother, who makes this dish for pot-luck parties. Because the beef is marinated in vinegar it holds up pretty well and it’s even more perfect because you don’t have to reheat. And the longer you let it sit, the better!

Serve this with a steaming bowl of rice and I guarantee you that you’ll have a new summertime staple! I served it with a side of Japanese-style potato salad (it’s like mashed potato with mayo) and Hiyayakko, a block of tofu with shaved bonita (katuobushi), green onion, and soy sauce.

This is the Japanese version of a perfect meat and potato dinner. 🙂

A Little Homesick (but still eating well)

food-standI had a hearty plate of steak, rice and beans at a little hole-in-a-wall diner a few blocks from the hotel. I actually wanted something else on the menu but they were out of all three items I wanted to try. I was happy with the dish I ended up having, but I was hoping that I would have maybe a side of vegetable to go with the steak (what was expecting?). The restaurant was part diner, part bar (and a juice bar too) and part convenience store — a one-stop shop for everything and anything you need.

Just to ensure that I’m getting enough vitamins for the day, I ordered an acai smoothie which were bright purple and delicious. My boyfriend called me on my Blackberry while I was dining there and I suddenly got home sick (yes, I was the strange Asian girl chomping down on steak and fried egg with watery eyes!). I really wish he was in Brazil and sharing these delicious food and experiences with me. I miss him, and my friends and family, very much.



One-Plate Wonderland: Filet Mignon Christmas Dinner

filet-mignon-dinnerOne thing I hear repeatedly from all my favorite chefs on Food Network is that entertaining doesn’t have to be hard work. This didn’t settle with me at first because I always associated the party’s success by the amount of effort you invested in preparing the supper, but I decided to take the advice from the experts and prepare a simple dinner for Christmas this year. This approach worked out perfectly because I had to work on Christmas Eve (boo) and I really didn’t have time to prepare a grandiose dinner. My boyfriend arriving early from work and helping me with the preparation made all the difference in the world. This was truly a collaboration 🙂

I began the Christmas celebration with this little appetizer of sesame crackers, goat cheese brie, cucumber slices, smoked salmon and lemon wedges. I meant to get the regular goat cheese for tanginess but picked this one by accident (Trader Joe’s was just jammed packed all last week!) but it turned out as delicious as the original recipe. I make this appetizer at every opportunity I get because I just love the combination of soft cheese, refreshing cucumber and salty smoked salmon together in my mouth.  And they’re so colorful and fun to eat.


The second appetizer was Portobello mushrooms stuffed with sautéed garlic, onion, pistachio, panko breadcrumbs, flavored with cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, and topped with Parmesan shavings. I like serving stuffed mushrooms for starter so the guests can start enjoying wine before dinner and they go so well together.


Next up was a very simple salad of baby arugula, sliced red onion and cannellini beans, with homemade vinegarette dressing — my favorite!


Ever since my epicurean journey to the Northwest, I’ve been fascinated with the beauty of one-plate dinner where the plate becomes the chef’s canvas. I was dying to try something like that myself, so this was the perfect opportunity.  So for the main course, I decided to decorate the plate with festive Christmas colors of green, white and red.

For green, I sautéed and roasted zucchinis, which served as the base of the decoration. Next, to replicate snow, I made herb (thyme, rosemary and oregano) and garlic mashed potatoes, which sat in the center of the plate. I sauteed the spinach with balsamic vinegar for a little texture and additional green.  For red, I made a balsamic reduction to accompany the beef by cooking the vinegar with twigs of herbs for about 10 minutes until the liquid reduced to half.

The life of the party was definitely the filet mignon. My boyfriend was in charge of the meat (it’s a guy thing) and he made them simply divine. He seasoned each beef with salt and pepper, and rubbed minced garlic and chopped herbs (again, thyme, rosemary and oregano). He infused the olive oil with garlic wedges first and seared the meat for a few minutes on all sides, before putting them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. What came out was a perfectly juicy medium rare steak. Mmm. (oh, did I tell you that he’s close to being a professional chef?)

Christmas is such a special time where friends and family come together to enjoy their company. I hope you all have a merry Christmas and a prosperous 2008!