Can you handle the heat?

KILLER NOODLE

The Tsujita noodle family opened their newest KILLER NOODLE shop on Sawtelle earlier this month. We love noodles and I love spicy foods, so it was an easy decision to come and eat here. We went here for lunch on a Saturday, despite being in their grand opening our wait was only 30 minutes. It was a hot day and I was questioning why was I going to torture myself even more so by eating spicy ramen. But then I remembered it’s been scientifically proven that eating piquant foods actually help cool you off, despite it being the opposite thing you’d want to do. 

The decor of the place is super modern and chic, which kind of reminded me of the joke: “what’s black, white and red all over?” There’s large black and white portraits of random people on the walls, which made me wonder who these people are. It’s a pretty cool conversation starter. Along another wall high up, adjacent to the noodle bar are apothecary jars filled with spices and chilies that make their noodles excruciatingly delicious. 

Their menu has three signature styles of ramen: Tokyo-style, which has more of a ground sesame flavor; Downtown-style, that has a more profound sansho (prickly ash pepper) which creates more of a numbing flavor in your mouth; The Original, is a clear broth with a topping of ground pork and tofu with a super generous helping of black pepper. With each style you can choose having the noodles in soup or dry. 

We tried each style of noodles with soup. We opted for The Original for Winter and August with Zero spice. Each of these noodles, you can customize it suit your mood or weather. You can add more MA (prickly ash pepper) to numb your mouth like you’ve just had dental work or LA (red chilies) to give you the burning sensation like you’ve taken up fire-eating. There are also choice of extra add-ons for a nominal cost. So with the choices you have, you could come and eat here every day and have a different combination every time. 

I ordered the Downtown (level 4 in MA and level 3 in LA) and my Sister-in-Law ordered the Tokyo (both level 4.) She’s more of a fiery badass than I am. With each order you can customize even more if add ons, and as much lemon as you like. 

Before I could even take a picture of the kids’ noodles or my SiL, they dug into it. The first sight of my bowl of noodles made me sweat, I thought, “what if I ordered it too spicy?” The bright red, thick soup intended to coat your tongue and mouth, so you can’t escape the heat. I panicked for a millisecond, they sell a yogurt drink to help take away the burn if one was too overzealous in their spiciness eating abilities. So I had a fallback plan if I overestimated myself. (PHEW!)

I tried the soup first and I LOVED it, I was handling the spice ok, but maybe the spiciness builds? I decided to stop slurping my ramen noodles after the third time, when some of the soup nearly missed my eye, I didn’t want writhe in pain around a bunch of strangers and embarrass myself for a rookie mistake. I gingerly ate some noodles and drank more broth and yet no crazy burning sensation, and just when I was confident in my spicy level, it hit me. I instantly began to sweat, my mouth was starting to burn and my lips were feeling tingling, thanks to the MA factor. I was determined to follow through, my SiL said she likes to add lemon juice to mellow out the flavors. I thought it was a little weird, but I gave it a shot. The fresh squeezed lemon juice was my saving grace, it gave it a sweetness that cooled the fire in my mouth. The broth became more addicting, I couldn’t stop. 

Winter’s Original noodles with zero spice was umami incarnate. It was heavenly. Winter & August ate almost 3/4 of an adult serving. They were mad for it. I couldn’t have been more proud. We will definitely be back, and I can’t wait to take my in-laws, they’re the hottest chili heads I have ever met. I am curious to have a sip of their combination of spicy and numb. I will most definitely have to order the yogurt drink after one taste I am sure, but it’ll be worth it. 
KILLER NOODLES Tsujita

2030 Sawtelle Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90025
(424) 293-0474
www.killernoodle.com

From bean to chocolate bar

CHOCXO 
~The ultimate chocolate tour~

I remember my first bit of chocolate; it was nothing like anything I had ever tasted. It was a rich, decadently creamy sweet brown kiss that warmed my soul and melted on my tongue. It danced and tantalized my young taste buds, it possessed my senses in one bite, and I fell in love. Since then, I have considered myself a chocolate fanatic, and you don’t have to ask me twice to try anything with chocolate. So a local chocolate tour? BRING IT!


ChocXo is a local chocolatier in Irvine, CA. It is a relatively new company, and they are known for their small batch and single origin chocolates. They are the only company in SoCal that makes the chocolate from bean to bar. Our tour guide, Brett, is the resident chocolate master. He is the heart and soul of the single origin dark chocolates. His passion for chocolate exudes with every fiber of his being. His knowledge of the whole process of chocolate: from pod to chocolate was thorough and informative. 

The tour was interactive and had a lot of samples to try; we were able to taste every process of chocolate making. We learned that chocolate pods grow on the trunk of trees. We got to shake a dried out chocolate pod and it was like a stemless maracas. It would make for a great baby toy. 


The pod contains a white pulp, we were able to have a small taste of the frozen fruit pulp, it was sweet and slightly tangy. The taste kind of reminded me of a slightly more tangy lychee and the texture was similar to a durian. Winter and August loved it. 

We also got to crack open our own cocoa seed and try a roasted cocoa nib. It was pretty easy to crack open, and the fresh cocoa nib was a lot like eating a roasted coffee bean but a lot less bitter. Winter was daring enough to try and she seemed to like it, but our journey to the chocolate bar she wanted was still further in the chocolate making journey.


The step right before chocolate is made is the grinding process, where the cocoa nibs are ground down to their finest particles creating the chocolate liquor. It has no sugar, and is the purest chocolate you’ll ever taste. Since the liquor looks like melted chocolate, Winter was excited to try it. Her reaction was priceless. 


After the chocolate liquor, we finally got to the liquid chocolate tasting. ChocXo has a wall that pours outs two different types of single origin Ecuadorean chocolate: a 70% Yaguachi dark chocolate and a 72% Camino Verde dark chocolate. Even though only there’s only a two percent difference between the two chocolates, you can really taste the 2% difference. The subtleties are complex, closing your eyes help to hone in on the discreet flavors of a high end chocolate. 


At ChocXO chocolate making is an art form that has to be seen and tasted to appreciate their delicious labor of love. I highly recommend you take this tour and stock up on their chocolates or handmade truffles for the upcoming holidays, or squirrel away some for yourself (I won’t judge.) Or pop in for the best hot chocolate you’ve ever had in your life, I’ve had dreams about it.


ChocXO 

9461 Irvine Center Dr.

Irvine, CA 92618

(949) 825-5781
http://www.chocxo.com