Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Restaurant Review: Rock Sugar Pan Asian Kitchen

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I may be biased but I have to say, RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen is still one of my favorite spots in LA. You see, RockSugar was actually my first job in Los Angeles when I came out here for a summer in 2008. The restaurant hadn't even opened yet and I was hired to be their "Reservationist", sounds fancy huh? During the opening weeks of the restaurant, we were slammed! We had A-List celebs coming in and out, an hour long waitlist, and even if you pulled the "Don't you know who I am?" you still weren't getting in! 

So obviously when I moved back to the area I was excited to see how the restaurant was doing! With restaurant masterminds David Overton and Mohan Ismail behind the wheel, clearly RockSugar was destined for success. 

I was lucky enough to be invited into the stunning restaurant to try the menu out for myself, this time as a critic rather than a nervous employee! 


Every meal at Rock Sugar starts with a basket of Black Sesame Rice Cakes and their house made dip, it's almost like an Asian Salsa. As addictive as these are, try your best not to fill up, there's plenty more coming! 


Our server was kind enough to point out some of the most popular appetizers for us to start with. We opted for the Spicy Ahi Rolls with jicama, pickled carrots, and Thai basil. These were so fresh and tasty!
 


Chef Mohan surprised us with a few little tastebud teasers, Flash Fried Anchovies and Fried Pig's Ears. I know, I know, it sounds pretty insane but I have to tell you, those pig's ears were outstanding. I could totally snack on those all day! 



 Next up was the Beef Skewers. This is definitely a dish for the not-so-adventerous however RockSugar figured out a way to make something so simple totally stand out! The beef was tender and packed with flavor, a total YUM!


 The Thai Fried Chicken Wings were a sweet and sticky treat but if you can't stand the heat, don't risk the bite. They pack an unsuspecting punch!


We moved on to the main dishes starting with the Vietnamese Shrimp with Glass Noodles. This dish was deceivingly light and refreshing. The noodles are cooked with Chinese chives, cilantro, lime and ginger then topped with massive shrimp.

We were also treated the Honoi Snapper. Now this is a dish that I would normally never order on my own however I am SO glad that we tried it! This was seriously a flavor explosion! The fish is lightly pan-fried and then served on a bed of rice noodles with cilantro, dill and peanuts. The real magic happens when you pour the Nuoc Cham sauce over the dish and give it a toss. This will blow your mind. I had to forcefully keep my chopsticks from going back to that dish numerous times. 


As if we didn't feel the need to loosen our belts already, we still had a few more dishes to go! On deck was the Chicken Tikka Masala. Now I'll admit, Indian cuisine is not my strong-suit but this well flavored dish was really smooth and tasty, while I was actually expecting something totally different. Sure glad I tried it!


Next up is one of my favorite dishes. The Festive Rice has stuck out in my mind since I worked there 5 years ago! This fragrant side dish is made with coconut, lemongrass, pandan leaves and cashews. This makes a perfect accompaniment to so many of the menu options, be sure to order one for the table. 


Just before the food coma was about to set in we treated ourselves to the Caramelized Banana Custard Cake. This dessert is so original and delicious, no wonder it's their most popular. Brulee topping, nut brittle, and milk chocolate ice cream on the side. How can you go wrong?


A huge thank you to the RockSugar team and especially Chef Mohan for coming in on his day off just to chat with us! It was truly a delight!


DON'T MISS THIS AWESOME DEAL
National Noodle Day at RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen:
On October 6, Mohan Ismail of RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen will unveil eight different unique, Southeast Asian noodle bowls in celebration of National Noodle Day for $10.50 each. Choose from a selection of dishes such as the Grilled Short Rib with Rice Vermicelli or the Chiang Mai Curry Noodles with Chicken and many more served from 11:30 am – 10:00 pm.

RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen on Urbanspoon