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All posts for the month December, 2009

According to Brigham Yen’s blog,  the Pasadena city council voted 6-1 earlier this month to permit the IDS Playhouse Plaza to go ahead.  Apparently, the project had met with some resistance from the neighbors, but many think the 5-story mixed-use development will revitalize the area.  Personally, I think the development looks a bit big, not so much for Colorado Blvd. but the side facing El Molino.  The Pasadena Playhouse District is characterized by a lot of cute commercial buildings.  The area is sleepy but far from run down, and from the architectural rendering, it seems like the Playhouse Plaza will dwarf the famed Pasadena Playhouse that’s right across the small side street from it.

I was in the area and I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the furniture store that’s on the site now and doing a then-and-now style comparison.  I’m not sure what to call it, though.

In a similar vein, here’s a then and now comparison of Macy’s on Lake.  The building was originally built as Bullock’s Pasadena, designed by architects Walter Wurdeman and Welton Becket.  The architectural rendering on the left is dated December 21, 1944 (coincidentally 66 years ago today).  I couldn’t get the same angle of the Del Mar entrance, as a new retail building housing a Trader Joe’s was constructed right up against it a few years ago.  Thankfully, Macy’s hadn’t ruined the interior of the old Bullock’s, and in fact restored it within this last year.  It’s a beautiful place to shop.  There aren’t too many old department stores left.

We happened across this on the way to lunch in eastern Pasadena.  Papers taped to a door always catch my eye.

The day before, the FDIC had taken over First Federal.  Founded in 1929, the bank had thrived during the Great Depression.  But on December 19, its 39 branches in the Los Angeles area re-opened as OneWest Bank.  OneWest is the new incarnation of Indymac Bank, which itself was taken over by the FDIC about a year and a half ago, and whose headquarters is a few miles away.

Mon Land Hot Pot City in San Gabriel

My favorite hot pot place is Mon Land Hot Pot City.  It’s just behind the huge Focus shopping center at Valley and Del Mar in San Gabriel.  Kevin thinks Lu Gi’s famous spicy hot pot broth is the best, but we both agree that Mon Land’s mild broth wins hands down.

Half and half hot pot

The secret lies in the really neat variety of herbs that they put in their broth.  I’m not sure what they all are, but there are bay leaves, cloves, hawthorn berries, green onions, garlic, ginger, among others.

Herbs in the mild broth

Basically, the hot pot boils in the middle of the table and you order a number of plates of raw meat, vegetables, noodles, and tofu.  There are three sauces on the table, as well a place to get a small bowl of green onions, cilantro, and chili paste.  The meat is very thinly sliced, so it cooks almost immediately, but some of the other ingredients take a little longer.

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We ordered some cabbage, Chinese greens, noodles, fish balls, fried fish balls (called “tempura” in Taiwan), beef, pork, and shrimp.  We also ordered two kinds of tofu: one that was fried and one that had been previously frozen, giving it a chewy, spongy texture that I really like.  For the adventurous, there are cubes of curdled pig’s blood.  I’m not a huge fan, though I will admit that, to my taste, it has actually very little taste (not what I expected).  Most of the plates run from $3 to $6.

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My favorite item to order there is the plate of fresh and wild mushrooms.  At around $10, it’s one of the most expensive things on the menu (second only to the live crab), but the variety of mushrooms is great, ranging from tender to chewy to crunchy.

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Altogether, it’s pretty filling and a really fun way to eat.

Shrimp, noodles, and greens for the hot pot

Wash it all down with a glass of Chinese plum juice and you’re set.

Mon Land Hot Pot City
251 W. Bencamp St.
San GabrielCA 91776
(626) 289-4889