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RockSugar (not the candy!)

October 4, 2011

Bar None, RockSugar is my husband’s favorite restaurant.  From the moment he first walked in the doors he loved it, and from the first bite of food he took, he was enamored by it.  He talks about how wonderful their food is all the time.  But it’s not just the food at the restaurant that is to like, it’s the whole package.  RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen, which is the restaurant’s full name, is a dining experience beyond any other.

RockSugar first opened it’s doors in 2008 at the Century City Mall in Los Angeles, in a street-facing location where the mall’s old food court used to be located.  For months as I drove or walked past the restaurant while it was under construction, I was curious as to what kind of restaurant it would be.  The construction seemed to be a massive undertaking and there was very little information out on the internet indicating what kind of restaurant it would be.  When the restaurant finally opened up, it was intriguing: there were two huge Burmese Buddha statues flanking 2 enormously tall gold leaf-inlaid columns and enormous bright red doors out front of the restaurant.  It was obviously an Asian-themed restaurant based on its name and it’s decor, and considering the fact that there are not too many upscale Asian restaurants in the area, I knew I would have to give this place a try.

From the first time I ate at this restaurant to the 10 times I’ve been there in between, I’ve loved every experience.  The decor of the restaurant is absolutely to-die-for.  It’s gorgeously decorated with huge ceilings that reveal hand carved timber beams, intricate asian art include wooden Buddha statues, glowing candles and paper lanterns.  Additionally, in its outdoor courtyard there are 2 calming waterfalls, and inside the booths the flank the walls are decorated with saffron and plum-colored drapes reminiscent of Buddhist monk robes.  The decor of the restaurant sets the mood for the amazingly delicious and mouth-wateringly good dishes you are about to be served.

The concept of RockSugar is to create a family-style Asian restaurant that showcases the flavors of Southeast Asia; specifically the foods and flavors of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Singapore.  The name of the restaurant comes from the name of an essential ingredient in Asian cooking: rock sugar.  The dishes are unique and different from what you’d find in the majority of other Asian restaurants.  Basically, they are heaven.

Every person I’ve ever taken to eat at RockSugar has walked away blown-away by the food and experience.  RockSugar is certainly never a disappointment.  I’ve had so many wonderful and tasty dishes there that I’ve never had anything there that I wouldn’t order again.

Yummy appetizers that I’ve tried include the crispy samosa made with chicken in wrapped in an egg roll-type wrapper and deep-fried and served with a cilantro sauce, and crunchy calamari with squid marinated in coconut milk making it tender and flavorful and served with a chili-pepper sauce.

RockSugar has an array of delictable soups and salads, including their version of Thai tom yum goong which comes with shrimp, calamari and fish served in a spicy and sweet broth with coconut milk (absolutely amazing!); their signature Thai green mango and papaya salad with tomatoes, crushed peanuts, carrots and crispy shallots (super refreshing), and their grapefruit jicama salad made with red cabbage, candied pecans, rau ram (Vietnamese mint similar to coriander) and ruby grapefruit which is tangy and crisp.

The restaurant’s main dishes are so good that I literally have to stop myself from devouring everything that comes in front of me.  First and foremost, the cellophane noodles with Dungeness crab is so good that words cannot describe how amazing this dish is.  Hands down, my husband calls it the best dish he’s ever eaten, and in heartbeat, if he were ever asked to describe a dish for the show “The Best Thing I Ever Ate…” this would be his dish!  The dish comes with these silky smooth and slippery cellophane noodles along with green onions, sliced chilies and crispy shallots.  But the star of the dish is the Dungeness crab.  We’re talking large chunks of sweet and delicious crab meat, they really don’t skimp on the seafood at this place.  The shaking beef is also delightful.  I’ve never had beef so fork-tender it just melts in your mouth.  The dish is composed of beef filets, red onions, garlic and watercress that come together to form this delectable dish that we almost always order.  I’m told that the mixed vegetables in Thai green curry is so wonderful and tasty – the green in the curry comes from cilantro and the curry is made without coconut milk.  The Malaysian salmon dish is really good if you like salmon; the fish is served on a bed of bok choy, roasted red peppers, celery, ginger and green chilies.  Singapore Mapo Tofu is something I ate when I was with a friend who ordered it.  I wasn’t sure it was going to be a dish I would like, but it was surprisingly tasty and not-at-all spicy; it’s made with minced chicken, soy, sesame and chili oil along with some vegetables like peas.

Finish your meal alongside some ginger fried rice and you are set.  The ginger fried rice is made with chinese sausage, leeks, sesame, crispy garlic and roasted corn.  It’s served with a sunny side-up egg on top of this dome of delicious rice.  The waiter brings it to your table and then breaks up the egg for you and mixes it into the fried rice so that the creamy, milky egg yolk mixes perfect with the fried rice.


But the piece de resistance of the meal has got to be dessert (though my husband would say it was the cellophane noodles with Dungeness crab).  Their carmelized banana custard cake is absolutely TO-DIE-FOR.  If you love bananas the way I love bananas, you’ll fall in love with this dish.  You get 2 slices of banana custard cake, almost like having a banana-flavored creme brulee with that crunchy sugary top sitting atop moist banana bread (good thing there’s 2 slices so my husband and I can each get our own slice!).  But that’s not it, the dessert is served alongside home-made mik chocolate ice cream, on a bed of malted creme anglaise for rich vanilla sweetness and nut brittle for some crunch.  I could go to this restaurant and just eat dishes of this dessert.  It’s really that good!

I will admit that RockSugar isn’t the cheapest meal in the world, in fact, it’s luxury eating and really only appropriate for special occassions.  But man, oh man, it’s worth every penny you pay; both for the food and the ambience.  My husband would surely agree that if he could eat at RockSugar every night, he would.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Amanda permalink
    October 12, 2011 2:14 pm

    This place sounds amazing, and I want to eat all the pictures you posted (except the 4th, haha).

    • October 12, 2011 2:29 pm

      This restaurant, and another Thai restaurant we go to is Sam’s absolute, hands-down favoite place to eat. Sam has often said that if you and Greg come out and visit and we get up to LA, he’d take you to eat here.


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