Gelatinous textures that tickle the tongue, a steamy hot pot, hands buried in sticky Cajun crabs: There's no denying it, food is the fastest way to the heart. You may have already called in a reservation at a Downtown restaurant where a guy named Stan will do his rendition of a Frenchman's accent. But at the Alhambra Source we know there are much better places for culinary romance closer to home. Last year we turned to some of the best local food sources — Daily Gluttony, The Glutster, SinoSoul, Two Hungry Pandas, and Kevin Chan — for tips on turning up the heat. This year we got some additional ideas from readers about the hottest spots in Alhambra.
What's the best aphrodisiac dish served in an Alhambra restaurant?
Szechuan hotpot, aka the Chinese fondue. It makes you sweaty. It requires communication, team effort, and group think, which makes it the perfect V-day bonding food.
Many lovers opt for chocolate and strawberries during romantic nights out, but I think the Chinese desserts served at Phoenix Food Boutique are a nice alternative to the more traditional Western aphrodisiac sweets. There are puddings, shaved ices, mochi, and custards to choose from, and most are light, refreshing, and subtly sweet. Their cool and sometimes gelatinous textures tickle the tongue and make them perfect for sharing and feeding to your date. My personal favorites are Phoenix's custard cremes — creamy cubes of black sesame, mango, coconut, green tea, or cappuccino. I would not, however, recommend any of the durian desserts as an aphrodisiac, as the fruit's signature stench could potentially ruin an otherwise romantic evening!
What the most romantic setting at an Alhambra restaurant?
I remember going to Bistro 39 years ago and they had a guy playing some slow French love songs on a guitar. It was quite nice as the restaurant was dimly lit with candles. The awkward thing was I wasn't on a date, but was going to watch "Iron Man" with my buddies.
—Kevin Chan, author of Alhambra Source's Farmer's Market column
Crawfish, shrimp, and clams, seasoned with the "Whole SHA-BANG" from Boiling Crab on Valley Boulevard — a true test of love and comfort. Sitting across from each other with our bibs in an indoor dock, hands deep in Cajun, garlic seasoning, I soak in comfort knowing that [boyfriend and fellow Panda] Wesley will still love me despite the fact that my fingers and breath will reek of garlic for days to come.
Where would I take a girl (if I should be so lucky) now? Well, probably Thai Purple: it's kind of hidden and the booths are usually filled with couples anyway. I'd impress her with a baked young coconut filled with fried rice and a sweet curry to sop it all up with. After dinner, a walk over to the theater across the street while sneaking in a bag of miscellaneous chocolate candy from Tempations.
*Originally Published 2.13.2011