Monthly Archives: January 2010

Cross-Cultural Tamales at Sak Donuts

It’s a quintessential Southern California story: a Cambodian couple takes over a donut shop, learns the tamale trade from an employee and eventually works those neat, polenta-like packets of masa into a menu of crullers and coffee.

Garden Grove’s Sak Donuts, hidden in a Harbor Blvd. strip mall on the periphery of Little Saigon, is as exemplary of the American eating experience as any hamburger or rack of ribs.

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Leftovers: House of Silvanas

Space Age Filipino cookies for the L.A. Times:

Crisp, impossibly airy cookies served straight from the freezer, their centers stuffed with slick buttercream, seem almost Space Age. They’re somehow both sturdy and weightless. They dissolve the second they touch your tongue. These otherworldly treats are silvanas, colorful and classic Filipino cookies that could easily be mistaken for oversized French macarons.

They’re the namesake of House of Silvanas, a months-old sweets shop at the confluence of Silver Lake and Little Armenia. You won’t find the place without some confusion — it’s but one of many stalls located inside Kusina, a surprisingly spacious cafeteria-style turo-turo joint where buffet trays are loaded with ruddy links of longganisa sausage and steaming cups of sinigang, a sour tamarind soup, serve as makeshift palate cleansers.

Never mind its humble surroundings — House of Silvanas has a long, multi-generational history. Its cream-filled tradition began a world away in the Philippines, where Trining Teves-Sagarbarria’s pastries were so popular that a business bloomed to satisfy demand. Those renowned recipes became heirlooms, passed down to daughter-in-law Mary Ann, who has now bestowed them upon her daughter Kathryn.

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