Best Bites: December 23, 2012

It’s that time again. Who made the cut for the best bites I’ve tasted all week? Let’s take a peek . . .

Best Bite: Pork ramen at Cafe Lumiere (Monterey)

Of all the delicious dishes I’ve had this week, there’s one that keeps making my mouth water whenever I think about it. That dish was pork ramen ($9) at Cafe Lumiere, a savory concoction whipped up by owner Brandi Lamb with a nod to the signature ramen at New York’s famed Momofuku Noodle Bar.

This bowl of savory ramen was perfect for the brisk weather we've had this week.

This bowl of savory ramen was perfect for the brisk weather we’ve had this week.

The ramen was packed with pork, including both tender pork shoulder and succulent pork belly. The broth was a bacon dashi, a smoky canvas for the delicate ramen noodles. The 40-minute slow-poached egg was a great touch that added a rich, almost buttery, flavor to the dish. I loved the thin sheets of dried nori, adding an earthy bit of umami to the dish.

I eagerly slurped up every last drop of broth!

This amazing lunch was a great reminder of the underrated lunch specials at Cafe Lumiere, from warm, gooey panini to bowls of savory soups like ramen or pho, the cafe flies under the radar for most, but for foodies in the know, it’s a hidden gem that delivers delicious dishes that won’t cost many pennies.

Cafe Lumiere is at 365 Calle Principal in Monterey. 831-920-2451. www.montereylumiere.com.

Honorable Mention: 

Tagliolini alla carbonara at il Vecchio (Pacific Grove)

As often as I eat at il Vecchio, I so rarely have the willpower to resist the grilled meats. But this week, I got a craving for pasta, steering away from chicken marsala in favor of tagliolini alla carbonara ($14).

The pasta carbonara was like breakfast for dinner, like bacon and eggs on pasta.

The pasta carbonara was like breakfast for dinner, like bacon and eggs on pasta.

The housemade tagliolini pasta was cooked perfectly al dente. I loved the combination of smoky pancetta, buttery egg, salty pecorino and spicy ground pepper.

It was like breakfast for dinner!

il Vecchio is at 110 Central Avenue in Pacific Grove. 831-324-4282. www.ilvecchiorestaurant.com

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