One of my favorite times of the year is when Dine LA week is in effect, and it’s even better when one of the participating restaurants is one I frequent, like Rock Sugar. When $16 buys you three courses at lunch, it’s time to eat lunch out, and try out new dishes, while ordering old favorites.

We started with an appetizer we had never tried here before, the chicken potstickers. The dense meaty dumplings were served with a ponzu dipping sauce which boosted the rich flavor with a little zing. These are not my favorite potstickers, I found the meat too coarsely chopped and densely packed in doughy wrappers, but they were not bad.

We also ordered our favorite chicken samosas, filled with a chicken and a spice medley that was not hot, but very aromatic. The crunchy envelope of filo was a nice contrast to the tender ground chicken, and the cilantro dipping sauce added a nice extra component of texture for those who want it. This was the appetizer favorite for the table.

One of my friends ordered the chicken with red curry and received a small cast iron pot filled with vegetables. This was one of the new dishes (for us) and since she does not like shiitake mushrooms, she asked for them to be omitted. She was pleasantly surprised when the dish arrived with the addition of asparagus, which she loves. This is a very rich hearty dish, and you can have brown or white rice with it, so it is perfect cold weather food.

Our favorite main course here is the clay pot beef, and although the lunch portion is smaller than the dinner version, it was still more than I could finish in one sitting. If you only order one dish here, order this one.

Since we wisely stopped eating our entrees when we felt full, we saved some room for dessert. The popular banana caramelized cake served with chocolate ice cream was a hit, but our favorite dessert was not this one.

We have a weakness for doughnuts, so when we saw coconut doughnuts served with a passion fruit sauce on the menu, we knew we had to try it. If everything else in the meal had been terrible, these doughnuts would have saved it. The delicate doughnuts, still hot from the fryer and topped with toasted coconut were divine, but when dipped in the passionfruit sauce, they became ethereal. Everyone fought over this dessert, even though a dessert for one included TWO doughnuts!

Fortunately, DineLA week lasts two weeks and comes around twice a year, unlike Christmas; I know what I am going to be ordering at Rock Sugar during the next DineLA week (well, I should say that I know what I want for dessert).

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