Thursday, January 31, 2008

DineLA 08: Asia de Cuba

We went to Asia de Cuba for lunch today for the dineLA event. 11:30 reservation. The restaurant was empty when we arrived. All in all the food was good, but service sucked.

I got the pulled pork empanadas for starters, which was excellent.

The pulled pork was tasty, and the empanada skin was flavorful and crunchy.

My friend got the lemongrass skewered chicken.

This was not bad but I liked the empanadas much better. The chicken was a bit tough IMO. So I can't eat spicy and this dish was pretty spicy. I ran out of water, but my waitress never came. I raised my hand etc etc finally got the attention of a bus boy. I asked him for water, but he didn't come back with the water for a while while my mouth was burning.

I had the butterfish as the entree.

This was good, fish was tender. Black bean and edamame salad was also very good. I also liked the shishito pepper. (It was like any other miso butterfish, and it was one of the better ones).

My friend got the BBQ chicken and I had a bite.

Chicken was tender and sauce was good. The sticky rice though, my friend claimed was soggy and no good at all.

We had the carrot cake and cuban opera for dessert (no one wanted to get the sorbet so we had 2 opera cakes). We watched as other tables that came after us and finished entrees after us get served desserts first. It seems like they screwed up the order - afterwards they brought us desserts but didn't get the right orders. Either that or our server was just not as attentive as other servers.

Desserts were good, although nothing particularly special.

Asia de Cuba
8440 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, California 90069

Asia de Cuba on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

DineLA 08: Grace

One word: Excellent.

The dineLA experience at Grace does not disappoint. Made reservation for 3 at 7:15 but only 2 of us could make it. They gave us no fuss, seated us immediately. The hostess took my coat for me.
They served us complementary sparkling water. They had additional options available for extra $10 charge such as hamachi for appetizer and wild boar for the entree.

I ordered one Grace Gimlet, which was okay. It got better at the bottom of the glass, not too sure if it's because it wasn't well mixed or just because I was more intoxicated towards the bottom.

I got the spinach and arugula salad bcs I needed some greens. The salad was simple, yet very well done. Goat cheese was yummy.

The other person got the Shrimp Cavatelli, which was very yummy, but the portion was much smaller than the salad.

I didn't dig the peas too much but everything else in the dish was excellent.

I opted to pay $10 extra to get the wild boar with spaetzle and baby bok choy. The waiter informed us it was recommended medium rare which was just perfect for me anyway.

An amazing dish. Meat was very tender and flavorful, the sauce was excellent and so was the spaetzle. The fresh mint leaves just added a great "kick" to it.

The other person ordered the king salmon. The first bite prompted him to say "wow", which does not often happen.

The salmon was medium rare and was just cooked to perfection. Very tender, not dry. One of the best salmon we've ever had. The quinoa and the artichokes go perfectly well with the salmon - the artichokes especially for me. Too bad I was stuffed.

The desserts, of course, was doughnuts (no other choice).

Doughnuts were good, although I didn't think it was really that special. The hot chocolate that came with it was really yummy. Had a bit of spice to it which was excellent. Unfortunately though it came with too much cream and I just mixed it all in, which I regretted later on.

All in all, it was an excellent meal and well worth $34 (well, plus $10 for the boar). The entree portions were regular size, they definitely did not skimp just because of the prix-fixe deal.

Food: 9/10
Service: 9/10

7360 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036-2501

Grace on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

DineLA 08: Luna Park

Yesterday was the dineLA kickoff. It just happened to be Luna Park since Grace was tonight. Wanted to try one of the cheaper menus, and a friend said Luna Park is good, so we made reservation for 8 pm. Got there at 7:58 but the table wasn't ready. We waited at the bar, which was also jam packed and no seat was available. At 8:20 I was getting pretty pissed, we still weren't seated. At 8:23 the hostess came by and apologized, saying that the tables have had their checks for a while but still have not left. Then she offered us the goat cheese fondue on the house. I took it, naturally, and was much happier now.

We were seated soon after, and the goat cheese fondue followed shortly:

The goat cheese was good with a smoky flavor. The bread itself was not bad although nothing special.

Since we've had this on the house, I got the calamari for appetizer. It was an ordinary calamari, although I did like the wasabi dressing. No picture since it looks like a normal breaded calamari dish.

Then I had the pork cutlet.

The cutlet was crispy. Although it was filled with mushroom and gruyere cheese, it was thin. The sauce was sweet and goes well with the cutlet if you take care not to put too much on. The mashed potato was very good.

They were out of the tarts that I had wanted for dessert. We got the smores and the apple pie instead.

The smores was normal, although it was kinda fun. Neither the chocolate nor the crackers were anything special.

I didn't dig the apple pie filling- it reminds me more of the apple pie from McD ... the ice cream, though, was good.

Luna Park
672 S La Brea
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone: (323) 934-2110

Luna Park on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hitting Comme Ca Early - Less Noise

We've been wanting to try Comme Ca but heard it is super noisy since 1)a lot of "young people" go there and 2)the acoustics is just bad. But today we decided to go there at 5 ish, to avoid all the crowds.

Only 3 tables were filled when we arrived. On the phone they said we didn't need reservation if we come before 5.30. We were greeted with "do you have reservations?" anyway, but were eventually seated.

They were quick to take drink orders but we asked only for tap water. After this, even though the restaurant was practically empty the service decidedly is. very. slow.

Eventually they took our orders. And then brought us bread. Eventually. But on to the food. Got the roasted beet salad for appetizer:

Very flavorful (if not just a tad salty), and the goat cheese covered in pistachio was excellent. Way better than the one I got at Fraiche recently.

Then also had the Sepia Provencal for appetizer (sauteed squid):

This was also an excellent, flavorful dish. The squid was tender but still firm/not overcooked.

For the entree we ordered the braised lamb shank.

Very nice dish, and the sauce was great. The meat was tender, although I prefer it to be even more tender (I usually enjoy the meat right next to the bone best). The tomato deserves a distinctive mention.

The other entree was the duck confit.

Although it didn't look as good as the lamb this dish was actually excellent. The duck meat was tender, almost as if it fell apart as we cut it. Not at all too dry or too tough, and the skin was perfectly crispy without being burned.

As you may already know, the dessert here is from Boule Patisserie. I've been there once but was disappointed by the service, so I thought this would be a good time to try their stuff again (since the service at Comma Ca is decidedly better - albeit slo~w).
Got the boule cake

chocolate and hazelnut mousse with cherries covered with dark chocolate. Yummy, though very rich.

And also the brioche pudding:

I like this better, although too rich and too dry at the same time for me to eat without the ice cream. As soon as we're out of the ice cream I could not eat any more ... Too bad, as I did like it.

When we left (at 7 pm) the restaurant was packed and it was getting noisier , although we still saw way more of the 'older crowd'.

Comme Ca Brasserie
8479 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90069

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Taste of Home

It can't be denied that one of the things that made me stay in LA is the food. And importantly, it's the fact that I can get food from my home country here. And good food at that. Lately I've been going to Simpang Asia in Palms for Indonesian food. They used to be exclusively a grocery store that sells some Indonesian dishes to go. Then they expanded to the store next to them to open up a small cafe, serving, to my delight - durian smoothie and avocado juice (this is avocado blended with chocolate or coffee).

Nowadays they are Zagat rated. Which means they get crowded. Oh well. At least if business is good they will stay open.

This is a typical celebration dish, "Nasi Kuning" (literally, yellow rice). It's turmeric rice with roast chicken, eggs, a type of potato ball, egg in "balado" sauce, etc.

Oh, and the fried shallots on top of the rice is veeery very important! We put it on almost everything, soup, fried rice, ramen noodles ...

Oh did I mention simpang asia has the cheapest Indonesian food in LA?

Simpang Asia Groceries
10433 National Blvd #2
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Simpang Asia on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Yujean Kang Gourmet Chinese

I've been hearing a lot about Yujean Kang's and since it is in Pasadena after all, I decided to give it a try one day. We went as a group of six to old town Pasadena. The whole old town + atmosphere surprised me, since the place seems rather fancy for good authentic Chinese food. We didn't have reservations and they were busy but they were very nice and after about 10 minutes they accomodated us.

Their polenta appetizer was reviewed by LA Times, so obviously we had to give it a try. Although it wasn't what I would picture as a "polenta dish", it was definitely yummy :)

I really liked the crispy beef, shown here:

The Chinese food here really is a step up from most other Chinese restaurants in quality and the ingredients used. Although one person said the food is still not as high quality as Mr Chow, the price is definitely way waaay better than Mr Chow.

Yujean Kang's
67 N Raymond Ave
Pasadena, CA 91103

Yujean Kang's on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Twas the season

There is the season each year that you look forward to, that you save up all your money for, so you can splurge and spend it all in one go.
No, I'm not talking about christmas, nor the holiday season.

Naturally, I'm talking about the white truffle season. This year, I decided to give Angelini Osteria's white truffle dish a try. Got the pasta, as it was the cheapest :)

A friend of mine looked at me funny (the-you're-paying-that-much-for-plain-pasta-with -shavings look), but he just does not understand ... the odor! OMG! As you take a bite, the unmistakable white truffle smell just bursts in your mouth.

For dessert we had the chocolate pudding, which is the same as the Bunet that they serve at La Terza. Once again, was amazing. Very chocolatey but smooth.

We also had the panna cotta, which was very good, but everyone mainly went for the chocolate pudding :)

7313 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90036
Phone: 323-297-0070

Angelini Osteria on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 7, 2008

Recipes: Salmon w/ Grapefruit Sauce

I rarely cook, because I'm lazy. And because I hate cleaning up.
But since I was bored this past holiday season, I picked up this recipe from and tried it (with a lil modifications):

Roasted Salmon with Shallot Grapefruit Sauce
Copyright, 2007, Ellie Krieger, All rights reserved

4 skinless salmon fillets, 5 to 6 ounces each
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
2 ruby red grapefruits
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 1/2 teaspoons honey
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Season the salmon with 1/4 teaspoon salt, place in a baking dish and roast until cooked through, about 18 minutes.

While the salmon is cooking prepare the sauce. Cut 1 of the grapefruits into sections by cutting off the top and bottom of the fruit, then standing it on 1 end, cut down the skin to remove the pith and peel. Then, with a paring knife, remove each segment of fruit from its casing and cut the segments in half. Set the segment pieces aside. Juice the other grapefruit and set the juice aside.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the shallot and saute until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the ginger, grapefruit juice, honey, and cayenne pepper and bring to simmer. Cook until sauce is reduced by about half about, 10 minutes. Add lemon juice and season with salt, to taste. Right before serving, toss the grapefruit pieces and basil into the sauce. Put the salmon onto a serving dish. Spoon sauce over the salmon and serve.

My modifications: Instead of shallot, I used loads of garlic instead ;)
And I stuffed the salmon with some grapefruit slices prior to putting it in the oven. I thought it might make it juicier.

Yummmmyyyy. Great combo, healthy, refreshing. I'll definitely try it again.

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