Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Good Eats Under $5: Golden Deli

I'm starting a series of posts of cheap eats in LA. These will be good meals for under $5 (not including tax and tips - hey this is LA!).

First post is the Golden Deli Vietnamese restaurant in San Gabriel! I come here a lot since Caltech is pretty close. The standard dish I get is the 'bun thit nuong':Rice noodles with bbq pork, served with fish paste in the small bowl (just dump it all into your noodle bowl!). $4.75
****UPDATE! The current price is now $5.25 :( ****

They are really generous with their portions and also how much meat they give, especially considering the price! I guess it is not that uncommon being in the San Gabriel area :)
There usually is always a line, but if you're only a party of two you get seated pretty quickly.

I also got a cherimoya drink, which was $1.75. If you get a drink your meal won't be under $5 anymore though :P
AGolden Deli

815 W. Las Tunas Dr.
San Gabriel, CA

Golden Deli on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 26, 2008

Ita-Cho: Standard Japanese, Unusual Dessert

This was a long overdue post - this dinner was on the same night as my first visit to Milk. I couldn't decide where to go one night and decided to try out Ita-Cho, an izakaya type restaurant on Beverly. The plus for me is that it was across the street from Milk :)

Ita-Cho was relatively empty, but they did have quite a few tables filled. They actually have quite a few interesting items on the menu. I ordered the octopus karaage:
The octopus was pretty tough and the batter falls apart whenever I try to take a bite. It was a little bit greasy but pretty tasty nonetheless. Nothing particularly memorable, but good.

We also got the broiled hamachi kama (yellowtail collar). I mean, don't we all lo~ve yellowtail collar?
This was my favorite dish of the night. A solid and well-done dish! The hamachi kama was so tender and flavorful.

For dessert, I was surprised to find that they serve fresh cherimoya fruit. It was $3 for one fruit, though, which is expensive compared to grocery store price but I guess this was "one dessert dish".
It was a good cherimoya - the ripeness is just right. They sure did pick a good one.

All in all, I thought Ita-Cho was nothing particularly special, but they do a solid job and have interesting items on the menu. The prices are also reasonable. If it was close to where I live I would go there frequently. As it is, it's a bit far for me to come back frequently, but I may just come back there when I want some more Milk ice cream :)

7311 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036-2534
Phone: (323) 938-9009

Itacho on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Finally, Sushi Zo! Mmm ....

I finally went to try out Sushi Zo after reading all the rave reviews it got on Chowhound and Yelp. Went pretty late on a Monday. They close at 9:30 and we arrived at 9:00. The hostess asked if we had been there before and we told her no. Then she started putting on this concerned face and saying "Oh, we only serve sushi here". Me: "That's fine". Her: "We don't have california rolls or things like that". Me: (getting a little annoyed) "That's fine." Her: "And we close at 9:30." Me: "That's fine ... "(so you better seat us soon so we can eat and get out of here shouldn't you?)

It's really just the way she said these things, as if anyone who hasn't been to sushi Zo clearly only eats california rolls or something... but anyway, now that we're done with the initial annoyance, we sat down and ordered omakase.

Keizo san started us with the oyster and abalone. The oyster was good, though not outstanding.
I'm also not really a fan of abalone sashimi ... Too tough and chewy for me. But it was fresh and pretty good.

Then there's the maguro. I usually don't dig maguro that much, but the one served here was actually really really tasty. The sushi here is on the small side, but it really does fit perfectly in your mouth in one bite! I can finally eat sushi without making a mess or having to bite the fish in two.

After that was the scallop sushi. The rice on this one was a bit warm :/ But the scallop was good.
Next is the hamachi, served with Yuzu!! Delicioussss ... definitely one of the best hamachis I've had.
Also got the mirugai. It was good, but again I'm not a big fan of the tough chewy ones, compared to melt-in-your-mouth toro .....
Then finally! Finally the toro came! OMG OMG!
This toro was outstanding!!! This is right up there, right after Hiro Urasawa's seared toro! Having toro melting in your mouth is ... heavenly.

Then I had the yellow striped jack. Again, mmmmmmm. Words are superfluous ...
Love the texture, love the taste.

And then there were the ones that I can't remember the name of for the life of me :( I think I have an idea but for fear of being wrong, I'm going to refrain from trying. If anyone knows what they are, please tell me!

I stopped after this last dish: the uni and ikura. Isn't it beauuutiful?
A very sweet uni, I loved it.

I could've done without the abalone and oyster and gone straight to the sushi! But the fish that I had were all very very good indeed! I will definitely, definitely be back.

Sushi Zo

9824 National Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
(310) 842-3977

Sushi Zo on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Jian BBQ Pre-Opening Night!

Jian BBQ is a high-end Korean place on Beverly Blvd that will open its doors to the public on May 26th. Lucky for me I got to tag along to their pre-opening tasting night for friends and families.

They had beautiful woodwork inside the restaurant, but the wall of the bar was laid out with pachinko machines and there's a giant statue of a black anime robot -- I'm not sure what the reasoning is here, but I thought the pachinko machines were pretty interesting.

Now, on to the food! We had a loong tasting meal ahead of us! I was sitting with a group of Koreans so I relied on them to tell me if the dishes would be too spicy for me or not. Luckily most of them were not! (Although the restaurant can make them spicier too if you ask them - but they are mainly catering to the white clientele).

We started with a whole bunch of appetizers. This is the yun aw jun (salmon with jalapeno, wrapped in a thin dough)
Good salmon, tasty. Nothing special here though.

Then the awww mandoo (halibut, snow crab, napa cabbage, doo boo)
This was served with their "JIAN gochujang sauce" which actually was not spicy at all. Again well done and tasty, but better dishes are to come.

Next is the yook hwe (beef tartar, korean pear, baby arugula, quail egg)
Now THIS was excellent IMO. Tender, fresh beef! There's a wonderful citrus-y flavor and the combination with the korean pear was very, very good.

The came my favorite korean dish, jap chae!
This jap chae was very very good, one of the best I've had yet. I do wish they had put more mushrooms and vegetables in it, but the taste was excellent. Not too oily or peppery either.

Next is the yuja yun aw hwe (salmon tartar)
Standard salmon tartar here. Good fresh fish.

Then the doo boo kimchi. Now it's starting to look spicy, but it actually was not that spicy.
The dooboo (in a thin fried layer of dough) is underneath all that kimchi. Excellent doo boo (tofu). I actually liked this dish despite the fact that I do not normally eat kimchi. The koreans on my table really liked it too (although they did wish it was spicier).

Next is the cheese ma ri, which is basically mozzarela sticks? Not very Korean, but it was pretty good.

Then the ga ri bi ti gim (scallops fried in shredded filo)
The filo tends to fall apart, making this a bit hard to eat since the scallops were also hard to bite off. Quality scallops. I do like fried food. Nothing to rave about here though.

Finally we're done with appetizers (all those were appetizers?? We were soo~ full already).

Next is the korean bbq. They brought us some pan chan - the standard kim chi etc.
One thing worth mentioning about this bbq is that there is no vent above us! This grill is built so that the smoke would be all sucked back down underneath! As we were cooking we could definitely see that the smoke does not rise but enters into the holes on the side as you see in this picture.
This makes the whole experience less smoky and smelly :)
So we had kal bi, bul go gi, and shrimp. The shrimps were very good, and so was the kal bi. I was never much into unmarinated bul go gi though .. They also served the lettuce salads instead of plain lettuce or rice paper to wrap it with, though, which was a bit of a bummer.

Oh we're not done yet .... We also had the eun dae gu jo rim (braised cod). Served with braised radish and some fried tofu.
Everyone loved this dish. It was a lot of people's favorite. It was a little salty, but the fish was amazingly tender and flavorful. And I love those little tofu.

We also had the kim chi chigue - which again, was a lot less spicy than usual. It was still a bit spicy so I only had a bite. I thought it was delicious. This girl on my table claims that it was one of the best she's ever had and that kim chi chigue is her favorite dish -- so I guess we can take her word for it? :)
We had mochi ice cream for dessert. What to say? Mochi ice cream is mochi ice cream.
I do wish they had served a more unique dessert - we did not get to see the real regular menu, so don't know what they will actually be serving.

We all really enjoyed our meal here. Overall, everything we had was solid and well done - some more "standard" than others. They do cater more to the non-Korean clientele with the less spicy dishes, but I think they still retain a lot of authenticity. I did not get to see the real menu so I don't know how much they plan on charging.
Assuming they have reasonable prices, I would definitely come back for the jap chae, the cod (eun dae gu jo rim), and the beef tartar :)

Jian BBQ

8256 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Jian Korean BBQ on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 16, 2008

Food Porn: Cake Gallery 2

Alright, now here are some cake photos from Sweet Lady Jane on Melrose. Another LA fave, though there has been some discontent with the service lately.

The cakes here are generally heavier, but I think their chocolate cakes are awesome.

Here's the flan, which was de~li~cious, the coconut shavings were a nice touch!

And then the triple berry cake (their berry cakes are yummy), this is one of the few white cakes I like there ...
Sweet Lady Jane

8360 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA

Sweet Lady Jane on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Food Porn: Cake Gallery

I don't have much for you these days, haven't had the chance to try anything new :(

So for the meantime, enjoy these series of cake photos!

First one's from our beloved, beloved Porto's!
A Cuban bakery in Glendale, famous for its inexpensive, delicious goods! Their most famous items are the cheese rolls, the guava cheese rolls, and my faaaavorite papas y rellenos (potato balls).
Here's a display of their cakes:

Porto's Bakery
315 North Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91203
tel. (818) 956-5996

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Caltech Int'l Food Fair 08

Just a quick post ... we've been really busy preparing for the International Food Fair at Caltech. Just this year we decided to form a formal Indonesian club at our school, and then decided to participate at the food fair also.

Since our budget was limited, we had to make a lot of the food ourselves.
I'm proud to present our "Gado Gado" ;) I think I contributed a lot to its making, so I'm really excited about it! (Although it's a bit strange to act like I was in charge when making it considering I never made it before. But it turned out well anyway!)
I guess you can say gado gado is like Indonesian salad. It may look healthy now, but you eat this with rich, creamy peanut sauce :P

We also made "Cendol" but you can barely see anything in that big pot, so I didn't take a picture.

We also had some snacks/desserts that were catered by an Indonesian lady living in LA. This here is the "bolu pandan"
The green color comes from the pandan leaves, and I'm just going to refer you guys to this wikipedia link for more info on it ;)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Jar - word review

I finally went to Jar last week, so I'm reporting back.

Alas ... my camera was out of battery! So no picture :( Sad ...

What we had:

Crab Deviled eggs - The eggs were good, and the amount of crab was somewhat generous. Not generous enough to warrant any special note though, so overall it was not that special.

Lobster Cocktail - The lobster was fresh and delicious, but a bit on the tough side ...
I think the onions they put overwhelmed the lobster taste and the dish would have been better without it ...

Pan Roasted Wild Alaskan Salmon - The piece of salmon was not evenly cut ... so here's how it was: on the thicker end the salmon was undercooked, in the middle it was just right - perfect and oh so delicious in every way! On the thinner end it was a bit overcooked ...
It is too bad that they didn't keep this in mind while cutting/preparing it ....

Braised Lamb Shank - What can I say? This was the best lamb shank I have ever had! The most tender lamb shank ... *drool* and the coriander+star anise sauce was de-li-cious.

We had baked purple sweet potato for the side ... the sweet potato was sweet and yummy, but I don't get why people would put sour cream on sweet potatoes ... That just takes away from the sweetness :(

Jar's signature chocolate pudding - very good chocolate pudding, but I can't say it was something particularly noteworthy.

So overall ... Most of the dishes had kinks, but I would definitely come back here, especially for that lamb shank ... and next time perhaps will try more of the meat dishes.

8225 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 655-6566

Jar on Urbanspoon

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