Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Petty Cash Taqueria: Kraken, Pig Ears, Mexican Spirits You' ve Never Heard Of

The new Petty Cash Taqueria is a collaboration between the north and south side of the border. Beloved chef Walter Manzke's pig ear nachos sit on the same menu as Tijuana's popular Tacos Kokopelli's kraken tacos. Bill Esparza tries to spice up the spirits program with little known Bacanora from Sonora (it's a sister of tequila made from a different type of agave). You will see a giant jug of a clear spirit sitting on the bar. It will either be this bacanora or something equally as interesting they managed to get their hands on.

Manzke's pig ear nachos appeared at Colonial Wine Bar for a pop-up once and people raved. Now, you can get it anytime here. The nachos and pig ears are topped with a runny egg and crema poblano ($12)

Crispy nachos, chewy pig ear, just enough going on here. There's a reason why this dish is so popular, try it for yourself!

A perfect snack for a big party is the Cheesy Churros with green Mole-corn dip ($5)
Cheesy Churros
Yes, savory Churros covered in cheese!
(The texture wasn't quite "churros" but it's certainly a puffy fried dough, so that counts.) There are plenty of churros in one order, but it was so hard to stop eating them.

The cocktail list isn't as big as Playa's was but there are still interesting drinks to try like the Oaxacan Old Fashioned (made with tequila and mezcal). I went with a lighter Banana Hammock (Petty Cash rum blend, banana infusion, lime, tamarind, cassia, dehydrated banana chip, $10)

A sweeter tiki drink that's a crowd pleaser. The sour tamarind is not that strong here, getting mostly the sweeter banana.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Giveaway! Tickets to LA Wine Fest (June 8-9)

It's time for another giveaway! LA Wine Fest is returning to Raleigh Studios on June 8-9 and they have offered two pairs of tickets to give away to my readers. 

You can taste over 500 wines, spirits, and beers from all over the world here, and nibble on samples from vendors (if you need more food, there will be food trucks with food for purchase). Last year I tasted lots of wines, limoncello, chocolate bourbon, Korean rice wines, and much more. They also have seminars like wine and cheese pairing with Barrie Lynn,The Cheese Impresario (seminars cost extra).
One of my favorites from last year: Martian from Santa Ynez
Event details: 
Saturday, June 8th 2pm-6pm and Sunday, June 9th 12pm-5pm
Hollywood's Historic Raleigh Studios
5300 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90038

If you don't win, you can also purchase tickets to the wine fest here. The VIP ticket gets you in early and a VIP swag bag.
You can also check out the seminar schedule there (and the cost). Your ticket purchase benefits Food Foward.

The contest will end at midnight Friday, May 31 and I will be choosing two winners over that weekend. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 20, 2013

Osawa Upgrades Old Shaab Location in Pasadena

When Shaab shuttered it left Pasadena devoid of shabu shabu. Now Osawa has taken over the exact same spot, serving shabu Shabu, sushi, and otsumami (small plates). Osawa is owned by Sayuri Tachibe, the wife of Chaya's corporate chef, Shigefumi Tachibe.

I went with Wandering Chopsticks who I know doesn't drink much so I ordered something sweeter that she can enjoy, a yuzu sake called Aladdin. Definitely easy to drink.
There's also blood orange lemonade for those who don't drink at all.
We started with some otsumami. I had been eyeing the beef tongue with Furofuki daikon radish and shaved kelp ($11)
I wondered if this was a common combination. I've never had shaved kelp (as opposed to dried) and like bonito flakes, when they get wet they clump together making it hard to separate with your chopsticks, but overall I liked this interesting dish. The beef tongue was quite tender and I'm partial to daikon.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Palm Springs Restaurants Week Pick: Mastro's Steakhouse

Despite being a big national chain, Mastro's Steakhouse is still one of the top steakhouses. Now, why would I write about the Mastro's in Palm Desert, you ask? That's because they're participating in Palm Springs Restaurant Week!

Mastro's Palm Springs
A $38 dinner at Mastro's with appetizer, 6 oz petite filet (or other entree choices), 2 sides and dessert?? Unheard of! They really want new customers who have never been to try Mastro's with this approachable price. In the Beverly Hills location an 8oz petite filet is already $42! If I were going to be in the Palm Springs are during Restaurant Week, this is where I would go.

During the Restaurant Week media visit, we got treated to more than that, though. Of course, a splurge at Mastro's would usually include their famous seafood tower.
Mastro's Seafood Tower

An impressive three-tiered (or does that little thing at the top count as 4?) tower. Oysters, king crab legs, shrimp cocktails, and mmm ... lobster .. all very fresh!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

1886 Bar Reopens With New Spring Menu (Pasadena)

Some of you may already know that 1886 is my favorite bar in Pasadena, so I was in a withdrawal when they temporarily closed while the kitchen is being renovated. It's not that I go every week, but it's nice to know I can if I want to! Anyway, they finally reopened and a few days after launched their new spring menu. I didn't try everything this time around but got pretty close.

The menu is divided into four different sections. Let's start with the last one, since that has the drink I started out with: ANATOMY OF A MEAL.
SprezzaturaThey say this section is a "work in progress", with cocktails that would go well with different food.
My cocktail tasting started with the Sprezzatura (by Pete Lloyd-Jones): Campari, Cynar, Grapefruit Soda. The menu advises you to try this before the meal to cleanse your palate, and it's certainly a great one for that with a balance between the sweetness and bitterness. It's lighter in alcohol as well, making it even more perfect to start the night.

Mama Loves Mango (Rosie Ruiz): Mezcal, Tequila, Mango, Citrus, Cayenne. Meant to pair with dishes where fish or shellfish take center stage.

"Mama" Rosie created this because she loves mango. So do I! This drink is calling my name as the weather in Pasadena is getting unbearably hot ...

Dinner at the Gamble House (Nikita Minin): Cedar infused Bourbon, East India Sherry, Sweet Vermouth Try pairing with red meat or game.
Photo courtesy of 1886 Bar

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

PINGTUNG Eat-In Market: Great Asian Food on Melrose, For Real

When you talk about Chinese food on the westside, West Hollywood, or Hollywood, you're immediately skeptical. Of you might say that "it's pretty good for the westside". Well, PingTung recently opened up on Melrose, serving up dim sum, Chinese rice dishes, beef rolls, and Japanese ramen, and it's good. Not just "it's pretty good for Melrose", but actually good.

Unlike the higher end Bao, PingTung is more casual, with wooden tables and an outdoor night market style seating in the back. There are Asian products displayed on the shelves for purchase. That's the market part. I'm here for the eat-in part.


The owner (Ping) had hired a Chinese chef to make all the dim sum and a Japanese chef to make all the ramen.
She told us that the chefs had protested initially when she told them to cook with no MSG and less oil, but they finally figured out how to do this while maintaining the taste.

Pingtung Flat Bread Beef Roll ($6.95)

I thought the flatbread would be some kind of pizza-like thing but it turns out to be these rolls! They're done well, the skin nicely crisped at the edges.

Chicken Shumai ($5.50)
They also have pork shumai but Ping really wanted me to try the chicken shumai. Have to admit, they're pretty good (that just means the pork would be that much better, right?). They tasted cleaner than SGV dumplings but that's not necessarily bad.

Radish cake with chinese sausage ($4.95)
My default order when I go to dim sum. I like the browned, thinner version here. More crisp to volume ratio!

Crystal Shrimp Dumplings ($5.50)
No dim sum without har gow!
When I eat this, the thing I watch out for is the skin. Sometimes the skin is too thick or too hardened. Not so here, I was pleasantly surprised that the skin and, indeed, the whole dumpling was excellent.

(Spicy) Miso Tonkotsu Ramen $7.95
They don't make the noodles in house but the noodles they use were specifically made for their broths. The company they use had come to taste the broth and figured out the right noodles to use. The tonkotsu is not as fatty as most places but it's still quite good! Healthier while maintaining great flavors, indeed. Ping is also very proud of her chicken ramen, which I will have to try later.

Paiku Pork Chop ($10.95), comes with soup of the day.
This is the only one that I didn't really like, because the meat was a bit tough. When I was there the soup was a hot and sour soup.

They also have beer and sake (and sake cocktails) as well as a good selection of loose leaf teas. Overall I was very pleasantly surprised by PingTung. Yes, the price point is still higher than San Gabriel Valley (and there's no chicken feet on the menu), but what can you expect with a Melrose rent? Either way it may be the only dim sum (or ramen) place to go to in this area, and it's one I would be happy to recommend to others.

7455 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 866-1866
Pingtung on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 6, 2013

Weekly $1 Oyster Specials!

A list of happy hours, half off wines and free corkage is great and all, but you know what's equally as good? Equally as important? OYSTERS. But oysters aren't cheap. Usually. Unless you find a deal for $1 oysters, so here's a list of where you can eat 20 oysters in one sitting any day of the week. Of course, if you know of another restaurant with this deal, please let me know!

Chaya Downtown, 525 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071
$1 oysters daily, all night in the bar/lounge/patio area only (hat tip @dineLA)

Littlefork1600 Wilcox Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028
$1 Naked Cowboy oysters daily, 5-7pm
EDIT: the deal is now $1.50 oyster of the day, daily 5-7pm and Friday&Saturday 10pm-close

Enterprise Fish Co, 174 Kinney St, Santa Monica, CA 90405
Mon-Sat, 4-7pm. Sunday 8-10pm, plus Fri-Sat 9-11pm

EMC Seafood & Raw Bar, 3500 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020
Daily 5-7pm

Green Hut Cafe, 808 W 7th St., Los Angeles, CA 90017
Daily after 3pm

Drago Centro, 525 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071
Daily, anytime on the bar menu, $5 for 4 Crystal Point oysters (OK so that's $1.25 each but pretty close and served with peach mignonette!)

Fickle, 362 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
5-7PM (+$3 draft beers and $5 wines)

The Mercantile, 6600 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
5-8PM (+ happy hour drink specials)

Chaya Brasserie, 8741 Alden Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90048
Chaya Venice, 110 Navy St, Venice, CA 90291
5-7pm in the bar/lounge/patio area

Faith and Flower, 705 W 9th St, Los Angeles, CA 90015
$1 oysters with pink peppercorn mignonette, 5-6:30pm. Bar/lounge area only.


The Hungry Cat Santa Monica, 100 W Channel Rd (@PCH), Santa Monica, CA 90402
1/2 oysters all night (OK, technically not $1 but half off makes $7.50 for half dozen. Close enough)

Delphine, 6250 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028
 5-10:30pm ($1 East Coast oysters, $2 West Coast oysters)

Bar Marmont, 8171 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046
"Oyster at Cost Mondays" so the price will vary depending on the oyster, but supposedly they're no more than $1.50 each

Tipple and Brine, 14633 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
$1 oyster all night (4:30-11pm), bar/lounge/patio area

MESSHALL4500 Hillhurst, Los Angeles, CA 90027
4-10pm (plus $5 beers)

Pearl's Liquor Bar, 8909 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
5pm-until they run out

McCormick and Schmick's, http://www.mccormickandschmicks.com/

The Churchill8384 W. 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048
6pm-close (hat tip to LAist)

Cliff's Edge, 3626 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
6-7pm ($20 for a dozen after)

Caulfield's Bar and Dining Room9360 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Littlefork1600 Wilcox Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028
$1 oyster of the day for brunch, 11am-3pm

BLVD16, 10740 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024
$1 oyster all day

Sunday, May 5, 2013

TLT Food (Westwood)

There's another place that I wish was there when I was a Bruin: TLT Food. The food options in Westwood Village just keep getting better these days!

TLT Food is started by the guy behind The Lime Truck (hence TLT) that started in Orange County and won season 2 of The Great Food Truck Race! It is a great fast casual option, with beer and wine and free wi-fi. There are sandwiches, sliders, tacos, and fries with an Asian influence.

I had to get Blue Crab Grilled Cheese (can't say no to crab): Grilled Sourdough, Blue Crab, Cheese Blend, Scallions ($9)

Pretty generous helping of crab meat for $9! It was mixed with mayo but pretty lightly so you still get plenty of the crab flavor. This was my friend's favorite.

Taco prices vary depending on the protein (or potato) you get, from short rib to ahi tuna. I tried the Pork Belly Adobo Taco: Braised Pork Belly, Tomatillo Salsa, Sriracha, Cilantro ($4)
Two of the taco fillings you can actually get as toppings for fries, if you're inclined to get more carbs! They're great to share with the whole table, too. The two are 12-hour pulled pork, making up the "World Famous Carnitas Fries" and the Steak Fries. I got the Steak Fries: Marinated Steak, Asian Slaw, Homemade Wontons, Cilantro Chimichurri ($10)
Great combination, talk about fully loaded fries. Do share, the portion is quite big. The steak was pretty tender and I really liked the cilantro chimichurri. Who needs poutine?? (Well, we still need poutine but we need this too.)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Strong Spring Cocktail Menu at Drago Centro

Drago Centro's bar had been in a limbo recently, when their bar managers/bartenders left one after the other and no one new was coming in, but now it's made a strong comeback with Kyle Ackley's new spring menu. His face and name was familiar to me and I finally remembered that I had met him at Lexington Social House. Kyle worked at The Bungalow at the Fairmont Miramar between Lexington and Drago Centro (and was at XIV prior to Lexington).

Kyle Ackley

Grappa cocktail
I went through the whole menu starting from the lightest, Bella Bionda: Grappa, kumquat syrup, citrus, orange bitters, club soda.
Drago Centro wanted grappa cocktail because, well, it's Italian, and Kyle came up with this drink. Here you can taste the grappa but it is not too strong. It's a very refreshing drink and great for those who want something lighter in alcohol.

There are a lot of long cocktails for the spring menu, while he plans on having many stirred drinks in the fall. He also makes his own pickles and syrups.

IMG_5222The Vibrante is made with Aviation gin, sloe gin, pickled grape skins (housemade, natch), tarragon, lemon. The cocktail is tart and herbal-y, tastes almost like a shrub.

There's no shrub in here, though.  His shrub makes an appearance in the All Dolled Up: Karlsson’s vodka, Campari, vanilla rhubarb shrub, grapefruit, lemon, egg white
This obligatory vodka drink looks like a girly drink but has more bitterness, a nice touch from the grapefruit and Campari. Ackley likes putting the two together, bitter on bitter. The Campari and the shrub are the stars here.

Gourmet Pigs   © 2008. Template Recipes by Emporium Digital