Wednesday, April 30, 2014

All You Need is Steak Frites at L'Assiette

When I first heard about L'Assiette, I wondered if the restaurant will succeed at serving only one thing. Yes, L'Assiette only has one item on the menu: steak frites. When you sit down, the only menu they give you is the wine list. They ask you what temperature you'd like your steak to be and jot it down on the paper table cover.

It isn't just the steak frites, though, but the $25 meal comes with a choice of either salad or an aromatic sorrel soup that I loved.

sorrel soup

Then comes the steak frites: slices of very tender steak, hot fries, with their homemade secret-recipe sauce.
Steak Frites

Monday, April 28, 2014

Tacolandia Returns on June 28!

A $25 all-you-can-eat taco festival curated by Street Gourmet LA? Yep, Tacolandia returns this summer on June 28. Tacolandia is probably the most affordable food festival out there, and the food is great!

Among the favorites last year making a return this year Mariscos Jalisco and their famed fried shrimp tacos

Chef Laurent Quenioux from Bistro LQ turns taco slinger for a day. Last year, he rotates what he was serving throughout the day, which included lobster, all manners of meat, and ... I'm not saying if this was foie gras ....

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spring Menu at Umami Burger

This spring brings new options for the vegetarians and non-meat eaters to Umami Burger. I checked out the one in Old Town Pasadena and decided it was one of the few times I can bring my vegetarian friend.

We started with the Avocado Toast (toasted challah, crushed avocado, wild baby arugula, herbs, miso grapefruit dressing, sunny side up egg ($6, add bacon for $1)
Avocado Toast
Instead of just a spread of avocado, there are plenty of chunks on top of the toast. Being an avocado lover myself, I really enjoyed this, especially when combined with the runny egg yolk. Out of the spring additions, this was my favorite.

There are 2 special burgers for the spring.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lunch with Chowzter at Mission Chinese (San Francisco, CA)

In anticipation of the Chowzter Global Awards in London this week, I thought I'd blog about the lunch I had with them in San Francisco (where Langer's #19 won the Tastiest Fast Feast for North America).
Our big group went over to the recently popular Mission Chinese Food - too early, they haven't even opened yet when we arrived. Being bloggers, we just took photos outside and studied the menu until they open. Mission Chinese had taken over the Lung Shan space, where they used to do pop ups, and they left the old sign.

Throw a bunch of out of town bloggers here and we will end up ordering the whole menu x 3, pretty much ... Of course, we had to try the popular Chongqing Chicken Wings ($11)
The crispy chicken wings were buried in peppers! As good as they were, the most surprising and addictive component of the dish was the crunchy tripe slices scattered at the bottom.

You can take a break from all the spiciness and tingly feeling the chicken wings left you with dishes like Tiki Pork Belly (in soy caramel, mandarin, pickled pineapple, shaved coconut, macadamia nuts - $10). And a tiki umbrella, natch.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Il Piccolo Verde (Brentwood)

With the rise of inventive and off-the-wall menus these days, we sometimes forget how good how good old school cooking is - like classic Italian, for example. At Il Piccolo Verde, a cute, small, Italian place in Brentwood, I was recently reminded of it.

The Baked eggplant parmigiana is a bit different, since it is stuffed with zucchini ($12)
Eggplant Parmigiano
There's an old school wood fired pizza oven here.
We tried the Pizza Napoletana, topped with tomato sauce, fresh burrata, and basil

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fickle's New Spring Menu + $100 Gift Certificate Giveaway!

Little Tokyo is not just for ramen and sushi. There's plenty of diversity in the restaurants that have popped up there recently.

At Fickle, you will find a range of items from shrimp cocktails to Vietnamese style noodles. From the new spring menu, I liked the Kampuchia Shrimp with Pickled Carrot and Cilantro, Black Pepper and Lime Vinaigrette. Dip them generously in the sauce.

I also knew I had to get Santa Barbara Uni Bún (Cold Vermicelli Noodles, Mint, Cucumber, Nuoc Mam)
Uni Bun
Executive Chef James Ta played around with the basic components of the Vietnamese Bún (that means noodles, not "bun") by adding one of my favorite ingredients, sea urchin! It works quite well with refreshingly clean noodles and cucumber.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Talking Tasting Menu Film Over Dinner at The Bazaar

Food has really penetrated reality TV, and it's making its way into films! After Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Magnolia Pictures is now releasing Tasting Menu, a Spanish film surrounding the last dinner at one of the world's best restaurant in Costa Brava. Sounds El Bulli-like? I had the privilege to dine with the director Roger Gual last week, and I asked him point blank if he was inspired by El Bulli's closing. Surprisingly, he was already working on the script when El Bulli's closing was announced! Funny how life works sometimes. The film will be in theatres this Friday, April 18.

What other dinner in Los Angeles would be more perfect to celebrate this film than a tasting menu at LA's most celebrated Spanish restaurant, The Bazaar? Roger had dined at El Bulli (research for his film. I was my research was as tasty) and immediately recognized Ferran Adria's olive spheres.

The main characters in the film are estranged husband and wife, Marc and Raquel, who happened to have reservation for the last dinner service at Chakula, the fictional best-restaurant-in-the-world. Neither of them is willing to give up the reservation (neither would I!), so they met again at the restaurant after a year of separation. There's comedic relief from the two potential Japanese investors who will make competing bids for the chef to open a restaurant in Japan, a countess and old friend of the restaurant who is attending dinner with her late husband's ashes, and other characters.
Raquel is played by Claudia Bassols, who also attended the dinner.
Claudia Bassols
Some of you food lovers might recognize her from Spain On The Road Again with Mario Batali, Mark Bittman, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

DTLA's Hot Spot: Faith and Flower

The huge space that was Towne in the WaterMarke Tower has turned into one of the hottest restaurants in Los Angeles. Faith & Flower is the newest project from David Bernahl and Rob Weakley (LA Food and Wine, 1833), and Stephane Bombet (formerly a partner of Picca and all of Ricardo Zarate's restaurants). Faith & Flower's kitchen is headed by Executive Chef Michael Hung whom they had recruited from San Francisco who has previously worked with Traci des Jardins.

The interior is one of the most impressive in LA as well. An eye-catching chandelier greets you as you walk into their beautiful spacious dining room. The sleek bar to the left is decorated with a mural from street artist Robert Vargas.
I love how the menu is inserted into a gorgeous bound book.
The content of the book is mostly gibberish but look through it to find some gems (like a quote from Louis C.K.)

For appetizers, don't miss the New York Steak Tartare, uni cream, kombu seaweed, black sesame ($14)
The combination of two of my favorite foods, beef tartare and uni, was amazing and brought together well by the crispy rice chips.

People were raving about the sea urchin toast, but alas, I couldn't have it that night. The chef had sent back the uni he got because he wasn't happy with the quality. I'm glad he has high standards though, I'll just have to return for the uni toast. Instead, I tried the Dungeness Crab Toast with jicama, pickled sea beans, green goddess aioli ($15)
Crab Toast

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

New Cocktails and Western Whiskey Menu at Bigfoot Lodge in Los Feliz

Bigfoot Lodge in Los Feliz didn't really have a craft cocktail menu - until now. Only for this bar, the 1933 Group has tapped Aidan Demarest and Marcos Tello's consulting company, Liquid Assets, to redesign the cocktail and whisky selection. Keeping in the theme, they've decided to go all Western for the whisky list - everything comes from west of the Mississippi.

Photo credit: Bigfoot Lodge
All cocktails are $11 and here are a sampling of them:
On Top of Old Smokey made Bainbridge organic whiskey out of Washington, honey, citrus juices, and "forest fire" which is a sprig or rosemary which they burnt upon serving, giving out a lovely aroma
Amazing how aroma could accentuate a seemingly simple sour!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Lobster Deal for Sunday Supper at Vertical Wine Bistro (Pasadena)

Sundays in Pasadena are going to get exciting with Vertical Wine Bistro's newly launched Sunday Suppers! The new Sunday Supper menu, which started this past Sunday, is $25 and includes a whole steamed Maine lobster, among other items. I'm not kidding and it's quite a deal!

The supper starts with an Iceberg Wedge salad with ranch dressing

Crisp iceberg lettuce to get things going ...

Then, the main attraction: a whole steamed Maine lobster. One of the claws had been used for the lobster and shrimp roll. They come with a cup of lobster bisque and corn on the cob.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Breakfast to Dinner at Doma Kitchen (Redondo Beach)

by: guest blogger Bryan Tsunoda @btsunoda

Doma Kitchen is a fairly new restaurant located in South Redondo Beach as it has been open less than one year. Recently I had the opportunity to experience their new spring menu.
While I’ve dined at Doma Kitchen a number of times, it was primarily for breakfast. They've now extended their hours into the early evening and I was curious about their offerings.
Doma Kitchen occupies a very small lot. In fact, the kitchen takes the entire space of the building. A beautifully stained wood fence surrounds the perimeter to create a patio-like setting. Dining is exclusively al fresco and Doma Kitchen has set up colorful tent canopies and heaters to keep diners comfortable during cool evenings. Colorful artwork from local artists adorn their walls.
Co-owner Angie Corrente gave us an overview of the evening’s menu. She explained that she and co-owner Stan Mayzalis have traveled the world and as a result, they wanted Doma Kitchen to reflect their love for global cuisine.

We were blown away to learn that we would experience breakfast, lunch and dinner in a matter of only 2 hours. Fortunately, the portion sizes were small, but that was still a lot of food to consume in one sitting.

Our “breakfast” was served promptly and efficiently. Doma Kitchen’s Pancetta Scramble with home fries arrived to our table first. Unlike some that use a pancetta that is more ‘ham-like’, Doma Kitchen uses a very good quality pancetta which is full of flavor. This combined with the scrambled eggs and scallions made for a tasty dish.
The others at my table were definitely drawn to the sweet offerings. Fresh Belgian waffles were served with a homemade chocolate sauce and fresh fruit, nutella and bananas and vanilla creme. The waffle was ultra crispy and I was surprised that it wasn’t dense.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Getting Lebanese Food in West Hollywood at Open Sesame

Open Sesame is a popular Lebanese restaurant in Long Beach and they have now opened their LA location on Beverly Blvd, in the former Eva space. They've revamped the small space quite nicely to fit the theme.
Addictive, pungent garlic dip is served right off the bat. It's also great with the appetizer of fried potatoes, sauteed with cilantro, garlic, roasted chili and lemon juice. That dip is great with anything, really.
The cocktails here are worth a look, some of them utilizing middle eastern components like rose water and tamarind. I tried the Tamarind cocktail with tequila, tamarind syrup, agave, grapefruit liqueur, rose water, lime.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Eat Here Now: Roy Choi's POT in Koreatown

Pot from Kogi BBQ's Roy Choi was one of the most anticipated restaurant openings recently, and it does not disappoint. The restaurant inside Koreatown's Line Hotel showcases Roy's Korean heritage with hot pot dishes, other Korean favorites, along with some of his unique creations.
We had a really hard time choosing, but finally we ordered one that had almost everything. We tried the Fisherman's Wharf ($39 for the pot pictured above, plenty of food for 2 people) which comes with rock cod, crab, sardine, clams, mussels, fish roe, shrimp, tofu, daikon, scallion, sesame, spicy paste, and herbs. Each of the hot pot can also be served as individual portions - this one would cost $17.
It's chock full of seafood and packs quite the flavor punch. Not that I'm Korean but this tasted "authentic" to me and just as good if not better than what I've had around K-town. In fact, I prefer eating this than the crab soup at Ondal. The crab is still in the shell, so be ready to get down and dirty. That's part of the fun and they hand you a whole roll of paper towel, so you'll be set.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Riding Trajineras Wooden Boats in Xochimilco (Mexico City D.F.)

Despite being the largest city in Mexico, there are still historical attractions and activities in Mexico City, including the ruins of an ancient temple right next to the zocalo. Another of these attractions is the canals in Xochimilco. These canals are what are left of a man-made waterways and lake from the pre-Hispanic period when it was the major transportation system.

Tourists and locals alike rent wooden boats called Trajineras. Locals typically go on a boat ride on the canal to party it up. The boats are equipped with a large table seating about a dozen people, perfect for families and groups of friends.
Smaller boats of vendors roam around the canals selling elotes, blankets, more food, and - most importantly - micheladas. There are even mariachi bands if you come during the busy times!

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