Tuesday, October 25, 2016

From Lunch to Jazz, Beat Brasserie is a Crowd Please Any Time of Day

Beat Brasserie was already a popular spot in Harvard Square, known for its live jazz music and drinks, accompanied by some great food. But recently, Beat Brasserie also opened its doors for lunch on weekdays, adding another great option for nearby workers and students to grab a bite during the day.
Beat Brasserie
The restaurant is much quieter during weekday lunches than during live jazz sessions, of course, which means it would be good for a working lunch as well.

I recently tried the lunch and started with an appetizer of Fried Rhode Island calamari, vegetable frito misto, green goddess dressing ($13.50)
Beat Brasserie
Instead of the traditional heavy calamari plate, I liked that this was more like a salad.

For lunch entrees they have some overlap with the dinner menu, like the bowls and burgers, but they also have a quiche of the day, tuna nicoise salad, and others. The day I dined there for lunch, they had a rabbit pasta on the menu.
Beat Brasserie
The pasta was delicious and it was a good lighter option for lunch as well.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Event Recap: Taste of the Fenway 2016

Most people, even those not from Boston, would know the name Fenway, but how many really know the Fenway neighbhorhood beyond the baseball stadium? Fenway is actually home to many wonderful restaurants and bars, from the casual to the high end. Recently, the Fenway Community Development Corporation held Taste of the Fenway to showcase the diverse food options the neighborhood has to offer. Here are some of my favorite bites from Taste of the Fenway:

Tuna poke from Hojoko, the fun and hopping izakaya inside The Verb Hotel.
Taste of the Fenway
Top Chef alum Tiffani Faison actually has two restaurants in Fenway, and she brought both to the festival. I love when the chef is personally on hand to cook at these festivals, it shows their dedication!
Taste of the Fenway
She did a Singaporean Street Noodle to showcase her Southeast Asian spot, Tiger Mama.
Taste of the Fenway

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Nickel Mine, West LA's New Neighborhood Social House

by @btsunoda

The Nickel Mine is a brand new bar located in West LA. I hesitate to call it a bar because it is so much more than that. It’s located on Santa Monica Blvd and there is no sign on the building. I guessed I was in the right place because from the outside, I saw a few big screens with the Dodgers playing. Due to the large picture windows, the interior of The Nickel Mine is full of indirect light. The walls are lined with aged brick. Bar height tables and chairs line the center. Regular height seating is available along the windows. On the west side of the bar, they have comfortable couches and chairs. With the bookshelf along the wall, it mimics the appearance of someone’s reading room. I like the fact that they have games (e.g., Connect 4, Zenga) available throughout the bar. Their menu is quite extensive. It’s broken down into grub, brunch, wine, beer, cocktails, whiskey, scotch, bourbon, tequila, mezcal, gin, and rum. Ten draft beers are available. I was surprised to see the Chicken and Waffles were made with a Belgian waffle on the brunch menu.

The Garlic Knots are served with a spicy marinara sauce on the side.
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Knowing that I was going to try a few different offerings, I promised myself that I would only eat one. Wrong. There was something about these piping hot garlic knots combined with the marinara sauce that made it so addicting to eat.

IMG_1640The Chicken Caesar Salad was topped with large slices of chicken breast, shaved parmesan and crunchy croutons.

What made the salad surprising was the fact that the romaine lettuce was extremely fresh and crisp. An assortment of wings was served next: Buffalo, Teriyaki and Lemon Garlic. Despite my strong inclination to prefer something other than Buffalo wings, I’d have to say it was my favorite among the three.

Coincidentally, it was National Beer Day. To celebrate, I had samplers of some of their draft beers.
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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Lola's Mexican Cuisine (Long Beach, CA)

by @btsunoda

Two friends of mine both suggested that I try Lola’s Mexican Cuisine in Long Beach. Since I highly respect the opinions of both, I was happy when I was invited to this restaurant.
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Lola’s Mexican Cuisine is family owned and operated. They acquire organic local meats, sustainable seafood and local produce to prepare quality fresh food. “Modern Mexican Cuisine” is probably the best way to describe their cooking. The interior has a nice mix of different seating: booths, communal tables, and seating by the bar. Bold colors and eclectic Mexican folk art almost make it seem like you are inside of a restaurant in downtown Guadalajara.

Their Mexican Street Corn is an upscale version of elote.
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Fresh heirloom corn is removed from the cob, toasted and mixed with crumbled cotija cheese. Garlic aioli is drizzled on the top and chile powder is then applied. It is served in a small cast iron pan and was bubbling when it arrived at my table. Gone was the worry of biting into a corn on the cob only to see corn flying after you bite into it!

While I’ve had many variations of tacos, the “El Trio” taco combo sounded like something I would enjoy.
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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Thanksgiving and America's Historic Triangle: Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown in Virginia

I didn't grow up in America, so I only learned about American history after coming to the country in high school, but last Thanksgiving I visited the Greater Williamsburg and the Historic Triangle in Virginia, which consisted of three towns: Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown. Jamestown is the first permanent English settlement in America, so it has quite a significant place in history.

When we arrived, we went to visit the Jamestown Settlement. The Jamestown Settlement is a "living history museum" located near but not on the site of the real settlement. Walking through, you start out  at the earliest point of history: with the exhibit on the Powhatan Indians.
Jamestown
You can walk through the houses (the longhouses), and staff members were there preparing traditional foods.
Williamsburg

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Boston: Dine at a Discount with GoPapaya App

Whether you're a student or someone with a "real job", everyone loves saving money, right?
Well, Bostonians can now have more opportunities to save money while dining out with this new mobile app startup called GoPapaya.

The idea of GoPapaya is like HotelTonight: they work with restaurants to fill tables during the restaurants' down time by offering discounts to customers, usually between 10-30%. On top of that, since they are new and promoting their app, you can sign up with my referral code "pigs10" and they will send you a $10 Amazon gift card after you complete your first reservation!

The restaurant will set a discount on the app in real time, and you'll have 30 minutes to arrive at the restaurant once you make your reservation. When you open the app, it will show you what discounts are available and for how much, sorted by the distance.
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Once you reserve the table, they will hold it for 30 minutes. During this hold and when you're checked in, you can't reserve another table unless you cancel the current one. Here's when I made one for lunch at Patty Chen's Dumpling Room in Central Square.
Go Papaya
To use it, you'd turn on your bluetooth, and the app will automatically detect when you get to the restaurant and check you in. You don't need to purchase anything from the app so there's no upfront cost like Groupons.

When I got to Patty Chen's Dumpling Room, I just told them I made a reservation with GoPapaya, and they knew what I was talking about.

Patty Chen
Pork Dumpling "Ramen" at PC Dumpling Room


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Fig and Olive (West Hollywood, CA)

by @btsunoda
IMG_1527 West Hollywood is one of LA’s hotspots for new cutting edge restaurants. As a result, I’ve been traveling to the area on a more frequent basis. This time it was to experience Fig and Olive on Melrose Place. Fig and Olive’s menu is largely influenced by its founder, Laurent Halasz, who grew up learning Proven├žal cuisine. They are probably best known for using exceptional olive oils.

Fig and Olive selected 22 of the finest olive oils and use them as a foundation for all of their their dishes. For them, gourmet olive oil is a central ingredient and it displaces their need for butter.

The interior of Fig and Olive is impressive. They have a huge split-level space with double-high ceilings. Instead of showing off their wine collection, they have an impressive wall display of their olive oils. Other dining areas within the restaurant are available such as their semi-private indoor patio with olive trees and rosemary plants.

Complimentary fresh rosemary focaccia bread was served with three distinctly different virgin olive oils: two were from Spain (Manzanillo and Picual); the other was a Fig Koroneiki from Greece. Of the three, my wife and I both favored the Greek olive oil. The Picual was very earthy and I was extremely surprised at the differences in taste between the three olive oils.

We began with the three crostini starter.
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The first was a prosciutto with ricotta, olives, chopped walnuts and topped with a fig. Burrata with a cherry-sized heirloom tomato and pesto was the second one we selected. Of course, I selected the octopus with hummus which was dusted with paprika. All three crostinis were tasty, but I was surprised at how well the octopus paired with the hummus.

A number of dishes were calling my name and I ended up selecting Paella del Mar.
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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Brunch at Napa Valley Grille in Westwood (Los Angeles, CA)

Ah, Westwood. This neighborhood sure has changed since my college days as a Bruin, but Napa Valley Grille is still there and going strong as one of the only higher end restaurants in the neighborhood. They just renovated their restaurant, as well, and it's looking sleek.

I went back a couple of months ago to try out their then-new brunch menu.

For daily breakfast, I typically have a pastry or a coffee cake like this with coffee. The coffee cake was deliciously buttery and I enjoyed the crumbles on top.
Napa Valley Grille
Brunch, however, calls for eggs, like this Cast iron frittata with California wild mushrooms, smoked sardo, caramelized pearl onions ($14)
Napa Valley Grille

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