Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Mister O's Should Be on Your Studio City Rotation

Since moving to Woodland Hills, I get excited when I get to check out restaurants in the San Fernando Valley. A few months ago I went to try out Mister O's, a sort-of-new place in Studio City (it opened in August 2018).

Chef Mario Alberto is doing some good things in the kitchen here. I started with some beautifully plated Yellowtail crudo with fried yucca, pretty lady melon, Anaheim chile oil, apricot, hemp seed ($18)
Mister O’s

The cocktails from Rafael Barba are also worth trying. The San Fernando Valley still doesn't have that many good cocktail bars but Mister O's is a strong contender. I'm not normally a big vodka cocktail drinker, but I thoroughly enjoyed Silly Rabbit (Reyka vodka, yellow chartreuse, carrot, ginger, orgeat, lemon, bitters, $15)
Mister Os

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Happy Hour at Blackship (West Hollywood)

Blackship in West Hollywood is named after the fleet of black ships that the United States sent to Japan in the 1850s, opening trade between US and Japan. The name is appropriate for the Japanese-Italian cuisine at the restaurant, headed by chef Keiichi Kurobe, who previously worked at Hinoki & The Bird.

A while back I went for their happy hour, which is one of the best happy hour in town for food, especially considering they have happy hour on Saturdays also. Happy hour is from 6-7pm on Tuesday-Saturday.  The deal is you can get 3 items for $21, from the special food and drink list.

The best thing to get in my opinion is the amberjack crudo with basil, radish, and green goddess dressing. Where else can you get amberjack crudo for $7?
Blackship happy hour
The portion was pretty generous and the radish and green goddess complemented the fattiness of the amberjack.

There are seven options from the food menu, including this Momotaro Tomatoes, house-made ricotta, balsamic soy, toasted country loaf
Blackship happy hour

Monday, October 7, 2019

Don't Skip the Food at Employees Only LA

We all expect the drinks at Employees Only to be good. After all, that was the reason the original NYC location was so popular. But at the West Hollywood location, you shouldn't miss the food! You may have had the food here before, but if you came before this summer, you might want to take another look. Chef Brian Bornemann redid the menu at Employees Only earlier this year and it is above and beyond what you'd expect from a cocktail bar (Bornemann has taken the helm at Michael's Santa Monica but he's still helping out with the menu at EO).

To start:
Uni, nori, masago, smoked oil, sliced serrano. Drizzle the smoked oil over the uni and eat it like a taco.
Employees Only LA
If you're an uni lover like me, you can't go wrong with this dish. It had a slight kick but didn't overwhelm the sweet uni.

The next dish of halibut tartar is unusually beautiful. Halibut, preserved citrus, Arbequina olive oil, sunflower petals
Employees Only LA

We had to get some cocktails with our dinner, of course. My favorite ended up being this one that my friend ordered: The Colonial (Aperol, Plymouth gin, fresh lemon juice, home-made rhubarb syrup & Himalayan pink salt, finished with rosé prosecco)
Employees Only LA

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

IAMLA's Taste of Italy 2019 Preview at Sosta Cucina

by Bryan Tsunoda @discovering_LA

The Taste of Italy is a sumptuous food and wine event that takes place on Sat. Oct 12. It features some of the best regional Italian cuisine, food products, and wine LA has to offer. In addition, attendees can watch live demonstrations and enjoy the on-site entertainment. 

This year is the 11th annual event and I had an opportunity to preview food prepared by Sosta Cucina in Hermosa Beach.

Sosta means “resting place” in Italian. Sosta Cucina opened a year ago and is owned by chef Luca Manderino. They serve Venetian style Italian food, focusing on smaller-sized portions, encouraging patrons to share their meals family-style. Manderino isn’t new to the area. He has been preparing Italian food in the South Bay since 2005 with Sosta Enoteca.

The first dish was a charcuterie plate featuring cured European meat. 
The platter was filled with thinly sliced prosciutto, soppressata, and specht. The delicious cured meats paired quite nicely with the Custodi Belloro Orvieto Classico, a slightly acidic white wine with notes of fresh apple.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Board the Flight Around the World at Gate Bar Centro

Bar Centro at the SLS Beverly Hills has always had fun cocktails with molecular mixology components. Last year, they had a cocktail tasting menu of 5 drinks. Now, they've really upped the game. Bar Centro has taken over a new corner at the hotel and built a small new bar dubbed Gate Bar Centro. Gate Bar Centro is serving a reservation-only, 12-course cocktail tasting (don't worry, they're not all full sized cocktails) that takes guests around the world in cocktails. The tasting also includes a few tapas from The Bazaar - not quite dinner but enough bites to soak up the alcohol.

Here are some of the drink we had during our flight:
We started with Italy. Ciao Bella is a take on Aperol Spritz with fresh pineapple juice, yuzu, Aperol that's been carbonated in house.
Gate Bar Centro
The next course is Spain with Spanish Gin & Tonic, made right in front of you using a vacuum siphon (I previously wrote about this for The Bazaar's G&T Festival)
Gate Bar Centro

Monday, September 9, 2019

Dandi Pop-Up Brings Modern Korean Dining to LA

Los Angeles may be home to a lot of great Korean food, but they're mostly "old school" restaurants and we don't have too much by way of modern Korean cuisine. That is changing with Dandi, a Korean-Southern Californian pop-up from Joshua Pressman and Jihee Kim, which is popping up for dinner at Hotel Normandie (and other future locations). The two chefs met while working at Rustic Canyon.

Dandi offers two tasting menus, an abbreviated and an extended one. I recently tried the extended tasting and started with this trio of appetizers:

Corn silken tofu, dungeness crab, brown butter.
Squash wafer, chicken liver mousse, apple cider jam
Jokbal (pig trotter) croquette, hot peanut sauce, perilla
Dandi
The corn silken tofu with dungeness crab was our favorite, not just of the plate but of the entire meal! Needless to say, the meal started off strong. The silken tofu was a little sweet thanks to the corn but it worked wonderfully with the brown butter and the sweet crab meat.

Pressman pairs the tasting with mostly natural wines (as much as he can), like this Hasta la Vizsla, a pet nat (petillant naturel) wine from the Loire Valley.
Dandi
There are also some beer and wine available a la carte if a pairing seems like too much for you.

Next course: Cold soup of peaches, pork belly, flowering coriander
Dandi
Yes, there are pork belly bits under those peach slices!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Mark Your Calendars for LA Loves Alex's Lemonade's 10th Anniversary On Sept 14, 2019!

It's almost time for one of my favorite food events of the year: LA Loves Alex's Lemonade! They're celebrating their 10th anniversary this year. That's right, 10 years of raising money to end childhood cancer along with great food and drinks. Hosted by Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne from the Lucques Group and Chef David Lentz (The Hungry Cat), they've raised over $7.3 million since they started - an amazing feat.

This year's event will be on Saturday, September 14, 2019 at UCLA's Royce Quad. I love that LA Loves Alex's Lemonade not only showcases some of LA's best chefs but also bring in great chefs from outside of LA.
This year's LA lineup includes Josef Centeno (Orsa & Winston), Michael Cimarusti (Providence), Ori Menashe (Bavel), Lufo Lefebvre (Trois Mec), and many more. Some of the chefs coming from out of town include Marc Vetri (Vetri, Philadelphia), Gabriela Camara (Contramar, Mexico City), Frank Ibarra (Bibi Ji, Santa Barbara), Perry Hendrix (Avec, Chicago) and Donald Link (Peche, New Orleans).

There's never a shortage of great food and drinks (cocktails or wine) here. I wasn't able to go for a while when I lived in Boston, but I'm excited to return this year!
Photo: Becky Sapp
General admission tickets are $225 and VIP tickets are $500. Tickets are partially tax deductible and can be purchased here. Be sure to check out the great silent and live auction items while you're there, too. It's all for a good cause! Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation supports various programs from data lab and research initiatives to find cures to providing resources for families to travel to get treatment.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

West End Roof Top Opens at The London West Hollywood

With our year-round perfect weather, LA can't have too many rooftop bars. Well, there's another one now, West End Roof Top at The London hotel in West Hollywood.
West End Roof Top
The West End is a pretty relaxing place to hang out and offers nice views of the city.
West End Roof Top
The rooftop bar has some frozen blended drinks and easy drinking cocktails. My favorite was the Churchill Goes Tiki (bourbon, pineapple juice, orange juice, orgeat, 1821 Japanese chili lime bitters, $17)
West End Roof Top

Friday, August 9, 2019

LA Food Events in August to Put on Your Radar

So I'm a few days late posting about upcoming August festivals (sorry) but summer is in full swing in LA and there are plenty of upcoming food events you should put on your radar!

August 11
Hitching Post 2 Pop-up at LA Wine
This famous Central Coast spot is popping up for one day only at LA Wine. They're bringing over their red oak-fired grill to LA to serve up at LA Wine's outdoor patio starting at 5pm until sold out.

HPost
Photo courtesy of Hitching Post

August 22-25
Los Angeles Food & Wine
This year's LA Food & Wine Festival has set up 14 different events over 4 days. Some of my favorite picks include the dinner at Magic Castle with Chef Jason Fullilove and Andre Bienvenu (from Joe's Stone Crab) if for no other reason than you get to go to the Magic Castle. Multiple guest chef dinners are scheduled including the Legends dinner with Nancy Silverton and Jeremiah Tower. For those who want to attend one of the walk-around tastings, there's a Burger Throwdown with Alvin Cailan, LA's Faves and Craves with Jet Tila, The Great Steakout with Curtis Stone and Brunch so Hard with Jeremiah Tower.
POG
Ma'am Sir will be serving this Hawaiian POG cocktail for their dinner collaboration with Chef Sheldon Simeon from Lineage (Maui)

August 25-27
Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo
This one is more for the industry folks. The expo's exhibitors include food products and beverages to new technology and everything you can think of that's related to restaurant operations. The expo also takes place at the same time and area as the Coffee Fest and Healthy Food Expo.

The Taste

August 30-September 1, 2019
LA Times’ The Taste
The Taste, put on by LA times, always takes place over Labor Day Weekend and this year is no exception. For three evenings on Friday-Sunday, head to the walk-around tastings complete with chef panels, wine seminars, cooking and mixology demonstrations. The participating chefs change each day from Badmaash, Meals by Genet, Otium to Redbird.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Heroic Deli & Wine Bar is The Santa Monica Neighborhood Italian Spot To Go To

If you live or work in Santa Monica, then you need to know about Heroic Deli and Wine Bar. The place is divided into distinct spaces with the wine bar on one side and a cute communal dining on the other side.
Untitled
On the deli side, I tried the OMG sandwich. The OMG is their challenge to Bay Cities' Godmother sandwich, and it's a great sandwich. It's served on freshly toasted ciabatta that had a nice crunch. Sure, at $16 it's more expensive than the Godmother, but it's filled with better quality ingredients (I shared the sandwich so only showing you a little piece here)
Heroic Wine Bar
The sandwich is made with Italian prosciutto, salame, capocollo, mortadella, porchetta, smoked mozzarella, artichokes, housemade giardinnaire, house roasted tomatoes, olives, mustard, mayo, and Italian black summer truffles.

I also tried quite a few dishes from the wine bar side over my two visits there, including:
Insalata di Granchio (Pacific crab, lemon zest and vinaigrette)
Heroic Wine Bar

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Korean-Italian Fusion at Concerto (Koreatown, Los Angeles)

Concerto in Koreatown has been open for a while now serving pastries and Italian food. It's the type of Italian restaurant you might see in Korea. I haven't visited Concerto until recently, but a friend of mine posted about their kimchi carbonara and I was intrigued by the Korean-Italian fusion, so when I was invited to check it out, I accepted.

Concerto was pretty busy on a Friday night. They have at least three separate dining areas including one upstairs. Our dinner started with their freshly baked focaccia bread with a whole head of roasted garlic Yes, a whole garlic!
Concerto
For appetizer we ordered the Pico de Gallo squid. This is kind of like calamari except it's only the fried tentacles and none of the body/mantle.
DSC02070

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Baja California Food and Themed Cocktails at The Corner Door (Culver City)

This is bit of a late post, but a couple of months ago I revisited The Corner Door in Culver City, which is under the Umbrella Hospitality Group (Melrose Umbrella Company, LONO). I hadn't visited since Beau DuBois moved up north, but The Corner Door is still going strong under the direction of Liam Odien behind the bar and Executive chef David Lespron, who previously worked at various sbe establishments like Katsuya and Michael Mina's now-shuttered XIV.

The food at The Corner Door can be described as a Baja California menu. We started off with some fresh Shigoku oysters from Baja, served with "soft Aztec herbs" and citrus, $4 ea
Corner Door

For the cocktail, they're doing an Astrology themed menu. The menu is designed like an astrology chart with each drink for the twelve signs.
Being the clarified milk punch fan that I am, I started with Age of Aquarius (Real McCoy 3, Appleton rum, almond, aloe vera, clarified, glitter - $15)
The Corner Door
It's got quite the presentation with the blue glitter! On the sweeter side, but again, I like milk punch so ..

Chef Lespron is doing some beautiful tacos with handmade tortillas here. We got the Fish tacos (wild Japanese yellowtail tacos, you can get this fried or grilled - this grilled one was amazing. $13 for two, but ours was plated separately). Is this not the most beautifully plated taco you've seen?
Corner Door
The taco was actually really good, better than what I had expected, from the tortilla to the texture of the yellowtail and the flavors.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Where to Drink Cocktails in Long Beach: The Ordinarie

Long Beach was never a cocktail destination for me and I didn't know of good places for cocktails down in Long Beach. But recently I see that starting to change with my visit to The Ordinarie, a new-ish tavern in downtown LB.

I didn't try the food there (though they have a late night menu until 12:30 am) but we tried some of the cocktails, starting with The Pendennis (Botanist gin, Bitter Truth apricot liqueur, Peychaud's bitters, lime - $12)
The Ordinarie
This was a pretty nice, dry gin cocktail.

The dimly lit bar was pretty quiet on a Thursday night. They had live acoustic music, and overall it was a pretty chill place to hang out.
The Ordinarie
Lavender milk punch (clarified milk punch with Bols Genever, honey, lavender - $12)
The Ordinarie
This was our favorite drink of the night, but I've been known to love milk punches.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Seasonal California Fare and House-milled Sourdough at Coin & Candor (Westlake Village, CA)

The Four Seasons hotel at Westlake Village redid their restaurant and recently opened Coin and Candor. It's a place that you'd likely find me going back to after work for dinner or drinks (on a bit of a splurge). Coin and Candor is a "California brasserie" with executive chef Jose Fernandez, a Barcelona native who's been with the Four Seasons since 2017 (and previously worked for The Peninsula hotels), and executive pastry chef Patrick Fahy, who was head pastry chef at The French Laundry.
Coin and Candor
The round bar at the center of the dining room looks like a great place to drink, but for my visit I opted to sit outside since it was a beautiful day.
Coin and Candor
Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the cocktail menu (sorry), but our cocktails were pretty good.

We started off with some house-milled red fife sourdough that they bake daily, served with organic Strauss creamery butter ($5)
Untitled
So I didn't really know what the deal was with red fife sourdough, but I had to look it up after because I fell in love with this bread. If I could just come here and eat this bread, I would (I think I could, yes?). So anyway, red fife wheat was the first heritage wheat that was put on the Slow Food Ark of Taste, back in 2003. It was the industry standard in Canada back in the late 19th century. Apparently it pretty much disappeared after the Great Depression but artisan bakers are starting to use it more and more now. Anyway, this bread that's milled in-house and baked fresh daily is amazing.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Delicious Little Tokyo Showcases the Neighborhood on July 19-20

This coming weekend on July 19-20, Go Little Tokyo will be showcasing the food and drink offerings (and beyond) of the neighborhood with Delicious Little Tokyo. There will be a variety of special workshops, demos, and tastings at different Little Tokyo businesses over the two days. Some of the events include:

A takoyaki making demo with Takoyaki Tanota, taking place on the Japanese Village Food Stage and is free to attend.
Delicious Little Tokyo

Friday, July 5, 2019

Cocktails and Izakaya Fare at HATCH Yakitori + Bar (Downtown LA)

I recently visited HATCH Yakitori + Bar, which is located inside the new retail and restaurant space in downtown LA, The Bloc. In addition to checking out this restaurant for the first time, it was also my first time visiting The Bloc, which is a pretty cool open-air plaza with more restaurants coming. The Bloc has pretty cheap parking up to 3 hours with validation, which is really nice for downtown! For 3 hours parking is $4 with validation. The parking alone would entice me to go back to HATCH, but let's get on with the food.

HATCH obviously serves yakitori, but they also have other izakaya style food and a seasonal specials menu. They had a seared wagyu nigiri special which I just had to get.
Hatch Yakitori
They seared it tableside and it was so good, our favorite of the night, for sure.
Hatch Yakitori
Among the other specials that was another luxurious item: Alaskan king crab legs!
Hatch Yakitori

Thursday, June 27, 2019

FREE Hot Flamin Cheetos Pork Belly at EIGHT Korean BBQ

Remember the eight flavors of pork belly at EIGHT Korean BBQ I wrote about here? Well, they've added a ninth flavor: Flamin' Hot Cheetos! And guess what, it's free with a purchase of the eight flavors of pork belly!
DSC01477
For the Flamin' Hot Cheetos pork belly, they marinate the pork belly in a spicy sauce, then after grilling top it some cheese and cheetos. When I went they were using Cheetos pieces, although I told them I think it would be better if they grind it to make a Cheetos powder so it can spread more evenly!
DSC01481

Friday, June 21, 2019

Alice Eatery at 1 Hotel West Hollywood

The 1 Hotel West Hollywood is now open on Sunset Blvd, a rebrand of the previous Jeremy Hotel, and with it comes new restaurants! Alice Eatery is an all-day restaurant and marketplace concept run by The h.wood Group at the 1 Hotel.

The food and cocktails at Alice Eatery are from Chef Lord Maynard Llera and bar director Justin Campbell from The h.wood Group while the chef de cuisine overseeing the day to day operation is Broken Spanish alum, Geter Atienza.

The menu is French American. Since 1 Hotel is an eco-friendly luxury hotel brand, the restaurants of course also use locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients. During my recent visit I tried the Grilled calamari, cucumber, green apple, red bell pepper, green papaya ($17)
Alice Eatery
This was a nice appetizer on the lighter salad - basically a salad with grilled calamari which had a great texture.

On the heavier end of the appetizer is the Beef tartare with smoked egg yolk, violet mustard, tomato ($24)
Alice Eatery

Saturday, June 15, 2019

LQ Foodings Supper Club Still Serve Some of LA's Best French Food

Some of LA's best French food can be had at LQ Foodings, a supper club by Laurent Quenioux who owned Bistro LQ a few years ago in LA. He holds this multi-course supper club dinners at a private home in Highland Park or other locations throughout the city.

I haven't had LQ's food in a while but I regularly get the news about the supper club. I finally decided to go recently, swayed by the possibility of an uni sausage (which didn't happen as the menu changes all the time, but the dinner was still great!) and convinced estarLA to go with me. It's a six course menu for $74 (wine and cheese is extra and a 20% service charge is due at the night of the event), which is pretty good for a tasting menu in LA. We all sat at a large dining table, a communal dining experience filled with food lovers, both new and long-time fans of Laurent.

We went for the spring dinner series and started with a Wild troll salmon sausage, fennel pollen emulsion, English peas, Timut peppercorn meringue, fennel
Bistro LQ
A great, light start to the meal - I loved the texture of the salmon sausage.

Devil's Gulch Ranch rabbit "carnitas rillette" roll, yellow beet, apple vinegar gelee, arthicoke "a la grecque", black trumpet mushrooms
Bistro LQ
Yes, it's rabbit meat that's been braised "carnitas" style!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Woon Kitchen: A Family Affair in Historic Filipinotown

Woon Kitchen recently opened in Historic Filipinotown (a.k.a. HiFi), adding another reason that HiFi is one of LA's latest food hotspots. Woon Kitchen started as a pop-up, building a loyal fan base by showcasing their mother's (Julie Fong, aka. Mama Fong) homestyle Chinese cooking around town. The new HiFi shop is small but cute and has some patio seating. There's a small but affordable menu plus a few specials, as well as beer and wine

To start: each table gets a bowl of peanuts roasted with sea moss (that apparently they get from a special dealer in SGV)
Woon
One of their best known dishes is the beef noodle, which is what they're known for from their pop-up days. It's a stir fried chewy noodles with marinated flank steak, bok choy and shiitake mushrooms ($11).
Woon
The stir fried noodles have a sweeter sauce and the texture of the noodles is nice and chewy, the beef slightly charred. For me, while I didn't eat these flavors exactly as a kid, the taste certainly reminds me of homeocoking.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Veranda at The Georgian Hotel (Santa Monica, CA)

There are many restaurants from casual to fine dining in Santa Monica, so The Veranda at The Georgian Hotel may be often overlooked. When it's a beautiful day, though, dining out on the veranda is great since the hotel sits on Ocean Ave. Also, valet parking is complimentary up to 2 hours while dining at The Veranda. Parking in that part of Santa Monica can be a pain, so this is a nice perk! You can also leave it there for 4 hours (if you dine there) for $10 in case you want to wander around afterwards.
Unfortunately it was too cold that night to sit out on the actual veranda, so we sat inside. The dining area inside is pretty small and flanks the lobby walkway.

We started with the cheese and charcuterie board ($29) that's great for sharing. Charcuterie at The Veranda

Crispy Chicken Sandwich (buttermilk marinated Mary's chicken, aged cheddar, cabbage slaw, cilantro-ranch, house pickles, red onion, beefsteak tomatoes, potato bun - $14). DSC00471

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