Tuesday, March 19, 2019

SGV Now Has 8 Flavors of Pork Belly KBBQ at Porkfolio (Arcadia, CA)

A while ago I had written about Eight Korean BBQ in Koreatown, which is known for their 8 flavors of pork belly. Well, now they've partnered up to open Porkfolio at the Arcadia's Westfield Santa Anita mall.
Porkfolio
Despite the different restaurant name, you can still find the 8 flavor of korean bbq pork belly and much of the same Korean BBQ menu at Porkfolio.
We got the Combo A, which comes with the 8 flavors of pork belly. The flavors are original, miso, korean red pepper paste, garlic, wine, sesame, curry, and herb. My favorite flavors are the sesame and the spicy Korean red pepper paste.
Porkfolio

Friday, March 15, 2019

Masters of Taste Returns to Pasadena's Rose Bowl to Help End Homelessness

This year's Masters of Taste will return for their 4th annual festival on Sunday, April 7 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The event started to benefit Union Station Homeless Services has really grown in the past years.

I recently attended a preview event featuring some of the culinary, beverage and dessert masters from the upcoming event. All of the food and drinks we had that night were from restaurants or brands that will be serving at the event.
The bartenders at Raymond 1886 created this cocktail for the welcome reception: Kami of Dawn (Ki No Bi dry gin, lemon juice, yuzu syrup, passion fruit, green chartreuse, coedo marihana
Masters of Taste preview
Because of the rain, we got to enjoy our preview dinner inside the Rose Bowl's visitor locker room. It was pretty cool!
Masters of Taste preview

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Los Balcones and Chef Ricardo Zarate Pairs Up to Serve Mestizo Cuisine in Studio City

Los Balcones has been dishing up traditional Peruvian food for a few years now in LA, but the Studio City location (which took over the old Girasol space) has partnered up with Chef Ricardo Zarate to revamp the whole menu along with chef Polit Castillo. The result is mestizo cuisine, referring to the multicultural influence both in Peru and on the menu, in particular the mix of Peruvian and Spanish cultures.

You won't find the traditional Peruvian food that you see at the other Los Balcones locations here. Beyond lomo saltado and ceviche, they want to show more of what modern cooking in Peru is like. We started with the Salmon tiradito, beet tiger's milk, roasted baby beets, orange miso, beet powder ($16)
DSC00079
Is this not the most beautiful tiradito you've ever seen? It was overall a great tiradito, although the beet slightly overpowers the salmon flavor.

Los Balcones also have some good cocktails, like this Margarita Sofia (tequila, passion fruit, lime, huacatay)
Los Balcones
Ceviche frito, striped bass, rocoto leche de tigre, roasted sweet potato, cancha corn chulpe ($16)
Los Balcones
This was my first time having ceviche frito (fried ceviche). It's apparently a fairly recent trend in Peruvian cooking where the seafood is marinated in leche de tigre (a la ceviche) and then fried. Adding this to the menu is a nod to the evolution of Peruvian cuisine.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Spread the Love: A Dinner Series Featuring and Supporting New Immigrants in LA

On Valentine's Day I attended a special dinner at Spread Mediterranean Kitchen in downtown LA. It was the first of their "Spread the Love" dinner series which benefits Miry's List, a non-profit which helps new refugee families settle into their new lives in the LA area.

Miry's List curates an Amazon wish list, so anyone can easily go and purchase an item to help a new refugee family. Not only do the proceeds from the dinner series go to support Miry's List, but the dinner series also partner a chef with one of the refugee family cooks to prepare the dinner together.

The first dinner I attended had Evan Kleiman cooking along Abeer Aljrafi from Syria. It was a five-course dinner, served family style (what better way to spread the love, right?)

We started with some delicious trio of Syrian dips (hummus, baba ghanoush, mutabal)
Miry’s List dinner
We knew more food were coming but we couldn't stop eating the dip until all the pita chips were gone.
Next up: Carrot falafel (tehina, mango amba, fresh herbs)
Miry’s List dinner

Friday, March 1, 2019

Global Menu at Filipino-Owned Mambo International Kitchen (Northridge, CA)

I recently tried a new spot in Northridge, Mambo International Kitchen. It's a casual spot owned by a Filipino family. In fact, the owner (and the ones who developed all the recipes), is the son of former Filipino president, Ramon Magsaysay. He had a jingle for his presidential campaign that had the line "Mambo, Mambo Magsaysay". It stuck as a nickname for the grandson, Raymond Magsaysay, when he was growing up and that's where the restaurant's name came from.
Mambo Resto
Mambo has build-your-own rice bowls, Chipotle-style, but there are signature rice bowls, tacos, and more you can order.

Being a Filipino-owned restaurant, there are of course Filipino dishes like tapsilog. It's typically a breakfast dish of beef tapa, garlic rice, and fried egg.
Mambo Resto

Monday, February 18, 2019

EN Japanese Brasserie is West Village's Stylish Japanese Spot (New York, NY)

There are so many great restaurants, including Japanese restaurants, in New York City that it's hard to choose or experience them all. Last fall I tried one that has actually been a mainstay in West Village for more than a decade, EN Japanese Brasserie. I hadn't paid attention to it before until the restaurateur opened Chateau Hanare in Los Angeles.

The restaurant is upscale and sleek, and the menu highlights many traditional Japanese cooking including homemade tofu, sushi, soba, and more. Considering they opened more than a decade ago, it's all the more impressive. EN offers three different kaiseki menus (including a vegan one) but I went a la carte on my visit.
EN Japanese Brasserie
Some of the highlights I tasted: Uni yuba sashimi (tofu skin sashimi from Kyoto topped with fresh uni, $24) - because I'm personally a fan of both tofu skin and uni
EN Jp Brasserie
Toro salmon aburi sushi ($8). Salmon belly is one of my favorite cuts, especially seared like this.
EN Jp Brasserie

Saturday, February 9, 2019

A Hard Hat Tour of Buffalo Trace Distillery (Kentucky)

I recently took a road trip from Boston to LA, and I made sure to stop in Kentucky to visit one of the bourbon trail distilleries. A friend of mine recommended a tour of Buffalo Trace Distillery - specifically, the hard hat tour.
Buffalo Trace
The hard hat tour is a special tour because it takes you behind the scenes of every step of the production at Buffalo Trace distillery. We started from where the trucks bring in the grains to the cooking process and the fermentation.
Buffalo Trace
Now, I've visited a number of distilleries in the past, but Buffalo Trace was a new experience to me because of the scale of it all. The distillery, which is owned by Sazerac, doesn't just produce whisky for the brand Buffalo Trace but a total of 12 different brands. They make 2.6 million gallons of whiskey each year!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Winter DineLA Menu at Commerson

It's been a while since I've done Dine LA Restaurant Week, but I recently checked out a new (to me) restaurant, Commerson on La Brea. I've read that this place is one of the underrated gems in LA, so I was excited to try it.

Commerson's Dine LA dinner menu is $39 per person for three courses. The first course option includes:
Red snapper ceviche with avocado and plantain chips.
Commerson dineLA
The portions were quite good for the price and as you can see, the ingredients they use were obviously fresh.

One of the other choices was the butternut squash agnolotti with parmigiano reggiano and brown butter sage.
Commerson dineLA
This agnolotti is always a good pasta dish to have in the colder months, and Commerson's rendition was a good one.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Bella Luna, a Vibrant Neighborhood Restaurant in Jamaica Plain (Boston, MA)

I don't go to Jamaica Plain much, but I should, as JP actually has some great places to eat. Bella Luna and The Milky Way is one of those places. It's a neighborhood restaurant that's popular with a diverse set of locals. It serves great food and solid drinks, it has live music, and its connection to the community is apparent.

For starters, I know this jicama salad with avocado doesn't look like much, but I really loved this seasonal item and hope they bring it back! It was very refreshing.
Bella Luna
The seared scallops with grapefruit were also very nicely cooked, honestly better than what I had expecting from a casual neighborhood restaurant!
Bella Luna

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