Thursday, May 23, 2019

Silva's Fresh Eatery and Churrascaria, a More Affordable Brazilian BBQ in Orange County

As I'm sure many of you guys do, I like my all-you-can-eat Brazilian BBQ, but a lot of the places like Fogo are too expensive to go frequently. If you're in Orange County, though, you have a more affordable option: Silva's Fresh Eatery and Churrascaria in Santa Ana. Instead of the over $60 usual price tag, Silva charges $29.95 per person and $24.95 for weekday lunch. There's also a "Power Lunch" option that gets you one pass through the buffet line.

At Silva, they don't come around the tables with your meat, but instead it's buffet style and diners can come up to request the meat they want. They have picanha, garlic picanha, tri-tip, skirt steak, leg of lamb, etc. Pretty good selection of cuts for the price, if you ask me.
Silva Churrascaria
They also have salads as well as other cooked items available on the buffet line.
Silva Churrascaria

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Farmhouse Brings Farmer-Owned Restaurant to Beverly Center (Beverly Hills, CA)

There's a lot of farm-to-table restaurants these days, especially in California, but how many have a direct connection to a farm? Farmhouse, located at the Beverly Center, is actually owned by local farmer Nathan Peitso from Kenter Canyon Farms. Just to give you a perspective on the farm, I read that more than 20 years ago chef Alice Waters was getting lettuce from Kenter Canyon Farms (founded by Nathan's mother) for her salads at Chez Panisse, so yeah.

Now Nathan Peitso has opened a true farm-to-table restaurant in Beverly Hills, with Chef Craig Hopson heading the restaurant.

While eating in Beverly Hills is not known to be cheap, you should know that Farmhouse has a seasonal Harvest Menu that is three courses for $48 per person. You can choose from 3-4 options from each course. This is quite a nice deal to have in this area!

We ended up ordering a la carte but with a mix of items that were available on the prix fixe menu and not. We started with the Beets and burrata with pomegranate vinaigrette ($16)
Famrhouse LA
This is a classic combination - and isn't the presentation just beautiful? You can tell from the photo how fresh the beets were.

Lightly cured albacore, marinade of vegetables, chili, coriander, citrus
Famrhouse LA
Despite the chili and coriander garnish, the flavors didn't overwhelm the albacore.

Monday, May 20, 2019

A Peruvian-Italian Menu at Los Balcones Hollywood

Los Balcones has been revamping both their locations and each one is different. I recently reviewed the Mestizo cuisine at Los Balcones Studio City and now I checked out the Los Balcones in Hollywood. The Hollywood location has recruited Chef Michelangelo "Miguel" Aliaga to helm the kitchen.

Chef Aliaga hails from northern Peru but he started his cooking career in Florence, Italy. In LA, he's worked at various Italian restaurants including All'Angelo and Cecconi's. Now, at Los Balcones he's able to combine his two roots. Los Balcones' menu still has the classic Peruvian dishes you'd expect to see like lomo saltado and ceviche, but he's also melding Peruvian and Italian cuisines in others.

During my visit I mainly stuck to the Peruvian-Italian dishes so I can try what the chef is getting creative with, except for the beef heart anticucho I got for the appetizer. I just have to get beef heart anticucho when I see it.

Anticucho (grilled beef heart, panca pepper, potatoes, rocoto sauce, $16)
Los Balcones Hollywood
When they do it well like they do here and the beef hearts are tender, you can't go wrong.

Agnolotti de seco (homemade ravioli stuffed with lamb and cilantro sauce, finished with rocoto aioli, $20)
Los Balcones Hollywood
A classic pasta dish but with distinctly Peruvian flavors with the rocoto aioli. This is a great representation of how the two cuisines work together.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Where to Drink Cocktails in Boston: Back Bay

Back Bay is a bit of a touristy area of Boston with Prudential Center, Copley Square, and more, but that doesn't mean there aren't bars worthy of your visit. Here are some of my favorite places to grab a cocktail in Back Bay.

OAK Long Bar + Kitchen
gourmetpigs.com
Oak Long Bar is the bar at the Fairmont Copley Square. Since it's a swanky hotel, so is the bar. The drink prices reflect that as well, but it's home to one of my favorite drinks in Boston: the Smoked Chai Manhattan. You can read more about the bar here.

Nahita
Nahita drinks
Nahita is worth a visit for the gorgeous interior alone, but fortunately the cocktails match the interior. The cocktail menu changes seasonally and there's usually a clarified milk punch on the menu (which is one of my favorite things!)

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Tokyo Hamburg in Koreatown Dishes Out Japanese-style Hamburg Steak

What is hamburg? In Japan, don't confuse hamburg ("hambagu") with hamburger ("hambaga"). Hamburg / hambagu is actually like Salisbury steak. Hamburg steak is a patty of ground beef that originated in the town of Hamburg in Germany, but has become very popular in Japan (after German immigrants brought it there) since the 1950s.

In LA, there's now a place in that specializes in this. Tokyo Hamburg at the edge of Koreatown, as the name suggests, serves Japanese style hamburg. Here, the ground meat comes seared on the outside but still raw inside. It is served with a sizzling stone on the side, and diners are supposed to take small pieces and cook them on the sizzling stone. ($13.99 for the original hamburg)
Tokyo Hamburg

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Milk and Eggs, a New Kind of Grocery Delivery Service

These days, it's hard to find time to go grocery shopping. Thankfully, there are a few grocery delivery services out there. I recently got to test out Milk and Eggs, a service where you can order farm fresh food online and they'll be delivered to the LA and OC area. What's different about Milk and Eggs is that they get their food from the farms, butchers, bakers - basically the foodmakers directly instead of sending someone to buy your food from other grocery stores.
Milk and Eggs
They're delivered in these reusable bags (which they'll pick up on your next order). If you want to save money, they also have curated farm sampler bags.
Milk and Eggs

Monday, April 29, 2019

New Spring Dishes at Veggie Grill

I've never been to Veggie Grill previously. Since I'm not a vegetarian, I don't really seek out vegetarian restaurants, especially a chain. But I recently tried some of their new spring menu items and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.

We started with some spring pea guacamole. This spring I've been all about the peas - they've just been so good. This pea guacamole - served with plantain chips - was no exception. It was fresh and sweet thanks to the in-season peas.
Veggie Grill
There's also the Spring Farm Salad with pea tendrils, baby kale, rosemary "chikin", campari tomatoes, dates, watermelon radish, croutons, feta "cheese", sunflower seeds, and avocado dressing
Veggie Grill

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Killer Shrimp, a Marina Del Rey Favorite for Over 30 Years

Even though Marina Del Rey hasn't really been LA's foodie destination, there's one place that's been consistently busy since they opened 30 years ago. The restaurant shut down for a bit, but thankfully reopened. Killer Shrimp got their popularity from their namesake dish (more on that later) and has expanded into a spacious space with a harbor view in MDR.

So, the killer shrimp. The original signature dish is a bowl of shrimp in spicy cajun-style broth and served with a French bread. Now, you can choose shrimp, crab, lobster, or all of the above. I tried the one with shrimp, crab, and lobster for $38.
Killer Shrimp
The shrimp and dipping the bread into the spicy tomato-based broth is definitely the best part, though!

They now have a full menu beyond the killer shrimp dishes now. We tried the scallop "sashimi" appetizer (it was seared, so not technically a sashimi)
Killer Shrimp

Monday, April 22, 2019

Gin and Tonic Festival at The Bazaar at SLS Beverly Hills

I should've written this post earlier, but hopefully you caught my Instagram post about the Gin and Tonic Festival at The Bazaar that's going on for the month of April! If not, you still have a week or so to go check it out.

There are seven different G&Ts on the festival menu, the most impressive of which is the Vacuum Siphon ($40 and serves two). You can order this to custom make your own gin by choosing the botanicals, herbs and spices you want, but the bartender will also have suggestions as to what combinations would work well.

Bazaar GT
This is usually only available at the bar, where the gin will be made right in front of you using a siphon and dry ice. Basically, the gas created from the dry ice creates pressure that pushes the liquid to the upper chamber, where it is infused with the botanicals.
Bazaar GT


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Spring Cocktails at Accomplice Bar (Mar Vista)

Accomplice Bar in Mar Vista first made it onto the go-to list of LA cocktail lovers thanks to Gabriella Mylnarczyk's fun drinks. But even though she recently left the bar, the cocktail program is still going strong thanks to the great bartenders there that collaborated on the latest menu.

Some of my favorite drinks from the current menu include Matchamaker (rice washed Kikori whiskey, yuzu liqueur, coconut rum, matcha, aguafaba). It's a tropical whiskey sour that had a pretty complex flavor profile!
Untitled
Red Hook (rye, punt e mes, maraschino) is a great drink for those who prefer a more spirit-forward drink. It's nicely balanced.
Untitled

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Fogo de Chao Adds Lighter Spring Menu Items

One normally associates the all-you-can-eat Brazilian churrascaria, Fogo de Chao, with leaving full after a night of meat feasting. But for spring, Fogo de Chao has added some menu items for those that might want to eat a bit lighter (it's still all you can eat, though, so it's all up to you how light or heavy you want to feel!)

Among the new menu items is the pork picanha. This is pork that's been prepared the same way as Fogo's picanha (one of their best meat items, if you ask me).
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There's also linguica, a lightly spicy pork sausage with garlic, red pepper, and onion.
Fogo de Chao

Thursday, April 11, 2019

A Refined Lunch at The Grill on the Alley (Westlake Village)

Despite the long-standing status of The Grill on the Alley (30 years!), especially the original Beverly Hills location, I actually have not dined there until recently, when I was invited for a lunch at the Westlake Village location.

The Grill on the Alley is a white tablecloth American steakhouse, so naturally we started lunch with some shrimp cocktails. Leave it to The Grill to get some fresh jumbo shrimp. Sometimes shrimp cocktail sauce is too tangy for me, but this one was nicely balanced.
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We also got some oysters on the half shell.
Grill on the Alley

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Where to Drink Outdoors in West San Fernando Valley: Malibu Wines & Beer Garden (West Hills, CA)

After recently moving to Woodland Hills, I started checking out the places near my new neighborhood, including the Malibu Wines & Beer Garden in West Hills. The wine and beer garden is the sister tasting room of Malibu Wines and it's set in an old Spanish estate. It's a beautiful spot to drink outdoors.
Malibu wine beer garden
They serve Malibu wines (Semler and Saddlerock) as a tasting or by the glass, as well as selling them by the bottles. On top of the wines, they also offer a solid selection of local craft beers including from Five Threads Brewing (Westlake Village), Craftsman Brewing (Pasadena), Modern Times (San Diego) and more.

On the weekends, they also have food vendors, like Two Doughs Pizza Co. 
Malibu wine beer garden

Monday, March 25, 2019

Tasting West Coast Seafood with Pacific Seafood

A couple of week ago, the Seafood Expo North America took place in Boston, bringing seafood purveyors from all over the country, like Pacific Seafood who held a special tasting of their products for the media.

Pacific Seafood started in 1941 with one store in Portland, Oregon and has now expanded to 11 states. They focus on delivering fresh and sustainable seafood from the west coast (but also beyond now that they've expanded), like this dungeness crab (which made a great dip). They get their seafood wild caught or from responsible aquacultures.
Pacific Seafood
Pacific Seafood is also big on oysters. 30,000 gallons of oysters are produced a week during peak season. They showed us how to shuck oysters, like the Amethyst oysters that came from Humboldt Bay along the California coast. They also had a meatier Grays Harbor oysters from Washington.
Pacific Seafood

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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