Showing posts with label los angeles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label los angeles. Show all posts

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Spending Bastille Day at Taix French Restaurant (Los Angeles, CA)

by guest blogger Bryan Tsunoda (discovering LA)

I look forward to eating out on the holidays of other countries because it is an opportunity to experience something new. For that reason, I enjoy eating out on the French National holiday of Bastille Day.
I was happy to learn that Taix was featuring bouillabaisse as their special that day. Given a choice or proteins, I veer towards seafood and within that food group, I prefer shellfish. Therefore, bouillabaisse satisfies that craving.

Visiting Taix is like taking a trip backwards in time. Driving into their lot, you are warmly greeted by a valet. Entering the restaurant, you walk down a dimly lit hallway. To your right is the bar and straight ahead is the maitre d' station. Inside the dining room are large comfy booths and frosted glass for privacy.

On Bastille Day, the male employees wore red felt berets. My server, however, was female and she wore a ribbon with the French national colors around her neck.

The Tour de France was taking place in France and Taix featured specials each race day. Even the highlighted wines were from areas near each stop on the tour. Also taking place through Friday is Dine LA and Taix is one of the participating restaurants.

When you sit down in one of their plush booths, you receive fresh sourdough bread and crudité. I ordered Claudia’s beet salad from the Dine LA menu and the special that day, bouillabaisse.
The beet salad was nicely plated. I like that the ingredients were chilled, the butter lettuce was crisp, the oranges were juicy, and the garlic vinaigrette complemented the beet salad.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Thai AYCE Brunch Picnic at So Long, Hi! (Downtown LA)

Brunch is all about indulgence, and there are quite a few bottomless mimosa brunches around LA, but what about bottomless food? How about some bottomless Thai food?
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So Long, Hi! in downtown LA started just that with their brunch picnic on Sundays. For those who aren't familiar, So Long, Hi! is the latest restaurant from David Tewasart (Sticky Rice, Side Chick) and Bryan Sharafkhah-Sharp (White Guy Pad Thai).

The picnic is $25 per person and it's an all-you-can-eat family-style affair, where the kitchen sends out food as it is prepared. The picnic menu will range from old favorites to off-the-menu specials. This is also a chance for the kitchen to prepare special dishes they don't normally serve on the menu and play around with their cooking. Either way, there will be more than enough food.

You may not expect it in downtown LA, but So Long Hi has a big sunny patio in the back that's perfect for a picnic.So Long Hi
We sampled some dishes that might be on future picnic menus, like the Thai beef jerky
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There were noodles and roti served with green curry.
So Long Hi

Monday, May 1, 2017

2nd Annual Masters of Taste Takes Over Pasadena's Rose Bowl on May 7

Summer is the season is food festivals. Up next on the calendar: Masters of Taste will be back for its second annual event on May 7 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Guests will get to stroll the Rose Bowl's 50-yard line while sampling bites and cocktails from 45 of LA's top restaurants and bars.
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This year's restaurant lineup includes Miro, The Raymond 1886, Nerano, Alexander's Steakhouse, Hamasaku, Little Beast, Kato, and Redbird.
Masters of Taste
There will be plenty to drink including cocktails, beers, and wines. Participating bars include Bar Mattachine, Birds and Bees, and 1886. You can find beers and spirits from Indie Brewing Company, Kikori Whiskey, Mezcal El Silencio, as well as various wineries.
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They didn't forget about desserts. You can cool down with ice creams from Choctal and Magpies Softserve, or much on treats from Street Churros, Spirnkles, and Nothing Bundt Cakes.

General admission tickets are $105 per person which provides festival admission at 4pm and unlimited food and beverage tastings. VIP admission tickets are $185 per person and include early admission at 3pm, access to VIP lounges and seating, and special access to limited release tastings. 100% of the proceeds will go to benefit Union Station Homeless Services. The organization works to identify causes that led to each individual or family’s homeless and provide the resources they need to end their cycle of homelessness. Purchase tickets here and get 15% off with code GPIGS.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Brunch at Firefly's Romantic Patio (Studio City, Los Angeles, CA)

by Bryan Tsunoda (discovering-la.com)

Firefly has consistently been on the list of Top Romantic Restaurants in LA. I guess I haven’t romanced my wife enough lately because we haven’t been there. I recently attended a media tasting to sample their Sunday brunch offerings.

Customers enter into what appears to be a library lounge setting with couches and a classic bar from the past. Walking past the bar, you enter the bright patio which appears to be outdoors, but is protected from the elements by a translucent covering. 
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Along the wall are Moroccan-style cabanas that can close for privacy.
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Food Network and Cutthroat Kitchen star, chef Perry Pollaci, took over the kitchen last November. He’s a C.I.A. alum and has used his talents in New York City, Paris and Madrid restaurants. More recently he’s worked at Church and State and Kendall’s Brasserie, and has transformed The Royce into a cutting edge wood-fired steakhouse. He also volunteers his time at Slideluck LA which is dedicated to building and strengthening community through food and art. 

If you are the type that enjoys a continental breakfast, you’ll appreciate the variety of fresh baked pastries. Despite how good everything looked, I only tried a couple of them. The raspberry tart was fruit filled, flakey and quite tasty. A few of us were impressed by the sticky bun because it had a crisp exterior and wasn’t overly sweet.
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I sampled both the lobster and veggie scrambles. The eggs had a nice buttery taste and were extremely light and fluffy. 
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Naturally I veered towards the lobster scramble because they were made with truffle butter, tarragon, and topped with caviar. I would definitely order that again.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker (West Hollywood, CA)

by guest blogger @btsunoda of Discovering LA

The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker takes it name from the famous nursery rhyme (the Butcher, The Baker, and the Candlestick Maker in the nursery rhyme Rub-a-dub-dub). They cleverly substitute candlestick maker with cappuccino maker and it works quite well for their concept. They opened a few weeks ago and I recently paid them a visit.
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BBCM is located in the iconic Sunset West Plaza. This is a popular destination visited by the locals due to the chic shops and outdoor cafes. People in the know take advantage of the free parking available behind each business.

The intent behind The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker is one of community. Breakfast was central to their strategy and so they created a bakery as the foundation. Not wanting to be breakfast-only, they designed their menu to incorporate their seasonal farm to table cuisine for lunch and dinner.

The appearance is one of a classy European cafe. 
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The use of marble is extensive; the counter top for the bar is a large block of marble and even the plates are made of marble. The outside is landscaped with beautiful 100 year-old olive trees and there are quite a few tables available for al fresco dining.

The kitchen is led by the duo of Executive Chefs Ren Nisenbaum (formerly of Jaleo, Washington, D.C. and Morimoto and Jean Georges in NYC) and Craig Hopson (formerly of Le Cirque, Picholine and Beautique in NYC) and features seasonal local farm-fresh ingredients.

Consistent with their European bakery foundation, they use the French galette for some of their dishes. I tried two of their galetes: the Beef Short Rib with cherries, arugula and boursin was tasty. The use of cherries blended extremely well with the beef short ribs.  IMG_2855
I especially enjoyed the Galette of Bacalhau. The flavors of mushrooms, jalapeños and a sunny side up egg worked extremely well with the salted dried cod.
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Other highlights from my visit:
Chestnut Pappardelle - The rich taste of duck and mushrooms permeated the pasta noodles and transformed the pasta to a nice savory taste.
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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Erven Gives Los Angeles Its Best New Vegan Restaurant

I've always enjoyed Chef Nick Erven's cooking from his previous restaurant, the now-shuttered Saint Martha. I wasn't expecting him to open a vegan restaurant in Santa Monica, but I looked forward to it just the same, especially after hearing all the glowing reviews!

Erven is divided into two parts: the Marketplace side which serves sandwiches, cookies, juices, and such. Then there's the dining room which is open for a casual lunch, but the highlight is of course, the dinner service (although the vegan sandwiches are also great).

We started with a bowl complimentary fried chickpeas - the amuse bouche seems to rotate based on the other reviews.
Erven
The savory portion of the dinner menu is divided into "Snackables", "Shareables", and "Principles".
We tried a couple of the snacks including the Black garlic chickpea fritters with yuzu and Aleppo pepper ($5)
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The chickpea fritter is a good way to start and gives you an idea of Chef Erven's cooking.

Purple sweet potato rice roll with avocado and Korean chili ($5)
Erven
Vegan kimbap, anyone?

From the Shareables section: Tiny Beets with avocado mousse, curry-almond streusel, and cilantro ($12)
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The beets weren't really "tiny" but regardless this was a wonderful and interesting take on beets, with the crispiness of the streusel, combined with avocado mousse.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Vegan Donuts Worth Trekking To at Donut Farm

I'm sure you know that I'm not vegan. Not even close! So when I say Donut Farm's vegan donuts are good, I'm actually saying they are good even compared to normal, non-vegan donuts.

Donut Farm, also known as Pepples Donut Farm, started in Northern California, but has since opened a location in Los Angeles. Silverlake, to be exact. The Silverlake shop is small, but there are seats so you can enjoy your donuts with some coffee while admiring the fun bunny mural from street artist Bunnie Reiss!
Donut Farm
Donut Farm's donuts are not only vegan, they are also 100% organic. They have both raised and cake donuts with a variety of interesting flavors and fillings - and did I mention, they were delicious??

One of my favorites was the Philz Coffee glazed donut. Donut Farm also serves coffee (hot and cold brew) so you can double the caffeine.
Donut Farm

Saturday, December 3, 2016

21 Square Bar + Kitchen (Torrance, CA)

by @bstunoda

21 Square, named because the city is approximately 21 square miles, is the latest addition to the Torrance food and beverage landscape. It is located inside the Torrance Marriott Redondo Beach. A lot of attention was placed on creating a cool coastal vibe. I liked the uniqueness of the interior decor - the walls featured the city of Torrance in a creative way. The venue extended outdoors with a beautiful fire pit and adjacent seating.

The “21st Mule” is their version of the ever popular cocktail with Tito’s® vodka, ginger beer and fresh squeezed lime. I enjoyed both the presentation and the taste of “El Dude”. This is their house-made creation of Fugu Horchata vodka and Kahlua.
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In addition to the their cocktails, they feature wine and ten beers on tap. They’ve partnered with Absolution Brewing to create their own exclusive brew and that’s only available at 21 Square. It is a smooth ale and probably a great beginner’s entry into craft beer. In fact they make their delicious fish & chips using this very brew!
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The LYB (Loosen Your Belt) is a shareable dish consisting of tater tots, capicola, mortadella, salami, sausage, cheddar, mozzarella, chopped scallions and topped with a poached egg. It’s is the perfect item to share with a draft beer.

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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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 Provençal 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

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Preview: Taste of Italy in Los Angeles on October 1

by @btsunoda

The Taste of Italy is an upscale food and wine event which features some of the best regional Italian cuisine, food products and wine LA has to offer. This year is the 8th annual event and I had an opportunity to preview food served by Celestino in Pasadena.

Celestino has been in business for over 17 years, originally located in Beverly Hills. It is owned and operated by the Drago brothers, known for their quality Italian cuisine since the 1980’s. Celestino’s cuisine is mostly Sicilian and some other regional dishes such as squid ink risotto or osso buco.  
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One of the starters was a squid ink arancini filled with seafood. These were triangular black rice balls served piping hot and very crispy. It was one of my favorite dishes that evening and I hope they serve that at The Taste of Italy.
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Porcini mushrooms are more earthy and woodsy and for that reason they make an excellent foundation for soup. Celestino’s porcini soup was topped with shaved black truffles. Taking a bite of the truffles with the porcini soup was the marriage of two great flavors.
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The third dish was a veal carpaccio topped with grated pecorino cheese and shaved truffles. By this time, I was grateful that everything was paired with truffles. The veal was very delicate in flavor and didn’t overpower the remaining ingredients.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Preview: The Chicken or the Egg in Playa Vista, CA

by @btsunoda

I recently attended a pre-grand opening party at the Chicken or the Egg in Playa Vista. If you haven’t been to Playa Vista before, it’s an interesting mixed-use development situated between Westchester and Playa Del Rey.
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The concept is the creation of Hunter Pritchett (Waterloo & City, Mendocino Farms, Son of a Gun) and Sean Krajewski. The name, Chicken or the Egg, represents a restaurant that serves breakfast egg sandwiches, salads and dishes that include fried chicken. In addition, their ingredients are sourced locally from suppliers that have sustainable processes.

The restaurant interior is urban with a clean minimalist appearance. The design fits in well with the office buildings situated nearby. Both bar and table seatings are available. There were a couple of indoor trees which offset the stark interior.

I was able to sample a few items that evening.


A delicious assortment of baked good awaited us. These were just baked and were warm and tasty.
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Chicken Cobb Salad
Photo credit: The Chicken or the Egg

Friday, August 26, 2016

Simbal is the Vietnamese Izakaya You Need to Try (Los Angeles, CA)

Simbal is a bit of a sleeper gem in Little Tokyo, which opened last summer and has since gotten plenty of critic accolades. The space is tucked away in Little Tokyo mall, but it's worth finding the place for Chef Shawn Pham's truly wonderful Southeast Asian food.

Simbal has been dubbed a "Vietnamese izakaya", so the small plates menu certainly has plenty of dishes that are meant to accompany drinks, like the Yin's wok fried seasoned nuts, anchovies, seaweed ($5)
Simbal
Chef Shawn Pham is doing some fun takes on Vietnamese classics, like he does with the Banh mi salad, with pickled daikon and carrots, Vietnamese sausage, head cheese, cucumber (banh mi, low-carb style?)
Simbal
Chef Pham has worked in some powerhouses such as the shuttered Sona, Craft, and The Bazaar, and Simbal's menu marries his fine dining experience with his four years in Vietnam. You'll see this in dishes like the beef tartare, larb seasoning, served with a puffy sesame bread.
Simbal

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Fritzi DTLA: A Game Changer in the Arts District

One of the newer restaurants I was excited to try was Neal Fraser's new Fritzi in DTLA's arts district. I've been seeing a lot of instagrams of their rotisserie chicken, and most importantly, waffle tots, aka potato waffles.
Fritzi
Yes, waffled tater tots. Get it with cheese, always.

The potato waffles can be ordered as a side, or you can get them with an order of the rotisserie chicken
Fritzi
You can order the rotisserie chicken as 1/4 chicken for $15 or 1/2 chicken for $19, and it comes with your choice of fries, tots, or potato waffles, and a choice of vegetables of the day. You can also order one of their dipping sauces starting from $0.50 and includes options like green harissa, black garlic aioli, Louisiana aioli, or Vermont beer-cheddar (I love the harissa).
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I typically don't order chicken, especially chicken breast, but that's because many times restaurants make them too dry. That won't happen with Fritzi's rotisserie chicken, though, with its perfectly tender and juicy meat.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Food Tour de Venice, CA by Avital Tours

by guest blogger @iam_robot

I recently got the chance to check out a one of the walking food tours by Avital, who took us on a tour around the Venice neighborhood.
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 This Venice food tour took us deep inside the center of the old city and allowed us to explore real stories of this beachfront neighborhood.  Snippets of lifestyles, cultures, and rich history came into light through bites of puff pastry, savory pizza, and sugary donut. Personally, I think it’s almost impossible to scour best places to eat by driving around aimlessly. A feast of this magnitude must only be countered with serious walking feast – worry not, we all walked ‘kind of’ leisurely. Without the guidance of Avital, I never would have ventured to some of these restaurants (at least not all at once) and certainly wouldn’t have ordered many of the things I tried. So if you decide to join – make sure to bring a hearty appetite, comfortable shoes, and strong sense of humor J

The tour begins with 2 shots of craft beer at Venice Ale House. Located strategically on the boardwalk, you can’t help but watch hipster and westsiders going about with their weirdness.  Moving along, we walked couple blocks to one of the narrow alleys to encounter a sleek, minimal storefront called as Dudley Market. 

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Dudley Market Interior
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Gnocco fritto, with Calabrian chili salsa and scallops at Dudley Market
After couple of beer shots at The Ale House, I thought we were getting greasy food to wash down the alcohol bloat. To my utmost surprise, a plate of Puff Pastry with scallop and Calabrian Chili Salsa came to sight within 5 minutes. I pretty much inhaled them with sips of fine Cava. I was amazed with Chef Jesse Barber’s (formerly of Barnyard and The Tasting Kitchen) creation – it’s simple, honest, and ingredient-centric. Definitely not the prototypical dish you’d find on beachfronts.
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Plant Food and Wine Interior
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Carrot Ginger Soup by Plant Food and Wine

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