Showing posts with label manhattan beach. Show all posts
Showing posts with label manhattan beach. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Darren's in Manhattan Beach, CA

Chef/owner Darren Weiss from Darren's Restaurant in Manhattan Beach may be one of the very few hearing-impaired chefs out there, but he never let that stop him. His restaurant is an institution in Manhattan Beach, making a mark since 2007 and has recently reopened after a renovation.

The new menu is divided into snacks, salads, small plates, large plates, and sides. Under snacks you'll find finger foods and breads like these Emmenthal cheese rolls with fleur de sel Tellicherry black, pepper whipped butter ($4)

Either because Chef Weiss started his career at restaurants in Hawaii or because Darren's is in Manhattan Beach, but there are plenty of seafood dishes on the menu.
Small plates: Crab cake (jumbo lump crab, daikon sprouts, soy dry mustard sauce, sriracha, sweet soy sauce, $22)
To say this crab cake has a generous amount of lump crab meat is an understatement. This crab cake was pretty much all crab meat and I loved it.

Darren's has a small but interesting beers on draft, featuring breweries like Ninkasi (OR), Ommegang, St. Feuillien, and more.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Eat for FREE at Cafe Rio [sponsored]

Want to eat for free like a food blogger? Well, now you can at Cafe Rio.

Cafe Rio is a fast casual chain serving a variety of Mexican food. The Southern California locations at Cafe Rio is offering a free meal and dessert for first-time diners who are willing to come in and give them honest feedback.

All you have to do is go there and fill out a survey of your dining experience (the survey can be found here, or you can also scan the QR code which will be posted at the restaurants). This campaign starts today while quantities last. The deal should be available all of this week, so be sure to hurry in!

This deal is only available at the following four SoCal locations: 

1800 Rosecrans Ave Suite G
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(424) 456-3800

1140 Irvine Blvd.
Tustin, CA 92780
(657) 622-3000

27510 W Lugonia Ave
Redlands, CA 92374
(909) 801-6900

24312 Rockfield Blvd.
Lake Forest, CA 92630
(949) 334-9292

Monday, May 5, 2014

Trying Grimaldi's Pizza in El Segundo

New York's famed Grimaldi's Pizzeria has now gone nationwide, including an LA location in El Segundo. I've never tried the original, but decided to make the easier trek to South Bay!

Grimaldi's offers three types of pizza in three different sizes, calzone, and some salad starters. You pick your own toppings for each pizza.

My favorite was the white pizza with garlic ($10 for a personal size). It was just so deliciously garlicky! We got it topped with tomato slices ($2) and spicy chicken sausage ($4).

White Pizza
If you love garlic as much as I do, this is definitely the one to get.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

April 6: Ninth Ultimate Wine Festival in Manhattan Beach (and 2013 Recap)

If you're looking for a wine event filled with big names like Opus One and Silver Oak, then you should consider the Ultimate Wine Festival, coming up on April 6, 2014 at The Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach. 

The event costs $125 pp with tastings from 3-6pm, or $200 to get into the Reserve Magnum Tasting from 2-6pm. Considering the ticket price of some of these wines, it's a pretty good value if you enjoy your wines!

There are around 50 wineries participating in all. Last year, I found old favorites like The Prisoner and Faust ...
... and ome new ones including Villa Creek from Paso Robles, who makes Rhone varietals, and Chappellet from Napa.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Revisiting M.B. Post With New Cocktail Menu

M.B. Post recently launched new cocktails and I took the opportunity to revisit the place, not just for drinks but some dinner also! It's been a while since I've been there and the place was better than I remembered.

beetOn their cocktail menu they include the original cocktail that inspired theirs. The new cocktails ($12.50 each) include drinks like Longshanks (Penicillin with Compass Box "Oak Cross", beet, honey, lemon, thyme). This was one of my favorites, I love the subtle beet flavor. While it might sound strange, it's a great and well balanced drink.

Given the season, there's also King Philip's Bounty (Mojito with Starr, blood orange, mint, lime, tarragon)
Strong but deceptively sweet and refreshing.

I was glad I ordered the bacon cheddar biscuits. I had forgotten just how good these were, but I was reminded right away! So buttery and flaky, and that delicious fluffy maple butter on the side... these are a must order! We got to dinner pretty late after a long class (scuba lesson), so we gobbled these right up.

Bacon cheddar biscuits

MB Post's menu always features a handful of specials. That night, they had a Saffron risotto with blue crab, shrimp, sword squid, English peas, squid ink rice crackers ($19)
The flavors of the seafood are sweet and delicate, wonderful with the saffron. The crispy crackers provided a nice contrast to the creamy risotto.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fishing With Dynamite: The Bomb in Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach dining scene is blowing up. Following his success at M. B. Post, Chef David Lefevre opened up Fishing with Dynamite just a few doors down, this time focusing on seafood.

Not to miss at Fishing with Dynamite is their raw bar selection, including (of course) a great selection of eight different oysters. My recent favorite is the Sweet Petite (Cape Cod, MA). Like the name suggests, it's one of the sweetest oysters out there!

Raw Seafood
Think you know scallops? Hold that thought until you try the Peruvian Scallops ($22/dozen), perhaps the most unique item on the raw bar menu. Small yet succulent and sweet, perfectly accented by the grapefruit.
Peruvian Scallop
We also had Littleneck clams ($26/dozen) and Atlantic Lobster ($20 for half), both excellent.
Uni lovers (that would be me) shouldn't miss the special and aptly named hand harvested Santa Barbara sea urchin ($15)
You can choose two of these sauces: mignonette, cocktail, ponzu, pico de gallo, yuzu kosho mayo, saffron aioli, remoulade. Which one you should get depends on what raw items you're getting!

Cocktails are also great here and designed to go with the seafood dishes and there are options for all palates from martini lovers to those who like richer, sweeter cocktails like flips. If you want something spicier, try the Regalo de Dios (Hacienda de Chihuahua sotol, Combier, strawberry-rhubarb puree, serrano, rhubarb bitters).
Those who prefer more aromatic drinks should opt for Through the Looking Glass (No. 3 gin, Tio Pepe fino sherry, Cocchi Americano, orange bitters, Dolin dry vermouth rinse).

There were also a couple of specials on the menu that day:
Hamachi, avocado, ponzu, radish, serrano, shiso ($16)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Brunch at M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

I knew that the bacon cheddar biscuits at MB Post would be perfect for brunch. What I didn't know was that Chef David LeFevre had a lot more under his sleeves.

We even went from sweets to savory to sweets again. While waiting for the fourth person in our group to arrive, we started nibbling on the Sticky Buns with pecan and brown sugar ($6). This one's a must-get for the sweet-toothed, or just to share with the group.


Between the four of us, we tried many a great cocktails ($12 each), from the Last Rites (Sangria with Compass Box “Oak Cross” Scotch, lambrusco, pear, quince, hibiscus) to the Bloody Mary-derivative, the Coughlin’s Law (Tito’s Vodka, Belgian Pilsner, tomato, dill, bacon, and quail egg) and MO-PHO-JITO (mojito w/ starr, kaffir lime, mint, ginger, coriander honey).

A bowl of oro blanco grapefruit salad with grapes and honey is a lovely way to either start or finish light.
Oro Blanco
The fruits in this bowl was so sweet and fresh, they barely needed anything else!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's All About the Grill at American Farmhouse Tavern (Manhattan Beach, CA)

We get excited over restaurant openings touting famous chefs or restaurant groups these days, but some little-known, family-owned places are serving up some great food without all the hullabaloo. Such is the American Farmhouse Tavern in Manhattan beach, which recently moved from a 35-seat restaurant to one down the street that seats 135.

I was invited to a recent press dinner. We convened at the bar for some appetizers including toast with creamy guacamole and salad topped with tender, juicy slices of tri tip.

Tri Tip Salad

Some of their cocktails actually sounded interesting. I ordered the Buffalo Smoke (Buffalo Trace bourbon, peach nectar, St Germain, maple smoked bacon wrapped sugar cane stick, $10)
Buffalo Smoke
A good and potent drink that I should've ordered when I have some food in my tummy.

They also have a good selection of beers on tap, including Allagash White ($8). There are tons of happy hours and daily specials too, including $4 wine/beer/well drinks/appetizers on weekdays (11-2pm, 4-6:30pm) and Fridays and Saturdays from 9pm on, $3 draft beers on Mondays, etc.

American Farmhouse Tavern is run by owner/chef Orlando Novoa who hailed from Santa Maria. Appropriately, the restaurant serves Santa Maria style barbecue like grilled meat and fish alongside Central Coast wines. They proudly grill their meat over Central Coast red oak (the wood comes from fallen trees so it's sustainable).
Chef Novoa

Sunday, June 19, 2011

David LeFevre's M.B. Post in Manhattan Beach

Some of you would love the bacon cheddar biscuit with maple butter, or caramelized pork jowl, or skirt steak with a bold chimichurri sauce. Some would prefer delicately steamed fish, served atop boiled bok choy and  a subtle sauce, or a light appetizer of couscous mixed the tartness of pomegranates and crunchy marcona almonds. Whichever camp you're in, M. B. Post will satisfy.

Start with a choice of three carbs, each paired with its own spread. Our favorite was the bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuit with maple butter ($5), but we also enjoyed both the fleur de sel pretzel with horseradish mustard ($4) and grilled naan flatbread with harissa yogurt ($4).

Bacon Cheddar Biscuits
Los Angeles Magazine featured his recipe for the bacon cheddar biscuit here.

The cheese and charcuterie board was also impressive with its slew of condiments, from different types of mustards to honeycomb to fruit preserves and pickled vegetables.
Cheese and Meat Board

Avila's HeirTheir craft cocktails are $12 each and they have interesting variations on popular classic and tiki drinks. I particularly enjoyed the Avila's Heir (margarita with corralejo reposado, serrano, mandarin, yuzu) and Sun Also Rises (Blood and Sand with Compass Box "Oak Cross", rhubarb, blood orange). I had ordered My Landing Strip (aviation with Hendricks, creme de violet, candied orange) but I thought it had too much creme de violet for my taste.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Star(Chef)-Studded Iron Chef Dinner at Sashi

This past summer, Chef Makoto Okuwa of Sashi in Manhattan Beach challenged Chef Michael Symon on Food Network's show Iron Chef. This wasn't the first time Chef Okuwa is on the Iron Chef show, as he was actually Iron Chef Morimoto's sous chef before opening Sashi, but this was the first time he's there on his own.

To celebrate his appearance, Sashi set up a special dinner filled with superstar chefs including Iron Chef Morimoto himself, Top Chef Master Michael Voltaggio (who lives nearby and is a big fan of Sashi), Noriyuki Sugie (Ironnori/Breadbar), chef Sonny Sweetman (Exec chef of Wolfgang Puck), and chef Waylynn Lucas (Exec pastry chef of Patina).

Iron Chef Morimoto

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Celebrity Chef-Studded Dinner at Sashi!

Chef Makoto Okuwa at Sashi is no stranger to the ever popular Iron Chef show, but although he's had years in the show under Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Thursday July 8 marks his first appearance as the lead chef and challenger.

He's pulling all the stops to celebrate, too, and that's where you can come in.
That night, he will bring in Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Top Chef champion Michael Voltaggio, plus chef Noriyuki Sugie (Ironnori/Breadbar), chef Sonny Sweetman (Exec chef of Wolfgang Puck), and chef Waylynn Lucas (Exec pastry chef of Patina). The six of them will prepare 1 hors d'oeuvres and 1 dish each.
Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will be served at 5 pm, and the six course dinner + Iron Chef America viewing will start at 7 pm. Of course, all the rockstar chefs will be mingling with guests in the dining room.
And that's why you'll pay the $120 price tag.

Call (310) 545-0400 to RSVP.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sashi Sushi+Sake Lounge, Manhattan Beach

When I was invited to a dinner at Sashi in Manhattan Beach (extended thanks to Glutster), the name Makoto Okuwa was somehow familiar to me. Upon hearing that he worked under Iron Chef Morimoto and was also among his crew in the TV show, I finally remembered seeing him in a cook-off against Top Chef contestant Betty Fraser at the LA Mag Food Event back in 2008.

Chef Makoto Okuwa grew up in Nagoya and eventually moved to New York where he worked under Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Now he has his own place in Manhattan Beach: Sashi.
After Mattatouille, Glutster and I lounged on the chilly beach for a while and reminiscing about our Bali trip(the last time we were all at a beach!), a family-style tasting menu at Sashi began. We were joined by Pardon My Crumbs, Kevin Eats, Sushi Lush, and Active Foodie. We had so many dishes I will not be able to go through them all here, so I will just give you about the top 80% of what we ate that night.

We all love to start with some bubbles. Luckily even for this japanese food/sake dinner we can still get our bubblies with the "Flower Sparkling" Hana Hou Hou Shu. A bit sweeter than champagne, but otherwise crisp and easily drinkable. I, for one, appreciated having a sparkling to start.

For the amuse bouche: "New England Clam Chowder"
A playful rendition of the classic clam chowder using a small air bread (a la The Bazaar) infused with the chowder and topped with manila clams and some truffle oil. It's a nice introduction to Chef Makoto Okuwa.

Crispy asparagus (lightly beer battered tempura asparagus served with nori aioli) -$7
A simple dish, but we all liked this. The light batter did not hide the texture and flavor of the fresh asparagus.

Lemon oregano mushroom (char grilled shitake mushroom with oregano pesto) -$8
Whether such a strongly flavored dish is a good appetizer before all the oysters and sashimi I'm not sure, but that aside I love both shiitake and pesto and while I never thought of the combination of the two I decided I loved it.

Kumamoto oysters (half dozen) - $18
Each of the fresh oyster was dressed differently.

Sashimi wrap (butter lettuce, asian herbs, gochujang sauce, wasabi soy, and miso aioli. Choice of 5 fresh fish) -$26
For us the 5 fish were: salmon, aoyagi, hamachi, tai, and tuna.
They serve very high quality sashimi here at Sashi. The lettuce wrap is supposed to be a nod to the Korean ssam wraps and surprisingly I did like the sashimi with the gojuchang sauce and the lettuce wrap, although I think I still prefer soy sauce and wasabi.

Gindara (alaskan wild black cod marinated in sweet miso) - $5 (per skewer)
This robata take on the famous Nobu dish had a slight smokiness and nicely charred crispy bits around the edges. The rest is sweet and fall-apart tender.

Steam bun (roasted kurobuta pork belly, pickled cucumber, kewpie slaw, scallion) -$13
A fatty pork bun that was made even richer by the kewpie mayo (and I'm all about kewpie mayo). A pretty good rendition of pork steam bun that is somewhat of a combination between Momofuku's and Ippudo's. The bun is a bit thick here but overall still good.

Toro tartar with caviar (chopped medium fatty tuna served in soy dashi broth with freshly grated wasabi and paddlefish caviar) -$28
Toro with caviar? How indulgently exciting. The tartar had a good texture but the flavor was dominated mainly by the scallions. Since it was colder than I think it should've been, I couldn't taste the toro as much as I would've liked.

Black tiger prawn tempura (tempura battered black tiger prawns mixed in wasabi aioli sauce served on a baby frisee salad) -$16
For the Chinese in the group, this is probably reminiscent of the walnut shrimp minus the walnut. In any case, you can't go wrong with crunchy battered fresh shrimp in aioli.

Tai with uni (thinly sliced japanese snapper topped with sweet sea urchin, yuzukosho and shiso salad) -$18
An interesting combination of two from opposite ends of the spectrum: the lean tai with the creamy uni. (though, it left me wanting more uni. I can use a whole uni for myself.)

King crab claws "corn dogs" (lemon thyme, sea salt and served with a lemon grass dipping sauce) -$17
An interesting dish and while I liked both the batter and the crab meat, I still prefer my crab prepared simply roasted or boiled. I do believe frying dries it up a bit.

Wagyu "hot rock" (thinly sliced japanese wagyu beef prepared "table side") -$28
These Japanese wagyu slices come with a certificate of authenticity. These amazing slices of meat are yours to cook yourself tableside. There's no way to screw this up, delicious all the way.

Tuna sashimi pizza (tuna carpaccio, cilantro, cherry tomato, red onion, black olives and jalapeno) -$14
Besides this we also had a chicken teriyaki pizza ($15). Both were fine but I can't get that excited about pizzas at a Japanese restaurant.

Even though we were all stuffed at this point, most of us opted to try out one of Makoto's unique Nagoya-rooted offerings:
20: taiwan ramen noodle (nagoya style spicy noodle soup served with beef and pork, asian chives, and dried red chili) -$11
OK so we were expecting a small tasting-size bowl, not a full-sized portion, but regardless this ramen turned out to be the night's favorite for many. And, yes sir, it was quite spicy.

We finished with desserts by pastry chef Kei Hasegawa (formerly from Nobu).
Bamboo cup (chocolate orange mousse, cinnamon crumble, green tea ice cream, cointreau foam) -$8
Though you can't tell from this photo, the bamboo cup held layers of the mousse, the ice cream, etc. This had a nice light tartness to it.

Japanese frozen yogurt (calpico flavor yogurt and mango passion fruit sorbet served with fresh berries) - $8
This was also light and tart but I found that the tartness overwhelmed the berries too much for my taste.

Toban yaki (bananas, pineapple, and fuji apples baked in a toban pot served with a passion fruit white chocolate sauce and coconut ice cream) -$16
Easily my favorite dessert. These fruits cooked in the creamy passionfruit chocolate sauce were the perfect ending for that chilly night for me.

Perhaps my initial expectation was biased by the fact that I was in Manhattan Beach (though I recently had some pretty good eats there), but I was happily surprised by Chef Makoto Okuwa's food. Most of the dishes are variations of familiar and popular fusion dishes, but they were well executed and he has sourced good quality ingredients. Though it would be great to see more of the chef's own personal flair on the menu as he demonstrated with the amuse bouche, Sashi provides a solid meal. And a bowl of that taiwan ramen noodle would do one well after a cool night on the beach.

Sashi: sushi+sake lounge
451 Manhattan Beach Blvd
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(310) 545-0400
Sashi: sushi and sake lounge on Urbanspoon
Sashi Sushi + Sake Lounge in Los Angeles

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