Showing posts with label pork belly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pork belly. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Revisiting Loretta's Last Call with New Menu Items (Boston, MA)

At the beginning of this year, I wrote about Loretta's Last Call, a Southern restaurant and live music venue near Fenway. They've recently revamped their menu, reimagining some dishes and adding new items on the menu, so I went back to try out some of these menu items!

The hush puppies had been recreated; now they serve Serrano and roasted corn hush puppies with honey cayenne butter ($8)
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It's not that spicy but it has a nice kick, especially with the honey cayenne butter!

Another new appetizer was the Crispy pork belly with wild mushroom grit cakes & a cider reduction ($12)
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My favorite part was actually the mushroom grit cakes, but the pork belly had a nice sweet glaze to it, as well - I just wish it was crispier considering the name of the dish!

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)
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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?)
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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

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Romantic Cavatina Heats Up The Sunset Marquis

A romantic, quiet outdoor dining just off of the Sunset Strip, Cavatina is currently flying under the radar. It's surprising that not more people know about this restaurant, which offers a solid menu of both food and wine.

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Not a lot of people know about this restaurant that is hidden inside the Sunset Marquis hotel, but it offers a gorgeous outdoor dining experience. Get a table on the outside that overlooks the man-made waterfall for a more romantic setting.
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Cavatina's cuisine is originally headed by James Beard winning Chef and Restaurateur Michael Schlow who has a restaurant empire on the East Coast. I've previously had a great lunch experience at Cavatina, but now I returned to try the dinner menu. The evening provided a very different ambiance as well!

Lamb meatballs, tomato, cumin, pine nuts ($12)
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It's nice that the tomato sauce here doesn't overpower the flavors of the meatballs themselves.

Homemade potato chips ($7) with green chile onion dip - this one's a mainstay on the menu that I've had during lunch before.
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Yellowtail, cucumber agua chile, pickled persimmon, masago ($19), a light and refreshing dish that highlights the texture of the yellowtail.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New Chef Shines at Ray's and Stark Bar (Mid City, Los Angeles, CA)

By: guest blogger @btsunoda

It’s been my experience that many museums don’t plan for the food and drink interests of their patrons. While visitors may be wowed by the fine art and sculptures, the food offered doesn’t quite match the experience. I recently visited Ray’s and Stark bar and I’m happy to say that I had a very different experience. Ray’s and Stark Bar is located at the LA County Museum of Art or LACMA.

They opened in 2011 and feature a Mediterranean-inspired menu includes dishes locally obtained ingredients and offerings from their wood-burning oven. They feature seasonal cocktails, a California-centric wine list, and artisan beers and spirits. While the original chef, Kris Morningstar, former sous chef Viet Pham has taken over and keeping the restaurant going strong. DSCF3940
 The restaurant is actually situated outdoors from LACMA, next to the BP Grand Entrance to the museum. It is well protected by the elements, covered to shield diners from direct sunlight and a glass partition to isolate noise from busy Wilshire boulevard. Eames-style chairs gave the interior a retro-styled look.
DSCF3953 Executive chef Viet Pham is a graduate of the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena. His mother helped him to become interested in cooking at an early age. Pham became passionate about the farm to table philosophy when he met Philip Tessier from Bouchon. He has worked at Ray’s and Stark Bar as their sous chef since they opened in 2011 and was promoted to executive chef in the spring of 2014.

Collaboration and teamwork are essential ingredients which make Ray’s and Stark and Bar successful. Viet Pham and “Dragon”, the forager, team up to decide what ultimately gets placed on the menu. Pham credited much of the success of the menu to Dragon because of the knack he has for finding the best fruits and vegetables.

The brainchild of Ray’s and Stark Bar’s water menu is Martin Riese, general manager and certified water sommelier. Flipping through the book, it read much like a wine list, only for water. The water menu included each water’s total dissolved solids, sodium, magnesium and calcium. Because water includes local minerals, it varies greatly, much like wine. Read more about the water menu.

First out of the kitchen was their housemade charcuterie which included duck rillette and truffle chicken liver.
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I liberally spread the duck rillette and the truffle chicken liver over the toasted baguette slices and enjoyed both immensely.
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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Panini Lunch at CiBOTECA (Santa Monica)

I'm always looking for places near Toyota Santa Monica to kill time whenever I take my car in (since that Toyota location has no wi-fi). During my last service, I walked over to Broadway to the new-ish CiBOTECA, a cafe and marketplace that serves paninis, cold deli items, and desserts.

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I tried two different paninis, starting from the Cotoletta (Veal Milanese, dijon mustard, shaved parmesan, mizuna, $9)
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Crispy veal cutlet between crunchy toasted seed bread!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dim Sum Carts, Liquid Nitrogen, and Canned Cocktails at The Church Key

The Church Key brought the "dim sum cart" concept to Sunset Blvd, except instead of the classic grouchy dim sum ladies pushing their metal carts, the servers at Church Key are dressed in PanAm stewardess outfit pushing airline carts (one said PanAm while another cart said Delta). Various small plates, canned cocktails, and liquid nitrogen cocktail otter pops can be found on these carts.

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Just like at dim sum, they stamp your card with the dishes or cocktail you received. Unlike Chinese dim sum, the restaurant is large, spacious, and sexy.
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You won't find Chinese dim sum here, though. Instead, look for one of our favorite dishes of the night: Crispy pork belly, gojuchang glaze, cashew butter, radish, sesame ($14)
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Word of warning: this was a bit spicy, but I love the crispiness! Everyone raved about the pig's ear cheetos but unfortunately I didn't get to try them as they were sold out.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pork Belly's (Venice, CA)

A couple doors down from a juice bar on Abbot Kinney is Pork Belly's, specializing in sandwiches made with meats smoked in-house by their competition BBQ pitmaster, Eric Solton.
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There's no seating inside this small store, but you can eat on the wooden counter on the wall of graffiti and they're working on some outdoor seating.
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Their signature sandwich is The Belly Up: Smoked BBQ Pork Belly topped with homemade coleslaw on a brioche roll ($8.95)
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Generous amount of thick pork belly slices encased between brioche buns. It's decadent, for sure, but the slaw does a surprisingly nice job balancing the fattiness so that it's not too heavy on your palate.


If you're still afraid the pork belly will be too fatty for you, try The Chop: Brisket smoked for over 12 hours in their in-house smoker then chopped. Topped with homemade BBQ sauce and Cole Slaw on a brioche roll ($8.95)
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This is easier to eat than the pork belly. With the shredded brisket you don't need to tear off a chunk of meat with each bite. The sauce is nice, slightly tangy. Again, the slaw balanced out the sweet BBQ sauce nicely so you can keep eating.
Oh, every sandwich also comes with a mini chocolate chip cookie, so watch out for it when you open the wrapper! The cookies are freshly baked and chewy.

Smoky Balls: Pork & Beef meatballs smoked then thinly sliced. Served with homemade tomato sauce, peppers and onions on a grinder roll, topped with melted cheese ($8.95).
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The meatball had a very interesting texture, closer to meatloaf than the usual meatball. It's not as flavorful as the first two sandwiches but it had a subtle smokiness.

They also serve something which they claim are "like chili cheese fries but better". They're tater tots topped with either brisket (called Chop Tots) or chorizo (called Slop Tots) and melted cheese ($4.99)
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Better than fries indeed! I only tried the slap tots but will need to try the one with brisket next.

You can still take your vegetarian friends here, where they can try the veggie sloppy joe or a grilled cheese sandwich.

Another side to get is the Fried pickles served with sriracha aioli ($3.95)
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I think this is my first time having fried pickles but I really liked them, especially with that sriracha aioli.

There's no beer or wine here, but I have to admit I did enjoy the freestyle Coke machine with over 100 choices of soft drinks or lemonade. So. many. choices.
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Pork Belly's offers something different in the Venice area and a quick, satisfying to-go lunch stop. To make it extra quick, you can also place your order online for pick up.
On Mondays and Thursdays they have ribs after 1:30 pm but unfortunately I was there too early to try it.

It's not just a lunch stop but they're also open late at night on the weekends (until 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays) and the food would be so good on those drunken nights and prevent hangovers!

Pork Belly's Sandwich Shop
1146 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90291
(424) 777-8875
http://www.porkbellysla.com/
Pork Belly's Sandwich Shop on Urbanspoon
Disclosure: this meal was hosted 

Monday, January 7, 2013

8 Flavors of Pork Belly at Palsaik BBQ in Koreatown (Los Angeles, CA)

I was recently involved with a project to review a few Korean restaurants in Los Angeles, and one of my assignment was Palsaik Samgyupsal Korean BBQ. I was pretty excited since I had never been to this restaurant which boasts eight flavors of pork belly. The set menu with the 8 pork belly and stew ("Palsaik Set Menu") was $49.95. I asked around as to how many people the set would feed and got answers ranging from "two, but when you get to the rice you won't be able to taste anything" to four, so I settled at three, which seems to have been the perfect number.


Compared to other Korean BBQ places, Palsaik is decidedly more modern looking and cleaner (though the service wasn't any better)
The presentation was also quite impressive. A long wooden board held eight plates of the pork and underneath each one the flavor was printed: Wine, Original, Ginseng, Garlic, Herb, Curry, Miso Paste, and Red Pepper Paste.

On the wall they also display the "health benefits" of each flavor, which I thought was pretty funny ... I mean, we're eating eight slices of fatty pork belly here! I don't think the "benefits" of the red wine marinade would really cancel out the effects on your blood vessels.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gourmet Three Course Meals, In Your Freezer

What's for dinner at home? Caramelized pork belly with steamed kale. Think I made it from scratch? Nope. This was frozen and delivered, by Pop Up Pantry.

There are many meal delivery services in Los Angeles, but for the most part they are too health focused (and healthy tasting ..) and expensive! Pop Up Pantry is neither. These are gourmet three-course meals, pre-prepared and shipped to you frozen for as little as $17.50 per person.

You order your meals and the date you want them delivered, and it will be shipped in a box via FedEx (they note that you have to freeze them by 8pm that day). Oh, and the good thing about using FedEx? You don't have to live in LA to order these, unlike the other meal delivery services! You can live in the middle of nowhere and still get them.
Inside the insulated box will be these frozen pouches of the prepared food.
Preparing them for the most part is easy. Most of them you just boil in water, or stick them in the oven for 30 minutes (your meals will come with detailed instructions, don't worry).
I tried out the Master Chef dinner, which was the two dinners created during the last Master Chef's finals between Christine Ha and Josh Marks.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ra Pour: Elevating Rancho Cucamonga

I wouldn't normally consider going to Rancho Cucamonga to dine, but the promise of a free hotel stay sounded like a nice getaway and convinced me to go check out this new restaurant headed by Executive Chef Greg Stillman, a French Laundry and Patina alum. On the drive to the restaurant, we saw what other places were in Rancho Cucamonga and it was pretty much restaurant chain capital.

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Ra Pour is located inside the Victoria Gardens outdoor mall. The restaurant is large and a divider separates a large table facing the kitchen - a semi-private "chef's table"
The other side of the restaurant was the lounge area - even the lighting was different. Apparently after regular dinner hours the place turns into a club with DJs - not really my kind of scene.
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The table started with a glass of sparkling wine, a 2007 Brut Taittinger Domaine Carneros, and shared some appetizers including tempura mushrooms and my favorite: lobster pops with lemongrass coconut sauce
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The pops had actual chunks of lobster inside, not shredded and mixed. I tried the tempura mushrooms but didn't realize it had a dipping sauce which didn't make it to my side of the table at the same time, so it was incomplete.

The cocktail list contains five "signature cocktails" at $14 each and five "vintage cocktails" at $12 each. I went with one from the vintage list, the Highlander with Famous Grouse blended scotch whiskey, fresh grapefruit juice, house made grenadine, clover honey, orange bitters. I tried my friends' "signature cocktails" which lean towards the sweeter side.
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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Candy and Fire: Spring at 1886 Bar

Cocktails on fire, beer cocktail, a flight of barrel aged cocktails, Chartreuse candies, and spiked sodas. You can find all those and more on 1886 Bar's new spring cocktail menu. The food side boasts lamb neck, shrimp toast, and "onsen" egg. In other words, there are plenty of reasons to visit 1886 this season, even if you hav
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The Cinnablossom ($12) by Lacey Murillo is a table-side show, where the server will light up Lemonhart 151 on fire in the glass, then the cocktail itself (made with gin, lemon and homemade cinnamon bark syrup) is poured into the glass and extinguishes the flame.

The Bittersweet Farewell from Marcos Tello also gets fired up. The cocktail is made of gin, homemade passion fruit syrup, lemon juice, Campari, then the lemon garnish is doused with Lemonhart 151 and set on fire.

The Barrel Roll ($15, also by Lacey) is made with Bols barrel aged Genever, Carpano Antica, green chartreuse and garnished with a Campari "glass" candy. It's not just a garnish gimmick, the cocktail actually does taste better with the Campari candy.
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Trotter's Protege Meets Chinese Bao at The Chairman Truck

Fine dining chefs jumping ship to sell casual, comfort food is not just a trend that started in the past year. Chef Hiro Nagahara, formerly chef de cuisine at Bar Charlie (Charlie Trotter) in Las Vegas worked with Mobi Munch to start The Chairman Truck in 2009, selling chinese steamed buns with unique, high end fillings like spiced duck confit in San Francisco.

(The Chairman was originally named The Chairman Bao, but then they got sued by Baohaus in NY since "chairman bao" was apparently the first item on their menu. Gotta admit, it's such a catchy name.)

Tofu Bao
Mobi Munch is actually an LA-based company, and when they outfitted The Chairman's second truck, they decided to hold a tasting for friends and media before sending it off to SF. The tasting was held at Mobi Munch headquarters in downtown LA, where I tried five of their offerings. The buns are usually $3.25 each for steamed bao ($6.75 for baked - not sure how big these are), $3.75 for duck confit and pork belly.

1st bao: Tender Pork Belly with Pickled Daikon
Pork Bun
First, let's talk about the bao itself. The bao is made using a 40 year old yeast brought from China 20 years ago by  the SF truck operator, Curtis Lam's uncle who was the executive chef of Yank Sing. The warm bao was great, neither too thick nor too doughy.

The pork belly was tender, not overly fatty, and the crunchy, tart, pickled daikon was the perfect accompaniment to cut the richness. The daikon is, of course, pickled in-house ("in-truck"?)

The 2nd bao is a spinoff of korean spicy chicken: Spicy Red Sesame Chicken with pickled cucumber and carrots
Chicken Bao

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sneak Preview: Mendocino Farms (Marina del Rey)!

With their DTLA locations getting rave reviews, I've been curious about the Mendocino Farms sandwiches. Their newest location in Marina del Rey is slated to open on Thursday. Luckily, I was invited to their pre-opening tasting preview last night.

When you enter Mendocino Farms, you'll be given a paper menu on which you'll place your order, line up to pay, get your food and find a seat. Casual is the name of the game.
A bonus for the MDR locals over the DTLA locations: beer/wine license is coming in a few months!

The future keg spot:

The future Enomatic wine system spot:
With beer/wine and these great sandwiches, this may soon be the MDR hangout! Plus, the braised lamb sandwich and the pork belly banh mi would go quite well with a glass of red.

Cos, like, we would know ...
I have to thank Sue, one of the winners of the Tasting Event giveaway, for bringing this bottle of Petite Syrah! Made my braised lamb sandwich even better! (And hey it was a private event so we can bring wine ... )

I highly recommend the Pork Belly Banh Mi! We didn't get a whole sandwich during the event, but they did pass out the little pork belly crostinis for us to taste.
The sweet and rich caramelized kurobuta belly is offset by the jalapeno and the julienned vegetables. Unlike your normal banh mi, here they will serve it on top of a panini grilled ciabatta.

The Braised Lamb sandwich ($9.75) was also very good. This was on their seasonal menu and they said it'll go off menu (to make room for perhaps a Lobster Club 'wich and other sandwiches featuring heirloom tomato) in a month, so hurry and get it now.
This sandwich is for the game meat lovers only, because they're probably the same group of people who would equally enjoy the Cypress Grove goat cheese that's spread inside this sandwich. I didn't think the lamb was particularly gamey but the combination of lamb and goat cheese - which I thought gave a deliciously strong flavor - might not be for everyone.

The Fort "We Should" Bragg Melt ($8.25) w/ tuna and smoked gouda had good flavors and a nicely grilled bread, though I thought the tuna smelled a bit too fishy.


I tried the vegan sandwich "My Vegan Trip Through India" ($9.25) with chickpea and spinach patty. It was alright and well ... vegan. I'll have more lamb and pork belly, s'il vous plait.

Right before you reach the cashier, you'll be tempted with a case of the side deli items.

I'd recommend the curried orzo as it was the most flavorful.

You will also place your drink orders here at the cashier. Before the liquor license goes in full effect, specialty drinks like blood orange lemonade and lemongrass green tea are worth getting.
The blood orange lemonade is sweet while the lemongrass green tea is unsweetened but accented by a lovely lemongrass aroma.

Mendocino Farms caters, and when you order catering you can get a slew of desserts from Dolce Forno. If you eat in, you can grab one of MF's special recipe cookies!

I tried the hazelnut tart (available for catering orders), a decadent mini tart that's almost like chocolate-topped pecan tart, i.e. that's chocolate+caramel+nuts.
I tried their chocolate chip cookie also, and its bulging shape easily made it a combination of the crunchy and chewy cookie, depending where you're biting. Get one and indulge, it's definitely worth trying.

Marina del Rey workers rejoice, here's your new lunch spot.


Mendocino Farms
4724 Admiralty Way
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
(310) 822-2300
http://mendocinofarms.com/
Mendocino Farms on Urbanspoon
Mendocino Farms in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

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