Showing posts with label south bay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label south bay. Show all posts

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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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Global Day of Discovery at The Renaissance Long Beach

by guest blogger Bryan Tsunoda

On Thursday, June 16 from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m., The Renaissance Hotel in Long Beach will play host to its 5th annual Global Day of Discovery, a signature event that all Renaissance Hotel locations participate in during the month of June. During Global Day of Discovery, guests and the local community are invited to come together to experience hot spots for food, beverages, nightlife and entertainment. I was recently invited to a pre-event tasting for the Long Beach location.

The event for their Global Day of Discovery is called Taps + Tastes, and The Renaissance Hotel has assembled an impressive collection of craft beers from 6 local breweries. Delicious food to pair with the craft beer will be prepared by Top Chef Janine Falvo. In addition a DJ will be on-site spinning tunes and self-parking that day will be free! Tickets are only $20 each and a portion of the event proceeds will be donated to Washington Middle School in Long Beach.

Before getting on with the beer tastings, we had one of signature drinks that SIP Bar and Lounge offers each night. For the tasting, we were served the Shandy: Sam Adams lager, fresh orange juice, Perrier sparkling water and bitters over ice.
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Crispy Pig Ears - These were delightfully crispy and if no one told me what they were, I would not have know that they were pig ears. They were delicious with or without the salsa verde dipping sauce.
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Lobster Jalapeno Poppers - Curry tempura was applied to the exterior to give these poppers a unique crunch. The top was drizzled with a cilantro mint chutney.
The Dudes’ Steamed Clams - The Surfrider Pale Ale from The Dudes’ Brewery is used to make these clams. Smoked pieces of garlic significantly enhanced the sauce.
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Street Corn - A small section of a corn on the cob is rolled in fresh cilantro and smashed Cool Ranch Doritos. Everyone universally agreed that this item was worth trying to make at home.

“R” Mac and Cheese - Falvo gives her mac & cheese some additional depth by adding diced tomatoes and bits of pecanwood smoked bacon.
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Two beer samplers were provided with each offering. Depending on your taste, you could either veer towards the lighter beer or the amber or IPA style. Beers included: Firestone Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada Summerfest, Strand Brewing Atticus, Firestone 805, and Peach Berliner Weisse from The Dudes’ Brewery.

Duck Dog - I’ve never seen pretzel rolls this small and that was a great idea to pair with the housemade duck dog.
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Duck Confit Steamed Buns - Duck is combined with salt, fresh rosemary and duck fat sous vide style for approximately 8 hours. This results in a crisp duck with intense flavor.
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The Dudes’ Blood Orange Ice Cream Float - This arrived to the table steaming away as they had prepared it with liquid nitrogen. 
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Falvo likes using liquid nitrogen because the ice cream freezes faster and avoids any crunchiness. This reminded me of an adult creamsicle.

At only $20 this is an incredible value. Don’t hesitate because this event will sell out. You can purchase the ticket using this link.


Renaissance Hotel
Long Beach, CA
http://renaissance-hotels.marriott.com/events

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Modern Mexican Finally Hits Long Beach with Playa Amor

The newest hot spot for Mexican food in the LA area is in Long Beach, but Playa Amor doesn't just serve great, traditional Mexican dishes. What sets it apart for me is Chef Thomas Ortega's own modern take on it, like what you will find with his Mole tot poutine (tater tots, mole negro, queso, cress, cilantro, onion, $8.50)

Playa Amor
I've actually had a slightly different version of this a couple of years ago at Thomas Ortega's other restaurant, Amor Y Tacos in Cerritos. I feel that he's improved the dish even more since I like it even better now.

You may find the ubiquitous Charred brussel sprouts with a touch of Mexican flair with some cotija, lime juice, red wine vinegar, smoked jalapeno remoulade ($8.75)
Playa Amor

On the other hand, you'll also fine very well executed versions of more typical dishes like the Shrimp ceviche (Mexican shrimp, pico de gallo, citrus juice, jalapeno, garlic aioli, cabbage, cotija, corn tostada, $12).
Playa Amor

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Jolly Oyster Market, Bringing Fresh Shellfish to Torrance

The Jolly Oyster is a beloved oyster shack in Ventura, where many Angelenos have taken a day trip to get fresh oysters and have a picnic in the park where the shack is located. They have all natural oyster farms based in Baja in Mexico. If Ventura seems too far for you, though, don't worry, since The Jolly Oyster just opened a market in Torrance! As with everything in Torrance, it's in a strip mall. Hanging on the walls are photos of their oyster farms in Baja. I really enjoyed listening to the story of how they got started and what they do. If you're interested, you should check out the documentary video.

Jolly Oyster
Now, since the space is small they can't have seating for you to eat oysters there, but they will shuck them and sell them to you to take home (or to a park nearby or whatever). It does cost more to buy shucked oysters than unshucked ones, obviously, but it's still cheaper than getting them at a restaurant. A half-dozen shucked oysters go for $10, while unshucked oysters are $1.25 each (or $1 if you buy more than $40).

Jolly Oyster has three different sauces you can put on your shellfish, but there's no cocktail sauce because that overpowers the oysters! There's a vinaigrette made with beets, a spicy one with garlic and thai chili, and a brown rice vinegar with cucumber.
Jolly Oyster

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Brunch at Michael's Pizzeria (Long Beach, CA)

I've been meaning to try Michael's Pizzeria, but I haven't gone down to South Bay much lately.
I finally made the trek and visited the downtown Long Beach location for weekend brunch, and they had a musician playing guitar outside.

Michael's Pizza
Michael's doesn't just serve pizzas, but they also have a special brunch menu, where you'll find dishes like Cast-iron baked cinnamon rolls with rosemary syrup
Michael's Pizza
The cinnamon rolls are made to order, which means they are piping hot, fresh from the oven! They're mini-sized to make sharing easier and the green color for the rosemary syrup is actually from spinach (so it's healthy, right?). These are definitely great cinnamon rolls.

Cast-iron dishes are a special category at Michael's and include the Caprino e Carciofi (pesto, baby artichokes, potatoes, mozzarella, goat cheese)
Michael's Pizza
I like these baked cast-iron dishes as a fun twist on the typical brunch dishes.

Friday, January 16, 2015

New Menu at Baleen Kitchen (Redondo Beach, CA)

With the coming of winter, it's time for new menus. Such is the case with Baleen Kitchen at the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach. Here's what you can look forward to on the new menu:

You can start with a light grain salad like the Baleen Garden (baby beets, farro, tomato, quinoa, avocado, pea shoots, almonds, lime vinaigrette)

Baleen

Or for a more substantial salad, there's the Dungeness and soft shell crab salad with avocado, haricot vert, and lollo rossa
Baleen
Lollo rossa is a particular type of lettuce and it works nicely with the sweet dungeness crab hidden at the bottom. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hey 19: Fun Food and Cheap Drinks in Torrance

There are tons of great Japanese restaurants in Torrance, from oden and yakitori to soba to wonderful pastries, but I wouldn't know where to drink in Torrance. Until now, when Demi Stevens of Ortega 120 opened up Hey 19, a pub with affordable drinks and comfort food - serving until late at night.

Hey 19
The drinks range from $7-8.25. You can hardly get those prices even at happy hour in LA! Yay for low rent in Torrance. I tried the South Bay Storm (Cruzan rum, Campari, lemon, pineapple, Roy Rogers - that's coke and grenadine, $7) and the Classic Cup (housemade Pimm's #1, lemonade, ginger ale, cucumber, mint, orange - also $7).
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Just like the popular margaritas at Ortega 120, the drinks tends to be strong and sweet, easy to drink. It turns out Demi prefers her own drinks less sweet so she made me another one that's coming on the menu soon. She said people tend to Uber down from LA in groups to drink because of her much cheaper prices!
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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)

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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)
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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.
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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Awesome Affordable Sushi at Sushi Nozomi (Torrance, CA)

It's easy to spend over $100 on a sushi omakase, and while some of them are certainly worth the money, you can't do that too often. Instead, most of us frequent the mid-tier, affordable sushi joints - some of which provide really good value for the money. The best value for sushi omakase may well be Sushi Nozomi down in Torrance. The "chef's choice" or omakase is only $38 for 10 pieces of sushi plus a negi-toro roll and we're talking fresh fish, some of which are pretty hard to find in town!

Each omakase starts with a bowl of miso soup.

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When I visited, the omakase included a piece of Halibut fin, topped with yuzu
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Blue nose. This fish looks similar to a bass or grouper, leaner than the former but fattier than the latter.
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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.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Breakfast to Dinner at Doma Kitchen (Redondo Beach)

by: guest blogger Bryan Tsunoda @btsunoda

Doma Kitchen is a fairly new restaurant located in South Redondo Beach as it has been open less than one year. Recently I had the opportunity to experience their new spring menu.
While I’ve dined at Doma Kitchen a number of times, it was primarily for breakfast. They've now extended their hours into the early evening and I was curious about their offerings.
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Doma Kitchen occupies a very small lot. In fact, the kitchen takes the entire space of the building. A beautifully stained wood fence surrounds the perimeter to create a patio-like setting. Dining is exclusively al fresco and Doma Kitchen has set up colorful tent canopies and heaters to keep diners comfortable during cool evenings. Colorful artwork from local artists adorn their walls.
Co-owner Angie Corrente gave us an overview of the evening’s menu. She explained that she and co-owner Stan Mayzalis have traveled the world and as a result, they wanted Doma Kitchen to reflect their love for global cuisine.

We were blown away to learn that we would experience breakfast, lunch and dinner in a matter of only 2 hours. Fortunately, the portion sizes were small, but that was still a lot of food to consume in one sitting.
Breakfast
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Our “breakfast” was served promptly and efficiently. Doma Kitchen’s Pancetta Scramble with home fries arrived to our table first. Unlike some that use a pancetta that is more ‘ham-like’, Doma Kitchen uses a very good quality pancetta which is full of flavor. This combined with the scrambled eggs and scallions made for a tasty dish.
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The others at my table were definitely drawn to the sweet offerings. Fresh Belgian waffles were served with a homemade chocolate sauce and fresh fruit, nutella and bananas and vanilla creme. The waffle was ultra crispy and I was surprised that it wasn’t dense.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cocktail Social at Rok Sushi (Hermosa Beach, CA)

By: guest blogger Bryan Tsunoda

Now that winter is officially behind us, Rok Sushi took the opportunity to develop new craft cocktails to get us into the mood for spring. I recently attended an event to sample some of their newest additions.

Rok Sushi offers Japanese fusion cuisine as well as entrees such as Chilean seabass, baked salmon filet and sesame crusted ahi. The restaurant’s décor is casual modern Japanese and depending on your mood, you can quietly sip a cocktail by the bar, watch the sushi chef in action or dine with family members.
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The Bubbly Cali was the first of their new craft cocktails for spring. Rok Sushi uses an excellent sparkling wine from the Russian River region - J Vineyards, as the foundation to the Bubbly Cali. They add No 209 Gin, Medlock Ames Verjus and simple syrup. I found the drink to be loaded with citrus and quite refreshing.

Next up was the Shishito Pepper Martini. Blistered shishito peppers is a fairly common appetizer, but I’ve never seen it in a cocktail. Rok Sushi infuses shishito peppers into vodka and adds, simple syrup, Combier orange liqueur, lime juice and drops a whole shishito pepper in the glass. Shishito peppers are not spicy by nature; in fact I ate mine as I sipped on the tasty martini.
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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 ...
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... and ome new ones including Villa Creek from Paso Robles, who makes Rhone varietals, and Chappellet from Napa.
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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)
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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)
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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, February 10, 2014

Chianina Steakhouse: A Rare Breed in Long Beach

Before, if you had asked me where to eat in Long Beach, I would have no answer. But now, Chianina Steakhouse has moved in and will soon be bringing the rare cattle breed to their menu. Chianina is an Italian breed that is the largest and one of the oldest breed of cattle in the world.

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Lobster Broth
Since they are raising and breeding the cattle, the Chianina steak won't be available at the restaurant until March or April, but lucky for me they had butchered one for a preview dinner so we could try it!

More on that later, as there are plenty of other things to eat here. Our dinner started with a cup of buttery lobster broth.

Next is a Beet and winter root vegetable salad with mâché, almonds, raisin ($14)
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I'm used to having my beets sweet and with creamy cheese like burrata or goat cheese instead of the slightly tart dressing here, but everything was fresh.

I loved the Dungeness crab with jicama, avocado, micro cilntro, Meyer lemon, Fresno chili
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The dungeness crab is hidden inside the rolled avocado. Sweet crab, creamy avocado, and a light heat from the chili.

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.
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Uni lovers (that would be me) shouldn't miss the special and aptly named Bomb.com: hand harvested Santa Barbara sea urchin ($15)
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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!
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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).
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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)
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