Showing posts with label westwood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label westwood. Show all posts

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

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Emporium Thai: Southern Thai Cuisine in Westwood

by guest blogger @iam_robot

I remembered a few years ago Thai food was considered an exotic cuisine prevalent only in big cities. These days, getting a Thai food fix is becoming an easier process than locating the next Starbucks. And they’re often mediocre – heat is often tempered while sweetness accentuated to adjust to American palates.  Therefore, I’m always looking for a good Thai Food - something a little better and different from the conventional.

Last week, I was very excited to attend a tasting at Emporium Thai Cuisine in Westwood. This place has been open since 2000 and it’s owned/ operated by the same family as the super famous Jitlada on Sunset Blvd. Rumor has it, this is the place where Jazz and Tui of Jitlada started out before venturing out on their own.

Nevertheless, Emporium Thai Cuisine is a cut above the usual. Focusing on authentic Southern Thai recipes, Emporium is swank but the price is right. It offers an extensive selection - beyond the usual suspects like green papaya salad, chicken pad thai, pork satay, fish cakes and various curries, they have other lesser-known but even more intriguing dishes to try– Crying Tiger Beef, Khao Yam (fragrant rice salad with dry shrimp and coconut), Mussel Soup, and Crispy Pork Pad Prik King. If you're like me, you'll want to try them all at the highest heat level. I love how all the dishes can be customized to our preferred spicy scale of 1 – 10, with 3 being moderate and 10 being devilishly spicy.

Below are the dishes I tasted that night:
Coco Mango Salad with Fried Tofu
Coco mango
This is a very common Southern Thai appetizer. What struck me with this dish were the variety and vegetables, herbs, spices and accents in the salad. Shredded raw mango, dried coconut, Thai chilies, lime juice, and deep fried tofu were all present in perfect proportion. I thought this dish was a great way to start – light, refreshing, sweet and a tad spicy. In terms of texture, I really like the tofu crispiness and the red onion crunch.

Crying Tiger Beef
Crying Tiger
This is the same Crying Tiger Beef I always ordered at Jitlada. 5 years ago, I remembered I had to go to Jitlada the next day after watching Curtis Stone cried his eyes out proclaiming “hot, hot, hot” at The Best Thing You Ever Ate (Food Network). Essentially, this dish is char-grilled, marinated beef served with their homemade chili sauce. If I have to guess the chili sauce is made with shallots, onions, mints, fresh Thai chilies and lime juice. I love this dish so much! Meat is sliced thinly but very tender to the bite. The sweetness from the beef marinade complements perfectly with the heat and tanginess of the chili sauce. This is my definition of fun-eating!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

C+M Coffee and Milk, Now Open in Westwood

Despite being home to Bruins, Westwood doesn't really have a lot of good coffee options, but now Patina Group has brought their C+M Coffee and Milk concept. The new cafe is located at Westwood Gateway, at the corner of Sepulveda and Santa Monica.

C+M brews Intelligentsia coffee. On a hot day, you might want to try their affogato which uses their housemade milk sorbet - slightly lighter than ice cream, drizzled with caramel and chocolate syrup. There are also shakes and "milkwiches", an ice cream sandwich made with their vanilla milk sorbet.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Fondue by the Pool at Après at The W Hotel in Westwood

It's getting cold out. Cold enough for fondue, even. But you're still an Angeleno at heart so you're going to want your fondue by the pool. Well, you can at Après at The W Hotel in Westwood. Not après ski, but après skinny dip?
Available at the poolside cabanas (but they'll serve it inside or at the bar if you ask nicely) are cheese and chocolate fondues, s'mores, and special cocktails.
There are three choices for the cheese fondue ($16 for 2), including the Miss Swiss which is the traditional gruyere cheese with sherry and garlic, Dive bar made with cheddar, IPA, and bacon, and Jako-Dip made with goat cheese, white wine, and pumpkin puree.
Cheese Fondue
My favorite is still the traditional Swiss style, but the pumpkin one is fun to try as well. They come with bread and vegetables as usual but also some cured meats.

The chocolate fondue also comes in three choices and served with strawberries, dried pineapples, marshmallows, Oreos, and graham crackers.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

TLT Food (Westwood)

There's another place that I wish was there when I was a Bruin: TLT Food. The food options in Westwood Village just keep getting better these days!

TLT Food is started by the guy behind The Lime Truck (hence TLT) that started in Orange County and won season 2 of The Great Food Truck Race! It is a great fast casual option, with beer and wine and free wi-fi. There are sandwiches, sliders, tacos, and fries with an Asian influence.

I had to get Blue Crab Grilled Cheese (can't say no to crab): Grilled Sourdough, Blue Crab, Cheese Blend, Scallions ($9)

Pretty generous helping of crab meat for $9! It was mixed with mayo but pretty lightly so you still get plenty of the crab flavor. This was my friend's favorite.

Taco prices vary depending on the protein (or potato) you get, from short rib to ahi tuna. I tried the Pork Belly Adobo Taco: Braised Pork Belly, Tomatillo Salsa, Sriracha, Cilantro ($4)
Two of the taco fillings you can actually get as toppings for fries, if you're inclined to get more carbs! They're great to share with the whole table, too. The two are 12-hour pulled pork, making up the "World Famous Carnitas Fries" and the Steak Fries. I got the Steak Fries: Marinated Steak, Asian Slaw, Homemade Wontons, Cilantro Chimichurri ($10)
Great combination, talk about fully loaded fries. Do share, the portion is quite big. The steak was pretty tender and I really liked the cilantro chimichurri. Who needs poutine?? (Well, we still need poutine but we need this too.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

DineLA 2011: Lunch at Napa Valley Grille

The first summer DineLA Restaurant Week started earlier this week, so I thought I'd do a quick post on one of my Dine LA visits from last year. I had lunch at Napa Valley Grille last Fall, and the $22 per person for three courses was a great deal! (The format this year unfortunately does not have dessert for lunch. It is $20 for two courses. Not sure why, I want my desserts!)

I used to go to Napa Valley Grille a lot when I worked in Westwood, but since then I haven't gone as much. The lunch was a pleasant reminder of Napa Valley Grille's good food and generous portions!

Chopped Kale Salad, toasted almonds, golden raisin, lemon parmesan vinaigrette

Very fresh and light! I don't like salads with too much dressing, but this one had a nice light dressing and a lot of the flavors came from the almonds and raisins.

Tahitian Squash Soup, pomegranate syrup, pistachio pesto
The entrees:
Marinated Ahi Tuna Salad, heirloom cherry tomatoes, dry cured olives, anchovy vinaigrette, country croutons
This lighter option still had plenty of tuna to fill you up for the rest of the day.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

FRIDA Restaurant Group Brings Casa Azul Cantina to Westwood

With all the new restaurants popping up in the past year, Westwood is looking to be a pretty good place to dine. One of the newest addition is Casa Azul Cantina from the FRIDA Restaurant Group. Frida in Beverly Hills has been a popular destination since it opened in 2002, introducing westsiders to more than tacos and burritos. UCLA students and staff alike can now be grateful for a Mexican place within walking distance that's not Acapulco (even if they all have to admit they've enjoyed the $1 margaritas there ..).

Casa Azul takes its name (and decor) from Frida Kahlo's blue house Coyoacán, and many of the items from Frida make their appearance here as well.

Tamarind Margarita
Speaking of margaritas, I was happy to find tamarind margarita on the menu, even if it's frozen blended! ($9)

Prefer them shaken? Try the Matador Special ($10) made with fresh muddled cucumber, agave, tequila, triple sec, fresh lime juice. If you like it spicy, the jalapenos in the "El Diablo" will give you the kick you want.

Matador Special
The aren't martini-sized drinks either, the glasses they used were actually really big (and heavy).

Shrimp appetizers abound; I prefer the Gambas al Ajillo (fresh shrimp prepared with olive oil, garlic, guajillo chile, and lime juice) to the Camarones Aguachile. I've only had camarones aguachile with raw shrimp before, and even though the sauce was good here I thought the shrimp was overcooked. In contrast, they were tender in the gambas al ajillo dish.
Garlic Shrimp


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fundamental LA Hits Westwood: 4-Visit Recap

When I was a UCLA student, my food options seemed to have ranged from Sak's Teriyaki to Gushi to In-N-Out. Oh, how lucky the current students are. Fundamental LA opened just South of Wilshire not too long ago, serving quality sandwiches and good beer at inexpensive prices.

Let's start with my current favorite:
chicken torta, heirloom tomato, lettuce, cotija, crema, pickled jalapenos, guacamole, bolillo bread ($9)

While I don't normally order chicken, they convinced me when they said there's only chicken thigh meat in this sandwich (dark meat FTW). I liked everything about this sandwich, from the moist and flavorful chicken, the fact that it's not overly heavy and filled with guacamole or sour cream, to the crunchy bread, and the sweet tomatoes and pickled jalapeno that refresh your palate.

The menu changes constantly, even if the main meat stays the same. On my first visit we had and loved the short rib sandwich with curried eggplant on sourdough. On my last visit this was served with kimchi.
Short Rib Sando
Regardless, the short rib is always excellent.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Westwood Brunching at The Glendon

This space was first known to me as Moustache Cafe, which supposedly had good crepes but was closed when I heard of it, then it was a random Japanese restaurant (wasn't that good). Now it seems to have found the right occupants in The Glendon, with happy hour, late night food (open til 2 am!), and now brunch.

I was invited to try out the brunch 2 weekends ago, on the first day they were serving it.

The brunch menu covers the typical brunch fare (eggs, french toast, pancakes) plus sandwiches and a few interesting items. Oh, it also says you get free mimosa with purchase of an entree from 11am-2pm. We weren't really offered this when we were there, so you might have to ask them for it.

We started with The Ballerina Omelette (egg whites, avocado, tomato, mozzarella, roasted turkey, topped with tomato puree - $12)

For the side, we asked for sweet potato tater tots (never knew they existed!). Despite being the healthiest sounding omelette on the menu (egg whites only), it turned out to be one good omelette. The roasted turkey was moist, the avocado gave it a silky mouth feel, and the tomato puree was flavorful without being too salty. Surprisingly, I didn't miss the yolk.

Among the more interesting offerings was the Salmon Quiche Pizza (smoked salmon, baked eggs, spinach, arugula pesto, balsamic reduction - $14)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring Dessert Tasting and Wine Pairing at Napa Valley Grille

Desserts for dinner? Why not, especially when you're having a whole tasting of them. That's what I and other bloggers ended up doing one night at Napa Valley Grille, where we sampled their new spring dessert menu created by Pastry Chef Manuel Ortega.

Six desserts, with wine paired by their beverage director, Christina Sherwood (who did a great job pairing, I might add). Yep, that's how we roll.

Here's our dessert tasting:
Pineapple Upside-Down Tart coconut sorbet, brown sugar caramel ($9)
2006 Iron Horse Cuvee, Russian River Valley

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
For a sparkling wine, the Iron Horse Cuvee actually had a thick body that can stand up to the richness of the cake. The pairing enhanced the bright flavors of the pineapple, making the otherwise heavy dessert refreshing.

Saffron Crème Brulee, pistachio nougat cookie ($8.75 - the one pictured is not the regular size but a sampler)
Creme Brulee
I was afraid the saffron would get lost, but the aroma was still strong, which the whole table loved. After all, we eat not just with our mouths, right?

Blood Orange Crème Caramel candied orange, tarragon crème fraiche ($8.50 - the one pictured is not the regular size but a sampler)
2009 Gundlach Bundschu, Gewurztraminer, Sonoma Valley

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Liquid Lunch: Smoked Tomato Martini with Beef Jerky at Napa Valley Grille

The phrase "I drank my lunch/dinner" is often thrown around jokingly - I've heard it mostly in reference to Guinness - but with Napa Valley Grille's Smoked Tomato Martini ($12), you can literally do so.

The martini was a collaboration between the bar and the kitchen, between beverage director Christina Sherwood and Executive Chef Joseph Gillard. It contains vodka infused with smoked tomato and peppercorn, blue cheese ball tossed in cashew crumbs and wrapped in salami, house-made prime sirloin beef jerky, olive, rimmed with togarashi and salt.


I suggest starting with the spicy jerky and martini part, then calm your tongue down with the creamy blue cheese.
It's spicy, it's savory, it's boozy. Three-martini lunch, anyone?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Craving Otak Otak in Westwood

I've had a lifelong affair with otak otak. Otak otak is spiced fish cake, steamed and grilled in banana leaves, and eaten (usually) with slightly spicy peanut sauce.

My favorite otak otaks are the ones from Jakarta, and when my relatives come visit, I always ask them to bring me some, and an otak otak fest would proceed for 2 days!
But now that I"m stuck in LA ... well, one of the best options seem to be Ramayani in Westwood.

The dishes at Ramayani can be hits and misses, but this seems to be the case at all Indonesian restaurants. The 'sop buntut' here is not bad. My gotta-have dish is naturally the otak otak:At $7.50 for 10 pieces, these aren't cheap compared to back home (but what is?). The otak otaks though has the right consistency and texture, and *almost* the right flavor. More spice, grill it some more, and we'll be set. The peanut sauce is the problem here. Not spicy enough, not even peanut-y enough, this one actually tastes like it was partly made with peanut butter - a common practice here in the U.S.

With all that said, these are pretty tasty things and I urge you all to try them here at Ramayani.
They can't compare to the ones back home, but what's an Indonesian girl stuck in LA to do?
They're still really good and definitely worth a try!

1777 Westwood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 477-3315

Ramayani Westwood on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wakasan: One of Westside's Best Deals

Wakasan is one of my favorite recent discoveries. Why? Well, 1) they're open late - 11:30PM M-Th, and 12:30AM F-Sat (they close at 10:30 on Sundays). I don't know if you remember my ordeal on finding late night places on Mondays, but, well, this about fixes it all! 2)It's a great deal. They prefer you to do their prix fixe menu that's $35 - when I did, I ended up getting 12 items and was stuffed - probably too much so for 11pm on a Monday ...

Thanks to Mattatouille for pointing this place out to me!

1. Cold bean sprouts

2. Bean curd - before it's formed into tofu with vegetables, and
3. Ankimo with ponzu sauce, cucumbers and salmon eggs
The tofu curd had a very interesting texture and the dish overall was great.
The ankimo was also good, and I really like the combination with the cucumbers!

4. Sashimi: Tuna, old yellowtail, red snapper

They're not the best quality sashimi, although it wasn't bad. I wondered why the "old yellowtail" - because, yes, it tasted pretty "old". Anyway it wasn't bad and for $35 for this and a lot more I wasn't going to complain.

5. King crab legs
Yum. They're king crab legs, I don't know what else you want me to say O:)

6. Grilled items: Miso salmon and green beans wrapped in wagyu beef
Pretty standard, salmon's a bit overcooked and hence, dry, for my taste, but overall everything was solid, even though not remarkable.

7. Braised Skate wings
This was my first time having skate. It was pretty fishy, but also pretty meaty. The braising has made it tender, so it was quite tasty - although I wasn't able to finish it because I was full and also because it was too fishy for my taste.

8. Shrimp with sweet potato fried rolls
This was served with cocktail sauce, which I wasn't too keen about. Overall this was pretty bland in my opinion, although it did have nice textures.

9. Chawanmushi
With ginkgo, small shrimps, etc, this was one of the best chawan mushi I could remember having.

10. Miso soup

11. Chirashi with tuna, scallops, uni.
Again, the fish quality is not the best, but the uni is not bad. I didn't really like the scallops as they were not fresh, but I thought the other two were decent.

12. Vanilla ice cream
I can't say for sure but this tasted very much like Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream. Which meant it was good :)

Overall we had a great variety of dishes, and some of them very interesting ones I've never had before, and all for $35. Plus they're open late daily. I'll be back here, and I think you know when :P

1929 Westwood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 446-5241

Wakasan Food Service on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Serving Up Kamado and More

I haven't been back to Torafuku in a while, but when I did a few days ago I wondered why. Torafuku serves some good solid food! I guess their dishes are not something you normally crave for ... and I've been into trying new things. But we wanted tofu one night and I wasn't up for spicy soon tofu, so we went back to Torafuku. I'm glad we did!

We started with the seaweed salad. This was a good starter, with some nice texture from the seaweed.

Torafuku serves their own homemade tofu and we've always loved it. It has an amazingly smooth texture.
This time we also got one of my favorite standards: grilled eggplant with miso.
They had the kin me dai (japanese big eye fish) sashimi. I was surprised to see this on the menu, I never thought of Torafuku as a place that would have 'rare' fishes. I've never had this before so I had to get it. They served each slice with a thin slice of lemon.
I thought this was really good and the fish was fresh. I also liked the lemon touch, although I also liked it without it. The fish was slightly chewier than say, salmon or hamachi, but otherwise had similar texture. More like halibut, perhaps?

Torafuku also prides themselves on serving free range chicken and eggs. We got the free range eggs tamagoyaki, which was excellent! It had more color and flavor than normal tamago.
We also got the grilled free range chicken thigh.
It was a very, very juicy chicken! Without all the excess fat too. And served with yuzu, which was a very nice touch.

I got the salmon touban yaki, which is their kamado rice with salmon and an egg - served on a sizzling hot plate. The server will bring it and mix it for you on your table.
Then they top it with seaweed and salmon roe.

For dessert, get the mango kuzu! It is mango mousse served with cream.

It is my favorite dessert there, but then again I am /very/ partial to mangoes.

We also got the custard pudding (flan). I am also partial to flan ;) This was a good one, though I've had better.
I had forgotten how good the food at Torafuku is. I will definitely be back for more pretty soon.

10914 W Pico Blvd

Los Angeles, CA

(310) 470-0014

Torafuku on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Westwood's Ultimate Comfort Food

There are a few places in our lives that we wouldn't dare think about the possibility of them closing or changing owners. They may not necessarily be the best restaurants in the world, but they are those we've grown up with and can't live without. For me, Apple Pan is one of those places.

Apple Pan is an old burger/pie joint on Pico in Westwood, and is manned by grumpy old men - that you love anyway no matter how grumpy they are - and other workers that run around slicing cheese on site, etc. They are open until midnight and as the night gets later, the more crowded it gets. Usually there is a line of people waiting for seats next to the windows.

I must admit I have not been back to Apple Pan for a while, but when I drove by the place one Monday - forgetting that they are closed on Mondays- and seeing the lights off, I panicked. Could it be ... Apple Pan closed down? No! Impossible! Fortunately Kat reminded me that they're just always closed on Mondays. Phew. After that episode I was determined to go back soon. I mean, what if they really are closing down?

So I went back. And got my standard - in fact, I've never ordered anything else there - the Hickoryburger with cheese. The hickoryburger is smoked and served with their own bbq sauce.
All their ingredients are fresh and good quality. People ask what the best burger in LA is, but that's really not quite fair ... I can say this much- this is the best burger under $10 :) (it's $6.50 so not cheap, actually)

Someone got the southern baked ham and cheese sandwich - this is the first time I've seen it since everyone normally orders burgers. But they make their own ham, and just like the cheese, slice it on site.
It is otherwise just standard sandwich with mayo, cheese, ham and lettuce so it tastes pretty bland. But you can still taste the fresh lean ham.

A former neighbor of mine who first took me here described the banana cream pie as "heavenly." Indeed it is a darn good pie! I know a couple people that complained that there's too much banana and not enough cream, but I love this pie nonetheless. I have yet to find a better banana cream pie in LA.
With all the health and diet rage these days, it's getting hard to find someone to drag to Apple Pan, but whenever I can - I would go back, and always with the hope that the grumpy old men behind the counter won't get sick, and that they would never close.

Apple Pan
10801 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064-2105
(310) 475-3585
Apple Pan on Urbanspoon
The Apple Pan in Los Angeles

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