Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hironoya (Gardena, CA)

I got an email from Utopia, a South Bay-based Japanese-focused gift certificate store offering discounted certificates for South Bay and Japanese local businesses like Gaja (the okonomiyaki place), Robataya on Sawtelle, and Izakaya Bincho. They asked if I wanted to try using one of their certificates to visit a restaurant, and I do love Japanese food so why not! I was tempted to go back to Bincho but I figured I should use it to visit a restaurant I've never been to before so I opted for Hironoya in Gardena.

Hironoya sits in Tozai Plaza and seems to be visited by mostly Japanese. When I was there there was a reunion for some university in Japan and they proceeded to sing their alma mater song. Hironoya serves sashimi, sushi rolls, tempura, udon and various other dishes, but no nigiri sushi.

They did have some fresh fish, though so I tried their blue fin tuna toro sashimi ($18 for 4 pieces). Not as fatty as some other toro I've had but definitely fresh.

Also tried sea bream sashimi ($9) and a salmon roll, which were both pretty good. I haven't had sushi rolls in a while but enjoyed this one.
You can get almost everything tempura'd here it seems, from broccoli and eggplant ($1.95, 2pcs each) to sea urchin ($12.95) and oyster ($4.95, 2pcs)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Must Try: Allumette (Echo Park)

Allumette started as a weekly pop up in Echo Park's Allston Yacht Club, which the 24-year old Chef Miles Thompson (or is he 25 now?) called the Vagrancy Project. After a while, the AYC owners decided to redo the whole restaurant with Thompson in charge. So Allumette was born, and it is inarguably one of the best new restaurants in LA!

To start my hosted dinner, the chef sent out a house-made focaccia with potato mascarpone butter, which was so intriguing my mouth couldn't decide if it was potato, cheese, or butter.

Potato Mascarpone

Be sure to start your meal with one the crudos. There seems to always be a touch of sweet fruit to his dishes. The Pink snapper with kanzuri (Japanese chili paste with yuzu) and white soy is enhanced by cherimoya ($15).

I loved the live scallop tartare, strawberry, truffle, elderflower ($17)
Other than the strawberry, there were also small pieces of organic lime in the dish, sweeter with a more subtle tartness than what I was used to. Both lovely accompaniments to the scallop.

The bar program at Allumette should not be overlooked. Serena Herrick, formerly of Harvard and Stone, has devised a wonderful cocktail list to please a range of palates. Fans of strong aromatic drinks should try the Negroni Sbagliato #2 (Punt e Mes, Aperol, Graham Beck brut, sage leaves) - $10

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Beachwood Cafe: Charming Local Spot in Hollywood

If you've never been, check out Beachwood Canyon, a quaint, quiet neighborhood in Hollywood. Here you will find Beachwood Cafe. Unlike the typical Hollywood places you might think of (clubs, lounges, seedy diners?), Beachwood Cafe is cute, charming, with comforting food that offers a little something extra.

I love the bright colors and the fun wallpaper and tiles here. Do check the different dioramas around the restaurant, too, they're a lot of fun!

OK, food. I started with a plate of Red Hawk cheese with homemade blueberry jam, blue cheese, rye crackers
The rye crackers are quite unique and the blueberry jam complemented the red hawk nicely.

They don't have a full liquor license but do have a wine and beer license here. There are a couple of interesting wine cocktails and I just had to try the pickled pear champagne cocktail ($7). This was a really refreshing, lightly tart champagne cocktail, great for whetting your appetite.

For the appetizer, you have to try the Corn and orzo braised in cream. The vegetarian version is $9 or you can add bacon for $12 (do it!). This was like a very good yet healthier version of mac and cheese! So addictive, although it's best when still hot.
Orzo Corn

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