Showing posts with label sawtelle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sawtelle. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Nickel Mine, West LA's New Neighborhood Social House

by @btsunoda

The Nickel Mine is a brand new bar located in West LA. I hesitate to call it a bar because it is so much more than that. It’s located on Santa Monica Blvd and there is no sign on the building. I guessed I was in the right place because from the outside, I saw a few big screens with the Dodgers playing. Due to the large picture windows, the interior of The Nickel Mine is full of indirect light. The walls are lined with aged brick. Bar height tables and chairs line the center. Regular height seating is available along the windows. On the west side of the bar, they have comfortable couches and chairs. With the bookshelf along the wall, it mimics the appearance of someone’s reading room. I like the fact that they have games (e.g., Connect 4, Zenga) available throughout the bar. Their menu is quite extensive. It’s broken down into grub, brunch, wine, beer, cocktails, whiskey, scotch, bourbon, tequila, mezcal, gin, and rum. Ten draft beers are available. I was surprised to see the Chicken and Waffles were made with a Belgian waffle on the brunch menu.

The Garlic Knots are served with a spicy marinara sauce on the side.
Knowing that I was going to try a few different offerings, I promised myself that I would only eat one. Wrong. There was something about these piping hot garlic knots combined with the marinara sauce that made it so addicting to eat.

IMG_1640The Chicken Caesar Salad was topped with large slices of chicken breast, shaved parmesan and crunchy croutons.

What made the salad surprising was the fact that the romaine lettuce was extremely fresh and crisp. An assortment of wings was served next: Buffalo, Teriyaki and Lemon Garlic. Despite my strong inclination to prefer something other than Buffalo wings, I’d have to say it was my favorite among the three.

Coincidentally, it was National Beer Day. To celebrate, I had samplers of some of their draft beers.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Brussels Sprout 8-Ways And Great Seafood at Tapenade (West LA)

New restaurants keep popping up on Sawtelle Blvd and they're not all Japanese. Tucked inside the Olympic Collections is Tapenade, which all brussels sprout lovers should visit.


The chef, Ressul Rassalat, also loves it so much he serves it multiple ways at his restaurant. They're all prepared the same style and crispy, but with different flavors. Currently I'm counting eight different flavors of brussels sprout on the menu, and he will either rotate or add more! I had to order the "Indonesian" (because I am one, in case you didn't know) even though that was not one of the waitress' recommendations. This latest addition is made with pineapple, cashews, lime and chili ($9).
brussels sprout

It wasn't quite typical Indonesian flavors but it was spicy and tropical. I want to try the Moroccan one next, which comes with lamb, olives, goat cheese, and red wine vinegar.

Goat cheese tapenade, brioche bread ($10)

I had to try a tapenade because of the restaurant's name! I liked its creaminess (and wished there were more bread).

I especially enjoyed the seafood dishes here, where I think the chef's classical training really shows. Try the Seared scallops, New England chowder ($14)

I thought New England chowder was the white, creamy ones and that the red one is a Manhattan chowder? Well, anyway, the scallops were perfectly cooked and fresh, and the light chowder broth had a lot of of flavors.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Check Out Plan Check: Craft Cocktails on Sawtelle

There have been plenty of exciting new places on Sawtelle recently, including Tsujita and their amazing tsukemen, but Plan Check brings something completely new to Little Osaka: cocktails! I've been looking forward to the opening since learning that Pablo Moix and Steve Livigni are consulting and created the cocktail menu for this new place.

I was able to attend their friends and family night before the official opening, where they brought out the signature dishes for us to try. The kitchen menu is the creation of Ernesto Uchimura, the chef who was at Umami when they first opened, so think heavy drinking food: burgers, fried chicken, and the likes just a stone's throw away from all the curry and tofu houses.

Out of the two burgers we tried I liked the Bleuprint Burger: akaushi red wagyu beef, smoked blue cheese, pig candy (candied bacon), fried onions, steak sauce, peppercress, "crunch bun" ($11)

Bleuprint Burger
The buns are made especially this restaurant and they described it as a Portuguese milk bun with extra crunch. I liked how it's moist and sweet, though it makes the burger a tad richer. There's a lot going on in this burger, as you can see, but since I liked every component, I enjoyed it as a whole.

Their "standard" burger is the Plan Check Burger with akaushi red wagyu beef, americanized (?) cheese, ketchup leather, onions, pickles, "crunch bun" ($10)
Plan Check Burger
You've probably read about the "ketchup leather" elsewhere, but yes. Remember the fruit leathers you might have had as a kid? They've made their ketchup into one of those, to avoid the buns getting soggy from ketchup. I think I still like regular ketchup better, though, since it's a bit drier with the "leather." You can taste the flavors of the wagyu patty better in this simpler burger.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tsujita LA: Artisan Noodles and Izakaya

This small, new restaurant on Sawtelle got a false start before finally making big waves in the LA food scene. While the sign clearly says "Tsujita LA: Artisan Noodles", they initially did not have noodles - they apparently were still working on perfecting that part. Now, they only serve their noodles (ramen and tsukemen) for lunch, and at dinner service it turns into an izakaya. Even so, almost immediately after, the twitterverse was filled with talks of the tsukemen.

At Tsujita, the tsukemen, which means "dipping noodles", is a bowl of slippery, chewy noodles and a bowl of thick, rich broth made by simmering bonito, sardines, pork bones, chicken bones, and vegetables for 12 hours. The fishy bonito flavors predominate and the richness can stick to your ribs - both of which make this tsukemen unforgettable.

Pictured is the Ajitama Tsukemen which is served with a boiled egg and costs $10.95, or $13.95 with chashu.

Originally the sign instructs you to eat 1/3 of the noodles with the broth, then mix in shichimi and eat another 1/3, and lastly to squeeze lime into it and mix it again (traditionally it is served with sudachi, but I guess you can't get that in LA). For some reason, they had taped off the 2nd instruction for the shichimi.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Foie Friday #3: Seared Foie Gras, Eggplant at Orris

This week's foie dish is an old time favorite of mine, and a relatively inexpensive one at that.

The Seared Foie Gras with Eggplant and Sweet Soy Wasabi Sauce at Chef Hideo Yamashiro's Orris is not always on the menu, though often appears on the specials and I always order it when I see it. I don't remember the price, but it is certainly much cheaper than its counterparts at fine dining establishments.

The lobe of foie is pan seared and the soft eggplant underneath added to the buttery, silky texture. Instead of the typical fruit for the sweet sauce, Chef Yamashiro adds his Japanese influence with a sweet soy reduction, and it's pretty amazing!

So, I'm running low on foie dishes. If you've encountered a great one recently, do let me know!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Robataya: Low Key Westside Robata & Yakitori

A lot has been happening in the West LA dining scene since I graduated from UCLA. Returning to Sawtelle a year ago, I noticed at least three new spots. One of these was Robata-ya located next to Chabuya. At the time, robata was made somewhat popular by the Katsuya in Brentwood, so we were eager to try this more affordable option.

The menu was pretty extensive. From traditional cold appetizers like the cucumber sunomono - always a refreshing starter when not overdressed - Robataya's version was nice and light with a big enough portion to share.
I was also enticed by the fancier options like the truffle chawan mushi.
The truffles weren't that fragrant and didn't add much to the dish at all, but the chawan mushi itself was really quite good. Next time I'd rather have the chawan mushi and not pay a premium for the truffles.

Seared foie gras might have been the most affordable at only $12.
Not the best quality and a little stringy, but for $12 what more can you ask for? If you can pay a bit more, Orris next door has quite a delicious version.

An order of corn from the robata bar was a whopping plate of six pieces of grilled corn.
Way too much for 2 people to share, even if they are as much of a corn lover as we are.

It was pretty exciting to see options like bonchiri (chicken tail) and seseri (chicken neck) on the menu at Robataya. I fell in love with seseri at Yakitori Totto in New York. The seseri here is not as good as it was fattier, but as decent an option as you can find for seseri in Los Angeles: crispy skin, tender and juicy meat.
When you see chicken tail, you should think chicken butt instead.
In other words, fatty.

They had a nice, although small, rotating dessert menu and the flourless chocolate cake ended the night on a high note.

All in all, not a bad meal. Everything was quite enjoyable and very much comparable to Yakitoriya down the street but with more options. Oh, and no minimum skewer order here either! Nothing mind-blowing (unlike Yakitori Totto); the most memorable dish was actually the flourless chocolate cake, but it's still a good everyday place.

Robata Ya
2004 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 481-1418
Robata Ya on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 22, 2008

Kiriko: Fresh Sushi and More

Someone suggested Kiriko on Sawtelle to us for great sushi. Actually, it was (one of) my hairdresser(s), who is Japanese and know a lot of places and Japanese chefs - including Totoraku!

When we went Kiriko was fairly empty with only two other patrons there. They actually had quite a nice selection of cooked items both on their regular and their specials menu.

We browsed through the specials menu for the night and got the blue crab sunomonoNice flavor and refreshing, although it did mask the flavor of the blue crab a little, which is kind of a shame. I did like the flavor and texture combination with the cucumbers though.

As for the sushi, I started with pretty much my standard, including salmon and hamachi (below)
The sushi here is fresh and they gave me pretty fatty hamachi pieces, which made me happy :)
Good fish/rice ratio too.

I also got some hamachi kama (yellowtail collar)
Delicious. Tender fatty kama - very flavorful. I especially loved the parts near the bones, as usual :)

I also ordered a sushi from the specials menu and .... since I don't take notes, and this is a backpost (I need to start taking notes! Seriously!)
Anyone? Anyone?

For some reason I was craving a kani maki, so I finished off my meal with one.
The crab roll was quite nice! Overflowing with sweet crab with a nice texture. A nice way to end the meal.

The sushi at Kiriko was pretty good and they also have some great cooked items. Definitely one of the gems on Sawtelle blvd. I wonder why they are not as busy as I think they should be! But I'll be back to give them more business.

11301 Olympic Blvd #102
West Los Angeles, CA
(310) 478-7769

Kiriko on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 8, 2008

Chabuya: Best of Sawtelle Ramen, Not Best of LA

Ahhh, Ramen. There's hardly anything else that would hit the spot like a nice bowl of ramen would. But what if you can't make it all the way to Daikokuya? Much less Asa or Santouka? What if the best you can do that night is Sawtelle? Well, Chabuya was the obvious option in my mind.

I'm a sucker for miso, so of course I ordered the miso ramen with pork. I also added an egg (+$1).
Pretty good, pretty good. I like the addition of sesame seeds and fried shallots. The soup is not nearly Daikokuya-level. It's not bad and is actually pretty flavorful and rich, but somehow ... rather boring. I agree with rameniac's contention that Chabuya's soup is a "one note samba". Still, I could live with ... at least temporarily. It is actually quite good compared to the other ramen-yas on Sawtelle.

They also have the "Zembu" option which, like the name says, contains ALL the toppings. Although actually it doesn't have all the possible toppings they offer. This bowl below also had tofu that cost $1 extra.
So the $1 for additonal toppings can be pretty expensive. I mean, extra tofu for $1 is fine, $1 egg is okay, but $1 for green onions ... ? You serious?

Anyway Chabuya has its faults, but overall it's still a good bowl of ramen, and at least there' no 30 minute wait out the door. When I can't drive all the way to Daikokuya, Chabuya is still my go-to place.

2002 Sawtelle Blvd

Los Angeles, CA, 90025
(310) 473-9834

Chabuya Tokyo Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Omurice! Finally!

Not too long ago I was running around town trying to find a decent omu-rice. For those of you who don't know, omu-rice is a japan-ized western dish consisting of a chicken fried rice (in ketchup sauce) wrapped in an omelette. Typically it is then garnished with more ketchup, but I've been searching for a place that serves it with demi glace sauce instead.

Why? It's all because of this dorama I watched a couple years ago. The first minute of this video says it all.

At any rate, I went to multiple Mitsuwa food courts with no luck. Tried an omelette spaghetti at Spoon House, and so on. But it's just not the same. A fellow Chowhounder told me that Blue Marlin had good seafood omurice. Hmm ... seafood omurice was not exactly what I was looking for, but eventually I went there anyway.

And what did I find??

The original omurice, with demi glace sauce!!! It was not the perfect omurice - the chicken pieces were scarce and rather big, and I would have liked the eggs to not be so well done (I want the omelette to 'melt down' when I cut it ... like in the last minute of the video!) - but otherwise it was everything I wanted!

Blue Marlin uses free range eggs which really enhanced the flavor of the omurices they served (yes, I am convinced free range eggs are tastier, and that it shows in these omurice dishes). And they have various, creative omurice dishes, such as the seafood omurice:

The inside of the omurice is the same as the original - ketchup chicken fried rice. Eating that with cream sauce may seem weird but the whole dish actually worked very well and was delish~

They also have omurice napolitano, etc which I have not tried. Again, it was not perfect but the omurice at Blue Marlin is really pretty good. The service sucks - I asked for a refill for my tea three times and still did not get any until after I paid my bill - but I would still come back whenever I get that craving for an omurice ...

Blue Marlin
2121 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025-6200
Phone: (310) 445-2522

Blue Marlin on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Orris: Going Big on "Little Dishes"

You know when you hear about something, made a mental note to try it out, then forgot about it for the longest time? Orris was one of those for me, but I finally suddenly remembered it yesterday!
I was considering trying out Simon LA although I've heard mediocre review, then I remembered Orris! And boy am I glad I did :)
It was one of the best meals I've had in LA!

Orris blends among the stretch of restaurants and shops on Sawtelle, so it doesn't particularly stand out when you drive by. Being on Sawtelle, the atmosphere is pretty low key and quiet (even though Jonathan Gold called the atmosphere "fancy" I don't really agree), so I was pleasantly surprised with all the delicious food that welcomed me inside.

Orris specializes in "little dishes" representing "world cuisine" created by Shiro of South Pasadena. Each dish has a recommended wine pairing, though we did not try any this time around.

First up was the Smoked Salmon Croquette. Very good, though I would have liked a bit more salmon.

Followed by the lobster spring roll. Also good (but I prefer my lobster grilled and drizzled with lemon and a bit of garlic butter.)

Next was sliced beet topped with Etorki cheese. This was excellent! The combination was perfect and it was my first time having this outstanding cheese. Loved it!

Also, tomato burrata. Yum. We had to order another one of these.

We also had dungeness crab and cucumber salad. The ingredients used were very good, although a different sauce may be better.

Next was the lamb loin carpaccio and the ahi sashimi with onion relish. Both were excellent dishes! The lamb carpaccio was topped with Spanish Manchego cheese which made a perfect combination.

After all this excellent dishes though, the final was indisputably the highlight of my meal ...

Seared Foie Gras with Eggplant, w/ Sweet Soy Wasabi Sauce.
Oh my god ... just thinking back about it now >_<
I can still remember the taste on my tongue, the texture ... OMG! The eggplant and the foie gras made an unexpectedly excellent combination, and the sauce! This was definitely one of the best foie gras dishes I've had!

I could not find this on the menu on their website, it might have been a special ... oh no ... the thought of not being able to eat it ever again!! I'm getting depressed ... I will look back on this photo and sigh when I'm old ...

Well, to not think about the depressing stuff right now, I will show you the dessert! We had the only dessert they had left: the flourless chocolate souffle. I must say this was a very very good dessert, but I don't quite see why they called it a "souffle." It sure was good though :)


2006 Sawtelle Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90025
(310) 268-2212

Orris on Urbanspoon

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