Thursday, November 13, 2008

Extravagant Lunch Omakase at Sushi Mori

Sushi omakase for lunch on a weekday. I probably shouldn't have done it - such an indulgence for a weekday lunch, don't you think? But too late now. I was meeting a good friend, Kat, and her sister who was coming straight from LAX that day and we decided to try out Sushi Mori.

Mori was marked with a fish sign on a small street corner of Pico and I had to loop around until I was kinda sure that was the right place. On a weekday lunch time they're fairly empty. I sat at the sushi bar and ordered omakase - but told the sushi chef (not Mori) that we would like mostly sushi - maybe just one kaiseki.

He started us off with some tofu and tomatoes in vinaigrette.A nice, light way to start off. The tofu was smooth and silky and the tomatoes were fresh and flavorful.

We had some soup with seafood
Pretty standard, too much soup for one person, in my opinion, and were antsy for the sushi, so we didn't finish this. I had this at Sasabune also and was never very keen about it. The one at Mori is better, but either way, I want to hurry and eat my sushi.

We also had a nice little platter with eggplants, beets, and a caviar gelee.
The eggplant with miso (yellow) was great, and the beets were flavorful. Everything was well prepared and we had a good variety of cooked appetizers this way.

We started with some red snapper marinated in seaweed
Really fresh, the subtle taste from the seaweed is amazing. Great first impression!

We then had some big eye toro
Again, very fresh. The big eye toro had a very smooth texture but it's not as oily and fatty. I personally prefer the fattier one but for those more health-conscious you might like this leaner big eye toro :P

Next is an interesting one I haven't had before: wild eel tail
So far I've only had unagi or anago, cooked with eel sauce, so this is new to me. A little fishy and chewy, but it has a nice flavor and texture.

Also had some japanese mackerel
Next is fresh octopus with yuzu chili
I was quite impressed by this one. I normally don't like octopus that much, but this one was delicious. Nice crunchy texture.

We also finally got some bluefin toro.
I think all three of us agreed that we like the bluefin better - it's oilier than the big eye, but hey, we're eating toro here, of course we want oil and fat :P
It's definitely very fresh, but it's not the best toro ever as far as the texture and taste though - although this preference of mine can't be very healthy for me ...

Another interesting piece we had that day was this baby barracuda:
It was seared and had a very nice seared flavor. The fish itself is a little fishy but it's very2 tender. First time I had this as sushi and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

I finished the meal with some spanish mackerel
Again, very fresh fish, but the flavors are pretty subtle.

My friend and her sister had another dish, mirugai with yuzu chili
Didn't taste this so I won't say anything.

They served us some fresh fruits with azuki paste for dessert
Great fruits, although the mangoes weren't particularly ripe (then again I always compare mangoes to the South Asian mangoes, so ... ). Loved the azuki paste, a nice simple ending to the meal.

After tax and tips I came out of there for $102. Kind of a lot for a quickie lunch (less than 1 hour)! The sushi was definitely very fresh, no doubt about that, but it's definitely pricey. I think Sushi Zo is on par with Mori and for a bit cheaper, so I would be coming back to Zo more than Mori. That said, there's no denying the quality of fish at Mori. I don't think I can justify another $100 lunch anytime soon, but I'll come back one of these days!

Sushi Mori
11500 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064-1520
Phone: (310) 479-3939

Mori Sushi on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mole and Margaritas: Loteria Grill

I finally tried the somewhat-new Loteria! Grill in Hollywood about a week ago. A completely different ambiance than its predecessor at the Farmer's Market, this Hollywood outpost has high ceilings and a nice looking bar.

The salsa and tortilla chips at Loteria are amazing, but as some have noticed, they're pretty stingy about it. A small portion for the 4 of us, we chowed it down in 5 minutes. We flagged down 4 waiters to ask for more, but their 'yes' never materialized into more chips and salsa. Finally we managed to flag down a busboy who graciously actually brought us more!

Tacos aren't cheap at $3.50 a piece if you want meat. I ordered two cochinita pibil tacos (slow roasted pork)
cochinita taco
No rice or beans were given - just two tacos at $3.50 each. The tacos were great, thought. The cochinita pibil was very flavorful, with a light spiciness. The meat was very tender.

For drinks I ordered a mango margarita (I believe this was $11).
mango margarita
A delicious margarita although the mango flavor was not that prominent. The only problem - bcs I ordered this the server didn't bother bringing me water ...
Loteria definitely has service issues :(

One friend ordered the chicken mole enchilada ($12).
mole enchilada
I tried a bite of this and absolutely, absolutely loved the mole sauce! The enchilada is also a better deal with more food, and rice and beans. Next time I will get this instead of tacos..

As I said, I absolutely loved the sweet and smooth mole that I ordered another taco - this time chicken mole (I just wanted more of that mole sauce!)
mole taco
The mole taco was great, and did the job of satisfying my craving.

A couple friends ordered the Michelada for a drink ($9), which is basically a bloody mary mix with cerveza.

We all really liked the food at Loteria, and I will definitely come back another time, if only for that mole. Again, though, service can be much improved ...

Loteria! Grill
6627 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 465-2500

Loteria Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 10, 2008

Great Chefs of LA. Great Food, Great Fun.

This year's Annual Great Chefs of Los Angeles was held in the CBS Studio Center. Tents were set up outdoors among the bungalows of the studio. It was such a nice day to walk around outdoors sampling food while gawking over the chefs like celebrities (I wasn't the only one, I swear!)

Food and drinks were everywhere. Andrew's Cheese Shop was offering five different cheeses with bread and quince paste.

As far as drinks go, besides the numerous wineries, Sauza offered up margaritas, Courvoisier Cognac and Starbucks liqueurs, and Absolut LA was also there.
Non-alcoholic offerings from Izze sodas, Steaz for organic tea, water from Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, and POM pomegranate juice were also available. Dehydration was definitely not a problem here :)

Among the tastings there were (clockwise) cochinita pibil from Ciudad Catering, Ahi tuna (which will later be topped with caviar!) from Mark Kearney Group, a caramel apple with white chocolate from Melissa's World Variety Produce, kabocha squash agnolotti from BLVD 16.

Josie was also there serving some amazing gruyere quiche!

For La Terza, Chef Gino Angelini brought over his slicer and served up some prosciutto and salami parmiggiano!

The Dragos were also there. Yes, all four of them, and many of their different restaurants have their own booth. I think they probably took up half of the booths ;)
The Drago restaurant served wild boar with soft polenta and fig sauce (left). It was a bit cold already but we loved the combination! If only it was a bit warmer it might've been our favorite of the day. Another of the Drago restaurants (Tanino?) served smoked scallops with pomegratanes.

Other highlights from the events are the Pork Belly from Animal (the Two Dudes were there serving) and pork rib grilled cheese sandwich from 8 oz.
Both were delicious! The 8 oz sandwich is definitely going to bring me there for a real visit!

8 oz also had their bartender, Ryan, there, serving up some Pomegranate Sidecar and Orange Ginger cocktail! Strong and yummy.

Neal Fraser was there manning his booth for Grace and giving out dungeness crab salad with shiso on these cute little plastic spoons.
I got seconds, and also got a picture with Neal (to distract him from me grabbing a second spoon!)

Fraiche had an amazing chocolate dessert that the girl there didn't really tell us the name of - but it was great and despite my bad first experience there during a company dinner, I may now give it a second try.

Indulging in food and drinks aside, let's not forget that this event is a fundraiser for the National Kidney Foundation of SoCal. The restaurants and sponsors not only have donated the food and drinks, they also donated some great items for both the silent and live auction!

I bid on the dinner for 4 at Grace and BLD but, alas, did not win :(
I also debated on a basket of Sauza, Plymouth, Cruzan rum, and Courvoiser but then wasn't sure if that was such a good idea after all :P At least not for my liver. And brain.

Some highlights of the live auction: A dinner for 20 cooked by chef Gino Angelini went for $5000. To top it off, a lady who originally lost this auction asked if he would do a second one for $5000 too! Gino said yes, and there you have it. Two dinners for 20 at your home for $5000 each! Go NKFSC!
4 people will get to spend 8 hours in the kitchen of Animal with Jon and Vinny, ending with a dinner and "all the wine you care to drink" (in the TwoDudes' own words) went for $1250.
A day with Chef Govind Armstrong from picking the produce all the way to dinner at Table 8 went for $1750.

One of these days I'll start making real money and can actually bid on these things ... Til then I will offer my small support on the silent auction items! Oh, and eat all the good food.

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