Archive for March 2008

Eating on the Miracle Mile

March 28, 2008

Randall is back in town! I rarely go to the Miracle Mile (I can’t stand the traffic getting there) as it is so it was a treat to go with Randall and Boyfriend for lunch.

I like the openness of Joan’s on Third and their display cases reminded me of the Italian deli I go to back at home. Everything was clean, bright and inviting. Pictures are not allowed inside (I got scolded for taking out my camera – boo!) but just imagine a deli counter where you order your food at the register and they bring it to your table.

One awesome thing about LA is that the weather is great 99% of the time so you can sit outside and eat. Randall mentioned a couple times that he misses that about LA now that he lives in NY. We sat at our table on the sidewalk and people watched while we talked and waited for our food to come out.


Tap water comes to you in a bottle at Joan’s! We double checked the receipt to make sure it was free tap water. (I once got charged $9.00 for a bottle of flat water unknowingly.)


I had forgotten Randall’s obsession with chicken. We ordered the same thing… the chicken milanese (lightly breaded chicken) with provolone. His on ciabatta, mine on a French baguette. You can choose to get your sandwich warm or cold… honestly, who would choose to get this cold?!? It was very light and had a real lemon-y taste. (There were sliced lemons in between each piece of chicken on display.) I’m not a pickle fan so the sweet pickles on the side went to Boyfriend. I could’ve gone for fries but that’s just because I’m a french fry fiend.


Boyfriend went with the turkey meatloaf sandwich on ciabatta with chili aioli. This sandwich was highly recommended on Yelp and I think Boyfriend had no complaints. It tasted like chili.

I had heard that Joan’s has amazing cheeses and cupcakes but I didn’t bother trying to fit those in since I knew we already had Red Mango on our itinerary.  If there’s a next time, what I’d really like to try is the Chinese Chicken salad.  It looked amazing!


Supposedly, Red Mango is the original fro yo place and Pinkberry copied them. It was EXACTLY like Pinkberry. They have original and green tea yogurt with the green tea tasting nasty and weird. The toppings were the same. Even the style of the decor was similar to Pinkberry… except it was mostly red inside Red Mango. Go figure.


I guess some things never change. Randall is still attached to his phone/Blackberry and ignores his company! :p

Joan’s on Third: 8350 West Third Street (between La Cienega Blvd. and Fairfax Ave.) Los Angeles, CA

Red Mango: 5115 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA

Japanese… with a Thai kick!

March 27, 2008

Allen and I drove down to Long Beach to meet up with Brian for lunch the other day. Brian had suggested Sushi Studio, not too far from where he lives. As we drove to Long Beach, Allen gave me the lowdown on the restaurant. “It’s Thai owned and they are known for their rolls. If you have a traditional sushi that you like, don’t order it here.” I love rolls so I was fine with that advice!

Once we got to Brian’s place, Allen changed his oil and I talked to Brian and played with his adorable doggie Charlie. By the time we got to the restaurant, we were all quite famished so we ordered six different plates!

I can’t remember exactly what was in what roll but I liked all of them. I believe my favorite was Sunrise On Second a.k.a. S.O.S. here below.


I’m usually kind of a sucker for rolls that have eel sauce on them.


I chose the Nine-One-One but the only thing I remember about it was that it was spicy.


The Symphony of Color had mango and tuna on top of it to give it that sweet taste which was interesting.


The Bermuda Special was salmon on wonton skins with tartar sauce (which was why Brian didn’t eat them), avocado and masago on top.

The Sexie Girl is in the back with shrimp tempura and the 10SC has the fried onions on top.

I noticed that a lot of the rolls had jalepenos or something of that nature to give it the “Thai kick” mentioned on the menu. None of them were incredibly spicy though. The comic book style menu was clever but I didn’t take the time to read most of it when the food came out… I was too hungry for that! Brian said they have certain rolls at Happy Hour prices on certain days… that sounds like a great deal!

4917 E. Pacific Coast Hwy. Long Beach, CA

P.S. Isn’t Charlie the pup adorable?!? I love how you can’t see his eyes! (although I’m not so sure Charlie loves that as much as I do)


博多ラーメン (とんこつ味) – Tonkotsu ramen

March 26, 2008

I lived in Japan for two years and got addicted to tonkotsu ramen, the specialty in Kyushu where I lived. Tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen refers to the broth because it’s made with crushed pork bone that has been boiled for hours. So when Candace, my friend who I met in Japan, came to visit I wasn’t surprised when her sole request was that we eat at Shinsengumi Hakata Ramen.


I love feeling like I’ve stepped back into Fukuoka when I step into the restaurant. Everyone yells, “いらっしゃいませ!” or, “Welcome!” when you walk into the door.


We went for lunch and both had to go for the same thing, lunch special B: ramen, gyoza and steamed rice. You can personalize your bowl of noodles by choosing the firmness of your noodles, light/medium/heavy soup base and normal/heavy oil. The gyoza are quite dinky here but ramen doesn’t really feel complete to me without a bowl of rice and gyoza on the side. Not that either of us had room in our stomachs but Shinsengumi serves kaidama (extra noodles) for 99 cents just like they do in Japan for 100 yen! Save your broth and you can get another order of noodles in your bowl for a buck!

My old co-workers LOVE this place too so I’m going again on Friday night for dinner.

2015 W. Redondo Beach Blvd. Gardena, CA

Ritual in Hollywood

March 19, 2008

Boyfriend and I went on a double date with my cousin Rod and his girlfriend Esther… we met at Ritual in Hollywood. We ran into obnoxious parking prices ($20 to park the car yourself in their back lot!) and some rain but the company was well worth it. Even though we both live in LA, this was probably the first time I had seen Rod in over a year and the first time I had ever met Esther!


We started out with the sampler appetizer platter. I LOVED the puzzle piece plates. It came with pumpkin ravioli, lobster dumplings, fried shrimp and some steak strips on skewers. (from top clockwise) I think the lobster dumplings were my favorite because they were the lightest.


Boyfriend AND Rod both ordered the kurobuta pork chops that came with mac and cheese with truffle oil or something like that. Rod: “The mac and cheese was GREAT! Oh, and the pork chops were good too.”


Esther ordered the miso black cod with green curry and onions. She said the fish itself was good but the curry was a bit too strong for it. The presentation is quite nice though!


After all the beef I had eaten in the past couple of days, I went with the halibut with steamed baby bok choy and coconut flavored rice on the bottom. It had a very Thai taste to it. The fish was just alright and hmm, I can’t remember what the sauce tasted like so I guess it didn’t have much of an impact on me.

The ambiance was nice since Ritual turns into a club later on. It was your typical “dinner at a club” environment. They were filming a pilot for TLC called “Knife Swap” that we had to sign a waiver for in case we’re in the background of some shots. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any A or B or C-list celebrities.

1743 N. Cahuenga Blvd. Hollywood, CA

돌솥 비빔밥 (Dolsot Bibimbap!)

March 18, 2008

One of my absolute favorite Korean dishes is dolsot bibimbap!  Dolsot means “stone pot” in Korean and this rice dish is served in a HOT stone pot and the food is mixed right before consumption.  There is usually a raw egg as a part of this dish that is cooked against the sides of the bowl when mixed.  I love this dish because there is a wide variety of mixed veggies as well as some meat.  It’s very filling and I love the red sauce you put on it.  (no idea what the sauce is called)


Of course we started out with panchan… no kongnamul (bean sprouts) here.  Sadness.


At least I got bean sprouts in the bibimbap, YAY!


My parents love dolsot bibimbap too… my Dad tried seafood dolsot bibimbap for the first time.  It was incredibly spicy… exactly how Korean food is supposed to be!

I have no idea what this restaurant is called since the sign is in Korean but it’s in Seoul Garden Plaza off of Western just north of Marine Ave. in Gardena.  I’ve been to a few of the restaurants in this plaza and they were all pretty good when you don’t want to make the drive to K-town.

AYCE Korean BBQ!

March 17, 2008

My parents came to visit for a few days, which meant eating, eating and more eating. The main reasons why they came to LA were 1. to eat some good Korean food, 2. go to the Japanese supermarket Marukai and 3. to visit their only daughter. In that order.

No offense taken though, I now have a new favorite All-You-Can-Eat (AYCE) Korean BBQ place in Koreatown! I used to frequent Tahoe Galbi and have taken many friends there but this place is even better.

Introducing Soot Bul Gui Rim 2.

For $16.99 you can choose any kind of meat listed on the wall, AYCE salad, lots of panchan (sides), a bowl of rice and rice paper. We ordered tongue, marinated kalbi and got this steak rib eye that you get for free, one per order to start. Other choices we could’ve ordered included intestine, tripe, pork belly, marinated chicken and bulgogi.


Sometimes the panchan are my favorite part of a Korean meal! I especially love cucumber kim-chee, Korean bean sprouts, and roasting garlic on the grill.


The tongue was so—-o good dipped in the sauce they bring!


After we cooked the steak rib eye, the server came and cut it up for us to eat.

Each additional plate that we ordered came out in half servings, which I think it quite smart. It also helped us because we ordered our second plate of kalbi but ended up with pork belly. We decided to just eat it… tasty but quite fatty. Luckily, we had the scissors and were able to cut off the huge chunks of fat. The marinated chicken was good (much better than Tahoe Galbi’s) and we ordered another plate of kalbi in the end.

Although they have gas grills at SBGR2, they also throw some charcoal in there for some added flavor. I think it definitely makes a difference in the taste of your meat and also the smell of your clothes! There was a button to push for service but the response time was really long and parking was a bit inconvenient… despite the smoke, bad service and parking, I would definitely go again for the food! Next time, I shall request a seat by the “open window” to get more fresh air as we cook, order a lot right when we sit down and go earlier so I can park the car on my own instead of paying the valet guy to park it 100 feet away.

233 S. Vermont Ave. Los Angeles, CA

Pan fried dumplings, not steamed

March 11, 2008

After my rave review of Din Tai Fung, Jenny suggested we go to Kang Kang Food Court in Alhambra.  We went there to try to juicy goodness of pan fried dumplings, not steamed. 

When we first got in, we stood there in confusion because there is so much to look at.  So much food, so many pictures, and so many things listed on the menu!  I was so excited to see they offer Taiwanese breakfast there until 10:30 AM.  Unfortunately, it was 12:30 PM when we arrived.  We let numerous people go in front of us while we decided what we should order.  The food was incredibly cheap!


The two item combo comes with rice and a bland soup with soybeans in it for $3.65.  We got mixed veggies with fried tofu and this chicken and broccoli dish. 


We had to wait quite awhile for our pan fried dumplings to come out but this was the juicy goodness we drove all this way for.  $5.50 for this plate of 8 dumplings with soup in them.  Boyfriend took a bite of dumpling and a steady stream of juice squirted out the side onto the table.  I couldn’t stop laughing but 2 inches to the right and onto my jeans, that wouldn’t have been so funny.

Because the dumplings are pan fried, they are more filling than the steamed baos at Din Tai Fung.  I think I might’ve liked the steamed ones better.  They go well with my conscience and I don’t feel as guilty after eating them.  Boyfriend however, told me numerous times after we came home, “Those dumplings were SO GOOD!”  I think he is a fan.

I was stuffed after our meal but was so enthralled by the cheap boba prices that we got one to drink on the way home.  $2.54 (which comes out to a convenient $2.75 with tax) for a large boba!!

27 E. Valley Blvd.  Alhambra, CA 


March 10, 2008

Boyfriend had last Friday off so we took a little weekend road trip up to the quaint town Carmel-by-the-Sea.  The weather was quite fantastic for the most part and when it wasn’t, we were indoors at the Monterey Bay Aquarium so it worked out.

Our first night there, we decided to venture out to the town and follow our stomachs.  We had no particular cravings so we decided to check menus and decide where to eat on a whim.  After checking out various restaurants including Vietnamese, Italian, Californian cuisine, Mediterranean and Japanese, we ended up at Christopher’s Restaurant which calls itself “Carmel casual.”

Our starters were actually our favorite parts of dinner.  Not to say our main entrees weren’t good, it’s just that the appetizer and salad we chose were pretty exceptional. 


This looks really weird in the picture because all you can really see is the dressing but we started out with a Wedge of Iceberg Lettuce: creamy pancetta dressing, gorgonzola and croutons.


We chose the Butternut Squash ravioli with brown butter, parmesan and fresh sage.  It was muy excellente!


For his main dish, Boyfriend went with the Niman Ranch Pork Osso Bucco.  (I didn’t even know what Osso Bucco was… actually, I still don’t know.)  It had saffron risotto, gremalota and pinot noir jus.  Gremalota?  I haven’t a clue but it was good.


I went with “Christopher’s Risotto” which had rock shrimp, wild mushrooms, baby artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, asparagus and white truffle oil.  I have come to the conclusion that almost anything with white truffle oil will taste good.  There were TONS of shrimp in my dish and I was so full from our starters that I had leftovers to take home.

On Lincoln, in between 5th and 6th   Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA  (as a side note, I think it’s adorable that there are no street addresses in Carmel.  For instance, the address for our B&B was 3rd and Junipero.)

P.S.  I know this is a food blog but can the California coast look any more beautiful than it did during our drive back to LA yesterday?!?  It was absolutely gorgeous and it took an hour to drive the first 17 miles because I kept wanting to stop at every vista point to take pictures!



Quality and Quantity

March 6, 2008

Sometimes you go to restaurants and you have to sacrifice quality for quantity.  Or you end up paying an arm and a leg for quality but leave the restaurant still hungry.  Stonefire Grill isn’t a “fine dining” experience but I believe you get both quality and quantity at a decent price. 

I always come here for the tri tip dinner.  For about $13 you can get a huge salad, two breadsticks, and strips of tri tip cooked to your liking.  I also always add an order of garlic mashed on the side. 


Boyfriend got the Greek salad, I got a regular Ceasar.  I have never noticed this at Stonefire before but Boyfriend’s salad was drowning in dressing.  “Would you like some salad with your dressing, sir?”


The garlic mashed had green onions and bites of cheddar cheese for some added yummy goodness!


A close up of the meat.  I usually have leftovers.

If it weren’t for the waiter knocking over my entire cup of water onto my lap, dinner would’ve been a near-perfect experience.  At least it was water and not soda.  And we got a free cheesecake “to go” as an apology for water-on-the-lap. 

Locations in Valencia, Irvine, West Hills and Fountain Valley.   We went to 18727 Brookhurst St.  Fountain Valley, CA.

Going outside our bubble

March 4, 2008

I had heard a lot about Ethiopian food so when Boyfriend mentioned he wanted to try it, I was all for it.  I think it’s good to try new things and experience different cultures outside of your own bubble.  Billy suggested we go to Merkato with a “k” on Fairfax so that is where we went.  It’s a shame we went there on full stomachs but it’s even more of a shame how awful the service was. 

We had to ask for water 3 times and waited 25 minutes for it.  We were so parched that Boyfriend was ready to serve our own water to ourselves.

We ordered a beef dish with tomatoes and Ethiopian bread.  You scoop up the meat and sauce with your bread… no utensils!  Boyfriend and I shared this plate and still had leftovers.


The meat itself was pretty flavorful but I don’t know if I’d order it again.


These were the tables and chairs we straddled.  (good thing I wore jeans and not a skirt that day)  We were told we’d be moved to a “regular” table once one opened up but the people who came later than us, got moved instead. 

All in all, it was an experience and I’m glad we tried it so we can check it off our list.  Perhaps my judgment of the food was clouded by the horrible service we got but I don’t feel it necessary to go again.

1036 1/2 Fairfax Avenue Los Angeles, California

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