Monday, February 17, 2014

Bestia - Los Angeles, California

Address: 2121 E 7th Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90021

Items Ordered:
  • Pan-Roasted Chicken Gizzards: roasted beets. belgian endive. aged capra sarda
  • Roasted Marrow Bone: spinach gnocchetti. crispy breadcrumbs. aged balsamic
  • Salumi: chef’s selection of house-cured meats. pickles. mostarda. chicken liver bread
  • Alla‘nduja: housemade spicy ‘nduja. san marzano tomatoes. mozzarella. wild arugula
  • Cavatelli alla Norcina: ricotta dumplings. housemade pork sausage. black truffles. grana padano
  • Spaghetti Rustichella: sea urchin. squid ink bottarga. garlic. calabrian chiles. breadcrumbs
  • Spagetti Chitarra: calamari, clams, mussels, wild fennel pollen, chili
  • Lemon tart with whipped cream and freeze dried marshmallows (?)

Hi friends!! I'm sorry I've been so MIA in 2014--what's my excuse? LAZINESS. I'll try harder for the rest of the year, BUT one of my New Year's resolutions was to spend less money, so that means less awesome eating adventures. I had to share this one with you guys though--Bestia!

I've decided that rave reviews on restaurants in L.A., won't really bring me there, but if my friends personally recommend a restaurant, then I'll visit. Bestia on a Sunday night was packed so it made visiting the sketch area of downtown a little less scary. We ordered a bottle of Italian wine to start, an Old Fashioned, and Aromatic #2 all of which were great drinks. As far as the food, I think the appetizers were actually my favorite dishes of the meal. Please try the fatty and luxurious bone marrow mixed with spinach gnocchi--it is truly heaven on a plate, and the best preparation of bone marrow I've had to date. The chicken gizzards were surprisingly beefy tasting and the chef's salumi plate (half portion) was amazing. I liked our choice of pizza, but the whole pie is a little soggy so just be forewarned, this isn't a crispy slice that you can eat with your hands; it is definitely a knife and fork affair (perfect for Bill de Blasio, no?). I don't love uni, but my dining companions loved the briny and creamy Spaghetti Rustichella. I think the Cavatelli was my pasta winner for the evening, and the squid ink pasta with seafood was definitely my least favorite. The seafood tasted gritty to me, like the shellfish hadn't been cleaned properly. Lastly, dessert is probably passable. The lemon tart was frozen and kind of sloppily presented. Overall though, Bestia really does Italian food right. I would definitely return for more appetizers and pizza. It's a great place to dine, laugh, and enjoy with friends.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tapenade - West Los Angeles, California

Address: 11301 W Olympic Blvd, Ste 116, Los Angeles, CA 90064

Items Ordered:
  • Burrata cheese with fresh fig, toasted hazelnut, EVOO, aged balsamic
  • Mushrooms and parmesan polenta with truffle oil
  • Chicken liver parfait with port, country bread, bacon, and cornichons
  • Italian brussels sprouts with currants, pine nuts, parmesan, aged balsamic
  • Tuna tartare and seared sashimi with avocado and ginger orange dressing
  • Banana gratin with almond crust, and vanilla bean ice cream

Tapenade is probably my best kept dining secret. It's hidden by the large Olympic Collection building, and the location has such a rapid turnover, I'm always afraid Tapenade will no longer be there the next time I want to visit. Of all the dishes, definitely try the mushrooms and polenta--it is rich, creamy, and so fragrant with the aroma of truffle oil. Get the brussels sprouts too. They make it in 7 different crispy delicious varieties, but the Italian one described above is probably my favorite. Okay, and the real reason why I love Tapenade? All their happy hour drinks are AMAZING! I especially loved the red wines I tried (Pinot, Cabernet, Tempranillo, Merlot), but the food is great even without any libations ;). If you're ever near Little Osaka or looking for a great happy hour location, then definitely give Tapenade a try!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013 - Houston, Texas

Happy Non-Turkey Day everyone!! I get to spend time in Texas with my family, and we're having a Chinese feast with some of my favorite home-cooked dishes. I'm thankful for all this delicious food, my family, friends, health, and happiness. I hope everyone is feeling thankful and most importantly, stuffed like a turkey today and every day!


Monday, November 11, 2013

School Food Blooming Roll - Los Angeles, California

Address: 621 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90005

Items Ordered:
  • Squid ink kimbap with teriyaki squid
  • Special Roll III: anchovies, teriyaki beef, radish
  • Mandu (dumplings) spicy ramen
  • Spicy rice cakes with ramen (tobokki on the menu)

Visiting Koreatown in Los Angeles is very reminiscent of walking the streets of Korea--the only difference, you probably shouldn't literally walk the streets cuz you'll get mugged...Other than that, whenever I have a craving for spicy dishes, kbbq, soju, noraebang and then hangover soup after too much soju, I visit K-town for my fix. School Food, a chain restaurant in Seoul, transported to Ktown in L.A. back in 2010, and it usually has a line out the door. Obviously, the prices are inflated, but the tobokki (spicy rice cakes) are indeed quite spicy, and taste just like they would on the streets of Seoul. The kimbap (rice rolls) don't taste particularly spectacular, but the fact that they are shareable and offered in so many varieties makes this restaurant a fun place to visit. To fend off boredom while you wait for your food, there are entertaining KPop videos displayed on the wall that my boyfriend probably has TOO much fun watching. I'd revisit School Food; it's a fun place to catch up with friends over shared dishes.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Extraordinary Desserts - San Diego, California

Address: 1430 Union St, San Diego, CA 92101

Items Ordered:
  • Apple pie (I think?!)
  • Chocolate sundae

I'm gonna go ahead and stereotype myself and say, I'm a girl, and I love desserts! I spent so long gazing at the rows of beautifully displayed desserts at Extraordinary Desserts until finally settling on a beautiful apple pie. I remember it being tasty, but not the best dessert I've ever had--probably could've used the addition of ice cream. Doesn't really matter though because it looked so pretty!! I would return to Extraordinary Desserts, especially with girlfriends, since with the plethora of amazing desserts to look at and try, I'm sure I'll eventually fall in love with one of them. I would love to return soon to see if they have themed desserts for Halloween and Christmas!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sasaya - West Los Angeles, California

Address: 11613 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

Items Ordered:
  • Agedashi mochi
  • Skewers: chicken meatball (tsukune), asparagus wrapped pork (buta maki), ribeye
  • Salted grilled mackerel (saba shioyaki)
  • Tuna sashimi and spicy tuna over rice (maguro don)
  • Not pictured: snow crab porridge (kani ojiya), fried eggplant & ground chicken (nasu soboro), simmered pork and egg in a sweet soy sauce (kurobuta kakuni), cheesecake

I love everything here at this neighborhood izakaya. There are so many interesting dishes,and everything is flavorful and unique. Of the dishes I've tried so far, I highly recommend the nasu soboro (you can also order it over rice), the fatty and delicious kurobuta kakuni, and the maguro don since it's a large portion of rice that you can use to eat with the other dishes. I wonder how many trips it might take for me to try the entire menu--I'm sure I'd leave each visit with a satisfied belly. This is a great place to bring friends who enjoy good food, but just be aware the restaurant is super small, but they take reservations. If you visit, let me know what are some other must try dishes!


Monday, September 9, 2013

Hawaii (Oahu) Eats - Honolulu, Hawaii

  • Ted's Bakery - chocolate haupia cream pie
  • Tiki's Grill and Bar - loco moco
  • Ono Seafood - spicy ahi and tako (octopus) poke
  • Iyasume Musubi - spam musubi, etc
  • Chef's Luau - traditional Hawaiian foods (poi, lomi lomi, roast pig, etc)
  • Giovanni's Shrimp Truck - garlic shrimp with rice
  • Bubbies - mochi ice cream
  • Leonard's Bakery - masaladas
  • Not pictured: mai tais and pina coladas galore; Matsumoto's shaved ice, clear blue waters

Oh Hawaii, how I miss your clear waters, giant turtles, and delectable dishes lacking any greenery. I wish I was back in Oahu still, but I guess these food pictures will have to suffice. If you haven't been to any of the places above, then I definitely recommend Ono Seafood's house specialty tako poke, and Giovanni's garlic shrimp--bring cash so you can get 2 plates of the buttery, garlicky shrimp. If you're staying in the touristy part near Waikiki Beach--like I did, cuz I'm a tourist--then, go off the beaten path to a little alleyway for Iyasume Musubi; you won't be disappointed! You can get delicious spam musubis for an amazing price. I can't wait to go back to Hawaii for all the great seafood, sweets, frozen drinks, and beautiful beaches! Next time though I'll be posting my eating adventures from Maui.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Umamicatessen - Los Angeles, California

Address: 852 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90014

Items Ordered:
  • Truffle beet salad - ricotta, smoked almonds, baby arugula, truffle dressing
  • Quinoa salad - chickpeas, bell pepper, tomato, cukes, citrus vinaigrette
  • Crispy pig's ears - with parsley, lime, brainase
  • PIGG style fries - pickled peppers, ham puree, brainase
  • Truffle burger - house made truffle cheese, truffle glaze
  • Pastrami reuben - kraut, swiss cheese, house spread
  • Meyer lemon curd donut - yogurt glaze, freeze-dried blueberries
  • Bread pudding - whiskey, dried fruit, zested orange cream cheese
  • Honeycomb ice cream

I've been on a winning streak with the restaurants I've tried recently. Umamicatessen was delicious; I enjoyed every dish and drink we tried, but there are a few must orders. 1) Pastrami reuben - seriously, the most tender and flavorful pastrami I've EVER tasted. If I could eat this for lunch everyday, my life would be complete 2) Bread pudding - so good..I can't even describe it to you. Order this dessert!! 3) Honeycomb ice cream - very inventive, not too sweet...does it come in anything larger than a pint?! The 100% lard fried pig ears and fries are also amazing. Umamicatessen has way more options than any of the Umami Burger locations, but they still make a scrumptious truffle burger. As I'm writing this, I'm imagining myself getting my hands on the amazing pastrami reuben again. Don't delay; bring some friends and come to Umamicatessen for a delicious indulgence asap!!


Monday, July 22, 2013

Drago Centro - Los Angeles, California

Address: 525 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071

Items Ordered (DineLA menu):
  • tagliolini pasta, seafood ragout, spicy marinara
  • buffalo mozarella, tomatoes, basil, balsamic crumble
  • diver scallops, garlic risotto cake, watercress, zabayon
  • sausage stuffed quail, shaved fennel, garlic aioli
  • vanilla panna cotta, black mission figs, rosemary puff pastry
  • chocolate and olive oil terrine, salted caramel gelato, almonds

I was unbelievably excited to finally try Drago Centro during DineLA last week. Last minute reservations on a Saturday night were easy to come by, the valet parking was free, and the restaurant decor was absolutely gorgeous. So many things going right for Drago already! The wine pairing during DineLA was $22 for all 3 courses, but they also have reasonably priced carafes of which I selected a lone Sangiovese. Probably my favorite dish of the evening was the seafood pasta. Seasoning was spot on, shrimps were bursty, and the calamari had a nice bite. Just from this pasta starter, I can tell their pasta dishes are probably the stars of the menu. The plating of the buffalo mozarella was so artistic, and I loved running the mozza/basil/tomato combo through the balsamic dots. As for the mains, the scallops were huge and plump, and the garlic risotto cake while deep fried managed to taste light and buttery at the same time. I did enjoy my crispy skinned quail, but stuffed with sausage, it was just a little too heavy for my tastebuds. It wasn't a badly executed dish, but having shared 3 plates of food by this time, my friend and I were already too stuffed to stuff ourselves with any sausage-stuffed quail. Miraculously though, my friend and I managed to find a 3rd stomach for dessert, and we were not disappointed. I wish I had a better picture of the panna cotta, because it was also beautifully plated. It's probably the best version of this dessert I've ever had. The rosemary crisps played really well against the sweet panna cotta. Unfortunately, the chocolate and olive oil terrine was a little mushy, and the salted caramel gelato had melted by the time the plate was delivered. I will let that slide though b/c it was DineLA weekend, and while our server was extremely busy, he still managed to be courteous the whole meal. I really loved the whole dining experience at Drago Centro, and I will surely return for a nice lunch, dinner, hot date, birthday, Wednesday, you name it.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Mo-Chica - Los Angeles, California

Address: 514 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

Items Ordered:
  • Watermelon margarita - jalapeno infused espolon blanco, watermelon, lime juice, agave nectar
  • Pan con Tuna - grilled bread, spicy tuna, cucumber jalapeno relish, yuzu mayo
  • Anticucho de Pulpo -  grilled octopus, roasted potatoes, jalapeno sauce 
  • Chicharron de Pollo - marinated crispy chicken, rocoto aioli
  • Picarones - sweet potato & kabocha (squash) donuts

Who doesn't love the great food and drink options in downtown L.A.? I wish I could go there more often. After visiting San Antonio Winery for free tastings & hitting up Seven Grand's great happy hour whiskey cocktails, I walked across the street to find Mo-Chica with an open table for 2 to help me soak up the libations. Things were really going my way. To continue my drinking trend, I started with a watermelon margarita. It was great, not too sweet or sour or strong--just a nice refreshing drink. We weren't that hungry, and the small plates actually filled us up for the rest of the night. I loved every dish. The tuna was fresh tasting, moderately spicy, and I liked the squishy bread and mayo that it was served with. The grilled octopus had a nice smoky flavor, and was probably my favorite of the evening. The fried chicken tasted just like it's counterpart at Picca, and the meat was still juicy and steaming hot on the inside. The picarones had a nice texture, kind of like eating mochi, except that they tasted a little burnt--although they looked great when the dish arrived. I would definitely return to Mo-Chica, especially when the wait at Bottega Louie is bordering on ridiculous, and I need to combat my low blood sugar or alcohol addiction asap. I hope to make a return visit sooner than later!