Sunday, December 30, 2007

Upcoming - dineLA Restaurant Week

Guys, the dineLA restaurant week is coming up, so don't miss it! :D I like going to these every year, you can get some pretty good deals!

(FYI, during the dineLA week you can get three-course prix fixe meals at select restaurants for the prices below which usually adds up to a good deal!)

Duration: January 27 - February 1 and February 3 - February 8, 2008
Pricing: $25 or $34 dinners and $15 or $22 lunches at select restaurants; prices are per person and do not include beverages, tax, or gratuity

I'd check out the list of restaurants from opentable.

This year I am planning to hit Asia de Cuba, Grace, and Luna Park :) and maybe Chaya Brasserie too

See you guys there ;)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Who doesn't love a SALE?

OK, you're reading a food blog, so obviously we're talking about food-related sales here.
Some of you may have made it there already, but 2 weekends ago (Dec 14-15th), a food import warehouse (Epicure Imports in Hollywood) held their seasonal public sales event. I couldn't made it on the first day, but I did go on the second day. Hopefully I didn't miss anything significant?

It was a huge warehouse and they carry everything from oil, imported water and sparkling lemonades, to baking goods, raw nuts by the pound, and truffles.

The best part, of course, was the cheese room! Basically a walk-in fridge, they had all kinds of cheeses from all over, and of course, foie gras.
Duck foie gras, goose foie gras, ... 2 oz can, 1 lb bag, you name it, they have it.

I bought a tiny can, and also 2 oz. of whole black truffles. Not sure how to best prepare them at the moment. Any suggestions??
They had Valrhona chocolates on sale for $1.99 per bar so I got a bunch of those. Also a carton of Orangina.

Some of the items were not that much cheaper than normal, and some items were already expired. I heard the wine was heavily discounted but I didn't buy any since I decided to drink only socially :P

All in all though it was definitely a fun event to go to, and some good buys can be had. And it's fun just to see everything they carry.

Epicure Imports
6900 Beck Ave
North Hollywood, CA 91604

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sushi Katsu-Ya Encino- where sushi seems an afterthought

I met up with some friends at the Katsu-ya in Encino a few nights ago. While I've been at the Katsuya in Brentwood, I haven't been to the other ones so this Encino trip is a first. It is a decidedly different atmosphere than the Brentwood robata bar (although they are both loud).

We ordered some standard sushi dishes, along with their specials of the day. All in all, I thought the sushi was ... so so. Maybe because we were not sitting at the sushi bar? The yellowtail and salmon nigiri sushi were okay, but nothing special. The special dishes however (the cooked and marinated sashimi plates) were amazing and very unique/creative.

The first of those was the seared foie gras with scallops (the scallops are hidden underneath the foie gras). This was a very good dish. Not the best foie gras ever, but interesting and definitely flavorful.

Next was the scallops and kiwi with yuzu vinaigrette. Who would've thought of putting scallops and kiwi together? I guess they did :) and the size even fit perfectly too. The kiwi goes very well with the freshness of the scallop sashimi, and the yuzu adds an excellent touch.Then there was the garlic albacore with black truffles. They come and shave the black truffles tableside. Garlic albacore was standard, good marinated albacore. The black truffles were aromatic and a really great addition.

Also, not pictured (camera was giving me trouble at that point) was the baked eggplant. This eggplant dish was really really good! It had a unique flavour that we all went ga-ga for. The baked eggplant was stuffed with albacore and other various yumminess.

We also had the lobster dynamite, baked with mushroom. Very good lobster dish. I was not too crazy with the mushrooms, but all in all still quite tasty. We had the green tea tiramisu for dessert. Really liked the taste, and the cream was excellent. The only down side was that in certain parts there were no ladyfingers and just cream, so we couldn't really eat it.

Sushi Katsu-Ya in Encino
16542 Ventura Blvd.
Encino,CA 91436

Katsu-Ya on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 17, 2007

Why I like my own birthday ....

My birthday has become an annual excuse for me to order a whole cake ... for myself (minus a couple slices)!

Last year unfortunately I was back home in Indonesia, but this year I get to have my favorite cake again. And lots of it ...

I ordered the Spring Bouquet from Jin Patisserie in Venice, who always does a really nice job decorating it also. This cake is made with mango and strawberries and cream, with layers of meringue. Some people are shocked that I don't get a chocolate cake for my birthday, but this cake is just that awesome!
I ate half of it myself :">

A picture update. This is the Poire cake that I also like to get.
A layer of light and creamy chocolate mousse, topped with layer of white chocolate mousse, with poached pear flambee.

Jin Patisserie
1202 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA

Jin Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mango Addict

My new favorite dessert (especially in this price range):
Soy Custard with Tapioca and Mango
from the Phoenix Food Boutique (also available at the restaurants).

A really refreshing dessert, and the mangoes they use are (most of the time) very sweet! Like Pinkberry's mangoes USED to be ...
And the tofu hua (soy custard) is very silky smooth. The sweet creaminess combined with the slightly tart mangoes are just perfect.

The best part is that some locations are open until 1 am!

Phoenix has multiple Food Boutique and Restaurant locations.
Find one at:

Phoenix Food Boutique on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 7, 2007

Pasadena Brunch Journey part 1

Like I've said before, I really miss the West LA brunch places since moving to Pasadena (great places like Hugo's), so I have been exploring Pasadena and surrounding area for good brunches (not champagne all-you-can-eat brunch buffets, which may be good too sometimes). Before I reviewed a great place in Eagle Rock, Auntie Em's. The place I'm reviewing now is a cute little place on Walnut, just north of old town Pasadena.

Normally Marston's location may look just like a small cute house, but in the afternoons, you can see a crowd of people waiting for a table to enjoy brunch. Serving upgraded classic breakfast dishes such as French Toast coated with corn flakes, Eggs Benedicts in the morning, and various salads and sandwiches in the afternoon in a very cozy and quiet (except for some noise from the traffic) atmosphere, Marston's is my go-to place for brunch in Pas proper.
Pictured in this post is the Cordierra salad that I had last time. Sesame-crusted chicken on a bed of greens with avocado, tomatoes, etc. With "San Pasqual dressing" (whatever it is, it's tasty). Served with very good corn bread.

PS. They also have possibly the best pancakes in Pasadena.

Marston's Restaurant
151 East Walnut St.
Pasadena, CA 91103
(626) 796-2459

Marston's on Urbanspoon
Marston's in Los Angeles

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Long Live Breakfast Salad

Hugo's in WeHo was my favorite brunch place when I was still living in LA proper - or at least, they have my favorite brunch dish.
Since moving to Pasadena, I went on a Hugo's hiatus - especially since they were renovating and since the Pinkberry on my way there is being stingy with their fruits!

I recently went back though, for the first time after the renovation. I was surprised when I walked in. The decor now is much 'cleaner' and minimal compared to before. I preferred the cozier, homier feel of the old Hugo's though. Sigh ... why is everything in LA changing to this wide space, minimal decor look? The kitchen is now closed off though, reducing the noise from plates clanking greatly. That's one good thing from the renovation.

The place was not as busy as I remembered it- before I would have to wait 10-15 minutes for a table during lunch hour on a Saturday. Today we got a table immediately. It wasn't empty, but there was no line out the door like there used to be. Maybe the new decor? Maybe because they were closed for a while, a lot of people have not made it back?

At any rate, the food there is same as always - great tasting and healthy.
Hugo's serves you piping hot whole wheat ciabatta bread that is great with or without butter. (One time they served it cold, but we sent it back and got the piping hot bread).

Before, the Tofu Scramble used to be my favorite dish. Organic tofu scramble with sweet potato, green onion, tomato, spinach, garlic and mushrooms with ginger-soy sauce. The tofu is firm, and the ginger-soy sauce is really good! (There's no egg in here, even though it says 'scramble'). The spinach and tofu with the sauce is just a great combo. My only pet peeve about this dish is that there's too much sweet potato for my taste, but I know some people who looove sweet potato and didn't think there was enough ...

A great dish, and like I said, it used to be my favorite and I'd get it every week. Until one day I became adventurous and ordered the Breakfast Salad! Ever since then, this is my favorite!

Mixed greens topped with: turmeric rice scrambled with egg whites, almonds, spinach, wild mushrooms, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce. Ahh ... the ultimate salad for me. I would have never imagined making a salad like this, and were it not for Hugo's I would have totally missed out. Maybe it is partly the Asian taste of the dish that makes me like it so much? Did I mention they're organic? Totally guilt-free :P

We didn't get desserts this time around, but the desserts at Hugo's tend to be very decadent (like bread puddings, pineapple upside down cakes, etc). Sinful? But they're organic? That's a notch down on the sin level, right? Right?

Also, I should mention they have a great selection of loose leaf tea.

8401 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(323) 654-3993

Hugo's on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hole-In-the-Wall Handmade Noodles

I found this place from reading Jonathan Gold's article about it, where he raves about the Bao there. But I'm surprised he neglected to mention the handmade noodles, which I think is better and more unique than the bao (hence their name, Noodle House!) - he did not seem to like them though.

Their handmade noodle is made from scratch, and made from spinach. Although their simple menu does not say "handmade noodles" anywhere and you can't know what kind of noodles you will be getting from the names along, you can study the full picture menu on the wall. If the noodle is greenish, that's your handmade spinach noodle.
The dish pictured above is the "beef stewed noodle" (in Chinese, niu ru mien). You can get niu ru mien at other places, but not with this kind of noodle! The noodle is chewy and has a distinctive flavor. It is firm and never overcooked. The broth is rather spicy and is a particularly good niu ru mien broth, but it is not too spicy (which may have led to Jonathan Gold complaining that it was "not as intense" as other shops). The mustard greens in the soup adds another layer of flavor.

The place is small, with such a generic name: "Noodle House". The waitress speaks almost no English, even less than the cook, Linda, who speaks broken English. She is awesome and always seems very happy that you're there. She'll give you cold appetizers and sweet tea with dates for free.

Noodle House
46 W. Las Tunas Dr., Arcadia
(626) 821-2088.

Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Forget Your Wallet at Sasabune

As soon as I sat down at the sushi bar at Sasabune, I saw their sign saying sushi bar patrons must get the omakase, and one of those "Trust Me" signs. What that means to me: 1) it'll most likely be very good food and 2)my wallet will suffer ..

Sasabune used to be located in a small house on Sawtelle, with no sign outside except one neon sign that just said "Sushi". I've always wanted to try it then, and I'm glad I finally get to go to their new location (former Todai).

Five of us took a corner of the sushi bar and left our fates in the sushi chef's hands. They serve fresh wasabi, so I had faith that they know what they're doing. They started us with assorted sashimi dishes including abalone and scallops. The others managed to get to them before I can take a picture, so here's a picture of a half-eaten scallop sashimi.

Next is some blue fin tuna and yummy yummy melt-in-your-mouth toro.
Salmon and hamachi. The sesame seeds on top of the salmon really gives it a nice flavor. The hamachi was good and fatty although it can't beat the hamachi belly Asakuma gives me.

Then they served us delicious mushroom soup, very soothing and nutritious.

At some point I've lost track of what we ate ... all I know is we had 15 pieces of sushi, plus the sashimi and soup, and a hand roll.

We had some japanese snapper, and Ono (which was delicious).

Not to forget the ikura and uni :) Although knowing I could have gotten toro instead of uni ... tough choice but I think I like toro better.
Then at some point there were some fresh oysters.

And a deliciously fresh scallop sushi.

Towards the end we got these ice toro and anago sushi. A very nice hot and cold plate :) First time having ice toro, it was interesting because of the iciness but I think it was chopped up, making it melt in your mouth even more.Ending with a kani roll. The crab inside was just outstanding!

The damage? $98pp including tax and tips. We were all happy and full and had a just-ate-great-food high, so it didn't matter (that's why you have credit cards ...)

Sushi Sasabune
12400 Wilshire Blvd Ste 150
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Phone: (310) 820-3596

Sushi Sasabune on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Tried and True Sushi

Undeniably Los Angeles has an excess of sushi restaurants, and it can take quite a few miserable trips to filter through and find those good, reasonably-priced places that you can return to over and over again.

Among these good ones, Asakuma is my favorite. A bit more expensive than Hide, but without the wait and hassle and bad service (the sushi chefs at Hide are great but the waitstaff is ... meh...). In all my experience sitting at the sushi bar at Asakuma, I have never gone wrong.
I typically come in towards the end of the night, so it's pretty quiet usually. I always start with my standard favorites, hamachi and salmon. My regular sushi chef always gives generous portions (generous fish!, not rice as in other places) of the fattiest freshest fish :)
After these two, I suddenly have to decide what to order next. I usually ask for live scallops if they have any (at the end of the night they usually don't :( ). This time I opted for the Tai.
I like to eat my sushi in two bites: one bite to eat the fish with all the rice, another bite is the hanging tail end of just the fish itself. Asakuma's fish-to-rice ratio is perfect for me.

Ended the sushi meal with the sweet unagi, delicious as usual.Finish off the meal with some refreshing oranges, on the house.

11701 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Phone: (310) 826-0013

Asakuma on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

When I Eat Spicy

Just to get it out there, I CANNOT eat spicy food. Yes, I am Indonesian. Call me weird. Call me weak-sauce. Call me whatever. I just can't handle it. Occasionally though, I will sit through and suffer and drink gallons of water so I can have a particular dish.

Soon tofu is one of them. I always ask for Mild, but it ends up too spicy for me anyway. But plain would just be WRONG! Favorite soon tofu place in LA? That'd be Beverly Soon Tofu.

Your meal here starts with the regular and not so regular banchan: a silky smooth tofu with sesame, plus the usual plates of kim chi, bean sprouts, etc. Barley tea is served in metal bowls free of charge.

Then the soon tofu comes sizzling hot into which you immediately add an egg, rice, and then mix things up.
The ingredients used at Beverly Soon Tofu is higher quality than most and you can taste it, especially in the tofu and meat.
I personally prefer the small bowl (which comes with the kalbi or bulgogi combo), because that size is just perfect for one egg. 2 eggs in the bigger bowl is too much. On a good day the mild is not so spicy and I can finish it pretty quickly :P otherwise it's bite and drink for me ...

Still, every so often I want some "comfort food" and for some reason I feel like going to this place and suffer through the spice so I can have this bowl of goodness :P

Beverly Soon Tofu
2717 W Olympic Blvd Ste 108
Los Angeles, CA 90006-2642
Phone: (213) 380-1113

Beverly Soontofu on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Things to Slurp - Part 1 (Ma Dang Gook So)

It doesn't matter who first invented noodles/pasta anymore. Nowadays every culture has their own specialty noodle dish(es). The Korean Gook So is said to be the equivalent of pho to Vietnamese, but then pho is just the equivalent of some other soup-based noodle dish somewhere else. But like I said, it doesn't really matter.

Ma Dang Gook So is one of those small, homey restaurants in Korea town, and it specializes in Korean noodle dishes, one of them being (naturally) the gook so. This item is identified simply as "handmade noodles" in the menu.

Being weak to spice, I avoided the kim chee gook so and opted for the anchovy instead. The noodles were bathed in beef broth that has the taste and flavor of anchovies. Two slices of potatoes are hidden inside, and most believe these potatoes are the secret ingredient to their broth's subtle taste and body.
Halfway through the bowl I was completely bloated as I couldn't stop drinking the soup. The one bad thing about the dish is that I do occasionally miss my protein (there was no actual anchovy inside). To actually get real meat, one could opt for the chicken gook so.
The chicken gook so uses instead chicken broth, but it still hides the potato slices and hence still has the same body as the beef broth. The chicken shreds are definitely a plus, but I still prefer the beef broth better myself (I'm a red meat eater!).

Ma Dang Gook So gets steady business early in the morning. It does seem like a good meal to have after a late night. Or a hangover.

Ma Dang Gook So
869 S Western Ave Ste 1
Los Angeles, CA 90005
(213) 487-6008

Ma Dang Gook So on Urbanspoon

Ma Dang Gook Soo in Los Angeles

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Lobster Hall of Fame!

1. The blue Lobster at L'atelier de Joel Robuchon
5-7, rue de Montalembert, Hôtel Pont-Royal
Paris, France 75007 · 01 42 22 56 56

2. The lobster curry at Chinois on Main
2709 Main St
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 392-3037
3. The "2 on a Plate Special" at the Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Quiet Italian

The few bad things about Angelini Osteria (and these are not necessarily "bad" things, depending on how you look at it) are that it's hard to get reservations and it is always crowded. We think that this was probably the main reason Gino Angelini decided to open La Terza. And while La Terza with its white tablecloths and high ceiling seems much more formal than its Osteria counterpart, it actually feels more casual and relaxed (probably because you're not surrounded by dozens of Beverly Hill-ers).

We started with some bruschetta compliments of the chef. The bread at La Terza was drizzled with olive oil and black peppers, delicious and the peppers gave it a kick.

For appetizers we got mussels and clams in polenta. I never have imagined mussels, clams, and polenta together but they went very, very well with each other. The mussels were not on the huge side, but nonetheless the taste was excellent and we scraped the polenta off this dish.
In between we had some risotto with parmesan and artichokes, again, compliments from the chef.
For our main course, we had spaghetti with lobster and fried artichokes, and the rotisserie duck with swiss chard and dried figs.
Not enough lobster in the spaghetti, but the taste was nothing to complain about :)

The duck was juicy and tasty and the skin was crispy but not burned, just the way I like it. It goes very well with the chard and figs.
For dessert we had the Cioccolato which was a Piemonte's bunet. The bunet was excellent! with a strong chocolate taste. Highly recommended.
We also had the Affogato which is served at Angelini Osteria also.

All in all, the food was on par with Angelini, although the pasta dishes are probably better at the Osteria (the desserts are better at La Terza though). However, La Terza makes for more of a relaxed and pleasant dining experience.

La Terza Restaurant
8384 West Third St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

La Terza on Urbanspoon

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