The Foodie Traveler - Pithy Comments from a Cynical yet Passionate Foodie and Wine Lover
The Foodie Traveler: Pithy Comments from a Cynical but Passionate Foodie and Wine Lover

Unknown and Amazing Molecular Gastonomy Experience in Orange County: AnQi

A little while back Gayot came out with a list called the "Top 10 Molecular Gastronomy Restaurants."  This immediately caught my attention. Alinea in Chicago was the impetus for me to create this blog. I adore the creativity, science, and ingenuity that goes into using molecular gastronomy techniques to produce dishes that amaze you visually, texturally, and of course with flavor.  As I scanned the list, I saw all the classics. I eyed the cities in hope of seeing something new, something that would not be too far for travel. And then I see "Orange County." For a second, I thought it was a reference to Florida. But no, it was Orange County California. At a place called AnQi, from the same An family who created Crustacean in Beverly Hills, home of the best garlic noodles in LA.

I tried ... << MORE >>

Thoughts on the "Traveling (Pop-Up) Restaurant" Trend in LA: Hatchi at Breadbar, Ludobites, etc.

I have been religiously attending almost every traveling/pop-up restaurant event in town over the last year. It started a ways back- I would place the birth of it when Ludo Lefebvre guest chef'd and did a small bites menu at what was then thought of as a simple bakery/cafe- Breadbar on  3rd.  It was called "Breadbar presents Ludobites" and the LA Times announced it back in Sept 2007 . This guest chef concept was quite novel when the restaurant was well, not a restaurant. We savored tasty little morsels of items just starting to get trendy: Foie Gras sandwiches, little soups, clever herbs and flavors on varied proteins. We had 4 orders of this incredible honeycomb served with cheese. We brought our own wine and Ludo sat down with us for about an hour after most of the crowd left. We spoke ...<< MORE >>

Thoughts on Bouchon (Beverly Hills)

This is not a formal review, but just a commentary on our experience with Bouchon, which was clearly a restaurant with an identity crisis. ... << MORE >>

Amazing Peruvian Food in an Unexpected Location - MoChica

If we had ordered the entire menu it would have come to $101.  I know, I counted.  We came close - ordered all but two dishes.  The waitress did not believe us and kept insisting we did not order things ... << MORE >>

Tomatillo Experiments - Really Great Easy, Tasty, Healthy Sauce Recipe

Last week at the farmer's market I picked up 2lbs of tomatillos for $1.  To date, my only experience with Tomatillos has been to occasionally add one to dressings or sauces.  I never worked with them in bulk.  I searched through all my favorite recipe websites for an interesting sauce to top some chicken breast and pasta, but was surprised to find I could not find anything appropriate.  

So I invented something.  And it came out so fabulous I had to share it.  Super simple, healthy, and incredible depth of flavor.

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2) Spread 1-2 T EVOO on a non-stick cookie sheet
3) Add the following to cookie sheet:
a. 2lbs Tomatillos (husk removed, rinsed)
b. 1 large or a few small heirlooms: remove core and tough parts of skin, no need to peel unless you really want to
c. 1 peeled onion, cut in 1" wedges
d. 3 peeled garlic cloves
3. ...<< MORE >>

First Peak: New England Style Seafood Shack Finally Available in LA: BP Oysterette in Santa Monica

My biggest shock in moving out to LA was the complete lack of casual seafood shacks like one finds on the Jersey Shore, Cape Cod, Baltimore, etc. Gladstones, with it's low quality, poorly prepared, overpriced fare never counted.

I read about this place some months ago and have been anxiously awaiting its opening, which occurred earlier this week. We opted to get there on Saturday at 11:30 AM right when it opened for lunch so that we could avoid a long wait. (They do not take reservations.)

We feasted on amazing oysters and clams on the half shell (they offer four varieties), grilled oysters, authentic steamers and broth, and a beautifully-buttered succulent lobster roll.

We look forward to going back another time to also try the ceviche, chowder, fisherman's stew, crudo, and fish tacos.

All-in-all, great food, decent wine list, excellent and friendly ...<< MORE >>

First Foray Into Molecular Gastronomy at Home - Bloody Mary Pasta

I was lucky enough to get to the Gourmet Warehouse's first time sale to the public over the weekend. I had to drive out to Alhambra, fight a crazy crowd, and stand in a TWO AND A HALF HOUR LINE, but with the goodies I procured, all was worth it. I finally got my hands on food grade Sodium Alginate and Calcium Chloride, the primary requirements needed to make those cool gel bubbles (eg "spherication") you often are finding at restaurants who have been experimenting with this science.

They were much more firm and hardy then I expected. The flavor was definitely bloody mary. Good essence of tomato, vodka, and spice. The diameter of the spheres was only a few millimeters. Plus, they did not really burst with liquid. The texture was good, but not great. 

While I knew my chemistry was ...<< MORE >>

Stefan's LA Farm - First Taste

I saw on Eater that Stefan Richter's (Top Chef) new restaurant was at their soft opening stage a few days ago. We had to be in Santa Monica on another errand on Saturday so we decided to take the opportunity to check it out for Lunch. I actually made reservations but that turned out to be unnecessary as they were empty. They were shocked to see us as they had not yet formally announced their opening. Go Eater!

The space itself is quite impressive. It is in the middle of nowhere Santa Monica on Olympic near the studios. When I first plugged the address into my GPS, the car was determined to take us downtown. Thankfully, I caught that in time. But back to the restaurant. There is a beautiful bar, a huge indoor seating area, then an elegant patio adjacent to the relatively open kitchen. The patio is ...<< MORE >>

Inaka Revisited - At least as good, maybe even better

Several months ago, I reviewed Niki Nakiyama's tasting menu at Inaka and declared it the best tasting menu I had since Bastide. Sadly, Bastide is long gone but Niki is doing as splendid as ever. We finally made the long journey back to Arcadia and got to experience her amazing cuisine one more time. I don't know what to say but WOW. I felt like a judge on Iron Chef. As a special touch, she remembered I am a big fan of uni and made us a special dish shown below. Really amazing. I would prefer this cuisine over Providence, Sona, Ortolan, Bazaar...need I go on? 

Yes, it is in a strip mall and has no ambiance to speak of. Get over it!!

Rumor has it she finally obtained a restaurant space and will be opening sometime in 2011 on the West Side. Keep an ...<< MORE >>

Molecular Gastronomy Taste-off: Voltaggio @ Breadbar VS Bistro LQ

Molecular gastronomy...fusion...modern styled food...Avante Asian. Terms like these are typically what get people excited about a new restaurant, especially in LA where this kind of cuisine is still, well, Nouveau versus other cities like NYC and Chicago. So it was with great anticipation that I set off to hit two strangely similar yet quite disparate experiences on the same evening. I had made reservations for Michael Voltaggio's single night at Breadbar over a month ago. Chef Voltaggio is an up and coming contestant on the newest season of Top Chef. Plus, he recently had a stint at Bazaar before landing at the Langham,   so I went expecting something very special with a molecular gastronomy twist. However, it was only a week ago that the menu for the grand opening of Bistro LQ became available. WOW. What innovative, unique cuisine - also with molecular gastronomy flair. ...<< MORE >>

I went for soba I came back with a new favorite Izakaya: Otafuku

I had been meaning to get there for a while. Otafuku has a reputation as having some of the best homemade soba in town. We wanted a light dinner the other night, so we decided to finally give it a shot. Honestly, it was just meant to be a casual meal. I didn't bring the camera, and that was an egregious error in judgment!<< MORE >>

Unique Sushi/Sashimi Experience in Vancouver: Octopus' Garden

Chef Sada is not only a great sushi chef, he is also a character.  He runs his restaurant with great charisma and genuinely loves what he does.  We loved it so much we went two nights in a row!  At the end of the evening, he cranks up the music and sings along with the Beatles' Octopus Garden ...<< MORE >>

A Pink's-like Phenomenon in Vancouver called Japadog

Vancouver has its own take on Pink's called "Japadog." It is a Japanese-owned chain of hotdog carts that appear at certain locations around the city on select days and times during the week. They have an absolute cult following and the lines to show it. Anthony Bourdain recently did a feature on them on No Reservations, making the lines even longer. << MORE >>

Just Dip it in Head - The Legendary Spot Prawn Boil at Fuel in Vancouver, BC

I got a lead on a very unique dining opportunity via Chowhound. 
Fuel, a top restaurant in town, does a spot prawn boil each Saturday night
only for a few weeks in May-June. 12 people, one seating.  I called weeks ahead
of time and was delighted to get a reservation.  The locals were quite
impressed that I even found out about it ...<< MORE >>

First Spot Prawn Adventure in Vancouver: Blue Water

went to Blue Water last night - sat at the Bar. THey only had 3 spot
prawns left, which were good. We got a poached spot prawn salad, the
prawns were a bit mealy and overcooked. Oysters (local only) were
fabulous. Yoshi did a couple of sashimi items for us, some were off
menu. The local sockeye salmon, sable, and halibut was all amazing. So
yes, we were able to achieve our goal of getting locally-sourced
excellent sashimi. We also ordered their famous scallop/red sea urchin
mousse which was a fun and tasty dish.
...<< MORE >>

A secret source for great Spanish Ingredients

Quintessinal spring dish: Fresh Fava bean, Asparagus,and Arugula Salad with Shaved Cheese, Plus a secret source for great Spanish Ingredients ...<< MORE >>

Want to really appreciate the LA dining scene? Just visit Miami

I spent weeks researching the perfect restaurants for our upcoming vacation in Miami Beach. It seemed I was having an especially hard time with the planning because every time I thought I found the perfect place, I would read all the reviews on Yelp or Chowhound and realized it was probably not as good as Gayot, etc. made it out to be. But I couldn't believe that the in the land of displaced New Yorkers I would have trouble finding great restaurants, so I persevered. Plus, I had been to the area about four years ago and remembered it having promise. << MORE >>

Escape from Royal Caribbean - The best raw bar in Key West

Even though it was just a simple shellfish lunch, for me it was the best meal of our entire Miami trip even compared to many of the pricey, wine-ladden dinners we later experienced.  But what do they say about pictures speaking louder than words? ...<< MORE >>

Some of the best sushi you'll find in a little place you probably never heard of in Torrance

If you regularly read my blog, you know my husband and I are REALLY into sushi above all other food options. We have been to dozens of sushi places big and small all over LA, and like most sushi-lovers, have come to be quite opinionated about our preferences. << MORE >>

Clam Chowder Contest on the Pier

This past Saturday I attended what I thought was going to be
a lot of fun…a clam chowder tasting/judging on Redondo Beach Pier. 
$6 for 5 tastes.  Split with my husband, that translated to 10 tastes for
9 available soups.  Participants were pretty much all South Bay local
restaurants, most of them from the pier or the immediate vicinity.  They gave
you a small Styrofoam cup and a plastic spoon, and the idea was to use the same
cup for each sample.  No spit bucket or new bowl.  You had to dump it
in the trash can and wipe out the “bowl” with a napkin.

...<< MORE >>

Riva: As a Fraiche lover, I expected so much, but got so little :(

I love Fraiche and was excited to go to Riva, Jason Trevi's new endeavor.  It took months, but finally got a together a group of eight of us to go.  I figured that we gave them time to work out the kinks, and was planning for an amazing meal.  I had seen in the reviews that they are best known for their Crudo and Pizza, and was prepared to make a meal on that. ...<< MORE >>

UPDATED: When a Good Restaurant Goes Bad. New Blog Direction plus Comments on Tender Greens in Culver City

I do apologize to my readers that I took a bit of a hiatus in my blog posts.  I have recently had the opportunity to meet many talented food bloggers at a few foodie socials and it has really inspired me to rethink my blog. ...<< MORE >>

Shin Okinawa: I highly doubt people eating this food have a better shot of living till 100+

It was with much trepidation that we went to Shin Okinawa.  Lots of mixed reviews.  But as this restaurant is very close to where I live, it could easily be a place where we could hang out frequently.  ...<< MORE >>

Kagura - Exciting New Japanese Option in Downtown Torrance

Quite by accident but perhaps more and more on purpose, I find myself "stalking" some of ExileKiss' recent Asian restaurant finds.  Most recently, it was Kagura.  I ...<< MORE >>

Authentic Japanese New Years Dinner (Osechi) at Yuzu

We are regulars at Yuzu in Torrance and were lucky enough to be invited to their "secret" Osechi menu for New Year's Day.   Osechi is a traditional  New Year's Feast in Japan, dating back more than one thousand years.  ...<< MORE >>

Jose Andres' Bazaar: Tapas 3 Different Ways

Upon entering this restaurant and hotel, it immediately becomes apparent that this is not your typical Los Angeles restaurant.<< MORE >>

Manzke's Back: Arroyo's Church and State Brasserie

The appetizers were so amazing (and heavy) that we never made it to the entrees.  No matter, it was all great.   The restaurant is in the middle of the newly gentrifying loft district downtown.  Sketchy neighborhood, but that does not keep the crowds away. By the time we left around 10, the crowds were growing, not shrinking.  ...<< MORE >>

"Healthy" French Food at La Cachette

I have been wanting to check this place out for quite some time.  The chef, Jean Francois Meteigner, was an Iron Chef for a brief time.  Plus, his restaurant is known for taking classic French recipes and making them a bit healthier by using less fat and dairy.  ...<< MORE >>

What the heck do I do with a Geoduck? Subtitle: "Georgia O'keefe Meets Sea Creature"

Scot went to a fish market and turns up with a giant Geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck).  It is a giant clam from the pacific northwest.   It takes up a whole shelf of my fridge.  We love it as Marugai at the sushi places, but I have watched the chefs prepare it and it can be quite violent. Lots of pounding and slapping it around.  Plus, I have never seen the chefs deal with the body, just the the giant protuberance.  I have heard that the Chinese associate this creature with male virility; one look at it and you easily can see why.   Kinda reminds me of a New England Steamer clam on steroids.  Pictures speak louder than words: ...<< MORE >>

Yakitori Binchu now Izakaya Binchu. Amazing, Authentic Japanese on Redondo Pier

Exile Kiss on Chowhound is the person who first turned me on to this place when it was Yakitori Binchu - I have been following the updates closely to see when they would reopen. (They were closed by the fire dept for somethng having to do with the neighbors complaining about the smoke from the charcoal.  Stupid neighbors.)  ...<< MORE >>

Inaka - Best Tasting Menu Since Bastide

OMG Wow! 

Ordinary takeout Japanese by day...incredible tasting sensation by night.  Niki Nakayama is the chef and master of one of the most spectacular tasting menus I have had in quite some time.  Disclaimer:  This is only meant for the pure foodie.  If you are hung up on atmosphere and a pedigree wine list, not to mention if you are put off by the drive to Arcadia, this is not your scene.  If it is all about the food, read on... ...<< MORE >>

Ben Ford is a really nice guy.

Ben Ford is a really nice guy.   We saw him on Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.  Loved the bit on the whole suckling pig "comfit" (entire pig was on the stove in a pot of duck fat).  Homemade head cheese also looked great.

Up until now, we had not yet made it to Ford's Filling Station.  I work in Culver City so it is certainly convenient, but reviews have been so-so.  Well, after seeing that episode we had to check it out. ...<< MORE >>

Authentic Mediterranean in South Bay

We needed some takeout for a picnic on the beach.  Sure, we could have just grabbed some sandwiches, or perhaps a burrito from Chipotle.  We have even been known to bring takeout sushi.  But I wanted something light, something tasty, something special. 

We were driving along PCH waiting for inspiration to hit us, and bam! I saw a place I have been meaning to stop by for a couple years now...Poulet Du Jour.  Signs on the window advertised Rotisserie chicken, hummous, baba ghannouj, falafel, more.  My instincts said it would be good.  ...<< MORE >>

Brunello - Hidden New Italian in Culver City

The plan was to see Bottle Shock then try one of the new restaurants in Culver City.  The day after making arrangements, I received a nice email from Citysearch extolling the virtues of the new Brunello.  Plus, our friend who was joining us is generally predisposed to Italian so the fates were lined up for us. 

When we got to the theatre and were told the movie (and the entire theatre) were "broken" we should have taken that as a sign.  ...<< MORE >>

Sushi Zo- Another Perspective

This little sushi bar has been getting a lot of attention.  We have seen numerous references to it being one of the top sushi bars in the area, with the notable exception of Urasawa.  However, many fans complain of ill-treatment by Keizo, the Sushi Chef and owner.  We decided to investigate and draw our own conclusions. ...<< MORE >>

Is Little India Worth the Trip?

After years of drive throughs on the way to concerts in Cerritos, we finally committed to stopping in Little India for dinner.  After much consternation, we finally decided on The India Restaurant.   Foreshadowing:  Chowhounds warned us to stick with Southern Indian Vegetarian places.  But we wanted chicken.  Our mistake. ...<< MORE >>

Hong Kong Palace: "Wow, that's the best one of 'X' I ever had"

"Wow, that's the best one of 'X' I ever had" was our mantra for this delightful meal.  ...<< MORE >>

il Grano - Heirloom Tomato Tasting Menu w/pics. Very Good, But Expected Better

Experienced and loved the Crudo tasting menu a couple of weeks ago and have been anxious to try out the tomato version. This time, Sal was there that night. You just had to look at the dining room to see the difference - it was completely full at 9pm on a Wed. << MORE >>

Secret Underground Restaurant in LA - We finally got to go

I have been reading about underground restaurants for a couple years now. All the rage in NY and San Francisco, they are finally making their way to Los Angeles. ...<< MORE >>

Foodie Tour of the 3rd & Fairfax Farmer's Market

A wonderful new Foodie experience is now available in LA: The MeltingPotTours.  Two ladies (sisters) who have extensive backgrounds in the food industry have started offering intriguing tours with Food themes.  Yes, tourists would love them, but really it is the locals who could most benefit.  I saw they were offering a tour of the Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax and we had to check it out.  ...<< MORE >>

Touring the Farmer's Market with Amelia Saltsman + Fantasy Lunch at Rustic Canyon (Part III- Dinner)

We were so full from our bountiful lunch we did not eat dinner until close to 10PM that night.  It was incredibly rewarding to indulge in the produce we purchased earlier that day, much of which was probably picked that morning or the day before.  ...<< MORE >>

Touring the Farmer's Market with Amelia Saltsman + Fantasy Lunch at Rustic Canyon (Part II- The Food)

After an amazing tour with Amelia Saltsman and a brief interlude of "where did we leave the car" we caught up with the crew at Rustic Canyon Wine Bar for a beautiful, relaxed luncheon featuring the best of what is local and seasonal.  I had not experienced anything like this since my trip to wine country in Italy and France last year.  ...<< MORE >>

Touring the Farmer's Market with Amelia Saltsman + Fantasy Lunch at Rustic Canyon (Part I - The Tour)

I was very lucky to have recently "won" the time of Amelia Saltsman, a renowned local foodie author and media personality.  The prize, which was the result of my winning a silent auction benefiting the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, included having her as a personal guide through the market, followed by a special luncheon at the Rustic Canyon Wine Bar, featuring that day's market highlights. 
...<< MORE >>

The New Gjelina - Fresher than Fraiche!

Had to go check out the new bistro on Abbott Kinney.  We have another player in the whole Eat Local/Small Plate/Bistro Atmosphere phenomenon that has become all the rage in LA.   Up until Gjelina, (silent "G") Akasha was our most recent experience of this genre.  We hated it.
...<< MORE >>

Wanna be on the Food Network?

A casting director from The Food Network sent me an email and asked that I post their latest concept: They are looking to fix bad cooks.  Sounds like a funny concept.<< MORE >>

Crudo Nights at il Grano

Sal was in Italy, not at the restaurant.  We eventually figured this out, and that was most likely why they had trouble handling just 5 tables.  And their concierge quit.  And our waiter had just started there.  He did fine, but clearly the kitchen was experiencing serious chaos. 

But the food? Really good.  But dinner took 3 hours.  ...<< MORE >>

New and Improved Blue Water Grill in Redondo

Rumor had it Blue Water Grill had a new menu and perhaps a new chef.   I have always liked the venue.  Great views, big tables with a lot of room between them.  It was a good sign when I had trouble getting a Friday reservation.  They were booked solid until 8:30. 

We had a great table with both a view of the boats as well as into the open kitchen where they were grilling fish.  They opened our rose that we brought ($10 corkage.) We were very optimistic on how the evening was going to go. 
...<< MORE >>

Kress: Hollywood Glamour AND Remarkably Good Sashimi/Sushi

If Donald Trump ever decides to put a sushi bar in Hollywood, he will have a hard time trying to outdo the Kress.  Nightclub-cum-Sushi Bar, the Kress has given Hollywood a completely new category of luxury entertainment and excess.  Woohoo!
...<< MORE >>

Crudo Bar and Restorante in Weho. "Eh"

Soft opening this week; only open for lunch.   Three of us decided to check it out, as we love Crudo.   Sadly, it is a shame they did not actually have any on the menu.  They did have about 4 carpaccio items but were unfortunately out of one of them (the beef tartare.)  Honestly, if we did just not drive across town along with our dining companion who did the same thing, I may have just walked.  But we decided to go for it and ordered the tuna and salmon carpaccio. The salmon had so much citrus on it is was much more memorable of a ceviche than a crudo.  A shame; it was nice fatty salmon from the belly and should have been good.  The tuna was fine but not memorable.   We shared a a dreadful mushroom truffle salad. There were a few truffles shaved over the top that ...<< MORE >>

Redondo Sushi vs Pacfic Fish - Lobster Sashimi and a View

I am really torn on how to handle this review.  Lots of extremely positive things, and but also many negative.  I will just put it out there and let you judge for yourself based on your personal priorities. 

I must preface this to say I am a regular at Pacific Fish Center and Restaurant just below them on the pier.  THey have the best dungeness crabs, lobster, fried oysters, and live shrimp I have had anywhere.  Except when they are having a bad day and I  get the occasional mushy creature.  And the service is consistently awful as well as the long wait on weekends.  And they use the most absolute cheapest disposable plates and napkins that dissolve if you look at them funny.  And they charge you corkage if you bring wine but give you plastic cups to drink it out of.  But the crab is SO good I ...<< MORE >>

Red Fort - Serious Indian in Torrance

..I think the best way of explaining Red Fort is to explain what it is not. It does not resemble Addis Tandoor (probably their stiffest competition in the area) in any way..<< MORE >>

Tinto - Top Tapas in Philly

...To quote my brother: "This is the single best restaurant you have ever taken us to." We don't get back to philly that often, but he is comparing it to Vetri, Morimoto, and the like. I have to say I completely agree. << MORE >>

Dock's Oyster House - Amazing Seafood and Wine List in Atlantic City

...Atlantic City is often described as horribly inadequate by foodies. The "good" restaurants are mostly Las Vegas celebrity chef outposts with a few philly extensions like Buddakan thrown in. The whole area is going through a gentrification process right now; there are Coach and Louis Vuitton stores just a few blocks from the pawn shops and payday loan stores. In three to five years, it is going to be a very different place. But for now, I needed a solid place for dinner following the food and wine expo at Bally's. I figured you can't go wrong with fresh seafood, and Dock's has been around for over 100 years so we decided to give it a shot. << MORE >>

Getting Around Town. Table 8 + Taste of the Nation in Culver City

This past Friday we went with another couple to the very last night of Table 8 in their current location.  We sat at the bar and ordered everything off their lounge menu.  I finally got to try deep fried olives filled with Chorizo.  We all had the same favorite menu item: Grilled cheese with shortribs.   MMMMMM

I can't wait until they reopen. 

Today, we went to Taste of the Nation in Culver City.  ...<< MORE >>

Kitchen Nightmares: Where are you Gordon? (Review of The London, Opening Night)

Subtitles:  "The Emperor Has No Clothes" or perhaps, "Well, At Least the Bread Was Good."

Suffice it to say, this is  one of the single worst opening nights I have ever attended.  Both  Craft and Paperfish  were better and that is not saying very much.  ...<< MORE >>

MMM Dark Chocolate

From here, I would have to compare things to a wine tasting.  ...<< MORE >>

Catalina Restaurant...Much Better than Expected

With all the mixed reviews I have been hearing,  I thought I would check it out myself.  First off, it is certainly far better than Coccole, no contest.  Plus, the space has been completely redesigned so it is much more comfortable and better lit. ...<< MORE >>

New Orleans-Style Crawfish, Crabs and Shrimp in LA!

No, not LA as in Louisiana, I mean Los Angeles!  Ok, Garden Grove, actually, but still, that is WAY closer than New Orleans.  This is "The Crawfish House." A gem of a restaurant that is completely Vietnamese owned and operated.  There are a number of similar places in the immediate area (eg Boiling Crab), but my understanding this one is one of the "quietest" with the "shortest lines."

This is a place to order authentic boiled-in-a-bag crawfish, shrimp, crab, and more all in a delightfully spicy Cajun seasoning.  ...<< MORE >>

Yakitori Bincho...better than Shin-Sen-Gumi?

We are regulars at Shin Sen Gumi in Gardena. We have been to most of the Yakitori haunts around town, but we find ShinSenGumi by far the best. We hate that it is so loud, but appreciate the authentic tradition that is behind it. So when I read this passionate post about a new kid on the block that proports to be better than ShinSenGumi, we had to try it. << MORE >>

OMG Macarons from Boule are the Best Dessert Ever

uch a heavenly creation, the French Macaron.  The first time I ever had them was about 15 years ago, in Switzerland.  They were made by the confectionary Sprungli and called "Luxemburgli." They were tiny little "burgers" that would melt in your mouth with a buttery, creamy texture within a meringue like shell.  Back then, there were only a few flavor options, but each one would burst in your mouth with incredible purity of flavor.  I had to travel to Zurich a number of times on business back then, and I would make sure I always grabbed about $20 worth (which bought about a pound or so.) I had never had any dessert before or since that was so incredible.  ...<< MORE >>

It's Spot Prawn Season! Let's Get Them Drunk and Have Our Way With Them

I love Santa Barbara spot prawns and am used to paying a premium for small tastes of them in restaurants. I also adore them in the form of ama ebi at the sushi places. But so expensive and hard to find. So when I saw a reference on Chowhound to getting live spot prawns at Ranch 99 Markets for a mere $16/lb. I know what we were doing on Friday! << MORE >>

Save the Taco Truck! (MMM Tongue Tacos)

I believe it would be a terrible thing to ever ignore the plight of a fellow foodie. And people who run taco trucks, well, I have seen the passion in those taco creations and they count. So when I heard of their plight, well, we had to come out and show our support. << MORE >>

Citrus at Social: The Chef was so busy playing with the food he forgot about the flavor & quality

We went here for my birthday; it came highly recommended and Irene (LA Times) had very nice things to say.  I wish I had read the recent not-so-nice review in LA Magazine that showed up on my doorstep the next day...perhaps I would have reconsidered. ...<< MORE >>

Sunday Brunch: An Italian/Japanese Fusion Experience in Torrance

We've been to il Chianti before, being that it is only about a mile from our house.  Dinner has always been interesting, but generally items are hit or miss.  Not often you can get an uni pizza.  But it is a cool place, great hidden tables, counter seating, outdoor seating, lots of options.  Even a nice wine list with some good Italian options.

So it was just happenstance that we were driving out this past sunday looking for a quick meal not so out of the way, and we saw the open sign.  What the heck.  Our timing was good, they just started offering brunch in the last month.  ...<< MORE >>

Sushi Ken: Good Quality at a Great Price in South Bay

...How'd I miss this place? Ok it is on the end of a nondescript strip mall kinda stuck behind a Cost Plus World Market, but still, what a find. Tiny place, a bit too bright, but it's about the food. Here's what you do. Bring a bottle ($10 corkage) or order the Hakkaisan ($12 for a generous "waterfall" serving.) Then order the 14 piece Omakase for $32. Yes, that's right, $32. And no, it's not for pale, tired tuna and a California roll. << MORE >>

Capo: This is much better than having to fly all the way to Italy

We were not expecting much. The reviews for this place are generally mediocre at best, plus it is very expensive.  Although one of my foodie coworkers was recently there and he had nothing but good things to say about the place.  I have to say, I am with my coworker on this one.  ...<< MORE >>

Wow, Buffalo FROGS LEGS?!

No, it is not an April Fool's menu item.  It's for real, and quite tasty.  We were visiting Chez Melange in Redondo Beach the other night. We generally enjoy the "melange" of menu offerings, but this one was the "Melange-iest" one we have had in quite some time.  The succulent little froggie thighs were deep fried and smothered in a wonderfully buttery and perfectly spicy buffalo sauce.  ...<< MORE >>

Fraiche - Wow, I am really impressed

The table, the room, Karl, our hot and yet attentive French waiter, and of course the food...all VERY impressive. They were even kind with corkage. If you have read any of my other posts, you know I do not impress easily. So this was a night to remember.<< MORE >>

Akasha. Lots of Hype, Doesn't Deliver

We didn't have reservations but they agreed to let us hang out at the bar.  Cool room, reminds me of Fraiche.  Industrial look, lots of stone.  Awesome drink list and tons of wine by the glass.  Dinner is a motley assortment of small plates, salads, pizza, big plates, etc.  Their thing is the whole local/sustainable/organic movement that has invaded LA.  This place may look casual, but their prices say otherwise.  ...<< MORE >>

NYT: Foodie Bloggers & Health Issues

Interesting piece in the NYT today: The Fat Pack Wonders if the Party's Over

The gist of the article is that there are a bunch of foodies and especially foodie bloggers out there revelling in Pork Fat and are all finally getting to a point where they have to come to terms with the terrible things they are doing to their bodies.  ...<< MORE >>

Oyster Shucking Adventure. Don't Try this at Home...

We love oysters.  Such tasty little creatures.  Ordering a dozen at a restaurant is such a tease.  We want LOTS of oysters.  I have happy memories of sitting at Felix's in New Orleans eating four or five dozen at one sitting.  While I have bought two oyster shuckers, the few times I attempted to shuck an oyster or two has ended in disaster so it was something I never really pursued. 

But this time, it was going to be different. ...<< MORE >>

Organic Sushi Bistro...Now this is LA

It's called Kula Sushi Bistro. A Sushi "Bistro" in Century City? This was going to be an adventure. From reading all the reviews and descriptions, I was expecting a fairly authentic Japanese dining experience but with some "dumbing down" for the American palette, all in a funky, modern setting. << MORE >>

Coi - Molecular Gastronomy in San Francisco

We loved Alinea in Chicago, and since that experience have been questing other great Molecular Gastronomic experiences.  I had heard that Coi (pronounced "kwa") is the best (only) experience SF has to offer in Molecular Gastromony...(meaning they have exactly one more option than LA...) so of course this was at the top of my list.  ...<< MORE >>

Cav - Great Wine Bar in Castro. Innovative wines, food

Cav was the surprise of the trip. My original expectation was just to share some wine and snacks with a friend I know from when I worked at Wally's about 5 years ago. She had left Wally's while I was there and opened Cav some months later. I was certainly looking forward to some good wine (she was the sommelier.) The wine did not disappoint, but it was the food that really blew us away. << MORE >>

Bar Crudo - I really was expecting something much better

We stopped for a drink and just to try the signature dish - the crudo. They were very nice about accommodating us at the bar, where we could watch them shuck oysters and prepare the dishes. Pictured was the house variety; there were three of us and they offered a combo of 3 pieces each. It took us 4 tries to find a bottle of European white wine from the list that they had in stock. << MORE >>

NY Deli in San Francisco?

Since the Sunday brunch we were originally going to go to at Nikko looked awful and un-Japanesed, we decided to let our friends take us to to their new-found treasure, an authentic NY Deli called Miller's East Coast West Delicatessen.  We HAD to go, as they professed to have awesome Nova and bagels flown in daily, which is my husband's favorite.  ...<< MORE >>

La Paulée de San Francisco - Amazing Burgundy Tasting

This event was the primary impetus that prompted our recent SF visit.  Having visited the Burgundy region last year and being completely blown away, we were excited to be able to try so much wonderful burgundy in one place.  We only attended the luncheon, which at $300/pp we thought it to be quite extravagant.  Clearly money was no object to most of the attendees, and/or they were industry people. I definitely spotted many familiar faces from Wine Spectator and other publications.  It seemed most people were also attending the dinner event, which was $1500 AND you were expected to bring some special wine to share.  We decided to skip that event, lol.  ...<< MORE >>

Hog Island Oyster Company in the Ferry Building

...I thought it would be better. Kind of a tourist trap. The oysters were way overpriced at $2.50 or more a piece.<< MORE >>

Quince. Strange Rules, Great Dining

The Quince people really think a lot of themselves.   I had to make the reservation EXACTLY 30 days from the time I wanted the reservation. No more, no less.  They wanted a $100 deposit (cancellation fee) on the credit card for four people.  You can only bring up to two bottles of wine per table, at $35 corkage for each one.  And when I tried to take a picture of one of the courses, the hostess quickly ran up and said that there were to be no pictures of the food.  I thought I was on a Seinfeld episode, the one with the Soup Nazi.  That said, it really was a great meal.  We opted for the tasting menu ...<< MORE >>

Foodie Traveler Hits San Francisco. First Stop: Lobster Shack

My husband has been craving an authentic New England Lobster Roll, and I had heard this could be procured in SF.  After much research, I decided we would try the Lobster Shack, a tiny little place that is located in the in-between area between China Town and Little Italy. The people there were very nice, and the owner even stopped by to chat. We got the double, which came with home-style cole slaw and thick cape-cod chips. The sandwiches consisted of two wonderful "hot dog" buns that were grilled and basted with butter.  The five oz of lobster tail and claw meat nice and chunky with just the right amount of hellman's mayo mixed in.  (We loved the way they made a point of mentioning they use Hellman's and not the nasty cheap no-name or miracle-whip stuff.) They also offer a "naked" option for those mayo-haters out there. More butter ...<< MORE >>

The Bestest Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels EVER

We recently have discovered the joy that is sea-salt caramels.  But not until this past valentine's day have we had any this amazing.  I purchased them from Bristol Farms; the company that makes them is called Moonstruck Chocolates out of Portland, OR.  There was an assortment, but by far our favorite was called a Cajeta Caramel.  I had to look this up, as I never had heard of it before.  I learned that caramel is made by cooking sugar very slowly and cajeta is made by cooking sweetened milk very slowly.  The end result was incredible.  These little gems came enrobed in a rich, dark chocolate.  Inside was a liquid caramel that was at once creamy, molten, and milky, with just the right touch of sea-saltiness. It had a viscosity similar to the liquid around a cherry cordial, but yet possessed the "goo-iness" inherent in a well-made caramel.  Overall, it was a delightful experience and I recommend you try them the next time you want a tasty treat.

<< MORE >>

Experiments with Fish

I was in Marukai last night looking for dinner inspiration. I usually tend to go for the raw fish for some kind of sushi concoction, but then my eye caught some shiny pink-tinged Dover Sole Filets.  I have never cooked Dover Sole.  Hell, I am not sure I ever even had it in a restaurant.  ...<< MORE >>

Decent Chinese Food in South Bay...Continued

It's still Chinese New Year time for a couple more weeks, and we wanted to get some authentic goodies.  But it was late, there were just two of us, options were limited.  You may recall I already rejected a number of local options in previous posts.  So I hit the Internet and decided to try Shanghai Palace Garden as it sounded most authentic, and I like Shanghai style Chinese.  I called first. Yes, they had some fresh lobster specials.  Yes, I could bring wine.  ...<< MORE >>

Random Thought: Fast Food Nation

I am in the middle of listening to the audio version of Fast Food Nation.  I am sure I will get to the outrage part soon enough, but at the moment all of this talk about burgers is really making me crave a Big Mac and fries. And a shake.  And I never eat that stuff.  Sigh.
...<< MORE >>

R23 - Love the Cardboard Chairs. The Sushi? Not What I Was Expecting

So I keep this database of LA restaurants that includes those I want to get to at some point. Part of it consists of all the so-called "premium" sushi places in LA. I have been to many of them with different degrees of success. My favorite is probably Shibucho off Beverly, but that is for another review. For my husband's birthday, we decided to finally hit R23. Scary valet parking, Really cool decor, great art, funky cardboard chairs. But who called this place premium?<< MORE >>

Ok, We Were Totally High Maintenance Customers, but still...3rd Strike for Providence.

The background is that we were huge Michael fans - loved him at WaterGrill. Yet we have been to Providence twice before now, did the tasting menu, and were underwhelmed each visit. This time we went for my husband's birthday with three others. We all agreed to order off the menu and not do the tasting, in hopes of a better experience. Admittedly, we were terrible customers. One person in the party arrived 30 min after we were seated. We brought 4 bottles of our own (very good) wine and only ordered a few cocktails. We were kinda loud. And when they overheard me complaining about the tasteless Ahi/Black Truffle dish ($55) they came by and offered to take it back.<< MORE >>

Shoulda Stuck with Soon Tofu. Ryo Zan Paku Review

9:15 on a weeknight...we just worked out. Hungry. Where to go to get a light dinner? We just weren't in the mood for Soon Tofu. ...<< MORE >>

Even More Trendier than Crudo...They are doing WHAT with Raw Fish?

And more recently, Crudo (Italian Sashimi) and Ceviche have become quite trendy as well.  I was recently in South Beach and South American fusion sushi was all over town.   But not until my experience with the new Sushi Chef at Chez Melange have I experienced...Tropical Sushi!  ...<< MORE >>

It was a tease for a month, and now its gone. (Good DimSum in SouthBay)

We love good dim sum but Alhambra/Monterey park is such a long drive we don't go that often unless we just want to kill most of the day.  But sometimes we really get a craving, and are too busy for the trip.  FOr those circumstances, South Bay had two options: Sea Empress in Gardena, and Regal Palace in Lomita.  The last several times we went to Sea Empress it completely deteriorated, so we actually haven't been there in six months.  Regal Palace was the standby. It was generally hit or miss, but there were always a few decent items for not that much money.  So we were quite surprised this past september when we stopped by and it all seemed quite different.  Many of the staff had suddenely been replaced by people we knew from PCH, another chinese restaurant in Lomita that used to be good.  They had a new ...<< MORE >>

Rain: New Restaurant in Torrance. "It was raining french fries and good wine..."

A friend sent me an email asking if I had been to a new place in Torrance called Rain.  40 wines by the glass, small plates, organic/sustainable, even a waterfall.  All of this AND in Torrance. OMG how could I have missed it? I was terribly embarrassed.  So I couldn't even wait until tonight (fri) to go.  I had to check it out that very night (thurs).  I called, and found out they were open for 8 months (?!) and serve dinner until mignight. It is in the Marriott near the mall. So we grabbed two of our foodie friends and headed out. We didn't even get there until 9:30. 

The first sign something was wrong was when all the cool interesting things on the online menu were missing.  ...<< MORE >>

Wine Spectator Top 100. Is it really tops?

Went to a top 100 party the other night. Attendees were required to each bring a bottle from the top 100 list from any year. No top 10's showed up at the party, but there was a generous assortment from recent years. I had seen the 2007 list when it first came out and wasn't particularly enthused when I saw it contained such gems as Yellowtail Shiraz and Rombauer Chard, both horribly over-oaked and over-extracted high-alcohol fruit bombs (IMHO). It seems that Wine Spectator is really going for the big juicy stuff. << MORE >>

Santa Barbara CHP grant targets drunken driver 'Sideways' effect

Have you heard?

Santa Barbara CHP grant targets drunken driver 'Sideways' effect ...<< MORE >>

Lucques - Solid Comfort Food, Gourmet Touch

Lucques is simply a great place to go with friends to have a relaxing, uncomplicated dinner. They have a small but thoughtful menu that offers enough variety for even your most picky companions.<< MORE >>

Paperfish - Impress Your Date, but not a Foodie

Five of us visited on Day 3. Ultramodern, open/high-ceiling, strikingly decorated with a white and red-orange motif, nicely contrasted with black linen napkins. Unlike other restaurants in the area, tables are not too close together, acoustics lend themselves nicely to private conversation. JD, our waiter, was a pleasure. Incredibly enthusiastic, he carefully pushed and pulled us to order the "right" items. So we were optimistic at first. JD sold us on the night's appetizer, a very special grilled octopus. Then he came back to give us the sad news that they ran out. We joked that the chef should come out and personally apologize. He did, lol. Unfortunately, as great as the service was the food turned out to be typical of other Patina establishments. It looked pretty to the eyes but just did not deliver in quality and flavor. << MORE >>

Osteria Mozza...Worth The Hype?

We have been to the pizza place and also recently went to B&B in Vegas.  So how would Osteria Mozza compare? We managed to obtain a difficult to obtain reservation when someone canceled.  We packed up a nice 96 Brunello ($20 corkage) and headed out.  Typical HW set up...loud, tables close together.  And they were playing 80's rock.  We ate to foreigner and Blondie.  Funny.  Foodwise, started out great.  Starters were fried pig trotter, grilled octopus, and burrata on leeks.  Pig trotter was reminiscent of scrapple (maybe there is someone out there from philly who knows what I am talking ...<< MORE >>

Urasawa - (with apologies to Plato, The Perfect Form of Sushi)

Attended one of the most remarkable birthday parties ever, at the legendary Urasawa in beverly hills.  The birthday family reserved the entire restaurant...10 people at the bar, 2 at a table.  One seating per night.  The experience was reminiscent of Alinea in that it was an amazing dinner and a Cirque du Soleil-like foodie show all in one.  There were about 10 appetizers, 20 individual pieces of sushi, and about 2-3 desserts.  In total, yes, it was the best sushi I ever had.  But if I were to dissect each individual piece of fish, I would have to say I had comparable quality at other high-end sushi places.  The main sushi differentiator here was that EVERY piece was at least as good as the best I ever had anywhere else. 

But trancending the sushi were the small plates.  Especially memorable was a shabu-shabu-like dish involving kobe, lobster, and foie gras.  ...<< MORE >>

Can a wine be ethereal?

One of the wines we brought back from a recent trip to Tuscany was a '93 Cerbaiona Brunello.  Now I knew I loved brunello, but I am only recently getting into older wines.  My comfort zone and passion typically lies with burgundy or barolo, but this wine....OMG.  I heard 1993 was one of the best years for brunello, but never got to experience it until now. 

I am not good at tasting notes like the fancy stuff you see in Wine Spectator or erobert parker that often reference obscure vegetation, industrial chemicals, and various land and sea creatures.  But I ...<< MORE >>

How I got banned from Chowhound

I was a perfectly happy chowhounder.  Mostly a lurker, occasionally posting a review or two.  THen came CNET and their ruination of what was a perfectly good place to talk restaurants.  I started reading things about people getting banned, but I didn't really believe it.  Until it happened to me.  I actually thought this was a solid post - very fair.  It generated lots of good responses for a couple days.  THen it was mysteriously gone.  ALong with every other post I ever made.  And my account was deleted.  I really don't think I deserved that, but you be the ...<< MORE >>

"The $220 Chicken” Or Our Experiences at a 3-Star Michelin: Paul Bocuse

Actually, it was a friend who talked us into going. We read all the reviews, talked to the guide. All of them pointed us to many other gastronomic delights in Lyon. But he said, “How often in life will you get the opportunity to go to a 3 Star Michelin?” Admittedly, curiosity got the better of us so I emailed my reservation. Now, those who know us know we are not strangers to fine dining. We have been to most of the top restaurants in LA at least once, and have experienced many great meals at top restaurants in other parts of the US and beyond. But a 3 Star? How good could it be? When we arrived for our 8PM reservation on a Sunday night, the place was almost empty. (The crowd really picked up by 9:30.) The ambiance and the place setting was everything you would expect, extraordinarily elegant. I did find the oil painting of the the fresh-killed rabbit (a hunting picture) over our table a little disconcerting, but well, perhaps we just don’t understand the French. << MORE >>

Pilgrimage to Alinea

We made a pilgrimage to Alinea in Chicago for my 40th birthday.  It was a completely sublime experience in molecular gastronomy.  We did the complete menu with wine pairings.  Length of Dinner: 5 hours.  When we left at about 11:30 the place was still completely full.  Bill total for each couple: $910.72 ...<< MORE >>

Moto in Chicago

Unique and facinating, but just not that good. ...<< MORE >>

Introduction to my foodie blog

So here is a bit about my attitude towards foodie travels: ...<< MORE >>