Friday, April 6, 2018

What's In a Chicken Box ?

What is the most efficient way of getting a food to go?

Back in the day, I think a common theme is to set an easy store front with pick up window and then you can bring your food into your car to enjoy the lovely solitude in the comfort of your car. Heck, even something like Sonic can bring the food in a tray out to your car.

Untitled

That's the thing about the past on how people dine. You don't see it as much these days of pick up and take out places. One of the more fascinating place I have encountered was this little boutique chicken shack along the chaotic busy street of Whittier Blvd.

Untitled
Front of the Shop

The best I can describe this place was it reminded me of a little gift shop on the side of the highway road. The decor reflected the charm of a boutique gift shop. as you can see for yourself.

I am always fascinated by the small charms and the history behind the shop. I guess I am curious whenever I passed by this place that is so out of the way, but seemed to get traffic with plenty of regulars stopping by for their pick up.

Untitled


As the name can attest, it's chicken in a box. One type of chicken. Broasted fried chicken.


Chicken In a Box

They also served out seafood, barbecue ribs, and wings. Limited on the menu, but they served on what they are known for, which is their broasted chicken that is battered perfectly. Seasoned well with the skin fall right off as it's not crispy. It's not a deep fried variety with crunch skin crisp, but for the rest of us who prepared the broasted method, this is heaven.

There's always a great way to dine as people are less likely to eat in their car now. Who wants to ruin the leather seat or have weird food smell in their car? Luckily, they have situated a few tables out in their front porch (yes, it's like a converted house in a middle of a parking lot) of their chicken shack restaurant.

Overall, I think I would come here if I ever craved for some of those fried chickens. Mostly I would considered using them if I need to catered to a big group or parties. This would be a great meal for a back yard parties. Did they lived up to their slogan on the sign (it reads "World's Finest Chicken")?

You'll have to go in and judge it yourself. I think it's right up there for broasted chicken.

So remote as I previously mentioned as the place still reminisced of the old days on how fast food or casual take outs supposedly works.

Chicken Box
330 E. Whittier Blvd
La Habra, CA 90631

Chicken Box-Broasted Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Carb Delights of Beijing Pie House

Is there such a thing as too much carbs?

You'll probably throw your inhibitions away once you get a load of these delicious meat pies we're about to see. It's just a doughboy's heaven from here on out.

I was once introduced to this nondescript corner restaurant in San Gabriel Valley because of my heavy craving for dumplings. One of my associate suggested a place known for Chinese meat pies that is beef stuffed in a round flat circle shaped like a table coasters.


The famous Beijing Meat Pie

Imagine if you will of an Irish Pot pie (usually lamb) or maybe one of those British Chicken pie that are much more well known to the masses, but the Chinese beef version has been around for ages. Getting the Northern Chinese fare into general public might be a bit tad hard because of the public oppression towards carbs these days and competition against the popular xiao long baos (Shanghai's soup dumplings) that is a better seller these days.


Beef Green Onion Pancake

If you are ever hanker for this... watch out! Those fillings inside are like soup dumplings as well. Even the green onion cake version sliced perfectly can be tempting to any carb lover's dreams.

The minimalist restaurant has been very popular with the fans of Chinese dumplings for a long time as I have remembered it. It used to be on the annual list of best restaurants of many dining critic here in LA... all because of that one dish.

Make sure you get some walking exercise after the meal because this carb overload is worth that sacrifice.

Beijing Pie House
846 E Garvey Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91755

Beijing Pie House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Conscious Dining at Andrei's Conscious Cuisine and Cocktails

I have just found the longest name on earth for a restaurant.

At first I was trying to read it right and thought maybe the place wanted to remind people a few things about themselves. Can't leave out any important parts, right?

This interesting posh and elgant restaurant is next door to a luxury apartment and high end Mariott Hotel that are close to the Orange County's John Wayne Airport. The name of Conscious cuisine was a way to bring attention to their efforts to dedicate in bringing sustainable seafood and natural farm raised meat for their local California fare in their dishes.

The few times I had been here before was always as a quick get together for a drink as I can tell it tends to situate the out of towners who are staying at the Mariott or for people who are on their way to visit their kids at UC Irvine (which is also down the street as well).


Filet Mignon Carpaccio

For me, I really wanted to say I never get a full chance of dining here until last week when I didn't wanted to brave the parking situation in going to the Jamboree plaza a few miles away for a soiree of dinner with friends.


Pan Seared Hokkaido Scallops

Stopping by here, I got a few cocktails and kicked back to watch a Lakers game on the tele. It seemed pleasant enough as I do always at this place. However, tonight I may just wanted to blow my friends off as I thought about why not just checked out their menu and give it a go.

Untitled

Carrot Cake

I thought for the time being as described earlier, it seemed their menu bordered on the local farm to table fare for sustainable and natural raised proteins on their dishes. So naturally, I wanted to check out their seared scallops dishes and maybe tried my luck on their Filet Mignon Carpaccio.

Untitled
Apricot Tea-Tini

Their piano bar lounge look tends to be a hit with the older crowd who are looking for a fine dining in a town that is being taken over by the millennials who are just invading what was once cool upper class crowds. This restaurant is pretty much of a throwback to the days when Gordon Gekko of the world can leisurely walked in and have a few lamb chops and a glass of cocktail.

Untitled

Tart Toddy

Now it's all about the boba tea shop. This place is still kept some of remembrance and somewhat of a reverence. I do enjoyed the my meal here and the cocktails as well. Very chilled on a Saturday night (don't come on Sunday, they're closed) and would not hesitate to come here for a slow quiet conversations on a dinner.

As in for the name.... well, let's hope they don't add a coffee shop or bakery. That's another add on for their business card.

Andrei's Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails
2607 Main Street
Irvine, CA 92614

Andrei's Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, March 2, 2018

Frogtown's Biertgarten at Salazar






This will be a dilemma for some of us. Do we go out of the way for some good grub? More importantly, are we trying to compare apple and oranges (in this case upscale dining vs street food)?

On one hand, you got a cool place that opened up serving a fine array of pretty looking dishes that appeals to the eyes, but also great for the tummy. However, your wallet does not thank you for this.

Keep in mind, this is not going to be competitive with a taco truck value pricing and does serve somewhat of a gourmet Mexican fare. The place obviously gravitate towards a certain clientele. Some say towards hipsters, I say scenesters who reads too much of Variety's or Hollywood Reporter's hottest new restaurants (avoid going to Nomad, Inko Nito, Majordomo, or Freedman's at this moment).


Pork Chop


It's one of those places that's great to be seen. Beautiful outdoor patio that is front of a scenic looking bar that is inside of a remodeled mechanic auto body shop. The patio yard is nicely decked out as I think the courtyard looks nothing like the driveway that it used to be. It looks like a Biergarten if you ever thought of it that way.


Carne Asada Fries

Based on a few inside gossips, I heard they changed the cocktail menu programs a few times. The drinks still looks and taste fabulous. I think the big one to order seemed to be the horchata variety.

Now let's break this bracket down, this is not going to be competitive in pricing wise with the street cart, but their tacos are fantastic! The pricing probably suggest they are going after the hipsters who likes to go to places that are re-gentrified. The reason I say scensters is that I noticed there are more of those people who seems to read what's new on those publications that are coming here when it first opened.


Carnitas Taco

The parking situation as many pointed out will be tricky, especially on weekdays for lunch when you are competing with local businesses in that area for the same street parking. Weekends are a tad easier as some of those business will be closing.

As in my thoughts to my own question... First part of my question, it depends if I'm in the mood and if I'm in that area. Second part.... I never compared, but don't be surprised if many will.

Salazar
2490 Fletcher Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90039

Salazar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Fresh Off The Boat at Sapporo Sushi and Grill






Does it matter where it comes from?

It's a hard question to ask when you basically connects with a specific cuisine with certain ethnicity. You figured if it's not made by the origin, it doesn't count. What I'm trying to get at is that for some people they would like to associate certain dish to a specific country in mind. Let's play a game, shall we?

Pizza: Italian. Tacos: Mexican. Greasy cheesy steaks in a sub: American. Ok, so far so good.

Sushi:Japanese.... not so fast compadre. Apparently, not many people think so and will debate this forever. They probably will go on Wikipedia to change the contents and the story to this. The back story is obviously in that sushi are fast food with assorted fishes that get cut into small slices and topped it on a steamed rice are the stuff of legend. Probably popularized as we know it as a Japanese cuisine that can be sold as a ridiculous high priced fancy meal in some uber posh high priced sushi gallery. 


The Premium Boat

However, do you know it's actually originated in southeast Asia near the Mekong River? More importantly as a snack item that is prepared right after the fish are caught on a boat?

This of course brings up my question as many don't associated as a non-Japanese cuisine, which are now popular for many upstarts. Everyone in far east Asia like the Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos, and even Vietnamese loves the fish on the rice.

Beef Tataki

With that in mind, I figured trying out a place I always wanted to visit here in Buena Park, north Orange County that is bordered on LA as well. This city is very popular among the Koreans as the suburbia of the central region that have seen surge in dining cuisine outside of the traditional Korean fare.

Pleasantly, the ambiance would be not far off from what you find in most contemporary sushi joints where there are front bar counter seats to watch a few sushi chef slaved over cutting up the fine fishes into thin slice. Craftmanship on these preparation are better than watching slices of beef cooked on grill anyway at your local Mongolian Barbecue.

Interiors consist of a few dining area separating the booth tables with some modern style Asian decor that suggesting a sleeker furnishing, rather than the old bamboo hut style that tends to the butt of joke elsewhere. It's a step up from the other well known Korean owned sushi joints such as Kabuki (an popular chain in LA).

The big attraction here are two dishes that I wanted to get that are popular among users on Yelp. The sushi boat and the beef tataki. The menu options are pretty straight forward with sushi options as the big main courses, some sides that are gear towards the tempura and teriyaki sections, and a few closely related bento styles items (think a protein, a few veggies, and a soup).

The sushi boat was a combination of half order nigiri (fishes on vinegar steamed rice) and sashimi (slices of fish only). The variety of these fishes went from your standard fare of different tuna, yellow tail, sweet shrimp, amberjack, mackarel, and sweet omelet egg. Afterwards, the sweet shrimp's head can be deep fried for you, but I guess I wanted to be put on miso soup.

Untitled
Teriyaki Chicken

Afterwards, I was informed there is also a choice of either of teriyaki chicken or fried chicken cutlet can complete the meal. Imagine my shock to discover the good news...after I was full from the boatload of fishes.

The greater question: Does it matter who prepared this? In the very end, craftmanship of these fishes being prepared mattered so little on who serves it. I hope the notion get dismissed quickly as we all know the best chefs in Chinese cuisine are pretty much Latinos in LA. Yeah, I dare to say that.

Leaves little doubt as this is a fine sushi establishment when you are eating with disconcerting taste buds.

Sapporo Sushi and Grill 
5491 Beach Blvd
Buena Park, CA 90621

Sapporo Sushi and Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fast & Fiery Furious at Olio Wood Fired Pizzeria






Funniest part is that I rarely do food court dining.

I wish I can tell you why or why not in wanting to something of this sort. I feel like in a bad sense of deja vu of having a cafeteria food back in my younger days in school. Remembered all those stale pizzas, sloopy joes, or tater tots that barely passed as edible gourmet chow? Yup, the food they feed to youth those days are worse than rations you give to the military. At least the military can use the excuse of there is no working stove in the front line. 

Want to know something so funny? Apparently now, some of the new or old exciting eatery can be found in food hall. Food court dining are making a huge splash.

Untitled


One of my favorite pizza place can be found in a downtown food stall / Farmer's market called Grand Central Market. It is sort of an exciting time for this venue of a wide open space where they now houses some of the quick eateries of different cuisines, desserts, coffee shops, and breweries.

In the past, all you get a run me down Chinese food or Mexican food as they were catered to the surrounding employees that worked in the office buildings of downtown. Hustle and Bustle as how they do when they need bites on the run as most can walk in and out of the joint within their hour lunch break.



What set this food court apart was having this gorgeous of a square space that houses one of the best personal pizza you'll get. Olio's, a casual and somewhat of a fast, made to order pizza operation. This is the 2nd installment after the popular Santa Barbara eatery. Even though this is not intended to be a food stall, it worked out to be a popular dining destination for many diners of all ages.

Untitled

Margarherita Plus

Personal Pizza can be had in one size with four slices cut immaculately into equal triangle shape size. Because of the fast pace action here, customization are only available on what the menu will be offered. This will not be like your local made to order pizza operations (ie Pizza Rev, Mod Pizza, Blaze Pizza, etc etc).

Untitled
Wild Mushroom & Speck

What they do offered are some of the best wood fired pizza you'll get. Especially in a closed indoor proximity such as Grand Central Market. 

This is the type of food court dining most people crave for these days. It's weird to see a farmer's market that predominately sells farmed produces got changed into a fall hall in matter of years. Baked goods are still sold in some space and a few candies shops are left.

Untitled
Spicy Sausage & Peppers

I guess if this fast paced, made to order pizzeria can be part of the new trend in dining, then I'm all for it. In a way, craving for these terrific pizzas are worth the long search of parking in this surrounding area. That's the only drawback of going to Grand Central Market these days in burgeoning downtown.

One more notch on my food stand category!

Olio Wood Fired Pizzeria
(Inside of Grand Central Market)
317 S. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Olio Gcm Wood Fired Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Meeting for the First Time at Little Sister



Have you ever met a little sister of any of your friend?

Chances are that you have and will always find something unique about meeting her for first time. That's how I felt about coming to Little Sister in their downtown Los Angeles location.

Going back, I actually went to the original location of the same name at Manhattan Beach. Love the cool beach vibes that serves modernized Vietnamese cuisine to their upscale million dollar neighborhood.


Tom Rang Thit Ba Chi - Caramelized Prawn, Pork Spare Ribs, Lardons in Clay Pot

This new surroundings presents a different challenge. It's now catered the busy buzzy crowd of downtown metropolis.

Going inside of the newer little sister of the Little Sister location, they kept the elements the same. Smaller tight space with open tables by the left side of the wall with open high counter seats on the right side. There is even a matching L shape bar with a few tellie playing sports game.

Identical. Like a Siamese twins. You almost couldn't tell it apart by the looks between Manhattan Beach or downtown.

Funny thing was... I actually like the downtown location better.

The same soft touch on the ingredients on the food was still met. You still get the same intricate touches on the take of modernized Vietnamese food that was made popular when it first came out at the Manhattan Beach location. Some of my favorite involves their Salt & Pepper Lobster, which comes out as a split lobster, which then the remaining meat will then be use as a fried rice prepared for you as the final course.


Beef Tartare

Their other top mentioned dishes besides the noodles dishes were their interpretation of shaky beef (Bo Luc Lac) and their seafood clay dish (Tom Rang Thit Ba Chi), which the latter I enjoyed the most. The made to order spring rolls are also a must order on the location as well.

Nothing in terms of food wise I would noticed different. The big takeaway may have been the ambiance for me. I guess the location here in downtown was geared towards night out on the town crowd, which contrast the locale of the uber suburbia clientele that they get. Make no mistake, it's still gear towards couple night, date night, and the friends get to-gather atmosphere.

Untitled
A Drink Called Charlize Theron (Yes it's red and should have been called Emma Stone)

Oh here's a funnier part, all night at Manhattan Beach location, I am always stuck in between couples who are out on their first Tinder dates. I guess that's how these couples are now getting hooked up. With the downtown crowd and its location, it's more of the casual friends zone.

Maybe it's why I'm a bit more comfortable with the younger sis of the Little Sister. It's the kinda feeling you would have at meeting your friend's little sister... the trusting feeling that makes you more relaxed.

Little Sister
523 W. 7th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Little Sister Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Asian Brunching at Xian Yuan Gourmet




Personally I rarely do brunch. Especially getting up early on a weekend.

I can't lie, I don't think I ever get to see a sunrise or even have three square meals a day as breakfast is foreign to me. Brunch might be a doable because it's partially breakfast that gets lumped into lunch. Something light, but fulfilling enough at a late morning to early afternoon time during weekend. 

Untitled
Har Gaw - (Crystal Shrimp Dumplings)

Hence, you can tell my brunch time is always during weekend for the late risers who really can't do early breakfast.

Dim sum for me is always the go to "breakfast of champions". It's the Chinese tapas for the uninitiated. If you think about it, instead of wine, you get morning hot tea and more importantly,  the small bites of various Chinese essential imperial items that goes well with the tea. It's funny, Chinese do not do mimosas or champagne cocktails. Tea leaf is the essential hot herbal remedy for all bodily functions.

Untitled
Steamed Turnip Cake (not pan fried)

Untitled
Steamed Bean Curd

Untitled
Rice Roll Noodles

Untitled
Chicken Feet

When you go to "Yum Cha" (I loathed the phrase "dim sum"), the staples included dumplings, noodle covered proteins, parts of chicken or beef in presentable manner, and cute bite size desserts. Apparently, it's a win for the whole family.

Untitled
Steamed Taro Buns - Close up of Hedgehog

There are so many options in the West side of San Gabriel Valley, but the trek to Xian Yuan Gourmet was not for the typical fare of Cantonese brunch, but we're in it for the cutesy steamed taro bun that was crafted to a hedgehog shape. It's weird, but that's how it is now in the foodtography world of Instagram where we needed to get good pics of food and a cute shape of a steamed dessert buns was the go-get item of the day.

Untitled
The inside of the bun

Other typical items you can find at a local Yum Cha places included Chicken Feet, Shrimp Noodles, Shumai (pork dumplings), Crystal Shrimp Dumplings (light wrap skin), Beef Tripe, and Egg Tarts for dessert.

Being fair and honest, I was quite astound to find that this place already was consider the best Chinese brunch place in all of LA by a few well known publication, albeit one of them writing it for that site had recommended other restaurants I have disagreed in the past. I would probably say that the staple of food is on par what I am used to.


Not a bad way to get you out of bed for a dim sum brunch.

Xian Yuan Gourmet
9556 E Las Tunas Dr
Temple City, CA 91780

Xian Yuan Gourmet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

New Addition to the Family at Stonefire Grill






There seemed to be something amiss when we talk about home cook meals.

For the older generation like the boomers, they tends to think of cooking in the kitchen with the dining taking place at the table near the stove and oven. For the forgotten crowd of X and Y, our dinner consists of dining in front of the television. What does that leaves the millennials who don't even stay at home?

Mesquite BBQ Chicken Pizza

Surely they gotta eat? That's the conundrum that faces the gathering of three generation gaps in the ever changing time.

The Stonefire Grill, which is now celebrating its grand opening of their 10th location today in Torrance, California answers an age old question of how to gather three different generations for a sit down for a meal, but agreeing on a place to eat as well.

Untitled
Beef Tri Tips

SFG which was started by two sisters, Mary and Maureen Harrigan who grew up in a huge family of eleven children who both pretty much love the ideas of having family members gather at the big family table with a simple approach to the classic dishes that are valued, wholesome, but more importantly appetizing to the belly. It also can be healthy, but at the end be delicious as it was meant to be. Food and Company tends to be the theme. It carries over to the restaurants as well.

Fresh Seared Salmon

There are plenty of options to go from in the menu. Anywhere from the light and nutritious salad that are being offered, to the handsome offerings of chicken, salmon, barbecue beef tips, and not lastly pizzas!

Untitled
Whole Roasted Cauliflower

The menu seemed to encompassed all of the traditional helpings of a family comfort food. It rightly deals to the heart of getting everybody under one roof where selections would be great for both nit pick eaters, health conscious gourmand, to the hearty munchers. Everyone and anyone are welcome in this table.

Untitled
Grilled Salad

With the popular expansions of the 10th location here in Torrance to the brand new 11th and 12th locations due to roll out in the future. It's no wondering it is very popular among the family crowds looking for hearty casual meals.

Untitled
Fresh Pesto

Here's the question that I do beg of many.... is there's a room for desserts. Of course! Plenty of options here as well. I had been told the carrot cake was renowned at all SFG locations. Not just dining in, but with take outs and their event catering services as well. I was also been informed in that they have a test kitchen at every location in trying out new items they may introduced in their menu.

Untitled
Lemon Garlic Chicken


I think the roasted cauliflower is one of the finer introduction as I may recalled from my past visits at other locations.



Heavenly Blueberry Cheesecake

Speaking of which, if there is ever a chance to get everyone in to friendly and attentive service, then this brand new location should be visited for all fantastic offerings you can get. From the private cozy booth, to wide open center dining room, to the fresh outdoor patio space, it is a good time to go.

Untitled

Carrot Cake


Grand opening is today at February 6 with a special promo of 50% on their famous carrot cake. Don't missed out..

Stonefire Grill
25352 Crenshaw Blvd
Torrance, CA 90505

Stonefire Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Sitting At The Cool Table at Blacksmiths






OutKast asked an interesting question... what's cooler than being cool? Ice Cold!

Funny about this, but I still think being cool is cooler. And there's no place cooler to be in, just to be cool, than at one of hottest trendy place in town called Blacksmiths.

Untitled

Downtown LA has seen its share of revitalization within the recent decade. The progression has been marked significantly through the seedier part of town from the so-called art district, fashion district, and now the old bank district which this restaurant resides at.


Hamachi - Citrus Vinaigrette, avocado, mango, sliced breakfast radish, micro greens, and red jalapeño.

Blacksmiths is another cool hip trendy place that pretty much sums up about LA: the need to be seen kind of place.

You can't just have another place with good food, or vibes that matches with people who are willing to shell big bucks. Apparently now it has to be buzz worthy, exciting to be in, and more importantly place that is needed to be jibe with the right kind of crowd... aka non-hipster, classy, but yet will welcome anyone wants to be in it.

Nothing says it better than a place where ballahs are at.


Grilled Spanish Octopus - okinawa puree, caramelized pineapple, pickled red onions, sour tomatillos crispy fava beans, tangy sweet sauce

This brunch spot in the weekend also happens to be a posh busy nightspot for dinner. It rivals my other favorite dinner spot at Rossoblu as the it place to be at this moment in downtown. The restaurant took over a former hot spot in a 1st floor of a loft building in the Golden Triangle section of Alameda Street (between 4th Street and 2nd Street).

Untitled
Drunken Love

This American cuisine style hot spot has some of the best elements going for them was their open seating and spectacular space that utilizes as a trendy club spot if they ever decides to remove the area next to the bar. Oh, since we're broaching the topic of bar, this elegant chic style bar is one of the beautiful crafted area I have seen.

Several dishes I have ordered that seemed to grabbed a much publicized attention was their Hamachi dish and their grilled Octopus entree. Both are elegantly presented with thoughts of the look to please to capture the allure of your taste buds. I have to say that high recommendations seemed to be spot on as the aforementioned entree and starter are able to draw in the foodie crowd.

Untitled
It's A Vibe!

The drinks menu program here are also a big plus. I do like the selections of many crafted cocktails that were offered. The big attractions is the ambiance and decor of the interior for excellent dining experience. The price point might be exorbitant for everyday folks, but this location was always geared towards toward the power players or the special occasion crowds. With the food, drinks, and service being top notch, the price would probably be a moot at that point when the check arrives.

Untitled


If this is such a cool place, do you need reservations for brunch on the weekend or at dinner at any night. You betcha! You can catch a few on the bar area as well, but it's too chic to missed out on a cushy table.

Blacksmiths
117 Winston St
Los Angeles CA 90013

Blacksmiths Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Catching Up with Old Friends at Petit Trois

Missing old friends?

I definitely do. Friends you haven't seen for awhile and wanting to catch up on what they have been up to since the last you have seen each other. Probably reminiscing and regal on the old days as well.

This is how I feel about my long lost time since the last time I had tasted chef Ludo Lefebre's cooking. Back in the old day, I was introduced to his wonderful and whimsical creative dishes from his pop up series called LudoBites. This is where he had limited engagements in a temporary dining space that he can used to display his cooking without the commitment of long term lease. These engagements tends to only last for weeks, maybe at best a month or so. Out of those series, I was able to attend three of them and have written about the second and third of his popup series here (LudoBites II and III).

Untitled


Just like catching up with old friends, I wondered what he and his lovely wife Krissy was up to. I do followed Krissy on twitter and noticed they have two children since my last visit on LudoBites IV. To my amazement, Ludo himself is a TV celebrity chef (you can imdb him up), opened up a food truck, then set up set in a sporting arena, and then partnered up with two of the local celebrities chef like himself to open up a slew of restaurants.

One of the so said restaurant is Petit Trois that I am visiting. It's a 2nd incarnation of their full fledged sit-down full service restaurant with Trois Mec being the flagship first. Petit was considered a casual bistro with brunch made available while Trois was set up as a refined dinner course set up. The subtle differences make it a challenge to go to Trois was you have to prepaid with a reservation (ticketing system) and a set menu for that day.

Untitled


As in for Petit, it was a first come first serve and you can do an a la carte from the menu. You can obviously guess which of the two restaurant would fancied me more to my liking. Additionally, I prefer to go for the brunch in this case because of the limited time schedule on my visit in that area, so Trois would totally be out of the picture.

Croque Monseuir

Like catching up and reminiscing, I really missed some of Ludo's cooking and wanting to see if I can get his Madame Monsieur. Oh believe me, it's just how I remembered it from the good ol' days from his pop up. After getting a bite of this savory and cheesy ham sandwich that was forged from epitome of  fine French casual, I'm just wondering why I took that long to visit. 

It was way too long.

Big Mec - Double Cheeseburger

The most talked about dish in this place was his interpretation of a big mac. Do you remembered the quote from the movie "Pulp Fiction" where the question get asked what do you called a Big Mac in Paris?... Le Big Mac! Well, you can guess what's coming on this too.

The cheese burger that is presented was decadent as it is and very rich in the flavor. From a perspective, I really love the fact it's not a ground beef, but like a piece of steak patties that is proportionally correct with the bun ratio. Then you get the bordelaise sauce and aioli enhancing that rich beef flavor to the max. You will never settle for just the big mac again. Yup, Le Big Mec all the way!

The Napolean (Fluff pastry with Tahitian Vanilla ice cream)

The dessert was right on the money too. Everyone suggested in getting the Napoleon, a fluffy pastry cream between flour-less chocolate cake and filled with Tahitian Ice Cream was just out of this world. I am still dreamy about this after looking at this photo visually that I wished I can simply walked back in there to order this.

Before you plan to make a visit here, please do note in that they only take credit cards. Hard currency will not be accepted as they are going on digital currency. So be aware of this as some of the restaurants are planing to go in the way of digital transactions with even thought of Apple Pay or digital wallet as you call it are the trend of accepted payments.

Like all good friends that you haven't seen in a long while, I definitely will need to catch up on some of his other newer dishes that is getting props such as Brittany Wild Sole “MEUNIÈRE. Apparently that fish dish is a new must ordered item on the menu in this establishment.

After meeting long time friends, we all promised to meet again soon. This appointment I will have no problem keeping.

Petit Trois
718 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Petit Trois Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, January 29, 2018

Like a Soufflé Rising to the Top at Cafe D.er






Being frank about this, I rarely do a boba tea shop or cafe.

Ahh who am I kidding? I loathed to do it only because you can only showed a one or maybe at best 2 things about these places. You would have totally have nothing to write about after you show cased the whoopedoo ice cream or rainbow cake.

Frankly, there's just not really an attraction to do this.

Untitled

Lo behold, I do have a reason to dedicate a post about this place. It's not for some weird concoction of a milk tea or Instagram-esque ice cream that anyone can make with different coloring. Nope, it's a dessert I craved for a very long time.... Soufflé pancakes!


Matcha Soufflé pancakes with Green Tea Ice Cream and Mochi

What are those exactly? Try to imagine pancakes are flat like a dinner plate, in a shape of a Frisbee. Usually these flatjacks are being flatten, but comes out thick like coasters for your cocktail drinks. Imagine if you will that these Soufflé pancakes are now revitalized into a fluffy chiffon like angel cake. Pump up like a big bulging angel cake, but soft as a marshmallow.

How do you get those exactly? I found out it was extremely popular in Japan, more so than the actual Soufflé dessert. In all estimate, they are likely to be made to order when you want to about to crave it. If that was the case, you can bet all made to order Soufflé will take time... as in like half a hour or longer.

Untitled

Hence, you don't see too many establishments attempt to make it because it's just too long. Many posh restaurants wouldn't even bother with putting it on the menu because between the final course of a meal to dessert, when you make diners wait too long, desserts are just going to get skipped. There goes the extra income of a likely $12 to $15 worth of revenue.


Chocolate Soufflé pancakes with Strawberry Ice Cream and Caramelized Bananas

Try asking people to wait 30 minutes for their desserts to come out while awkward conversations at dinner table ensues. If you are on a lousy date, this will cut to the discontent right away for a bad tip. Yup, no server or wait staff will ever recommend this for dessert.

Luckily, I was able to find a dessert place in border between LA and Orange County that would dare to make people wait. In an aesthetics pleasing atmosphere with the burgeoning leon lights of a catchy slogan, this unassuming place started out as foam cheese tea seller. 

Untitled
The array of Cheese foam tea and two of their popular coolers

Yeah, I don't know how foam cheese tea will sell, but they decided to be more focused and do more offering of latte and other mix drinks. That plaza apparently has two other boba tea shops with 4 more within a mile radius. Milk tea and smoothie shops in this town was fierce as there is a mentality of take no prisoners. With no luck, maybe the Soufflé pancakes can be the difference maker for this place.

In my case, I was just thrilled I can tried 4 different flavors of pancakes where it offers Matcha (with fillings), Chocolate, Earl Grey, and Original. Each comes with condiments of syrup, ice cream, caramelized bananas, mochi, or red beans on the platter.

I so look forward to other drinks as well besides the coffee and mixed drinks. Let's hope this place can set something new before copycats replicate because this is an unique shop with strong coffee presence. Desserts like this should be cherished. 

Like all Soufflé, it rises. You will only be disappointed when it flattens like a normal pancake.

Cafe D.er
17901 Pioneer Blvd
Ste L
Artesia, CA 90701

Cafe D.er Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, January 22, 2018

Making the Important First Right Sichuan Impression

There used to be a time when food that burned your tongue is essentially wasted.

If you can't taste it, then you will never know the flavors, texture, or even get a conclusion if your tummy can feel the satisfaction. Thus the question, why is it necessary to have a spicy numbness as a level to kill your tastebud?

This is a fad I can never figured it out, especially the noodle rage of killer spicy level are on the horizon. Even now the fried chicken explosion can exemplify this ungodly rage. For us the uninitiated, let us introduce a fortitude of Sichuan cuisine.

Sichuan (for the gringos, it's often spelled Szechuan) is considered a Chinese cuisine that specialized the use of spicy peppers that would dulled your taste buds and periled your sense of smell with the overpowering aroma of stuffy spiciness. I think was first introduced to this adventure with a few of my old time Yelp friends back when we first dared to venture out to San Gabriel for Chung King (haha... Chongqing in real spelling). We did this because of a former LA Weekly restaurant critic was in love of that place. Read my old passage about this place as we paid the price back then.

Sichuan Impression, the third incarnation of Szechuan Impression (opened in San Gabriel and Rosemead) was wildly popular because of the said critic who since relocated to a loftier gig with the LA Times, who proceed to pump the mentions of Szechuan. I decided to venture out to the newer digs in Tustin, home to the growing Chinese upper middle class in south Orange County.

Why is this chain of Sichuan cuisine more popular than the others? Upon visiting this strip mall destination that luckily has a vast parking lot, which I believed back in the old days a supermarket required huge lots of parking. Reminds me... supermarket (dying breed?). It occurred to me why this place gets the kudos when I started to look at the menu.

Leshan Bobo Chicken (assorted meat with bamboo shoots, lotus in red hot chili sauce with green peppercorns)

One of the most interesting bizarre dish to be introduce was a picky skewer dishes in the sea of red chili pepper. It's aptly called Leshan Bobo Chicken, but there's nothing clowning about this and not quite sure why it's chicken. It looks numbing, but it's not really spicy. Eww, did I just spoiled it for everybody?

A special note about coming here for Leshan Bobo Chicken, make sure to come early for this 40 sticks dish as it is a limited ordered item on their menu. The restaurant will only fulfill about a certain numbers per night (guessing about 20 orders worth) as it does take nuisance of putting different ingredients of meat and veggies on a stick.

Pork Kidneys with Spicy Chili Sauce

Weirder part was that the most spicy or mind numbing burner was a pork kidney dish. That green sauce was scorching chili that was more intense than eating wasabi on a whole. It was served cold, which has a greater taste effect. I always tend to believe colder dishes tend to be much more spicier than a warm served plate of chili pepper. This was no exception.

Tea Smoked Spare Ribs

We should have tapped out by the pork kidney dish, but we braved on to a tamer and friendlier looking tea smoked ribs. Be frank, this was a mild mannered dish. The taste definitely matched the look of it as this was as innocent as it really looked. Nice touched, but we probably could have gotten a more challenging dish, but we believed the nice looking photo did some influencing on us to choose this.

What did we learned? Spicy numbness is great when we cannot taste the weird assorted meat? I was thinking the conclusion was the tummy didn't get screamed for the restroom, which was a good sign. We did noticed complex flavors didn't damaged our senses of either smell or taste, but it did enhance some of the meat that were presented in an imperial dining manner.

Oh, here's a catch. I do think certain dishes like the pork kidney is unassuming hot. For the big mind numbing spicy, avoid the chili peppers in a soup if you can handle it. My best advice is to avoid using water as an extinguisher, but used some subtle cold soup or a frozen lettuce to suck up and tame your flaming taste bud if you felt overwhelmed. As in for the tummy aches, milk can do it, but I suggested getting plum juice to make it settled in. It's your only hope.

I think there will be plenty of Sichuan adventures for me up ahead. For now, this ever popular chain is a nice introduction and a precursor for the hardcore chili pepper fans.

Sichuan Impression
13816 Red Hill Ave
Tustin, CA 92780

Sichuan Impression Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Friday, January 19, 2018

Year's Best Discovery at Commerson






Quite honestly, I don't remembered why I decided to come here in the very first place.

I went in blind as a bat and have no idea on what this place was about. From what I remembered the most was that I wanted to check out Republique, the popular French bistro that was owned by the chef I have visited during a promo gathering back when he was in Church & State. My mistake was assuming you can just walked in for dinner.... not realizing the reservation for dinners are booked weeks in advance.

I did the walk-ins on a few other places and was able to get in or at least come back the next day or so (ie Chi Spacca, Bestia, Rossoblu).

To compensate, I think I went into Instagram and checked out a ballet dancer's story that she posted daily. I strictly remembered she always go to this restaurant. Never really described the dishes she had and frankly I couldn't tell you which cuisine it was served. I can fathom seafood? Maybe Mediterranean? How about just plain Comfort food?

Seriously I was grasping for straws at that time. I took a chance and just go right in. Luckily, it paid off big time.

Commerson is what best described as a French bistro with inspiration of California fare, aka local farm to table ingredients with haute French techniques. What intrigued me about restaurants in LA are that it now mimics establishments in other major cities like New York and San Francisco.... restaurants that are in the bottom floor of apartment or residential building.

I was looking at Yelp and my buddy Kevineats blogged about this place, which I researched later on and found out about the background of the chef (Kevin does wonders on this) and about the restaurant. I was amazed on how I was even able to get some good choices without even a faint of idea before walking in.


Sweet Potato Agnolotti - Duck Confit, Poached Cranberries, Toasted Pistachios, Browned Butter


My first big impression was to get the agnolotti. This version has sweet potato with duck confit in it. Hallelujah to this, it was my favorite dish of the night! Probably my best choice I have made in quite awhile if I say so myself. Brilliant on my part, but the chef nails it.

On a weird side note, that's what everyone was clamoring on Yelp. So apparently I was so late on this as it was already super popular on that platform.


Seared Atlantic Sea Scallops with English Peas, Pickled Lemon, Chantelle mushrooms, Mint, and Miso

Here comes the funny part, my followers on Instagram seemed to love the scallops that was presented here. It's either the lighting at the counter seats or the fact that the miso over the scallops are what they are salivating for. I think the presentation play up to it where it was pleasing to the eyes, but to my stomach... pure bliss!



Red Yam Coupe (Mushroom ice cream, Marshmallows, Fried Yams Strips, and Ginger Snap)


Those 2 plates were the delicious highlights of the night, but the most bizzare presentation of the place was their desserts. Get a look of this hairy looking medusa, which was the Red Yam Coupe, a yam strips covering a parfait of marshmallows and ice cream. It was recommended by a very helpful bartender who gave me a tip that the ice cream is mushroom flavored (yeah, you read it correctly - MUSHROOM).

Untitled
Ginger Smash

I seriously doubt I would have made that guess as my palate could not have decipher that taste. She gave me that big insight before I ordered it because I think she somewhat trying to talk me out of ordering this dessert. Perhaps it got send back by the uninitiated gourmands? The bartender also makes a killer cocktail drinks at this place.

Frankly I was proud of myself for getting out of comfort zone and took a risk on something that I had no clue on how it would turned out. I think it was way better than any of my blind dates or guestimation on building furniture without instructions or measurements.

As in for the ballet dancer who I gladly give credited for leading me here; I noticed she doesn't go out or ventured out to other places as much. Majority of the places seemed to be on the safe side as we speak. Location scouting and suggestions are very welcome by yours truly. If anyone would like to give out the deeds, please drop in the comments.

If I bring back the grade system, this would get it a very favorable rating.

Commerson
788 S La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Commerson Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Reflection of Something New in Cafe Birdie






Here's another neighborhood that has gone over a major face lift in the past few years... Highland Park!

How do I even come up with that notion? Apparently now the neighborhood's real estate asking price just sky rocketed to an unbelievable 4 folds where it's better to sell and take advantage of the enormous profit you can pocket just by flipping or fixer upper. HP as we called it and the neighboring Echo Park, Los Feliz, Atwater Village, and Silverlake are prime for that. 

It's all big thanks to Chip and Joanna in Waco as it's not possible without those two on TV.

One beneficial about the uptick on bringing younger, more energetic, and more hippish to this part of the town are that stores and eateries needed to match the residents as well. One example that reflect this trend is this popular bistro that had opened not too long ago to cater this diverse, but emerging young hip crowd.

Cafe Birdie was a mixture of Mediterranean cuisine that mesh with local ingredients of California fare. It stands in the part of the exciting Figueroa Blvd that also features popular destination hot spots such as Highland Park Bowl, ETA, and Good Girl Dinette. There are also other popular eateries, boutique shops, and entertainment options that would make this part of the street a colossal meet up for all ages. To say that it would be traffic jam on Friday or Saturday night would be a gross understatement.

When you entered upon this beautiful establishment, you will encountered an elegant dining opened dining room with high ceiling and beautiful lighting fixtures on top. What impressed me was the marbled bar counter top on the side of the room. Heard there was a speakeasy opened up on the side (which I did not entered as of this writing).


Moroccan Spiced Fried Chicken

Probably the most fascinating assessment of the menu was the variety of Mediterranean inspired dishes that was offered. The theme of the choice was the Moroccan Spiced Fried Chicken. A boneless chicken tender sized that was served with an indelible harissa aioli was a probably end all to be all fried chicken you'll ever had. This chicken was probably more addicting here than the recent place I have visited called crack shack.


Pork Cheek Ragu - Pappardelle, Stewed Tomatoes, Pecorino

I also get to experience another popular item on their menu that was highly recommended, Pork Cheek Ragu. Without a hesitation, I can honestly say this was as satisfying as any ragu dishes that I have recently encountered. Trust me, you can see the parade of ragu dishes I have recently posted in the past few months.


The one big mention I have to do is for their ever evolving bar menu this place expertly served. I cannot get enough of the drinks they have. Luckily for me, it changes often enough so that I can revisit this location for libations I plan to do.


Untitled
Do you agreed with the caption on the photo?

This place is part of the newer generation of eateries that are looking to reflect the new crowds that are moving in. Sleek, elegant, but yet casual. Upscale dining is no longer just about the stuffy fine dining. Slowly changed into something of an intimate environment as I have taken noticed. When you entered this fine bistro, you will be greeted warmly by the staff as though everyone here is local, but make no mistake, the food is here is something of a top notch fine dining setting.

This is exactly an option for the dining needs of this new neighborhood change. It will continue to change in Highland Park.... all thanks to the fixer upper crowds.

Cafe Birdie
5631 N. Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90042

Cafe Birdie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato