Friday, August 10, 2018

Meal Inspires You To Say Here's Looking At You




Don't you love it when an inspirational quote you just heard from a famous movie becomes the name of a restaurant?

The possibilities are endless: "Go Get'em Tiger", "Some Like It Hot", and "Here's Looking At You".

Some are just too corny and will never stand up to the test of time, but there are quite a bit that wound up sticking in the long run. Wouldn't you believe it the last choice actually is now the name of a popular restaurant in Los Angeles? Go figure, right?

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Frog Legs

Years ago, I had an acquaintance that raves about this exact place when it first opened. I remembered vividly in which everything about coming here was an absolute must, but the reservation when it first opened was difficult because to score, just like any new place was at that time.

If you happen to like the restaurant Animal from Fairfax district, then you will definitely love the team behind this venture here. Interesting thing about this cozy restaurant was that when I first came in, I was coming in exclusively for their cocktails. I think that was my passion (every restaurant must have good drinks in order for me to enter the door). After trying all almost their entire cocktails menu, I was a repeat visitor just for these type of sessions for me to wind down after work.

However, as mentioned, it's the food that would get me to join the chorus in raving about the place.

Particularly it's the seafood and vegetables that entrances to me love coming here. I can't get enough of some of the starters. The one dish I am hoping everyone gets to try is their frog legs that is as big of chicken leg. I usually think something like this is grimy, but with the right amount of spices, it is better than a buttered chicken or Tikka.


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Pork Belly

My other favorite dish was their pork belly dish as well. Those two originally had a test run, but I was pleased they kept both of them. The other interesting thing was a I didn't think I would like was their Shishito peppers. Somehow I was made into a believer and tested out their other vegetable starters in over time. Again I was glad they kept this dish in the rotation.

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I'm thinking that they kept the popular sellers like the ones I mentioned above and swap out other dishes in the rotation. One of which was a sweetbread dish I liked in my earlier visits. That got taken out and another dish rotating in to replace the sweetbread. I guess it's always good to keep the diners on its toes with new favorites. Who knows it might be the superstar in its course.

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The cocktail program here was what draws me to this fine restaurant in the first place. I believed that most people come here for the drinks early and leave once the dinner crowds arrive around 7pm. It's always the cue for me back then to leave before the elbow room is gone. Majority of the time, it's wise to get in at 5:30pm and go for a few quick libation. Or come back before it close when the dinner rush hour dies down.

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There are so many dishes to try here and sometimes they do go for the jugular. I remembered a $25 Mai Tai was offered for a short time and a big dry aged Holstein steak was once offered for a big ticket amount. Not saying it's out of price range, but it does give you thrills that maybe a high roller would buy it just to say they got it. I'm still trying to latch on to one of those guys for a sip.

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The desserts have come and gone through transitions as I have noticed, but they can be stellar at all times when you wanted something to end this awesome meal. One of the big reason I liked to sit at the bar at that time was to sample a slice of pie that was offered daily. Since the former p√Ętissier decides to move on, this was one thing I missed.

The team that runs the show here are the veterans from one of my favorite restaurant Animal are dynamic duo of Jonathan Whitener and Lien Ta (who I learned is the wife of my old past acquaintance). With all these fantastic dishes rolling out from a stellar service being displayed, you can imagine I'm here quite often.

Now my hope is someone will be bold enough to name their restaurant "May the Force be with You" or "Go Ahead, Make My Day". 

Here's Looking At You
3901 W. 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90020

Here's Looking At You Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, August 6, 2018

Even Hipsters Love Taiwanese Food at Pine & Crane



Has anyone ever thought Taiwanese food can appeal to the masses?

Neither did I if I think hard. I was thrilled with the fact that Kato have re-create some of the most popular far East Asian dishes with local farm to table ingredients. Still.... I am somewhat skeptical on how this cuisine that is more geared towards street food and home cooking can succeed to the general masses that only looked at the dishes with greasy food impressions.

I am a huge fan of any type of interpretation of Taiwanese food, just not a fan of Silverlake area. Yet, I just couldn't pass up a chance to visit one of my favorite Taiwanese joints in all of LA, which is in the heart of the hipster zone.

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Press Play to see the interior

A few years back, I visited Pine & Crane due to my shopping excursion in that area for some hard to find indie label that was considered hip and dope. You are not going to find it at some mall or even upscale boutique store. This area always fit the bill for the people living there with the nonchalant and nonconforming attitude of what's cool with no care in the world.

Which shocked me to no end on how some entrepreneur wants to open up a Taiwanese joint in the middle of that bloated arrogant zone... and succeeded in convincing that populace that Taiwanese food are the bombdigitty meal that they have been missing out. Maybe it's that it's not popular or cool, but the reverse psychology of the not so trendy cuisine make it cool.

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Potstickers - Kurobuta Pork with Cabbage

I'm somewhat stunned that this place that looked like other cafe style restaurants with great aesthetics. Even more shocking, in town that serves a few crafted drinks, abet mixed with Taiwanese alcoholic beverage can worked as well. There were many soda drinks imported such as the popular sarsaparilla HeySong and a few of the Taiwanese beer brands were available on this spot.

A very straight forward place where you placed an order in the register, then being shown to an open seating area (a lot of long communal table and a few open tables by the wall) with high ceiling and good open window facing the main street of Sunset Blvd. Perfect lighting brightens out the room during day time with nighttime scene emulating from the street at night.

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Chili Wontons

As in for the food, it was the most cleanest Taiwanese dishes I have ever seen. You'll find it funny that people will order pig's ear to cold cucumber to seaweed can be had. Tea smoked egg can be had as well as they rotate the small plates of cold appetitizers on the counter next to the cash register.

Pretty much of the standard noodles, dumplings, green onion pancakes, to rice dishes you grew up can be had here. What probably stand out is the chili won tons that is popular among the local crowd here in Silverlake. They can't stop raving about this. It's actually funny to me.

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Green Onion Layered Pork Pancake

We also gotten the famous beef roll onion cake they have, except... they replaced with kurobuta pork. Maybe the strip of weird parts of cow might be a turn off for this disconcerted crowd who prefer the presence of Berkshire graded pork. This was the first time I have the beef roll becoming a pork roll. Subtle change, but I still immensely enjoy this.

Let me preface by saying that even though I hate coming to Silverlake for various reasons (hard to navigate, lousy parking situation, traffic can be a mess on a busy street, etc etc.), the only saving grace was this Taiwanese restaurant that catered to let's just say residence of this northeast side LaBeau. For all the clean presentation, I still think it captured the essence of Taiwanese food. Not every dish needs to be stylish, but they can presented beautifully and still have that eclectic taste.

Do I still think Taiwanese food appeal to the masses? Just as I writing this blog post, I found out that the owner of this establishment opened up a 2nd different Taiwanese joint not far from here. Heck, there is even another Taiwanese food restaurant might open up in Silverlake as well.

I am lost at words at that tidbit, but let's keep Taiwanese food train rolling. Shall we?

Pine & Crane
1521 Griffith Park Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Pine & Crane Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato