Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Javan Restaurant- Los Angeles (Sawtelle), CA

Javan Restaurant- Los Angeles (Sawtelle), CA: Exterior

Established in 1986, Javan Restaurant is a Middle Eastern restaurant located on the Westside focusing on Persian food. 

Javan Restaurant- Los Angeles (Sawtelle), CA: Interior 

Inside, the environment was decidedly upscale, with a bar, a white grand piano, stone tables, wood accents, and plenty of pictures adorning the walls. All the waiters, moreover, were dressed quite formally with dress shirts and ties.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Cafe Gratitude- Los Angeles (Arts District), CA

Cafe Gratitude- Los Angeles (Arts District), CA: Exterior

We've greatly enjoyed our past visits to Larchmont's Cafe Gratitude, and so we were glad to hear that Cafe Gratitude has also opened up in Downtown's Art District--making a for a shorter drive to enjoy their creative vegan and organic foods.

Cafe Gratitude- Los Angeles (Arts District), CA: Interior

The Arts District location takes more of a light colored approach (instead of an emphasis on turquoise), with white chairs and benches, grey walls, yellow chairs, green plants, and woods throughout the entire location. It's also much larger than the Larchmont location--we made reservations, given Cafe Gratitude's general popularity and dineLA, but found out that the restaurant was less than half full when we entered.

Unlike some of the Yelp reviews about this location, service was great right from the moment we entered the restaurant. We were happily guided to our table, our waiters noted the dineLA menu and dinner specials, checked up on us to make sure we were ready to order (took a while given the many options!), and noted their "question of the day," for which our visit was, "What inspires you?"

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pizzeria Mozza- Los Angeles, CA

Pizzeria Mozza- Los Angeles, CA: Exterior

Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, Lidia Bastianich, and Nancy Silverton's Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza have been extremely popular restaurants in Los Angeles, commanding queues that were hours long. So when we were recently in the area and found out on OpenTable that we could reserve seats for lunch at a time just less than a half an hour prior to arrival, we took the opportunity.

Pizzeria Mozza is a relatively small restaurant, located adjacent to the larger Osteria Mozza (open for dinner only) and Mozza2Go. Inside, light toned woods and yellows set the tone--a skylight, which was filtered with a yellow skin, provided most of the lighting. A friendly vibe was immediately set with the upbeat employees, who immediately seated us and went through the menu in detail once we told them it was our first time dining here. We found out popular items, and also some notable differentiations--pizzetta meant a smaller pizza, and that any pizza that didn't list "tomato" on it came without tomato sauce. They were extremely detail oriented, eagerly describing the preparations of daily specials and vegetables.

Pizzeria Mozza- Los Angeles, CA: Bone Marrow al Forno

To start, we began with the bone marrow al forno, which came with three split pieces of bone marrow, roasted garlic, sea salt, parsley, and two pieces of crostini.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Real Food Daily- Pasadena, CA

Real Food Daily- Pasadena, CA: Exterior

I've recently gotten an interest in healthier foods and restaurants that specialize in healthy eating, such as Cafe Gratitude. Having greatly enjoyed Cafe Gratitude, I thought it wouldn't hurt to explore and try out a fellow restaurant chain also in the same organic, plant-based segment--Real Food Daily.

While Cafe Gratitude likes to "provide inspired service, honest and transparent communication, and express gratitude for the richness of our lives", Real Food Daily prides itself on being a destination where "community happens around education, connection and hospitality, over delicious, accessible food that’s real."

And indeed, there were parallels in both restaurants. The service was extremely friendly, the environment upbeat, natural, modern, and friendly, and people were enjoying a wide assortment of plant-based items--drinks and juices, appetizers, rice bowls, salads, and dessert.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Yi Mei- Monrovia, CA

Yi Mei- Monrovia, CA: Exterior

A local Taiwanese restaurant chain specializing in breakfast and pastries, Yi Mei in recent years has also expanded to Monrovia, California, with a revamped, modern look.

The Monrovia location takes on a modern, fast-casual concept, with the menu displayed on large television displays and ordering done at the counter. Condiments, like garlic soy sauce, chili oil, and vinegar, and utensils are located on a side table, and frozen items and pastries are located at another wall of the restaurant. Though breakfast is the main attraction--think a pastry, bread item, or rice item with soymilk--Yi Mei also offers a full lunch and dinner menu with various noodles, rice plates, and other Taiwanese specialties--that's the topic for today's post.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Trattoria Amici (The Americana At Brand)- Glendale, CA

Trattoria Amici (The Americana At Brand)- Glendale, CA: Exterior

Trattoria Amici is a small, local, two location Italian restaurant chain (the other being in Brentwood) focused on fresh ingredients, handmade pastas, and wine. On a recent visit to the Americana at Brand, we decided to visit it for lunch.

Trattoria Amici (The Americana At Brand)- Glendale, CA: Interior
Inside, Trattoria Amici presents multiple seating areas and options, whether it be a covered patio or indoor seating with different setups. We were seated close to the main entrance, with plenty of sunlight flowing in from the windows.

Trattoria Amici (The Americana At Brand)- Glendale, CA: Bread, Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar

As we perused the regular menu and seasonal menu (spring) our waiter, who regularly checked up on us throughout our meal, brought us some warm, crust bread with fruity olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The soft interior and crusty exterior of the bread paired very well with the accompaniments, and were great to snack on while waiting for our main entrees.

Trattoria Amici (The Americana At Brand)- Glendale, CA: Fazzoletti Al Pesto, Gamberetti e Menta

In curiosity of what handkerchief pasta would be like, I ordered the Fazzoletti Al Pesto, Gamberetti e Menta (19.95 USD) from the seasonal menu, which has "homemade fresh handkerchief pasta dressed in light pesto sauce with shrimp and fresh mint." Here, the quality ingredients stood out-- the shrimp was firm with a crisp bite, the homemade pesto sauce and mint bright and not overbearing, the wide, flat, lightly chewy pieces of pasta binding everything together. The portion size could have been larger, but what was on the plate was extremely enjoyable--it's no wonder why they pride themselves on their pasta!

Trattoria Amici (The Americana At Brand)- Glendale, CA: Linguine al Salmone

Likewise, we greatly enjoyed the Linguine al Salmone (17.50 USD), which consisted of "homemade linguine pasta in pink sauce with fresh sauteed salmon and peas." Here, the homemade linguine pasta was very chewy and al-dente, which played an interesting contrast to the buttery, flaky, soft salmon and bright, fresh peas. The pink sauce, which was both tomatoey and creamy at the same time, binded the whole dish together--its creaminess and sweetness went well with the chewy pasta, fresh vegetables, and rich salmon.

This was just a lunch of two pasta dishes and bread, but everything, from the food to the service, was extremely well curated and executed--we'll be back for more.

Trattoria Amici
889 Americana Way,
Glendale, CA 91210
Tel: (818) 502-1220

Click to add a blog post for Trattoria Amici on Zomato

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tim Ho Wan (MTR Hong Kong Station)- Central, Hong Kong

Tim Ho Wan (MTR Hong Kong Station)- Central, Hong Kong: Exterior

A visit to Hong Kong entails a list of places to visit--Tim Ho Wan, a Michelin starred dim sum restaurant chain also widely known as the cheapest Michelin starred dim sum, was on that list. We found one outlet conveniently located at the MTR Hong Kong Station, nestled beneath the large IFC Mall in Central, Hong Kong, and checked it out during a weekday lunch.

The caveat of the weekday lunch, however, is that the office workers nearby head down towards IFC Mall for many delicious eateries. Tim Ho Wan, as a result, was packed, with long queues for sitting inside the restaurant. Unwilling to wait, we decided to order to-go, and enjoy the food at our hotel room instead. After filling out a menu sheet, paying for the items, and waiting for only a short period of time, we were on our way to enjoying some dim sum.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Savoy Kitchen- Alhambra, CA

Savoy Kitchen- Alhambra, CA

A famous restaurant for Hainan Chicken Rice, Savoy Kitchen is a very small restaurant on Valley Boulevard that draws large crowds. But it isn't merely an Asian restaurant, but rather it serves both Asian and Italian options--you'll find pizza, pasta, bread, curry, and other options.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cafe Gratitude- Los Angeles (Larchmont), CA

Cafe Gratitude- Los Angeles (Larchmont), CA: Exterior

A growing 100% organic, plant-based restaurant chain, Cafe Gratitude offers healthful vegetarian foods in a positive, modern, and friendly ambiance. I was recommended to visit it by a friend, who lauded the positive atmosphere, and was pleasantly surprised by how tasty the vegetarian fare was.

Cafe Gratitude- Los Angeles (Larchmont), CA: Interior
Cafe Gratitude- Los Angeles (Larchmont), CA: Interior
Cafe Gratitude- Los Angeles (Larchmont), CA: Water

Inside, Cafe Gratitude is happy, positive, and clean, with natural tones and casual furnishings. The mood is set by the positive adjectives not only listed on the menus ("I am...") and boards, but also the employees, who are content and wear shirts that say "love" and other terms. Mindfulness, health, and wellness permeate the entire environment.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa- Marina Del Rey, CA

Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa (Waterside)- Marina Del Rey, CA: Exterior

Part of the Waterside in Marina Del Rey, California, Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa opened its first location here. A collaboration between Kazunori Nozawa, Jerry A. Greenberg, Tom Nozawa, Lele MassiminiCameron Broumand, and Clement Mok, Sugarfish aims to provide Sushi Nozawa style and quality sushi at a larger and more accessible scale.

Such accessibility means that there are no sushi chefs or sushi bar viewable to the customers; rather, all the sushi is prepared in the kitchen and presented on tempo when one is ready to receive more food. Inside, it is sleek, and the menu is simplified-- although there are a la carte sushi, handroll, sashimi, and drink options, almost everyone, according to the menu and our server, orders one of the three Trust Me's: Trust Me Lite (17 USD), Trust Me (25 USD), and Nozawa Trust Me (35 USD). For simplicity's sake, we ordered one of each.

Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa (Waterside)- Marina Del Rey, CA: Organic Edamame, Gari, Wasabi

As such, we began with plates of organic edamame (2.50 USD), which were also presented with the sushi ginger (gari) and wasabi that we would be able to use later in the meal, alongside a small ceramic container of soy sauce.

These edamame were cooked in saltwater, and thus were nicely seasoned, and each of the green soybeans inside the pods were pleasantly chewy and well cooked.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Chichen Itza Restaurant (Mercado La Paloma)- Los Angeles (University Park), CA

Chichen Itza Restaurant (Mercado La Paloma)- Los Angeles (University Park), CA: Storefront

Mercado La Paloma, a local community gathering place, is also home to a fine hodgepodge of quality restaurants--Thai, Ethiopian, American, Mexican, and Yucatecan cuisine can be found here. Chichen Itza, the restaurant that consistently has the longest queue of all the restaurants, specializes in Yucatecan cuisine (southeastern Mexican cuisine)--the menu is filled with unique regional specialties.

Chichen Itza Restaurant (Mercado La Paloma)- Los Angeles (University Park), CA: Habanero Sauce

After ordering in person at Chichen Itza's counter, one receives a wooden stand with a number (for the employees to keep track of where to bring food to). Prior to the arrival of the food, an employee will bring over beverages as well as Chichen Itza's house Habanero Hot Sauce. It's a potent, fruity, extremely spicy, and slightly acidic hot sauce.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Jeon Ju Restaurant- Los Angeles (Koreatown), CA

Jeon Ju- Los Angeles (Koreatown), CA: Exterior

Widely known as a bibimbap specialist (their website is "bibimbap.webs.com," if it wasn't already understood), Jeon Ju is a venerable place to visit for a Korean meal. Not only is their bibimbap well done, but so are lots of their other items.

Jeon Ju- Los Angeles (Koreatown), CA: Barley Tea

 As we perused the multi-paged menu, cups of smooth, weak barley tea were provided at the table.

Jeon Ju- Los Angeles (Koreatown), CA: Banchan

After ordering, we were presented with a wide array of banchan. There were six common items for the whole table--bean sprouts, marinated potatoes, sweetened, dried shrimp, daikon kimchi, a green pajeon, and napa cabbage kimchi. For each individual was a bowl of noodles in a lightly spicy broth and napa cabbage water kimchi. We found everything to be nicely done, and found the dried, crispy shrimp really fun to snack on.

A condiment of green onions, sesame seeds, peppers and soy sauce was also provided for a larger haemul pajeon and yeong yang dolsot that we ordered.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ma Dang Gook Soo- Los Angeles (Koreatown), CA

Ma Dang Gook Soo- Los Angeles (Koreatown), CA: Exterior

After looking at Ma Dang Gook Soo's handmade noodles and acorn noodles featured on Gastronomy and Buzzfeed / The Actors Diet respectively, it didn't take much more to make our own visit to Ma Dang Gook Soo.

Ma Dang Gook Soo- Los Angeles (Koreatown), CA: Menu

When we visited on a Sunday evening, Ma Dang Gook Soo was operating at system capacity. The restaurant was full, but it didn't take much for us to wait in line before getting an open spot.

Seated down, lots of people were enjoying the noodle options, seasoned spicy rice cake (tteokbokki), and bibimbap. Moreover, the friendly waitresses were eagerly serving the customers. When I wanted to learn more about some items which were only written in Korean on the wall (it was actually soy broth noodles), the waitress took her time to answer, and when I asked her about the soy broth, she even brought a small bowl for me to sample before deciding whether to order it.

Friday, May 22, 2015

California Fish Grill- Irvine, CA

 California Fish Grill- Irvine, CA:

Having read Edwin Goei of Monster Munching's positive review of California Fish Grill and a recent feature on its poke on Stick a Fork In It of OC Weekly and being in the mood for poke and cooked fish while in Irvine, we finally visited California Fish Grill, a fast-casual seafood joint.

During our weekday visit at lunchtime, it was packed, with local employees and families coming in for lunch. Both indoor and outdoor seating were packed except for the bar near the kitchen, people were ordering both take in and take out, and the kitchen's grill was completely filled with fish filets. Talk about good business!

California Fish Grill- Irvine, CA: New England Style Clam Chowder Bowl

We began our meal with the New England Clam Chowder Bowl (4.49 USD), a large bowl for a very reasonable price. It was not jam packed with clams, nor was it very heavy on the clam flavor (instead favoring the cream instead), but it was freshly made, with the potatoes cut into sharp cubes, and veggies cut into small pieces. We also liked that it came with oyster crackers--overall, a positive start to the meal.

Jook Hyang- Los Angeles (Koreatown), CA

Jook Hyang- Los Angeles (Koreantown), CA: Exterior

In search for some healthful Korean food--soups and porridge--I found out about Jook Hyang, a standalone Korean restaurant on Olympic in Koreatown.

Jook Hyang- Los Angeles (Koreatown), CA: Interior

An abalone, chicken soup, beef bone soup (cooked for a week), porridge specialist, Jook Hyang offers a wide range of offerings dedicated to the three items--abalone sashimi, abalone porridge, abalone and chicken soup, and a page full of different porridge items. Walking into the restaurant, you'll see an abalone tank and bucketfuls of cornish hens.

All these quality items and work spans throughout the restaurant and offerings, which also includes bamboo rice entrees, korean barbeque and seafood, banchan, and other items. It also translates into slightly higher costs--lunch is slightly cheaper if you order the sets, but otherwise, expect to spend around 15-20 USD per person, if not more.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Pa-Ord Noodle #3- Los Angeles (Thai Town), CA

Pa-Ord Noodle #3- Los Angeles (Thai Town), CA: Exterior

After visiting Bhan Kanom Thai, we decided to follow along with dinner at Pa-Ord Noodle, which has been famous for its noodle soups.

Pa-Ord Noodle #3- Los Angeles (Thai Town), CA: Spice and Sauces

Inside Pa-Ord Noodle was a homey atmosphere, with a small marketplace of imported and locally made snacks and desserts, several warming stations with food, and festive Thai decorations. The staff were extremely friendly, smiling happily and welcoming to offer suggestions and advice on the menu.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Bhan Kanom Thai- Los Angeles (Thai Town), CA

Bhan Kanom Thai- Los Angeles (Thai Town), CA: Exterior

Inspired by a post from Wandering Chopsticks, we decided to visit Bhan Kanom Thai--essentially the place to go for Thai desserts in Thai Town.

Bhan Kanom Thai- Los Angeles (Thai Town), CA: Desserts

With a whole host of homemade desserts, as well as a onset of special ethnic snacks, Bhan Kanom Thai truly is a fun place to be. So much so, that its dessert options have been featured on Buzzfeed, amongst other media outlets.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream (Ferry Building Marketplace)- San Francisco, CA

Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream (Ferry Building Marketplace)- San Francisco, CA:

While at the Ferry Building Marketplace, one store stood out in terms of a long queue and lots of people enjoying its products-- Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream, established in 2008. After enjoying lunch at The Slanted Door, we decided to check it out.

Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream (Ferry Building Marketplace)- San Francisco, CA:
Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream (Ferry Building Marketplace)- San Francisco, CA:

The storefront was quite simple, with a blue, white, and metal theme. The funnest part of Humphry Slocombe are the flavors-- lots of intriguing, unconventional flavor mixes and blends. Samples were graciously offered (through metal tasting spoons), letting you sample a variety of flavors before choosing the ones you want to order.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Blockheads Shavery- Los Angeles (Sawtelle), CA

Blockheads- Los Angeles (Sawtelle), CA

After lunch at Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles, and exploring part of what Sawtelle Blvd. has to offer (Cocos, Nijiya Market, Curry House, Hide Sushi, Seoul Sausage, Gottsui, to name a few of many great places!), we decided we wanted a dessert to cool off from the walking we did and to quench our thirsts after the heavy noodles we had earlier in the day.

Blockheads- Los Angeles (Sawtelle), CA: Interior

By this time, Blockheads Shavery was filled with customers, all of who seemed to be experts in ordering what Blockheads Shavery calls "snow cream", or what is generally called shaved snow-- combining elements of shaved ice and ice cream together.

Ordering is simple and is done in 3 steps:
1. Choosing a flavor (Original, green tea, black sesame, sea salt, and a special brown sugar created with soymilk were offered during our visit) and size
2. Choosing toppings (60 cents each) 
3. Choosing a drizzle, of which include condensed milk, strawberry puree, coconut puree, chocolate sauce, and caramel sauce

4 combos are also available just for those who cannot decide on their own combination. For our dessert, we first decided on combo 4, which is composed of black sesame snow cream, cookies and cream, rice cake (freshly made daily in house), and a coconut puree drizzle. However, after considering the ingredients list more thoroughly, I made a substitution of red bean instead of cookies and cream.

Blockheads- Los Angeles (Sawtelle), CA: Black Sesame Snow Cream, Coconut Puree, Rice Cake, Red Bean
Blockheads- Los Angeles (Sawtelle), CA: Black Sesame Snow Cream, Coconut Puree, Fresh Rice Balls, Red Bean
(faux wood table with texture and soft sunlight pouring in from the windows makes for a great photo opportunity)

It took about a 5-10 minute wait for our dessert creation (3.95 USD regular size + 2 toppings at 60 cents each = 5.15 USD), but soon our number was called. In the meantime, we saw the workers shave a solid cylinder of different flavors into cups, then happily and generously pour on toppings and drizzles. In our case, our employee grabbed a heaping spoonful of red bean and doused it off on top of the snow--so much style.

I enjoyed the dessert very much, for it was not too sweet, and had a balance of flavors and textures. The snow was smooth, creamy, not sweet, and was flecked with black sesame--it relied on the toppings for sweetness. The coconut puree added some sweetness, along with a pleasant coconut cream flavor that didn't overpower the dessert, but rather complimented the creaminess of the snow. On the other hand, the red bean did add plenty of sweetness, and was cooked to soft. To contrast the sweetness and smooth snow were the rice balls, which definitely were homemade--chewy, not hard, and pillow-y soft. Overall, it was a great combination of flavors, and we finished it up very quickly!

This was a great dessert to share, and from what the crowds show, Blockheads is definitely a popular option in the area-- don't be surprised if you have to wait about 10-20 minutes for your dessert. I do wish they were more generous with the snow; portion control is at the snow cream shaver's discretion, for the workers just catch the shaved snow as it goes off the machine and stop when the cup looks full.

Blockheads Shavery
11311 Mississippi Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90025  
Tel: (310) 445-8725

Blockheads Shavery Co on Urbanspoon 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles- Los Angeles (Sawtelle), CA

Tsjuita LA Artisan Noodles- Los Angeles (Sawtelle), CA

Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles has been in my radar on places to try for quite a while, given the wide media press (LA Weekly, Jonathan Gold), and recently, I was finally able to try it out!

Tsjuita LA Artisan Noodles- Los Angeles (Sawtelle), CA

To avoid the lines, we had a late lunch around 3PM. Still, the restaurant was over 70% capacity, with lots of people seated outside, enjoying the LA sunshine. 

Tsjuita LA Artisan Noodles- Los Angeles (Sawtelle), CA: Menu
Tsjuita LA Artisan Noodles- Los Angeles (Sawtelle), CA: Menu

After being seated, we were handed a simple menu, consisting of ramen, tsukemen, sides, and rice bowl options. The drink of choice seemed to be water for the day--pitchers of water were placed at almost every table--so we went with that too!