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!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Bamboo Wheel- Los Angeles (University Park), CA

Bamboo Wheel Food Truck- Los Angeles (University Park), CA

Alongside the Chinese Food Truck, the University Park neighborhood now has another authentic Chinese food truck-- Bamboo Wheel. Bamboo Wheel is actually a food truck version of Bamboo Creek,which is located Monterey Park, CA, and offers a regular menu of entrees and rice dishes (curry, beef stew, pork stir fries), noodles, a chinese burrito (aka jian bing), homemade wontons, and stewed eggs and preserved vegetables. Like the Chinese Food Truck, the menu is mostly written in Chinese, with smaller English subtitles.

Daily specials are also offered by the food truck, although these are only written in Mandarin (ask the employees for the translation)--these change, but items like da pan ji (spicy chicken), dou hua yu (tofu fish), hui guo rou (twice cooked pork), and stir fried rice cakes have been featured when I've visited in the past.

Apt for the primarily USC student customer base, payment can be done by cash, but also credit card through their Square application. For frequent visitors, punch cards (buy 10 get one item free) are also available!

Bamboo Wheel Food Truck- Los Angeles (University Park), CA: Bell Pepper Pork Stir Fry

Enough about logistics--the food at Bamboo Wheel is quite tasty as well! For 8 USD (and additional tax), one can get a very filling meal at Bamboo Wheel. Their bell pepper and bamboo with pork stir fry (#2 on the menu) with rice is plentiful with vegetables and meat! A friend complained that the pork should be leaner in the dish, but otherwise the flavors were simple and on point--savory, and the peppers enough to improve their flavor, but still retain a snap. The rice, moreover, was fragrant. I just wish there was more of the cabbage stir fry in their meals--they usually provide a small amount in these rice bowls.

Occasionally (usually on holidays), they also provide small additional gifts. I've gotten the candy above in the photo, as well as an interesting, plastic vacuum packaged piece of chicken feet...

CREAM- Los Angeles (University Park), CA

Cream (University Gateway, University of Southern California)- Los Angeles (University Park), CA: Grand Opening Lines

Last Saturday, the first Southern California branch of CREAM (Cookies Rule Everything Around Me) opened in University Gateway, an apartment/shopping complex located adjacent to the University of Southern California's University Park Campus in Los Angeles, California. Based out of Northern California, CREAM aims to provide reasonably cost, proprietary and high quality products with friendly service in a "fun and relaxed atmosphere," and is an extremely popular dessert outlet in Northern California.

Cream (University Gateway, University of Southern California)- Los Angeles (University Park), CA: Complimentary Drink Holder

CREAM happened to offer free ice cream sandwiches (normally 2.99 USD) to all customers on their opening day, so I decided to I checked it out. There was quite a queue outside during opening night (took around 30 minutes!), but music from KXSC radio, a raffle for more free CREAM sandwiches, cheerful and motivated employees, and a complimentary drink holder made the wait doable.

Cream (University Gateway, University of Southern California)- Los Angeles (University Park), CA: Freshly Baked Cookies
Cream (University Gateway, University of Southern California)- Los Angeles (University Park), CA: Interior

Inside, CREAM was bustling, with lots of employees running around, scooping ice cream, picking off freshly-baked cookies from trays, and applying toppings to various products. As a new visitor, my attention immediately went into the the menu, which had a wide array of cookies, ice creams, and toppings to choose from. From the typical chocolate chip cookie to vegan cookies or lemon cookies, and from the regular ice cream flavors like chocolate chip cookie dough and strawberry to lesser seen ones like green tea, deciding what items to choose definitely took some time!

In addition to ice cream sandwiches, the regular menu offered other options, including ice cream cones, CREAM tacos, sundaes, brownies, and more.

Cream (University Gateway, University of Southern California)- Los Angeles (University Park), CA: Turtle Cookie, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie, Toasted Almond Ice Cream w/ Almond Topping

I ended up choosing a turtle cookie (chocolate with caramel and peanuts), white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookie, and toasted almond ice cream with some added crushed almonds for good measure.

The ice cream sandwich was definitely of quality! Notable were the warm, freshly baked cookies, which were both chewy on the inside, and fragrant and crisp on the outside. Both were not too sweet either--the turtle had an interesting contrast between the dark, deep cocoa cookie base, crunchy peanuts, and hardened caramel, while the white chocolate macadamia played on its nutty flavors. Moreover, the toasted almond ice cream was delicious-- creamy, not too smooth, and accented further with almond extract-- while the crushed almonds were plentiful and provided additional textural contrast. Combining the three together proved to be fun mixture of three dimensions--a lighter ice cream with a medium flavored macadamia cookie and a richly flavored turtle cookie.

With or without the promotion, CREAM has already gained a solid footing around the community with its quality options and reasonable prices, and it will be interesting to see its impact in the desserts category as more locations open up in Southern California in the coming future.

CREAM (Cookies Rule Everything Around Me)
3335 S. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Tel: (213) 742-9090

Cream on Urbanspoon