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Las Vegas: Buldogis

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The Skinny:  I was surfing the net looking for places to eat with a few of my friends.  I came across this place called Buldogis.  I read an article saying that the hot dogs were like the ones from LA’s food truck Kogi.  I was SO excited that this place is right by my house and I finally get to try Korean infused hot dogs.  I love hot dogs & Korean food so this was a definite treat.  I walked in and it was like walking into a subway, but with the smell of bulgogi cooking in the air.  I ordered the Buckeye dog, Bulgogi beef dog & angry fries.  I wasn’t that hungry but definitely had to try a bit of it all and save the rest for lunch the next day.  It took about 15 minutes for my food to be ready for take-out which I’m fine with because that just means everything is made fresh and to order. As much as I loved it, it’s not something I can eat every day.  The best part of it all is that the hot dogs are 5 bucks.  You definitely get a bang for your buck here.

The Good:  The Buckeye dog is delicious!!! It starts off with 100% beef frank with pork belly bacon, corn relish, cheddar & garlic mayo on top.  Who can resist?!  The Beef bulgogi dog is good too, but it was just way too much meat for me.  It was topped with asian slaw (carrots & radish), green onions, sesame seeds,  bulgogi mayo. I definitely needed a fork to finish this the next day.  I think this dog would probably be better on top of rice.

 The Bad:  The Angry fries.  It’s not really a bad, but just not something I’d order again.  It was good for 2-3 bites, but then it was just too much. One order is huge!  It’s sweet potato fries topped with spicy pork bulgogis, kimchi, give cheese blend, fried egg, green onions & jalapenos.  Your behind will be angry at you after you eat it lol!

Would you come back again?  Yes I will, I saw a euro special on their menu I’d like to try.  I don’t think I’d order so much food again though.  I do love that buckeye dog though.

More Info:  2291S. Fort Apache Las Vegas, NV 89117 | (702) 570-7560 | Mon-Thur 11am-9pm; Fri & Sat 11am-10pm; Sunday 11am-5pm | Very reasonably priced.  Nothing over $4.95.

– Sniper Tam


Las Vegas: MSC (Min Sok Chong)

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The Skinny:  I needed a nice little reality check from some good friends and they decided to go here.  Apparently I’ve been here before, but it was so long ago when food was just something I ate to survive I couldn’t remember.  It did feel familiar when I first walked in.  I was a little excited because it is a Korean/Japanese restaurant.

The interior is this cute little homely place.  I felt comfortable the minute I walked in.  It was like you’re walking into your best friend’s Asian dining room.  We sat down and first thing we ordered was alcohol.  Soju (Korean alcohol),  Hite (Korean beer) & fresh iced green tea.  I’ve never been here and was open to try anything.  My friend ordered a dish that was slow cooked pork belly with oysters, tofu steak & a spicy potato & beef rib soup.  I loved that the owner’s daughter came to our table with fresh limes and made a special cocktail we named Achy hands drink because she squeezed fresh lime juice into a cup of ice and soju.  Loved it better then drinking soju straight up.  For our happy ending we had candied corn with cheese. OMG who thinks up these things?  At first when it came out my friends and I looked at the dish and looked at Sarah (the owner’s daughter) and said that’s a huge dish of corn!  Don’t know why we were so shocked by the plate, we actually finished majority of it.  It is THAT good.

The Good:  I didn’t have one bad dish here.  The slow cooked pork belly with oysters was fantastic!  I’m normally not a big fan of pork belly because of how fatty it is, but Sarah’s mom made it so good, I could’ve eaten the whole plate if it wasn’t so filling.  The dish came with pickled napa cabbage leaves to wrap the pork belly, oyster & sides (raw garlic, raw jalapeno peppers, and this fermented soy bean paste).  This dish is like an explosion of flavor in your mouth.  It actually really messed me up the first bite.  My brain couldn’t decide what I was eating.  I had the flavorful pork belly, the oyster and all the other flavors from the sides. It was delicious.

The spicy potato & beef rib soup was a great choice too.  It went well with the other dishes we ordered.  A lot of places when I order this type of soup are too spicy.  The spice level and flavor was perfect here.

Our last dish was the candied corn with cheese.  My friend told me that this is the best dish when drinking.  Boy is she right.  This dish is no joke.  Definitely a must try if you ever go.

 The Bad:  I don’t really have anything bad to say about this restaurant other than it’s kind of in a ghetto area.   The best restaurants are the little hole in the walls right?  It is a couple blocks from the University so it’s not that bad, but still quite a drive from where I live. Worth the drive though.

Would you come back again?  Absolutely, we didn’t even begin to take a crack at the menu.  There are so many choices to choose from. I will definitely be back again.  It’s Korean home cooking and you can’t find such great Korean home cooking unless you’re Korean yourself and if you are, then I’m jealous you grew up with such great food.  Next time I’ll try some of the Japanese items and report back.

More Info:  1801 E. Tropicana | Las Vegas, NV 89119 | (702) 262-5592 | Reasonable pricing

– Sniper Tam


Torrance: The New York Deli

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The Skinny:  Yesterday for my older brother’s birthday, we went to The New York Deli in Torrance that has been around since 1985.  It’s pretty much the only Jewish style Deli in the South Bay that I know of and they are known for  classics like Matzo Ball Soup, Kosher style meats, Chopped Liver, and hot and cold cured cut sandwiches.  The restaurant itself has the eclectic vibe of  that “Harry Met Sally” movie and the walls are covered with black and white photos of legendary actors from the past 70 years.   Pictures of the sandwiches on the menus are reminiscent of the stuff Dagwood would make in his comic strips.  It would be my first time here.

I ordered the Hot Beef Tongue New York High Sandwich which comes stuffed with Cole Slaw, Swiss Cheese, Russian Dressing, and your choice of bread;  I got the Sourdough.  On the side, I got pickles and a choice of Salad, like Macaroni and more Cole Slaw;  I got the latter.   My brother got the New Yorker, which comes with Hot Corned Beef, Pastrami, Swiss Cheese, Cole Slaw, and Russian Dressing stacked inside 2 pieces of grilled bread.  My mom got a large Matzo Ball Soup and we all shared some French Fries and Red Wine.

The Good:  The Hot Beef Tongue in my sandwich was super beefy and tender, maybe a little bit too tender.   The Russian Dressing certainly gave the sandwich some more depth and the Cole Slaw in it helped bring all 3 components together into one delicious bit.   I also liked the Macaroni Salad and even though it took me a while, the Kosher Pickle flavors grew on me.  I did try the Matzo Ball Soup my mom ordered and I liked how it had real pieces of Roasted Chicken, freshly cooked Noodles and Vegetables.  Not exactly sure what a Matzo Ball is suppose to taste like, but it tasted fine to me. 

 The Bad:  My only complaint about my sandwich is that the Tongue was too tender, therefore it just felt too mushy in my mouth.  Other than that, everything was okay.

Would you come back again?  Yeah, sure, why not!…I would like to try their other hot sandwiches, like the Corned Beef and Pastrami.

More Info:  www.thenewyorkdeli.com | Torrance:  2424 Sepulveda Blvd | Torrance, CA 90501 | 310-891-1229 |  Pasadena:  25 North Raymond Ave | Old Town Pasadena, CA 91103 | 626-578-0010 | Not the cheapest sandwich in the world.

– MJ


Westminster: Pho Nguyen Hue

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The Skinny:  So, not too long ago I made my way to the real Sin City below the border and safely made it back  onto US soil alive.  On the way home, I stopped by Westminster for some Pho at Pho Nguyen Hue, which was recommended by Yelpers on my smartphone.

 The Good:  I ordered the Pho with everything, which meant it had rare & well done Beef, Tendon & Tripe.  The broth was super beefy and marrowy, and little bit different from what I like my Pho to be.  I tend to favor a broth that has a strong herbie presence, but regardless that, the soup was satisfying and  soothing.  There was also plenty of meat in it, but I didn’t really touch them….or the noodles.  I just needed the broth.

 The Bad:  I got nothing.

 Would you come back again Yup.  I wouldn’t go out of my way to go there, but if I happen to be in the neighborhood and needed something to flush the tequila out of my system, I’m there.

 More Info:  www.phonhue.com | 10487 Bolsa Ave | Westminster, CA 92683 | Cash Only

– MJ


Xoia Vietnamese Eats Revisited

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The Skinny:  So yesterday (12/1/11) I went to Echo Park to go watch Jamie Woon perform at The Echo.  Initially I was going to go there by myself, but I ended up with two guests who wanted to go eat dinner.  We ended up eating at Xoia Vietnamese Eats.  It would be my second time. (1st time here.)

I ordered the Mi Quang which is a “Hoi An specialty! Wide yellow rice noodles served w/ seasoned shrimp and pork, lettuce, bean sprouts, sprinkles of crushed peanuts, banana blossom, fresh mints, sesame crackers in a shrimp/pork broth.”  I also got some Spring Rolls with Beef and Shrimp in it.

The Good:   I never had Spring Rolls with Srhimp and Beef before, so that was something different.  It reminded me of Bulgogi (Korean marinated beef), especially with some Soybean leaves mixed into the other greens and bean sprouts.

The Mi Quang was a little sweet, sour, fishy, crunchy, and kind of healthy tasting, if there is such a thing.  The waitress mentioned that the broth in it would have a concentrated flavor of Shrimp and Pork, but I think it was a bit too subtle for my taste buds.

The Bad:  The Mi Quang left me with wanting more and it made me regret not ordering the Pho.

Also, Jamie Woon….not very good live…..

 Would you come back again?  Yup!  Even though Xoia kind of has a fusion theme going, their dishes seem legit in it’s Vietnamese authenticity.  So I still need to try their Pho and the Bahn Mi on their secret menu that has an runny egg on top.  Also, one of the waitresses was really…..realllllly……cute, and what she wore that night….wow.  😡

 More Info:   www.xoiaeats.com | 1801 W Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

– MJ


Manhattan Beach: Simmzy’s

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The Skinny:  Simmzy’s is a small crowded American style gastropub in Manhattan beach that serves over 20 kinds of beers on tap, wine, burgers, and salads.  The place was recommended by my brother who said that their burgers was 2nd to none, especially the Bacon Blue Deluxe which is stacked with wood-fired grilled Sterling Beef, Bleu Cheese, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Garlic Aioli, fried Shallots, and Candied Bacon.

So I went with that, along with some Shoestring Fries and 15 Minute Wings.   As for beers, I ordered the Monkey Knife Fight Pale Ale and a Dogfish Head Punkin Ale.  I also had to finish my brother’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout since he later remembered that he was on antibiotics.

 The Good:  The medium well done Bacon Blue Deluxe was juicy and delicious.  I usually don’t like Bleu Cheese but it wasn’t too overwhelming in the burger.  But what I really liked about the burger overall was how the bun managed to soak up all the juices flowing from the beef patty and still maintained it’s form.  It was just a tasty and well built burger.

The 15 Minute Wings were also good.  They were crispy, messy, salty, sour, sweet, and had a nice heat that crept up on you later.

 The Bad:  The chopped up Candied Bacon didn’t seem candied at all, it was just salty.

 Would you come back again?  Yeah, I think I would, but parking is a bitch.

 More Info:  229 Manhattan Beach Blvd | Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 | www.simmzys.com 

– MJ


Little Tokyo: Fat Spoon

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The Skinny:  So I learned about the Fat Spoon from another food blog called Weezermonkey.  The blogger had an Uni (Seah Urchin) Croquette, loved it, and that’s what I wanted for lunch today.  Unfortunately for me, when I went there with some coworkers, they did not have any in supply to fry up for me.  So instead, the waiter recommended their Uni Pasta special, so I went with that.

The Fat Spoon is a new restaurant in Little Tokyo that serves Japanese style Curry, Croquette, and Pastas just like the Curry House chain.  It’s right next door to the popular Daikokuya Ramen house and I’m pretty sure that Fat Spoon is owned by Aburiya Toranoko, which itself is somehow connected to the people at Lazy Ox.  I could be wrong though.

The High: One of my coworkers ordered some Mini Corn Dogs as an appetizer.  They were actually pretty good because the Hot Dog they used had a good meaty bite to them, while the Ketchup it came with had a bold Steak Sauce kick.

The Bad:  When Uni is good, it’s really good, but when it’s bad, it’s really really bad.  From what people tell me and what I’ve experienced, fresh Uni tastes sweet and like the ocean.  Well, my Uni Pasta did taste like the ocean, but without the sweet and saltiness of the sea.  There were slivers of Uni still in intact throughout the dish, but they were quite bitter and a bit off-putting.  The Pasta sauce was creamy but bland, I literally had to drown my bowl with grated Parmesan just to add some salty depth.  The only redeeming things about the Pasta dish was the mixed Mushrooms that serve as a meaty texture component, and the Spaghetti Noodles, which were cooked just right.

Would you come back again?  In retrospect, I should have got the Curry since that’s what they are known for.  So next time, I’ll order that….but I won’t be in any rush.

More Info:  Yelp | Address: 329 E 1st St | Los Angeles, CA 90012  | They serve Beer and Shochu | The Uni Pasta cost me $14, but on average, every other dish costs around $10.

– MJ

p.s. pics taken with my android smartphone….sooooo….yeahhh


Las Vegas part 1: The Wicked Spoon @ the Cosmopolitan

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The Skinny:  For a company retreat, my coworkers and I stayed at the Venetian in las Vegas. Our first night there we porked out at the Wicked Spoon which is a buffet located at the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino.  This would be my first time there.

From what I heard, what sets the Wicked Spoon apart from other buffets located on the Vegas strip is the way they have a diverse selection of portion size dishes already plated out.   For example, they’ll have Southern style Shrimp N Grits or some braised Short Ribs with Pasta  in their own personal size copper pots.  But like all of the other buffets, they have a Prime Rib, Pasta, Sushi, and other International food stations set up.

The Wicked Spoon buffet is also known for their Dessert and Gelato selections.

The High:  Of all the stuff I tried, which was a lot, the three things that really stood out for me were the Fried Chicken Wings with Mash Potatoes, Crawfish with a Coconut Sauce, and the Bone Marrow.  I was also enjoying the small Mussels with Andoie Sausages, but I bit into one that was full of gunk and soil.  That bite pretty much killed my appetite.

As for desserts, I did try the PBJ Gelato and it was good.  The Chocolate covered Strawberries and Purple-ish Macaroon with Berries stuffed inside, were alright as well.

The Low: Other than that one bad Mussel, the General Tao Chicken had a heavy dosage of Soy Sauce. It was pretty awful.  As I grow older, I’m becoming less of a fan of buffets in general.

Would you come back again?  Not really.

More Info:  Wicked Spoon Buffet |  $22 for Brunch and $35 for Dinner.

– MJ


Las Vegas Part 2: The Venetian | The Palazzo Meeting Halls

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The Skinny:  The 2nd day of our company retreat, we had our conference at the Meeting Halls in The Venetian & Palazzo.  There we were was served a small buffet for lunch.  The theme of the meal was Italian, which makes sense since we were at the Venetian.  Not sure how often the menu changes or what the rotation is like, but what we got for that day can be see in the gallery.

The High:  The Chicken Consume with Shiitake Mushrooms, Meatballs, and Ditalini was very comforting, especially after a night of little sleep.  However, whatever herbs they added to the Meatballs, it was a little strong for me.   The Roasted Beet Salad was delicious, but the Cavateli Pasta with Rock Shrimp, Parmasean, and Vinaigrette stood out the most for me. It was my first time having Italian dumpling like Pasta like that since it was thick and toothsome , kind of  like fried Udon Noodles.   The Shrimp bits that came with it were full of flavor and the Sundried Tomatoes gave the overall dish some well welcomed sweetness and a nice earthy fragrance.

The Low:  The Seared Bone in Chicken Breasts were beyond dry. I felt pretty guilty because I didn’t finish mine and there were a lot of half eaten and untouched bird carcasses leftover.  Such a waste.

Would you come back again?  Probably won’t get a chance to, but I think the overall quality of the meal was better than The Wicked Spoon.

More Info: Venetian Meetings 

MJ


Las Vegas Part 3: Bouchon @ the Venetian

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The Skinny:  Our last night at the Ventetian for our company retreat was spent at Bouchon.  We were all given a budget of $70 per person that would be used for dinner.  This would be my second time at the Thomas Keller restaurant chain, so I knew what to expect.

Since one of my co-worker and I wanted some Seafood, we decided to combine our budget and get the Grand Plateau Seafood platter ($110); and share the Poulet Roti ($29.50) with some Mac & Cheese.  The Grand Plateau comes with 1 whole Lobster, 16 Oysters, 8 Shrimp, 8 Clams, 9 Mussels, seasonal Crab, and a special selection.  The Poulet Roti itself is a roasted Chicken with Chanterelle Mushrooms, Caramelized Figs, Pickled Ramps and Chicken Jus.

The High:  The Grand Paleau was a gluttenous dream come true.  It was fresh, clean, and an evil tower of Shellfish with Cocktail, Vinegar, and Horsradish sauces on the side.  The petite Lobster I shared was sweet and the Oysters were briny like the sea.  I didn’t really care for the Mussels and Clams though.

I wish I could remember what the Poulet Roti and the sauce it came with, tasted like, but for once in Las Vegas, the Chicken wasn’t dry at all.  I also barely remember what the Mac & Cheese was like, but it was cheesy and gooey and had a nice crust on top.

I guess Two Much Food and Gin & Tonics numbs out the pallet….and memory.

The Low:  I was about to say, I got nothing and that everything was solid, but then I realized… we didn’t get any “seasonal crab” or that “special selection.”  I think we got jibbed, but I have to admit, we didn’t really need the extra Crustaceans.

Would you come back again?  Sure, why not!

More Info:   Bouchon Bistro  | 3355 South Las Vegas  | Boulevard, Las Vegas – (702) 414-6200

– MJ


Las Vegas: English’s Quintessentially British

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The Skinny:  One of my friends from work showed me a link to this restaurant inside Town Square shopping.  It looked interesting and I just so happen to run into a friend that was open to try new things too.  I’ve never really had real British food so I didn’t really know what to expect.  First thing I noticed was that the dining room was pretty full, which is always a good things….usually.  We ordered the “express lunch” which they advertise as a traditional lunch break, but faster.  I ordered the fish & chip sliders that is a slider done English style with beef battered cod and fries with tarter sauce.  My friend ordered the pie flight which consisted of the steak & ale pie, chicken & mushroom pie, and the cottage pie (ground beef, green onions, cheese mash).  Yes you got ALL 3 in mini sizes, pretty good portions and for only $10.00.  All express lunch items are $10.00 and they have about 7 items.  Apparently from a few British friends, the menu is very British, again, not really sure what that means, but for me I’d say majority of the menu would be acquired taste.  When my friend and I looked at the menu nothing really jumped out at us. Some of the items we actually looked at each with the look of what the heck is that?  I’m almost always willing to try different cultures food at least once so it was worth trying.

The Good:  The food was decent.  Not really something where I’d rave about, but definitely something to try if you’re looking for something different.   My fish & chips sliders were very good.  Their tarter sauce is fantastic! I’m not a huge tarter sauce fan, but it was really good.  The pie’s were good too. My favorite one was the cottage pie.  My friend really liked the steak & ale pie and the chicken + mushroom pie.

The Bad:  It took the waitress forever to come take our order, took forever for the food to come out.  I had to start tapping my spoon to get some attention and have our food checked on.  The manager offered us free dessert due to the long wait for the so-called “express lunch”, BUT the dessert itself took forever to come out too!  When the waitress brought out the dessert she told us the manager was taking care of our bill because of how long our whole meal was taking.

Would you come back again?  I suppose so, not anytime soon though.  Yes the food took forever, but the fact that the manager acknowledged it and took care of it I will  give them a second chance.

More Info:  English’s Quintessentially British | Suite 210, Town Square 6599 Las Vegas Boulevard South | Las Vegas, NV, 8911 | Price range is moderate avg.  $11-30

– Sniper Tam


Las Vegas: Blue Ribbon Sushi

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The Skinny:  The last and final restaurant I wanted to try inside the Cosmopolitan.  When my friend from LA said he wanted Japanese food, I automatically thought of this restaurant.  A bunch of my co-workers had been raving about this chicken dish so I had to try it.  Blue Ribbon participated in Restaurant Week, so what a great time to try it!  The pre-set menu was $50 and it consisted of:

  1. First Course:
    Choice of: Miso Soup ~OR~ Hijiki Salad
  2. Second Course:
    Chef’s Choice of Assorted Sushi
  3. Third Course:
    Choice of: Braised Short Ribs with Celery Root Puree & Truffle Teriyaki ~OR~  Fried Chicken “Blue Ribbon Style” (which was fried chicken with a spicy seasoning accompanied with honey wasabi sauce)
  4. Fourth Course:
    Choice of: Ginger Bread Pudding ~OR~ Green Tea Cream Brulee

My friend and I tried one of each of the first course, we both were not fans of either.  Second course you can’t go wrong with.  It was a spicy tuna roll, one piece of salmon nigiri & one piece of tuna nigiri.  Third Course, my friend had the braised short ribs and I tried the fried chicken.  Both were delicious.

The Good:  Great atmosphere.  Has a traditional yet trendy feel to it.  Service was really good, food came out in a timely manner.  I LOVED the honey wasabi sauce for the chicken.  It was a sweet sauce with a kick.  The wasabi wasn’t overpowering at all.

The Bad:  A little too expensive for what it is, in my opinion at least.  A bowl of shishito for $10 when I can buy it at the store for $2?  Yea, kind of ruins it when you know exactly how much the dish really costs.  The Ginger Bread Pudding was disgusting! I know it says it in the description GINGER bread pudding, but I thought it was ginger bread cookie type of pudding.  Nope, had chunks of ginger root in it, almost made me throw up.  My own personal experience, I just REALLY dislike ginger.  So imagine the one thing you hate most, eating that dish with it in it not knowing it’s in there.  Good thing that wasn’t the second course or it would’ve ruined my whole dinner.

Would you come back again?  Probably not,  unless they had something like the Restaurant week at that price, it’s a little to expensive for me for Japanese food.  I’d rather spend my money at Yellowtail at the Bellagio

More Info:  Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill Las Vegas | 3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South | Las Vegas, NV 89109 | This is a splurge restaurant.

– Sniper Tam  


Redondo Beach Crab House

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The Skinny:  Over Labor Day weekend I went to Redondo Beach Pier for some Seafood with my mom.  She wanted to get this flat Fish that’s kind of like a small Halibut, (not sure what it is….it could just be a baby Halibut), but the price per pound was ridiculous.  At the Redondo Beach Crab House, it was $30 something for a pound of that fish, and each one was no less than 4.  So we settled for some Fried Clams with Fries, a $45 Sashimi platter, Nakji Bokum (A Spicy Korean Octopus dish) with cold Somen Noodles, and a bottle of Hite.

The Sashimi Platter comes with Baby Abalone, Tuna, Halibut, Hamachi, Salmon, Red Snapper and some of the Flat Fish my mom wanted.  The restaurant also provided us with some Ban-chan (Korean side dishes), fresh Lettuce to wrap stuff up, and some chopped up Sea Squirt….which I didn’t touch.

 

The Good:  The Sashimi Platter was actually a whole lot better than I was expecting.  The thick slices of Fish seemed fresh, especially the Salmon, which was sweet and fatty.  If the Sashimi selections came prepackaged in vacuum sealed plastic bag from China, I couldn’t tell.  The Nakji Bokum was also very good and tasty.  The Octopus was cooked just right, which made them very tender and sweet.  The sauce it came with was a lot spicier than I was expecting, but the cool Somen Noodles and extra veggies helped balance the heat out.

The Bad:  The fried breaded Clams wasn’t really needed but I just wanted something fried at the time.  They were a bit dry and only a little bit clamy, but they weren’t awful.

Would you come back again?  Not really….but the view was good.

More Info: Redondo Beach Crab House | yelp | 100 Fisherman’s Wharf Ste F | Redondo Beach, CA 90277  | Not the cheapest food in the world

– MJ


Hollywood: Pa-Ord Noodles

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The Skinny:  So after watching the Noodlewhore make an appearance on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservation in Los Angele,s I’ve been meaning to try the  Thai Boat Noodles they had.   I’m not a big fan of Thai food in general and the only thing I ever really get at a Thai restaurant is the Pad Thai.  However, I am a fan of Soupy Noodles, and the Thai Boat Noodles would be something new for me.  So after 3 years had gone by since I first saw that No Reservation episode, in 2011 I finally became proactive and found a place with those bowls of Noodles.  The restaurant I went to is called Pa-Ord Thai and it’s in Hollywood and next to a dozen other Thai places.

Pa-Ord’s restaurant space is pretty tight and with limited seating, which is the reason why there was a line out the door during lunchtime.  I did notice though that everyone eating there was Thai themselves and that’s always a good thing.  Their menu offers all types of Thai dishes,  like Curry Catfish, Crispy Pork Belly, and Roast Duck with Gravy; and all at a very affordable price.

Since I was there for the Thai Boat Noodle, I got Tom Yum (no.1), which has Pork Balls, Ground Pork, Pork Liver, Dehydrated Baby Shrimps, Bean Sprouts, Ground Peanuts and Pork Skin Cracklings.  With it you get a choice of either Egg Noodles or different sized Rice ones.  I got the Rice Noodles that are similar to what you find in a bowl Pho.  There are also different levels of heat you can have in your soup.  I did ask for “very spicy” but the waitress stopped me and said medium was enough for me, so I listened.  I also ordered some Thai Iced Coffee.

The Good:  My bowl of hot Thai Boat Noodles was simply delicious.  The soup felt lighter than eating a bowl of Pho, and it had a nice component of being a little sweet, salty, and sour.  The Bean Sprouts gave the dish the texture of crispness and the different assortments of proteins kept me satisfied as a carnivore, especially the Pork Skin Cracklings.  However, the “medium heat” was melting my face off and I had to keep on wiping away streams of sweat.  Despite the searing pain of spiciness in my mouth, I just couldn’t stop sipping the soup after I had ate everything in the bowl.

The Bad:  The Noodle portion size is pretty small, but for a large bowl that costs 5.50, I guess it’s okay.  Also, I hate pork liver, it just tastes like funky bad breath.

Would you come back again?  Yup!  It’s cheap and very good eating, plus the people working there are very nice and helpful.

More Info: Yelp| 5301 Sunset Blvd. Ste 8Los Angeles, CA 90027 | Cash Only | menu and prices

MJ


Los Angeles: La Cevicheria

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The Skinny So I first heard about La Cevicheria months ago while listening to a KCRW Radio show called Good Food, but I never got a chance to eat there til today.  La Cevicheria was spotlighted for it’s specialty on Ceviche, the Bloody Clam version specifically.  Unfortunately, that one dish wasn’t available when I was there, but the owner of the place recommended some other things instead, so we went with that.  We started with Aguachiles which are whole raw Shimps marinated in and served with Lime juice, Cilantro, Onions, Garlic, Cucumbers, and Jalapeno sauce.  I also got the Ceviche with Shrimp and Octopus.   My friend who I was with, got the Ceviche with the same liquid mix as the Bloody Clam Ceviche, but with imitation Crab, Shrimp, and Octopus.   Both versions of our Ceviche had slices of Avacado, Lime Juice, Cilantro, chopped Tomatoes and Onions.  The only difference between the two marinades was that my friend had Mint Leaves and Worcestershire sauce in his.

The Good:  The first dish we started off with were the Aguachiles which had 12 whole Shrimps bathed in a bowl of cold citrus-y soup.  Each shrimp was sweet and had a good meaty texture, but while they were supposed to be spicy from the Jalapenos, I hardly noticed it…at first.  I thought the dish was more refreshing than anything else, but then I tried the La Cevicheria Habanero hot sauce separately.  It looked like regular American Mustard but it tasted slightly fruity and burned like spitfire, causing me to sweat out beads after trying globs of it.  Then thinking that the cold marinade in the Shrimp dish would help, I spooned some out and sipped it only to have the Peppers from both of those things burn the crap out of my mouth.  It was still good though…painful, but good.

As for my Ceviche, it was good.  It started off tasting kind of odd, but after mixing everything together with some squeezed Lime Juice, drops of Tapatio, and some more Habanero sauce, the flavors eventually came together.  It just tasted like how a seafood Ceviche should taste with the Octopus and Shrimp adding some meaty textures to contrast the crisp onions.  I did try my friend’s Ceviche which uses the same the Bloody Clam marinade, and the flavors were more bold thanks to the Worcestershire.

The Bad:  I actually been to La Cevicheria twice.  The first time I came, the place was closed and the owners wouldn’t be back for a month.  Then with the 2nd visit, they didn’t have the one dish I wanted to get, the Bloody Clams.  I guess it was just bad luck on my part.

Would you come back again?  But of course!  Those Bloody Clams will be mine someday!

More Info: yelp | 3809 W Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90019 | Cash Only |  The Aguachiles was about 15 bucks and our Ceviches were about 10 bucks each. La Cevicheria also serves Burritos, Tostadas, and regular Latin American lunch fare.

– MJ


Las Vegas: Estiatorio Milos

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The Skinny:  Estiatorio Milos Las Vegas, one of 4 in the world is a one of a kind dining experience with the display of the fresh fish they fly in every day to the beautiful patio that has a garden atmosphere.   I’ve wanted to eat here since they’ve opened and they definitely didn’t let me down.  Chef Joshua Smith sent us big eyed tuna with bergamot, dill and chili as well as the Lavraki (sea bass) with thyme leaves and lemon to start.  They also sent us 4 different appetizers: the first one was the Milos Special which is lightly fried zucchini & eggplant with tzatziki & kefalograviera cheese.  We also had the Octopus which is grilled Mediterranean octopus with oregano, wild Santorini capers, apple vinegar & olive oil. For our final appetizer, we had the crab cakes which is Maryland blue crab with marinated gigantes beans & mustard emulsion. For our main course we had the red snapper  that was grilled with olive oil, lemon, salt & pepper accompanied by a tomato salad which consisted of  English cucumber, red onion, green peppers, olive oil, oregano, Santorini capers & Barrel aged feta cheese.  Now when I first heard there’s a Greek restaurant on the strip (1st and only for the time being) I’m thinking is this going to work?  It’s definitely unique and it’s definitely working.

The Good:  The food is delicious.  Everything was extremely fresh & basic.  They don’t use a lot of sauces or seasonings on any of their dishes.   It seems like the sauces and seasons they do use is  minimal and it’s more to enhance the natural flavor of the fish itself.  The tzatziki sauce was fantastic.  It was fresh and creamy, where a lot of restaurants I’ve had tzatziki and it was a little more watery then it should be, but at Milos it was the perfect consistency.    The service was fantastic; they were very attentive, always refilling our water glasses and checking to see if everything tastes fine.  It was a good thing we went early to eat because they were a full house by the time we were done.

The Bad:  Not that this is ever a bad thing, but it was SO much food.  If you go to this restaurant, I do recommend that you go in a group.  At least 4, they filet a whole fish at your table, and if you have a full 4 course meal you’ll end up with quite a few doggie bags to take home.

Would you come back again?  Absolutely.  The GM told me that 75% of the fresh fish they fly is consistent, but 25% of it will be different every week. So its worth going back to see what kind of exotic seafood they flew in that week.   I love anything seafood, so it’s definitely cool to have a restaurant where you can walk up to the seafood display and say “I want this one.” You would never believe a restaurant like this exists in the middle of the desert.

More Info:  Estiatorio Milos Las Vegas   3708 Las Vegas Blvd South, Las Vegas, NV  89109.  702-698-7930.   Dinner:  Daily 5:30pm to 12:00am Lunch: Daily 12:00pm to 2:30pm.  website

– Sniper Tam


Santa Monica: Cha Cha Chicken

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The Skinny:  Cha Cha Chicken is a restaurant that was featured on Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate…” for it’s Coconut Fried Chicken.  I didn’t know that at the time I was there and just ordered the Jerk Combo.  The plate comes with a Jerk Chicken Enchilada, Jerk Chicken Tostada, some Fried Plantains, and Dirty Rice with Red Beans.  I also got a cup of Agua de Watermelon and sat in the outdoor area, which is nice on a warm sunny day by the beach.

The Good:  Everything tasted fine and the ingredients all seemed fresh to order.   The Jerk part of the Chicken components had a sweetness that reminded me of Pineapples.  I did especially like the Dirty Rice for some reason and the cold Watermelon Water was refreshing and not overly sweet.

The Bad:  When I think of Jerk something, I think of spicy food that kicks your butt.  So I was expecting the Cha Cha Jerk sauce to have some heat, but the stuff was hardly mild.  I do think they use pineapple in the sauce and while it tasted fine, it was a little bit too sweet for me.  I just wanted a little more savory and some heat to balance things out.

Would you come back again?  Yup!  They do have a large menu and I want to try their other stuff.

More Info: Cha Cha Chicken – 1906 Ocean Avenue – Santa Monica, CA


Little Tokyo: Takoyaki Tanota

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The Skinny:  Went to Little Tokyo in Los Angeles to play around with my digital cameras and came across a Nisei festival and a Takoyaki stand named Takoyaki Tanota.  In general I love Octopus, which is also why I love Takoyaki and this find was a treat!

The Good:  The painfully hot pancake balls with chunks of Octopus was just that.  They burnt the insides of my mouth, but the  portion size of the Octopus nuggets were good and made it worth while.  5 dollars bought me 8 pieces and they were all delicious.   I got the regular Takoyaki sauce but they also have Ponzu and Jalapeno versions.

The Bad:  It’s not the most filling meal in the world, but then again, it is just a snack really.

Would you come back again?  Sure, if I’m lucky enough to come across it again.

More Info:  Little Tokyo: www.takoyakitanota.com

– MJ


Cheesecake Factory: The Farmhouse Cheeseburger

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The Skinny:  I went to a birthday get together at a Cheesecake Factory in Irvine and I haven’t been to one of these restaurants in over 3 years.  When I got there I ordered the Farmhouse Cheeseburger which has a Runny Egg, Beef Patty, and a smoked Pork Belly packaged into one meal.

The Good:  The Pork Belly was delicious, and as my brother would say, “it’s very hard to fuck up Pork Belly.”

The Bad:  The Farmhouse Cheeseburger was dry, the cheese was the shredded version you find at the Sizzlers salad bar, and the Beef Patty wasn’t seasoned well if at all.  The Fries also sucked ass.  After reading the menu’s nutrition handbook provided by the Cheesecake Factory at each table, I was even more pissed that I wasted 1530 of calorie intake on that piece of crap.  I now officially hate the Cheesecake Factory.

Would you come back again?  Fuck no.

More Info: www.thecheesecakefactory.com

MJ


Ktown: Beer Belly

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The Skinny:  Beer Belly is a relatively new pub that opened up in the center of Koreatown.  It’s like a “where everyone knows your name” kind of place and is a welcoming hang out for the non-Koreans living in K-town.  It’s owned by a young couple who for some reason, seems to know everyone, even my co-workers and cousin!  The beer selection is solid and meant to pair up  with the items found on their good size menu and daily specials.  While they do offer full steak meals to justify having dinner there, they also have fried Twinkies and Oreos; so you don’t have to wait for the county fair to get that fried lard induced heart attack.

 

I went with Echo and my cousin Wendy, who works at Beer Belly, and we ordered:

Citizen Garlic Tapatio Wings (which uses the Cismontane Citizen Steam Lager),
Duck Fat Fries w/ Raspberry Mustard and Duck Skin Cracklings
Cornbread Fried Okra w/ Frankenstein Ketchup
Mac n Beer Cheese (w/ Bacon, Orzo Pasta, and a Sunnyside Egg on top),
Grilled Cheese (4 decker w/ Asiago, Gruyere, Goat cheese, Bacon, Maple Syrup Drizzle)
Lamb Meatballs (on Baguette w/ Red Curry Marinara, Tzatziki, Dill).

And we drank:

Bootleggers Spring Ale
Ladyface Blind Ambition
Craftsman Triple White Sage
Taps Irish Red

The Good:  Everything was solid and the beer we drank did match well with the food we ate.  The Cornbread Fried Okra were tasty Hush Puppies that were complimented with the A1-ish dipping sauce which gave them a nice bold kick and zing.  I didn’t really notice the Okra, but I guess it kind of balances out the guilt since it’s a vegetable hidden in fried corn breading.  The Duck Fries were really crispy and the scent of Duck Fat was quite noticeable, but what really helped the fried strips of potatoes taste good was the Raspberry Mustard.  It helped cut through the fat with it’s play on salty and sweet.  I just wished the Duck Skin Cracklings were a little big larger and more noticeable.  If you’re going to make a guilty pleasure even more guilty, then you might as well go all the way. The Citizen Garlic Tapatio Wings were good too and had a nice heat that creeps up on you after your done eating them.  The Mac N Beer Cheese with Bacon and a Sunnyside Egg was as gooey, creamy and salty as it should be.  I just wished I had some Tobasco sauce to dot that runny yellow eye for good measures.

By the time we got to the Grilled Cheese with Bacon & Maple Syrup, I was pretty much tapped out on space in my stomach.  I can’t say I liked it because of the state of mind I was in at the time, but I do think it’s a nice play on the Montecristo.  The slices of Bread used to make that sandwich were actually pieces from a Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  I did have to force myself to try the Lamb Meatballs, and while they were tasty….I kind of wished they were in a bowl of Chili.  mmm…Red Curry Marinara Chili with Lamb and Tzatziki sauce!

Of the beers that I had, the most memorable one was the Bootleggers Spring Ale.  It was herby, a bit spicy, and had a nice hint of Honey.  I think it would be the perfect Autumn beer to have since it reminded me of Pumpkin Spice ice-cream.  I do remember liking the Ladyface Blind Ambition Ale, but at the moment I don’t remember what it tasted like.  However, the Craftsman Triple White Sage was….well….SUPER SAGEY.   It wasn’t bad and it did pair up well with the Lamb Meatballs, but it wasn’t my favorite.

The Somewhat Bad:   They don’t have a burger and it doesn’t seem like they’ll be having one any time soon.  I think a good quality burger at an affordable price with some unique creative touches would be well respected and garner a loyal following anywhere.

Would you come back again?  For the prices they offer and the friendly staff that works there, I can see myself being a regular there.  I think I’ll have everyone call me “Norm.”

More Info: www.beerbellyla.com  | 532 S. Western Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90020 — (213) 387-2337  |  food prices range from 5 to 20 bucks  |  beer on tap range from 5 to 9 bucks while their bottled selection can go up to about 20 or so.  |  The place is Iphone friendly, so if you have a playlist you want to share, you can do so at Beer Belly.  Just DL the app. | Ask for Wendy, she’ll help you figure out which beer goes well with what.

MJ


VTM#7: 4th of July Long Weekend

Video by Joel Kuwahara

For anyone who’ll read this….have a safe 4th of July, because the USA is broke and cops are looking to bust some festive drunks for their next paycheck.   JK about the paycheck, but they are looking to round up a lot of happy people this year just to make payroll……..just kidding!  Just don’t drink and drive .

– MJ


Music Related: At Echo with Kitten + The Postelles

“Kitten with a Whip” via:

The Skinny:  On June 28th, I finally got to see Kitten the band at Echo along side with The Postelles, Pageants, and Pan Am.  I arrived 2 acts late with a group of friends but we got there just in time for Kitten, The Postelles, and some beer.

The Good:  Kitten’s Chloe Chaidez and it’s pride of instrumental beasts, were everything I thought they were going to be.  They rocked out like overachieving child prodigies  infused with some Rage Against the Machines, making people over 30 feel even older with their long bursts of energy.  Their music was melodic when it needed be and controlled chaotic when it was time to let their youth shine through.   It was just a fun experience and I couldn’t help but smile like as if I was watching a bunch of kids achieve something people twice their age could never.  They are a talented and hungry group and the more crazy they acted on stage, with their hair twirling about and their sibling love punches towards each other’s backs, the more engaging the show got.  They also sound completely different from their recordings.  Their live sets, like “Chinatown” and “Kitten with a Whip” had more raw energy, as it should, and I loved it.   I’ll be looking forward to seeing Chloe Chaidez rise to fame and into hearts of young aspiring musicians younger than her.

The Postelle were solid too, and if weren’t for a few helpful loud female fans in the way front, I think their time spent at Echo would have been a dud.   Their music was melodic and for some reason it reminded me of when Michael J Fox played at his mother’s prom in “Back to the Future.”  I thought they had that classic 60’s rock sound at times and I read somewhere that they were like The Kooks and The Strokes.  Since I’m unfamiliar with those bands at the moment, all I can say is that I just liked how their music sounded.   It’s just too bad their vocals got drowned out by the bad levels in the speakers.  And on a side note, one of their band members looked like Jim Halpert from The Office.  It was kind of humorous….if you’re into the whole “who looks like who in the world of television sitcoms.”

The Somewhat Bad:  While watching Kitten play their set, one of Chloe’s friend, who was drunk off his rockers, got on stage with her and had a nice personal moment.  After that, he got back to the floor and started slamming into the female section of the crowd like as if it was a mosh pit.   I shouldn’t judge…much, but that was pretty weak and I think he even dropped his butterfly knife in the process.

“Hey Chloe’s buddy, if by some small random chance you read this….if the knife is yours and you want it back, the bartender at Echo has it.”

And the only somewhat bad thing I have to say about the Postelles is that, since I was standing in the center and near the stage, lead singer Daniel Balk; who comes across looking like Screech and the Artist formally known as Prince, kept on indirectly looking towards my direction, lifting up his shirt and exposing his man boobs.  It was pretty uncomfortable, so I had to hide behind one of my friends so she could endure the blunt of that awkward glare.

The Bad:  While Echo usually has great opportunities, at cheap prices, to see up and coming music acts, the place suffers from painful levels in the sound system that range from blood piercing high pitches to drowning out lead vocalists.  Either their equipments are just old and decayed, the venue is too small, or their sound engineers just aren’t that good when there are too many instrumental elements or band members to take care of.

Would you come back again? Despite the sound system, Echo is still a great place to find good live acts, street tacos, and easy parking…so yes.

More Info:   The Echo | Kitten | The Postelles

MJ

p.s. Nico Vega, Kitten, and Two Door Cinema Club……are off the bucket list, next up….yeah yeah yeahs!


San Pedro Fish Market + Restaurants

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The Skinny:  The San Pedro Fish Market is a favorite family weekend hot spot for seafood stalls, beer, and a festive atmosphere.  It’s also the most crowded place ever, which means good luck trying to find parking.

The Bad:  This blog entry, because I didn’t pay for the food so I don’t know where they came from.  I also had 2 big gulp sized plastic cups full of Corona….sooooo….I didn’t bother to find out.

The Good:  Everything we ordered was pretty solid…especially the fried Squid and Garlic Shrimp.  The Garlic Shrimp, with tasty bits of garlic chips underneath the juices…was well….garlicky and as savory as it should be.  The fried Korean-ish style Squid was the perfect beer food because it was salty, crunchy, and tender all at the same time.  And I know it was Korean because I recognized the style in which it was cooked and my brother said he did get it from a Korean food stall.  So that’s a clue if you want to find out where he got it from.

We also got some French Fries, Garlic Bread, Octopus Ceviche, BBQ Shrimp Fajita, and a small charred up baby Tuna.

The Somewhat Bad:  Anything that came covered in red seemed to be made with Ketchup.  So the Octopus Ceviche and BBQ Shrimp Fajita all had that sugary dried up Tomato paste taste to them.  Also, that day they had a small adorable karaoke show where little kids were singing Justin Bieber songs.  I thought the heat from the sun was making my ears sweat a bit, but no…it was just blood pouring out from the pain.

Would you come back again? Yes! Being able to drink cold beer out in the open on a nice sunny day with a bunch of happy strangers….is worth the parking space hunt.

More Info:  www.sanpedrofishmarket.comyelp | 1190 Nagoya Way – San Pedro, CA 90731

MJ


Hermosa Beach: Hot’s Kitchen

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The Skinny:  Hot’s kitchen is a gastropub in Hermosa Beach that specializes in 5 dollar mini size burgers, tacos, and a very large selection of beers.  There are about over 50 kinds of those tacos ranging from Oxtail and Jerk Rubbed proteins to Alligator and Duck Confit.  I was expecting to get the Foi Gras Burger.

I went with family and we ordered:
Fat Burgers (Fried Egg, Grilled Onion, Shredded Lettuce, Mayo, American Cheese)
Mexilaci Burgers (Roasted Poblano, Corn-Jalapeno Mayo, Fried Onion Ring, Oaxaca Cheese)
Hot’s Burgers (grilled Onion, Avocado, Tomato, Cheddar Cheese)
Grilled Korean Wings
Grilled Buffalo Wings
Lobster Heirloom Tomato Salad
Clams in a Spicy Beer Brother with Leguisa, Spinach, and Cheese Bread
Mussels in a roasted Red Pepper and White Wine Broth and served with Toast
A Bunch of Tacos (don’t remember what they were though…)

The Good:  Everything we ordered were all solid, but the one thing that was really memorable for me was the Fat Burger.  Despite it’s small size, the Burger packed a big beefy punch and the runny Egg made it even more excessively good.  I didn’t get to try a Taco and the Lobster Heirloom Tomato Salad, I did however get to pair the Clams and Mussels in their soupy broths with my very hoppy and refreshing Green Flash Imperial IPA….and it was very tasty.

The Bad:  For some odd reason, the things I wanted were on the menu but they weren’t available for that day.  I was hoping to get the Foie Gras burger I’ve read about on Yelp and some Crispy Picatta Wings, but I got neither.

Would you come back again?  Yes and I’m going to order that Foi Gras Burger when I do…and they better have it!

More Info:  www.hotskitchen.com | 844 Hermosa Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA — (310) 318-2939 | Parking will be a pain on a busy night.