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Los Angeles

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


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


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


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


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.


Moodaepo II

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The Skinny:  Moodaepo 2 is another gas powered All You Can Eat Korean BBQ restaurant found in Ktown.  There are two no-limit combos to choose from on the menu.  Combination A has both seafood and barnyard animals for just 19.99.  Then for only 16.99, you can get combo B which just has the pork, beef, and chicken.

What makes Moodaepo 2 different from other Korean BBQ All You Can Eat places, is the night club atmosphere.   There are flat screen television sets everywhere with Kpop music videos playing on all of them.  If someone is celebrating their birthday there, the whole restaurant dims out the lights and plays a happy jingle for that special person.

The Good:  It was cheap and the meat seemed to be good quality.  With a group of 10 people, we ordered probably more than 20 servings of Seasoned Sirloin, Pork Belly, Pork Neck Meat, Small and large Intestines , Brisket, and Beef Rib Meat.  The Pork Belly was thick and succulent while the Rib Meat were tender and juicy.

The Bad:  The food was good, because it wasn’t great.  While the side dishes were minimal and the service suffered because of the packed house of hungry customers, the only thing I really dislike about Moodaepo is the Korean night club atmosphere.   It felt cheesy and made my dining experience feel like I was eating in a crowded metro bus since I was elbow to elbow with my fellow diners.

Would you come back again?  Not if I had a choice, I’m just not a fan of All You Can Eat Korean BBQ places.  I prefer restaurants like ChoSun Galbee on Olympic, their quality over quantity menu, and the outdoor seating area they have.

More Info:  Moo Dae Po II website | 3014 W 7th St | Los Angeles, CA 90005 | (213) 381-9990 | Menu


Music Related: Nico Vega @ The Roxy

via: 

Went to the Roxy, saw Nico Vega on May 23, 2011, loved Aja Volkman, and was blown away by their drummer….. Dan Epand.

– MJ


Dan Sung Sah

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The Skinny:  Dan Sung Sah is a M*A*S*H themed Korean pub where all the furniture is made out of wood and people use worn out utensils that seem like they were used during the Cold War.   The place serves Korean style fried goodies, mystery meats grilled on sticks, free communal soup, and cold Makgeolli (Korean Rice Wine) that comes in a tea kettle.

The Good:  I usually always get the Dalk Dong Jib (Chicken Butt House), Chicken Wings, and Daeji Kalbi (Korean Pork Ribs).  The Dalk Dong Jib are  Chicken Gizzards fried with Garlic Cloves and sprinkled with Jalapenos and crack (MSG).   The stuff is addictive and I always get it when I go to Dan Sung Sah.

The Chicken Wings are not Buffalo style and there is no sticky sweet sauce.  They are lightly breaded, fried to perfection, and maybe sprinkled with some crack as well.  I especially like how the cartilage at the ends of each wing are fried up nicely on their own and become crunchy.

Something new I did try was the sliced grilled Pork Belly that comes with a side of Green Onion Salad.  It was very tasty and unhealthy.

The Bad:  The only Rice they serve comes in a Kimchee Roll with Cheese…..and it’s not good.

How long have you been going there? For over 10 years!

More info:  Yelp | 3317 W 6th St. Los Angeles, CA 90020 | They finally have a menu in English.

– MJ


Casey’s Irish Bar & Grille

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The Skinny:  Went to an Irish Bar & Grille in Down Town Los Angeles for a quick dinner before a night of heavy boozing at a friend’s birthday.  Casey is a place that has a full bar, pool tables, television sets all over the place, and a menu with actual Irish food.

I got the Shepherd’s Boxty, Irish Pub Fries, and a pint of Bass Pale Ale.

The Good:  Casey’s Shepherd’s Boxty is pretty much like Shepherds Pie, but it is made with ground Lamb, celery, onions, and carrots.  It is served rolled up in a savory Pancake and with some gravy on top.  The dish itself was tasty and the subtle gaminess of the Lamb added some nice depth to the flavors and whatever seasonings they put in it.  The warm pillowy Pancake was nice too, even though it didn’t really taste like anything.

The Bad:    The Irish Pub Fries weren’t bad, but it wasn’t as crispy as I wanted them to be.  Since they were pretty big Potato wedges, I think they weren’t fried long enough and was steamed up from the inside while in the fryer.

Would you come back?  Yeah, I’d like to try the Fish N Chips that cost $16.50.

More Info:  www.caseysirishpub.com | 613 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90017 | (213) 629-2353

MJ


The Naked and Famous @ Echoplex (04.09.11)

“Girls Like You” Via

“Youngblood” via

So after failing to see The Naked and Famous the night before, I Saw them on April 9th and had front stage view.  I was actually worried that they wouldn’t be very good live, but they turned out to be just great.

www.thenakedandfamous.com

MJ


El Flamin Taco + Xoia Vietnamese Eats

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The Skinny:  On April 8, 2011, I was suppose to go on a food crawl with some TMF247 people and end the night watching The Naked and Famous perform live at the Echoplex in Echo Park.  However, one by one, people started to drop out and so I ended up going there by myself.

While I was at Echo Park waiting for the show, I hit up El Flamin Taco Truck and Xoia Vietnamese Eats since they were close by.   I usually drive by the El Flamin Taco Truck  when I’m on Alvarado Street and on the way towards the Dodgers Stadium.  It would be my first time eating there that day.  Xoia is a fusion style restaurant that serves up Pho and Vietnamese influenced Street Tacos.

The Good:  The truck that wears “El Flamin” decals proudly all over it’s body, was quite impressive.  It had television sets playing Napoleon Dynamite, a LED lit sign greeting costumers in different languages, a rotating spitfire for their Al Pastor, and a full open salsa bar.  They obviously must be doing something right to have their colorful truck to be pimped out like that.

While I was at El Flamin Taco Truck, I ordered the Buche and Al Pastor tacos, 2 of each.  From the Salsa bar, I added the red sauce and some of the Cilantro Onion mix on all of them.  I definitely liked the Buche because it was clean tasting, had a nice texture, and was flavorful.  The red salsa was nice, but for me  it didn’t really add much to the tacos themselves.   Their hand made fresh tortillas were a first for me, but unfortunately I couldn’t really taste the difference.

At Xoia Eats, I got the 3 Chicharones Tacos combo and Vietnamese Iced Coffee.   The Chicharones Tacos were tasty and the Iced Coffee was Vietnamese style strong.  The red salsa that came on the side was a good palette cleanser.

The Bad:  First off, I’m just not a fan of Al Pastor at the moment.  I just don’t get it or at least I haven’t had some where I understand that “that is what Al Pastor is supposed to taste like!”  Not too long ago, I had some that tasted like Chinese style BBQ Pork, and I liked it.  The first Al Pastor Taco I had at El Flamin was kind of bland, crunchy from a piece of gristle, and greasy.  It reminded me of  Korean Pork Bulgogi that is void of sugar.  However, for some reason the second serving of the Al Pastor had better pieces of meat and it tasted much better than the first.  The grease became greasy in a good way and the marinated pork was tastier.   Weird.

At Xoia Eats, the Chicharones Tacos was disappointing because I was expecting pieces of Crispy Pork in it.  Instead, the Pork seemed to be regular cuts of meat fried up in a pan.  If there was Vietnamese style seasoning on the meat, I didn’t notice it.   The tortilla the Chicharones came bedded on had the texture of thinly sliced re-hydrated stale corn chips and I just wasn’t a fan of it.

The Fail:  So after killing 2 hours of time in Echo Park and waiting in line for 2 more hours for the Naked and Famous show, it turns out my ticket was for the following night.  I did see them the next day, and they didn’t disappoint as a live band.

Would you come back? Yes on both accounts.  I’m sure the taco meats and other items at both locations are worth exploring, especially since I’ll be coming back to The Echo/Echoplex for other shows.

More Info: 

El Flamin Taco Truck:  www.elflamintaco.com | yelp

Xoia Vietnamese Eats:  www.xoiaeats.com | 1801 W Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026 | Cash Only

– MJ


Salami at Claro’s Italian Market

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The Skinny: A cousin of mine gave my brother some mouth melting Salami.

The Good: The thinly sliced Salami was delicious, fatty, salty, and melted away after each chew.  It also looked cool and like something you see underneath a microscope during science class in High School.

The Bad: No clue what it’s called.

Would you eat it again? If I can find it!

More Info: My cousin found the Salami at Claro’s Italian Market.   It’s about 7 bucks a pound and the stuff is imported.  Visit the Claro’s website for store locations.

MJ


Lucky Noodle King

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The Skinny: Lucky Noodle King, sans the cheesy name, as got to have some of the best Chinese noodles I’ve ever eaten.  They’re located off of Delmar in SGV(aka new Chinatown).  My close friend Jesse Duron(GM of the new Miku Restaurant In Downtown LA, projected to open early summer across from the Standard Hotel) suggested that we go check the place out.  He read about it on Eater LA and the place did no disappoint

The High: I ordered the Beef & Tendon Noodle soup…it was definitely super tastey.  I actually think it might give sue’s Kitchen’s version a run for their money.  The soup was just the right amount of heat and if you wanted to add more there was of course the Chinese hot sauce with pepper and hot oil.   Jesse got the dan dan noodles which area a traditional Sichuan style of noodles. It consists of a spicy sauce containing preserved vegetables (often including zha cai, 榨菜, lower enlarged mustard stem, or ya cai, 芽菜, upper mustard stems), chili oil, Sichuan pepper, minced pork, and scallions served over noodles. –according to wikipedia.  These noodles were some of the best I’ve ever had in my entire life! We also had the Green Onion Pancake which was a great side dish to compliment the noodles that we were eating.

The Low: Do not go here on a Hot day.  We went on a day that it was near a 100 degrees out and….NO AC+HOT SOUP+SPICY = SWEATING BULLETS.  Also if you get the dan dan noodles…eat that after you eat the other stuff because the flavor is so overpowering it makes everything else taste almost bland!

Would you come back? YES! I’d like to try everything there!

More info: www.luckynoodleking.com | 534 E. Valley Blvd. Suite 10, San Gabriel, CA 91776  | (626)573-5668

Echo



Han But Sul Lang Tang

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The Skinny: Han But is a Sul Lang Tang restaurant in Koreatown I’ve been going to for last tens years.  It’s a hole in the wall that specializes in a Beef Soup that has your choice of Brisket, Flank, Tongue, Intestines, Tripe, Spleen, or all of the above.  With each order of Tang(soup) you get a side of Ggakdugi (pickled Daikon), Napa Kimchi, and a bowl of Rice.  And to help personalize the overall flavor of the soup, you get to add your own helping of Salt, Green Onions, and Red Chili Paste. It’s as good of a hangover cure as Phở.

The Good: The Sul Lang Tang at Hanbut is always good.  It’s tasty, filling, and comforting, especially on a rainy day.  The soup itself leaves collagen on your lips from all the bone marrow sucked out while stewing and any meat you order melts away easily as you chew.  The Ggakdugi is aged just right, so it doesn’t have that offensive pungency you get from raw radishes.  The regular Kimchi isn’t my favorite, but it’s not bad either.  Han But is a no frills kind of place, you get in, eat well, and then get out.

The Bad: Nothing. Wished they served Soju though.

Would you come again? Does Geico commercials ask rhetorical questions?

More Info: Yelp | 4163 W 5th St. Los Angeles, CA 90020 | (213) 383-9499 | Mon-Sun 7 am – 10 pm | Cash Only

Extra: One street South of Han But Sul Lang Tang is a Cigar store that hand rolls their product on location.  The place is called Leon Cigars and their prices range from 3 bucks up to around 7.

I went there for dessert.

MJ


Zelda’s Corner Deli

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The Skinny: Amongst all the craziness that Venice Beach brings, there lies a little corner deli…literally. Zelda’s is a small, hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop that sells amazing, cheap sandwiches.  Some people even say it’s better than Bay Cities and I can see why.  They use Boar’s Head meats and cheeses and delicious, fresh breads and range from $4-7. The sandwiches are served on either a 6” baguette or two slices of sourdough bread but they toast all their sandwiches so the cheese melts and all the flavors meld together.  They also serve breakfast sandwiches and make their own soups, cookies AND mini-donuts.  If you mention you found them on Yelp, they’ll give you a dozen for free with your order.

The High: The “Mr. Electric” sandwich is their shining star and it didn’t disappoint.  It’s composed of just a few simple ingredients (turkey, crispy prosciutto, avocado, provolone cheese, pickled jalapeno, organic baby greens and sliced tomatoes on a baguette) but all of it combined made for a great sandwich.

My co-workers got the Cuban, Ham and Brie, Ham and Swiss, and the Turkey Melt with Tomato and Crispy Prosciutto and they all enjoyed their sandwiches.

The mini-donuts are DIVINE.  They’re perfect little pillows of airy-goodness sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.

The Low: They only have two sandwich presses so ordering more than one sandwich may take awhile.

They’re closed on Wednesdays.

Would you comeback? Hells yesss!! I can’t wait to go back and try their other creations.

More Info: www.zeldascorner.com | 9 Westminster Ave. Venice, CA 90291  | (310) 314-6458  | Mon-Tue, Thu-Sun 9:30 am – 5 pm

– Nom Nom Bobbie