Just another WordPress.com site

MJ

Xoia Vietnamese Eats Revisited

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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


Redondo Beach Crab House

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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


Little Tokyo: Takoyaki Tanota

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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


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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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


Just Winging It BBQ Ribs

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Just Winging It Ribs

I call this stuff  “Winging It Ribs” because I just went with the flow and cooked like a guy with no formal cooking experience or the common sense to research helpful tips.  I made these Ribs over the weekend and prepped it the night before the actual BBQ.

The Meat Tenderizer
A bottle of Dr. Pepper

Before packing on the dry rub, I brushed the ribs with some Dr. Pepper to tenderize them a bit.  I remember seeing it being used on a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives episode where a cook used the soda to marinate his Tri-tip Steak. Initially, I was going to only use dry rub to coat the Ribs….but I decided to use the Dr. at the last moment.

The Dry Rub
1.5 cups of Brown Sugar
1 cup of Dehydrated Garlic Chips
1 cup of Dehydrated Chopped Onions

After mixing all of these ingredients together, using a tablespoon to distribute the rub, I spread the mix onto both sides of a each rack.  I then rubbed the mix into the meat with my bare hands and wrapped each one up like a burrito in tin foil.   Following that I stored them all in my fridge for overnight.

Farmer John’s Ribs From Smart and Final
2 packages of Pork Ribs (each package contained 2 racks.) – cost about 20 bucks each.
2 packages of Baby Back Ribs. (1 rack per package) – cost 10 bucks each

Four hours before BBQ time, I placed the larger racks of tin-foiled Pork Ribs into an oven that was preheated at 350º.  After one hour had passed, I placed the smaller Baby Bag Ribs into the oven and just let them  cook for 3 hours longer.

Winging It Sauce
1 cup of Jim Beam (or Jack Daniels)
1.5 cups of Brown Sugar
1 can of Tomato Sauce
1 whole bottle of a medium size A-1 Sauce
5 spoonfuls of Asian Hot Chili Oil

In a heated pot I got all the alcohol out of the Jim Beam by lighting it on fire like how Beavis and Butthead would.  I used a single match and survived with my eyebrows still intact.  I then added the Tomato Sauce, A-1, Chili Oil, and the 1.5 cups of Brown Sugar into the mix.  On medium high heat and while stirring, I let the sugar in the sauce start to boil up before I took it off the burner.   Unfortunately, I think I made the mistake of not condensing the sauce long enough because when it was time to grill, the sauce didn’t caramelize the way I wanted it to on the ribs.   I probably should have let the sauce simmer longer because it was  too watery.

On The Grill

On a hot (gas powered) grill, I placed the meatier side of each rack on top first just to burn off  any excess wet rub.  Since the Ribs were steaming in it’s own juices underneath the foil, the dry rub and fat drippings grouped up together by the bulk.  As that happened, I painted the bone side up of each rack with my special sauce, flipped them over and did the same on the other side   Through out the process, I would flip the ribs over a few times and add more sauce in order to get the right color.  However, like I mentioned up above, I didn’t get the exact channelization I wanted…..but the ribs still came out succulent and flavorful.

The Good: The ribs were tasty, sweet, and fall-off-the-bone tender.

The Bad: The sauce didn’t caramelize the way I wanted it to on the grill and the amount of Chili Oil I added didn’t give off any heat.  During the BBQ…the weather sucked.


Booze: St. George Absinthe Verte

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Skinny: St. George Spirits is a distillery founded in 1982 in San Francisco by Jörg Rupf who studied at UC Berkley after receiving a grant from the German Government.  Their Absinthe is a product that does away with the sugar cube and allows drinkers to sip and enjoy the botanical flavors of the Spirit with just a few ice cubes.  It’s made from Brandy, Star Anise, Mint, Wormwood, Lemon Balm, Hyssop, Meadowsweet, Basil, Fennel, Tarragon And Stinging Nettles.

The Good: It’s strong, very flavorful, and I was warm and fuzzy in the tummy.

The Bad: It’s strong, very flavorful, and my brother is missing an ear.  I’m not a fan of stuff that tastes like Black Licorice.

Would you drink it again? No thank you…Plus the hallucinogenic qualities of the Wormwood is a myth.

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  Just kidding…………………..or am I?

More Info: www.stgeorgespirits.com | You can find it at Bevmo for around 80 bucks.

MJ


Gaja Okonomiyaki + Ryo Izakaya

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Skinny:

Gaja is a Okonomiyaki restaurant that allows you to grill up Japanese style savory pancakes for Lunch or Dinner.  It’s located in the City of Lomita and sits in a tiny plaza next to two popular Udon Noodle shops.   Along with the Okonomiyaki and the vast variety of toppings, like Cheese, Seafood, and mystery Meats, you can also get Italian style Pastas, Soupy Noodles, and Beer.  A good time to go to Gaja is during lunch because they have specials where you get 3 personal size Okonomiyaki with 1 topping each, a side salad, and a drink for just about 15 bucks.

Ryo is a Izakaya not too far from Gaja and serves Japanese style Tapas, Sushi items, Ramen, and Yakitori.  It’s located in the Rolling Hills Shopping Plaza in Torrance and sits right in front of an AMC Movie Theater.  The interior has trendy old style wooden furniture and uses empty alcohole bottles as decorations.

The High:

Gaja was an interesting experience and cooking your own savory pancakes with a few friends is always fun.  We ordered their “Sparking Beer” which either has Blueberries or slices of Grapefruits. Both were good and refreshing.  Since I was in a party of 3, two of us ordered the lunch special to share and topped them with Cheese, Mushrooms, Scallions, Octopus, Teriyaki Chicken, and Shrimp.  I ordered some Takoyaki with a Spicy Sauce.  Of the 6 toppings that were ordered and shared, the Cheese was the best one, that is after we finally mastered the grill and made some decent well-done pancakes.    The way the Cheese crisped up on top of the stove was pretty awesome.   It was also fun seeing all the shaved Bonito flakes come alive as you place them on top of each cooked Pancakes.  The Takoyaki balls were decent and the spicy sauce needed more spice.

After Gaja, I went to Ryo Izakaya with a party of 4.  We shared Ramen with Pork, Yakitori items, a whole grilled Quail, Takoyaki, fried Squid Legs, Shrimp in Chili Sauce, Lamp Chops, Unagi, Asparagus in something-something sauce, and stewed Tendon in a spicy broth.  Of all the items that stood out, the stewed Tendon was my favorite.  It was gelatinous, tasty, and left a lovely sticky film on my lips.  The Ramen that one of us ordered had the thick porky broth and it was as good as those specialty places that only focuses on making really good Ramen.  The grilled items we ordered were the Chicken Hearts, Breast, Wings, Liver, Cartilage, a whole Quail and Lamb Chops.  The Chicken Hearts were pretty beefy in flavor while the Quail and Lamb Chops were both juicy, charred, and seasoned just right.

The Low:

I have no real lows about Gaja, it’s a fun place to eat at and once you master the grill, eating rare Okonomiyakis and half cooked seafood won’t be a problem.  You don’t even have to cook the stuff yourself, you can ask the waiter to have the in-house cook make it for you in the back kitchen.  Actually, one complaint I do have is that the Octopus came out raw and after grilling it with the pancake mix, it was super rubbery.  I think they should have precooked or prepped seafood items like that before hand so it’ll be easier to cook later.

At Ryo Izakaya, the tapped Kirin Beer during happy hour seemed to be really watered down.  It also came in a pitcher that has a pint size indent from the bottom for regular water to freeze up and keep the beer cold.  That’s just BS.  I didn’t really like the Chicken Cartliage, but only because it just isn’t for me.  Other than that, no real complaints about the environment or food.  The female waitresses were all friendly and the cook came out once in a while to see if the customers were cared for.

Would you come back?

Gaja: Only if I’m with a group of people. They have a menu that has as many combo items as a karaoke book has songs.

Ryo: Yes!  It’s a fun place to drink and eat among friends.

More Info: www.gajamoc.com | 2383 Lomita Blvd. Ste 102 Lomita, CA 90717 | (310) 534-0153 | Ryo-zan Paku | 2589 Pacific Coast Hwy. Torrance, CA 90505, Torrance | (310) 530-8720

MJ


Sue’s Kitchen

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Skinny: Sue’s Kitchen is a tiny hole in the wall Taiwanese restaurant found in the South Bay and I’ve been driving right pass it for the last 20 years.  From what I read on Yelp, the place is known for it’s Beef Noodle Soup and the workers not speaking a lick of English.  The place also serves other Taiwanese and Northern Chinese dishes….stuff I’m not familiar enough with to explain.

The Good: The Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup with Tendon I ordered was simply delicious.  I’ve only had it at least 4 times in my lifetime, but I never really took a liking to it or found it to be a special treat.   But for some reason, that day at Sue’s Kitchen, it just all made sense.  The Beef Noodle Broth seemed tastier than usual with the Star Anise and other spices being more pronounced.  There was a nice heat to everything and both the beef and tendon melted away easily in my mouth.  The long noodles weren’t as thick as I had hoped, but they did have a nice bite to them.  It could have been that I was just in the mood  for hot Soupy Noodles on a cold rainy day, but as of now I can understand how people can be as obsessed with Beef Noodle Soup as others are with Pho.

Along with that Beef Noodle Soup, I did get a side dish of cold Pig Ears.  I’m not sure why I got it, but I just felt like eating something odd.  The thin slices of Pork Skin and Cartilage tasted neutral on their own with subtle reminders that I was nibbling on a Pigs Ear.   If it weren’t for the Chili Oil that added another layer of flavor, I don’t think I would have continued eating it.  It wasn’t bad and I kind of liked it the more I ate it.

On top of the food being good, the people working at Sue’s Kitchen were nice and they did understand English, they just couldn’t speak it well.

The Bad: Nothing really.

Would you come back? Yes!  I have other stuff to try!

More Info: Yelp | 23918 Crenshaw Blvd. Torrance, CA 90505 | (310) 539-1992 | They do accept credit now! Yelp needs to update that bit of info. | Beef Noodle Soup only cost around 6 bucks.

MJ