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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


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