Sunday, September 27, 2009

Back Home In Lahaina

A recent craving for some Hawaiian food led us to this Manhattan Beach eatery after an afternoon at the beach.

I ordered the Portuguese fried rice which came with a scoop of fatty macaroni salad. My daughter had the Lahaina fried chicken kids meal which came with 4 pieces of chicken, rice, and ice cream sundae for dessert.

I liked my rice plenty even though I could feel my arteries clogging up while eating it. Why does fatty food have to taste so good?!

Kiddo enjoyed her chicken, but didn't finish it all cuz she said it was too chewy. Ahh.. picky kids. Don't they realize that there are starving children in the world? Oh wells.

My friend wanted to order the spam musubi which turned out to be a mistake. It was gross. Bleh. We didn't even finish it.

All in all a good, kid friendly meal. The funny thing is, I can totally make the fried rice at home, but there are days when I'm just too lazy to cook.

Back Home In Lahaina
916 N Sepulveda Blvd
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(310) 374-0111

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hakata Ramen Shinsengumi

My friend had been telling me how this was his favorite Ramen place in LA, so of course I was hankering to try it.

the ramen bar

We came here last night around 6:30 pm and there was no wait. Sat down at a communal table and started perusing the menu. I was a bit confused as to how to order the Ramen, since there were all these add ons. I guess the ramen comes with green onions, ginger and some pork char siu, but you can add veggies and other stuff to it for $1 or so more PER item.

My daughter had the kids meal for $5 which came with half an order of ramen, 3 gyozas, small ball of rice, orange, Yakult, and a lollipop. It was cute presentation wise, but very small. This is definitely a meal for someone under the age of 5.

I had ramen ($6.95) with medium oil, soft texture, medium soup base and added spinach and bamboo at $1 extra per veggie. So, really my ramen was $8.95. If you think about it, the ramen here isn't that cheap considering it just really comes with noodles and pork. However, I must say, that damn broth was pretty addicting! I slurped it all up!

My buddy had the ramen with a side of hot satay sauce that cost $1.

We also ordered a side of 6 gyozas for the 3 of us. OMG. They were the smallest gyoza ever! I think we were pretty disappointed. Tasty, but way to tiny.

Overall, Hakata has really good broth, but I'm still on my best ramen in LA quest.

Dinner for 3 was $33 after tax and tip. And this place was loud as fck! Every time someone came in, they would yell something and also when they left. Too bad we had no idea what they were saying.

Hakata Ramen
2015 W Redondo Beach Blvd
Gardena, CA 90247
(310) 329-1335

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Osteria Mozza - My Bday Dinner

I've been dying to go here ever since it opened and finally got the chance yesterday for my birthday dinner courtesy of my man.

Well, after reading all the glowing reviews, I was super excited to try Osteria Mozza, but was disappointed. It really wasn't a 4 or 5 star experience for us.

We made reservations the same day for 8:30 pm and didn't have any trouble at all getting a table. The place was packed when we arrived, but the hostess seated us immediately.

I liked the interior with the high ceilings, dark lighting and moody vibe. It reminded me of New York, which is a plus in my book.

the bar

the menu

Our waitress was polite and did good, but the food was nothing special.

Amuse Bouche: Crostini w/ olive tapenade and mozzarella topped off with basil. OMG. Olive tapenade was way too strong and strong. I had to remove it. Cheese and basil tasted good.

Grilled octopus with celery, potatoes and lemon: this was the appetizer everyone raved about. Out of the 3 dishes we ordered, this was our favorite. But, it didn't knock my socks off. They overdid the lemon and all I could really taste was sourness. The octopus was grilled nicely and had good texture, but it was sour as hell. Celery and potatoes gave it an interesting flavor, however, they were overpowered by the lemon as well.

Orrechiette with sausage and swiss chard: OMG. This pasta was so damn salty, I could not eat it. I tried to finish it as it was such a small portion, but alas, no way. My taste buds were on fire, but a salt fire! My man couldn't eat it either. BLAH. And where was the swiss chard? I didn't see it nor taste it. Sausage was alright, but I had a few overly chewy pieces. Skip this dish.

Maltagliati with wild boar ragu: Better tasting dish than my Orrechiette. The portion was TINY. It was almost laughable, but whatever. I guess that's why they call it Primi. However, at $18 I expect more than 4 bites on a plate. Eh. Not worth it for the price.

We also had a glass of Proseco each and it was good, but $15 each! Oh wells.

cheers- happy birthday to me

I much prefer Pizzeria Mozza next door, as the food and prices there are way better than Osteria.

Dinner for 2 was $92. I would much rather have spent that elsewhere.

Celebrity sighting - Mark Dacascos from Iron Chef America dining with a group of peeps. I wanted to take a pic with him but didn't want to interrupt..

Osteria Mozza
641 N. Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Torihei- All About Oden

OMG. My head hurts. Pounding hangover from 3 large bottles of sake at Torihei last night. Was it worth it? Hells yeah!

My friend and I were starving and drove to this plaza in search of some good eats. We had a choice between Musha or Torihei. I chose Torihei since I've been to Musha in Santa Monica already.

We walked in and were seated within 5 minutes at a small corner table. The waitress brought us menus and we selected a variety of items.

My initial thought was "Wth is Oden?" We looked it up on Wikipedia and saw that it was a Japanese winter dish with various ingredients in a dashi broth. Hmm.. interesting. I like broth. Broth likes me.

I'm just going to list what we ate so it's easier to read.

Daikon Oden: Wow. Very impressed. Light flavors, good daikon texture and simple broth. Yum factor = 4/5

Fish Cake Oden: Light and fluffy, almost cloudlike in texture. Light broth and topped off with seaweed. Yum factor = 4.5/5

Noodle Oden: Uh.. not sure what the correct name is for this dish, but the waiter said it was similar to Udon. Too big and chewy for my taste. Served in an Udon flavored broth. Yum factor = 3/5

Xiao Long Bao: One of our favorites. 2 small dumplings in an awesomely flavored broth with scallions and radish. Omg.. orgasm in a bowl. I wish we had another order, it was so damn good. Yum factor = 5/5

Whole squid: I love squid! Perfectly grilled, seasoned and cut into small pieces. This sucker was big and we were glad the waiter told us we only needed to order one for the 2 of us. Yum factor = 4.5/5

Chicken meatballs: Meat on a stick! Nuff said. Yum factor = 5/5 (must order this)

Korean short ribs: Meh. Disappointing and way too chewy. We ordered 2 since we really loved Kalbi, but regretted that after the first bite. Flavor wasn't that good either. Yum factor = 2.5/5

Okra with pork: Mmmmm hmmmmm... so damn good. Love okra and combined with pork, this dish was a winner! I could have just ate okra by itself, that's how much I love it. Yum factor = 4/5

Is it just me or does everything taste better with alcohol? Ehh.. what the hell. I'm an alkie. I'll admit it.

I'd love to come back here and try the other oden and yakitori dishes. Great place!

1757 W Carson St
Ste A
Torrance, CA 90501
(310) 781-9407

Friday, September 4, 2009

M Cafe

In the land of Hades, otherwise known as Hell- Yay, the boy and I went to M Cafe to escape the 95 degree heat.

Wow. It was pretty busy at 11:30 am. Lots of Moms with their toddlers and babies. The design of the cafe seemed to be acoustically challenged. If the screaming baby cried, the cries would carry over tenfold. Mind you, this is not a big place either.

Anyway, we ordered 2 teriyaki bowls. He had the salmon with steamed veggies, while I got the black cod with sauteed veggies.

$15 a pop ain't cheap by any means. I mean they were tasty, but the portions weren't huge and damn, $15. We didn't even get any drinks and the total for our meal was $33.

Both bowls came with brown rice. I liked my cod better than his salmon, mostly because his salmon was just that, salmon. Nothing special about it. Steamed veggies were carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. Basic.

My cod was flaky and soft, and the sauteed veggies tasted yum. I loved the shiitake mushrooms, bok choy, carrots and onions.

A/C seemed to be dying out towards the end of our meal. I started sweating while eating my food. I hate sweating. I hate sweating even more when I'm eating.

But, whatevers. Granted the food is good here, but it's damn expensive.

M Cafe
9433 Brighton Way
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 858-8459

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Uncle Chen's Taiwanese Cuisine

My friend and I made the trek out to the SGV last week so we could pop his Taiwanese cuisine cherry.

Since I wanted to go somewhere else besides Simbala and Sinbala, we came to Uncle Chen's. Located in a strip mall with tons of parking, this restaurant was a pleasant surprise.

We were greeted warmly by the waitress and sat down at one of the many tables. It was around 8:30 pm so there weren't that many customers. More food for me!

Since we were starving, we ordered way more food than we could eat. But, got a decent selection.

Sticky bamboo rice with dried pork sung. Hmm.. not really either of our faves, but it had an interesting texture. I liken it to sticky rice, but in a different shape.

Stewed tofu and seaweed: This was good, but you really gotta like seaweed and tofu. Otherwise, you'll probably be like ehhh.. not so much. I liked it, as did he, but we didn't love it.

Ong choy: Yeah! We both liked the veggie dish. How can you screw up Ong Choy? It's basically spinach, but with a much lighter flavor. It's just so damn good with a touch of garlic and stir fried in oil.

Wonton Soup: Huge wontons, good broth. I liked the lettuce in the broth. It was good, but not the best wonton soup I've had.

Pumpkin Rice Noodle: Yep, my favorite dish of the evening. Oh come on. You faithful readers know I'm a sucker for pumpkin mifun. Huge portion with good pieces of pumpkin, cabbage and tiny bits of shrimp. Bravo!

All this cost around $30. Cash only. Tell me where you can get all this food on the westside for the same price. McDonald's does not count!

I'd definitely come back. And the service was nice, so even better! A bit slow at times though, but I'll forgive that since my friend finally knows the difference between Chinese and Taiwanese food.

Verdict: Taiwanese food rules!

Uncle Chen's Taiwanese Cusine
529 E Valley Blvd, #178A
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 288-5778

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Chaya Venice Happy Hour

My friend and I came here last night to check out their happy hour from 5-7 pm. We walked in at 5:02 pm and there were already 6-7 other people there. Dang, what recession?

My first impression was, wow, this is Cougarville! Rawwwwrrrrrr. I'm just a lil Puma in training. Moving on...

Happy hour features appetizers and sushi rolls along with 2 different drinks. 2 drinks?! WTF right? I had the Slingchi martini and my friend had the Juicy Infusion. Both tasted way too effen strong. I didn't much care for mine. So, we ended up ordering a large cold Nigori sake at $20.

Slingchi martini- blech

sake, the evil of the evening

In terms of food, we ordered a bunch of sushi, all $4-$5 each.

Spicy shrimp roll: pretty tasty, probably my favorite roll of the evening.

Tuna tartare: meh, the tuna was too big and chunky and didn't have much flavor. Dislike.

Oyster dynamite: Too much mayo on this thing. Dislike again.

Spicy tuna roll: It was okay, nothing special about it or memorable.

Salmon, cucumber, avocado roll: Ehh.. was okay as well. My favorite part was the cucumber.

So, overall, happy hour food here is mediocre. Drinks are mediocre. Service was okay. The waitress gave us the wrong bill which was less than our correct bill. Then, after she rang it up, she told us she had to ring up the right bill. Umm yeah. Total bill for the evening- $65.

Were we happy? Yeah sure, after all that sake. But, the food leaves little to be desired.

Chaya Venice
110 Navy Street
Venice, CA 90293
(310) 396-1179