Friday, February 26, 2010

Happy Hour @ Checkers Downtown

What a great happy hour! I came here last night with 2 of my girlfriends, and we ate and drank to our hearts content.

Everyone was really friendly and accommodating, from the doormen to the waiter. We even got free valet parking! It's usually $6.

Checkers has a happy hour called FOUR, from 4-8 pm, featuring 4 food and drink items, each only $4. Pretty clever eh? The menu changes weekly, so if you are a lush like me, you can go every Thursday and try new drinks.

We ordered all 4 food items and 3 of the drink specials.

LIMONCELLO BRAMBLE – A martini of Vox Vodka, Limoncello, blackberry puree, and fresh lemon juice. From the mind of our own bartender. This was sweet, but not very strong. The waiter brings it in a martini shaker and serves it to you in a martini glass at the table.

MOSCOW MULE – Vox Vodka, fresh lime juice, fresh ginger juice, and ginger beer. “Moscow” for the vodka; “Mule” for the kick of ginger! My favorite drink of the evening. Crispy, refreshing taste with a small kick to wake you up. I had 3 of these.

VESPER MARTINI – James Bond’s change-of-pace: Tanqueray Gin, Vox Vodka, Golden Lillet, and a twist of lemon. This was the strongest drink. One of the cleanest martinis I've had ever. One of these will get you buzzed and happy.

VICHYSSOISE with house-made taro chips. This is a chilled soup with cream. I didn't much care for it, since I'm not a fan of cold soup.

OLIVE OIL POACHED AHI, with cannelloni bean and basil pesto ragout, and red onion pickles. Hmm.. not really a fan of this dish either. The ahi was dry and it was covered with too much foilage.

SHORTRIB GRILLED CHEESE with sautéed onion, baby arugula, and a stone-ground mustard sauce. My friends loved this dish, but I was just okay with it. It's too heavy for my taste, and I'm not a fan of cheese. Yeah yeah, shoot me.

CONFIT OF ARTICHOKE HEARTS, with lemon zest and shaved mizithra cheese. This was a winner! I love artichokes. The tanginess of the lemon combined with the sharpness of the cheese really brought out the natural flavor of the artichokes.

Since we wanted to try more food, we ordered a side of garlic fries and the hummus.

OMFG. If you like hummus, you will LOVE their hummus. It has roasted garlic in it and it was seriously, the BEST hummus I've ever had. Came with warm flatbread for your dipping pleasure.

Garlic fries were a bit salty, but I didn't mind so much since I had my Vesper martini to wash it down with.

I would totally come back here! Great deal, great service, and great food. That's what a happy hour is all about. I may make this a weekly event. Thanks Tony of Sinosoul for the rec!

Checkers @ The Hilton
535 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 624-0000

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sushi Masu

We walked in and were greeted amicably by everyone. Thank god they didn't scream like at other sushi places. I'm a mellow person and prefer to dine in places where I don't feel like it's a circus.

I did most of the ordering as my DC trusts my judgement.

Toro sushi- Too chewy and not buttery like I expected. I would def not order this again here.

Yellowtail sushi- oh hells yeah! This was soft like buttah and melted in my mouth. Wish I ordered 5 of these.

toro on the left, yellowtail on the right

Yellowtail and green onion roll- pretty good, but not extraordinary. Well, it had yellowtail inside, so I'm not complaining.

Sweet shrimp- Now, this was my first time eating sweet shrimp and I was quite impressed. Fresh and slippery. Me likey.

Butterfish with miso sauce- Basically like cod. They were outta sea bass on the menu, so the waitress suggested this instead. Yum! Loved it. Wish it was bigger. Great flavor, soft, flaky and tender. Mmm. I'm drooling thinking about it now.

Fried shrimp heads- interesting. These are from the sweet shrimp and at first I was intimidated by the eyes and whiskers, but after taking a bite of the crispy goodness, I rather enjoyed it. Especially with some freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Fried shu mai dumplings- Meh. As my DC put it, too doughy.

We also had a crab miso and clam miso soup. I liked my clam soup, and it came with 3 clams! Score.

Service was good overall. Our waitress was nice, got our orders right and friendly. But, one thing that really bugged me was that ALL the food came at the same time! Seriously, there was no space on the table, yet they kept bringing out the food. Ugh. I felt overwhelmed and annoyed. Pacing the food is important. Please don't just bring the food all at once, thanks. I don't like being rushed when I'm eating.

Dinner was $85. Say what? Yep. Not the cheapest place. Damn the market prices for toro and sweet shrimp.

Sushi Masu
1911 Westwood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 446-4368

Monday, February 22, 2010

Michael Mina @ Bellagio

Michael Mina was an excellent dining choice for my BF and I during our trip to Vegas in November. We stopped by spur of the moment and were seated right away without a reservation.

The dining room was spacious and well lit which helped with my picture taking on my iPhone. Service was fantastic and I liked how they recite the dishes to you when it's served.

We ordered the cookbook tasting menu which was quite delicious overall, but damn were we stuffed.

First: Tartare of ahi tuna was delicious! I loved the sesame oil and pine nuts mixed in for texture. It was my favorite dish of the evening. Fresh and fun.

Second: Maine lobster pot pie was amazing! The waiter cuts off the top of the pie for you, so you can dig into the huge chunks of lobster and veggies. Creamy and delicious, this was the BF's fave, and my second fave.

Third: Miso glazed Chilean sea bass was next and I liked it very much. It was soft, flaky and sat in this dashi broth accompanied with a shellfish dumpling. Exquisite.

Fourth: American Kobe ribeye was a bit of a disappointment. Too chewy and a bit salty, not really either one of our favorites.

Sixth: Trio of Desserts was the final course. Thank goodness because we were about to burst. The root beer float was charming and I liked the chocolate straw it came with. Coconut cheesecake was decent, and the opera cake was way too sweet for my taste. Overall, dessert was not very impressive.

We also had a couple glasses of Riesling each. After all that food, I certainly did not feel the buzz. However, the wine was just the right amount of sweetness.

I would come back here in the future, as long as I try not to eat anything the entire day.

Michael Mina
3600 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 693-7223

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tip of the Day

For tasty, seasoned rice, add some olive oil and garlic salt to the rice cooker before you push start.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Breadbar @ CC Mall

After watching Valentine's Day on it's opening night, we walked over to Breadbar to get some dinner.

It was pretty chilly outside, so we sat down at a corner table towards the back. Our waiter was pretty attentive and got our orders fast enough. You know, when people are starving, they tend to get a bit snippy.

I had the ahi tuna burger with grilled veggies instead of fries. After my torturous core fusion class earlier, I didn't want to eff that up by eating fried crap. Changing to grilled veggies cost a few dollars extra, but it's better than packing on a few extra pounds.

The ahi burger was quite tasty and I liked the arugula and wasabi mayo thrown in for a twist. Crispy fried onions topped the seared fish gave it a nice texture. I would have liked more fish than bun, since the bread dwarfed the ahi. Grilled vegetables consisted of zucchini, bell peppers, broccolini and squash. I liked the zucchini and broccolini best, but didn't much care for the squash. Some pieces of it were a bit too charred for my taste.

Kiddo ordered the cauliflower soup, which came in a pureed form. She didn't eat much of it, since she was tired, but the BF ordered one as well and scarfed it down. I've had it before and it is indeed quite tasty.

We also ordered a side of mac n cheese and it was not good. Their wasn't much flavor and we left most of it on the plate. Blah, skip this dish.

Overall, a decent spot to eat lunch or dinner. I'd like to come back and try their sliders. It seems they have expanded their menu since the last time I was there.

Century City Mall
10250 Santa Monica Blvd
Century City, CA 90067
(310) 277-3770

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries For Valentine's Day

Wanna make something for your sweetheart, but don't have much time or money? Check out my quick how-to video for chocolate dipped strawberries under 5 minutes and less than $10. Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Happiest Hour at Hudson House

My friend and I were hankering for some liquor, so she suggested we come to Hudson House. I've never heard of this place, as this is not in my hood, but she said they had happy hour. That's all it took.

Located on PCH, Hudson House is an unassuming gastropub that probably wouldn't have garnered a second look from me. I'm more into the chi chi lounges, as some of you may know.

We parked on the street, and sauntered in. The place was pretty empty and it was around 6:30 pm. But, who cares? HH was in full effect! Hudson has "Happiest Hour" from 5-7 pm on weekdays.

They had the door open and it was freezing cold, so we sat towards the back on the room and ordered up some drinks. I had the blueberry cava cocktail ($4), and she opted for a chardonnay ($5).

My cava cocktail consisted of champagne and some blueberries at the bottom. It was pretty damn good, and even better at 4 buckaroos. I ended up drinking 2 of those. Since blueberries have antioxidants, why not?

We shared a steak with frites as well. Priced at $13, the steak was huge and we actually couldn't finish it. Steak came sliced already which was good, since I didn't feel like doing much work last night. Fries had garlic, truffles and cheese on it. How can you go wrong with that combo?

Our bartender was attentive, friendly and good looking. It's always a plus to have some eye candy.

I'll come back, but maybe on a different night when it's more lively. Yay for a good happy hour under $20!

Hudson House
514 N Pacific Coast Hwy
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
(310) 798-9183

Sunday, February 7, 2010

JJ Bakery and Cafe - Great TW Restaurant

One of my top Taiwanese places! It's cheap, decent service and the food is delicious.

We came here yesterday for some good eats around 5 pm and I was so happy we got seated right away. I've been here when the wait was 30 minutes and it's so hard to not want to stare people down to hurry up and leave when you're starving.

Ordered up a storm since I hadn't eaten all day, except for some cheese and crackers.

Stewed seaweed- So good! I love seaweed in any form, and this one hit the spot with the slightly slippery texture and perfect taste.

She accidentally gave us stewed pig ears, which I do like, but I just wasn't in the mood for ears, so I sent it back.

Fried daikon rice cakes. OMG. I love these!! We all did. I think it's the garlic sauce they put over it, along with some chopped cilantro, cuz the flavor explosion in your mouth is insanely good.

Green onion pancakes- They were okay. Not really crispy, so I would forgo this dish.

Beef noodle soup- OMFG. One of the best I've had! Huge bowl of beefy goodness, with a bit of spice to kick up the flavor. I had to take this to go, it was too big to finish. This is a must try! Noodles and beef are cooked perfectly, and there are some tendons thrown in for good measure.

My sister ordered the noodles with pickled snow veggies.. She liked it, and I didn''t try any since it looked kinda bland compared to my NRM.

Kiddo had the shrimp fried rice. She liked it, and it was a huge portion. Could have used some seasonings, but that's what the white pepper is for!

All this food cost $33 before tip! And yay, they take credit cards!

We hit up the adjoining bakery after lunch and I picked up some freshly baked taro bun, green onion bun, and coconut sweet bun for a mere $3.55. Love it!

JJ Bakery And Cafe
18558 Gale Ave, #168
City of Industry, CA 91748

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Beverly Glen Deli

I'm not really a deli person, but since my BF lives down the street from this deli, we frequent it whenever he is in the mood for breakfast. Yep, I don't eat breakfast either. It's whatever to me. Give me some Special K cereal with soy milk, and call it a day.

This morning he wanted to go get some breakfast, and I unwilling obliged. It's only fair, the boy eats carbs with me, even though he's on a health kick.

I ordered a matzo ball soup with half an egg salad sandwich, which came with a side of potato salad. He had a veggie egg white omelette with a side of cottage cheese.

My soup came out within 5 minutes. It was quite tasty, with a big matzo ball, some noodles, carrots and chicken. Ew.. gross. I hate boiled chicken, so I took them out one by one. Sue me, I'm picky. Other than the chicken, I thoroughly enjoyed my soup. Great texture with the ball and the noodles were cooked perfectly.

The egg salad sandwich was huge! It almost seemed like an entire sammie with how much egg salad they piled on it. Kind of lacking in flavor, so I added some hot mustard to it. I wish it had some pickles or celery for some crunch.

However, the potato salad was a different story. Way too much mayo and totally gross. I took a bite and was immediately repulsed. If I am not eating my food, you know it's bad. I eat almost everything.

BF liked his healthy breakfast which I did not touch. Sorry dude, it's just too healthy for me. He should have got some roasted potatoes with that, damn it.

Service was efficient and friendly. They're on top of stuff there, which is good. It's also funny to me that the waitress calls everyone "honey" or "sweetheart".

All this for $28 before tip. Good place to go if you live in the hood. Oh, and one time John Voight (Angelina Jolie's dad) sat at the booth next to us.

Beverly Glen Deli
2948 N Beverly Glen Cir
Los Angeles, CA 90077
(310) 475-2719

Monday, February 1, 2010

Lion's Head Soup- Comfort Food

After visiting Dean Sin World last week for some down home cooking, I was craving some Lion's Head Soup. It was listed on their menu, but when I ordered it, she said they were out. This spurred me to think about it constantly for the next week or so. Finally, I decided to put matter in my own hands and make it myself.

It's not really a lion's head, but big meatballs and napa cabbage which symbolize the head and mane of the lion. Cute, eh?

I hit up Ranch 99 for the ingredients and ended up spending $50 on random stuff. Seriously, they have some of the best snacks. I got some BBQ flavored dried tofu, yogurt drinks, veggie buns, chili bamboo shoots, pickled cucumbers and some other random stuff. Unfortunately, they were out of the malt flavored soy milk. Booo. And damn it, I just remembered that I forgot to get GRASS JELLY. Arghghg.. it will have to wait till next time. That parking lot is a bitch though. People can't drive and I almost got hit by a jerk who was speeding in the lot. Stupid.

Anyways, the soup was pretty easy to make. Total cooking time was about 30 minutes. I fried the meatballs a bit so they would stay together, although some recipes say to just drop them in the boiling soup.


1 Napa cabbage
1 – 2 green onions (spring onions, scallions), minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 large egg
1 pound ground pork
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
Black or white pepper, to taste, optional
2 - 3 tablespoons cornstarch or flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chicken broth


1. Wash and drain the cabbage. Cut crosswise into 3 inch strips. Mince the ginger and green onion.
2. In a small bowl, beat the egg with a fork. In a medium bowl, combine the ground pork with the green onion, ginger, salt, sugar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, Asian sesame oil, pepper if using, and the egg, using your fingers to mix together the ingredients thoroughly. Add as much cornstarch as needed to make so that the mixture is not too wet. (I start with 2 tablespoons and then add 1 teaspoon at a time).

3. Form the ground pork into 4 large meatballs. Flatten them a bit so that they are not completely round.

4. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet or wok on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the 4 meatballs. Cook for 5 minutes until browned on the bottom. Turn and cook the other side (adjust the heat if the meatballs are cooking too quickly).
5. In a flameproof casserole dish or saucepan that is large enough to hold the meatballs, heat the chicken broth and 2 tablespoons soy sauce to boiling.
6. Add the meatballs, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the cabbabge. (You can arrange the cabbage on top of the meatballs so that it steams, or lay some right in the broth if there is room). Simmer for another 15 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through and there is no pinkness in the middle.

Very simple recipe. My BF and I loved it! It was truly a great, comforting home made meal.

You can add rice to the soup for more heartiness.