Sunday, January 10, 2010

Angelina, who?

Gjelina, Gjelina, Gjelina.

Loved everything about this place down to their bathroom fixtures. (How cool is their wheel-faucet fixture?! I sooo want one.) The moment le cub and I stepped in, I gasped, as the decor was pitch perfect. Industrial, yet warm due to the exposed brick and mixture of wood with metal. And ooh... the chandelier... i wanted their "bulby" chandelier. But enough about the decor. On with the food...

My man and I stopped on by on early saturday afternoon hoping to grab brunch, but we missed that menu by ten minutes. No worries, we were down for their afternoon menu of oysters, salads and pizzas. Our wait was 20 minutes.

We were seated at a cute little table at the back, outside. Apparently this is the "lounge area." A really cute space that could only exist in sunny Southern California. There were heat lamps, installed above our table, but they weren't turned on while we were there. No need.

Service was polite but "meh" (we were constantly trying to make eye-contact to get orders placed, to add on to our original order, to get the check, but the staff rarely noticed us), but the food was fantastic. Fresh and unfussy. Beautiful to look at! (We'd ordered the mushroom truffle oil pizza, the hen of the woods mushroom pizza, 1/2 dozen kumamoto oysters, 1/2 dozen umami oysters, the trout avocado grapefruit salad, and the banana chocolate bread pudding with caramel.) OMG, omg, omg.

Rustic and flavorful. Fresh, local ingredients. Our tummies smiled over and over.

We're heading back for the brunch and dinner menus for sure.

1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 450-1429

Trust Me

Very good fish, but not the best "evah"...

Le cub and I came here on a Wednesday night with my man. Neither of us had ever been to Sushi Nozawa, and neither of us had read Yelp reviews our lil' adventure. That said we were a tad confused when we were guided towards the sushi counter - at which, apparently, one has "no choice" and is told to "trust me" (by the sushi chef, nozawa-san) via the assortment of framed artwork behind his counter.

The ambience at Sushi Nozawa leaves much to be desired. Flourescent lighting combined with ghetto red vinyl chairs. Meh. No music plays in the background, and gosh, very little conversation takes place. (I whispered to le cub the entire time.) Bit sterile?! But ambience isn't what matters to us foodies. We wanted to taste the fish. Gimme.

We ordered the omakase as we were both ravenous. The tuna sashimi in ponzu sauce was overly sauced in my opinion, but the fish was definitely fresh. Intimidated by Nozawa's presence (we were seated smack center, right under his nose), I constantly making "mmm!" sounds :) After the tuna sashimi, Nozawa served us toro sushi. The fish was fantastic, but I was a tad turned-off by the crumbly rice (which apparently is Nozawa-san's signature). Then came the blue crab hand roll, which I was REALLY not a fan of - as the crab flavors were totally overpowered by the rice. Which isn't to suggest that Nozawa isn't generous with his fish. His servings are hearty. But the rice... I couldn't even leave the rice on the plate as le cub and I were eating at the sushi counter right before him. We didn't want to piss off the famed sushi nazi...

Albacore sushi, yellow tail sushi, and a toro hand roll followed. And after our last roll, we were asked if we wanted uni. (Uni is, apparently check-point one. If you answer "yes" to uni, he serves you three more items - including the uni.) A question to which we both exclaimed, "YES!"

The uni was FAB. But once again, his strange rice took away from my serving of fish. sweet scallops followed. I was bursting at the seams at this point - due to the rice - so le cub kindly helped eat my second piece.

Our meal came to a strange end with raw oysters. Now we're both huge fans of oysters, but the strange thing was, these Nozawa oysters had been removed from their shell and placed in dim-sum tea cups filled with some soy sauce-based concoction. We spooned the oysters into our mouths and both of us were somewhat turned off by the textures of these particular oysters (really rubbery). but because we were seated right under his nose, we gulped the cupful down and went, "mmm!"

Great place for sushi, but a tad overrated...

Sushi Nozawa
11288 Ventura Boulevard
Suite C
Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 508-7017

Friday, December 4, 2009

To Die For

I've posted about this downtown gem before, and I'm going to do it again.
Nickel's Smac and Cheese (yes, Smac and Cheese, not Mac and Cheese) to die for.
Killer with a shot of hot sauce.

Wash down with a Bananina. (A banana soda. Sounds gross? Try it and get back to me.)

Nickel Diner
524 South Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013-1422
(213) 623-8301


I adore Joan's on Third.
Though I'm not fond of the lack of table service (meaning, I don't like having to wait in line to order at the counters and then having to hover like vultures over other Joan's patrons in order to snag a table), I absolute love the food. Fresh, seasonal, clean flavors.

Tad pricey? Yeah. But I still think everything served is well worth the price paid.

Above photo: spinach and mushroom quiche, vegetarian lasagna, tomato and mozzarella salad (SO GOOD), and a choco-cupcake.

Joan's on Third
8350 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 655-2285

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cheaper Than Airfare

An extremely handsome French brasserie with a beautiful bar that my fiance would envy.

Went for dinner with my cousin and her friend, and we were seated upstairs. The ambience upstairs may not be as nice as the ambience downstairs (the soft, "gold" lighting downstairs would make any person's skin look flawless), but in exchange one is provided the opportunity to hold an actual conversation. (It can get really loud on the ground floor!)

Our chummy server was a tad strange. He kept on touching the shoulder of my cousin's friend - which probably wouldn't been okay if it weren't for the fact that my cousin's pal is OCD, and wanted to punch the server. But anyway.......

The food. The food was terrific. I ordered the duck. YUM. My cousin ordered the mussels. Even yummier. LOOOOOOOOVED the skinny frites that accompanied her mussels.

Profiteroles for dessert. I'm actually not a huge fan of cream puffs, but ice-cream puffs drenched in chocolate? I can do this.

An overall pleasant experience. I'd totally return, but there wasn't any one item that made me yelp, "I'll be back tomorrow!"

Anisette Brasserie
225 Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 395-3200

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Too Cool For School

I rarely hang out in Silverlake as I'm hardly cool or hip enough to do so; But last week, when my vintage-loving cousin was in town, I decided to venture beyond my comfort zone and spent an entire day mingling with Silverlake's boho-chic.

Our morning began at Casbah Cafe. I'd been there once and totally dug the Moroccan vibe but hadn't ordered any food, and was therefore, wary of putting in a review. This second time around, I ordered their sweet corn salad, mint tea and strawberry tart. (I shared with my cousin.) The salad was extremely fresh and refreshing - just as I'd hoped and expected. But what I didn't expect was the perfectly crusty and chewy consistency of the rolls that accompany the salad. YUM! The mint tea was also nice. Not as sweet as traditional Moroccan mint tea (yes, I've been), but still good. As for the strawberry tart, I don't think I'd ever order it again. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't all that great either.

An overall pleasant experience. We'd stopped on by around 11am, yet even at that hour, the cafe was already full of nerd-wannabes with books and laptops sprawled before them. My cousin and I sat outside and pretended that we weren't actually sitting at a cafe located alongside a big street when we actually were.

Great place to brunch/lunch if you plan on shopping in the neighborhood. Speaking of shopping, there's a shop within this cafe! I didn't get a chance the fare out though. Next time?!

Pictured: Hummus salad that Josh ordered the first time we went to Casbah Cafe.

Casbah Cafe
3900 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 664-7000

Monday, November 9, 2009

Top Scallop

Was in the Bay Area this past weekend, and le cub had the foresight to make reservations at Absinthe, the Hayes Valley brasserie run by Top Chef Season 5 contestant, Jamie Lauren. Throughout that season, my man and I longed to try her scallops. She was always making them!! So often that an exasperated Fabio was caught on camera exclaiming, "This is Top Chef! Not Top Scallop!"

Anyhoo, our Absinthe experience was a good one. The French Onion soup (the best I've ever had) was well-seasoned and perfect, considering the chilly evening weather. The oyster shooters were also lovely. Go Bloody Mary! And the main course... the scallops. They were so delicious that my picky fiance declared them the best he'd EVER had.

Service left much to be desired, and the dessert menu was lame. We didn't order any. Rare, as I'm such a dessert junkie. But boy, were the savory items yummy!

I look forward to returning.
398 Hayes St
San Francisco, CA 94102

Photos to come.

Town's End Restaurant and Bakery

Brunch with old friends in my old stomping ground, SOMA.
I loved the complimentary basket of fresh-baked scones and muffins served to us at Town's End. And Josh's eggs benedict? YUM!
Nothing uber-unique about the fare served at Town's End, but always a solid showing.

Town's End Restaurant and Bakery
2 Townsend St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 512-0749

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Five A's

That's the name of the restaurant, er cafe. FIve A's!
Le cub and I don't understand why the reviews for this joint are so awful. The food here is incredible. Just like that which is served back home in Taiwan. So authentic. Loved all the "small dishes" served at the beginning of the meal like the braised peanuts & marinated cabbage (pictured), the knife-cut noodles (pictured), the fried pork chop (pictured), and ooh, the "saliva" chicken (devoured)! I can't wait to return.

Five A's Cafe
1851 El Camino Real, Burlingame, CA

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mmm... Burger

One of the best burgers in town :)
RIght up there with In N' Out, Father's Office and The Counter...
That which differentiates Apple Pan's burgers from the rest (for me, at least) is the hearty serving of crisp, refreshing lettuce sandwiched in the juicy (oh-so-juicy) burger...

Yum, yummy, yum!

Apple Pan
10801 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Fill Me Up

Perfectly-cooked breakfasts :)
Enough said.

Ford's Filling Station
9531 Culver Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232-2618

Friday, September 25, 2009

Move Over Kogi

At $1.75 a pop, El Tonayense's tacos are quite the bang for one's buck. Street food at its best! Be sure to down the jalapeno provided with your taco. Ridonkulously tasty. Wish this truck existed in Los Angeles...

El Tonayense
22nd St and Harrison St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 559-6127