Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Burbank Cuisine

Trying the different types of food in my work neighborhood is tasking - not unlike the first day of high school or Christopher Walken playing Russian Roulette (click on the link if you're ready for disturbing, you've been warned) in the Deer Hunter. Okay maybe not that extreme but sometimes it feels like it. Bottom line, you don't know what you're getting.

However, most of my coworkers either had worked around this area or live around here, so they do their best to steer me in the best direction. So here's a few choice places I've been to...

First up, Bob's Big Boy, immediately down the street from my workplace. Most Bob Big Boy restaurants have disappeared, but this is, I think, one of the first and oldest, so it's going nowhere soon. This place is hopping crowded during lunch hours, and it's a bit of a wait to get a table inside. Patio seating is no waiting, but with uncomfortable lawn chairs.
Here's Mike's cheeseburger with fries. It's not their "famous double decker" burger, which is basically a restaurant version of a McDonald's Big Mac, (down to the size and texture, taste for taste - exactly like a Big Mac.) this version is more like a regular sized restaurant burger. Nothing special here, it seems like - a burger is a burger is a burger.
I wanted to get something different, so I chose a open face meatloaf sandwich, that came with a scoop of mashed potatoes. First off, the sandwich was completely swimming in their brown gravy. The gravy itself...tasted super duper salty...and...brown. I know that's a weird way to describe the flavor of something, but I swear if you tried some of this, you'd also say it tasted brown as well. Other than the over saltiness of the gravy, this dish wasn't bad. Very classic diner food, the meatloaf was laced with shreds of carrots, (that's the only identifying thing I found when I dug in, other than mystery meat) the potatoes were mashed...thoroughly. Basically, alright.

Even closer down the street is Salerno's Italian. It's a pretty good lunch spot, with impossible parking.
I got a melted turkey club sandwich, which came with a side salad with creamy vinaigrette dressing. This was a really decent sandwich, especially because of the bread, which was fresh and toasty. The cheese was melted just right, and the garlicy pesto spread was really good. The salad was a nice mixed greens salad, with dressing that was pretty tasty. I luckily saved half this sandwich - one half was plenty for lunch.
Brandy got a meatball sandwich - same deal with the bread, but with meatballs and meat filled tomato sauce spooned on top. She seemed to like this.
Peter got some Chicken Penne with garlic bread. This plate was scraped clean after he was done. It looked pretty good - chunks of chicken breast abound - but I'm not really a fan of penne (yes, some things are even too carby for me). That garlic bread looked good though!
Kevin got a personal pizza - I THINK it was sausage and mushroom pizza. It was nice and fresh - amazingly, he was one of the first people to get their meal, so they either had it ready (I don't know about that, I mean, how did they know what toppings to put on?) or they were just super quick. I'm assuming super quick, but you never know....
More of the same, Victor's turkey sandwich with fresh mozzarella. Almost exactly like mine, but with different kind of cheese and not toasted.
The best thing about this restaurant was their criss cut fries. I would go back again just to get these if I'm feeling especially gluttonous one day. These...are magnificent. Crispy, flavorful, succulent on the inside. Anyone who likes fries would love having a plate of these set in front of them. My only complaint would be their method of serving them on a Styrofoam plate - these fries are hot! So they start melting the plate, which is totally gross.

More grease abound...hey, what's wrong with a little grease?

Next up is Steve's Grill...a Korean owned little lunch spot that is fairly crowded during lunch hours. "Grease is the word" here. Grease, grease and more grease.
This is a double chili cheeseburger ordered by Steven. Pretty good meat, times two. I like the fries. I also like the pickle slices on the burger itself.
Kevin likes a more plain style burger - meat + bread, plus nothing else. Simplicity at its' best.
I think this is what I got - a plain turkey burger. I love me some regular burgers but I've been trying to choose turkey when I can. This wasn't bad, but definitely of the "frozen then thawed" variety of turkey burger. Nothing that can't be fixed with a huge dollop of siracha sauce.
Now to the piece de resistance...their corn dog. It's truly one of the best things here. I've been to many places that feature corn dogs, and have sampled many near and far...but this's a piece of art. Almost truly perfect in every way. And what is their secret? It must be the way they fry it...I'm almost 100% sure they're frozen and then fried in their fryer. Is it the oil? Is it the timing of how long that it's in the oil?This is a shot of the crispy insides. YES. Hot dog, gracefully nestled by a bit of fried goodness...not too overpowering, not mealy, just perfect. Really one of my top 3 corn dogs to have in your LIFE!

Downtown Burbank has a few things to offer, other than food court fare (the standard in any mall ridden town!) The main street in Burbank has a few more unique places to eat....for instance, Seoul Korean BBQ.

This place is super cute - obviously a family run place, service is super nice and attentive. Many specialty Korean BBQ places have a cooking mechanism in the middle of the table, where they give you the raw meat and you do all the work. Not at this place. It's great for lunch because they cook everything and it's not a huge ordeal. Plus, they REALLY hook it up with food...for not that much!

Here's an appetizer we all shared - crispy gyoza. These little dumplings were excellent - crunchy crispy edges, succulent meat morsel on the inside, perfect with the vinegar-laced soy sauce.
This is what I got - the combo kalbi and bulgolgi plate. It's a massive pile of meat. Tasty kalbi marinated ribs, hot of the grill, with a mountain of moist flavorful bulgogi. It's more than enough for two meals, especially since it comes with...
...this plate of two white rice scoops, bean sprouts, cooked spinach, and kimchi. A perfect accompaniment to the pile of meat provided.
More combos - an all bulgolgi plate....
...and an all kalbi plate. This place is just goood. If you like meat, this is the place to go for lunch.

But don't let me speak too soon...because another meat-filled day includes a visit to Philadelphia Sandwiches. These guys are serious about their meat intake, and they know where to go. This narrowly situated little shop demands a certain style of ordering, which they outline at the front. They ask that you figure out money situations before you get to the front of the line. "Wit" means with bell peppers and mushrooms, and you have to specify what kind of cheese you want. "Wit out" means just meat. Large or small. Beef or chicken. So many choices.

What's amazing here is the sack of fries. These fries aren't messing around - crinkle cut, some extra crispy (extra delicious), covered in salt but somehow not too salty, super freshly made - almost completely the perfect french fry.

Note the Hunt's Catsup on the bottom. The ketchup packet gets warmed up while mingling with the hot fries - thus making hot ketchup! If you prefer your ketchup cold, take the packets out before you enclose them with the fries.
We got a three part reveal for the it is in all of its loafy aluminum foil glory....

Here it is after being half naked....still covering all the sexy parts with its' ample bun (is this getting too racy?)....
...and here this beautiful sandwich is, finally revealed to all - its' delicious succulent meat glistening with grease and heat, the bell peppers giving a different texture as you bite in, melted cheese that ties the whole thing into one beautiful sandwich. I've never had a proper Philly Cheesesteak from Philadelphia or anything, but I have to say that this is the best kind of this sort of sandwich that I've had. Throw a bit of hot sauce on this and you're good to go.

Almost right next door to Seoul is Ohana Hawaiian BBQ - a great place to get your fix of teriyaki'ed/bbq'ed meats plus rice and mac salad. A good way to start off your meal is with a spam musubi.
Yeah, it doesn't look like much, but the beauty is in the simplicity. A slice of spam, a bit of teriyaki, sticky rice all wrapped up in seaweed. It was a mouthful but it was great.
Here's a take out platter of their Hawallan BBQ Chicken, and a good amount of it too. They were very generous with their portions. The chicken was grilled with their teriyaki, and came with two scoops of white rice and a scoop of mac salad. Everything was good .
This is the everything plate - the Hawaiian BBQ Mix. A serving of their BBQ beef, BBQ rib and more of that chicken. This is a heap of food - definitely not edible all in one sitting. I really liked the ribs - cut kalbi style, covered in their teriyaki marinade, which was a sweet mellow flavor. Totally great for the price.

By the way I guess this is the first and last posting about food in Burbank...if you want to know why go ahead and ask in the comment section.

Bob's Big Boy
4211 Riverside Dr
Burbank, CA 91505
Phone: (818) 843-9334

3902 W Riverside Dr
Burbank, CA 91505

(818) 845-8115

Seoul Korean BBQ
122 N San Fernando Blvd
Burbank, CA 91502
(818) 559-5578

Philadelphia Sandwiches
11112 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601
(818) 985-4929

Ohana Hawaiian BBQ

150 N San Fernando Blvd- Btwn Orange Grove & Olive Ave
Burbank, CA 91502
818 842-0001
For the life of me I couldn't find the contact information for Steven's Grill. I have to ask my coworkers about this one. Sorry guys!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Arc Light Cafe
6360 W Sunset Blvd (between Vine and Ivar, with DeLongpre to the south)
Los Angeles, CA

When I think of theaters, all I think of is popcorn dowsed with yellow colored motor oil, sodas the size of milk jugs, unappealing hot dogs in soggy buns (that got soggy while being placed in the aluminum bag they slip those puppies in), and all overpriced. Where can we get an actual MEAL at a theater, I asked?

Well I haven't been to that theater where they serve your meal at your seat (I think in Texas, I forgot what it's called) but having a full restaurant within theater boundaries is almost as good. After seeing the movie Waitress (very cute!) with my friend Amber, a few uh, MONTHS back (guilt for not posting sooner, yes), we didn't want to try to drive somewhere else in Hollywood and decided to try their cafe.

After being seated in a cushy tall seated booth (oddly dramatic), our server was attentive but not TOO attentive, which I liked. I got my usual arnold palmer, which I didn't photograph, amazingly. Amber and I got a plate of ravioli bites - crispy pasta pillows stuffed with cheese and served with marinara dipping sauce - to start. These were...good. Not addictive good, but good. I mean, anything fried is good, really. These had, in my memory, ricotta and mozzarella cheese inside them. I think what was wrong was that these weren't as salty as I wanted them to be. With a dip in the tomato sauce, the texture and consistency was right, but the flavor punch wasn't there. If I were to remake these, I'd use ricotta and some sort of stronger cheese - perhaps gouda or blue cheese for a flavor punch.
Our food came out pretty soon after the ravioli bites. Amber's plate - a beautiful new york steak sandwich, was 100% certified angus beef topped with sliced tomato, lettuce
and red onion, with garlic aioli served on a toasted baguette. The highlight of the plate were the fries. These fries were delicious, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and loaded with flavor. Amber doused her steak with A-1 Steak sauce (gross. I don't like A-1 but she could drink the stuff) and happy gnawed away. She pounded away half of this, which was a feat for her.

My plate mirrored hers in fries, but had perched upon it a arclight club - roast beef, bacon, turkey, tomato, provolone and mozzarella cheese with garlic aioli served on toasted bread. I wished that the bread was just a little more toasted, as the bread was thick and I wanted more crunch. The difference of this club sandwich as opposed to others I've had in the past was the addition of the roast beef - which I look back upon in indifference. I didn't think the roast beef added anything good to this sandwich, it was just...there. Turkey was decent, more of the plain mozzarella...this sandwich needed avocado! That's what it's needed...I just figured that out...anyways I only ate half of this sandwich and brought it back for Owen, and demolished the fries on my own.

Service was good, as I mentioned before. This was a good place to get decent food, and a surprise to have inside of a theater. Definitely recommended, if anything, for those lovely fries.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Prizzi's Piazza
5923 Franklin Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028

This third time around for Supper club, we decided to go somewhere for Italian food. Prizzi's Piazza was the choice of the night. The place itself was a small restaurant in a row of mini restaurants that line Franklin Ave, and I passed by it a few times before realizing that was the location. I lucked out on parking (yess!!!), which was seriously lucky because the only other thing that would have been available was valet.

We were seated in an upstairs table, which was kind of noisy as all the sounds from downstairs echoed throughout the ceiling. As we settled in and took a glance at our menus, we quickly made our choices because our waitress didn't seem to make the rounds very much on the second floor. We first started with....
...their "famous" garlic bread. More like garlic LOGS. A scant four pieces to share, it was good and garlic-y- everything i promised to be. It had good minced garlic clumps to punch up the garlic aspect of it, and covered in freshly grated Parmesan cheese - that's always good in my book.
A plate of calamari. Delicious, deep fried rings of seafood...there is no use trying to resist it. I know I sure didn't. This was a good plate of it, and with some of their marinara dipped on top, it was a slice of oil drenched heaven.
I felt like something simpler so I went with the old standby - spaghetti and meatballs. The dish was It was okay. Nothing spectacular. I know you're going to say, "But it was spaghetti and meatballs! What were you expecting?!" and I agree, yes, it IS just spaghetti and meatballs, and that's the point. Something this simple is most telling of the restaurant. First with the meatballs - not salty or flavorful enough. I think on the inside there was a bit of mozzarella, which was nice texture wise, but again, it didn't add flavor. The spaghetti itself was okay. Not overcooked, which I liked. The sauce was alright too, but I like bigger chunks of tomato in my sauce. Eh.
Pizza! This tomato, basil and cheese pizza was shared by Jane, Anna and Patrick. Their verdict, it's pizza. Nothing spectacular. The bread looked decent, the toppings looked fresh. Better than Domino's, worse than Abbott Kinney Pizza, I'm assuming.
Steven's pasta was an amazing -Frutti di Mare. It contained shrimp, mussels, clams, calamari, Ahi tuna and Tilapia, are sauteed in a light and spicy tomato sauce over a small nest of black linguine. It was basically almost everything tasty from the ocean, thrown together with some pasta and tomatoes, and thrown on a plate. It was seafood upon seafood. This was definitely one of the best things of the night.
George is so kindly is displaying his meal - Petti di Pollo alla Marsala. Medallions of chicken sauteed in a Marsala wine reduction sauce with fresh mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes were on the plate, and everyone agreed, was the best dish of the night. The chicken was moist and flavorful, the mushrooms soaked up all the rich marsala sauce. Delicious.

Prizzi's was okay. I still think C&O's is superior in quality and price, but this was an alright place. A bit unmemorable, but not too shabby.