Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cynthia's Restaurant

Meeting up with some old coworkers from the 'flix, we decided to meet in a halfway point between our two workplaces. Jane suggested Cynthia's restaurant, known for their comfort food. I trekked down the street for an early lunch - it's not too far but it's a solid 20 minute walk...

It wasn't too hard to find them - they were the only ones in the restaurant! I guess we really did take an early lunch...

After a quick look at the menu, I quickly made my choice. The waiter was kinda...weird. A little forward. I don't really know how to describe it, he was really forward and left an awkward feeling. Well, that didn't change the quality of the food, so here goes...

Cynthia's Restaurant
Jane and I got mini sliders with fries. Each of the patties were different - turkey, angus and kobe. I couldn't taste the difference between the angus and the kobe one - I think Kobe beef is really like any other beef when it's in burger form. The turkey one was a little dry and needed a lot of dips into the ketchup. Overall, pretty decent but I've had better burgers in my life.
Cynthia's Restaurant
Peter's chopped salad - he's trying to eat better, and this was a great step in that direction. I felt a bit guilty eating mini burgers in front of him. He mentioned that the salad was quite good though, so I guess I shouldn't feel so bad.
Cynthia's Restaurant
Erika got what the restaurant was known for - their fried chicken, with a side of fries and salad. This is a pretty upscale chicken plate! Maybe it's because I don't usually have salad with a bunch of fried chicken...maybe I should more, to make up for eating the fried chicken! In any case, Erika seemed to like this.
Cynthia's Restaurant
To get the full effect of "comfort food", we got a dessert of bread pudding for the table. This was probably the most mediocre bread pudding I've had. Nothing special. I didn't have very much of it - too sugary without having a good taste. Oh well.

It was great to see my former co-workers, but I had an issue with Cynthia's later - I found out that they had charged me twice for my credit card! I called the restaurant, which reassured me that the charge would be taken off (an issue with their credit card company, I think, because a whole bunch of people had the same problem.) Not their fault, but definitely a hassle. It was kind of pricey, too, but it was to be expected because it was on trendy 3rd street on the expensive Beverly Hills City Limits. It was okay but I don't see myself going back here very often.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Daikokuya Ramen

After a goodbye drink over at Tom Bergin's (home to the Irish Coffee!) a few of us decided to go out to eat some late night grub. Kurt suggested Daikokuya, which I had only heard good things about, so we made the trek to Little Tokyo.

A bit of a wait later, we were seated in a small booth. The place was hopping - tons of people waiting, a small amount of space to feed them in. We were handed laminated menus, held together by binder clips...
Daikokuya Ramen
Kurt suggested we get the combination - the ramen, plus a small fried rice. He insisted that this fried rice was some of the best around. Also, he insisted that we get the extra "pork back fat" added to our ramen soup. Trusting his recommendation, we ordered as we were instructed. Noticing our surroundings, there was some funky old Japanese themed posters on the walls, an old TV that relied on its' tired bunny ears antenna for its' broadcast, and the kitchen in full view of anyone who was willing to look up. We soon got our food...
Daikokuya Ramen
The salad that came with the meal - it had overtones of a coleslaw. Shredded cabbage/iceberg, with a creamy tasty dressing. The dressing is what made it pretty good - I kept going back to this salad inbetween bites of my main meal.
Daikokuya Ramen
Which came right after that. A huge bowl of ramen, with a pile of negi (green onion), a whole soy sauce boiled egg, pork slices, that delicious back fat ridden broth, with fat floating on the top like jewels in an ocean. It really was good - the noodles had a good bite to it, with a perfect amount of green onion in each bite. There was a huge quantity of noodles too - I usually run out of noodles before I run out of everything else, but it was not the case here - I was totally full before finishing all the noodles. And the broth! A deep hearty flavored broth, made with pork bones (bone marrow is such a great flavor), and made even better witha scoop of mashed garlic condiment. This is definitely comparable to some of the ramen places I had in Japan.
Daikokuya Ramen
The fried rice did not disappoint as well. It was very flavorful, good amount of that greasy sheen that good fried rice has, bits of onion, egg, pork's a tasty bit of rice. I might just go back here just for this rice...

This place usually has a long wait time to get in, but it's pretty worth it. A must try if you're a fan of ramen.

Langer's Deli

During one of my first weeks at work, I was a bit bogged down with learning the ropes, and couldn't go out to lunch one day. My coworker Zeke was headed to Langers, and promised to bring back a sandwich - and he definitely delivered! Thanks again!

I had been wanting to go here for ages - pictures of their legendary sandwiches were mouth-wateringly good, and pastrami is one of my favorite deli items. When Zeke came back with a bag and I opened it was a mixture of feelings. Excitement, anticipation, joy...
First, off, the condiments. What's a sandwich without the little extras? These pickles are number 1. Seriously. Number 1. Best pickles I've ever had, ever. Right amount of sour, not too crispy or too soggy - just...perfect. And you can't have a pastrami sandwich without mustard, so a few mustard packets were in order. The pickles were packaged in an airtight package, a convenient 2 per pack. They definitely thought ahead!

Unearthing the wrapped sandwich...
Langers reveal a thing of beauty. Ohh man. This looks good.
The meat was perfect. Succulent, thick, cut by hand pieces, not too salty, not too fatty. These slices were laid out on fresh rye bread, with a good crispy substantial bite to the crust. A smear of mustard from the pack, just before taking a bite - it was an EXPERIENCE. I manged to constrain myself to only eating half, and then sharing the other half with Owen when I got home, which he was extremely happy to do. Great sandwich. I really don't know what else to say. Just...awesome!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ice Kiss

After a big group gathering for my birthday dinner (Korean bbq, always good for groups), Korean Ryan and Helen suggested getting some shaved ice and boba. We headed to one of their favorite places, Ice Kiss, which was a short drive from where we were eating at Tahoe Galbi.

We snagged a few tables outside and placed our orders - while we were waiting, we played with an old jenga set that was available for patrons. I admit the jenga set was kind of gross -when a jenga set gets to the point where the wooden pieces get slimy, I think it's time to retire the set.

Anyways, the desserts came and everyone dug in...
Ice Kiss
Owen and Bryan got a funnel cake, each. They chose not to put any "extras" on it, but even when it's plain it's pretty nice. Whipped cream dots all around the edge of the plate, powdered sugar, fruity pebbles, and fudge drizzled all along the top. Any kind of fried dough is good dough, right?

Ice Kiss
Here's Derek's version of his funnel cake, with all the fixin's...strawberry ice cream, fresh cut strawberries, more of the fruity pebbles and whipped cream. This was definitely good for anyone with a sweet tooth, and he scraped his plate clean.

Ice Kiss
This was an order of the shaved ice - green tea macha style. It comes with sliced fruits (strawberry, kiwi, banana), a scoop of green tea ice cream, red bean, mochi bits, condensed milk and whipped cream. It was really nice and refreshing, and the mochi bits were definitely the best part - chewy, soaked up some of the sweetness from everything in the bowl. Shave ice is a really good dessert for me, I think - not too sweet, I love ice, and it's great to share.
Ice Kiss
This is Helen and Korean Ryan's order of strawberry shaved ice - a lot like mine except that there's strawberry ice cream instead of green tea.

This place was pretty good! I liked that we could chill and play board games if we wanted, and they provided blankets if you got cold. Nice little touches like that are very welcoming to guests.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Kifune Japanese restaurant

Discovering a new sushi place is like meeting up with a person you've only met on myspace. Yeah, you've checked out their stats, personality, photos, likes and dislikes (menu...) but you never know how it's going to be until you actually meet up. To tell you the truth, I've never met anyone on myspace that I didn't already know, so this is what I'm assuming would happen if I ever got into that scenario. Anyways, we went to Kifune, after a friend insisted this was the best salmon sushi ever. It definitely did not disappoint...

Started off with a salad and miso soup. I liked the dressing on this salad - nuclear orange, atop icky iceberg lettuce mix. I guess it wasn't that bad, but in recent times I've become an iceberg lettuce hater. Miso soup is always good.


Spicy tuna rolls came next. We had a choice of sushi or sashimi with our meal, and this was one of our choices. Pretty good, but not too memorable.


Our other choice of sushi - tuna roll. Tuna is one of my favorite kinds of sushi. Again, these were good but not horribly memorable, as compared to what was coming up next...


And here is what Kifune is known for - their salmon sushi. Just looking at that plate makes my mouth water. Each of the pieces of sushi were two bites - a generously sized sushi. They had a great fresh oceany flavor, and just melted on the tongue. Totally delicious.


Here's where it all went crazy - we ordered the "Treasure Ship" for the three of us to share. It had EVERYTHING you could ever want from a Japanese restaurant: Beef teriyaki, Chicken teriyaki, Sesame chicken, Shrimp & Vegetable Tempura, Salmon teriyaki, Snow crab, Seafood kushiyaki, All served on a wooden craft boat. This was HUGE. It was enough food for 6 people. It was all really good though, and you can't beat that presentation - it just looked amazing. And it was a pretty good deal for 3 people (I think you can order it for 2 people, 26 dollars each. So about 50 for 3 people. Pretty good for a sushi place.)

I was TOLD this was a secret place to go to by my friend...but I am passing it along to you. Hopefully this makes up for not posting for such a long time....

405 East Washington Street
Marina Del Rey, CA 90291
Telephone: (310)822-1595

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Vegas Birthday Trip

Wow, it only feels like yesterday when I went to Vegas, but that was around 4 months ago, so I'm glad I'm finally posting about it. I'm only going to focus on the food, as most Vegas trips usually just involve us walking around everywhere, gambling sometimes, and then walking around more. That's pretty much it. Oh, and this time we stayed at Monte Carlo. I think I've stayed at 6 different hotels on the strip now. This one ranked a little lower on my list - I mean, the rooms are okay and all (no noticeable dead bodies in the closets or between the mattresses) but I've definitely been in nicer rooms on the strip.

So on to the food. We decided to go to the Wynn Buffet, as we heard many good things about it and wanted to check it out. Our walk from the Monte Carlo to the Wynn was pretty nice, but it was a long walk, and by the time we got to the Wynn, a lot of us were pretty thirsty. We got at the Wynn at a good time - around 4pm, between lunch and dinner, so we just walked in, instead of waiting forever in line. Sweet. They were also having a special Easter dinner menu, so Alaskan Crab legs and shrimp were the special! Even sweeter!

This is a plate of what Amber got, I think. Check those crab legs. They had pre-split them so it was really easy to get to the meat, which was the sweetest crab meat I've had in my recent memory. The shrimp, in Ryan's opinion, tasted too much like iodine, so he warned us against them.
Here's a plate of what I got - mostly meats. Check that rack o lamb! And a salmon handroll! This place has everything! The fried poultry in the background is not chicken but it is actually quail. And the prime rib - to die for. It is that good. Oh, there was also ceviche. Very decent as well.
This is the scary pile of crab leg carcasses that were the product of all of our crab destruction. Truly scary, how many crabs perished because of us. But they were so delicious.....

What is in the cup, you ask? Looks pretty scary, no? It is - it is CLARIFIED BUTTER. I didn't have any - this is Dean's cup. He took a bunch of crab legs, shelled all of them, put the meat in a pile and then poured a bunch of this on top and ate the best crab meat pile in the world. I think he lost a few days of his life, but I think it might have been worth it.

This is some of the choice desserts they have at the Wynn Buffet. At this point, anything that has dough in it was pretty much unappetizing, as we were pretty full. Some stuff still looked pretty good though - clockwise from top right - coffee gelato, with a bit of bread pudding, tiramisu cup (very cute!), chocolate tart with gold leaf on top, caramel eclair, and hidden behind the dish, is bananas foster. I didn't eat all of it, but definitely got a taste of everything, which was excellent.

Later that night, we checked out the Fremont Street Experience (the suck! It's just a bunch of stock footage playing on the ceiling and music playing!) and ended up at the California Club. Helen had a huge craving for their oxtail soup so we went to their 24 hour diner to get it. California club seems tailored towards Hawaiians and Asian people, as most of the items on the menu were Asian themed/inspired.

Since we were there after 10pm, there was a special - the 4 dollar steak plate. YES. 4. Dollars. It also came with two sides, and Ryan chose stringy overcooked green beans and mashed potatoes. I think Ryan noted that it sucked, but really, that's what you get for a 4 dollar steak plate. They totally overcooked it.
The oxtail soup fared much better- this is delicious comfort food to me. It came with two huge scoops of rice - unnecessary but nice that they added it. There were tons of pieces of meat in this soup, and delicious marrow to suck out of the bones. It's not like, THE BEST oxtail soup I've had (that award goes to my mom's version) but it was very decent for a restaurant. I think this bowl was a very reasonable 8 dollars, which really hit the spot for a late night treat.

Of course I stopped by Bouchon again, for brunch - I LOVE that restaurant. I didn't take pictures, because I figured my last outing sufficed, but this time around I again got their daily special - crab omelette with bacon on the side. The bacon was sooo good. They really hooked it up. Everything there was superb, as last time. I can't wait until they open their LA location (however, not until 2009, and I'm sure I should call now if I want to eat there next year, hah) any case, Vegas always hits the spot!

Buddha's Belly

On one of our rare outings for lunch (it's hard to drive anywhere for lunch, especially since my car is not parked in the same building as where I work. It's a 10 minute walk just to get to my car), we decided to go to Buddha's Belly - a trendy place off of Beverly Blvd. The place was hopping with people -mostly people from nearby businesses, I was assuming. We got a table outside to accommodate all of us, which was pleasant enough but service was a bit slow.

Buddha's Belly
Julian got a Singapore Seafood Noodles -shrimp, mussels, scallops, flat squid ink noodles, red and green bell pepper, egg, onion, nira chive, cilantro, spicy yellow curry. I didn't try any of it, but he finished it and he said he was still hungry, so I guess it wasn't very filling.

Buddha's Belly
Kue and Grace both got Spicy Tom Yom Koon Thai Ramen Noodle Soup - shrimp, thin egg noodles, lemongrass & red chili broth, tomato, straw mushrooms, cilantro, kaffir lime leaf. They seemed to like this alright, and it looked like a pretty big, filling bowl of noodle soup.

Buddha's Belly

I got Seared Ahi Tuna Salad - sushi-grade ahi tuna, organic mixed greens, ginger, fried onion slivers, wasabi sesame seeds, wasabi-yuzu dressing. This was totally disappointing. Check out how PAPER THIN the ahi tuna was - if you held it to the light, you can see through it. I don't know why this place was totally shafting me on ingredients - I mean, I'm paying 13 dollars for a salad, and I'm glad they used mixed greens instead of romaine, but I severely felt angry after eating this. Ahi tuna sliced this thin should be wrapped around Ha! I guess that would take away the healthiness of this dish. But seriously. Boo.

Buddha's Belly
Evan got the best thing at the table - Spicy Peanut Noodles - shrimp, chicken breast, flat rice noodles, celery, mushrooms, edamame, spicy peanut sauce. I had a taste of it and it was really delicious - rich because of the peanut sauce, which had a great consistency and flavor. If I ever had to come back, I'd get this instead of my rich people salad.

It was a nice lunch out, but I still feel burned over the price and cheapout of my salad. It's pretty trendy because of the location, so part of you're meal you're basically paying for ambience.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Life on Wilshire

On my first day of work, I was very lucky to be dragged to lunch by my coworkers. We went across the street, to Life. Now, since going there, I have to say, the name of the restaurant is something I make fun of constantly. I say that I'd much rather go next door to "Death", or perhaps the alleyway inbetween death and life,"Purgatory". Ha. Anyways. On to the food...

I got a House chopped salad, which was decently tasty - tomatoes, romaine, goat cheese, ham, chickpeas, all tossed in a balsamic-laced dressing. It was decent, but the price was a little steep for just a salad - I think around 12 dollars. Sometimes, I really hate that healthier food costs more...shouldn't I be rewarded for wanting to eat better? I guess not...
This is a plate of what they're known best for - their jalepeno mac and cheese. I hear that some days it's great, some days it's so-so. On that day it was pretty good - spicy, zesty, probably could have been cheesier but it's a good plate of deliciousness. It's like grown up mac and cheese, with a grown up price tag - 9 dollars, I think.
Here's their Warm Spinach Salad. It comes with sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions and spicy candied pecans with a honey dijon vinagrette. My coworkers seemed to like it, but I think this is a really small salad for its' 9 dollar price tag. However, they were splitting this with the mac and cheese, so that's a pretty decent sized meal.
My coworker was on some eating restrictions that day so he just got a side salad. Mixed greens and such. Nothing to write home about other than everything was fresh.
Another coworker got a burger, which looked pretty decent, with a side of fries. A big restaurant burger is good at any time. I think Life's fries are the best thing they have - they actually also have these other fries, the curry fries, that have a good seasoning spice they sprinkle over it. Aside from that, I've had their sliders, which are 3 VERY SMALL burgers, made with sirloin, and I've had their turkey burger, which was decent but to switch from fries to a salad was an extra charge of a dollar.

If you don't care about spending some cash, I'd say go here. It's a nice space to hang out in, and a lot of people head over there for Happy Hour after work. Price is my main complaint here, but everything else is solid.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

New Orleans Day 5 and 6 - last moments in New Orleans

Alright, last post on New Orleans, which, again, was months ago.

Owen was having quite a headache the next morning, so Patty and I decided to get some breakfast on our own. We headed to the Coffeepot again, as we promised Miss Pearl that we would return and try her bread pudding. Patty was still recovering from her flu, but she was feeling a lot better than she had been a few days ago.

It was raining pretty hard outside, which was nice (I like rain), and we scurried into the restaurant, which was bustling with the same awesome waitresses we had last time. Patty got a simple breakfast of bacon and eggs (I think), so I didn't bother taking a picture.

I got a catfish po'boy, with fries. Corey's catfish plate looked too good last time for me not to try it this time around. It was good. And fried. Like everything else I was eating in New Orleans...

I also got Owen a shrimp po'boy and bread pudding to go, which he inhaled once I got back. The bread pudding truly was something to write home about. An incredible flavor (bourbon?), infused the bread pudding, luscious cream surrounded it, it was just...perfect. Really spot on. I didn't take a picture of it because it was in a humdrum takeout container, but seriously. It was the thing to get there.

We lounged around until Brad arrived (it was supposed to be a surprise, but David accidentally spilled the beans earlier in the week) and we got dressed up to go to the most anticipated meal that we had planned for our whole New Orleans trip - we walked over to Antoine's.

Antoine's Restaurant "has the distinction of being the oldest family run restaurant in the United States", according to Wikipedia. Established in 1840, this place is a legend - it INVENTED Oysters Rockefeller, amongst some other notable dishes. I was super excited to try...
Everything is very formal here. The service was top notch. The dining room was very decorative, and it all reeked of old school bygone days. It was like eating in a piece of history!

Back to the service - our waiter had an eye on us the whole time - but was never creepy or intrusive. He would constantly refill everything we needed - bread, water, even ice, when he carried over an ice bucket and would individually place fresh ice cubs in our glasses. He had forgotten that I ordered a diet coke at one point, profusely apologized when we politely reminded him, and then RAN to the kitchen to get me the diet coke, again with more apologies. That's service. Probably some of the best service I've had. By the way, the bread was awesome - light, crispy on the outside, warm.

Patty ordered a soup - a deep rich Bisque d' Crevette - Louisana shrimp soup. This was a SUPER INTENSE soup, I tried a small bit of it. Patty could only finish about half of it.. I kinda wish I could have frozen the extra, and used it as a base to the next 20 soups I made back home. That's how strong this soup was. By the way, this was ordered instead of an alligator soup that Patty was about to order, and was advised by our waiter that this was the superior soup. Also, he let us in on a secret - the alligator soup they have was actually made out of turtle!

The highlight was ordering what Antoine's is best known for - their Oysters Rockefeller! Our waiter suggested a few other flavors, as well. Oysters Rockefeller (far right), Huitres Thermidor (far left), and Huitres Beinville (closest). Oysters Rockefeller: Oysters baked on the half shell with the original Rockfeller sauce created by Antoine's in 1889. Huitres Thermidor - Fresh Louisiana oysters baked on the half shell with a bacon and tomato sauce. Huitres Beinville - Oyster baked on the half shell with a white wine sauce seasoned withi onions, pimento and fresh peppers. I admnit, the Huitres Thermidor (the red ones) were quite tasty - I mean, everything was AWESOME, but the Thermidores were just out of this world. Even Patty was pretty impressed, and usually she's an oyster hater!

Now, to the main course. Patty, Owen and I ordered the The New York Strip steak. "A Prime New York strip with caramelized onions, mushrooms with a red wine and cracked pepper sauce". This was just...ok. The steak was cooked well, but the sauce was REALLY salty. The gravy was good with bread, enough to mellow it out. I'm not used to this kind of steak. I mean, it was high quality but it already came out pre-cut? Well maybe that's how they did it in the old days...
Patty had ordered a side of potato puffs. These also helped mellow out the intense saltiness of the gravy on our plates. These were fun and tasty, crisp and, well, puffy. They were like potato chips that wanted to be potato skins.

Brad got the Filet de Fruite au Vine Blanc - Filet of trout in a white wine, shrimp and oyster sauce then baked with a light bread crumb and cheese gratinee. I tasted a bite of this, really good, but again, very salty. Do a lot of older recipes require more salt, maybe? In the days before refridgeration, maybe more salt was a good thing, to keep things better preserved? Just a guess.

Another side - asparagus with butter. I didn't try one so I don't know what it tasted like. I'm assuming, asparagus-like!

A decadent chocolate cake slice was part of dessert- Patty ordered this because she wasn't going to partake in what we ordered for dessert - chocolate is one of her favorite things, (same as Owen.) I tasted a bit, it was good...but we were busy tackling...

...a baked alaska! I've actually never had one, so I made sure to order it here, at one of the more famous places to have it. If you don't know what it is, it's an ingenious piece of dessert. It has a ice cream center, atop cake, covered with meringue, then baked at a high temperature to brown the outsides of the meringue. The meringue insulates the ice cream, keeping it cold. Our waiter presented this to us and I was blown away by the huge size of it. He split this monstrosity into 3 portions (one for me, Owen and Brad.)

Here's my slab of it. It was really sugary, but all the vanilla flavor, it was something I enjoyed, especially the cake and ice cream part of it. Owen wasn't too jazzed by it, he admit it wasn't his bag. I think I gave up around half-way. It was just too much. Well, I had to have it at least once!

Our last morning in New Orleans, and we wanted to hit up one of the famous muffaletta shops in the Quarter - Central Market, to get one of their muffalettas to go. On a side note, the person who rang up our order was super indifferent and made it seem like we were bothering him. Wanda, the lady downstairs, noted that they are ALWAYS like this, and it was normal. Funny, really.

So here's our take, as we sat out on the gallery.

Drink Barq's. It's good. Hilarious. Owen got this, sometimes he likes a good root beer.

A bag of Zapp's chips - sour cream and onion chips. They were tasty.

And here's the sandwich, still in its' wrapping, ready to be freed...

And here's a wedge of it, sitting on top of the rest of the sandwich. This truly was a delicious muffaletta. Just thinking about it again makes me hungry for it. What made it perfect was the olive salad, for sure. It mellowed out all the saltier meats on the bottom, and the bread soaked up all the tasty olive oils perfectly. A great way to end our New Orleans trip, as the rest of it kept in our carryon bag, and I polished off the rest of it after we unpacked when we were back home.