Friday, January 30, 2009

Kings Head Pub and Restaurant (Part 2)

Whenever I think "Fish and chips", I first think about some of the fish and chips I had in England. And then I think of the fish and chips from King's Head in Santa Monica. Daphne and I headed there one night, before going to my friend Annette's show (Random Ninjas rule, by the way!) I was ready to try something new tonight though...and that new thing was this:
King's Head Pub and Restaurant
...a scotch egg! I had only read about these, and was determined to try one that night. I was not disappointed, it was a really filling appetizer. The boiled egg was perfectly boiled, not a hint of grey around the yolk, and super creamy. The sausage that was wrapped around it was nicely seasoned, not spicy at all, and almost melted in my mouth upon trying a piece. The breading was not greasy, and the gravy went perfectly with this. What an amazing food invention, the British think of everything!
King's Head Pub and Restaurant
Daphne got the special of the night, corned beef and cabbage,(in this picture, the cabbage is hidden underneath the mound of corned beef and gravy) which also came with a side of veggies. This place does gravy extremely well, I wanted to mention. This dish also came with...
King's Head Pub and Restaurant
...randomly, some raisin bread. I tried some of the corned beef, very nice and tender. Corned beef is one of my favorite meats, but after having the scotch egg, I was already pretty full.
King's Head Pub and Restaurant
And this is the king size order of the fish and chips at King's Head. Daphne and I split this, as all the fried stuff was starting to get to me (and my arteries). This was excellent as always, the fish itself was tender and flaky, and not mushy. The batter was crispy, light, and flavorful. Love these fish and chips!

I also love the atmosphere here as well, and the waitresses are actually British and it adds to the whole English feeling in there. I'll be back!

King's Head
132 Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 451-1402

Monday, January 19, 2009

Chicago for Ribs

I've been trying to tone down some of the spending recently, as times are tough, and one of my methods to save some cash is to buy gift certificates from to restaurants around my area. They were having a killer deal on gift certificates during the holiday season (80% off their regular prices...I think I paid maybe 2 dollars for each 25 dollar gift certificate), so I bought a bunch of them, in the hopes I will use them to get some deals. It might not be the most frugal thing I've done but at the same time, I gotta have some vices in my life right?

Well anyways, I used a gift certificate the other day to go to Chicago for Ribs, which I had only been to a long time ago (during college, this place was down the street from us.) It's a chain, which I usually stay away from, but desperate financial times call for desperate measures!! Bryan and I went here for a lunch, while he had jury duty. Seated in a booth, I had to get my usual drink...
Chicago for Ribs arnold palmer. The glass screamed out the logo for Chicago for Ribs, I guess it's justifiable, since we're eating there. A decent arnold palmer.
Chicago for Ribs
Bryan got the cheeseburger, well done (his usual lunch order at a place like this.) It came with waffle fries, coleslaw, and a wedge of pickle. He managed to finish this (it was like a mission, the determination was in his eyes!), no small feat because this burger was I think a full half of a pound before cooking. I particularly like the waffle fries here, but then again, I just generally like waffle fries. I'm sure the burger was decent, again, Bryan didn't leave a bit of burger at all.
Chicago for Ribs
Here's some cornbread that came with my meal. I didn't really eat it, as I'm not really the biggest cornbread fan, so I took it home and it got stuck in the back of the fridge, and by the time I unearthed it, it was a pale, mummified and hard as a rock. Sorry poor cornbread, for your untimely waste.
Chicago for Ribs
I got the chicken fingers plate, with waffle fries and baked potato. I know, heavy on the carbs, but I only ate half of this meal, as I was feeling a little too full from some soup I had earlier in the day. The waffle fries - again, awesome. The amount of chicken on this plate was way more than I was expecting, so that was nice. A few dipping sauces came along with this - ranch and bbq, and I asked for some honey mustard, which they were really cool about. If I'm going to eat like a kid, I might as well have some fun with it, right? I was getting flashbacks of grade school, dipping my chicken nuggets in all those sauces, which was fun! The baked potato was alright, just a baked potato.

So another chain restaurant under my belt, and really, not so bad. I mean, you probably still won't see me at an Applebees' (will. not. go.) but for a quick lunch with no fuss, I'd go again.

Chicago for Ribs
8311 Lincoln Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90045
(310) 670-7427

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wako Restaurant

I met up with a few friends at Wako, at Ray and Kue's recommendation. I got there a bit early, so I wandered around a bit. The plaza that this place is in is directly transported from Korea - I was blown away at the arcade, where I really felt I was back in Hong Kong, when I visited there with my family long ago - they even had seats at the arcade terminals, so you could be comfortable while you kicked someones' ass at Street Fighter! Anyways, back to Wako...

The place was pretty well lit, and service was friendly and quick. We were seated and gave our orders - their signature dish - and were instantly given these bowls with sesame seeds at the bottom..
A mortar and pestle set, which we then used to crush all the sesame seeds while we talked. It was kinda fun, just absentmindedly mashing the seeds, and it gave off a nice aroma. Once we were done, our waiter came around and poured a very GENEROUS amount of donkatsu sauce over the crushed seeds. And then he brought this plate out...
A tray of awesomeness! My pork cutlet donkatsu, fried to perfection, conveniently pre-sliced so I don't have to bother with a knife. The little metal mesh that the donkatsu sits on is crucial to the secret of keeping the fried pork crispy, as the bottom of the cutlet doesn't get soggy if it's slightly off the plate. Ingenious! The salad is quite simple, shredded cabbage with a bit of dressing, I wasn't wowed by this dressing but it wasn't horrible. Side dishes include a bowl or white rice, a bowl of miso soup, and some kimchi-ed radish bites. I really like the combination of kimchi to this dish, it added some needed spice and heat.

This was a delicious choice. However, the only cruddy thing is the parking - it's a minimal fee valet situation in the parking lot with validation, but they were extremely slow and quite...angry. Someone got so fed up they angrily grabbed their own keys while the parking attendant owner was telling him off...I dunno, I'd say if you can score street parking it might be suggested but maybe it's just because I was there on a really busy night.

Wako Donkatsu Restaurant
3377 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 112
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 381-9256

Niko Niko Sushi Restaurant

Yes, I've been horrible, I'm STILL catching up on my posts from the holidays. But here's a quick one for everyone. I met up with the future in-laws for a pre Thanksgiving sushi meal at Niko Niko Sushi Restaurant. Parking is a bit tight here, as they share a parking lot with Winchells' Donuts (I think), but we managed to get a spot.

Service was quick, and we ordered a bunch of rolls...get ready for the amazing spread that was presented before us...

Niko Japanese Restaurant
Dude. That's a pretty handsome looking variety of rolls. Trying my best to remember what was on this platter...starting from lower left, going clockwise - yellowtail sushi, salmon sushi, albacore sushi, california roll handroll, california rolls, tempura shrimp roll (times 2!), spicy salmon rolls and spicy tuna rolls. Whew! That's a lotta sushi - we didn't even finish it all, and we had Owen's brother with us (he's in high school, so he has that voracious high school appetite still!) Everything was pretty tasty, so I was impressed. I don't think the prices were too horrible either, so I think I will be back.

Niko Niko Sushi Restaurant
10839 National Blvd
Los Angeles, CA

Grace Restaurant - Appetite Stimulus Dinner

The other Appetite Stimulus meal that I had through Open Table had to be somewhere where I wanted to go for a long time, and so I chose Grace Restaurant. I was really jazzed to be able to go to a restaurant I knew would normally cost me an arm and a leg...the appetite stimulus price was still a bit more than I'd like to pay for a usual meal out, but to have the chance to eat here! Whoo! Anyways, enough griping about my food budget (which is pitiful nowadays!)...let's get on with the post!

The restaurant had accidentally canceled my appointment right before I was about to leave the house...I frantically called them back and said, YES I'M GOING TO BE THERE please do not deny me a seat OMG...! They brusquely apologized and reinstated my reservation...whew...! Upon arrival, they even made light of the situation, mentioning that yes, in fact I WAS there, heh.

The place itself had very dim lighting, which is not really my preference in lighting schemes (I like seeing my food, maybe not in blaring fluorescent lights or anything, but maybe a little more lighting would have been nice), and we luckily had a table instead of being seated along the half booth, half chair side of the wall. The other patrons there looked rather cramped and sitting very close to one another. Sometimes I like that, but I didn't feel too chatty that night. I was there for the food, and ready to chow down...
A very nice glass vase full of water (still) was set at our table, so we could easily refill our water glasses when we so chose. Props to the nice choice of glassware - I love the shape of this carafe. I also got an iced tea, as they did not have lemonade to make arnold palmer. Owen got the wine pairing, but I neglected to take pictures of that, as it in wine glasses. But I'll discuss what he had, from what I remember...
The appetizers started coming. I can't resist any kind of salmon, especially if it's a raw or smoked kind. And when I saw this on the menu, I absolutely had to order it - House Cured Salmon, which consisted of roasted beets, heirloom tomatoes, horseradish crème fraiche, and of course, the house cured salmon. The creme fraiche added a nice contrast to the flavors of the salmon and tomatoes. I usually don't care for beets but these were done very well, and didn't mind them. I also noted the nice use of microgreens on top- very pretty!
Owen got the Fall Squash Soup, with a topping of duck confit and pistachios. The wine that came with this soup was a glass of 2005 Silvaner “Trocken,” Wittmann, Rheinhessen, Germany. Owen really loved the this course, everything worked really well together. The texture of the soup was beautiful, the duck was the salty that the slightly sweet soup needed. I even think I liked this more than my salmon dish - and I love salmon, so that's saying something. The wine was very well matched to this soup (says Owen).
Owen's choice was Oven Roasted Leg of Colorado Lamb, with Byaldi confit, and olive infused lamb jus. I knew he'd order this one, whenever he sees lamb on a menu he'll usually go for it. The lamb was super moist and cooked perfectly. The taste that I had was excellent. The au jus that came with it was the perfect accompaniment, as were the very thinly mandolin-sliced veggies. The wine, however, Owen did not like as much as the first one that came with the soup:
2003 Madiran “Vielles Vignes,” Château Peyros Southwestern France.
The beef dish (I forget the exact name of the dish!), an additional 10 dollars add on to the appetite stimulus meal but worth it. Cheese and onions were melted over the top of really succulent beef (very small amount though, a few more bites would have been perfect!) The green beans were good too. I wiped this plate clean.
A blown out photo of Owen's cappuccino, which was a pretty sight - love the way the foam curls like a cartoon version of fresh snow. I'm sure it was good, but I don't really like foam too much. My loss, I know.
Dessert! Owen's choice was obvious to me, right when I saw it on the menu: Boca Negra Cake Affogato - dark chocolate cake, vanilla malt ice cream, espresso, brandied orange slice. Chocolate PLUS espresso? That's melding two things Owen loves dearly. However, he could not finish this, as it was way too rich. The one tiny bite I had overwhelmed me with flavors - I personally like more subtle flavors, so this wasn't for me. The wine that went with this was a
2005 Banyuls Rimage, Les Clos de Paulilles, Languedoc, France. Owen did not finish his glass. He was way too full at this point.

I went with the Apple Upside Down Bread Pudding - buttermilk ice cream, apple cider syrup, cranberries, brown sugar walnuts. The carmelization on the top of the pudding stuck to my teeth immediately, so I was concentrating on trying to dislodge the stuck caramel from my poor molars after the first bite. Also - maybe it was a bit TOO tart for me...I don't think I'd order this again if I had the choice, maybe a simple sorbet or ice cream would have done the trick.

I would love to revisit this restaurant, perhaps for one of those burger nights on Sunday I saw advertised on their website...anyone interested in joining me for a Grace burger night?

Grace Restaurant
7360 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 934-4400

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Panera Bread

For a quick lunch fix before making a major grocery shopping run at Trader Joe's (I heart Trader Joe's so much, but going grocery shopping while you're hungry is probably the worst thing you can do - and especially in a place that has some of the best frozen food I've ever had), I usually stop into Panera Bread, located right next door. There's usually a ton of people here during the day, typing away on their laptops - I guess free wi-fi is just that awesome (well, it IS pretty awesome, heh.)

This is a standard order at the register, and pick up yourself kind of place. And this is what I usually order:
Panera Bread
A "You pick two" combo - A half sandwich, Bacon Turkey Bravo, on focaccia, and a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup. You get a choice of a side, and I usually pick the whole wheat grain baguette. This is a filling meal - their sandwiches are usually something I can only eat half of anyways. The bread in the sandwich is fresh, the turkey is pretty tasty. The soup is pretty comforting. The cheese flavor is pretty nice, and has a lot of broccoli florets and shredded carrots running through it, which adds pleasant texture.

All the bread here seems to be baked fresh here daily. I've always had a decent and satisfying meal here. It's probably one of my top fast service food places to go to.

Panera Bread
8647 South Sepulveda Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90045
(310) 641-9200