Breakfast Gem in Mammoth

this is my first post, as recent dining experiences have been less than fruitful. we headed up to mammoth for a weekend of boarding. on the way back we stopped at a popular breakfast joint called breakfast club. yes it’s a cute and punny name. kinda makes me wanna barf. fortunately, the food does not.

it’s got all your basic breakfast fare- omelets and such, with a slight mexican bent. a pitcher of water awaited us as we sat down. i like that. coffee was served almost immediately. also good. they have what looks like very good bakery items in the front counter, none of which i’ve sampled. i was there for the corned beef hash.
first, a bit of background. i usually eat fairly healthily, but breakfast is a weakness. morning, afternoon and especially late night. i load up and file the guilt away for another meal. okay, back to the meal. now usually, corned beef hash is a greasy salty mess of some chewed up meat and potato substance that reminds me of dog food. here though is a hash from the gods. meaty chunks of real corned beef are mixed in with celery, onion, mashed up potatoes and who knows what else. i forced myself to eat it slowly so i can savor each bite. this place has truly ruined this dish for me as i can never order it anywhere else ever again.
the rest of the meal was not bad either. eggs are eggs. the home fries and hash browns were good but not spectacular. the chicken fried steak was disappointing. the meat was thin and chewy and the breading was a bit soggy. the biscuits and gravy were very good. the biscuit was fresh-baked and huge. the gravy was thick and hearty, with the requisite bits of ground pork in it. as a side dish it’s a one way trip to coma-ville.
this place can get crowded, and the service is, umm, leisurely. still, i can’t think of a better place to top off a weekend in mammoth.
Breakfast Club
2987 Main Street
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Breakfast Club on Urbanspoon

Sixes – Underrated Japanese Restaurants in Southern California

1. The Steak House – Kobe beef steaks. Omigosh, just take a look at the pictures on their site.
2. Ikko Japanese Restaurant – A hidden gem in OC. . . Japanese fusion with sushi.
3. Daichan – Unique Japanese/Hawaiian, their Poke bowls are great and healthy.
4. Musha Restaurant – Probably the best Izakaya in Los Angeles.
5. Santouka Ramen – Best sliced pork ramen. –
6. Sushi Dokoro Ki Ra La – So underrated that no one knows about. Went there for my birthday a couple years ago.

Mundo Cafe & Restaurant

What a nice little restaurant.

I had just arrived from the airport and my friends took me to Mundo. After a couple of imported beers, we got our appetizers – the Red Sonia, Beef Empanadas, and the Eggplant dip. The Red Sonia is one of the most unique dishes I have ever had. It says on the menu that it is their signature dish. I don’t even know how to describe it. But it is different and tasty – and I would order it again. The Beef empanadas were good – I did like the mild sweetness from the raisons. The eggplant dip was really good. Wasn’t your typical dip – like a cheesy spinach, this one felt quite healthy. The eggplant dip with the bread was also, like the red sonia, was something unique and original.

The entree I ordered – the chicken. . . . wasn’t so good. It was a bit dry. I would have given Mundo’s 4 stars for this alone. But all together, I think this place deserves 5. I did get a chance to try my friend’s turkish meatballs. This, on the other hand, was tasty. I did think that I did choose unwisely.

I felt that the unique flavors from Argentina and Turkey blended well. I did enjoy the food. I would have liked to try other dishes. This is a place I would recommend as well.

I do also make one note – when the bill came from the credit card – it stated that the tips be in cash. It was the first time I had seen that. Mundos is a nice place away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan – one of hidden gems.

Mundo Cafe & Restaurant
3118E Broadway
Astoria, NY 11106
(718) 777-2829

This is Mundo’s Red Sonia. It’s a popular and interesting dish. From Flickr member mcotner.

Mundo Café & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

“This is the Place”

Nickel Diner opened on Main Street in Downtown Los Angeles last August. What used to be a hole-in-the-wall secret has now exploded with crowds and lines out the door since it was named Los Angeles Magazine’s 3rd best new restaurant.

It’s cute and funky and overflowing with character. The wait staff are friendly and definitely have a cool hipster style that add charm to the yummy comfort food they serve. Along with burgers, sandwiches, they serve breakfast all day long. I love their french fries! The “Smac and cheese” is worth trying and is one of their signature dishes.

My personal favorite… the bacon donut! They give you a little sampler of their donuts, all of which are pretty yummy. The strawberry shortcake one is good too. Here is what the sampler plate looks like:

Nickel Diner on Urbanspoon

524 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 623-8301

jimmy – are you happy?!?! i posted!

Savoy Kitchen [Alhambra]

I’ve had Hainan Chicken in the US, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, and Macau. I can tell you honesty, that the Best Hainan Chicken is from this little hole-in-the-wall in Alhambra – Savoy Kitchen. It’s funny, i’ve been to Savoy dozens of times, though I have never ordered anything else. Nothing else matters. I’ve had friends in Taiwan tell me that Savoy’s Hainan Chicken is the best in the world as well. We would order 10 at a time and have a little feast.

Hainan Chicken is a dish that is common in Malay and Singaporing Cuisines. Hainan Chicken is prepared with the chicken boiled in a chicken/pork broth. Another chicken broth is used to prepare the flavorful rice. There is a ginger and spicy sauce accompanied with the meal. Soy sauce is also available.

What makes Savoy a cut above others is the consistency in the rice and the boneless chicken. Most places that I’ve been to, overseas included, the rice is too oily and the chick might be too tough. Savoy’s is just right tender and not too oily. The rice is just right.

I should also note, that the Hainan Chicken in the Hardrock cafe in Hong Kong, Kowloon side is also very good. If I see a Hainan Chicken on a menu. . anywhere. .I might be tempted to order it – just because I know what to expect.

Savoy Kitchen
138 E Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91801
(626) 308-9535
Mon-Thu. 11:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Fri-Sat. 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Savoy Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Southern California Farmers’ Markets

With the trend of Organic food, farmer’s markets have been more popular than ever. You can find the best produce and vegetables at these outdoor markets. In addition to strawberries and tomatoes, you can also find mushrooms, cheese, meats, and flowers.

This return to old country manners of markets, helps keeps communities connected with locally grown food. Lately, you’ll find more and more restaurants striving to find suppliers and vendors providing goods that are closer in geographic vicinity.

Here is a list of the some farmer’s markets in the area.

Santa Monica
Arizona Ave & 2nd St.

Hollywood Farmers’ Market


Pasadena Certified Farmers’ Market

Here’s a link for more farmers’ markets.

Great hole in the wall meatball sandwich

Sorry but the picture just does not do the sandwich any justice. Just went surfing at Trestles and by buddy Truc tells me about this killer meatball sandwich place in South O.C. We roll up to this little strip mall at the corner of Marguerite Pky and Jeronimo and this little pizza/sandwich place has 2 tables in the joint…well it is a take out place. We order one whole meatball sandwich and split it. The picture is just my half and the thing just about covers the whole plate. They stuff it with large, delicious, moist meatballs with just the right hint up spiciness for some kick, smother it with marinara sauce and then cover it with 2 to 3 layers of sliced mozzarella. The whole thing is then baked in the pizza oven so it comes out hot with the cheese melted all over and the bread is slightly crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. The cheese also holds the sandwich together otherwise eating this thing could get real messy. So why the crappy picture? I took one bite, remembered to take a pic, and then went to town on this thing. I couldn’t put it down it was so good. Why anyone other than Scott would be in South O.C. is beyond me but if you happen to make your way there, this place is great. A lot of people were picking up pizzas and they looked pretty damn good also.

Big O To Go
24501 Marguerite Pky, #1
Mission Viejo, CA 92692

Big O To Go on Urbanspoon

Lazy Ox Canteen, DTLA

On the edge of J-Town, yet still part of Downtown exist a new must-and-check-out space, Lazy Ox Canteen.

The cozyiness of the Lazy Ox Canteen.

Though I was dragged here from the recent artwalk, I kinda wanted to check out Lazy Ox, since I had heard about it, just a week or two before. Anytime someone who is bold enough to put a restaurant, fitting not of the same cultural neighborhood, better be good. Lazy Ox is in the Little Tokyo district of Downtown Los Angeles. Its like opening an Italian restaurant in Little Saigon in orange county.

The space the Lazy Ox resides emits a warmth that you feel when you walk into your favorite local local pub. Just past the bar, you see part of their kitchen. The brown hues give you a fuzzy welcoming feel. I usually like outdoor seating at most restaurants, but with the Lazy Ox, I’d rather be inside. The our large group got to sit on the high stools and table by the window.

Since I wasn’t that hungry at the time, we really didn’t get to try any entrees. Lazy Ox Canteen is mostly a tapas style restaurant. But their menu doesn’t feature many selections, but its their blackboard daily specials that excel. Next time I come, I will have to spend more time on the blackboard and pick better items.

The hand-torn egg pasta with sunny-side egg, brown butter & fine herbs stood out. It reminded me of simple meat-less but great tasting pasta dishes like Crustacean’s Garlic Noodles, Mi Piace’s Linguine alla Carbonara, and my favorite of late Liang’s Kitchen’s Special Onion Dry Noodle. But I was a bit disappointed. The Hand-torn Egg Pasta lacked a flavor I was craving. Perhaps by design, this might have been a home recipe of their comfort food.

The little drinking sides we different from what I was used to. We had Peruvian style corn niblets. This savory replacement of peanuts was something I couldn’t stop eating. We also had pickled cucumbers and carrots in which ordered 3 servings.

Unfortunately, the octopus dish, Charred Octopus with pickled shallots, corona beans, garlic-rapini & calamansi vinaigrette, had lima(or corona) beans. I hate lima beans. I hadn’t had one in years, but I tried one and remembered why I didn’t like it. Similar to the octopus dish from The Gorbals, this octopus was nuked till it wasn’t chewy. Understandably, chewy is not good, but sometimes is. I think westerners need to try to accept this type of texture more.

Their simple and easy to ready menu

The Cod Brandade Fritters with Yuzu Aioli.

Shochu Kakushigura soju. This was actually really good. Make sure you have it with lemon and ice.

Chicken Livers with Whole-Grain Mustard & Guanciale. I didn’t try this. I don’t like anything with the word liver.

Blistered Shishito Peppers with coriander salad, grated mojama & meyer lemon vinaigrette. This was not bad. I thought it would be spicy. It had good flavor.

The hand-torn egg pasta with sunny-side egg, brown butter & fine herbs. I wanted to like it more.

Charred Octopus with pickled shallots, corona beans, garlic-rapini & calamansi vinaigrette

2 pigs, $$

Lazy Ox Canteen
241 S San Pedro
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 626-5299

Lazy Ox Canteen on Urbanspoon

Best Pastrami in the World – Katz

This is the place where Meg Ryan had the famous scene in When Harry Met Sally. Among other things, this place has a pretty good Pastrami and Corned Beef Sandwich. It is also New York’s oldest deli. Not just good, but probably the best in the world.

When I first got there, there was a long line going out the door. Everyone was getting a ticket or something. I guess it was just an ordering ticket. Kinda weird. Then everyone – mostly tourists, stood behind 1 line to make an order. My friend drags me to a shorter line and says . . . those tourists don’t know how this system works.

When you walk up and order, they give you a little plate to sample while they make your sandwich. Gosh, my mouth is watering while I type this. The meat is juicy and tender and flavorful. The meat is just a little flaky, but not too much. The meat is savory, but not too much.

Then the sandwich arrives. This thing is hugh!. The bread is just right as it holds the meat with the slathered mustard. The sandwich is large enough to split for two people. I only wish I had a chance to try the other sandwiches, too.

This place is so good, that one of my friends, who recently moved to New York, went to Katz twice a week for a couple of months. I’ve had the thin sliced pastrami from the Hat, Johnnies, Tops in Los Angeles, and the New York style from Canters and Langers. . . but they all don’t compare to Katz. Not at all. Hand down. A sandwich at Katz, means I win.

Katz’s Deli
Lower East Side
205 E Houston St
New York, NY 10002
(212) 254-2246

Katz's Deli on Urbanspoon

Cocktail of the Week – Jack and Coke

I usually drink Jack & Coke’s when I am at a bar or club with friends. When it is crowded and your want to get buzzed fast – this is my drink of choice. The Jack & Coke is easy to make and very hard to mess up. I don’t mind it when it is strong or weak. The carbonation and sweetness of the coke with the whiskey gets your more buzzed faster. This drink/cocktail combination is so popular that Jack Daniels markets a Jack & Coke in a can. This Jack & Coke in a can is sort of like the 80’s version of a wine cooler.

Anyways. . . Here is how you make it. . .

Old Fashion Glass or Collins Glass
* 1 part Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
* 3 parts Coca-Cola
* Ice

Pho To Chau Vietnamese Restaurant – Honolulu, HI

This is supposedly the best Pho place in Honolulu’s Chinatown district. The restaurant is nestled in between 2 other Pho places, but clearly stands out from the rest. If you’re having a hard time finding the place, look for the line outside. After a 45 minute wait outside and another 15 minutes to order, the pho finally arrived. I have to say that the clear broth lived up to its expectation, but not much different from the pho places in LA. After careful observation, I found out that the family restaurant is run by a 4-man crew (2 in the kitchen, 1 that takes the orders and serves the food, and 1 that cleans the tables and seats the customers). I couldn’t figure out why there were so many empty seats while I was waiting outside only until I stepped inside where I realized the wow-wow-west style restaurant lacked employees and efficiency. The restaurant is open from 8:30am to 2:30pm daily. I’ve been told to expect to wait in line at all hours.

Pho To Chau Vietnamese Restaurant

1007 River St.
Honolulu, HI 96817

Tô Chau on Urbanspoon