California Chicken Cafe [Hollywood]

California Chicken Cafe is my favorite chicken place. I’ve been a loyal fan and have been going to the Melrose location for over 10 years. Situated near Highland and on Melrose, California Chicken Cafe is a local lunch favorite for the studios nearby.

Known for their salads, sides, rotisserie chicken, and their wraps, which are my favorite, I had my first wrap at California Chicken Cafe. In fact I would argue that California Chicken Cafe was one of the originators of the “wrap”. I know other places use tortillas, but here at Triple C’s – they use a pita. The pita seems to hold the food with the sauces better than a flimsy tortilla. My favorite is the rice wrap – which features a slightly savory rice inside the wrap. Perhaps its the asian side of me that likes rice. The whole package together with salsa and my other favorite – BBQ sauce – which gives it a tangy flavor make this an awesome lunch meal

I must say that in this tightly packed torpedo of a “sandwich” – its a well-put-together meal. Each of the ingredients aren’t that special. In fact, friends have told me that CCC’s chicken is not all that good, either. Basically it is a chicken salad in a pita wrap. But it is really good. I could eat this two or three times a week – if it wasn’t so big. And that’s another thing – this thing is quite large for a lunch meal. Most girls I know can only finish half.

Aside from the wraps – the other thing I want to rave about is the sides. They have this chicken pasta salad with this pink sauce/dressing. Its simple – penne pasta, with chicken chunks, and this pink sauce. For a long time – I had no idea what this sauce or dressing was – I found out that it is Russian Dressing. I still have no idea what Russian dressing is all about – but it doesn’t matter. Almost every time I order a wrap, which includes 1 side, I usually get the chicken pasta salad. The other side I might get is the hot potato wedges side, or a simple chicken salad side.

I’ve been to the location in Westwood and Santa Monica and they are all the same – crazy busy at lunch. They are so busy at lunch, they have a separate line for the take out/phone-in line. You could see a rack full of to-go order ready to go. If i worked closer or lived closer to one – I’d probably go more often.

I’ve tried countless other wraps at other restaurants and chicken places and “california cuisine” spots – but nothing compares to California Chicken Cafe. I fully recommend going there for lunch.

California Chicken Cafe
6805 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 935-5877

California Chicken Cafe on Urbanspoon

California Chicken Cafe in Los Angeles

Rotisserie Chicken of California [Pasadena]

Check out the variety of cuisines being served at the San Diego restaurants satisfy your palate.

Almost forced to try yet-another chicken place. . . my friend took me to Rotisserie Chicken of California in Pasadena. I don’t know why . . . but there’s a smattering list of Chicken and Rotisserie and California restaurants all over the place. So, to me. . . coming here was almost moot. But my friend insisted we go. INSISTED!!

Anyways. . . it didn’t start out well, since there is no parking in the area – only a couple of meters right outside. I assume that this place does a lot of walking traffic customers from the business lunch crowd in the area. The signage with the yellow chicken on a round blue background seem creative – but very “california and LA” healthy style.

But everything changed once I walked in. . . WOW. . .there’s a lot of people in here. The small crowded tables, lined up on either side indicated the local popularity. I saw people with salads, enchiladas, rotisserie chicken, sandwiches, etc.

After browsing the menu . . . I decided on their popular Pasadena Chicken Sandwich. My friend, who hates sandwiches, got the curry chicken. The sandwich was huge, with a large amount of avocados on one side with the chicken breast on the other. I expected a large chicken breast – that might be dry. But this one was different – it was sort of shredded. Perhaps a good idea to save costs on whole chicken breast – but creatively and tastefully better. When chicken is pulled apart – you can marinated it a bit better – won’t be dry. Not a big fan of avocado – they put on a lot of them. I also slathered their homemade hot sauce – which was tangy and not to spicy. I liked it. I would order it again – but without avocados. My friend’s curry chicken was good, too. I was impressed with the restaurant’s chicken skill. The chicken cutlet wasn’t dry at all – in fact quite moist. I would venture to try that in the future.

Anyways. . . A lot of the other customers – knew the owners, who were going around taking orders and serving everyone – almost by name. Nice neighborhood chicken joint.

Rotisserie Chicken of California
26 Los Robles Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 405-0365

Rotisserie Chicken of California on Urbanspoon

Don Chow Tacos – closed

Don Chow’s Tacos were located, last Friday, in a cool area of Silverlake. I didn’t know that there was a hip crowd with some cool venues in that part of LA. I’ve been meaning to try all these different taco trucks. Don Chow is the third different one that I have tried this year – after Kogi and El Gallito.

Anyways. . . Lawrence and Dominic, of Don Chow’s Tacos, feature Tacos, Torta’s and Burritos, with Chinese “cooked and influenced” meats. They have BBQ pork and Kung Pao Chicken. They also feature a pretty good Shrimp as well. One of my favorite things in the whole world is BBQ Pork – cantonese style. But unfortunately, Don Chow doesn’t do it that well. But the Kung Pao Chicken taco was pretty good. But unexpectedly, the Soy-Ginger Shrimp was really tasty and good. I don’t usually like shrimp, but I had to try their asia inspired servings. The shrimp had good texture and was my favorite of the night. In addition, they had carne asada and carnitas – but there was no way I would order that tonight. I do regret that I didn’t try their chimales – a Chinese-Mexican Tamales. I will have to try it next time.

Anyways. .. check them out at

Don Chow Tacos on Urbanspoon

Dots Cupcakes [Pasadena]

In the spirit of Cupcakes – the third in my Pasadena trilogy of cupcakes – Dots Cupcakes. Recently I posted my thoughts about Violet’s Cakes and Polkatots, both in Pasadena.

Each of these establishments have a couple of things in common. They all specialize in the current Los Angeles dessert fad – cupcakes, that’s been going on for a couple of years now. Perhaps it is the simplicity of making process coupled with the great flavors they pack into a small package, that makes these desserts popular. And the other similarity is in their unique location. None of them have ideal locations. Violets is a few blocks north of Old Town Pasadena – which probably is the best for potential foot traffic of the three. Polkatots, located north of the 210 freeway in the back of a mini mall, which probably has the worst location of all. And then there is Dots, which is located just minutes away from Old Town, but is on the busiest street with probably the best exposure.

Dots Cupcakes, probably the most well known of the three – among my friends, has a nice little brightly colored shop. Inside, you’ll find a large floor-to-ceiling clear cabinet of their cupcakes. The inviting cupcakes with the colorful frostings make you want to finger a little taste, like you did when you were a kid. There’s a counter with a few stools for you to eat your cupcakes, so people that walk by can potential drool.

I had a mini cupcake of the Lemon Drop and my friend had her favorite Strawberry Shortcake. I was craving for something not too sweet and a bit tart. . . funny – kinda describes some girls I know. I like the mini’s, like the ones at Polkatots. One thing I did like more was the airy cake. Not too sweet – again – and I like that. The frostings is not as pretty as Polkatots, but still quite good. Though the cupcakes at Voilet’s had these great fillings – I don’t know if Dots had them.

At the end of the day. . .I would rank – Violets as my favorite – though I wish they had mini’s. Then I would select Dots, because of the convenience and the mini’s. But Polkatot wouldn’t be that far behind.

Dots Cupcakes
400 S Arroyo Pkwy
Pasadena, CA 91105
(626) 568-3687

Dots Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

Dots Cupcakes in Los Angeles

Polkatots [Pasadena]

Does Pasadena really need 50 cupcake shops? Will one more really matter? Well, in this case, Polkatots it does. Located far from the trendy part of Pasadena’s Old Town and South Lake shopping area. Polkatots is north of the 210 hidden in the back of a little mini mall.

Pokatots features many different flavors and designs, like most cupcake shops. Their flavors are good. Their cupcakes are moist. But 2 things set them apart, their mini cupcakes and their custom designed cupcakes.

The mini cupcakes are just right in my opinion. I don’t necessarily like a hugh cupcake with lots of frosting. But the mini ones – for just a couple of bites is perfect. Plus, they’re priced reasonably – at $1.50. Mini’s let me try lots of different flavors. This day, I tried the Choco Lover, the Dolcissimo, the green Pistachio, and Strawberry Shortcake. My favorite is the Choco Lover, strange since I am not a Chocolate craver. I also liked the Dolcissimo – though my friend didn’t like that much. The Dolcissimo -Dulce de Leche Cupcake with Dulce de Leche Buttercream, is their pride and joy cupcake.

You can see from their website the different custom made cupcakes. You can see the different designs. They take pride in their cupcakes.

Too bad they are located in a high traffic area with more exposure.

Facebook and Twitter Cupcakes. . . Very nicely done. Custom designed. . . could say its artsy.

Nice display with Candy tree. They carry everything on their menu with monthly specialties.
The nice packaging with sticker. This small clear box package fits 4 mini cupcakes nicely.
Look how cute these are.
Not usually a big fan of chocolate, this particular one – the Choco Lover was really good and moist.

720 N. Lake Ave Suite #3
Pasadena, CA 91104
(626) 798 – 3932
Mon-Fri: 10 am to 6:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Carnitas Michoacan [Los Angeles]

Last night, after some K-town drinking. . .a couple of friends and I went to Carnitas Michoacan. I had never heard or been there, but my friends were raving about it. After considering Pinks, Kogi, and King Taco . . . they emphatically insisted on Michoacan. I had to admit that I was skeptical at first . . . but I wanted to keep an open mind about trying new things. And at the end, I was pleasantly surprised.

After getting somewhat lost from Chinatown, I finally found the place. This late night restaurant, in a part of Los Angeles that I rarely go to, is well lit and appeals to all comers – not just primarily latino neighborhood. Not far from the 5 freeway, Michoacan, well known among my friends – except for me. . . Sad, I guess I haven’t been out as much lately. Inside the patio dining area, the large screen TV’s mix with the chatter from the customers. When you finally order – you see their menu with different types of meats with either tacos, burritos, or tortas. One thing that I noticed were the nachos – super and the papa’s. My friends insisted on the nacho’s . . . and inside I was thinking boring nachos.

Boring is far from the experience of the nachos, here at Michoacan. They had large pieces of carne asada with melted cheese. . . and most of all was the mouth watering jalapeño peppers. I tend not to eat spicy food . . actually . . .I do eat spicy food. But I can’t really take it. I will have one bite and starting bitching and moaning about the spiciness. But I do like to try it. But anyways. . . these peppers weren’t that spicy. It was so good. I even had another large bite of the peppers. I just know it went well with the burrito that I had.

I don’t know why my friends ordered carne asada burritos at a place called Carnitas Michoacan. I knew I had to order something Carnitas, so I got the carnitas burrito. OMIGOSH. . .the sauce, which is dark red in color, was awesome. I am not usually accustomed to any red colored (ass burning) sauce. But this sauce was great. Not too spicy. Just right, in fact. And you know what. . . the burritos need this sauce, it gives it a bite and more flavor. Personally, I like carnitas more than carne asada (I’m probably one of the few).

Anyways. .. check the place out. . .go there after clubbing and drinking. You won’t regret it. On another note. . . there is nothing better than Orange Bang! Whipped, Sweet, and Yummy!!! I might try to add a little vodka in the future.

Check this awesome burrito – Carnitas Burrito. It is huge and tasty and you definitely need the sauce.

Before devouring.
Here are the crazy carne asada nachos. I can’t believe how good it was. Check out the large jalapeno peppers.
The menu at Carnitas Michoacan. ORANGE BANG FTW!
Right out side of Carnitas Michoacan.

Carnitas Michoacan
1901 N Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90031
(323) 224-9044

Carnitas Michoacan on Urbanspoon

Shows, Podcasts, Twitters, and Sites I Frequent

These sites, shows, twitters, and podcasts are some of the media that i enjoy. I don’t necessarily keep up with all of them. . .all the time. .. but most of them, some of the time.

Food Shows
One of my favorite food related shows is Guy Fieri’s
Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. This show talks about food and restaurants that I know I would like. You get to see what normal americans eat at simple neighborhood restaurants. Guy seems to bring a honest goodness with regular people and the people behind the food.

Other Shows I enjoy
Iron Chef – America and Japan
Anything by Alton Brown, Good Eats and Feasting on Asphalt
KCRW’s Good Food
I’ve been listening to Evan Kleiman for about 5 years now on KCRW. I enjoy the variety of different aspects of food that they cover. With the Market Report – about the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, Jonathan Gold’s weekly restaurant find, and other interesting stories. You can subscribe to Good Food on iTunes.
Other Podcasts
The Delicious Life
A good friend introduced me to the Delicious Life. This was probably the first serious food blog that I started reading. I try to keep up with a lot of other bloggers, but its tough with so many out there.
Kogi BBQ Twitter
Kogi BBQ, the famous Korean Taco truck, was one of the first to effective utilize twitter to enhance their mobile food business. I follow several other “taco trucks” as well as other food bloggers. These are just some of the ones I follow.

Other Tweets I follow
If you have other sites, shows, twitters, or podcasts that I should consider, please let me know.

Umami Burger [Los Angeles]

I first heard about Umami from from Good Food from KCRW. Almost anything that Evan Kleiman and Jonathan Gold says, I would almost want to try. In addition, I admit i was intrigued with the idea of anything remotely Japanese and with Burgers (though I am not suppose to eat too much red meat – more on that later).

Umami is the 5th taste, translated from Japanese and from their website. The four other tastes are bitter, sour, sweet, and salty. Umami is neither any of those, yet is most similar to salt. Salt merely enhances the taste of umami. From what I understand of tasting it and reading about it on wikipedia – Umami is like a natural MSG flavor. Some foods that naturally have the Umami flavor include mushrooms.

At this Umami Burger, open sometime last year, I had to try their signature Burger – naturally called the Umami Burger. Looking like a $10 gourmet burger, it did look quite delicious. The bun was quite big and seemed to hold it quite well. After biting into the burger, I realized the taste of umami. It was sort of bland, yet subtle with flavor. You could feel the texture of the mushrooms and meat blending together. Japanese people are know to eat with their eyes, rather than their mouths. In addition, they like the subtle flavors of food, rather than spicy hearty foods. This 5th taste might be intriguing to the most discerning palates.

Their fries and onion rings are really good and compliment each of the burgers. I did get a chance to try the pork burger – which I enjoyed a bit more than the Umami one. i would go back to Umami to have the other burgers, not necessarily the umami one. In Los Angeles, we are fortunate to have some many gourmet burgers. Though, I am not suppose to eat too much red meat, with my occasional bouts with gout.

As to what I said before about Japanese people and the way they eat. Japanese eat with their eyes. Chinese eat with their mouths. Korean eat with their stomachs. Japanese take presentation of food of a higher importance. Chinese people enjoy taste more than their counterparts. And Koreans like the fire in their bellies.

Umami Burger
850 S La Brea
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 931-3000

Umami Burger on Urbanspoon

Umami Burger in Los Angeles

The Hat [Alhambra]

The Hat is one of the places I have frequented for awhile, now. This old fashioned hamburger stand sits on the corner of Garfield and Valley in Alhambra. The Hat just celebrated its 60th anniversary a couple of years ago. Nothing’s changed much, at the original stand, over the years, except the prices. The simple outdoor seating in the back adjacent the parking lot, that might have for the 50’s style drive-in’s.

The Hat is a local institution featuring Pastrami Dipped sandwiches, fries with gravy or chili, and other favorites. Written on their sign – the Hat’s Pastrami Dipped Sandwiches are probably one of the best around. This type of hot pastrami is unique to the Los Angeles area. It differs from the thick cut deli-style New York sandwiches that you find at Katz’s, Carnegie, Langer’s, and Canter’s. This fast food, thinly sliced, torta style, with au jus, on a roll offers a more juicy bite, as well as messy. The pastrami goes well with a slightly spicy pepperoncini balances out the salty beef meat. You’ll find pepperoncini at most independent burger joints.

The other menu item that most people get here are the fries. Whether with chili, wet (with gravy), or just with ketchup, the Hat’s fries don’t get too soggy. They are the long and thick one that hold, or stick to, chili or gravy, well. Chili cheese fries with onions is common out here in LA, but wet fries (gravy) is quite uncommon. I would suggest that you try the wet fries at least a couple of times. . you might like them.
Another favorite here is the the tuna salad sandwich on wheat. Its a large soggy sandwich, well held together with wheat bread. This “light & healthy” sandwich is a nice change from the savory burgers and pastrami’s.
They have a few locations – Monterey Park, Alhambra, Temple City, Pasadena, etc. Great little hole-in-the-wall. . .I only wish they were open late – till 2 or 3am for the late night cravings.

Check out this monster! The pastrami dipped sandwich on a roll. So different from the typical New York thick sliced pastrami’s.

The “light & healthy” alternative to burgers and pastramis – the Tuna salad sandwich on wheat. This order with white bread is not the same.
The chili cheese fries. If you look carefully, you can see the oozing cheese melting underneath the chili. Sometimes, I like to add diced onions. Southern California chili is much different from Texas chili, which tends to have beans.
Old style signs that haven’t changed in over 60 years.
The bucket of pepperoncini. Though a bit spicy, they go great with the pastrami, burgers, and fries.

The Hat
1 W Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91801
(626) 282-0140

Hat on Urbanspoon

The Hat in Los Angeles

Lucky Boy Drive-in [Pasadena]

Lucky Boy has many loyal followers that lay claim of the best breakfast burrito. Even Los Angeles Magazine boasted about the burrito as well – I believe it was in the May 2009 issue. Many of my friends say Lucky Boy has the best breakfast burrito. I had once before . . . but i didn’t think it was memorable.

When i got it, the burrito was one of the larger burritos that I have seen in awhile. It’s girth was quite intimidating. Wrapped nicely in the basic fast food yellow wrapper, you could almost get a sense, after you eat the whole thing, that you’ll regret it later. Once you rip open the protective wrapping the brick of breakfast goodness appears. You could see some nice grill marks on the tortilla, from the delicate care put into making the burrito. Once I pulled apart the burrito to inspect the yummies . . . i found cheese, sausage, bacon, eggs, bacon, potatoes, and did i mention bacon. I couldn’t believe how much bacon was inside. With the side of mild green sauce I proceeded to consume this beast of a meal. The red sauce is too much for me . . . i must admit that it will cause me much unwanted pain.

As i take my first few bites I realize my predictions were correct – if I finish this I will pay for it later. . .. but if I don’t, I will regret it, a bit more. With each bite I took, I also figured out that I should have ate it at Lucky Boy, rather than have it to go. At Lucky Boy, the food will still be hot and the cheese won’t solidify as fast as it was when i ate it. But if you have to have it to go. . .I strongly suggest that you eat it within 20 minutes or so after you pick it up, or you might want to consider re-heating it. One thing I do notice is the potatoes – they are good & seasoned, but do get a little soggy as it soaks up the juices and oils. I kinda like my potatoes to retain some texture. (more on that later) Lucky Boy’s breakfast burrito certainly has the most bacon and sausage. It is really tasty as well. I do like the green sauce.

As I mentioned earlier, I do not like their potatoes. Tops, in Pasadena as well, also has a breakfast burrito. I will write about theirs in a future post. It is my favorite breakfast burrito.

Look at the oozing goodness coming out of the burrito

Good god. . . look how big it is!
Eat it at Lucky Boys . . . I don’t suggest eating it to go.

Lucky Boy Drive-in
640 S Arroyo Pkwy
Pasadena, CA
(626) 793-0120

Lucky Boy Drive-In Restaurant in Los Angeles

Tanqueray Rangpur

If you ever get the chance to have a gin & tonic, I suggest that you try Tanqueray’s Rangpur Gin. Currently, it is my personal favorite, over my long standing Bombay Sapphire Gin.

Rangpur are a type of limes or hybrid of lemons and oranges, from India. This particular Gin has a more sweet flavor than other gins. Some people like it, yet others may not. Tanqueray has not promoted this line of Gin, which is unfortunate. They are pushing Tanqueray Ten and their regular Tanqueray lines. They even have great flashing television commercials, as well, but with no mention of Rangpur. Alcohol is all about personal preference, and Gin & Tonic are no different. When you get a chance, again, i suggest that you try Tanqueray Rangpur.

Pizza Pizza Pizza . . .

Here are three sites that I came across about Pizza. One is about a one man’s quest to make a great pizza – in Atlanta. Another is from men’s magazine that talks about US’s top 25 pizzas. And the last site is about a blog about pizzas in Los Angeles.

Varasano’s blog about his quest for the ultimate pizza is a great read. He talks about how many different types of flour, tomatoes, olive oils, etc that he went through. His cooking time for pizzas is about 2 minutes – 2 MINUTES!! One of the things I take from his site is that his pizzas are cooked in a really high temperature for a short amount of time. Regular home ovens aren’t made to do that. Varasano’s also gives his opinion about different pizzerias – including some in Naples.

GQ recently had a feature about the top pizzas in the US. They have little snippets about pizzas from Los Angeles, to Arizona, Chicago, and, of course, New York. The US features many different types of pies – including Chicago Deep Dish and New York’s thin crust. This listing is an interesting look at different pizzas across the nation.

This last site – LA Pizza blog, discusses pizza, here in Los Angeles. The site reviews different pizzas all throughout the southland. Its a great resource.

1. Great Lake – Mortadella pie, 1477 West Balmoral Avenue, Chicago, IL; 773-334-9270
2. Lucali – Plain pie, 575 Henry Street, Brooklyn, NY; 718-858-4086
3. Pizzeria Delfina – Panna pie, 3611 18th Street, San Francisco, CA; 415-437-6800;
4. Pizzeria Bianco – Margherita with prosciutto, 623 East Adams Street, Phoenix, AZ; 602-258-8300;
5. Bob & Timmy’s – Spinach-and-mushroom pizza, 32 Spruce Street, Providence, RI; 401-453-2221;
6. Sally’s Apizza, White pie with potato, 237 Wooster Street, New Haven, CT; 203-624-5271;
7. Tomato pie – The Grandma, 2457 Hyperion Avenue, Los Angeles; 323-661-6474;
8. Co. – Margherita, 230 Ninth Avenue, New York, NY; 212-243-1105;
9. Tacconelli’s – White pie, 2604 East Somerset Street, Philadelphia, PA; 215-425-4983;
10. Totonno’s – Margherita with pepperoni, 1524 Neptune Ave., Brooklyn, NY; 718-372-8606;
Click on the link above to read more about the top 25 pizzas.