Animal [Los Angeles Fairfax District]

With a restaurant name like Animal, there’s almost a sense of arrogance about what you think you do well – which is anything non-seafood or vegetable related. Man is instinctively carnivorous, making Animal the ideal place to eat when you want to return back to your roots. Many people have talked about this restaurant, since day 1, about their unique skill with beef, pork, and other land animal meat.

After looking at my list of restaurants to try . . . we decided tonight’s the night. After fighting traffic, toward this part of town, I was happy get a nice imported Japanese beer. I strongly suggested that my friend get the Mexican coke – since it is made much sweeter than the American counterparts. The menu was quite simple & clear, and very much straight to the point with their “meat” selections. The menu doesn’t try to fool around with fancy words and descriptions.

When I saw loco moco on the menu, I was immediately taken back by my Maui experience, last year, during my friend’s wedding weekend. Though the loco moco I had, at this famous local hangout, was overwhelmingly large and intimidating with its enormity – it kinda scared me from future loco moco’s. I had since not considered ordering it again.(I profusely apologize for my crappy English – I wasn’t sure how to explain it) But then I see Animal’s take, on this famous Hawaiian dish, with foie gras. After mulling over my other options, the Foie Gras in the Loco Moco just stood out. After a recommendation from our server – I knew I had to order it – it was almost destiny. Perhaps Loco Moco deserved another chance to redeem itself.

As some of you might know, the manner by which foie gras is acquired is quite inhumane. I was made aware of unethical treatment to our feathered pals, by my friend, who consciously chooses to limit her foie gras consumption to once a year. But on this plate – there were two very large pieces of foie gras. Personally, i don’t really order foie gras and don’t have a big craving for it either. But tonight, the foie gras stood out. With each bite of the loco moco – with foie gras, burger, spam, and egg, this combination made me understand this goose liver appeal. By itself, each of these pieces remain unspectacular, but together as one, like a fine ensemble, it plays out beautifully.

And did I tell you about the pork belly? And I almost had to fault my server for not even touching upon it while we were ordering. Later on, he did mention that critics and others have raved about the pork belly. He kept trying to push other appetizers. But the pork belly with kimchi, this easy combination, just screamed at me, more so than the loco moco. When it came, inside I knew I would be comparing this to Japanese Izakaya style pork belly. This dish excelled and exceeded with its crunchy fat. The fat on the pork belly also melted in your mouth with eat bite, and yet stayed crunchy as well. I think, “this is the best pork belly that I have ever tasted, Period.”

In addition we had the bacon chocolate crunch bar, with anglaise. I don’t have an idea what the anglaise is. But the combination of bacon with chocolate brought a new taste sensation in chocolate that I have never tasted before.

I think I will have to make another trip to Animal. I like this place.

I don’t even remember this plate. I think my friend ordered it. I apologize for the brightness of the flash. This restaurant is a bit dark.

This is the bacon chocolate dessert. It was pretty tasty. I had never had anythign similar.

The foie gras loco moco with SPAM!!!! I like spam. I didn’t think I would order something with spam at Animal. Nor did I think I would order anything with kimchi, either.

This is the best pork belly that I have ever tasted in my LIFE. It is so good. Its all about the fat in this dish. The fat is crispy and crunchy and then proceeds to melt in your mouth.

I guess you don’t need a fancy menu at Animal.

435 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782-9225

Open Seven Days A Week
Sunday – Thursday. 6pm-11pm
Friday – Saturday. 6pm-2am

3 pigs, $$$

Animal on Urbanspoon
Animal in Los Angeles

Hot Stuff Cafe [San Gabriel] – closed

I’m always on the look out for places that surprise me. Hot Stuff Cafe, with one of the more interesting names, surprises me in more ways than one.

Hot Stuff Cafe serves Westernized and European influenced cuisine to a local Chinese crowd. I was told that the owner is also of Chinese descent as well. As you walk in, the restaurant is a nice simple place with nothing special that jumps out. Being where it is located, I automatically assume that I will be eating something from a Hong Kong cafe.

Before I look at the regular menu, the drink menu indicates to me that this place IS a Hong Kong cafe. A Hong Kong cafe, mostly in Monterey Park and Alhambra, serves up westernized – club sandwiches, and Hong Kong style dishes – such as porridge, noodle soups, etc, for lunch and late night crowds.

Then my first surprise – the food menu has some nice pasta dishes, sizzling plate choices, and some decent appetizers. I wouldn’t have expected this mix of selection from a place called Hot Stuff Cafe. I kinda almost was prepared to rib my friend about her choice in lunch places. After mulling over the menu, we picked the Beef Short ribs, the Orange Roughy, and had the unagi pizza for the appetizer. We finished off with the “Hot Stuff” Chocolate Cake.

The unagi pizza was a bit of a surprise. The waitress said that it was a popular dish. This pizza is very similar to a Japanese pizza – an Okonomiyaki. It had very similar flavors. I was in different with it. I thought it was ok. It wasn’t something I would order again.

Our entrees came – the Orange Roughy and my Beef Short ribs. I was hesitate to order the fish, since I know that the Orange Roughy is on the endangered list. It looked good. I should have insisted to my friend not to order it. Anyways, I thought it was ok – nothing special or surprisingly good about it. Then my Beef Short Ribs came – and it WAS surprisingly good. As most of you know from my posts, I tend not to order beef. It was tender and slow cooked. The wine sauce was right on. It is something I would order again – but probably the only thing I would order again.

The dessert – the “Hot Stuff” Chocolate Cake was good to round out the meal. It was nicely presented. I didn’t expect it to be that good – but it was good.

I wouldn’t say that this place is overrated since I have not been here before, nor is this a place I would strongly consider going back again. Though i am tempted to try the Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon on their sizzling dish. I feel that Hot Stuff Cafe is a nice place for dinner but not an ideal place for lunch. The selections for lunch are similar to that of dinner.

“Hot Stuff” Chocolate Cake.

The Orange Roughy. I tried to tell my friend to save a fish. . .

The tenderness of the Beef Spare Ribs. It was good. But I was told my friend had it when it was better.

The Unagi Pizza. I should have known better than to order an Eel Pizza.

What a name! Hot Stuff Cafe!!! – not one !, but !!!

Hot Stuff Cafe
315 S San Gabriel Blvd
Ste A
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 292-7975

1 pig, $$

Hot Stuff Cafe on Urbanspoon
Hot Stuff Cafe in Los Angeles

Taco Lita [Arcadia]

High School kids need to eat simple things like meat and some sort of starch – like bread, tortilla, or rice. They don’t really want to eat vegetables, fruits, and healthy things. Taco Lita serves that purpose for growing kids in San Gabriel Valley.

Taco Lita is local high school hang out in the city of Arcadia. Been around for about 40 years or so. I was told that, at its peak, there were 15 other Taco Lita’s in the area. Arcadia’s location is the last of its kind.

I assume back in the 60’s, Mexican cuisine was getting a foothold in Southern California culture with ground beef tacos & burritos were gaining acceptance with burgers. This bastardization of true south of the border food was making a killing with white America. But, here it was, thus here to stay.

I’m not saying that I don’t like it. I did like it. In fact, my high school friends, none of whom were of Latino descent, all craved Taco Lita, even today. The simple ground beef with cheese burrito, with nothing else was the popular choice. Heck, I even ordered it with double beef – and yes, I know it is so bad for my gout. This oily concoction of goodness sans lettuce and tomatoes, probably helped me grow an inch taller. Taco Lita also has another special item – called the Lit Burger – same thing as a burrito but on hamburger buns. I don’t tend to order this, but I know it is quite popular. As I write this, I am getting cravings for a Lita Burger.

I wouldn’t suggest the quesadilla, since they are like a burrito but more oily and greasy. Its just cheese, and lots of it, in a tortilla, but shaped like a burrito. I shouldn’t have ordered it last time.

And OMIGOD, did I tell you about the Taco Lita sauce? This stuff is great. Not spicy, but a bit tangy and vinegary. I know some people liken this to ketchup. But I dig it with almost anything. I even save it for other tacos and burritos.

After 40 years, nothing much as changed, except for the pricing.

Here is the beef and cheese burrito. Just Beef and Cheese. YUMMY! Make sure you add their sauce.

Here is their quesadilla with tomatoes and their sauce. A bit too greasy for my taste.

Look for Taco Lita in Arcadia. Ask anyone from Arcadia High School and they will rave about it.

Taco Lita
120 E Duarte Rd
Arcadia, CA 91006
(626) 445-2889

2 pigs, $

Taco Lita on Urbanspoon
Taco Lita in Los Angeles

Mo-Chica [DTLA] – closed

Tucked away in a food court, blocks away from USC, lives peruvian cuisine at its finest. I recently joined a newly formed monthly dining group that choose Mo-Chica for its first event. I didn’t remember Mo-Chica’s offering much from the Project by Project event, unfortunately either. All I was told, that we were going to a latin style restaurant near USC. Thus I was thinking hole-in-the-wall and something Mexican.

In this strange and somewhat industrial neighborhood, next to a large self-storage building and an earshot away from the 110 freeway, Mo-Chica serves great presentations of their countryman’s food at almost a typical mall’s food court’s price. Valet parking is replaced by a plain clothed security guard. A Thai food, Mexican bakeries, and handicrafts booths dot the Mercado La Paloma, off the corner of 37th and Grand.

The simple menu, behind and above the counter, standout with the Seco De Cordero – Lamb, the Aji De Ballina – Shredded Chicken, Arroz con Marisco – Peruvian Seafood Paella, and Lomo Saltado – Beef. With our large group, we choose to order them all with some of their well known appetizers – the Ceviche Del Dia – today with halibut, Causa Del Dia – Potato salad, and the salad of the day. This caliber of food and presentation should be in a nice restaurant setting, rather than food court.

The appetizers, the Ceviche Del Dia and the Causa Del Dia were both exceptional. I admit I do not have much experience with Ceviche, let alone other Latin Cuisines except some Mexican, but it was quite good. The large pieces of fish in the ceviche, made me think that we were eating the potato salad before I took a bite. Then the Causa Del Dia – the peruvian potato salad came with its delicate presentation, was probably my favorite. It certainly didn’t look like a regular picnic’s potato salad. I could see the care that the Chef, Ricardo Zarate, does with all of his dishes. I do remember seeing him at the fabulous Project by Project July tasting event. You can see the care he takes in presentation and the quality dishware they utilize.

Tonight, on this Monday, the space was sparse and felt like a lazy Sunday. I was told that the Mercado La Paloma closes pretty early, around 8pm or so. But that did not deter us from our experience with the Seco De Cordero, lamb served on the bone. This was amazing tender with the meat falling off the bone. I don’t usually eat Lamb, but this was an exception. My dining mates literally grabbed the bone and started barbarically feasting on the meat. The chicken – the Aji De Ballina was quite similar to that from El Pollo Inka link The yellow walnut sauce on the Aji, is a little off-settling if you haven’t had it before. It looks like a fluorescent curry. The Aji is not something I would order first, here at Mo-Chica. The Lomo Saltado, better than expected, was one of the dishes I would recommend. I think the quality of meat could be tasted. Not of big fan of Paella, anywhere, my friends felt that it was one of their favorite dishes.

The purple corn tea and the cebada, the barley herbal drink was something to round off the meal. I liked the old fashion jugs they had with the drinks.

Tonight’s event was a success in introducing my palate to finer Peruvian Cuisine. It is a hidden gem among the many other Latin food experiences here Los Angeles.

Mo-Chica offers entrees at less that $15 per plate – such as the lamb.

The yellow walnut sauce in the Aji De Ballina.
Lomo Saltado features large cut potato wedges.
I had the Cebada – the barley barely drink.
Too bad, they don’t have a free standing location. One other drawback is that they don’t serve alcohol. A good wine would go great with their menu.
The potato salad. I’m not sure what the yellow coating on the top is.
Open till 10pm, Mondays through Saturdays.

Mercado La Paloma
3655 S. Grand Ave., L.A.
(213) 747-2141

Jonathan Gold’s Counter Intelligence review May 27, 2009
Mo-Chica on Urbanspoon
Mo-Chica in Los Angeles

Green Street Tavern [Pasadena]

Located on Green St. behind the bustle of Colorado Blvd in Old Town Pasadena, sits the unassuming Green Street Tavern. This little place is good place for a date. This little restaurant is a cozy little place with an ambient mood feel. Walking in brings you in a modest but small dining area, then to the side, you’ll find a nice room that can be used for private events. Decor with the dark lighting is better suited at night.

We kinda just found this restaurant, since our stomachs were growling. I kinda wish we came at night, since we were part of the daily lunch crowd. After scanning the lunch menu, I knew I had to order their signature burger special, which came with a beer. How could you go wrong with beer, burger, and some fries? My friend ordered Gnocchi. My burger, not especially small, had the sweet onions falling off. The sauce was dripping as I was trying inhale it in one breath. I could barely get a good grip – meaning that the burger was so juicy, and not dry, or that the burger was too messy for me to hold. I think both . . . From someone who had had hundreds of burgers over his lifetime, and a body to show for it, this burger did standout. As I continue to document this experience whilst glancing at the pictures of the grilled and gounded dead animal flesh on bread – I remember the tanginess of the sauce. I slightly noticed my friend eyeing the handheld feast with envy, while she stared at her colorless Gnocchi. She tried to keep her composure and pride by declining the bite I had offered her . . . too bad for her.

Anyways. . . who would have thought this little date place would have pretty good burgers? I also just found out that the Counter is opening another restaurant in Pasadena soon on Lake avenue.

Green Street Tavern
69 W Green St
Pasadena, CA 91105
(626) 229-9961
Green Street Tavern on Urbanspoon
Green Street Tavern in Los Angeles

Looking for a great Jewish Deli in Downtown LA that is open Late! – Langer’s

Langer’s arguably makes the best traditional pastrami sandwich in Los Angeles. In my opinion they do have the best jewish deli sandwiches. I have been to Canter’s, Nate N Al’s, and Jerry’s deli – but I know I am missing one or two in the Valley. I would even compare Langer’s to Katz’s in New York City. But I think Katz beats Langer’s, by a hair. I like the service that Katz has better – where you walk up and order and the guy gives you a small plate sample of the meats. (oh gosh my mouth is watering). . . .back to Langer’s

They have been around for over 60 years. I was reading, at one point, there were open late. When the neighborhood changed, for the worse, the owners, still the same ones, were forced to close early – at 4pm. I asked our waitress if they had thoughts about returning to dinner hours and late night schedules, with new influx of residents in downtown Los Angeles. And she still said no. I do hope they would consider opening for dinner and late night crowds. Hot pastrami sandwiches are great late night drunk fare.

I can’t explain it, but pastrami beef is one of the few cured and prepared meats that goes good if sliced thinly or thickly. The thin sliced pastrami is what you find at the Hat of Alhambra, Tops of Pasadena, and Johnnie’s of Culver City. The thick pastrami is the more traditional jewish cut, found at Canter’s, Nate N Al’s, and Langer’s. Personally, I like the traditional thick cuts. I believe texture is quite important to the eating experience. Thin sliced pastrami seems to fall apart too easily when you pick it up and when you eat it. Sometimes when you bite into the sandwich the little pieces – might often be more tough than you want. Whereas the thick cut pastrami, is expected to have the same texture all around and won’t typically fall apart. But I do like the Hat’s dipped buns (in the au jus) which gives it a more juicy and squishy feel in your mouth. But for me, my ultimate preference has to be with undipped Rye bread with sauerkraut and russian dressing. For whatever the reason, this combination – which I had for the first time just recently, does it for me. The flavors just melt together in this perfect storm of tanginess, sourness, and savoriness – with this unique taste sensation.

Anyways. . . .just go Langer’s. Make the trip out there. Deal with the crappy neighborhood and useless parking situation. You won’t regret it.

Check out this perfect pastrami. The meats are piled high with the coleslaw. Thank you Mr. B.Y. for this nice image. My camera couldn’t get focused correctly.

Here is the sign right outside near MacArthur park in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, their parking lot is a block away.
I love these old fashion coke glasses they still use. Same cool shape and all.
Check out the sauerkraut with the russian dressing. Amazing combination and taste.
My friend got the juicy Pastrami dipped sandwiches. But I prefer mine with lots of mustard on rye.

Here’s my sandwich with the rye. The Rye bread’s nutty flavor coupled with the mustard and savoriness of the pastrami give it a unique taste.

704 S Alvarado St
Los Angeles, CA 90057
(213) 483-8050

Langer's on Urbanspoon
Langer's Deli in Los Angeles

Tops [Pasadena]

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the Lucky Boy’s breakfast burrito. Link Lucky Boy’s is probably the famous notable and famous breakfast burrito in Pasadena. But on the far eastside of Pasadena is another local favorite from Tops. They make one that I call my favorite.

Top’s makes a huge burrito that when eaten, you don’t really need lunch at all, when you have it for breakfast. They put the requisite eggs, potatoes, your choice of meat – chorizo, bacon, ham carne asada, pastrami, or sausage, and jack & chedder cheese. Most places only have bacon, chorizo, and sausage. My goto choice is usually sausage – I like the spiciness of the sausage. The eggs and cheese are as expected. The green salsa – which is really mild, adds good flavor. I have yet to have it with a red spicy sauce – thought I might try it soon with that. Most of the time, I ask them to put the salsa inside the burrito when they make it. But the thing I like best – is the potatoes. On their menu – it says homestyle potatoes. Homestyle potatoes are thinly sliced potatoes which are griddle fried. They retain their shape and have a crispness. This texture adds to the burrito and provides it with almost a crunch. Whereas Lucky Boy’s has potatoes that when combined with the melted cheese and hot meats – almost seems to melt the potatoes into a mush that resembles mashed potatoes.

As for the other menu items – I like the pastrami, the top’s special, and the tuna fish sandwich. I will post more on these items later.

The Original Tops
3838 East Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91107
(626) 449-4412

Tops on Urbanspoon

The Original Tops in Los Angeles

In N Out

You could smell their burgers almost a mile away – literally. In-N-Out, a Southern California institution, has been around for over 60 years. If you haven’t heard of or had a double double from In-N-Out, then you haven’t been to LA. But perhaps most of you have heard of their Animal Style Burgers from their secret menu and Animal Style fries.

An Animal Style Burger at In-N-Out are patties are grilled with mustard or “mustard fried”, add pickles, add grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and extra spread (directly from Wikipedia). Not everyone likes Animal Style but it is quite popular with locals. It is rumored that the surfer crowd, back in the 50’s, were the ones who coined the term. The surfer crowd was “animal” crowded that preferred this type of burger.

Just recently, I had a double double animal style with animal style french fries. Its something that I don’t usually have – both fries and burger in that manner, but something i was craving. The burger did not disappoint, as expected. The lettuce, the cheese, tomato, with the patty all come together to form a perfect union. I can’t imagine having an In-N-Out burger without the lettuce and tomato, or even pickles. This combination of savoriness, crispness, and juiciness makes it one of the better burgers, fast food or gourmet. I also believe the freshness and simpleness of the ingredients helps the flavor of the burger. Sometimes gourmet burgers try to do too much.

The animal style fries were another story. I was indifferent with them. I like the melted cheese. (I just found out that they have a cheese fries menu item – I would ask for with well-done fries with melted cheese, next time). The sauce with everything else on the fries, was something I wasn’t used to or expected. I kinda liked it. But then I kinda didn’t. The sauce was tangy, something I didn’t think went well with the salty taste of the fries.

At the end of the day, I like animal style, but wouldn’t order every time. I like the fries, but would try just cheese next time. My favorite style of In-N-Out burger is the simple one with grilled onions – either double double or regular cheese burger. I think you need cheese on burgers.

You can find out more about the In-N-Out secret menu here

No, I didn’t have two burgers this time. Both of them were animal style.

Up close with the animal style double double.
Animal Style Fries!
Many Southern California Locations

In-N-Out Burger on Urbanspoon

In-N-Out Burger in Los Angeles

Dodger Game Taiwan My Town

The Dodger have a great promotion working with the different cultures and communities, called My Town. They honor the heritage backgrounds of the fans of the Dodgers. I made plans with my friends to attend the Taiwanese Heritage night at Dodger Stadium on the Sunday early evening game on September 6th, 2009.

What makes this night special is their unique menu items they feature for the section. This night they had Shacha Sauce Spiced Pork, Spicy Sesame Chicken, and Lychee. In addition this ticket also has an all-you-can-eat dodger dogs, peanuts, nachos, and popcorn with sodas. The ticket is $45 presale and $50 on the day of the game – seems to be a bit pricey. But the best thing about this special night was the T-Shirt that we all got. Its a great T-Shirt that features the slogan “This is My Town – Dodgertown” with an image of the country of Taiwan.

The Shacha Sauce Spiced Pork wasn’t that good, in my opinion. I could barely taste the pork. It was a bit tough. My friends said the pork was quite good. The chicken – the Spicy Sesame Chicken, on the other hand, was quite good. I picked a large piece, unfortunately was white meat. I prefer a juicy dark piece, most of the time. I think the Taiwan Tourism Bureau worked with the LA Dodgers in producing this menu.

Personally, I think this is a great promotion for the Dodgers. These seats, in section 56 and 60, are the worst seats in the house. These seats are even worse than the outfield pavilion seats – where at least you can catch a homerun. But the dodgers and the community leaders created this night that people crave for. The T-Shirt is probably the driving factor. I repeated asked different souvenir vendors if they had the My Town t-shirts sold after each of those nights – each time with the polite answer of No. I recently saw a Filipino My Town Shirt on ebay going for $68.99. I do wish the price of the tickets – plus the $5.50 service charge was a bit lower. But it appears, that demand will maintain this lofty price – I know the USC My Town section is sold out.

Other countries that the LA Dodgers have honored includes the Dominican Republic, Mexico, USC, UCLA, Italy, Korea, the Philippines.

Here is the great T-Shirt that I got. I hope it doesn’t shrink. My friends, who weren’t able to go, asked if I could get them a T-shirt. Too bad. . .no T-shirt for you.

Here’s a picture just outside of Dodger Stadium. Did you know Dodger Stadium is the 3rd oldest stadium in the Major Leagues – after Fenway Park and Wrigley field.
Look at the excitement of the crowd when the Taiwanese countrymen – Hong Chih Kuo pitched in the 8th inning. He struck out one.
I’m glad they rescheduled the game for a late afternoon game, from 1pm to 5pm start. Otherwise, I might not have gone. It was still hot around 5pm.
Here is the view from the top corner of the stadium – right above the visitor’s bullpen. The bullpen is where relief pitchers warm up before they come into the game. A relief pitcher is someone who pitches when other pitchers are not effective as determined by the manager.
Check out my yummies – nachos, chicken, pork, and my two dodger dogs! Yes, that chicken is big. Dodger dogs, not the ones I had, need to be grilled.
Here is the area where you pick up the food. Unfortunately, the line is way too long. We didn’t finally sit down till the 2nd inning.

Fresh Roach Coaches on the 1st Friday

The first Friday of every month is festival ritual in the heart of Venice. Shops, galleries, and bars open late to slow walking crowds. But unfortunately for the restaurants on Abbot Kinney Road, the roaches come out on this special night. More specifically the Roach Coaches. We saw several different Taco Trucks including – Border Grill Truck, Marked5, Dosa, Barbie Q’s, Baby Badass Burger’s, Fishlips Sushi. India Jones, and one or two others that I don’t remember. I was only able to try the Marked5, Barbie Q’s, and Fishlips Sushi.

I’ve tried Marked5 before, except I haven’t had the their latest creation the Salmon. I’ve had the pork katsu, the beef, and the chicken curry, but this new Salmon was different. With a some cucumber, it poses as something refreshing from the deep fried and oily selections from other taco trucks. And it tasted light as well. The salmon could be a light meal in itself. I also had the chance to have the pork again. I must agree, whole-heartedly, that it is much better with the Sriracha sauce. Marked5 particular spot was quite good. They didn’t have a restaurant to compete with. There were great crowds in front of the gallery and close to a neighborhood bar/lounge. I think they had one of the best spots on the street.

The next taco truck that we tried was the Barbie Q truck. They featured pulled pork, bbq chicken, and beef sandwiches. I choose to have the sampler sliders and a couple of the baby back ribs. I immediately knew that there truck didn’t have a large smoking apparatus or bbq grill, since I didn’t see any smoke. I assumed that they cooked or bbq their meats prior and used the truck as a large warming tray. The baby back ribs were quite tender and sweet – as they should be. The sliders were a different story. The pulled pork was quite good and had good texture. The beef, unfortunately, was a bit tough. The chicken was ok as well. Though, I did wish the chick pieces were a bit bigger. I think there truck is quite creative. Nice staff and menu. They probably had the best location – right smack dab in the middle of Abbot Kinney Road.

Lastly, we tried Fishlips, the sushi taco truck. I really didn’t want to try it, since I was a bit apprehensive about having sushi from a place I am familiar with. But I was drawn to the the decorated truck and plus my friends wanted to check it out as well. I was expecting a similar configuration with displays or a menu of sushi to pick from. But once I came toward the open side of the truck, I was quite surprised. This truck was probably the most creative of the ones I have seen. They had a brightly lit area where you could see 2 sushi chefs in the back preparing sushi with a large glass refrigerator case, like the ones you see in sushi restaurants. Then, you could see the color pictures of the different sushi they had. They had little boxes for the different sushi combinations – mostly varied by the number of sushi’s. They had a unique sushi called the Temari sushi that was ball shaped. These ball shaped sushi were bite sized sushi with the fish rolled onto a small ball of rice. It is cute and something I have never seen before. I had to try it. Sushi requires at least two hands or more. You need the prepare the soy sauce with or without the wasabi with a place to dip it. Unlike other taco trucks where you can use your hands to eat, Fishlips is a bit difficult to prepare and eat- you would need a table at the very least. The truck and concept is great, but execution might be a challenge.

Two other trucks I was looking for weren’t there – Kogi and Don Chow. I hope to try Border Grill, Dosa/India Jones, and Baby Badass Burger’s next time. We were so full by the time we pasted by the crowded Border Grill Truck. They had a great spot on the Brig’s parking lot with the Dosa truck right close by.

The 1st Friday event on Abbot Kinney is a great event. Parking is a major concern for the area. In addition, the crowded sidewalks are filled with locals and families with strollers. I suggest you get there early or late for parking concerns. If all else fails, I suggest that you go with valet parking-anywhere you can find it. I also want to try the pizza on this street as well. I hear a lot of good things about it.

Check out the Temari sushi from Fishlips Sushi. I would also suggest find a place to sit or put your food down.

Fishlips sushi bar. One of the nicest looking taco trucks.
The sampler sliders from Barbie Q’s. The chicken, pulled pork, and beef. The pulled pork sandwich is the best.
Barbie Q’s behind!
Marked5’s latest creation – the salmon sandwich. It is quite tasty. I only wish I had more.
The Marked5 truck.

The Border Grill Tuck in the Brig’s parking lot.
The colorful Fishlips truck.

Pie ‘N Burger [Pasadena]

Pie ‘N Burger, located near Caltech, features a simple menu of burgers and, of all things, pie. Strange bedfellows they are, burgers and pies is your All American fare. Not much has changed in the 50+ years since it opened in 1963, as you can see from the interior. I was kind of excited about going to Pie ‘N Burger. I had passed by so many times that I never had the chance to try it.

Their menu includes other favorites such as Strip Steak, Chili Size, and other great sandwiches. They have an extensive breakfast menu that I must try. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. My first experience included the beef burger with cheese and grilled onions, french fries, and a small bowl of chili. My friend ordered the Turkey burger. When you visit a unique place for the first time, you almost always have to order their speciality. You don’t go to Mastro’s and order chicken. Anyways, I was coerced easily in having pie as well – lemon meringue.

My burger, from the first bite, was excellent. There was an abundant amount of this thousand island looking sauce with some pickles and grilled onions. Also, the large leafy lettuce almost encapsulated the burger itself. I was quite intrigued seeing the large leafy lettuce being pulled apart from a distance, while we were sitting at the counter. This burger reminded me of the Big Mac – with its special sauce – which is thousand island (ketchup and mayo). . . and another burger – Bob’s Big Boy burger. Bob’s Big Boy burger was very similar in tastes – and is something I will always remember. Pie ‘N Burger’s burger is great because it is simple with fresh ingredients and has toasted buns to complete it. The tanginess of the thousand island with the pickles off set the savory beef burger meat. The crispness of the lettuce with the buns provide great texture – unlike soft and sloppy gourmet burgers you might find. This burger was a great experience.

The fries were a bit over cooked – meaning more brown and crispier than usual – which I liked also. I like the old fashioned way of serving fries on a plate – it somehow looks more appetizing. I don’t know what it is. . .but fries on a plate seem to stand out more. The small chili bowl was ok. It didn’t have much spice and wasn’t all that good. It didn’t have beans like typical American chili – which I thought it would be. And it didn’t have the kick like Los Angeles/Tommy’s chili would be. I wouldn’t order it again. Maybe I would have the chili on an omelet in the future.

I wish I got the name of my waitress. She was an old fashioned waitress, with the uniform and all. She was one that could banter with the regulars. She also provided great service. And she also convinced me – pretty easily to order a pie. I kinda knew I might have to order a pie, since this was my first time here. My favorite pie of all time is Pumpkin pie, but if I order that, it would feel a bit weird. So, I got the lemon meringue. This pie’s meringue was piled really high. It was good but not too sweet and lemonly. I don’t like dessert or foods that are overly sweet – and this pie was ideal. I think I might have a new favorite Pie.

Pie ‘N Burger’s a great little place if you are craving a burger and pie! I hope to try their breakfast soon.

Their Lemon Meringue pie. I’m a big fan of lemon meringue’s – please also see my post about Rose Cafe and their Lemon Hazelnut Meringue.

Fries on a plate!!!
This is one of the best burger’s I’ve had in a long time. I strongly recommend it.

Pie ‘N Burger’s chili. This is not why I came. I’m glad everything else was good.
Pie ‘N Burger’s simple menu.
It looks as if not much as changed since 1963

Pie ‘N Burger
913 E. California
Pasadena, CA
626 795 1123

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Pie 'n Burger in Los Angeles