A group of us had dinner at Animal the other day. I didn’t want to write much, but just post up some pictures. Check out my previous entry here.
The popovers are so good that they actually give you the recipe to take home. The short ribs (pictured above) were fall-off-the bone amazing but other sides were standard. I had cream of spinach and it was predictable. Atmosphere is cozy enough for a date and loud enough for a large group gathering. Eat at the bar if you forgot to make reservations.
8720 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Went to this amazing peruvian place on a Wednesday night cause if you go on a weekend night, it’s like an hour wait. This place has been around forever and is arguably the best in town…hence the long waits.
5786 Melrose Ave.
Long over due, I realize I haven’t made a new post about my food adventures lately . . .I apologize. I have been busy with some other stuff lately. But I want to especially talk about this place – Asia de Cuba.
In the spirit of Dine LA, we decided Asia de Cuba would be the place to go. Right when we sat down, one of my friends humorously chimed in . . .”I need menus, appetizers, and an alcoholic drink, now!” It was kinda funny coming from a girl.
Luckily, in my humble opinion, we got the set menu offered this week which made thing easier. My preference, when I visit a new place is to try their specialty or highly recommended dish. With the set menu, there were 3 options for appetizers, entrees, and desserts – with our group of 6, we had the right portions for everyone.
Here is what we ordered . . .
Tunapica – Tuna Tartare Picadillo Style with Spanish Olives, Black Currants, Almonds and Coconut with Soy-Lime Vinairette and Wonton Crisps
Braised Beef Spring Roll – Cuban Black Bean Papaya Salsa, Port Wine Reduction
Lemongrass Skewered Chicken – Coconut Thai Chili Marinade, Grilled Pineapple and Lychee
My comments about the appetizers are ok . . . but better than a regular “meh” I did like the braised beef spring rolls. I thought there were tasty for beef. (yes, I know I shouldn’t eat beef – but it was good). The chicken skewers were unappealing – but not bad and not dry. I guess things stand out more if they are exceptional and very bad. Again, the chicken was decent but nothing to write home about. I don’t remember the tunapica at all. But after looking at the pictures, I remember it was light and airy since it was on a crisp.
Miso Cured Alaskan Butterfish – Cuban and Black Bean Edamame Salad, Tempura Shisito Peppers
Grilled Strip Steak – Gingered Chickpea Fies and Calabaza Melon Slaw, Citrus Ginger Soy
Cuban BBQ Chicken – Thai Coconut Sticky Rice and Avocado Cilantro Fruit Salsa. Tamarind Sauce
I was looking forward to the chicken. Luckily I wasn’t too disappointed. The chicken, dark meat thank goodness, with the skin was the best entree. The Grill strip steak, was dry and tough. Please don’t order it. The butterfish was good as well, though I think the portion was too small.
Cuban Opera – Rich Chocolate Cake Layered with Milk Chocolate, Buttercream and Coffee Mousse with Coffee-Brittle, Ice Cream, Chocolate and Caramel Sauces
Mexican Donuts – Seet Brioche Donuts rolled in Cinnamon Sugar and filled with Toffee Sauce.
Sorbet of the Day – House Made Tropical Sorbet served with Seasonal Fresh Fruit Chopsticks and Chilie Fruit Sauce
Now for the highlight of the meal – the Mexican Donut. I don’t know it is, but when I am at a high brow restaurant, I like to order the dishes that are homestyled comfort foods. For instance, I like to order mac’n cheese or hamburgers at a Beverly Hills restaurant – such as Maestro’s. So, at Asia de Cuba, the Mexican Donut stood out on the menu. I knew we had to get it. When it arrived in the bowl, there were seven pieces for 6 of us. Hmm. . . inside, I knew we were all thinking who would get the last one. I know I didn’t want to look directly at it, as did my friends at the table. But I knew whoever piped up first, wanted it more. And thus, my boisterous friend did . . .
Funny thing, just prior, this same friend replied from a question from her husband . . .
“Would you like to share this dessert?”, he instinctively quipped.
“Uh, no, why do we have to share. I want my own!”, she replied.
Anyways. . . this night brought back some nice memories of the place, since I hadn’t been here in years. But I think if taking everything into consideration – traffic, locale, price points, and food . . . unfortunately, Asia de Cuba doesn’t get high marks this time.
The Cuban Chicken. I liked the sticky coconut rice. But I don’t think it went together well.
I prefer the outdoor seating, than the indoor one. Though it was a bit nippy, the outdoor ambiance is good for groups.
1 pigs, $$$
Asia De Cuba
8440 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069-1912
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.
435 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Open Seven Days A Week
Sunday – Thursday. 6pm-11pm
Friday – Saturday. 6pm-2am
3 pigs, $$$
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