Golden State [Hollywood]

The new burger joint in town poses a threat to Father’s Office famous burger. The Golden State serves up great burgers, hot dogs, fries, and beer.
I have heard about the Golden State and has always wanted to see if the hype was all it was meant to be. And thus it has lived up to its reputation. The burgers are quite good as well as the hot dog that I sampled. But I must say the sweet potato fries are probably one of the best. They are the biggest and juiciest sweet potato fries. The thickly cut and fried to perfection. I’d go back just for the fries.
What to Order: Sweet Potato Fries
What not to Order:
2 Pigs
The Golden State
426 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782-8331

The Bazaar by Jose Andres at the SLS Hotel [Hollywood]

One of the trendiest restaurants in Hollywood and Los Angeles, I finally made my way to try Bazaar.
In one week, my last week in Los Angeles, I was able to try some restaurants that were on my short list. On the top of this list was Bazaar. I had heard so many mixed messages from friends, bloggers, and articles. Nonetheless, I knew I had to try it regardless.
Miss B and I, was able to get a reservation for a Friday night, only to be told that it was at an early 6pm table. When they called back to confirm, later in the week, I asked about more favorable times and got an ideal 8pm seating. This is a nice strat to use when getting call backs for table reservations.
Our waitress suggested that we order about 4 or so small plates per person, being that Andres meant for Bazaar to be a blend of tapas traditional with nouveau Hollywood style. We choose a smattering array of dishes, including a couple of their featured drinks – the Ultimate Gin & Tonic for $18 and the LN2 Caipirinha for $20. We started with Sweet potato chips, which we could have left off. Then the “Not your everyday Caprese” with the Olives (Modern and Traditional) came out with this molecular gastronomic treat. The cheese and olives were produced in a way that just pops and melts in your mouth. The Philly cheesesteak and Hilly cheesesteak featured “air bread” that was baked cheese inside with Wagyu beef and Mushrooms slices that laid gently on top. There was so much going on that your senses, usual taste ones, were being bombarded with the exciting visuals from the food and venue.
After dinner, we were lead to the Patisserie for desserts and coffee, just nearby. This whimsical area is full of unique items that MOCA would be jealous of. The desserts available included the coconut floating island, which we ordered. With a mango sour glaze, the delicate coconut shell, looking like a mushroom, broke its shell, with its gooey goodness oozing out. Accompanied with slices of banana, it formed taste sensations that I have never had.
Bazaar is the type of place where you can impress friends, out of towners, and dates.
What to Order: coconut floating island, the foie gras cotton candy, the hilly/philly cheesesteak, the caprese.
What not to Order: I would probably forgo the traditional Spanish tapas.
2 Pigs
The Bazaar by Jose Andres
SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 246-5567

Debbie Lee’s Seoultown Tapas at Breadbar [Hollywood]

Debbie Lee, of the Food Network’s The Next Food Network Star, presented her Seoultown Tapas at Breadbar in Hollywood.
On this night we were able to sample almost everything on the menu. Here are the highlights from the meal.
Korean rice cylinders, maple smoked bacon and jalapeno ponzu
Chicken meat balls with magnolia pepper sauce.
Korean fried chicken with pickled winter vegetables.
Sashimi Ssam Style, Seafood Trio, Ginger Rice, Gochujang Drizzle, Spicy Pickled Cucumber, Roasted Nori, Tobiko Caviar, Romaine Lettuce
I really must commend Debbie Lee’s venture to work the Hollywood palate with Korean flavors and spices. Though the Asian side of me, may feel that, I lose some of the boldness of Korean heat. It is tough to please both sides. But one interesting added element of the “southern” feel, as tasted in the bacon and fried batter. Special thanks to Miss B for organizing this special treat for us. Anyways, without a wall of text, I will let the pictures do most of the talking.
Parking situation: Street parking is tough to find. Valet Parking available $4 plus tip.
8718 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles
(310) 205-0124

BLT Steakhouse [West Hollywood] – closed

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.

BLT Steakhouse
8720 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 360-1950

Mario’s Peruvian & Seafood [Los Angeles]

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.

The flavor of the food is a delicious mix between Asian and Latin flavors which becomes something salty with a hint of soy and citrus…something you really have to try on your own. The green sauce that it comes with is rockin! It’s spicy with possibly a hint of cilantro and the heat creeps up on you but you can put it on everything including the warm rolls that they give you to start your meal. The portions are large so I had lunch the next day. We had the chicken saltado which is marinated chicken which looks like it was fried and then sauteed with fries, onions and tomatoes. Don’t remember the name of the noodle dish but it was spaghetti with seafood and both were grubbin!

5786 Melrose Ave.
L.A. 90038

Asia de Cuba [Hollywood] – closed

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.

This was the sorbet of the day. Very nice presentation. But I don’t care too much about presentation.

I love how they put mexican donuts in a bamboo dimsum steamer.

Chocolate cake . . . actually was pretty good.

Run away from this. . . run far and fast. Grilled strip steak was quite dry and uneventful.

I apologize for the lack of quality images. But I thought I’d least show you what we had.

The Butterfish entree. A bit small to share. All the other entrees were generous in the portion.

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.

The beef spring rolls are underrated. I know my friends didn’t think it was that special, but I liked it.

The tunapica – I have no idea what this means. I guess it is sort of a tuna tartar or something.

The chicken appetizer – lemongrass chicken, actually not bad, but not great.

This is one other thing we order, in addition, to the set menu. This is the calamari salad. My friend’s favorite.

With drinks, tip, and everything, it came out to be about 80 bucks a person.

1 pigs, $$$

Asia De Cuba
8440 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069-1912
(323) 848-6000

Asia de Cuba on Urbanspoon
Asia de Cuba in Los Angeles

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

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