Sunday, April 25, 2010


I've been eyeing this restaurant for months since I found out that Kogi's chef, Roy Choi, was opening a restaurant he described as Yoshinoya 5.0. He took over this location in a small strip mall on Overland and I begrudgingly waited a few weeks to make sure they'd worked out the kinks before heading in.

Last week I made it to this new spot and I was not disappointed! I expected a long line but when we arrived around 6 there were only a few people in front of us. It's not a place to sit and visit, though. We left promptly to fee up our table as there is only seating for about 30 people in there.

We ordered at the counter and headed back towards the kitchen to help ourselves to drinks from the cooler. When you order you receive a number and food is delivered to your table. We tried the 3PM Meatballs, fries, Prime Rib Rice Bowl and Pork Belly Rice Bowl.

The meatballs were very flavorful, with sesame and green onion, served over a polenta cake. The fries were out of control, topped with lots of cheese and a spicy sour cream. They were messy and delicious. My bowl combined chili-rubbed prime rib, with fried egg, water spinach, creamed horseradish and fried shallots. It wasn't too spicy for me but this place has a reputation for lots of spice. The flavors were great with 4-5 strips of prime rib. The pork belly bowl took the cake, though. My friend ordered it on the mild side but it was bursting with flavor from a 12 time glaze.

The food is heavy, for sure, and would be a great hangover cure. They have no wine/beer but the Korean and Mexican specialties will give you plenty of unique options to accompany one of Chef Choi's delicious concoctions.

M. Cafe de Chaya, Culver City

This week I hit M. Cafe de Chaya in Culver City. I'd always been a bit intimidated and sort of turned off by the all Macrobiotic menu but this place blew me away. The deli case allows you to see what is available and the employees are quick to offer samples. The salads change with the season and my friend was crushed that they didn't have the wasabi salad. This mix of wasabi and sweet potatoes will return in the fall so I'll have to check it out.

We each had salad combos and had leftovers. The dishes were great and very filling. The Kale with Spicy Peanut Dressing was my favorite, it was very flavorful and not overly spicy at all. The Dilled Organic Tofu Salad tasted like egg salad, very good. The Scarlet Quinoa salad was good, but not amazing, beets died the quinoa red but it was missing something. The Curried Tempeh Salad blew us away. I don't know how or why but it tasted like bacon, it had the perfect amount of crunch, there were raisins somewhere in there but you didn't taste individual elements that much, just the taste that these different ingredients created together. Outstanding!

M. Cafe in Culver City had great outdoor seating with heaters and a very friendly staff.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Worldfare Truck

The Worldfare Truck was at The Brewery Artwalk. I had heard about this truck which boasts a place to eat upstairs on top of the truck. Truth be told, there's no seating, but a nice counter lining the perimeter of the open roof where you can hang out in the shade of umbrellas or dine in the sun and enjoy the view below.

The man component of the menu are the bunnies. Tiny popover-ish rolls stuffed with curry chicken, bbq pork, short ribs or veggie chili. I tried the sampler, which was all 4 fillings on top of slices of yellow pepper. All 4 were amazing! The curry had chick peas, cashews and golden raisins in the mix. The pulled pork and short ribs had amazing flavor and the perfect texture and the chili had a nice spicy kick. I also shared some truffled mac and cheese balls. Do I really need to tell you how delicious they were? They are truffled mac and cheese balls. De-lish. Follow the bus on twitter or check out the site to see where they're parked today!

Brewery Art Walk and San Antonio Winery

Today was a great downtown L.A. day. We started at the San Antonio Winery. This L.A. landmark has been around since 1917 and was packed on a Sunday afternoon. Although you can't tell from the website, everyone gets 3 tastings free of charge. You can also upgrade and get their reserve collection, 4 wines for $10. They have a large restaurant on site and several banquet rooms. The restaurant is cafeteria style and they had simple sandwiches as well as full entrees. It was very crowded while we were there between 2:30 and 3. We took the tour that is offered every hour on the hour. The guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. It was interesting to learn that they were the only winery in Los Angeles to survive prohibition and that it is still family run. I've been to several vineyards but this tour was unique because it is more about the business end; they make wine for other vineyards, provide many churches with communion wine and all wine that's bottled in Los Angeles is bottled there. Definitely worth a visit.

After that we headed to The Brewery Artwalk. This is a twice-yearly event just a half mile from the winery. The Brewery is a 22 building colony in which 500 artists have studios. This weekend all of the studios were open. There were so many different types of artists at this event. Most live in the spaces too so you were able to see many different styles. All were very welcoming and happy to talk about their work. We spent about 2 and a half hours and saw about 2/3 of the studios. It was a great free event.

Fraiche Restaurant, Culver City

Fraiche never disappoints. We go every chance we get and the quality is exceptional. Last night we made a vow to order new things as we have our favorites and don't often stray.

Salads - Our repeat was the baby beet salad, it is served on a bed of house made ricotta with hazelnuts and mache lettuce. Our other salad was the cured branzino served with arugula and oranges with a citrus dressing. The salty fish and sweet dressing were a perfect match.

Entrees - I had a new item on their menu, Short Rib Agnolotti in truffle butter. It just melted in my mouth. The textures and flavors were amazing. My husband had my usual, the tortelli stuffed with four cheeses and served with thyme and hazelnuts. It was perfect as usual.

Dessert- Tonight we tried the marscapone cheesecake. It's served with blueberry sorbet which tastes like frozen blueberry pie filling. So delicious. There are also mangoes, blueberries and a perfectly sweet and tangy mango sauce. Graham cracker streusel added the perfect crunch.

Other recommendations- Their summer menu usually has a francoboli, which means postage stamp in Italian. It's an amazing ravioli stuffed with corn and ricotta cheese. Their pumpkin soup in the fall/winter is also out of this world. Hearing the chef talk about it on Good Food on KCRW is what first inspired me to visit the restaurant.

Prices - Salads/Apps all hover around $15, Entrees range from mid $20's and pastas are all $15-20. Last night we had 2 salads, 2 pastas, 2 glasses of wine, 1 dessert and the bill was $99 before tip.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Palos Verdes Peninsula

We had a lovely day full of free events on the Palos Verdes Peninsula today. We started out at the South Coast Botanical Gardens which had their 50th Anniversary Open House. It was absolutely beautiful. There was a Garden of Senses that invites you to touch and smell different herbs and flowers, a large cactus garden and a gorgeous, huge rose garden. A great place for a photog or a picnic in a relaxing, beautiful environment.

Next, we headed to the Wayfarer's Chapel. The drive there was gorgeous, past grand homes in Palos Verdes Estates and then along the coast. Don't let the first sign on the west side of the street fool you, the actual chapel is further down on the east side of the street. The chapel is made by Lloyd Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright's son, and is completely made of glass so you feel as if you're outside. The ladies at the gift shop were super helpful, too. A great spot to check out.

The aforementioned helpful gift shop ladies then sent us to the Point Fermin Lighthouse. We missed the tours that stop at 4, but we were able to enjoy the ocean views from the park around the lighthouse. It's a nice point to watch the cruise ships that head out of Long Beach. There are picnic tables, grills and a playground. We'll have to go back for the tour.

Across the street was the Korean Bell of Friendship. I'd recommend walking up Gaffey to get there. We followed a group over a fence and up a steep hill which was fairly difficult, especially in flip flops. The bell was quite beautiful and surrounded by a pagoda. The location, on top of a hill, offers gorgeous views and lots of wind for many kite fliers.

Grilled Cheese Invitational - April 24

Yesterday I volunteered at the Grilled Cheese Invitational. The event was divided into 3 main sections. The first was for he main sponsor, Tillamook. They gave out complimentary grilled cheese sandwiches, cheese samples and coupons. They couldn't have been friendlier and had plenty of buttons and photo ops. Izze soda provided soda samples, too.

The next section had several trucks and other vendors. This included 2 grilled cheese trucks, the World Fare truck, Borders truck and vendors like Campanile. Only two trucks mattered here, The Grilled Cheese Trucks, they are the same owners and lines were crazy long for favorites like Cheesy Mac and Rib which included sharp cheese, bbq pork and caramelized onions.

The absolute place to be here, though, was the grill! When you buy your tickets, be sure to sign up to be a judge. As a judge you get access to the grill area where the competition takes place. There are 4 rounds of competition and both pro and amateur competitors. Basically judges line up behind a barrier and every time a competitor completes a sandwich they divide it in 4 and pass out their product with a ballot to judge the components of the sandwich. Each round is about 30 minutes so you have plenty of time to sample many sandwiches.

From what I hear, the event has been madness in years passed but this year was smooth sailing. Keep an eye out for next year's event. They seem to have found their stride and things will just get better and better.