Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Taihei Japanese Restaurant


A lot of sushi restaurants are doing omakase dining these days, which is sushi based on the chef's choice. Sometimes it's not straight sushi either, as the chef could choose to serve some hot or cold appetizers as well. But omakase is the best thing to get because you get to experience cuts that the chef doesn't always serve or stores away specifically for these types of menus.

Most omakase can run over $100 per person, but Taihei Japanese Restaurant in Monterey Park is very good and very affordable. If you've never had omakase before, definitely try this restaurant out! You can get the menu at either the tables or the sushi bar, which is different from most other places that only serve omakase at the bar. Plus, it will only run you about $50 per person before tax and tip!

salmon, yellowtail belly, toro

hama hama oysters

ikura, uni, sweet shrimp

Spanish mackerel

tai snapper, striped bass, halibut

squid with shiso, octopus with salt and lemon

saltwater eel, freshwater eel

There was a final dish that was diner's choice of whatever was on the menu - clam soup, miso soup, tempuras, etc. They told me that it was included in the omakase but I have a sneaking suspicion that they just charge you for the price of the item - so you could choose something cheaper or pricier and you will just be charged accordingly. There's no way they gave my parents tempura and me an extra two pieces of toro (shown at the top picture) for the same price!

Taihei Japanese Restaurant
2195 S Garfield Ave, Monterey Park, CA 91754

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Kentro Greek Kitchen


If you ever find yourself in Downtown Fullerton (or DTF as some locals call it), do yourself a delicious favor and go to Kentro Greek Kitchen. The atmosphere in the area can be relatively bro-y and full of college kids at night ... so bypass the bars and settle yourself at Kentro instead. The atmosphere is relaxing and informal: you order at the cashier, pay and take your number to any table you wish and seat yourself. Food will be brought to you and if you order drinks, they will come refill them.

I came for lunch with a friend and we each ordered our own dishes, but ended up sampling off each other's plates. The picture up top are the patates lemonates - roasted lemon potatoes. They are delish.

psari tiganito - panfried fish, kalamboki (roasted corn, kefalotiri butter)

paithakia - lamb chops, tatziki, briami (baked seasonal vegetables, feta)

The portions are generous for the price and everything is fresh and well seasoned. I could not stop eating the corn that came with the fish, much to my friend's dismay. We were running on a tighter schedule than usual, but I'd definitely want to round up the meal with some baklava or Greek beignets and a nice latte. Beer and wine is also served, so this could be a nice casual date night restaurant as well - for those times where you want to be low key but also make an amazing impression.

Kentro Greek Kitchen
100 S Harbor Blvd, Suite A, Fullerton, CA 92832

Thursday, June 5, 2014

b.o.s.


b.o.s. is a new restaurant that's opened in Little Tokyo, in the same plaza as Men Oh Ramen, Sushi Gen and Frances Bakery. They've been open for about seven months and specialize in nose-to-tail beef dining and they have a lot of offal dishes on their menu, in addition to regular offerings. I dined there with a group of ladies for Girl's Night Out and we were able to order a lot of items. I was a bit squeamish about some of them, to be honest, but was pleasantly surprised!

love the silverware selections

tenderloin carpaccio - togarashi sea salt, lemon, arugula, parmesan cheese

sizzling thai tongue - thai aromatics, lime chili sauce

sweetbread tacos - salsa verde, pico de gallo, Sriracha sour cream, pickled radish

loaded fries with brisket - shiitake mushrooms, ginger sour cream, pickled vegetables

crispy curried calf brain - butternut squash puree, arugula gremolata, grape compote

roasted bone marrow - housemade furikake, 61-degree egg, sesame gochujang paste

braised veal cheek pasta - shiitake mushrooms, braising sauce, olive oil poached tomatoes, homemade pappardelle

uni and lobster pasta - Santa Barbara sea urchin, Maine lobster, caviar, homemade fettuccine

That was the end of the savory courses! I was very very pleased with everything that we ate, with the exception of the fries. Blasphemy, right? Though the brisket was tender, all the ingredients were dry and there wasn't enough ginger sour cream to tie everything together. It wasn't a brisket ragu, which would have more of a chili-consistency and coat all the fries.

Other than that, I was pleasantly surprised that the calf brain and sweetbreads were so well done. I've had sweetbreads before and didn't like them, so I was a bit apprehensive. The deep fry and coating of the offal definitely masked any weird tastes. Further, the tongue was thinly cut and thus, remarkably tender. And of course, I could never, ever resist homemade pasta. Loved it!

chocolate mousse, orange

vanilla panna cotta, Harry's berries

cheesecake, braised cherries

We then proceeded to order the entire dessert list. The mousse wasn't as good as I hoped it would be but it was a sweet way to end the night. The cheesecake had a whipped quality, which made it nice as it wasn't as dense.

The bill came out to be about $50/pp after tax and tip, which wasn't bad at all. Definitely give this place a try if you get a chance! If you call ahead of time, you can order an entire ox tail, whole fish or other kinds of family style meals, depending on what's available.

b.o.s.
424 E Second St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Playground Part II


If you're ever in Santa Ana playground in Santa Ana. The owners previously owned and operated The Lime Truck, which used to roam the streets of Orange County in the height of the food truck days. After winning The Great Food Truck Race in 2011, hosted by The Food Network, they were able to open their own brick and mortar restaurant in Downtown Santa Ana. I've gone previously for brunch, but this time it was for dinner.

The ordering concept is a bit confusing, as there is no hostess stand. You basically go in, find a table and sit down ... then wait for a waiter or waitress to notice you. Hopefully they've changed this concept since I've been there. But the tables are long and communal ... so make some friends!

prime 6oz hanger steak, heirloom tomato salad

baby beet salad, goat cheese, walnut, orange

buffalo pig tails

chicken fried duck confit, frisee, five spice vin, 62 degree egg

hand cut fries, green tabasco aioli, bacon fat powder

double cut bone-in pork chop, braised red cabbage

playground burger, torchon, tomme de savioe, maple bourbon onions, arugula, french vin

better than mom's thanksgiving dinner - turkey confit, cranberry maple, stuffing

creamless creamed corn, fresno chilies

handmade kabocha ravioli, sage, candied pistachios

quinn carrot cake

We had a large group with us, so we were basically able to order a lot of things on the menu. The hanger steak was fantastic (loved the big flakes of salt sprinkled over the top), as was the creamless creamed corn. The Thanksgiving dinner was amazing to me because, confit turkey?! Stuffing? The issue I have with turkey is that often the meat can end up being dry but that was definitely not the case here.

The only thing I didn't try were the baby beets because at the time, I had a huge aversion to them. Beets. Any and all beets. There's hope for me after all, because beets have recently been growing on me ... but ONLY the yellow ones. I'm weird.

playground DTSA
220 E Fourth St, #102, Santa Ana, CA 92701

Monday, March 31, 2014

Washington DC - Zaytinya


Judith's recommendation for dinner on my first night in Washington DC was to take me to Zaytinya. We both worked in her basement apartment all day (yea, I had to bring my laptop on vacation to work ... score) and then in the evening, ventured out for dinner.

Though José Andrés is famous for his molecular gastronomy dishes, Zaytinya did not incorporate any of those concepts into the dishes at this one restaurant. The concept is a combination of Greek, Turkish and Lebanese cuisine.


complimentary pita bread, olive oil


kibbeh nayeh - lebanese style beef tartare ground to order, bulgar wheat, radish, mint, pita chips


baba ghannouge - fire roasted eggplant, tahini, lemon, garlic


seasonal special - spring vegetables, artisinal feta


snail kibbeh - crispy potato crusted snails, baharat spiced labneh, heirloom lettuces


seasonal mushrooms - sauteed mushrooms, dates, toasted almonds, cumin


sea scallops - dill yogurt, sugar snap peas, radish


seasonal special - shredded lamb, puff pastry


greek yogurt and apricots - muscat soaked apricots, vanilla yogurt cream, apricot sorbet, pistachio powder


chocolate rose - rose ice cream, chocolate custard, spiced berry puree

It was a great meal. And all this food for two people ... that's me and Judith for you! I particularly loved the steak tartare, seared scallops and Greek yogurt dessert. And the lamb special (apparently I was on a huge lamb kick when I was in DC last year). Though it would have been cool to see some of his famous molecular gastronomy concepts with Greek food ... maybe as the restaurant develops in the future?

I'm going to leave you with more pictures of cherry blossoms, since they were so amazing and beautiful. Happy Spring! Hopefully the East Coast warms up soon ... it's been a brutal winter for them.







Zaytinya
701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001