Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Yesterday, my daughter's basketball team had their third and final game for the all-weekend Tiger Youth Basketball Tournament in Montebello. They were 0-3, oh well. Afterwards, we went with some of the families to get a bite to eat. One of the father's, Eric, was born and raised in Alhambra (very close to Montebello) and they escorted us to Noodle World, 700 West Valley Blvd., Alhambra CA 91801, 626-293-8800. What a funny place. First of all, if you've never ventured into the Alhambra area to eat, it's a great adventure into what has become a huge Asian-market. Just find Valley Blvd. and drive up and down. The Asian demo is off the chart here. Noodle World, once upon a time, was a Bob's Big Boy and they incorporated the fiberglass statue of Big Boy into their decor (Yes, that's correct!). It's pretty wild to see it installed on the east wall. They have fat noodles, Pho, Chow mein, and as you can imagine, most Asian noodle dishes. It's really fun, big and colorful inside. My favorite was the Mango Smoothie. It was so delicious. I highly recommend it. Oh yes, naturally, they have Boba as well.
Shakas has two locations. We went to the one at 2300 Garfield Avenue, Montebello CA 91754 323-888-2695. I've been there before and really liked the family atmosphere, as all Hawaiian food places should be. First of all, I am a sucker for Lau Lau (spinach, chunks of pork and butterfish stemed in a taro leaf). As a child, my Aunt Jeannie, who was born and raised in Hawaii, always had frozen Lau Laus from Hawaii or a local fundraiser for me in her freezer. When I went over, I'd be on the counter eating my Lau Lau while all the other kids were playing outside. I can't say I can eat those everyday as it's basically Hawaiian soul food and full of grease, fat and carbs. Pretty bad for my cholesterol but this weekend, I went to Shakas twice and ate them two days in a row. They also have traditional Hawaiian comfort foods like Spam musubi, Lomi Lomi Salmon and Saimin. I love the fact that they also have the Hawaiian sodas and shave ice. Check out the Spam window ala Warhol. (very nice)
Recently, a local law was past restricting catering trucks to one hour parking. Evidently too many restaurants complained that these meals-on-wheels have been parking too close to their places and stealing customers. I heard this great report on the radio with Jonathan Gold about his love for taco-trucks. All this inspired me to order some tacos Saturday afternoon. I found one near my house on Pico Blvd. near Arlington, parked in front of the Arlington Church which is now the Ethiopian Church. The truck was clean as heck. Peaking in the interior, I saw a really well designed kitchen area. It was definitely a custom job. They placed plastic chairs against the chain link fence for customers to eat on site. I ordered two Carne Asada and two Al Pastor tacos. Yummmmm! While they were making them, I noticed a hand written sign that said "NOPALES" (cactus). The asked if I liked Nopales and of course I said I love Nopales, could you put some in the tacos. They said yes and didn't even charge me for it. AWESOME!!!
Lucy's, 5526 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood CA 323-462-9421 is across the street from the famous Paramount Studios. I was first introduced to this place by local resident and artist Dana Liston. The owner is good friends with former Governor Jerry Brown. Later he became Mayor of Oakland. Although he's done much good as a political leader, I know him most as the Governor who dated singer Linda Rondstant. How cool is that? There are many framed photos of celebrities on the walls. I love the combination of Sheriff Lee Baca and Ricardo Montalban. The food? So-so Mexican Food but great drinks.
I wasn't impressed with this place. It's main dish is a little $11 falafel-like taco with what may be organic ingredients. There's little info on the menu and they wouldn't give me a business card or take home menu. The salads are $9 and barely fill the little bowl it comes in. This meal reminded me of the fact that your stomach is about the size of your fist and you really only need that amount of food for a meal. This place takes that medical fact to the tee. The people didn't seem genuine to me either. What a bad thing to say about servers but it felt like they were a little patronizing to us. As if their tiny falafel taco was something normally served to the queen and king and for that day only we peasants were given the honor of indulging in it. It was an odd and weired experience for me and artist Mark Walsh. This place is on Sunset in Echo Park. This is the kind of place that gives gentrification it's chagrin.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
La Playita, 3306 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica CA 90405, 310-452-0090. When I worked at SPARC in the early 90's, we used to go here for lunch. The food is fresh and it's fun to top the meats and salsa's onto the crunchy tortillas; fresh avocados and cilantro make for a fun and inexpensive lunch. Yesterday, I ordered a camaron (shrimp) and Jaiba (crab). It was so good. I ate it in my car. The crab was imitation crab. They also have octopus and abalone. It's almost like a cervice dip?
Monday, May 12, 2008
I wonder if I covered this already? Italy's Little Kitchen is located at 8516 Lincoln Blvd @ Manchester in Westchester not too far from Otis Art Institute and our favorite night golfing, Westchester Golf. Meg ordered the egg plant and pasta dish and I had the spinach ravioli. I really enjoyed the raviloi. Homemade pasta with rich cheese and spinach with a hint of what was perhaps horseraddish. it was awesome. I was full 3/4 of the way through but it was so good I kept eating. We both had some white wine. Meg had the Chardonnay and I had ????, I forgot what it was. I can't drink anymore. I don't think it's a good idea for me to drink alchohol anymore. The sugar level is rough on my border line diabetic condition and the alchohol makes it difficult to sleep which may mean it wacks my liver or kidney. Eating pasta without wine is rough, though. What a dilemna.
Friday, May 9, 2008
I have a odd relationship with Mexican refried beans. For some reason, when I am sick, I crave bean and cheese burritos. I don't know how that happened or when it started. I suppose it's comfort food for anyone who grew up in Southern CA. I could stock up on the frozen burritos and pop them in the oven or microwave and feed a cold. Being Japanese American, I also have that part of my Jungian brainwave that sees beans as a confectionery only as well but not so much when I eat Mexican food. I get it more with black beans. Anyway, I was sick yesterday, so on my way back home from dropping the kids off at school, I stopped by Campos, 10352 Venice Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232-3338,(310) 836-2680 and got me a bean and cheese burrito. It was great, easy and filling. The great thing about Campos, is it still has velvet paintings. How cool is that. The food and the paintings are authentic!
Friday, May 2, 2008
Guess what I found today? My friend and I went shopping in the Garment District at noon. The shop we went to was on the 9th floor of a building on Los Angeles St. On the first floor, while waiting for the elevator, a food counter down the hall way caught my eye. OJ Coffee Shop is at 719 Los Angeles Street. LA CA 90014, 213-622-2552. It was some of the best Mexican food I had in a long time. Homemade tortilla, spicy salsa, agua de mango, roasted chicken, it was an amazing homemade heaven. They've been in this hallway for 20 years. Who knew? I am so going back!
Last night before my daughters basketball practice, we stopped at Norms at 11001 Pico Blvd LA CA 90064, 310-479-2978. The exterior looked so cool and retro, it called out to me for dinner. Well, it was pretty low-tech cuisine. My salad was crisp but really unimaginative. All the condiments were in greasy containers for some reason. My Tilapia was bland but the mash potatoes were nostalgic. It reminded me of the TV dinners my brother and I grew up with. The interior is not as cool as the exterior. It's a little drab and sad. Not many redeeming factors here. Oh well. My daughter took some cool pix. Her's are the water and the table view.