Monday, April 30, 2012

Rocket Pizza in Downtown LA

I absolutely thought this was already on my blog. I really like Rocket Pizza, 122 W. 4th St LA CA 213-687-4992. Their crust is outstanding. It's like someone taking Rye Krisp and making it warm and soft in the inside. Crunchy outer crust and the toppings are so fresh and delicious. It's a great and consistent pizza experience. They apparently have a great draft beer selection as well. Today, I got two cheese slices, a small arugula salad and a root beer. I highly recommend this place and just around the corner are art galleries, cool bookstore(s), dessert chops and coffee places.

Newport Seafood in San Gabriel

I was at Noel Korten and Sheila Schoonhoven's for dinner a while ago and was introduced to a fellow foodie. He was a retired violinist of the LA Philharmonic. Forgive me but I did not write his name down. He said one of his favorite seafood places was in San Gabriel. Newport Seafood is located at 518 W. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel CA 91726, 626-289-5998. My daughters basketball game at Alhambra HS, which they won with confidence, ended at 11:00 AM so by the time we left the school it was lunch time and I wanted to take advantage of our proximity to Newport Seafood so off we went and bypassed the snacks the team moms had waiting for the players. Sorry about that. We got there about 15 min before it opened at 11AM and their was already a line. (NICE!) We were seated immediately, once the doors opened and decided to share an order of the seafood and fried noodles as well as a
plate of the shrimp and vegetables. The lunch menu is very VERY affordable. The quantity is huge but most importantly, the seafood is deliciously fresh and tender. The sauces used are not dense and over-powering, which so many places have a tendency to do. Instead, Newport is generous with the sauces but they are subtle to support the actual taste of the seafood and vegetables. I really appreciated that. We got home in time for the second half of the Lakers vs Nuggets game. It was a great afternoon.

Con Sabor near USC

I've been to this site before, many times but it was more of a Mexican food place now it's advertised more as an El Salvadorian place or maybe I just didn't notice it was a El Salvadorian Placer and kept ordering the tacos. I am not clear on this. Anyway, we finished the opening of the new Metro Expo Line Saturday. I was "stationed" at the Expo Park/ USC Station. On my way home after a long day of supporting the activities at our big celebration, and over the phone, my daughter asked if I was near a Chipotle. I said no but if it's a burrito she wants, I know a good place. Con Sabor is located at 2212 Union Ave LA CA 90007, 213-748-1727. I ordered two papusas. One garlic and cheese that was outstanding! I mean the garlic came in chunky slices and was overwhelming in more ways than one. The other was a plain cheese and beans. The Cola Champagne was delicious and I finished it waiting for my order at the shop. My daughter seemed to enjoy the burrito. She ate half of it for lunch and the other half for dinner the next night.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Handsome Coffee Roasters in Downtown LA

What a funny place to have a coffee shop but guess what, it was packed when I went this afternoon. There's a great vibe there and the staff were super nice. Yesterday, I was at Balconi and Ray served this jubilant coffee called "Burundi Kayanza Gatare Lot II", roasted by Handsome Coffee Roasters. This coffee was fruit-packed with wacky dancing hues and had a number of levels or voyages. It was a party of a coffee and woke up more sections of my taste buds than I am used to coffee waking up. So, of course, today, I just had to go to Handsome Coffee Roasters, 582 Mateo St., LA CA 90013, 213-621-4194. The exterior is like an old school cafe with open windows and an outdoor seating area. The lettering is retro but reductive. Inside is a warm but not dark interior design of glass, copper, concrete, gray tile and cool details. I especially like these Prohibition looking lamps they have, kind of industrial but institutional. They also have the amazing roasting machine which you can find out more about on their website. I ordered a cup of their "Rutsiro" roast. Not unlike the Gatare, this coffee had a fruity glow with a deep roast dive. I kept smelling this amazing richness of colors. Unfortunately, I also ordered a chocolate chip cookie from Atwater-based Proof, which was fantastic but too much with the coffee. I realized this quickly so I put the coffee down, finished the cookie, drank water to extinguish most of the cookie's aftershock and then continued drinking the coffee. But, I'll tell you, that was a decadent pairing and I am probably going to pay for it tonight. Most of all, what a wonderful place. It's definitely my fav on this side of town. Yay to new favs!!!!

CO Opportunity Natural Food in Santa Monica

On the west side, there are these side streets like Montana and Broadway. Not quite Wilshire or Olympic but there's a lot of cool places if you venture along them. Yesterday, I went for the first time to CO Opportunity Natural Food, 1525 Broadway, Santa Monica CA 90404, 310-451-8902. At first glance, it looks like a market and it is but it's a co-op so there are all of these cool differences about it like membership with benefits and a above average prepared food area. I got some chicken stew and tofu salad for dinner. It was wonderful and uplifting. I didn't have much time so I didn't venture through the market, which I will sometime soon.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Jiro Dreams of Sushi, the film

Finally, the movie is out!!! I've been waiting for this one. "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" is about the Japanese National Treasure, Jiro Ono. Found out it was out yesterday. It's playing at the Landmark on the Westside. So, I saw it this afternoon. This is a phenomenal film about the mind set and dedication of a sushi master. The film work is superb and the interviews are endearing, honest, funny and poetic. There's a lot of Phillip Glass music in it but not the heavy Mishima type but more with the breath of Glasswork. If you get a chance, I highly recommend this film.

Urbano Pizza Bar in Downtown LA

Our Friday Lunch Bike Group at work picked Urbano Pizza Bar at the corner of 6th and Hope, 213-614-1900, yesterday. I asked the server what he would recommend. He had three pizza favs and out of his 3, I chose the Fennel pizza, which was really wonderful and perfectly not heavy but filling. The artichoke, goat cheese and fennel was harmoniously delicious. I ordered a sugar cane cola that was perfect. We sat outside so that we could stay close to our bikes. I really like the pewter looking chairs they have out there. They also have a homemade cookie ice cream sammie. I am going back soon to check that out sometime soon.

El Sol Mexican Food in Boyle Heights

Perhaps the best or second best torta I ever had. I ordered an Al Pastor. The chips come with salsa and beans (NICE!!!). El Sol is located at 1949 East 1st St LA CA 90033, 323-261-4524. It's also a bakery and we bought a little bag of pan dulce for about $1...what? $1? I went with my co-worker Noam Maitless and he ordered an Al Pastor Burrito. Back to the torta. The beans, al pastor, vegetables and spices are just amazing and the bread was awesome, so fresh. It makes sense that a bakery would have great tortas.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Urban Noodles in Downtown LA






For lunch, it was a solo trip using the red Line to Pershing and a walk down 4th Street. I had been meaning to enter Urban Noodles on my blog but it just kept being postponed. Urban Noodles is partly co-owned by the Tai Sisters. Once evident when you get your first appetizer is that the noodles are made from scratch. That's fairly rare in LA. Today, I ordered the Steamed Pork Dumplings and the Singapore Rice Noodles. I also ordered an Arnold Palmer. I need to go back soon after work. They have some really unique beers I'd like to try and also Yebisu, my favorite Japanese beer. The steamed pork dumplings have a thick but soft dumpling shell that's translucent. It comes with a chili sauce and soy sauce that seems to have some fish oil in it. It was delicious and although there are only 3, it's a perfect number for an appetizer. The Singapore Rice Noodles are filled with homemade rice noodles, BBQ pork, a generous portion of shrimp, vegetables, egg and curry sauce. I love the glass noodles that are angel thin and have a almost crispy surface but a tender and tasty body. Mixed with the curry sauce, it's really wonderful. Unfortunately, Ada said today that they will be moving to the Figueroa area of Downtown and will be closing this shop the end of this month. Looking forward to the new locations.

Monday, April 16, 2012

626 Asian Night Market in Pasadena




I got an email marketing the 626 Asian Night Market in Pasadena, (Union and Oakland on April 14, 2012). I've seen little posters around and even heard it announced on the radio. The funny thing about marketing, especially if it's the first event, is even when it's done well, you don't know how many people are going to show up so you try your best, trying to create a buzz. Once in a while, the buzz grows into a very large hum and once in a blue moon, that hum turns into a hurricane. That's what this was, a hurricane. You see it coming only when it's too late, really. On one hand, yes, poorly conceived and planned but on the other hand, a highly successful marketing campaign. It was one side-street block worth of tents selling stuff you would see at a mini-mall in San Gabriel and a parking lot, half the length of that block with one long row of tents with food. I can't tell you what kind of food they were selling. It might of been amazing or it might not have been. I have no idea because to get there was impossible without committing to an hour of walking shoulder to shoulder very-very-very slowly. In fact, while I was there, a woman fell and hit her head somehow. She had this welt that looked like a softball was under the skin of her forehead, stitching and all. The ambulance staff with their gurney, took a long time to get from the road to where she was because they had to navigate through the incredible ocean of people all thinking the same thing, "how do i get out of here". I'm posting this partly to warn you if they try to do this again. OK, part of me wants to give them a 2nd chance. There's always room for improvement, etc. but clearly, these folks had no idea what they were doing. I don't even think they even understand what an "Asian Market" means; incredible international cultures and environments. Instead, you're better off going to Chinatown, San Gabriel, Little Saigon, Philippine Town, Thai Town, Little Tokyo, Sawtelle/Olympic or the various neighborhoods in Koreatown. Collectively, we have this already. It was obviously overly ambitious of the events organizers and utopic of us the patrons to think they could create something close to what's taken over a century for LA to create.

EK Valley Restaurant in Culver City




I was on a project with photographer Bill Short last week. We arranged lunch. I arranged to meet in Culver City and together we would find a restaurant we hadn't been to yet. We chose EK Valley Restaurant, 6121 Washington Blvd, Culver City CA 90232, 310-838-6839. BINGO!!!! This is a find and very affordable. I ordered the mole enchilada and Bill got the taquitos. Homemade and awesome. The refried beans reminded me of my friends Tia's beans. This is a memory from 1981, so you know those were awesome refried beans.

Cucina Ristica in Downtown LA






Cucina Rustica, 888 Wilshire Blvd LA CA 90017, 213-988-8880, has the funniest exterior wall. The west facing wall has several rows, in a scattered design, of planters. It's a very Home Depot aesthetic, although trying really hard to be Spanish Revival. I had to try this place although I couldn't find anyone who had been there before. I think this was an omen. I ordered the Penne Marsala (with chicken), a tiramisu and coffee. The server, a cute and very young girl, seemed very confident and sassy. She couldn't recommended any of the dishes when asked, what's popular? Omen #2. The dishes visually looked great but they lacked depth, flavor and richness. I tried to find redemption by ordering the tiramisu, which the server said was her favorite. She also said they made it there. It was dry. I went with co-workers and we were all dismissive of what we ordered. "So-so, it was so-so."