Category Archives: Eating Out
The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival is by far one of the best food events I’ve ever attended. Not only did I get to enjoy Hawaii’s best cuisine (prepared by world-renowened chefs), but I also got to soak up some major island culture (surfing, art, local joints!) as well.
If you’re a food lover planning a trip to Hawaii in September (2013), check out all the festival has to offer here. And do NOT miss the Saturday morning farmer’s market at Kapiolani Community College! (Links & Details Below)
Photos below from the 2012 Hawaii Food & Wine Festival:
Enter the MODERN Dragon: Morimoto & Friends (9/6/12):
In Chinese Astrology, 2012 is the year of the Dragon – the most powerful and auspicious of the 12 animal signs, bringing high energy and prosperity. Led by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, “Enter the MODERN Dragon” showcased foods prepared by twelve of the most esteemed international chefs from Asia and the Pacific.
Walking into the event at the Modern.
Ming and Morimoto at the “Mix with the Masters” event. Food demos, talks and lunch! (9/7/12)
Dinner at Miso and Ale was a terrific finale to my Honolulu visit! My favorite bite was the braised short rib w Okinawa purple potato!
Surfing lessons… by Honolulu Firefighters!
Need a quick bite before surfing? Spam Musubi! Fort Ruger Market, Oahu
2013 Hawaii Food and Wine Festival is September 1-8!
Many thanks to the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau www.gohawaii.com, Oahu Visitors Bureau www.visit-oahu.com, and Hawaii Food & Wine Festival www.hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com for inviting and hosting me on this trip.
When I was twenty-two years old, I had the ridiculous pleasure of living in the Caribbean for a few months. It was 1986 and my then-boyfriend Perry (a newly licensed pilot) scored a winter job flying for Air St. Thomas / Virgin Air (no connection to Sir Richard Branson). The small island-hopping airline was based in the U.S. Virgin Islands on St. Thomas, so we made our home above the hills in the capital city of Charlotte Amalie.
Always a photo buff, I spent most of my time photographing and getting to know the island. I loved pretending to be a “local” for those few months, and on Perry’s days off we would rent a small boat and head to the nearby British Virgin Islands.
Our favorite spot was Sidney’s Peace and Love in Jost Van Dyke Island’s Little Harbor, just 7 miles northeast of St. Thomas. Once docked, I would pick out a live lobster from a trap near the shore and the cook would grill it on the spot. Perry always ordered barbecue chicken (he didn’t like seafood) and we BOTH drank heaps of rum at the attached open-air bar. It was “serve yourself” at Sidney’s, and also “total the bill” yourself if you weren’t too drunk. An honor system that you just didn’t mess with in the Caribbean.
My favorite shop on St. Thomas was called Sunny Caribbee, where I picked up island spices, oils and trinkets for the kitchen. There was an elementary school nearby and I loved listening to the students pounding on steel drums in the afternoons.
We left the Caribbean when Perry was offered a job with United Express, the commuter division of United Airlines. He now lives with his wife and kids near San Diego. (More about Perry here)
Walking into Roy Choi’s Sunny Spot for the first time made me smile from ear to ear. I flashed back to 1986 and was suddenly transported to my carefree, twenty-two year old, vagabond self.
After several visits (including dinner and brunch) I still get that happy feeling when I walk in the door. It’s a mini-holiday, a few hours of vacation. A delicious and less expensive trip to the sunny Caribbean, that’s for sure.
Left: Fleur-De-Lis: Gin, Hibiscus, Honey, Chartreuse, Lemon
Middle: Death in the D.R.: Dominican Rum, Lime, Honey, Absinthe, Champagne
Right: Dry Harbour: Pot Still Rum, Lime, Absinthe, Habanero Pineapple Shrub
822 Washington Blvd
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
Downtown L.A.’s Mexicali Taco is open for lunch and dinner, but I’m a big fan of the lunch deals. For WAY under $10, I get a garlicky vampiro (photos below), taco and drink. The crispy cachetada is a GREAT hangover meal, on it’s own or with a fried egg on top. Trust me, I’ve tested it out!
Jonathan Gold wrote:
But like everybody else who visits Mexicali Taco & Co., I am obsessed with the vampiros, rather larger flour tortillas folded over chorizo, chicken or carne asada, maybe all three, as well as a squirt or two of garlic sauce and what can technically be described as a boatload of gooey, stretchy melted Mexican cheese. (A vampiro is supposedly a creature of Sinaloa, although I’ve seen them in Guadalajara and they are apparently endemic in northern Baja at the moment. I refuse to take sides.) Think of a CPK-size pizza folded in half, only a million times better. A folded pizza you can have with giant grilled guero chiles — chiles dusted with dried chiles! — if such is your pleasure. Or really, about a pint of that taqueria guacamole. ~ Read more at L.A. Times
Make sure you wave hello to founders Esdras Ochoa & Javier Fregoso!
Mexicali Taco & Co.
702 N. Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 613-0416
Located one block north of Sunset Blvd/Cesar Chavez Blvd, just north of downtown and west of Chinatown.
I don’t know about you, but my restaurant “to do” lists (yes, plural) are enormous. I keep various copies (sorted by location & cuisine) on my phone and desktop computer, just to remind myself that I need to venture out of my comfort zone more often. I know there’s nothing wrong with me going back to my favorite restaurants again and again, but one of the reasons I love Los Angeles so much is the availability of authentic, ethnic foods.
My go-to food critic is Jonathan Gold (L.A. Times), so it’s not surprising that he’s the source for most of the restaurants I add to my lists. When Jonathan wrote for L.A. Weekly, his “99 Essential Restaurants” guide was my foodie bible, and the only paper issue I regularly saved. Many of my food blogger (and twitter) pals come from diverse culinary backgrounds and I constantly learn about exciting (mostly strip mall) joints from them as well.
Obviously there are many wonderful places to eat in Southern California, and I cannot count how many times someone has blurted out, “WHAT? You haven’t been to (insert Sawtelle ramen house, newest pizza parlor, or a thousand other restaurants here)?”…
The simple fact is that I will never get through my restaurant lists, and that’s fine by me. It’s more fun knowing that I can plan a tasty adventure with friends anytime I’m craving it.
Photos below from:
Chung King Sichuan, Wang Xing Ji, Elite Dim Sum (Chinese)
Cafe Fusion (Taiwanese)
“Chung King’s brand of Sichuan cooking, sizzling with four or five kinds of chiles and smacked with the cooling, numbing sensation of Sichuan peppercorns, lies halfway between dentist’s-chair Novocain and the last time you could afford a lot of blow.” ~ Jonathan Gold
Please read Jonathan Gold’s review of Chung King
Chinese Bacon w Garlic Sprouts at Chung King. More photos on Flickr
“The first American branch of a popular dumpling house in Wuxi, a city just outside of Shanghai, offers giant pork dumplings bursting with flavor, as well as smoked fish, crab and pork buns, and spare ribs” ~ Jonathan Gold (Read full article)
My friend Hanh going for the HUGE Juicy Pork & Crab Bun at Wang Xing Ji. More photos on Flickr
Check out 10 Best Dim Sum Restaurant in Los Angeles by Clarissa Wei
Deep Fried Dumpling with Minced Pork at Elite. More photos on Flickr
Cafe Fusion Taiwanese Cuisine (Arcadia)
Meal shared with owner Arthur Chen & Eddie
Note: This meal was graciously hosted by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles. Many thanks to Amy Wang & TK Lee!
Steamed Whole Black Cod w/ Taiwanese Tree Seeds. More photos on Flickr
Chung King Sichuan
1000 S. San Gabriel Blvd.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Wang Xing Ji
140 Valley Blvd., No. 211 (upstairs)
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Elite Restaurant Website
700 S Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Ramayani Indonesian Website
1777 Westwood Blvd
Los Angeles , CA . 90024
(310) 477 3315
Cafe Fusion Taiwanese Cuisine
510 E Live Oak Ave., Arcadia, CA 91006
Back in January I was honored to host a wonderful Wild Game dinner by Chris Crary, the Chef de Cusine at Whist Restaurant in Santa Monica. Recently, I returned to taste (gratis) the current menu offered by Executive Chef Tony DiSalvo (Jean Georges, Gramercy Tavern).
Like most of my friends (and family), I’m a big fan of small bites and sharing plates … ESPECIALLY in such a beautiful, relaxing (yet elegant) location.
My brother Greg (who recently moved here from Scotland) joined me for the incredible dinner and we so enjoyed spending some quality brother/sister time together. Needless to say, there was plenty of eye-rolling (it was so good!) and laughing at our table. Just sitting in the beautiful, outdoor dining room… we both appreciated every bit (and bite) of the Whist experience.
NOTE: A new menu will be available after July 9th (some new items have already been added), so go SOON to taste dishes below!
Viceroy Hotel, Santa Monica
1819 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Dining Date: 6/19/12
Many thanks to Tony DiSalvo and Chris Crary!
I thought Josef Centeno’s Bäco Mercat (in downtown L.A.) was simply a sandwich and soda shop.
I was SO very wrong…
Of course we begin with the Bäco flatbread sandwich: Pork Belly, Beef Carnitas, Salbitxada (Catalan sauce of tomatoes, almonds and garlic). Peter and I first tried Chef Centeno’s Bäco when he opened the Lazy Ox Canteen in Little Tokyo.
Bäco Mercat is the home of the “bäco,” the signature flatbread sandwich that was developed by chef Josef Centeno. The original bäco was the crispy pork belly and beef carnitas with caraway pepper. Since then, the bäco bread has taken center stage and works as a vessel for all things delicious: pork, beef, poultry, seafood and vegetables. (more on the website)
Please read Jonathan Gold’s Bäco review at L.A. Weekly
408 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Follow @BacoMercat on twitter
Ricardo Zarate, one of my favorite chefs (Picca Peru) officially opens his new Mo-chica restaurant in downtown L.A. tomorrow, May 30th. Peter and I were invited to check out the new space and menu at a “friends and family” preview dinner, where we both tried ALPACA (photos below) for the first time!
The official grand opening includes a street artist, ribbon cutting and Peruvian dancers.
Schedule of Events at Mo-chica 5/30/12:
9AM: Local street artist Robert Vargas tags the windows
11AM: Official ribbon cutting with Ricardo, local artists, city officials (open to the public)
11:30a-3:30p Open for Lunch
5:00p Step-and-repeat photos (open to the public)
5:30-10:30p Open for Dinner
6PM: Dancers and musicians begin their night-long performances
Address is 514 W. 7th Street (@ Grand), Los Angeles, CA 90014
My photos from the preview dinner:
Estofado de Alpaca: Alpaca stew, tagliatelle, aji amarillo sauce, fried organic fertile egg. (I thought for sure the alpaca would be strong and gamey, but it was exactly the opposite! Very light, reminded me of veal.)
Dogfather (front) aka Pisco Sour: Pisco, egg white, fresh lime & lemon juice, cane syrup sugar, angostura bitter. Papa Don’t Peach: Banks Rum, Fresh Peaches infused w Calvados, Peach Bitters, Simple Syrup, fresh lemon juice.
Mo-chica is a vibrant, urban restaurant serving Chef Ricardo Zarate’s modern interpretations on traditional Peruvian comfort food.
Originally built in an unassuming food court in downtown Los Angeles, the restaurant’s humble setting proved a stark contrast for the innovative cuisine served. Chef Ricardo Zarate, a good-humored Lima native who trained at some of London’s most celebrated restaurants for 12 years, opened Mo-chica in the summer of 2009 as his first solo endeavor. The restaurant immediately received recognition from both local and national audiences, including Jonathan Gold and the head honchos at Food & Wine. After opening Picca in 2011 and fueled by the unprecedented momentum of the restaurants’ successes, Zarate resurfaced his dream for Mo-chica—one he wasn’t able to fully materialize with the original location due to limited resources. The chef found a larger space downtown on 7th and Grand that could embody his original vision; the open, industrial-esque restaurant features concrete floors, vibrant-hued walls tagged with graffiti (thanks to local artist Kozem), whimsical touches—including Peruvian figurines customized by some of the city’s culinary tastemakers such as Ludo Lefebvre, Nancy Silverton, and Evan Kleiman—and sneakers suspended from the ceiling.
514 W. 7th Street (@ Grand)
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Dining Date: 5/27/12 Friends & Family Dinner (gratis).
Many thanks and CONGRATS to Ricardo, Stephane, Jorge, Team Mo-chica, Shawna & all!
Open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week. Valet parking available after 7 p.m.
Sun.-Sat. 11:30a-3:30p (lunch)
Follow Mo-Chica on Twitter
Read “Ricardo Zarate Wants To Introduce You To Alpaca Meat” by Grub Street L.A.
Artist Robert Vargas
Also by Ricardo Zarate: Picca Restaurant
More about Alpaca Meat
Petrossian restaurant is as elegant or casual as you want it to be. Sure, there’s the Kaluga caviar tasting that can set you back a few hundred of your hard-earned bucks. A pasta hand-pressed with caviar powder is so luxurious you may want to share it with a friend (it’s worth it). But there are also plenty of reasonably priced items, like the Dungeness Crab Sweet Corn Soup or Asparagus with Foie Gras Ravioli, that cost under $20.
Recently, Chef Giselle Wellman cooked up some new dishes for myself and writer Julie Wolfson to try (gratis) on a warm, spring afternoon. Contrary to what most folks think, I don’t accept too many comped meals (my waistline can’t take it!), and always note when I do.
With so many new restaurants constantly opening in L.A., I don’t always make time to visit favorites like Petrossian. In years past, Peter and I shared multiple meals with friends and family (which we paid for in full). It was wonderful to be back and taste some classics, as well as Chef Wellman’s new creations.
It was such a pleasure finally meeting Chef Wellman. Read all about the her here: “Talk With Giselle Wellman” at Food Replubic
About: Petrossian is a casually elegant destination for lunch, dinner, happy hour, and weekend brunch featuring a selection of French-inspired California cuisine artfully prepared by Executive Chef Giselle Wellman. A boutique area adjacent to the dining room offers guests a way to continue the experience at home and is an ideal shopping destination for host or hostess gifts and customized epicurean gift baskets including tastes of Caviar, Smoked Salmon, Foie Gras, and Handmade Chocolates. More info on website
321 N Robertson Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90048
Dining date: 5/17/12
All my Petrossian photos on Flickr