Tag Archives: hollywood

Church Key

Check out a few photos from Church Key in Hollywood!
Fun food (Pig Ear Cheetos!) and GREAT cocktails by Devon Espinosa.

Golden Lorraine, Fashioned Chai, The Church Keyhttp://thechurchkeyla.com

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Filed under Eating Out, Little Bites

Township

Comfort Food & Moonshine? HECK YES!

My first bites at George Abou-Daoud’s Township: Kitchen Americana & Saloon…

Pork Sliders at Township
Pork Slider Trio: Crispy Pork Belly w Slaw, Cheddar & Egg, Tasso Ham (not pictured)

Spicy Buffalo Wings at Township
Spicy Buffalo Wings w Ranch Dressing

Chili Cheese Fries at Township
Chili Cheese Fries Topped w Cheddar & Onions

Oysters at Township
Market Oysters on the Half Shell

L.A. Style Bacon Dog at Township
L.A. Style Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dog topped w Grilled Onions

Detroit Dog at Township
Detroit Style Hot Dog w Chili, Mustard & Chopped Onions

Fried Okra at Township
Fried Okra (FRESH)

The bar at TownshipShared with Peter Stougaard, Greg Barnes, Craig Minami. We loved the corn whiskey “Original Moonshine Clear” from VA!

Township
6612 Sunset Blvd. (in the former District space)
Hollywood
CA 90028
Website

About Township Saloon by Grubstreet LA

Follow George on Twitter

Check out all of George’s awesome joints!

Township on FaceBook

 

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Filed under Eating Out

District On Sunset

District has closed, but luckily we now have Township!

George Abou-Daoud’s District On Sunset is my kind of hangout. A casual, friendly bar with killer food including a raw oyster bar, SPAM (woot!) Sliders and a Venison Relleno with Goat Cheese, that recently made GQ Magazine’s “Best New Dishes in America” list.

District on SunsetL.A. Times Food Critic, S. Irene Virbila wrote: “It’s a little bit steampunk, a little bit West Village back in the day. First of all, there’s the bar, a glorious hunk of mahogany that stretches from the front to the back of the long, narrow space. It was built in 1913 in France; you can’t help but wonder at all the changes and characters it must have seen in its many years.”

I think the space is a lot like its proprietor (who also owns several other eateries including the Mercantile next door). District is elegant yet so welcoming, with a surprising bit of sass on the menu.

Guess where I’ll be celebrating this New Year’s Eve?

Photos from District:

District on Sunset
Venison Relleno with Goat Cheese, Corn Puree & Cotija Cheese

District on Sunset
Spam Sliders with Quail Eggs, Bibb Lettuce, Tomato and Soy Mayonnaise

District on Sunset
Chris manning the Raw Bar

District on Sunset
Oyster Porn

District on Sunset
Blistered Shisito Peppers, Ponzu, Black Sesame

District on Sunset
Best Fish Sandwich in town: Wild Rock Cod, Tartar Sauce, Butter Lettuce, Pickle on House-Baked Roll & Fries

District on Sunset
The Beautiful bar

District on Sunset
Josh Goldman (guest bartender)

District on Sunset
Josh Goldman’s B.L.T. Cocktail: Bacon-infused bourbon topped with tomato water foam, served with a ceramic-spoonful of romaine lettuce granita.

Note: This restaurant is now CLOSED.

District On Sunset
6600 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 962-8200

Website

More photos on flickr

S. Irene Virbila, L.A. Times

GQ’s Alan Richman’s Best New Dishes in America 2010

George Abou-Daoud George on Twitter

Josh Goldman Josh on Twitter

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XIV (now closed)

My first encounter with chef Michael Mina was during a birthday trip last January, for my niece and nephew, twins Kindal and Chace. Since they were about to officially become teenagers, I wanted to plan an extra special celebration dinner with Aunt Jo (that’s me) and Uncle Peter (my husband). Some sort of “grown up” place where we could get all dressed up and use every piece of fine silver on the table.

I’m extremely close with my sister’s kids, and would go to the ends of the world for them, but for their thirteenth birthday, I decided we would fly to San Francisco, and dine at Michelin-starred Michael Mina (the chef’s flagship restaurant). 

Dinner was, of course, incredible, and the fact that chef Mina was in the house that night made it even more special. He oversees multiple restaurants from California to Florida, so we were happily shocked when he stopped by our table for a birthday photo.

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.comMichael Mina’s XIV (“Fourteen”) in Hollywood is much closer to home of course, and we surely would have had the same dinner experience as we did in San Francisco, but I sort of felt like we (especially me) had to dine at Mina’s original outpost first.

Finally, last week I had my first full dinner at XIV (I previously enjoyed a few bites at the bar).

My nephew Cody (the twin’s older brother) is dating one of the sweetest, caring and downright gorgeous girls in all of L.A. That’s a bold statement I know, but Jade’s warmth and down-home personality (she hails from Tennessee), plus the way she cares for our entire family almost outshines her beauty. I said “almost” because there’s no denying her “WOW” factor.

Jade’s family still lives back in Tennessee, so Peter and I both try to be here for her if she needs anything. Last year after her car was totaled (a hit and run while parked in front of her building), she was in our kitchen on her cell phone dealing with her insurance company. The person on the other end must have asked her where she was at that moment, and she answered (in her sweet southern accent): “I’m with the folks that look after me”. Peter and I cracked up laughing. We just loved that she “got” how much we adore her, and how much our entire family loves her.

On September 10th Jade turned twenty-one, so of course we had to take her somewhere special to celebrate that night! I checked with Cody and we decided on XIV. It was perfect, and we had the best time TRYING to get through FOURTEEN delicious courses together. We almost made it (stopped at thirteen) but we’ll always remember it as yet another fun and fabulous, Michael Mina family experience.

What we ate:

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Sea Scallops Tempura, Cauliflower, Passion Fruit, Edamame, Almonds $17

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Liberty Duck Breast, Seared Fois Gras, Leg Confit, Pineapple, Star Anise $36

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Tataki of American Wagyu Skirt Steak, Moroccan Spiced Vegetables $16

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Top Left: Beef Carpaccio, Heart of Romaine, Cherry Tomatoes, Horseradish $16
Top Right: Tai Snapper Tapioca-Crusted, Broccoli Rabe, White Soy Vinaigrette $33
Bottom Right: Heirloom Beets, Burrata, Wild Arugula, Aged Balsamic, New Olive Oil $15
Bottom Left: Jidori Chicken “Cobb”, Blue Cheese, Avocado, Baby Gem Lettuce $17

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Top Left: XIV Caesar Salad, Classic Dressing, Shaved Parmesan Reggiano $13
Top Right: Kobe Burger, Trio of French Fries, Farmhouse Cheddar, & “Secret Sauce” $27
Bottom Right: Asparagus Risotto, Sqash Blossom, Chervil, Castelmagnno Cheese $25
Bottom Left: Lobster Pot Pie, Baby Summer Veg, Brandied Cream Sauce $59

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Sweet Corn Soup: Pork Belly, Apple Cider, Cilantro and Sea Salt $15
Bottom Left: Nutella Custard: Popcorn Ice Cream, Toast Streusel, Passion Fruit $11

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Birthday Card from XIV Staff. Jade & my nephew Cody.

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Uncle Peter, Jade & Cody.

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Happy Birthday Jade!

XIV (restaurant now closed)
8117 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 656-1414

XIV Website

Dining Date: 9/10/09

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com

Our XIV dinner (with lots of cocktails) was $200 per person, so the DineLA deal is a wonderful way to try out the menu!

Restaurant Week> October 4 – 9 / October 11-16

Mentioned Above:

Meeting Michael Mina, San Francisco with the twins!

Michael Mina’s Website

About Michael Mina

Michelin Guide

XIV on Urbanspoon

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RH Restaurant

RH @ Andaz, MyLastBite.comDinner at RH restaurant has been one of the best all-around dining experiences I’ve had in quite a while. It’s not just the sleek surroundings of the restaurant, the attentive staff or even the food writer’s dream of an open kitchen. It’s mostly about the straightforward, yet sumptuous market-driven cooking of French-trained Chef Sebastien Archambault.

Having grown up in the 70′s, I also loved the fact that I was dining at the “Riot Hyatt” (RH), the center for all rock ‘n’ roll badness way back when. One of the best-known stories of the infamous hotel was when (as Wikipedia notes): “Led Zeppelin rented as many as six floors of the hotel in the mid-to-late 1970s for the band members and entourage. Drummer John Bonham was reported to have driven a motorcycle along the hallways”. 

On Stage at the Whisky-a-GoGo, MyLastBite.comIf you’ve seen the film “Almost Famous”, you’ll remember the hotel scene where Penny Lane takes William to meet with the band. Director Cameron Crowe did a wonderful job replicating the hotel’s free-spirited fun of the era, and even though I never got to actually stay at the “Riot Hyatt”, a few years ago I did come very close.

In 2004, my husband Peter rented out the legendary Whisky-a-GoGo club for my 40th birthday party. He knew that as a kid, I used to sneak out to see bands like “X” and “Motley Crue”, so it was a real treat to play guitar on the same stage.

The Whisky-a-GoGo, MyLastBite.comFor this milestone birthday celebration, we flew in my younger brother Greg and his band from Scotland, and just for fun… we treated them to a night at the Hyatt.

The Whisky is just up the street from the hotel, so after our gig we loaded up the band equipment, then dropped off Greg and his mates at the legendary flophouse. The hotel was renovated in January 2009 and is now called the Andaz West Hollywood.

The food at RH Restaurant is more “French Brasserie” than “Sunset Strip Room Service”, but take one bite of Chef Archambault’s “RH” Burger and you’ll feel like a self-indulgent, spoiled celebrity. The Black Angus beef is topped with a piece of perfectly seared foie gras, morel mushrooms, and it comes with a side of TRIPLE-fried french fries with fresh truffle shavings (not just truffle oil).

The RH Burger is absolutely my favorite burger and fries combination EVER. On top of that, the rest of the meal was excellent as well.

What we ate:

RH @ Andaz, MyLastBite.com
Market fresh veggies arrived at our table first.

RH @ Andaz, MyLastBite.com
Pata Negra Ham-Bellota (aged 36 months) w/ Tomato and Garlic Crostini. (Pan con tomate – Pa amb tomaquet) $25

RH @ Andaz, MyLastBite.com
Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine with Kumquat Confit $18

RH @ Andaz, MyLastBite.com
Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine with Kumquat Confit (close up)

RH @ Andaz, MyLastBite.com
Morels and Green Spring Onion Tart w/ Parsley Oil $18

RH @ Andaz, MyLastBite.com
The RH Burger: Black Angus Beef, Foie Gras and Morels $26 (includes fries)

RH @ Andaz, MyLastBite.com
Truffled Triple Fried French Fries (included with burger). Extra side $7

RH @ Andaz, MyLastBite.com
Green Vegetable Risotto Arborio with Peas, Zucchini, Asparagus and Fava Beans $20

RH @ Andaz, MyLastBite.com
12 Hour Cooked Boneless Suckling Pork with Roasted Apricot and Rosemary Jus $25

RH @ Andaz, MyLastBite.com
Side Dishes: Glazed Rainbow Carrots and Cauliflower Gratin $7 each

RH @ Andaz, MyLastBite.com
Warm Chocolate Cake w/ Little John’s English Toffee Caramel $8

RH @ Andaz, MyLastBite.com
Executive Chef Sebastien Archambault

RH @ Andaz, MyLastBite.com
RH from Sunset Strip

RH @ Andaz, MyLastBite.com
Shrimp & Bread Appetizers at the Bar. The day of our reservation, I learned that the RH bar was the start of the Sunset Strip’s first-ever “Twitter Crawl”, so Peter and I went early to check it out!

RH @ Andaz, MyLastBite.com5
Left: 
Mojito, Martini, Vodka 
Top Right: Looking in from the bar into the restaurant before dinner
Bottom Right: Looking out the RH bar window, Vincent Chace and his “boys”.

RH @ Andaz, MyLastBite.com
Seriously, one of the SWEETEST chefs in town! Chef Sebastien Archambault was kind enough to give me a private tour of the kitchen.

RH @ Andaz, MyLastBite.com
Touring the Open Kitchen

RH at Andaz West Hollywood
8401 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90069
(323) 785-6090 Website

Dining Date: 7/1/09 with Peter, Julian & Wendy

Check out Twitter Tuesdays!
Posted on Twitter 7/28/09
“RH restaurant announces
Twitter Tuesdays. Get one complimentary dinner when dining with 2 or more people if you are following us
@
andazweho “

Mentioned Above:

History of the Riot Hyatt

My brother Greg’s band (in 2004) playing at my 40th birthday

Greg’s current band  His personal website

Whisky-a-GoGo website

“Riot Hyatt” clip from “Almost Famous” (scene starts at 1 minute in)

“Almost Famous” on IMDB

“Almost Famous” DVD

Entourage

The first Sunset Strip Twitter Crawl

All my RH photos on Flickr

With my brother Greg, on another legendary L.A. stage

RH at Andaz West Hollywood on Urbanspoon

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Taste Of The Nation – 2009 Tix On Sale!

I just purchased my ticket to Taste of the Nation 2009, and wanted to share a few photos from last year’s event. If you’ve never been before, it’s a great opportunity to taste wonderful food from many of our top L.A. restaurants.

My favorite part (besides all the food) was chatting with the chefs in a relaxed, fun atmosphere… all while supporting Share Our Strength’s fight to end childhood hunger. It’s a “fill up and feel good” event for sure!

From the Share Our Strength Website:

“Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation is the nation’s premier culinary benefit, featuring top chefs and mixologists — all of whom are coming together to donate their time, talent and passion to end childhood hunger in America.

More then forty of the area’s finest restaurant and wineries will participate in Taste of Nation Los Angeles, bringing a memorable afternoon that will highlight some the best food and wine that Los Angeles has to offer. Come join us for an afternoon in Culver City, enjoy a strolling buffet, entertainment, live auction and much more. Join us as we work to create a hunger-free generation. 100% of ticket sales benefits Share Our Strength’s fight to end childhood hunger.”

Photos from Taste of the Nation 2008
Taste of the Nation 2008, MyLastBite.com
Entrance Sign

Taste of the Nation 2008, MyLastBite.com 
Chef Jake Rojas making a “Foie Gras Nutty Buddy”, The Sunset Restaurant

Taste of the Nation 2008, MyLastBite.com
Former Top Chef contestant Antonia Lofaso (my favorite from season 4), Foxtail Restaurant

Taste of the Nation 2008, MyLastBite.com
Chef Antonia Lofaso’s home-made linguini with caramelized fennel, clams and absinthe from Foxtail Restaurant

Taste of the Nation 2008, MyLastBite.com
The delightfully COOL Chef Carolyn Spence, Bar Marmont

Taste of the Nation 2008, MyLastBite.com
10 Cane Rum (I skipped the wine and went for the good stuff!)

Taste of the Nation 2008, MyLastBite.com
Chef Neal Fraser (Grace Restaurant) made whole roasted pig on the spot! 

Taste of the Nation 2008, MyLastBite.com 
Akasha Richmond’s Braised Short Rib Sandwiches on Pretzel Rolls with green and red slaw, Akasha Restaurant

With Chef Blumer, MyLastBite.com 
It was surreal bumping into Bob Blumer! 

Taste of the Nation Los Angeles
Sunday, June 14, 2009

Media Park
Corner of Venice Blvd. & Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Note: The “Early Bird” ticket price is no longer available on the Taste of the Nation site. Thanks to SinoSoul for letting me know.

Tickets are $125.00.
Price at door is $135.00. (I know this seems expensive, but last year there were over 40 restaurants at the event, and it was worth every penny to try a taste from each!)

2009 Participants (including my friends at Animal!)

Purchase Tickets Here

2008 Participating Restaurants A-K

2008 Participating Restaurants L-Z

Mentioned Above:

Akasha

Antonia Lofaso

Bob Blumer

Foxtail

Grace

Sunset

10 Cane Rum

Chef Photos on Flickr

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Filed under Food Events (festivals, classes, etc.)

Sri Siam Café [4]

My friend Laur invited me to lunch yesterday and suggested we go to Sri Siam Café, our favorite, local Thai joint. She wanted me to meet her niece Sherry, an intensive care nurse visiting from Chicago. I was totally fascinated with all of her exciting hospital stories, especially about the time she got to hold someone’s lungs during surgery (she said they felt “spongy”). Obviously it wouldn’t be appropriate lunch conversation for everyone, but for three gals with iron stomachs (sitting there filling ourselves with fiery Thai goodness), it was perfectly lovely.

Spicy Basil Seafood at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com
I ordered the Spicy Basil Seafood with pan-fried Squid, Mussels, Shrimp, Sole, Peppers and Chilies. The dish came with rice and an eggroll and is not on the regular menu. Look for it on the “All Day Special” menu. $11.50

Succulent Grilled Chicken at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com
Sherry ordered the Succulent Grilled Chicken over Egg Noodles. $5.95 (#91 on the regular menu)

Panang at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com
Laur ordered the Panang Chicken cooked with Red Peanut Curry Paste and Coconut Milk. $6.95 (#66 on the regular menu)

Thai Chili at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com
Beautiful Thai Chili Sauce on the table

On each visit I’m trying to taste a new dish, but the one thing I have to order EVERY time is the Crispy Rice Salad with Sour Sausage (Nam). It’s tangy, spicy deliciousness!

Sri Siam has over 100 dishes listed on the regular menu, plus ten dishes on the “Specials” menu. If none of those delights interest you, then you can always check out the “Off Menu” items listed here (you may need some help with the translation).

Sri Siam Café
12843  Vanowen St.
North Hollywood, CA 91605
818 892-6262

All my Sri Siam Photos on Flickr

Sri Siam Café  Website

Dining Date: 2/26/09 (Visit #4)

Visit #3 to Sri Siam (with photos)

Visit # 1 & 2 (with photos)

Sri Siam Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Sri Siam Café [3]

For my third visit to Sri Siam Café, I invited my good friend Bob for lunch. This time I was determined to eat Thai food the way I’ve always eaten Thai food… very HOT and very SPICY. Not all food has to set my mouth on fire to be pleasurable. There’s just something about Thai food that doesn’t quite taste “authentic” without the extra heat. I think it’s because when I first tried it (twenty years ago) the dishes were always extra hot and spicy.

Crispy Rice Salad at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.comFor lunch I suggested Bob and I start with the Nam (crispy rice salad), which has Thai sour sausage mixed with roasted peanuts, ginger, green onion and crispy rice. The unusual sour sausage almost tastes like it was soaked in lime juice, and the crispiness of the individual rice kernels are a surprising, savory crunch. The spicy Nam had been my favorite bite from lunch the week before, so I wanted to share it again with Bob, and he LOVED it.

When I asked for “very hot and spicy” on my first two visits, the waitress smiled and brought me what I thought was a medium heat, which is totally understandable since I was a new Sri Siam diner. She probably assumed I didn’t understand how hot and spicy Thai food could be, and didn’t want to throw out perfectly good food just because I ordered incorrectly.

On this visit I asked our server (a waiter this time) which dish was the “spiciest” on the menu. He pointed directly to “Poh Tak” (spicy seafood soup). It’s a hot pot filled with mussels, shrimps, crab, fish and squid in a sour spicy broth. I ordered the Poh Tak and made sure the waiter understood that I wanted it extra spicy. I made a point of saying that my food wasn’t spicy enough before and to please ask the chef to make the soup extra HOT and VERY SPICY. The waiter then raised an eyebrow and was probably about to ask me “are you sure?”, when I butted in and pleaded “I need my food to be very, very spicy PLEASE!”.

When my hot pot of spicy seafood soup arrived, I gave the waiter a look of “hmmm… this looks a little spicy, but we’ll see if you succeeded here”. He graciously scooped out the first little bowl of soup for me and then I went ahead and started in on the beautiful (and delicious) green mussels. Bob ordered the Panang Chicken lunch special, which came with steamed rice, soup and a vegetable egg roll. After I took a few sips of my soup, Bob asked me a question and it was the strangest thing… even though I was trying to answer him, my mouth wouldn’t work. Right then my eyes started blinking and I sat there with my mouth open, struggling as I mouthed “OH MY GAWD”. This was the hottest (and spiciest) thing I had ever tasted in my life, and it was truly a whole new level of fire in my mouth.

I know spice and heat are all relative, but I just want to note that I can easily handle blazing habanero chilies (even with the seeds intact). One of my favorite spicy treats I make at home, is a dessert I saw on tv a few years ago called “Fire and Ice”. It’s half of a habanero chili filled with lemon sorbet. The fire and ice gets under your tongue and it’s sort of paralyzing (in a good way) for a second.

Back in my 20′s I read (in some glossy, fashion magazine) that rubbing a slice of jalapeno on my lips would make them plump… a cheap alternative to lip injections. On the morning I decided to try this “natural” method, I was also scheduled to meet my new boss, who was flying in for the day to check on his photo gallery. Following the magazine instruction, I cut a dime-size piece of the jalapeno and pursed my lips while I rubbed the chili round and round. At first, nothing… then came the screaming and crying. NOTHING took the pain away and I ended up with a large, uneven, red outer ring that looked like “double” lips. If you can remember “Wax Lips” candies, then you get the picture.

Later in the day, when my new boss shot me a strange look, I just laughed and said my lips were overly chapped and did my best to hide in the office. I never admitted that I’d purposely rubbed jalapenos on my tender, perfectly fine, natural lips.

Currently, I have my fridge stocked with habanero stuffed olives that I order online from Primos Gourmet. The habaneros are perfect little, painful explosions that make me do the “happy eating dance” around the kitchen.

Just how hot are habaneros? Chili peppers are rated by Scoville units. As noted on Wikipedia: “The number of Scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin present. Capsaicin is a chemical compound which stimulates nerve endings in the skin”. For example, on the Scoville scale, a bell pepper would measure 0 (that’s zero, zilch, nothing). Jalapeno peppers would measure from 2,500-8,000.

The hottest chili pepper I’ve ever eaten is the habanero, and it would measure approximately 100,000-350,000 on the Scoville chart. Culinary Masochism? Well, if that means I’m getting intense pleasure (go endorphins!) from intense pain (gastronomically speaking), then fine, I admit it…. I need a little C&M in my life.

Sri Siam’s spicy seafood “Poh Tak” soup felt like it was OFF the Scoville chart, and at first I thought it was way too fiery for me. After the initial shock wore off in my mouth I absolutely LOVED the broth, and from then on it was a heavenly seafood feast of squid, crab, shrimp and those delicious green mussels. Poor Bob had to watch me wipe the sweat off my brow, and he laughed as I dashed to the restroom several times to deal with a heat-induced runny nose. This meal was the perfect Thai experience I’d been after.

When we finished lunch, I went back to the kitchen and thanked the chef. He gave me a little smile and looked a little baffled, so I wasn’t sure if he understood what I said to him. I can’t imagine it, but maybe it was the first time he’d ever heard, “Thank you, thank you… thank you for making me hurt so good“.

Spicy Seafood Soup at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.comSpicy Seafood Soup, Poh Tak: Mussels, shrimps, crab, fish, squids in a hot pot and sour spicy soup.

Panang Lunch Special (chicken) at Sri Siam Cafe, MyLastBite.comLunch Special Panang Chicken: Served with steam rice, soup, vegetable fried egg roll, and fresh fruit.

Egg Roll & Soup at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com

A few photos in the Sri Siam Kitchen, and the wonderful crew.

Lovely Pork at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com

Sri Siam Cafe Wontons, MyLastBite.com

Sri Siam Cafe Wontons, MyLastBite.com Sri Siam Cafe Wontons, MyLastBite.com

Sri Siam Cafe Kitchen, MyLastBite.com Thai Eggplant at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com

Sri Siam visit #4 (with photos)

Previous Visits to Sri Siam (with photos)

All my Sri Siam Photos on Flickr

Sri Siam Café  Website
12843  Vanowen Street (at Coldwater)
North Hollywood  91605
818 982- 6262

Primos Gourmet Foods (Habanero Olives)

More about Scoville Units

My Friend Bob

Dining Date: 1/16/09

Sri Siam Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Eating Out, Food Stories (written by me)

Sri Siam Café [1 & 2]

Twenty years ago when I lived in San Diego, my ex-husband and I loved eating at Karinya Thai Cuisine. The restaurant was up the street from our home in Pacific Beach, and it was our “go to” dinner place when we entertained visiting family and friends. We usually requested to eat in the “traditional” dining room . This meant we had to remove our shoes before going in, and sit on the floor atop beautiful Thai triangle pillows.

Karinya Thai, MyLastBite.com

The head chef (an American) had married into the Karinya Thai family. Since we were regulars, the chef always took a few moments to tell us wonderful tales of his trips to the Far East. One of the best was about the first time he visited his wife’s family in a remote village in Thailand. He was shocked at the amount of time it took to shop for groceries each day. The entire family, led by the grandmother, would get up very early and drive for hours to pick up a particular type of chili, then go a couple of hours in the opposite direction to buy some galangal, and finally another hour south to pick up fresh kaffir lime leaves. By the time the shopping was done, they had driven five or six hours to get ingredients for THAT evening’s dinner. I found it fascinating that each ingredient was so special and distinct, that it was worth all that time and trouble.

Jo & Spencer, MyLastBite.comThe first time we invited our buddy Spencer (who was like a second grandfather to me), he laughed when he learned he had to remove his shoes for dinner. And after that first meal at Karinya, anytime we’d make dinner plans with ol’ Spence, he would ask “Are we going to the ‘shoeless place’? …if so, I’ll have to check my socks for holes”.

Two of my favorite dishes at Karinya were the “Gai Rad Prik” (they prepared it with deep-fried chicken covered in a super-spicy chili sauce) and “Shrimp Sarong” (shrimp wrapped with egg noodles, deep-fried and served with a sweet and spicy chili dip).

From my research, it looks like the original owners of Karinya sold the business in 1998. I moved to Studio City in 1994 and halfheartedly tried to find a new Thai restaurant near me (in the San Fernando Valley) to love, but nothing tasted as good or seemed as authentic as Karinya. There were no “foodie” sites on the New World Wide Web way back then, so I had pretty much given up on finding a Thai place I could call my own.

Then on January 1, 2009 I had lunch at Sri Siam Café. Peter (my husband) and I met up with our far-east-food-expert friend Jeffrey, for an incredible, unforgettable New Year’s Day Lunch. Jeffrey is a regular at Sri Siam and has not only eaten at all the best Thai places in Los Angeles but all the best Thai places in Thailand.

The best part about Sri Siam Café (besides the outstanding food) is that I won’t be pining for Karinya any longer. I can finally move on… and luckily for me… my new Thai joint is literally just up the street!

My Favorite Bites at Sri Siam Café:

Fried Fish Cake, MyLastBite.com
Fried Fish Cake : Ground fish and green bean patties, seasoned with curry paste then deep-fried. It’s served with a delicious cucumber relish. $6.95

For me, the fish cakes were just a vehicle for the relish. I ended up just spooning it out and eating it like gazpacho!

Apple Trout, MyLastBite.com
Apple Trout: Fried trout fillet served with green apple salad. $18.95

Green Apple Salad, MyLastBite.com
Green Apple Salad.
Apple Trout Tail, MyLastBite.com
Apple Trout Tail.

O-Lou, MyLastBite.com
O-Lou: Omelet stuffed with shrimp and topped with sprouts. $7.95
O-Lou, MyLastBite.com
O-Lou: Omelet (close up).

Soft Shell Crab, MyLastBite.com
Soft Shell Crab in Green Curry Sauce: Served with asparagus. $18.95

Beef Ball Soup, MyLastBite.com
Beef Ball Noodle Soup: Rice noodle soup with beef ball (meatball), bean sprouts and green onion. $5.00

House Special Menu, MyLastBite.com
Menu: The House Specialties in English

Thai Boba Tea, MyLastBite.com
Thai Boba Tea. The perfect way to cool off a spicy tongue!

Update: 1/8/09  (Visit #2)
This morning my ex-husband Perry called from Santa Monica airport. He and his co-pilot John asked if I wanted to join them for lunch. They fly a private business jet and had a five hour layover, so I grabbed my friend Laur and we met them at Sri Siam!

I wrote (above) that twenty years ago, one of our favorite dishes from our old Thai restaurant in Pacific Beach was “Shrimp Sarong”, and that’s the first thing Perry ordered today. They were exactly the same to me, except Sri Siam calls them “Crispy Shrimps”.

It was sort of a sentimental moment for me. Sitting there with Perry eating a wonderful old favorite and talking about our families. He and his wife Karen have two beautiful kids, and I feel so grateful that we can still be in each others lives, especially when it’s over a plate of delicious food!

Before I left for lunch I sent my husband Peter a text message, to let him know I was meeting Perry at Sri Siam. Peter sent the following message back: “Well, just so you know, I’m really JEALOUS… really jealous that I’m missing the food! Say hi to Perry.“…

I know… lucky me.

My two favorite dishes from lunch today:
Crispy Rice Salad, MyLastBite.com
Crispy Rice Salad Thai sour sausage mixed with crispy rice, roasted peanut, ginger and green onion. I LOVED the spiciness of this dish.

Crispy Shrimps, MyLastBite.com
Crispy Shrimps Shrimp mixed with light soy sauce wrapped with egg noodle.

Sri Siam Cafe, MyLastBite.com

Visit #3 to Sri Siam (with new photos)

Sri Siam Café
12843  Vanowen St.
North Hollywood, CA 91605
818 892-6262

All my Sri Siam Photos on Flickr

Sri Siam Café  Website

Sri Siam Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Eating Out, Food Stories (written by me)

Gordon Ramsay at the London

It’s Not About Gordon Ramsay

Anticipating our dinner at Gordon Ramsay at the London, I hopped online and began researching what I should order. I browsed through all the usual food blogs and sites including Chow (raves about the Pork Belly), Yelp and Eater…. and then I read Virbila’s review on LATimes. She mentioned one of her favorite dishes was the braised “Pig’s Head”. DONE. I knew what I was ordering. Pig’s Head and Pork Belly. My fellow diners (husband Peter, FoodWhore Baub and Andrew) could pick out the rest.

Peter and I arrived early to have a drink and bite at the bar. We ordered a couple of vodka tonics and one order of an asparagus/avocado sushi roll. It was delicious. A quick FYI here… we had another order of the avo roll to share with our friends at dinner, and it was a much smaller version of the bar order.

As we sat down at our table, we noticed a familiar face walking towards us. Jared Heber is a former high school pal of FoodWhore Baub, and is a sommelier that previously worked at Osteria Mozza. Currently Jared is the wine director at ‘Gordon Ramsay at the London’. When he saw us he laughed and said “YOU FOUR AGAIN?”. We so enjoyed his service at Osteria and we were thrilled to see him again. He really made the night extra special by taking us on a private tour of the massive kitchen. It was a fantastic rush. Of course we didn’t expect to see Gordon Ramsay there expediting our dinner order, but I was personally hoping for a glimpse of Christina, the recent Hell’s Kitchen winner. I didn’t see her around, but I have to say it was pretty darn cool to stand with Jared and watch head chef Andy Cook yelling out orders a few feet in front of us.

As we got back to our table I thought… “this place isn’t about Gordon Ramsay really”. Of course we went there because of his celebrity, but I certainly didn’t “feel” his presence in the dining room, kitchen or even the food. He wasn’t missed at all.

I absolutely loved the look and vibe of the restaurant. It’s sexy. You feel sexy sitting there. It sounds silly to say that now, but it’s true… I was sitting there eating my Pig’s Head and Pork Belly feeling SEXY.

What we ordered:
Pig's Head and English Peas
Pig’s Head with English Peas. Delicious and I would order again and again.

Pork Belly, Scottish Langoustine & Celeriac
Pork Belly with Roasted Scottish Langoustine, Celeriac & Apple. We had one as an entree… then I ordered another for desert!
Monkfish & Thyme Consommé
Monkfish wrapped with Crispy Chicken Skin, served in a Lemon Thyme Consomme’. Delicious and I would order again.

Asparagus Risotto
Wild Asparagus Risotto with Chive Flowers. This was our table’s favorite dish.

GordonAvoAsparagusRoll
Asparagus & Avocado Roll. The bar version was larger than the restaurant version but both were delicious.

Bread
Simple bread and creamy butter topped with crunchy fleur de sel. Loved the “bullet” presentation.

Jo & Bob with Jared Heber in the Kitchen
Touring the massive Gordon Ramsay kitchen with Jared. Standing next to the wall of walk-in fridges.

Gordon Ramsay at the London
The London West Hollywood
1020 N San Vicente Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 358-7788

Dining Date: 07/12/08

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