Archive for the ‘Los Angeles’ Category

Sushi Yotsuya (LA)

March 26, 2008


Whenever I get hungry for sushi it is hard to find the right place. Anyone can tell the difference between good and bad sushi, the fish must be fresh! People who open sushi restaurants think of it more as a trend, so they open the restaurant without any concern on how much tradition and passion sushi requires. It takes years to master.

I found a 5-star rated place in Tarzana, 5 minutes from my house. Sushi Yotsuya! From the outside it looked small, quiet, and hidden. Since there are so many sushi restaurants across the street and a few doors down, it was hard to spot.

After you walk in, right in front of you was a big sign that says, “We only serve traditional style sushi, no California roll, spicy tuna roll, appetizers, or American style sushi.” How cool is that!

It is a small simple place, probably about 13 seats at the sushi bar, and 6 tables.

On the right is Masa Masumoto (founder, proprietor, and chef; above right) is going on his 8th year after opening in 2000. Masa and his 2nd chef Chica are a good team, always communicating with one another. Masa’s goal was to have an original/traditional sushi joint since there is so many around his. He says he buys the fish every morning before opening, guaranteed! Can’t get any fresher than that.

We started with a cold beer, the best Japanese imported beer you can get: Orion (deep from Osaka, Japan). Not many Japanese restaurants carry this, it’s got a bite and it’s good.

Next we have the Katsuo (Skip Jack; above), and the Aji (Spanish Mackerel; below). I haven’t seen Katsuo any where around here; just melts in your mouth!

Then we have our Mirugai (Jumbo Clam; above) and our Amaebi (Sweet Shrimp; below). The Mirugai was so fresh it was moving slowly on the rice (as you can see in the picture it is curling), it was so crunchy, which ensures freshness.

The Ankimo (monk fish liver; above) was excellent. The Ankimo was grilled, had a nice color to it. It had this Japanese mustard miso sauce on it. Never had it with a sauce like this. It was flaky, and once again melted in my mouth.

Next are my favorite Uni (sea urchin; above left) and Ikura (salmon roe; above right). The Uni is a delicacy, it fells like a tongue and looks like tongue. It tastes like the ocean, very salty and explodes in your mouth. The best. The Ikura is usually marinated before service to enhance taste, and most places don’t do it right, but Masa was right on.

We got the Tako (octopus; above left) and the Ika (squid; above right). Both very fresh and crunchy; which is needed to ensure freshness, soo good!

Up above is Aoyagi (a orange clam; above), it was moving once again, very fresh, little bit of salt and lemon on it, and no soy sauce needed. It was crunchy and had a good citrus flavor to it, sooo good!

As we were trying to finish up, they treated us a round of their special fish for the day! Starting form the left was Managatsuo (Panfret; left), Tombo Toro (Fatty Albacore; 2nd to left), Kurodai (Black Snapper; 3rd to left), and Kinmedai (Alfonsino; 4th to left). They were all fish I have never eaten before; it was very new and exciting! They all tasted spectacular!

To finishing off, the best part is the Green Tea. Has to be dark as the Tea above, most places you go has weak light tea. You want to make sure you drink tea at the end of the meal to drain out all the oil and start digesting right away.

I recommend this place to any sushi lover out there.

Sushi Yotsuya
18760 Ventura Blvd
Tarzana, CA 91356
T: 818.708.9675

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Fridgin’ Out: Yoskay, Tessar and Nate

March 7, 2008

Alright folks, this post is to debunk your romantic notions of the starving artist. My brother’s bff Yoskay is an awesome painter, living in a fat loft space in Japantown, LA, with fellow awesome artists Tessar and Nate. They all hustle hard so they can focus on their art as much as possible- good for them!

Anyway, here’s what was in their fridge- even though they’re on a tight budget, I am proud of them for taking care of themselves so well. My own fridge definitely isn’t as well stocked as this one.

Filtered water! AND they also have a Brita. No tap water for these boys, no no. Grapefruit juice too, you know, for your vitamins.

TOFU! Almost too healthy.

2 huge packs of eggs- for the late night 5 egg omelets.

Yoskay has a great creation for these 99cent packs of udon noodles- instead of making a soup, he pan fries it. Pretty ingenius.

Brie!

Not one, but two big packs of miso. I guess one is Yoskay’s and the other is Tessar’s. They’re asian, what can I say- gotta have your miso, apparently.

Chocolate dipped strawberries- WTF?? One of them (who shall remain nameless) had a lady friend over for Vday– ohh la la. I hope he got some.

If anything, I know they’re sleep deprived, not nutrition deprived. You boys gotta sleep!!

Yoskay’s unfinished sculpture, holdin’ down the fridge. Yoskay, I want that!

*What’s in your fridge? Send pics to umamimart@gmail.com

California Soul: Osteria Mozza (LA)

March 4, 2008


I’m sorta embarrassed to admit it, but seems that I have a Mario Batali obsession. But let me preface this entry by saying that we weren’t even supposed to go to Mozza- we had reservations at Campanile, but my flight got in too late so we had to cancel. Sara said they were being buttholes about canceling- we’re not down with that.

So in the past 6 months, I’ve been to Lupa, Babbo, and I made it to his newest LA haunt, Osteria Mozza with Sara last week. It was, I have to say, a very good meal. I would put Mozza between Lupa and Babbo– it’s more casual than Babbo, in both the atmosphere and the food, and I’m keeping Babbo at the top since it’s the original (need to respect that). That said, we had a well-rounded, well-proportioned meal, and excellent martinis.

Amuse-bouche on the house: ricotta and tapenade bruchetta with slivers of basil. The ricotta was delish.

Had no fucking clue this was going to be a bruschetta, as the mozzarella menu (yes, they have a mozzarella bar!) just said “burrata, bacon and escarole”. They conveniently left out “on bread”, which made this a bit heavy. And the burrata was so creamy and mouthmelting that all the other stuff was a bit excessive. But that’s carmelized onions on top- can’t say no to that.

Dish of the night: Grilled octopus with chives and potatoes. The octopus… so soft… no chewing involved! And the char from the grill- so perfect! And the potats… it all went together so well.
Presentation wise, the dish kinda looks like the sweetbreads I had at Babbo, doesn’t it?

Here it is deconstructed:

Francobolli di Brasato: stamp-shaped ravioli filled with braised beef and thyme. This was absolutely delicious- the beef was super tender, almost mushy (in a good way), and the sauce was soupy, almost gelatinous, like bone marrow almost.

Sara got the mezzaluna ravioli filled with pumpkin. The pic was too bad so I won’t post it, but it was so sweet with its hints of cinnamon and spices.

Interior shots: high ceilings, classic fixtures, a long bar for eating and drinking:

One side of the dining room, with walls filled with wine.

The restaurant is on a pretty busy intersection on Melrose, so the windows overlook a gas station and a shopping center across the street. No romance here. Sorta wished they frosted the windows, but I guess they’re just keeping it real.

I think that Mozza is a nice addition to the LA food scene, in that they’ve established their brand here that’s unique to LA- with the huge space, and partnership with La Brea Bakery’s Nancy Silverton. Can’t get that in NY, that’s for sure.

For nicer pictures, please visit Eat, Drink and Be Merry‘s post on Mozza.

Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Ave.
LA, CA
323.297.0100

California Soul: Park’s BBQ (LA)

March 3, 2008


Can’t go to LA and not go to Koreatown. Best Korean food ever, and it’s a trip down memory lane for me, cause that’s where we lived for 4 years when my family first moved to the States.

On my friend Jim’s recommendation, Keisuke, Yoskay and I went to Park’s on Vermont. It was late in the afternoon so we missed the lunch rush- the place was virtually empty. Lined with stainless steel hoods above each table, the ceiling beams here were covered with pictures of the owner with K-Pop stars. Nice.
Yoskay and I were sickly, so we got a bunch of soups. Also, we didn’t want to stink of beef, garlic and smoke for the rest of the day, so sadly, we opted out of barbequing. All the dishes were written in Korean, with only the descriptions in English, so I don’t know the names of most these dishes. SORRY.

Assorted banchan. The yellow radishes on the top right corner was very takuan-like (Japanese pickled daikon)- but a little sweeter. The jalapeño peppers were refreshing:

Not too spicy kimchee- very good. You can tell how legit a Korean joint is by their kimchee
Daikon kimchee- my fave:

Seafood pajeon- crispy on the outside, just barely cooked on the inside. One of the best pajeons I’ve ever had, no joke.

Kalbi “stew”- with noodles, enoki mushrooms, napa cabbage, and onions. Simple, flavorful and filling.

Yoskay’s super duper spicy kimchee noodle soup with tofu and veggies. He claims he was able to sweat out his cold with this. His whole mouth was red after eating, it was hilarious.
My bro’s spicy kalbi noodle soup with tofu and potatoes. Genius- the potats were so comforting.
The lunch special, a pork kimchee stew. Only $5!!! The pork just melted in my mouth.
Yongsusan across the street- Sonja went to the one in Seoul a few months back.

Stopped off at Renzo Piano’s new design for the Broad contemporary art collection at LACMA. Here’s a Chris Burden installation out front which was super neat.
Even though we didn’t end up bbqing, at the end of the day Sara still asked me, “did you eat garlic today?” Knew we should’ve just bbqed.

Park’s BBQ
955 S. Vermont Ave.
LA, CA
213.380.1717

California Soul: Hot Date with Oishii Eats (LA)

March 1, 2008

In LA, I was finally able to meet up with my personal favorite food blogger, Oishii Eats aka Jeni (I hope her name isn’t a secret). I’m embarrassed to say, but in the overcrowded sea of food blogs, OE is the only one that I consistently keep up with- it’s totally unpretentious, easy to navigate, and the pictures are always stellar. She’s been doing it for 2 years now, alongside her job as a 2nd grade teacher. Cute!

Before our big first date, Jeni suggested I walk to Scoops, an ice cream parlor that she had written about a year ago. I remembered this post, so I started my trek from Sara’s in Silverlake to Scoops.


The ice cream here deserves all the hype– it’s all homemade, very unique flavors, and the texture was like nothing I had ever tasted before. It’s gelato style in it’s creaminess but also airy, even lighter than sorbet. Bizarre, right? It’s so hard to explain! Fantastical flavors include blueberry/coconut, pistachio/lemon, vegan strawberry/balsamic, chai and horchata. Scoops definitely pushes the limits of ice cream flavors.


I got the strawberry/jasmine and jackfruit/kiwi sorbet. Flavor explosion!!! I really loved the jasmine flavor- subtle and refreshing. Pretty ingenious to pair that with the strawberry.


Seems that they’re known for their vegan line- there’s a vegan restaurant across the street, so there were lots of people leaving the restaurant who came over for ice cream.


The Super Scoops Spoon pseudo Calder-mobile!
From here, Jeni picked me up- even though this was our first date, it was as though we had known each other forever, so it was weirdly normal and casual. Like “Hey Jeni, what’s up, take me to tacos pronto.”

We drove a little ways (a few blocks) to the best fish taco. Like literally, the place is called “Best Fish Taco in Ensenada”. Kinda weird, but pretty awesome that this dude would name his joint simply “Best Fish Taco”.

This place opened less than a year ago, in a shared lot with an auto mechanic. So my style! The place is super mellow, with seating inside, as well as picnic tables out front. Thank god for the umbrellas- you know, just another scorching day in February. Jeni confessed that she’s addicted and comes here for her fix at least twice a week.

Dude (seriously, the guy sorta reminded me of The Dude) only has 2 items on the menu: fish tacos for $1.50 and shrimp tacos for $2. Sweet deal.

We got one of each, and horchatas. I guess the dude has a rule about only ordering one taco at a time, so they don’t get soggy. Good lookin out. The fish and shrimps are breaded and fried- Jeni asks for the totillas doradas, so the totillas are crispy.

After you get your tacos, served on square styrofoam plates (like when you buy meat at the grocery store), you go to the salsa bar, where there’s mango salsa, pineapple salsa, spicy, mild, a bowl of cabbage, and as Jeni yelled, “Don’t forget the cream stuff”. I didn’t.

These tacos were THA BOMB. No other real way to describe them. It’s so magical that something as simple as fried shrimp and fish wrapped in a flour tortilla could taste so damn good! The crunch of the batter, the moist, tender heat of the fish and shrimps, the crisp from the cabbage… I could go on and on here.


Fresh horchata!
I’m a total pig and I went in for another shrimp taco. I took my plate with me, cause they encourage you to reuse for Round II. You probably don’t care to see my half-eaten taco, but I can’t not share this heavenly bite:

Can’t vouch for Ensenada, but these fish tacos could very well be a major contender in the fish taco race of LA. If I lived in LA, there is no doubt Jeni and I would meet here everyday for a little afternoon delight (sky rockets in flight).

Scoops
712 N Heliotrope Dr.
LA, CA
323.906.2649

Best Fish Taco in Ensenada
1650 N. Hillhurst Ave.
LA, CA

California Soul: Silverlake Edition (LA)

February 29, 2008

It’s all in the air/ You hear it everywhere
No matter what you do/ It’s gonna grab a hold on you

California soul… California soul…

— Ashford & Simpson

It’s in my bones, I can’t shake it off- California is IN me. Took a week off to attend a wedding in San Francisco, and detoured through sunny LA and San Diego on my way up. It’s been a glorious trip meeting up with old friends, and most importantly, voraciously eating through each day.

My bff Sara lives in Silverlake, in LA, which I absolutely adore. It’s hipster central, but not so annoying– lots of shops and restaurants and cafes that is totally walkable (very rare for LA, or California in general).

Every morning, I walked to a Chicago-based coffee joint called Intelligentsia- an authority on fine coffees and hot baristas. Good coffee, lots of locals, minimal interior and again, hottie central.


Right next to Intell is The Cheese Store of Silverlake, which is a fancy little fine foods shop (lots of imported condiments, chesses, olives and wine), that specialize in making awesome paninis.


Look at this wrapped panini- flat and compact, like a notebook!
Turkey, cranberry, cheese, and some mysterious green oozy stuff. Who you gonna call? C’mon, laugh.
A cup of cornichons
We went to El Conquistador for my first supper- gotta get your Mexican fix as soon as you land in Cali. This place was AWESOME. I stupidly forgot my camera, but the food was satisfying (I had the enchiladas, Sara had the ropa vieja), extremely friendly service, and flamboyantly kitchy decor. You have to go to see exactly what I’m talking about, but trust me, you will have a blast.

I was super skeptical about Pho Cafe: without a sign, overrun with hipsters, and with their orange Ikea chairs. Also, my friend, an LA native, had warned me that any restaurant in LA with an “A” rating is bogus (the LA Dept of Health grades all eateries, “A” obviously being the highest).

Boy, did they prove me wrong though- the food was excellent, the real deal (dare I use the word “authentic”). Worth the 15 minutes we waited for a seat (it seems this place is packed all the time).

Banh xeo: Crepe with shrimp, steak, shiitake mushrooms and bean sprouts

Bun cha gio tom thit nuong: cold rice noodles with egg rolls and beef

Pho tai gan: rice noodle soup with rare steak and tendon. The soup was very flavorful- a little sweet, lots of depth. I didn’t want it to end.

Possibly my absolute favorite part of Silverlake- the 99cent store. The window proudly displayed their offerings ranging from food, toilet paper, foil, to toothpaste. 99cents people!! There were 2 long aisles devoted to food– refrigerators packed with eggs and milk, condiments, dried foods and canned goods. I got Sara an awesome welcome mat here. A welcome mat for 99cents!!! GO NOW!

All the above spots are all within a 5 block radius from one another on Sunset Blvd. Can you imagine not needing a car in LA? All have a pristine view of the iconic Hollywood sign.
Intelligentsia
3922 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90029
323.663.6173

The Cheese Store of Silverlake
3926-28 West Sunset Blvd.
LA, CA
323.644.7511

El Conquistador
3701 West Sunset Blvd.LA, CA
323.666.5136

Pho Cafe
2841 West Sunset Blvd.
LA, CA
213.413.0888

99cent Store

3600 West Sunset. Blvd.
LA, CA
323.624.9901

Cali Hood Eating (LA)

April 10, 2007

Well, since I live in San Diego I can drive up to Los Angeles for the weekend whenever I’d like. Considering I don’t like to, I don’t often… but I had a family function to attend in Long Beach. The morning after my family anniversary party I headed to a charming Easter breakfast with my grandma, sister (with bo) and aunt Sally. We were thinking something charming for the resurrection of Christ, so we head to none other than the hood famous Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffle House.

We had never been before, but we’ve heard of the establishment from many movies like Jackie Brown and there’s even an entire movie about it. Anywho, so let’s get to the eating part.

The menu consists of a lot of southern food including grits, collard green, fresh liver omelets, biscuits & gravy, giblets ans of course… fried chicken and waffles. I went with the special consisting of two chicken sausage patties, two scrambled eggs, grits and biscuit! Although it may be odd that I didn’t choose to eat the famous fried chicken and waffles at 11am, I knew my hog sister would and I would try some. So anywho… my special…. OMG ~ divine.

I’m not anything close to a southerner, but I do like them gritz — and the biscuit… with the gravy… uhh! to-die-for!!! Definitely my favorite item of the day! Everything was perfectly greezy and D-lish!

Of course my sampling didn’t stop here. As I mentioned, my sister got the famous chicken and waffles. The fried chicken was amazing as I expected. It’s difficult to NOT enjoy a piece of fried chicken, but I must say this chicken definitely put Church’s and KFC to shame. The seasonings are perfected and the fried skin isn’t over done with excess batter! Perfection. Oh and yes, the waffles were very scrumptious. They must put lard in everything to make it taste so heavenly.

Overall, I think it was a breakfast that Jesus himself would have enjoyed! I recommend you look it up when in the Los Angeles area.