Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Bucket

We were having a discussion this morning about our favorite burgers. Campuzano said her favorite right now was the Bucket, which I had never been to. So....The Bucket is located at 4541 Eagle Rock Blvd, Eagle Rock CA 90041, 323-257-5654. It's been around since 1935 but the current owners are not the original owners but are super-cool people. They have beer on tap. I ordered the Julio Burger and the Julio Fries. Who's Julio? He's the original owner who now lives in Spain. The Julio fries are thin fried potato slices drenched in sliced cabbage/ carrots and a spicy-like-Italian sauce. It's vinegary but not too heavy. I liked it. The Julio Burger also has strips of cabbage and carrots with the sauce. The burger is smokey and thickly cooked with a semi-crunchy shell. The bun is huge with sesame. I'd like to focus on the Julio fries. I was wondering what drew Julio to this creation? As I got half way through the basket, it hit me. You can take a potato slice and make a taco with the cabbage and sauce; an inverted potato taco! Julio, you are a genius! (It's across from Auntie Ems so I got a chocolate cupcake after my hamburger). When I came back with my bag of cupcakes, the server said, "Oh no you didn't!" Oh yes I did!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cafe De Leche

Highland Parks Cafe De Leche is located at 5000 York Blvd High Land Park CA 90072, 818-653-0558. What a lovely place. The coffee is from Intellegensia, the baked goods are from El Porto and they have a relationship with Guayaki, Yerba Mate. I never had the Smoked Yerba Mate so I ordered that which was delicious and a cheese and pineapple danish which was excellent. The interior is well designed, clutter free and too cool. The owner's vintage Motobecame is parked in the back; AWESOME!!!! need I say more.


Larkins is located at 1496 Colorado Blvd Eagle Rock CA 90041, 323-254-0934. They call themselves "a contemporary soul food joint", which is quite accurate. The first thing that struck me was the building. It sort of reminds me of a Craftsmanstyle home but I'm not an expert. It's so well designed and all of the finishes and details are clean and warm. We ate inside 'cause it was a little cold but in the summer, it would be awesome to eat outdoors. We ordered salads. I had the fried chicken salad and Campuzano ordered the house. We shared the fried mac and cheese balls. It's exactly that. They use the mac and cheese from the night before and roll it into a ball and fry it. I highly reccomend this. It reminded me of KFC's extra crispy. I believe someone told me it was the original crispy from the day before and they re-fry it. I hope that's not just a rumor, if so, sorry Colonel. Oh by the way, I was in Kentucky once and met a woman who grew up in the same town where KFC started. She laughed at me when I asked her about the Colonel's military history. She said, "honey, you could become a colonel. we would just get a petition going and have it signed by the Govenor". Kentucky Colonel Alan Nakagawa. How cool would that be?

Thursday, April 23, 2009


In the Little Tokyo/ Artist District opened a German sausage place. Wurstkuche is located at 800 E. 3rd Street, LA CA 213-687-4444. I'c been invited on several occassions to dine there but I finally made it this afternoon for lunch. Key; get there early, like 11:30 AM for lunch before the crowd forms. We did and we were in and out within 40 minutes. I ordered the Bratwurst. The thick fries were delicious and I ordered them with peanut sauce. Jeffe's Brockwurst and fries came with curry ketchup which was also memorable. The Ginger Beer was so refined. It's from BC, you betchya! They have lots of delicious beers but I can't drink during the work day so you do what-ya gotta do.

YXTA Cocina Mexicana

YXTA Cocina Mexicana is located at 601 South Central Avenue in Downtown LA, CA 90021, 213-596-5579. I was impressed with the valet only and interior. It's kind of fancy for it's neighborhood but soon the friendly people there made us feel welcomed. I may have been the only guy who didn't have a tie on or at least it felt like that. I asked what YXTA meant and it was the name of the owners professor at Loyola Law School. Interesting...I guess? I ordered the Enchilada de Mole. I love Mole! YXTA's mole is delicious, not very spicy and light. The enchilada was tender and filling. The rice was excellent and the beans scorched my mouth. Was that chipotle refried beans? It was like Thai food. Angelene ordered a salad and Bueno ordered a torta. They couldn't finish their meal, so dainty, so yours truly got to sample and they were delicious. We joke that if I were a pro wrestler, my name would be THE SAMPLER!!!! I asked the server if the flan was homemade and she said that they have a resident baker who makes the flan. Of course we have to try this I said and we shared it. It was a mysterious flan. It looked like flan. In fact it looked beautiful but it tasted and the texture was that of cheese cake. I was in a state of disbelief throughout my devouring of it. That's how we rolled...

Simpang Asia

I had about an hour to grab some food before my weekly basketball session on the west side. I need to eat light because my already challenged game takes a nose dive after a heavy meal. I drove to that odd neighborhood just north of Culver City where National takes that zig zag. There's Nopales and the Vegan Joint, just to name a few but I saw "Indonesian Food" and that caught my interest. Simpang Asia is located at 10433 National Blvd. Los Angeles CA 90034, 310-815-9075. It's a cafe and market. They sell not only Indonesian goods but also Chinese and Japanese foods and snacks too. I wonder if that's a reflection of what's popular in Indonesia these days or if their military history is represented here. Anyway, I didn't know what to order so the host was kind to suggest the special, Nasi Besek and a coconut juice. The Nasi Besek wasn't on the regular menu but dishes like it are. The Nasi Besek was a basically a rice bowl but the bowl was a banana leaf. It's a very delicate and kinda cute presentation. On top of the hot bed of rice is shredded beef in a coconut sauce, fried chicken, a thin fried noodle, pickled vegetables, spicy stewed potatoes, and a vegetable curry. Oh yeah, their was a fried hard bowl egg too. The tastes were familiar and not familiar. It was a mysterious meal that kept me wondering, "What an I eating?" In the end, it widened my pallet. I look forward to eating there again. The coconut juice was served in a coconut and was fresh and cool.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

George and Dragon Phoenix AZ

Kio and I loaded our installation in the rented 16 foot truck and drove back to Phoenix where we were staying. Well, we didn't quite have enough to eat for dinner so we had seen this English place the other night and decided to stop there. it was late and they were open plus our truck fit in their huge parking lot in the back. We both had a Guinness (on tap) and Fish & Chips. I really am totally happy with Fish and Chips. They are usually bland and require the tartar sauce on the side. I guess that's the point. Why can't they put more salt on the fish and batter. That way, you can put less tartar or none at all. What if people don't like mayo? My friend, who has ordered Fish n Chips in London swears that what's missing is the newspaper ink. I guess in London, many small street vendors they serve Fish n Chips in newspaper. Is newspaper ink salty? 'Cause that would totally solve my complaint.

Haus Murphy Glendale AZ

German beer in the HAUS!!! Haus Murphy is located at 5739 W Glendale Avenue, Glendale AZ 85301, 623-939-2480. Well, it was the end of the festival. The artists were all really cool so we all decided to head across the street for a goodbye dinner. It was very bonding and a great way for closure. Everyone worked so hard. Not only were the artists but the City staff was awesome. I ordered the potato pancakes which were different from the one's I get at places like Canters or Yorkshire Grill back home. These were softer like a crab cake. It was delicious and had onions in it so Kio couldn't eat in it. This was the reoccurring subject at meals. Kio can't eat onions so he can't eat a lot of stuff at restaurants. It's sad, so sad. The beer was smooth and delicious but that goes without saying, right? It's a given. Oh yeah, the pretzels were awesome; hot, bready and delicious.

Little Saigon Glendale AZ

We were told 1) that hey were having health department problems and 2) The sister and brothers always fought and that recently the sister quit. Little Saigon is located at 7016 N 57th Ave, Glendale AZ 85301 626-939-6136. I wasn't that hungry but I was curious if they would fight in front of us. How cool would that be? So Kio and I went with the City staff for lunch or in our case a second lunch. I ordered spring rolls which were really huge, fresh and yummy. Mel, who was our main contact for the City, ordered the beef and vermicelli dish which she wanted me to taste. It was actually very yummy and if I went back, I would have ordered on myself. The sister was back. No fights broke out. It was actually pretty calm in there. oh well.

Zang Glendale AZ

Zang is located at 6835 North 58th Drive, Glendale AZ 85301 623-847-8888, again, super close to the Historic Downtown Glendale as we didn't want to put any more mileage on our rented truck. We found this place because one of the staff kept handing out coupons during the festival we were at. Zang? DANG! How much sauce can you put on this Chinese food? I really don't care for Chinese food drenched in sauce. I couldn't taste the meats and vegetables on top of the MSG.

La Piazza Glendale AZ

Rex, Director of the Glendale AZ Arts Program, recommended La Piazza, 5803 W. Glendale Avenue, Glendale AZ 85301, 623-847-3301 for lunch. Kio and I, totally exhausted from setting up our installation and he was being attacked by his allergy, crawled into this place that was almost directly across the street from were we installed our sound installation. It's a long one room cafe with details that are Italian-like and lots of tables. In the center to the right is a huge brick room that is the oven. First, I thought it was a partition but it ended up being the oven the pizza's were coming out of. Hey, why can't we have a place like this in LA? It seems all of our great pizza places are fuffy expensive places. La Piazza is family-run and serves totally affordable excellent pizza. We ordered the "Italian Stallion". What a goofy name but we wanted meat and were kind of goofy ourselves. The pizza, thin crust was so excellent. The dough was superb, crisp, light, and fluffy inside. The meats were all high level and the sauce was mouth-watering.

Papa Eds Glendale AZ

When Kio and I were walking around the historic district, we both eyed the ice cream shop that sits behind one of the many small shop cottages. Papa Ed's Ice cream is located at 7146-B N 58th Avenue Glendale AZ 85301, 623-915-4438. The four days we were in Glendale Az, we went to this shop each day. They carry various ice creams including the local Shamrock Ice cream. I had the chocolate on Friday, the pistachio on Saturday, the butterscotch on Sunday and back to the chocolate on Monday. So, about the chocolate. This amazing ice cream has the essence of fudge. There's no fudge in the ice cream but the cream has the consistency of light fudge and the aftertaste is fudge-like. I couldn't believe it. Amazing!

A Touch of European, Glendale AZ

A Touch of European was highly recommended to us by two people once we made it to the festival grounds. Everyone was busy setting up, rental companies driving in with huge trucks, sound systems being erected, vendors bustling and of course the artists setting up their installations. Kio and I were dazed, a bit stressed and hungry so we walked over to 7146 N 57th Drive, Glendale AZ 85301, 623-847-7119 and walked up to the cafe. What sweet surroundings. The locals call themselves Maeberry. It's just one small cottage shop after another. A Touch of European is run by a Polish couple but on that day, we only saw the wife. She was tough and sarcastic which was a weired way to be introduced to food in Glendale AZ. In the end, she was a lot more attentive and helpful but it never got friendly. The pirogi was perhaps the best Kio and I ever had. i could eat just those and be really happy. We ordered the sausage sandwich (kielbasa) and the mozzarella sandwich. Both were delicious. i was blown away by the sauerkraut. It was so fresh and not heavy. This must be the real thing. Not the stuff from the can I grew up with.

Mario Italian Cafe in Indio

Kio and I (Otonomiyaki) received a commission to install our temporary sound sculpture "Pota Pota" at the Glendale AZ Jazz and Blues Festival sponsored by Gibson Guitars. We rented a 16 foot truck from Enterprise, loaded the equipment and drove up the 10 freeway. On our way there, we stopped over Indio for a lunch break. Not knowing the area, we spotted and took a chance with this Italian place called Mario's. It was a family run franchise with maps of Italy under the glass tables; brick and stucco interior; with semi-comfortable feel. Kio and I were pretty hungry and ordered the Ravioli and Chicken Marsala. Oh, no one warned us about the servings. They were huge and we ended up taking half it with us in a take out box. Note; don't eat Italian food in the middle of a long trip to Arizona. We regretted it afterwards. Sleepy on the road in midday is not safe. It sure was delicious at the time. Mario's is located at 83103 Avenue 48, Coachella CA 760-775-2888.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Golden State

I first learned about this place through a little take one I picked up at an art gallery in Silver Lake. The colorful brochure spotlit various places to eat and shop in the general area and raved about this place. Recently, Jeffe went and said it was pretty amazing as well. The Golden State is located at 426 North Fairfax LA CA 90036, 323-782-8331, across the street and a couple of shops north of Canters. It's a one room groovy interior cafe. I ordered the chicken pesto sausage which I learned was from the local butcher. The cucumber salad was excellent, didn't expect that. They had root beer on tap. Isn't that fabulouso! The bread was not impressive, kind of like a store bought cheap bun. It was so out of place in this eatery. I would definitely go again.

Monday, April 13, 2009


We were so excited that a new BBQ place was opening in East LA. AJ's BBQ Pit is located at 3691 3rd Street just east of Indiana and opened this past Monday. Today, I ordered the #1, a 1/3 slab of beef ribs, cole slaw and chili beans with a root beer. The chili beans were absolutely delicious. the coleslaw was a traditional medium cut cabbage type, fresh and tasty. The ribs were good. I think I'll ask for the sauce on the side next time. Too much sauce either hides or smothers the taste of the rib for me. The meat fell off the bone which is great but i think these ribs were boiled and then put in a smoker ( unfortunately a common practice in LA) because there was no rub exterior or that chewy and/or crunchy skin. I will definitely return to try other items on the menu. It's worth a return.

Fioretto Trattoria

Fioretto Trattoria, 12740 Culver Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90066, 310-448-8000 just south of the Marina Freeway, is truly an amazing place. It's the owners dream come true. he wanted to have a small and intimate place that served Florence style Italian food. I may have found my favorite Italian restaurant Saturday night when artists Midori and Kio invited me for my birthday. By the way, what a great week of friends taking me out for lunch, dinner and breakfasts. Four and a half decades and I'm still eating like a king with fantastic company. What a blessing! Anyway, i don't think I can properly explain what we ate. Please read the following in colors of awe and amazement. We started with bread and olive oil with fresh oregano. This was followed by an delicate but tasty arugala salad, We shared a dry Chianti along with the sauteed beef in red wine sauce, crab ravioli and this amazing pasta dish called picce? I'm not sure how it's spelled but it sort of sounds like peaches. It's like udon but hefty and meaty. That was an amazing noodle that was drenched in home cooked pride. Lastly, we had a dessert that consisted of a delicate creme that was like a cross between custard, flan and yogurt. Holly Toledo!!!

Indian Sweet and Spices

Hadn't been there in years but Indian Sweet and Spices, (310) 837-5286, 9409 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90232, is a place I've been going to since the early 1980's. I was in college back then. It's very affordable Indian Food. I got this whole dinner plate for around $8 to $9. It's not a fancy place at all. There's a small market and the people are very helpful especially if you're not sure what the buffet is. The seating area is in their front patio along side the sidewalk separated by an iron fence. I recommend avoiding eating there if it's windy, cold and/or raining. If you're there in the daytime, try to swing by the Museum of Jurrasic Technology just a half block east.