Monday, November 23, 2009

Western Smokehouse on the Westside

My kids go to Culver City High School. We live in K-Town. They play sports. Often, like most parents who have kids who play high school sports, I pick them up late at night after a game or practice. It's a time when it's too late to cook by the time we get home, logistically. Although not economical, it's so much easier to go "take out" on our way home. On the days I ask what would they like to eat, the answers are "Chipotle", "Panda Express", "Carls JR.", etc. No, it's cool. My brother and I were into the junk food regime when we were kids too. The routes back to K-Town passes by some great places to eat. On the nights I don't ask or they answer, "anything is fine", I am off to some of my favorites like Western Smokehouse, 10640 Woodbine Street, LA CA 90034 (on Overland at Rose)310-837-3544. A Fathers gotta take advantage of these small perks. They keep some complicated hours, so call. I sense they cater most of the time. The ribs, sausages and pulled pork are delicious. The sauce is just right, not sweet, not tangy, not spicy but a combo of the three in a kind of old school smoked out kicked back sense. Cash Only. Save room for desserts. It's all homemade; peach cobbler, red velvet cupcakes. This time when I went for the take out, I saw this funny thing happen. The place is "CO-ZEE". There was this guy who looked like he loved his ribs and sort of looked like Santa Claus on holiday with that ZZ-Top chin bush. He finished his meal. I was watching a college football game on their tube and watched all this out of the corner of my eye. The waitress, who's Asian, asked if he enjoyed the meal. Sounds like he's a regular. He said, "Yes, but I was surprised, when you asked if I wanted pancakes, I thought you were going to bring out the Korean pancakes not actual pancakes." Mann, that was funny. I'm sure she never said anything about Korean (Pa-Jeon?) pancakes. Why would they be serving them in a Texas BBQ place?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blue Dahlia Cafe in the Arts District

I was walking from the newly opened Little Tokyo/ Arts District station yesterday and walked towards Blue Dahlia Cafe which is located in the Arts District at 738 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013. I'd never been there before but was at E 3rd next door not too long ago. Although it was lunch time, there were no customers there. It was a little odd so I proceeded with caution. The small front room has a cozy den like feel with a wine bar at the end. Through a narrow hall, I walked towards the back where there's a really nice outdoor eating space with trees and comfortable table sets. I ordered the hamburger which is an Angus ground encompassing short rib. The bun was an excellent egg type. The greens were super fresh. The grilled onions delicious and the chipotle sauce was perfect. I am curious why the place was so empty. Not a single other customer while I was there. I really appreciated the quite/ contemplative environment though.Just what the doctor ordered.

Suehiro in Little Tokyo

Suehiro is located in Little Tokyo at 337 East 1st Street, LA, CA 90012, 213-626-9132. Suehiro has been around for quite sometime and is staple to the late night Little Tokyo crowd. It's not open till really-really late but longer than most. it's bustling for lunch and dinner and they have all of the Japanese dishes synonymous with old school JA cuisine including sukiyaki, curry rice, chicken or beef teriyaki and udon. I ordered the coffee jello or "cohee jelli". It's a jello like consistency but with the aroma and taste of a cup of jo. When I sit in Suehiro, for some reason, I always remember Atomic Cafe that used to be a block east across JANM. It looks nothing like Atomic Cafe, no punk posters on the ceiling or Atomic Nancy to watch manage the crowd but there's a vibe that doesn't exist at any other place in Little Tokyo.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Papa Cristos on Pico

Today I went to Papa Cristos on Pico with my friend Photographer William Short. I was pretty sure it was on this blog but I was wrong. It's a good thing I took pix. Papa Cristos is located at 2771 West Pico Blvd, LA CA 90006, 323-737-2970 on the northeast corner of Normandie and Pico. It's Greek to the max with a full menu of traditional Mediterranean cuisine, an indoor and outdoor dining area, full market and a bakery. It's hard not to pick up some Baklava for the office on your way out. Today, I ordered the Spicy Beef plate and Bill ordered the Wine Soaked Sausage Plate. So delicious and fresh. I highly recommend this place. Every Thursday evening, they have the family style dinner with music and great fun.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pho Show in Culver City

Pho Show is located in Culver City at 4349 Sepulveda next door to the Big 5 Sporting Goods. It's been open for a while but my son and I finally made it there this weekend. The Pho is available in 2 sizes; small and large. I've never seen that at a noodle place before. it's a good idea. We ordered the Pho Show Pho; rice noodles, rare steak, brisket tendon, tripe, beef balls. On the side of table is an assortment of chili's including local fav, Spiracha (made in Rosemead). We shared an order of spring rolls which were on the hefty side and delicious. My son and I agreed that although a good Pho, not the best we ever tasted. There are quite a few other items on the menu including Chinese dishes like Mongolian Beef and Kung Pao Chicken. They also have Bun and vermicelli noodles. It's definitely worth a second look, maybe next weekend.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Go Veggie in Marina Del Rey/Venice

Go Veggie is located at 5462 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA, (310) 577-0167, next door to the Marina Farms Market. Go Vegie has some great hot meals like Lentil Salads and Tofu sandwiches. Yesterday, I ordered the Chicken Adobo Pita Sandwhich and the Kaboocha and White Bean Soup. Very filling and tasty food, rich with garlic and spices. Everything is really fresh and ready to order. In the past, I've ordered the smoothies which are made well and can give you a great jump start. Also, it's next door to Marina Farms which is one of my favorite places to shop for vegetables and fruits.


Famima, aka Family Mart in Japan, is a chain of convenient stores throughout LA that sell in addition to your normal foods and stuff, Japanese snacks, drinks and meals (bento's). Well, recently, I've gotten hooked on the Cashu Bao (Steamed Chinese Pork Buns). They aren't as good as the one's in Chinatown but for a quick fix, it's great. The one I go to is on National and Venice Blvd on the Westside.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Miss T's Barcade

Miss T's Barcade is located at 371 North Western Avenue, LA CA 90004, 323-465-5045. Artist Steven M. Irvin mentioned it a couple of weeks ago to me so after practice last night, Peter, Kio and I went to have a beer. There's no signage except for a blue animated neon sign that switches between the two main characters from Pac Man. Inside is a dark and funky bar that maneuvers itself from 80's arcade persona to a Kienholz installation to the stage set of a Bukowski autobiography. We got there after the kitchen closed but I'd like to go back and try the Korean food or maybe the patty melt. There's no beer on tap but I enjoyed my Stella. Serving us was the accordion player of the the local band Very Be Careful, Ricardo. We had a good time playing the games like Astroids and Galaga. It's a cool place. We'll definitely be back.

Rowdy Red in Downtown LA

Back in the day, this underground food court-mall was very futuristic. There was this movie in the 70's called Logan's Run and this subterranean shopping mega at 505 Flower Street LA CA kinda alluded to it. Today, it's small in comparison to the Beverly Center or the Glendale Galleria or for that matter the Grove or Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade. Well, it was once pretty awesome but it still caters to the Downtown LA business crowd and lunchtime is hoping. Down there, amongst the Starbucks and McDonalds there's a hamburger/bar place called Rowdy Red and they have this hamburger called the Black and Blue that's pretty good. I think if you eat it with one of the wines from their wine lists, it would taste even better but I can't do that when I'm working. My friends ordered the broccoli soup and the turkey burger which they said was ok. I did not order fries but took some off my friends plate. She didn't seem to mind. Thanks Angelene! The fries are thin and stringy. They are fantastic with the burger. I opted for the side salad. It was one of the weeks.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Father's Office in Culver City

I met artists Shin Ono and Kio Griffith for dinner Saturday at Father's Office, 3229 Helms Avenue LA CA 90034, 310-736-2224. It's a very popular, date/singles/bar/restaurant in the Helms Building off of Venice Blvd.; not your traditional bar. There's another one in Santa Monica, which I believe is the original. Anyway, I was there once before with a friend but it was so loud and crowded we went elsewhere. Saturday night was busy as well and I got there early so I sat at the corner of the bar to wait for Kio and Shin. Tons of people coming and going, wall to wall, standing room only. The bartenders were juggling orders and one finally discovered me. I asked what he would recommend in the pale ale category and he poured my a mug of Drake's 1500 which was absolutely delicious, red, a lil bit bitter and slightly caramel-like. Dude was spot on! The wall of beers on tap is like a 70's conceptual art piece. It's haunting and daunting. I'm just not used to that many choices. Kio and Shin showed up and we found a table outside in the "patio". Big wood tables and it was a little cool that night but we had a good time. Two young girls came up to us and asked if they could share the table. Sure. It's that kind of place. Kio ordered for us, having been there before. We shared the roasted duck, hamburgers (really tasty), fries, salad, potatoes and fried shrimp. Everything was prepared well, above average and fun to eat. I'm not sure if it's the kind of place I like because it's so loud. It's challenging to have a conversation but great for people watching. I have a hard time enjoying my food in a ocean of conversations but they certainly know what they are doing.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Vegan House On Sunset

Vegan House On Sunset, 2703 West Sunset Blvd, LA CA 90026, 213-483-2105, is a place we have passed by hundreds of times. We've seen it but I guess the fact that no one had gone yet and the sort of odd mini-mall environment/ motel thing is weird. Today, I found myself in a rare solo lunch situation and decided to take one for the team. I drove to the motel with the mini-mall below it and walked in. I think this is somewhat related to the Vegan place on Centinela on the Westside. The take home menu is the type you find hanging on your home door knob after a long days work. The lunch special is $6.95. Can you believe it? I think that's how much the beverage costs at most vegan places. It was very decent and cheap. Nothing really stands out on the menu. I ordered Pad Thai. It came with brown rice, a salad and a spring roll. I enjoyed the meal, which was healthy and filling but not super-fresh. I'd go back, especially on the weeks the wallets a little thin.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Nicky D's Wood Fired Pizza in Silverlake

Nicky D's Wood Fired Pizza is located at 2764 Rowena Avenue LA CA 90039, 323-664-3333. I was introduced to this place by artist/ friend Jeff Mohr. Three things; 1) Miles used to work here and 2) Nicky the owner was one of the original Mutant Ninja Turtles and 3) this used to be the only wood burning pizza ovens in town, so it's been around for a while. We ordered the Margherita and the Blonde Bunny (cheese and lots of garlic). Jeff, having been here so many times, asked them to stretch the pizza, which means you want the thin crust as thin as possible. Let's remember that, shall we? The pizza's were excellent. I'm definitely going back. Hope to see you there.

Bamboo on Venice Blvd

Bamboo is at 10835 Venice Blvd. LA CA 90034, 310-287-0668. I hadn't been here since the early 90's. I remember I saw Ray Don Chong there; very beautiful. So today, when I get there about 5PM. No one was there. It was weird. I think it's a late night place. There's a bar, the main dining room and the interior is very pleasant and a bit romantic. The servers were great and very friendly. Oh, there's also an outdoor seating area that looks like it would be awesome during the day or summer. It was over cast and a little on the cool side tonight so I took a table inside. I ordered the stuffed mushroom which was outstanding. It was a ball of minced herbs and spices with sauteed mushrooms. The whole thing breaded and fried just danced in my mouth. It comes with a cream and cucumber dip on the side. When the plate came to the table, it looked so understated, I was really kinda shocked but it turned out to be really great. My main course was the Chicken Milanesa, a thin breaded grilled chicken with sauce that was pretty good. The sides were filling; rice, black beans and plantains. It's a very pleasant place, affordable and not over the top.

Maggiano's At the Grove

Apparently, a lot of my friends had been here before but it was my first time. It was the reception for my friends wedding. This was also my first wedding for a gay couple. Actually, they aren't "married" but "domestic partners". It's all messed up. Hopefully the state or the feds will fix all this soon. Anyway, this was a pretty cool place for being in a fancy mall. We were all up stairs in this nice room. I was impressed with the feel of the room. For a place that's fairly brand spankin new, it really felt lived in, unlike most of the Grove. It helps to have a good architect I guess. We had a house salad that was a creamy dressing drenched through lettuce. It was almost a coleslaw. We also had a Caprese style salad which wasn't the best. The tomato's were not ripe enough and the cheese wasn't at room temperature nor fresh to the taste. I think they should of poured some olive oil and threw more cut fresh basil over it. The pasta on the other hand was awesome! "Mom's Lasagna" was rockin and the Gnocchi with Tomato Vodka Sauce was my favorite portion of the dinner. I had seconds of the Gnocchi. It was so tender and girthy. The Salmon was pretty good. The Chicken Rosemary was a little dry. Next was a duet of Tiramisu (so-so) and Profiteroles which were two huge cream puff like halves with vanilla ice cream in the center. How could you not like that? Hey! Who's brilliant idea was it to serve two desserts before the wedding cake? Three of us had to share a slice. We were beyond our max. It was a cash bar but I brought my flask filled with Patron Silver (one of the brides request) so our table was set for the night. But seriously, it was an honor to be at this wedding. I felt I was part of a mini revolution. I was the only male and only straight person at my table. My friend announced I was an honorary Lesbian. Not sure how I'm supposed to react to that one.

El Baron on Pico Blvd

El Baron De Centro America is located at 4212 Pico Blvd. LA CA, 323-954-1384, just west of Crenshaw Blvd. My friend and DRE bass/ theremin player, Peter Watkinson came with me. El Baron is a one and a half room storefront on Pico that is jammed pack with soccer or futbol paraphernalia. There are several large screens playing games and the two times I've been there, it's been fairly packed. We had the 7 Mares soup which reminded us of the lemon grass soup you get in Thai restaurants and equally as rich and delicious. We also shared a papusas. I also ordered an El Salvadorian beer, Suprema which was excellent with the meal. As usual, I was the only Asian in the place. It helps to speak Spanish, luckily Peter is fluent.