Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Viva Ventura Pt2

Yes, part 2 has arrived. It will probably be a while before part 3 since this turned out to be a much more expensive month than I expected, mostly due to all this eating out.

Sahara By Bahador: I went for the $6.99 lunch buffet and it was well worth it. I've never had Persian food before and it was very good, even if a bit of it wasn't to my taste. I highly recommend the chicken kabobs, and the herbed rice was very popular, even though not really my thing. The service was good and the waitress was very friendly, showing my ignorant self what was available on the buffet. This is a definite recommend for lunch on a work day.

Crazy Tokyo Sushi: This place has reader's choice awards and is pretty highly rated but I wasn't impressed. I've eaten a lot of Japanese food at a lot of places in many different areas of the world. I know what to expect and I didn't get it. Now, I didn't have sushi, I had an entree, Tonkatsu, and I had some of the Chicken Teriyaki. The portions of the meat were decent but it came with a tiny portion of rice and a cucumber salad and that was it. For the price for each entree, I'm used to getting tempura or something in addition. Also, the tonkatsu barely had any sauce on it and the chicken teriyaki had almost too much. Service was decent. I won't be going again, especially given the vast number of other Japanese restaurants nearby.

Gyu-Kaku: This is one of those Japanese grill places where you choose your meat or vegetable, choose what sauce it is marinated in, and then they bring it out to you and you grill it yourself. Now, I'm used to getting this kind of place in an all you can eat format where you can use their sauces or combine them to make your own. So, Gyu-Kaku was a disappointment in that sense, but was good in every other. At Gyu-kaku you pay by the plate of whatever. Now, this is fine for light eaters but people who like to eat will walk away much poorer or still hungry. The food was good, the sauces were good, the service was good. I went with a few friends and I think this is the best way to go, that way everyone can try a little of everything and people who have never done this before always seem to get a thrill out of it. The only drawback besides it not being buffet style was how packed the place was. Once all the tables were filled, someone at one table could not get up unless somebody at another table moved out themselves. It was a small inconvenience, so it doesn't detract too much, but this is definitely not a place to go if you don't like crowds and being crowded.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

SoCal Eats

Since not all the food in the LA area is on Ventura, here's a review of some of the other places I've tried.

The Pizza Cookery: Good service, although I think I was older than the entire female wait staff, which was a little weird. I had a personal pizza with sausage, pepperoni, salami, and meatball slices. The sausage was ok, the pepperoni was on the bland side, and the salami and meatball slices weren't all that flavorfull either. The crust was good and the toppings were piled high, so overall the pizza was good but not something I would really recommend. However, the garlic rolls were really good. I love rolls already, and I love garlic, and they combined them into this wonderful pre-meal snack. The rolls are soft and flavourful and the roasted garlic baked into them just made them heavenly. I will go back for the rolls.

Kate Mantilini: I went at an off hour and decided to sit at the bar and watch the game on the TV. This is one of those places where you pay for a name and an atmosphere. I ordered a burger with side of fries and they were good, but not worth the price charged when I could get a better burger at Jonny Rocket's for half the price. The bartender was very helpful and the service was very good. It was also very obvious that the staff all liked each other and got along very well. And, despite the price, there wasn't a stuffy atmosphere and they didn't scoff at my jeans and t-shirt when I walked in. If you have money and you want to hang out somewhere casual but nice this is a good place to do it if all you're getting is drinks. But I don't think the food they offer is worth the prices they ask.

Ruby's Diner: I think this is a chain but I have yet to see another one and I've never heard of it elsewhere so I think it's a local chain if a chain it is. I'd equate this to Jonny Rockets. The food is good in the same way, although they offer a lot more choices. They do have uniforms, much more accurate to the time they're recreating than Jonny Rockets, which adds to the atmosphere. As for the service, it was pretty bad when I was there although given my observations I'm inclined to think it was my waitress specifically.

Aunt Rosa Lee's: Soul Food with soul. I haven't had soul food in years and Aunt Rosa Lee's was so spot on and so good it just made me happy. The staff were incredibly friendly and the whole place felt like a home dining room complete with Aunt Rosa Lee holding court in one corner. I had the smothered pork chops with a side of mac and cheese and hushpuppies. The pork chops were really, really good, and the gravy was really, really good too. There was so much food on the plate I ended up having to take some home and I threw a little rice from home in with it and the gravy on the rice was just sublime. The mac and cheese was good, not spectacular, although the hot sauce they had on the table really went with it really well. The hushpuppies were a very nice suprise. There was a little heat to them, not overpowering, but enough for you to notice. Some friends I'd gone with had never had soul food and one ordered the oxtails at my recommendation and really loved them, she polished them off completely. I will be trying them next time I go, and even though it's quite a drive away from me, I will be going to Aunt Rosa Lee's again.

East Japanese Restaurant: This place had a really nice look to it inside. It's what you'd expect from a long standing corner Japanese restaurant in the suburbs, even though it's in middle of Little Tokyo. The miso soup was good, even if it did lack tofu. I had the Katsu don which is my favourite Japanese dish and a dish I have been craving since I've been having difficulty finding it at all these sushi joints that have popped up to profit off the craze. The Katsu don was perfect. The rice was flavourful, the pork cutlet wasn't tough, the eggs were soft. The service was good and very friendly even if it was obvious English wasn't the waiter's first language. I will be trying other restaurants in Little Tokyo before going back here, but it's definitely worth going back.

I can't remember the name of the place since I'm not sure they actually had a name sign out, but I was recently on Olivera St and ate at one of the Mexican restaurants there. This was a semi-open air place and really more of a literal hole in the wall than an actual formal restaurant, but that didn't detract from it. The guy handling the sitting area and the take-out window did a good job of staying on top of things considering the only other guy there was in charge of cooking. The place was cleaner than you would expect given it's layout. I had the beef taquitos and they came in this light green sauce, I'm not sure what it was. A friend thought it might be guacamole mixed with sour cream and normally I don't like either but I liked this sauce. I also added a dash of the hot sauce available on the table which had a nice kick to it. The taquitos themselves were very good. It's hard to go back to the frozen in a box variety after having these. They were crisp and the beef was very flavourful. Next time I'm in that area I will be getting the taquitos as a snack again.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Palm Springs Selections

I spent some time this weekend in Palm Springs CA and, of course, ate out.

Bongo Johnny's
I had the western burger with a side of fries. The service was good and they were very prompt. The burger and fries were good but didn't really stand out. The thing really going for the burger was that the bacon was the thick sliced stuff and there was plenty of it.

Village Pub
Completely unrelated to the Village Pub in Vegas, but still good. Good crowd, good music, good TV, good drinks. I snacked on the Calamari and really enjoyed it. It's one of the light battered versions that I prefer and was very tasty. They served it with marinara, which is a little non-standard, but really the marinara wasn't good enough to justify dipping the calamari in it. It wasn't bad, it just tasted like something out of a bottle.

Don and Sweet Sue's Cafe
I needed food before my drive out and stopped here because it was the first cafe I found. It was a good decision. This is one of those local institution kind of places. There were people that were obviously regulars and everything was very homey. The service was great and very prompt. I had the buttermilk pancakes and breakfast sausage. Really good pancakes. Really good. IHOP can kiss it, so can all those other chain breakfast joints, these were the real thing. I will definitely be getting my breakfast here when I go to Palm Springs again.