March 2011

San Gabiel Valley Food Truck Fest – No Joke!

by Franklin on March 31, 2011

Its the first Friday of the month. That means only one thing — The San Gabriel Food Truck Fest is on!  It’s not joke, even though it falls on April Fools.  Check them out at their regular spot at Speedzone in Industry, CA.  $5 for entry ($4 game card included).  If my math is correct, that’s like a dollar to participate in the event.  Have fun eating and playing!

Date: April 1, 2011

Time: 5PM – 11PM

Place:

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This is a big one.  Santa Anita Park is having a Food Truck Festival Saturday, April 2, 2011.  Enjoy choosing from 80 different gourmet food trucks!  Wow, that’s a lot.  It will be held on the infield from 11:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.  There will be live entertainment and lots of activities.  Entrance to the park is $5 but the food truck festival is free. All hosted by Amp Radio? Cool!  Get ready to eat and have fun. See you there!

Here is the list of those slated to appear!

Ahn Joo LA

Almoosal

Auntie’s Fry Bread

Barbies Q

Baby’s Badass Burgers

Bool BBQ

Border Grill

Cheeseball Wagon

Chef Che’s Argentine Cuisine

Chunk’n Chip

Clean Street Food

Coolhaus

Crepes Bonaparte

Da Munch Box

Dante Fried Chicken

Dogtown Dogs

Don Chow Tacos

Dosa Truck

Flavor Rush

Flying Pig Truck

Fresh Fries LA

Frysmith

George’s Greek Cafe

Germany’s Famous Bratwurst

Go Country 105 Chuck Wagon

Great Balls on Tires

Greenz on Wheels

Grilled Cheese Truck

Gringos Tacos

Hungry Nomad

India Jones

Jogasaki Burrito

Kabob ‘N Roll

Knockout Tacos

Komodo

Krazy BBQ

Lake St. Creamery

Lardon Truck

Lee’s Philly

Lobsta Truck

Longboards Ice Cream

LouksToGo

Ludo Truck

Mac N Roll

Macho Nacho

Mandoline Grill

Maria’s Italian Kitchen

Maui Wowi Hawaiian

Meet N Potatoes

Naan Stop

No Jodas Cuban Kitchen

No Reservations

No Tomatoes

Nom Nom Truck x 2

Pita Pushers

Ragin’ Cajun

Rosa’s Bella Cucina

Shrimp Pimp

Slammin’ Sliders

Smokin’ Willies BBQ

South Philly Experience

Streets of Thailand

Ta Bom

Tapa Boy LA

The Boba Truck

The Feast Truck

The Greasy Weiner

The Sweets Truck

The Yummy One

Tropical Shaved Ice

Tornado Potato

Uncle Lau’s BBQ

Vesuvio LA

Vizzi Truck

White Rabbit Truck

Willoughby Road

Wrap Me Silly

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Kogi BBQ – Gourmet Food Truck Pioneer

by Franklin on March 29, 2011

Food trucks are a dime a dozen these days. Los Angeles has the most food trucks and the most unique ones. It all started with the Kogi Truck. Chef Roy Choi along with other founders started this food truck. Their over 80,000 loyal twitter followers track their every move (@kogibbq). Currently, they operate 4 trucks (Azul, Verde, Naranja, Roja) — these trucks go all over Los Angeles and Orange County. They even have a kitchen at Alibi Room in Culver City.  It is obvious that they are the reasons behind the food truck boom in Los Angeles.

Their menu is unique in that they mix traditional Korean meats and dishes with Mexican ingredients.  They have short rib tacos and burritos, kimchi quesadillas, and other specialty eats.  I had the pleasure of eating at this truck many times, and they never disappoint.

The tacos and burritos come with choice of meat. The meat is so tasty from the marinate, that your mouth waters from every chew.  Then they put an Asian slaw on top that compliments the meat very well.  The slaw is a bit sour from the vinegar, and has some heat to it — they also add a sauce on top that brings the whole dish together.  One bite, and all those ingredients meld into one big complex array of flavors in your mouth.

For one of their specialty orders, the Blackjack Quesadilla has choice of marinated meat and cheese inside a flour tortilla.  Then they add a zesty sauce over.  At first, you may think that eating Korean food with cheese might be a bit weird  — try this and you will think differently.

At the end of the day, it’s just Korean meats on top of corn/flour tortilla.  That may be true, but the way chef Roy prepares his meats and ingredients is one of a kind.  One has to be a genius to think of food this way.  As a Korean American, and a lover of Mexican food, eating Kogi truck is definitely Delish.

Kogi Korean BBQ on Urbanspoon

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The Bengal Barbecue – Disneyland

by Franklin on March 27, 2011

I can honestly say that it is impossible to have a good meal at Disneyland.  I don’t blame the them — thousands and thousands go there every day.  The truth is, “The Happiest Place on Earth” doesn’t have a decent place to eat.  Well that sucks, if people can’t have a good meal, how can they be happy?  Don’t get me wrong.  I love Disneyland; Disneyland is fun. They just don’t have a decent place to have lunch or dinner — breakfast even.  What they do have, are good snacks.  They have some of the best caramel corn, corn dogs (the famous cart), and coveted churros — but the snack I am talking about comes on a stick, and is from The Bengal Barbecue.

 

This place is located right across the Indiana Jones ride entrance.  It is a little stand that sells various meats on a stick.  They have chicken and beef skewers along with drinks and Mikey Mouse shaped pretzels.  What I came here for was the bacon wrapped asparagus. Who knew you can get this at Disneyland?  The asparagus was juicy and had an almost meaty texture.  The bacon was grilled and was the salty element of the snack.  I may be a sucker for bacon, and that”s why these things are so great

Forget looking for a decent meal at Disneyland.  Just grab a soda, get some caramel corn, get like 10 of these, and call it a meal — You can thank me later.  And I guess I owe you an apology for lying to you in the beginning.  It looks like you can have a tasty meal at the happiest place on Earth.

Bengal Barbecue (Disneyland) on Urbanspoon

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Habana – Cuban Cuisine in Costa Mesa

by Franklin on March 24, 2011

Costa Mesa has a place called The Lab — It is an “anti-mall”.  What the heck is an “anti-mall”?  Anyways, they have a dance club, places to shop like Urban Outfitters, and most importantly, places to dine.  Habana for instance, a Cuban restaurant, is situated in The Lab, and is in the center of it all.

Cuban cuisine is something I don’t try enough — that is probably because there really aren’t many of them around.  At first glance, this restaurant was intimidating.  The inside was dark and almost had a haunted house feel to it.  And when I say dark, I mean you can barely see your food, dark — hence the poor pictures.  I guess it was romantic, in a Gothic kind of way?  They had large tall windows, countless candles, and railings up above.  I couldn’t even find the sign of the restaurant inside or outside.  It was just a large open door with a window and plants all over.  For all I know, the restaurant I went to wasn’t even Habana.

Upon sitting down, we were given some sesame seed topped buns and butter.  My girlfriend ordered the salmon parilla and I had the plantain crusted chicken breast.  Both were great, but I have to say, the salmon was amazing. It changed my aspect of what good salmon is. (I usually do mine with a crispy outside and soft inside.)  Theirs was buttery soft inside and out without a crust.  Taking a bite with the rice and mixed in with the tomato green onion cream sauce was silky smooth.  Often times, restaurants overcook their salmon and becomes too dry, but Habana’s salmon was perfect.  We also shared a tuna tartar with plantain chips.  It was a good opener to what was to come.

 

My experience at Habana was pleasant.  Good food in an interestingly dark restaurant was something memorable.  I want to come back again and try different dishes on the menu.  I would give their patio a try on a warmer night  They had fire pits to stay warm and the lighting seemed really romantic.  From the looks of it, the patio seemed very easy going and relaxing.  Until  then, thanks for the food Habana.

Habana on Urbanspoon

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zpizza

by Franklin on March 23, 2011

As you may or may not know, I don’t really enjoy writing about chains.  Whats the point when it’s not unique to Los Angeles and scattered through out the country?  Zpizza is special, tasty, and all organic — and though there are many locations around the United states, zpizza is definitely something unique to Southern California.

It started in 1986 in Laguna Beach, California.  The people wanted food that was fresh and organic, and zpizza definitely delivered.  And I say delivered, as in the freshness, not to your door step :).  Not only are their pizzas fresh, but they offer a great deal of different kinds of pizzas that are unique and refined.

I had the pear and Gorgonzola rustica pizza and the Greek salad.  It was my first time having pear on a pizza, and it worked.  Something about the marriage of fruit and cheese, Gorgonzola in this case, worked so well.  The crust was thin and crispy, as I like my pizza that way.  The fresh thyme wasn’t overbearing, but complimented the pizza subtly.  The salad had an array of veggies.  I love feta cheese as I do Gorgonzola — those strong cheeses with the saltiness of the Greek olives played nicely with the sweetness of the pear.  The flavors going on in my mouth was amazing.

It was a great lunch — everything was so flavorful and fresh.  Pizza is pizza, but organic pizza with organic ingredients is just even better.  I can see the niche that zpizza belongs in and foreshadow a lot more stores popping up around town.  I pride myself in being a Southern Californian, and knowing that this all started right here makes me proud.

Zpizza on Urbanspoon

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Downtown Brea Farmer’s Market

by Franklin on March 22, 2011

As a lover of fresh food, I love farmers markets.  The diversity of fruits and vegetables, interesting snacks and unique flavors all come in play when you are at the farmer’s market.  Nothing is processed — it goes right from the grower to the consumer and is all organic.

I was walking in downtown Brea one evening and there was a farmer’s market gathering on Birch.  They had a variety of organic fruits, vegetables, popcorn, and other specialty foods.  Each vendor under the tents encouraged customers to try their crop.  One thing in particular stood out to me.  In fact, this whole post can be about this one thing.  It was the orange.

The lady gave me a slice of an orange.  It was a small piece, almost half a bite — but a very memorable bite indeed.  Most of the oranges I eat are dry, flavorless and aren’t even rich in orange color (kind of faded orange).  But this orange slice, this one morsel of an orange slice, was simply amazing.  It was juicy, sweet, and not too sour.  Each pulp burst with flavor and juice.  I felt I was eating an orange for the first time.

The downtown Brea farmers market is pretty small compared to other farmers markets especially in comparison Los Angeles Farmers Market.  They also don’t have an extensive variety of vendors.  Even so, they still manage to bring fresh produce and  specialty items for locals.  They are on Birch St. every Tuesday from 4:00PM – 8:00PM.

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Improv = Food + Comedy

by Franklin on March 21, 2011

What is better than eating, drinking, and laughing?  At the Improv Comedy Club, you can do just that.  I had the chance to watch Pablo Fransico this weekend.  Despite his tired impressions and disappointing performance, the food was good as always at the Improv.

I often go to the Improv to get a good laugh.  Food and drink is comparable to that of a local sports bar.  You have starters that include all of the popular finger food items — Mozzarella sticks, nachos, dips, calamari, and tacos.  Entrees include pastas, salads, steak, and chicken dishes.  They even have sandwiches and burgers as well, and those are my usual go to eats here.  Photography was not allowed during the performances so I couldn’t take any pictures.  You are going to have to go early and eat before the show in order to do that.  Why bother?  My suggestions is to just order some appetizers and finger foods.  That way you can eat away and not have to worry about missing anything.

I have only tried their burgers and appetizers, so I cannot say much about the entrees.  If you are in need of some tasty food and laughter, the Improv is a perfect spot.  My perfect evening would be a nice wine for class, a raunchy comedian, and a big plate of nachos to enjoy.  Southern California has locations in Hollywood, Brea, Ontario, and Irvine — check to see who’s in town.

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Oki-Dog, World Famous

by Franklin on March 18, 2011

World famous you say?  It’s not quite gourmet, nor is it really a classy place to go for a first date — Possibly not classy enough for the next 10 dates.  Before I come off as sounding too snobby, I want to say that this quirky little restaurant is actually famous. Well it is popular among Angelinos. It was popular enough for Andrew Zimmern from the Travel Chanel to eat here – Though, he wasn’t too fond of the Oki-Dog.  As for me?  I do think the Oki Dog is tasty and a good snack, but I wouldn’t eat it as a complete meal.

So what is inside the Oki Dog?  It’s basically chili, cheese, 2 hot dogs, and pastrami, all wrapped inside a flour tortilla.  The chili was really good — It was creamy and smooth.  The hot dog was actually really good.  It had that snap that I really like, and had a nice beef flavor.  The pastrami was good, but it was quite salty.  This burrito dog is rich.  I would probably not want to know how much sodium and fat is in this burrito, which is probably why I only ate half of one.  Either way, this is a guilty pleasure I wouldn’t mind treating myself cautiously.

The inside of the Oki-Dog restaurant is pretty amazingly horrid — I don’t know if I’m saying that this is good or bad.  I’m not talking about the tamed version on Pico either.  You have sketchy furniture, Christmas lights, old school arcade games, and a menu that could possibly have been written by a first grader.  Serves them right to only accept cash.  The truth of the matter is, this is what makes Oki-Dog what it is.  It is as unrefined as it can be, yet the taste is like no other.  This is the only American restaurant I know that serves up more burritos than anything else.  Do they even have a standard carne asada burrito on the menu?  Who cares?  Just give me an Oki-Dog already and leave me alone. 🙂

Oki-Dog on Urbanspoon

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OC Food Truck Fair Thursdays

by Franklin on March 17, 2011

The OC Fair & Event Center is home of the annual OC Fair and will bring you Food Truck Fare Thursdays. It is to be held every Thursday at the OC Fair & Event Center.  It will bring a variety of gourmet food trucks that will change weekly. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Free parking and admission.  And yes, that is today!  So if you are free for lunch today and are in that area, Check it out!

Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Here is the list for today, March 17, 2011.

BaconMania – bacon goodness

Bakery Truck – baked goodies

The Burnt Truck – gourmet sliders

Calbi BBQ – Asian fusion

Crepes Bonaparte – sweet/savory crepes

Dos Chinos – Asian Latin

Flying Pig – Asian fusion

Kona Ice BC – shaved ice

Lee’s Philly – cheesesteaks and beef gogi

Piaggio on Wheels – Argentine cuisine

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Niko Niko Sushi

by Franklin on March 15, 2011

It is lent season, and a lot of people gave something up. For those who gave up red meat, it is not a problem because there is always sushi. I can safely say, that I love sushi — it is my favorite food. There are two things that sushi needs to be, fresh and tasty. At Niko Niko Sushi, they are exactly that.

Most sushi restaurants go over the top with making the plate really nice and pretty. Cool plate designs, a leaf here, and an intricate sauce design here — Sushi can get pretty visually stunning when it comes to your table. Niko Niko isn’t about that. They give you what you ordered on a plain while dish, nothing more, nothing less. They concentrate more on the taste of the rolls and the freshness of the fish.

We had the Ichiban roll, Rock and Roll (Roll), and the Dragon roll. I have to say, my favorite was the Ichiban Roll (pictured below).  It had raw tuna and cucumber, wrapped in seaweed paper and rice, and had an array of raw fish on top — the roll was all fish, no imitation crab meat. As a lover of sashimi, this was a treat!  The best part about this sushi restaurant was the fresh fish. I have been to my fair share of sushi restaurants. This place has the freshest fish by a far margin. You can really taste the fish — it was cold and firm, and the taste was very clean and smooth. The rice has that bit of chewy al dente feel to it which is a must for sushi rice. The rolls were somewhat large too. As a whole, the dining experience here was great. The sushi chefs were talkative and friendly. They even gave us a white tuna sashimi plate, on the house — I hardly ever get free stuff!

You can find Niko Niko scattered throughout Los Angeles and Orange County — I frequent the one in the San Gabriel Valley. If all the other locations are as good as this one, we are in pretty good shape as far as sushi goes.

Niko Niko Sushi on Urbanspoon

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Barbecue My Meat!

by Franklin on March 13, 2011

In sunny Southern California, we have the pleasure of nice warm weather nearly everyday, at any time of day.  This calls for BBQs every Sunday and a relaxing time dining outside.  I had the pleasure to host a birthday BBQ dinner for a buddy of mine.  On the menu?  Meat, junk food, and beer of course.

Guys love meet, so choosing what to eat was easy.  The main course was burgers.  The patty consisted of 50% beef and 50% pork (as a suggestion from my friend).  It was my first time trying it, and it turned out better than expected.  I used muenster cheese as it melted nicely on the meat.  Added some sliced onions, some chili, and more cheese (cheddar and monterey jack), and we had ourselved a great burger.  Something about cooking meat over coals, getting that nice caramelization of the meat, and melting cheese tickles my taste buds very nicely.

For the side dish, we had even more meat (beef and pork).  Who said a side dish has to be carbs and veggies?  We had spice marinated carne asada cooked to a perfectly rare / medium rare and pork belly.  The rub for the carne asada consisted of salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and other ingredients.  I allowed the meat to come to room temperature, and placed it on the grill.  Once each side got a good sear for a few minutes, I let it rest for about 5 minutes.  I cut the skirt steak against the grain into large strips, and voila, you have yourself a side dish of just pure meat.  As for the pork belly, I wrapped the meat, skin, fat, and all with foil, placed it on top of the coals.  Though the skin was burnt to a crisp, the meat itself was delicious.  We dipped it in some hot sauce and we were quite happy.

All in all it was a fun night.  I love to barbecue — that is how meat should be prepared.  Since man had discovered fire, we have been barbecuing meat.  I think it is safe to say that the first cooked food was barbecued.  So in respect to this long lived tradition, I will love the barbecue, and the meat that gets cooked on it.

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Los Angeles Farmer’s Market

by Franklin on March 8, 2011

It’s that time — Mardi Gras.  It is Fat Tuesday today, and that means only one thing.  You eat what you want, and eat a lot of it.  You eat anything and everything to the point of almost being sinful.  A sort of “last hurrah” before the lent season.  There is no other place to do this other than at the Los Angeles Farmers Market.  They have festivities going on all day celebrating Mardi Gras, and it is their 22nd Annual celebration.  There are concerts, bead throwing, costume contests, and activities for kids.

People go crazy on Mardi Gras — I don’t understand it.  Instead of talking about all of the crazy people walking down New Orleans Square, I will be talking about the most important part about Marti Gras and the Farmers Market — the food.

The Los Angeles Farmers Market has a rich historical background.  In July of 1934, a gathering of local farmers was held on the corner of 3rd and Fairfax.  They sold fruits, vegetables and other varieties out of their own trucks.  As the venue started to gain popularity, the Farmers Market started to grow — It became the center of everything.  Today, it holds all kinds of food markets and restaurants from every variety.  Their over 20 shops, and over 35 places to eat covers everything you can think of.  You can buy exotic food stuffs from cheeses, meats, vegetables, and nuts.  You can also eat from almost any part of the world right in the marketplace.  It’s no wonder why people consider this the Original Farmer’s Market.  Being connected to The Grove is an added plus, as there are many shops and more restaurants to choose from.

When blogging about food, especially in Los Angeles, The Farmers Market has to be on the pedastal of it all.  They hold celebrations depending on the season, and everything is connected and celebrated with respect to food.  Even though they aren’t having a Mardi Gras celebration, it is still a place worth visiting.  It is a historical landmark in Los Angeles and a landmark relating to food as well.

Los Angeles Farmers Market 6301 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90036-3154
(323) 939-9366

Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday: 9 am to 9 pm
Saturday: 9 am to 8 pm
Sunday: 10 am – 7 pm

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SGV Food Truck Fest!

by Franklin on March 6, 2011


The San Gabriel Valley is due fora food truck fest. Most food trucks done make its way here. Usually they just hang around Los Angeles or somewhere in Orange County. Its refreshing to have something for the people in the middle. The people at SGV Food Truck will be holding a festival every first Friday of every month. Their meeting spot is at the Speedzone in City of Industry.  This means the event is organized, well lit, and has plenty of restrooms.  The food truck line up is always different and the space is large. Coverage is $5, but making it an evening of eating and playing at Speedzone is well worth it. Check back soon for the next event details.

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South West Regional Barista Competition

March 6, 2011

Coffee Bean hosted the South West Regional Barista Competition on March 5, 2011.  I had the chance to check out the continuation of Round 1 at Siren Studios in Hollywood.  Baristas were set in front of a panel of judges.  Competitors created creative mixtures of coffee drinks — the baristas battled it out. During the […]

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Noodle Planet – Easy Noodles, Easy

March 3, 2011

Everyone has their go to sushi restaurant or Chinese restaurant — I certainly have a go to Pho restaurant whether I am in Los Angeles, or Orange County.  Sometimes, choosing a place to eat isn’t that easy.  We all do the “narrowing down” game, and realize we are in the mood for Asian food, but […]

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Free Pancakes! (IHOP)

March 1, 2011

Get free pancakes! 7AM – 10PM at any participating IHOP restaurant.  They just ask for a small donation for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.  Hey, it’s for a good cause and it’s free pancakes — you can’t lose. Click here for the website for more details. Tweet

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