December 2011

What is a theme park without cotton candy, popcorn, and corn dogs?  Well, without it, you don’t have yourself a theme park.  Corn dogs is on a stick, and is easy to eat on the go.  It is no wonder that there is almost always a line for the Corn Dog Cart at Disneyland. Good to know that this American classic snack can be had at America’s favorite theme park.  But is it my favorite corn dog?  It’s hard to say.  As for as classic corn dogs go, they are one of the best.

Waiting in anticipation, I was never this excited about a corn dog, ever.  It might have been the Disney magic people keep talking about.  The cart is a small wagon type food stand towards the end of Main St.  The corn dog was deformed looking — this was interestingly a plus for me. I never understood how corn dogs have that perfectly balled tip.  The batter was light and crispy, a bit greasy, but delicious.  Most importantly, the batter stuck to the hot dog.

It was a bit pricey, as all things are at Disneyland.  The corn dog was nicely sized though, and you can get chips or fruit as a side.  If you are ever at Disneyland and need a bite on the run, get your corn dog on.

Disneyland Corndog Cart on Urbanspoon

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This is where it all started. Beverly and Rampart — this was the birthplace of the the Original Tommy’s hamburger. Tom Koulax founded Tommy’s in 1946, and the rest is history. Their menu hasn’t changed much. Chili burgers, being their signature item, is what I always get. Can’t mess with a classic. There are a bunch of Original Tommy’s in LA and OC — a few in NV. Future plans include AZ, but this one was the first.

I remember when I was a kid, my uncle would take me here all the time. Having been pretty big for my age, I prided in the fact that I could finish a whole chili cheese burger by myself. Albeit, half of it spilled on my shirt and face, it was surely a feat. That taste, even until this day reminds me of that little boy. All because of that messy chili. At this location, you can order from the original stand on the corner, or the expantion right next to it. The special thing about their burgers, is that there is nothng special special that they do to it. They are just pure ingredients at their freshest. Of course, the chili is what they are known for. It is velvety smooth and delicious.

Tommy’s is chili cheese burgers — the first thing when I think of a chili cheese burger.  I’m proud to be an Angelino, and I’m happy to have Tommy’s.

Tommy's Original World Famous Hamburgers on Urbanspoon

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Animal – The Carnivore Eats Bones And All

by Franklin on December 16, 2011

As the name of the restaurant hints at, Animal isn’t for everyone.  Vegetarians especially won’t be too fond of this place.  For me though, this is home.  As a self proclaimed carnivore, it’s no wonder that this place is one of my favorite places to dine in Los Angeles. To put it bluntly, their menu consists of cooked animals.  In all seriousness, the food here is a creative and classical take on all things meat.  The portions at Animal are small.  I treated this outing as a sort of tapas style, small plates kind of deal.

We first had the chicken liver toast.  The chicken liver puree on top of the crispy toast was very creamy and tasty.  It was like pate you find in bahn mi sandwiches, but butter quality of course. The caramelized onions gave it the nice sweetness and flavor that it needed.  It was a great start to my Animal adventure.

Next up was the bone marrow.  This rich fatty dish is one of my favorites.  Smearing the bone marrow over the baguette and taking a bite was pure bliss.  The fat was so buttery and flavorful.  The acidity from the chimmichuri helped cut the fat a bit.  The caramelized onions also gave it a nice sweet flavor as well.  This was decadence at its core.

The barbecue pork belly sandwich sliders were amazing.  The pork had a nice balance of meat and fat and was very soft.  Most of the time, pork belly cooks to become kind of rubbery, especially the skin.  I don’t know how they did it, but it was soft and almost butter like.  The slaw gave it that bite and gave it that texture I wanted.    The bread helped keep everything together and the slaw gave it a crunchy bite. All together, it had a great balance and was delicious.

For dessert, dessert was special;  They even have animals in their dessert.  Their bacon chocolate crunch bar with s&p ice cream is their famous dessert (s&p being salt and pepper). The chocolate bar was some kind of mouse or fudge of some sort.  Surrounding it were hard crunchy pieces of bacon.  Over the plate was a dusting of bacon powder.  It was an amazing flavor profile that is so unique.  It wasn’t too sweet and the bacon didn’t over power the dessert.  The salt and pepper ice cream on the side was interesting.  It was sweet enough to be a dessert, but the salty was just in the background. It was a perfect sweet and salty mix.  These two items were sweet and salty perfected and a perfect finisher to our meal.

Eating at animal was really a great experience.  For a carnivore like me, why wouldn’t it be?  The cuisine was down to earth, but the chef spins it enough to make it interesting. Honestly, the menu is pretty straight forward, and most of the stuff looked interesting to try.  Next time I go, I want to try their poutine and maybe a dish with froi gras.  Anything on the menu here seems like a winner.  Until next time.

Animal on Urbanspoon

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Thai Patio – Night Time Chow At Thai Town

by Franklin on December 13, 2011

Where else can you get authentic Thai cuisine other than in Thai Town.  Located near Hollywood, Thai Town in Los Angeles offers some great food.  Thai Patio had some really well prepared Thai food.  Something about the spices in Thai food keeps me wanting more.  This restaurant does it perfectly.  The live music and open dining area is very inviting.  Those in seek of a hip night life and good Thai food can appreciate this place.

We ordered the crab fried rice.  I am absolutely in love with crab fried rice, especially this one restuarant near CSUF. Thai Patio’s, though good wasn’t as good as the one in Fullerton.   It wasn’t seafood like enough for me.

Though the crab fried rice was just normal, the grilled beef was amazing.  The taste was like no other.  It was a bit sweet and so very tender.  At first, I thought it would be on the tough side.  However they prepared it, it was a perfect texture. I liked the bbq marks that was on the beef.  It gave it a nice char flavor.  and whatever spices they use on these, it was delicious.

Their chicken Pad see Ew was by far my favorite.  It is quite possible that they have the best.  The noodles were thick and chewy — al dente. It wasn’t mushy at all.  The sauce and fresh vegetables brought the whole dish together.  Definately, the texture of the noodles is what makes this dish.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d think they made their noodles in house from scratch.

Thai Patio was authentic.  Maybe it was all in the name, or the fact that it was in Thai Town.  All of the food in Koreatown isn’t always good, so it can’t be the location.  It must be the food.  Everything was delicious, and they give you a lot of it. Asking for to go boxes is a must after your meal, because you will have left overs.  Next time, I would like to try more of the exotic (heavily spiced) dishes.

Thai Patio on Urbanspoon

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Known for their breakfast and as a coffee shop, I didn’t know what to expect for dinner.  Upon arriving, I was swayed between the two ends — hole in the wall diner or fancy date restaurant. The wine bottles and dim lighting give it that date atmosphere.  Low priced menu and siner style food give it a diner feel.  I like to see Foxy’s as an upscale diner, with diner like prices.  In short, the food was good and the price was cheap.  Good in my book.

At first, we were given some bread and butter.  There were individual toasters on each table where guests can toast up their own bread. I thought this was a nice touch, and who doesn’t like warm, freshly toasted bread?  It was a nice start.

I ordered the chilaquiles plate.  I had try at least something breakfast like.  It was decent, but not the best.  The sauce was good, and I liked the salsa and guacamole.  I didn’t care for the beans and rice.  A nice plate of chilaquiles would have been good for me.  The star of this dish was indeed the sauces.

I had a few bites of the tuna melt quesadilla.  It was tuna, cheese, lettuce all wrapped inside a tortilla.  It was like an over stuffed quesadilla with cheese and tuna. Interestingly, it was tasty, but I don’t know if the tuna was fresh.  The fries were normal as ever, possibly frozen, but addictive.

After my meal, I wish I had gotten a normal breakfast plate to see how good it was.  I felt like pancakes after my meal, but was too full.  They are known for their sticky cinnamon buns, but was too full.  I would say this fancy, upscale diner is a perfect spot for a date, for breakfast. That may seem like a lot of a description, but that is what this place exactly is.  It’s good, it’s bad, it’s fancy, but cheap.  It is all of the above.

Foxy's Coffee Shop on Urbanspoon

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The burger in it of itself is a classic.  More than a sandwich, it is a complete meal all in the grasp of your hands.  It is safe to say that everyone has had a lot of burgers in their life time — it is a go to item at any restaurant.  BLT Burger, located at the Mirage is a popular burger spot.  Known for their grass fed, Certified Angus Beef (CAD), their patties are amongst the freshest.

The Tex Mex Burger was a messy one, but still good.  The spiciness from the jalapenos and salsa weren’t really noticeable.  Probably because I like spicy food really spicy.  The messy part, the chili, was made with corn and beans.  The avocado, jack cheese, and sour cream made this burger very rich and creamy. Almost everything you’d find in a nacho was inside this burger.  And speaking of nachos, they offer that one the menu.  It looked good, but opted for the fries instead.

The fries were very good, especially the waffle fries.  It was crispy and perfectly seasoned.  Even after cooling off, it still remained crunchy somehow. As for the sweet potato fries, that was a different story.  They were somewhat soggy and not warm when it came to the table.  The waffle fries are the way to go here.

My favorite burger here wasn’t made of beef, but lamb.  The Lamb tandoori burger was made with Colorado lamb.  That is a good thing I assume.  Mint cilantro yogurt sauce, cucumber, olives, red onion, tomato topped this burger and complimented the meat very well. I usually don’t like the taste of lamb as it is too gamey, but this one was just right — not too gamey and the flavors of the meat and yogurt sauce went really well together.  If the bun wasn’t cold, this burger would have been perfect.

Of course, every burger needs a milkshake.  We ordered the nut job milkshake.  This was their version of the Nutella shake.  It had vanilla ice cream, Nutella, and slivered almonds. I wanted to compare this Nutella shake with the one from Burger Bar in Mandalay Bay.  Without a doubt, the one from Burger Bar is far superior.  The  Nutella flavor wasn’t prevalent enough at the one from BLT.  At times, I couldn’t even taste the Nutella.

BLT Burger had solid burgers.  Some were classic, and the specialty burgers were great.  Knowing what to order, one can find a tasty burger.  They have the classic BLT burger (of course), to other sides, and even alcoholic shakes. The decor is nice and relaxing.  If they worked around their little kinks, this could be one of my favorite burger joints in Vegas.

BLT Burger (Mirage) on Urbanspoon

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Drinking and lounging around inside of an ice bar — how cool (pun intended) would that be?  Minus 5 at Mandalay Bay was a great experience.  What isn’t cool is that they won’t let you take pictures inside.

Here is how it goes down.  You pay for a package.  You empty our your pockets and put everything inside your locker.  You put on your jacket, furr, ear muffs, and gloves, anything to keep you warm, and you are led into the ice lounge.  Inside, virtually everything is made out of ice.  The bar counter top, seats, and even cups are all made of ice.  You actually drink your drink out of an ice sculpted cup. That was a fun experience.  You take some pictures from their photographer in front of the ice sculptures, and just have a good time.

Bummer that they don’t allow people to take their own pictures.  It would have been nice to share with all of you.  Though the room is a little small, it was cool (pun not intended this time). If you are interested in something a little different in Vegas, this is a nice place to start.

Minus 5 Ice Lounge on Urbanspoon

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What ever happened to the good old days?  Ice cream was a quarter, soda was a nickel.  So simple.  Fosselman’s is a classic ice cream shop, like the ones they had in the olden days.  We are talking about the classics.  They date back since 1919. They definitely are an old-fashioned soda fountain.  They offer seltzer made sodas, taffy, and amazing ice cream concoctions.  Entering, you are brought back to simpler times. The wooden fixtures and flooring really bring you back in time.  This, in a sense, makes the ice cream taste that much better.

Their ice cream is like no other.  It is creamy and thick.  And most importantly, it is delicious.  After trying so many flavors, I chose dulce de leche and cappuccino.  My friend didn’t like the taro so he gave me his.  The taro was actually really good, one of my favorites.  Their flavors range from the classics, to exotic ones like horchata and chocolate covered strawberries.  Besides the flavor, the texture of the ice cream is that stands out.  It is rich and creamy.  It has the perfect consistency. Not too soft, not too hard.  Perfect.

Fosselman’s is truly a gem in Alhambra.  It is very unassuming amongst the car dealerships on Main Street.  They offer traditional and classic style ice cream from an ice cream parlor.  They don’t take card and is cash only. Lucky for me, my friend paid because I didn’t have cash.  It seems to be that the good places only take cash.  Anyways, this is officially the best ice cream ever.  Try it, and be happy you did.

Fosselman's Ice Cream Company on Urbanspoon

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Ocean Star – One Of Many Dim Sum Spots In The SGV

by Franklin on December 2, 2011

Dim sum is Chinese food served in bite size portions.  Kind of like tapas plates, but Chinese food. The interesting part is that it is only served in the mornings and lunch times.  You will see ladies push metal steamer carts around with stacks of yummy deliciousness.  Often times, you will find some interesting (weird for some) foods — chicken feet and tripe to name a couple. Ocean Star in Monterey Park is affordable and is busy as heck on the weekends.  Their dim sum is comparable to the good ones in Los Angeles.  Here are some of the items on the menu:

The chow mein is a thinner noodle, and it comes out room temperature.  Theirs was less oily which I like.  It was a nice complement to the other side dishes.

 

The clams were sauteed in some kind of hoisin or black bean sauce.  It was fresh for the most part, and tasty.

 

The egg rolls were filled with cabbage and carrots.  Yes, a vegetable egg roll, but still good dipped in soy sauce.

 

These dumplings were delicious.  They are packed with vegetables and pork, and the outside dumpling part was nice and chewy.

 

Without a doubt, the most popular dim sum item is pork shui mai.  They are like meat balls with shrimp surrounded by a wanton wrapper.  They are one of my favorites.

 

Shrimp shui mai are whole shrimp, covered in wanton skins.  It is steamed, which leaved the outer wanton skin smooth, yet sticky.  Each bite was perfect with a little soy sauce.

 

These are shrimp in fried wanton.  The shrimp inside were meaty and the wantons were very crispy and crunchy.  Perfect, dipped in soy sauce and vinegar.

 

I always like to end my dum sum with mango pudding.  It isn’t too sweet and the texture is so nice after a nice meal.  It doesn’t quite taste like mangoes, but they are still delicious.

 

Ocean Star is one of my favorite dim sum restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley.  The price is right, thought they did raise their prices recently.  The servers are somewhat helpful and well organized. This place is perfect for big groups, banquets, and small gatherings.

Ocean Star on Urbanspoon

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