May 2012

After eating at Bouchon, I really wanted some dessert from Bouchon Bakery. After looking around, I could not find it.  Sadly, I gave up and was on my way. Next time around, I was determined to find it.  It was no wonder I couldn’t find it the first time — It was a small bakery stand.  I assumed it was a large bakery of some sort.  Happy to find some of my favorite treats here, done their way, I was pleased.  Of all the coffees and cupcakes, and other pastries, This is what I got.

The carrot cake sandwich was my least favorite, though it was moist.  I guess I’m not a true fan of carrot cake.  It is either too sweet or too dry.  Theirs was perfectly not too sweet nor dry. The cream cheese frosting in the middle was perfectly sweet. It just wasn’t memorable.

Their macarons were expensive, but I had to give it a try.  It can’t be as good as Bottega Louie in Los Angeles, can it?  The coffee macaron was actually pretty tasty. The outside had a nice crunch, and the inside was soft and creamy.  The coffee taste was prevalent, but was a bit too sweet.  Nonetheless, it was delicious.

I saved the best for last.  My favorite, the nutter butter cookie was amazing.  The cookie part was crispy and buttery.  The inside peanut butter filling was creamy. It was like an actual nutter butter sandwich cookie, but a hundred times better.  The taste was definitely memorable.

This bakery and sweets shop is really hard to find.  Once you find it though, you will be glad you did.  Their baked goods are of the highest quality. They offer other dessert options as well as sandwiches.  It is perfect for a quick bite to eat or for dessert.  They are underneath one of the escalators.  Try to find them and get your goodies.

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Larchmont is a weird, yet charming little area of Los Angeles. The shops and clientele are a bit on the high end. The food choices and shopping choices are all over the place, and even the parking is done not parallel, but facing the sidewalk. One part of Larchmont though is always the same, and that is Village Pizzeria. Located near the notorious Larchmont Bungalow, the pizzeria has some charm and unique presence here. Known for their New York style pizzas, it is a favorite among the Los Angeles community. Their jumbled, unplanned decor gives the restaurant it’s flavor and character. One step inside, you would assume the owner is from the East Coast. The original Village Pizzeria actually started in San Fransisco in 1979. The Larchmong location opened in 1997, and things were left unchanged since. The historical pizza joint is what Village Pizzeria is and has become — genuine.

Not a fan of red sauce on my pizza, I opted for the clam and garlic. The pizza was really hot at first — I even burned my tongue a little. The clams were plenty as was the garlic. The pizza had a nice rounded flavor of seafood. Though seafood is rarely served with cheese, this was one exception. To please my other red sauce loving companions, I had the other half of the neapolitan pizza Greek style. The tomatoes, black olives, oregano were nice, but the fetta on the pizza really made the Greek style pizza stand out. We added sausage to the Greek side because, well, we all need to eat more meat. Their crust on the pizza was better than most, and the neapolitan style made for a thin, crispy crust. My favorite of the two sides? Clam and garlic.

Village Pizzeria is geinuine, plain and simple. It doesn’t try to be something it isn’t. It is what it is, and people like it that way. Whenever I think of Larchmont, I think of Village Pizzeria, and vice vera. They are a popular spot and known to have the best pizza in all of Los Angeles. Though I wouldn’t say it is the best, I would say it is one of my favorites. It is a perfect spot for a quick and casual bite to eat, and who knows, you might run into David Schwimmer here.

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The Japanese Village Plaza in Little Tokyo is such a fitting name for that place. Take away the busy sounds of the city and the tall buildings, and you are left with an actual Japanese village. Central to the plaza is a small eatery called Mitsuru Cafe. Though they serve full on meals from curry rice to katsu, they are mostly known for the imagawayaki – an azuki bean filled pancake. Traditionally eaten for dessert, you can enjoy these any time. Mitsuru Cafe is the place to get these filled pancake goodies

It is no wonder why this place is so popular. The outer pancake is a bit soft, yet firm. After biting into it, the recently cooked pucks are warm inside and out. The center is a bit gooey and soft, and the bread part is a bit dense. Eating the somewhat bland exterior with the sweet azuki bean interior makes for a great flavor profile. Biting into something so warm and sweet fills your mouth and you are instantly happy. Naturally, I usually get more than one, and at $1.25 a pop, it is well worth it.

Walking through the plaza, you can view the people at Mitsuru busily making these things from a copper mold. Think waffle iron, but rows of them. They fill the molds with their batter, fill it with the sweet bean mixture, and nicely toasted hockey pucks of imagawayaki are formed. If not dinner, get the imagawayaki here. They are also known for their squid balls, but I am not a fan. Mitsuru Cafe. Imagawayaki. That is all.

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There comes a time when you turn from a boy to a man. For me, that time was when I ordered an actual meal from McDonald’s instead of a happy meal. As a kid, the happy meal was the obvious choice. You got your burger and fries with a drink, and a toy to play with right after. After growing up a bit, you looked at all of the grown ups eating Big Macs, and wished you had one too. Deep inside, you wanted to satisfy your hunger for once and opt for the larger meal, but the happy meal toy was just too sweet to pass up. That day you ditched the cheap toy for a Big Mac was the day you turned into a man, so you thought. 20 odd years later, you discover a new right of passage. The G Burger at G Burger makes the Big Mac turn into a kids meal. The burger has 2 of everything virtually, and honestly, it is the largest burger I ever purchased.

The list of ingredients go on forever — 1001 sauce (secret sauce), tomato, red onion, teryiaki glazed onions, portobello mushrooms, homemade slaw, grilled pineapple, fried egg, deli pastrami, avocado, angus chili, bacon, jalapenos. They even add an extra patty for free, if you want it. In my head, why freakin not add the extra patty? So yes, I would like the extra patty. Definately too big to fit in my mouth, it was a task. Dripping with juices, fats, and oils, I didn’t want to find out the amount of calories or the nutrition facts. Their high rise buns just soak up the grease — thankfully, their organic vegetables helped a little. The strategy for attack? I just closed my eyes, and ate. The flavor of everything was overwhelming. A little sweet from the pineapples, savory from the meats, and spicy from the jalapenos. It was just a flavor parade to say the least.

But Franklin, was it the best burger ever? No. It had too much going on. It was just meat and cheese piled on with more meat and more ingredients. It was good, but not the best. I will definately have to try one of their more tamed burgers. I also wouldn’t mind trying their sides (fries and onion rings) next time I go. The restaurant definately knows what they are doing. With an open kitchen, and knowledgeable staff, the establishment is more of a sit down than a hole in the wall burger joint. There is something special here, and it is the G Burger’s size. Does finishing it turn you into a man? Of course. But those who are already men can split it in half with their girlfriends. Just saying.

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Porto’s Porto’s Porto’s.  Burbank is lucky to have a Porto’s.  Any city to have a Porto’s is lucky — Glendale and Downy included.  The thing about Porto’s is that there is always a line, a long long line.  You will never find yourself inside a Porto’s and be the only one ordering something.  I never at Porto’s right when it opens, but I would guess there is a line for the door.  This is what makes Porto’s so special.  Their bakery department pumps out amazing pastries and breads along with elaborate cakes and sandwiches.  For me, I get the usual.

I must, you must, we all must get a dozen cheese rolls.  I don’t care if I ate dinner, or I am about to go eat afterwards, I am getting my dozen. Two dozen? 🙂  I can always eat them the next day, or share it with my family.  The cheese rolls are a must.  Especially warm, they are nice and custardy inside with a sugary, flakey exterior.  This savory yet sweet pastry shouldn’t be dismissed.

If you remember back from my Porto’s Bakery Glendale blog post, I wasn’t a real fan of the potato balls. Granted, I will never eat them one after another (like the cheese rolls) — they are more enjoyable this time.  They grew on me, or I was hungry that day — either way, I enjoyed them.  I even ordered the meat pies out of impulse and as a safety net of the potato balls.  The dough was chewy and meaty on the inside, flakey on the outside. There is hope for these meat filled goodies I guess.

Porto’s is a must visit wherever you are.  They have pastries and sandwiches for savory or sweet lovers.  The Burbank location was a lot more roomy and less chaotic than the one in Glendale (at least that day).  Two lines helped the crowds disperse and have everyone going happy with their boxes of treats.  After trying the Glendale and Burbank locations, I can only imagine what Downy has to offer. A definite visit when I venture to the first McDonald’s in history.

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I am pretty sure someone mentioned that Jewel City Diner had good burgers. Maybe I was hearing things. I always told myself, “I can’t wait to try it and see what all the fuss is about”. Well, whoever implanted that thought in my head, I am forever mad at you. After a day of shopping at Americana/Galleria, window shopping rather, we stopped by for a bite to eat. In short, Jewel City Diner is a prime location, but the actual food is far from prime.

Going down the menu, I wanted the bacon avocado burger. Bacon? Good! Avocado? Good! Sadly, they didn’t have avocados anymore and ordering that burger for the same price didn’t seem right to me. Instead, I went with their classic cheeseburger. Their patties are all cooked the same, well done, and my rare juicy patty was out of the question. the bread was standard, the cheese was standard, everything was just normal.

The fries and the onion rings were alright, and a good company to the burger. They just weren’t special. Again, just a standard french fry and standard onion rings.

I blame all of this restaurant’s short comings to that person who implanted the idea that this place was magnificent. Good when you are hungry, this spot is a shoppers trap. Nothing was exciting about this place. Passing by on any given “Americana” run, curiosity did indeed kill the cat. To be honest, if at least something was special, maybe their sauce is amazing, or their beef is top notch, something, this place would be considerable. I guess since they have their location down, they don’t need to be over the top delicious. I’m sure they get thousands of passerbys a day, someone is bound to be hungry. On that note, eat here if you are curious — other than that, pass on by.

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Search for Urth Caffe at Google, and under the Images tab, you will find more pictures of celebrities than actual food. Weird right? Kind of ridiculous if you ask me. They must do a lot of business just on the paparazzi alone. I wonder if normal/regular people go here. I mean, I’m normal — I’m no celebrity by any means. I work, I go home, and I don’ drive a Bently. I know Urth Caffe is a celebrity hot spot, but I am all about the food. Naturally, I have been wanting to see what all the fuss is about. Surprised, I found it to be a pleasant evening with a latte and desserts.

I can’t go to a cafe and not try their drinks. Their most popular drink, the Spanish latte, was superb! Filled in an over sized mug, there was enough to keep me caffeinated for a while. The flavor was dark and rich with a strong coffee flavor. It reminded me of the Vietnamese coffee at Lee’s Sandwich, but more refined. It wasn’t sweet at all, but very balanced. The latte was on the thick side, but very creamy. Even the latte art of the dog was impressive. It was a great cup of latte, and definitely a perfect drink to compliment my desserts.

The flour-less chocolate cake was a toss up. I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. The inside was too watery to be enjoyable. Instead of having a creamy custard like consistency, it was more of a smiley goop of chocolate liquid. The cake on the outer crust was nice, but wasn’t chocolatey enough. I even think they microwaved the dessert. This left some pieces cold, and some pieces dried up to a crisp. This was not a favorite of mine. Thankfully, I had my Spanish Latte to wash it all down.

Which was and always will be a favorite of mine is their pumpkin pie. Possibly the best pumpkin pie I ever had, I always dream of this during Thanksgiving. The filling is nice and thick with a great pumpkin puree texture. It wasn’t too sweet or too bland — It was perfect. The best part, hands down is the crust. Made with some sort of cookie mixture, the crust, usually my least favorite part of a pie, was my favorite. It was thick and desnse, just like a cookie. This pie was delicious!

Urth Caffe impressed me with their amazing Spanish latte and pumpkin pie. Though I haven’t eaten a meal there, I was glad to try some of their signature items. The price wasn’t cheep, although you do get what you pay for — premium coffee for a premium product. The cafe is located perfectly near all of the high end shops. I guess its no wonder that celebrities frequent Urth Caffe so often. They have the funds to get the best stuff possible on a daily basis. For me, I am a fan. I wouldn’t mind dishing out a few extra dollars for something so sweet and delicious.

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It’s official. The Italians got it right again and gelato is the perfect “ice cream”. It always seems like the beach and the ocean always makes me want some ice cream. The sunshine and the ocean breeze all can be enjoyed a little better with a nice velvety, creamy treat. If you couldn’t tell by the name, Geltao Paradiso only serve gelato. It may not be ice cream, but if its frozen and it’s creamy, it’s ice cream. The quaint little gelato shop in Laguna Beach was a nice find and an even better treat. Nearby the vicinity of one of my favorite Laguna Beach restaurants, Nick’s, it turned out to be a nice treat at the beach. Gelato at the beach is a win-win.

I opted for the largest cone and shared. After trying many different flavors (I must have tried more than I can count on one hand), I chose 3 of my favorite — dark chocolate nutella, tirmisu, and Italian cream. The Italian cream was neutral and sweet, the dark chocolate nutella was strong and intense, and the tiramisu met both of them half way. The flavors in itself were nice and rich. Gelato in its dense flavor profile, each bite was perfect. Having all of this on a giant waffle cone made it even better. The waffle cone never let up — It was thick and crunchy and was always crispy. Enjoying this at one of my favorite beaches in Southern California, things couldn’t have been better.

Gelato Paradiso is tucked away in a little alley (Peppertree Land) surrounded by small shops. The price was reasonable and their selection is classic, but perfect. What is better than ice cream at the beach? It doesn’t get any more All-American than that. Well in this case, it’s mixed in with Italian, but you get my drift. You can’t help but enjoy yourself in the perfect beach city with a nice big scoop of all the flavors you desire. Give me my ice cream, give me my beach and the perfect sunset. Consider me happy.

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Tomato Pie, a pizza joint in Hollywood and Silverlake derives its name from, well, tomato pie. Tomato pie is a Sicillian’s take on pizza where the dough is fococia like and thick. It is normally topped with tomato sauce and sprinkled with cheese. Never having tried tomoato pie, Tomato Pie was an obvious choice. The color scheme inside was refreshing and fun. Entering, it seemed more relaxed than I thought. You order the pizza or slices you want, they prepare it, and you pick it up. They come in the flappy paper plates you get at Costoco, but the choices of pizza they offer is amazing. And of course the taste is great as well. Honestly, I did not like the tomato pie, but I do like Tomatoe Pie.

The tomato pie was the first thing I ate, as I was excited to try it. Topped with marinara sauce, herb, and pecorinno romano cheese, it felt a bit lacking in flavor. The marinara sauce was better than most, but the lack of meat and melted cheese was too missed. Sad to say, maybe the simplicity of it all didn’t do it for me.

The Grandma had crushed marinated tomatoes, basil, garlic, and light mozzarella. Though simple like the tomato pie, I really liked this one. Their pizza, the triangle sliced kind, has a crust so crispy and cracker like. The robust flavors of the basil and garlic were perfect with the light mozzarella melted on top.

The Prosciutto Happiness, probably my favorite of the three was an obivous one — Prosciutto is the magic word. Having alfredo instead of marinara, it was a bit rich in taste. The fig, prosciutto, arugula, topped with a balsamic reduction was all a great combination. Prosciutto and fig is always a nice combination of sweet and salty, and the balsamic reduction gave it that nice punch.

The crispy crust and thin pizza made it easy to fold and eat. Eating tomato pie for the first time was exciting, but didn’t really enjoy it. They offer a variety of different kinds of pizza, but the Gramdma and the Prosciutto Happiness is a nice starting point. Not exactly made to order, but prepared to order, everything still comes out warm and toasty. With a refreshing Light Coke and endless pizza options, Tomato Pie delivers, figuratively and literally.

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Where have you been to where the food comes out quickly, and is tastier for that? Never. It is safe to say that the speedier the service, the crappier the food. Dim Sum Express is exactly what it is, and is exactly what you expect. Quick food, which is more convenient than fast, brought to you by a fairly small food stand with a pick up window. The food is alright, nothing great.

Shui mai is what everyone gets for dim sum. Theirs was nothing special, and to tell you the truth, I expected better. Their bbq pork bun was along the same caliber as well. Maybe it was the “hole-in-the-wall syndrome” where I thought it would be great because of that, but it was mediocre. Their combo chow mein was good and plenty but not memorable. Even the fried pork chops were a miss. Though tasty and spicy, the crispy factor of these deep fried slabs was not there. Maybe I ordered everything wrong here, but for whatever it was, my lunch was just not what I expected.

I can go to an actual dim sum restaurant and get the same stuff for a similar price. The only difference is, it would be more pleasurable. What we have here is exactly what I mentioned in the beginning. We are paying for the “express”, and not the food. The convenience of just walking up to the window, ordering, and eating is just too much of a sacrifice. I wouldn’t mind waiting a little longer for something much superior to this.

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It was breakfast time in Las Vegas. Breakfast is probably my favorite meal of the day. Not only is the first meal of the day, the meal that sets the tone for the whole day, but it includes everything delicious. Cheese, potatoes, eggs, bacon — need I say more? I opted to sit outside as it was a nice day out. Terrace Point Cafe at the Wynn is nice inside, but the outside was too perfect to pass up. The open air was laden with trees, and had a great view of their pool. Eating breakfast here was just pleasant. The service was great, and the atmosphere was relaxing.

I ordered the the Omelet Trio. It consisted of 2 mini pancakes, hash browns, and an omelet. The interesting part was that the hash brown was the tastiest of the three — it was the star of the dish. Maybe that’s why they placed it in the middle. The omelet was normal, as were the pancakes. These hash browns were special. It was a triangle block, not the traditional diner style ones. I am a big fan of crispy, crunchy hash browns fried in butter. These though were kind of mushy and thick, almost cake like. That didn’t matter. They were delicious!

The french toast ham sandwich was a first for me. Never have I had french toast as the bread of a sandwich. Open faced, all of the ingredients sat on top of the french toast. The sweet and salty aspect of the dish had be wanting more. I am not a fan of the crust on french toast, so I liked that they cut that part off. The eggs were cooked perfectly, and the ham with melted Swiss on top was great together. And of course, this dish came with a side of hash browns too. Score!

Nothing beats breakfast outside in Vegas adjacent to the pool at the Wynn. The Wynn in Vegas is beautiful — Props to Steve Wynn. It might be one of my favorites properties. The design cues are timeless and classy. Sometimes, I feel themed Vegas resorts are so touristy sometimes. Keeping with the design and feel of the Wynn, Terrace Point Cafe fits in perfectly.

Terrace Point Café (Wynn) on Urbanspoon

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