November 2012

K’ya Bistro was an experience. Located inside the La Casa del Camino Hotel, I was excited to eat here after exploring Victoria Beach. Opening at 1929, at first glance, the hotel seemed like a classic. The Historic Mediterranean style hotel is located in the southern pocket on Laguna Beach. Being right next to the water, this was a beautiful location. Inside this Historic hotel was K’ya Bistro, a Mediterranean / Small Plates Tapas restaurant. In a word, the inside was elegant, but the prices were affordable.

We started off with the wild hawaiian ahi poke. A mixture of onion, seaweed, avocado, spicy soy, and ahi tuna was a fresh dip for the fried wonton chips. Though the wonton chips were greasy, the dip was bearable. The avocados were creamy and the acidity of the ingredients helped with the greasy chips. The ingredients melded well together, but the fish could have been fresher. But stating these things would be nitpicking. This was a great start to our dinner at K’ya Bistro.

The lobster macaroni and cheese was a surprise. It didn’t have all that much lobster in it — not a lobster chunk in sight. The noodles were elbow, pretty standard. The cheese sauce was a cognac cream sauce — tasty. Even though this was a standard mac and cheese, I loved it. The fact that it was pretty much like the Kraft Blue Box mac and cheese helped a lot. As a kid, I lived off of that stuff. The noodles in this were actually al dente — the cognac cream was a nice touch and the parmasean crust gave it the crunch factor. Though the lobster was scant, the little that it had was nice.

When I saw filet minon for 10 bucks, I was shocked. It must taste like crap, and it must be small is what I thought to myself. I was totally wrong. Well, half wrong. It didn’t taste like crap, but it was small, as expected. The side of organic polenta was a delight and the side spinach made sure I had my greens for the day. The large wedge of blue cheese made for a creamy, pungent “sauce” for the filet. The filet was cooked perfectly and was butter soft. All this for 10 bucks? I should have ordered 2!

We ended things with the creme brulee. Is it weird that I am writing this while enjoying a Caramel Brulee Frap at Starbucks? The creme brulee was a great finish of a tasty dinner. The fresh fruit on top was a nice touch — it kind of makes this cream on sugar on fat dessert more of a healthy dessert. It was custardy and sweet with a nice crunch of the brulee.

K’ya Bistro Bar in La Casa Del Camino was surprisingly affordable. The small plates allowed us to have a lot of variety and didn’t hurt the wallet. I mean, where else can you get filet mignon for 10 bucks? I don’t even think Vegas can do that. The beautiful scenery, close proximity to the beach, and small prices makes K’ya one of my favorites in Orange County. Depending on how hungry you are, or what you are in the mood for, they got it covered. Expect a wait though, it gets pretty busy during dinner. The hotel also has a rooftop lounge. That would be perfect for a nice lunch in the sun or a nice view of the sunset during dinner. I guess La Casa Del Camino has everything covered.

k'ya Bistro Bar on Urbanspoon

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A pizza is a pizza is a pizza. Well, we aren’t kids anymore — and we definitely are not in college anymore. We all remember those days, getting the cheapest and biggest pizza possible. As a kid, I always thought, the more toppings a pizza had, the better it was — all the meats, all the veggies. Don’t even get me started on the crust — I didn’t believe in it and I didn’t eat it. Now that I am older and wiser, my take on pizza is a little different. I am all about fine ingredients, and the crust is the main event. Yes, I am talking about Neapolitan pizza, the real stuff.

Neapolitan pizzas are made very simply. The crust is thin, yet tender, as the dough is very fragrant of yeast. Toppings include only the simple ones: garlic, tomatoes, mozzerella cheese, olive oil. You will rarely find a Neopolitan pizza with the works. Traditionally, Neapolitan pizzas are eaten with a knife and fork, hence, they are not sliced into slices. Neapolitan style pizza is what I came for, and that is what I got.

It was happy hour, and the personal sized pizzas were like 5 bucks. A steal in my book. I ordered the Margherita with prosciutto cotta. It had mozzarella, basil, parmigiano reggiano, extra virgin olive oil. At first look, it seems very simple, but this is where the pizza shines. The flavors are perfect and fresh on its own, but together, they make a perfectly flavored pizza. The crust was crispy, yet tender with a nice chew. The mozzarella is actual mozzarella, not the fake partial skim milk you find on all other pizzas. Though the prosciutto cotta was cooked and not from Parma, it was still delicious. I am a fan of prosciutto crudo, the raw kind, but it was still delicious when it was cooked. I made sure to have some basil with every bite — the floral essence gave the pizza a nice rounded out flavor and finished it off nicely.

Settebello makes a nice Napoletana style pizza. Their ingredients are fresh and authentic. Nothing is left for second best. Every pizza is made with care and the taste shows. Their happy hour impressed me, with moderately priced wine and beers available, it was an affordable dinner. The pizza was definitely the star — you can come here and not have a pizza. Along with some of the best and authentic Napoletana style pizzas around, you are eating something worth eating. The bar area as well as the dining area were all very comforting and casual.

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There comes a time when you just go all out.  Whether you are in the right mindset or not, you just go for it.  You don’t think about cost or consequences thereafter.  You just close your eyes and hope for the best.  With Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak at the MGM, I did just that. I knew it was way over my budget, but I just went with it. Maybe it was the Vegas air and wanted to live the Vegas dream of fine dining. It’s not like I won big at the craps tables. I just wanted to “do Vegas right” and dine like I never do.  It’s not everyday you get a meal with all of the fixings and trimmings — maybe when Christmas or Thanksgiving rolls around, but even then, nothing like this — nothing like having dish after dish after dish, all laid out in front of you. This indeed was something special. Expensive, but special.

Las Vegas is all about grandeur.  Excess of everything with a splash of flashiness is what everyone expects in Vegas.  Craftsteak, with the interior design and cuisine is a bit dialed down.  Some may see that as something negative, but this was executed with excellence.  The food and the design exuded a sense of humble refinement.  A kind of “my food doesn’t have to be extravagant” to be Las Vegas enough, kind of attitude.  Tom Colicchio’s menu is simple, and does it elegantly.

The bread and butter was served in a not so normal cast iron pan. The bread was soft and warm — the butter was delicious as it should.

Appetizer: The Lobster Bisque was near perfection. The way they did it was unique and interesting. The soup bowl had nothing inside expect spices and chunks of lobster. The waiter then poured in the hot bisque inside the bowl. The taste was amazingly delicious. Lobster chucks filled every spoonful. The bisque was rich and creamy and full of seafood flavor. The Lobster Bisque itself was well worth the experience.

Appetizer: The Itallian buffalo mozzarella with hazelnuts was mellow. Not robust in flavors, the taste was a bit subtle. The tomatoes and balsamic helped round out the flavors. The mozzarella was fresh as can be.

Appetizer: The Warm Frisee salad had some intense flavors going on — a great thing. It had a farm egg, smoked bacon, mustard seed, and blue cheese. The bacon and blue cheese were rich and fatty, and the mustard seed helped cleanse the palate. Intense tastes and bitter greens made this dish amazing.

Appetizer: Their Caesar salad was a bit bland. I dug the pickled anchovy though.

The Ribeye is one of my favorite cuts of steak. Mine was 16 oz, bone in, cooked to a medium rare. Perfectly cooked, I couldn’t ask for a better piece of meat. Each bite was perfect texturally, but I felt it lacked seasoning. Maybe the rich flavors of the appetizers killed my taste buds, but the Ribeye could have used some salt. Heck, this might be cheating, but I would have loved some blue cheese on the side. Translation: I love blue cheese.

Interestingly, the 22 oz T Bone had a better flavor for me — it must be the dry aging process. It had a rich beef flavor that was missing from the Ribeye. Still cooked perfectly, the meat was succulent and tender.

Side: The yukon potato puree was amazing. It was such a simple dish. It was rich with a lot of butter and cream. The taste was like no other. It was smooth and delicious and the chives on top gave it enough zest to keep me coming back for more.

Side: The assorted mushrooms were a perfect accompaniment to the meat. What’s better that meat and potatoes than adding mushrooms in the mix? They each had a different bite to it.

Side: Another potato other than the puree was the potatoes gratin. The potato slices were mixed in with a roasted garlic cream. The taste was perfect with the meat.

Dessert: I thought monkey bread pudding was a funny name for a dessert, but the taste was addicting. The bread was sweet and dense, kind of like a cinnamon bun. The rich caramel sauce with the bread pudding and ice cream all mixed well perfectly.

Dessert: I always see cactus pear sorbet on TV, and always wanted to try it. I was pleasantly surprised, and I fell in love with it. The taste was very mellow and not too sweet. The color of the sorbet was vibrant as was the flavors. The fruit slices, candied dates and dragon fruit were mediocre. My favorite fruit is the Asian pear — I like it because it has a nice bite to it with a lot of juice. The pear sliced wafer thin gave it no bite and not a lot a moisture. The dragon fruit was exotic, and taste was mild. None of this fruit mess. I am in Vegas — more Monkey Bread Pudding Please!

Dessert: The most decadent dessert was the chocolate moose. The chocolate in this was super chocolatey and dense. The vanilla ice cream was as pure as can be, but the peaches on the side didn’t excite me.

Tom Colicchio’s steakhouse was in the end, worth it.  Plate after plate, dish after dish, the food seamed endless.  The impeccable service and comfortable seating arrangements made this long endeavor a treat I will never forget.

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Fonuts – Fake Donuts & Fake Doughnuts

by Franklin on November 5, 2012

Fonuts? What in the world is a fonut? On Their website, it give a definition. [Fo•nut] n. – A doughnut that is baked and/or steamed, never fried. The origin is from faux-donut. Well, faux means false or fake, so I guess a fonut is a fake donut. A wannabe? No. Don’t make the mistake of calling these things donuts, because they are not! Fonuts are baked, not fried. Score for those watching their waistline. They more more cake than anything else — cakes that are in the shape of a donut. Don’t let that detract you from trying these bad boys. They are good in their own way.

In this mix, you can see chocolate hazelnut (GF), maple bacon, rosemary olive oil, peanutbutter and jelly, chorizo cheddar, and red velvet. The chocolate hazelnut, for being gluten free was one of my favorites. Though it broke and fell apart in my hands, the hazelnut crumble was quite nice. The maple bacon to me had the most intense flavor. Topped with a lot of bacon, the sweet maple and salty bacon made a nice combo. The weird ones were the olive oil rosemary and chorizo cheddar. The olive oil rosemary was bland and bready — it might have well been rosemary bread. The chorizo cheddar was interesting — it had a nice spice with cheddar, but still more bread than, dare I say, “donut”. The peanutbutter and jelly was familiar and a good take on the fonut experience. And of course, you can’t go wrong with red velvet, though, you are better off getting the cupcake next door at Doughboys.

The experience at Fonuts was a positive one. When I ate them at Taste of LA event was much better. Their fake donuts were addicting and rich in flavor. This time around though, only the sweets were considered — the savory fonuts were a total miss. Maybe my brain is geared to think that donuts, I mean, fonuts are supposed to be sweet and the thought of a savory donut is totally rejected by my brain. Honestly though, they are quite tasty. Considering these are baked not fried (super healthy) and still sweet and tasty, that is a feat in itself. I can see myself drinking my morning brew with fonut in hand. Maybe fake isn’t so bad after all.

(F?nuts) on Urbanspoon

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