October 2013

Los Angeles Magazine’s The Food Event 2013

by Franklin on October 31, 2013

On Sunday, October 20, The Food Event took place at Saddlerock Ranch in the Malibu Hills. The weather was perfect, a bit hot, but not enough to keep away all the hungry and thirsty Angelinos. Entering the winding vineyard, I was accompanied with llamas, zebras, horses, ostriches, and peacocks. With all these exotic animals on this secluded property, the event was intimate.

It was great checking out the chef demonstrations. My favorite was Chef David Lefevre’s demo. He deconstructed fresh sea urchin and a whole dungeness crab. Surely, Fishing with Dynamite showcases some of the freshes seafood in Los Los Angeles. Chef Kris Morningstar of Ray and Stark’s grilled some awesome octopus. Sang Yoon of Father’s Office and Lukshon stuffed some baby squid. Everyone was fun to watch and learn little tricks here and there.

Interestingly, my first bite, and my favorite bite of the day was the burrata from Bucatto. It was so creamy and delicious! Not to say it was all downhill from there, all the chefs brought their best to the event. Some honorable mentions are Black Market Liquor Bar’s goulash and Bestia’s salad. Judges for the event chose Son of a Gun’s Hamachi crudo topped with galbi vinaigrette. When things started to die down and people started to leave, I ended things with The Ice Cream Lab’s amazing concoction. It was some of the best ice cream I ever had.

It was my first time going to a vineyard, and having LA Magazine’s The Food Event at Saddle Ranch was perfect. All of the food the chefs made was delicious. Basking in the sun of the Malibu Hills, drinking some of the best wines from California, and eating the best food Los Angeles has to offer isn’t a bad way to spend a Sunday. You can’t ask for more.

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Mamita Peruvian Restaurant – Bimmer or Benz?

by Franklin on October 29, 2013

When you think of Peruvian, I don’t know about you, but I think of Mario’s in Los Angeles. It is almost the perfect food. You have tender beef, amazing rice, and fried potatoes, all with a spicy creamy green sauce that is too addicting for your own good. I was craving this while I was in Glendale, and needed my Peruvian fix. I found Mamita Peruvian Restaurant situated between the Mercedes Benz and BMW dealership on Brand. A bit odd and out of place, the restaurant seemed to have a certain quality to it. It was for me to try it out and see what this place had to offer.

To test the two, I ordered exactly what I would order at Mario’s.

Of course, I had to order the lomo saltado. The beef strips, stir fried with fries, onions, tomatoes was served with rice. Though the beef was a bit dry and not as “greasy,” the food was still quite good.

To share, we ordered the Jalea de mariscos. Seafood is tastiest fried. On the platter was fried fish filet, topped with fried calamari, criolla salsa, and fried shrimp. Again, the seafood was great, but the crisp and batter was a bit lacking. Mario’s has a nice crisp and perfect seasoning throughout. Mamita’s had nice selection of seafood, but the batter was sub-par. With anything fried, if the batter isn’t good, the whole dish suffers.

Aside from beef, I like to get the saltado de calamares. Stir fried with calamari, fries, onions, and tomatoes, the dish was tasty. The rice was a bit lacking here. It tasted more of regular white rice — no flavor really. The ingredients seemed too separated. Nothing really brought it together. All the ingredients were just there for eating.

I had to order the Peruvian style chicken fried rice. It always comes out like I would make it — something I can make at home. It even tastes like someone Korean made it. It has bits of egg, rice, chicken, and has a hint of soy sauce and light sesame oil. I am not really particular to this dish, nor do I crave it. I just order it because it reminds me of home.

What makes peruvian food great is the aji verde sauce – the green sauce that is so spicy and creamy. Mamita’s verde sauce was subpar, unfortunately. It didn’t have the kick and spice that Mario’s green sauce has. This one was a bit milder, had a lot less seasonings, and a bit watery. The sauce is key in Peruvian food; that’s what made me fall in love with it.

Restaurant for restaurant, Mamita and Mario’s is pretty much a duplicate. The size, menu, price, and feel of the restaurant is the same. You get your bread and butter, verde sauce, and all the classic Peruvian dishes. Honestly, Mario’s does it a tad bit better, especially the important, all mighty green sauce, although, Mamita does do a good job. Blind fold me, and I think I can tell the difference between the two. Honestly though, if you are in Glendale, would you drive 30 minutes for Mario’s or go to Mamita and go shopping for Bimmer afterwards?

Mamita Peruvian on Urbanspoon

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It is so good to see tapas come to the strip. Small plates are trending now in a lot of restaurants. Small plates means people can eat and share more different foods. The variety of it all is what attracts me. I’m not coming here to just eat my meat and potatoes. I can have a little bit of this, a little of that, and in the end of it all, I had a bite of more that what I would normally have in a single day. Julian Serrano made his mark with Masa’s Restaurant in San Fransisco. Opening Picasso in Las Vegas in the Bellagio, his Vegas restaurant was the recipient of 2 Michelin stars and a AAA Five Diamond Award. With all these accolades, it was time for Julian Serrano to venture out into other things. Looking at the trends of restaurants and being of Spanish decent, tapas was an obvious choice. I like tapas because you can order a lot of food at one time, and this we did.

The brava potatoes was a popular item so we started off with these. They were small nuggets of fried potatoes – the outside was golden and crispy, and the inside was fluffy. The spicy tomato puree on top was a nice acidic sauce. The aioli sauce on top was fatty and smooth — It all was a nice combination. Stabbing these fried nuggets with a skewer, the sauce had a perfect taste and balance for the potatoes. I would order these again. They were simple and delicious.

The grilled angus flat iron steak was a nice accompaniment to the potatoes. Cooked to a perfect medium rare, the steak was meaty and had a nice chewy consistency — kind of like flank steak. The japanese eggplant was a unique condiment, and the mushroom demi-glace gave it a nice earthy note. It was a perfect cut of meat and the flavors worked nicely.

It seems like every tapas restaurant has stuffed dates. The one at Julian Serrano was mediocre in my opinion. Though the dates were huge, almost too big, all the other ingredients were missing. The almond was barely noticed, and the wrapping of the applewood bacon was lost. With the panko crusted fried exterior, the flavors were kind of single noted, even when dipped in the spicy piquillo pepper sauce. Maybe the dates large size gave it too much of a sweet taste, but the saltiness of the bacon could have been more pronounced.

Yeah, the brava potatoes were delicious, but more fried potatoes couldn’t hurt. The huevos estrellados had a bed of fried topped with imported spanish pork chorizo and eggs. The egg was cooked perfectly. With a crispy outline and egg yolk running everywhere, this dish was very rich. Each fork full had fries drenched in a mix of chorizo grease and egg yolk. The pork chorizo had a nice mellow flavor with a little kick of spice — terrific. with all this grease and pork, I began to think this is a perfect hang over cure in Las Vegas.

Looking for a carb load other than potatoes, we ordered the creamy risotto. This was a nice risotto, though the rice was a little too undercooked. Maybe 30 seconds longer on the fire would have made it perfect. Better to be a tad undercooked that overcooked, I guess. Other than the texture, this was delicious. The wild mushrooms gave it a nice grounded flavor. The shaving of aged manchego cheese worked perfectly with the mushrooms. Manchego, my new favorite cheese, has a resemblance and taste profile of truffles. The rich earthy flavor worked perfectly with the rice. I just wished there was more of it.

Finally, we ordered the beef and cheese. Looking for more meat in our tapas, we figured this would be a perfect candidate. The prime tenderloin cooked to a perfect medium rare was soft as butter. Manchego cheese was on top and the dish was amazing. Topped with the honey and pecans, the sweetness kind of killed my savory steak experience. My mind was confused — was this a steak or was it dessert? Though it didn’t taste all that bad, the off putting sweetness of the honey was surprising. All in all, the meat was soft and buttery, and I preferred this over the flat iron.

Julian Serrano was an amazing experience. Tapas is gaining popularity — it lets you try so many things! Be careful though, you can easily get carried away and run up the bill. Celebrity chef Julian Serrano knows what he is doing. When you are talking about chefs in California, he is the best around, and possibly in the nation. It was great to try his food in such a casual atmosphere. When you are in Vegas, you want to eat nice and splurge. At Julian Serrano, you can feel like you are splurging on a nice meal, but not pay over the top prices. The atmosphere is warm and elegant as is the food. Tapas is on the strip, and it’s at Julian Serrano.

Julian Serrano (Aria) on Urbanspoon

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2013 The Taste – Cocktail Confidential

by Franklin on October 17, 2013


The Taste hosted by Los Angeles times is always a fun event. With booths of food and drink all around Paramount Studios, the event brings some of the best chefs in town. Eating and drinking outside, the alfresco event was filled with fun. Unfortunately, I only had time to attend the final event, Cocktail Confidential. Hosted by Jessica Gelt, Betty Hallock, and Matthew Biancaniello, cocktail culture was emphasized in this event. From cooking demos to amazing dishes from all over LA’s hottest restaurants, the event was a success as always. Check out the pics from this year’s The Taste.

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Gen Korean BBQ – Top Notch AYCE

by Franklin on October 14, 2013

If you didn’t know by now, I am Korean. I grew up on rice, kimchi, and SPAM. Now in my late 20’s, I don’t get to eat my mom’s cooking as often. I think these days, the closest thing I get to Korean cuisine is Korean BBQ. One of my all time favorite Korean BBQ joints, unfortunately a bit far, is Gen Korean BBQ in Tustin. Yeah, Alhambra has their very own Gen Korean BBQ, but that place was a disappointment. The one in Tustin though, it quite the spot.

Ban-Chan was all symmetrically prepared before us. You know how mirrors make rooms seem larger? This “mirror” effect gave the illusion that there was a lot of ban chan. Yeah, most places would make people share this stuff. It was cool that for two people, we each had our own set.


The reason why Gen is one of my favorite Korean BBQ spots is because of the meat. The thinly sliced beef brisket (Chadol) and non-marinated short rib is my favorite. The beef brisket has a pure beef flavor and the fat has an indescribable quality to it. It seems like it was never frozen; the meat doesn’t dry up once cooked. The short rib has a perfect balance of meat and fat, and the marbling is excellent. And yes, that is large intestine you see in the picture. It’s a bit chewy and a lot fatty, but dang good! The quality is the best — clean and pure.

The experience at Gen Korean BBQ is like no other. Not only is the meat great, but the ambiance is on par. With modern leather(ish) chairs and granite(esque) tables, to the blue ambient lighting, the space is cool and relaxing. From great quality meat and modern fixtures, what more can I ask for?

Gen Korean BBQ & Yakitori Bar on Urbanspoon

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Guisados – Tortillas Make and Break it

by Franklin on October 7, 2013

There comes a time when your regular taco from the corner won’t do it. Just some regular asada with hot sauce and chopped onion and cilantro, all on a heated tortilla? Actually, that sounds pretty all right — but Guisados does something different. All of their ingredients are simmered and

With hortchata and jamaica in hand, we found a seat. As I patiently wait for our tacos, I notice the horchata isn’t just made from some boxed up syrup. It tasted like horchata, not sugary milk water. The very cinnamony, and quite refreshing taste of rice and nuts really shined through in this drink. The jamaica was good too, with a nice sweet and slightly tart taste. They were perfect as I await for my tacos.

Guisados are coveted as some of the best tacos in Los Angeles. I even received threatening emails saying Guisados is better than King Taco, saying “How can you say King Taco is the best? Have you even tried Guisados?” Thinking it was kind of weird, I didn’t really jump the gun on Guisados. It was more of a “I will go when I go” kind of thing. Honestly, the tacos were overrated. Not to say, the ingredients were the lesser or tasted worse. The ingredients were actually pretty good. It was the tortilla that killed it. Touted as having freshly made tortillas, I felt it hurt the operation. The sampler tacos were basically discs of under-cooked masa. Was this a tortilla, or a non-fried sope? The tortilla was quite thick, and folding it to eat the taco was impossible; it would break in half. I mean, just looking at the picture, you can see how thick this thing was. This was a disaster.

As far as the flavors, it was all great. The steak picado, bisteak en salsa roja, tinga (Tinga is made with shredded chicken and onions simmered in a thick chipotle sauce), mole poblano, cochinita pibil (slow roasted pork). All were great on their own. Only if the tortilla was on point, everything would have been superb.

The small hole in the wall, now a franchise has a good thing going, if done right. A little extra care in the tortilla making process would go a long way. My review was a bit harsh, but it was the truth. Fix the tortillas, and we got something special now.

Guisados on Urbanspoon

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