February 2014

Koreatown Night Market

by Franklin on February 28, 2014

The night market makes its way to Koreatown! Presented by the City of Los Angeles, The inaugural festival will be help on Friday, April 18, and Saturday, April 19. The event will be held at Robert F Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles. The event is free to the public and will feature over 100 food and merchandise vendors representing the multi-ethnic street cuisine from Los Angeles and Orange County. Seoul Sausage Company will be the curators of the festival’s food truck line up. KTOWN Night Market will also feature various activities, carnival games, and live entertainment.

The event should be a huge one, with almost 40,000 guests estimated to be in attendance. Friday’s event is from 4PM – Midnight, Saturday’s event is from 2PM – Midnight. Yelp is even hosting a KTOWN Bar Crawl that continues through the night. It should be a fun-filled event!

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Tender Greens (Culver City) – A Healthy Eye Opener

by Franklin on February 23, 2014

Eating healthy is a choice, and a good one at that. As someone who eats fairly unhealthy, I have a tendency to stay away from places such as Tender Greens. How wrong was I to think like this? Tender Greens really opened my eyes. Not only can healthy food taste good, but also makes me feel good. The farm to table concept is amazing to me. Eating something that was locally sourced, and picked or harvested less that 24 hours ago is exciting. This truly was an eye opening experience. I may never be able to eat another store bought vegetable again.

The harvest salad was so fresh and delicious. If I ate this everyday, I would be fit and healthy. This citrus salad had cara cara oranges, oro blanco kumquats, shaved fennel, candied pecans, goat Gouda cheese, tender greens, frisee, golden balsamic vinaigrette. The best part of this salad was the cara cara oranges and kumquats. They gave this salad such a brightness and clean taste. It literally opened my eyes after eating it. I guess I was a bit tired and just wanted to something to revive me, and this was it. The citrus really popped, and wasn’t overbearingly sour. It had a nice sweet note with hits of citrus, and went great with the salty, yet tangy goat Gouda cheese. Bites from the tender greens, fennel, and frisee were fresh and the candied pecans gave a nice crunch. I liked how this salad wasn’t drenched in dressing. It had a nice light coating of the golden balsamic. The true flavor came through not from the dressing, but the quality ingredients.

I’ll admit. Not all of the stuff I ordered was healthy. I ordered the mac and cheese because I am a sucker for it. I loved it as a child in the blue box, and I love it now as an adult. Tender Green’s mac and cheese was simple. They used seashell pasta — and it was cooked so perfectly al dente. Each bite had a nice chew and mouth feel. The cheese sauce wasn’t overpowering — quite subtle actually. The bits of herb breadcrumbs had just enough crunch and gave the dish some dimension.

Another not so healthy thing was the savory tart. I liked how this one was all vegetarian, yet it tasted meaty and delicious. The tart crust was better than most. It had a nice flakey texture, but not too messy. Inside were yams, mushrooms, carrot, and cauliflower. A total plus was that the cauliflower was totally masked from the other ingredients. As you may already know, I hate cauliflower. The whole package was nice as each bite was a savory mash of everything nice. Think quiche, without the eggs, instead with a whole lot of roasted veggies.

Tender Greens really opened my eyes. Eating healthy doesn’t mean disgusting quinoa salads with no flavor. The balance and flavors of all of the ingredients together really stand out. The farm to table concept is here to stay, and something I want to look into and explore more of. It looks like salads will make more appearances on my plate.

Tender Greens on Urbanspoon

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It has been a while since I wrote a blog post on Orange County eats. Not that I don’t have love for the OC, its just not exciting to eat here anymore. All of the restaurants are too chain like. Except for a small few, all of the eateries are just average. To me, the most exciting thing is when restaurants far away make it close by to me. One such restaurant, a chain nonetheless is Santouka Ramen. With restaurants all around the world, I am happy to have them in LA and Orange County. I don’t have to travel to Japan to have good ramen.

The bowl of ramen was better than most. I appreciated the al dente noodles and the texture of the alkaline noodles at Santouka was perfect. It had a nice bounce and bite feel. The broth was a bit lukewarm, but still tasted amazing. My favorite of course was the char sui pork. It was fatty and deliciously tender. The vegetables were fresh and the bowl of ramen as a whole was balanced. This was a great bowl of ramen and competes with the best of them.

To some, ramen at a restaurant is foreign to them. All they know is the stuff that comes in a package or a cup. Ramen to me is comfort food. The warm broth and the fried noodles turned half pliable is all that I need on a cold winter night. Ramen broth and noodles is such a hard thing to perfect, especially from scratch. I wouldn’t know the first thing about creating the broth. Yes, having ramen from a bag or cup is quite satisfying and delicious. Just pop in a soft boiled egg and you are golden. Once you experience good ramen with legitimate broth, it makes all the difference.

Santouka Ramen on Urbanspoon

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Little Next Door – Parisian Brunch

by Franklin on February 15, 2014

Find your passport, grab a plane, and fly over to Paris. Grab brunch at your local brasserie, and there is your European/French breakfast with freshly baked bread and all the classics. Instead, drive down 3rd Street near Crescent Heights and you will be at Little Next Door. The French inspired brasserie is spot on with the colors, cuisine and bakery selections. I enjoyed the food and Little Next Door is a great contender amongst the many breakfast spots in this area.

We started things off with a caramel latte. Doctors say, drink water in the morning to jump start your internal organs. Well, caffeine does the same, except really fast. Coffee Latte over water always! We missed the latte art, but this large cup of caramel latte was delicious. Not too sweet, the coffee flavor was pure and delightful. It was creamy, delicious, and all I could wish was to have had this last with our dessert.

We were treated with some delicious bread. One could only assume this was all made in house. It was light, airy and perfect with the olive oil and balsamic mix. The mixture was sweet, acidic, and was zesty from the herbs and garlic inside. I was glad there wasn’t a lot of bread that was served — that would have been bad.

The Croque Madame is almost the perfect breakfast. It is cheesy, has ham, and of course, a runny egg on top. The grilled ham in this one was really nice in quality. You could taste the freshness and the actual pork flavor came out. This open faced sandwich made with whole wheat bread was a covered in amazingly melted and toasted cheese. The combination with the simple vinaigrette salad was satisfying. The simplicity of this dish is what made me enjoy it.

Eggs Benedict is another one of those classic brunch menu items. We opted for the Wild Mushroom Eggs Benedict. I appreciated the lightness and delicate Hollandaise sauce. It usually is a bit on the sour side or rich with too much butter. Theirs was just a compliment to this dish. The mushrooms were the star — it had a good bite to it with an earthy flavor. The egg was poached perfectly, and the egg yolk was warm and running. I appreciated that the bread was toast with crust cut off instead of an English muffin. This made it easy to cut and eat with a fork. The side house green salad went well with this dish.

Of course, we had to finish things off with macarons. My favorite was the caramel, something the waiter picked out for us. The other 3 were total misses. I tried a bunch of macarons in my day, and these were just so-so. The inside was moist, but a little too moist, almost wet. The outside crust was nice, but the inside was a bit off. A good macaron has a nice firm outer crust, and the inside should be light, then dense as you chew. Their flavors were ok, but the texture was a bit off. I wish I had a chance to try some of their other pastries and baked goods.

Little Next Door does a good job in bringing France to 3rd Street. The decor is on point, and the food items are delicious. I could only imagine food in France to be only slightly better (maybe a little more than slightly). It was relaxing eating brunch outside, people watching and seeing the cars wiz by on the street. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but it is safe to say breakfast is king here.

Little Next Door on Urbanspoon

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Let’s talk about the best burger you ever stuffed your face with. I still to this day am still looking for the best burger. Sometimes, an In-n-Out Double Double will do — Animal Style, with grilled onions, raw onions, and secret sauce. As good as that is, it doesn’t scream out gourmet. And every good burger needs the perfect batch of french fries on the side, and In-n-Out is far from it. The Office Burger at Father’s Office is acclaimed by many to be the best burger in Los Angeles. I know that may be a shock to diehard In-n-Out fans, but Sang Yoon’s Office Burger is quite delicious. The gastropub offers some of amazing beer selections and pairs well with the menu. For this blog post, it will only concentrate on the burger and fries.

The Office Burger received a lot of criticism because some say it’s not a burger, but a sandwich. Instead of a traditional bun, they use a French roll of a sort. My question to you is, what makes the sandwich, the patty or the bun? For no reason whatsoever, let’s just call this a burger. Come on.. it’s a burger. The melted gruyere and Maytag blue cheese ain’t enough of a reason to call this a burger? How about the dry aged beef patty? What sandwich has grilled onion bacon compote? Honestly, the reason I like the Office Burger is because of this onion bacon compote. The sweetness of the onions and savory bacon create such a perfectly “umamic” flavor profile. (I don’t know if umamic is a word, but I will try and see if it’ll fly.) This went perfectly contrasting to the arugula in the burger. Everything together with the patty, cheese and compote perform a perfect symphony on your taste buds.

As I mentioned, a good burger needs an equally good side of fries. Father’s Office fries are quite delicious. Maybe it’s because I like shoe string fries, and I like my fries crispy. Dipping it in their tangy aioli puts all other sauces to shame. I see why they still to this day don’t have ketchup at the restaurant. Crispy and firm, the fries are something to reckon with.

I’ve had a few Office Burgers in my eating career, but never really blogged about it. The question remains though, is The Office Burger the best burger in Los Angeles. It possibly is, but tastes vary between people and time. I was surprised to find the waiter ask me how I wanted my burger cooked though. I guess forcing people to eat burgers medium rare like back in the day doesn’t fly anymore. The Helm’s location is second to the original Santa Monica location. Still though, the gastropub offers amazing beer and a burger to compete with anything around.

Father's Office on Urbanspoon

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Spitz (Little Tokyo) – Topped Fries Make Me Happy

by Franklin on February 6, 2014

It all started with two Occidental College graduates. On a semester abroad in Spain, there were Doner Kabobs everywhere. Doner kebabs are basically minced meat that is cooking on a spit. The meat rotates and caramelizes as it spins on the broiler. Upon graduating, the students opened up their first Spits in Eagle Rock, just a mile away from Oxy. I am more familiar with the Little Tokyo location, and only been to this one. The food is always amazing and the ambiance, artsy as usual.

I always get the street cart doner. Freshly carved lamb Doner meat accompanied by romaine, onions, cucumbers, green pepper, and tomatoes create this tasty wrap. With garlic aioli and fried lavash chips, the sandwich wrap is zesty and delicious. The kicker is the tzatziki and chili sauce. The meat is seasoned perfectly and the veggies and sauce all come into play perfectly.

My most favorite thing here is the street cart fries with the works. First off, the fries are perfectly crusted and crispy. Instead off traditional potato fries, theirs are a Cajun style. Topped with garlic aioli, feta, onion, green pepper, tomato, olives, peperoncini and chili sauce, this be easily be one of my favorite “topped” fries dish in Los Angeles. I opted to add chicken Doner meat, and everything was perfect. Each bite had a little bit of everything — think crane asada fries, except its chicken fresh off the spit and Mediterranean ingredients. I absolutely loved the feta as it gave a nice zest to everything. The veggies were an absolute must to keep this gut buster in check.

Spits is one of those places where you just dream about. Sometimes, the cravings are too strong and you just need your street cart fries and Doner fix. The zesty taste from the Middle Eastern ingredients is too addicting. Bordering the downtown Arts District, the minimalistic industrial design with funky metallic designs makes this place fresh and casual. The home of the doner kebab is where it’s at.

Spitz on Urbanspoon

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