April 2014

Olio Pizzeria – Mushrooms Take Over

by Franklin on April 29, 2014


Pizza has been on my mind lately. I even dream that one day I will have a wood fire oven of my own in my back yard. My house would be small, but the backyard, pool and all will be spot on. “Pizza Party” would have a new meaning. Imagine everyone gets their own personal pizza with their own favorite toppings — perfected by my own dough of course. I’d fire it up in just minutes and the pizzas would come charred and fluffy every time. That is the dream. Pizza has always been a fascination of mine. When I heard Olio Pizzeria on 3rd makes a killer pizza, I had to try it.

Of course I had to get the Wild mushroom pizza with crispy prosciutto. Atop this beautiful pie were fire roasted mushrooms, slow roasted garlic, caramelized onions, and truffled cheese. The mushrooms alone make this pizza hefty. Every bite had a chunk of mushrooms — a mouth full. I appreciated the crispy prosciutto because, well, I love prosciutto, and every pizza needs shrooms and some kind of meat. The cheese was perfectly unctuous and delicious. Although the ingredients were top tier, the crust/dough needed some work. The char on the dough was missing, and the fluffy/chewy balance was just not there. It was a nice texture and had a good consistency though. The dough is the hardest part, and the difference from a good pizza and a spectacular pizza.

Olio was delicious nonetheless. The ingredients were on point and the little spot on the corner has a stance in Los Angeles. I’d say Olio has made a name for themselves as far as Los Angeles pizza goes. Just recently, you can even find Olio Pizzeria inside Grand Central Market in Downtown. Whether you are in West LA, or Downtown LA, you can get your Olio fix.

Olio Pizzeria & Cafe on Urbanspoon

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El Taurino – LA’s Favorite Taco

by Franklin on April 20, 2014

El Taurino, King Taco’s father, if you will is an LA hot spot — figuratively and literally. Not to say that El Taurinio is my favorite taco spot, but it holds a very special place in every Angelino’s heart. I try to think back and think when I had my first taco. God help me if my first taco was from Taco Bell. Unfortunately probable, I can blame my parents for that. I still remember having my first cinnamon twists from the late Taco Bell on Vermont and 4th location (one of many casualties from the LA Riots). Honestly though, I try to think of my first legit taco in life, and I can’t think of any other place it would come from, other than King Taco.


If not for the hot sauce (roja and verde), El Taurino and family would be quite basic. The carne asada and lengua is quite nice — salty enough to be good on its own with a nice chewy texture. The tortilla is nice as well along with the onions and cilantro. All this blank slate needs is either the red or the green. In my younger years, I would use almost a whole cup per taco. Today, I can barely handle it, and I find myself leaning towards the much milder green sauce. Both are equally delicious, and none is better than the other.


I’ve grown to like their tamales as well. I think it was a while ago when they had the dozen tamales for 12 bucks (something like that). That would last me for days, but I always remember eating these. The masa is always moist and the inside filling is fresh and tasty. Of course, these too taste amazing with the red and green sauce.


El Taurino is a popular drunchies spot. Open late, KTOWNers and Angelinos alike join together to enjoy some tacos. As a matter of fact, tacos in general seem to be good while a little tipsy. Whether its your local taco truck or tacos on the corner, the almighty taco is king. El Taurino though, for me and for many Angelinos, is the In-n-Out of tacos. It’s not necessarily the best tacos in the world, but in a way it is.

El Taurino on Urbanspoon

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I remember going to Islands as a kid. When I say kid, I mean a high school kid. I had a driver’s licence, I had a car (more like half a car), and that is all I needed to hang out with my friends at Islands with some burgers and fries. On my recent visit as an adult, not much has changed. That’s a good thing. The food was just as good as I remember, and chill and relaxed atmosphere made all the difference. Everything started with drinks. Every burger needs the company of a good shake. One of the hardest decisions is vanilla, chocolate or strawberry. I was feeling like strawberry, and I made a good choice. It was creamy and thick, and not too sweet. This was a good start to a great meal.

We started off with the nachos. These were pretty standard nachos. It had cheese, olives, guacamole, and sour cream. One thing I really want on nachos, and this is a personal preference, is nacho cheese. I know nacho cheese is a step down from the real stuff, but I need the fake ooey gooey. The melted cheese soon cooled off and web of chips stuck together. What I like to do is get a bunch of cheese in between two chips and make a little sandwich. The guacamole and sour cream did a good job in keeping everything creamy. I like the addition of the olives as it gave a nice salty flavor. Of course, the heat and acidity of the jalapenos cut the richness of the cheese. This was a standard plate of nachos and a perfect start.

The burger the restaurants main attraction, and the black pepper crusted Kilauea burger. The crust on the meat was so perfect. The meat was overcooked, but I really like my beef patty on the bloody side. The jalapeƱo in combination with the pepper jack cheese and chipotle aioli gave it a nice zesty flavor — not at all overly spicy. Topped with their signature Island Reds, it was a delicious burger. The crunch from the fried onion strings and the melted cheese made a great cheesy crispy mix. The best part of this burger really is the black pepper crusted patty. It is so in your face and full of flavor. I wish I could have this with a fried egg on top. Now that would be awesome. I had my burger with a side of sweet potato fries. Theirs was different that other places because it was more firm and crispy. Most places have sweet potato fries but are often limp. I liked how these spent a little more time in the fryer. Dipping these in their ranch, which by the way was salty, was so good. By the way, I love ranch that is salty and savory more than the creamy counterpart.

I wanted to for something not so heavy, so I opted for the fresh grilled mahi mahi tacos. Topped with chipotle-white sauce, cabbage, cilantro & diced tomatoes, the fish tacos were only healthy, but tasty too. I didn’t really care for the ranchero beans, but it was a good hearty condiment to the fish tacos. The start of course was the mahi mahi. It was grilled nicely and the flavors were in your face. I liked their corn tortillas too. I wouldn’t have expected a burger joint to take that much care in fish tacos. This would have been perfect with the appetizer nachos I had earlier. Only if I had waited.

To put an end to all the deliciousness, ordered dessert. The chocolate lava cake sounded too good to resist. It entailed a fudge brownie topped with vanilla ice cream. The whole thing was drizzled with chocolate syrup, topped with whipped cream, roasted almonds, and of course, a cherry on top. The fudge brownie itself was chocolate goodness. The ice cream helped balance out everything nicely. I mean, we are talking about brownies and ice cream here. With the crunch of toasted almonds, it can’t get any better.

Eating here really took me back to my adolescent years. The relaxed atmosphere and good food was really all I needed. I like how as I grew up, everything stayed the same. I guess you can say it got a lot more fresh and clean, but the whole beach side relaxing feeling is still there.

Islands on Urbanspoon

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Sushi Stop – Snack Time

by Franklin on April 9, 2014

You got to love the Sushi Stop for their logo. A spoof on the Game Stop stores, Sushi Stop’s signage really makes your do a double take. It looks like Game Stop, but it says sushi. Well the signage worked, and I did stop by for some sushi. The best part? Everything is $2.75. Score! I just stopped by to get a few cheap bites of sushi. I didn’t have much cash, as they are a cash only joint.

I ordered the spicy tuna roll, and yellowtail with truffle oil hand roll. Both were pretty decent for a quick and cheap sushi joint. The rice, the most important part of sushi in my opinion, was better than most. Still, it wasn’t the best tasting rice — it was a bit overcooked and had a sticky consistency. The fish was fresh and tasty though. Never have I ever had sushi with truffle oil. The yellow tail and hint of truffle taste was interesting. I didn’t necessarily think the flavors were needed, but interesting nonetheless. I did want to try mixing truffles and soy sauce. I think that will have an interesting body and taste. Something to consider for the future. If it starts getting popular, you heard it first here!

Sushi Stop was a fun experience. The food came out quickly, and the price was amazing. The little snack cost only about 6 bucks, cash only. Not bad at all. For a fast casual sushi joint, the quality of the fish was quite nice. Honestly, I tried this place only because the name intrigued me. I literally stopped for sushi, and it was good.

Sushi Stop on Urbanspoon

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On a recent trip to Vegas, one of the locals had a craving for Hot N Juicy. Already a Boiling Crab fan, I had little hopes for this place. The friend swears that “Hot N Juicy is better than Boiling Crab.” That is all I needed to hear, and I was on board. Before you read on, before you drop everything and head to your nearest Hot N Juicy, I will tell you right now. Go to Boiling Crab.

I won’t lie, I was a bit excited. To imagine something better than Boiling Crab was beyond me. Two things were telling of things otherwise. One, the wait was only 15 minutes, not 2 hours. Two, the smell inside was fragrant, but not in your face. These two minor details should have been telling enough. Still, I was hopeful, and hungry.



We ordered a bunch of stuff. The shrimp, clams, Dungeness crab, and sausage were all fresh and tasty. But honestly, we go to Boiling Crab for the whole shebang right? Theirs, named Hot N Juicy, was really tasty. It had a nice heat to it and the flavor was there. In the bag, it was more of a soupy sauce instead of a thick pasty sauce at Boiling Crab. This made little or less flavor to cling onto the shrimp and food. Even the corn just tasted like corn. None of the goodies really stuck to the corn. After, eating, my hands didn’t have any garlic stink, nor did my clothes. What was going on?

After the fact, I learned that Las Vegas has Boiling Crab, and that LA/OC has Hot N Juicy. There goes my eating in Vegas rule of never eating anything I can eat back home. I don’t know how deep the rivalry goes, but honestly, nothing can beat Boiling Crab. After coming back home, I had Boiling Crab after a week or so, and it was delicious. Yes, I waited over an hour, and yes I smelled like garlic and spices, but man was it delicious.

Hot N Juicy Crawfish on Urbanspoon

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