Oh, I miss Hawaii. The soft ocean breeze, the relaxed attitude, and beautiful coastal scenery — I love it all. When I saw Hula Dog at Newport Beach, I was instantly intrigued. They sell Hawaiian style hot dogs, lemonade, and shaved ice. I came in for a quick snack and drink. They basically get their in house made bread rolls, and the cool part is, they stick it inside a hot rod which heats up the bun from within, and create a hole for the hot dog to be inserted. Their topping and sauces range from fruit relishes from the island.
I ordered the bacon taro bread with polish sausage, topped with their secret garlic sauce and guava relish. From what I expected and what I actually got was very different. I was expecting a warm, chewy, doughy bread with hints of bacon and taro. The bread was very stale and pretty much broke. It had little flavor, and definitely no bacon or taro flavor. The sauces didn’t really help moisten everything. The hot dog sausage itself was very good. It have a nice beefy flavor and a good snap. It was juicy, and no too salty.
The lemonade was quite refreshing. Freshly squeezing the lemons really made a difference. It wasn’t too sweet, it wasn’t too sour or tart. It was just a refreshing, cold cup of lemonade. Perfect, actually.
Hula Dog was somewhat of a letdown. If it were exactly what I had imagined, it would have been quite spectacular. Imagine that perfect hot dog sausage wrapped in a nice chewy bun, filled with a tropical fruit relish — now that would be awesome. It was a good thing to wash down everything with the lemonade. They seem to be a popular thing in Hawaii, but maybe lost something when it made its way over here. Nonetheless, you still have the beach to enjoy, and I guess a hot dog and a lemonade at the beach isn’t too bad.
The roads are clear, and the roads up Angeles Forest are asking for some action. One morning, some buddies and I decided to take our cars up the mountain caravan style. With some spirited driving, we made it to Newcomb’s Ranch, a biker and car enthusiasts stop up the mountain. Most stop by to have breakfast, chit chat about their bikes and go along their way. It was great to see this community and enjoy breakfast while at it. The food wasn’t really great, but the pancake was memorable.
The sloppy mess was just that, a sloppy mess. The chili and beans on top of the eggs was a mess, and some rice would have been perfect. The hash browns were not something I enjoyed. It was basically just cooked shaved potatoes.
My eggs were cooked nicely, and the bacon was a good match. Bacon and eggs is always a sure thing — only of the hash browns were good. No crisp, no buttered bits of goodness — they were just kind of there on the plate. Masked in ketchup and hot sauce, I made the most of it.
The pancakes really saved this breakfast. After enjoying my eggs and bacon, I always like to treat myself to pancakes. Theirs was surprisingly fluffy and had the perfect attributes of a good pancake. It was light, tasty, and absorbed the syrup just right. It was great with their coffee.
I know the breakfast was a bit boring, but the pancakes were quite memorable. We really don’t drive up the mountain for some of the best breakfast around, but the experience was great. Getting away from the city and enjoying the drive up the beautiful mountain was a treat in it of itself.
The LA Weekly’s The Essentials event was a first time for me. I love going to food events because you can try a number of things from many different chefs and restaurants. The Essentials was held at California Market Center in downtown LA. More than 40 restaurants participated and fed the masses of people. When I say masses of people, these are a lot of people. The lines were a bit insane — I think we waited almost an hour until food touched our lips. Once we got up to the main floor, it was all smooth from there.
My favorites were Coni’Seafood‘s shrimp, octopus, scallop ceviche and Providence/Connie & Ted‘s raw oysters. The creative award goes to Saint Martha‘s for their uni tataki on seaweed “Doritos”. Mélisse‘s wagyu beef béarnaise was memorable. Spago‘s pork belly bánh mì was quite delicious. The pork belly was melt in your mouth wonderful. Curtis Stone plated some white asparagus pain perdu w/foie gras mousse form his restaurant in Beverly Hills, Maude. Also the blue crab rolls from Kiriko was memorable.
The event was filled with food and drinks. After waiting in line for some time, the reward was quite worth it. Can’t wait for next year!
Senor G has everything you want in a Mexican joint. It had some good chips and salsa, a huge burrito with fresh ingredients, and is right next to the beach. Located in Playa del Rey, the location is quite nice and the small space was perfect.
The tortilla chips and salsa was awesome. The chips were ok, but the salsa was spectacular. It was as if they just made it right then and there. The tomatoes were fresh and the flavor was just right. Something about the salsa was just so addicting.
I ordered the Carlito’s Way burrito with beans on the side. It had chopped skirt steak, grilled onion, cheese, guacamole, and rice. The skirt steak was prepared fresh on the flat top grill. Each bite was meaty and hearty. The guacamole was fresh too, probably made not too long ago. The burrito had great taste and flavor, but had one minor (huge) problem. After 2 bites, the burrito fell apart. One huge pet peeve of mine is a burrito that can’t stay together. Even the largest, most packed burrito should stay together if wrapped correctly.
Senor G was a nice pit stop before the beach. The spot is nice and the salsa was really memorable. Every ingredient is fresh and is given so much attention. I didn’t get a chance to try a smoothie at G’s Juice next door, but will definitely have to come back for some.
The first time I had a Smashburger was in La Jolla at La Jolla Cove Beach. This was year back, before any locations made its way near Los Angeles and Orange County. It was delicious then, and it is delicious now. The fast casual experience from a burger joint was new and exciting. The fresh ingredients and
Everything about the Classic Smash burger was, for a lack of better words, classic. The tomato, lettuce, and pickles were so fresh. The beef was of great quality and every ingredient was tasty. Of course, I had to go classic and have American cheese on there. The best part was the potato bun — it was fluffy, chewy, dense and flavorful. It was so moist and conforming to every bite. The bread, cheese, and beef alone would have made a great burger. The addition of the tasty Smash sauce was great.
Every great burger needs french fries. Fortunately, Smashburger fries are legit. Their shoestring (my favorite kind) were perfectly salted and seasoned. The texture was so crispy and satisfyingly crunchy. It did have a slight taste of frozen potatoes, but the fries were still delicious. I think even a little more time in the fryer would have made for even crispier fries.
Smashburger was just as good as I remember, maybe even better than I remember. The fresh ingredients, the fast casual atmosphere, and good service is all I need in a burger joint. The patty was memorable, and the bun was even better. Smashburger is a smash hit in my book. They are huge in the East and Mid-West, and I’m glad their here in LA and OC.