Chicken

Mendocino Farms (Fairfax) – Not Fried Chicken

by Franklin on November 3, 2015

Fried chicken is good. Everyone loves fried chicken! I mean, don’t quote me on this, but even vegetarians love fried chicken. People even put it between two slices of bread and call it good. Putting fried chicken in a sandwich is a good idea, but I would rather have my fried chicken sans bread. Mendocino Farms does a sandwich called the “Not So Fried” chicken sandwich. It has shaved roasted free range chicken, but it’s rolled in Mendo’s krispies. With herb aioli, mustard pickle slaw, tomatoes, and pickled red onions, the sandwich is quite delicious for not having fried chicken in it. All on a toasted ciabatta, the sandwich really has the qualities of a friend chicken sandwich without being fried chicken. What’s better than this sandwich? Fried chicken, obviously, but the sandwich will do if a sandwich is what you are looking for. Did you count how many times I wrote “fried chicken?” FRIED CHICKEN!

Check out the post here for the Mendocino Farms of Marina Del Rey. I got the Kurabota Pork Belly Banh Mi of course.

Mendocino Farms Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Tokyo Fried Chicken Co. – I’m Guilty

by Franklin on February 4, 2015

It is always good to see a somewhat popular restaurant in Monterey Park that isn’t Chinese or Asian. Even though Tokyo Fried Chicken Company suggests something Asian, I still think of it as southern fried chicken. Though it may have some Japanese influences, it is all about the fried chicken here. Fried chicken was the main event today, and we had a feast indeed.

We started things off with chicken skins. When I saw that on the menu, I knew I needed to have it. I remember as a kid, I was forced to throw the chicken skin away when eating KFC or Pioneer Chicken — my dad was kind of a health nut. Well, I got my revenge with these fried chicken skins. The basket was full of crunchies, almost like a basket of chicharon, I was dipping them and popping them in my mouth. They were delicious and such a guilty pleasure.

The sauces were key. The ponzu was much needed as it did a good job in cutting the fat of the fried goodness. The acidic and the fatty chicken was a great mixture. I wasn’t really a fan of the sweet soy sauce though.

The chicken was the main dish, but sadly the chicken wasn’t the main event. I have had my share of fried chicken (guilty), but their chicken was very different in a way not pleasing to my palate. As a savory and salty lover, their chicken was a bit on the sweet side. The sweetness was a bit off-putting. Even the chicken was a bit tough and seemed like it was more chuncky than juicy. The batter was crunchy though and had good flavors.

Mac and cheese with fried chicken go together like mac, and cheese. Their was quite delicious with the nori on top. The cheesy dish combined with the seafoody seaweed was a nice mix. It was cheesy and macy — delicious!

Dessert was made possible by Quenelle of Burbank. The push pops orange creamsicle of manderine orange and vanilla bean was nostalgic to the max. I remember eating the Flintstone push pops as a kid, and these were just delicious. The ice cream bar, apple pie a la mode was delicious as well. The apple pie ice cream, brown butter glaze, and graham cracker strusel crust was exactly what I imagined. If you were to make an apple strusel crisp pie into an ice cream bar, this would be it. The ice cream was a perfect ending to our fried chicken dinner.

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Bella Cuba – Post-Shopping Meal

by Franklin on February 2, 2015

Sometimes, Cuban food just hits the spot. The classic Latino flavors and dishes of Bella Cuba just hit the mark. After a long day of shopping at South Coast Plaza, Bella Cuba was a good energizer. Their classic Cuban dishes were comforting. Nothing is more comforting that having meat and rice.

Bread and butter at its most basic. A nice touch, and something nobody wants to fill up on before dinner.

The roasted garlic chicken was a delicious classic. Not as good as Versailles in Los Angeles, but still a good dish. The black beans and rice went so well with the chicken. The chicken was a bit dry, but had great flavor from the acidic sauce and onions. You know that lemony sauce I am talking about. The thought of it makes my mouth water — perfect for the blank slate of a chicken. The sweet plantains balanced out the savory and sour of the fish nicely.

The ropa vieja was an interesting dish. The comfort of the stewed shredded beef (ropa vieja) and rice was a good combination. The garlic, onions, and peppers were fluorescent and gave the dish nice flavor. It was to me a bit boring and needed something more for the dish to shine. The plantains did a good job in breaking up the mundane savory beef.

I heard goo things of their tres leches cake and had to order one. Though I have had better, and though I prefer my tres leches cake to be very creamy and wet, the cake was a great dessert. From the acidic and savory chicken to the hearty beef and rice, the cake was a nice cool down. If you are expecting the best tres leches cake though, look elsewhere.

Bella Cuba was good but not great. The comforting meat and rice will always be a winner for me. South Coast Plaza, easily one of my favorite malls (if i were rich), has some good eats inside. If you are in the mood for something Cuban and a little in your price range, just go across the street.

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Jim Dandy – Fried Chicken and Fritters

by Franklin on September 19, 2014

You have fried chicken, then you have Jim Dandy. I had high hopes for Jim Dandy, and for good reason too. It’s not Church’s or Popeye’s, and it sure is not KFC. Although Church’s and Popeye’s has a special place in my heart, I have no love for KFC. Jim Dandy is on a new level of fried chicken. Is it even mightier than my all time favorite, Pioneer Chicken? It just might have better fried chicken, but it can never touch the nostalgia factor that Pioneer has. Situated just on the verge of South LA, Jim Dandy sits on a corner, all alone. The bullet proof glass where you order from is telling of the neighborhood. A little dangerous? Well that depends on who you are. For me, it was just a little bit of my childhood. All I came here for was the chicken, but it turns out, I got a little more.

The fried chicken is quite tasty. The chicken itself has a pure flavor. The original has less flavor, but all the crunch and chicken essence you need. The spicy though, is not really hot spicy, but just has more spices. This is where all the flavor of a good fried chicken was. The spices were just right, and the chicken wasn’t salty or overly flavored with other ingredients. The batter is light, yet satisfying. At this point, I thought we as a community should replace all KFC restaurants with a Jim Dandy. That would be my service to the community.

I ordered a side fritter with my wing. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. I assumed it would be dry and quite stale tasting. I couldn’t further from the truth. The fritter, covered in powdered sugar was quite possibly the best thing I ate in quite some time. Such a simple thing really, it was more like a donut. Fried in either shortening or animal fat, the fritter was so light delicate. The somewhat warm inside was so fluffy and cake like, but the outside crust was the main attraction. It was so crispy, mixed with the powdered sugar, it was just a perfect bite every time. I might even like these more than the chicken. It is just that good. All fritters will be compared to Jim Dandy from here on out. Take my word. Get the fritters.

When will I ever visit Jim Dandy again? Soon I hope. The chicken and fritters is such an affordable meal and a delicious one at that. I came for the chicken, but I left with a memory of the best fritters I ever had. I’ll be back sooner than later.

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La Grande Orange Cafe – Bacon Optional

by Franklin on August 1, 2013

It was a Monday night. I wasn’t in the mood for anything loud or crazy. I wanted something mellow and quiet. My old age has brought me to La Grande Orange Cafe in Pasadena — a somewhat under the radar, though not a hole in the wall restaurant, that is a bit on the boring side. The inside was interesting though. It had different rooms with different themes. Adjacent to the restaurant is the Metro Gold Line, Del Mar Station and some luxury apartments. The area certainly isn’t Old Town Pasadena. It’s quiet, a bit boring, and kind of nice.

The shredded kale and quinoa salad was refreshing and packed with nutrients. The crunch from the sunflower seeds was appreciated. Sweetness from the flame grapes and citrus from lemon was a nice combo. With a fresh shaving of parmesan, the salad was rich and flavorful, with a nice summer zest. Kale is slowing becoming my new favorite green.

Last year, brussel sprouts have been getting popular. Never having it in a salad, the Brussels sprouts salad was new and exciting to me. Manchego being one of my favorite cheese, the shaved aged manchego was the best thing for me. The sweet dried berries and smoked almonds were a great balance for this dish. The honey mustard vinaigrette was good, considering I am not a fan of sweet dressing; fortunately, it wasn’t swimming in dressing. Bacon on the salad was optional — I just laughed at that statement.

La Grande Orange Cafe is known for the deviled eggs. In hind sight, I should have just ordered it from the DineLA menu. These little bites were perfect. It had a great velvety texture with the right amount of spice and zing. A little drizzle of oil or something could have made them less dry though. Again, bacon was optional, and again, I chuckled.

It was a Monday, and my fiancé wanted a drink. Yes, we are making “its a Monday” as an excuse to drink. She ordered the white sangria, and it was refreshing — better than I expected. Though a girly drink, it was strong enough to enjoy and well, fruity enough to enjoy. The fresh peach was refreshing and cool.

I ordered the wood fire rotisserie chicken. Though kind of boring, the heirloom cannellini beans were a nice touch. The half chicken was a lot of protein to take in, especially the dry breast — dark meat was juicy and well seasoned. The fresh green beans had a nice crunch. A very “safe” dish, but still delicious.

I saw Prime Rib on the menu and had to take advantage. The prime rib was cooked nicely medium rare, though a bit on the rare side. Any less time in the oven, it would have been near raw beef. The mashed potatoes were a bit bland and boring, but the horse radish made everything lively. The green beans brought everything together.

I liked the olive oil cake. It had a very light, yet dense texture, in between a cake and a bread. The mild flavor mixed with the strawberry and vanilla sorbet was a good mix.

The red velvet cake was awesome. The multilayer of cake was nice to look at and fun to eat. Breaking off layer by layer, each cake and frosting mixture was pleasant. The vanilla ice cream was a nice touch. I mean, who doesn’t like cake and ice cream?

La Grande Orange Cafe was an interesting experience. Culinarily, it isn’t as exciting as most restaurants are. In fact, the restaurant is a bit boring. From the food, to the decor, and the wait service, nothing got me excited for anything. It was a Monday night, DineLA was going on, and we just wanted a quiet night together in Pasadena. The food was plenty and everything tasted as it should. The classic styling and menu will never go out of style.

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Raku – Japanese Cuisine to a Higher Level

by Franklin on March 11, 2013

I came across Raku from Andrew Zimmern. I was watching a random Youtube video about Las Vegas eats, and Mr. Zimmern swears Raku as an anti-Vegas destination with some of the best Japanese food around. I immediately dropped everything and headed off the strip. Raku, located in a dismal looking strip mall in Las Vegas’ very own Chinatown, concentrates on good quality Japanese cuisine. More of a Japanese “tapas” bar, most of their items are shared amongst the table. Most people associate Japanese cuisine with sushi. Chef and owner, Mitsuo Endo showcases a menu with Japanese cuisine as an all-inclusive whole. There is no sushi on the menu, though there is raw fish and sashimi. Everything is masterfully prepared and they use only the best ingredients.

We started things off with the uni soup. This was a simple dish that was so refreshing. The broth was soy sauce based and had a subtle seafood essence. Filled with seaweed and a few slivers of uni, it was an interesting soup. The uni was flavorful and mellow — the warm soup made it more toned down and silky. I don’t it that is a good thing, but it was delicious. This was a great start to an awesome late night eat.

We ordered the pork belly to feed the carnivore within. It wasn’t necessarily special. The quality and bite of the pork belly was a lot better though. Most places will just put some thinly sliced pork belly on a stick, grill it and call it day. Raku’s was thicker, and more meaty. All in all, it was a deliciously cooked yakitori — no sauce needed.

Some of the best things I have ever eaten was Raku’s Agedashi Tofu. It is probably the best tofu I ever had. Some sad days, I would be home alone. I’d open up a tub of tofu, microwave it, make some kind of soy sauce concoction, and pour it over the tofu. For what it was, it was tasty and I was happy. This agedashi tofu really changed my life. The tofu is made daily, in house. The fried exterior had a little crispiness with a hint of chewiness. Inside, it was completely different — smooth and silky, and custard like. The broth in itself makes this dish so good. I don’t know what was in it, but soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and dashi was definitely in the mix. There was a smudge of red pepper puree on the bowl for a bit of spice. Topped with ikira (salmon roe), scallions, and nori, the tofu dish was complex, yet perfectly balanced.

We ended things with one of my favorite chicken dishes of all time. The juicy deep fried chicken, as they call it, was exactly what the name suggests — It was juicy. It was deep fried, and it’s…chicken. The thigh meat is rolled up skin on, battered, and then fried. The roll is cut up into slices and then served on some vinaigrette dressed spinach. The vinaigrette on the spinach helped with the fatty chicken. As the picture shows, the chicken is a bit pink in the center — might be a little alarming for sensitive types. For me though, the chicken was so juicy and flavorful — probably achieved from this near “medium well” cooking. It was an exceptional dish in both flavor and texture.

If you want to eat at Raku, make reservations. I was given the stink eye when I walked in and said I didn’t have reservations. Luckily, I was seated within 10 minutes as long as we ate “quickly.” Most likely, that won’t happen to you unless you make a reservation for this small 48 seater restaurant. I was very impressed with the food at Raku. The ingredients are of the highest quality and simply prepared. Even the water is treated with respect, filtered with a giant charcoal log. Details like this, with a passion for perfection makes Raku very special. It’s not just some Japanese restaurant off the strip. It’s possibly one of the best in the country.

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What is cooler? Cake or Pie? I mean, you got the all time favorite birthday cake, and pretty much every “pastry” (scone, donut, brownie, etc.) is all part of the cake family. Pie on the other gets no love. The only place showing them love is Mairie, and all the great diners. When I say great diners, I mean in the east coast. What do we have? What does Lost Angeles have? I guess we have House of Pies. A unique and one and only, the the restaurant is a casual style diner that has been around for nearly 40 years. I always had their pies on certain occasions and they are quite good. I never ate there personally, so I had to give it a try. The food is down to earth and is comforting on all fronts. Even the waitresses are sweet ladies. I would say though, their pies are superior to their food items, but it’s still a nice casual spot to have breakfast, lunch, or dinner with friends and family.

When I saw chicken wings and waffles on the menu, I was elated. It was exactly what I wanted and I heard their fried chicken is something to consider. The chicken was superb as it was juicy and crispy. I hate it when I bite into fried chicken and the meat is either dry or drenched in grease. Theirs was clean tasting and the crispy batter was surprisingly delicious. The waffle on the other hand just got by. It wasn’t anything special and the batter could use a little work. It wasn’t crispy or tasty — it was more for show. Hand’s down, the waffles at Roscoe’s are superior. The chicken though, they can hold their own.

I had a bite of their burger — the bacon avocado burger named the Frisco Burger. This was just a standard burger. the patty wasn’t anything special, but the bacon was nice with the creamy avocado. The sourdough was a nice switch from the boring hamburger bun. This burger wasn’t special for me though. It wasn’t overly juicy or flavorful.

I know it’s a shocker. I didn’t get pie this time! Honestly though, the food isn’t something to consider. It is your basic diner food — boring in every sense. The pies are quite decent, but then again, I am all about cakes. Birthday cakes, wedding cakes, cake donuts, I love them all. I am not a fan of most pies, meat pies, fruit pies — I’m just not a fan. I guess I am biased in a way. I mean, if this place was called House of Cakes, I would be all over it. I guess if you like diner food and love pies, this would be heaven. For me, just give me my fried chicken wings and I will be on my way.

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Knott’s Berry Farm is know for many things. It really was a farm back in the day — it’s not just a name. Today, kids know it for Snoopy, teens seek thrills on their roller coasters, and adults and old folks know Knott’s for their jams. For me, I am all about the food. Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner is a popular spot for people who want fried chicken. The country style interior and waitresses in olden day attire gives Mrs. Knott’s Chicken a certain charm you can’t get anywhere else. Once you enter (possibly after waiting an hour), you are taken back to when Knott’s Berry Farm first opened. It wasn’t about roller coasters, Snoopy, or fun in the sun all access passes. It was all about food.

I may come here for one thing, and one thing only — their home made biscuits! They are tiny little biscuits wrapped in a cloth napkin. They come on a plate by about 10 to 12 at a time. They are warm and fluffy, right out of the oven. I usually put boysenberry jam on it, and is probably the only time I get to eat that delicious jam. I usually over do it and eat about 3 before the the main course. I can eat these with jam all day, and I would be full and satisfied. If you don’t come here for their chicken, you definitely need to come here for the biscuits.

I always get the fried chicken. Why wouldn’t I? They made their mark on this stuff — I have to order it. I got mine with corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, and cabbage with ham. Their chicken is light and the batter isn’t too overwhelming. The seasoning isn’t too overdone either and they llet the juicy chicken shine on its own. The sides were nothing special, though it was a good accompaniment to the chicken. If their fried chicken was a lot more crispy, it would probably be the best fried chicken ever.

With the chicken dinner, you get a choice of chicken noodle soup or rhubarb. At the time, I didn’t know what rhubarb was, so I went with the chicken noodle. Though not a fan of chicken noodle soup, this was probably the best I ever had. Thicker than normal, the chicken broth was hearty and delicious. I wouldn’t mind having a bowl of this when I’m sick, or any regular day for that matter. This was thick and creamy like a chowder more than just soup. Maybe that is why I liked it so much.

At the end, I treated myself to a huge slice of boysenberry pie. Boysenberry is a cross between a blackberry, loganberry, and raspberry. Walter Knott’s, owner of Knott’s Berry Farm, and his partner were responsible for cultivating and growing the boysenberry. Without the help of Walter Knotts and coining the name boysenberry, none of these roller coasters and Snoopy might not even exist today. More importantly, the boysenberry wouldn’t have existed, and the jam, and the pie, all of it might not have been around. That is one important berry. The berry is tart like raspberry but sweet like a blackberry. The pie is warm and the boysenberry filling has a perfect tart and sweet balance. A perfect ending to a great country style meal.

Knott’s Berry Farm is special in that everything associated with it has no credit to food, but food deserves all the credit. The restaurant and pie business grew to Knott’s Berry Farm, and it is great to see that food is the driving force for a business. It is a piece of history that I am happy to take part in, though it is through the consumption of fried chicken. Others may see Knott’s Berry Farm as a theme park, but all I see is pies, biscuits, jam, and fried chicken.

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Clue number 1, Chicken. Clue number 2, purple turnips. Clue number 3, and this is the kicker, garlic sauce and hummus. By now, if Zankou Chicken isn’t alarming in your mind, you probably haven’t had it before. Heck, did you even read the title? Zankou Chicken is as Middle Eastern as can be. It all started in Beirut, Lebanon in 1962 by the Iskenderian family. In 1984, the family having moved to Los Angeles, opened their first Zankou Chicken in Hollywood. They are all about fast food that is all natural and fresh — and in the end of it all, it really isn’t fast food. They have served the diverse city of Beirut, and what better place than to serve a diverse city like Los Angeles. They are known for their Mediterranean Middle Eastern food, and their secret garlic sauce is their signature item besides their chicken. Being healthy and delicious is what they strive for.

Ordering the half chicken, I was excited to eat. As usual, their chicken was perfectly roasted, and eating even the breast meat was tender and juicy. The skin was nicely caramelized on the outside, it was almost as if it was fried. I would split open the pita to a pocket, stuff it with hommus, chicken, lettuce, and garlic sauce. Each bite was an explosion of flavor, especially with the accompanyment of the pickled purple turnips and yellow peppers. What made this pop was their secret garlic sauce. A bit zesty, and white as snow, I can never have enough of that stuff. Would I ever eat at Zankou Chicken without this stuff? Maybe. Their garlic sauce is what makes Zankou Chicken so special. Put that on anything, and it turns the dish into a flavorful mouthful. the secret recipe is coveted by other, and loved by all.

Shawarma is the preparation of stacked meats on top of each other. Heat is applied to the sides and the meat is cut off as it is cooked on a rotating spit. Their shawerma wrap had slices of marinated USDA steak. Inside hommus, tomatoes, onions and sesame sauce. The meat was much too dry as was the pita bread — hence, the mangled looking wrap. I immediately thought I should have ordered the chicken. The sauces didn’t seem enough because it didn’t help with the dry beef. You are better off ordering the whole chicken and making your own wraps.

At a placed called Zankou Chicken, the chicken is what you should order. Amazingly fresh and clean, the taste of the food is as delicious as can be. The food doesn’t try anything spectacular or over the top. The simplicity of everything just shines. Fresh ingredients and classic recipes make Zankou Chicken one of my favorite casual eateries. Eating here, I am always taken for a trip to Lebanon and the Middle East.

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Chocolate and chocolate. Chocolate on chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. Chocolate. Everyone loves this stuff. Girls devour it after breakups. Guys say they don’t like chocolate, but secretly love this stuff. I am sure chocolate has some kind of chemical that makes us happy. That is we love it so much. Max Brenner, an Israeli chocolate shop, uses the powers of chocolate to entice their customers. From hot chocolates, chocolate pops, and monstrous chocolate chip cookies, chocolate is definaltey the name of the game at this restaurant. Upon ordering off of the dinner menu, my eyes were wide open for the dessert.

I wanted to try the mac and cheese, and I was surprised. Called the Really Cheesy, Really Crunchy Mac and Cheese, the taste was perfect, though not too cheesy. The noodles were al dente, something missed in a lot of mac and cheese dishes. Help from the applewood smoked bacon gave it that salty flavor. Baked in a large skillet, it was enough as a complete meal. The maranara sauce in the flask was interesting, and delicious – It transformed the dish completely, giving the dish a robust flavor profile. As for the diced tomatoes, I did not care much for it. This dish was delicious in itself. Sensing a lack of meat, I ordered some.

Another table ordered the Thai style chicken satay, and I thought it looked good. The chicken were grilled perfectly, and the meat was soft, almost too soft. The barbecue sauce was disappointing — it was like the ones from the dollar store. Fortunately, the hoisin like sauce was more of my liking. The best part of the dish was the That style slaw. Mixed with peanuts, peppers, lettuce, and a sweet sauce, it was a perfect compliment to the chicken.

Now that we had savory out of the way, I was excited about dessert. I decided to order the cold iced chocolate, chocolate pizza with the works, and as an after thought, the chocolate chip cookie.

I was utterly disappointed with the dessert I ordered. The chocolate chunks dessert pizza was lacking in every way. Topped with melted chocolate, hazelnuts, bananas, peanut butter, and roasted marshmallows, it was all a sugary mix. The ingredients would have been perfect if the pizza dough was better. The dough was just a thick piece of dough and didn’t resemble anything pizza dough like. Even frozen microwave pizza had better dough. I imagined and yearned for dough that was like that of a gooey Wetzels Pretzels or a doughnut. I wasn’t getting my chocolate fix at all.

The Pure Chocolate Truffle Granita was chocolate in ice cold liquid form. It was basically dark chocolate truffle blended with ice. At first, I was in remorse after finding out the drink didn’t contain any ice cream, but this turned into a blessing in disguise. The pureness of the chocolate shined with ever sip. A bit on the bitter side, it was a little drinking really good coffee without any creamer. Why ruin a good cup of coffee with creamer? In this case, the ice cream was perfect not in this drink. As for the DRINK ME cup, this was a play on the movie Alice in Wonderland. These whimsical accents made this drink fun and exciting.

The chocolate chip cookie is such a classic, it’s the favorite among the masses. The cookies at Max Brenner are monstrous. Each one costing $5, they are well worth it. Warm and fluffy on the inside, and crispy on the outside, there is no doubt that they were bakes not too long ago. Each bite was perfectly chocolatey and delicious. The chocolate was of the highest quality, and each bite had mostly chocolate. In hind site, these would have been perfect with the iced chocolate drink. How perfect would that have been?

Honestly, this place is all about the dessert. If you plan on eating dinner here, eat elsewhere. Yeah, you will get some good eats, but save this place for a dessert only. Do get their interesting desserts, do skip the dessert pizza, and opt for their chocolate chip cookie. You can get a chocolate over load, and buy some stuff for a chocolate overload for another time. The Israeli know their chocolates. Max Brenner is a true testament to that. Check out their online store here, and maybe you can get a chocolate overload as well.

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Jazz Cat Cafe – Jammin’ Asian Style

by Franklin on March 11, 2012

The San Gabriel Valley has an over population of Asian cuisine. Anything you are in the mood for, or anything you can think of, it’s available for you. At the city of Industry, there is Jazz Cat Cafe. This is a shabu shabu restaurant that has great soup bases along with other popular side items. Coming here on two occasions, I came hungry. Ordering everything and anything my heart (stomach) desired, I had a feast.

The Japanese spicy wings were not spicy at all. They had a miso paste glaze over the wings that gave it a nice salty and earthy flavor. They were great appetizers.

I have tried many popcorn chicken in my day, and these were some of the best. The chicken pieces were huge. The outside was nicely seasoned and crisp. I would be happy with just this, rice, and a side of their Thai special sauce.

The fried shrimp was delicious. Fried whole with not a lot of batter, the outside was crispy and well seasoned. It was a bit salty, but good salty.

Now for the shabu shabu. I tried the spicy miso soup base and the kimchi soup base — I prefer the kimchi soup base. It has a cleaner taste to it. The miso soup base was too intense and thickened up too quickly as the water evaporated. They have something called the T-Rex portion where they give you more meat. The slices were great in quality and quantity. Mixed with all of the veggies and meat, it made for a great soup. Perfect on a cold day.

I also added golden fish nuggets. They were fish nuggets with some kind of filling inside. The taste was like no other, full of some kind of seafood mixture. I apologize for being vague. I really don’t know what it is made of, but it sure was tasty.

This is one of my regular spots. It sucks that the one in Alhambra closed down. At any rate, the atmosphere is very intimate and dark, almost high class. The food though, is very affordable — a great deal for the amount of food you are getting. Their soup base selection is plenty and their other non shabu shabu items are worth a try. As for the name Jazz Cat Cafe, I have no clue what that has to do with anything. I personally don’t care about anything but the food.

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The Kitchen in Silver Lake was intriguing to me. I was first introduced to this place by a friend and was told about the cool concoctions they have here. Pear pancakes? Delicious mac and cheese? I was sold. Upon arriving, I couldn’t help but notice the interesting layout of the whole restaurant. A mural on the side, the small, quaint space, and the different people dining there, it was all just different — in a good way of course.

I ordered the buttermilk fried chicken. It was a 7oz boneless fried filet topped with country gravy. It was served with garlic mashed potatoes and succotash. The chicken was crispy, and believe it or not, tasted healthy. Though fried, it was light and the chicken was juicy. The gravy mixed in with the potatoes and vegetables from the succotash was a good mixture.

The mac and cheese in my opinion was a disappointment. My ideal mac and cheese is very cheesy, gooey, and savory. Theirs, though made with extra sharp cheddar and a garlicy cream sauce, was a bit lacking in flavor. The cream sauce made more of a soupy bottom, and the decadent cheese flavor I yearned for was missing. Hints of garlic flavor saved this dish in some ways, but it just needed to be more creamy.

It sucks that I couldn’t order the pear pancakes. I wouldn’t mind coming here during breakfast time to give them a try. The cuisine here was less refined in a good way. The food was straignt forward and had no pretension at all. Our waitor, who seemed to be the owner was friendly and genuinely nice to us. He conversed with us and made us feel as comfortable as possible. He just seemed like a cool, down to earth kind of guy. That, you can’t find just anywhere. I guess that’s what The Kitchen is all about — the people.

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Dino’s is one of those spots in Los Angeles that is equally dingy as it is delicious. As weird as that may sound, it is true. The place is near on Pico, near Vermont — not the nicest location, but not the worst either. This one is the original that started it all. Even though it is called Dino’s Chicken and Burgers, everyone gets the chicken. I wanted to get the chicken and try maybe a burrito or burger. I asked the guy, “what else is popular?”. He gave me a puzzled answer which led me to believe that chicken was the way to go. I looked around the kitchen, and all I saw was chicken. No burgers were being made, no burritos were being rolled. It was all chicken.

You get a bed of french fries, half a chicken, cole slaw, and tortillas — it all came out to less than 6 bucks. That was an amazing deal for a delicious meal on the cheap. The chicken had a nice char to it, and the taste was intense at times. It has an orange pigmented marinade that turns your finger orange for days (imagine hot Cheetos fingers). The kicker though, is this sauce they pour over the whole plate, fries and all. It is a sweet, salty, vinegary, and spicy mixture. You can easily have too much and have heart burn right after. This was delicious though — it made the dish pop. The tortillas were soft and were actually tasty — they weren’t just thrown in there. The cole slaw was nice too, a good textural crunch amongst the meaty chicken and fries. All of this for 6 bucks is well worth your money.

So there you have it — delicious cheap eats. Don’t bother going to Dino’s and get a burger or Mexican food, though I am curious as to how it is. Do get the chicken plate, and if you don’t want a bed of fries, you can always substitute it with rice. Dino’s is expanding and you can find a few of them around Los Angeles County. Find one near you, bring it home, or enjoy it there — just be ready for orange fingers.

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I feel like a lot of Japanese restaurants are all the same. Whether they serve sushi, bowls, noodles, or meats, the interior and feel of the restaurant seems similar. The greeting in Japanese, the Japanese accented props and posters all around the restaurants is all familiar, and comforting. Honda Ya doesn’t only have sushi and bowls, they have everything. I opted for not just one thing, but all of it. Skewers, bowls, sashimi — it was certainly a feast.

We started off with the skewers — yakitori. Roasted over hot burning charcoal, the taste of grilling was prevalent throughout.

The tongue was chewier than expected, but the pork belly was exceptional. I could have easily eaten about a million of those.

The bacon wrapped scallops and asparagus was nothing special. Wrapped in a thin layer of bacon, the bacon taste and texture isn’t as pronounced. Nonetheless, the skewers were tasty and the charcoal taste was great.

The chicken with uzu was a bit of a dissapointment. The chicken was dry, and wasn’t really seasoned (on purpose). We were supposed to dip it in the uzu. The chicken, though on a griddle, came to our table cold. I didn’t enjoy this dish.

The sashimi, surprisingly was very fresh. An array of salmon, tuna, and tilapia was laid out beautifully and it was thick and high quality. Sashimi is one of my favorite foods, and this just hit the spot.

We felt extra extravagant and ordered the uni. Raw sea urchin, considered a delicacy was definitely a treat. It was sweet and buttery. Eating it with just rice was good enough for me. That seafood rich flavor with the creamy texture was perfect.

Honda Ya was a great stop. It is open late, though it is located in an obscure area. The service was great and the food items were plenty. They really do cater to the meat lover, sushi, lover, and everything else in between. There is also one in Los Angeles and Tustin, which I want to give a try. Until then, the one in Industry will do.

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Campanile – Eating Lunch With A Celebrity

February 5, 2012

It is that time again. Dine LA is in full effect. Though probably over by now, it gave patrons like me a chance to support Los Angeles restaurants and eat like a king for relatively cheap. After doing much research and investigation, I came across Campanile. What got to me was the history of it […]

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Yang Chow – Chinatown’s Very Own Madarin & Szechuan Cuisine

January 20, 2012

When Chinatown comes into a conversation, and the topic of lunch or dinner pops up, you can’t help but thing of Yang Chow. And when you think of Yang Chow, you can’t help but think of Slippery Shrimp. Chinatown can be a scary place to some, but smack dab in the middle of Chinatown on […]

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Savoy Kitchen – Proper Hainan Chicken Rice At An Italian Joint

November 14, 2011

Hainan chicken — it looks so bland and regular, I didn’t understand it at first.  Knowing that Savoy Kitchen makes a killer Hainan chicken rice, I had to give it a try. But once I got to the restaurant, I was skeptical.  Savoy, which for the most part felt like an Italian restaurant, did not […]

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Grand Lux Cafe (Venetian) – A Little Something For Everyone And Anyone

October 27, 2011

I have always wanted to eat here.  I knew the food was going to be average, I knew it was exactly like Cheesecake Factory inside and out, and I knew there still would be a wait. Despite these foreseen events, I still wanted to go.  I mean, its Grand Lux Cafe.  It is what Las […]

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BBQ Chicken – Spicy Does a Body Bad, In a Good Way

June 14, 2011

Eating here was just out of luck, chance, random act of randomness.  I always seen this place on Vermont in Koreatown, but we needed to eat dinner in Irvine.  I saw BBQ Chicken and thought I’d give it a try.  I went inside, and it looked promising. The name BBQ Chicken is a bit misleading.  […]

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Bar Louie – Tots and a Flick

May 19, 2011

Bar Louie situated in Anaheim Garden Walk was an enjoyable time. Before our movie on the second floor, we wanted have a quick bite to eat (so that we won’t fill up on popcorn and candy).  What did we order?  Szechuan Wings, skirt steak, and tater tots. Everyone loves tater tots.  Eating theirs just reminded […]

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