Cuban

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.

Bella Cuba on Urbanspoon

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Jerry’s Famous Deli – Breakfast for Dinner

by Franklin on January 21, 2015

I totally forgot I went to Jerry’s a while back. It was a long day of golfing at Westchester and we were famished. We got breakfast and fries amongst other things. The diner was somewhat empty but the decor and environment was quite inviting. I would say the food was very average and safe, but nothing to return for. I would say, Jerry’s did the trick for 3 hungry golfers.

The Cuban sandwich came with ham, turkey, and salami on Swiss. Pickles and mustard always makes a sandwich complete. The meat was nice and salty and the cole slaw went well with it. The onion rings were just average — probably frozen. All in all, it was still a good high stacked sandwich.

I ate the bacon, eggs, and sausage in less than a minute. Nothing special here — just good ol’ breakfast meats and eggs. The pancakes though, I took my time. I lathered on the butter and drizzled the syrup and went to town. The pancakes were good, but again, nothing special. An average pancake is still a good pancake. Yes, I love pancakes.

Fries are delicious with ranch, especially when you wanted hash browns with your breakfast for dinner and didn’t get any. Fried potatoes of any kind is welcome in my tummy. A load of fries for the table? Why not?

Jerry's Famous Deli on Urbanspoon

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In the heart of Orange, CA, there is the Plaza Square.  This is where all of the shops and eateries are.  If you look up Glassel and Chapman in Orange, CA on Google Maps, you can see that Plaza Square is actually a circle.  I thought that was kind of ironically funny.  Before I bore you with shapes and maps, let me get back on topic.  Plaza Square holds many “good to eat” places and one of them is Felix Continental Cafe.

Felix is a restaurant serving traditional Cuban dishes.  They are popular for their breakfast and brunch as well.  I go here for the roast pork plate.  The pork is roasted in its own dripping along with bitter orange and seasonings — sides include rice and black beans.   Eating the pork with the maduros (plantains) was delicious.  It had the taste of a pulled pork “meats” carnitas. At first I thought it would be dry, but I was quite wrong.  Also, the meatiness and savoriness of the pork, with the sweetness of the plantains worked really well together.  What Asian boy doesn’t like meat and rice anyways?

To top it all off, we also had the french toast.  You got two french toast per order for something like 3 bucks.  Thick cut, with powdered sugar on top the French toast was really cheap, and really good.  I thought the low price was a sign of bad french toast, but it was surprisingly huge and delicious — I would order that again.

Sadly, this time, we could not get their amazing desserts.  Of course I am talking about their rice pudding and tres leches cake.  I had their rice pudding and tres leches cake before, and they are really out of this world good.  It was one of the best tres leches cakes I have ever had — possibly even the best of all cakes.  It was that good.

I don’t have Cuban cuisine enough.  It is probably because there aren’t a lot around.  Honestly though, the restaurant doesn’t look like much on the inside, but once you get the food, you start to Cuban cuisine more.  Felix Continental Cafe is real home cooked Cuban food.  That plate of food you get is what you would get at any Cuban household.  No frills, nothing of that nature — Just straight up, good Cuban cuisine.

Also, if you love Cuban food and you are in the OC, check out Habana in Costa Mesa.  Upscale Cuban, and delish.

Felix Continental Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Entering Portos Bakery, you will be amongst the masses.  Half of the population of Glendale will be within a 100 yards from you. People come here for cakes, all kinds of bread, pastries, sandwiches, you name it.  They form a line, move somewhat quickly through, and get their baked goods.  I come here for the potato balls and cheese rolls.  That is it.  Be sure to come here with patience.  Lines usually stretch outside the door at peek hours.

The potato balls have a ground beef mixture inside and a mashed potato outside.  It is fried whole and tastes almost like a shepherd’s pie. I personally do not like these, but they are really good with some hot sauce, especially sriracha — better than the Tapatio hot sauce they have there.

My personal favorite are the cheese rolls.  They have a nice crust on the outside and something of a cream cheese frosting / cheese cake filling on the inside.  The crust is sprinkled with sugar that makes these a sweet little treat.  They are honestly the best right when they come out of the oven. It is a bit warm on the inside and it tastes amazing.  Dangerous, because I could eat about a million of these.

I got a personal chocolate mouse for my cousins because it was his birthday.  I didn’t have any, but he seemed to like it.  I bought myself a fruit tart.  The fruit was fresh and the best part was the crust. It was a little treat for us before we brought home the goods.

This is the spot to be if you are hosting a party or an event.  You can order some potato balls and cheese rolls and you are set.  They have awesome looking and delicious cakes here for birthdays and any other celebrations. The top floor even has pinatas for a festive party.  The deli side serves drinks and sandwiches.  This really is a one stop place for all of your needs.  But you know me — you already know what I come here for.

Read the story here about the Porto family and how it all started — another great rags to riches story.

Porto's Bakery (Glendale) on Urbanspoon

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Habana – Cuban Cuisine in Costa Mesa

by Franklin on March 24, 2011

Costa Mesa has a place called The Lab — It is an “anti-mall”.  What the heck is an “anti-mall”?  Anyways, they have a dance club, places to shop like Urban Outfitters, and most importantly, places to dine.  Habana for instance, a Cuban restaurant, is situated in The Lab, and is in the center of it all.

Cuban cuisine is something I don’t try enough — that is probably because there really aren’t many of them around.  At first glance, this restaurant was intimidating.  The inside was dark and almost had a haunted house feel to it.  And when I say dark, I mean you can barely see your food, dark — hence the poor pictures.  I guess it was romantic, in a Gothic kind of way?  They had large tall windows, countless candles, and railings up above.  I couldn’t even find the sign of the restaurant inside or outside.  It was just a large open door with a window and plants all over.  For all I know, the restaurant I went to wasn’t even Habana.

Upon sitting down, we were given some sesame seed topped buns and butter.  My girlfriend ordered the salmon parilla and I had the plantain crusted chicken breast.  Both were great, but I have to say, the salmon was amazing. It changed my aspect of what good salmon is. (I usually do mine with a crispy outside and soft inside.)  Theirs was buttery soft inside and out without a crust.  Taking a bite with the rice and mixed in with the tomato green onion cream sauce was silky smooth.  Often times, restaurants overcook their salmon and becomes too dry, but Habana’s salmon was perfect.  We also shared a tuna tartar with plantain chips.  It was a good opener to what was to come.

 

My experience at Habana was pleasant.  Good food in an interestingly dark restaurant was something memorable.  I want to come back again and try different dishes on the menu.  I would give their patio a try on a warmer night  They had fire pits to stay warm and the lighting seemed really romantic.  From the looks of it, the patio seemed very easy going and relaxing.  Until  then, thanks for the food Habana.

Habana on Urbanspoon

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