Rice

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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Mamita Peruvian Restaurant – Bimmer or Benz?

by Franklin on October 29, 2013

When you think of Peruvian, I don’t know about you, but I think of Mario’s in Los Angeles. It is almost the perfect food. You have tender beef, amazing rice, and fried potatoes, all with a spicy creamy green sauce that is too addicting for your own good. I was craving this while I was in Glendale, and needed my Peruvian fix. I found Mamita Peruvian Restaurant situated between the Mercedes Benz and BMW dealership on Brand. A bit odd and out of place, the restaurant seemed to have a certain quality to it. It was for me to try it out and see what this place had to offer.

To test the two, I ordered exactly what I would order at Mario’s.

Of course, I had to order the lomo saltado. The beef strips, stir fried with fries, onions, tomatoes was served with rice. Though the beef was a bit dry and not as “greasy,” the food was still quite good.

To share, we ordered the Jalea de mariscos. Seafood is tastiest fried. On the platter was fried fish filet, topped with fried calamari, criolla salsa, and fried shrimp. Again, the seafood was great, but the crisp and batter was a bit lacking. Mario’s has a nice crisp and perfect seasoning throughout. Mamita’s had nice selection of seafood, but the batter was sub-par. With anything fried, if the batter isn’t good, the whole dish suffers.

Aside from beef, I like to get the saltado de calamares. Stir fried with calamari, fries, onions, and tomatoes, the dish was tasty. The rice was a bit lacking here. It tasted more of regular white rice — no flavor really. The ingredients seemed too separated. Nothing really brought it together. All the ingredients were just there for eating.

I had to order the Peruvian style chicken fried rice. It always comes out like I would make it — something I can make at home. It even tastes like someone Korean made it. It has bits of egg, rice, chicken, and has a hint of soy sauce and light sesame oil. I am not really particular to this dish, nor do I crave it. I just order it because it reminds me of home.

What makes peruvian food great is the aji verde sauce – the green sauce that is so spicy and creamy. Mamita’s verde sauce was subpar, unfortunately. It didn’t have the kick and spice that Mario’s green sauce has. This one was a bit milder, had a lot less seasonings, and a bit watery. The sauce is key in Peruvian food; that’s what made me fall in love with it.

Restaurant for restaurant, Mamita and Mario’s is pretty much a duplicate. The size, menu, price, and feel of the restaurant is the same. You get your bread and butter, verde sauce, and all the classic Peruvian dishes. Honestly, Mario’s does it a tad bit better, especially the important, all mighty green sauce, although, Mamita does do a good job. Blind fold me, and I think I can tell the difference between the two. Honestly though, if you are in Glendale, would you drive 30 minutes for Mario’s or go to Mamita and go shopping for Bimmer afterwards?

Mamita Peruvian on Urbanspoon

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When it comes to Filipino food, there isn’t much selection in Los Angeles. Though more than most cities, my go to Filipino restaurants are slim to none. You have Max’s, though very much a chain, still produce pretty good fried chicken and traditional dishes. One little gem I found in Hollywood is LA Rose Cafe. It is a not so small, not so big Filipino restaurant that doesn’t look like one on the inside or outside. The name hints a small breakfast joint, and the inside looks somewhat like a hotel lobby. The food though, was classic and hit the spot.

To me, tocino and garlic fried rice is comfort food. Though I didn’t grow up in a Filipino home, I still had meat and rice almost daily. The sweet caramelized port goes so well with the garlic rice. The tomato and onion vinegar slaw helped cut down the richness of the pork so perfectly. I just wish it had eggplant in it as well. The egg, mixed in with the rice was a perfect “breakfast” component. This was classically prepared and oh so delicious.

For our “lunch” portion, I had the classic pork adobo. I remember as child, my grandpa would make this whole vat of chopped up pork bits, simmering in a bath of soy sauce and sugar. The end result was a seemingly endless amount of pork and rice. This dish was just like that. The pork wasn’t dry at all form the long cooking process. It kinda just pulled away from each other. It seemed like it was missing something. This dish did need a Korean element — kimchi.

As a treat, we finished off with their bread pudding. This was an impressive and delicious bread pudding to say the least. It was perfect! Soft custard inside, nice crisp crust outside, caramel all over, and strawberries on top – scrumptious. Did I also mention, no raisins FTW! With each bite, I made sure to have some caramel on it. Instead of having whipped cream as the “lube”, it sat on top of a pool of pudding/custard. It was all so sweet and wonderful.

LA Rose Cafe was affordable, and the experience was just pleasant. The servers were so nice and friendly and I just felt comfortable. The decor and design of it all needed a little updating, but I think it gave it a nice charm. I am a sucker for meat and rice, and LA Rose Cafe gave me what I wanted.

LA Rose Cafe on Urbanspoon

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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.

Honda-Ya on Urbanspoon

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Noodle Planet – Easy Noodles, Easy

by Franklin on March 3, 2011

Everyone has their go to sushi restaurant or Chinese restaurant — I certainly have a go to Pho restaurant whether I am in Los Angeles, or Orange County.  Sometimes, choosing a place to eat isn’t that easy.  We all do the “narrowing down” game, and realize we are in the mood for Asian food, but can never narrow it down to one.  This is where Noodle Planet comes in.  They offer a variety of Asian dishes, ranging from Vietnamese, Chinese, to Japan and Korean.

I am so fortunate to have one nearby.  My family and I ordered a lot of stuff we haven’t tried — We already know the spicy spaghetti and pad see ew were good.  We ordered chicken wings, crispy chow mein, and fried rice.  Yes, they do have rice dishes at Noodle Planet.  We also threw in an order of pad see ew and egg rolls just in case our new trials failed.  Luckily, everything tasted great.  The crispy chow mein was kind of difficult to eat at first, but once the seafood mixture softened up the noodles a bit, it was delicious — the texture was something I have never had before.  The egg rolls we ordered were like no other.  Normally, the egg rolls at restaurants are filled with cabbage, or heavily ground beef based — these, on the other hand had a meaty texture, but also had some sort of seafood taste to them — this was a good thing.  As usual, the chicken wings were great, especially with the addition of the fried rice — I must say, I am a sucker for marinated fried chicken and rice.

My conclusion?  This place is good for groups — you can choose from almost any Asian noodle dish.  Its cheap (cash only) and they have big portions.  The quality of the food is great for the price and you are always left satisfied.  They have locations in Monterey Park and West Los Angeles.  Looks like they got Eastern and Western Angelinos covered.

Noodle Planet on Urbanspoon

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