Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Viet Noodle Bar

Viet Noodle Bar is the Banana Republic, and its sister restaurant, Pho Café is the Gap.

I didn't realized that this joint opened back in 2007...well, I guess if they had a bigger sign I would have eaten here much sooner. I don't quite seem to have much luck with other Vietnamese restaurants besides Viet Noodle Bar and Pho Café. It's probably because they serve Northern Vietnamese food, translation= simple food. I don't care if the haters think it's not "authentic" Vietnamese; the odor isn't as pungent as other restaurants.

Viet Noodle Bar has two sides; one side has the grand communal table for people who don't mind eating with strangers and the other side has a bunch of 2 tops for people who are scared of other peeps.

Dee and I came here just before closing and had the #3 Bo Bia Chay - Fresh Veg/Tofu Spring rolls
and the #23 Bun Bo Xao Xa - Lemongrass Beef Noodles
We wondered what the missing #1 dish was...they should make #1 the Bun Cha Goi Thit Nuong (Beef Vermicelli Noodle) and there sandwiches were unavailable. The #3 was delicious! It was so good that we had to order another round. The #23 was very light. I wished it had more flavors; nonetheless, I would order it again. The noodles are not like Pho Café's Vermicelli Noodle as you can see from the photo, which is a little out of focus...

Oh, Dee had a Vietnamese coffee (strong), and I went for the Organic Mint Soy Milk - OMG, it smelled and tasted so good! I need to try their Cinnamon flavor, which was sold out.

I'll be back with a bottle of vino to try the White Fish sandwich with the Organic Cinnamon Soy Milk.

p.s. The books are just for décor. It's not a swap library.

Address: 3133 Glendale Blvd, LA CA 90036
Phone#:(323) 906-1575
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Baccali Cafe & Rotisserie

Cheap, Chinese Chow

Friend and I had the Huanin (sp?) Rotisserie Chicken
and the Braised E-Fu Noodles (sp?)
The chicken was delicious. It came with the Huanin rice and marinated vegetables. For the noodles, I was expecting "Clothed" noodles; "E-Fu" in Chinese = clothes. The noodles were soft and came with lots of mushroom - yum!

Portions are HUGE! I was glad that her friend showed to up to help us finish the 2 dishes. The total cost for food was $15! They do need a service button on the tables, because at times, it was tough hunting a server down.

The best part of Baccali Café & Rotisserie is that there are FREE RE-FILLS! I was, "What!?" I can get a free re-fill on my ice milk tea? I'm sold.

Uh, oh...I didn't notice the C-rating...wonder if it's still a "C"....

Address: 245 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91801
Phone: (626) 293-3300
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CJ's burger sucks.

I realized that CJ's is a breakfast joint, but I had breakfast already and just couldn't do eggs again for lunch. I noticed that they served fresh squeeze juice, so I was really hopeful that the food would be fresh and tasty since they are highly praised. Boy was I disappointed when my sad cheeseburger w/ fries came.

It was hate at first sight. The meat is like the frozen burgers that come in a bulk of 10 at the grocery store, and it tasted like those meat that have been sitting in the freezer too long. I'm not a big fan of fries cut like CJ's, but they were ok.

Service was meh. I had to ask for mustard 3 times, and it took awhile for me to get my check. Oh, I noticed a waitress adjusting the pancakes on a plate with her hands. I don't care if she just washed her hand, she should wear gloves or use a utensil.

If you're dining with a friend, I suggest you sit outside because it gets really LOUD inside.

The breakfast food looks like standard diner food -nothing to get all excited unless you want grit, catfish -soul or Mexican breakfast food. If I want breakfast in that area, I'll go to Bloom Café.

Address: 5501 W Pico Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90019
Phone#: (323) 936-3216
Rating: 2 out of 5

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sky's Gourmet Tacos


My longest wait time for tacos...

Sky's Gourmet Tacos
(SGT) had the opposite problem of The Foundry On Melrose--great food but terrible service. To clarify, the staffs weren't rude and the owner was very affable, but OMG, the wait time was r-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s! Now granted I was here for a food event, but SGT knew that we were coming. To make it more upsetting the owner had arranged a special area for to eat where there were lights but no one told us…so we ate in pitched black night (ok, there were a few small candles around, but they didn’t’ helped).

That said Diana and I ordered @

7:40PM: We paid for our order at the counter.

8:20PM: We rec'd our chips, salsa and guacamole and (1) large Sorrell Lemonade. The chips, salsa and guacamole were delicious. Chips were thick. Salsa and Guac - fresh. The Sorrell Lemonade on the other hand was disgusting! It was so sweet! I poured 12 ounces of water to dilute the sweetness and still tasted gross. Lemonade was very sour as if the lemons were bad... We were told that dark rum goes well with the Sorrell lemonade... They don't have dark rum, so you'll have to try the drink at home or BYOR. I don't plan on trying that cocktail.

8:30PM (What!? 50 MINUTES LATER!? FOR TACOS!?): We rec'd our (8) tacos:

Order from best to shit (sorry, my camera’s battery died quickly…):

Steak Angus taco - EXCELLENT, worth the $5/taco
Tilapia taco - flavorful

Beef taco - Ground beef...but still tasty

Mahi taco - very light
Chicken taco -Good but Diana felt that it was too salty...I must have ate all the toppings with the taco to disguise the salty chicken?

Turkey taco - Ground turkey - not bad

Salmon taco -- Yuck! Do yourself a favor and don't order the salmon taco unless you like fishy salmon.

**Shrimp taco - I'm allergic to shrimp, but my friend confirmed that that their shrimp taco is delicious. The salmon taco was the only one that's inedible. Portions are bigger than those tacos trucks, and be sure to have lots of napkins -gets pretty messy. Our total was $40 some dollars, which to me is pricey...nonetheless, I will be back for the Steak Angus and Tilapia tacos.

Address: 5408 W Pico Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90019
Phone#: (323) 932-6253
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Friday, February 20, 2009


How should you rate a restaurant that serves utter crap food with phenomenal service? After much deliberation from a 4 to a 3 to a 2, I finally decided on a 3; I'm being generous. If it wasn't for the great service, I would have easily given them a 2 or a 1.5.

Despite the negative reviews, the Foundry was the last pricey Dine LA restaurant on my list. I wanted to try this restaurant last year--always finish my food goals. My two friends joined me on my mission. I heard that the Cripsy Salmon was awful, so I figured it made sense for 2 of us to order from the Dine LA menus and 1 off of the regular/lounge menus. We ate...


Some kind of pastry with w/cheese

Lukewarm...would be better if it was served hot.

BREAD (gratis): They gave us (2) different breads.


Salad of Roast Beets & Mache: I noticed that they had a beet salad--DING! We're getting that! It's impossible to mess up a Beet Salad. My 2nd fav. dish. DSC05936
The Foundry Tots ooked like donut holes, which came with 2 dipping sauces - cheese fondue & violet mustard. The cheese fondue was the winning the sauce. It was very fluffy inside. DSC05938
The Spicy Albacore Tartare was most disappointing-too fishy & mushy for me.

Crispy Pork Belly was the grossest.

I spitted it across the room, ok not really, but it exited out of mouth as fast as it entered. I didn't realize that Pork Belly was basically fat. You need a chainsaw to cut through the meat.


Grilled Cheese w/Short Ribs: I can't believe this won the 2008 Grilled Cheese award?! WOW was it SALTY! My friend was funny & thought it was the cheese that made the sandwich salty, so she removed it, but soon realized that the short ribs are ruining the sandwich. Granted it supposedly had apricot-caper puree, but they should use a sweeter fruit to balance the saltiness -maybe green apples-oh, Asian pears would add a nice touch, no, with caramelized Asian pears! DSC05945
Hangar Steak - Crispy Fingerlings, Mushrooms, Anchovy Butter: The steak was not memorable. The mushrooms were funky -maybe a little too "earthy?" The potato fingers were standard. DSC05943DSC05950
Chorizo Crusted Jidori Chicken: If for some reason you have the urge to try the Foundry for Dine LA week (month), get the Chicken. Don't go for the steak or the fish. Normally I would avoid ordering chicken because it's such a standard, boring item, but oddly Jidori Chicken was the winning dish. The chicken was juicy & it came with some "plantains" that tasted like stuffing; I love stuffing.

Spiced Doughnuts - Pineapple Saffron Sauce, Chocolate Hazelnut Sauce:We were almost going to go with 2 desserts, but thank goodness I decided to order the Spiced Doughnuts because the other 2 sucked.
Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding - Rum Raisin Ice Cream (I don't know which photo is best... both bad)
Ok, I'm not an expert on bread pudding, but it tasted like a cinnamon roll. I am told that good bread pudding is supposed to melt in my mouth. I needed to chew several times...had a weird after taste too... Meh.

Chocolate Coffee Banana Tart: The flavors did not gel. Meh. DSC05953
COFFEE: The chef is starting his new coffee called, "Cafe Bravo," not to be confuse with the amazing kabob place. The coffee is strong and not bad, but I still prefer Intelligentsia Coffee.

It's too bad the food didn't match up to the stellar service. The hostess was nice. Our waiter was great, & I thought it was really cool how the chef introduced every entrance to each table -talk about outstanding hospitality! Even though the people are great, I am a foodie & this is not a cheap hobby, so if I'm dropping more than $50 on my meal (excluding drink) for subpar food, I will be sad.

I can check this place off my list!

Address: 7465 Melrose Ave Los Angeles, CA 90046
Phone#: (323) 651-0915
Rating: 3 out of 5

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I joined a Fried Chicken club where we dress up in chicken suits and eat fried chicken cuz we're masochist.
I never crave for fried chicken, but with all these Korean Fried Chicken places sprucing up, I figured it's about time I check 'em out. We started with OB Bear, supposedly the mother of Korean Fried Chicken, well at least it existed in LA before Bonchon & Kyochon (check with Tony C for K(orean)FC' s history...). It should really be OB Chicken, but yeah, OB Bear sounds cooler like a frat house. Think someone said that the name has something to do with the Korean = English translation....They should just get rid of OB cuz it just reminds me of tampons.

That said OB Bear is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that serves rocking fried chicken! We started with a pasta dish w/ squid.
I'm allergic to squid, but everyone seemed to enjoy it. OB's Spicy chicken wings looked delicious!
I'm a chicken and can't handle spicy food, so I went for the regular chicken wings.
Wow! SO GOOD! I guess it's all about double frying the chicken. We also ordered a small whole chicken.
The skin is tasty! The next best thing about OB Bear's chicken is that it's not overly greasy! The ghetto salad was the perfect side dish. The Korean pancake was delish! Tab came out to around $120 (4 platters of chicken wings, squid pasta, 1 small chicken, 1 Korean pancake, and 2 pitcher of beers); each paid around $13. Excellent service.

OB Bear would be a great place to watch sport games -great food and cheap beer, but they need to turn on the volume...
If you're coming from the west on 7th Steet, you will hit the free parking lot with the "OB" sign, which looks like a mechanic shop, before the restaurant. The "OB" signs don't match...
OB Bear is a must if you're hunting for Fried Chicken!

Address: 3002 W 7th St Los Angeles, CA 90005
Phone#: (213) 480-4910
Rating: 4 out of 5

Sunday, February 15, 2009


My boss must hate his wife...yes, that's really him at Il Sole...

He picked Il Sole, the overpriced, below average Italian restaurant to celebrate her birthday.

I made reservations in advance, and they seated us at the worst table in the restaurant, one of the two tops in the "lobby." I specifically noted that it was for my boss' wife's birthday. The hostess was trying to convince me that we got the best table in the restaurant. Are you kidding me?! Uh, yeah, I just love to sit at a table with a bunch of people standing behind me, accidently knocking my head as they wait for a table...furthermore, the espresso machine is in the same area, and OMG, every time the busboy made a drink, he yanked the...I don't know what it's called...but you have to refill it with coffee each time you make an espresso drink, causing it to SCREECH like nails clawing down on a chalk board...I just cringed through out the meal. Yeah...we got the best seat in the restaurant. Oh, there's an eating area to your right and to the left. The hostess said she couldn't seat us in the left dining area as they close the section down around 9:30pm...and that's why they seated a 5-person party (I think) at 9:40pm. Can we say LIARS!? If you really want bad, overpriced Italian food, to the right (if you're entering the restaurant) is the best seating area -the most space and light. We were practically eating in the dark.

Sigh. Let's move on to the food...I started off with the Burratta Di Pomodori; it's difficult to mess up a burrata salad.
Even though this was $20, it was the most reasonably priced (and good) item of the night as they were generous on the burrata portion. The bday girl ordered the Shaved Artichoke Salad for $16, and I'm so glad that I didn't ordered it. Bland.

There are two kinds of waiters. The first type is one who has sampled the food and really gets into the food and drinks that they serve. The second kind is one who's just there to make the bucks and doesn't give a damn about the food. I think our waiter was the latter, because when I asked him if I should go for the Dover, the lasagna or the prosciutto pasta dish, he asked me if I felt like having pasta or fish. I responded (again...), "What do you recommend?" He gave me a blank stare (no ounce of passion) and told me to go with the Dover, and when the bill came I knew why...it's $50! Even though the fish was supposedly imported from Italy, I didn't expect the Dover to be more than the Filet Mignon...I felt guilty for ordering it; the boss paid for it. Taste-wise, it's good but not worth $50.

The bday girl ordered the Penne Pomodoro for $21, and it tasted like shit.
They must have just opened a can of tomato paste and dumped it into the pasta. The pasta was cooked perfectly.

The boss ordered the Asparagus gnocchi for $26. It looked like 4 larvas.
Luckily it tasted better...but I've had better gnocchi.

Il Sole was kind enough to give the bday girl free Tiramisu, and thank goodness as the Chocolate Ganache sucked.
Their tiramisu was delicious!

I didn't try the Ravioli Aragosta
and the Coconut Sorbet ...
there 's just so much food I could eat!

My first and last time dining at Il Sole...glad I didn't pay for it...thanks boss!

Address: 8741 W Sunset Blvd West Hollywood, CA 90069
Phone#: (310) 657-1182
Rating: 1.5 out of 5


Dear Vito's,
Thanks for not being cheap. You impressed me when I ordered a slice of mushroom pizza. I was expecting regular white mushrooms, but WOW, you showered me with practically every mushroom...
Your meat special pizza was really good too --lots of flavor in your sausages.
My friend Chrissy enjoyed his slices -
Best of all, you're easy on my wallet --$10 for 2 slices, bottle of water & tip.

The Hippo

p.s. Your pizzas are only tasty dine-in only. You need to work on making sure delivered pizzas are just as good as dining in.

Address: 846 N La Cienega Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90069
Phone#: (310) 652-6859
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Saturday, February 14, 2009


Larry David said that it sucks to be bald, and he's right!

There's a "Curb Your Enthusiasm" episode (forgot which one...) where Larry is complaining to Jeff Greene that bald men are treated poorly. Larry is completely ignored by the waitress and Jeff thinks he's overreacting. Lo and behold when Jeff goes into the hospital, the nurse thinks Jeff is a cancer patient and shaves his head, and that's when Jeff realizes that there is truth to Larry's observation.

I'm not bald, but there is a good reason for bringing this up...my colleague celebrated his birthday at Katana and there were seven of us, one of them was bald (I'll call him Joe). The only pretentious staffs we dealt with were the hostesses. You can stand in front of them and they won't acknowledge you; you literally have to bark at them to get their attention -guess they like to be treated rough. The bartender was nice; drinks semi-strong for me, but super strong for the lightweight birthday boy. We had the Ginger Lychee Mojitos ($14/each), which in my opinion it could use more lychee juice. I kept my tab at the bar so it would be less hassle when the dinner bill arrives.

I decided to order the Open Table's Stimulus plan as it made the most sense -you start of with and an appetizer, (3) robatas, (4) sushi pieces, (1) roll, and dessert for $35. My appetizer was the Chicken dumplings -- good!
For the Robatas (Skewers) we got: Salmon w/ pesto, Chicken Meatballs, and Shitake Mushrooms--fantastic!
Lots of flavor in the Chicken Meatballs. The Salmon w/ pesto was delicious -not too fishy. You can't go wrong with Shitake Mushrooms. When sushi time arrived, I had a Spicy Tuna roll and the 4 sushi pieces: tuna, albacore, red snapper, and salmon.
Come here for the robatas and not for the sushi. The tuna was fishy. The other fish weren't bad, but I've definitely had better. Spicy tuna roll was good. My meal ended with some kind of a chocolate cake, which was good but not orgasmic.

I also sampled the bday boy's wife's Sticky Rice, which was pretty gross...all I could taste was the charcoal...

Bald Joe ordered the more interesting and more expensive food... There was the Foie Gras (Filet Mignon wrapped around Foie Gras & Asparagus).
I don't think there was Foie Gras... as I hate Foie Gras and couldn't taste it. The Filet Mignon wrapped around the Asparagus was delicious. Even better was the Kobe Pepper.
Joe also ordered the Rainbow & Dynamite Rolls
and the Albacore Tuna w/ Crispy Onions.

Birthday boy got a delicious chocolate cake from them:

Now I would have easily given Katana a 4 -star, maybe a 4.5 star because we had great service (the chef accommodated my food allergies, the manager and waitress were attentive, bartender memorized my drink)...except Joe. Poor bald Joe. The waitress totally ignored him, and Joe was the one who ordered the most expensive items on the menu!

Here are the misfortunate incidents of being bald...After Joe had ordered drinks from the waitress, I went outside to feed the meter (my car was parked on the other side), ordered another drink at the bar, and somehow I managed to do all this before our waitress brought Joe his drink, which came 5 minutes after I was seated! Also, when the bday boy finished ordering his sushi, the waitress walked away before Joe could order his rolls. We had to help Joe out getting the waitress' attention. Sucks to be bald...

Overall, we had a great time except for Joe...I'll come back here on someone else's dime. As long as you don't order drinks, your tab should easily be under $50...otherwise expect to drop $80-100 with drinks.

Address: 8439 W Sunset Blvd West Hollywood, CA 90069
Phone#: (323) 650-8585
Rating: 4 out of 5


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