Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cowboys & Turbans

Thanks to my friend Shaz, I have a new addiction: Cowboys & Turbans' chicken soft tacos and ice chai tea. I'll have to admit I was a bit nervous trying their food because Indian food does not sit well in my tummy and is at the bottom of the list. There are two locations, one next to the El Rey Theater and the other is at a stripmall in Silverlake; it replaced my favorite pizza joint in Silverlake - Andiamo.

The first time I dined at Cowboys & Turbans was at the Silverlake location about two months ago.
2010-02-06 20.57.19
The wall color is the same as the Andiamo days but decorated with an Indian flair. Intead of bread, they gave us pita chips (which I found out later is more their naan bread - don't order any naan bread) with three different sauces. There are two spicy and one sweet; I stucked to the sweet sauce since I'm a wuss --actually it's just too painful to eat spicy food...ok, fine, I'm a wuss. Shaz turned me on to their ice chai drink, which is homemade and no dairy. We shared the Masala Cheese Fries, which were so rich that I probably I could have skipped out on the chicken tacos but managed to finish them...

Beware Cowboys & Turbans tacos look small but they're actually much bigger. Below are fish tacos from the El Rey location. I prefer the chicken tacos over the fish tacos.
Oh, the difference between the El Rey and the Silverlake C&T is that the El Rey is tiny with 3 or 4 small tables making it more of a to-go location --hence the paper plates. Food is great but the service at the Silverlake location is incredibly slow; you would think that you're at a French restaurant.

Address: 2815 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone#: (213) 483-7778

Address: 5515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone#: (323) 936-7070
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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ricky's Fish Tacos

Ricky's Fish Tacos has become the hottest fish taco stand in Los Angeles. The menu is pretty simple: 1) fish taco or 2) shrimp taco, and you have to stalk him on Twitter like the food trucks because he's not always at Sunset Junction.

I was excited to finally try his fish tacos before my improv class because people swore that his fish tacos are the best ever in LA. I was quite disappointed with my experience. There were about 15 people ahead of me, that by the time I got near him, I noticed that he fries the fish tacos with the shrimp tacos...I'm allergic to shrimp. Now, I don't know if deep frying in hot oil kills all shrimp flavor...but I wasn't going to take the risk. He had two fryers but only one propane, so I had to wait for the other fryer to heat up. My wait time was over one hour for two fish tacos!!!
Ricky's Fish Tacos
Now I have to admit when I ate the tacos, they were tasty but then an awful feeling stirred up in my stomach and my mouth started tingling....maybe I got so sick looking at the shrimp tacos mixed in the fish tacos that I psych myself out? In any case, I will save time and never try a Ricky's Fish Taco again.

Address: 4006 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029
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Thursday, February 11, 2010


I rarely leave the office for lunch, so when I do... I'll take a 2.5 hour break and that's when I take advantage of a restaurant's lunch prefix. When I saw that Craft started a lunch prefix for $35, I knew that was my ticket to trying their food on my measly salary--it's much faster and less of a headache way than finding a date who will take me there. Well, I did have a date, my girlfriend Leeanne who works nearby the restaurant.

Now my work is a fairly casual work environment and sometimes, I forget what real people dress for work. Occasionally I'll dress up but that's usually when I know there's a cute actor in the office. There wasn't any eye candies that day, and I suddenly felt under-dress entering Craft with my hoodie and unwashed jeans for two weeks with holes... Yes, if you ever want to dine at a sleek, power lunch restaurant, make your reservation at Craft. Leeanne fit in but that's because she works on the Lot.

Surrounded by CAA and ICM agents and Fox studio executives dressed to the nine, I was surprised that the host seated us in the middle of the restaurant--maybe she thought I was a famous hipster South Korea?

We soon discovered that their lunch prefix posted on their website was not updated, so don't expect to get what you see.
We started with the beet salad with avocado & orange, and the niman ranch pork belly
black lentil & Arkansas black apple. Don't let my photos fool you--like the car mirrors -"object appears larger," these portions are tiny! Nonetheless, the beet salad was delicious, and one of the most colorful beet salad ever!
The last time I had pork belly it was at the Foundry and it was so fatty that I never wanted to have it again...until I had Craft's. Their pork belly was cooked through, not overly crispy, and definitely no gooey texture. Thank goodness Leeanne ordered it. I no longer fear pork bellies!
Leeanne ordered the duck for her entree. I don't eat duck; it's too gamey for me. She enjoyed her duck and this is what it looks like...
I ordered the hanger steak with oyster mushroom & pee wee potato. I laughed when I saw that the potatoes were called "pee wee." Why would anyone named potatoes "pee wee!?" Yes, sometimes I like to act immature--especially at a high-end restaurant. The hanger steak was cooked to perfection.
I forgot what the desserts were called as they were not listed on its website, but one was a rhubarb "pie" with vanilla ice cream and the other one a peanut butter/chocolate gelato. The rhubarb was not as tart as I had expected it to be.
Leeanne and I both agreed that the peanut butter/chocolate gelato was the winning dessert and our favorite part of the meal!
At the end of our extended lunch break, we were very satisfied. Service and food were great. What more can anyone ask for?

Address: 10100 Constellation Blvd., LA, CA 90067
Phone: (310) 279-4180
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Monday, February 8, 2010

Susina Bakery & Café

My friends and I ditched our Chinese-ness after our early Chinese New Year dinner celebration at the Manderette Cafe and headed to Susina Bakery & Cafe for desserts. I heart Susina Bakery & Cafe. I wished I can eat Susina's cakes every day but I'm not one of those lucky bastards who can eat everything in sight and not gain an ounce.

I was hoping that Cathy and Leeanne would settled on one cake because my jeans were really rubbing into tummy....but Leeanne wanted Banana Cream Pie,which didn't sound appetizing at first, but to my surprise, I actually enjoyed my 1st Banana Cream Pie. I like banana, but I don't know for some reason I always imagined that the banana would be so strong and sweet with the other ingredients in the pie that it would stop me from enjoying eating a banana. I was wrong. It was very fluffy and not as sweet as I had expected.
Susina Bakery & Cake's Banana Cream Pie
I picked the Berry Blossom cake. I love Susina's Berry Blossom cake but I have to confess that Sweet Lady Jane Bakery is better...
But still we were all very happy with or choices. I can't imagine a better way celebrating Chinese New Year early than with good people and good food!

Address: 7122 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone#: (323) 934-7900
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Mandarette Cafe

It's the Year of the Tiger!

It has become a tradition for my former Chinese colleagues, Cathy, Leeanne and I to dine once a year in celebration for Chinese New Year (CNY). Well Leeanne isn't actually Chinese; she's a Pacific Islander although she doesn't prefer to be called that --she's Filipino. Unlike most holidays that happens on the same day every year, CNY follows the Lunar calendar--translation: every year is different and this year, CNY fell on February 14th. Yes...finally V-day does not exist. We decided to celebrate the Year of the Tiger a week earlier.

Cathy loves American style Chinese, so we opted for the Manderette Cafe. The last time I was there was years ago when it was a popular, busy restaurant, and now it is sadly a relatively empty place w/ much older Caucasian men w/ much younger Asian women..more entertainment for us as I updated Cathy w/ all the good gossip on everyone we used to work with since she refuses to be on Facebook.

The interior is spacious w/ high ceilings. I do feel like I'm at a nice restaurant in Taiwan when I'm at the Manderette. We started with the the scallion pancakes, which I failed to take photos as we were ravished. Their scallion pancakes were not oily but lacked taste; it was as if I was eating cardboard. I have yet to find a restaurant that can make scallion pancakes as good as my grandfather.

Thank goodness the green beans came out next because you really can't screw that dish up. My camera has been acting up a bit hence the extra shine....


The spare ribs were on the special menu but they weren't really special. The meat was a bit too chewy for my taste and could use less salt.


I was hoping that their pan fried chicken house noodles would be more like Hong Kong style but I forgot that the Mandarette is Shanghai style. The dish was at least better than the oh-so-special ribs.


I saved the best for last. I forgot what this tofu dish was called but it's fantastic and a must order. The tofu cubes are lightly fried and just melts in your mouth like cotton candy. I can't wait to eat this again.


If you want good Chinese food, you should go to San Gabriel Valley where there are plenty of good restaurants to choose from. If you are too lazy to drive to the East side, then Mandarette Cafe should suffice.

Address: 8386 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: (323) 655-6115

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Ghetto Taco Truck Crawl

My friends invited me to their exclusive food group that meets up once a month. Most of the people who are in the group are in my profession, the biz. I hate networking mainly because I'm terrible at it; I'm just not "Hollywood." I am very good at eating and drinking though, and much rather talk about food, so it just made since for me to go to their February event: a taco truck crawl in the ghetto. Our goal was to hit every taco mark above and to be taco out at the end!

We met up at the Figueroa Produce and walked to taco heaven…or not?

1st Stop: Income Tax Taco @ 6138 York, LA, CA 90042
They offer the best al pastor and asada tacos on York Blvd. It’s ashamed that Income Tax Taco was our first stop. I rather have the best taco stand be our last.
Here are the toppings they provide:
I read that they are closed on Mondays but open from 6-11pm Tuesdays to Sundays.
The tacos cost $1 or $1.25…? It was ridiculously cheap. Well, for the most part, all of the taco stands on York Blvd didn’t cost more than $2/taco.

2nd Stop: Rica! Birria @ 5651 York, LA, CA 90042
Our 2nd stop was supposed to be Tacos Al Carbon but they weren’t there…I think since I don’t have a photo of them. Yes, I am cheating again and writing this post two months after the event…Rica! Birria is known for their goat tacos. They even have a goat on their truck:
Rica! Birria: 5651 York Blvd.
The set up is better than Income Tax Taco just because they have more room. I believe it’s right next to the car wash..? Hence they have more toppings:
I’m not that daring so I strayed away from the goat tacos and stuck to al pastor…or was it casada?
Damn, I need to write notes…it looks like a carne asada taco though. I do recall it not being as good as Income Tax Taco.

3rd Stop: La Estrella @ Ave 54/ York Blvd. , , LA, CA 90042
La Estrella: Ave 54/ York Blvd
They are known for their lengua tacos but by the time I reached the front, they were out. I guess it was a good thing because for all you non-Spanish people, lengua = tongue. Yeah…I might have thrown up some food on my tongue thinking about eating a cow’s tongue. I went for their al pastor taco.
It was pretty good but still can’t beat Income Tax Taco.

4th Stop: El Pique @ Ave 53/ York Blvd. , LA, CA 90042
El Pique: Ave 53/ York Blvd.
At this point, most of the people were being more adventurous and trying the tripas, buche and other random parts of the body…I stuck to what I know and ordered the carne asada. It was dry. I should have tried their al pastor.
5th Stop: Huaraches Azteca @ 5225 York Blvd, LA, CA 90042
Phone#: (323) 478-9572
Our last stop was Huaraches Azteca Restaurant. Jugo’s Juices was closed when we reached Huaraches Azteca and Tamale lady was nowhere to be found. Huaraches Azteca was the only restaurant on our list and boy it felt great to sit down. It’s relatively a clean Lincoln Height’s restaurant. We ordered our food at the counter and the server took our food to our tables. Prior to this crawl, I had no idea what the hell a huarache was and as you can figure out this restaurant is known for their huaraches. I shared a huaraches tripas with a friend. Oh shit, I just looked up what a tripas is…”small intestines of a farm animal.” Yes…sometimes it is best for me not to know what I am eating. I can easily psyche myself out. Well now it all makes sense why I didn’t like the tripas because if it’s not cooked right, the meat is rubbery. The huarache was a bit too burnt and chewy for my taste.
I think I ordered carne asada tacos or al pastor tacos or maybe one of each? I know I definitely enjoyed that much more than the huaraches since I finished the taco.
Huaraches Azteca also offers fresh fruit drinks and horchata. I wanted to get the watermelon juice but knew that it’s not in season so it would probably taste like those sour watermelons. My friend ordered one and I was right. I tried their horchata and it was good. I ordered another horchata on my way out.

We achieved our mission. We were taco out . The ghetto taco crawl is about a mile walk one-way. I need to return to Income Tax Taco soon.
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Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I love Dine LA Week!

Dine LA Week is when everyone in town takes advantage of the somewhat easy-on-the-wallet 3-course meal at selected restaurants. There are three pricing groups: inexpensive, moderate, and expensive. I usually go straight to the restaurants that are expensive. Now it is wise to check out their Dine LA week menu to make sure it's worth spending the money even though the 3-course meal is a fraction of what normal prices are. I was quite disappointed with the menus this time around. The only restaurant that piqued my interest was Wolfgang Puck's Spago.

I don't know why it has taken me almost 14 years to finally try Spago. Ok, well, the first decade was because I just couldn't afford it and I hated going to Beverly Hills where everything's so expensive and image is the utmost important thing in forward - I finally see a Spago's Dine LA Week menu that's worth my$28 bucks. Oh there's a lunch price and a dinner price. Dinner was $44, so I went for the lunch instead. My colleagues Dimiter, who's cheaper than me, and Julie joined me in popping my Spago cherry.

I now know to request a table in the courtyard as that's the power seating area. Every one's eyes wandered to that section, star gazing, while I was food gazing. I'm such a hippo.

We started with prosciutto...

and the braised oxtail tortellini with wild mushrooms and pea shoots...

The prosciutto was delicious-- lean and not chewy, but the braised oxtail tortellini was out of this world. It was my favorite part of the entire meal.

Julie struck out on ordering the grilled ‘tandoori’ loch duart salmon with marinated cucumbers, cilantro-mint raita and tomato-tamarind chutney.


With all the spices, one would have expected to be in India with one bite but unfortunately you find yourself in Ireland. It severely lacked flavor. Thank goodness I ordered the
roasted rack of kurobuta pork with alsacien style cabbage and apple-rosemary compote. The fruit concoction really complimented with the pork.


As we were about to start our dessert, Mr. Wolfgang Puck showed up at our table. Now that's sweet! I don't know if it's because it's LA Dine week but he made his round to every table. Well, I guess that's guaranteeing a return visit to Spago. We ordered the lemon, lemon, lemon – cake, creamy sabayon, glace winter farmers market sorbet, and my friend, you do not need to drink coffee to wake up. Spago probably used up an entire lemon farm for that one dessert. Don't get me wrong, it was good but VERY lemony.
Um...I forgot what our our next dessert was called as it was different from the website, but we were relieved that it was a chocolate dessert. It was very light and certainly hit the spot!
We loved our experience at Spago and definitely look forward to our next visit.

Address: 176 N. Canon Dr. Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Phone#: 310.385.0880

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