Category Archives: Los Angeles

Drunken Noodles at Natalie Thai

For Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, my roommate and I went out to eat. We decided to have Indian and Thai food. I had a very pleasant tandoori chicken salad at Electric Karma on 3rd street in Los Angeles. It was very satisfying, especially with the Taj Mahal beer. Later that night we drove past Mao’s Chinese Kitchen. I had read about it online, but never seen it. They have a communist China theme throughout the restaurant and I enjoyed the People’s Dumplings and other dishes. But, the dish that really caught my attention this holiday season was at Natalie Thai.

Natalie Thai has several locations in Los Angeles.
Thai people don’t find it authentic, but I think they are my absolute favorite. I will say, that being an experienced consumer of Thai cuisine, certain restaurants excel at particular dishes. Natalie Thai has always offered top notch food in my experience, but some of the other places out there are lacking when it comes to particular dishes. I have had bad Thai BBQ chicken at several places, lousy Pad Thai at a few spots, and even bad drunken noodles near the beach at a different restaurant.

Drunken Noodles.
There are certain Thai dishes that are dear to my heart. I’m not sure why I like them so much. I love Ping Fish in Red Curry sauce. It is a deep fried sole filet served with red curry sauce and with lots of basil, jalapenos, and red bell peppers. I used to get it twice a month in the old days. But, my absolute favorite is drunken noodles. I love all Thai noodle dishes. But, Natalie Thai does drunken noodles the best. I had it once with a beer, and once without a beer. It seems to be good sober as well. Drunken noodles is a dish with fried flat noodles, basil, onion, bell pepper, and egg. The ingredients are fairly typical. It is a little more spicy than other noodle dishes. They call it Monsoon Noodles at Natalie which is confusing to me.

Many names many dishes
Thai restaurants have all types of bizarre names for their dishes. Another spot called their noodles “Gangster Noodles,.” I enjoyed having that too, particularly with all the jokes my buddy and I were making about the dish. We talked about having a Thai restaurant with a gangster theme. It would be fun if nobody got shot.

Later on
After that I tried some of their raspberry white chocolate chip ice cream. Very unusual. I think I prefer regular chocolate chip or mint chocolate chip, but they didn’t have any.

Via Alloro Beverly Hills: Pistachio Molten Cake

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Via Alloro in Beverly Hills. They are an Italian restaurant owned by a family that owns twelve local restaurants. Most of the restaurants are Italian, and considered the best in town, but two are Japanese. The service is great at all of their restaurants. The menu is a bit limited, especially at the Japanese restaurants. There are many choices for sushi, but not many choices for entrees.

Although, all of their restaurants are excellent, it is Via Alloro that catches my attention the most. The architechture is stunning in this circular building. The staff is very friendly and attentive. I was most impressed by the desserts. Most places just don’t have that many desserts, and the quality is rarely good enough to rave about.

I looked at the dessert menu after having a customized Fusilli Arabiatta with Italian sausage which isn’t on the menu. The sauce is perfect. Nobody else comes even close to having the perfect taste and density of sauce. But, the dessert menu had a pistachio molten cake. I decided to get it because I had never heard of anything like it.

The outside of the cake was made with pistachio flower. The inside had a gooey pistachio molten center. I have had chocolate molten cake several times before, and every time I get it, I have a horrible experience — and I say that as a chocolate lover. But, this pistachio molten cake had the perfect flavor, and wins the prize for the best dessert I have had in a long time since I had the Macadamia Cremeaux at Roy’s downtown a year ago.

I liked this cake so much, that the next time I tried a blackberry cake with ice cream. What impressed me most was that the minute they delivered the cake to me, I could smell the freshness from several feet away. The smell was so amazing I couldn’t believe it. The taste was amazing as well. It was a simple dessert, but I could tell that they put a tremendous effort into making everything they serve absolutely perfect — and I appreciate that.

On a final note, the “feng-shui” is excellent for me at Via Alloro. My business and life tends to prosper when I go to good feng-shui places. But, it is in Beverly Hills where the rich and famous hang out, so maybe we can take the feng-shui for granted there.

Food tasting in the Art District. Earl Grey Pie & Blues Sausage

I enjoy food tasting and try to do it as much as I can. My budget doesn’t allow for me to go to the $120 five star food tasting events, but I do what I can. Los Angeles offers many opportunities for people to go out and taste new dishes. There are always new restaurants opening up, and unusual things to try. The quality in Los Angeles is generally quite good for food.

So, I went to the Wurstkuche restaurant in the arts district. I had ordered their rattlesnake sausage before. It sort of lacked flavor and needed a tender aioli instead of their flavor intensive choice of mustards. But, this time I ordered their Austin Blues Sausage. It was excellent. Filled with smokey rich flavor. Of the twenty sausages they serve there, this one is my favorite. I also tried a pheasant sausage which was very robust and I’m very glad I tried it. Next, I waltzed across the street, dodging the multitude of homeless bums that frequent the neighborhood.

I tried an Earl Gray Pie in the bakery. The crust was perfect, and then there was Earl Gray filling and cream. I have never had anything like this before. It was a fun experience. Earl Gray Pie is not my favorite, but with Earl Gray Ice Cream being popular at gourmet ice cream places, I thought I should try.

Carmela Ice Cream: Sage Brown Sugar Ice Cream

My roommate dragged me to this place. It is walking distance from where we live. It looks like a small ice cream shop in the countryside of France, or wine country in California. Carmela. They have all types of unusual flavors. I tried Cranberry Orange Sorbet. Sage Brown Sugar Ice Cream. My all time favorite is Cardamom Ice Cream and I’m so pleased that is on their menu too. Their cookies are phenominal as well. Lucky for me they are open until 11pm weeknights!

I’m not sure what particularly to recommend there since everything is good. We wrote an article about the best ice cream places in Los Angeles. This place is much better than any of the other ones on the list. It is new, so it didn’t go on our old list. Parking can be an issue unless you go late at night.

I feel that the flavors are masterfully crafted at Carmela. I love the ecclectic gourmet flavors as well. Although some of the other ice cream spots have accentuated gourmet flavors, nobody beats Carmela. Wish I could say more, but it is in the taste, not the written word!

What are the funnest restaurants in Los Angeles?

I love Los Angeles and its culinary scene. To my dismay, three of my all-time favorite restaurants have gone permanently under. On a brighter note, there are new places that are excellent opening up daily.

My favorite spots in Los Angeles include:

Koi Japanese Fusion
The menu is very unusual here. They have a habit of using different types of peppers in their cooking. I like this very much although I feel they should offer a choice of how hot you want it. I ordered a habanero branzini. It was excellent, but lacked any kick. My favorite dish there is the rock shrimp roll. Other restaurants serve this dish too, but their execution is far inferior to the masters at Koi. They have great sake, innovative desserts and a menu that will make your jaw drop, not to mention how good looking the crowd is there. If you haven’t been to Koi — go there!

The Stinking Rose
This spot has a menu which is Italian and American in nature. The ambiance is one of the best in the entire metro with staff to match. Dine in the grotto (if they let you) or in the decorated dining hall next to the traditional Chianti bottles. The menu is excellent. There are many super choices including rabbit, affordable wines, and amazing pastas. This is the best spot to bring a date if you want to impress them.

Rock Sugar
This is a newer kid on the block with a multi-million dollar decor and very unusual menu. Their dishes are based on dishes throughout Asia and India. Their execution is far from traditional, but the flavors they create are fantastic. Look them up online and pay them a visit. They are in the Century City Mall.

Spagos
Spagos in Beverly Hills is a traditional spot for the entitled classes. Conversations are always good, and the food is cooked by the highest level of professionals. They have a sommelier who can answer your wine questions if he is around. The menus is always different, but I have enjoyed some good Liberty Duck, chicken, and other good dishes. Their wine selection is impressive too. My most memorable night was with my buddy where he splurged and got Russian caviar for the both of us!

The Bazaar
If you are looking for a quintessential Los Angeles experience, look no further. The Bazaar on La Cienega, Beverly Hills is very bizarre for lack of a better word. There are multiple restaurants and bars inside. The ambiance is very night-lifey, and the crowd is hip. Service is really slow, but we had some amazing Ottoman carrot fritters and other great tapas dishes there which I will not forget. The Bazaar is more for the scene and less for the food, but the food and wine are great as well.

Summary
Hope you liked my choices. I would have liked to have written more about each place, but I have to have dinner! Gotta go!

Review of WurstKuche — downtown Los Angeles, CA: best fries anywhere

It has been years that I have been dreaming of having rattlesnake sausage. A place in Northern California said they had it, but were out of it the day that I got there. So, finally, years later, I learned that WurstKuche in Downtown Los Angeles had this amazing sausage. Theirs was a rabbit / rattlesnake sausage. Close enough! In any case, I went down there with my friend. We rarely go to the artist district except to get Japanese food in Little Tokyo which is another fun destination if you like ramen and udon.

We got a little lost driving these odd streets, with odd angled intersections. It is an old industrial part of down with defunct railroad tracks. decaying industrial buildings, and newly refurbished artist dwellings. The population there is a mix of cool artists walking their dogs at 2 am, homeless people who harass you for spare change, and the folks who go to Japantown!

So, you are probably wondering about the restaurant. Let’s get back to the point of this article! The restaurant was set up like a bar with concrete floors, elevated ceilings. It was very industrial in appearance and loud which I didn’t like. You order in the back around a hallway. They have dozens of different types of sausages, plus Belgian fries. Their soda selection redefines eclectic. They had soda selections that I have never seen before, not to mention some designer beers. I’m not a beer drinker, so I’ll tell you about what I did have.

First of all, the paper plates and steel trays came at bizarre angles. Very artistic and industrial! We ate outside to avoid the noise. A homeless lady started bothering everyone, so I tolerated her for a while and then started yelling at her and she left.

Dandelion Soda
We started the evening with sodas. I got Dandelion soda which tasted flat with bubblegum overtones. Not a favorite, but it was fun to try something new. My housemate got an old fashioned ginger beer from a boutique brewery. It was not as good as Reeds which you can get at Whole Foods. She preferred my soda and I preferred hers, so we swapped.

Rattlesnake Sausage
This sausage was not bad. It was just bland. I’m glad that it was served with onions, peppers, and they had grainy Dijon mustard which was very flavorful. They actually had a yellow mustard, a white wine Dijon, as well as a more robust grainy darker Dijon which is my favorite. I suggested that when the waitress brings out the rattlesnake sausage that she rattles a castanet for ambiance. Maybe one day they will do that.

Belgian Fries
I am not a lover of fries. They are off my diet and do nightmares for my gallbladder and liver. However, these fries were the best I’ve had in my life. They were flavorful, wide and ultra soft. The dips they give you were amazing. Curry ketchup was okay. But, the chipotle aioli was truly amazing, and I will get a double of that next time I go.

Duck & Bacon sausage
This sausage had a much more robust flavor than the other one. I like unusual foods, robust flavors, and I feel that duck and bacon go well together we well (although bacon goes well with everything.)

Austin Blues
Next time I go, I will have their BBQ flavored sausage called, Austin Blues. I’m looking forward to that.

Vegetarian Sausages
My housemate is vegetarian and was very pleased that WurstKuche had a selection of vegetarian sausages. The evening worked well for us since there were many choices of drinks, and foods that were pleasing to the both of us!

Dessert
We went down to Peddlers a few blocks west for dessert. They are an ice cream joint near Main and 5th where they peddle their own ice cream using a bicycle connected to a contraption that churns the ice cream. They also have an elaborate connection of bicycle parts, chains, wheels, gears, cogs, that all go around together. They figured out how to connect all of these parts that in real life would not be connected.

Peddler’s is unique because they are run by bicycle enthusiasts who are fun and upbeat and love what they do. The ice cream is excellent and uses coconut milk which is an unusual attribute here in America. I suggested that they do a green curry flavored ice cream since they use coconut milk. I think they will not take me up on this idea. I tried the lemon shortbread ice cream there. It was excellent and I love their unusual flavors over there. You can find more about peddlers on Twitter if you are interested!

Liquid nitrogen ice cream at the Ice Cream Lab?

I saw footage of The Ice Cream Lab on television. I didn’t realize it was only three miles away in Beverly Hills, CA. So, I went on a day when I had a little extra time. Okay, it was actually at night time because you can’t get parking so easily during the day. It was about 10pm. I had just had dinner at Panini Cafe which is a great place to get kabobs, rice, soups, taftoon wrap sandwiches, and huge desserts. Their desserts are great, but too large for a single person. In any case, there is an ice cream and cupcakes place called Sprinkles half a block to the West which is where I generally go (they are ultra-popular) and the Ice Cream Lab was two blocks in the Eastward direction. So, a-walking I went!

Bizarre Flavors
I got to this lab and it was filled with people. I checked out the menu. They had six flavors of ice cream. They had green tea, banilla, donilla (vanilla with cookie dough) purple velvet, and a few other flavors. Considering that they had a clientele that was 90% Asian, I think they should have more Asian flavors like Boba flavored ice cream, red bean, lychee, jackfruit or whatever else people like in the East.

What did it taste like?
I had a try of the purple velvet. It was a little bit too cream cheesy for my tastes, but that is their all time favorite flavor, so the others like it. Banilla was excellent too, and came with two wafers. Their ice cream is unique in that it is the creamiest of any type of ice cream that I’ve ever sampled. Los Angeles is a mecca for micro-creameries, so try this one while tasting at other unique locations as well to see ice cream in a new perspective!

How do they make it?
Judging from the fact that white vapor came pouring out of their machines, through the gap beneath the glass separating the staff from the customers, and into the room — I suggested that they get mad scientist outfits and try to play on how scientific their ice cream production technology really is. I think that a Halloween lab set up with bubbling test tubes, deranged looking scientests, and perhaps a Frankenstein look alike being experimented on would be the perfect touch. I’m not sure if they have room for this, but they could try.

The basically use liquid nitrogen to freeze the cream while their machine whisks it. It is a very unusual process. The actual temperature of the liquid nitrogen is negative 320 degrees believe it or not. I was actually concerned about my safety being next to something that cold, but I didn’t die, so all is well.

Is it Kosher?
It is certified Kosher by Kosher Los Angeles.

Visit their About Us page
http://icecreamlab.com/about/

You might also like

4 great places to get Ice Cream in Los Angeles
http://blog.meander411.com/2014/02/11/ice-cream-in-los-angeles/

Review of The Grill on the Alley

I have always had my eye on the Grill on the Alley. I hang out in Beverly Hills regularly, but seem to generally end up at Panini Cafe for a healthy salad and yummy plate of kabobs. But, enough about me. Finally, after years, I finally found the time in my schedule to make it down to the grill. It is a lot farther from my favorite parking lot, so I had to allow twenty extra minutes for walking both ways.

I got to the grill, and looked at the menu. It was “Dine in Los Angeles” week. Every year, we have a week or two where more than a dozen of Los Angeles’ finest restaurants offer a three course meal for a fixed price. The price this year at several places was $45. Not cheap, but this is for four or five star dining.

I had no idea what to order, but the raspberry pork chop caught my fancy. It was one of those thick cut chops with an imaginative sauce. I couldn’t resist. I ordered a mushroom barley soup to start with. It was very satisfying and flavorful. I correctly identified the bread as being from La Brea bakery, and it was cut thick, so I could break it with my hands. I had a choice of soft butter, roasted tomato paste, or olive oil with a touch of balsamic vinegar. I tried all three! Then, my main meal came — my chop with mashed potatoes. They have a dozen sides to choose from, but I went with something as standard as you can pick. The chop had this wonderful charred, yet juicy taste. It was just perfect, and the raspberry sauce was so imaginative and compatible with the chop as well. The mashed potatoes were nice too, but I don’t have any commentary about them other than, “They were nice.”

The waiters dressed in long white coats. They looked like doctors in their outfit. I asked for permission to see my x-rays. They do seem to have a lot of older gentlemen working there. They are an old school establishment that has been around since the mid-80’s.

Yes, I did save room for dessert. It was either ice cream with berries (been there done that,) or tres leches cake. Since I am a lover of trying new things, I went with the leches. It was relatively large for a dessert in one of these fancy joints. Each bite was rich in dairy pleasure. Yum!

If you have a chance to visit Beverly Hills, parking is slightly complicated, but much easier than other metro areas. I strongly recommend making time to visit The Grill on the Alley on Wilshire. They are top notch, very experienced, seasoned, and nice folks! I would give it three thumbs up after I wash my thumbs from the delicious meal!

Should Thai food be eaten near the beach?

Should Thai food be eaten near the beach?

When you see pictures of Thailand, you see picture perfect beaches, temples, and busy urban streets. But, the parts of Thailand everyone wants to go to are the beaches it seems. I have never been to Thailand, but I’m surrounded by Thai people and Thai culture right here in Los Angeles.

Since Thailand has a very long coastline, and many famous beaches near Phuket down South, it just seems that Thai food just isn’t the same if you don’t eat it near a beach. Hmm.

In any case, I have Thai food all the time in the city, but a discussion on Twitter made me think that I need to eat it on the beach. I tweeted that Thai food “should” be eaten on a beach and a few others replied that they agreed.

So, I headed down to our closest approachable beach. Santa Monica beach is the closest in miles, but parking is a huge problem. That is why I normally hang out at Pacific Palisades another mile or two up the shore when I go to the ocean. Last time I was driving around that area, I decided to head a little further

West into Malibu. I hadn’t been there for a long time. I had fun at both of Malibu’s Starbucks and on the way back spotted some Thai restaurants. The only thought that went through my head was that I needed to try one of those restaurants.

So, tonight, I finally tried one. I went to Cholada Thai Beach Cuisine. There is another Thai place a little further down the road which I’ll try next time. I ordered red curry sea bass. It was delicious. The brown rice looked more like black rice, but went very well with the coconut milk sauce.

I sat in the patio in the back, but in an elevated wooden structure that was kind of like a cross between a balcony and a cabana. The view from my seat was of hills, palm trees and the ocean. The view looked like photos of parts of Thailand a little bit. I asked the waitress if Thailand looked like this. She said there were lots of resorts near Phuket, and that it was more “fantasy.” Furthermore, the vibe near the ocean is very calming, just like the Thai culture.

Although I love Thai food anywhere, it was a different experience having it near the water. I feel that you “should” eat Thai food on the coast at least once to get that unique experience.

On a final note, I feel that this restaurant should have a few Mexican-Thai fusion dishes like a chili basil en-cholada, since their name is Cholada.

Dining at the Gladstone in Pacific Palisades

I often visit Pacific Palisades to calm down. It is very pacifying by the ocean. I often drive up a road that is on a cliff, sit in my car, and enjoy the soothing vibrations from the gentle waves down below. But, this time I decided to change things up a bit. I wanted to dine at the Gladstone.

The Gladstone is a seafood restaurant right on the water. It just changed ownership, so the future of their menu is unpredictable. I ordered a few dishes which turned out to be interesting.

Macadamia crusted battered shrimp
This dish was very delicious. The batter on the shrimp had a very smooth consistency. But, the description on the menu didn’t have any consistency with the actual dish. They sprinkled on crushed macadamias as an afterthought instead of cooking the shrimp in an encrusted exterior of macadamias. I think the dish had good fruity flavor in the batter, but needed a lot more macadamias.

Crab cakes
This lovely dish came with some arugula, mini-tomatoes, and a sweet Thai dipping sauce for appetizers. The crab cake came with a subtle hint of dill and touches of corn to accentuate the flavor. I don’t mean to sound corny, but the crab cakes were dill-icious!

Mango Fish Tacos
This dish was the dish. I couldn’t believe the size of the plate it was brought out on. It was more like a metal dish covered with newspaper, and three huge tacos. To the left there were three chutneys. Mango, Avocado, and Roasted blackened salsa. All three were yum, and went perfectly with these huge salmon BBQ tacos. The tortillas were what I call flash deep fried, so they held their shape a little, but were not completely hard and crispy either. They cooked the tortilla just the right amount for the perfect touch. What struck me at first about these tacos was the aroma. Was I smelling chipotle, mesquite, or the barbecue flavor — or a combination of the three. Go and see for yourself.

Parking was the most fun of all. I parked next to the ocean. You can park until 10pm. The gentle waves caressing the shoreline was very relaxing. I love being in Palisades at sundown when the weather is in the 60’s. Daytime is nice too, but there is something very soothing about that combination of conditions.

In any case, I think you will enjoy dining at the Gladstone too. Next time I’m going to try their Thai yellow curry. I’m excited about that!