Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ttu Rak: And you Think McDonald's is Unhealthy?

I was determined to try poesot maeuntang kalkuksu** (i.e. spicy mushroom stew) after hearing Sunny talk about it. We searched high and low and far and wide (I even e-mailed Jonathan Gold for help on where to find this dish but even the legendary Mr. Gold couldn’t find a place) and we finally managed to locate a place on Vermont Ave. that claimed to serve this stew. We were so pumped about it and planned to try it for this week's Friday night dinner. We strolled up to the alleged address, however, only to find that it had been converted into (yet another) Korean fried chicken place.

(Banchans: proof that Koreans are good people)

Well, the good thing about K-town is that you’re never short on options. We hopped back into the car and drove to the not-too-distant Ttu Rak instead. After spending fifteen minutes trying to make sense of the “Korean Fusion” menu, we opted for a two person portion of the spicy short ribs and octopus stew (~$38.00/2 people portion) to split between the three of us.

(English picture wall menu: Where the non-Korean speakers conglomerate)

Again, I had a little banchan fiesta – no joke, I could make a meal of those small dishes. They brought nine different side dishes to the table and though they weren’t as good as the ones at Chunju Han-il Kwan, they were still pretty satisfying. Plus, they had one of my favorites – the potato chunks :) On top of that, they also gave us a bowl of bean-paste soup each. I love Koreans and their food generosity.

(Beautiful Bubbling Stew)

And speaking of food generosity, the stew itself was no paltry portion. It came in a giant metal vat, chock full of short ribs, octopus, veggies and glassy noodles. Debs and Sunny took care of the meat (which they both claimed to be amazingly tender) while I focused on the bits of chewy tentacles. The broth was great too – spicier than the budae jigae soup at Chunju Han-il Kwan but still tolerable for my non-Korean palate. The stew got better and better as it boiled on – when I dove in for my second helping, the soup had thickened, intensifying all the flavors. Even better? The glassy noodles had more time to soak up the spiciness and instead of being individual threads of noodle, they glomped together into a strandy mass of flavor. I know it sounds unappealing but, trust me, it was awesome stuff.

(Octopus swimming in spicy broth)

When we had pretty much emptied out the vat, save the leftover soup and a handful of veggies and meat, the server did something amazing to the pot. He threw in a giant serving of rice topped off with a layer of cheese which melted over and into the rest of the ingredients. Oh, the beauty of gooey cheese. That on top of the fact that the rice at the bottom of the pot had become nice and crunchily crusty. Yes, that cheesy “fried rice” brought happiness to our table. Even though it was supposed to be a two person portion, the three of us only barely managed to finish everything. THAT’S how generous the portion was.

(Cheesy Rice: THE reason why I was at Ttu Rak)

Service was good and bad. Our waiter was pretty young (and, according to the Sun and the Debs, was also “pretty cute” – I wouldn’t know, he was way too young for my liking) and you could tell that he had planned to spend his Friday night at the karaoke bar (or whatever young Koreans do nowadays) instead of working the nighttime shift at the restaurant. Not that he was unfriendly or anything, but he wasn’t attentive and was texting on his phone for most of the time. But my heart was warmed by the fact that the restaurant gives a free bottle of Yakult to each customer at the end of the meal to quell our over-satiation. That was really sweet :D

(See the strands of cheese?)

All the food, plus tax and tips came out to $15 per person. Not bad at all. And, come on, it’s cheese + rice. I would line up to dole out $15 for that!

**Note: If anyone knows where to get
poesot maeuntang kalkuksu in LA, please leave me a message!!**

FOOD: 4/5

TTU RAK ($$)
125 N Western Ave.

Los Angeles,
CA 90004

(323) 960-0853

Friday, February 27, 2009

Simpang Asia: Gotta Get Gado

(Adjoining Grocery Store)

Southeast Asian food makes me happy and, because I like being happy, I headed out to grab Indonesian food with Theresa last night. A nine minute drive later (google map didn’t lie), we plopped our hungry asses down on the IKEA-esque plastic chairs in Simpang Asia.

Most of the traditional, “Nasi ” dishes contained some form of meat so I opted for the Gado Gado salad ($6.50) while the carnivore of the table ordered the nasi bungkus ($7.50).

(Nasi Bungkus: a carnivore's banana leaf goodie-bag)

Like in all Asian-run places, it didn’t take long for the food to be brought to our table. Theresa opened up the giant folded banana leaf to find a steaming mound of rice surrounded by portions of chicken curry, beef rending, egg, vegetable curry, among other things. Just the smell alone convinced me that it would be good stuff. I took a bite of yellow-curry-sauce-soaked rice which confirmed my belief. I love the sweet fragrant coconut milk undertones of Southeast Asian curries!

(Gado Gado: drizzled with the nectar of the Gods)

I then focused my attention on my own dish. The gado gado is, essentially, a plate
of spinach, long beans, sprouts and other veggies, combined with tofu and a sliced boiled egg, drizzled with a sweet peanut sauce and topped with crunchy shrimp crackers. Mmmmm indeed. The peanut sauce is nothing short of amazing. Smooth and flavorful – a drizzle of that could convert the most mundane of foodstuffs into a mound of deliciousness. The other ingredients in themselves were fairly bland (especially the tofu which was almost inedible on its own) but I soaked everything into the sauce and I lapped it all up happily. Halfway into the dish though, I encountered some strange white cubes in the salad. I took a bite and couldn’t figure it out at all – it was virtually tasteless. I consulted the menu and found out that they were “potato cubes.” Weird. I guess I’m just used to potatoes with, you know, taste. But then again, it wasn’t a problem that a little bit of peanut sauce couldn’t solve! I washed the salad down with a can of honeydew melon “boba” drink from the grocery fridge ($0.89). I say “boba” because, while the can showed the big pearls of black tapioca floating in the drink, what really was in the can was small white chewy bits. Oh well, I never was a fan of boba pearls anyways and plus, the drink itself was really good.

After the meal, we perused the adjoining grocery store for Asian snacks. They have everything from canned jackfruit to Japanese chocolates. I love it! I grabbed a box of ikan asin/dried salted fish ($5.00) which proved to be the perfect drinking food. Being disgustingly unhealthy, we polished off the whole box later in the night after a few drinks. Helloooooo skyrocketing sodium levels.

(Ikan Asin: the most delicious way to bring on high blood pressure)

I also got a dadar gulung ($1.50) from the sweets counter at the cashier – I was sold when the cashier explained that it was a pancake roll stuffed with COCONUT (i.e. the magic word) and brown sugar. I ate it this morning and it wasn’t very good at all. Disappointingly unsweet. Too bad.
(Dadar gulung: forgot the sugar?)

All in all, Simpang Asia is a great spot to eat. Service is quick and friendly and the food is comfortingly satisfying though not perfect. It’s cheap and clean and it’s packed with regulars (it gets more crowded as it gets later). Yep, I sure do loves me some Southeast Asian food.

FOOD: 4/5


10433 National Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 815-9075

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bhan Kanom Thai: Crisp the Fluff and Sweet the Thai (Tasting Thai Town Pt. 2)

After our meal at Jitlada, we headed out to grab the necessity of life – the after-dinner sweets. Pressure was definitely on since this would be Alyssa’s first encounter with Southeast Asian desserts. We swooped down to Hollywood Blvd. towards Bhan Kanom Thai – the famous Thai bakery and candy shop.

The store was filled with packaged Asian snacks and candies but my eyes were na
turally diverted to a single point of interest – the Thai sweets counter. Colorful blobs of rice flour concoctions and tapioca-esque sweets lined the shelves. I perused the labels and knew I was in my own personal heaven when I saw them marked with words like “coconut,” “taro,” and “pumpkin.” Choosing would be quite difficult.

Luckily (or, rather, unluckily) for me, choosing wasn’t AS difficult as I thought sinc
e a lot of stuff was already sold out by the time we got there. Boo. I was dying to try the kanom tom (coconut balls), sai sai (coconut stuffed in cream) and, most of all, the kanom krok (which, as you can probably guess, also contains coconut). Oh well, next time.

(Coconut and Pandan Pudding)

I was deeply attracted to the Panchi ($2.50/6) – a small sweet round of taro, corn and shredded coconut. Just hearing the ingredients alone, I was tempted to order 4 crates of that stuff. But before I did, the guy at the counter offered us a sample and while I loved the soft chewy texture, I wasn’t feeling the fact that it was warm. It threw me off completely and I didn’t end up getting any. Now, thinking about it though, I probably will next time and just leave it out to cool. What I DID get though, was a bag of crispy pancakes filled with foi thong/egg yolk ($3.00/8) and a small box of coconut and pandan puddings ($3.00/6). The pudding was alright** – it tried to combine two flavors in one small bite and what ended up happening was that neither flavor really shone through. But the smell and the silky texture made up for it and it reminded me of home :)

But let me get to the good stuff – the crispy pancakes. Oooo…I had purchased a bag of goodness. A thin and crispy “shell” is spread with a sweet and fluffy, marshmallowy-like layer and then sprinkled with shreds of yellow “foi thong” – a sweet made from egg yolk. It’s soooo good…and tastes so light that I could easily picture myself popping them into my mouth like peanuts. I only got the yellow/sweet stuffing ones but I know they also have a salty/orange stuffing which I am determined to try (I LOVE sweet + salty flavor combos!)

(Crispy Pancakes: Good Bites)

Alyssa got the coconut milk ice cream ($2.50/a scoop bigger than my fist) which was amazing and redeemed Thai cuisine significantly in her eyes. There were chunks of young coconut and that’s definitely a happy thing. On top of that, they threw in a random piece of sweet butter toast in my bag of pancakes. I was really confused at first but my confusion quickly melted into happiness when I broke off a small piece to try. It was pretty damn good – crispy and crunchy with a teasing hint of addictive sweetness. I guess good things DO happen when you don’t expect it!

(Sweet Butter Toast: Surprisingly good surprise)

Oh right, and I LOVE how cheap this place is :D

FOOD: 4/5
SERVICE: 4.5/5


5271 Hollywood Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90027

(323) 871-8030


I had another one of the coconut puddings this morning after sticking them in the fridge to chill up overnight. Mannnn...a little bit o' refrigeration and the tiny pudding got 5 times better!! The coconut flavor really came through. I officially retract my "the pudding was alright" statement - it ROCKED!

Jitlada: Taste vs. Expectation (Tasting Thai Town Pt. 1)

I REALLY felt like exploiting Alyssa’s current interest in foreign flavors tonight so I suggested we pay a visit to Thai Town. I did a little bit of restaurant research and, after an arduous process of careful evaluation, I narrowed it down to Jitlada on Sunset Blvd. This small joint has been garnering quite a bit of attention and, after knowing that Jonathan Gold listed it as among one of his favorites, I was sold.

Needless to say, I was filled with high hopes about this place. As if the countless A+ reviews weren’t enough, the restaurant smelled like food heaven when we stepped in. When seated, we were handed the menu and, at first, it looked almost identical to the one at Emporium Thai in Westwood. They even had the same color scheme and layout (no joke). So why drive 30minutes out to Thai Town for a menu I could get 3minutes away from the apartment? The answer is simple: SOUTHERN THAI MENU.

(I REALLY wasn't joking about the similar menu thing)

That’s right. I flipped to the last two pages of the menu and, sure enough, there was that big fat, legendary list I had heard circulating about the LA foodblogasphere. There must’ve been over 150 items in that list! I read enough for school already so I wasn’t about to read the novella of food choices. I did one quick scan and set my heart on the poo nim phat phong kari/soft shell crab sautéed with curry powder and vegetables ($15.99). I’m a sucker for soft shell crab so I was, quite literally, VERY excited about this dish.

It arrived at the table and it smelled. AMAZING. I plopped two spoonfuls of rice onto my dish and dove into the crab. The sauce? Effin’ fantastic. Fragrant and sweet with just a teensy bit of spiciness to it. Yes, I was scared by the “curry powder” at first because I suck and have a weakass tolerance for spicy foods. But I asked the waitress about the spiciness level and she assured me that I would be able to handle it. I guess she told the kitchen to tweak it for my delicate sensibilities. Besides, I think the curry powder was supposed to be for the fragrant taste rather than for spiciness – if anything, any bit if spiciness I could taste came from the small strips of chili peppers in the dish. So, yes, five gold stars for the sauce. Now, more excited than ever, I prepared myself for my soft shell crab fiesta. I took a bite and…

…welllllllllllllllll…you know when, sometimes, what you get is just not what you expected? That’s what the crab was like. It wasn’t bad or anything (au contraire, there was a beautiful burst of fatty crab roe in every bite) but there was a slight problem in terms of personal taste. You see, the first time I tried and fell in love with soft shell crab was at a Vietnamese place – dry, crunchy, and sprinkled generously with spicy seasoned salt. Powerful stuff that would make me fight my family for the last piece – even if it were just a tiny scrap of leg meat. Here, at Jitlada, it was soaked in a sweet curry sauce which, although delicious in its own right, masked the flavor of the crab to a significant degree and took away part of its lovely crunchiness. So, was the dish great? Yes. Was it life-changing? Probably not. Was it worth $15.99? Probably definitely not (OKOK, to be fair, it WAS chock full of veggies and crab. But TASTE-WISE, it's not worth the dough).

(Soft shell crab = vaguely orange thing in lower right corner)

And I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t completely blown away. Alyssa left half of her southern curry shrimp with pineapple. I tried a little of her curry and – as she said – it was NOT spicy at all (I mean, I could take it – how spicy could it be?) She ordered “medium spicy” but, the waitress, seeing that she was blonde-haired and blue-eyed and not knowing about her half-Mexican-ness, tweaked the spicy level to toddler-level-mild. Oh, poor, poor, discriminated against Alyssa. We did, however, both agree that the shrimp was cooked perfectly. I took a bite into it and was really REALLY impressed – I’ve never tasted cooked shrimp like this before. It had the same, bouncy, fresh taste and texture that was similar to the “live shrimp” I had at Sushi Masu.

Service was a bit iffy. Don’t get me wrong – everyone was friendly and helpful. BUT, on arrival, there was no one at the door. We had to actively FIND someone to seat us. And, when we asked the waitress about our dishes when ordering, she chimed “ooOOoo…it’s the BEST combination.” We were happy to hear that…until we heard her speak the exact same words to another table who had ordered something entirely different from what we had.

So, no, Jitlada didn’t blow me away (I really wanted it to but I just can’t lie) but maybe we were just unlucky this time. Plus, there were SO many items on the menu...I can't do this place justice with just one go. The place was continuously packed and everyone seemed to be enjoying their food. A LOT. I’ll probably give it another try. Because Jonathan Gold loves them and I love Jonathan Gold.

And maybe I’ll get the mussels…

FOOD: On the fence. But benefit of the doubt says 3.9/5
SERVICE: 3.75/5

5233 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 663-3104

Sunday, February 22, 2009

King Hua: Good Things Come in Small Packages/Steam Baskets

Wanting to take advantage of the relatively traffic-free Sunday, we decided to grab dim sum in Alhambra. I don’t hate V.I.P Harbor Seafood or anything, but we all wanted “real” dim sum…i.e. dim sum not served by a Mexican waitress.

(The Sea Harbor-esque Menu)

I decided to try King Hua – the restaurant opened by former Sea Harbor chef because:

1) Sea Harbor is fantastic so, logically, King Hua can’t be bad and

2) I knew Sea Harbor would be PACKED on a Sunday afternoon

King Hua was pretty packed too but we didn’t have to wait and were seated righ
t away. I took a look at the menu and, just as most of the reviews have said, it was almost identical to the one at Sea Harbor -____- oh well, I’m certainly not complaining.

(Meet my friends: Har Gow)

(Good stuff: Jellyfish and Beancurd Rolls)

The dim sum here – like the ones at Sea Harbor – are larger than the standard sizes (which also mean they’re double the size of the ones at VIP). The shrimp dumpling/har gow was a plump mass of shrimpy goodness. I was very impressed by the skin – it was thin but not flimsy and it didn’t get hard and doughy when cooled down (which, ugh, I’m sorry to say, happens with the ones at VIP). The jellyfish with beancurd roll was another stellar dish. The jellyfish was crunchy and well-seasoned. But my favorite part of the dish was the beancurd rolls filled with chopped mushrooms and carrots. So “healthy” tasting…not that it really mattered, given the amount of unhealthy food I consumed. The steamed rice noodle/cheong fun with shrimp tasted great but the skin was a little too thin and slippery. It was an almost impossible task to get the rice noodle onto my plate in one piece.

(Slip Away: Cheong Fun with Shrimp)

(When flaky is good: Egg Tarts)

I also ordered the steamed preserved egg yolk bun. I LOVE this dish and though I wasn’t disappointed by King Hua’s version, I wasn’t blown away. The egg yolk didn’t have a strong enough taste. But I love eating this
– the messiness of the runny, eggy filling is half the fun and it even elicited the interest of the table of white diners next to us. After the bun, I moved onto the egg custard tarts/dan tat. The custard filling was a little forgettable (not sweet enough) but the pastry crust was amazingly buttery and flaky. Another winner. The last item to come to the table was the shark’s fin scallop dumpling. This was SOOOO GOOD. It was a decadent version of the har gow – even plumper and juicer than its more humble cousin and topped with a small piece of scallop and a sprinkling of fish roe. Wow. Again, the dumpling skin was a winner.

(It could get messy: Salty Egg Yolk Bun)

(Luxury wrapped in a rice flour skin: Shark's Fin Scallop Dumpling)

I didn’t eat the shiu mai but both Debs and Sun enjoyed it. Also, stupidly enough, I messed up one order and got the deep fried spring rolls instead of the fried seafood salad roll – the wonderful crispy, sweet, mayo concoction I had at Sea Harbor last time. My bad…

(Shiu Mai)

All in all, it came up to $33.84 sans tips for three people. We left a big fat tip and I still felt like I was robbing the restaurant blind. Plus, service really was great. Efficient and friendly.

King Hua rocks. It’s not as great as Sea Harbor but it’s not far behind. I have no cause for complaint.

(What SHOULD'VE been a mass of seafood + mayo)

FOOD: 4.75/5




2000 W Main St

Alhambra, CA 91801

(626) 282-8833

Susiecakes: Cheered Up!


It’s really hard for me to stay down for long because I have fantastic friends. When I stepped into the car on our way to our Friday-night-Dinner destination (take-out from Jasmine Market. Remember…I’m poor), what did I find on my seat? A big box of cupcakes from Susiecakes! I’ve been wanting to go to Susiecakes in forever (I’m even subscribed to their e-mail list) but it’s always closed when I’m in the Brentwood area.

I spent the most part of our drive to grab dinner making various “awwwwww-this-is-so-sweet” noises and feeling, quite literally, warm and fuzzy inside. Of course, the beautiful, sweet smell from the box also fuelled the warm and fuzzy feeling.

(Why friends rock: (left to right, from top) mint choco, strawberry, fluffy coconut, daily special, vanilla, red velvet)

The cupcakes are absolutely adorable. The pastel-colored frosting is slapped onto the cakes in a “grandma-made-these” way which reminded me of the cupcakes from Magnolia in NYC (I’ll FINALLY get to go in March!) I picked the red velvet cupcake for myself after plating the vanilla for Debs and the strawberry one for the Sun.

The red velvet cake was awesome. After the diabetes-inducing fiasco at Sweet Lady Jane not too long ago, it was comforting to know that red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting doesn’t have to taste like pure sugar. We took bites from each other’s cakes and, though I’m not usually blown away by strawberry flavored cakes, I’ve got to say, I was really impressed by Susiecake’s strawberry cupcake. As Sunny put it, it tasted almost like strawberry cheesecake.

(Coconut Goodness)

And knowing that I have an unhealthy fixation with all things coconut-related, Sunny grabbed the fluffy coconut cupcake at Susiecakes. I LOVED the frosting. Sweetened with desiccated coconut…there’s really no way you can go wrong with that. I’ve been spoilt by Ina Garten’s recipe for coconut cake/cupcakes (recipe will be up. I promise!) though and the actual cake part of Susiecake’s version wasn’t as coconutty as Ina’s. I think it’s because they didn’t use coconut milk in the batter. But then again, Ina’s version is TRANSCENDENT and it’s hard for anything to match up to her version.

My favorite of the batch would probably have to be the chocolate mint cupcake. Chocolate + mint is one of my all-time favorite sweets combos so I was already expecting good things from this cupcake. The chocolate cake was moist but not too heavy but it was the mint frosting that made me fall in love. I took a bite from the daily-special cupcake that Sunny had (W
e THINK it was cinnamon or something like that) and that was amazing too.

(The hands-down winner: Mint Chocolate)

Crumbs is still my all-time favorite cupcake place (whatever keeps the crumb so moist and dense must be illegal) but Susiecakes beats out all the other places in its sweetness balance. Nothing is too sweet or too much. And, plus, the sweetness behind the gesture is enough to bump it to the highest on my list :)

('Tastes-like Churro' Daily Special)

As if that weren't sweet enough already, she grabbed a menu for me, knowing that I'm a losery menu-collecter. Aw, I love those two.

FOOD: 4.5/5


11708 San Vicente Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 442-2253

Pitfire Pizza: Please Don't Go Back to Big Sur...Stay in LA

I’ve been so self-imposedly poor lately that it’s been absolutely ridiculous. But who can blame me? I want to spend like no tomorrow when I’m in Manhattan ♥ ! And if that means eating canned tuna with Trader Joe’s hummus, so be it.

The sad thing is, of course, I haven’t been eating canned tuna with hummus and, if my past reviews are anything to go by, I’ve actually been spending way too much eating out. Not good. It’s just so difficult though because some things just are a MUST. i.e. Tuesday-night-Dinner-extravaganza with Alyssa.

Well, thank God she’s currently in the poor house too. Poverty loves company, especially when it comes to dining out. But, not really wanting to grab, say, In-n-Out (after all, they don’t have meatless choices), we mosied out to Pitfire Pizza on Westwood Blvd. PP is one of those restaurants which will never make it to your “Favorites” list but will still have you coming back all the time: the food’s not stellar but it’s still pretty damn good; the price isn’t cheap but it won’t leave a dent in your wallet.

Last time I was there, I got the Italian tuna panini ($8.95). Decent size and came with a side salad. I was tempted to get that again and bump up my daily intake of protein and veggies but, after having the absolutely kickass tuna melt at the Hungry Cat not too long ago, I decided to go for something else this time. Well, one thing did catch my eye on the menu – the Big Sur pizza ($9.95). According to the menu description, the toppings were garlic scampi, a four cheese blend, tomatoes, basil, lemon zest and roasted garlic. Mmmmm. I was very excited.

The pizza itself was HUGE! It’s supposed to be a one-person portion but I definitely had a hard time finishing it (HA – OF COURSE I finished it. I have no shame). I forgot to take my camera along so, no photos – sorry – you’ll just have to take my word for it about the size. I was a little ambivalent about the crust at first. Given that I’ve sold my soul to the thin crusts of New York pizza, I didn’t know what to make of the somewhat balloon-esque, pillowy looking crust. Well, I was wrong with my ambivalence – the crust was great. It was chewy without being overly doughy in taste. I felt as if I was eating less carbs that I really was (warning: that could be a VERY dangerous illusion).

The pizza was a little scant on the scampi but it didn’t bother me much – the star of the show was the lemon zest, tomato and garlic flavor combo. It’s absolutely genius! I’ve never had lemon on pizza before and I know it can sound disconcerting but really, when I think about it, it makes sense. The citrus-y flavor cut right through the strong garlicy-ness of the toppings and balanced out the greasiness from the cheese and brought out the sweetness in the tomatoes. Or maybe that’s just a very long-winded way of saying that my hormones have been going crazy and I’ve been craving citrus-y foods. Either way, the pizza was awesome. I also saw that they had a pumpkin pizza offered on the seasonal menu. That sounds A-M-A-ZING! I definitely want to try that the next time I’m there.

PP is a cute and clean and the staff are always friendly. $9.95 is by no means super cheap but then again, it’s no shack of a place and the food is worth it. And it’s still a cheaper alternative to, say, Pizzeria Mozza (which I still have to try before I leave).

FOOD: 4/5



2018 Westwood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 481-9860

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Hungry Cat: It's Not About Looks

I love ugly foods. I will gladly eat anything that appears in gloop-form or is close to resembling a booger. It’s not like I’m trying to be a “daring diner” or anything, it just so happens that, from numerous past experiences, I’ve become a firm believer that when it comes to food, ugly = good.

I would like to say that I’d been craving fresh oysters recently but that would be an outright lie – I am perpetually craving fresh oysters. One of my fondest memories is of slurping down these beautiful, briny slimesters at the Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York City. When Moeha suggested we grab seafood for lunch today, The Hungry Cat immediately came to mind.

Word of warning: The Hungry Cat is obnoxiously difficult to locate. It’s in the Hollywood + Vine complex but it’s completely hidden away in a small courtyard. We circled the complex three times before we realized it was right next to Ivan Kane’s Café Wa S. Well, good thing the Cat doesn’t have set lunch/dinner hours since it was around 2pm by the time we finally got there.

(From left: Gold Creek, Kumamoto, Beau Soleil)

Anne isn’t big on the oysters so Moeha and I ordered a half dozen oysters to share ($15.00
). We got two each of the day’s selection: kumamoto, gold creek and beau soleil. I couldn’t believe how tiny the beau soleil was! There were probably three molecules of oyster on that half shell. On top of that, it just…wasn’t very good at all. It was waaaaay too mild for my taste. I literally felt like I was eating nothing. I moved on to the kumamoto which is a personal fave oyster variety. Mmmm…SO MUCH BETTER than the oyster I just had. Given, the kumamoto wasn’t much bigger than the blue point, but it had a strong briny taste and I found myself slurping up every precious drop of the oyster liquid. The gold creek was equally good. It was the largest of the three varieties and was briny – though less so than the kunamoto – and wonderfully creamy.

(Lobster Frittata)

(AMAZING Shrimp burger patty)

After the little bivalve party, we started on our entrees. Anne got today’s special – the lobster frittata ($17.00) which was flavorful and chock full of lobster meat. I also had a bite of Moeha’s shrimp burger on brioche with fries ($15.00) and it was absolutely stellar! The shrimp patty was cooked perfectly and was amazingly moist and tender. It also had a nice spicy kick to it. As for myself, I ordered the tuna melt with fries ($15.00). This ain’t your typical deli tuna melt – it was an open face sandwich of Spanish tuna on a piece of toasted French bread, topped with a thick layer of cheese and a salad of arugula, radish and romesco. The flavor combination kicked major ass! A little bit like a pizza (the toast was spread with a sort of tomato-based sauce), a little bit like a sandwich, a little bit like a salad. Oh wow. The best thing was that the tomato sauce and the tuna juices soaked through the toast, making it soft enough to be cut apart with a knife and fork. The creamy, melted cheese melded into the small flecks of Spanish tuna and that, combined with the sweetness of the tomato sauce and the chewy texture of the sauce-drenched toast was a definite winner. The fries were great as well though not as crispy as the ones from, say, Marty D’s or The Bowery.

(Prettied-up Tuna Melt)

The Hungry Cat isn’t cheap but prices are ju
stified. The portions are huge and it is, after all, seafood…very fresh seafood. Service, however, was painstakingly slow. It took them fifteen minutes to bring our oysters to the table. Yes, RAW OYSTERS that require zilch preparation. And, after the oysters, they took another half an hour or so to bring us our entrée. It was actually a little ridiculous.
(The Raw Bar: takes 15 minutes to transport seafood from bed of ice to customer's table)

But, not wanting to end this review on a negative note, The Hungry Cat is a great joint. Food is awesome and the vibe is refined but relaxed. When you DO find the restaurant and when you DO get your food at your table, without a doubt, you’ll have a kickass time!

!! And we also saw Kyan from Queer Eye !! Oh, he’s still so sexy!! Yes, and James Franco feeding quarters into the parking meter.

FOOD: 4/5

1535 Vine Street
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 462-2155

Joe’s Restaurant: If I HAD to live in Los Angeles

(Feel the viiiiiiiibe)

To elaborate on the title of this post, if I really HAD to live in Los Angeles, I would be looking up apartment listings in Venice. It’s such a laid-back and unpretentious neighborhood…I could honestly picture myself living there. It’s the type of place where everyone owns a dog and rides a bike and though I do neither of those two activities, I like being around people who do :D

(Complimentary bread: a Banana-nut-esque loaf and toast)

To celebrate the completion of our Shakespeare (also known as “Shakey”) midterm, Reno and I drove out to grab brunch at Joe’s Restaurant on Abbot Kinney. Thank God I made reservations because the place was packed to the brim. Definitely a good sign. The vibe at Joe’s is infectious – just seeing all the people enjoying their food and whatever company they happened to be with is enough to make me break into a giant smile.
(Crazy Reno isn't in love with cinnamon. Maybe I should've ordered this.)

(I saved the Bananas for Last)

But what’s even MORE smile-inducing? Le food at Joe’s. The brunch menu (an entrée + appetizer) is a steal. I ordered the Rösti Potato with Scrambled Eggs & Smoked Salmon, Crème Fraiche, Caviar with the Seasonal Fruit Plate with Honeyed Yogurt Sauce starter ($18.00) while Reno took a stab at the Lobster (it’s usually Crab but they ran out so had to substitute in Lobster) Hash with Poached Egg, Red And Yellow Peppers, Potatoes, Mustard Rosemary Sauce with the Granola with Dried Fruit, Toasted Almonds With Spiced Milk appetizer ($16.00). What the hell? Just LOOK at what we ordered and then look at the prices! Joe’s is a COMPLETE undermining of the phrase: “it’s too good to be true.”
(Blegh, shaking hands do the Lobster Hash injustice)

I LOVED my smoked salmon dish. It was basically a giant, perfectly-crisp hash brown topped with a layer of scrambled eggs, a generous pile of smoked salmon and a dollop of caviar. Wow. It’s one of those dishes where all the components, individually, are forgettable but, combined as one, is a Godsent gift. The salmon by itself was a little too bland for my taste (I’m used to smoked salmon cured NY-style) but balanced out the other components of the dish to a T. The one thing that was better on its own though, was the “caviar” which was probably herring roe or the likes of. By itself, it had that gorgeous “sea-taste” but, because it’s not top-notch stuff (come on, the dish is $18 in total), it was easily overshadowed when combined with the other components of the dish. I also stole a bite of Reno’s lobster hash and mmmmmmm…it was so good. The lobster was so fluffily soft without being mushy (ugh). I think I’ll be ordering that the next time I go to Joe’s.
(Fantastic-ness on a plate)

And, as if life wasn’t fantastic enough, I got Reno to drop me off at Shareen’s a coupla blocks down from Joe’s. Yep, today was SUPER SELF-INDULGENT day: amazing food + three absolutely beautiful vintage finds.

I’m happy.

FOOD: 4.5/5




1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90291

(310) 399-5811