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Ricky’s Fish Tacos (Los Angeles, CA) – My First Real Fish Taco

April 3, 2010

Yesterday, I had Ricky’s Fish Tacos for the first time. The first thing that popped into my head after that first bite was:

“…If these are fish tacos, WHAT THE HELL HAVE I BEEN EATING THESE PAST 25 YEARS?!

Honestly, nothing compares – the best fish taco IN MY LIFE.

(See the guy behind the fryer? That’s Ricky.)

(See those things sitting on my plate? Those are Ricky’s fish tacos.)

The batter is super light, crispy, and not at all heavy or greasy. The fish is moist and flaky. The whole thing is topped with thinly sliced cabbage, pico de gallo, Ricky’s homemade crema sauce (made of mayo and skim milk) and salsa.

I can’t write anymore. It’s just so damn good. (Once you have your first bite, you’ll know what I’m talking about.)

Ricky’s Fish Tacos
Los Angeles, CA
Twitter: @rickysfishtacos

Starry Kitchen (Los Angeles, CA) – SK, Welcome to Bunker Hill

April 1, 2010

I went to Starry Kitchen three times this week.
On Day 1, I brought a coworker – he went back again the next day.
On Day 2, I brought a friend – she went back, not just the next day, but also the day after.

If that’s not enough to convince you Starry Kitchen serves good food, continue reading…

———-

Never been to Starry Kitchen before? That’s okay. Ordering is easy:
1. Choose your meat.
2. Choose the vessel.
3. There is no Step 3. You’re done.

One of the reasons I love Starry Kitchen so much (and why I’ve been able to eat there three times this week) is because there’s so much variety! Five protein options grace their chalkboard menu on any given day, with five vessels in which to eat them. You can get your protein sandwiched in a banh mi-like sandwich, wrapped in a tortilla, on a plate with rice or atop two different types of salads.

Each week, one of these protein options rotates off the menu; each week, a new protein option rotates onto the menu. It’s a novel concept and one I appreciate because it means that, five weeks from now, I’ll have a completely new menu to choose from. However, it also means that, once a protein rotates off the menu, you’ll have to wait a good month and a half until it comes back. (Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?)

This week’s “bye-bye” option (as they’ve dubbed it) were the Taiwanese Fried Pork Chops. Their “hi-hi” option (as I’ve now dubbed it) were the SK Spicy Crab Cakes. I ordered them both…Twice.

Day 1 – SK Spicy Crab Cake Banh Mi; Side of Jap Chae

I still can’t get over the fact that these crab cakes were made from imitation crab. Imitation crab typically evokes an imagine of string cheese made of fake seafood with that disgusting dyed pink outside. This was flaky and actually tasted real. It was perfect in the soft baguette.

As a side note, their jap chae (i.e. glass noodles) is RIDICULOUS. I know it’s just glass noodles and mushrooms cooked in soy sauce and sesame oil and topped with scallions, but there’s got to be more to this recipe than that. A secret ingredient of some sort…like crack. Yeah, crack. (God, it’s so addicting.)

Day 2 – Taiwanese Fried Pork Chop Wrap; Side of Jap Chae

Another perfect combination of meat and vessel. Especially when you add fresh jalapenos to the breaded pork and the tortilla. (Be warned: those jalapenos have a kick to them though!)

Day 3 – Taiwanese Fried Pork Chops on a Thai Cobb Salad

In order to mix it up, I got a salad for the day. The Thai cobb salad includes cucumber, avocado, tomato, egg, blue cheese and bacon in this light honey sesame dressing. It was a perfectly healthy salad…until I added fried pork to it. (Mmm…fried pork.)

———-

Enough about their food, I have to say the best thing about Starry Kitchen is that everyone who works there is genuinely nice. Nguyen, the guy you can’t miss working the front of the house, has an energetic personality, which is so welcome after a morning of Outlook emails and conference calls. His better half, Thi, who mans the kitchen, is quiet but when she smiles, she cares. (You can just see it in her eyes!)

There’s real heart behind this restaurant, and I’ve fallen in love with that. It just makes me want to introduce people to Starry Kitchen, to introduce them to Nguyen and Thi and show them what this little establishment has to offer. I’ve already introduced two…Can I introduce you too?

Starry Kitchen
350 S. Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 617-3474
Website: http://www.starrykitchen.com/
Twitter: @starrykitchen

Starry Kitchen (California Plaza) on Urbanspoon

Daikokuya (Los Angeles, CA) – A Party of One

March 25, 2010

Most people don’t like eating alone. I’m one of them.

As much as I try to avoid it, I find myself eating alone more often than I’d like to admit. Not only do I eat alone, 90% of the time I forget to bring a book and end up sitting around watching everyone around me chow down while I sit……at a table…doing nothing…by myself. (Yeaaaaah. Sounds lame, I know. I promise you – I have friends! And social skills!)

That said, there are a very small handful of places where I will willingly eat alone as the happiness I get from that meal exceeds any discomfort of being a party of one. Of that very small handful of places, there is only one restaurant that I will willingly wait an hour – BY MYSELF – for a meal that will only take half of that time to consume.

Daikokuya.

I’ve come to realize Daikokuya doesn’t care if you’re a party of one or four – you’re going to be seated based on where your name falls on THE LIST (i.e. their wait list, which is secured on a clipboard and sits on a lone chair smack in the middle of their front entrance). See that empty space by the counter, perfect for me, myself and I? Unless you’re next on the list, it’s going to stay empty until the couple next to it leaves, when it will be then used for a party of three instead.

For me, no matter how long I find myself waiting, Daikokuya is worth the wait. The dressing on their cabbage starter salad is simply addicting. Its rich, milky tonkotsu broth washes away the troubles of the day with each warm sip. The noodles are just to my liking – not too soft, cooked just enough so it doesn’t feel like they were tossed into the bowl as an afterthought.

I can go no matter if I’m having a good day or a bad one, whether I’m with friends or by myself – it always hits the spot.

(Read my original review on Yelp.)

Daikokuya
327 E 1st St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 626-1680
Website: http://www.daikoku-ten.com/
Twitter: @daikokuyaramen

Daikokuya on Urbanspoon

Umami Burger (Los Angeles, CA) – I Concede. Umami Wins.

February 21, 2010

I’ll admit – the first time I went to Umami, I played it off like it was nothing special because I didn’t want to give into the hype of the place.

“How’s Umami Burger?”
*shrug*
“It’s okay.”

But after today, I cannot deny that Umami Burger makes a damn good burger. Behold, the Spanish burger:

(*cue the angels and harps*)

It may not look like anything special but this juicy lamb patty smeared with saffron aioli and some kind of purple sauce, topped with roasted bell peppers and baby arugula and sandwiched between two fluffy white buns is an explosion of flavor.

The patty wasn’t dry at all, which is a feat considering it was made of lamb. There was some sweet and spicy action going on with the bell peppers and the peppery arugula. And finally, that purple sauce? I have no idea what it is but I’m thinking that’s Umami’s secret ingredient (because I can’t figure what else is making this burger so addicting!).

8 hours later and I’m still craving this baby. So good.

Umami Burger
4655 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 669-3922
Website: http://www.umamiburger.com/
Twitter: @umamiburger

Umami Burger on Urbanspoon

Petrossian (Los Angeles, CA) – Waking Up to Caviar and Truffles

February 15, 2010

After that first meal at Petrossian, I had to go back…So I did. Immediately.

A little over one week after my dineLA-cum-7 course tasting menu, I was already back in the restaurant, sitting by the same window, scanning the same menu and wondering what to order for my second time around.

The circumstances for this meal were different than the last: I was here for a light brunch with a friend and wanted to try the one or two dishes I missed the last time around. Overwhelmed by the menu, I had the opportunity of asking Ben for his opinion:

“What do you think about the caviar pizza?”
“It’s good!”
“I was thinking about the croque madame too.”
“That’d be great for brunch.”
“Well…what about the foie gras salad? Linden (The Gastronomnom) says it’s even better than your Napoleon tartare.”
“Oh, did he? You should get it then.”

Wow. That was helpful.

My dining companion was just as useless, but agreed to split whatever dishes I decided to order. So, after much inner debate, I finally settled on the foie gras salad and the caviar pizza, with an order of the truffle mac and cheese instead of the croque madame. (There’s no way I could turn down the mac and cheese!)

Once again, Ben surprised us with an order of the blinis to start. They were still as delicious as I remembered (a memory of which was still fresh in my mind at that point).

The foie salad was brought out next – a slice of a foie gras terrine placed atop a bed of haricot vert and walnuts.

(“You should get it”, he says. And so I did.)

The fresh green beans were a welcome start to my sunny Sunday morning, and I loved the crunch of the walnuts hidden in the pile. The rich foie terrine smeared over toast points was that day’s butter and toast.

After touting Petrossian’s mac and cheese throughout my conversation, it finally arrived – picture perfect as always. Again, each bite was heaven, with the bacon flavor a bit stronger this time around. Although I adore this dish, I’ve decided that it’s best enjoyed at dinner; it’s just too hearty for a morning brunch.

The caviar pizza, on the other hand, was the ideal dish for such an occasion.

The combination of ingredients is surprising. The menu may have described it as a pizza with creme fraiche, red onions, chives, capers and caviar, however, it fails to include the finely minced hard-boiled eggs (which are key, as I soon discovered). The eggs add smoothness, the onions add sweetness and, of course, the caviar and capers add that final punch of salt.

I ended my meal with the strawberry panna cotta and the pistachio creme brulee. I favored the panna cotta before, I favored it again.

Now that I’ve eaten all the favorites at Petrossian, you may think I’d be satisfied for a while. Not quite – my friend can attest that, during our converastion, I was frequently distracted by the dishes ordered by the patrons outside (you know, the more standard brunch fare like the hand sliced smoked salmon, the 321 salad or my foregone croque madame). I may have been enviously eying them then, but I’ll try them myself soon enough.

Petrossian Paris Boutique & Cafe
321 N Robertson Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90048
(310) 271-6300
Website: http://www.petrossian.com/
Twitter: @petrossianweho

Petrossian Boutique & Cafe on Urbanspoon