Saturday, April 27, 2013

Another Birthday Celebration at Hinoki and the Bird

I don't know where to start to tell you how incredible our experience was last night at Hinoki and the Bird Restaurant located at 10 Century Dr. in Los Angeles. This restaurant is situated on the ground floor of a high rise condominium next to the Century Plaza Hotel.

It was another birthday celebration and boy was it ever a feast!  They had small plates and regular entrees. We got carried away and ordered the following: Salt and Pepper Fried Calamari , ajwain tomato jam which was absolutely incredible; light and crispy bursting with wonderful flavors. We also ordered the Apple Marinated Short Ribs, Drunken Duck Breast, Grilled Winter Mushrooms with sea salt and lime, Fried Oysters with Black Garlic Aoili, Braised Lamb with tiny potato and cumin seeds, Hinoki Scented Black Cod with sweet potato and pistachio (Wow!) Braised Kurobata Pork Belly (didn't really care whose belly it was) with radish and mustard greens, Marinated tuna with lemongrass salad and a Beef Tartare with pickled jalapeno and parmigiano and a quail egg on top which was wonderful on the burnt toast which was perfect with the beef!

We were all stuffed but we all had to check out the dessert menu.  We decided to go for the Black Sesame Creme with black sesame praline, shiso and kalamansi and the EVVO (extra virgin olive oil) Parfait, olive oil sable, citrus with cinnamon meringue.
Both desserts were very different yet interesting (in a good way), refreshing and delicious.

This truly was a feast.  Our server Beverly was enthusiastic and very professional.  The manager, Nick Moore came by to check up on us and you could tell that he was very concerned with our experience; not just asking about everything for the sake of asking. I did see Chef David Meyers and asked our server if I could have a word with him to express our satisfaction.  He later came by and was very gracious (no arrogance at all like some chefs) and even introduced another one of his chefs, Liecel.

I can't wait to go back to Hinoki and the Bird with my foodie friends so as they can have the same experience. One note though, we sat outside and as it got later in the evening, they had an automatic roof that closed. They also had some heaters so it was quite cozy till all of a sudden there was a bird that flew over and it startled some people.  I am so grateful that bird (Hinoki's bird?) didn't do a a fly by over me or I would have made a scene as I am terrified of birds! So, I could definitely do without Hinoki's bird.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Birthday at Lawry's

I was not planning to blog about Lawry's again so I apologize as I just can't help it!
They were having a special for the month of April: $99 dinner for 2, your choice of prime rib or salmon with the spinning salad, Yorkshire pudding, a side (creamed corn of course) and a bottle of their very good Merlot or Cabernet. There were 4 of us so we had 2 bottles of wine. The special also included dessert.

I had to ask for my favorite server, Ms Duke. Her first name is Karen but I prefer to  call her Ms. Duke.  Our son is still in Florida on business so he missed out on the birthday dinner. My husband Otto took me, my brother Gary and my mom who is visiting from the Philippines to this restaurant last night. We planned on getting there before our reserved time so we could enjoy the meatballs and homemade potato chips in their parlor.  Shortly after our meatball consumption, we were called to our table. There she was, Ms. Duke who welcomed us like long lost friends.

We started with the spinning salad, then the prime rib with all the trimmings. I can never get tired of such a simple yet scrumptious meal.  All I can say is if you have never been to Lawry's and believe it or not, there are some people who have not (poor souls) do plan on it as it is an experience.

For dessert, Ms. Duke presented me with a birthday pre-dessert. A big plate with English trifle surrounded with chocolate covered strawberries with my name on each strawberry.  I was glad that my parents didn't name me Ann or that would have been 3 strawberries.

Then our dessert came since we needed more dessert..... Yorkshire pudding with their famous C.C. hot fudge sundae in the middle with nutella and nuts. The chef made this special dessert for the month of April.  I must say, he should have this available all the time as the flavor of the Yorkshire puddling, a bit salty went very well with the sweet hot fudge.

Lawry's Prime Rib is located at 100 North La Cienega Blvd. in Beverly Hills.  I thank Ms Duke and the Lawry's staff for making my birthday very special.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

H.O.M.E. 90210

HOME 90210 (House of Music and Entertainement) is a Jazz Supper Club and Restaurant located at 430 Camden Dr. in Beverly Hills.

My brother Gary, my mom and I went for brunch last Sunday to see a friend perform; Joyce Marie. FYI, Joyce Marie Quartet performs at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills.

We were impressed with the food. Most places with entertainment do not have decent food. They just rely on the alcohol, but not at Home, though they did have the  bottomless mimosa that just kept on coming. We started with appetizers. My brother had the Crab Mac N Cheese that had 4 cheeses, jumbo lump crab with truffle flavor and bread crumbs. That was delicious. My mom had the Baby Beets in Goat Cheese Salad. If you like beets, you would love this one; just perfect! I ordered the Thai Filet Skewers in Coconut Sticky Rice, Cilantro. That was the best. The sticky rice was cooked with coconut milk, no shreds of coconut which I hate. The filet was truly filet as it was tender with a lot of flavor.

For our entrees: I ordered the Crab Benedict and was only able to eat one as I was too full from my filet and several glasses of mimosas. My brother and mom both had the Seafood Linguine with scallops, fish, shrimps in a light wine cream sauce.  My brother thought it was too heavy; we didn't think so. The shrimps were plump and ever so tender.

We decided split a dessert. They had different flavors of Creme Brulee and the vote was unanimous. We had to try the Lychee Creme Brulee.  If you like lychees you will love this one.

I congratulate the chef, Shawn Davis for a job well done; I thank Chelsea our server for being so attentive to our needs. 

For my birthday, my friend Sandi invited me to a Murder Mystery Dinner which she scheduled in May and I just found out that it will be held at this venue. So check out their website for their menu and information on performers.

To the proprietor whom I met,  Mr. Dennis Robertson: I wish you continued success!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Marble Bread at L'Amande

This marble loaf is made with some chocolate.  It is not sweet so it still makes a good sandwich.  I have tried it with some butter and jam and have tried it with some ham and cheese. It is delicious and pretty as well.

Marble bread is one of many "surprise" loaves that comes out of L'Amande's Kitchen. Remember the Easter (rainbow) bread?

I predict another surprise will be coming up for Mother's Day! We'll just have to wait and see.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Deluxe Soft Boiled Egg

My friend Ana taught me how to make soft boiled eggs more enjoyable.

She suggested I put a slab of butter after I cut the the top shell off.  She further told me to dip my toast in it.  Dipping the toast was awkward so I devised an easier way of doing it.

The directions are as follows:

Add some salt to the buttered egg and scoop your first serving. Before chewing on the egg, have a bite of the toast with butter and your favorite jelly and then and only then can you chew everything at the same time. I guarantee your full enjoyment. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Check Out Plan Check

Odd name for a restaurant till I found out the name "Plan Check" stems from its location at 1800 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles; adjacent to the Building and Safety Department where you get your building permits.

The menu though not extensive has a nice variety from oysters, baked crab dip, burgers, fried chicken, short ribs, tuna and of course, fries, salads and even ice cream floats; not to mention interesting cocktails, beer and wine.

My son needed a ride to the valley at 4:30 p.m. from Century City.  Sandi and I didn't want to head back on the 405 Freeway at 6:00 p.m. so I called my brother Gary and asked him to suggest a place to eat close to the freeway. He suggested Plan Check; hence we ended up there.

I immediately zoomed on the burgers which looked Very interesting. The Blueprint Burger had smoked blue cheese, pig candy, which is bacon cooked in brown sugar, fried onions, roasted garlic steak sauce and peppercress. We ordered one of those and the Chefs Favorite Burger which was described with having cheese 2 ways, bacon 2 ways, ketchup leather (dehydrated ketchup) so as not to get the bun soggy; hot sauce and a sunny fried egg. We both had to see what made this the chef's favorite... so we split both burgers.

We started with the Chefs Favorite.  I gave Sandi the chore of cutting that in half. We were both unsure of the fried egg sharing quarters with our burger though we both like fried eggs.  We were in an adventurous mood. It seems easier to be adventurous when you're on a diet.  I had the first bite and ohhhhh myyyy God! It was the best burger...better that Umami or Father's Office.  Sandi didn't even know about the egg till she saw it and she had her doubts.  The doubt popped like a bubble as soon as she had her bite.

The Blueprint Burger was very good but only if you get tired of the the Chefs Favorite.
We also ordered a side of Sweet Potato Waffle Fries fried in beef tallow served with peach ketchup. That was good but way too much for both of us. We enjoyed the peach ketchup which was sweet.

We were so stuffed and guilty so we didn't even talk about desserts. This is a place I definitely recommend. They do not take reservations; we were lucky to walk right in at 6:30 p.m. The place is very noisy so this is not a romantic or business venue. It's high energy and just a place to get good food.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Panera Letdown

Went to Panera Bread in Torrnce on Crenshaw Blvd. last Thursday.  We had just come from the gym. My friends Amy and Nako go there once a week with another group.
Amy always has just a piece of toast with butter and some jelly. It's hard to screw that up. Nako ordered a blueberry muffin which he said was o.k.

I ordered a breakfast sandwich (I've never had any of them before). Rather than read from the menu, I just asked what kind they had and when I heard egg with bacon, I stopped her and ordered that.  I had pictured a croissant with either fried or scrambled egg with some bacon. While waiting for my sandwich, I headed over to the table with jugs of different types of coffee.  I have always gotten their "dark" coffee and though not the best, it was strong and good enough. This time, as I pushed on the top of the thermos, the coffee that poured out had a light color. Maybe it got switched with the "light"; mistakes I took some from the light and it was indeed light. Went back to the pseudo dark and as soon as I poured the half and half, it looked like an "albino" unlike the rich color it should have had. I didn't complain.

The sandwich came and it should have just went!  The picture below pretty much speaks for itself. A fried egg that had no yolk (rubbery) and the pieces of bacon just slapped on like someone was in a hurry to leave for their break. I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, right? It was totally dry. I did not finish it as I didn't want to waste my calories on something terrible.  I went back and ordered a carrot cake muffin.  The outer edges were so dry it was unbelievable.  The middle section was better as there was a cream filling inside.  Again, this was almost as bad as the sandwich. Didn't finish that either and for me not to finish something, you know it had to be bad.

I went back to the girl that helped me and just told her that I though the sandwich was not good.  I asked her if they have had other complaints and she said: "No, in fact a lady just ordered 8 of them."  She also said she would pass it on the manager.

On our way out, we spoke to 3 gentlemen that go there everyday. They mentioned that their coffee is usually hit and miss; something they didn't understand as usually these things are measured or at least we all thought that.

The only thing you can depend on being always delicious are the egg souffles; at least for now.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Crustacean in Beverly Hills

This high class Vietnamese restaurant has been around for ages. I have not been there in a long time.  I stumbled upon one of those deals I get in my email occasionally on a special for $29.00 for a 3 course lunch for 2.  Can't get better than that.

Sandi has never been there and was impressed with the decor. It's very classy and impressive especially as you take a walk on the see through floor with koi swimming underneath. She was hesitant in walking over it and I had to assure her it was o.k.(not to worry, mommy's right next to you).

The waiter came along and informed us we could choose 2 appetizers and 2 entrees plus we would get a bowl of their famous garlic noodles. We chose the Grilled Beef Satay which was marinated in lemongrass and Asian herbs. There were 4 in one serving. We had 2 each though we probably could have eaten more. They were not your usual satay, no peanuty flavor at all....and it was still delicious. The other appetizer was just as good if not better. Crispy Rice Paper Roll which were filled with chicken, black mushrooms, carrots, jicama, vermicelli and came with a dipping sauce.
They were so light and crispy without the greasiness which usually accompanies these type of egg rolls.

Four our entree: we shared the Hanger Steak served with Haricot Vert (fancy "French" name for string beans) and Angel Hair with Prawns.  These 2 entrees were less impressive. The steak was chewy, the beans were undercooked; no tenderness there.  It was also served with sesame seasoned rice.
The spaghetti was nothing special though the prawns were tasty and cooked to perfection.

The Garlic noodles were good but definitely overrated.

If we return to Crustacean, we would probably concentrate on the appetizers and perhaps try their other specialties like the crab and a few others.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Jim Beam Bourbon Burger at Carl's Jr.

Finally had the opportunity to try the Bourbon Burger at Carl's Jr. In order not to feel too guilty since my friend and I are on a semi-diet, we walked 1 1/2 hrs. from her house to a park 2 miles away, stopped at Carl's then walked back home.

She did the ordering as she had a coupon for buy one get one free. She ordered two of the single bourbon burgers. That was a good choice since we really didn't need the double as we were ordering regular and sweet potato fries. Then she showed me another coupon for $1.00 off a shake or malt.  It's amazing what we do for coupons or discounts. We had to order one of those too.

The burgers were quite good and not too shabby. I expected an "all bun" burger. The burger was reasonable, the bourbon sauce was a bit too sweet but we got used to it real fast. It had bacon, pepper jack cheese with just a little kick and crunchy garlic onion straws (chopped up onion rings) which added a nice texture to all the other ingredients like lettuce and tomato.

The regular fries tasted better than ever; maybe it was our long walk that made everything better? Sandi preferred the sweet potato fries (healthier)?

When I got home, I looked at their full menu and realized that they had a Six Dollar Bourbon Burger! The big difference is the quality of meat.  This is made with Angus beef as opposed to just regular char-broiled beef patty.  You know what this means.....I will have to try that Six Dollar Bourbon one of these days; perhaps we can add an extra mile to our walk.

This one's for you David.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Dinner at Sandi's

Sandi is a great cook and she just loves to cook. She usually cooks for her staff, her friends, and anyone that is willing to try her creations. She cooks when she is stressed, when she's happy or get the picture.

Last night she had me and my husband over for dinner.  She also invited 2 other friends which ended up cancelling; oh well, more for us to eat. The problem is she cooked all day and had enough food for eight. Her hors d' oeuvres were so exciting and good that I suggested we finish them and come back the following night for dinner. 
She had 2 kinds of salami with mozzarella cheese in them. There was goat cheese that she baked with a marinara sauce, there was a garlic cheese spread, assorted nuts and some of her favorite and mine, Vermont cheddar cheese served with crackers. She also had little sandwiches (rye bread) stuffed with ham, cheese and Jalapeno jelly. Can you understand why I suggested dinner be postponed?

We started our dinner with a Beet, Pear and Goat Cheese Salad. The dressing she made didn't turn out the way she wanted so she served it with a blue cheese dressing. That worked well.  The juicy pears, the sweet beets and salty goat cheese was such a nice combination.

For our entree, she mad Black Peppered Pork Tenderloin with Raspberry Sauce. That was absolutely delicious.   She served this with mashed potatoes, equally as good and she roasted some Brussels sprouts and asparagus.  My husband could not finish his portion as he was too full.  I on the other hand tried my very best to clean my plate and was successful.

Dessert came and we didn't have to make choices as she made 2 kinds which of course we had to try.  My favorite key lime pie with just the right amount of tartness served with whipped cream was one of them. The other was called "brown paper bag apple pie" ; this is because the apple pie is baked in a brown paper bag.  I have never heard of that before...with my luck I would probably set the kitchen on fire.  The top was all nice and crunchy with the mixture of flour, sugar and lots and lots of butter.

When we got home I tried to watch some television, go on the computer and tried to amuse myself as there was no way I could go to sleep on such a full stomach. Needless to say, when I weighed myself this morning, the couple of pounds I lost came back with another friend (an extra pound).  This is the end result of dinner at Sandi's.