Thursday, February 27, 2014

Polly's Pies

Two days ago we were at Carson Street close to Harbor General Hospital when we came across Polly's Pies.  There were 4 of us and though I was familiar with the restaurant, my 3 companions have not heard of it. I knew that their pies were supposed to be good though I have never tried any of them. I have tried their oatmeal raisin cookies and they are chewy and delicious.

We got there past 4:00 p.m. so this was a late lunch early dinner. Alma ordered a chicken dumpling soup and a Tuna Sandwich which was served with mashed potatoes with country gravy. Erik had the Avocado Burger & Friends. Some of the friends were: tomato, lettuce, alfalfa sprouts and mayonnaise. This is usually served on a bun but Erik requested toasted sour dough bread instead; this came with a small cup of creamed spinach. Raymond and I decided on something new they just added to the menu; Jambalaya Pie. Everyone seemed to like what they ordered. The Jambalaya took the "pie."  Spicy meat and vegetables cooked with a variety of smoked sausages, chicken, ham, celery, red & green bell peppers, onions cooked with Cajun style spices all simmered in a Creole sauce wrapped in Polly's flaky pie crust. The pie was served with Louisiana rice. I don't know if we were all just too hungry in which case most anything is delicious but hunger aside, it really was very good. It was spicy but not too spicy. I would go back and get that again.

We were all full but we thought it would be a crime not to try the pies and since we were all law abiding citizens, we voted on ordering 2 kinds of pies and sharing them. We ordered a slice of Peach Pie and a piece of the Apple Crisp with ice cream on the side. The waiter asked if we wanted them heated and while I said no, the 2 said yes.....who ever invented the rule: majority rules?! For some strange reason, I don't like my pies warm. Another sacrifice on my part...getting ready for lent. The pies arrived and as we were all excited, we just dug in.  In my excitement, I completely forgot to take pictures of the pies. Not to worry, I will buy a whole pie so you will be able to get the picture.
Till then, you will just have to take my word for it; it's honest to goodness pie.....envision your grandmother baking .....envision Polly.

Polly's Pies have multiple locations. We went to the one at 819 W. Carson St. in Torrance, California.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Creme de la Crepe

Creme de la Crepe has several locations in the beach area; Redondo, Hermosa, Manhattan, Redondo and Culver City. I used to love this place until I took my aunt for her birthday one year (many years ago) and I told her to order something I used to like and it turned out to be "not good".
I can't even remember what it was. That was years ago so I thought I would give it another chance.

A friend and I were in Redondo Beach 2 days ago we ended up across Creme de la Crepe. It was late so there weren't too many people; we got good seats. We decided to split a savory crepe: Saint Pierre which was a sweet batter crepe with crab meat, shrimp, tomato, bell pepper and jack cheese. My friend was is the mood for some pasta. I had my reservations as I would normally not order and Italian dish in a French restaurant but I do like pasta so she ordered the Pasta Bolognaise (Bolognese).

Our waitress brought us the nice french bread the same time she brought the crepe and the pasta. Oh, how I hate it when that happens. Bread should be served shortly after the customer puts in their order. The St. Pierre was good but nothing to write home about. The salad that came with it was tasteless. It seemed like it was the last 2 drops from a bottle. The pasta was terrible. I asked my friend what she thought and before I could say what I thought .......she finished my sentence which was " It tasted like it came from a can".  It was so bad that we both had just 2-3 bites. In fact I was surprised that the waitress didn't wonder why we left most of it and when she asked if we wanted it boxed, we both said: "No, thank you". Note: My pasta picture turned out really blurry, it must have been a sign.

Creme de la Crepe may have been THE place to go many years ago when not too many restaurants made crepes.  I don't think I will be returning anytime soon as they are not the only creperie in town.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Yellow Fever

I read about this Asian bowl place about a month ago and forgot about it. Then, my friend Connie asked me if I've been there. I felt I owed it to Connie to find out soon. Soon was yesterday........
Sandi and I were scheduled for a walk in the park. It was almost 5 p.m. when she asked me if I still wanted to walk. I told her it was cold and windy out so maybe we should just walk to Yellow Fever which is about a 1/4 mile from her house; that way we won't feel to guilty eating.

We got there at shortly after 5 when it was empty. Cute decor, clean lines and asian bowls adorned the wall. There was just another couple eating. The young lady Michelle, explained everything to us since it was our first time. First, you have to pick a base: Rice, Noodles or Salad. Step two is the meat; pick filet mignon, grilled chicken breast, braised pork belly etc. and they are named either with a country or state. Then comes the additional toppings like garlic, shallot chips, ginger chips, baked kale or avocado, fried egg, ugly egg rolls though it didn't look ugly to me! There are also "Things to Share" like tiger wings, rice balls, the traditional french fries or the parmesan furikake.

I knew that I wanted to try the Seoul which was the grilled filet mignon with asian slaw, mushrooms, fried egg with gochu sauce(Japanese condiment). For my base, I picked the rice. They asked what additional topping I wanted so I asked their suggestion and this is when Andrew, another server came to the rescue and asked if I liked kale to which I said Yes, but only if it is fried. He suggested the baked kale for my topping and the fried egg. He was as enthusiastic as I would have been explaining the different flavors. How could I refuse. Sandi decided on the Shanghai which was the braised pork belly with sauteed onions, steamed bok choy, asian slaw, shiso leaves and kung pow sauce. She also settled on rice as her base.

We both thought we had to order their famous Parmesan Furikake. That had a ton of flavor plus it was served with their signature sauce that was wonderful with the fries.

I absolutely loved the Seoul. First of all, the kale, though not fried was baked to a crisp. When I mixed everything up, it almost seemed like an explosion in my mouth. Not the "terrorist" kind but more like fireworks. The gochujang sauce on the rice was spicy (not unbearable) and was perfect with the rest of the ingredients. Then you had the different textures, crunchiness of the kale, the tender filet, the soft mushrooms and the crisp asian slaw.

Sandi's Shanghai was also delicious but her sauce was on the sweet side. She tried mine and decided that mine was more exciting.  So for people that can't handle a little heat and prefer something sweeter, Shanghai is the way to go.

For the vegetarians, they have the Californian: baked organic tofu sausage as the meat and they even have the Kona: spam& egg asian slaw, kimchi, furikake, green onions and tamarind katsu sauce. I may want to try this another time but I will have to get the Seoul out of my system first as I am already craving it.

For our beverage we picked the homemade Lychee Lemonade. One word of advise: Order it!

Kelly, the chef and owner came by and sat with us and explained our food in detail. She was very nice and down to earth. In fact the staff is so well picked that they all were efficient, professional and friendly.

By the time we left to walk back home, the restaurant was no longer empty and by the time I drove by there, the parking lot was full.  Yellow Fever is open everyday except Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.  They are located at 24416 Crenshaw Blvd. in Torrance, California. They are on the east side of Crenshaw across from Crossroads Shopping Center.

I was so excited about this place that when I stopped by Ralph's market on the way home, I told the manager about my new discovery. So Connie, you have my approval; hurry down there but go before the crowd. To Kelly: It was nice meeting you and we will see you very soon!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Standing Room; Still Standing

Haven't been to this place in a long time and since I have studied their menu in the past, I have always wanted to try their burgers, particularly The Napoleon. My favorite has always been the soft shell crab which is delicious.
See prior blog:

Sandi and I agreed to try it so I called in the order for 1 Napoleon and 1 Oscar which is the Soft Shell Crab. We got there and we immediately drove back to her house to split both sandwiches. Though they now have a few chairs at the parking lot, we didn't feel like eating our early dinner there as it was chilly.

I unwrapped the Napoleon and was shocked to see how humongous it was. Let me tell you what was inside this sandwich. It had 1/2 lb. of pattie, bacon, smoked gouda, cheddar, caramelized onions, spring mix topped with......are you ready?......braised short rib, fried egg (cooked well done), and some truffle parmesan fries....yes, fries inside the sandwich! We ordered an order of the truffle fries as we didn't know the sandwich came with it.  We cut it in 1/2 , it was not easy handling it let alone opening my mouth wide enough to bite into it. Make no mistake, I was game enough and was successful in eating the rest of it without a fork or knife. I manged to convince Sandi to do the same. It was very good but very filling!

We also had to eat the 1/2 of the Oscar. The Soft Shell Crab was very crispy.  The Thai crab mayonnaise gave it a little spunk, the avocado added some creaminess to it and was topped  with the bubu arare (balls).  I enjoyed this as I previously have; sadly, Sandi could not finish her portion. Remember we had an extra order of truffle parmesan fries.

Food is very good at this place though you have to be prepared to eat in your car or the parking lot because by the time you get home, the food is just not hot anymore. The good news is they will be opening a full service restaurant in Hermosa Beach next month, in March 2014. I can't wait for that.  If the opening is delayed for some reason and you can't wait to try the many exciting sandwiches, you may visit The Standing Room at 144 N. Catalina Ave. in Redondo Beach, California.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

J Sweets Heavenly Mochi

Most of you have heard of Mochi ice cream as they sell these at supermarkets and Trader Joe's in the frozen section.

May I introduce you to the Mochi of Mochis. You can't miss this store inside Mitsuwa Market in Torrance. The mochi store is called J Sweets and the company that makes the mochi is Tokyo Ginza Rokumeikan. They have a variety of fruit flavored mochi balls and miniature mochi donuts.

I have been there three times to try as much as I can. First of all I have to tell you these heavenly mochi are not cheap. The price ranges from $1.80 to $2.30 each. So far I have tried 10 flavors. The consistency is nothing I have ever had before except for the ones my friend Lorly used to bring me straight from Japan which had the fresh strawberry inside, I believe they were called Ichigo Daifuku. These mochi are sold frozen since they come directly from Japan. They tell you it is ready to be enjoyed in 10-15 minutes. They also say it has to be consumed within 24-48 hours. If you freeze them as soon as you get home (in a Ziploc) they are fine and can still be enjoyed days later. I can't really say weeks after as I haven't had the opportunity to try that.

All mochi are soft and fluffy as cotton balls and inside, most of them have flavored white bean (I didn't know this), whipped cream and the fruit flavor. Some of them do not have the white bean flavor. On your first bite, you will understand what I mean...if you happen to pick the flavor you like, it is truly like you died a happy death and zoomed up to heaven!

I will start with my favorite ones. Caramel Macchiato is the best; it's like drinking a chocolate coffee truffle, rich and light at the same time. There is something very sensual when eating the mochi; picture Nigela Lawson taking a bite. The next one is the Cafe Au Lait which is also like drinking your morning cafe au lait but creamier than that.

I really enjoyed the Orange Cheese which taste like an orange popsicle, reminded my of my childhood when we used to get them as treats. The Double Mango was also very good but I preferred the Orange. The Peach Yogurt was delicious; think peach pie but silky and very peachy.
The Rum Raisin Cream didn't have enough rum extract but had actual raisins in them. The Honey Cranberry Cream had the right amount of tartness with the whipped cream.

I was not fond of the Caramel Pudding. It was too eggy and rich for my taste. The Apple Pie was interesting. It was like eating a dutch apple pie inside a mochi with the crunchy sugar/cinnamon topping. The White Chocolate was terrible.  It was too sweet. I gave my son and a friend who loves white chocolate one to try and they both didn't like it.

There are still many flavors I have not tried but will slowly and surely try them. I am out of my favorites so I will have to make another trip one of these days.

J Sweets is inside the Mitsuwa Market at 21515 Western Ave. Suite 100 in Torrance, California.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Another Japanese place in the Mitsuwa Market Gosquared2 looked interesting only because they had Ramen Burger in their menu. I pride myself in saying that I was able to try the original from the one and only Chef Keizo Shimamoto. The problem is he is not in the Torrance area. Sandi and I were skeptical though it looked bigger, we thought it might not be too bad.

First of all, the service was very slow. The cashier was the cook. He looked like he was not scheduled to work and was called in the last minute; he was an unhappy person. His helper did nothing but wrap the burgers in slow motion. He was cooking several ramen burgers for a family of 4. Two men were before us. When it came to our turn, he informed us that it would take 15 minutes. While we waited for the burgers, we ordered the Grilled Octopus Balls which looked good. My friend Sandi who hates using chopsticks quickly got the hang of it by just stabbing the ball! They didn't taste as good as it looked. I wasn't even sure there was octopus in there. It was bready; essentially fried bread with some good sauce.

The Ramen Burger was huge compared to the original one. It had an egg (cooked well done), lettuce, cheese and they dipped the cooked burger in a sauce before laying it on the ramen.  The first bite was o.k. but it was downhill from there. First of all, the ramen was too thick and tasteless.
The burger itself was fine only because of the sauce. After our 3rd bite, Sandi suggested we eat it without the other ramen patty. That didn't do much to improve the taste, so we tried it without the ramen. Believe it or not, we both left half on our plates.

If you haven't tried a Ramen Burger and are curious to see what it taste not even think of ordering it from this place. Your curiosity will kill you!

Keizo Shimamoto: Come out, come out wherever you are!  It's time to come back to Torrance.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Santouka Ramen

Santouka Ramen is located in the Mitsuwa Market at 21515 Western Ave. in Torrance.  The last time I was there was when Sandi and I fell in line to have a taste of the one and only original Ramen Burger. Our friend Ana once mentioned a good ramen place in the market. She didn't know the name because there is no English name; there's just Japanese characters. I had to call the market later to find out it's proper name.

It was a cold and rainy evening; my friend and I craved something hot. What better time to have ramen, so I called our expert ramenista, Ana and asked her what we should order.  I drove down there and looked for this place with no name and sure enough we found the one on the corner of the food court. We both had a medium bowl of Tokusen Toroniku Ramen which is their signature ramen with simmered pork cheek meat. You have a choice of the kind of ramen (soup part) to go with your noodles. We were to pick "salt".

We got our order and stared at it. We were given chopsticks and soup spoons. We were both determined to attack our food using just these 2 utensils. I have to tell you that ramen never really excited me but for some reason, I did get very excited. The flavor was unbelievable and the pork was so tender with a bit of fat but not "icky, yucky" fat.....this was deeeelicious "ohhh yes" fat. For those who are not familiar with pork cheek, apparently this is very rare since only 200-300g can be taken from each pig. The other ingredients were bamboo shoots, pickled plum, green onions etc. etc.

I can now say I am becoming a ramenista thanks to Mrs. Ana.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Omelette & Waffle Shop

Yesterday on our way to Crafted in San Pedro, we stopped for a late breakfast at 1:30 p.m.
The place is a small "diner" type establishment which apparently has been there for at least 17 years. There were chairs outside but not for dining; they were for waiting. Sandi has been there once long ago and she said there was always a long line to get in. We were lucky on this Saturday afternoon as it was too late for breakfast for most people.

The menu was overwhelming. There were close to 100 kinds of omelettes and unusual waffles, a variety of homemade potatoes or rice with your choice of items like cheese, bell peppers, spinach, green onion, mushrooms etc. etc. Of course they had hot cakes and french toast, salads, sandwiches and burgers.

We were too hungry but didn't really want to spent 1/2 hour reading everything. We decided we had to order an omelette and a waffle to share. We both agreed on a Bacon Cheese Waffle and Bacon Spinach Hollandaise Sauce Omelette. Our waffle came first. This was not a Belgian waffle so it was not large and light. It was thin but I must say was quite good. We both liked the right amount of bacon and cheese in it that when you chewed on it, it was a bit chewy and crunchy at the same time. As we were preparing the waffle, our omelette came. The Hollandaise sauce over it complemented the saltiness of the bacon. The omelette came with their homemade potatoes, a biscuit with gravy. They were good biscuits!

This is no gourmet restaurant. Nothing really stands out BUT it is comfort food with great value and a very friendly staff. Our server even split everything for us when we told her we were sharing everything.

Omelette & Waffle is at 1103 S. Gaffey St. in San Pedro California.  They are open everyday from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. except on Sundays when they open at 7:00 a.m.

The Art of Fine Dining

For the ones that have not seen this video........Enjoy

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Salted Caramel Coffee Balls

By now you must have heard of the Salted Caramel Balls which I have blogged about in the past. Today, it's brother was born.......Salted Caramel COFFEE Balls. I called L'Amande Bakery in Torrance this morning and they informed me that they would be out around 9:30 a.m. I got there shortly before 10:00 and there was a line. I hate lines but there are a few things I don't mind lining up for.... I was hoping my patience would be rewarded.

I only ordered 3 because I know that tomorrow, they will be making more and of course, the fresher the better. As soon as I got home, I decided to just eat half and share the other half with my husband and keep the other 2 for dessert tonight. I normally do not like cutting into a ball but I felt I had to. The coffee filling inside looked good and it was good to see that there was enough of it unlike your typical jelly donuts with just a squirt of jelly.

As soon as you bit into it, more filling oozed out which guaranteed a 1:1 ratio of every bite with the coffee filling. You could taste the coffee which was wonderful with the gooey salted caramel top and the chewy dough. If you like anything coffee, you are guaranteed to love these balls.

Like I said in the past, they make the best balls in town!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Palmeri Ristorante

We found this restaurant quite by accident. Four of us were looking for a nice place for lunch in the Brentwood area. We didn't have time to do our research so we thought we would just drive and see what looked interesting.  We spotted an Italian restaurant on the corner of San Vicente and Darlington in Brentwood. We arrived before noon.

This is (excuse the corniness) a darling place. Travertine floors, Murano glass fixtures and Italian servers to go with the ambiance. Our server Marco was just delightful. We didn't have a lot of time so we went straight to the pasta dishes. Alma ordered  an appetizer which she happily shared. It was Fresh Mushroom Salad with white asparagus and endive in a black pepper vinaigrette. I make something like it but this had more substance; delicious.  Three of us wanted wine but we really didn't want to order a bottle since both Raymond and I had to drive some distance, so we opted for half a bottle of a very nice Brunello.

I was about to order the Tagliatelle with Bolognese sauce till I heard the special for the day, which was Pappardelle with Osso Buco. I was happy to hear that Raymond was ordering my 2nd choice, the tagliatelle so I could always have a taste.  Marco came by to offer some grated parmesan. Before I could say anything, Alma told him how I like a lot of cheese. He sprinkled some on my dish and hers AND informed us that he would leave the container full of cheese on our table. I was very happy.
The pappardelle was wonderful and so was the bolognese. Both pastas were really aldente. This took me back to a small ristorante in Roma. My husband who is not fond of pasta ordered the Bistecchina with mushrooms (little beef steak) sandwich. I had a bite of his sandwich after I inhaled my pasta. It was also very good.

Thank God, Raymond did not finish his pasta only because he was already full. He previously announced that I would get his left over. After a couple of bites, I asked him: "Haven't you had enough.?" I wanted to be sure I would have enough for lunch the following day.

Since we all ate at great speed, there was time for dessert. Alma had the Panna Cotta and my husband and I both ordered the Tiramisu. The panna cotta was light as a feather, not sweet however the pretty little red things; strawberries were a bit sour.  The tiramisu was excellent! It was a huge portion and I just couldn't finish it.....I left 3 bites.

We are all eager to go back to this nice Italian restaurant and try the many other exciting things on their menu. When we got there before noon, the restaurant was empty, however by 12:30 it was quite full.

We enjoyed conversing with Marco. Thanks Marco for taking good care of us but if I may suggest:
I would prefer a black napkin next time as when I left the restaurant, my pants were full of white lint. Other than that, everything else was perfetto. Grazie...................See you soon.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Left Overs from Friends

My closest friends know I always welcome left overs and am always willing to try their experiments. Today my friend Amy came over to drop off some pulled pork that Lisa made and some healthy looking salad which was apparently Quinoa with all sorts of vegetables.

Earlier in the day, Sandi called me and asked if I wanted the rest of the Mayonnaise Chocolate Cake she made yesterday which I had and was just delicious. You can guess what my answer was... "I'll pick it up when you get home from work." She also gave me some left over polenta she made.

I got home and decided to fry the polenta. Sandi and I had a dish at a restaurant wherein they had the polenta fried and crispy as a base for short ribs.  I didn't go for presentation. I just got a chunk of the polenta and fried it in butter and as soon as it was a bit brown, I decided it was done. I then topped the polenta with the pulled pork and served it with the quinoa salad. Though the appearance was not too appealing, the taste was amazing and truly delicious.

It was a light dinner and appropriately followed by a light dessert. I told Sandi  yesterday that her cake was an A  but could be an A+ if she had an extra layer of the frosting in the middle of her cake.  She agreed, so today she gave me extra frosting to enjoy. We did enjoy this very light and moist cake.

So to Lisa, Amy and Sandi, I say:  Thanks for the left overs.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Blvd

This was my 2nd time in 2 months dining at The Blvd at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. This time we were a bigger group and because of that, they suggested a prix fixe menu.

The ambiance at this restaurant is very nice. It is nice for a group and intimate enough for a romantic dinner. It is also an interesting place to watch and observe people plus the food ain't too bad!

Our first course was a Persimmon & Pear Salad with prosciutto, gorgonzola with an aged balsamic reduction. This had a beautiful presentation and was good as it looked. For our entree, we had a choice of the Branzino with artichokes, lobster mushrooms, sugar snap peas and asparagus or the Filet Mignon with sauteed chanterelle mushrooms, bone marrow crust, fingerling potatoes, swiss chard and braised oxtail. Both entrees were very edible and couldn't really complain about anything. Our one vegetarian relative had some lentil entree which almost looked edible to me.

The third course, the dessert was an Apple Temptation: winter spiced gala apple with cinnamon and a calvados sorbet. A for presentation B for taste.

While we were waiting for our dessert, I had to pet Alma's Judith Leiber frog. Somehow, I thought that maybe by petting this beautiful creature, he would turn into a prince or perhaps Richard dice!