Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Nick and Stef's Steakhouse + + + + $$$

Who? Andrew, Michellios
Where? 4th and Hope, Wells Fargo Center

There seem to be many nice restaurants nestled in the tall buildings in downtown L.A. and this is no exception. A very modern, upbeat, dimly lit, high-ceilinged, yet simply decorated dining environment. We went as part of DineLA and ordered off the $34 menu. Service was a bit slow but friendly. The beet salad was sweet and delicious. The bread was ordinary. Rub on the sirloin steak was to my taste and a good cut of meat, but it came medium-well rather than medium-rare. Accompanying spinach leaves are very good, and the pureed potatoes are rich and creamy (OK), and the grilled glazed asparagus was fresh (Michelle said too sweet). Rotisserie chicken is crazy sized (full half chicken). The meat is very moist and rub was also to my liking (although Michelle said it was too salty). Bread pudding dessert is nice, not too sweet, and the gelato is nice way to finish with its mystery crispy flakes inside. Parking is free, validated with complimentary valet. Thumbs up!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Napa Valley Grill + + + + 1/2 $$$

Who? Michellios+Wendy, Andrew
Where? Westwood Village, Glendon and Kinross

A beautiful restaurant in the middle of Westwood Village - great ambiance and decor, modern and upscale. A fantastic place to try as part of DineLA restaurant week. Foccacia bread is served with eggplant - unique and quite delicious. Best versions of dishes I've ever tasted: Sea Scallops on Hummus and Orange Blood Pudding. How good was it? Michelle said she'd never liked scallops at all, but the appetizer made her change her mind. Excellent: Rack of Lamb (very tender and juicy) served with the freshest peas-in-pod I ever tasted. The swordfish is also very good, I particularly like the braised vegetables that came with it - light and refreshing. Wine flights look cool. Pinot Noir 2005 Jekel is decent - bouquet>flavour. Parking next door $7.00. Server Jason was very good - order came out wrong but he fixed it promptly and without incident. Kitchen was slow in preparing entrees (long wait). Overall thumbs high up.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rosti + + + $

Who? Michellios and Andrew
Where? Montana and 8th, Santa Monica

Nice little dine-in/take-out restaurant with high ceilings and tiled floors - plain and simple. Burger Panini on sourdough bread is quite good but accompanying potato wedges are a bit dry. Wide assortment of teas available. Parking is by luck (perhaps one finds a meter).

Friday, January 11, 2008

Takami * * * * $$$

Who? Themos, Dora, Gina, Stavros
Where? Downtown
How much? $52

This newly opened place is very unique. It is located in the 21st floor in a downtown skyscraper, with indoor as well as outdoor seating, hence the views are beautiful. It offers a one-of-a-kind choice from 3 different cuisines, namely sushi, fusion and robatas (the meat stuff), so it's like dining in three restaurants simultaneously! The food is very good, service is great and friendly, yet the prices are a little on the high side since the portions are relatively small. Therefore go for the taste, not to satisfy your hunger. All this in combination with an excessive wine list and a lounge next door makes this the perfect date place. Parking is valet only, $7.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pizzeria Mozza * * * $$$$

Who? Themos, Dora, Gina
Where? Hollywood
How much? $45
Zagat: 26, $37

Let me start with the best: the Butterscotch budino dessert is one of the top picks in town - truly something to die for. Also, the wine collection is extensive, ranging from bottles to glasses, without being too pricey. Other than that, the place has a great vibe with high ceilings, semi-loud music, and very loud chatter. Their pizzas are kind of original and simple, woodfire-baked and without much cheese - just throw a couple of ingredients on top and there you have it. However this is not my favorite style of pizza as I prefer the ones that all the ingredients is blended together under lots of cheese. Therefore, for that price range, I cannot recommend more than 3 stars. I think the 26 in zagat rating for food is overrated. Parking valet is $8.50 (ouch).

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Fogo de Chao * * * * */ + + + + + $$$$$

Who? Themos, Stavros
Who? Themos, Andrew, Dora, Demitris
Where? Restaurant Row, Beverly Hills
How much? $70
Zagat: 23, $63

Themo's Take: This all you can eat Brazilian steakhouse is kind of like the iPhone: expensive, polished, must-have, and once you try it you never look back again. There is a choice of 15 types of meats, which includes some gems like bacon-wrapped filet mignon and parmesan pork. Once you sit down and turn the green light on, the servers keep firing at will bringing all kinds of meats at a very fast pace. The service is flawless with several people coming by every once a while to make sure that you get the type of meat you like best. You can even ask for a specific cooking level - if the meat is too raw, they just bring another one that is medium cooked. The salad bar is crazy, yet the meat quality is out of this world - probably the best meats I have tried anywhere in the US, since no two are alike and every type has its own distinct flavor. The design is also great with high ceilings and a huge wall of wine bottles as their main entrance. Valet parking is $5 or look around for street parking. Please come with an empty stomach to get your money's worth.

Andrew's Take: Agreed. Although this is definitely not a date spot, it is a place to commit unadulterated sinful gluttony. Every cut of meat is fantastic and cooked the way you want it - from red rare to well done. I was partial to the lamb chops and any undercooked top sirlion or ribeye. The cheese-stuffed bread balls were also amazing. The salad bar is very fresh and varied, providing lightness and sweetness to offset the mountains of meat. Fried yucca and plantains also join the fray. Coupled with a bottle of wine, one will leave Fogo satisfied and ready to sit in coma for a few hours on the couch. The molten chocolate cake is a great (yet heavy) way to top off the meal. Alternatively, the papaya cream dessert, and it's digesting enzymes, is the simple and refreshing choice to finish. Loud, busy atmosphere - go once for the experience. Thumbs up.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Corner Bakery Cafe + + + + $

Where? Lake and Del Mar
Who? Andrew, Dora, Themo

Great place to eat on a cold and dreary day. The soup definitely warms you right up. Loaded potato soup is excellent, the cheese and broccoli mix is also OK. Panini's are very good - I had the Club, which was dripping with buttered goodness. Creamy hazelnut coffee blend is wonderful. Restaurant can get crowded and has a great cafe feel. Park in the structure behind the restaurant. Thumbs up.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Sizzler * */ + + + $

Who? Howie, Jiesi, Andrew
Where? Wilshire and Western

Themos' Take: This is a chain of american-style restaurants. The hearty meals cost $10-$15 so you can get some (not awesome yet decent) steaks and seafood for that price. Great choice when there is nothing else around.

Andrew's Take: Agreed. It's decent food for relatively cheap. The bacon wrapped filets were tasty and the baked potato was mashedly soft. Medium-rare actually came medium rare. The service speed is very fast since you order first, sit down, and the food is then brought to you. Thumbs up.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Taylor's Steakhouse + + / * * * $ $

Who? Michellios, Andrew, Sean and Amy
Where? 8th and Ardmore, K-town

Andrew's take: In a perfect world, this place would be a cheaper alternative to Ruth Chris or Lawry's. First impressions are great - a very classy dining atmosphere with great big booths and dim romantic lighting. The bread is passable. Lobster bisque arrived hot and creamy and in my opinion was the best tasting part of the meal. I got the bone in rib-eye, which IMHO was cut too thick. Maybe I'm not a connoisseur of meat cutting but the thickness of the meat certainly made it difficult to cook medium-rare. The outside arrived well done whilst the center was almost medium-rare. Mashed potatoes were plain and non-too-eyebrow-raising. Recommended Cab was too dry, bland and had no body. Thumbs sideways.

Themos's take: I was a little disappointed by this place. The steaks are good but not great, the service is ok, and there isn't much attention to detail (like the frozen butter than you can't spread in the bread until it gets warmer). My porterhouse lacked the filet part of the steak, and both our steaks where somewhat undercooked (lots of dark red regions although I asked for medium). The place is a good deal for the price, as in "proper" steakhouses you get to pay $50-$70 per person (hence the rating), however there is nothing exceptional here.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Beard Papa's * * * * $$

Best sweets I've tried in the US, hands down. The creme puffs are worth killing for - I had 5 of them at 220 calories and 30% cholesterol a piece. A japanese friend suggested it to us because they originated in Osaka and only recently (1999-on) they started rolling out stores in the US. A test will convince you.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Father's Office * * / + + $

Who? mostly CASA people
Where? Montana and 11th, Santa Monica

Andrew's Take: Very cozy bar with a nice atmosphere. Sometimes difficult to get in due to now limited capacity. Many exotic beers on tap. Sweet potato fries and julienne fries are excellent and are served in a mini shopping cart. Thumbs up - I will return to try the rumoured tasty burgers.
edit: (Jan '08) Downgraded due to it's non-restaurantyness and lack of seating. Only recommended for drinking and snacking.

Themo's Take:
I don't think I recommend this place for a restaurant. Granted, the beers are plenty and the burger is delicious (definitely one of the main competitors in town) but it's more like a bar rather than a restaurant. Hence, the low restaurant rating. But it's a great place to hang out and have a loud conversation from a few friends that visit the town, despite the fact that it's not very centrally located.

Monday, August 20, 2007

M-Grill * * / + + + + $ $

Who? Michellios, Andrew, Jiesi
Where? Western and Wilshire

Andrew's Take: Delicious Brazilian BBQ meats keep coming to your table until you surrender and flip your table indicator. Juicy Sausages, Garlic Chicken, Tangy Lemony Rib goodness, Tri-Tip, Sirlion Caps, and much more, are carved and served off long metal skewers. The cheesy bread balls are delicious. Salad bar also contains wonderful creations such as Fried Yucca, Fried Banana, and my two favourite vegetables, Heart of Palm and and Asparagus. My only complaint is that some of meats were a bit dried out and too crispy on the outside. Lunch $17, park in the free lot.

Themo's Take: I think that if I haven't been to Fogo de Chao recently I would have liked this place much more. But for paying $45 for dinner, this place is too expensive for me to recommend it. The meats are above average but pretty small in quantity and not top notch. The service is average and the ambiance kind of too dark for my taste. The salad bar also looks dull (always compared to Fogo). I'd definitely recommend going to Fogo and then eat a meal at home, rather than visit this place twice.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Bossa Nova * * * * * / + + + + + $

Who? Dora, Themo, Andrew
Where? Sunset and La Brea
How much? $20

Andrew's Take: Very tasty salads with walnuts and grilled chicken breast. Be entertained by the chefs cooking and tossing pizzas. Busy place and parking is difficult to find. Open very late (4am)! I like the Brazillian soda, Guarana.

Update: Upgrade to 5+'s for cheap, delicious Picayne steak. +1 for beautiful people watching, +1 for portion sizes, +1 for attentive staff. Thumbs up.

Themo's Take: The place is cheap, open till late, and pretty nice quality foods. The steak I tried was very good for LA standards and it costs only $15. Too bad it's not close to anything else, like most decent places in this city!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Pho 79 + + + $

Who? Andrew, Howie
Where? Garfield and Main

A full service Vietnamese restaurant and not just Pho! Vermecelli with pork skin just as I remember it.

Monsieur Marcel + + + + $

Who? Andrew, Satsuki
Where? Farmer's Market @ The Grove

This is a fun little wine and cheese bar where you can kick back, enjoy good conversation, and people watch all at the same time. The wine selections by the bottle are vast, but unchartable for my feeble brain, and probably too much for two if one is driving. The selection by the glass is good and compliments the nice array of cheeses offered. I had a sweet Riesling dessert-type wine which worked well with the Gruyère Comté and the Brie. These great cheeses are served up on a wooden board with crackers, figs, walnuts, olives, sliced apples and pears. In short, I almost felt like a cultured snob, but not quite. This "snack" plate was very filling and it took quite some time before I was hungry for dinner.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ulysses Voyage * * * */ + + + + $$

Who? Themos, Alexandra
Where? The Grove
How much? $30
Zagat: * * *, $26

Anything that's located at the Grove gets an extra star just because of location. On top of that, Ulysses Voyage has great greek food - not the half-mexican half-persian mimics that fly around. We paid $30 each because we got on top of our entrees a salad, an appetizer, and an extra entree for sharing. I've never seen a girl eating so much actually (she also said that her stomach for the first time was popping out of her belly:-)

Who? Andrew, Satsuki
How much? $45 total

Split 3 appetizers with 2 glasses of wine - very satisfying. Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) are excellent. Meatballs aren't the same homestyle that Dora makes but are delicious with their thin crispy shell and smothered in onions. Eggplant dip is likewise tasty. I am a fan of simple, fresh, light, clean cuisine. Agree with the extra star for the Grove. Great atmosphere - cozy, tavern-like, +energetic staff. Thumbs up.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Carousel * * * * $$

Who? Themos, Frankie
Where? Hollywood
How much? $31
Zagat: 23, $24

This is the real deal on middle-eastern cuisine. It doesn't look much from the outside, and it doesn't have a great atmosphere, but the food here is top notch. The "Carousel" plate lets you choose from 3 of their kebabs - I got beef, chicken and pork, and it was really some of the best meat I have tried in LA so far. They offer a number of salad dips and pita breads along with the main dishes so there is no need for extras. Think of it as an more upscale version of Sunnin.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Arnie Morton's Steakhouse * * * * * $$$$$

Who? Themos, Dora
Where? Downtown
How much? $88
Zagat: 26, $59

This is the real deal. Instead of going to an opera, theater or another show, you can choose Morton's for an full experience and not just a place to fill your appetite. The food is superb and the freshness of every single item is unparalleled. The steaks and the side portions are huge and enough to fill any stomach. The introductory bread is huge and fresh-baked. We got a perfect tomato salad with a blue cheese toping straight from paradise. The meat was cooked just right while maintaining all the juices: tasty surface, meaty core. They offer only on fridays and saturdays prime rib of top-notch quality. They also have a signature rib-eye steak chicago style, aka with a bone that gives it an extra boost in taste. They have a range of souffles that are baked fresh and it takes about 30 minutes to do so, so you have to order them in advance along with the entrees if you want to have them after the main meal. The chocolate one was perfection with a mousse, foamy-like filling along with fresh whip cream. Maybe the best dessert I had in LA.

But the service is also to die for. When you order, the server brings a rolling table with two floors, where all the items they serve lie uncooked. So you can see the size and shape of the different meat cuts and decide for yourself which one looks better. Of course, the presentation also includes some of the seafood dishes, and that includes a (live!) lobster with its clamps tied together for security. The lobster is alive and it moves around while the server explains the details!

Mel's Drive In (Diner) * * * * / + + + $

Who? Howie, Fesh, Irka, Andrew
Where? Hollywood and Highland

Very cool diner atmosphere, best I've seen. Service was slow - we sat at our table for a full 15 minutes before someone took our order. Strawberry youghurt shake was sweet, thick and tasty. Mushroom burger was decent but did not really stand out. Air conditioner blows cold in some places. I will have to return to try more of the diner fare. Parking is valet (leave $3).

Who? Themos. Dimitri
Where? Hollywood
How much? $15
Zagat: 15, $16

I am very excited for this place! Very cheap, no lines to wait, fast service, and one of the most juicy burgers I have tried in LA. It is very close to Hollywood and Highland which makes it convenient for a quick bite before or after another main attraction. The cheese fries were also amazing (or I was really hungry).

Todai + $ $

Where? The Beverley Center
Who? Kung Fu people

I wanted to like this place. But I'm sorry to report that I have to agree with the CASA folk on this one. The sushi is mediocre at best. Sashimi is non-existent except for the discards of making the mediocre sushi. Short ribs are mainly ribs and fat and are too salty and messy. Everything else is just barely OK. However, there are two things I do like about this place: 1) the hordes of shelled creatures - I could pick at them for hours, and 2) the crepe bar. However, the crab legs and pastry goodness were not sufficient to justify the $35 you'll end up paying. Perhaps if it was $15. Thumbs down.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

CeFiore + + + $ $

Where? Little Tokyo Plaza
Who? Sushu, Michellios, Andrew, Howie

Expensive frozen yoghurt seems to be the craze nowadays. I have to say that I do enjoy eating the sweet, delectable, creamy goodness here, but I absolutely refuse to pay $5 for something worth $0.50. The fact that CeFiore is associated with Todai explains a lot. My new business plan is to create a homemade yoghurt stand that will undercut CeFiore and Pinkberry by 50%. Oh right, wait, this is a food review blog. The place is very pretty - absolutely new, clean, bright, lots of glass and even has tv menus... and Vivien and Krystal work there too! Park in the plaza - where I just found out that they validate! Pay $5 up front and actually get it back when you leave.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Musso Frank * * $$$$

Who? Themos, Ilias, Dimitri
Where? Hollywood
How much? $45
Zagat: 18, $39

Hollywood boasts an large number of excellent restaurants, and Musso Frank is the oldest one of them (est. 1919). The decor is great as it is old and it comes from another age. The people there are also pretty old for some reason. They have been awarded the best Martinis in LA for a number of years now, but we didn't have a chance to try them. We all gave a try at steaks and although they were pretty good, they are not worth the price tag, plus they were severely undercooked: even the "well done" porterhouse was bloody red inside. I would suggest trying the non-steak dishes if you visit them, they must be better treated!

Baran * * * $$

Who? Themos, Dora, Χing-Pin, Nikos
Where? Westwood
How much? $14
Zagat: -

While this is not the best persian we've ever tried, it is in great location, accepts walks ins, has large authentic portions and it is quite cheap. The best items were the chicken polo and the shish kebab. Many variations of traditional dishes are offered. Shaherzad though I think is still the best in town!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Beer 2 O + + $

Where? San Gabriel
Who? Yariv Research Group and Andrew

Strange little place where you drink beer and chow down on Taiwanese-type Chinese food. Dingy environment but fairly authentic. I don't remember where it is... Las Tunas?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Al Gelato + + + + $

Who? Fesh, Andrew
Where? Robertson and Gregory

Thick dense tasty gelato that's almost too good to finish. Best split a couple of scoops with plenty of water. Dining in is sparse, small and uncomfortable. But thumbs up for the gelato!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Pita Pit + + $

Who? Andrew and Enid
Where? Hermosa Pier

Reminds me of college days when we'd get drunk and eat pitas. There's nothing fantastically special about the pitas - they're healthy, and the tzatziki is nice... but really it's just dense bricks of nutrition. Walk on the beach to work it off.

Tiger Lily + + + + $ $

Who? 61 CASA people
Where? Vermont and Prospect (1 block N of Hollywood)

Catered event worked smoothly. Attractive bartending. Classic dining environment, a quiet setting for a romantic meal. Compliments were given all around on the fish. Steak was done well and to the correct degree. Dish presentation was very good. Dessert "tray/dish" creamy delight. Thumbs up.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mu Dang Sang + + + + + $ $

Who? Kingson, Steve, Themos, Andrew, and later Andrew+Satsuki with a Marco/Evan sighting
Where? Western and Conneticut (one block south of Wilshire)

Hallelujah! No more 1.5 hr waits in line at Manna! (see Manna post - although there is still a wait on weekend nights). This establishment (purported to be run by the same owners as Manna?) is a replica of that super busy restaurant. But the place is completely indoors, cleaner, with better facilities (newer non-stick cooking apparatus, better vent hoods) with all the same trimmings. A huge bowl of salad, kimchi, beansprouts, that wheat-gluten-thingy, potato salad... all come immediately as appetizing morsels before the gorging begins. The most important part? Those little white wrappers. I don't know why I like them, but I do. My favourite meat is still the short rib. Some advice for people that have been starving themselves all day for this: start by grilling the thin sliced beef (ready in minutes), then cook the heftier meats like the chicken. Valet is OK - I have no idea where they put the car. Else park on the nearby residentials. Thumbs up!

Lala's Grill + + + $ $

Who? Kingson and Andrew
Where? Melrose and Altavista

Very hip atmosphere, dim romantic lighting on patio, high energy, cozy. I had to slug through the Milanesa Napolitana with its melted cheese topping. Good, but nothing to write home about. We stole the wine home.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Phoenix + + (+) $

Who? Andrew and Enid
Where? Valley and Garfield

Very typical Chinese restaurant food and feel. Soup noodles were decent with my favourite beef tripe - fairly standard yellower noodles. Service was quite slow on the draw and inattentive. The mochi balls from the adjoining establishment (bearing the same name) are worth the trip (hence the extra (+)).

House of Pies + + + + $

Where? Vermont and Franklin
Who? Andrew, Enid and Steph

The title says it all: tasty pies and open till late! I don't know about the diner fare but the fresh strawberry pie was fantastic. The restaurant experience is a little grody - but worth a visit if you suffer from sweet tooth after a long night of studying.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Ocha + + $

Who? Andrew, Rajiv, Dora
Where? Vermont and 8th

The main attraction of this Thai restaurant is that it is cheap. The food is decent but many dishes are too oily or too salty or just too soggy or messy. The sweet and sour soup, which I use as a benchmark is only average. The noodle dish we tried did not balance quantities of noodles with veg/meats. Restaurant has cheap, unromantic vinyl appeal. Parking on Vermont street. But it's cheap!

Shaab + + + $

Who? Andrew and Joyce
Where? Raymond and Union, Pas

Joyce swears by this Japanese Sushi/Shabu house, but having been twice, I can't explain why it hasn't given me a great long-lasting impression. The restaurant was busy both times we went and we had to wait both times (Sat nights). Sashimi (Chirashi) bowl is a nice, decent tasting selection. Service was OK, Ambience is OK - I just can't explain it. Parking in the lot 2 blocks North. Extra star for Old Town already factored in.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Gyu Kaku + + + + $ $

Where? La Cienega and 2 blocks south of San Vicente
Who? Howie's Birthday Consortium

Very nice looking Japanese BBQ restaurant that uses in-table coals for self cooking. Wide selection of BBQ'able items. Kalbi, ribs and chicken are fantastically seasoned and succulent, the shrimp was amazing, and the asparagus is jumbo sized. Portions of each item are mini, so you may need to spend in excess of $25 (4-5 plates) to get full. The grill has some heat issues which occasionally limited cooking speed. Park on the streets behind the restaurant.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Coldstone Creamery * * / + + + $

Where? Long Beach Village, Pasadena/South Lake
Who? Andrew and CLEO people, Sushu, Howie

Andrew's take: Absolutely excellent ice cream which is even better in a waffle bowl. Some may cringe at the thought of putting a whole brownie, fudge, and cherries in a bowl that compact. But if you don't mind eating 10,000 calories in one $5 sitting, then this is the place to go. Dine-in interior is sparse.

Themo's take: I'll have to disagree on this one. The ice cream is too thick and too buttery, and the various flavors are not very strong. The great thing is that you can mix various other stuff like nuts, fruits, syrups etc with your ice cream. But the taste is not that great. Gelato Paradiso is 10 times better!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Edison + + + + $ $ (Lounge/Bar)

Where? Main and 2nd

As an electrical engineer, the idea of a power plant turned into a lounge/bar is very exciting. Aesthetics are art deco, 20's and extremely pleasing, complete with a boiler, Westinghouse turbines and energy inefficient bulbs. The music is exclusively swing/early jazz although I did hear some Herbie Hancock. Flapper girls come out every now and again to entertain the patrons. The game of the night plays on a huge screen from a projector. Drinks are $10, no cover. The place does get crowded. Parking is on the street. Get there before 10 to avoid waiting in line.

Cafe 322 * * * * $$

Who? Themos, Dora, Costas, Jun
Where? Sierra Madre
How much? $25

This is a different place. Depending on the night, they may feature jazz, blues, or tenors night! There is live music and most of the tables are very close to the stage so there is no microphone needed. The food is not great but it is very cheap considering what they offer. It mostly consists of italian dishes like pizza, pastas, and some seafood here and there. The environment is very friendly and the waiters polite. You wouldn't expect to find such a place almost in the middle of nowhere! The shows start usually at 7:30 but you may want to go there a bit earlier too get a nice table.

Wild Thai * * $$

Who? Themos, Dora, Melania, Frankie
Where? Somewhere off the 405
How much? $19

Wild Thai is a nice cozy place near the Bridge Cinemas next to the 405 Freeway. They have a variety of dishes from all corners of Thailand, ranging from seafood to all kinds of meats. The portions are not huge but they are cheap, and you can share most of the plates. The environment is decent and the service pretty good. Nothing exceptional, but it is a rational choice if you are around.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Zencu + + $ $

Where? J-Town Plaza

Big portion combo dinner - Tonkatsu was OK. Terrible presentation on the Crispy Spicy Tuna Roll but it tasted somewhat decent. Super slow service despite the fact that there were only two occupied tables in the entire restaurant! Nice sleek interior. Early 90's pop/dance music continually plays.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Weilands + + + $

Who? Andrew, Phil, Michellios, Jiesi, Jason, Fesh, Vivien
Where? 1st and Central

Happy Hour! Not quite as cheap as McCormick's but the food is better. Great Martinis, nice brews on tap and a loud atmosphere. Tall ceilings, dark pubrewery, ESPN loop on TV. The best grilled chicken quesidilla ever! Calamari was also rumoured to be excellent. $5 lot.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ding Tai Fong + + + + $

Who? Andrew, Howie, Fesh
Where? South Baldwin Av. and Arcadia Av., Arcadia

Fantastic hand kneaded dumplings with a soupy infused filling. Hand pulled noodles are equally good with spicy red beef. Always a wait. Dessert at Phoenix next door.

Gordon Biersch + + + $ $

Who? Rajiv, Andrew
Where? Old Town Pas

Very nice, high-energy brewery & restaurant nestled in the Old Square. Good microbrews to go with well-prepared food. Medium-rare comes out "blue" at the bone.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Outback Steakhouse * * * $$

Who? Themos, Dora, Melania
Where? Arcadia
How much? $29
Zagat: 17, $26

It it by no means a premium steakhouse, but it offers woodranch-level steaks and similar stuff. I tried 3 steaks at once: the porterhouse, the ribeye and the sirloin. I decided that porterhouse was the best, with ribeye in #2 (but also too much fat!) and the sirloin in #3. I realized that sirloin is kind of an "empty" meat in terms of taste, so unless it comes from brazilians I will not choose it again. Salads were great. plus a very rewarding atmosphere (we stayed almost until midnight!). Thumbs up.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Bite + + $ $

Who? Rajiv, Andrew... and friends
Where? Venice Pier

Decent Asian fusion not really worth the price. Even more interesting with no electricity and 5 gay couples.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Chop Suey + $

Where? 1st and Central

Good fusion but not worth the 1.5hrs wait - the slowest service I've ever received in a restaurant in L.A.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Nyala Ethiopian * * $

Who? Themos, Dora, Rajay, Dimitri, Angeliki, Melania, Frankie, Stavros
Where? Westwood near the grove
How much? $16
Zagat: 22, $20

This is the only Ethiopian restaurant listed on Zagat for LA (although there are a couple more nearby since the area is called Little Ethiopia. The food was weird and I have to admit I didn't enjoy it. But is it because it is true ethiopian cuisine or is it just a bad restaurant? Do i tend to like more americanized food? The environment was interesting with a very strong church-like smell. It is also very cheap!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

East Yakatori + + + $

Who? Don, Aly, Rajiv, Andrew
Where? First and Alameda

Cozy and dimly lit, traditional feel. Good sushi and presentation.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Curry House + + + $

Who? Amy, Fesh, Deb, Andrew
Where? 2nd and Los Angeles

Very nice, savoury and filling Japanese Curry on the outskirts of J-town. Affordable.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sushi Go 55 + + + + $

Who? Andrew, Sushu, Howsah
Where? 3rd and Alameda

Fantastic sushi, difficult to find but worth the effort. Prompt, fast service - perfect if you're in a rush to the Disney Hall.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Crown City Brewery + + + + $

Who? Andrew and Steve
Where? Pas

Best sports pub I've been to in L.A. Roomy, great pub grub and an excellent place to drink away the pain of a Rose Bowl loss.

All India Cafe * * * $$

Who? Themos, Dora, Melania
Where? Pasadena
How much? $27
Zagat: 22, $21

Although small and not very eye-catching, this little restaurant in downtown Pasadena (which reminds me of East India Grill) offers excellent food at great prices. The meats are of very good quality and the dishes a touch on the spicy side. The rice is good and the entrees are unique and original. We went for lunch on a Saturday and it doesn't seem to get very crowded, so it looks like a good option.

BJ's Restaurant/Brewery * * / + + + + $$

Where? Westwood Village
How much? $22
Zagat: 17, $19

Andrew's take: Pizza, pizza, pizza! Thick succulent Chicago style deep-dish slices fill you up quickly. The "Great White" was fantastic. The "Buffalo Chicken" was likewise enjoyable, but somehow there was too much spicy meat adorning the pizza (this was the pizza I really wanted to try when I first walked in). Excellent homebrew beers really complement the pizza - the Pale Ale was refreshing and went down easily. Spinach and Artichoke dip was good. Of course, get the Pizookie. I know it's a crime to say this, but the best brownie-type dessert comes from Yard House, a la mode. Sorry! Parking sucks in Westwood but either you know the "secret location" or you park in the structure opposite the theater. Thumbs up.

Themos's take: They call it Deep dish pizza but it's really not. An original deep dish pizza (which can be seen here) would have more ingredients, not more bread in the third dimension! It was tasty and fresh but I would still rank Village Pizzeria as #1 in LA. The good thing is they are always crowded and they are open relatively late , offering a large selection of items for every stomach. I would definitely reccomended if you are around Westwood, but don't travel from the other side of the town just for the food!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Daikokuya + + + + $

Who? Joyce, Eric, Caroline, Andrew
Where? J-Town

Japanese ramen in minute, steamy quarters - authentic, as far as I can tell - cheap, good and always packed.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

New Capital + + + + + $

Who? Fesh, Howie, Andrew, Vivian
Where? Rowland Heights, exit Fullerton

Best dim sum around. $1.98 per plate, $0.80 seating charge. $1.68 off peak. So cheap and damn good. Excellent view of the mountains. Definitely worth the 35 minute drive.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Savoy + + + $

Who? Howie, Andrew, Mengning
Where? Atlantic and Valley

Quaint small space with good homely Chinese food.

Monday, October 09, 2006

ZipFusion + + + + $

Who? Fesh, Shushu, Howie, Andrew
Where? 3rd and Alameda

Very nice grotto. Beautiful artistic presentation of food that tastes equal to its appearance. True fusion. Small portions.

Sohoju + + $


Decent Japanese food in a modern looking locale. Nothing special.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Bandar * * * * $$$$

Who? Themos, Dora, Stavros, Rania
Where? Downtown San Diego
How much? $42
Zagat: -

San Diego boasts dozens of restaurants in the downtown area, with people actually going there when it gets dark rather than leaving! Bandar is a Persian gem with emphasis on quality and quantity food. We had beef, chicken and lamb kebab and they were all taste-perfect. Then include the street-seating and the excellent appetizers and you have a recipe for success. The important thing is that we padi $40 and we would pay it again for this food.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ciao Trattoria + + + + $ $

Who? Steier Group
Where? Fig and 7th

Light, refreshing Italian food in the heart of downtown. Nice, high interiors.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Taverna Tony * * * * $$$$

Who? Themos, Stavros, Fotini, Lestas, ...
Where? Malibu
How much? $45
Zagat: 22, $35

Yes! A supreme greek restaurant with supreme greek food and supreme crowds (and that is a comment from a greek, remember). It is noisy (as it should be) yet a bit upscale. Celebrities choose it almost daily ( we saw Jessica Alba eating quietly in a dark corner). It is kind of expensive but hey, as in most cases, what you pay is what you get. Have fun!

Santorini Cafe * * * $$$

Who? Georgia's birthday group
Where? Pasadena
How much? $35
Zagat: 22, $30

The restaurant is convienently close to Old Town. It has tables both inside as well as at the roof (remember: very few restaurants in LA are not only in the ground floor...). They serve excellent meats, the tenderloin was magnificently cooked to perfection. The service was crap, but that is not the case usually. Everyone left with a full stomach!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Gumbo Pot + + $

Who? Andrew and Louise
Where? Farmer's Market (Grove)

Southern style fare, not a fan of the gumbo, but very cheap.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Azeen's Afghani Restaurant + + + + $ $

Who? Andrew and Joyce
Where? Union and Raymond, Pas

Very quiet, high-ceilinged, middle-eastern restaurant hidden in Old Town Pas. Aushak appetizer is excellent and tastes like a yoghurty version of ravioli (I really like leeks for some reason). Combination kebab is barbecued perfectly and is very tasty served with Pallaw rice. The Sabsi Challaw is fantastic and reminds me of Saag Lamb in an Indian restaurant. Thumbs up. Service is sometimes unattentive. Park in lot between Holly and Union on Raymond. Gelato in Tutti Gelati (Old Town Square) afterwards - perfect cap, hazlenut chocolate.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Soot Bull Jeep + + + $ $

Who? Don, Aly, Vanessa, Rajiv, Zvi, Jason, Andrew, Nate
Where? 8th and Catalina

Great tasting Korean BBQ cooked not with gas but with charcoal. As a result, the heat is crazy (especially on a 100°F day) and the clothes that you wear will smell of smoke pretty much forever. The beef, chicken and shrimp are very tasty and of great quality. I definitely believe BBQ tastes better through the use of coals. For some reason, the watery Hite beer washes everything down perfectly. Side platters are decent. The place is a bit too dark and a bit too cramped for my liking. Parking in a lot next to the restaurant, else fight for street parking.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Raffi's Place + + + + $$

Who? IFG (Nate, Svi, Rajiv, Don, Aly, Andrew)
Where? Broadway and Brand, Glendale

Nestled in the heart of Glendale, this Armenian restaurant is a real middle-eastern gem. Dining is possible outside in the beautiful courtyard or inside the plain-walled restaurant. The portions are very large and extremely good. I love the plain style of the food, the lightly spiced ground beef, and the juicy kebab pieces. The vegetables are blackened on the outside but tasty. Tabouli is good. Park on adjoining streets. Decent service. Beautiful area to take a post-dinner stroll. Thumbs up.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Shau May + + + $

Who? Krystal and Andrew
Where? Garfield just north of Garvey

Hands down the cheapeast boba place I've ever been to. For $10, you can get two gigantic boba milk teas, a hot tapioca milk pudding (needs 4 people to finish) and a gigantic shaved ice with condensed milk and four "items". The taro is excellent and just the right sweetness. The white looking stuff that looked like coconut was actually almond. Longan was OK. Place is pretty busy and filled with a non-homogenous crowd. Again, feels very traditional (Taiwanese). Watch out for crazy old men who don't get their order and then push you out of the way to start a big argument with the servers.

Dragon Mark + + + $

Who? Krystal and Andrew
Where? Valley, between New and Del Mar

Lots and lots of food for very cheap. "Five fragrances Beef" is a nice snack side dish. Beef Stew noodle is decent but for some reason left a strange aftertaste. Dumplings, pan fried and steamed, are very filling and tasty. When mixing your dipping sauce, be careful to differentiate the dark vinegar from the soy sauce. The best part was easily the vegetables (bor choi) - very fresh and prepared in light garlic sauce. Be prepared to speak lots of mandarin or go hungry. Dining enviroment reminds me of a true Chinese dumpling house.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Bistango + + $

Who? Steve and Andrew
Where? Vermont and 29th

Cheap, good Italian food. Bread is decent, average portions. Cozy dining environment complete with a 42" plasma for sports. Penne Pollo is quite driedtomatoey and filling. A welcome changeup from Pasta Roma.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Manas + + + + $

Who? Howie, Andrew
Where? Vermont and 29th

This is now my favourite place that's closeby USC for a cheap tasty meal. I had to admit to being a bit skeptical of an Indian restaurant serving only a vegetarian menu. But I was not disappointed. The side sauces are excellent - mint, pickled and sweet. The "fried spinach and onion" starter was decent but nothing special. The "paper thin potato" was the biggest thing I've ever seen served at a restuarant - it was seriously two feet long - but tasted very good. The "cottage cheese in cashew/tomato sauce" I had was very fragrant and wonderful on rice. Sweet lassi is thick and youghurty. If anyone knows the Indian words for these dishes, please offer them up. The dining environment is comfortable and simple. And the service is pleasant but sometimes confused.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Opus Bar and Grill + + + + $$$

Who? Debbie, Jenn Jenn, Howie, VDam and a lot of Debbie's friends
Where? Vermont and Willshire

I didn't eat at this place but heard that the rack of lamb is very good. This evaluation is for the restaurant ambience and the bar - which is extremely upscale. Dimmed lights provide romantic setting and there are even some tables with gigantic plush chairs for couples. The bar is expensive ($9 mixed), as is the food. The restaurant was sparsely populated. Street parking is hard to find, valet available.

Monday, July 03, 2006

California Chicken Cafe + + + $

Who? Howie, Jared, Andrew (Jenn Jenn, VDam and Debbie - whoops!)
Where? Multiple, 1)Westwood Blvd between Olympic and Santa Monica

A nice place to grab some fast rotisserie Chicken that reminds me a lot of Swiss Chalet. I enjoyed the steamed butternut squash and the spinach and feta cheese pasta salad very much. The chicken was tasty but a touch dry. All in all, everything was pretty healthy and left me quite pleased. Simple, "food court" dining ambience. Located very close to the movie theater in Century City.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

DiVino + + + + $$

Who? Siao, Tim, Allan, Kristy, Kenny, Marc, Andrew, Jo, Jenn x2, Nam, Howie, Sushu
Where? Brentwood, Barrington Court

Really nice looking Italian restaurant, romantic ambience and with high ceilings. Excellent wine selection - the Ripassa Valpolicella 2003 was recommended and it didn't disappoint. Bread is average. The little cheese ball appetizer was nice. Very well run establishment - waters topped off, wine glasses filled, meals all arrive at the same time. I had the gnocchi with chicken ragu which was extrememely good. Portions are a bit on the smaller side but ample. Reservations required.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Pasta Roma ** / + + $

Who? All kinds of USC people, mostly Steve and Andrew
Where? Fig and 30

Cheap food for USC students! Show your USC card and get 20%(?) off your entree. Portions are a great size and quite tasty (except the Ravioli which is small, and you only get two (2) meatballs with the spaghetti and meatballs). Throw on some chilli flakes and some grated Parmesan and eat to your heart's content! Add to your meal an unlimited supply of garlic rolls and olive oil/balsamic vinegar. And you can understand why Pasta Roma is now officially the dining location of choice for the "Andrew and Steve Workout Team". The "best" cheap place around USC.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Palms Thai + + + $

Who? Don, Aly, Vanessa, Rajiv, Andrew
Where? Hollywood and the 101

New location looks very good. They still have the Thai Elvis who croons through many a song as you eat the delicious food here. The restaurant is very busy and you may have to wait. Wonton wrappers are tasty, coconut soup is mild and is more sour than spicy. I do not recommend the beef with vegetables - the beef is dry and tasteless. The Penang Chicken curry is not that spicy and quite good when doused into the rice. The fish with mango sauce is pretty decent also. Order a round of Thai coffees and you're set! Parking is valet and is $2.75.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

City Thai + + + + $

Who? UofT people, Andrew, Joyce, Steve
Where? Pasadena, Fair Oaks just south of Colorado

Excellent Thai food in a nice dining environment.

Fred's Burgers + + $

Where? La Jolla Beach, San Diego
Who? Han Soon, Tim, Shane, Andrew

Very good burger + fries combo for cheap. Small place.

Friday, May 26, 2006

PB Bar and Grill + + $

Where? Pacific Beach, San Diego
Who? Tim, Shane, Andrew

Ultra cheap beers ($2?), cheap bar food (wings are great, nachos are good) and plenty of eye candy. Good place to watch the game and throw one back. Extremely loud and busy - a typical college hangout. Bartenders are really fast and polite.

Island's Burgers * * / + + $

Where? Long Beach Village
Who? CLEO people, still

Pretty good burger chain. I like the Hula - sauteed mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, swiss - and add bacon. Onion rings need to be split between a few people - and the Ranch dressing is good. Decor is very... festive.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Tokyo Wako + $ $

Where? Shoreline Village, Long Beach
Who? Chris V, Shane, Iannick, Deba, Haibin

Unattentive service and overpriced. I had the sashimi bowl, which was not too bad. But everyone else had complaints about the temperature of the food, its order of arrival, and the plain manner in which it was prepared. Thumbs down. But location is nice.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Yard House (II) + + + $ $

Where? Shoreline Village, Long Beach
Who? Various unnamed drunk people, Chris V, Shane, Andrew, Yannick

The location of this Yard House is somewhat nicer than the Pasadena one since it is on the water but the interior is not as inviting. Nacho platter is very good and feeds many. Well known claim to fame is the bevy of beers on tap. Hence, a good place to throw one back but not really to "dine".

GameWorks + + + $

Where? Aquarium Way, Long Beach
Who? Andrew, Chris V, Shane, Haibin, various University of Southampton people aka. the Newport Researcher Party

Lots of arcade games + restaurant/bar = fun place for a really nerdy date. Or as the case is, a really nerdy "party" of optical engineers from the Conference on Lasers and Electro-optics. Shoot-em ups, beat em-ups, drive em ups - whatever your fancy, they got it. Props to Newport for throwing this annual party featuring free food and drinks. Wings are pretty decent and were the only food I really ate. They are even better served with the many beers on tap. Find the bartender named Fabby, she was awesome and took care of us all night - extra + for her.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A Taste of Japan + + + + $$

Where? Markham, Woodbine and Esna Park, Ontario, Canada (I know, it's not in L.A.)
Who? Andrew and Brian and Yuh Mey's Wedding Party and Family

Convenient parking. Fun atmosphere due to the Teppan chefs who are a little eclectic and don't speak English too well. Salmon and Strip Loin (Dinner D) off the grill is top notch especially when washed down with some sake. There is more than ample food for $21.95CDN. Chefs will let you play and will fire pieces of food at young unsuspecting children.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

ABC Seafood + + + + $

Where? Ord and New High, Chinatown
Who? Gary, Howsah, Andrew and Kenny

Dim Sum! Yum Cha! Great food, har gau, siu mai, cheung fun, ngaw ghap, duww fu fa, dann tat... the whole gamut. Small, not as nice as NBC but a decent price. Park in the lot between Spring and New High ($3. Apparently there's a free lot behind ABC?)

Angeli Caffe + + + + $$

Where? Melrose and Poinsetta
Who? Steve, Andrew and Adam aka. Los Tres Amigos

Nice looking place, very modern, and compact. Bread is very good (and compact too, incidentally). Penne special with sausage and baby spinach was excellent. Cool looking gnocchi. How was it Adam? Large choice of wines and desserts. Waiter was sometimes unintelligible. Parking is a major problem - expensive valet.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Papa Christos + + + $

Who? Andrew, Satsuki... and previously Joyce, Themo, Steve
Where? Normandie and Olympic

(I'm not sure how this isn't in the blog already, Themo?) Greek Food, fast! Unless of course you come at 12pm when there are 20 people standing in line at the counter. I really like the lamb chop plate. Souvlaki is likewise excellent. Themo got me started on the Tomato and Feta and I've been eating it ever since. Dining area has a very patio, high-ceiling feel that makes you want to sing Greek songs and smash plates. Buy Baklava and a bottle of olive oil when you leave.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Puran's + + + $ $ $

Who? Steve, Adam, Andrew
Where? Hillhurst, just south of Ambrose

Great place for a threesome guy date - nice ambience, quiet and candlelit. All the food is organic. Very good service and nice wine. Peppercorn lamb is tasty but expensive. Caprese is good starter. I like the little toasty appetizer breads. Creme brulee is trop brulee but, as Steve says, it's sweet, creamy and white - who can resist?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Pataya + + $

Where? Vermont in Los Feliz

Not busy. Tasty food. Honey glazed duck OK. Huge calamari pieces. Waitresses are unattentive and clueless.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Akbar + + + $ $


Who? Thomas, Joyce, Andrew
Where? Fair Oaks and Union

Great dipping sauces. Excellent Mango Lassi. Portions are decent but meats are a bit dried out. Spicy is a good kind of spicy that leaves you sweating but without fire in your mouth. Nice atmosphere, small cozy. Shrimp Pakora not worth it. Channa Masala very good. Chicken Tikka Masala and Dhaba Lamb OK.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

El Cholo + + + + $

Who? CASA, and Steve
Where? Western and 11th

Great Mexican place, lively atmosphere, excellent food, big portions. Fajitas are very tasty. Carne Asada is excellent. Margharitas are strong and very good. Show USC ID for half-price entrees Mon-Thu. Parking a problem during peak times - park on adjoining side street.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Sunnin * * * $

Who? Themos, Dora
Where? Westwood
How much? $20
Zagat: 26, $13

The first Libanese place I've been around here... they focus mainly on quality meats, so you'll find kebabs, keftahs, and similar east-type dishes. They have only 4-5 small tables that you can sit, but don't expect much:-) They are very cheap because the plates are plastic, the glasses are plastic, and it's not a very "luxurious" environment. However the food is pretty good, I loved the rice and the must-have rice pudding.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Duke's Malibu * * * $$

Who? Themos, Dora
Where? Malibu (duh)
How much? $22
Zagat: 18, $30

Hail to the Duke! Originally opened in Hawaii for the surfers to enjoy an after-practice drink, Duke's Malibu offers excellent views of the ocean and its waves, and sometimes its surfers. Sunday Brunch was crowded, in a loud environment where chatter and laugthers fill the background. Oh, there is food, too, which includes various tasty burgers, hawaiian specialties, lots of seafood, or you can also try the buffet.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

La Paelia * * * * $$$$

Who? Themos, Dora, Frankie, Melanie, Dimitri
Where? West Hollywood
How much? $50
Zagat: 22, $36

This became instantly the 3rd most expensive restaurant I've been in my life, after the $85 steak at Ruth Chris steakhouse and the $60 7 course meal at the maroccian palace. The paelias are fulfiling and super-tasty, the sangria is perfect, and the tapas are to die for. You should try out the meats because they are great and unlike american style: it reminded me of the good old mediterrenean meats you can have in Europe. The environment is anti-LA since the rooms are small and the ceilings low - which is always a plus for me since it gives a more cozy feeling.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Robin's Woodfire BBQ & Grill * * * * $$

Who? Themos, Dora, Stayros, Dimitri
Where? Sierra Madre
How much? $28
Zagat: 19, $19

Ribs ribs ribs... A half rack of beef ribs should be anyone's goal as you enter this very nicely decorated restaurant. They have meats even for appetizers! And it is great quality,too.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Warehouse + + + + $$

Who? CASA in honour of Howie
Where? Admiralty, Marina Del Rey

Very nice atmosphere with a great view. Comfy seats. Super-strong drinks. Nice oyster appetizer. Atlantic salmon stuffed with crabmeat is excellent. Delicious portabellos. Steak is mediocre - cooked right, but burnt crust. Must valet.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Gelato Paradiso * * * * $

Who? Themos, Dora
Where? Hollywood
How much? $5

Simply put, the best ice-cream I had in a very very long time... I was just amazed to find such a place existed in LA. The flavors are stunningly real, they are even better than the real fruits orwhatever they make them out of. Well done!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Uncle Bill's pancake house * * * * $

Who? Frankie, Melania, Fotini, Dora, Themos
Where? Manhattan Beach
How much? $18
Zagat: 24

This is a very popular destination near the beach. They close at 3pm since they only offer breakfast and lunch, but even close to that time they are crowded. They have some of the best pancakes and omelletes around, plus you can always enjoy a walk at the beach and admire the houses there before, during (the wait!) or after the meal.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Red Corner Asia + + + + $

Who? Andrew, Michellios, Howie, Koji
Where? Hollywood and Hobart

Excellent Thai food in a new, clean restaurant in the heart of Thai town. The crispy duck with Penang curry is wonderful. Fried wontons, satay chicken. The spicy rice is really spicy! Valet parking is silly. Pick up traditional Thai snacks from the adjoining shop in the plaza.

El Rincon Criollo + + + $

Who? Howie, Koji, Fesh, Andrew
Where? Sepulveda and Culver

Good Cuban Food at a decent price. Excellent portions. Small restaurant that's a lot less busy than Versailles.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Dar Maghreb * * * $$$$

How? Themos, Dora, Omar, Alma, Joan, Stayros
Where? Hollywood
How much? $50
Zagat: 20, $42

A little taste of Morocco at the heart of Hollywood. The decor is stunning since they have recreated a 15th century palace. The menu is fixed and consists of a seven(!) course meal, belly dancers and excellent service. This place is great for groups, great for impressive first dates, and also features great quality meats. What you pay is what you get! At least a star less since it's the most expensive restaurant I've been, but hey, you won't be going there every day.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Tibet Nepal House + $

Who? Joyce, Andrew, Steve
Where? Holly and Fair Oaks, Pasadena

Decent dishes for a decent price. The "Tandoor" (clay oven) lamb and chicken are very good but I say NoNo to the MoMo and the Creamy Shrimp.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Philippe the Original + + + $

Where? Alameda and Ord
Who? Koji, Howie, Andrew

French dip beef sandwiches with blue cheese, beef stew, cherry pie and a lemonade.

Cha Cha Cha + + + + $ $

Where? Virgil and Melrose
Who? Andrew and Sushu

Jerk Chicken in a Carribean festive hut.

Who? Whole bunch of CASA people

Seafood paella is good. Sangria makes me happy.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Cheebo * * * * * $$

Who? Themos, Dimitri, Hlias
Where? Sunset Blvd, Hollywood
How much? $37
Zagat: 19, $22

I loved this place from the moment I walked into it. It's not like the big LA restaurants. Rather, it features only 20 or so tables, a very slow service but top class food. Everything is organic, and these people bring only these first class materials for their food which makes the dishes undeniably delicious. They also feature orange(!) walls, live music, and a lot of handsome guys and pretty girls as customers. I tried the pizza and it was truly great, probably the best pizza I had in LA so far. It is unlike any other pizza I've ever tried.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Counter + + + + $

Who? Sushu, Michellios, Howie, Andrew
Where? Ocean Park and 28th, Santa Monica

Burgers really done your way.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Thousand Cranes + + + + $$

Who? Steier Research Group
Where? J-Town, Los Angeles and 2nd (Otani Hotel)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Thai Plate + + + $

Who? Jenn Jenn, Koji, Howie, Andrew
Where? Pico and Western

Shady looking place... we didn't eat there -> takeout. Pretty decent Thai food. Red Chicken Curry was good as was the Golden Stick and the fried wontons. They will deliver to USC.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Il Capricio on Vermont * * * * $$

Who? Themos, Dimitri
Where? Opposite of Dresden, Hollywood
How much? $20
Zagat: * * * *, $27

That was the first place we tried following the Zagat guide only. Initially it looks like a hole in the wall, the decor is not the best but the food is absolutely first class. These guys have the best bread I've tried so far in LA, plus very fresh pastas. I don't need much more than that :-)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Woo Ri Jip + + + + $$

Where? Pico, between Oxford and Western
Who? 30 odd CASA people

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Taix * * * , + + + + + $$

Who? Adam M and Andrew
Where? Alvarado and Sunset
How much? $25
Zagat: * * *, $27

Andrew's Take: This is one great date place... but even then, it's actually too intense for a first date. Not knowing what we were in for, Adam and I entered the dimly lit restaurant to words like: "Whoa... ", ... "Uh..." It was actually quite funny because there was a woman who heard us talking and chimed in with... "Yea... it's our first time here too."

But the food is excellent and is served either a la carte or with an ensemble meal. With the meal, for $20, you can get some very tasty clam chowder with a garden salad, your main entree and some sorbet. When they bring the soup to your table, they bring out the whole pot - and you wonder if you're supposed to eat it all because they just leave it there with a ladle. The paella I had was very flavourful and generous with little ocean goodies. If the meal is coupled with a bottle of wine, general good times can be had... It is because of all these reasons that this place gets the coveted 5+ rating. Service is very pleasant. Valet is $2.50 and necessary since there is no parking anywhere to be found around.

Themo's Take: This is a nice french restaurant (circa 1927). It serves good food, but there are some details that force a 3 star rating instead of a 4 star one: the lights are too dim; the mashed potato is not "real"; the portions are not great. The quality of teh meats is above average though, which makes it a restaurant worth trying.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Maggiano's Little Italy * * * * $$

Who? Themos, Erdem, Bing, Xiaodong
Where? 16th Street Mall, Denver, CO (Also at the Grove in LA)
How much? $15
Zagat: * * *, $27

The best thing in italian restaurants is the beggining: the bread and oil (or combinations and variations of them). Maggiano's has low (extremely low!) lit atmosphere, Sinatra music (or similar) and very friendly service. After Xiaodong mistakingly ordered and ate the $27 filet mignion, he pointed out that he has ordered the $21 10oz one although they brought him the 16oz one. They immediately charged him for the 10oz filet. Overall the portions were very generous, not suited for asians :-)

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Koji's Japan + + + $$

Who? Lots of CASA people
Where? Hollywood and Highland

Decent shabu shabu.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Bravo Pizzeria * * $

Who? Themos, Panos, Sotiris, Xouros, Dafni
Where? Main Street, Santa Monica
How much? $3
Zagat: * * *, $21

This Zagat-rated place has really great pizza, with fresh ingedients and big selections. However I cannot place more than 2 stars because 1) It's not italian, but NY style instead 2) It's not a restaurant, but rather a on-the-go and/or delivery place. The huge plus is that they stay up very late (=after midnight) so it's an excellent option if you are hungry and happen to be around.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Rock Bottom * * $$

Who? Themos, Ivan, Dimitri, Alexandra
Where? Long Beach
How much? $10

These guys are serious about their beer (of course, that's my worst drink ever). I like American Style restaurants because they have huge booths and a good balance between noisy atmosphere, music, and friendly staff. The food was not great but then again, when did an american restaurant had good food? Or, who goes to american restaurants for the food anyway?!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

JJ Cafe + + + $

Where? Monterey Park
Who? SiGung and Lo Han Kung Fu Club

Sunday, October 02, 2005

California Pizza Kitchen + + + + $$

Where? Fig and 7
Who? MichelleP, Shusan, Howie, Kenny, Andrew

Pizza is good.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Crane Sushi + + + +/ $

Who? CASA board 05-06
Where? Alhambra

Extra + for value.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Macaroni Grill * * * * / + + + + $$

Who? Rajay, Tatsuzo, Steve, Andrew
Where? El Segundo, Rosencranz & Aviation
Zagat: * * *, $22

Andrew's take: First of all, thanks to TATSUZO for suggesting this restaurant. A nice dining environment with both booths and tables (suitable for a date) and operatic singing waiters. You can snack solely on the bread appetizers, which are spongy and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside, and then pack up half your dinner to go. Don't forget to soak the bread in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The sangria was very refreshing, but very watered down with ice - so even 1L of the stuff won't do anything to you. The key is to get the "Create your own Pasta" card: from this you can select your pasta type, sauce and vegetables all for about $9. I added spicy sausages and shrimp (for extra) and it was so very good. Not much of a wait on Saturday night and free parking in the lot across from the restaurant.

Themos' take: This is a nice place that is a mix of 2 type of cuisines: Classic pasta stuff, plus grill type dishes (mostly chicken), and then combination of these two. The food quality is impressively good, the service is excellent, and I have no words for the bread they bring for appetizer (I had 2 whole loafs myself). The audience comprises mostly of families and adults - not your traditional student hangout.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Gaucho Grill * * * * $$

Who? Themos, Hlias, Dimitri, CostasZ
Where? Brentwood
How much? $18
Zagat: * * *, $23

Costas said that was the best chicken he's tried since he came to LA... The rest of us left very impressed too. This is an Argentinian restaurant who I personally hand-picked, and indeed I wasn't wrong that they have great meat dishes... The huge steak with the melted cheese on it was plain pleasure. The environment is slightly romantic yet too noisy, consisting of an interesting mix of people in late 20s till early 40s. Niam niam...

Mikoshi + + $

Where? The closest one to USC is at Fig and 30.

The food is decent - it's similar to Panda quality, but with much better presentation. A very cookie-cutter chain of Asian food without any authenticity. The curry chicken rice was decent and of sufficient portion, but nothing like Hurry Curry. Good destination for a large group, say if you're having an after-meeting event.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

La Dijonaise * * * * $$

Who? Themos, Patrick, Erdem, Bing, Xiaodong, Chris, Tom, Reeza
Where? Culver City
How much? $21
Zagat: * * * *, $21

This is another 3.5 star place... Authentic french cuizine at low prices, this is a little gem at the heart of Culver City. Steaks, pastas, salads, plus the best bread I've had in LA so far - truly great stuff. The service is more than you could expect, the people are nice and warm, and the food is more homestyle than your mom's birthday dinner.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Gypsy cafe * * * $$

Who? Themos, Nikos
Where? Westwood
How much? $16

The food includes tasty middle-eastern cooked dishes, the people include ucla chicks, and many tables are outside in the street (which is a great plus for me). You can smoke 25 different flavors of hookas and also stay up late in the night (=classic greek spot). Realatively loud middle eastern music accompanies the experience. I can't have more than 2 stars since this is not the type of restaurants I prefer though.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Manna * * * * * / + + + + + $$

Who? Tim, Evan, Marco, Andrew aka. the Manna Boys
Who? Themos, Stayros, CostasZ, Dimitri
Where? Arlington and Olympic
How much? $18
Zagat: 21, $22

Themos's take: This is a real deal. The lines are long (1h+ on weekends) but it is worth the wait. For $15 you can get as much meat as you wish, until the stoamach is full ot until they close. What these places are missing is the way to make meats tastier: dip in olive oil, oregano and salt before, lemon juice on top after. The meats are great quality, including pork, beef and chicken. I also don't see the point of the various sides they bring :-)

Andrew's take: This place is just awesome. Unlimited, good quality meats accompanied with a crazy salad bowl and 20 little plates of niblets.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

La Taquiza + + $

Who? Jenn, Siao, Chris+Michellios, Andrew, A.Lok, Howie

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Bryan's Pit Barbeque (Farmer's Market) + + + $

Who? Jarika, Howie, Andrew
Where? Farmer's Market @ The Grove

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Buca di Beppo * * * * * / + + + + + $$

Who? Fabien, Siao, Andrew, A. Lok, MichelleP, Shusan, Howz, Erika, Michellios
Where? Citywalk
Who? Themos, Stayros, CostasZ
Where? Santa Monica
How much? $20
Zagat: 15, $22

This place is awesome. Everything we got was far beyond your average italian restaurant, the decorations are awesome, and also this place allows for a lot of people. I think it is better than C&O Trattoria, because it is not semi-authentic: they are a chain that kept their quality of recipes high and they admit it. The small portion of pasta challenged my capabilities, but at the end was happy:-)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Cafe Spot + + + + $

Located at Valley and 5th in Alhambra, this is now my favourite place for good cheap eats in New Chinatown. I knew it would be good when I saw the "gai dann jay" (little egg shaped pancakes) on the menu - it was just like being on the streets of Hong Kong. I had the beef brisket curry which was extremely filling and very tasty. The fried tofu appetizer was likewise excellent. Howz noodle dish was, quote, "pretty decent". The restaurant is very clean, with modern, simple decor

Who? TimShen, Siao, Howie, Jenn Jenn, Erika, Chris, Michellios, Sarah, Andrew

Pho Kym + + + $

Who? Jenn Jenn, Michellios, Howie, Andrew

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Louise's Trattoria * * * * $$

Who? Demetri, Themos
Where? Studio City
How much? $17
Zagat: * * *, $23
Again, I would grade this place with 3.5 stars rather than 3. I think that was the first restaurant that I've been here that is not at ground level! The food is excellent, the service is flawless (they kept refilling our drinks automatically), and the enviroment is quiet and very relaxing, with a view at the Studio City plaza. In studio city the people were not students or youngsters: there were families, colleagues, couples. Plus a realistically cute waitress.

Friday, August 19, 2005

29th Street Cafe + + + $

Who? Ying-Hao, Andrew, Hidehisa

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

La Barca * * *

This is more likely a 3.5 star place, but we haven't invented decimal grades yet. And imagine that I don't really like Mexican food. The value for money ratio is excellent in this hidden small gem right on Vermont near usc. Happy hours give away drinks for $1.95, while the setting resembles nothing like what's going on outside.

Who? Themo, Sotiris, Savvy, CostasX, ...
Where? Vermont and usc

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Hooters * */ + + + $

Who? Themos, Costas Z, Demetri... Andrew, Annie, Chris, Yao, Darren... Chief Steve
Where? Santa Monica
How much? $18

Themo's Take: Yeah, ok... Not impressed at all. The only reason the prices are down is that the food is fast food, so technically I wouldn't call it a restaurant. The environment was nice, the people mostly mexicans, and the waitresses just fine since Coyote Ugly in Las Vegas has set extremely high standards for my taste in "hot service".

Andrew's Take: It's a family restaurant! Good wings and beer is enough for me... They always carry the big fights so we don't have to PPV. That's all I go to Hooters for!

Pho 2000 + + + $

Who? Shusan, Jared, Howz, Andrew

Monday, August 15, 2005

Diddy Riese Cookies * * */+ + + $

Themo's Take: 3 cookies for $1. And they are heavenly good. Need I say anything else?

Andrew's Take: Nice waffle ice cream cones and awesome cookies for very cheap. But there are always, always lines... and never, never parking...

Who? Andrew, Shusan, Howie, Themo

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Cuban Food + + $ $

Who? Andrew, A. Lok, Siao, Brian, Howie, Shusan

Thursday, August 11, 2005

McCormick and Schmick's * * / + + + + $

Who? Don, Aly, Rajiv, Steve, Andrew, many, many times
Where? Downtown, US Bank Plaza 3rd St.
Zagat: * * *, $32

Themo's take: As downtown gets more and more popular, places like this will get more and more people there. The cheap cheeseburger is one of the best steals around.

Andrew's take: I only go there for Happy Hour (after 9 on Mon-Thu, all evening on Fri, I think). But like Themos' says: the $2 burger is the best steal around - juicy thick 1/2 pounder (or more) with fries. Also for $2: chicken drummettes (get the sauce on the side if you can't handle hotness - it's an option), quesidilla, zucchini sticks, and portabello mushroom. 1 drink mandatory ($3-5). The restaurant has a busy atmosphere but is relaxed enough for private conversation. Fantastic place to relax and unwind after a long day or a Kung Fu workout. Has large TV's for sports. Parking fully validated.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Mako + + + $

Who? Krystal, Andrew, Siao, A. Lok
Where? Silverlake close to Dresden (may be closed now [Jul 2007])

Hole in the wall with cheap Japanese food. Coolest thing is that it's BYOB!

Trattoria Farfalla + + + $$

Who? Wan, Andrew, Steve, Adam

Hortobagy * * * * */ + + + + $$

Themo's take: Hungarian restaurant with hungarian customers and hungarian dishes. I discovered that countries without access to water resources include a lot of meats at their cuisines, which made my decision of entree even harder. The dishes are traditional and the materials are first class, tasty and honest. Named after a beautiful national park of Hungary, it's an excellent choice for under $15 entrees.

Andrew's take: Yes, I enjoyed the homely nature of this restaurant.

Who? Rajay, Andrew, MichelleB, Themo
Where? Studio City

Friday, August 05, 2005

Olympians * * */ + + + $

Themo's Take: There are only a few places in the town that offer great grilled chicken, steaks, pork chops and similar stuff in huge quantities for around $10. That is because you usually pay for the environment, the service and the tips on top of the food. Figueroa and Adams, downtown.

Andrew's Take: Greasy food, so good. Get full fast. And it's at Vermont and Adams, not Fig.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Sam Woo BBQ * * * / + + + $

Themo's Take: Asian place in an asian neighborhood. You will pay no more than $10-$15 and get a lot of excellent meats (duck, pork, BBQ pork, chicken) which you first observe hanging in the displays, plus all the classic asian dishes. There is a similar place in Vegas too. The lines are long because they are good and they know it.

Andrew's Take: The "asian" place is San Gabriel Plaza and the cuisine is Canto BBQ. I didn't like the "mixer" plate of meat we ordered. Too much "ghap" i.e. livers, kidneys, feet etc. I prefer the half duck, or ginger-oil dip with white chicken, or roasted pork (not red BBQ kind). There aren't so many of these places around - as Howz remarked - not like Toronto Chinatown. The Tomato-Beef rice is quite good. Mountainous rice! I like to get the vegetables not on the English menu; just like my momma taught me. Peeps in the know get "duww miu" and have it "ching chow"'ed. Good food, memories of back in the day. Thumbs up.

Who? Joyce, Andrew, Themo

Ye Olde King's Head * * * * * / + + + + $$

Who? Andrew and Themo
Where? Santa Monica
How much? $25
Zagat: * * *, $22

Themo's Take: This place what better than I expected. It has true British cuisine, very weird stuff but good nevertheless. The environment is very european also, and lots of british go there too as it is a trusted place. On top of that it is located next to the Santa Monica promenade, and the price you pay (~$25) is worth for what you get.

Andrew's Take: I agree. The walls are littered with beer placards and other English paraphernalia. The "weird" stuff to which Themo is referring: Scotch Eggs (eggs covered in what can only be described as meatloaf), kidneys - as in Steak and Kidney pie (a standard) and braised lamb shank (tonnes of stewed lamb meat falling off a rather large bone). All very, very tasty. And, chips=fried potatowedges! The best part? My favourite beers: a pint of Boddy's, Murphy's Ale, and Newcastle Brown. Great restaurant - almost feels like home, my birth-home that is. Awesome neighbourhood to spend a night in. Thumbs up.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Buffet @ Paris Las Vegas * * * * * * $$

Following the suggestions of both friends and the Lonely Planet guide, I visited the buffet at Paris. Words are too little to describe the feeling: I felt like a kid in Disneyland (or myself in Magic Mountain for that matter). I now understand fully why Marios said that he wanted to throw up so that he could eat more food. I also now understand fully why Christiana was cursing Marios "It's noot fair us girls that you guys can eat so much food". I just sat there and kept eating for more that 2 hours until we were the last ones at the hall, around 11pm. And all that for just $25.

Buffet hint: the best ones have very few pasta in their menu.

AY: Dude... this is not in L.A.!
EK: It's just for setting a scale.

Who? Themos, Panos
Where? Las Vegas

Monday, July 18, 2005

Border Grill * * * / +

Who? Andrew and Themo
Where? Santa Monica
How much? $32
Zagat: * * * *, $30

Themo's Take: This is a Mexican restaurant with meals around $20-$30. Go there for the enviroment and the people. The raw materials they use are fresh and good, altough the food quantity you get is does not agree with the price. If I even remotely liked Mexican food anyways I would give this guy 3 stars, but I'll stick to 2 for the time being.

Andrew's Take: Overpriced and not of good quality. I've had better Carne Asada at taco stands. And the Margharita was blah. Pretty decor though - looks like a kid painted it. Go to Olvera street in downtown for Mexican food - where the waiters will sing to you.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Ye Rustic Inn + +

It looks ever so scary from the outside. If you ever happen to pull into this plaza, you probably wouldn't go into this place! The inside is dark and... well dark. Unfortunately, they also have a jukebox that plays too loudly. The food is decent pub grub and it comes in very huge portions for very cheap. Domestic pitchers are cheap too. Basically it's like Clark Hall (Queen's University). But the college crowd definitely does not hang out here!

Who? Adam, Wan, Steve, Andrew, Ben and Anna

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Pampas Grill (Farmer's Market) * * * * / + + + + $$

Who? Themos, Stayros, CostasZ ; Howie, Andrew
Where? Farmer's Market @ The Grove
How much? $21

Andrew's take:Located in the Farmer's Market at the Grove, Pampas is an absolutely excellent Brazillian BBQ. Pick up a wide array of foods from tuna stew to plantains (oh so good) to fresh tomatoes and beets to yucca. The meats are definitely the highlight of this churrasco. I had the combination of sausage, spicy chicken and sirlion caps and was not disappointed. Cost is determined by the weight of the plate and a generous serving will run around $18. A great place to people watch and to hang out after dinner. But be warned, this place is so popular that the lines get unruly!

Themos' Take: Well, I am impressed. The lined are usually long and there is not format restaurant enviroment, but the meat quality in this Brazilian place just blew me away. Great stuff for a modest price, this place is a must if you want to try something at the Farmer's Market.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Old Spaghetti Factory * * * / + + + $

Who? Andrew, Rajay and Themo
Zagat: * *, $17

Themo's Take: This one of the best choices for a $10 sit down restaurant. The food is decent for the price, and the enviroment looks interesting as a fake-retro attempt. Don't forget to try the greek cheese Mizithra Spaghetti, a dish you won't forget for a long time.

Andrew's Take: It gets an extra star from me because I like the decor... and it made Rajay puke. Nice place to take a date.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

MIcelie's * * * * * $$

Who? Themos, Roubos
Where? Hollywood
Zagat: * * *, $23

Located in Hollywood, this is the oldest Italian restaurant in Los Angeles - and it's really good. Everything is so anti-American: terrible service, narrow tables, great food. They have booths carved in the wood and bottles of wine hanging from the ceiling, plus live piano music. Most of the stuff cost $10-$15. Various celebrities have eaten there, ranging from JFK to the Beatles. I may have given it a 5th star if the service was better.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles + + + $

Who? Andrew, Shusan, Howie
Zagat: * * * *, $15

The closest Roscoe's to USC is located at Pico and La Brea and it's ghettofabulous. I don't know if that's a word but maybe you can pardon my stereotyping for just a minute . The service was full of "sweetheart" and "y'all". What else can you say about fried chicken smothered with gravy and served with greasy waffles. You want to stop but you can't. It's good, cheap and will probably kill you.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Union Cattle + + + + $$

Located in Hermosa Beach, close to the pier, Union Cattle is one of those restaurants just brimming with energy. This is an awesome place to grab a couple of drinks and a good old steak. The burger I had was excellent, and to quote Steve on his meal: "That was one of the best steaks I've had in a while" (and he's a country boy). The atmosphere is very loud owing to the mechanical bull and the music - but it's mighty fun!. If you're "lucky" you'll see the most incredible bull riders. There is a nice bar on the second level and a great rooftop. As usual with popular places like this, there is a mighty wait for a table.

Who? Andrew, Steve, Steve and Corey

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Pho L.A. + +

Average, average, average... go there if you really need a Pho fix... and get a big bowl of it. I don't understand the valet parking. Some of the menu items look the same, but actually they're different. One may have all the items i.e. beef, tripe, etc... whilst the other has a "choose from" clause. Thanks for pointing that out guys!

Who? Shusan, Howie, Andrew

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Kettle + + + +

This beautiful restaurant is located at Manhattan Beach Blvd and Highland, close to the Manhattan Beach pier. The food is absolutely excellent and is very reasonably priced. The spinach dip was delicious and the entree ribs were fantastic. The menu caters a wide selection of items: from steaks, chicken and fish to sandwiches and burgers to desserts and even breakfast. The restuarant is located in a beautiful neighbourhood where it is easy to take a stroll (to, you guessed it, the pier... what else? We live in L.A.!). Open 24/7, it's a great late night destination. In fact, Steve was so convinced, he took his out-of-town friends there the following week.

Who? Steve and Andrew

Monday, June 20, 2005

Nak Kwon + + +

Cousin to Hodori, this is another 24hr Koren picture set menu restaurant. I like the vegetables here better than at BCD. I was "forced" to eat tofu soup... but it's my favourite anyway. And it was good. Popular after-clubbing destination.

Who? Howie, Andrew, Su-chizzle, Gary, Steve

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Hamburger Hamlet * / + + +

Who? Themo, Andrew, AJ+Michelle, Rajay
Zagat: * *, $19

Themo's Take: This place is not really worth their money, especially when you compare it with Barney's. There are better burger places out there.

Andrew's Take: I think Themo's being a bit harsh here. The burgers are very good and the prices are decent. And the HH is more than just burgers. The dining room atmosphere is very comfortable and attenuates sound well. I think that means you get to concentrate on the conversations at your table. Great place for burger and beer.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Big Wasabi + +

Here's another miniature Japanese restaurant located at Willshire and La Jolla. It's so small that when we were finally seated, we had to scoot out of the way to make way for our server. The food is decent but doesn't come in large enough quantities for the price. I could have gotten the "all you can eat sushi" for roughly the same price as my meal. Rumour has it there is a half-off sushi coupon... alas I never happened upon such a thing.

Wh0? Jarika, Michellios, Howie, Andrew

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Versailles + + + + / **** $$

Who? Siao, Howie, Jarika, Shusan, KStaub, AWong, Andrew, Rajay
Who? Themos, Dora, Frankie, Melanie
Where? Culver City
How much? $25
Zagat: 22, $17

Andrew's Take: This wonderful Cuban restaurant located at La Cienega and Pico serves excellent comfort foods at very cheap prices. Although you might at first be deterred by the long lines and the lack of parking, don't be! The restuarant only seats 75 (or so I think that's what the sign said) in a room no bigger than a THH classroom. The atmosphere is busy and the food arrives quickly from a kitchen that is clearly visible from the dining area. The dishes are very comforting - oxtail, steaks, garlic chicken in lemon/lime sauce - served with plantains and rice with beans, or rice infused with beans (Moro). Everything is flavourful but not audacious. Once done, you sit back in your chair, very pleased. The food selection is quite large. Go early to before certain "popular" dishes e.g. oxtail, run out. Everything I've tasted here has been delicious - although I don't care too much for the Sangria (bit dry). Portions are large. Try to avoid going at super-peak times e.g. Friday/Saturday around 6-7pm.

Themos' Take: Very nice Cuban Place where you can have a lot of food (including meats!) without spending a fortune. The food is really for 3 out of 5 stars but since it is cheap it wins an extra star. Everything we got was good: lots of rice, and carefully cooked chicken and pork. You can get full with only a single portion, no desserts or anything. The sangria was very light but I tried a mango-pineapple smoothie instead which was a very pleasant surprise.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Oomasa + +

Located in the Tokyo Village Plaza, this booth/counter restaurant is almost completely shielded from outside eyes. The dinner special is served in Bento boxes and is pretty decent, and although nothing spectacular is pretty filling. The tea-flavoured ice cream was the best part. Prices are moderate. A nice place to talk privately, to discuss life and/or research over some food.

Who? Andrew, Joyce, Thomas

East India Grill * * * / + + + + +

Who? Howie, Andrew, Ravi
Who? Themos, Dimitri
Where? (next to) The Grove
How much? $21
Zagat: 21, $19

Andrew's take: Located at La Brea and Beverly, this is an absolute hidden gem of a restaurant! The food is cheap and just plain excellent. I had the Sagwala Lamb Curry dinner and I was totally stuffed, my tastebuds in an oh-so-happy mood. I love spinach, and this curry did not disappoint with its thick, rich flavour. As an appetizer, the Seekh Kabab was very fragrant and tasty, and the Samosas were likewise wonderful with the table dipping sauces. I had never experienced Cheesy Nan before, but after trying it once, I'm a fan! (Although Ravi says it's not so traditional) Try a Mango Lassi, for they're perfect yoghurty, sweet concoctions. Parking on the streets is easy to find. My only complaint was the rather terse waiter. But thumbs way up and it even gets a coveted 5+ rating. Now if only they delivered to SC!

Themos's take: It sounds like a joke to combine Indian cuisine with Californian cuisine. However this little place brings the two worlds together very efficiently, although I am not a great fan of indian food (especially with all these things that Rajay makes!). The food is good and fresh, the service is just ok, so the people best advantaged from this place are the nearby take-outers. Thumbs up.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

C&O Trattoria * * * * * / + + + + +

Andrew's take:Located at Venice pier, this beautiful patio-garden restaurant boasts a super-busy, fun and loud atmosphere. Right from the get-go, they gouge you with little bread buns of garlic butter covered goodness. When the main meal comes, you wonder if there is any pasta left in Italy because the portions are large enough to feed entire armies! I know I say this all the time but I really mean it this time - all five of us took home boxes! And that was the "normal" size dish. Apparently there's also "gargantuan" (I'm afraid to ask). I had the Calamari and the Chicken Pepperonata which was quite good, although a bit too stewed for my liking (I still have a whole chicken breast left). However, the prices are excellent for the amount and quality of food you get ($8-11/entree). In between bites of your meal, you can indulge in the singing of "That's Amore", an event that stops the entire waitstaff for a few minutes as they parade around the room, clinking everyone's glasses, to the waltzy tune. Unfortunately, I didn't have an opportunity to try the self-serve Shianti deposited in the large barrels around the restaurant. But I have to say, any place that has crayons where you can draw on the table is tops in my books. Park on the beach ($3), and take a stroll on the pier/beach after. You'll need it. Thumbs up.

Themo's take: Good pasta, good value for money, good location, good atmosphere, good prices: This place has a little bit of everything. I had 3 garlic breads outside while waiting, 6 more after we sat down and while waiting for the main meal, 4 while eating, and 7 more for dessert. After eating these 20 garlic breads I could only eat half of the gargantuan pasta full of meat sauce. The normal sized dishes are pretty big but I wouldn't call them huge, anyone who didn't have 2 meals before on the same day and is not skinny asian can handle them.

Who? Andrew, Chris+MichelleY, Su-chizzle, Howie

Monday, May 23, 2005

Joy Mart + + +

Delicious sashimi and sushi are served in this very nice-looking restaurant located at the heart of the Japanese Village. Ingredients are fresh and well presented. The noodle dishes may look small in the menu but they are huge! The ramen is virtually unfinishable. I had the Pad Thai here and it is very good, as was the Hot Asian Sushi Roll. Prices are moderate and can add up quickly.

Who? Andrew, Howie, Jenn Jenn and later... Steve

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Porto's + + +

Don't let the industrial, take-a-number, form-a-line, decide-your-order-now atmosphere overwhelm you. The croissant sandwiches are excellent, and virtually every type of pastry and dessert for the sweet tooth can be found here. The fruit smoothies are cool and refreshing on a hot L.A. day. Shop in closeby Glendale Galleria. Thumbs up.

Who? Andrew, Howie, MichelleP, A. Lok, Siao

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Shaherzad * * * *

Zagat: * * * *, $22

We didn't have any Persian restaurants on this list yet: Shahrzad is a nice one on 1442 Westwood Blvd with reasonable prices, just make sure you make a reservation first. I don't remember a thing from what I ate there, but everything was classy and good.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The nameless Korean BBQ * * * * / + + +

Themo's Take: This place has no english name nor a website. However it's classic Korean BBQ stuff (cook-it-yourself-play-with-the-fire-stuff) with really nice meats, although somewhat pricey. from the 10 freeway exit at Crenshaw North, right on Olympic, then the place is on the second block on the right side - the one with no english characters :-). It doesn't get 4 stars because of the relatively expensive meats - which are good, though.

Andrew's Take: It's a cute little place and it can get very cosy with 10 people! Good quality ingredients. I particularly liked the steamed egg and those white "dumpling" wrappers. But what they do need is some better ventilation! I was crying at night's end due to the smoke in my eyes :(. The funny quirky girl waitress was awesome. Maybe next time they won't spill hot oil all over my pants when they change the grill plate! Congrats on learning chopsticks Themo. Always fun to play with fire! Thumbs up.

Who? Andrew, Themo, Darren, Chris, Yao, 5 of Yao's friends + 1 quirky waitress

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

BCD Tofu House * * * / + + + +

Themo's Take: This place is pretty good, but it's hard for me to give more than 3 stars in an asian restaurant. They never impress me for some reason.

Andrew's Take: Excellent Korean food for a chain restaurant at decent prices. The Tofu dinner combos are superb - perhaps because I'm partial to thick and spicy tofu soups and mounds and mounds of Bulgogi. However, I was not a big fan of the small-dish vegetables they put out. The Kimchi was average as was a lot of the other vegs. The one on Wilshire is open 24 hours a day. Parking is readily available in a huge lot. Don't push the little button on the table repeatedly, it actually does something! Thumbs up.

Who? Themo, Dora, Rajay, Steve, Andrew

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Leela Thai * * / + + +

Located at Silverlake and Effie, this family-owned restaurant is truly in the middle of nowhere. The atmosphere is extremely cosy (think no bigger than your living room) and the dishes are prepared in that same "homemade" spirit. Large selection of decent Thai food at a very cheap price. Cash only! Thumbs up.

Who? Andrew, Themo, Dora, Rajay

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Loft + + +

Located in Torrance (Hawthorne & Lomita), this PacIsland decorated restaurant is a buffet serving Hawaiian BBQ . Although at first glance the food selection does not appear to be very large, it is actually quite satisfying. The grilled meats are delicious, and fresh pancakes, topped with fruit, are made before your very eyes . I liked the finger foods a lot. A little birdie from Hawaii told me that the foods are quite authentic. Most of all, I also enjoyed the fact that they were showing playoff basketball on big TV's. Thumbs up.

Who? Andrew, CASA board 2004-5, CASA board 2005-6

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Suehiro + + +

Located in J-town, Suehiro is a nice cosy place where you can satisfy late-night Sushi cravings. The flan dessert is delicious. Bring a few friends for a relaxed eating experience. Thumbs up.

Who? Andrew, Howie, Jared+Erika

Monday, April 11, 2005

Olive Garden + + +

An excellent place to have a nice sit-down meal. Be it a dinner date, a business dinner, or in my case a recruiting dinner - all fit well in this more "upscale" Italian restaurant chain. The flavours are fresh, light and simple. And the presentation style makes it feel like home. There is one tucked away in beautiful Westwood. Thumbs up.

Who? Andrew, Steve, new PhD student+girlfriend

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Woodranch BBQ & Grill * * * */ + + + +

Who? Themo, Dora, Andrew
Where? The Grove
How much? $35
Zagat: * * * *, $24

Themos' Take: Niam niam... Tasty meats and great ribs ans steaks at the $20-$30 range. The only one in LA is located at the Grove, and it's worth it. Thumbs way up.

Andrew's Take: Best take-out BBQ menu. Bring it home!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Moishe's (Farmer's Market) * */ + + +

Who? Andrew, Themo
Where? The Grove
Zagat: * * * *, $11

Excellent shish kebab, hummus and other middle-Eastern dishes can be found here. Although it's "fast" food, it's still very tasty - and quite kind to the wallet. The busy patio atmosphere of the Farmer's market gives me that "dai pai dong" dining experience that I miss from the East. You can also pick up some fine NY Strips and Rib Eye from Huntington Meats for BBQ delight Thumbs up.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Pomodoro Italian Cuisine * */ +

Who? Andrew, Themo, Ravi, Rajay
Zagat: * * *, $19

Themos' Take: Decent quality for price Italian chain restaurants - I tried the $6.95 spaghetti and it was pretty good. Niam niam.

Andrew's Take: The quality is very average and the portions are a little on the lean side. The nice setting is not enough for me to recommend this place. Thumbs down.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Hodori * * * / + + + +

Andrew's take: Located at Vermont and Olympic, this place caters a Korean set-meal "picture" menu. Lots of nice dishes at very affordable prices. The restaurant is open 24hrs a day... so you can get your Tofu Soup fix after a few Gin and Tonics... Nak Kwon, Hodori's neighbour is also open late and serves pretty much identical food. Thumbs up.

Themos's take: I love 24h restaurants, escpecially if they are open 365 days a year. It's good to know there is someone you can always rely on. The pricing is very good for the amount of food you get.

Who? Alex, Andrew, Steve

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Village Pizzeria * * * * / + + + $

Who? Alex, Andrew, Steve
Where? Somewhere between Ghetto and Hollywood
How much? $13
Zagat: 24, $13

Andrew's Take: This is a cute, little pizza and pasta place on N. Larchmont. The pizza is fantastic and all the food comes with that "authentic" NYC flavour. The ravioli was quite awesome. The only downside is that the menu is a touch on the pricy side. Thumbs up.

Themo's Take: This is definately one of the top 2-3 pizza places in LA I've tried so far. With the exception of Cheebo which makes fully organic pizzas (but not NY style), this is one of a kind find. The ingredients are fresh and tasty, the bread is awesome, and the pizzas are huge hence even the small one can satisfy two people. This results in ultra-cheap bills and full stomaches!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Fred 62 * */+ +

Who? Andrew, Themo, Rajay, Laura, Michelle, Steve, Shane
Zagat: * * *, $17

Located at Vermont and Franklin, this is a great 24hr place. "Mac and Cheese Balls" and other fine diner foods are amply available here. Great malt shakes but stay away from the Pho. Park on the streets behind the restaurant.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market and Patio Cafe + + +

Don't let this shack on the side of the road deceive you! Great seafood dishes, excellent battered fish served with coleslaw, fries... Enjoy the Malibu sun on the patio while breathing the fresh Pacific breeze. Then go for a stroll on the beach...

Who? Adam, Shane, Wan, Steve, Andrew

Yard House + + + +

Who? Andrew, Themo, Xiong, Ravi, Steve
Zagat: * * *, $27

Here resides the largest selection of draft beer ever. The restaurant has a busy atmosphere and a loud sport's bar feel. The food is absolutely excellent... a great place to go with friends to throw one back.

The Original Pantry * */+ + + +

Who? Themo, Andrew and Steve used to a lot, Michelle, Ravi
Zagat: * *, $15

Themos' Take: Located near Staples Center in downtown LA, it's 24/7 crowded and noisy - this is what makes it so good. Great breakfast option.

Andrew's Take: Get to know the chefs over bottomless coffee, and prepare yourself for a coronary. The breakfast bacon, eggs and hotcakes are a lethal combo. Don't forget the sourdough bread - one of my personal favourites. Skip the line by jumping on the counter... all the hip kids are doing it. Thumbs up.

Marie Callender's * * */ + + +

Themo's Take: Initially well known for their pies and bakery stuff, however they have nice dishes to offer overall.

Andrew's Take: Mmm... pie.

Hurry Curry of Tokyo * * * */ + + +

Themos' Take: Excellent quantity for price restaurant - beef, chicken and pork along with mild curry and awesome rice. Did I mention the good looking customers that go there?

Andrew's Take: Excellent curries drench your tastebuds in a flavour explosion. Deceptively small pots of delicious goodness mixed with cutlets or fruits de mer. My only complaint is the severely undercooked rice they served us that one time. Thumbs up.

Who? Lots... Andrew, Themo, Ravi, Shane, Rajay, Darren, Yao, Chris... ... ...

Mama Voulas * * */ + + + +

Who? Andrew, Themo and Ravi
Zagat: * * *, $20

Themos' Take: Nice greek restaurant in Westwood - decent meats and relaxing enviroment. You can also say hi to mama voula herself.

Andrew's Take: I may not be a connaiseur of Greek food (like Themo) but this is about as good as I've had. It's got a cozy, warm feel. Great dishes. Thumbs up.

Houston's * * */ + + + $ $ $

Zagat: * * * *, $31

Themo's Take: American style restaurant - I like them , what can I do? Haven't seen it outside the US (unlike T.G.I. Friday's). They have the largest seletion of draft beer.

Andrew's Take: It's great food but it breaks the wallet! You're looking at $40+ with tax and tip. Order the rack o' ribs (not actually on the menu) and you won't be disappointed. I have a soft spot for Julienne fries. The spinach dip is excellent. Thumbs Up.

Cheesecake Factory * * * * / + + + +

Who? Themo, Andrew, Charlie, Felecia
Zagat: * * *, $24

Themos' Take: Well known chain of quality restaurants - not too expensive for what they offer.

Andrew's Take: Always a safe bet for a good meal... But be prepared to wait a long time for a table if it's a weekend evening. It also takes me at least two sittings to eat a piece of their cheescake - but it's good to the last drop. Thumbs up.

Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers * * * */ + + + + $

Who? Andrew, Themo and Ravi
Where? Brentwood
Zagat: * * * *, $13

Themos' Take: One of the best burger places around here - fresh meats, fresh ingredients, fresh bread. Really tasty. Wann eat a whole cow? Try the Big Barney Burger :-) Thumbs up for me.

Andrew's Take: Yes, absolutely... and the best part about this place is that the prices are very affordable. It's cozy, tasty and you have a million burgers to choose from! Also vegetarian friendly. The restaurant's on a busy road, so it may take a while to find parking. But thumbs way up for me too.

Parkside (the USC "restaurant") * * * * */ + + + + + $

Andrew's Take: Endless food that's not always that good. But it's an easy and convenient way to cover all the food groups for $5.50 a trip. I agree, 5 +'s for the hand that feeds us.

Themos' Take: This is not the idea of the blog... I'm taking this entry off. 5 Stars for the almost infinite food/money ratio.

Who? Andrew and Themo, and of course Steve, a lot

Buffet Land Seafood and BBQ + + +

Located at Olympic and Westlake, this is one of the greatest Japanese/Korean buffets around. Do-it-yourselfers who enjoy BBQ'ing their way through the night will love the copious amounts of fresh meats and sea creatures. A tremendous selection of appetizers, sushi, vegetables, fruits and desserts. The low rating is due to the expensive price of dinner (~$25) - try lunch instead. Thumbs up.

Who? Andrew + Steier Research Group