Thursday, August 29, 2013

Maru Santa Monica


12400 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 150

Los AngelesCA 90025
(310) 820-7240
Maru - Santa Monica on Urbanspoon

Not a new restaurant, just a new location. What was once a culinary destination in Valencia, California, is now one of the hottest places to dine in West LA. Maru, meaning circle in Japanese, is a very good representation of the various food that is served here. This restaurant may seem like a fancy sushi restaurant. But they have a full kitchen that serves steak and a very creative twist to what they call "Risotto!" The man responsible for these artistic array of culinary delights is Chef and owner Jason Park. And this is our food adventure at Maru...


Wild Albacore usuzukuri
-Fresh Albacore tuna caught locally on the coast of California. The fish was soft and moist. Each little garnish gave the Albacore a different dimension. It was light and appetizing, good way to start any meal. Very well executed dish.

Hon maguro, fooko, nama tako, wild salmon, shima aji
-The fishes used to make our Nigiri sushi were flown in from Japan. And nothing brightens up my eyes more than the vibrant color of good quality blue fin tuna. All the sushi were sublime in their own ways. Every piece of sushi is meant to be enjoyed as is. That means the usage of extra wasabi or soy sauce is unnecessary. Just eat what the chef gives ya!

Heirloom Tomato Salad
House made ricotta, shiso pesto, sherry vinaigrette
-A very nostalgic dish because my mom used to add sugar to tomato and let it chill in the fridge overnight. Next day, we would have a nice cold treat. It was ironic that Chef joked about it, because that's exactly what I would have thought if he didn't tell us that the tomato are naturally sweet. Which are hand picked by the chef himself. Talk about dedication right?

Pan roasted, cherry tomato, cranberry beans, black kale, lemon broth
-Very elegant dish with very nice color contrast. The fish was nice and crispy on the outside, moist and flaky on the inside. The acidity in the chicken broth worked with with the pan roasted fish. Gave the dish a nice balance.

Crispy Duck Risotto
Crispy duck confit risotto cake, herb salad, tomato sauce
-Leave it to Mad Science/Chef Jason Park for coming up with this unique mashup of culinary art. Not sure you could even call it a Risotto anymore. The duck confit was just overkill. Delicious overkill that is! Definitely one of the more interesting dishes we tried. The amount of different flavors and textures in this dish was absolutely mind-blowing.

Filet Mignon
Brandy-Merlot glaze, roasted garlic potatoes with shiitake mushrooms.
-Not something we were expecting. Perfectly cooked Filet Mignon at a Japanese restaurant. Beautifully arranged, cooked Medium rare, and the very interesting sauces. The meat was tender and the spicy chili sauce gave the dish a good Asian twist to it.

Pork Belly
Sake-soy braise, garlic infused black kale, marinated shallots, roasted tomatoes.
-One of the most unique dish here. If there's one dish that you must get at Maru, it's this one! When you eat the pork by itself, it's a bit 2 dimension, and the kale is very fibrous by itself. But when you have both together, the balance of the pork and the kale comes together beautifully. The kale adds the 3rd dimension to the flavor, creating that "umami" flavor. Vice versa, the pork somehow gets rid of the fibrous texture of the kale. Absolutely brilliant! Perfect dish to finish our entrees.

Bread Pudding
Valrhona semi sweet chocolate, Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream
-Nice and crispy outside, warm and moist inside. Top it off with ice cream, forget about it. Just gimme some of this and a cup of that delicious coffee. I'll be a happy camper.

Peach Tart
Reiger Farm's  O' Henry's, almond cream, Creme Fraiche ice cream.
-Chef's version of a peach tart. It's almost like a deconstructed tart.

Berry Cobbler
Assorted organically grown berries, Tahitian Vanilla bean ice cream.
-The outer crust almost makes this look like a cupcake. The fresh fruits used in this cobbler is very obvious. Very aromatic. Another scoop of that delicious Tahitian vanilla ice cream never hurts anybody. AMIRITE?

As you can see, Maru is an "all around" dining experience. One thing they emphasize here is the local ingredients they use. Big thanks to Chef Park and his staff at Maru for their generosity. Big thanks to Jenni Hwang for inviting us.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Everyday Gourmands in Ktown part 3 of 3

S Bar
Category: Bars
3240 Wilshire Blvd Ste 401
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Neighborhood: Koreatown

Sam-Cha! Round 3, we made our way to S Bar. Kicking it up a level on that drinking game. It's not a easy place to find. You gotta find the building, valet or find street parking. Find the elevator, find which floor it's on, and find your way to the right entrance that leads to the bar. Luckily we had our trusty Ktown ambassadors with us. Finding the S Bar was a breeze.

The breakdown
S bar is not your typical Korean Dive bar. Feels more up scaled. Loud music, flashing lights, and most importantly....a full bar. Most dive bars in Ktown only service beer and soju. Gotta come to a place like this if you feel like get wasted.

Some tips:
I was told that this place is cougar town on week nights, and the young people come out during the weekends. If you want to socialize, don't stay at the booths, grab a seat at the bar.

Got a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label, it was only $80, super cheap for bottle service. Soda and juices are complimentary. S Bar is one of those legit bar, so you know we gotta get a ride on the Seoul Train. It's pretty much a array of soju bombs with amazing spectacles. Being round 3 and all. One of our [Ktown] ambassadors is feeling the effects of alcohol. But we go HAM, that's just what we do. So we took care of the bill and headed out to Sa-cha! Round 4.

Only exception, we never made it to Round 4. And instead we went to....

BCD Tofu House 
3575 Wilshire Blvd 
Los Angeles, CA 90010 
Neighborhood: Koreatown

Our final stop of the night. Not trying to say this is where all the drunk people going in Ktown, but this is where drunk people go. It's like the Ktown Denny's. Open 24 hours a day, serves comfort food that you can eat pretty much anytime of the day, mediocre service, and reasonably priced. At about $9 per dish, you get ton of Ban-chan aka apps and your selection of tofu soup with 8-10 types of flavor. Like beef, pork, kimchi, seafood, and so on. Rice and raw egg included. Ok it's a slightly better deal than Denny's. Asians are cheap, and if you want Asians to come to your spot after a night of drinking in Hollywood or Koreatown, you give the people what they want. Cheap and comforting food. 

BCD is one of those places that needs no intro. If you are a local in LA, you know what's up. 

Hope you all enjoyed our Ktown adventures. Make sure you subscribe to us on youtube if you wish to see more. Big thanks to our lovely Ktown ambassadors Ana, Ben, and Nare.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Everyday Gourmands in Ktown part 2

3317 W 6th St
Los AngelesCA 90020
Neighborhood: Koreatown
(213) 487-9100
Dan Sung Sa on Urbanspoon

So this was ee cha! Round 2! Of our little Ktown adventure. Just in case you didn't know, Dan Sung Sa is one of the OG places in Koreatown. My ktown friend told me that his parents used to come here when they were going out back in the dates(college days!). And my friend is in his 30s!

First thing you will notice is their open kitchen in the middle of the room. It's where they grill all their yummy Korean bar food like chicken gizzards, hearts, and feet! Sounds good doesn't it? To most Asian, bar food is about all the cheap little parts that people usually throw away. It's amazing how this place transforms chicken inners into delicacies.But they do have more normal stuff like chicken meat, wings, and beef on skewers.

We got one of my friend's favorite, tteokbokki, Deokbokki , dukbokki, however it's spelled. Basically rice cake in Korean chili sauce. Very popular street vendor dish in Korean. The ones that are usually served are the modernized version from the Korean American war. There's a whole story about why they put the ramen noodles, spam, and cheese, but I'm not going to bored you with that. Try google, I heard it's quite effective.

Second dish we got was Cheong po mook moo chim, or just simply mook moo chim. Mung bean noodle salad in English. Very refreshing, the taste and texture of the mung bean noodles is pretty much like savory jello. Very interesting if you have never had it.

Lastly, our Ktown ambassadors wanted our cameraman Sam to try the chicken feet. Hoping that he would like it; he took a bit and pretty much gave it to me. Guess it's not for everyone. If you've never had their grill chicken feet, it's pretty much bones wrapped with gelatinous texture meat(aka skin). And these particular ones have a smokey taste and of course that Korean chili paste on top. I swear they put that sh*t on everything. It's actually quite an enjoyable dish for the rest of us. So we had no problem finishing it up.

What's ktown without some drinking games? We got the liquor flowing, asked for double the beer, busted off the cups, and let the games begin! First off is Soju bottle cap flicking game aka Huang Fei Hong! So our Ktown ambassador told us that this game supposedly got it's name from the Chinese Robin-hood hero, Huang Fei Hong from the Qing dynasty. Basically when you twist it end of the bottle cap, making it look like a Chinese pig tail, and your goal is to flick it off. You can either have the person who flicks it off drink a shot of soju, or whomever flicks it off makes the 2 people next to him or her drink. We chose option 2, it's more exciting that way.

Second game is called Titanic, pretty much fill the beer cup halfway, insert the soju shot glass into the beer, make sure it's barely flowing on the beer. Take turns pouring soju into the shot glass without sinking it. Whomever sinks it, drinks it. It's a terrible game, unless the goal is to get completely wasted. As a result of the game, we went over $100 on our bill, which means SERVICE TIME! The server asked if we wanted food or alcohol. Of course, we went for the booze. The word service actually refers to complimentary food or drinks. It's a Korean custom(at least in Ktown LA) to give free food or drinks when you have ordered a lot. The more money you spend, the more free stuff you get!

After a few more rounds of Titanic, we finished up and headed to round 3.

Tip: Valet parking is $2, but street parking is available if you come early enough.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Elite Event: X Games And Fleming's

Aside from all the commotions trying to get to DTLA by 5:30 and finding the Chick Hearn statue, this event was AWESOME.

I liked the idea of the tour. Definitely helped me worked up an appetite. Getting to see the staple center covered in dirty was pretty cool. Our tour guide was super chill, thanks bro! Glad that I got to see the X Games stage in person before they leave LA.

By the end of the tour, I was looking forward to a nice piece of juicy steak! I know I know, wishful thinking. But it was not far off. Fleming's had set up this super legit banquet room for us. Even got a sommelier to pour wine for us and any wine questions we may have. I didn't get a chance to play with the"wine pad" but I did checked it out. Looked pretty neat. Not sure if ipads will replace the sommelier soon, definitely something to think about.

Shrimp Cocktail w/ Kris Pinot Grigio delle Venezie Italy
Big shrimps, oximoron? Delicious.

Lamb Lollipops w/ Saint Clair Pinot Noir Marlborough New Zealand
Super tender lamb chops. Wish I had more, too busy drinking the wine.

Skewers of Filet Mignon w/ Chateau De Parenchere Bordeaux France
Not as tender as I thought it would be. But very tasty just like the wine.

Assorted Homeade Chocolate Truffles and Berries
Such a fancy treat. Wish there was more light in the room to take some good pictures.

This was a great event. Got to meet a lot more people this time. This was probably the best event(this year) so far. Big thanks to Fleming's for being super generous and being nice about everything. Thanks to the X Games for giving us that exclusive tour! And the biggest thank yous to our fearless leader Katie B. for setting it all up. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Everyday Gourmands in Ktown Part1

8th & New Hampshire
Koreatown, CA 90005
Neighborhood: Koreatown

Round 1 aka il Cha in Korean. Our Ktown adventure started here. The comic book themed Korean dive bar. Happy hour until 8pm on a saturday. We got maybe 2 dishes and some drinks. For the 5 of us, it came out to $30 something. Pretty cheap. Disclaimer, the address is just the cross stress. Not really an actual address. Yep, it's that kind of place. You know it's legit when you don't know the address right?

The 2 dishes we got were spicy chicken covered in cheese and some spicy noodles covered in cheese. Your typical Korean bar food I suppose? I'll eat it, but I probably would order if I had a choice. The Makgeolli was BOGO. We were on it like fat kids on cake. When you come to Ktown, your goal is to have a good time. And  deceptively, that equates to us as getting sufficiently drunk. Which you'll see as the night goes on.

Not sure how much truth there is to this, but I heard it's where the locals go. Since it was our first stop, it wasn't too crowded. It's not a rare sight to see in Ktown early during the night.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Slaters 50/50 in Pasadena

61 N Raymond Ave
Pasadena, CA 91103
Neighborhood: Pasadena
(626) 765-9700
Slater's 50/50 on Urbanspoon
We went to check out the Slater's special burger for July. The 100% ground bacon burger called the "The 'merica."In honor of our independence month. It's a bacon on bacon action. Definitely an unique experience. However, don't expect to this burger to make it to the main menu anytime soon. We thought it was a bit too salty for our taste. The ground bacon just isn't the same as a nice piece of bacon stripe. Next time, gonna have to stick with their classic 50/50 setup. We hope you enjoyed our video. Make sure to subscribe for more!