Bon Vivant's written and pictorial diary of her culinary adventures that will amuse and excite your virtual taste buds...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Traktir and the Russian Deli Crawl

Below, the delectable sausage and egg sammie. This also contained roasted peppers and vestiges of a mild slaw and a seasoned mayo. This was served with a very interesting cucumber salad: sliced raw cucumbers, a vinaigrette dressing, and sesame seeds (the sesame seeds gave it a very unique taste.)

Raven, who lived in Moscow for a while, was craving some really good Russian food and quirky products that one can only find in Russia. She approached me with a brilliant plan: how about we lunch at Traktir and then walk along Santa Monica Boulevard and do a Russian Deli crawl so to speak. This plan appealed to me: ever since I saw those episodes of "A Cook's Tour" wherein Anthony Bourdain partook in culinary adventures in St. Petersburg and Moscow I've been dying to try some stick to the ribs Russian food.

Below, this borscht tasted as good as it looked! It was perhaps the best borscht that I've ever had - who knew that borscht could be so good? Served on the side is some cheese toast: yummy black bread with a schmear of garlic sauce and gratineed cheese.

Below, two views of the pelmeni (the delicious stuffed meat dumplings perfectly garnished with the minimalist toppings of butter and sour cream - simplicity at it's best!)

Below, a glass of kompot (Russian mixed fruit drink). I opted to drink this rather than vodka (that's "wodka" to you.)

Below, the inside of the first deli that we went to. I nearly got kicked out for taking pictures so I didn't take anymore pix until later and that was outside a deli (see below.) Throughout our crawl we bought frozen pelmeni, the infamous Russian cream (twice), garlic, pancake mix, and gingerbread treats. We have a plan on doing a Russian Deli Crawl feast for our friends in the future!

Below, a sign in English outside what turned out to be one of our favorite delis. The last item on the fifth line says, "staff pepper."

8151 Santa Monica Blvd. (The Starwood used to be there)
West Hollywood, CA 90046

Sunday, October 29, 2006

El Siete Mares: Vas o No Vas?

If I were you I would not sail these Seven Seas. Some dishes at this Silver Lake Mexican seafood house (it's a chain and there are many restaurants throughout LA) are good but overall the quality of the seafood is lacking (Nota Bene: my criticism does not include the fish taco stand which is right next door - they have killer fish tacos.)

This dinner was part of the Pleasure Palate's "Soup's On!" series and was my first Pleasure Palate event as the host. We all met here on a Thursday night when just a few hours before the weather went from very cool to about 80 degrees. Not perfect soup weather but the air conditioner was blasting in the restaurant so that helped simulate Fall weather somewhat.

Two of the better dishes that night: chips & salsa and guacamole. The two salsas were really tasty and the chips fresh and warm. But note the chips sticking out of the guac: they are packaged chips. Huh?

Their signature dish: Caldo Siete Mares. Even though I didn't order this that night I have had it before and I think that it's good. The broth is very satisfying and the fish is usually fresh in this dish.

The steaming bowl of Caldo de Camarones: this looked good but I didn't taste it (I saw LAGourmet today and she said it was very good.)

My dish that evening: deep fried Tilapia. This was quite good; the fish was fresh and it was expertly fried - no sign of grease. Plus the outside was super crispy.

Below, this was probably considered the best dish of the evening: the sizzling Molcajete de Camarones. It's shrimp, nopales (cactus), and cheese in a spicy sauce. It was served with Charro beans and rice. Everyone liked this dish but when I tasted one shrimp it was too fishy. The sauce was great though. (Note: they have really good Molcajetes next door at La Parrilla.

A couple of people ordered the Combo El Siete Mares and they were not happy campers! First of all, they served surimi "crab" instead of real crab legs - unacceptable! (I just don't understand the concept of fake crab.) Marathon Running C mentioned that the scallops were very tough and not good at all. I wonder why a restaurant would put something that they know is bad on a plate - why not substitute something else that is edible?

The next "Soup's On!" event that I'm hosting is at Mon Land Hot Pot City and I hope that you'll join me!

El Siete Mares
3131 West Silver Lake Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Pleasure Palate

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Aha oe Feii?*

*Are you jealous?

Below, Korean short ribs.

Once a month the law firm that I work for has a firm luncheon. Since I'm new to the firm (it has just been two weeks) this was my first "taste" of their joie de vivre. The only thing missing were some bottles of beer (the firm has a huge wine cooler in the kitchen so I think that a mid-afternoon sip of beer wouldn't be verboten.)

Below, marinated sesame chicken.

Below, chap chae for a thousand.

Below, fish and spinach pancakes, respectively. For some reason there wasn't any dipping sauce so I ate these with the kim chee.

Below, fried shrimp. The people afraid of the whole fried fish ate these.

Below, a trough of kim chee - enough to last for weeks (or in my case, days).

Below, the best item: whole deep fried fishies.

Below, I'm enjoying my fishie.

Restaurant Orgy Update: Gardens of Taxco was cancelled for Friday night. The whole of Saturday I am going nowhere and I'm planning on making a killer Bolognese sauce. Sunday night is Gourmet Hiking T's dinner for me; we were going to go to BIN8945 (or whatever) but they don't take rezzies for large parties so right now my party is restaurantless. On Monday at Asian Noodles I forgot my camera (again!) but My Doppelganger being the kind soul that she is let me take pix on her camera and is letting me use pix that she took. Yet again (!) I forgot to bring my camera to Wilson so I couldn't memorialize my $38 pasta appetizer.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Luscious Dumpling Madness!

Hmm, many empty and nearly empty dishes piled up on this table and people are still stuffing their faces - they must be at Luscious Dumpling!

It appears to be de rigueur that I post an entry for Luscious Dumpling once a month (see "Restaurants Reviewed" on your right.) Well, the time has come for me to memoralize my last meal there. I met nine other dumpling fanatics on a glorious Sat morn not too long ago (ok, actually it was nearly a month ago but I was waiting for the last LD entry to be archived) and we ate so much we had to waddle out of the restaurant (a few hearty foodies made it to Fosselman's afterwards.)

Below, the best dumplings of the day: fried dumplings stuffed with napa cabbage, pork, and sole - divoon!

Below, some beautiful looking bok choy served with oyster sauce - it was as good as it looks.

Below, the ever popular shredded pork and szechuan pickle soup noodles.

Below, my favorite soup: stewed pork soup noodles(note the gobs of stewed pork belly in this soup! The pork was very lean on this day but it was still meltingly tender and flavorful.)

Below, steamed dumplings filled with cabbage, pork, and shrimp.

Below, the beef tendon noodle soup with hot sour sauce (the broth is served on the side). I turned many people onto this dish that day - when the meal was over there was nothing left in the bowl.

Luscious Dumpling
704 Las Tunas Drive
San Gabriel, CA 91776

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Taste of Paris: Le Petit Bistro in West Hollywood

Each table receives not only bread and butter but a small platter of hummus, eggplant salad, and harissa (and let's not forget that ramekin of chicken liver pate.) Luckily for us, Le Petit Bistro has a Moroccan tinge.

On Saturday night I went to a big family dinner at Le Petit Bistro on La Cienega in West Hollywood. Colby Cheese's parents were out here for a visit and since they were staying at Mon Oncle's house around the corner, Mama Colby Cheese thought that this would be a perfect restaurant for us Francophiles.

Below, the Shrimp Picante ("A Must" the menu says). LAGourmet turned me on to this dish declaring it as incroyable. It was even better than I expected.

Below, the wonderful cassoulet with duck confit (that's duck boiled in it's own fat to you), a lamb shank, and sausages.

Below, the braised lamb shank with couscous (this is Mama Colby Cheese's favorite dish):

Below, Papa Colby Cheese ordered one of my favorite dishes: the merguez sausage avec frites (you see those fries soaking up the spicy sausage grease? That's the best part!)

Below, my brother's affinity for le coq au vin gets him the best dish of the night! This was so good.

I was so busy taking pix of other people's entrees that I forgot to take a picture of my own! I had the steak frites. I opted to pay an additional $3.50 for sauteed "wild" mushrooms but believe you me there was nothing wild about my mushrooms.

I did get a picture of my dessert though. Below, a wonderful apple tart. At most restaurants the crust is very tough but at Le Petit Bistro I believe that they make the tart to order so my crust was very flakey and tender.

Le Petit Bistro
631 North La Cienega Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
pas de website

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Restaurant Orgy Update

Below, the sake sampler at Mako in Beverly Hills (Dear Reader, you must think that all that I do is drink sake - well, you are right!)

On Friday, Vivacious Gourmet E had to reschedule our lunch so I didn't make it to Cafe Angelique. Instead, I went to the food court at 7th & Figueroa ("Fig") and got some Persian kabob (a girl needs some Persian kabob every now and then - wink, wink). Got right back on track Fri night with the dinner at Mako, but this afternoon at Kuala Lumpur I realized that I had forgotten my camera so I couldn't memorialize our totally foodie luncheon (boy, did I go with the right group!)

I had originally thought that Mako was an Izakaya but I was wrong; it's more like Asian Fusion and they serve fairly big portions of food. Often times I find that in Beverly Hills the food is not as good as what one may find east of La Cienega and you have to pay double or more for it as well. I thought that Mako was better than average, and while some things didn't work for me others were fabulous.

Below, the tuna tataki salad. This was quite boring especially when you've had the sashimi salad at Matsuhisa before (I have and that's the standard Dear Reader.)

Below, the calamari salad. Now this was good! The greens with the crunchy calamari and the great dressing made this one of my faves that night.

Below, duck pot stickers. These were really tasty and I wish that we had ordered more of them.

Below, the green beans. These were just ok; if you want the best stir-fried green beans go to Din Tai Fung.

Below, the pork belly special. The were out of braised black pork so we ordered this instead. The meat was very good but would have preferred a different sauce (it was like a tomato salsa.) For main courses we also ordered the cod (not as good as it looked), fried oysters, and the lamb chops (great flavor but could have been slightly more tender considering that they were rib chops.)

Below, the fabulous dessert platter. Now this blew me away! I'm not too big on sweets but what I tried on this platter was fabulous! That's butterscotch pudding in the bowl in front.

Below, a close-up of the mango ice cream. It had a wonderful flavor and texture.

Below, the dessert platter after we attacked it.

225 South Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Pre-Theater Dinner at Izayoi

Below, the extremely beautiful and delicious (and might I add extremely expensive) toro tartare with avocado, caviar, and sprouts in a light ponzu sauce.

Izayoi is easily one of the best restaurants in J Town and perhaps one of the best Izakaya in the City if not the best. Izayoi's menu is not as vast as Haru Ulala's (which is half a block a way) but that is just fine with me because Izayoi concentrates on what they do best: fresh seafood.

For those of you who frequent the Music Center as much as I do, the restaurants in J Town are a welcome relief from the Patina restaurants. Izayoi was the perfect pre-theater choice (we saw "Doubt" last night) and also a great way to begin my restaurant orgy. Will the other restaurants live up to it? I go to a chichi Izayaka on Friday night in Bev Hills.

Below, the wonderful marinated cucumbers with octopus. Note the paper thin slices of lemon nestled between the pieces of octupus. Very refreshing!

Below, the stewed pork belly. This dish was served with some dumplings which were filled with some type of gooey goodness (maybe some type of tuber goop?)

Below, Mumsy's main course of soba in broth with tempura.

Below, yummy miso soup with clams.

132 S. Central Avenue (between First and Second)
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Restaurants Galore!

Dear Reader, I noticed yesterday that I told many people about my upcoming culinary adventures: at least one restaurant a day, with a few exceptions, for the next two weeks. I got exhausted thinking about it because I'm already 8 posts behind! I was supposed to go to Jer-ne (located in the Ritz Carlton Marina Del Rey) tonight but decided to stay home since I only got 4 hours sleep last night and just can't face the traffic to the Westside - I mean, it like took me 10 minutes to go from Echo Park Blvd. to Alvarado on Sunset (for those of you who don't know it's like very short 5 blocks.)

So here's the list (subject to change without notice):

Wednesday, October 18: Izayoi in J Town

Thursday, October 19: open thus far

Friday, October 20: Cafe Angelique for lunch and Mako in Beverly Hills for dinner (don't even get me started on the traffic, I have to be there at 6:30!)

Saturday, October 21st: Kuala Lumpur in Pasadena for lunch and Le Petit Bistro in West Hollywood for dinner

Sunday, October 22nd: Jar on Beverly

Monday, October 23rd: Asian Noodles in Chinatown for Mami Soup (Filipino chicken noodle soup)

Tuesday, October 24th: Wilson in Culver City

Wednesday, October 25th: open thus far

Thursday, October 26th: El Siete Mares in Silver Lake

Friday, October 27th: Gardens of Taxco for Girls Night Out ("The cheeken was borrrrrn for theese sauce!")

Saturday, October 28th: I think that Hiking Gourmet T is planning a dinner for me so it's a surprise

Sunday, October 29th: Daikokuya in J Town

Monday, October 30th: A.O.C.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Saturday Night Dinner at Blair's

Let's start with the dessert first. Below, a photo of the Caramel Pudding Trifle that includes whipped cream, strawberries, and buttermilk cake. Some Palmiers are served on the side. Note the swirly caramel candy adorning the dessert.

Since opening, Blair's has become a Silver Lake favorite. Even though I live only a mile and a half away (if I were still in my old house I would be a block and a half away) I don't eat here often enough - could it have something to do with the fact that there's no parking in that area anymore?

Blair's occupies a space that used to be this really bad Thai restaurant that had a great hamburger. Back in the 70s there was this "Hippy" restaurant on Fountain at Virgil and it turned into a Thai restaurant. Apparently the new owners kept some of the old menu items one of which was the "Eatin' High Hamburger." Eatin' High split into two, one moved to the space on Rowena and the other moved into the old Pup 'n' Taco stand on Virgil at Fountain. Remember this logo? If you do, I know how old you are.

So My Doppelganger hosted a dinner at Blair's a couple of weeks ago to celebrate Spicy M's birthday. I really like Blair's menu, even though it changes all of the time, because I like the philosophy of the chef highlighting what's in season. I like the beer menu too. The first time that I ate here I sent back two bottles of wine, they were too sour for $40 each, so I haven't paid too much attention to the wine list since.

Below, one of the most popular dishes with our party: the butternut squash risotto with applewood smoked bacon, collard greens, and fontina cheese.

Below, my main course of the evening: the housemade linguine with homemdade Italian sausage, artichokes, shallots, and lots of slivers of fresh garlic.

Since I ordered my linguine sans corn, I got a side dish of the sauteed rapini which I know goes better with sausage than corn.

2903 Rowena Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90039