Saturday, July 8, 2017

Jose Chiquito

I am finally writing about the Grand Central Market.

Its not Eggslut or Wexler's Deli that I praise, but Jose Chiquito.

This modest stall wedged between Tacos Tumbres a Tomas and Golden Road Brewing has neither long lines nor brioche buns. But it more than compensates with its breakfast burritos.

Within a warm tortilla, toasty hash brown potatos pad a filling of eggs, tomato, pepper, onion and (most crucially) avocado. The saltiness of the hash browns, the sweetness of the onions and tomatoes, and the tangy sourness of the avocado hit all the right gustatory nerves. .

True "comfort" food, the burrito (pictured below) bursts to it's seams and will certainly stuff yours: the vegetarian variety--which I order because I can't eat pork-- always keep me full from breakfast until dinner.

By the way, one burrito only costs about $7.00 including tax, a rare find these days at the market (or really anywhere in downtown)..

Remember to always eat your breakfast, kids.

NADI Myanmar cafe

I took the bus to Alhambra Thursday morning for an interview. While I waited for the return ride, I began to feel hungry and, like all good foodies, consulted my Yelp (mobile) app. 

The second listing down from the top of the "restaurant" search results (with 4 and a half stars) read "Nadi Myanmar Cafe." 

I had never eaten Burmese food before and adored every southeast Asian cuisine I have tried so far. Therefore, I decided to postpone the hour and 45 minute bus ride home in order to give the restaurant a try. 

My first impression upon entry was the sweet waft of incense that permeated the air. A mural on the left wall depicts/immerses you in the round pagodas and rainforest of Myanmar's countryside. Amulets and boddhisatvas crammed a shelf on the opposite wall. 

Mural display

I skimmed through the list of curries and soups before settling on the chicken noodle salad (which a Yelp reviewer had positively commented on).  I then sat back in my chair and waited for the meal's delivery while taking in the Burmese ballads playing on the radio. 

Chicken Noodle Salad
The dish was served with artistic flair in an undulated ceramic bowl, accompanied by garnishes of chopped egg and dried (golden)  noodles.

Eager to satisfy my stomach's grumbling, I dug into the display with chopsticks. 

The noodles had a rich umami flavor, with a hint of Vietnamese fish sauce, that was occasionally punctuated by the sharpness of cilantro. Crumbling up and mixing in the egg added a richness that accentuated the umami quality.

In between bites of noodle, I slurped on the small bowl of rich (but not salty) chicken broth given as an accompaniment.

On the balance, my lunch at Nadi Myanmar Cafe made a wonderful addition to my trip (in terms of both nourishment and excitement). I will definitely return to the restaurant if I visit Alhambra again, and look forward to digging deeper into Los Angeles' Burmese culinary scene. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Crenshaw Fish Market

"Good things come in small packages", a wise man once said (okay, I don't know who said it, but it's been said). Food wise, this saying applies well to my experience at the Crenshaw fish market on Saturday. 

As I crossed Jefferson (while walking along Crenshaw), a worn brick exterior, that more closely resembled a liquor store than a fish shop, appeared before me: only the placard that beamed the store's title in bright red letters confirmed for me that this was the place I had spotted under a "lunch" search on Yelp. Walking in shortly after the time the market opened, at 11 am, I found little visible evidence of lunch in the display case: the employee who worked behind the counter appeared to be in the process of setting things up. Nevertheless, the faint smell of raw fish and shrimp indicated that this was indeed a place for Louisiana-style fried seafood. After quickly perusing the paper menu (attached to the display case), I placed my order for the number 9 (Five pieces of fish, french fries, a side (coleslaw, in my case) and a dinner roll).

Within a couple minutes, I saw the employee take pieces of seafood from a container and appear to place them in some sort of breading mixture. A few minutes later, the deep fryer cackled. The fish smell grew stronger, intermingled with the blossoming waft of spices.

After the employee had repeated the process, I heard him call "your order" and point towards me. A plastic bag, containing a styrofoam container and a small paper bag with condiments and coleslaw, beckoned. 

After bringing the containiner back to my table, I opened it up and took my first bite. The fish was tender (obviously high-quality) and the breading crisp and flaky (an indication that the fillet was fried well). Unfortunately, the sharpness of the pepper overwhelmed the zesty spiciness (from chili) on the first two pieces, making for an unpleasant bitterness. However, the remaining pieces displayed a good balance of the two flavors that delivered a double punch of spiciness and savoriness. The Crinkle-cut fries, sprinkled with a light amount of chili seasoning and a moderate dose of salt, were consistently delectable. 

The coleslaw and the dinner roll were both mediocre. The former was a tad too sweet while the latter had a doughy consistency.  

I left satiated and delighted to have tried something new. However, I can't say I was blown away, particularly in regards to the fish. I will have to visit more Louisiana-style fish restaurants to discern whether this reflects my taste for Louisiana-style fish or the quality of the establishment.  

Luckily, my feast ringed in at only $7.49. That's a pretty good deal (for LA), regardless of how the food tastes. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles

Driving down to West Adams to work out at a friend's house this morning, gave me the excuse to (and the hunger) to brunch at the legendary Roscoe's.

Since I did not want to clog my arteries after having exercised, I ordered the waffle without fried chicken, instead accompanying it with egg and chicken sausage.

After, a 30-minute wait (the restaurant was busy), my meal arrived.

I slathered the quadrilateral with butter and poured maple syrup, then took a bite.

Syrup and better can make any better day better, especially on a waffle of such balanced consistency: it was slightly crisp on the edges but soft in the middle and neither chewy nor soggy.

On the other hand, the sausage came overcooked and the eggs were nothing special. The biscuit I ordered on the side (to extend the meal) was too salty.

Will I return? Maybe, to order chicken and waffles. I didn't see anything wonderful about the other breakfast dishes.

Roscoe's price point for their signature dish is high however (19$ for a half-chicken and 2 waffles: more than it cost me in New York), so that next occasion will have to wait.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Pollo a la Brasa (belated)

This article is based on a visit I made to the restaurant at the end of last October. Due to life's vicissitudes, I did not get around to editing account until the past winter vacation. Enjoy!

In the traffic island at the corner of 8th Street and Western Avenue in Koreatown, one encounters a ramshackle hut . The Logs stacked along the hut's walls befit a country farm house or alpine ski resort, but the din of gridlock on the surrounding streets easily breaks this illusion. The waft of spices and clanging of kitchen utensils, that emanate from the larger edifice behind, offer more telling clues.

When you enter the larger structure, a massive oven containing numerous spits (lined with whole chickens) appears behind a counter, confirming the latter suspicions. Once finished, the birds--which are roasted over charred wood-- yield the most tender and flavorful meat to be had anywhere in the city. If you don't believe me just ask Red Rooster's Marcus Samuelsson or Mozza's Nancy Silverton. Order either a quarter or half chicken (depending on whether you dine alone or with a partner) with sides of smoke-tinged steak fries and salad (with delectable sweet red dressing).


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Naab Cafe

I meant to have this up shortly before Halloween but both school and life got in the way.

Happy (and delicious) New Year everyone! Feast wisely.

Midnight in Westwood.

You're headed down to Wilshire to catch the 720 bus but want to grab a something on the way to satisfy those pangs within your stomach (maybe it's the end of a prolonged study session maybe you drank a bit too much at a party). 

You traverse the scramble crosswalk at Le Conte and Westwood and survey the deserted modernist landscape.

To your right you may faintly hear sounds coming from the hookah bars on Broxton (whose food is mediocre) or from the In-n-out beyond that (you don't want to eat typical fast food, or wait in a line...). To your right, there is just Ralph's. 

Ahead of you, on both the right and left sides of the street, every door is shuttered.So you whip out yelp and search with the "open now" filter. 

Situated near the top of the list (by ranking), Naab cafe stands out for its high ratings and novelty (it's not a Westwood "institution" by any means). So you begin the .5 mile trek.

Shortly after you've crossed Wilshire Corridor, while treading an upward increment, a red-hued sign beckons. 

As you get closer, you amble your way past the groups of stylishly-dressed men and women waiting for the valet. Upon entering, the bright lighting, which illuminates the wood-paneled floor, reinvigorates you for the feast. The menu, listing sandwiches, entrees and small plates whets the taste buds.

I must confess that I have only been here once (one Friday night back in October to be precise). But the chicken cutlet sandwich I ordered was so amazing, that it inspired me to write this.

To describe:

Two halves of a bauguette bulge with a generous portion of tender, spiced breaded chicken, salad and (slightly-sweet) pickles. The sandwich, filling as it is, comes with either salad or fries on the side. Indulge yourself by choosing the former: the salad's yogurt-based cucumber-tinged dressing is heavenly...

But it's not just the food that makes this place stand out...

Vibrant Farsi pop tunes play over the speakers, accompanied by energetic music videos in the TV screen. From the patio behind the kitchen, loud conversation and the wafts of hookah give .

At this hour, Naab cafe not only satiates your stomach but embellishes your night.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cafe Brasil (belated post)

I've gotten behind in the last two months because I have been bogged down by homework and readings (now that I'm back in school). I meant to publish the following article on August 19th.

With the Olympics happening in Rio, I had to eat some Brazilian food. My visit to Cafe Brasil Tuesday evening did not disappoint.

Approaching on Venice by foot, I was immediately charmed by the lush green color of the shack in which the restaurant was located.

Entering (through the door) off of Westwood Blvd, I stepped into a bustling dining area;. Patrons crowded around the wooden tables and filled the air with chatter. The verdant green and orange interior wall decor and tent-like plastic windows lend the ambience of a Rio de Janeiro beachside Barraca (or concession stand) if one ignores the hum of traffic emanating from Venice.

To place my order, I moved to the the cashier at the back, situated immediately in front of (and opening directly into) the kitchen. The sizzling sound of steaks and vegetables on the grill and the tantalizing wafts emanating from them helped me decide on a "Havana" sandwich, described as containing "top sirloin steak with low-fat cheese, lettuce and salsa".

After five minutes of knifework and cooktop artistry, a benefit of the open kitchen, I received my platter, consisting of two half-sandwiches and a side salad. (Yes, you have to order at the counter and bus your own plates. The advantage of course, is that you aren't obligated to add a tip.)

I wasn't too crazy about the salad, which consisted of field greens with a balsamic dressing.

The sandwich was a different story. Layers of peppered steak and smoky mozarella cheese, enlived by a zesty and piquant salsa, melted into my mouth with ease .

For only $7.25, I left satiated and satisfied. The other sandwiches, which smelled just as delicious, are priced similarly, though you should be prepared to splurge if you intend to purchase an entree-sized steak or pasta,