Lovely buffet at Culina at the Four Seasons

Tags

, , , , ,

Through the ups and downs of life, one thing that seems to offer a small respite from the sometimes harsh reality is the blessing of a good meal in a very comfortable,  elegant setting, which for a brief instance, enables one the chance to forget and escape.

There was a very enticing deal for the “market buffet” at Culina at the Four seasons in Beverly Hills, so we decided to give it a try. It had been quite a number of years since we were there for dinner.

The restaurant looked a bit updated since my last visit, and we were seated by the window next to the patio where there was a bridal shower party, so the mood became very festive and fun.

The food was beautifully laid out across the bar area in big platters, amongst striking floral arrangements. Even though there were not an enormous amount of offerings, the selections were solid and good.

There were fish tacos on blue corn tortillas, flank steaks and chicken for the protein, and lots of varieties of salads. Being that I love avocados, I was totally content with the big bowl of guacamole next to all the cheeses and charcuterie.

Since it was a Saturday, there was a cook-to-order omelette station as well as savory crepes. I ordered a crepe with smoked salmon and cheese, and it was really good!

I did not find the dessert to be exceptional, so I only ate a small amount and opted to have more of the very fresh fruit selections which included dragon fruit, kiwis, blueberries, pineapples, …

I really enjoyed my time there because of the overall setting and ambiance. I would highly recommend going there not just for the above average food selection but also for a time to relax and escape.

Culina at Four Seasons: 300 Doheny Dr. Los Angeles, CA 90048 Phone: 310-860-4000

 

 

 

Advertisements

The best duck – Meizhou Dongpo

Tags

, ,

To be able to dine in great restaurants and then to be able to write about the experiences are just some of the many blessings that I am immensely grateful for. The joy of eating is so much more than just the satisfaction of  an empty stomach, it is to me a fulfillment of desires, a obtainment of precious moments, a comforting of the heart, an enjoyment shared, the lifting of spirits, and an escape to different realities.

“these days”, I told my son, “I am feeling that I almost do not want to eat unless it is truly what I enjoy eating and what I really want to eat”. So there had been many days where I would just stay hungry until I can decide what it is that will give me the most pleasure to eat.

I have been blessed with the opportinity to eat in Meizhou Dongpo four times within the last two months. I like roast ducks, and the roast ducks here are truly the best that I have ever tried. The duck is carved in front the patrons’ table, and then put on a white ceramic serving plate with a carving of duck at one end.

The slices of duck meat is served with very thin pancakes, and slivers of green onions that can be added along with the sauce. The first bit of the duck was quite incredible with the perfect crispiness of the skin, the moistness of the fat, the tenderness of the meat, and the delicateness of the taste – a true harmony of flavor and texture!

The Pea Tips is what I reccommend to have along with the duck. This vegetable was seasoned perfectly and went well with the meat.

Although most of the other dishes that I had tried at Meizhou Dongpo were fine, I would suggest going there solely for the duck, it is truly excellent, and to me, the best.

 

Meizhou Dongpo – 10250 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90067 Phone: 310-788-0120

 

 

President Thai

Tags

, , , ,

Before jumping right into my post tonight, for those of us who are struggling with the uncertainties of life, a friend had so kindly sent me a post from Morgan Harper Nichols of whom she follows on instagram, hopefully that and many previous posts might serve to ease the struggles and pains of the heart.

Now Thai food has always been a hit and miss for me. The only Thai restaurant that I remember really liking was from such a long time ago, a place in Thai town with a Thai Elvis performing while I enjoyed favorites such as papaya salad, steamed fish, and pad thai.

Thus, I was pleasantly surprised when I visited the President Thai. We got there early on a Saturday evening. The outside of the building is rather impressive with a pair of elephants on either side of the front entrance. The inside of the restaurant was elegantly decorated.

I had my mine set on the papaya salad even before arriving. The other selection was also easy since we both like pad thai. The third order was a yellow curry that one of the waitress recommended.

Pad thai is a dish that I have always had issue with. I am not sure why some Thai restaurant make the noodles a bit sweet, of which I totally dislike. So I am always a bit anxious when I take that first bite, hoping that I will not be disappointed.

Very fortunately, the pad thai here did not surprised me in a negative way. It had a good flavor and not sweet! The papaya salad was tangy and crunchy as I envisioned it to be. The diappointment for the night was the yellow curry which tasted a bit bland. I regretted not ordering the green curry which I usually prefer. Nevertheless, I truly did enjoy the evening with the pleasant ambiance as well as the other two dishes, and I hope to come back soon to have my favorite dishes again.

President Thai – 498 S. Rosemead Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91107     Phone:626-578-9814

Simply San Diego

Tags

, , , , , ,

While life can certainly be filled with many different surprises, the unexpected can at times really throw us off  –  some are good surprises that give us joy, hope, comfort, and happiness, and some…can hurt, really really hurt, and leave you hanging with uncertainties, and disbelief…

The days before, during and after my relatively short trip to San Deigo encompassed a mixture of these surprises which left me to ponder how truly fast and sudden events in life can change from one moment to another.

The month leading up to the trip was the beginning of a revelation, a test of  tolerance, and love. First of all, the trip itself was somewhat unexpected, but very welcomed. I was to accompany my boss who wanted to cheer on her daughter who was going with her school on an athletic competition.

Aside from her attending some of the games, the daily activities were to take photos at scenic locations, and look for good places to eat. The food was of course the best part for me. I searched and read reviews and looked at all the Yelp’s photos to decipher which would be the best choices for her and me.

Most of the ones we did try turned out to be excellent and delightful. The first place we stopped at was lunch at a restaurant named Baci Ristorante.  The restaurant was totally empty when we got there, which made me feel a bit uneasy, but we were told that the reason was because it was the day after Christmas.  Since we were there already, we decided just to stay and try. Being the only customers, the waiter was naturally attentive,  even the owner came over to greet us, and shared with us the history of his restaurant. Later on after the meal, took us on a tour of the whole place and explained to us the stories behind all the artwork, which turned out to have been created by a relative of his who had since passed away. Some of his work were in fact quite distinguished. And after that, he even took us next door to a much more casual restaurant run by his son.

The food turned out to be so much better than expected, in fact, they were excellent in taste and preparations. We started with a white wine reccommended by our waiter. The steamed black mussels in wine and garlic was exceptionally fresh, plentiful and perfect in flavor. My Veal Chop Lamberti topped with roasted garlic, appeared simple, and yet was outstandingly executed, and my boss enjoyed her Swordfish Oregonato, cooked also with white wine and garlic. Everything, the food, the wine, the ambience, the encounter with the owner,  made for a very special and magnificent afternoon.

Elegant yet unrestricted was how I woul describe  Mister A’s, one of San Diego’s finest restaurant on the twelth floor, minutes from downtown offering a spectacular view of San Deigo’s skyline. It had been a while since I felt the sophstication and polished attentiveness of the staff in a restaurant, “classy” would be the suitable word. THe restaurant offers modern American cuisine with influence from the French and the Mediterranean.

My Duck Confit with Fingerling potatoes and sauce Quercynoise was without a doubt the best that I had ever tasted. I usually choose not to eat the potatoes, but the ones on my plate were so different in taste and texture from other potatoes, that I ate them all with glee. There was not one thing that I could criticize about this dish!

The others at the table order the Surf and Turf , which included a Filet Mignon that was truly exceptional, as I was told.

I was again thinking of how very blessed I have been as we dined at George’s at the Cove, Ocean Terrace. The atmosphere and the view would certainly qualify this restaurant to be representational of the sun and fun of a beach town. Situated on the top level of a commercial building admist the bustling shops at the heart of La Jolla, we enjoyed our lunch overlooking the beautiful Pacific ocean with a gentle breeze and warm afternoon sun. I think this was what “being on vacation” is supposed to feel like, all the unpleasantness of life seemed to have disappeared if only for those moments.

The Spaghetti with Clams was an excellent choice for my boss, with ample amount of clams and huge shavings of parmesan. My Prosciutto and Fig Panini, though tasty, was just a tad disappointing because of the heavy bread. However, the ambience and the beauty of being there more than made up for whatever was lacking with the dish.

Foodwise, it definitely ranked amongst the top out of my recent trips, with the exception of Hong Kong. However, because of an incident that happened toward the end before returning to LA, I was reminded that with everything wonderful, there would be things to offset that a bit. The lesson taught me to try to be much more careful in all that I do as I move forward in life’s journey with God’s mercies.

Baci Ristorante – 1955 Morena Blvd. SanDiego, Ca 92110  Phone: 619-275-2094

Mister A’s – 2550 Fifth Ave, 12th Floor, San Diego, CA 92103  Phone: 619-239-1377

George’s at the Cove – 1250 Prospect St. La Jolla, CA 92037  Phone: 858-454-4244

Delicious Food Corner – The Name Says it All

 

After discovering the opening of this already quite popular Hong Kong style restaurant in another part of town, we have since gone back there no less than five times within the span of one month.

It is puzzling how so many people already know about this third location when the place was only so recently opened. There were usually quite a bit of people waiting even though the actual wait time had not been very long – tonight was the only time that we did not have to wait to get seated. The waiters and waitresses were all very efficient and some were especially friendly toward us. I was told that a few came from a restaurant that I had liked, and that the place has been closed recently.

The inside seating are comfortable though some of the tables are a bit closed to each other. This particular branch offers some Chef’s Specialty dishes that are not in the other locations. The one dish that attracted me originally was the Lobster stirred fry with rice cake. However, they did not have it the first time, nor the second time we were there. Instead, the waitress suggested the Sea Cucumbers with Mushrooms which turned out to be the best dish so far. The Pork Ribs was excellent too, with a tangy glaze that was absolutely delicious. There was a Stir Fry Milk with Seafood dish that was decent, and the vegetables in the Bok Choy with Mushroom and Dried Beancurd was fresh and crunchy. As it turned out, my most anticipated dish –  Lobster with rice cake, was probably our least favorite due to the overly saltiness of the dish.

So when we were there last week for the fourth time, we decided on the two dishes that we enjoyed the most – the sea cucumbers and the pork ribs, and it was not difficult at all cleaning off everthing on those two plates.

Delicious Food Corner – 545 W Las Tunas Dr. San Gabriel, CA 91776  Phone: 626-325-8838

 

Belvedere at The Peninsula – Simple and Elegant

Tags

, , , , , ,

It had been so manys years since I had the good fortune of dining at the Belvedere, before the restaurant was renovated to its current state.

I remembered the food to be superb, service excellent, but most of all, I felt really comfortable and at ease in its elegant surrounding. When DineLA came along, I was very thankful that Belvedere was brought up as one of the option – it was a little answered prayer.

The updated version of the restaurant looked not too different from what we remembered the place to be. Seemed a little bit more airy, perhaps due to the fact that I was seated facing the large windows with a very serene view of the garden-like setting.

This time, however, I did not feel as at ease as the previous. It might had been that the table was a smaller one situated in between two other tables that were placed rather closed to ours. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the people watching part since I could see very much of the whole dining room area from where I was.

The food was as good as I had hoped. We both ordered the French Onioin Soup to start. It was probably the only version that I had tasted that was not too salty – I do not understand why every single one I tried in the past had always been extremely salty. It was rich and flavorful with the largest piece of cheese topping that eventually filled us up so much that I was not even able to finish my entree.

The Duck Confit Orecchiette that I picked, though tasty, had a bit too much pasta in proportion to the duck. I actually found the Pork Belly with the Sweet Breads to be more enjoyable and satisfying, with the pork reminiscent of the Chinese roasted pork that I so adore.

 

Dessert was a perfect looking Chocolate Souffle of which I did not try since I was not having chocolate for that day. I opted for a simple Vanilla Ice Cream which did provide a soothing finish to a most pleasant and gratifying afternoon.

The Belvedere at the Peninsula Hotel: 9882 S Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212  Phone: 310-975-2736

 

 

 

71 Above

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

img_1575 (2)

Blessings come in many different forms – to have my birthday celebrated in such a georgous setting was certainly one, and to be able to watch the sky changed its colors slowly and leisurely was another.

Having a birthday close to Christmas does have its perks of always being in the midst of festivities and an air of celebration and joyfulness. Even though the days leading up to the dinner had been challenging, soul searching and filled with heart wrenching revelations, life moves ahead and one can only look at the moment and decide how to live that moment, while wondering if ignorance is indeed sometimes better.

img_1585

I was told that the food is good here despite the beautiful interior and exquisite view. Skeptical but full of anticipation, I was thankful that the dishes exceeded my expectations. The “Duck”, a roasted breast was done to perfection, with accompaniments and sauce that heightened the dish to the top level. The “Garganelli”, with mascarpone and Pecorino butter was hearty and enjoyable. My grilled Maitake mushroom came out exactly as I asked for, not a least bit charred. The poached “Oyster” with uni and caviar looked incredibly luscious even though I did not try it. The ribeye, though tasty, was the only dish that needed improvement due to a bit of chewiness of the meat.

img_5993

img_5983

img_0579

Suprisingly, we were somewhat full after the three courses and the amuse-bouche.

img_5981

img_5990

The second blessing took place within two weeks – same location but at different hours of the day. Arrived at around 3pm, the bartender reccommended a riesling from Germany (Weingut Robert Weil), fruity and refreshing, just the way I like my wine. The “Dates” wrapped with bacon, and blue cheese was the star of that afternoon. The photography enthusiasts in us took shots of the still life (the sumptuous bar offerings),  the elegant interior with the best lighting that one could ask for, and the unparalleled view of the sunset that adorned the sky with a multitude of reds, oranges, and yellows. If one can focus only on the simple elements in life – food, beauty, and art…….

img_1580

img_1599

img_1586

71 Above – 633 W 5th St. 71 Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90071  Phone: 213-712-2683

 

A True Gem – Simple, Elegant

Tags

,

 

Not that I do not enjoy eating raw fish – I had actually worked in a very nice Japanese restaurant many sushi ago. Yet, over the years, due to increasing amount of phobias, I have lessen my consumption of raw fish.

Nevertheless, I do ocassionally indulge myself just a tiny bit in what I believe to be higher quality sushi/sashimi. Just like the time I had dinner with my boss and the uni in her platter of sashimi was just too tempting to resist. And of course, during my recent trip to Japan, it would be regretable if I did not try the raw delicacy there.

What prompted the visit to this gem in the old town in Torrance was started with a conversation about finding fresh uni. Someone had mentioned that a restaurant in this part of town offers fresh uni and quality raw fish. So I began to search, and found the restaurant in this very quiet part of town.

IMG_20181020_120014847

I was instantly impressed with the simple, airy and minimalist look of the interior, and that the Japanese sushi chefs gave the impression of seriousness about their craft. There is no turning back now, there is no doubt that I will be eating raw fish today.

 

 

I also realized that day, that I will not be having fresh uni in shell as I cannot bare eating them while the flesh would be still moving. We did order the “Uni Aglio e Olio” (Garlic, olive oil and red chili spaghetti with uni – cooked). The dish was simply and elegantly prepared with just the right flavor.

Between the two of us, we ordered the “Lunch Miyabi Kaisen” and “Chef’s Select Sushi”. I don’t recall having tasted such fresh fish and such exqusitely prepared sushi in recent years, even better than what I had in Japan near Tokyo’s famous Tsukji fish market.

IMG_20181020_115546820

As I looked wishfully above our table where there was a menu displaying their “Prix Fixe Six Course Dinner with Pairings” on certain nights during each month, I realized that I can indeed truly enjoy great sushi when quality, freshness, and excellent preparation are part of the key ingredients.

Miyabi Uni – 1231 Cabrillo Ave, Suite 101, Torrance, CA 90501  Phone: 424-376-5135

 

Cold and Spicy – Hangari Bajirik Kalgooksoo

Tags

,

 

I was yearning for a bowl of Korean cold noodle, after much searching and looking through hundreds of photos of noodles on the net,  three places stood out.  I proceeded to try two out of the three, and concluded that the Bibim Milmyeon at Hangari Bajirik Kalgooksoo is perhaps one of the most addictive and satisfying cold noodle I have tried.

After tasting the Bibim Milmyeon a few weeks ago, I could not get it out of my head. I have been thinking about how good it was almost daily, and I would play back my memory of eating the noodle over and over again. I told myself that I needed to go back soon. I could not wait any longer. After finishing an errand with my son, I more or less told him that we are heading Koreatown to have some noodle. Quite surprisingly, he did not object (he usually does not like to go too far for food).

The first time I was there, I waited for quite a while even at 2pm on a Sunday.  This time, around 4:30 in the afternoon, there was no wait. Hungry from not having breakfast nor lunch for the both of us, I ordered the cold noodle for myself and the Chicken Kalguksu for my son.

The bachan here is simple but yet one of freshiest –  what it lacks in varieties, is more than made up with the perfect flavor that was not overly seasoned. I mixed all three of the kimchis into the little bowl of barley – so good!

The milmyeong is just perfection for me. Chewy strands of noodles, mixed in a slightly spicy sauce with hips of sliced radishes, and a bit of julienne cucumbers and egg and a slice of meat.

The Chicken Kalguksu, according to my son, is very good, especially on this chilly day. Though I did not try it myself, the abundance of squash and daikon inside was quite appealing to me.

I would probably order a bigger bowl of barley to go with the kimchis the next time. The dumplings, though decent, were probably the only thing that did not stand out for me.

Hangari Kalguksu – 3470 W. 6th St. Los Angeles, CA 90020  Phone: 213-388-2326

Patina

Tags

,

Have read some good reviews about this restaurant,  so finally decided to visit since it was DineLA few weeks ago. The five courses that the menu offered seemed enticing enough, especially the course with the maine lobster.

We chose Sunday for the dinner because of the lighter traffic to downtown, and partly because I was determined to find street parking there. I did circled around a few times before landing one of best spot about 1/2 block from the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Was early, got seated at a table near the window. The decor is very simple and casual. I asked for some bread and an elder gentleman came with a tray of about 5 different types of bread. The brioche bread tasted decent even though they were not warm.

The amuse bouche was an artistically presented smoked salmon cone, very light and tasty. The first of 5 courses was a Dungeness crab, delicious. Followed by Hamachi, scallop, octopus crudo which were all extremely fresh and had just the right flavor. Then came a pasta course which was not on the menu, probably one of the best I’ve had. The maine lobster was delightfull. Finally the Wagyu beef, oxtail, potato were all excellently prepared. The oxtail was tender, the beef was just the right size for me, even though some might feel that it was a tad small. The potato looked more like a dessert than a side of potato.

 

The dessert was an “Ivory Chocolate” with persimmon. Again, presentation was exquisite, but because I personally prefer dark chocolate, I found the white chocolate to be bit too sweet.

A tray with some candies came with the bill, however, I found that the candy had the taste of the raw rice since they were sitting on a bed of rice.

Patina – 141 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012  Phone: 213-972-3331