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Larchmont Bungalow

107 N. Larchmont Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90004

www.larchmontbungalow.com

Today was such a nice day and the sun was out, I decided to go out and explore the town because I didn’t want to waste the day inside. Went with a friend to walk around Melrose, then we ended up on Larchmont. We came across Larchmont Bungalow and decided to try it for dinner.

The appearance and style of the place had a nice, homey touch, that reminded me of Williams Sonoma. It was sort of quaint, but very neat. It had the coziness of a cafe with tables scattered about, but also a couch and a fireplace thrown in. Plus, it’s not so formal…. you order at the counter and they give you a number to take back to your table. The food comes out fairly quickly too, didn’t have to wait very long even though we were starving.

Now on to the good stuff, food! Here’s what I ordered….
1) Lobster cobb salad (Lobster, bacon, avocado, chopped egg, blue cheese and tomato on a bed of romaine lettuce and mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette on the side.): The salad was very fresh and had a very organic feel to it. The balsamic vinaigrette was and tasted homemade, and it had a thicker consistency rather than something watery. The thickness helped mesh the flavors together and the ingredients of the salad. I always enjoy the pairing of balsamic with blue cheese. They were also very generous with the toppings giving large slices of avocado and nice chunks of blue cheese. It was very colorful and the portion size was large… definitely enough for a whole meal. In addition, the lobster meat tasted fresh, but I just wish they gave a bit more of it.


2) Red velvet cake: It’s become my unintended mission of trying red velvet cake whenever I come across it, and I’m sure glad I ordered it here. They also had red velvet pancakes, but that will have to wait for next time. The piece was a large and thick slice. I was really surprised how big it was, especially compared to the thin slice I got at La Grande Orange. It was quite decadent. But I really liked the thick cream cheese layers in between the cake, it almost tasted like a cheesecake rather than just cake. The cake itself was moist and soft, and there was even enough to take home.

I would definitely go back.

— 3 years ago
#dining  #LA  #mid-wilshire  #dessert 

Chaya Downtown

525 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90071

A group of friends and I got together to try a more upscale restaurant in the Downtown LA area to take a break from school and enjoy ourselves. I always past by Chaya and Drago on my way home on Figueroa, so I thought I would try it. My review is based on the regular dinner menu, and not the Happy Hour.

Food breakdown…
French Onion Soup (starter): I’m always interested in trying French Onion soup at different places to see how they prepare it being one of my favorite dishes. The Chaya version was tasty and was a good portion size, but not the best I’ve ever had. I usually like my french onion to have that nice cheese layer over the top of the bowl that you penetrate with your spoon to discover the soggy bread piece underneath. It had a nice flavor nonetheless, but I was surprised that there wasn’t some Asian twist considering that Chaya is a fusion restaurant.

Pan seared crunchy albacore toro -meyer lemon marmalade/ grilled asparagus/ aged sweet balsamic reduction (entrée): After reading other Yelp reviews and scanning through the menu, I decided to go with my gut instinct and try this dish, and boy was I glad. Despite the smaller portion size, I was very pleased with this dish and taste. The toro tasted fresh and was seared perfectly without being too raw or chewy. The crunchy texture on the outside of the fish was a nice touch because it was a nice contrast to the natural softness of the fish. In addition, I’m glad that it had a sweet balsamic reduction rather than some sort of soy sauce or ponzu based sauce with wasabi in it. The lemon marmalade underneath also added a nice sweet and sourness to the dish along with another texture and consistency. I also appreciated the the grilled asparagus on the side, which wasn’t too crispy or soggy, but had a nice crunch. But it might’ve been nice to have a starch on the side or on the plate.
(I tried some of the other entrees that my friends ordered, but nothing compared to this dish. The Maine lobster and shrimp ravioli was a little bland and the flavor of the seafood seemed to be absent. The pappardelle with kobe beef wasn’t very special either. Despite the appeal in the description, presentation was poor and the taste didn’t pop.

Warm milk chocolate croissant bread pudding with caramel ice cream (dessert): Since I wasn’t completely full from my main course, I decided to go ahead and order a dessert, which was another good decision. I have a new liking for bread puddings, and the thought of a croissant bread pudding was even more intriguing. The pudding wasn’t overly dense and it was actually rather light and flaky pairing nicely with the caramel ice cream.
(I also tried some of the other desserts from my friends, which were pretty good as well. If you like ginger, the ginger crème brûlée is a nice touch with good integration of the ginger flavor rather than overpowering. The profiteroles were also freshly made that weren’t soggy or stale).

Ambiance: The atmosphere was very modern and clean, and the service was good. Also, at dinner valet parking is free for 4 hours.

Note: The 4 star rating is based on the dishes I ordered, but if I took into account the other items I tried from my friends, it would be a 3 overall.

— 4 years ago
#dining  #downtown la  #asian  #fusion 

La Grande Orange Café

260 S Raymond Ave
Pasadena, CA 91105

I came here with my family for dinner to celebrate my birthday. We went on  Monday night, which was still eligible for the Neighborhood special, which is a pretty good deal.

We started off with drinks, in which I ordered their White Sangria. This drink was rather delicious, the white wine was very refreshing and had a nice, sweet flavor that wasn’t bitter at all. In addition, there was a fair amount of fresh fruit included to absorb those extra flavors.

For appetizers, I decided to try the Brussel Sprout salad. I had read previous reviews about this salad and I like brusse sprouts to begin with, but I was a little disappointed. I was looking forward to that brussel sprout taste to stand out in this salad, but it ended up being a little bland. The manchego cheese, berries, almonds, and added bacon added flavor, but it wasn’t anything wow, especially paying $15 for it. I preferred the Caesar or Wedge salad that my parents got that came with the entree for an extra $6.

On to the main course… I wasn’t in the mood for any beef that night, so I went with the Dixie Pan-Fried Chicken, which was recommended to me by the waitress and my aunt. I usually don’t order chicken dishes that often as I’m more of a beef lover, but I thought I would give it a try. The real appealing aspect of the dish was the homemade cinnamon bun on the side. Sadly, I ended up liking the cinnamon bun more than the chicken part. The chicken didn’t have much taste or seasoning, and the texture was lightly fried. I was looking for more crispiness and flavor. The mashed potatoes on the side were fine, but nothing spectacular either. On the other hand, the cinnamon bun had great flavor and wasn’t overly sweet, with a nice soft texture. When paired with the bun, the chicken tasted better. Everyone else in my family ordered the prime rib, which I got to try, and this was much better being moist, tender,juicy, and cooked at a fine medium rare. It could even be cut with just a butter knife.

Lastly, for dessert, we got the red velvet cake. This definitely lived up to the hype and recommendation. Although the slice wasn’t large or overly decadent like some other red velvet cakes, this had multiple layers interspersed with cream cheese. It really hit the spot and didn’t leave me feeling bloated or overly stuffed. To top it off, it also came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream :).

As for ambiance, I think the building used to be an old train station, so it  had that nice quirky antique feel with the metro stop right outside. It felt cozy and warm inside along with good service. The food came out quickly and the waitress came back repeatedly to check on our table.

— 4 years ago
#pasadena  #dining  #american 
Ajisen Ramen (Irvine location)
2700 Alton Pkwy
Ste 145
Irvine, CA 92606

I’ve been to other Ajisen locations, but I think this location might have better taste than some of others. I liked my ramen this time more than I did at the Rowland Heights and San Gabriel locations. I also had the chance to have it in Hong Kong, which was also a flavorful experience. Although this is a chain, the ramen tastes decent, not the most authentic, but not horrible either.
tender pork ribs ramen (~$9):  The pork rib pieces were really tender and weren’t overly cooked so that they would be a soggy mush. The meat wasn’t stringy either. The portion size was good and the servings of meat was more than a lot of other ramen places give. Usually they only give a few pieces of pork. There was also plenty of veggies, which is a plus, but there wasn’t a hard boiled egg. The broth was tasty, but maybe a little salty.

Ajisen Ramen (Irvine location)

2700 Alton Pkwy

Ste 145

Irvine, CA 92606

I’ve been to other Ajisen locations, but I think this location might have better taste than some of others. I liked my ramen this time more than I did at the Rowland Heights and San Gabriel locations. I also had the chance to have it in Hong Kong, which was also a flavorful experience. Although this is a chain, the ramen tastes decent, not the most authentic, but not horrible either.

  • tender pork ribs ramen (~$9):  The pork rib pieces were really tender and weren’t overly cooked so that they would be a soggy mush. The meat wasn’t stringy either. The portion size was good and the servings of meat was more than a lot of other ramen places give. Usually they only give a few pieces of pork. There was also plenty of veggies, which is a plus, but there wasn’t a hard boiled egg. The broth was tasty, but maybe a little salty.
— 4 years ago with 1 note
#irvine  #japanese  #dining 

The Boiling Crab (Brookhurst)

13892 Brookhurst St.

Garden Grove, CA 92843

www.theboilingcrab.com

I’ve been hearing about all the hype and rave reviews about this Vietnamese-owned place from people, so I thought I would try it out for myself with my friends. Even though we were closer to the Alhambra and Rowland Heights locations, we heard that the Garden Grove location tasted better. Note that there are two locations in Garden Grove, and the one on Brookhurst is the larger establishment of the two. Before you go, ask if the main cook is there.

  • fried calamari ($8.99): These were your typical fried calamari rings, with the absence of my favorite part, the tentacles. The breading was decent and not too crunchy, but there was only some cocktail sauce on the side for dipping - nothing too fancy or interesting. You can’t go wrong with this item, but you might want to save that room in your stomach for something else.
  • sweet potato fries ($3.99): Although sweet potato fries aren’t as common to find at a lot of restaurants, these didn’t taste like anything spectacular. They were cooked well with a nice crisp and not too hard. But the fries weren’t seasoned with very much and required the salt and pepper and lemon to dip in.
  • shrimp - whole sha-bang nonspicy ($8.99/lb): Even though the it’s called “The Boiling Crab,” we didn’t order any crab. Other friends recommended to get the shrimp because the crab was too much work and not that much meat. The shrimp was cooked nicely served with the shell still intact. There’s a lot of meat to these shrimp pieces, the only downside is that if you take of the shell it loses a lot of the seasoning and flavor. The items purchased by the pound are served in large plastic bags.
  • crawfish - whole sha-bang non spicy (market price): These were tastier than the shrimp because the seasoning was able to diffuse more into the crawfish. You have to work a bit more to get the meat out of this one and there is less meat inside. Therefore, we ordered 2 pounds of this item.This bag included a corn on the cob, which has also been recommended by others.
  • clams - whole sha-bang non spicy ($9.99/lb):  We ordered whole sha-bang non spicy seasoning for all three main items, but this was the seasoning recommended and it tasted really good, especially for the clams. The clams were able to absorb the flavor the most. I liked the clams the best between these three that we had. A lot of the pieces, the clam meat was already detached from the shell, but that didn’t change anything, only that you had to dig around for it. If you’re hungry, a pound of clams may not seem like a lot.

Note: The hours that they open are not standard hours, and if you don’t get there when they open, expect to wait. There was even a line waiting outside before we got there, and we arrived before it opened. Also, it’s recommended if you eat in a group or family style that a good estimate for how much to order is about 1 pound per person. Joe’s Crab Shack compares nothing to The Boiling Crab. Overall, I was thoroughly satisfied and enjoyed my meal.

— 4 years ago with 1 note
#seafood  #dining  #garden grove 

McCormick & Schmick’s

633 W. 5th St.

4th Floor

Los Angeles, CA 90071

Some classmates and I decided to go here for happy hour after lab. The menu was decently priced and the draft beers were only $5. This was my second time here for happy hour, although I wasn’t thrilled by my first experience. I thought I would give the place a second chance.

  • bbq pork sliders (~$3.95):  The pork was seasoned well and the sauce was fine, but the meat itself was a little stringy. The fried onion strips added a nice crunchy texture to offset the the pork. Presentation was mediocre and everything was placed on two buns, but the buns weren’t separated. This made it a little difficult to eat and messy. Half of it was sort of falling out already before I could take a bite. Nothing special about the bun either, but I guess I can’t expect too much for a cheap, happy hour item.
  • fried zucchini (~$1.95):  The zucchini were also ok… the pieces weren’t consistently breaded to cover all of the zucchini leaving me deprived of some of the unhealthy goodness of being fried. The zucchini itself on the inside was a little soft and the cabbage garnish didn’t really add anything to the taste or presentation. The side of ranch was also a little insufficient in providing for enough dipping pleasure for the 4 pieces included. I can say I’ve had better fried zucchini elsewhere, and it wasn’t prepared to the caliber of Bottega Louie’s portobello fries.

After two visits to their happy hour, I can honestly say I’m not a fan.

— 4 years ago with 1 note
#american  #dining  #downtown  #happy hour