Tuesday, February 28, 2012

L & E Oyster Bar for a non doggy related silverlake experience

you don't have to be a four legged pooch or a skinny jean wearing hipster to enjoy the stroll down silverlake blvd towards the dog park. in my opinion, the neighborhood around the reservoir and the poochy playground is THE gem of silverlake. come on, what isn't there to love about doggy friendly facilities, a meadow for kite flying and picnic enthusiasts, a basketball court for the next up and coming jeremy lin, and just an overall chillaxing environment for walkers, runners, and people watchers alike. BUT if you catch your belly grumbling as you strut your stuff in the area, then you may find yourself wrestling with limited dining choices. let's see, there's lamill, reservoir, leela thai restaurant, and if you're desperate, 7-eleven for their hot dogs and a slurpee. not a lot to choose from unless you want to drive out of bounds that is.

however, dustin lancaster and matt kaner of bar covell recently gave the neighborhood a 5th option, L & E Oyster Bar, an oyster haven for those of you who like it raw....and in a shell....and on ice. methinks not a bad choice following your 7-11 slurpee appetizer.

they have a nice wine and beer menu which covers the basics so unless you're looking for very specific libations, i'm sure you can find something tasty to sip on while you're there. i settled on the lambrusco ($11) which had sweet, fruity notes with a slight fizz to the tongue while my sister settled for a glass of cold abita ($6).

the meal started with complimentary sweetened hush puppies with whole corn kernels nestled inside.

then we moved on to the daily dozen ($28) which is a must order when you're here. you get 3 types of oysters at 4 oysters each for a total of 12. if you were a third grader, i would explain, 3 groups of 4 oysters equals 12. 3 x 4= 12 but divided by 2 big mouths equals zero. you get my point yah? the oyster selection varies daily and that night, our daily three were the kumiai ($2/per), shigoku ($3/per), and my favorite, the marin miyagi ($2.50/per) which was nice and meaty. the oysters were served with cocktail sauce, "vinegar," and horseradish shavings. man they were good!

we also ordered grilled oysters, the rockefeller ($12), which was hefty in flavors. the ricard, bloomsdale spinach, lemon zest, and cream weighed down the oyster, but was still fetching in taste. obviously, if you're an oyster purist, you may want to stay away from these oyster renditions which does a great job in masking its oystery essence.

the cajun crawfish pie ($15) with itty bitty bits of crawfish tail was pretty to look at but awfully sweet and not at all spicy. i definitely wouldn't order this again and i highly suggest that you don't either unless you enjoy living regrettable moments.

the fries with aioli ($6) was yummy, as all fries are meant to be. thin, crispy, with slivers of fried garlic nestled in a tuberous mound makes it great nibbling fodder for all nibblers.

overall, my oyster eating experience at L & E was positive. i think the oysters are absolutely fresh and tasty and i will most certainly come back for more. i do, however, think they need to step up their dinner menu so they can offer their patrons a more complete dining experience unless sucking down oysters is all you need to eat for dinner. due to the limited space, they are also over eager with turning tables which may or may not bother you especially if you're trying to woo a lady and need a few more minutes to hit a homerun. anyways, come here and have a glass of wine and order the daily dozen and then head off to dinner somewhere else...that would be my game plan.

L & E Oyster Bar
1637 Silver Lake Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(323) 660-2255

price: $$$
verdict: tasty, try it!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

eating at fat spoon with a fork

if you walk down 1st street in little tokyo in search of eats, it is obvious that the bell of the ball is daikokuya. just check out the throng of people huddled around the perimeter waiting for their name to be called just so they can slurp down a bowl of hot ramen. although daikokuya is absolutely worthy of waiting till the end of time, sometimes hunger dictates you to eat sooner rather than later so enter rebound option #1, FAT SPOON which is located RIGHT NEXT DOOR.

fat spoon is a curious little establishment headed by michael cardenas (lazy ox canteen), chef hiro fujita, and company. before entering their quaint little shop, i definitely had high expectations and really wanted this rebound to work out. we enthusiastically ordered four dishes for our noshing pleasure to be shared amongst a company of three.

since i am such a sucka for risotto, the seafood tomato risotto ($12) was a must order for me. unfortunately, i was greeted with mushy textures and bland flavors. if there was ever an urge to offend the kitchen by asking for salt, this would be the time to do so. skip.

the uni with mushroom pasta ($14) was underwhelming as well. again, the pasta was bland and would benefit from seasoning whereas the uni was too delicate in this particular dish to exert its presence which makes me question their inclusion. i definitely need to search for a more impressive uni pasta dish in l.a.!

i was also underwhelmed by the pork cutlet curry ($10) which had a curiously strange texture that bordered on being slightly rubbery. the curry was also mild and one noted which is a complete departure from the usual complex flavors of japanese curry. absolutely disappointing.

alas, we did hit upon ONE dish that night that was surprisingly tasty, the tarako pasta ($10). the salted cod roe added bursts of briny flavors to the pasta which melded quite nicely with the creamy sauce. the creamy sauce was so addictively tasty that my sister spooned the sauce onto her portion of the drab uni pasta. this dish was the first one at our table to be polished off and i would definitely order again.

overall, fat spoon did not shine. in my opinion, their lackluster flavors do not present any threat to daikokuya, the hottest chick on 1st street. although i've been told that their mini corn dogs and uni croquettes are to die for, i do not know if those fried items and the tarako pasta can seduce me back to its doors given the vast eating options we have available to us in our city.

Fat Spoon
329 E. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 621-7890

price: $$
verdict: it's aight

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

mad love for mexicali taco!

(esdras ochoa and javier fregoso, the mexicali duo)

people say you never forget your first love and i counter with my belly and say, you never forget your first taste of mexicali taco either. in my case, my first vampiro made me swoon so hard that the first bite i took many moons ago sowed a seed of crave that only mexicali taco eats can fulfill. trust. though i miss their humble beginnings in an empty parking lot on first and beaudry in downtown with the downtown skyline as the backdrop, it became obvious that their fans, including this roaming belly, would follow them wherever they went. and follow we did to baja night and daily dose until they became unnervingly quiet and not quite as accessible. what happened, i wondered.

then they began tweeting messages about opening a storefront late last year which made their fans buzz with excitement. a permanent home?! after much anticipation and a long hiatus (long to me anyways), they had their soft opening tonight at their new digs on figueroa near chinatown and i'm so.freaking.excited. i am literally a hop, skip, and jump away and i can FINALLY get my vampiro fix whenever.i.want. it's been way too long baby and this belly is HONGRY.

homemade horchata. forget the cup, let me just stick an extra long straw into this barrel! delectable, delicious and craveable too with just enough sweetness. methinks the perfect drink for my mexicali meal.

imported authentic medio litro coca-cola ($2.75).

their condiment bar. hands down, my favorite has got to be the little strands of limey red onions and their guacamole sauce. talk about uplifting the meal to another savory level with strategically placed condiments.

a cachetada with a fried egg on top. who would have thunk?!

cachetada ($3) with a choice of carne asada, chicken, chorizo, or vegetarian options. think of a tostada piled high with meat then topped with mexican cheese and a savory aioli chipotle sauce. YUMZ.


the zuperman ($4.75) has three kinds of meats sandwiched between two tortillas. again, flavorful and intense the mexicali taco way.

nachos ($6) packed with crispy chips, meat, cheeses, and salsa de rajas. definitely not your every day run of the mill nachos. these nachos demand your full attention and your big mouth.

and the vampiro. sigh. the lovely vampiro ($3.75) with the garlic sauce. the bite that i took tonight reminded me of the bite i took back in july when i was huddled on their plastic chair in the parking lot. garlicky, meaty, and 100% lovely. it was like reuniting with an old friend again and i sure missed my friend a lot.

churro borough also brought their churro ice cream sandwiches to the celebration. definitely grab these if you ever run across them...super flakey circular churros and this particular chocolate ice cream had a bit of heat in it. YUM.

the night eventually ended with a wonderful speech from esdras about small dreams and building empires. but the best thing about tonight (other than the food of course), was being a part of the realization of a dream. thanks esdras, javier, and co for your invite and i'll see ya real soon. now that you have a permanent home, then i shall roam no more for a beloved vampiro. congrats and wishing the mexicali taco family ALL THE BEST!

Mexicali Taco & Co
702 N. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 613-0416

price: $
verdict: holy shit!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

drooling for fish curry at bhanu

i drool for many things. chocolate, diamonds, leather bags... and this coconut fish curry ($9.99) dish at bhanu indian grocery & cuisine in san gabriel. yes, indian food in SAN GABRIEL, the mecca of east asian eating...i kid you not. imagine these tender pieces of fish swimming in a thick curry sauce spooned over some rice. such a delicious, hearty bite and a must order when you're there. do it, i promise you that there will be some kind of party, somewhere in your mouth when you taste it.

the garlic naan ($2.50) was also a great way to sop up the fish curry. it was just garlicky enough to fend off the nearest vampire or bad date.

the papadam ($2.25) was an airier version of a thin, crispy cracker. two dipping sauces were provided for our nibbling pleasure.

the aloo bangan ($6.99) was a win with the tender eggplant and potatoes. great balanced flavors and another favorite dish at our table.

the tandoori chicken ($11.99) was exceptionally juicy and flavorful. the chicken was well seasoned and a must order when you're there. the steam rising from the chicken was absolutely mesmerizing...and this picture kinda makes me drooly again. *wipe*

the vegetable biryani ($8.99) was deliciously flavorful and a great accompaniment to the curry and chicken. i definitely think in this context, vegetable biryani > plain white rice.

the aloo mutter ($6.99) was less interesting than its dishmates, but still quite tasty. in general, it was on the mushier side and may not appeal to those with teeth. just sayin'.

bhanu indian grocery and cuisine is a great, chillaxing place with just the right amount of flavors to make your tastebuds skip a beat. if you are in the area and crave sustenance not found in a bowl of noodles or dumplings, then i suggest you drop by bhanu for a tasty treat.

Bhanu Indian Grocery and Cuisine
7246 Rosemead Blvd.
San Gabriel, CA 91775
(626) 291-2101

price: $$
verdict: tasty, try it!
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