>Bread Crumb Ohana Cafe — be part of the family

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Loco moco

As you all know, I like to support mom and pop businesses and when I came to Breach Crumb Ohana Cafe with Priscilla of She’s Cookin’ for breakfast one morning, I knew that even if the food didn’t blow me away, I would walk away feeling some sort of endearment in my heart.

Bread Crumb Ohana Cafe has been serving customers since 1983, not always at this location, but always in Huntington Beach and always, a family-run business. I am always skeptical whenever I go to some restaurant which touts itself as a Hawaiian place because having lived in Hawaii, I know that although the sentiment is there, the quality of the food or that aloha spirit isn’t always there.

Priscilla has been here before, many times actually. She introduces me to the owner’s son who now runs the joint. She remembers him as a teenager and now, he has a family of his own. He tells me a little bit about his story and how his family is actually from the islands and the food is always created from the heart.

Island Special

I peruse the menu and Loco Moco ($10.95) immediately caught my eye. Loco Moco is one of those things which can either be very tasty or just plain nasty and trust me I’ve had my share of nasty Loco Moco. I tend to stay away from Loco Moco when I’m on the mainland, but after hearing that these folks are actually from the islands, I decide to order it.

Now, I’ve had my share of loco moco and it’s all in the gravy. I don’t like mine too thick or with too much flour so it becomes a light brown color. I like mine brown, dark brown! The darker the better and they do it right at this place!

Although you have your choice of hamburger, spam or Portuguese sausage there was no way I could ever away from the traditional style, and that’s with hamburger! White rice, hamburger, poached eggs and everything drowning with brown gravy! BLISS!

Priscilla’s Island Special ($7.95) was a big portion of scrambled eggs with green peppers, avocado, mushroom and cheese, served with hash browns and toast. It’s only $2 more to add sausage, chicken, bacon or ham to your order.

Everything’s delicious and what impresses me the most is the array of chili/hot sauces they have available. Notice the range from Sriracha to Tapatio to Tabasco.

I’ll be back again for some more Loco Moco when the craving hits, or when I’m wanting to feel a little bit of that island hospitality they so easily dish out here.

Bread Crumb Ohana Cafe
19079 Beach Blvd
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Tel: 714-960-5051

The Bread Crumb Ohana Cafe on Urbanspoon

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>The Bazaar Part One — a disappointing birthday celebration

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Back in November last year, Holly Wong of Seeking Delicious and I celebrated our birthdays with 9 of our friends at The Bazaar by Jose Andres. One of my friends came as far as Toronto — Canada that is — and one from Thousand Oaks.I’ll have to say my review of The Bazaar will come in Part I and Part II and you will understand why once you’ve read this review in its entirety.

For some reason, traffic was horrific that evening and it took us about 2 hours to get from OC to Beverly Hills so our guests arrived sporadically. While waiting, several of us ordered some drinks, including Passion Fruit Up! ($16) which comprised of orange rum, passion fruit and ginger-laurel syrup, topped with passion fruit foam. It was like drinking a dessert, aromatic with a perfect combination of sweet and tart flavors.

Passion Fruit Up!

Holly and Mahesh decided to go all out and partake in the table side service drink Caipirinha ($20). A guy comes around with a cart and starts concocting this drink consisting of Brazilian cachaça, fresh lime and sugar and freezes it as you watch, using liquid nitrogen.The Caipirinha was good but was it really worth the $20 price tag? I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Our party is finally seated at a round table and as we squeezed into the small space, our server comes over to tell us about the $75/8 course tasting menu we were ‘encouraged’ to order due to the size of our party — (there is a $55 one for 5 courses as well). We queried about the offerings and decided to order a few extra items not on the tasting menu as well. **I’ve added the a la carte pricing for convenience**

We start with a yogurt tamarind star anise dip ($10) served with sweet potato chips in a paper bag. A few serves were placed on the table and everyone was to share. However, we quickly ran out of the sweet potato chips and I asked for more.

yogurt dip with sweet potato chips

We joked about the size of the portions and how we may have to just keep asking for chip refills if we were to fill up and I sarcastically said “yeah watch, they’ll be charging us for the chips and we’ll have end up eating $200 in chips”. Yes it was funny, but at the end of the meal, they charged us $5 for every bag they gave us — *guess it wasn’t a joke after all*

Our next course arrived in the form of American caviar cone ($9/per person) — we were each presented with a baby cone filled with caviar and a lovely foam.

caviar cone

This was one of our favorites of the evening. The crispy cone was a wonderful contrast to the gooey, salty, poppy texture of the caviar.

Jamón Ibérico Fermin (2 oz) $28 was definitely a hit with everyone. Perfectly salty dry cured, free-range Ibérico ham served with Catalan roasted bread and a tomato spread. This is very traditional and one of my favorite Spanish tapa. For the longest time, flesh of the black pig was not allowed to be imported into the USA and I knew people who would try to “smuggle” it in their luggage from Spain. Boy was I glad when they lifted that ban!

Jamon Iberico

Our next item was mussels in vinegar, olive oil and pimenton ($8) served in a tin. I know this is traditional and served at tapas bars across Spain, but I didn’t enjoy this at all. Neither did I like the King crab, raspberries in a raspberry vinegar ($18), also served in a tin. The raspberries completely masked the sweetness of the crab which was a real shame!

We were all perplexed as to why we were eating tuna ceviche and tuna roll ($15) because it reminded us of something we’d eat in a Japanese restaurant.

tuna ceviche

Even so, this was very refreshing, tuna was very fresh, and the avocado made it very creamy, adding to the flavor.This dish was tasty so we were thinking things were looking up, but then an array of what were the worst items of the night followed.

We just couldn’t understand Catalan spinach, apple, pine nuts, raisins ($8). It reminded us of frozen spinach — tasteless and bland. The apple, pine nuts and raisins just made a strange pairing for the vegetable. Nobody at the table liked this. But the worse was yet to come.

Boneless chicken wings with green olive purée ($9) was just mind-boggling. We couldn’t even figure out what it was until one of my friends (who absolutely abhors chicken) proclaimed that it was chicken. We were thinking it was something a little more exotic, like pigeon perhaps, or even quail. But alas, the server informed us it was boneless chicken wings. There was laughter of disbelief from some of the people, but the consensus was mutual — everyone disliked this dish tremendously!
braised Wagyu cheeks

Next was the braised Wagyu beef cheeks with California Citrus ($18) but they sous vide the Wagyu a little too much. The meat was mushy and reminded me of meat from one of those vacuumed packets you’d find at the supermarket. We were all flabbergasted at this point, most of us shocked that a perfectly good Wagyu was treated in this manner. Two pieces were left and no one wanted it.

Ironically, we had chicken again and we were told that it was seared chicken sous vide with dates, mustard caviar and spicy mustard greens ($10). After the beef, I was very skeptical about another sous vide item. Although it was better than the Wagyu, the chicken was so-so despite the pleasant acroutrements.

Chipirones en su tinta

After four disappointing dishes, we were not looking forward to a fifth, but luckily, Chipirones en su tinta ($10) arrived. Baby squid with own ink was nicely flavored, but Holly, who has lived in Spain for 6 months commented on how these were the biggest baby squid she’d ever seen. We laughed it off to how everything is bigger in America and let it go at that. I enjoyed them even though they weren’t as delicate as they should’ve been.

Papas Canarias, salty wrinkled potatoes served with a mojo verdé ($8) was tasty but wasn’t unique in any way.

Neither were the Buñuelos — codfish fritters — served with a honey aioli ($9). I love codfish and these looked good, but the exterior wasn’t fried to perfection making them soft and texturally dismal. I was very sad.

By now we were all dying to finish up our meal and move on to dessert, but we had a few more courses yet to come.

Next on the list was the Tortilla de patatas “new way” * ($5/per person). This was one of the items we ordered in addition to the tasting menu. This is served similarly to the caviar egg at Melisse except it was potato foam, egg cooked to a perfect 63 degrees and caramelized onions.

Thank god this was pretty good. Those of us who ordered this supplement were pleased with the result. Not caviar egg, but still, decent enough after the string of shockingly disastrous courses we had to endure.

not your every day Caprese

One of my favorites of the night was Not-your-everyday Caprese, cherry tomatoes, liquid mozarella ($12). Little balls of cherry tomatoes and mozarella were filled with an air pocket, if you will, which created a perfect sensation in your mouth when you bit into them. I loved it so much I took the one remaining portion left on the plate. This is one of my top 5 items of our 18 course meal.

asparagus tempur

Green asparagus tempura ($9) with a romesco dipping sauce was again very average, something any ordinary Japanese restaurant is able to create with no problem whatsoever. I guess the only thing which sets it apart from a Japanese dish is the ubiquitous Spanish dipping romesco sauce.

Sautéed wild mushrooms ($12) with hazelnut praline topped with micro chives was a strange dish. I’m not sure I liked the hazelnut praline although I liked the wild mushroom medley. However, again, someone pointed out that sauteed mushrooms was something all of us have had elsewhere, so it wasn’t anything unique.

Philly cheesesteak

I’m glad they saved the best for last so to speak. “Philly cheesesteak” was definitely one of the top fives of the night. Thin bread with air pockets filled with melted cheddar was topped with slices of rare Wagyu beef ($8/per person) and was absolutely DELECTABLE!! I think we were all in agreement that we would’ve been happy eating five of these and calling it a night.

cotton candy foie gras

Last but not least, our second supplement item was Cotton candy foie gras ($5) — I’m glad they kept this as the last item. I’d been waiting to try this forever. A small piece of foie gras is placed on a stick with cotton candy spun around it. The sweetness of the cotton candy paired perfectly with the soft rich flavor of the foie gras.

We moved to the “dessert” room for our desserts — which I’m not going to go into. We had ordered some champagne which didn’t arrive until towards the end of the meal. I think our server was perhaps not the most well-trained, nor was she knowledgeable about our questions. Each time we asked her something, she had to go “find out” the answer, sometimes, not returning with a reply.

Our evening was not what we had hoped for and I tweeted our experience the entire evening. Still, I was very shocked and humbled when Chef Jose Andres himself tweeted me back apologizing for our evening and personally inviting me back as their guest. Therefore, Holly and my second visit to The Bazaar will be featured in Part II of my Bazaar experience to be posted at a later date.

SLS Hotel
465 South La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
 

(310) 246-5567 Photography by Mahesh

The Bazaar By Jose Andres on Urbanspoon

>Newport Restaurant Week Jan 21-27

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sesame ahi tuna

I was invited to the Pelican Hill Resort for a launch party to kick off Newport Restaurant Week which starts this Friday, January 21st and runs until Thursday, January 27th. As part of the festivities, attendees were treated to the grandeur of The Coliseum Pool and Grill where the party was held.

Inspired by the famed Coliseum in Rome, Italy, this salt-water circular pool is surrounded by private cabanas, all of which can be viewed from the terrace of the Grill. Various stations offer samplings of tidbits including sliders, sesame ahi tuna, beef tartare, seared scallops, a Thai-inspired beef pasta, an extensive dessert station of gelato, cheesecake pops and creme brulee which are torched on site.

Thai inspired beef pasta

Inside the Grill, a spread of exotic and unique cheeses are laid out with scrumptious plump strawberries, blackberries, dried fruit, and my favorite, honeycomb.

The Resort is absolutely stunning and service impeccable. After the event, Holly of Savored and I sat in the lobby lounge area for another few hours just chatting away and the restaurant manager checked back periodically to see if we needed anything. There was never a feeling that we weren’t welcomed. We were welcomed to stay for the entire time we were there and neither Holly nor I wanted to leave.

If you are looking for a few hours of luxurious treatment, just spend an afternoon here. You’ll see what I mean!

For a list of participating restaurants please visit: Newport Restaurant Week 2011 


22651 Pelican Hill Road, Newport Beach, CA 92657. Tel: 949-467-6800 

A good Vu in Marina del Rey

Some friends and I stopped by the newly re-done Jamaica Bay Inn for lunch. My best friend and her boyfriend were frequent visitors here before. They would kayak down to what was there before, sit by the pool and have a bite to eat.

The restaurant is now called Vu and it is done in warm trendy and chic brown hues. The menu is modern and Chef dabbles in molecular gastronomy as well — who doesn’t these days — and several menu items clearly reflect this.

We started with Pork Belly ($9) served on a square of crispy grits topped with slice of root beer jello. I love a dish like this with contrasting textures. The grits are crispy of course with a slightly soft piece of pork belly and the root beer jello gives a nice sweet contrast to the other components.

BFF ordered the green curry soup ($8) with mussels, coconut boba and micro cilantro. My first reaction was that it was a bit overly salty but I did like the curry flavors. I’m not a fan of boba so not only did I not enjoy the boba but I also didn’t taste the coconut from it either.

Bison Carpaccio ($14) was one of my choices. Slightly seared, these thin slices of bison worked well with pieces of pickled shallots and celery root confit. A splash of extra virgin olive oil gave it a little more flavor.
But my favorite of the appetizers was the grilled polenta ($9). I loved the vegetable medley of asparagus, tomato, pickled red onion, on top of the polenta which, required just a little longer time on the grill. Otherwise, the colorful topping was the highlight of this dish.
The Calamari ($11) reminded of of the one at ECCO in Costa Mesa but here it is chicken fried and served with a black peppercorn biscuit and a brush of pink lemonade mayo for dipping the tender calamari in.
Our entrees arrived shortly after and there was a lot of food. Blue Crab Cakes ($18) with charred tomato, orange, brioche bread crumbs, is flavorful though not the best I’ve had, but again, I loved the pickled red onion, mache, and the highlight of the dish — mustard ice cream.

The fish and chips ($16) uses wild Alaskan cod coated in a malt vinegar tempura batter. The malt vinegar gives the coating a darker finish which may look like it’s been overcooked, but it’s only the vinegar’s natural coloring giving off that hue. A spicy tartar accompanies with a handful of lemon and tarragon chips

My favorite entree was the Rainbow trout ($18) which was cooked perfectly. The flesh was moist and flaky and I found the purple cauliflower absolutely delicious. I only wished the parsnip puree was just as good.

We were so stuffed by now but somehow we were still tempted by some of the desserts.

Buttermilk panna cotta ($8) was not smooth or creamy enough but the liquid nitrogen coke a cola more than made up for that. The little morsels of frozen cola was a great sensation on the palate but melted way too quickly leaving a puddle on the bottom of the bowl.

The piece de resistance of the meal was the Pliable chocolate ganache ($8). It looks like a bar of solid chocolate but when you put your fork into it, the ganache was soft, creamy and absolutely divine.The most surprising thing was the sea salt component in this dish leaving a salty sweet sensation in your mouth. The lime sorbet was both good on its own or together with the ganache.

This chic restaurant is a great place for lunch and brunch is also offered on Sundays with selections from both the breakfast and lunch menus. It is small enough to be intimate yet the patio is casual enough for stopping by with the kids for a bite to eat. No matter how you look at it, Vu has not only the food but the view and atmosphere to boot.

Vu, at Jamaica Bay Inn
4175 Admiralty Way
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
Tel: 310-439-3033


Vu Restaurant on Urbanspoon

>Rockin’ Baja — supporters of worthy causes!

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I always like to hear whenever a restaurant is a huge supporter of charities and various causes. Rockin’ Baja is one of those places. In the past, it has supported the Memory Walk benefiting Alzheimer’s Association and during various times of the year, they allocate days where a majority of their sales go to charities such as CHOC and America Heart Association. At the moment they are also in the works to create a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club of OC.

Located at the Bella Terra mall in Huntington Beach, Rockin’ Baja sits comfortably among other chains such as The Cheesecake Factory and Daphne’s Greek Cafe. The menu consists predominantly of seafood items, although meat is also offered.

We started with their signature Tequila-Lime Shrimp ($10.99) which arrives in a clay dish. The shrimps are very fresh, plump and with a crunch. The sauce is thick and clings to the shrimp well.

The kid chose the Cheese quesadilla special with chicken ($8.99 plus $1.99 for meat) which comes with a black bean salsa and served with two types of salsas.

The server suggested the Char-broiled skirt steak & seafood enchilada ($17.99) for me. The steak is marinated in a cumin cilantro marinade and served alongside an enchilada with Mexican shrimp, langostino and bay scallops and topped with a cream sauce.

For those of you who aren’t completely comfortable about going to a hard-core Mexican hole-in-the-wall in Santa Ana, Rockin Baja is a good choice to get your Mexican fix. It is non-threatening and service is friendly.

For the month of February, Rockin’ Baja will donate 15% of everything purchased from its heart healthy menu to the American Heart Association. If you’re in the area, stop by, grab something to eat, and help support a worthy cause while you’re at it!!

Rockin’ Baja Coastal Cantina, 7811 Edinger Ave, Huntington Beach, CA 92647. Tel: 714-892-3852

Rockin Baja Coastal Cuisine on Urbanspoon

>Dos Chinos

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Breakfast taco

It took me awhile to try Dos Chinos because for the longest time, the lines were so long and I’m just not the type to stand around for food. 

When I finally tried them, I was upset that they only had the shrimp taco left. It took me about 6 months to try everything on their menu and now that I have, I feel I am now ready to review them.

I love food trucks. There is nothing I wouldn’t try once and if I like it, I’ll go back for more. Dos Chinos is one of those trucks which I find myself returning to over and over again. 
If you are a Dos Chinos virgin they are a truck that’s easy to miss. There is no special wrap around or anything flashy and fancy. The truck itself is really kind of boring. There is a menu and a few paper versions of the menu plastered around the truck. That’s it. Like I said — BORING! But I suggest you over that, because these guys have some seriously good grub on board.
Hollywood chicken

I don’t like burritos, so I always order tacos when I visit Dos Chinos. I’ve had every single taco off this truck and I definitely have my favorites. However, after talking to friends and other people who frequent the truck, it is without a doubt, hands down that the ultimate favorite is the breakfast burrito ($6) and taco ($3)! Chorizo fried rice shares space with filet mignon and sweet guacamole sauce. And the best part? It is topped with an egg cooked to order any style you want!

Meat lovers will absolutely love Carne Asada ($5 burrito/$2 taco) which is chunks of seasoned rib eye steak drizzled with a sweet and sour guacamole. Steak is cooked well, tender and very tasty. Or, the Garden Grove Short Rib ($5 burrito/$2 taco) which epitomizes what Dos Chinos is all about! This particular item brings together a Mexican/Korean barbecue sauce which is bursting with flavor and if you like that bugolgi taste, you’ll definitely like this. I prefer this over the Kogi-style tacos mainly because this one isn’t overly sweet.
Oahu shrimp

Hollywood chicken ($5 burrito/$2 taco) is a mild coconut curry chicken but definitely aromatic and tasty. The tamarind sour cream topping is a nice touch. I like this a lot! It is packed with curry flavor but not spicy so everyone can enjoy it.

My two absolute favorites are the Oahu Shrimp ($6 burrito/$3 taco) and the Bolsa BBQ Pork ($5 burrito/$2 taco) a Vietnamese style roast pork belly. 

Oahu Shrimp is based upon the Hawaiian style garlic butter shrimp which you will find on trucks along the highways of Hawaii. Dos Chino does a really good version except they’ve added their own touch by topping the taco with a fresh pineapple salsa and cream. I don’t normally like fruit with my savory food items but this works for me! I love it. The shrimps are succulent and has a nice snap to them.

Bolsa BBQ

Bolsa BBQ Pork ($2) is hands down my favorite! Crispy The roast pork belly is crispy and absolutely deeeelicious! Topped with tomatillo sauce, this is the item I always order, and it is also the item they run out of most often! The texture of the flavorful pork is amazing. You definitely have to try this one!

There is a reason why the lines are long at Dos Chinos and honestly, it annoys me sometimes when I don’t want to stand in line and I’m craving a Bolsa BBQ taco.

You can follow Dos Chinos on Twitter or Facebook to learn more.

Dos Chinos (Food Truck) on Urbanspoon