a wonderful experience at James Republic

We have been wanting to visit James Republic ever since it opened. I don’t know why we haven’t sooner except for the fact that it’s in Long Beach and I’m lame when it comes to traveling out of Orange County even though it’s really not THAT far.

We used the excuse of Long Beach Restaurant Week to come with some friends who have been here before. In the end, we didn’t partake in the Restaurant Week menu, but decided to go a la carte instead. The restaurant is inside the Marriott, parking is available in the structure attached to the hotel, there is validation offered if you dine at the restaurant.

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Start with some cocktails, they are well worth it! We tried a variety including Tajin Margarita ($12), Eve’s Lemonade ($12), Whiskey Tea ($12) and Oro Blanco ($12).

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Naturally, we began our meal with a charcuterie board. There were so many items to choose from and we took advantage of a lot, as you can see. Meats are $6 each, cheeses are $5 and housemade jams $2. Our favorites include the Smoked Fish Dip, Liver Mousse and Country Pate. I also highly recommend the House Ricotta, Apple Butter and Cranberry Tartare.

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The chilled Beet Gazpacho ($6) is absolutely delicious. The creamy texture of this soup is created only from the puree of the beets themselves. The creme fraiche and crispy pancetta may be omitted for a vegan or vegetarian option but they take the chilled soup to another level when mixed in.

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I’m a huge fan of mussels and there was no doubt in my mind we were ordering Pacific Mussels ($13).  A combination of thyme, garlic and habanero, the spicy kick leaves your mouth wanting more.

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My son honed in on the Crispy Brussels Sprout Salad ($11) — his favorite vegetable — add to that another of his favorites, bacon, and some frisee lettuce, topped with a sixty minute egg, the makings of a perfect side to share.

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Whenever I see duck on the menu, I’ll most probably order it. Duck Confit Casserole ($19) arrived bubbling hot with chunks of duck cooked in its own fat together with chestnut beans, kale, gruyere and topped with herb bread crumbs. I was so full already by now, but managed two mouthfuls. The chestnut beans tastes very much like chestnuts but are texturally a little different.

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One of my favorites of the evening was Farro Fried Rice ($16). Farro is a great option, so nutty and chewy, just the perfect consistency and much more nutritional than rice. This is a hearty dish with cashew butter, farm egg, local fish, short rib and arugula, one I highly suggest you share with others. They will love you for it.

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We also ordered some sides to share, one of which was Black Tuscan Kale ($6) with avocado and mandarin orange segments. I loved the kale and avocado, but not so much the oranges.

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Buttermilk Biscuits ($4) are a must. These buttery biscuits are dotted with scallions and Fiscalini white cheddar and a carb lover’s dream.

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While we’re on the topic of a carb lover’s dream, here’s another. The Potato Puree ($4) is to-die-for. And why wouldn’t you buckle at the knees from this? Bacon, chives and blue cheese foam, literally like air on your tongue. Enough said!

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James Republic offers tasty comfort food in a very comfortable dining room. Whether you’re here for cocktails and a few bites, or a full on dinner, you will leave highly satisfied. I can’t wait to come back again.

James Republic
500 East 1st Street
Long Beach, CA 90802
Tel: 562-901-0235

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Ikko disappoints in a major way

It has been almost five years since I last visited Ikko. I remember the reason why we didn’t come back was due to their inflexibility when we dined with my son who wasn’t as savvy an eater as he is today. Ikko was one of those places which didn’t allow substitutions of any kind, nor will they make an exception when you’re dining with children. We ended up venturing to other Japanese restaurants which were more kid-friendly and I guess, just didn’t come back again.

Last night, we came here for a friend’s birthday. It really upset me a lot for me to stay up all night to write this. I took a look at my old Yelp reviews and saw that I had lavished them with a 5-star rating two times before, but sadly, after this visit, that had to be dropped immediately.

It started off rather well. The Carpaccio of Salmon ($15.75) with squid cartilage rolled within the slices was delicious with a sour plum sauce which brightened the salmon and enhanced its flavor.

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Assorted Fish Bones and Fish Skin Crackers ($2.95) — which we were told when ordering is only fish skin and no fish bones — is really tasty. Crispy like chicharron, but so much healthier for you. This I would totally order again.

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Then came an array of miso soups. Mushroom Miso ($3.25), Baby Clam Miso ($3.85) and Shizimi [sic] Clam ($3.50). The mushroom miso was overly salty but both of the clam miso soups had a balanced flavor. My only issue with the baby clams was that they were gritty. I got mouthful after mouthful of sand from eating the clams.

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We also ordered both the chawanmushi (steamed egg custard) choices offered. Sea Urchin sauce & Black Truffle Chawanmushi ($8.75) was a waste of uni as the sliver was steamed along with the egg making it a crusty mess. Its texture was awful and was more for show than taste.

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Chawanmushi with Crab & Mochi ($7.50) was bland and frankly, the simple version I make at home from time to time is better than this.

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I was glad to have a decent dish arrive at the table. Japanese Eggplant Tempura with Wasabi Smelt Eggs and Spicy Tuna ($13.95) was a nice mouthful with beautiful textures and good flavors.

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Black Truffle & Seared Beef Tongue Carpaccio ($20) topped with a soft boiled egg on top was literally, four mouthfuls. I remember lamenting about the four pieces of wagyu we had at Ink but this is far worse because tongue is not an expensive cut of protein. Perhaps the minuscule bits of truffle warranted the price of this dish, but my mouth doesn’t agree. The tongue was overcooked and chewy and no amount of seasonings could take away from that.

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We also ordered some sushi including uni, blue fin toro, welk and black sea bream. The total of our sushi order alone was $76.90. The only thing I liked was the welk. The uni and toro had no umami whatsoever. The sea bream was okay, but none of it was seasoned correctly and they do not allow soy sauce at this restaurant.

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Smoked Orange Clam Adductor with wasabi ($4.50) was nothing special. It tasted like overcooked scallops.

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One of the best items of the night was Carpaccio of Octopus ($10.50) topped with a yuzu kosho vinaigrette topped with fried leek shards. I love yuzu kosho so the flavors were very pleasing. The octopus was also nice and tender.

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Deep Fried Soft Shell Shrimp ($11) was also good. There were quite a few things layered on top of roasted zucchini rounds including three cheese sauce, sweet and sour red pepper and green tea salt, then topped with a fried soft shell shrimp.

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The biggest disappointment of the night was Grilled Channel Rock Fish ($12) with saikyo miso (a yellow miso paste from the Kyoto/Kansai region of Japan) and plum soy milk espuma (foam). The fish was overcooked and very tough. One would think with miso and plum soy milk, the end result would be one that was salty with some tartness, but the overall product was just bland. The fish needed salt and was such a let down on the palate.

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I think the general consensus was, if you’re going to be dictatorial about soy sauce (they do not allow soy sauce) or other condiments on the table, or even when asked, then season your food properly. It is highly frustrating when you are in the hands of chefs who do not salt proteins correctly.

We did end with two desserts, the Rose Ice Cream ($4.75) with rose petal tempura topped with rose sugar sounded good on paper. I did not like the icicles in the ice cream at all. The rose sugar was devoid of any rose, not even a hint.

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The Black Sesame Ice Cream ($4.50) with hot coffee and sesame seed paste sounded so good and I think we expected it to arrive like affogato would. Unfortunately, the plate arrives with a small scoop of ice cream already inside the pool of hot coffee. The ice cream was melting rapidly and I was lucky to get a shot of it before everyone dug in before it disintegrated.

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A subpar meal paired with lazy service just puts me over the edge. I don’t expect you to be at my table every five minutes asking me if my food is okay, but what I absolutely DO expect is that you check to see if my water needs to be refilled every 15 to 20 minutes. Or perhaps you can stop by to see if any empty plates needed to be removed? When our desserts arrived, our table was filled with empty plates which I had taken the liberty to stack, hoping they would take them away.

What really was the icing on the cake (not in a good way) was the $300 check at the end of it all.

Ikko
735 Baker Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Tel: 714-556-7822

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Bestia is well worth the drive to LA for

Bestia is no stranger to accolades and last year, appeared in almost every single “best of” lists of restaurants in LA. I’ve been hearing Bestia this, Bestia that, and my frequent dining companion The Hungry Dogg was there a month before he coaxed me into driving up to LA with him so he can visit again.

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Getting a reservation here is no easy feat, so we decided to just chance a walk-in. I had no expectations to get a table as there was already a line at 5.45pm (they open at 6pm) and we were 6th from the front. I had even lesser expectations when I heard repeatedly “we don’t have a reservation” from those ahead of us.

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When we reached the front, Austin asked the hostess if we could sit at the counter by the pizza oven and we were lucky enough to be graced with those spots for an hour and a half (they needed the seats back by 7.30pm) with a clear view of the entire restaurant.

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I quickly perused the menu, took my pen out and marked off which items I wanted to try. Our server Zach was rather helpful in helping us finalize our decisions.

Sitting at the counter has its perks as pizza chef (he introduced himself as Josh) swiftly whipped out a bowl of Beef Meatballs ($13/3pc) and placed it before me stating it was “on the house”. These tender meatballs are ideal in texture — light and airy — and seasoned to perfection. Braised beet greens, soffritto and tomato makes for great accoutrements for the meatballs.

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Chef’s Selection of house-made charcuterie ($15) is impeccable, which includes black peppercorn and orange fennel salumi, chicken liver, coppa di testa and an array of accoutrements which pair perfectly with the meaty offerings on the board. I was surprised I loved the coppa di testa seeing it was mostly fat, but it was so delicate that it melted in my mouth leaving a hint of the seasonings it was created with devoid of the usual unpleasant greasy finish of fat. Absolutely stunning!

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The Creamy Polenta ($8) was just like how I’d imagined, a blend of cornmeal, potatoes and sweet onions blending together for the silkiest, most decadent mouthful ever. Rich, decadent, and utterly sinful.

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I’m a huge fan of gizzards, so when I saw Pan-roasted Chicken Gizzards ($14) on the menu, I had to have it. The initial piece surprised me because I’m used to gizzards having a slight crunchiness to them, but this was soft and meaty. It took a few before my palate grew accustomed to the texture, but flavor-wise, it was the ideal marriage of sweetness from the roasted beets, a touch of bitterness from the Belgian endive with saltiness from the aged capra sarda (a semi-hard goat’s cheese).

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Sitting in front of the pizza oven meant there was no way we were leaving without trying one. The Alla’nduja ($18) appealed to me due to the housemade spicy ‘nduja. I watched Josh put together our pizza of sausage, San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella topped with wild arugula but was concerned by the heavy drizzling of olive oil he was gracing it with. Therefore, I was not surprised when the pizza was over wet with only the outer edges of the crust containing any semblance of cohesiveness, leaving me no option but to eat the drippy morsels with a knife and fork. It was a shame because the flavors were incredible.

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Spaghetti Rustichella ($25) screamed my name due to the sea urchin, and I was so excited when our server placed the bowl before me. Topped with squid ink botarga, the pasta was perfectly executed to a toothy al dente with hints of garlic and Calabrian chilies, and of course, topped with slivers of my beloved uni. I took my first bite and it didn’t blow my mind only because it was under-seasoned. Pulling out my trusty salt grinder and sprinkling it with a little Himalayan sea salt, the dish was instantly transformed into what my mind had culled it to be right before I put the first forkful into my mouth.uni pasta (640x425)Never one to think about desserts, I do however, love a well-made zabaglione or panna cotta. There wasn’t really a doubt in my mind that I would pick Creme Fraiche Panna Cotta ($9) and I was glad I did. It was spot-on in both texture and consistency with tangerines adding a citrusy freshness to the luxuriously creamy pudding. The accompanying meyer lemon cookies were great, but I was happy with the panna cotta alone.

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This was indeed a hugely satisfying meal and I am looking forward to returning again soon. Service was beyond satisfactory especially in a bustling packed restaurant and Zach was knowledgeable and informative. Definitely worth a visit if you haven’t already been.

Bestia
2121 7th Pl
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Tel: 213-514-5724

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a mixed feeling at Voltaggio’s Ink

We have been waiting to dine at Ink for as long as it’s been open. Again, we’re so late to the game but the restaurant is still a popular one and the restaurant is packed and bustling on the night of our visit.

Our server was really awesome and I must preface by saying, the service here is exceptional. Even with a packed dining room, the service did not lose a beat with everything running so smoothly and with great attention, leaving us all very impressed by this fact.

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The first thing which excited me was the special of the night… Brioche ($28) served with complimentary foie. Awww man, I was ALL over that… there was no doubt we were having this and everything was rather excited. The texture of the foie terrine was so smooth and creamy and while that part of pleasing, I was longing for a stronger more robust flavor. I took several bites hoping to satiate that desire for that livery goodness to make my eyes roll in utter satisfaction, but it never came.

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Dungeness Crab ($19) wasn’t one of my favorite dishes. The textural composition was strange and the crab did not leave my mouth longing for more of its umami brininess because there was none. House tofu and leeks were floating in a broth which didn’t help much either. The sea lettuce was the best part of the dish.

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Ordinarily, I’m not a fan of ‘salads’ of any kind, but Little Gems ($13) turned out to be very pleasant. The lettuce was sliced lengthwise and served wedge style (half of a whole). The lemon dressing was embedded in all the crevices of every leaf which made every bite perfectly seasoned but not overdressed by any means. The burrata appealed to half the table while the other half found the intense milkiness on the gamey side. The anchovy cracker added a nice crunch but didn’t possess much anchovy flavor at all.

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Hamachi ($18) was fresh, subtle in flavor especially when paired with green apple and lime. The fresh wasabi wasn’t overpowering which was nice, but the dish was under-seasoned on the whole and needed a touch more saltiness to bring out the flavor of the fish.

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Smoked Trout ($15) with tomato jam, dashi aioli and served with crispy fried yucca was nice but not very memorable.

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However, Corn ($12) was just insanely good. We were all fighting for the plate of creamy corn dotted with green onion, breaking off a piece of the housemade doritos to scoop it with. The doritos were topped with a roasted baby corn adding to its smoky flavor.

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Then came Cereal ($13) which I didn’t care for at all. The amaranth grain provided the cereal-like texture, but maybe it was the goat butter it was cooked with, maybe not, but I couldn’t place a taste I was getting which I disliked. Another friend said the same thing. Even the runny fried egg couldn’t save this for me. I thought the chicken cracklin’ might save the dish, but they weren’t crispy and a tad stale. 

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Of course, after that came the heavenly Egg Yolk Gnocchi ($15) which were pillows of nothing I’ve ever tasted. Simple yet so sublime, the gnocchi is tossed in a mushroom brown butter and topped with hen of the woods (maitake mushrooms).

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Then, another rather uneventful dish, the Potato Polenta ($16) with bone marrow, sour cream and chive.

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Followed by another incredible dish, Lollipop Kale ($14) which were clusters of baby kale crispy along the edges and the crunchiest, tastiest pig ears even the one in our group who normally refuses to eat pig ears ate them. The creme fraiche sprinkled with togarashi is a great dipping sauce for both the kale and ears.

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The entrees arrived next … the Branzino ($33) with roasted cauliflower, capers and fermented grapes was good (shame about the messed up plating) …..

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followed by another standout, the Lamb Belly ($23) which was so unctuous only a tiny piece was needed. The braised lettuce and yogurt curds accoutrements were lovely and topped with “mushroom hay”, thin shredded slivers of mushrooms fried to crispy perfection.

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Of course, that luck ran out again rather quickly when Monkfish ($32) hit the table. Presentation is mind-boggling with winter squash web covering the pieces of bland and slightly over-cooked fish. The saffron-quince added a sweet finish to the entire dish which was very unpleasant for my non-sweet palate.

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Potato Charcoal ($10) is a must when you visit Ink. These little potatoes are roasted with charcoal and arrives looking like little black balls in an earthenware vessel along with house-made sour cream and a spray bottle of black vinegar. Even this non potato lover absolutely loved it. I think it was the Chinese Zhenjiang black vinegar, which was so much fun to spray on and added a really unique flavor to the potatoes.

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I wasn’t excited about the Short Ribs ($30) on paper purely because it was done “pho style” with radish noodles and puffed tendon. My friend Kim (who is Vietnamese) wanted to try it but the both of us were sadly disappointed by the lack of intensity in the broth. Always stick with your first instincts.

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Our last savory dish was a special. The Kuroge ($45) was a gimmicky one which consisted of a large heated stone (700 degrees we were told) with four slices of well-marbled wagyu plus condiments of salt and pickled carrots. The meat is placed on the stone for a mere 10 seconds before it is turned for another 10 (medium rare), but because of its fat content, the meat stays extremely tender. At $11.50 a slice, I’m not sure I would order it again.wagyu (640x425)

There were four desserts on the menu and we ordered them all. Lemon Verbena curd ($10), Mountain Yam ($12) with caramelized white chocolate, popcorn and coconut, Chocolate ($11) ganache cake with cocoa nibs and plantains plus Apple ($11) with caramel shortbread and burnt wood semifreddo. Sadly, none wowed me but if I were to pick, the lemon verbena curd and chocolate cake were the best of the four.

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I was glad I can finally cross Ink off my list, but, with 30% of the meal being spectacular, 50% passable, and 30% not hitting the mark, I’m in no rush to return. Service was absolutely outstanding and if anything, that’s something we walked away marveling at especially when the dining room was packed with people waiting outside.

Ink
8360 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90069
Tel: 323-651-5866

Ink on Urbanspoon

Little Sparrow spruces up Santa Ana dining

I’ve been longing to eat at Little Sparrow after hearing all the hype surrounding this place, a new eatery in downtown Santa Ana. We finally made a reservation and came to see what the fuss was all about.

Chef Eric Samaniego, formerly of David Myers’ Comma Ça on Melrose in West Hollywood, heads the kitchen….

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…. but before we settled in for dinner, we began our journey at the adjoining bar, where we went through the cocktail menu, each picking out ones to try.

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Some of the guys started off with Lyon Street Buck ($9) a highball with whiskey, lemon, ginger, house bitters and fizz.

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The Hemingway Special ($10) had a ton of crushed ice in the glass with rum, lime, grapefruit and maraschino poured over it. We didn’t detect any maraschino in this drink at all.

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When Trinidad Sour ($10) arrived we all ooo-ed and ahh-ed. How pretty its color was! Angostura made up the bulk of this drink with lemon, simple syrup and egg.

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The namesake cocktail here, Little Sparrow ($12), is a mix of French whiskey, Suze, Amargo Vallet, demarara sugar and lemon. They guy who ordered it loved it….. me, not so much!

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If you’re a bourbon fan, then Gold Rush ($10 on the right) is your choice. Honey syrup and lemon complete this. Or, my absolute favorite, the Penicillin #2 ($11) a mezcal, ginger, honey and lemon libation with a spritz of Fernet Vallet mist. Smokey, sweet, tart — fantastic!

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After about 30 minutes at the bar, we moved into the dining room and sat ourselves down for dinner. The restaurant was already half full with many more to flow in later for a packed house.

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After we perused the menu and placed our immensely large order, plates of complimentary Amuse Bouche arrive with campagna paté topped with mustard seeds, golden raisins, fig and a sprinkling of chives. The paté was sublime and texturally spot-on. What a perfect way to start this meal!

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Therefore, I was so glad we chose Housemade Charcuterie ($17) because judging from the campagna paté, I knew it was going to be a winner and I was right. The headcheese, the terrine with chorizo, all seasoned to perfection and stunningly delicious.

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Everyone at the table is a fan of burrata so Heirloom Tomato Salad ($14) was a must seeing it is paired with burrata cheese and a drizzle of basil oil, I didn’t care for the burrata as much as I thought I would due to its extremely strong milky aftertaste which I’d never encountered with burrata before.

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My obsession with octopus is satiated with Grilled Octopus ($15), but left me wanting more of the namesake rather than the cranberry beans accoutrement dotted with red mustard greens. The dish was perfectly savory and very addicting, I couldn’t stop eating it.

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Steamed Mussels ($16) with sour beer, piquillo peppers and roasted fennel was better on paper. I wasn’t able to detect much sourness in the beer broth, or the fragrance of the fennel. The piquillo pepper was the only saving grace as the broth needed more salt to bring out the umami of the mussels.

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Our next dish, Corn Risotto ($16) was something we all agreed to. Who wouldn’t with Dungeness crab salad as part of the item description? The crab was exquisite and completed the dish when eaten with the risotto. Unfortunately, the risotto on its own was under-seasoned and on the bland side.

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I’ve been noticing sweetbreads appear on various menus lately, some well executed, others, not so much. No one can accuse Chef Samaniego’s Crispy Sweetbreads ($14) of being anything short of delicious. An English pea puree, bacon and onions accompany.

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I am generally not a fan of pork and wouldn’t ordinarily order it, however, someone at the table did. Grilled Heritage Pork Chop ($29) was juicy, tender and really really GOOD. I was pleasantly surprised at how the flavors were deep into the thick chop providing great piquancy throughout. The beluga lentils were my favorite and the sofrito, a well thought out addition. Overall a solid plate!

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Housemade Tagliatelle ($23) is definitely a must! Braised lamb neck, poached garlic, fennel and oranges were tossed together with some of the best thick noodles ever. No one should ever not order pasta made in-house, it’s just unheard of because well-executed house-made pasta generally is to-die-for. This is one of them!

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For those wanting a vegetarian option Ricotta Agnolotti ($20) is another pasta dish not to be missed. Roasted tomato sauce topped with a thinly shaved asparagus salad and shards of frisee.

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My first experience with Little Sparrow was a good one. Considering how many dishes we ordered the misses were minimal and I look forward to returning again soon for round two of some delicious cocktails and bites to accompany them with.

Little Sparrow
300 N Main Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Tel: 714-265-7640

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a birthday celebration at Hinoki & The Bird

We’d been hearing the buzz about Hinoki & The Bird in magazines, on TV, and just in general lately. We found an excuse to make the drive up to celebrate a friend’s birthday and to check out what the hype was all about.

The brainchild of David Myers, the man behind Comme Ca, in LA and Pizzeria Ortica in Costa Mesa, the restaurant is nestled in an office building, hidden from view. Once you drop your car off at valet, the indescript door opens to reveal a landing where you are introduced to the bustling dining room below as well as a pseudo open kitchen where you can view the chefs in action.

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I was very pleased that we were seated on the patio. It reminded me of Gjelina’s patio which is always more pleasant than sitting in the dining room itself. After we settled at our table, it was time to order some cocktails.

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The cocktail menu offers selections for all, and if you don’t see anything you like, their mixologist will be happy to create one for you according to your preferences. We ordered a total of 12 cocktails between us: Jungle Bird Quaffers ($14), Tommy’s #2 Quaffers ($14), Griffith Park Swizzles ($14), Seasonal Fix Swizzles ($14), Elijah Craig Manhattan ($15).

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The menu is eclectic and there were many items we had our eyes on. Chili Crab Toast ($16) was very familiar to me reminiscent of the Singapore chili crab I grew up with, but this had only a hint of heat to it. Spicy cucumber and coriander provided an element of freshness to each bite.

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Pumpkin Toast ($12) was on the other spectrum from the crab toast. The slightly sweet pumpkin combined with the salty sweet miso jam and creamy goat cheese appealed even to my non-sweet palate, although I didn’t care much for the goat cheese. I was glad there were only two little dots on top and not more.

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I’m a big fan of Beef Tartare ($15) and this was incredible. The pickled jalapeno lent a spicy tartness to the perfectly seasoned beef. The quail egg yolk intensified the creamy aspect of the already rich flavors. A sprinkling of parmagiano cheese completed the dish with more saltiness. This was one of our favorites of the night.

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The Lobster Roll (MP/on our night $19) was better on paper than in actuality. I didn’t like the denseness of the squid ink roll which took away from the subtle nuances of the crustacean. On its own, the lobster was perfectly luscious, delicately sweet even after being seasoned with green curry and Thai basil. I chose to omit the bread which overpowered the lobster and masked its flavors. 

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One of the specials of the night was a chilled egg custard topped with uni and baby corn ($14) and was my ultimate favorite. I could have eaten two bowls of this and called it a night. One of my friends and I were scraping the bottom of the bowl, making sure not to leave even a speck of this umami-filled treasure behind. This was a definite winner in my book!

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Hinoki, a Japanese cypress tree shows itself in the signature dish, Hinoki Scented Black Cod ($26). A piece of the tree’s bark is lit and laid over a piece of seared black cod, allowing it to gently “smoke” and coat the fish as it arrives at the table. Beautifully flavored but overcooked, our server sent a new dish out to us and the second time, it was perfect! It is tender, melt-in-the-mouth and is exactly why black cod is also known as ‘butterfish’.

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Sambal Skate Wing ($23) reminded me of a dish I grew up eating in southeast Asia. Instead of skate, stingray was used, a fish similar in look and texture to the skate. Served on a piece of banana leaf (they wrap the stingray in banana leaf in Asia) the fish is smothered in a spicy sambal paste and possessed hints of the fragrance of the banana leaf. The nuoc mam (fish sauce) dipping sauce was so enticing we couldn’t stop eating it, even using it with other items still left on the table.

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The birthday boy ordered Drunken Duck Breast ($26) which was good but not fantastic. I would’ve liked more seasoning — the exterior of the meat was nicely flavored but didn’t extend all the way to the inside.

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We also ordered some sides which were absolutely delicious! Shiitake ($11) mushrooms were allowed to shine on their own without much fussy fiddling. They were plump, meaty and so good even on their own.

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Roasted Yam ($9) were little yams slit down the middle and filled with crispy lardon and creme fraiche. The lardon added saltiness to the natural sweetness of the yams and I’m glad my BFF ordered this because they were so good and so simple!! 

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Hinoki & The Bird is a fun place with a very cool menu. Everything was really good with a few stand-outs and the staff were awesome. Our server Raewyn was knowledgeable, friendly, and made sure we walked away absolutely happy with our experience. I highly recommend a vist!

Hinoki & The Bird
10 Century Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Tel: 310-552-1200

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