Monday, December 26, 2011

K'ya Lounge II

Since I enjoyed the food the first time, I thought it would be fun to have a post-Christmas dinner here before venturing to see the Newport Beach boat parade.

I made reservations in advance. Happy hour starts when it opens at 4:30pm. However, when we got there at 4:30pm, there was a group of people already and when we asked the hostess for help, she said she had to help those other people get seated first and she would get back to me.

Well, once those people got seated, I had to get her attention again by standing really close to her and making eye contact. She finally asked "do you need help?" like we never spoke before. I said that I made reservations and she asked if I wanted to make reservations. I said no, I made reservations today at 4:30pm. She finally led us to a very small table next to the kitchen. We had to ask for a better seat.

It was my fault for mistaking K'ya for the Rooftop Lounge because when you go to their site, it also advertises the Rooftop Lounge with the beach view. It is kinda confusing.

Well the service was pretty good despite the initial mixup; I don't like the waitresses too much though it is understandable they get busy and confused themselves with the large crowds and people that stay at the hotel. Perhaps they get priority.

I got the mushroom ravioli and the pomegrante martini. It was a bit strong.

My sis got the Shrimp Fra Divolo. When it came out, my ravioli was piping hot but her dish was luke warm. So she got it remade and it was fresh and hot. All appeared well until the waiter asked my sis if I was her daughter. LoL.

I really liked my ravioli but I think they only gave like 6 pieces. The cream sauce was good and it was not too cheesy so that you could really enjoy and appreciate the mixture of the ingredients. The Shrimp pasta was pretty good too once they provided a fresh hot one. It was not too shrimpy, which meant that the shrimp musta been fresh; you know when you can tell when certain seafood's been lying around because it stinks! On the other hand, I am not a huge shrimp fan and it was kinda just like an ordinary penne pasta with tomato sauce and shrimp to me.

I don't think I would want to come here again. The food is good, but the servers (and waiters) can make you feel a bit uncomfortable with their uncouthness. For me, it was the difficulty in getting seated (twice) by the hostess and for my sis, prob the unwanted assumption by the waiter. I do want to try the Rooftop Lounge though for the view.

Gelato Paradiso

Gelato Paradiso is definitely the best gelato place outside of Italy! Don't take my word for it; the length of the line says it all. There were at least 10 people by the time we got there and lots more lined up behind us.

I got the Tiramisu and Mint chip in a waffle cone. I had a sample of the toasted almond, but mint chip has always been my fave.

My sis got this double chocolate and coffee flavor. She said it was so good, she was gonna cry.

I'm happy with my flavors. As for the waffle cone, the smell is divine, but because it was freshly made, it caused a leak and gelato leaked all over my favorite Linkin Park hoodie.

Despite all that, I would definitely make the long drive to Laguna Beach. It truly is a euphoric experience on the gustatory system. And the gorgeous beach view is just a short stroll away.

I used to live in Laguna Beach for a few short months with Hogmany. I don't know how we could have missed this place.

Get your Gelato here. You can thank me later.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Orleans Corner

The is a new establishment that opened across from my work area a few months ago. When it first opened, the food was good and the prices were decent. But it seems that they have changed the chef and increased the price. The owner is friendly and always looking for feedback but the servers are not the most attentive.

The po-boy lunch special may be the best option.

My sister and I came for dinner. When we got in at 9pm, no one was there to greet us. There was only one other family having a birthday dinner. We waited a good 10 minutes before someone finally came out to get us seated with menus.

Sis got the pound of shrimp and I got the macaroni. My sis also got the clam chowder which was not very thick and was lukewarm. That seems to be a big problem of this place. I got the crawfish chowder for lunch one time and it was lukewarm.

They also have sweet tea but I didn't think it was very good.

The shrimp is comparable to that Bubba Gump place. However, I think for the price, Boiling Crab is better. The macaroni was alright, nothing to rave much about.

I had a coupon for buy one, get one entree 50% off with drink, so it was quite a deal.

The place is also known for its alligator bites and frog legs which my cworker is a fan of. When we first went a few months back, they did not have the permit in place to get the alligator shipped, but it seems like everything is in place now.

Come here to get your frog legs and alligator bites!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Houston's Steak House

I went to Houston's in Pasadena with my family. I wasn't a huge steak fan. I just got the chilli which came with a few pieces of tortilla chips topped with shredded cheese and onion. It really wouldn't have killed them if they offered a whole bowl of chips for the price.

My sister got the fish burger which she enjoyed. And my parents both got some kind of meat, the center cut filet, perhaps with french fries.

The server wasn't very good. I saw reviews for their crab cakes so we had asked if they had crab cakes and why it wasn't on the menu. She responded that they did have crab cakes. Well the crab cakes turned out to be very mushy inside like it was filled with mayonnaise.

As a non steak lover, I would not return to this establishment.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


This is a taco place near old town Monrovia. It has $1 taco Tuesdays. The tacos are great, but as with cheap great food, the wait can be ridiculous. We were kept waiting quite a while before we were served. The tacos are small so you would have to order 5 to feel full.

For desert, I got the Sopapilla. It is wonderful and very reasonably priced!! There are 4 pieces of light and fluffy squares drizzled in something faintly sweet with a scoop of ice cream. Yum! It beats the churros from Pop Desert and Champagne Bar in Pasadena.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner

Well this place is overhyped. My sis and I got the Chicken dinner which comes with an entree, corn, and biscuits. The chicken is not very tasty. I was expecting something with some extra kick, but it was kinda dry and bland. I got the dumplings and it just seemed very doughy and mushy and I got full on it fast. We couldn't even finish our apple pie with ice cream.

I did take the leftover dumplings home and it did make as a very nice midnight snack.

Not returning. However, it being the month of November I was able to get me and my sister into Knott's Berry Farm theme park for free. The turkey leg inside by the way is horrible as well! Not worth the $12. Save your money and bring your own snack!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Moo Creamery

On the way to a job site, my coworker and I stopped at Moo Creamery for lunch. I got the 24 hour Burger. I couldn't resist the sunny side egg on top. The egg made the burger, but it was so messy it puts Carl's Jr. commercials to shame. Egg yolk dripped down all over the place. I had to soak my buns up in them to eat the plate clean. I had it with the Freshly squeezed Basil Lemonade. It was very strong, very tart. I had to add water to make it more drinkable, but it's definitely a refreshing healthy idea compared to a fizzy soda.

We then had some samples. I had a sample of the bacon ice cream; it had a gritty feel to it and if you didn't know it was bacon, you woulda thought it was walnuts or something; though upon the 3rd bite, you'd start wondering why it had a salty smoky flavor. I ended up getting a dish of toasted almonds with whisky caramel on top. Oooh, the whisky was strong.

The staff is healthy, the atmosphere pleasant with a nice mix of eaters. I would definitely come back again if I were in Bakersfield again. It would make for a nice stop after white water rafting say.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Chang Thai Bistro

Chang Thai Bistro in old town Monrovia has lunch specials. You get a choice of entree, an egg roll, soup and rice shaped in a heart.

Service is great. The decor and ambience is also pleasant.

The food is tasty. However, the lunch special is somewhat expensive in comparison to some other Thai places, such as Angel Thai on Valley in San Gabriel.

Additionally, it being in Old Town, parking can be tricky depending on the time of day.

It is a nice Thai restaurant. However, to save a few bucks and time, I would prefer Spice Thai kitchen which is a takeaway only on 1st Ave.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


This is just a convenient place to go for lunch. It is across the street from work. The best thing on the menu is the Chicken Curry for under $6. You get quite a bit of rice and curry.

I have had the Chicken Udon. The chicken is dry and tough, the low quality type waiting to be processed for cat food. And though it should be a simple broth to make sometimes takes forever to come out.

I have also had the various Teriyaki bowls from the salmon to the fried katsu. Again it can be very dry and the sauce is horribly sweet.

It is not my favorite place, but I do go with my coworkers due to convenience. The staff is usually very friendly though.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cheval Blanc

My sister and I were feeling adventurous so decided to have dinner at this French restaurant. I read they had mac n cheese and martinis. Well the food turned out to be terrible. The mac n cheese tasted rancid like feet. They must have put vinegar in or something. Sis got the trout topped with almonds. She also felt that it tasted dreadful. It came with a sauce which made it taste even worse. We complained about it and the waitress explained that it was the most popular dish, what the customers come for. We asked if it was made from old oil and she said that the specialty was the brown butter which was purposefully burnt to get that unique flavor. She was nice enough to take it off our bill.

The decor and smell of the place was also dreadful, smelling of must and looking very dated. The only other people around were old folks at the bar.

The only good thing I can say about the place was the bread and non-burnt butter.

I will NOT be coming back.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I was supposed to meet someone at the Equator but I got stood up. I made reservations and everything. I cancelled my reservations but still went and sat at the bar. They have $1 specials on the Martinis on Tuesdays for the first one; $5 for additional drinks. The bartender was really nice. I got a Martini, a $1 Satay stick and for the main course I got the Chilean bass. The main entree is kind of more expensive than what it is. It came with baby bak choy and this mushy white sweet potato which I'm not a fan of. But the ambience was nice. I love the East Asia decor with Buddhist heads and things. It was relaxing and cheered me up a little.

I'm not sure about coming for dinner, but I would love to come again. They have brunch specials as well on the weekends so I would love to check that out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Magnolia Lounge

Today's Whiskie's birthday. He would have been 16 years old. I really miss him and was really depressed. I asked a couple friends to come out and they did not want to. One 'friend' had the audacity to tell me to go over to her place 20 miles away and have liquor or some crap. I am tried of going out of my way. Why can't she come out here for once. She only meets me when and where it is convenient for her.

So I ended up drinking on my own. I got the mac n cheese. The reviews were good. I was really excited about it. It looked great but the taste was kinda bland. The lemon martini was very yummy though.

I did have to wait about 10 minutes to get seated. The host asked why I was alone. The server was alright. He was a little slow though and seemed to keep forgetting that I was there even though I kept waving at him when I wanted something. In fact I wanted a 2nd martini but it never came around.

There is a large screen TV but I was seated next to a section of the wall so that my view was partially blocked. I think they have karaoke on some nights, but I'm not sure of the details. It seems pretty trendy with a good mix of young and old.

I may like to come back, though not alone, but with a group sometime.

I still miss old Whisk...he was the only true friend I ever had and I feel terrible about what happened. It really makes me question humanity.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Novel Cafe

After work, I headed to The Novel Cafe. It had pretty decent reviews from Yelp. The major complaints were that there was little to no service. I beg to differ.

I was kinda undecided as to where to eat. I walked around the block for awhile, but the only other eating places were fast food or a bar across the street. The menu presented at the front had mostly breakfast or burger items and I didn't want either. I thought I'd go in and ask for the the soup of the day or just settle for some tea and study.

If you haven't looked into it yet, the place is known for serving beer and wine as well as tea and coffee with wi-fi available.

The decor is quite pleasant. Artwork decorate the walls. Off to the side is a shelf full of books and as soon as you walk in, you are greeted by a well maintained and clean bar. It appears that the most comfortable seating is to the other side of the wall, but all those were either taken or had a reserve sign on the table. All the other ones were available and I settled for a table in the center at the back facing the door. It was happy hour! That meant $1 off the appetizers. I got the Sliders and they looked quite cute and filling. I also ordered the Gen-mai tea which came in a rather generously sized cup. I watched their big screen TVs while waiting; there was 3 of them- it was a basketball game that was on. Also while waiting, the female server was preparing flowers and brought out a vase filled with a lovely small bouquet onto my table. It was very friendly and cheerful.

The meat of the sliders was kinda tough...I think the first time and also probably the best I had Sliders was at Rubies. They had the Kobe Sliders with Hawaiian buns. However, the Sliders did come in a generous amount of nice piping hot french fries.

The ambience was really nice. It is definitely one of those places I would recommend going to alone to study or to surf the net or just to relax with a nice cuppa tea. The servers passed by with a smile but never rushed me or hassled me with the annoying question if everything is ok. The food was good, nothing really special, but I felt content and very comfortable.

The bill came out to be just under $11 and I left a $2 tip.

The only suggestion I would make would be that it would be nice if they also brought out a pot of hot water instead of just the big cup. Peet's Coffee does that- they give you a big cup of the hot tea along with a small pot of hot water. Also I don't think orange-red is a good color for a teacup. Because I'm the type of person that likes to look at the natural green color of the tea while I'm having it.

It is conveniently located across from the Pasadena City College. Since it was spring break, street parking was not too hard to find, although it is supposed to have its own little parking lot, which I missed.

It is also supposed to have live music on Fridays.

Overall- great experience...I will be back!!

Angel Thai

Excellent lunch special for under $7. You get soup, salad, generous service of rice and entree. This is the first time I've ever had green curry and it was a wonderful experience. I used to think I hated Thai food because I didn't like spicy things or things that were too sweet being overpowered by coconut milk and the ilk, but the green curry was really yummy.

My only complaint is that they used to serve fried wontons and one day they decided to stop.

Service is quick and fast. But sometimes finding parking can be a task.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Saigon Flavor

I don't really like Pho, but I like Saigon Flavor's Curry Chicken Rice. It's very pleasant as in it is not spicy, not's just nice.

I called in after work for pickup. It came out to be $6.53 but when I got there, he only asked for $6.50...I felt like I got my cents back (almost- see Point08 entry in which they cheated me of my 4 cents).

They packed it really well. I was worried when I was driving back that the curry was going to spill out as I saw it being tossed from side to side in my car. When I got home and unpacked it, I found that they had taken the trouble to tape the lid down and even placed a sturdy piece of cardboard in between the rice box and the curry container.

The only disappointment was that there wasn't enough rice! Ironically I was worrying that the curry was going to spill out when at the end I had plenty of the curry sauce leftover.

I have had the Chicken Curry with the French Bread also. The bread is french and wonderful and soft. But once again, you run into the problem of running out of it before the curry.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Point08 Bar

Looking for a way to de-stress after a long drill weekend, I arrived at Point08 Bar. There was live music- a bass and a guitar playing jazz. It's less than 2 miles from my place.

Yes, I went by myself but I told the waiter for 2 and since the place was essentially empty (I arrived at 10:30pm), he let me sit wherever I want. Naturally I chose a table close to the musicians.

He asked if I would like sparking water or tap water. And asked if it was just me with almost a sympathetic look...and I said " friend is on her way". I doubt I fooled him especially after 20 minutes passed. I texted a few people with little success of a positive answer. No matter. I shall enjoy the music and ambrosia alone...

There was only one other table near me with 2 diners...although a couple guys from the back trickled out later.

I ordered the Lobster corndog and a martini. The waitress suggested the Uva Bella. Well the corndog wasn't quite what I had expected as I was expecting something in the classical shape of one, but it is essentially lobster pieces dipped in fried batter with a variety of sauces and a dish of leafy greens...the Uva Bella was good; can definitely taste the grapes and was in a rather impressive and generously sized martini glass. At first I didn't feel any effects of the alcohol. I thought that maybe it was because they didn't bother putting much in it since they didn't even ask for my ID! Well it wasn't until after the meal, and though I drank both glasses of water too that I felt the effects of it kick in. Initially I was apprehensive and feeling stupid about coming alone...but later I didn't care.

Not sure if I would come myself anyway. I can't say it was much fun alone. Some places are cool to go alone, but not this may be a good place to go on a first date though. It has a rather small food menu so good for snacks or nibbling on a little something but not for getting full at a reasonable price. I recommend this place as a first date because of the scant food menu- there is only so much one can eat should the conversation or date go sour suddenly that one can use the excuse that they have finished dining and ready to go. I was in and out of this place in under an hour alone and I was taking my time, listening to the music whilst observing the decor. In this one section there is a mirror on the ceiling which really makes for a very interesting visual.

It does have a rather good selection of drinks as in they have their own specialties but can also make whatever you tell them to as they have a full bar. And definitely go during happy hour. It is happy hour all day Sunday.

The thing I was not happy about was that the total bill came to $13.71. I put down a $20. And the change I got back was $6.25...she cheated me by four cents. Doubt I'll ever go back because of that. Can't trust someone who either can't count or is trying to cheat you on purpose.

Parking was OK on a Sunday night after 8pm. Normally metered, but free street parking otherwise.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Porto's Bakery

After a trip to the Citadel outlets, I decided to stop by Porto's for a light dinner. The one in Downey is the newest establishment and is just less than 6 miles away from the outlets. Traffic at 6pm gets pretty heavy along the I-5. Also a panhandler was weaving in and out of traffic.

The parking structure is free of charge, although you have the option of valet service also.

A line was already starting to form outside. I was 3rd in line but the people in front of me said they only wanted cakes and they were allowed inside. Inside were two main lines heavily packed and once inside, more people immediately lined up after me. However, the lines went by relatively fast as there is quite an impressive staff.

When in the "Bakery" line, you are asked what type of pastries you want first. So I ordered the Chicken Crouquette, a Chicken Empanada and 3 Potato Balls. After you place these orders, your helper places them in a box for you and you wait in line at the cashier. The cashier will then ask if you want anything else. So I get the Pan con Bistek with a Guava smoothie. My order came out to be just under $20.

Despite the intimidating large number of people, everything is highly organized and your order is well taken care of. The people making the drinks call out your number and it was only a matter of minutes before mine was done. The drink maker even asked if I would like whipped cream...which I didn't want any, but it's always nice to be asked if you want extras and things isinit???

Around the corner were where other people were waiting for their orders. They have these high counter table things where you can put down the pastries you've ordered and perhaps nibble on them while you wait for your sandwiches...I nibbled on my potato ball and it is pretty yummy. It has potato and meat inside and they do not skimp out on anything like some places where it might be filled with air. It is a good size and very satisfying. My only complaint is that it doesn't hold together too well as in it starts to lose its structure after two bites or so...and hence it is probably best eaten in under three bites but I'm the type of person that likes to savor every moment of a good thing.

I'm not quite sure why the place draws soo many people. It is a good sized looks like there is even a second floor. The food is good; the service is is clean with no strange smells to speak of other than a tantalizing aroma of quality food...

The large number of people in line is rather reminiscent of that at the 85 Degrees Bakery. The waiting experience is more pleasant or it may just be that the customers are less pushy here.

Perhaps considering that there is quite a large number of fast food restaurants nearby, Porto's is considered to be quite a fancy establishment even though it appears to be just pastries and sandwiches.

I have had their little cakes and sweets on my birthday last year at the establishment in Glendora. The sweets are beautifully created but I thought that the taste was just ok to the point that I didn't even finish it right away. Then my cat died three days later and the sweets just sat in the fridge til my mom finished them up...that is how impressed I am with their sweets.

I'm not much of a coffee drinker but they have a huge selection of different types of the caffeinated beverage and could be heaven for coffee addicts. Their guava smoothie is good, freshly made with all natural ingredients, nothing wierd. But with the same price, you could go out and buy a carton of Sun Tropics Guava juice which is exactly what it tastes like.

Sandwiches are freshly made, but again I felt that there was something lacking in the taste. More butter on the bread perhaps. However, I would definitely go back for the potato balls and chicken croquettes if I were in the area again.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Creme de la Crepe

It is Happy Hour week in Old Town Pasadena. Creme de la Crepe was the only establishment we came across that still had the happy hour that night while we were waiting for our movie to start.

Their wines were only $3 per glass during this happy hour. My buddy was hungry and also ordered the soup du jour- Cream of Broccoli and also the Beef Tartar which is essentially a rare filet mignon pate with a piece of toast on top.

The service was pretty good. However, the place is very much like a hole in the wall. It is very tiny in one of those alleys and sometimes things can get overlooked such a very sticky stool the table we were led to had. We waited for seats at the bar (in order to take advantage of the happy hour deals).

The place is authentically French as in the servers are French- they speak with French accents and you hear them speak French to one another. Though I did not have a taste of the food, they were definitely prepared as delicately as they do in France. I have been to restaurants that claim to be French but all they do is serve pastas and things smothered in cheese with wine. I have not been impressed with those at all and gave up looking for an authentic French place outside of France. It is true what they say- you find things when you least expect it.

I would definitely come back here and actually eat something next time. It has a pleasant ambience and they have musicians that perform.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rock Bottom Brewery

I had a very late dinner with a Navy buddy at Rock Bottom Brewery Friday night in Long Beach.

It is a good place to meet people who have a tendency to arrive late as the restaurant closes as late as 2am and hence one does not need to worry about the time or a need to "migrate".

My initial impression was that the service was poor. This was because the server did not introduce herself like most other establishments. She just took me to the booth, didn't ask me if the location was OK, asked if I was waiting for someone and left. I had wanted to order a starter at least while I waited and maybe even a drink. I would have liked a martini but I think the place serves only beers and the ilk.

I saw an unoccupied booth at the window and asked if I could sit there instead and she kind of gave me a look like "why would I care?" but she said yes. I moved the utensils and menus and glass of water and she did at least help wipe the table, though only the spot with the ring of water.

My buddy arrives and we order starters. I get the Green Chile Mac and Cheese. He gets the Nachos. They were pretty good. And the salsa that came with the mac and cheese was rather tasty and not too spicy for those who don't like spicy things. The Nachos came in a rather impressive rectangular spread.

For our main entrees, he ordered the Lobster and Shrimp Tacos. And I got Chicken Fried Chicken. It came with slaw but I asked not to have any so they substituted with veggies which is nice. Well after I had the Mac and Cheese, I was actually pretty stuffed and the Chicken Fried Chicken wasn't impressive enough for me to finish. They put some kind of cheese gravy sauce on top. As for the mashed potatoes- well it could use some butter...I didn't like it too much, but I am not a fan of white gravy. They made it with cheddar. The best Chicken Fried Chicken I've ever had was in Oklahoma and nothing has beaten it.

As for my buddy, he did not like his tacos. He thought it would be one taco with lobster and the other with shrimp but it was actually just one which they mixed together. When the waitress came and asked how everything was, he said he didn't like his dish too much. So, when the bill came, she had deducted the cost of the tacos from our bill which was rather nice. After that, we didn't think she was so bad. My buddy had asked her what she recommended and she couldn't give a straight answer. Most servers would just say everything on the menu was good even if they didn't know. And also, he pretty much had to chase her down for some paper napkins. They only give you the cloth kind that wraps around the utensils when you sit down. She just didn't seem to be paying that much attention to us, but the place didn't look that packed. It seemed like most people were just there to drink and have snacks.

It is just a typical American restaurant with a bar. There are some interesting items on the menu, but I'm not so sure I would return.

Parking is a pain. You could do metered parking which is free after 9pm but I didn't find any spaces at all. I ended up parking at the structure next to the restaurant. However, it was like $1.25 for each 15 minutes. Fortunately, Rock Bottom offers validation for the first 2 hours so I only had to pay $5.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pho 89

My coworker and I went to Pho 89 after realizing there wasn't an Indian place closeby from the office. It is located on Garvey in the same plaza as the dim sum place and the plaza next to Shinsen Gumi. We normally went to Pho Hyunh for Pho, but wanted to try something new.

Well, not much to say about the place. The restaurant is clean and the service was ok. I don't think it is an authentic pho place considering that there were Chinese words all over the menu. On the other hand, they might have the words to cater to the huge Chinese population in the area.

The quality of the food wasn't so good considering that it didn't exactly taste fresh as in when they brought it out and by the time I tasted it, it felt lukewarm. I got the pork on rice. Either they had it sitting around or they hadn't microwaved the dish long enough.

On the other hand, my coworker got the Pho with Chicken and his meal appeared to be piping hot and he added in his signature ice in order to eat it, it was so hot. I did notice that they don't offer as much veggies as other Pho places normally offer.

Perhaps one cannot expect too much for a dish under $6. However, you can say the same about other better places for the same price if not cheaper.

There are plenty of other Pho places to try out and revisit...I would not return to this one.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pietro's Italian Restaurant

I stopped by Pietro's on my way home from work. The place is more like a cafe as it is relatively small, though probably better for take outs. There were a few people eating there, mostly adults and their little kids. I got a Ravioli with Meat Sauce.

The customer service is rather poor. I entered to see 2 men behind the counter. They appeared to be busy preparing food, but they could have at least acknowledged my presence and I know they saw me when I walked in. One glanced at me kind of with an annoyed expression. I waited around for about 5 minutes looking at the menu and wondering where to go next if I did leave. The other man asked if I was ready to order and he said it would be just a few minutes to prepare. While I waited, I went next door to the Italian market to see what goods there were. It stank like rotten meat! I couldn't believe there were people shopping inside! I was there less than 15 seconds before I tried as calmly as I could to walk right back out.

The nice thing about Pietro's is that there are chairs placed right next to the door so one can sit and wait after ordering and once the order is ready, one can dash out quickly.

The pasta came with salad and a piece of bread. I was asked what dressing I wanted and I said none. The guy asked if I had my own dressing at home. No...I just don't like dressing because I don't like vinegar which is usually in most dressings.

The pasta was ok. Each ravioli was a pretty decent size with generous amounts of meat stuffed inside. There were approximately 8 pieces. The sauce was ok and I definitely appreciated how the dish was not drenched in cheese. You may order a meat ravioli in some restaurants but inside would predominantly be cheese and the meat would be in the form of bits and pieces found inside the sauce like an Easter egg hunt, which I find rather frustrating.

The salad was fresh; nice green leafy veggies and diced tomatoes.

The bread on the other hand was merely a chunk of a cold weight. It would have been nice if they had offered butter. But I had my own and it tasted very yummy after decorating the cold weight with buttery goodness.

Overall the Ravioli dinner was decent. On the other hand, being that the location of the place is next to a stinky market with a rather tiny parking lot and the demeanor of the staff was as cold as the bread and salad they serve, I would not return to this place, especially considering that just for a few dollars more, and 2 1/2 miles away, I could get a far better pasta cooked with care at Wild Thyme's presented with a warm smile which is priceless.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pinocchio's Pizza

Pinocchio's Pizza is located only 0.3 miles away from me. It is on the corner of Lake Ave. and Rio Grande St. I ordered their NY thin crust pizza with eggplant for a topping.

Parking is a bit tricky as it is tough to park on Lake Ave. The restaurant has a tiny parking lot in the back, though it is hardly visible and too small to really be practical to squeeze your car in. The best plan is to park on Rio Grande which is predominantly residential.

The small pizza I ordered came out to be just under $11, which is relatively comparable to other pizzerias such as Pizza Hut or Domino's. I had a lot of tea to drink when I was at work so I stopped by their bathrooms before inquiring about my order when I arrived. The bathroom is very clean and everything is automatic- the flush, sink and soap dispenser. And for those with babies, there is also a diaper changing station.

When I arrived at approximately 7:00pm, the place was relatively empty so there were some families seated already with pastas and breads. There were 2 staff members working at the counter- a woman taking orders on the phone and a man named Armen acting as the bartender. Armen helped bring out my pizza and assisted in the transaction. However, I felt that the customer service wasn't that great, though perhaps it was because they were short on staff even though they didn't appear too terribly busy that night. There was only one elderly man at the bar watching the game. They had several good sized TVs to watch sports. There were signs everywhere about their great happy hour deals.

Even though I ordered the thin crust, the crust wasn't thin and crispy as I expected. It was like a normal crust. However, the upside would be that it isn't as cheezy and the eggplant was pretty good.

The pizza would be good enough for me to go back and order for my next pizza craving, mostly due to the convenience of it being closeby. And next time, I think I may end up walking so as not to deal with the hassle of looking for parking. And if I were to walk, I'll probably be tempted to take advantage of their happy hour.

Additionally, the interior decor is quite nice and it would be a pleasant place to sit in and have a get together with family and friends as well.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pink's Hot Dogs

This was my first time at Pink's Hot Dogs in the La Brea location. I had been to the one at the Knott's location in Buena Park. The person that took my sister's order suggested "The Monster" which was a heart attack of a mess to eat let alone to look at. It was topped with all sorts of crazy things including relish. There were screaming whiny kids with parents that left tables a complete sticky mess.

Well, the La Brea one is much much better. At first I thought it was just a stand and was surprised to see that there was sufficient seating available inside as well as outside in the back. It is well kept as staff is rather diligent in cleaning and keeping the condiments well stocked.

We arrived at approximately 10pm and there were just a few people ahead of us, not too bad of a line. Considering how I ate already and not terribly hungry and it being near bedtime, I got myself a Turkey dog with some onions. My friend got the Planet Hollywood dog topped with jalapenos with a side of fries. The Planet is a Polish dog with bacon, nacho cheese and mushrooms. I also got a coke; him a root beer. All for under $20. I think that's pretty good considering a Turkey leg and a drink is like $16 at most amusement parks and fairs and hot dogs and fries are pretty much fair foods. The line went by fairly fast and painless. The lack of screaming kids at that hour certainly helped. The customers appeared to mostly be young professionals or middle-aged couples. Next to us was a pleasant couple with the man wearing a brownish tweed suit with glasses and had a marvelous English-like accent. He recommended the Pastrami burrito if we wanted the "full Pink experience".

It appears that the person that takes your order also makes it. I think this is better than typical fast food places in which certain people take the orders and they have the cooks in the back which can sometimes cause a lot of confusion and loss of translation during the process of communicating what the order is exactly...the lady was pretty nice and attentive...she confirmed the order just as she was creating it and apologized for almost forgetting the jalapenos on the Planet. close up of the Planet

My friend had asked if I wanted sides like fries and I was kinda like "whatever"...I mean if I had fries at one place I've pretty much had them all...a fry is a fry is a there really anything special about it unless it's in a different shape- curly, crinkle, wedged, criss-cut...and I figure would a hot dog stand make really good fries? Well the fries were actually pretty good with enough seasonings to keep me wanting to munch on them til they got cold...they got cold pretty fast. They should have covered them up in aluminum foil like the do the dogs. However, I think the reason they covered the dog up is to assist in eating it cleanly, so there is a clean space to hold onto. Of course the problem with that, especially when eating a 'Planet Dog is that it is hard to stuff a Planet in one's mouth in an efficient and non-gagging manner. Especially one generously covered up in jalapenos.

Even though my Turkey dog was relatively plain, the meat was fairly tender and juicy. The buns soft and warm. Definitely beats the puny $4+ ones you get in movie theaters.

Would I recommend Pink's? Sure, quality and service is excellent. On the other hand, I'm not sure I would be interested in it enough to want to wait 3 hours for it on a hot summer's day as glamorized on TV. As for the parking situation, if you park on the streets at certain hours, you may need to input coins into the meters so make sure you are prepared with quarters.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wild Thyme Cafe & Bakery

I had the Wild Mushroom Pasta for the 2nd time last night. The first time was amazing! I had trouble deciding what I wanted to eat for dinner last night. I was almost tempted to try one of those fancy restaurants because it's "Restaurant Week" but decided I didn't feel like breaking the bank with a $26 meal. $11.53 was perfect thank you very much- that's the price of the pasta which came with a slice of bread.

They are very nice about ordering things to go by phone. The guy asked if I wanted garlic bread or zucchini bread. I read a review that the zucchini bread was a must so I asked for that...well I think I should have gone for the garlic. The zucchini bread was like sweet, not really good with the pasta...I mean it tasted almost like carrot cake, like that type of sweet. The texture was amazing, moist and fresh, no complaints about the quality, just that it didn't go too well with pasta. I ended up saving half of it for afterwards, like a snack, which was good.

The only thing about ordering it to go was that whatever oil, truffle oil perhaps, that they used spilled out of the box. They could have used a better container so the pasta probably wasn't quite as flavorful as it otherwise could have been by the time I got home to enjoy it. Otherwise, service was pretty good.

Even indoor seating, the first two times I went, it was quite good. They have free refills for most of their drinks. Their freshly squeezed lemonade is amazing, not too sweet, especially refreshing on a hot summer's day.

My only complaint would be I wish their bread portion was larger but considering they are a bakery, not a high end Italian restaurant, they probably want you to BUY their bread and not mooch off of free bread baskets.

I would return and recommend this place to people that enjoy a comfortable relaxing environment and who appreciate fresh bread and organic cooking.

Europane Bakery

I was walking around Old Town and decided to try out this bakery. Actually I was craving something savory and unique but didn't feel like paying for a $8 sandwich that I could make at home easily. I ended up getting a jasmine tea and a sea salt caramel macaroon which looked very interesting. In all honesty I didn't expect too much. The tea was good- it's kinda hard to mess up a classic tea like jasmine even in tea bag form. I kinda had a rough afternoon and never got around to eating the macaroon til later in the evening after dinner and oh my- one bite and I felt like I was in heaven! It's true what they say about saving the best for last. The outside was perfectly crispy and inside was a rich creamy wonderfully oozy texture bursting with caramel goodness, with just the right amount of sweetness that at the same time leaves your tongue with the taste of sea salt as though your mouth had just been to the Mediterranean Sea and back during the whole 2 seconds that the macaroon survived in your mouth. Wow! It's been a long time since I've been this impressed with non-Asian desserts and it definitely left me wanting more. I'm going to be thinking about it at work tomorrow...

They have a variety of flavors. Unfortunately I don't remember what they were all called. There was chocolate...and this green one, I think pistachio.

I should have taken a picture of it. I thought about it after the first marvelous bite but shoved the rest into my mouth upon deciding that I must return and get more anyway, so wait til next time for pics.

My complaint would be that it is not a convenient place to park and dash in and out; unless you walk you must pay for parking in the public structures and the Paseo one is right across the street. Second of all it was rather busy with a hectic environment when you're in line. And third of all, I just love it when they ask me "for here or to go" when it is obvious there are no more available indoor seating especially when one man was hogging up a table of like 20 seats. There were however a few tables outside, but it was a cloudy rainy day.

The tea and the macaroon came up to just under $4, which might seem like a wee bit expensive snack, yet it is still cheaper than a Starbuck's Caramel Macchiato and I would much rather have my macaroon with tea and eat it too.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Guppy Teahouse

I have been to the Guppy House twice in Irvine. It is in the same plaza as the 85 Degree Cafe. I usually go during the day like after lunchtime and there usually isn't much of a wait and I get seated rather quickly. However, I feel that the staff is more attentive to customers seated inside than those outside. Also they are more attentive when there is a larger group. The first time I went back in 8/2/10 with my sister. We ordered the minced meat with rice dish which comes with a lot of other side dishes (corn, cucumbers, etc). We also got an extra side of fried pork.

The presentation is excellent for a teahouse and the quality is good for the price. They also give you pretty generous portions. I far prefer the food here than that from Ten Ren's (which is expensive and subpar).

I have not had the chance to try the teas and ices here as I usually get here after ordering a little something at the 85 Degrees Bakery to justify the ridiculous wait over there. I will need to come back for the desserts next time.

Closeup of the minced meat with rice