Monthly Archives: July 2011

Eatalian Cafe

15500 S Broadway St
Gardena, CA 90248

(310) 532-8880

http://www.yelp.com/biz/eatalian-cafe-gardena

www.eataliancafe.com

 

Ever since I saw all of the great reviews on Yelp about this place, I’ve wanted to try it.  Everyone raves how authentically Italian it is and the fact that the restaurant makes its own cheese just adds to the allure. It’s easy to miss the restaurant, since it blends in with the industrial neighborhood.  The restaurant itself looks like it was converted from a warehouse, so it’s very airy and spacious inside.  There’s the open kitchen, the cheese making section, the gelato section, the coffee bar, etc.  Good place for gatherings.  And the food is great!

 

Outside the restaurant – the banners will help you find it!

 

Street side of the restaurant.  No, this isn’t the entrance.  The entrance is around to the side.

 

Inside the restaurant: cheese-making section

 

The extensive menu covers 2 sides!  Lots of pizza, pasta and salad choices.

 

The bread’s usually a good indication of the restaurant’s food.  And we were off to a good start!

 

Caprese: FRESH mozzarella with tomato and basil.  Drizzle with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and it’s so tasty!  $12.95

 

Tagliatelle con Funghi: tagliatelle with porcini and fresh mushroom –  it’s one of their homemade fresh pastas.  Yummy!  $12.25

 

Tortelli di Zucca: butternut squash ravioli. The butternut squash filling is really sweet, almost like a dessert!  $12.75

 

Pizza of the day:  white pizza with shrimp, artichoke, cherry tomatoes in pesto sauce, on thin crust.  Almost like the ones I had in Italy.  $12.95

 

Finish off the meal with a selection from the gelato bar!  Pick out your flavors and take it back to your table.

 

Mango and yogurt frutti di bosco (berries yogurt).  1 scoop (1-2 flavors).  The gelato is pretty good.  $3.20


Harris Ranch

24505 W Dorris Ave
Coalinga, CA 93210

(559) 935-0717

http://www.yelp.com/biz/harris-ranch-inn-and-restaurant-coalinga

http://www.harrisranch.com/

 

We’ve driven by this place whenever we’d drive to SF, but never had the chance to stop except maybe for gas.  So on the recent trip, I decided that it’d be a good lunch stop on the way back to SoCal.

Yes, Harris Ranch is a real operating ranch.  They are known for their beef, and serve it proudly in their restaurants.  The website now even sells their meat online.  It is also a hotel – it’d be an interesting place to stay.  Reminds me of the Madonna Inn in SLO.

 

Outside the restaurant

 

Tri-tip being smoked outside

 

Western-style interior.  I think most of the furniture is from real cowhide/cowhair

 

Cow-horn chair?  It’s the first I’ve seen!

 

Food!  First up: watermelon lemonade ($2.95).  Yummy!  Perfect for a hot summer day.  Unlimited refills!  Real watermelon juice with lemonade.

 

BBQ smoked tri-tip panini ($14.95).  Pretty sizable portion!  It was gooood….

Napa: Oxbow Public Market

610 1st St
Napa, CA 94559
Behind the Napa Valley Wine Train station

http://www.yelp.com/biz/oxbow-public-market-napa

This is called a public market, but it’s more like a cluster of restaurants.  You can find Three Twins Ice Cream, Hog Island Oysters, C Casa, Kara’s Cupcakes, Fatted Calf Charcuterie, a gourmet chocolate shop, etc. The restaurants line the sides of the building and the seating area is all around the center, much like a food court.

Great food and casual atmosphere.  Check it out the next time you’re in Napa!

 

Three Twins Ice Cream – all organic.  They have waffle cups, which I will definitely try next time!

http://www.yelp.com/biz/three-twins-ice-cream-napa

Honey vanilla lavendar and lemon cookie ice cream.  Around $3 for a scoop of 1-2 flavors, like the picture.  Yes, this is considered 1 scoop!

 

C Casa: An Innovative Taqueria.  It’s like a tapas-style place with really unique tacos (spiced lamb, chorizo, skirt steak with blue cheese, etc) and small plates.

www.myccasa.com

I tried their local crab salad ($13).  Loaded with crab meat, grapefruit, avocado and lettuce —  it was refreshing and so good!

Del Dotto Caves

Historic Winery and Tasting Room
1055 Atlas Peak Road
Napa, CA 94558

707-963-2134

http://www.yelp.com/biz/del-dotto-caves-winery-and-tasting-room-napa

http://www.deldottovineyards.com/Visit-Us.aspx

Yelp is my best friend whenever I travel.  I’ve found so many cool and unique places through Yelp.  So before my recent trip to Napa, I yelped a few wineries.  This one had really good reviews and it looked like a different kind of wine tour, so I was sold!  It’s $50 for the winetasting tour (led by candlelight) and reservations are required.  Check the Del Dotto website for the tour times.  Each tour is limited to 12 people.

 

The winery is a small one — they only produce 14K cases a year.  Since the winery is small, wines can only be purchased either at the winery or online.  According to our guide, the wines sell out every year. The winetasting is an interesting one, since they let you taste the wine straight from the barrel.  They also explain how different barrels/woods affect the taste of the wine.  If you like the wine that you tasted, you can order it.  Once the wine is ready to be bottled, the winery will then ship the wine to you.  Really cool experience, not to mention really great wine — would definitely recommend it if you’re ever in Napa.

 

The historic winery/cave

 

Brief history on the caves

 

Glass in hand – ready for the winetasting!

 

Barrel demo – French Oak

 

The caves – which is more like underground tunnels.  All lit by candles.

Pacific’s Edge

120 Highland Dr
Inside Highlands Inn
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 620-1234
 
 
One of my coworkers had recommended this place since I wanted to celebrate the end of my exams.  It’s perfect for special occasions.  The restaurant lives up to its name — it’s perched on top of a mountain in Carmel and overlooks the Pacific Ocean.  On clear days, I hear the sunset is awesome.  🙂
 
The restaurant is labeled as a French restaurant but it’s more of a fusion restaurant.  Go with whatever the waiter recommends.  The sommelier (I know huh, very fancy!) will check up on you periodically to make sure you’re enjoying the wine.  The restaurant features mostly wines from Sonoma and Napa.  Get there a little earlier than your reservation time so that you can get a table with a better view.  The only down side to the restaurant being so close to the ocean: they place the tables close to each other, so it can get quite loud in the restaurant and you can clearly hear the conversation of the next tables.
 
The restaurant tries to provide a personal touch, so not only does the sommelier check up on you, the manager also greets the tables.  The manager actually thought I was Korean.  Haha… Overall, service is pretty good — attentive, but not overly so.
 
The view
 
 
Appetizer:  Hamachi with japanese cucumber, watermelon radish, lotus root chip, california select caviar.  I hardly saw any hamachi though!  Should’ve gone for the Pacific Northwestern oysters on the shell that the waiter recommended!
 
 
Day’s special:  Monkfish wrapped in proscuitto, with grilled porcini mushrooms, asparagus and parmasan gnocchi.  The fish was a brilliant idea!  Crispy on the outside and juicy/tender on the inside…mmmm…
 
 
Dessert:  Warm Valrhona chocolate tart with raspberry Coulis, chocolate fuillatine, lemon verbena ice cream.  This was also recommended by the waiter.  The chocolate tart was rich but not too sweet.  Yum!

Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Restaurant

The Inn at Spanish Bay
2700 17 Mile Dr
Pebble Beach, CA 93953

(831) 647-7500

http://www.yelp.com/biz/roys-restaurant-pebble-beach

http://www.roysrestaurant.com/

 

There are Roys all over the US, but I heard this one had the best view.  Since I was already going to be in the area anyway, my coworker had recommended this place.  It’s on the 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach.

Entrance fee ($9.50) for the 17 Mile Drive can be deducted against the meal, or against any restaurant located inside the 17 Mile Drive.  🙂  I went for a late lunch since it was quite a drive from LA.  The day was a little overcast so not much of a good view.  But, I can imagine that the view to be spectacular on clear days!

For lunch, Roy’s Bento Box seem to be a good deal at $24: it includes miso soup, california rolls, sashimi, small salad, special appetizer of the day (beef egg rolls) and a choice from 6 different entrees (filet steak, miso butterfish, macademia crusted fish, blackened ahi, grilled atlantic salmon).  Food was pretty good, although I still prefer their prix fixe menu – the hot chocolate souffle is just too hard to resist!

The golf course at Spanish Bay – maybe someday I’ll get to play here!

 

Complimentary edammame

 

Miso Soup – included with lunch bento box

 

Lunch bento box – I went with the miso butterfish.  Mmmm!

Urth Caffe

www.urthcaffe.com

Downtown:   451 S Hewitt St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Venice/Santa Monica:  2327 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90407

Beverly Hills:  267 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90209

West Hollywood: 8565 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90069

 

Urth Caffe is a very popular coffee/tea/lunch/dessert spot.  There are four locations, all in LA, all listed above.  All four offer plenty of seating and are nice places to just sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee with dessert.  I’ve heard of celebrity sightings at the Melrose location.  Entourage, the HBO hit show, uses the Santa Monica store quite a lot in its episodes.

Superb organic coffee and teas, great desserts, free wifi, late hours – what else can you ask for in a coffee house?  Oh yeah, did I mention that they can draw whatever shape you’d like on your drink?  🙂

Recommended drinks:  spanish latte, Japanese green-tea latte, all of the teas.  The hot teas come in a kettle, and you can ask them to refill the hot water.  Note on the desserts – the portions are much larger than they seem.  One dessert should be split among 3 people.  Dessert highlights:  pumpkin pie, Bavarian fruit tart, napoleon, green-tea tiramisu, and any of the cheesecakes.

 

Receipt – they note the design that you want on your drink.  Popular designs include:  Hello Kitty, leaf, bear, swan, etc.

 

Green-tea/matcha tiramisu – I’ve only seen this at the DT location

 

Tada!  My green-tea latte and dessert

Oo-Kook Korean BBQ 牛国

3385 W 8th St
Los Angeles, CA 90005

(213) 385-5665

http://www.yelp.com/biz/oo-kook-korean-bbq-los-angeles

http://oo-kookbbq.com/

 

 

There are so many all-you-can-eat (AYCE) Korean BBQ places to choose from in LA’s K-town.  They all used to be of decent quality, until the recession hit.  Nowadays, most AYCE K-BBQ places are still competitive.  However, since they didn’t raise prices, the quality of the meats have gone down.  Which is why Oo-Kook is a rare find.  For $24.99 per person, you get to choose from 13 premium meats. Even though the meats are really good, the banchans are nothing to write about – you even have to ask for kimchi!

Oo-Kook occupies 2 floors, so plenty of space for big parties.  However, they only take reservations up to 7pm, after that, it’s first come first serve.  $2 for valet in the restaurant’s parking lot – do it!  It’s safer than parking on the streets of K-town.  Oo-Kook is also open for lunch.

Here are the recommendations:

Menu

 

Black Angus beef short rib – not marinated

 

Beef tongue

 

Mushrooms and vegetables – oyster mushrooms, sweet potato and kabocha squash

 

Black Angus prime rib – unlike most K-BBQ places, they actually don’t limit you on this one!  And it’s super yummy!

 

Shrimp

 

Sizzling on the grill…

Nozomi 望

1757 W Carson St, Ste L
Torrance, CA 90501

http://www.yelp.com/biz/nozomi-torrance

http://www.sushinozomi.com/English.html

There are a lot of sushi places in LA.  But what sets this place apart from the rest is their uni-don aka fresh sea urchin bowl.    The uni is from California, and not imported, so it is very fresh.  It’s a more delicate, refreshing and sweeter uni than the typical one you’d find at sushi restaurants.  The uni-don is a good deal during lunch time, at $15 a bowl (choose from sushi rice or reg rice – go with the sushi rice!) which comes with a salad a miso soup – perfect for light eaters.  For average eaters, you might want to order and split a lunch combination with the uni-don.  The fried oysters and teriyaki chicken are good choices.

You never want to go back to regular uni after this place!

Lunch menu

        

Salad and miso soup – the soup is loaded with shredded vegetables!

The main feature:  uni-don

Happy Harbor Restaurant 凱悅大酒樓

1015 Nogales St
Rowland Heights, CA 91748

http://www.yelp.com/biz/happy-harbor-restaurant-rowland-heights

This is probably my favorite dim-sum place in LA.  It isn’t like a traditional dim-sum restaurant where they wheel the carts of dim-sum around; the waiter/waitress first present you with a picture menu, then you write down your selections on a form.  The food comes when its ready, and not all at once, so it is fresh and hot for you to enjoy.  Happy Harbor is a bit more expensive than most dim-sum places, but it is worth its value.  The restaurant uses quality ingredients, which you can really taste the difference.  Expect to pay $10 – $15 per person with tax and tip, with at least a 30 minute wait.

Some of the notable dishes are:

Chicken feet

Steamed turnip cake

Egg tofu with fish cake

Shrimp dumpling aka har-gow

Siu-mai topped with masago (fish roe)

Crystal dumpling filled with shrimp and leeks

Tofu pudding