Monthly Archives: August 2011

Tin Roof Bistro

3500 N Sepulveda Blvd
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

(310) 546-6180


A lot of my friends have August and September birthdays.  One of my friends chose this place for her b-day dinner.  I didn’t even know it was so close to me — it’s located in the same plaza as the Manhattan Village Mall.

Tin Roof Bistro is a pretty cozy place, with an extensive menu that has something for almost everyone.  There’s the regular menu plus daily specials.  Also, there’s a long wine menu as well.  Of course, some of us yelped before going to the restaurant, so we’d know what to order.  😉

Food is pretty good, although I think the pizzas are probably the highlights, besides the innovative appetizers.  Give it a try if you’re in the area.


Haystack fries – shoestring fries, garlic, homemade blue cheese dressing, dash of spicy sauce.  Yum!  6.00


Indian-spiced spinach dip – fresh spinach, cheese, curried cream, woodfire flatbread. This was highly recommended on Yelp and the Yelpers are right! 12.00


Soup of the day:  cream of mushroom.  I could taste the mushrooms.  Very good!  Make sure you tell the waiter/waitress which size you’d like.  They didn’t ask me and out came a big bowl, which I could barely finish…  cup 3.50  / Bowl 6.50


Fig and Pig pizza – this was brilliant!  Perfect blend of sweet and savory. Smoked bacon, figs, garlic, mozzarella, blue cheeses, balsamic syrup 13.50


Cobb salad – lots of chicken!  Romaine, tender chicken morsels, bacon, black grapes, walnuts, celery, crispy shallots, avocado and a combo of herbed vinaigrette & homemade blue cheese dressing 12.50


Lamb bolognese with pappardelle – homemade pasta, sauteed spinach, shaved parmesan, 12-hour sauce.  You can taste the richness of the sauce! 21.00

Angel Maid Bakery

4542 S Centinela Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90066

(310) 915-2078


Tue-Thu 8 am – 6:30 pm

Fri-Sat 8 am – 7 pm

Sun 8 am – 12 pm


This is one of the few Asian bakeries on the westside.  It’s small and not in an Asian area of Culver City at all.  We love their cakes and desserts, and usually whenever there’s a birthday, this is where we come.  It’s better than JJ’s Bakery!

The cake flavors we usually get are strawberry shortcake (they use real strawberries!) and chocolate chiffon.  We’ve also tried strawberry mousse, mango mousse (seasonal), german chocolate, chocolate pudding and all have been great.  This bakery uses whipped cream instead of frosting (so it’s not too sweet) and the cake itself is spongy, not dry.  Be aware though, they sell out of cakes pretty quickly so the only way to ensure you’ll get a cake is if you place an order 2 days in advance.  Also note the hours – it closes earlier than most bakeries, especially on Sundays.


Strawberry shortcake with special floral design.  8 inch cake runs about $24


Slice view of strawberry shortcake







85 Degree C Bakery aka 85度C

Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center
2700 Alton Pkwy
Ste 123
Irvine, CA 92606

(949) 553-8585


I know many of you have heard of this place.  85 Degree C Bakery originates from the popular Taiwanese coffee shop chain, which is most well-known for its sea salt iced coffee.  The name itself represents the perfect drinking temperature to enjoy coffee.  The Irvine location is the first US outpost.  There are also locations in China and Australia.  The second US location just opened in Rowland Heights this past weekend.  The locations in Taiwan mostly concentrate on the coffee and teas, although cakes and pastries are sold as well.  The US locations, however, focus a lot on the bread-baking side. Bread is baked fresh out of the oven every 30 minutes or less.  Ever since the Irvine location opened almost 3 years ago, there has been a constant line outside the store, just for the bread, ALL DAY EVERYDAY.  Average wait to get in the store is about 30 minutes, which is why  I’m surprised it took them this long to open a second location in SoCal.

The line has only grown longer, especially with the NPR article (  Ever since the NPR article, I do see a lot of non-Asians at 85 Degrees.  I’m glad Taiwanese bakeries are taking over!  😛   The store is organized into 2 sections:  bread/bakery and drinks/cakes.  The line is for the bread.  Get in line to select your breads.  Then get in the cashier line to pay.  For those of you who only want to order drinks or cakes, there is a separate line inside the store, which is usually WAY shorter than the bread line.  Sea salt iced coffee is highly recommended — the sea salt is not in the coffee, it’s actually on the foam.

A lot of people willingly drive all the way from LA to Irvine just for the bread.  Therefore, you’ll see people with BAGS full of bread, so don’t be shocked.  I only stop by if I’m in the area.  Every time I’ve been, the selections have been different.  All of the breads I’ve tried are good, but I especially recommend the blueberry cream-cheese and the mochi egg tarts.  So if you see something you’d like to try, just try it — you might not see it at your next visit.


The storefront.  Relatively short line (about 10 minutes) since it was around lunch time and the Rowland location just opened on the same day.


The bread selection



The dessert section.


My selections for the day, from top left:  mini apple pie $1.80, mochi egg tart (my fav!) $1.50 each, blueberry cream-cheese $1, almond croissant $1.50 and walnut raisin multigrain $2.75

Downtown Artwalk

The downtown artwalk occurs every second Thursday, between 2nd to 9th Street and Broadway to Main Street.  Lots of temporary galleries pop-up in the vacant building spaces, not to mention some of the permanent galleries are also open just for the artwalk.  It’s a very informal way to enjoy art.  There is no admission or dress code, and you can just pop into any gallery you’d like, which is why I think the artwalk has gained such popularity.

Food trucks also contribute to the artwalk experience.  The food trucks have been spread across different parking lots and there would be at least 30 food trucks in total on artwalk nights.  However, the city has imposed sanctions due to the fatal accident last month, so all of the food trucks were gathered at 2nd and Main for this month’s event.  It will probably be this way next month.  Food truck reviews are available on Yelp, so if you’re not sure if a particular food truck is worth trying, Yelp it!  There’s also a good selection of food at the Grand Central Market.  During artwalk nights, Grand Central Market is open until 9pm.

Some of the historical theaters in downtown have also started hosting guided tours on artwalk nights.  Might be great photo ops for you photographers out there.  I think I’ll try it out the next time I go to the artwalk.

All in all, the artwalk is a great way to experience a different side of LA.  Lots of people watching, lots of different kinds of art, lots of different food.  Many of my friends have compared it to the Asian night-markets.  Check it out if you haven’t already!  Please note that there are a lot of police around on artwalk nights, and they WILL  issue jaywalk tickets ($194 is pretty hefty).  So don’t jaywalk!


Downtown at dusk


Pop-up restaurant at Grand Central Market.  The people running it said that they’re only around on artwalk nights.


I ordered the pork burger – which has a ground pork mixed with chorizo patty.  Good!  $8


Fish market inside Grand Central Market. Also sells food — menu  and prices are on the board.


Scallop taco from the fish market.  The scallops were succulent and fried in batter. There’s actually quite of bit of scallops in the taco.  Great deal for $2.50 each


The food trucks


The mime that we saw during previous visits.  I wonder where he went this month…



Different kinds of art


Artist at work (the guy with the gray hair)

Curry House

Curry House will be having a 2-day promotion, from Tues 8/16 through Wed 8/17.  Everything on the menu will be 30% off.  Valid at all Curry House locations and no coupons are needed.  Offer good for lunch, dinner, and take-out.  🙂


11267 National Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064

(310) 477-6075



There are 2 Tofu-Yas, both in West LA.  One is located near Sawtelle & Olympic and the other is on the corner of Sawtelle and National.  It’s relatively close by work and one of our favorites.  Both offer similar menus although the one on National also has AYCE K-BBQ.  Parking is also hard to come by for both.  I like the one on National better since the restaurant is bigger, so there’s less of a line.  On the downside though, people are BBQ-ing their meat, so there’s a lot of smoke.

Tofu-Ya offers a lot of variety, the restaurant not only serves soon-tofu, there’s also seafood pancake, bibimbap, bulgogi on sizzling plate, etc.  Food is pretty decent and the banchans (side dishes) are good,  so no need to drive all the way to K-town! Please note though, the rice for the soon-tofu is served in a metal bowl, so you can’t make your own jook (rice porridge) afterwards.


One of my coworkers ordered the seafood pancake, which was really good.  I’m going to start ordering this from now on!  Even though it’s listed as an appetizer on the menu, the portion is pretty big. $10.95


The lunch combo is a good deal.  Soon tofu + dolsot bibimbap (bibimbap served in hot claypot) is $13.99.  If you just order the dolsot bibimbap a la carte, it’s $9.95.

Beef soon-tofu


Dolsot bibimbap – my favorite dish here!  The portion is also pretty generous for this one.  For those of you who like your rice to be a little crispy, wait a bit before you mix the ingredients.  🙂


Add the red sauce and mix. And voila!  The dolsot bibimbap is now ready to eat.

[Recipe] Tuna Bowl

For those of you who like to eat tuna bowls, now you can make them at home!

Raw chopped tuna could be purchased at any of the Japanese markets with a sushi/sashimi counter (Mitsuwa, Marukai, etc).  I picked up a small package from Marukai, around $4.  Usually the packages will come with wasabi packs.  But if it doesn’t, make sure you have some wasabi on hand!



1.  Raw chopped tuna

2.  Wasabi

3.  Soy sauce

4.  Cooked rice


Fill a bowl with warm cooked rice.  I didn’t have any sushi rice on hand, so I used Japanese brown rice.  Then, top your rice with the chopped tuna.


In a separate bowl, mix your wasabi with the soy sauce.  The ratio will depend on personal preference.  Then, drizzle the sauce over the tuna bowl.  Next time I think I will chop up some scallions and add some sesame oil too.



Gyu-Kaku – Topanga Canyon

6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd
Ste 1010B
Canoga Park, CA 91303

(818) 888-4030

After a long morning of hiking in the Topanga Canyon State Park, we wanted to go somewhere close for lunch.  Someone remembered that there is a Gyu-Kaku around the area, so off we went!  This is located inside the Topanga Mall, near the corner of Victory and Owensmouth, next to Target.  And apparently, happy hour is all day EVERYDAY at this location.
We couldn’t really decide whether to do the AYCE BBQ ($19.95 and up) or go for the lunch sets.  But after some pondering, especially since we had hiked and didn’t want our exercise to go to waste, we settled on the lunch sets.
The lunch set menu – good value!  The first row is only for the weekdays.  The rest of the page could be ordered during the weekends.  I opted for the gyu-kaku set ($9.95) and upgraded the salad to a spicy tuna avocado salad for $3.50 more.  You get quite a lot of food for the lunch sets.
The fire-pit is in the center of the table
Start off with miso soup
Spicy tuna avocado salad.  Very tasty!
Next up:  seaweed salad and edammame
The meats:  chicken basil, harami miso, kalbi chuck.  All 3 were good, although the harami miso was a bit salty.  Rice also comes with the set and you can choose from either white, brown or garlic rice.
Into the grill it goes!  It’s all about the self-grilling.  Be careful not to burn the meat!

Japanese Village – DTLA

335 E 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

This is located at the corner of 1st and Alameda.  It’s not really a village – more like a cluster of restaurants and shops.  Love coming here ever since my college days.  There are so many delicious Japanese foods, ranging from sushi to ramen, in Little Tokyo.  Today I’m sharing my must-have treats when I’m in the area.


Imagawayaki aka red-bean cake 紅豆餅

Mitsuru Cafe

117 Japanese Village Plz Mall
Los Angeles, CA 90012

(213) 613-1028

Back in the college days, we’d stop by this place for weekend lunches.  Nowadays, it seems like the red-bean cake is the main attraction.  Basically, get in line, tell the cashier what you’d like to order, pay and grab your order.  The cafe itself is small, so it’s the only shop in the village that you’ll see a line out the door during the weekends.  The red-bean cake is really moist and chewy, and the red-bean filling is not too sweet.  It’s still good even when it’s not hot anymore!  Yum!

Watch your red-bean cakes being made!


Ice Cream & Mochi Ice Cream


118 Japanese Village Plz Mall
Los Angeles, CA 90012

(213) 624-1681

Yes, this is the Mikawaya of the mochi ice cream fame.  Know the ones that you’d buy at Trader Joes or the grocery stores?  Well, there are a few Mikawaya stores around LA.  The downtown one specializes in the ice cream, gelato (recently added) and mochi ice cream.  The Gardena location sells different types of mochi sweets.  I always make it a point to stop in here if I’m in the area.  The ice cream and mochi ice cream is THAT good.  The mochi on the mochi ice cream just tastes so soft and fresh! Recently, Mikawaya added gelato and mochilado (mochi gelato) but I don’t think they’re as good as the ice cream variety.  This place is CASH ONLY!


The store front


The famous mochi ice cream


The ice cream flavors (in clockwise order from top left): rainbow, green tea, kona coffee, mango, red bean and black walnut.


The prices:  1 scoop $2.55       2-scoops $3.55                  Mochi ice cream $1 each.  There are 2 scoopers, 1 for the ice cream line and 1 for the gelato line.


Our lovely round of mochi ice cream — green tea totally dominated!

Chado Tea Room – Little Tokyo

369 E 1st St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 258-2531
Haven’t seen some of my girlfriends for a while, so we planned to meet for afternoon tea and settled on this place.  It’s in the heart of Little Tokyo, right next to the Japanese American Museum.  Parking could be hard to find in the area.  So, unless you get lucky with one of the few street meters, you’re better off parking at a lot that charges $3 – $5 a day.
It’s a nice place to spend a weekend afternoon.  The service is good and food is one of the better ones that I’ve had at afternoon teas.  I do wish that they use real flowers at the tables, and stop using any teapots that are chipped!  But, oh well, that’s just me.
According to our waitress, Chado Tea Room has over 250 tea selections
The restaurant also sells tea sets, tea cups, saucers, etc.
The outside seating.  Too bad the flowers were fake!
Afternoon tea set – $18 per person which includes 4 half sandwiches (smoked salmon, cucumber,curry egg and cranberry chicken), 1 scone, 1 cake and selection of tea.  The picture is the 2 person portion, so double of everything.   I’d recommend getting a few a la carte items instead of going for the set because there is just WAY too much food for 1 person.  There is a $3 splitting charge for afternoon tea sets.
The strawberries with creme is so good on the scones!
Bottom tier:  cakes and cookies
Going a la carte:  1/2 cucumber sandwich and 1/2 Mediterranean sandwich (olive tapenade with goat cheese, yum!).  $7.95
Teas could be brewed hot or iced.  Hot tea is served in a pot while iced teas come in a glass carafe.  This one is the apple mango with hibiscus.  Not too sweet and refreshing!  $2.75