Category Archives: Local Eats

Monja TaiKer 艋舺台客

18558 E Gale Ave
Ste 108
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
 
monjaca.com
http://www.yelp.com/biz/monja-taiker-rowland-heights-2
 

Monja TaiKer has 2 locations.  I’ve only been to the Rowland Heights location, but supposedly there’s also a location in the SGV.  The Rowland Heights location is located in the mega-plex off of Gale,  which has boasts Half and Half TeaHouse, Music Box Karaoke, JJ Bakery Cafe, and the Magic Restroom Cafe.  Free parking is relatively easy to find, either the surface parking or the underground parking.  I’ve been to Monja twice, and haven’t had to wait for a table.  But the restaurant is medium-sized, so during peak times, I think it’d be about a 20-30 minute wait.

Monja TaiKer serves traditional Taiwanese food, ranging from small eats 小吃 like spicy wontons 紅油抄手 to assorted stewed goodies 滷味, to soups like four-flavor soup 四神湯 and pork chop noodles 排骨麵.  Portions are pretty generous and the taste is authentic.  Feels like you’re in Taiwan!

 

The assorted stew combination 攪和攪和.  There’s tofu slices, seaweed and stewed pig ear.  It’s a cold dish, but nicely flavored with a bit of a kick.  Mmmm…. $5.99

 

We had heard that Monja has really good beef noodle soup and they do!  This is the tomato sauce beef noodle soup 招牌茄汁牛肉麵.  The broth is light yet packed with flavor.  There’s lots of tender chunks of beef, with stalks of bok choy.  You can select either the thin or thick noodles.  We ordered the thick noodles, which has similar consistency to udon noodles.  Really good!  $7.50

 

We also ordered the house specialty – the Monja Red Grain Pork Noodle Soup 艋呷燒肉湯麵 with the thin noodles.  The Red Grain Pork is basically Taiwanese-style bbq pork 紅糟肉.  The Monja version is crispy on the outside yet juicy on the inside.  The pork comes on the side, and there’s both dark and white meat.  🙂  The noodles are in a pork broth, topped with stewed minced fatty pork and sprinkled with scallions.  Yummy!  Easily shared among 2 people.  $7.50

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Churros Calientes

11521 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(424) 248-3890
 
churroscalientes.com
http://www.yelp.com/biz/churros-calientes-los-angeles
 

Ever since our Europe trip to Spain last year, my friends and I have been scouting for a Spanish-style churros place in LA.  So we were really excited to see that there’s a highly-reviewed one in West LA!!!  Churros Calientes is a very small place, easily missed if you’re driving along Santa Monica Blvd.  We went on a Sunday and it was pretty easy to find metered street parking in the area.  We went at the perfect time, because we snagged the last table — can’t imagine how crowded it must be normally; I think it fits 12-15 the most inside.  There are just a few tables, with a few bar seatings.

Besides churros, Churros Calientes also has a small menu of soups, salads and bocadillos (Spanish style small sandwiches).  As we came here after lunch, we didn’t get to try them.  Next time!

 

Look for the sign and the al fresco seating!

 

The bar seating area – as you can see, the place is pretty narrow….

 

We liked the handprints along the wall!

 

The churros con chocolat!  An order comes with 6 pieces of the churros with a small cup of the chocolate.  Very close to the ones at Chocolateria San Gines in Madrid, except the chocolate at Churros Calientes has a bit of almond flavor. The hot chocolate was rich and chocolatey, without being overly sweet.  The churros were light and crunchy.  We went for the original but you can also order filled/topped churros (chocolate, strawberry, guava, etc).  Yummy!  $6.75

 

The coffees at Churros Calientes are actually quite good as well!  The café con leche aka latte came in a large mug.  $4

 

Enjoy a leisurely afternoon, with some churros con chocolat, coffee and soothing flamenco music!

Quality Seafood

130 S International Boardwalk
Redondo Beach, CA 90277

(310) 372-6408

 

I’ve been coming to this place a few years now and every time I come, I discover and try something new!  Quality Seafood is a seafood market, located at the Redondo Beach pier.  It’s hidden in a corner, close by the docks and the old arcade.  Even though Quality Seafood is a seafood market, all the seafood that you see, can be prepared either steamed, grilled/broiled or fried for free!  There is a lot of live seafood, ranging from crabs and oysters, to sea urchin and clams.  In addition to live seafood, there’s also a wide assortment of fresh whole fish, cooked seafood, clam chowder, ceviche, etc.  During the month of September, when all of the lobster fests are happening around the beach cities, Quality Seafood also offers freshly steamed lobster meals for under $20!

Street parking can be a little hard to score, so park at one of the adjacent parking structures to be safe.  Dining at Quality Seafood is very casual… and you might be sharing your meal with a few sea gulls so dress accordingly.  During the weekends, if it’s crowded, it takes at least 30 minutes to have your food to be ready.  I saw on Yelp that sometimes people even bring their own condiments, which is a great idea — Quality Seafood just has the basics (salt, pepper, lemon, etc).  So come prepared… and get ready for a seafood feast!

 

The dining area – it’s mostly al fresco!  There are stacks of old newspapers by the bar (yes, there’s even a bar!), so get some and lay them out picnic style!  🙂

 

Different clam varieties

 

Looks like it’s crab season!  Quality Seafood is so thoughtful that they separate the male and female crabs into separate tanks – it makes it easier to pick them out, either for the crab meat, or for the roe.

 

I think it’s blue crab season too?

 

And for the sea urchin lovers, Quality Seafood is currently running a special on uni until Valentine’s Day at $7.50/lb!!!

 

The live uni – the spine was still moving just a little bit.  This was my first time having uni from the shell… it was a bit salty from the sea water, and covered with the veins.  Otherwise, it was good.  I was a little creeped out by the moving spines though, so I’ll stick with the restaurant versions from now on. :p   $17.50

 

We got half a pound each of the manila and the littlenecks neck clams, steamed with veggies for an extra $1.50.  The clams were soo good!  The veggies soaked up the clam juices, and the white wine sauce so they were delicious as well.  Steamed clams only took 6 minutes to cook.  $11.50 (including the veggies)

 

The wild Alaskan snapper was on sale for $4.98/lb so we got one too.  The one we picked was a huge one, at over 4 pounds.  I think that’s why it took longer to cook — about 20+ minutes.  We had it broiled, and it was so juicy and delicious!  Add your own seasoning (salt, pepper, lemons, etc) to taste.  🙂

Have fun at your own seafood picnic!

 

Atlantic Seafood & Dimsum Restaurant

500 N Atlantic Blvd
Ste 200
Monterey Park, CA 91754

(626) 872-0388

http://www.yelp.com/biz/atlantic-seafood-and-dim-sum-restaurant-monterey-park-2

atlanticsf.weebly.com

 

This is my favorite dimsum restaurant of late.  Atlantic Seafood is conveniently located in the large shopping center, on Atlantic, where the huge AMC Theater and wide range of restaurants are located.  Free parking is easy to find in the attached parking structure.  Finding the restaurant, however, is a bit tricky.  I almost couldn’t find it, when I went the first time.  So, make your way to the 24 Hour Fitness near the corner of Atlantic and Hellman, and you’ll see the restaurant located on the second floor.

Atlantic Seafood is a huge restaurant.  However, it gets very packed during the weekends.  If you want to avoid the crowd, go before 11:30am.  Otherwise, expect at least a 40 minutes wait.  Atlantic Seafood serves traditional dim sum, served in the rolling carts.  The carts circulate pretty often and if you don’t see what you want, just ask a waiter — they’ll usually bring it around to you. Service is pretty fast and friendly, although the dimsum cart ladies are a little pushy and will try to sell as much dimsum as they can!  😉  All of the dimsum that I’ve tried at Atlantic Seafood is very tasty.  Oh, and ALL the dimsum dishes are $1.88 each on the weekends (and only $1.58 on the weekdays)!  ^ ^

 

The meat-stuffed rice cakes.  Crispy on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside.  Mmmm….

 

1. The shumai is excellent and is a little bigger than other dimsum places

2. The leaf-wrapped sticky rice (no-mai-gai) is also tasty

3.  Steamed custard buns seemed like they’ve been in the steamer for too long – the filling wasn’t runny anymore.  Maybe they would be good if they were freshly steamed?

 

Eggrolls – stuffed with bamboo inside.  Very crunchy and delicious.  Loved it!

 

Beef meatballs had pretty good flavor and texture.

 

The egg tarts were fresh and so good out of the oven!  The crust is flaky and the filling is full of yummy egg flavor.  Mmmm!

 

Other notable items that I forgot to photograph were shrimp dumplings (har-gow), tofu pudding (do-fu-hua) and the fried rice.  I can see why this place is packed during the weekends!  Give it a try if you’re in the area.  🙂

Kobawoo House

698 S Vermont Ave
Ste 109
Los Angeles, CA 90005
(213) 389-7300
 
http://www.yelp.com/biz/kobawoo-house-los-angeles
 

I love bossam – it’s the Korean dish of sliced pork that you wrap together with pickled radish, kimchi in a napa cabbage leaf.  Kobawoo House has been on my “to-eat” list for a while, with its glowing Yelp reviews.  Finally had a chance to try it out recently!

Kobawoo House is located in a large strip mall, just past 7th Street, on Vermont.  It’s best to take advantage of the parking valet, which is $1.50, than to try to find your own parking.   The restaurant itself is medium sized, but with lots of business.  Not sure if they take reservations, so be prepared for a 20-30 minute wait.  While you wait, there’s a coffee machine by the front door that you can press for complimentary coffee, latte or hot chocolate!

 

The banchans (side dishes).  The side dishes were really tasty and flavorful.  You can ask for seconds!

 

We saw that fellow Yelpers also recommended the seafood pancake (haemul pajun), so that’s what we ordered.  It’s a huge pancake filled with shrimp, oyster, squid and crabmeat.  There was a lot of seafood, but the pancake wasn’t as crispy on the outside as I would’ve liked.  $15.99

 

We ordered the Wang Bosam, which is their special dish.  It’s basically the deluxe bosam platter.  It comes with the boiled pork, steamed skate (a fish) and glazed pork feet.  Before the bosam platter was out, the glazed pork feet came out first — it’s spicy cucumber mixed with sliced pork feet.  Very refreshing!

 

The huge bosam platter!  Kobawoo has some of the best kimchi I’ve tasted – perfectly fermented without it being overly spicy.  Just add a bit of everything to the napa cabbage leaf, and eat it like a burrito!  The kimchi was so great with the boiled pork – it took away the greasiness and porkiness of the meat.  Yum! The steamed skate (in the bowl) was good too, but the main star was definitely the pork!  $33.99

 

The bosam platter comes with rice – you can request for the purple rice, without extra charge.  It’s basically purple rice, cooked with some beans.  It’s chewier than white rice and accompanies the banchans very well.

Just a warning, portions are very generous.  Three of us shared the above dishes, and only managed to finish half of everything.  The leftovers still tasted great the next day!  ^ ^

Fishing with Dynamite

 

1148 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

(310) 893-6299

eatfwd.com

http://www.yelp.com/biz/fishing-with-dynamite-manhattan-beach

 

Fishing with Dynamite is a very small restaurant (about 5 tables total), owned by the same chef as MB Post a few doors down.  I’ve heard that it’s very hard to snag a dinner reservation, since the restaurant is so small.  So decided to go here for lunch instead.  Lunch reservation for New Years Eve was relatively easy — just made it on OpenTable!

I wasn’t really sure what to expect — the best seafood I’ve had was in Seattle, and hadn’t had anything in LA that came close.  But the restaurant has an impressive selection of oysters and other seafood.  Everything we had was so fresh and delicious!  Parking is always a little tricky around Manhattan Beach, so make sure you’re parked at one of the longer-term parkings, like the one with the underground parking. Most of the street parking is 2 hours max and may not give you enough time.   Bring lots of coins, as most of the meters only take coins.  Try to make a reservation if you can, otherwise the wait could be horrendously long!

 

Inside of the restaurant.  Like I’ve mentioned… it is very small!

 

The oyster sampler with half a dozen oysters.  The oysters come with a little card, which says the type of oyster and the place where it came from.  We also got the live uni (a daily special)!  It was all very fresh, and naturally sweet.  My favorite oyster was the Double DD (second from the right).  The oysters were hands down, some of the best I’ve had.  Mmmm…..  $18.25 for the half dozen oyster sampler.  $15 for the live uni.

 

The oysters came with 3 different sauces:  horseradish/mignonette, cocktail sauce and the ponzu.  The horseradish and the ponzu were really great on the oysters.  Really brought out the natural taste.

 

Steamed manila clams comes in a little iron crock.  It’s steamed in tomato, vermouth and linguica, and comes with grilled foccacia bread.  The clams were really tender and flavorful.  And the foccacia was perfect to soak up the sauce with!  $15

 

The Cape Code Squash Rolls with rosemary butter were really good, but a bit on the small side.  We also used this to dip in the clam sauce.  Mmm…  $5

We’ll be back to try the oyster poboy and the mahi mahi fish tacos!  We saw that people all ordered different dishes and everything looked so good~~

Kate Mantilini

9101 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

(310) 278-3699

http://www.yelp.com/biz/kate-mantilini-beverly-hills

http://katemantilinirestaurant.com/

 

I’ve been to Kate Mantilini’s a few years ago for an alumni networking lunch and had a pretty good impression of the food.  But, since LA has so many diverse offerings, I haven’t been back until one of my friends said that she had a Groupon.  So, dinner was decided.  🙂

Surprisingly, there is ample street parking near Kate Mantilini’s.  The meters are free after 6pm.  However, for those of you squeamish about street parking, valet parking is also available. On the night that we dined, the restaurant was pretty packed, so reservations are recommended.  Service was very friendly and our waiter kept checking on us throughout our meal.  He  entertained us with the restaurant’s history, some new potential menu items and even let us sample some dessert!  It was quite a memorable meal.

 

Seafood linguini with pesto — this was one of the daily specials, so not sure how often they have this.  Since I still have a bit of shellfish allergy, I informed our waiter, who immediately said that it was not a problem.  He had the kitchen substitute the prawns with extra seafood!  There were lots of clams, salmon, mussels and squid.  The seafood was perfectly cooked and the pesto sauce was garlicky and flavorful.  Awesome!  $22

 

The hobo steak — is basically grilled meatloaf with sauteed kale and mashed potatoes.  The meatloaf tasted so good!  Our waiter even made us his secret hot sauce to accompany it.  Yum!  $18.50

 

Homemade lemon icebox pie — this was so good!  Light and tart~  $6.95

 

Our waiter treated us to this dessert – apple cobbler with cinnamon ice cream.  The warm apple cobbler had a vanilla sauce.  The cinnamon ice cream tasted like horchata.  Both were really tasty!  $8.50