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Nick Shipp used to work under Wolfgang Puck; he also used to be head chef at downtown's Pete's Cafe and Bar, once beloved of many a local Chowhound. But now he's in charge of his own kitchen, at the brand new Upper West.
havepixel loves the place, and will be back often. On a first visit, there were many wonders to be had. Appetizers include seared beef carpaccio: basil balsamic and horseradish aioli, with paper-thin slices of high-quality beef layered with sheets of Parmesan for an excellent complexity of flavor and texture.
Braised lamb crêpes is another treat, with very tender lamb and salty lavender demi-glace. It's heavily and deeply flavored; havepixel's only complaint was that the intensity of the lamb masked the taste of the crêpe.
The BLT is spectacular: plenty of thick-cut bacon spiced like pastrami, with green tomato, butter lettuce, and corn and sun-dried tomato aioli. The bacon is spectacular, and the BLT comes with plenty of it.
It's all a resounding success, says havepixel; the only worry is that the place won't do well because of its slightly odd location.
Upper West [Westside - Beaches]
3321 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica
Discuss: Review of Upper West in Santa Monica
Right in the middle of an otherwise civilized interview with Wisconsin master cheesemaker Roger Krohn, the Green Bay Press Gazette breaks some rather disturbing news. Krohn says that the Center for Dairy Research in Madison, Wisconsin, "has actually developed 'Fun Flavors' of string cheese, which should appeal to kids. They have come up with flavors such as bubble gum, sour apple, and raspberry. I have had the opportunity to sample this flavored string cheese, and it is quite good. It combines 'sweet and salty' which is a very popular combination in snack foods right now."
Taste of Beijing is in Rowland Heights' Diamond Plaza food court. You can't miss it, with the faux temple archway and the servers in Chinese costumes. Don't let the excess chinoiserie throw you—this place is 100 percent legit.
Mr Taster found truly great cumin lamb skewers, at the bargain-basement price of $1 a skewer. "The seasoning was very nice.... a great spicy kick with a punch of cumin, well-balanced, and the texture was right." The biggest winner: the chicken wing skewer. "Do yourself a favor and go there now and order the wings," orders Mr Taster.
There is also a really good rendition of jia jiang mian, wheat noodles in a Bolognese-like sauce, with clearly handmade, excellently rough noodles with a decent chew.
Taste of Beijing in Diamond Plaza [San Gabriel Valley]
1380 Fullerton Road, Rowland Heights
"They also had these weird 'lasagna cupcakes' with things like wild boar or venison." - bsquared2 on the newly opened microroaster/coffee shop Coffee Commissary
"But my favorite of all is at Brent's Deli in Northridge." - wienermobile on the best chopped liver in town
"Korean rice cylinders, maple smoked bacon, jalapeño ponzu." - havepixel, at the limited-time-only preview of Debbie Lee's SeoulTown Tapas food at BreadBar