PinotPlease's Profile

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Los Angeles hounds to Tokyo in late December. Sushi and Izakaya recs greatly appreciated!!!

Thank you for the great suggestions! My mouth is watering already!

Dec 04, 2011
PinotPlease in Japan

Anyone know of an Izakaya similar to Raku in Japan?

Here's a strange question, we just came back from Vegas and had our minds blown by Raku (Thanks to all the Hounds that pointed us in that direction, it was awesome!) Now, we're on our way to Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo over Christmas/New Years and are looking for a similarly unique take on Izakaya cuisine in the motherland. Anyone who has any information, it's greatly appreciated. And anyone who's lucky enough to live in/be visiting Vegas, do yourself a favor and get thee to Raku!!!

Nov 27, 2011
PinotPlease in Japan

Los Angeles hounds to Tokyo in late December. Sushi and Izakaya recs greatly appreciated!!!

Hello fellow hounds - We are planning a Christmas/New Year's trip to Tokyo this winter and would love to partake in sushi and Izakaya. We have pretty educated palates and are looking to spend what's probably in the middle range for meals (We usually spend about $100-120 for two people on sushi in Los Angeles including a couple drinks each.) For people familiar with the Los Angeles scene, we're big fans of Sushi Gen, K-Zo and we loved Sushi Ike in Hollywood when it was still run by Ike himself.

As for Izakaya, we're newer to it, but always find Robata Jinya and Honda Ya to be quite tasty, if somewhat different in style, and just tried Raku in Las Vegas which was probably the best we've had in our relatively limited experience. The chef there really seemed to be trying interesting things with different homemade soy sauces and salts to compliment seasonal grilled dishes, housemade tofu and the like.

So, that being said, we'd love to hear about some great sushi and Izakya spots from people in the know. Also, we just found out that since we're going to be there over New Year's, that a lot of places, including the fish market, close down completely for the holiday, so anyone who has any ideas/information on eats over the holiday would be really helpful!

Also, since I'm asking for everything, December 30 is an important anniversary for us. Any thoughts on perhaps anniversary sushi? Once again, as much as we'd like, we can't spend $300 per person, but somewhere in the neighborhood of the above price range, maybe a bit more, would be great!

Thanks in advance!

Nov 27, 2011
PinotPlease in Japan

Affordable Sushi In Tokyo

Hi Aventinus, your reply caught my eye since we are Los Angeles hounds going to Tokyo in December and love Sushi Gen and would love to find something in that quality zone for the same/less money but have no idea where to start. Do you have any specific recommendations? Thanks!

Nov 27, 2011
PinotPlease in Japan

Burger Kitchen. Is it still under the crazy management from "Kitchen Nightmares?"

Dommy! Always in the thick of things! Thanks for the 411, especially on being a Kitchen Nightmares special guest. I always wondered what that was all about. Now I'm wondering if Short Order will use the same "Nancy Silverton" burger meat blend that they sell at Huntington Meats, that's graced our grill to great success for many a summer!

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Huntington Meats
6333 W 3rd St # 350, Los Angeles, CA

Short Order
6333 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Nov 16, 2011
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

Substitute for White Wine

One of my more favorite resources is a book called "Substituting Ingredients" by Becky Sue Epstein and Hillary Dole Klein. They recommend a substitute for "wine in marinades" not sure if this helps for your recipe or not, but they suggest 1/4c. vinegar plus 1 tablespoon sugar plus 1/4 c. water.

Or, if you are going to the store, there are non-alcoholic white wines, as well as something, I think it's called Banyuls, something like that, that's a by-product of wine, used in the same way in recipes but I believe it is alcohol free. Good luck, beef wellington, YUM!

Nov 12, 2011
PinotPlease in Home Cooking

Burger Kitchen. Is it still under the crazy management from "Kitchen Nightmares?"

The S.O. and I went to Burger Bar about a month and a half ago with one of 2 Groupons we had. We found the burgers to be tasty, the Belgian beer selection to be fun and the service to be okay. Then the other day, we flip on Kitchen Nightmares to see none other than Burger Bar, and a family and kitchen situation so psychotic they had to stretch it over two episodes, which may be a first for that show. Are those crazy people still running things? If so, I'm seriously questioning my tastebuds, since what I had didn't taste like watery pre-frozen New Zealand Waygu, or whatever that wack-ness was they were serving on the show. But maybe it was one of those happy Ramsey endings tied up with a bow? Maybe he kicked some ass and some sense into those people? Or maybe it's new ownership. Does anyone know?

Nov 12, 2011
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

No Dim Sum West Of The 405?

Actually, at Bao there's all day happy hour pricing on about 12-15 dim sum menus at the bar all day long, (and tables during standard happy our times) and you wouldn't have to drink beer if you didn't want to. I think they open around 11am. And as for the prices, I'd say, yes, they're maybe a buck a plate more than some of the beloved SGV "made to order" dim sum places like Elite etc. But, you're not driving as far from the Westside, you have the OPTION of dim sum all day and night, even if there are times that you don't find proper. And the original posting was talking about the demise of Xino, which was as, if not more, expensive than Bao...Just sayin'...

Nov 12, 2011
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

Eva, maybe not so much...

This is my second time going to Eva. I went about a year ago for dinner and remember being impressed by the freshness of the food and not so impressed by the high priced drinks. We had a Bloomspot coupon for mimosa brunch for two and decided that would be a good way to give it another try.

Service was slow. You could see two guys working their butts off through the kitchen window, but I don't think that two people was enough to handle the crowd. Also, while there seemed to be more than enough servers, the service itself was kind of sluggish. I asked for a side of toast with my chantrelle and tomato omelet and the toast arrived 25 minutes after ordering, but at least 20 minutes before the toast. Butter came somewhere in between. When the main course arrived, about 40-45 minutes after we finished our starters, they were beautiful, farm fresh, all the rest. My dining companion loved her steak and eggs, the quality was not a question. However, halfway into my rolled omelet that had grilled carrots, parsnips and fennel on top, I realized there were no tomatoes, or chantrelles. I asked the waitress and she told me that "The menu changes daily, based on what's fresh at the farmer's market. And parsnips and fennel were fresh."

Call me crazy, but if the menu changes daily, shouldn't the actual MENU change to reflect that? Parsnips are a far cry from an exotic mushroom, and, to be honest, not that great with eggs, neither are grilled carrots IMHO. She went to ask if chantrelles and tomatoes could be added and came back saying neither was available, but the chef could cook me a side of porcini. My friend was halfway through her food now, so I said that would be fine. I was eating as slowly as possible, but another 25 minutes went by and my eggs were pretty cold, what was left of them, so I finished. No porcini ever came.

My friend wanted desert, I was kind of over the whole thing by now, but she's a butterscotch pudding freak, so we got a cup of that and a couple plain coffees. The pudding was great, although every time we put down our spoons someone would swoop in and try and clear the unfinished dish. This happened 3 times. Suddenly we had a LOT of service, and they all wanted that half eaten pudding!

The final nail in Eva's coffin for me was when the bill came. The Bloomspot coupon covered the starter, the main and the mimosas (which were poured out of a jug, so while the OJ was fresh and great, the mimosa itself was flat.) That left us on the hook for the toast, the single cup of pudding and two cups of coffee with no refills. Those three items were 28 bucks and change. Yup, $7.50 per coffee...Black coffee, no latte, no frou frou.

I look at these Groupon type deals as a nice incentive to try different places and hopefully find spots (and we've found many, I'm looking at you Olio Pizza) that you would happily patronize for full price. But Eva really dropped the ball for me. I don't deny that the chef is talented and the food is fresh, but the radical menu substitution, poor service and just plain gouging for something like a cup of coffee, not cool.

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Eva Restaurant
7458 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Oct 09, 2011
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

Dim sum for dinner? Yes!

The other day I noticed a post from someone who wanted to go to the SGV and get dim sum for dinner. For many years this was a fantasy of mine, dashed to the ground multiple times because, as I found out, dim sum is not a traditional dinner food.

Enter Bao Dim Sum house into my life a couple years back. It's in the space of an old Korean BBQ place on Beverly and Sweetzer, and you kind of get the sense they're hedging their bets (or it's too expensive to disconnect the gas) because the tables are constructed right on top of the old BBQ grills.

I was so inspired by the thought, the SO and I went there last night to check in. Delicious as usual so I was inspired to post.

Anyway, it's a very cool, large room. Really good, authentic dim sum, the Har Gow is a standout, and it's one of the few places I've found pea shoots in garlic on a regular menu west of Chinatown (except for Jar, strangely enough...) I've heard the chef is from one of the big dim sum joints in the SGV, forget the name, but I would put the Bao dim sum house up against a lot that I've had in the SGV over the years. Yes, it's a little bit more expensive, I'd say we paid maybe 25% more than we would have for the same meal at Lunasia. And there's no carts,if you're looking for that experience, it's made to order. And, if you eat at the bar it's happy hour pricing (1.99 Sapporo drafts, 4 wine. More limited dim sum choices but still about 15 things to choose from.)

I'm not saying that it's the absolute ultimate dim sum house, but it's pretty damn good, it's a nice atmosphere, the service is great, you can get your drink on and do it after dark.

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Bao Dim Sum House
8256 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

Oct 09, 2011
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

Where to find loose peppermint leaf for tea?

Anyone know where I can find bulk loose peppermint leaf for tea? I've been going to the Farmer's Market tea shop at Third and Fairfax but it's pretty pricy. Anywhere else in that general few mile radius to find the same for not an arm and a leg? Thanks!

May 25, 2011
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

Run, don't walk to Blu Jam cafe for DINNER!

Having been a fan of the always popular, always spot on, farm fresh brunch at Blu Jam, I was very excited when Kamil went from his occasional dinner service to a dedicated Wed-Sun dinner service. The SO and I went this evening (made even more enticing by free corkage through the month of March 2011. Although Kamil's wine list looks like a lot of fun and well considered for when the special ends.)

It's a "small" plates menu, but 5 dishes was more than enough for 2 hearty eaters and we were also treated to a couple of extra surprises from the generous and passionate staff who love the food they make and it shows!

An Amuse of mac and cheese with black truffle oil was a creamy, smoky, delicious appetizer in and of itself.

The Tuna tartare was the height of freshness and the avocado was creamy and complemented the tuna and the corn tortilla chip to perfection.

Shrimp ceviche was done on the same sort of chip as the tuna, but it was sprighty and light with lime juice on a swirl of chipotle mayo that grounded the back end flavor.

Seared scallops on a lemon zest risotto with asparagus consisted of two, large, top of the line, dry farmed scallops (no iodine nastiness here!) with a nice sear on a lovely bed of risotto with fresh and flavorful asparagus.

Greek tacos were pulled pork on the aforementioned tortillas with feta and oregano. Mild, more like a tender pulled pork sandwich without sauce than a traditional Mexican style taco. I liked, but didn't love. Would be a good choice for someone with a less adventurous palate as most of the dishes definitely had a lot of zingy, complex flavors.

The Brussels sprouts came with currants and nuts (almonds?) in a smoky balsamic reduction. One of the few times I've had brussels sprouts that didn't kill my pinot noir, in fact, the smokiness enhanced the flavor and made a nice pairing.

And lastly, Kamil's famous goulash. The Goulash in beer gravy was very nice, fork tender beef. But the real stand out of the dish for me were the homemade pan-fried gnocchi. I could eat those suckers in the beer gravy all day every day!

I'd like to say there was room for desert, but alas, after all that goodness we practically needed a wheelbarrow to get back to the car!

The setting that's so casual at brunch is really neighborhood gem romantic for dinner, the exposed brick wall and wooden beams are the perfect complement for the (admittedly faux) candle lights. The servers are super friendly and know/love the menu. It's a great spot for quiet conversation, or the kind of place where the owner or servers will stay a spell and chat about food, wine and life. In short, the perfect neighborhood restaurant. The prices were beyond reasonable for the quality and portion size. I almost didn't want to post and keep it my own little secret, but they deserve the attention and customers. This was a special evening, and I'm a tough customer!

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Blu Jam Cafe
7371 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

Mar 26, 2011
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

Susan Fineger's Street-- nothing to write home about

Agree 110%! I've been twice now, once for a business dinner and once with the SO. Both times were tuurrribble, to quote Charles Barkley. The only reason I returned was we had an Open Table Certificate, purchased before the first visit, or I personally wouldn't have given them a second chance.

The unpleasant puffed rice balls that are like a stale, salty, rice crispy treat with a strange malty aftertaste, that they give you in lieu of bread or shrimp toasts or, you know, something palatable, should be your first warning of what you're getting yourself into.

My first visit, we got roped into all their hyped "favorites" which were badly conceived versions of international street food (or something. Hard to tell sometimes.) Which tended towards the fried, sickly sweet sauce (Ukrainian dumplings, fried chicken), far too much butter and cheese in dishes that really didn't require it (brussels sprouts, I'm looking at you!) or just plain bland and uninspired (watery spaghetti squash.) All for CRAZY markups seated in uncomfortable plastic chairs in a place so crowded that the servers have a hard time navigating the maze, the customers even more so. The outdoor terrace is only covered with cloth and has only a few heaters, so when we came for our reservation we were outside, staring at the sky, no heater on a 60 degree night. When we asked to move inside we were told that wasn't possible but at least got a table closer to a heater, another table of 4 (seated at a cramped 2 top sized table) was not so lucky. They offered blankets. Seriously? Blankets?! At a place where your beers are 10 bucks a pop and you serve your mediocre (also overpriced) wine in tiny little jelly jars? Pony up for the space heaters, it's not like you're not making cash hand over fist since the place is inexplicably always packed.

This time around, I tried to avoid some of the pitfalls of the last visit, so we went with mostly Thai influenced dishes. "grilled" tofu satay was actually 3 pieces of firm tofu the size of a pack of Dentyne gum not particularly grilled, almost like the slices had just been carved out of a package, with some heavy peanut sauce glugged over the top and about 1/4 cup of some sort of Thai cole slaw on the side. The price? 10 bucks. Thai rice noodles with pork and broccoli were just okay, kind of soggy and too heavy on the fish sauce (and I'm a Jitlada fan so I can handle fish sauce.) But for, I think $12, the serving size on this dish, that any greasy spoon in Thai town could run circles around, was about 1/4 the size of what you'd get in any Thai restaurant for almost double the price (dish was about 7" round, 1" high .) It was like the old joke, "Terrible food...and such small portions!"

Charleston Shrimp were tasty enough. Tasted like actual Gulf Shrimp. The very sweet sauce didn't diminish them. 7 shrimp and arugula salad set us back about $14 if I recall. Kale with bean dip was also pretty good. Frizzled black kale with anchovy butter on the side as well as a white bean dip and 4 olive croutons.

Lucky for me, SO is a carb lover and had the foresight to order brown rice and some olive toast (much to the chagrin of our server who was well-versed in the over-sell.) Or we would have left Street pissed AND hungry.

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Jitlada
5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Street
742 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

Mar 20, 2011
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

Heart shaped treats that don't suck

For Valentine's I always like to grab the Sweetie a heart shaped sweetie. Beyond the obvious, see's, Godiva, etc. Are there any awesome local bakeries that do anything interesting? Bonus points for any Hounds who know where to score hear-shaped Snickerdoodles, Red Velvet, Macrons or Key Lime pie!

Feb 12, 2011
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

Food grade lye for pretzels?

Thank you everyone for your thoughtful and timely posting. I was able to get some lye water (and Lunasia dim sum, YUM!) in the SGV with 24 hours to spare before kick off. I haven't made a ton of pretzels in my time, but I'd say while the lye water (purchased at 99 ranch) did add a certain je nais sais quoi flavor-wise, they didn't really contribute to any sort of crisping of the exterior as some pretzel mavens on the web had promised. Maybe if I'd gone for an egg glaze...Anyway, thanks for all the suggestions. And there is lye water at 99 ranch if anyone is in the market!

Feb 06, 2011
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

Food grade lye for pretzels?

I was looking to make the Pretzels from January's Food and Wine for the Superbowl. Does anyone have any idea where to get the food grade lye they need to be dipped in to crisp the crust in the central LA area (Koreatown to Culver City on the East West axis and Hollywood to Culver on the North South for bonus points!) Thanks!

Feb 04, 2011
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

ISO whole black truffles - any leads in the LA area?

There are two mushroom stands at the Hollywood Farmer's Market on Sunday mornings (across from Amoeba Records.) The lady closer to Sunset has both Italian and Oregon truffles, although the Italian ones are extremely expensive as is to be expected. There's also a gentleman at the intersection where the produce forks into baked goods and cooked food. He has Oregon truffles that I've really liked and haven't found to be watery, they're reasonably priced, although, certainly a whole different animal from the Italian variety. Good luck!

Feb 02, 2011
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

ISO A big smoked turkey drumstick

The meat man at the Ralphs on 3rd and LaBrea is big into the smoked meat parts for seasoning, I'm pretty sure he's Southern, so he KNOWS. Right after Turkey day he didn't even bother with his usual hamhocks etc. and went big on smoked turkey. He's a passionate guy about his section and I think a phone call could easily render a leg. Good luck!

Jan 12, 2011
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

Fairly cheap ocean front restaurant in Santa Monica??? Help!

Joe's pizza. YUM!!!

Jul 27, 2010
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

What's a good, inexpensive, fun BYOB place for dinner in mid-city?

Blu Jam cafe on Melrose (A great Breakfast spot) does international theme dinners on weekend nights that are BYOB (They're campaigning for their liquor license but I don't think they have it yet.) They are reasonably priced. If you get on their e-mail list they'll send you the rundown. There are also a few threads on Chow for no/low corkage fee places in town. Good luck!

Jul 27, 2010
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

Tar Pit on LaBrea. Was there a fire?

Last night's 10 p.m. news reported a fire at the Tar Pit on LaBrea, but the video shot from the air made it appear that the fire trucks were in front of the pizza joint across the street with their ladders facing in that direction. Has anyone heard of this? And if Tar Pit did have a fire was it a limited blaze or are they out of commission for a while?

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The Tar Pit
609 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

May 07, 2010
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

Lunasia for dinner?

We've been a couple times. Agree with ipsedixit that the seafood was tasty, but it wasn't very crowded or lively like it is during dim sum. During the day I find that the buzz makes up for the kind of pedestrian room, but the times we've been for dinner it's been quiet almost to the point of being somewhat uncomfortable. So for food, yes, definitely, all day every day, for vibe, I'd stick to daylight hours personally.

May 07, 2010
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

I have to lose some pounds what's a foodie to do?

M Cafe macrobiotic is a great lunch place at Melrose and LaBrea or at the end of the Washington Blvd. restaurant strip in Culver City (kitty corner from Trader Joe's) Went there for lunch today and had their awesome Big Macro veggie burger with a side of to die kale peanut salad. But a lot of times I go for the salad plate where you can get 2-4 of their deli salads, the aforementioned kale, grilled veggies, they have a celery root remoulade (sp?) for wintertime, lentil salad, soba noodles, the list goes on. Also sushi rolls, brown rice bowls. All fresh, delish in airy surroundings (esp. Culver City, Melrose can get a bit hectic at prime lunch hours) Also a great idea for healthy Hollywood bowl eating! Great post, thanks!

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M Cafe De Chaya
7119 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

Mar 06, 2010
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

village pizza larchmont

Their meatball is pretty sweet, especially with either onions of peppers, but like bad nono said above, you can't load up that awesome thin crust too much without getting somewhat soggy! Damn, just ate dinner and now I'm hungry!

Mar 02, 2010
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

Stone crabs packed to travel at Miami Airport?

Thanks all, this is great advice. I'm starting to think the expense of Fed Ex shipping is going to be psychically cheaper than dealing with TSA in the panty-bomber age!

Stone crabs packed to travel at Miami Airport?

Does anyone know if there's a place in the Miami Airport where you can get stone crabs packed to take on the plane? I know in Boston, Legal Seafood will pack lobsters, chowder, etc. at the airport but I didn't know if they did in Miami. Any info would be greatly appreciated as I'm gonna be there in a few days! Thanks!

Transplanted Boston foodies, I need your recommendations please

As another transplanted Bostonian foodie, one word of advice I can give you is get thee to a 99 Ranch when the inevitable "Lobstah jones" comes on. When you see the monstah you will take home for sometimes 7.99/lb, you'll be too greased up with hot buttah and lemon to exclaim the obvious, that "Sometimes even L.A. can be wicked pissah!"

Feb 08, 2010
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

Best 2010 Dine LA Menu / Experience?

Meet in Culver City was a real hidden gem. Fantastic trout entree great service, an intimate yet low-key bistro feel like I remember from trips to Paris. And with the little white twinkle lights Culver City has on the trees outside it had the feeling of a nice stay-cation, the kind of place you'd remember if you took a trip to another city in the US. Just a great place to have well-prepared, French bistro style food, reasonably priced and enjoy your wine and conversation (unlike so many places in LA, it's acoustically mellow, no over-powering music and even though my friend and I lingered over desert catching up we didn't feel like we were being rushed out the door. There's also a nice little patio that we didn't take advantage of because it was a chilly night, but there was a decent sized crowd out there and every time I glanced outside they had smiles on their faces, I understand why. I can't wait to "Meet" again (sorry, couldn't resist!)

Feb 08, 2010
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

Place for cheap restaurant/baking supplies?

I second Gloria's cake supplies, I made hella macarons for Xmas and this place was a great find for all the niceties, the food color and cello bags, boxes, everything on the decorative side as well as entire sections devoted to various holidays and kids fancies. Bargain Fair as was mentioned above is also a great find and a place to plan to spend some time!

Feb 03, 2010
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area

fresh duck eggs?

Ai Hoa supermarket in Chinatown usually has them, and I've found, when scrambled at least, that they are definitely richer than chicken eggs, more "yolk-iness" and there's a little more graininess to the texture, there's something not as creamy smooth as a chicken egg. Good luck...or, uh, good duck!

Feb 03, 2010
PinotPlease in Los Angeles Area