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Best Los Angeles area Tasting Menus

Has anyone had a tasting menu at Ink recently? If so, can you speak to the experience? At some point they weren't doing them, and I don't see a mention of the tasting menu on their current website (did I miss it?). Thanks!

Best tasting menu I've had in la is at Providence. An obvious pick, and it's been consistently wow over several visits.

A not so obvious pick: had an excellent tasting menu at joe's in Venice. Food isn't at providence level but it was surprisingly good.

Jul 29, 2014
Nicole in Los Angeles Area

L.A. Co-Dishes of the Month, July 2014: FRIED CHICKEN (and Chicken Fried) and FROZEN DAIRY-BASED DESSERT PRODUCTS

It wasn't horrible. It was just super bland - lack of flavor. We ate at least half, but it just didn't seem worth finishing.

Jul 22, 2014
Nicole in Los Angeles Area
1

L.A. Co-Dishes of the Month, July 2014: FRIED CHICKEN (and Chicken Fried) and FROZEN DAIRY-BASED DESSERT PRODUCTS

A tale of two southbay gelatos: a couple of weeks ago I tried Bonaventura gelato lounge, which recently opened in manhattan beach. Gelato was meh. Husband and I both threw ours out without finishing. Following week we hit up Paciugo gelato in hermosa beach and it was great as always (love the sea salt caramel, dark chocolate, and especially the black sesame).

Jul 22, 2014
Nicole in Los Angeles Area
1

L.A. Co-Dishes of the Month, July 2014: FRIED CHICKEN (and Chicken Fried) and FROZEN DAIRY-BASED DESSERT PRODUCTS

Ate at AOC tonight and apparently that blood orange dessert with candied kumquat ice cream was taken off the menu a week ago...it's seasonal. But their Spanish fried chicken was amazing...perhaps my favorite fried chicken ever.

Jul 12, 2014
Nicole in Los Angeles Area
1

Maui report!

Have you been to the feast at lele? It's not a typical luau, it's a seated 5 course dinner (not buffet) with high quality food that is generally on par with the restaurants from the same owner (i'o, pacific i'o). And the show is excellent, way better than the hula shows at the resort. It's supposed to be a journey through 5 areas of the south pacific, you experience the food and the dance of the region.
Again, not saying that the food at mama's is not enjoyable, it certainly is, I just think there are several places with better food on the island, at a lower price point. Mama's was good, but ultimately disappointing because I expected great.

Oct 10, 2012
Nicole in Hawaii

Maui report!

I definitely preferred spago to both mamas and Amasia. And it's very close to where you'll be staying, to boot. I've also read good things about Ko in the Fairmont, we didn't visit but it was next on my list when I was planning.

Oct 10, 2012
Nicole in Hawaii

Maui report!

I don't think it's worth it if you are a vegetarian.

Oct 09, 2012
Nicole in Hawaii

Maui report!

Service was below expectations at mamas fish house and Amasia, but exceeded my rather high expectations everywhere else. Nicks fish market in particular had extraordinary service.

Oct 07, 2012
Nicole in Hawaii

Maui report!

It's my pleasure. Thanks all for taking the time to respond. :)

Oct 07, 2012
Nicole in Hawaii

Maui report!

If you do decide to do a special meal elsewhere, I would recommend nicks fish market on the south side of the island, or based on my last trip Merriman's on the west side (it has been a long time since I was there though). I'll be eager to hear what others have to say about mamas, in my opinion it's not worth it, but other people love this place.

Oct 07, 2012
Nicole in Hawaii

Maui report!

I made reservations everywhere, but I'm a planner. Not sure if they were always needed, but then again September tends to be a less busy time in Maui. You absolutely need reservations for the feast at lele, a friend tried to make them about a week in advance and couldn't get in. Both times I went I made the reservation about 6 weeks in advance and got seated in the front row in front of the stage. So for that one at least it pays to plan.

Oct 07, 2012
Nicole in Hawaii

Maui report!

All in all, it was still excellent. I just had extremely high expectations based on our last visit.

Oct 02, 2012
Nicole in Hawaii

Review: Yanagi Bistro - Torrance

I thought their sushi and sashimi was good quality for the very reasonable price, but I still much prefer miura down the street. The best item I had was their pork buns, so will probably try more cooked items there in the future. Nice space, good service. Not busy for weekend lunch.

Oct 02, 2012
Nicole in Los Angeles Area

Maui report!

Forgot to mention the Feast at Lele luau. The food was a little inconsistent this time (eg, kahlua pork too salty), but it's still the best luau food I've had, not to mention the outstanding show, good service, and lovely beachfront location.

Oct 02, 2012
Nicole in Hawaii

Maui report!

Thanks! If only I had known!

Oct 02, 2012
Nicole in Hawaii

Where to stay on Maui - does Wailea area have good dining or should a foodie stay in the West?

We got back a couple of weeks ago, and wow, did we eat well! I posted a detailed review on another thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/871859
Thanks again for all your guidance, hounds!

Oct 02, 2012
Nicole in Hawaii

Maui report!

We had a wonderful time eating our way through Maui a couple of weeks ago. We mostly ate in South Maui, but had a couple of meals in the North and West. Here are reviews of the places we ate. All reviews for dinner unless otherwise specified.

Mama's Fish House
Good but not great. Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed our meal (lunch), but we enjoyed other Maui meals more, and they were less expensive to boot. We ordered the 2 most highly recommended fish entrees, which were each $48 at lunch (I think maybe $10 more at dinner?) and both were satisfying but neither blew us away. I got Hawaiian snapper with a mushroom sauce. Very tasty and earthy, but this was basically Chicken Marsala with fish, nothing inventive or special. Husband got the mahi mahi (IIRC) stuffed with crab and lobster. It was good, but his take was that any fresh fish stuffed with lobster is going to be good, he wasn't blown away. Also, the service wasn't very good, particularly in relation to the price point. For instance, my water glass was empty for a while, whereas the other restaurants we visited never let it get less than half full. In a more striking example, at some point our toddler knocked over my husband's water glass, so that our table was covered with water and ice. The ice was very visible to anyone glancing out our table, but still no one came over to help us, and it took me way too much time and effort to flag down my waiter to get help with clean up. In short, I'm glad we went here once, but we definitely wouldn't return, and I now understand the mixed reviews this place gets. Although other hounds I highly respect love this place, I wouldn't recommend it.

Nick's Fish Market (Wailea)
Nick's was everything I wished Mama's was. The food and service were both exemplary. The tuna dish we ordered was the best fish I have had in my life (and I have had lots of great fish). The service was extremely attentive without being intrusive. A+ all the way. This was probably my favorite restaurant of the trip, and among my top 10 dining experiences ever.

Monkey Pod Kitchen (Wailea)
This was great for a more casual option. Everything we ate was excellent. Service was good, but more casual given the more casual vibe of the whole restaurant. Loved the calamari appetizer that had fried pineapple in it, I could have eaten a dinner sized portion of this on my own. :)

Spago (Wailea)
Food and service were both excellent. If you've eaten at the Spago in Beverly Hills or elsewhere you will find that this Spago's menu is quite different, with an emphasis on integrating local Hawaiian ingredients and flavors. For instance, both the Beverly Hills and Wailea locations are known for their raw fish cones, but we preferred the ones at Spago Wailea. The dessert menu, however, was the same as BH, and while deliciious, not that inspiring. However, this was made up for by an excellent selection of local coffees. :) An all around wonderful experience.

Amasia (Wailea)
This is Alan Wong's new restaurant. He is known for being one of the founders of Hawaiian regional cuisine, and this restaurant is supposed to be a fusion of Hawaiian and Asian, as the name indicates. In reality, I found that it was more Asian (particularly Japanese) than Hawaiian, which was slightly disappointing to me only because I happen to to be able to get excellent Japanese food where I'm from, and I was looking forward to more Hawaiian flavors. Still, the food was very good, and the price point was actually pretty reasonable given the location. The service, however, was pretty unpolished, especially given that we were in such a nice place (the Grand Wailea). The service did not live up to the food. It sounds silly, but the most memorable dish was actually a dessert that had a decidedly Hawaiian influence-- pineapple "shave ice" (basically pineapple that is frozen and shaved to mimic shave ice)...this was way more delicious than it had any right to be!

Duo (Wailea)
We ate the breakfast buffet here multiple times (5 times?) and ate dinner here once. The breakfast buffet is typical for this kind of upscale resort. Everything was good, nothing blew me away (pancakes are very good, btw). Variety was good but not amazing. It's $35 for the full buffet, and $30 if you don't want hot items. It's well worth it if you are staying at the Four Seasons, but I don't think I would come here if I wasn't staying there.
For dinner, we had the unlimited raw bar (note: not offered every night, call to confirm that they have it when you want to go). This was delicious, and well worth the $69 per person price. In addition to unlimited seafood, you get fries (maybe the best fries I've ever had) and a glass of Prosecco includes. The seafood includes 3 types of oysters, various kinds of pokes and ceviches, huge prawns, lobster tails, two kinds of crab claws and legs, etc. It was all incredibly fresh. The only surprising thing was that the prawns were not deveined and there was a bit of sediment in my oysters...quite strange considering how much effort the restaurant went to in providing high quality, all you can eat seafood...you would think it would be perfect. At any rate, food and service were still excellent and I would heartily recommend the raw bar (did not order off the regular dinner menu).

Paia Fish Market
Really casual place (order at the counter and they bring it to you), we ate here before leaving for the airport. Food was very good, good value, large portions. I wouldn't go out of my way to eat here but would definitely eat here again if it was convenient (e.g., before airport, coming back from Hana, etc).

Pioneer Inn Grill and Bar (Lahaina)
Good breakfast, good value. Macademia nut pancakes were good but nothing special. Food that I wouldn't go out of my way for, but would definitely eat again before taking a boat road out of the Lahaina harbor.

Kihei Cafe
Excellent breakfast. Low prices (for South Maui). Cinnamon roll french toast was delicious! It wasn't listed on the menu but they had it as a special. Macademia nut and banana pancakes were very good but not special (comparable to Pioneer Inn). I would definitely come back here.

Ululani's Shave Ice (Lahaina)
We discovered this on our last trip to Maui, in my opinion this is the best shave ice on the island! Very soft ice, great flavors. Excellent.

Local Boys Shave Ice (Kihei)
We ate this on the last trip too, and it wasn't as good as I remembered it. Ice was too chunky, more like a snow cone than shave ice. I've got to find a better place in South Maui for my next trip!

Poolside service, Four Seasons
I think this is the same menu as room service. I have to say, my expectations for poolside food were low, and they were continually exceeded. We ordered lunch and cocktails poolside multiple times, and everything was consistently excellent. It is of course expensive, but there is nothing like relaxing in a poolside cabana and having good food and drink brought to you (it worked particularly well for us because our toddler napped during this time). We were having big breakfasts and dinners so for poolside lunch we ordered 1 dish to share and 2 cocktails.

I think that is it! It was a great trip filled with great food! Even the places that disappointed me a bit were still good, they just weren't as good as the other places I was so fortunate to visit.

Oct 02, 2012
Nicole in Hawaii

Where to stay on Maui - does Wailea area have good dining or should a foodie stay in the West?

Thanks for the tip!

Jul 16, 2012
Nicole in Hawaii

Where to stay on Maui - does Wailea area have good dining or should a foodie stay in the West?

Mm, that Mai tai sounds delicious! Thanks for the rec!

I considered booking through travel store, one of their "preferred partners," but the price was several hundred dollars higher than through Travelocity, which had the lowest price for my itinerary (I priced it every way possible). I called the four seasons and the free breakfast is the buffet at duo, which is $35 pp at regular price. So basically we would have to eat the free breakfast every single day to make up the price difference...miss it just once and it is a bad deal. So we decided to just go ahead and pay for the breakfast when we want it, assuming we'd eat there some but not all days. Long story short, the "preferred partners" thing was not a good deal for our itinerary, but we'll still eat the breakfast it includes, and report back.

Jul 14, 2012
Nicole in Hawaii

Where to stay on Maui - does Wailea area have good dining or should a foodie stay in the West?

Thanks, Hunt! We're not copious drinkers so I think we'll be okay. :) Actually, we plan to go to mamas fish house directly from the airport, and possibly again our way back to the airport, to minimize driving in general, although we won't be drinking much.

Jul 14, 2012
Nicole in Hawaii

Where to stay on Maui - does Wailea area have good dining or should a foodie stay in the West?

I just made several reservations, based on this and other chowhound threads. In south maui, plan on going to nicks fish house, spago, duo, Amasia, and monkeypod kitchen. Also have reservations for feast of lele luau and mamas fish house. We also plan on visiting more casual restaurants, but going to play that by ear a bit. just thought I'd share my reservation list in case it's helpful to others planning a Maui trip.

Jul 11, 2012
Nicole in Hawaii

Review: Yanagi Bistro - Torrance

I hadn't been in a while, but then writing about it made me want to go and I actually went tonight. :) Sushi was excellent as always. Maybe you were there on an off day? Still, what you describe is unacceptable, ever.

Jul 11, 2012
Nicole in Los Angeles Area

Review: Yanagi Bistro - Torrance

Thanks for the review! Will try to make it over there soon, maybe this weekend. Will report back. Like you, I think I'll mostly stick to the cooked items--can't imagine ordering sushi there when Miura is literally down the street.

Jul 11, 2012
Nicole in Los Angeles Area

Private Dinner in the South Bay (50 people)?

Tin roof bistro has a private room. Not sure if they could accommodate 50 for a sit down dinner but it's worth looking into.

Jul 05, 2012
Nicole in Los Angeles Area

Where to stay on Maui - does Wailea area have good dining or should a foodie stay in the West?

Thank you for all the great feedback! I just booked the four seasons in wailea and look forward to exploring many of your recommendations! Will report back after our trip, which is not til September.

Jun 27, 2012
Nicole in Hawaii

Best empanadas in LA found in Lomita

Thanks for the recommendation, we live nearby and were excited to try the empanadas this weekend. Tried the spicy beef, chicken, ham and cheese, and spinach and cheese. All were good, spicy beef and chicken were standouts. Spciy beef is actually quite spicy, but not too much so if you like spicy food. Chicken was very mildly spicy. They also have regular beef but we didn't try that one. At $1.35 each/$14 dozen, and close to home, this is going to be part of our regular rotation. We also had the alfajores (cookies with dulce de leche filling). I'd never had Argentinian style alfajores before. The cookie was more cake-like and there was some coconut on the outside, as compared to Peruvian style. Delicious, but I prefer the ones at nearby Kotosh at Kamiyama (although I wishe they weren't huge), where the cookies are more buttery and less crumbly/cake-like. Also, at $8 for 7 cookies, the alfajores are almost the same price as the empanadas! All that said, I'd still get them again in a heartbeat. In addition, the market had a nice little selection of Argentinian and Peruvian groceries. Overall, a very welcome addition to the neighborhood!

Jun 26, 2012
Nicole in Los Angeles Area

Where to stay on Maui - does Wailea area have good dining or should a foodie stay in the West?

We've been to Maui once before, a couple of years ago, and stayed in Kaanapali. I grearly enjoyed the food, from casual lunch plates of kahula pig, to fine dining at Merriman's, to the Feast at Lele luau. I want to go again, and I was thinking about staying in the resort area on the South of the island to mix things up. But is the South a culinary wasteland? I've read a bunch of reviews that mention restaurants in Maui, and it seems like they are all on the west side (other than Mama's Fish House and HGS), and that's where we did most of our dining last trip (aside from HGS). I know that the Four Seasons in Wailea has a Spago, but that's not of much interest to me since I'm coming from L.A., what I'm looking for is great Hawaiian and Pacific Rim influenced food, food I can't get at home. Does this exist on the South (Wailea area), or do I have to stay near Lahaina to be near the good food? And if there is good food to be had near Wailea, recs for both casual and fine dining would be greatly appreciated.

Jun 20, 2012
Nicole in Hawaii

Temecula wineries: good wine, nice setting, and family-friendly? Is this possible?

OP reporting back! The answer to my question is definitely yes--it IS possible! We went to Temecula last weekend and had a lovely time. We ended up doing a day trip. Unfortunately, I did not see the helpful comments from DiegoMom and justanotherpenguin until after our trip, but I'm sort of glad because now I have a new list of places to go to on our next visit.

We visited 3 wineries: Frangipani, Leoness, and Palumbo. All three were very welcoming of our one-year-olds, and although we didn't love everything we tasted, each of them had a few wines we liked and at least one wine that we really enjoyed and purchased.

We went to Frangipani in the morning, and were the only people there for much of the time. We did a tasting on their lovely patio, overlooking the grounds. It was a great space for kids because there was grass and no one else was using the patio. We liked some of the wines and enjoyed our experience there.

In the afternoon we did tours at Leoness and Palumbo (which I made appointments for in advance). I was used to the larger tours of Napa and Sonoma and did not expect these to be private tours for our little group, but they were. Based on my experiences up north, we saw less of the grounds than I expected, but the tour was much more informative and personalized than I expected.

Leoness was moderately busy, but by doing the tour we had excellent service and seating reserved for us in both the tasting room and the cellar. The tour guide was knowledgeable and nice and gave us additional pours of wines that were not on the tasting list but came up in conversation, including some more expensive wines (e.g., port). I really enjoyed the experience, and thought our tour and tasting was an excellent value for $20 pp.

Last we went to Palumbo Family Cellars. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and very down to earth. In addition to wines from the bottle available in a regular tasting, we were able to taste wines that were not quite mature yet directly from the barrel, which was a great way to get new insight into the winemaking process. We also got to taste the same wine from both American and European barrels, which was a very interesting comparison. For $25 pp, this tour was also a great value. I'm really surprised that it seems like few people do the tours.

Both Leoness and Palumbo could not have been more welcoming of our tots. Frangipani was fine with the kids but we didn't get much personalized attention there, in general. And the staff there didn't seem very passionate about what they were doing, especially compared to the staff at Palumbo.

All in all, we had a great time, and are eager to return to Temecula again.

Jun 06, 2012
Nicole in California

Temecula wineries: good wine, nice setting, and family-friendly? Is this possible?

Thanks very much for the feedback. Will let you know where we end up going and how it was (early next month). In the meantime, if you have more thoughts, I'd love to hear them!

May 09, 2012
Nicole in California

Temecula wineries: good wine, nice setting, and family-friendly? Is this possible?

I appreciate the response. I've never been to Temecula so I don't know what the vibe is. But I've been to Napa and Sonoma several times and I've seen lots of small children happily roaming the green grounds, so I don't think kids and wineries are an inherently bad combination. I imagine that there might be some child-friendly corners of Temecula as well, and I plan to contact any winery we might visit to ask them if it is appropriate to bring the tots.

May 01, 2012
Nicole in California