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CulverJack's Profile

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Who do you follow on the Los Angeles board, and why?

Just to briefly chime in - I miss ChinoWayne too. Though I thought he did post now and again, but stopped chowing as often.

Also, that's where I co-opted (stole!) my handle (username). I like that his gave us all a sense of place about him. I imagined he was from... Chino! Not sure if that is the case, or if it meant something else... But hence my own handle.

Sep 12, 2014
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area
1

Bistecca alla Fiorentina?

Wow - lots of debate on exactly what this dish means since my reply.

Interesting - I think the actual act of having this dish in Italy while on vacation with someone you love (or alone, hell) IN ITALY likely trumps all items (kind, origin or color of said cow, olive wood from some ancestral olive orchard harvested in light fog, impaled on a foil by the guy from The Princess Bride, etc) in what most would remember to be "GREAT" about any meal there IN ITALY, but I digress. I think you can get pretty close in so cal if you talk to the right folks, so kudos to you for posting. The right folks are certainly here.

At Bucato, I didn't see the details of the prep, as we were at a table away from the action. But I believe they did somehow grill this over wood, as I saw them cleaning up a pile of ashes off of their flattop grill (!!) and I gathered this was for our dish. I may have asked about it as we left, but it was a long wine night and I don't recall. It WAS served with a lemony arugula salad and it was well seasoned but simply, it was very tender and perfectly med rare and it was very, very good.

I wasn't expecting much since the emphasis is on pasta there and I didn't love the porchetta prep when I last dined with them. That's why it stuck for me as a remarkable dish.

As they are very purist and serious about their pasta prep, you should look into how they are doing their bistecca. Give them a call. It wouldn't surprise me if they were more toward the legit side than not.

Feb 12, 2014
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area
1

Bistecca alla Fiorentina?

I had a really, really fantastic version at Bucato. Been meaning to post on my follow up visit to Bucato, but haven't made the time. Found the beef in particular to be super good.

Feb 11, 2014
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

That chinese restaurant is now open in the CC mall (calling the chinese food gurus)

Nicely done!! Thanks for that clean copy. It's about what I feared. Will try it soon for the convenience factor. The $$$ will sting more than the chiles if it isn't very good, though.

Jan 12, 2014
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

Good Westside Chinese restaurant open on Christmas Day

2 on Sawtelle -

Hong Kong Cafe was good for us last year, everybody was happy. Went thanks to a rec on this board, and it delivered. As I recall maybe a 15 min wait for 4.

ROC is also very good for dumplings and other dishes, but I'm not sure they'll be open. You should probably call first.

Have fun and report back.

Dec 24, 2013
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

Bucato opening In Culver City

Was there last night as well. All of the comments below sum it up very well. Portions a bit too small for the $$$. I have confidence they will adjust. I wouldn't mind paying $10 more on the bill to leave happier (e.g. More satiated). That's what we leave the house for, right?

Best dish of the night for me was strascinati, a thicker dumpling like shell, rich with pork and well put together. This hit on all level of rich and salt and silk and was what I was expecting from the chef. Burrata with figs was great, but hard to mess that up when you have good ingredients. Porchetta was 70% fatty with dense meaty parts, didn't work so well for me but I may not get what he's going for there. Son liked octopus since that's how he rolls, and desserts fine but not wow for us. $180 total for 2 adults and a kidlet. That speaks volumes, I'd say.

This is my fave food area of the moment, and I was, frankly, expecting more. I hope Evan is reading this or at least has people he trusts that are saying the same. All the pieces are there. Decor is great, interior bright and not loud at all, beautiful front patio. Servers all. Very warm and helpful, a bit of scurrying as they figure things out, but that will settle down. I have some faith, I think they'll adjust. The hounds once again have it right, just wanted to add my 1 cent. I had 2, but after last night I'm now down to 1. And next time I don't want to run into any other tables at Coolhaus.

I

Aug 03, 2013
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area
1

Thai food - west LA/westwood

Just saw this. I'm excited an will give it a go. Do they have the southern menu?

Apr 20, 2013
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

Traci Des Jardins's Carnitas Tacos

I would guess the tortilla chips are pretty much for eating. That's what I tend to do w/them.

I typically blanch or roast the tomatillos first, too, and add lime to add another dimension.

Apr 20, 2013
CulverJack in Recipes

Any great Thai / Indian restaurants in the Westside?

You make some very good points m3. Excellent in either category just isn't here. For Thai, you can get good (to my tastes Thai Boom and Ekkamai), known well on this board, or nice and trendy (Chan Dara) with passable food but not excellent. I looked at Si Laa and put it in the same trendy but unremarkable category, BTW, but we'll give it a try now based on your rec. On the Asian front more generally though, not so much Thai, there are def some interesting things happening now. I've had excellent at both Lukshon and at Red Medicine, and they are both pretty consistent. Definitely $$$, but at least interesting and consistent, and I think there's value in that.

For Indian, much the same, no question. In my mind, and I'm sure it's been stated 58 times on this board, just not enough ethnic density (or those who care like we do) to warrant anything different. I noticed though that Lawrence of India looks like its changed over to Mama's Indian Kitchen, so "that may be that". I really liked Lawrence too, that was our goto. But as Servorg recs, Zam Zam is not to be missed. Ethereal Biryani and Chicken Tikka. Limited, and funky, but it seriously rocks. And pound for pound the best ethic value for miles.

Other than those few, if you care, you drive. If you know your routes, Thai Town is generally 1/2 hour. Unless you're in deep SM, in which case all bets are off. Move to Culver City, we'd love to have you. And you'd be that much closer to Zam Zam.

Apr 20, 2013
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

Le Ka Downtown?

Anyone been? Interesting menu, covers a lot of bases, how is the food and overall experience?

Thx!

Feb 10, 2013
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

Zam Zam now has normal hours

Been twice in the last week. Two days to finish the take each time.

This place is not a "well, if I'm nearby..." or "maybe I should try this someday"

If you read this board, and you care about what hits your tongue, you WILL RUN here. The Biryani is revelatory. There are angels in it, And I know, cause I heard the harp. Spices are excellent, not overly so, but very deft. With everything you eat, you get the sense that these chefs know what they are doing.

this is not a shoulda, but a GOTTA. Eat whatever they have.

Oct 19, 2012
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

A VERY Serviceable 1/3 Pound Bacon/Avocado/Angus/Cheese/Burger

One you can't change the oil on..... HAR HAR!

Oct 19, 2012
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

Alma - Surprising Find Downtown

I agree - Alma is definitely worth visiting for hound types. They are doing very inventive interesting things. I've been twice and really liked it both times. I found the chef when he was at the SM wine bar Salute and really dug the food, then at his pop up when it was in Venice.

They are truly now rolling their own in a funky downtown spot, and given how interesting the food is, I really like the idea of supporting this place. You get the true sense you are supporting the little guy here, and its well worth the trek downtown.

I would say the place may not be for everyone - as Lil mikey found, it's a smallish kitchen staff and sometimes courses can take a while, so if this is an issue for you beware ( I'm fine with it, particularly when I have byob in the mix). It's not a spot where you will find a huge standard menu with ahi tartare. And the food is inventive and always changing, so there will occasionally be some misses. But to me there are way more hits than misses, and I appreciate what Chef Ari is doing here more than I appreciate Ludo, for example. It feels like something special.

Thanks mikey, great review.

Oct 14, 2012
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

Any One Been to Ugo in Culver City Lately?

For me, Ugo fills a niche for gelato, or espresso, or LCD (least common denominator) Italian if I happen to be walking by, sort of like a beetle caught in a web, I guess. All good for those things, but the only thing I have found al dente at Ugo are the plastic gelato shovels.

Brunello does all of those things you like (good Italian, al dente pasta) consistently.

You should, though, consider having whatever pasta they are doing at Waterloo and City. The last 3-4 I've had have been just great. Not downtown CC, but really worth noting.

Sep 30, 2012
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

AKASHA last night

It's true - the options are really limitless. Ok, not REALLY limitless, but there are many. Really limitless would be like outer space, not Culver City.

But CC used to be limited to Tito's for tacos of questionable origin ("is that beef?" "I'm not sure but it's pretty good") or Johnnies for not grat pastrami. On a good day, maybe down to Woody's smorgasburger for build your own sundae.

I love living in the future!

Sep 30, 2012
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

AKASHA last night

I can see what you mean, though to me I'd call it better than average, more like "good" or "solid". I like the room a lot, and service has always been very good. I find it more consistent than Ford's next door, but preferred Fraiche way over both of these until maybe a few months after Travi left. then Akasha took that spot for me in the higher end CC restaurants. I'm hopeful, tho, both for PS310 coming in and also a new Italian/Venetian spot coming in where the Santa Maria BBQ place is now.

9 times out of 10 that I find myself at Akasha, it's for minimal food and maximal half price cocktails and wine by the glass. They have a good selection of each, and again, room and bar are great. But for me, CC has yet to find a spot as good as Fraiche when it was pumping.

Meanwhile, I have to drag my family and friends to Campanile until it goes dark or they tell me to leave them alone. Then it'll be really cool to see what Walter Manzke does there.

A small suggestion Westsidegal, next time you're there you should ask for some salt or vinaigrette on the side. Order the onion rings. And maybe drink more. You won't be nearly as disappointed :-)

Sep 28, 2012
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

Lunch near USC for a vegetarian?

Mercado la Paloma is a good choice, as it's essentially a (very great and very unique) food court so there will be something for everyone (except Indian). Great Mexican, passable thai.

There is a great taqueria close by which would work - La Tacquiza, too. this is one of the best spots close by. There is also a newer (Kerala) Indian restaurant called Mayura just west of campus you can check ot. I haven't been, but heard it is good, and the branch in Culver City is good.

if you decide to eat on campus, one of the best spots is not well known but is open during summer, called the Galen Commons. Excellent salad bar, good soup, and fresh entrees every day. It's where the athletes and athletic staff eat. It took me a while to find and figue this all out, but it figures that the athletes would be taken care of at SC... Enjoy!

Jun 26, 2012
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

Carne Asada Burrito or Taco in Los Angeles

Yep, ns1 is spot on, the point here was tacos per the rec by the op. I don't recall if El Gordo even had burritos. I saw the recs and references to Cali burritos (brace yourselves, purists!), which have FRENCH FRIES in them. I'll probably get to it someday just to see, but I prefer tacos. I get the concept of fries & meat & grease - if you haven't had Dino's Chicken just near downtown LA, you should. It's quite a dish, just plan on a siesta after.

I don't think I was too biased by place, I've had killer tacos in Santa Barbara, Sonoma, and at countless spots and trucks in LA. I'm interested in how others find El Gordo, and how the OP finds all the recs he's had on this thread. We love tacos here in LA, for good reason.

Jun 20, 2012
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

Tacos El Gordo (National City) [Split from LA carne asada thread]

Now that's funny. Which ones - pollo? carnitas? Or across the board? :-)

Jun 20, 2012
CulverJack in San Diego

Tacos El Gordo (National City) [Split from LA carne asada thread]

Note - the other places mentioned (Tacomiendo, Pinches Tacos) are places in Los Angeles, not San Diego. See the Carne Asada Burrito or Taco in Los Angeles thread on the LA board for the whole story.

Jun 19, 2012
CulverJack in San Diego

Carne Asada Burrito or Taco in Los Angeles

I finally made it to Tacos El Gordo on the rec from the OP. The CHOW team moved it to the SD board, you can find it here -
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/854852

Short version - asada was good, but flaky and very salty. I think many places in our fair city compare very well (Tacomiendo, Pinche's, El Parian - all of my faves here in LA), particularly if what you care about is beefy flavor and the whole package (tortilla, salsas, other extras).

The post is prob worth a read, and was definitely aimed at the LA taco fans and not those from SD.

I'm interested in hearing from the OP as he expands beyond Mexicali Co. which is definitely good but just one of many.

Jun 19, 2012
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

Tacos El Gordo (National City) [Split from LA carne asada thread]

So - I finally made it to Tacos El Gordo in National City, the rec from the OP.

Great place, I'm glad I went (it was about a 15-20 minute trek from where I was working that day in Clairmont on Balboa). This was for lunch a couple of weeks ago. My friend wouldn't stop with "Do you know how many taco places are between here and there?? Are you sure you want to go that far?". But he's not the freak I am (or just about anyone reading this post is, for that matter). It wasn't that hard to calm him down.

Good sized place, and when you walk in there are 3-4 different spots to stand at a long counter offering up different tacos. I haven't seen this before, but the menu is posted above each, so it's pretty easy to flow with this. I ordered 2 asada tacos, 1 cabeza, and 1 pastor.

The asada was very good, grilled and fairly thin, very tender, almost to the point of flaky. I say "flaky" since that's how it seemed. Like when a brisket or short rib is cooked hard in a braise, and a part is left out of the liquid so that the connective tissue is completely gone and it is flaky. Not dry, really, since a lot of the connective tissue went into the meat, but sort of crumbly. Was it skirt? Was it flank? No way to know. It was, however, very salty. Noticably so. I had one taco at the start, and one at the end, to make sure I was ending with the asada. Definitely salty, more so than beefy in the end.

The pastor was good - definitely done right on with a little slice of pineapple if I recall fully and a nice creamy salsa on it which complemented the pork. Definitely "right", though I wouldn't say it was the best ever. Cabeza good too, chunky, tender and fatty. Neither of these were salty, just the asada.

This place is clearly good. I would definitely go if I was in the area. I'm glad to have another spot in my arsenal for SD. But way better than where I go regularly here? Or even "better" in any real sense? I have to say no, not to me. As good? Maybe so, since the idea of the "stations" was good and just about everything I had was solid. Why just "as good"? For comparison, I've made 2 trips to Tacomiendo since (always great) and one to Pinches where the meat was definitely juicy and completely beefy. The meat at Pinche's is definitely a cut above El Gordo quality wise. This is pure beef. To me, Tacomiendo wins not for the meat per se, but for the package with the salsas, escabeche, and fresh tortillas, along with good, solid asada. I probably sound like a broken record always pimping the same 2 joints. These are my haunts - what can I say? I know them well, and I think we're pretty lucky to have them.

Will I complain if I'm banished someday to another city (could happen if I remain snide and insufferable) that there is no good asada in that particular burgh and am searching forlornly for a spot as good as Tacomiendo? God, I hope not.

Jun 19, 2012
CulverJack in San Diego

Update: Ended up at Waterloo & City (Was: Stuck near Centinela/Jefferson area, best place for good drinks and comfort food?)

Yep - CulverJack comes from my living in Culver City and as an homage (old school)/shout out (new school) to ChinoWayne, whose posts I've enjoyed hugely over the years. I liked the sense of person (name) and place (city). It takes away a bit of the anonymity and tells a little something.

Is your CC the same?

Jun 05, 2012
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

Update: Ended up at Waterloo & City (Was: Stuck near Centinela/Jefferson area, best place for good drinks and comfort food?)

Caper berry (the pickled pepper with big seeds). I like Waterloo and city - great bar menu for happy hour. Simpler than the reg menu, but very good. Good staff, drinks, beer, wine. It's a winner.

Jun 02, 2012
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

Carne Asada Burrito or Taco in Los Angeles

I just had Pinche's for lunch today and it was really pretty great. Thick chunks of meat and great juicy, beefy flavor. Great tortillas, pillowy and a good contrast to the meat. I don't know that they are using skirt, but it is definitely tender and thick, and it could well be. Or a thicker form of flank, at least, that would approach skirt. It really doesn't matter what it's called - it's good. Agree, BTW, on using expensive cuts for tacos - doesn't make a ton of sense overall given how well the other cuts work with the accompaniments. It's a package, dadburnit.

I go to the one in CC (naturally, yo!) - I recommend the folks that care enough to keep reading this thread give it a try.

May 08, 2012
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

Fraiche in Culver City closing?

Haven't been in yet, but I've been by it at night and it was pretty hopping a couple of weeks ago. I think its nicer inside than out from what I saw when I peered in. If they can get people into that location, they must be doing something well.

May 08, 2012
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

Fraiche in Culver City closing?

Yes, and I'm sure they'll keep it. What I mean is great house drinks (cocktails, I suppose) that are yummy just reading the combinations. Sotto has this. Akasha too. Comme Ca has for days.

May 08, 2012
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

Carne Asada Burrito or Taco in Los Angeles

I mentioned Tacomiendo in my post - not sure its skirt, I think flank. It's my go to spot all in all, for many reasons. But I wouldn't say its the highest quality meat. Pinche's is a bit thicker/chunkier and moister, for example. But that's just two in my circle of spots within a couple of miles of home. I love 'em both.

May 07, 2012
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

Fraiche in Culver City closing?

I agree - I think the Fraiche location is a great one and is better set up for success. Helms is definitely a destination, I think you have that completely right. I think quality/value/consistency will be what works for the Fraiche spot whether it is high end (not likely) or something more pedestrian (more likely given the Daily Grill group that is coming in) and I'm looking forward to being able to go back to the spot - it's been dead to me for at least a year. I hope they have a good bar program, they'll need one to compete. Fraiche did, and it made them compelling when they opened.

Another ripe spot that should be turned to great (someday!) is the Culver Hotel. But that would be another post...

May 07, 2012
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area

Carne Asada Burrito or Taco in Los Angeles

I find it good but not great. Their orange (habanero?) salsa, tho, makes anything good. I never find myself thinking of Sanchez as a destination. More like a quick, easy stop if we're by there.

May 05, 2012
CulverJack in Los Angeles Area