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Maui Report

Mahalo back at you! Your extensive reports and lists are fantastic and were a great help for us since we hadn't been back for so long. We probably would have skipped Da Kitchen and headed out to Wailuku if not for reading about it from your reports. :)

Jul 16, 2015
thranduil in Hawaii

Maui Report

Hadn't been back to Maui in nearly a decade. This time we had a 3-year old keiki, so we decided to stick around Ka'anapali to be near the ocean and pool. Really enjoyed Da Kitchen, ate a lot of poke at Foodland Farms in Lahaina.

Da Kitchen - went twice to the Kahului location. First for early dinner after stopping off at Costco. Nice room in a strip mall. Big portions. Best dish was a daily special of seared mahi mahi accompanied in a light butter sauce with baby bok choy and mushrooms and melba toast - it was probably the best fish presentation we had during our trip. Lau lau was massive, we thought it had butterfish in it as well, but just had pork inside. Keiki portion of kalua pork was large and very tasty - not too salty but very moist. Good thing the keiki didn't want to eat it. :) Fried spam musubi was good, but would have been fine without being fried. Returned for lunch, it was packed! Wife really liked her saimin, especially the al dente noodles without too salty of a broth. Bento box was a bit on the small side with a good sized portion of rice, but really tender Korean chicken (not goopy), slice of spam, and teriyaki beef. Keiki is a spam monster, ate the spam each time. Keiki cheeseburger and fries were reasonable, with a tasty bun.

Gazebo - we made the first sitting with a half hour wait. Forgot how huge the portions are and should have gotten the half order of the fried rice, which has purple cabbage in it for a nice color change with onions and green onions mixed in, strips of egg on top, mixed with bacon and portuguese sausage and ham. Banana pancakes were topped with a large amount of whipped cream, nice and fluffy. Did not need the side of corned beef hash which was a bit small considering everything else. The views as always were spectacular. Keiki was a fan of the fried rice.

Foodland Farms - great poke. Tried several over a few days. Regular ahi shoyu poke was excellent. The sweet chili ahi is mildly spicy, with a bit of uni. The second go around with this was much spicier though. The hawaiian (labeled "hawn") poke has less soy, making it more mild in flavor. The deli is also quite good too - got the fried chicken, the korean chicken, the spam musubi, and lots of cut fruit - fruit was the definite winner along with the poke. Keiki polished off a two pound container of watermelon and several trays of cantaloupe.

Honokawai Okayazu and Deli - when we last came here it was very Japanese oriented. More of a plate lunch kind of place, but the food is excellent, good sized portions. Got the black bean chow fun, korean bbq chicken (which seemed mostly like a teriyaki style chicken), and an extra side of vegetables. Chow fun was a winner for the keiki.

Leilani's on the Beach - early dinner, OpenTable reservation gets you on the upstairs veranda. The shoyu poke had a bit too much shoyu in the dish, but good cuts of ahi along with taro chips, cabbage salad, and avocado. The whipped butter is very nice with the warm sourdough. Both fish we ordered were excellent. The onaga special was a red snapper filet on a bed of yukon gold mashed potatoes with a papaya compote on top, surrounded by a citrus and butter sauce. The cracker and parmesan crusted special was a monchong on a bed of yukon gold mashed potatoes with vegetables. Hadn't realized that it is now owned by the same restaurant group that owns Duke's, Kimo's, and Hula Grill which is also in Whaler's Village. You definitely are paying a bit more for the great Ka'anapali view, but we got our own side of the veranda for most of the meal and the cocktails were a plus. Shells and cheese were another winner for the keiki. Sadly, no time for Hula Pie. :(

Ululani's - nice pillowy consistency of the shave ice. Keiki liked it, much better than sno-cones he had at the resort.

Longhi's - crazy service issues, due to the fourth of july fireworks show. Got the shrimp Longhi and the scallops marinara. Large jumbo shrimp and scallops, great flavors. Parmesan was prebottled. Side of spinach has lots of garlic.

Plantation House - great airy room, a bit sunny at sunset. Mac nut crust mahi mahi and the monchong in an Asian broth were both excellent. Keiki got a bento box with crispy chicken tenders, but really liked the brussel sprouts with Chinese sausage which were a great pairing. Wife also got the beet salad which came out warmed. Bread was very soft loaf with whipped butter with a touch of Hawaiian salt. The mango panna cotta was very interesting in a tasty way with tapioca on top with strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple. The mint chocolate ice cream (keiki menu) was also good - the green stuff!

Monkeypod Kitchen - here for happy hour. A bit loud, even without the in house musician. The chicken wings were tasty and the tzatiki sauce was a nice variation. Margherita pizza was a nice thin toasty crust, good hunks of tomato on top.

Jul 07, 2015
thranduil in Hawaii
1

La Canada Flintridge

We randomly stopped in for dinner. Good American comfort food with a nice flair, rooms are large and airy. Bar has interesting things on stock. Wish there was a parallel on the Westside too. :)

Jun 27, 2015
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Main Street Bistro, Wailuku - Closing

We were looking forward to stopping by in July. :(

Jun 16, 2015
thranduil in Hawaii

dining with toddler

We were just in New Orleans on Sunday with our 3 year old. We did the jazz brunch at Arnaud's. Our 3 year old had a blast watching the Gumbo Trio band serenade the tables. He got a special song just for him when they came by our table - the Itsy Bitsy Spider. Food was excellent, it is a prix fixe menu with appetizer, salad, entree, and dessert. We ended up not ordering anything extra for our son, but he loved the bananas foster, the cap bread, and shrimp. My wife and I were very happy with our mimosa/sazerac, seafood gumbo/shrimp Arnaud, crab cake/grillades & grits. No separate kid's menu.

Jun 11, 2015
thranduil in New Orleans

good catering ideas (Mexican, maybe) for a 3 year olds birthday...

We just did Rutt's catering. We have our own chafing dishes though.

Jun 03, 2015
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

No Corkage on Westside

Unfortunately Cafe Bizou in Santa Monica is closed

May 16, 2015
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Which ice cream sandwich do you recommend?

Our little guy lives for the macaron ice cream sandwiches from MJ cafe express around Sawtelle.

Mar 18, 2015
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Casual dinner tomorrow night 3/15 - Westside but not too far west, and some other requirements

I might suggest staying down by LAX and having them take the 105 East, and then connect up to the 10 via the 110, 710 or 605. That way they avoid the 405/10 interchange crush.

Manhattan Beach restaurants might be hard without a reservation. Around LAX, maybe Ayara? Other casual options are Pann's or Paco's Tacos.

Mar 14, 2015
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Ipsedixit Was Right--Visit To New Port Seafood Beverly Hills

Still slow unfortunately. The day we went for lunch there were a total of 3 parties. With the lunch special pricing (still all under $10) we'd be all for going more frequently, but getting out to La Cienega is too far for a typical trip from the Westwood area on a weekday. Pea sprout tips were substitutable and the same price as the pea sprouts. Quality of the food was what we would expect in SGV.

Dec 14, 2014
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Best Carrot Cake in West Los Angeles

My wife liked Jamaica's Cakes. You will need to order a few days before. Not sure if they don't have raisins normally, but they make cakes on site so you should be able to specify. We like this better than Coral Tree's. Our recollection is Coral Tree (quite a few years back, so might no longer be accurate) does not make theirs on site, and it will be presliced (since they sell this by piece).

Nov 16, 2014
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Dragon Palace in Santa Monica, for americanzied stuff ?????

My wife has been done take out and dine in here a few times this past year when I'm not around because it is more difficult for her to cross the 405 around rush hour to go to Mandarin Kitchen or Moon House. She thinks it is fine - not flashy but decent food which is more than can be said for some of the other "Chinese" places in Santa Monica unfortunately.

Nov 14, 2014
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

post & beam - trip report

Have gone for the Sunday brunch which was a nice change of pace from Westside options. We'd go more often if we were in the area. The outdoor patio seating is really nice in our regular LA weather.

Sep 21, 2014
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Dulan’s On Crenshaw -- Pass the Pork Chop

My wife loves coming here when she has time in the area, I've made it over a few times. Large portions, good food, really nice staff.

Seeking recos near convention center

Fig & 7th Food Court apparently open on weekends - we were there for lunch Saturday. Tried Oleego (good bulgogi), OOO (good tempura), and Indus (suprising decent - tandoori was tender, saag paneer had good flavor, and naan was fresh. Most things were open - including Loteria (with bar).

Jul 20, 2014
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Westwood Village -- Thai House Gone!!! :-(

Just noticed this too, and got food at the Currywurst truck today. Cousins Maine Lobster was there yesterday. Glad they have found a new place in the Westwood area for food trucks for a change of pace.

The Mio Babbo space also is changing too? It is now going to be House of Meatballs? Not sure if it is just rebranding.

Jul 10, 2014
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Formerly California Wok Opens on Westside With Authentic Chinese Goodies

The kidlet requested "dumplings" so we thought we'd try a new place and stopped by for a very early lunch. Unfortunately we were the only patrons when we arrived and left.

Most important factor is that they have parking (!) although half the slots I believe seemed taken by the restaurant staff since no one else was in the restaurant. All the parking behind the restaurant seem to be for other establishments. But this is pretty key for the Westside. For the Palace a bit further east on Wilshire you have to valet which is a pain. Moon House and Hop Woo and Mandarin Kitchen you have to share with a small lot with other businesses so parking is bad.

They have a lot of booths. Not ideal setup for large parties. The restaurant is very clean and tidy. The DPH sign is a B. Not sure whether that is seen as a "badge of honor" on the Westside as it is in the SGV.

We got potstickers and Cantonese style soup dumplings / XLB - the kinds that come in aluminum cups that are in Cantonese dim sum places and not like ROC or DTF. Our son devoured the XLB - or at least the skins since that is all he really likes anyway. There was an unusual nutmeggy taste to the soup dumpling fillings. Potstickers were ok - lightly fried. We wouldn't have gotten either of these except for the request.

Got braised tofu and mushroom lunch special - we thought it was good. Also got the char siu chow mein (regular menu) - a bit smaller than portion sizes in other Chinese restaurants for the price likely due to Westside pricing - and a bit salty. Complementary hot and sour soups and regular tea (no queries as to which type, so doubt they carry a variety).

We'd go back and would like to try more traditional foods on the main menu (different than the lunch menu), but worried it might not last long if they don't start getting business.

Jul 06, 2014
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Disneyland/California Adventure Reflections

We did stay overnight at the Grand Californian. The information on specific costs is findable pretty easily on the Internet. If your question is whether you should spend $ on food in the park or not, you need to weigh the opportunity cost of not maximizing your time in the park vs. better variety and better less expensive food outside (that is not always close), keeping in mind your overall budget constraint. Since we are semi-local, we have been to a lot of the places in Orange County (e.g. Thai Nakorn) and also Downtown Disney before so these are not so novel for us. If on a tight budget, I would probably not suggest park food as much except as an occasional treat. http://www.Mousesavers.com suggestions are pretty reasonable.

Jun 04, 2014
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Disneyland/California Adventure Reflections

From what I recall:

Entrees at Napa Rose run in the $40s
Entrees at Carthay Circle run in the $30s
Entrees at Blue Bayou (at lunch) run in the high $20s to low $30s (you are paying for ambience, worth it if you are sitting in the row of tables next to the ride). Adding the shrimp cocktail is $6 extra instead of soup/salad
Corn Dogs were in the $7-$8 range, cheese stick is cheaper
Beers are $8, wine is $8 at Flo's $10 in Mendocino Terrace (or at least what we got)

Jun 04, 2014
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Disneyland/California Adventure Reflections

Thanks, good to know about these too. I noticed the upstairs lounge too late at the Trattoria. I suspect we will be making more forays into Tomorrowland, so good to know re Pizza Port and the Plaza Inn is close by to Tomorrowland.

Jun 03, 2014
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Disneyland/California Adventure Reflections

Haven't been to Disneyland in over two decades. But we now have a two year old who loves Cars so we took him to see Cars Land and got a Parkhopper to also go into both parks this past weekend. Had low expectations for meals, and overall was pleasantly surprised.

Dinners:

Napa Rose (Grand Californian Hotel): the best dinner of our trip, probably because it was a nice change after a painful two hour drive from the Westside in Friday night traffic. They were willing to honor our reservation up to 30 minutes afterwards - we made it in 25. The staff was very helpful with our two year old who couldn't sit for long periods of time likely due to being cooped up in the car. Both my wife's Virginia black sea bass (sustainable fish of the day) and my barbacoa style berkshire pork were tender and flavorful. The "Sizzing Beach Rock" appetizer of garlic seared shrimp, soy glazed spare ribs, and lemon grass chicken skewers was a nice presentation. The bottle of the Lasseter wine (Paysage, Bordeaux style) also helped. :) Most have mentioned that Napa Rose is one of the best restaurants in Orange County - for the combination of service, food, and ambience, it definitely fits the bill.

Storyteller Cafe (Grand Californian Hotel): we opted to do the buffet and were pleasantly surprised. The chicken tenders were really good for both adults and our two year old. They had a carving station of roast beef and roast turkey. Salmon was tender for being part of the buffet. Corn chowder was a bit too creamy for my taste. The desserts were also very good, with petite sized cupcakes and tarts plus a moist bread pudding.

Carthay Circle (California Adventure): we did an early dinner at 5:20 without reservations (doubt this would have worked out on a Saturday) and got to sit on the upstairs terrace. That worked out well for the two year old to watch the entire Pixar Play parade. Wife had the sesame soy glazed salmon and I had the fish of the day, sea bass, which was a bit firmer than the Napa Rose sea bass but also very good. The two year old had a soba noodle bowl which was also quite good. Not at the same level as Napa Rose, but a pleasant dinner.

Lunch:

Corn Dog Castle (California Adventure): we tried all three types: hot link, original, and cheese stick. A good amount of cornmeal, but also the dogs are reasonable sized. The hot link is much more flavorful, but the original is more kid friendly. The cheese stick is smaller, best eaten when you first get it so that the cheese is hot. Opens at 11am - lines not as bad as the corn dog stand in Disneyland which we saw started at 10am.

Blue Bayou (Disneyland): Never been able to do the reservation on prior visits but had the Monte Cristo sandwhich previously at Cafe Orleans. I remember it being way too heavy previously. This time around (maybe I was hungry) the external batter was fairly light. Our two year old ate all of the fruit that came along with it. It is a big portion, I prefer the vanilla dipping sauce over the fruit-based sauces. Do I get a prize for finishing it? The gumbo was ok, less broth than I would have liked and topped with a small spoonful of rice. My wife opted for the jambalaya which had good sized shrimp and andouille sausage in it, and also liked her shrimp cocktail which has one large shrimp and the rest is "ceviche" style where it is chopped. As long as you are not expecting this to be equivalent to the best of New Orleans, I thought it was fine. Plus watching the boats go by was a lot of fun, instead of being on the ride watching people eat at the restaurant.

Breakfast:

Flo's cafe (California Adventure): we got the chicken tamale breakfast and the brioche French toast. Overall reasonable portions. We liked both, particularly the accompanying sauces - salsa verde for the tamale and the caramel for the french toast. Coffee left something to be desired. Better off going to Starbucks in Fiddler, Fifer, & Practical cafe on Buena Vista Street.

Snacks:

Jazz Kitchen Express (Downtown Disney): we got the family pack of beignets. These were big, a bit too chewy, and it was like they dumped the entire box of powdered sugar in the bag. It was just ok, probably would pass on this in the future.

Wine/Beer (California Adventure): couple of choices near Cars Land - Mendocino Terrace at the Golden Vine Winery, Flo's Cafe, Karl Strauss Brewery Truck by Pacific Wharf. Our preferred spot was Flo's Cafe for the combination of wine/beer plus being able to hang out in an air conditioned restaurant. Beer seems like a better value than the wine in terms of liquid volume.

Dole Whip (Disneyland): you can get this outside of the parks or Hawaii these days, but there is still nothing better than a Dole Whip on a hot day in Disneyland. Well worth going to the Tiki Room to get the shorter inside line, I still was faster than the people waiting in the external line.

Jun 03, 2014
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Cafe Bizou Santa Monica is back

I think closed forever. That was my understanding from our discussions with the wait staff regarding the situation last time we went (lease). Santa Monica location is totally off their website - only Pasadena and Sherman Oaks are listed. We only get over there for dinner, so not sure about the lunch listing but that would seem unlikely.

Feb 23, 2014
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Cafe Bizou Santa Monica is back

Closed again. :(

Feb 22, 2014
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Moon House -- New Chinese in WLA

Got pickup, they were able to identify me from my phone number which is the same thing Mandarin Kitchen does and I was in their system. So pretty much the same operators. Prices I think are a $1 more than Mandarin Kitchen. Chow mein and pea sprouts were exactly the same as at Mandarin Kitchen. The lamb dish was interesting - definitely a lot of cumin. They gave complementary cream cheese fried wontons. I don't think I've eaten one of those since a Chinese restaurant in Minneapolis over 15 years ago. Decor is nicer than Mandarin Kitchen, they advertise free wifi, only one Asian customer only when I popped in. The parking lot is definitely better set up than the mall that contains Mandarin Kitchen.

Aug 22, 2013
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Meeting Friend Staying Near Disneyland

When we make it to Thai Nakorn, we usually go to the Stanton one. We do like the beef tongue dish.

Aug 08, 2013
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Indian Lunch close to Westwood Village

The place in Westwood Village was Bombay Bite but is now Bollywood Bites. I have not gone there since the name change (not sure if new operation or not), but they didn't have a lunch buffet before - only lunch specials.

If you are already thinking of going to Tacos Por Favor for Mexican, you might consider Bombay Cafe on Pico or Nawab on Wilshire. I don't recall if these places do a lunch buffet though since we have usually done dinner at these restaurants. Indian food has always been a head-scratcher for us on the Westside though.

Jun 14, 2013
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Out of Towner Report on Chinatown

Thanks - good to keep in mind the next time we are out in Philly!

Jun 10, 2013
thranduil in Philadelphia

Out of Towner Report on Chinatown

was in Philadelphia last week visiting from California (Los Angeles, previously spent a lot of time in the San Francisco Bay Area). We really appreciate all the postings here which helped us try a few places with the parental units (the true taste test) in tow:

Ocean Harbor: went here for dim sum on a weekday. Wasn't too busy, but had a few carts going around. The shumai, rice noodle rolls, steamed tofu rolls, fun guo were all good. Parents got the spicy chicken feet and seemed to like it.

Tai Lake: Unfortunately, only open for dinner. Most interesting dish was the clams with black bean sauce which included bits of fried ground pork with it. The seafood soft noodle soup (I think this is the English name for the dish with yi mein) was excellent and the beef chow fun with vegetables was a very large portion and tasty. The Shanghai rice cake noodle (nian gao) was also very good (rice noodle home style? on the online menu).

Yummy Lan Zhou Noodle: stopped by for a late lunch. The noodle making is a nice show. Tried a couple of different types of soup bowls (brisket, chicken, combo), all variants on the same theme. A nice change of pace instead of dim sum.

Zhong Gang Bakery: good egg custard tarts (dan taats)- the crusts were very flaky.

Overall, the parental units were pleasantly surprised by the food in Chinatown. Service tended to be a bit slow though.

Jun 10, 2013
thranduil in Philadelphia

Waraya is no more: Ramen Hayatemaru takes its place in West LA

Looking forward to trying this branch out. Was at the Torrance branch recently: the gyoza are really good - light thin wrappers.

Feb 25, 2013
thranduil in Los Angeles Area

Ham shanks LA/Westside

How local does local need to be?

Jan 23, 2013
thranduil in Los Angeles Area