lacaramon's Profile

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Flying Pig Truck?

I also tried the short rib and duck tacos yesterday for lunch in DTLA. Short rib was pretty much as described by Dietgrace. I thought they were going for the char which usually adds great flavor in carne asada, but didn't work for the rib. The hoisin sauce with the duck overwhelmed the taco. The taco shells weren't my favorite either, no give and the filling just slid out on the first bite. Hopefully they'll rework it and I might give it a try again.

Oct 24, 2009
lacaramon in Los Angeles Area

Good lunch near Staples Center

The two nearby places are Liberty Grill and J's Restaurant & Lounge. I prefer the former but the latter has cheap martinis during lunch.

May 20, 2008
lacaramon in Los Angeles Area

SEVEN restaurant downtown? or?

As a downtown worker for many years down on 9th and Hill, I'm excited about restaurants opening up in the area. Tried Seven today for a birthday lunch. Service was pleasant, and room was about 3/4 full. Asked the waitress what her favorite and most popular dishes were. She said the 2 chicken dishes, the salmon, and the ahi salad. Had the grilled salmon, mash potato, sauteed spinach. I swear that the mash tasted that it was made from the dehydrated type. Spinach was oily. Forgot to ask for for the salmon to be cooked medium rare and it came medium. OK, not great all around. Companion had the ahi salad, and he commented that it didn't have much flavor. Food for two, two glasses of wine, tax and tip: $75. Another friend had a business dinner there last week, and he said that service was horrendous. NOTE: they currently only service beer and wine.

Tranquility Base has been a regular after work place for me. Great beer selection, but you have to ask for the off-menu specialty drinks. Can't wait for warmer weather to enjoy the outdoor eating area. Dave and Kelly (brother and sister owners of the place), for me, make the place. Hugs all around, conversation, always interested in hearing how to improve. Love them. Given that, they advertise themselves as small plates, but I would suggest they are bar food (no offense guys, if you're reading this). Suggested plates: tempura, sol and luna fries, burger, lobster bisque, salmon salad. And don't forget your hug on the way in and out.

May 09, 2008
lacaramon in Los Angeles Area

Porto's Bakery -- I am speechless!

Not trying to one up you, tatertotsrock, but as a cuban growing up in Silverlake in the early 70's, we used to go the Porto's home, knock on the back door, and collect our family birthday cakes, including a big celebratory hug from the mom, and a hi from the kids. Looking back, it was like a drug deal going down because it was before they had opened up their first store. I love going to the Glendale store and getting behind the counter to get my hug and kiss from them still. They're a great family.

Mar 31, 2008
lacaramon in Los Angeles Area

Riordan's Tavern

Was taken to a business lunch there today. Have to agree with a lot said above...food not terribly special, carvery sandwich was good enough but a bit dry. My additional comments: Michael our server was very eager to please, maybe a bit too much. Space felt very cramped considering the booths really only fit 3 people and 4-top tables barely fit 4 people not to mention plates AND any sides if you order any. Frankly, the fries and the onion rings were probably the best part of the meal. Maybe it's the place to nurse a hang over with fried vittles.

Aug 10, 2007
lacaramon in Los Angeles Area

Roy's Restaurant, Downtown Los Angeles w/ photos

Um, that wine must be stronger than you think. I work in the building and do happy hour there pretty often. The only way to get a view of Staples is to walk out of the restaurant and head south a few blocks.

"I'll have what she's drinking"

Aug 06, 2007
lacaramon in Los Angeles Area

Breakfast Sandwich Challenge

Who knew Tommy's had a breakfast sandwich when they don't even have fries (at least at the original location which I drive by each day)! Thanks for the tip.

The greasy hands comment has to do with portability, but for a hearty morning starter, I can skip portability.

Jul 27, 2007
lacaramon in Los Angeles Area

Breakfast Sandwich Challenge

Because of crazy work hours, I literally didn't have any food or drink at my place, so I've been buying all my meals on the run. Decided to make it a challenge: Monday Famima vs. Wednesday Starbuck's... both within a block at 8th & Figueroa downtown.

Famima, $4.85 for the egg, havarti cheese, spinach sandwich. Sounded so promising, but the break was tasteless, the cheese was charred on the grill (that's griller's error though), and really, no flavor. None.

Based on LA Times review, ordered the Starbuck's Forest ham Sandwich. At $2.85, was cheaper and tastier. Loved the muffin taste, ham was delish, egg was crispy on the edges. My complaints were my greasy hands, the ham was piled in the middle of the sandwich so that I had to take it apart and spread the ham out (making my hands greasier), and oh, the line out the door.

So, other than a farther walk and the wait, Starbuck's is the better value and I get the pleasure of not ordering coffee since we get Peet's in the office.

Fortunately, yesterday I finally stocked up on groceries at the new DT Ralph's...loved that I got do a whole lot of shopping without much a crowd. Hope it stays in business.

Jul 26, 2007
lacaramon in Los Angeles Area

June Eating Report (Sona, Foundry, Watergrill, and more) – LONG!

I have the good fortune of having good friends who like to eat well and spend their money to celebrate my birthday month. Here’s the rundown:

Sona – finally got to go there. Tuesday night 8 pm reservation and there was only one other table occupied. The hostess swore they’re usually busier, but I enjoy a quiet restaurant. My menu had “Happy Birthday Ramon” printed on it, and they handed it to me on the way out - very nice touch. Opted for tasting menu with wine pairings. My dining companion is a recent culinary school graduate so we dissected each course and then tried it as a whole. Overall, some really amazing dishes, especially the hand-cut tagliatelle, chanterelle mushrooms, and pea shoots, and the fish courses. Some dishes had great components, but didn’t work as a whole. The amuse bouche was an undercooked squash…we wondered if we were eating at Raw. One dish was over salted and inedible. Our charming waiter ensured that we would be taken care. He brought out an extra course and it’s wine pairing on the house for each of us. Talk about winning us over by knowing how to right a wrong. Dessert courses were very nice, and we each got a box of pastries/desserts handed to us on the way out. Don’t know if it was because of the bad dish or because it was my birthday celebration. Either way, it’s still an amazing culinary experience with the most amazing and precise service. GO!

Yabu – still a pleasant space with decent food for a nice dinner out.

Le Chamberlain Hotel Restaurant – this was a wonderful surprise on my actual birthday because I live right by the hotel, have heard great things about the chef and food, but supposedly you have to be a hotel guest to eat there. Very reasonable prices with the food style on par with menu at the Foundry, but cheaper. Had the lovely patio to ourselves, but it seems that service was an afterthought, like having to ask for setups, water, etc. There was a private party going on the rooftop pool, so maybe the restaurant suffered that night.

The Foundry on Melrose – you probably heard by now that the chef is planning on having a live video feed that will be similar to Hell’s Kitchen environment. The evening was like an episode of Hell’s Kitchen. Granted, a 9:30 pm reservation on a Saturday night 8 weeks after opening is not ideal. The very apologetic hostess explained they were understaffed that night and diners were taking longer than usual. Understandable, but it took half hour before we got seated. Unfortunately our waiter’s personality bugged us. He swung by to ask which kind of water we’d like, then rushed away while telling him our drink orders. He kept pushing the tasting menu while I told him that I was ready to order for the table (trust me I did my research prior to going and reading the mixed reviews on food and service).

The food: The Crispy pork belly not so crispy. Spot prawns deliciously sweet. Another dish I already forgot but was tasty. Then there was 45-minute wait between first and second course. Mind you it’s about 11 pm now, and I could see that tables seated after us still hadn’t gotten their first dishes yet. Second dish finally arrived with a round a drinks on the house (more on this later). The chicken is amazing, the special halibut was slightly over-cooked, and the short ribs were yummy but not the best. Again, certain components stood out in comparison to the whole.

Then the dessert fiasco. “What kind of sorbets/gelatos do you have tonight?” “They’re different each night and made each night to go with a dessert.” “It’s my birthday and I would love something chocolate.” “Oh, we would never do something as basic as chocolate.” “Then what kind of sorbets do you have tonight?” “They’re different each night.” “Fine, we’ll take the sorbet sampler.” However, if the waiter was reading my mind he would have heard “Just tell me you don’t f’n know and you’ll find out for me.” And no, there was no chocolate surprise in the mix.

The saving grace of the entire night is the ever charming and affable Eddy. He graciously introduced himself while we waited to be seated, and he wished us a great experience at the restaurant. We seriously thought he was the manager but later somebody said he was the bar manager. PROMOTE HIM NOW! During the long wait between courses, he came by to check on how our evening was going, and we graciously told him about our experience so far. He offered the round of free drinks. Again, it only takes a small gesture to wipe away a bad memory of an evening, which the waiter sabotaged with his snide “well, somebody here likes you tonight” as he took our order, making us all cringe at his rudeness.

In short, go to the Chamberlain for an almost exact menu but at a fraction of the price.

Warning to all: The wet bathroom floors become slicker than an ice rink as the night progresses. We all almost took a fall in there.

Watergrill – mid-week lunch last week…still an amazing seafood restaurant with overpriced wines. The crab cakes are full of huge, delicious hunks of crab and second courses were perfectly cooked and presented. Service was amazing.

Chichen Itza (6th St) – I’ve been eating at Itza since they opened at Mercado de Paloma. Now you can have a nice dining experience (no a/c though so dress cool) instead of a fast food one. I really want to love the food, and I do, but this time around I felt like it was a different protein combined with the same light red chile sauce. Although delicious, my friend and I split the appetizer sampler and the shark and always amazing cochinito pibil. The sample and shark all tasted the same. Still, go, and support them. I love that they’re one of the few who have succeeded at the Mercado business incubator model.

Metldown – actually a client lunch in the vicinity led us there, and oh my god, talk about cheese heaven. Had the tuna melt special of the day and shared the peanut butter honey & banana (pbh&b) for dessert. At $14 per person for lunch, it’s worth the adventure, not sure I could afford it on a regular basis (both financial and fat grams).

Thanks to all my gracious friends for some incredible celebratory dinners!

Jul 02, 2007
lacaramon in Los Angeles Area

Sunday Brunch - SF Valley

Your recommendations can save me from another family brunch at a "small bull' chain in the SF Valley. I've promised that I can find a much more interesting place for eight adults and five kids (13y/o to 6 y/o) in the triangle forming Northridge, Studio City, and Woodland Hills. Help me save face and prove my worth to them! Thanks.

Jun 20, 2007
lacaramon in Los Angeles Area

Plantains to cook

Here's a cooking hint that may not seem intuitive. You actually want to start frying the platanos maduros in cold oil (canola or corn oil is fine). Starting this way allows them to cook and end up caramelized and crunchy on the outside.

If you want to make tostones (green, unripe plantains), cut the plaintain in 2 inch chunks, fry them once in hot oil until lightly browned, remove from oil, smash them between two hard objects, dunk them in salted water with garlic, then finish frying them to a golden, crunchy finish.

May 26, 2007
lacaramon in Los Angeles Area

Barrio Fiesta (Eagle Rock) Review

Having grown up in between Silver Lake/Echo Park where half my street was Cuban and the other Pilipino, I've been fortunate to enjoy the homemade cuisines of both countries. Even though Historic Philipino District is there now, more for political reasons (guess we Cubans couldn't get it together to create a Little Havana district), there are very few choices for pilipino food in the neighborhood. Besides, I'm of the opinion that these two cuisines are best made with grandmotherly love. So the CH excitement about Barrio Fiesta opening up led me and my coworker (another native LA'er raised around Pilipino and Armenian food) to go there for lunch on Friday.

Here's the rundown, food first:

Pusit (fried calamari) with a vinegar/citrus/garlic dipping sauce - hands down the best, fresh out of the fryer, most tender calamari I've ever had! This alone is worth the trip! And if you're immature enough like my friend and me, we giggled each time we or the waiter said it.

Kare Kare - beef/oxtail/eggplant/bok choi in peanut sauce. Had never heard of it before until some glowing reviews here. Frankly, not the most interesting peanut sauce, but the eggplant is soooo soft/tender/melt in your mouth, that those few bites were the best in the dish.

Adobo (mixed with pork and chicken) - big, BIG disappointment here. The sauce, which is what makes the dish, lacked the vinegar tartness, hint of garlic, and black pepper. Lots of fat on the pork, and the hacked chicken parts had lots of bits of bones/etc that required care in eating. I even took the leftovers home to eat two days later, hoping the flavors would develop. No such luck. I'll have to call up my reina friend down the street to have him cook it for me again.

Pancit Bohian (rice vermicelli with pork/chicken) - not bad, not great. There's something really yummy when the noodles come out perfectly part crunchy/part chewy. Their version felt more like chow mein.

Service: Very attentive, they ask you up front if you’re familiar with their food, followed up nicely with refilled water glasses. And they’re more than happy to say “Pusit” as many times as you ask (tee hee).

Setting: Three large rooms, horrible fluorescent lighting, cloth napkins and table clothes were a nice touch. The stains on the table cloth felt just right for that home cooked feeling (I’m not joking, but in another setting, I’d be furious).

Will not rush back until I get that hankering for lumpia or pusit, then again, the reina down the street can cook it up for me.

Apr 30, 2007
lacaramon in Los Angeles Area

MILK

Sel, thanks for appreciating my self-indulgent post!

WBGuy, biting into a traditional cuban sandwich may require breaking a tooth, with the crispy crust and soft center. A media noche is made with sweet egg bread, which is soft and delicious. Like you said, Milk's version is not traditional.

For a yummy cuban snack, buy the freshest cuban bread from Porto's, open a can of sweetened condensed milk, break off a chunk of bread, dip it into the can, and enjoy!

Apr 11, 2007
lacaramon in Los Angeles Area

MILK

I was excited to hear that MILK's media noche was one of the best. I'm of the opinion that the best cuban food available in LA is if a cuban invites over to their house for dinner. As a cuban-american, born and raised in Silver Lake/Echo Park, I would stop daily on my way home from St. Francis at Cafe Tropical for un batido de mamey or fruta bomba (Papaya) and pastel del guayaba, emjoying each bite and sip on my walk home. I would also go with my parents to the Porto's house, knock on their back door, and secretly be handed our birthday cake with the merengue frosting and custard filling (yes, years before they created their Porto's empire). The obligatory hug from the owners made the experience that much special.

So today I made my way to MILK, filled with excitement like the litte chubby kid going in for his daily treat. I checked out the ice cream flavors. PAPAYA sorbet! Hmmm, blood orange too, reminding me of the morir soñando (die dreamining) orange juice milk shakes I drank during my Peace Corps time in the Dominican Republic! I ordered the media noche and a papaya/blood orange milk shake. "One meeedia noche and a papaya/blood orange milk shake" she confirms with a look of confusion. I try to correct her pronunciation, but she's busy to care or confused by my choice.

The milk shake comes out first. She asks me to taste it because nobody's ever ordered that combo before. It was deliciously thick combining two distinct, intense, and incredible tropical flavors. A bit later a gentleman brings the sandwich. He too asks me how's the shake because nobody's ever asked for that combination. "Great, you should try it." He just smiles.

I open the sandwich to inspect it...the crust is crunchy, the dough is soft. A thick layer of roasted pork is soft as a pillow, two slices of ham, cheese, pickles, some leafy green (ha! silly americans trying to introduce something healthy into cuban food!). The first bite and every bite until I finish is delicious, flavorful, crunchy, satisfying. Traditional media noche? No. Delicious? Absolutely. I walk back to my car happy as a chubby little kid.

Apr 07, 2007
lacaramon in Los Angeles Area

Blue Velvet -Downtown L.A.

I had lunch there last Wednesday with a friend. We were the only ones there at noon, with no host, no guests, no bartender to be found. I found the busboy in the kitchen and asked him if they were open. Fortunately, they were. I had the most amazing lamb with parpadelle pasta dish! My friend's tuna was great but very small portion. A nice bottle of wine, two desserts (nothing spectacular), and two expresso's later, it was $75 p/p. The host was very gracious. I'll return for a simple lunch soon, hopefully on somebody else's expense account.

Jan 04, 2007
lacaramon in Los Angeles Area