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Long Trip Report 6/22/15 to 6/25/15

Haha I feel the pain. We order a dozen raw oysters and my wife and I are lucky if we get 2 each.

For our anniversary I got a small tin of caviar from Petrossian and these darn kids ate up a small fortune of eggs.

It's all my fault but I wouldn't have it any other way.

about 17 hours ago
js76wisco in Las Vegas

Does LA have anything equivalent to Raku in Vegas?

I just came back from Vegas and Raku was one of the most memorable meals I've ever had. I hope you're ears are telling the truth.

Jun 27, 2015
js76wisco in Los Angeles Area

Long Trip Report 6/22/15 to 6/25/15

Every meal listed below is for family of 4 including 4.5 year old boy and 2.5 year old girl. We usually order for 3 people total.

Day 1 Dinner - Yardbird
Amazing fried chicken. Excellent brine, very juicy, loved the crust and flavor. Probably be the best fried chicken we've ever had - better than Bouchon, Honey's Kettle, the place in NY with the ice tea brine and Roscoe's.
The bone marrow was fantastic. They provided 3 bones with a good amount of marrow highlighted only with salt. Spread on the crispy bread was a great simple but delicious bite. My 2.5 year old had her own bone.
Fries and waffles were very good and would order again. The bourbon maple syrup that was good but I preferred mixing bites with the chicken, waffle, honey hot sauce and regular maple syrup. Spicy, sweet, crunchy and juicy.
Biscuits were flaky and a great bite with the butter but a tad dry side alone. Watermelon was interesting and good palate cleanser but mostly unnecessary.
They have a great local tap beer list that we enjoyed.
Expensive for fried chicken but well in line with restaurants on the strip. 4 pieces of fried chicken were $27.
Dinner including 4 beers was $120 with tip. Would highly recommend.

Day 2 Lunch - Shake Shack
I've been to the NY locations several times but its been a while. We've been eating In N Out more often so wanted to compare.
Shake Shack wins hands down. Shake Shack is about 70% more expensive based on similar orders.
The cheeseburgers are awesome. Great beefy flavor.
Cheese fries are in a class by themselves compared to any other fast casual or fast food. They toss on a bechamel sauce that is killer. Not too salty and the fatter crinkle fries have more surface area to scoop up sauce. The sauce isn't too salty or overwhelming and stay in liquid form for a much longer time.
Black n white shake. My favorite shake anywhere in the world. The thick custardy vanilla vs chocolate fight in an all timer.
Vegas is lucky to have In N Out, Shake Shack and White Castle (grew up on WC).

Day 2 Dinner - B&B Ristorante
Good but a bit of a let down only because we both love Italian and pasta so much. B&B is not one of Batali's better restaurants. I'd put it behind both Mozza, Lupa, Babbo and Del Posto. Also behind Casa Mono but not Italian.
The calamari appetizer was very nice. Lightly dusted in tempura like batter and accompanied by butter sauce. Cauliflower was great in here as well.
Ordered 3 pastas to try a few different types. All of the pasta were home made and well cooked al denta. The clear winner was the mint strichetti with peas and pancetta. A classic flavor combination with delicious pasta. The pappardelle ragu was good but on the salty side. That made the sauce ever richer and overall a disappointment bc I've had great ragu in many a Batali restaurant. The bucatini was better and loved the spicy red sauce. Guanciale and spicy red sauce always a good choice.
$220 with a $65 bottle of red wine. The sommerlier picked a nice mid priced bottle. We certainly enjoyed our meal but would try something different the next time like Portofino.

Day 3 Lunch - China Poblano
Fun place with an eclectic menu. Some great dishes here and not cheap for the type of food but certainly with better ingredients and great execution.
Mexican
The chips are amazing. Crispy but not greasy with nice corn flavor.
The best tacos I've had here are the carnitas with the chicarrones and guacamole. Well balanced and the meat itself is delicious.
The pastor taco is one big hunk of pork belly. The pastor sauce is very good but I wish the meat was either cut up or crisped. There was something that was supposed to provide crunch but it ended up being a bit mushy.
Chinese
Steamed pork buns were ok. Wasn't a huge fan of the filling and sauce inside. The buns themselves were steamed well and righteously bouncy. The sauce was a little overpowering and didn't love them.
The hand pulled noodles were amazing. The sauce was similar to black jean jjajianmein. I have to assume any of the noodle dishes are amazing with these noodles.
$85 for lunch with one michelada

Day 3 Dinner - Raku
WOW. The highlight of our trip and one of the best meals we've ever had in any city. One great dish after another and basically the same price as B&B.
Yellowtail sashimi - sublime, melt in your mouth
Kurobuta pork belly - mostly for my kids but tender and delicious
Raku tofu - 2nd best to the tofu at Ikko in Costa Mesa
Chawanmushi - my wife said its one of the best things she ever ate and she doesn't even really love foie gras
Miso soup - for my kids, best I've ever had, so rich, well balanced and umami
Special aji half fried and half grilled - both preparations were excellent. The broth on the fried part was fantastic. Grilled part was so simple but amazing. Why can't we just make grilled fish with salt this at home?

Skewers
Beef tendon - had 3 orders, you have to love this texture but man that was great
Chicken teba wing - simply presented with salt but an amazing piece of chicken. My son hates chicken (almost never eats it unless its from Chik Fil A) but he ate one all by himself.
Pork ear - I ate most of these with the hot sauce. I loved the mixture between the crunchy cartilage and fatty bits.
Okra - sick. Who knew a piece of okra could be that good? Crazy.
Scallop - butter sauce was incredible and scallop was tender. Could eat this combination all the time.
Total was $248 with a $60 bottle of sake. Raku takes the place as a must visit restaurant when we go to Vegas. I'd go out of my way to eat there on night 1 so you could theoretically eat there twice on a trip. Simple presentation with the perfect amount of seasoning/flavor is always the hardest to pull off but the most enjoyable when the ingredients shine like they do at Raku.

Day 4 Lunch - 800 Degrees
Stayed in the hotel for lunch bc kids were tired. This is clearly the best of the new quick service make your own pizza. Much better crust and flavor of the pie than Pieology or Blaze. The pie is more reminiscent of neopolitan pizza like Fuoco in Fullerton or Una Pizza Napoleana in SF (formerly in NYC). Doesn't have all the spots and not VPN certified but its the closest you'll find for this fast casual version. $7 for a margherita pizza is an insane deal. The salads here are all very good and a good deal at $7 for half portion.

Day 4 Dinner - Lotus of Siam
The best Thai food we've ever had but a teeny bit of a let down probably due to the accolades and hype. Hard to live up to the hype LoS gets. But again the best Thai food ever (significantly better than many meals at Jitlada, Ruen Pair, Sanamluang and Raku Nakorn).
Garlic prawns WOW. Everybody just order them. They are well recommended by everybody for a reason.
Khai Soi was as good or better than our current favorite version at Noodle Tramp. Great noodles and so well balanced between heat, curry and little hint of sweet with coconut milk. Drink the broth or bathe rice in it.
Spicy wings were great. Kicks the ass of any wings out here in OC. Sweet and spicy. Sticky. Crunchy. Lick off the sauce.
A little more elegant, well seasoned, less greasy and delicious versions of pad see ewe and papaya salad. The pad see ewe was for the kids but we always grab some. Much less greasy than any other version. The papaya salad was the best but we were ultimately unhappy because it wasn't spicy enough. We should have asked them for more spice but though medium would be ok.
The food was great but I guess we were expecting to be knocked off our socks like Raku. If LoS was anywhere within 20-30 miles of our house in the OC we'd be eating here several times per month.
Total was around $80

Vegas is a kick ass food town with a ton of options. There are lots of high end options and the local off the strip recommendations are spot on. Raku would be world class in any city. Thanks for all the help and recommendations Vegas hounds. Sorry no pictures - nothing can stop me from eating food when its laid down in front of me.

Places on our list for next time
Portofino
Bazaar Meat
Twist
Chada
Bardot Bistro
Raku Sweets

Jun 26, 2015
js76wisco in Las Vegas

Congratulations to Chef Carlos Salgado and his Taco Maria!

I can see where you're coming from. Maybe we're all paying for the $49 prix fixe that we all took advantage of for the first year or so.

Jun 19, 2015
js76wisco in Los Angeles Area

Congratulations to Chef Carlos Salgado and his Taco Maria!

Well deserved. One of the best restaurants in LA or OC and the best value for any prix fixe.

It would be great if he added dessert but understand why its hard with the small kitchen. Getting some sugary slices of cake and cookies from Susiecakes is ok but would be better to finish off the meal with a proper dessert.

Jun 19, 2015
js76wisco in Los Angeles Area

Must Order at Raku

Thanks for the tip on the half portion tofu two ways. This is a good way to sample both preparations.

Jun 18, 2015
js76wisco in Las Vegas

Portofino - Superlative Pastas and Osso Buco as well as Chicken Parm worth "Strip Pricing"

I would tend to go with your original assessment based on seeing your posts on the LV and LA board. You seem to know your stuff and I agree with a lot of your opinions.

I'd never heard of the chef or restaurant until you posted about it but I'm not very knowledgable about LV. I changed my reservation from B&B which I've been a few times and enjoyed to Portofino. I'll reply back after my vacation next week.

Jun 17, 2015
js76wisco in Las Vegas

Must Order at Raku

Read through about 20 threads on Raku. Here is my current list of must order items for 2 adults and 2 kids
- stuff off the specials menu
- sashimi (which ones?)
- agedashi tofu
- asparagus (although seeing conflicting reports)
- grilled sanma
- chicken teba wing
- Kobe beef tendon
- blackened pig ear
- chawan mushi

Any thing else I must order?

Jun 17, 2015
js76wisco in Las Vegas

Portofino - Superlative Pastas and Osso Buco as well as Chicken Parm worth "Strip Pricing"

Anybody have a second opinion on this matter? I am currently booked at B&B but will happily either swap or add in Portofino. I forgot to make reservations at Raku so might have to add in another dinner.

Jun 15, 2015
js76wisco in Las Vegas

Chengdu Taste Open in Rowland Heights

Anybody brave the lines this weekend?
How long was the wait during lunch on Sat or Sun?
Eater LA reporting massive lines.

Jun 15, 2015
js76wisco in Los Angeles Area

Korean in Irvine

OC is a notch below LA Ktown but IMO Irvine is not where most of the action is at. If you include Garden Grove and Buena Park then there are many more options. Yigah is not bad.

Gen BBQ in Tustin could also be a good choice and pretty centrally located.

Jun 15, 2015
js76wisco in Los Angeles Area
1

Korean in Irvine

If the main prerequisite is the food being really good then Irvine doesn't really have many options. The best of the bunch are honey pig and shik do rak.

If you can move the dinner to Buena Park they have outlets of kang ho dong baekjong and palsaik eight korean bbq. Both are very good and good for large group dinners. If you are going on the weekend expect a wait for dinner at KHD anytime after 5pm.

Jun 14, 2015
js76wisco in Los Angeles Area

REVIEW: Ma's Chinese Islamic, Anaheim

Was anybody wearing shorts in the restaurant cjmack?
This is the only reason we haven't been yet.
I moved to SoCal from NY 16 years ago so I could wear my rainbows and shorts every weekend, great noodles and sesame bread be damned.

Jun 04, 2015
js76wisco in Los Angeles Area

Vegas Trip Itinerary with 2 + 4 year old

What do you recommend at Yusho? I'd be happy finding something to eat in our hotel besides 800 degrees.

May 26, 2015
js76wisco in Las Vegas

Mendocino Farms, Sidecar Doughnuts Coming To SM (Wilshire & 7th)

Try the old fashioned doughnut holes if they have them at the SM Sidecar. It's a fairly new item and fantastic. Something I'd get everytime if available along with the huckleberry.

May 21, 2015
js76wisco in Los Angeles Area

Vegas Trip Itinerary with 2 + 4 year old

Ok we will see if we can fit in Naked City and Yardbird. The menu at Yardbird looks great and my wife loves fried chicken.

You're the first person who has commented on Bazaar Meats thus far. It seems awfully expensive and wondered if its that much better than say Cut or Mastros. Maybe if I do well at the tables we'll fit it in.

May 18, 2015
js76wisco in Las Vegas

Vegas Trip Itinerary with 2 + 4 year old

Thanks this looks right up our alley.

May 18, 2015
js76wisco in Las Vegas

Vegas Trip Itinerary with 2 + 4 year old

Yes because of the memorabilia store. I bought a shirt for my son that everybody asks where we purchased. So we're going to buy gifts for friends and family. And because my kids love In N Out. And because I need to offset meals at Raku, B&B and Bazaar Meat with $15 lunches for the family.

May 18, 2015
js76wisco in Las Vegas

Vegas Trip Itinerary with 2 + 4 year old

I was thinking a 5:30 or 6pm reservation would work at Raku.

I think we'll probably skip Peppermill after looking into this more. It looks like a strip club and I have a bad feeling I'd run into a group of crazy 20 year olds (basically me 20 years ago) still up from the night before.

Didn't know about Tacos El Gordo shutting down on the strip but it seems like a reasonably short drive. Although we may opt for other options since we have tons of great Mexican in OC/LA.

May 17, 2015
js76wisco in Las Vegas

Any good familiar restaurant in Laguna Beach?

In Crystal Cove there are a bunch of good places
Settebello for pizza
Mastros for steaks - the best steakhouse in the OC
Tamarind for very good Indian
Bear Flag for excellent seafood, tacos, poke - more casual lunch type spot

May 15, 2015
js76wisco in Los Angeles Area

Vegas Trip Itinerary with 2 + 4 year old

Good idea. I never knew about asking to clear out the mini-fridge but will see if that is a possibility.

May 15, 2015
js76wisco in Las Vegas

Vegas Trip Itinerary with 2 + 4 year old

Thanks for the insight Dave.

Raku - were you saying it might not be the right atmosphere because of the food or because of the environment? My kids like izakaya and the menu here had enough things the kids would like. We've taken them to some higher end restaurants without incident but they are little kids and they do like to move around. We give them work books and sticker books that keep them occupied for a good 30 mins.

Never had adobada but sounds like el pastor. Yummy.

May 15, 2015
js76wisco in Las Vegas

Vegas Trip Itinerary with 2 + 4 year old

Going to be in Vegas for 4 nights/5 days. Staying at Monte Carlo because it has a good pool and its cheap. I've been to Vegas 30-40 living in SoCal and know the lay of the land BUT never been with kids. Please let me know if you have any suggestions. My kids will pretty much eat anything but I'm not taking them to 4 fancy expensive dinners.

Dinner (4 total)
B&B or Bazaar Meat - never been to Bazaar Meats and looks great
Bachannal at Ceasers - my kids will get a kick out of it and they eat free
LOS - garlic prawns, crispy wings, drunken sea bass noodles and papaya salad
Raku - never been heard its great and need reservations

Lunch (5 Total)
Holsteins for a shake and China Poblano
In n Out (my wife wants to buy shirts from the store and kids love it)
Tacos El Gordo - we can split up and get different meats which ones are best?
Estiatorio Milos - $25.15 lunch menu seems like a good deal
Is Pizza Rock or Naked Pizza worth a drive? 800 Degrees is inside Monte Carlo

Breakfast (4 Total)
Buffet at Monte Carlo bc kids eat free 4 & under
Whole Foods 10 min drive and kids need fruit and milk
Peppermill would be fun with the kids
My biggest problem is breakfast. The kids wake up early and usually need food by around 7:30am. I'm not sure I want to drive 20 minutes off the strip to a lot of recommended places like Mary's Hash House, Egg and I, etc...
Not a huge fan of hash house.
Anything like Snooz within 10 min drive of the Monte Carlo?

May 14, 2015
js76wisco in Las Vegas

Great Italian food in OC?

Agreed its not bad but I think that's the best we have in the OC. I haven't tried Pirozzi but I'm not sure I like your description of the place below. I heard the meatballs were good.

May 06, 2015
js76wisco in Los Angeles Area

Great Italian food in OC?

I moved from LA to North OC 6 years ago and have tried all of the recommended best Italian in OC. None of these are comparable or in the same class as the ones listed above. My favorite LA Italian restaurants were similar to yours - Madeo, Scarpetta, Angelini Osteria and Osteria Mozza.

Of all the recommendations surfaced on the board I would say Cucina Alessa is my favorite. But given the distance from North OC - ~40 mins to PCH or 50/60 mins to the LA restaurants listed above we almost never eat upscale Italian in OC.

May 06, 2015
js76wisco in Los Angeles Area

Where can I find the best chicken kale salad in Los Angeles?

Houston's has a very nice kale salad. Just add some chicken. Good crunch from the nuts and dressing is great but I ask for it on the side as it comes drenched otherwise.

May 05, 2015
js76wisco in Los Angeles Area

What's your top 5 favorite places for lunch in OC?

What's the wait on the weekdays for lunch at DTF lately?

May 02, 2015
js76wisco in Los Angeles Area

What's your top 5 favorite places for lunch in OC?

Really? Thats too bad because it was one of the best shops in APD. But they were also one of the slowest. The number of people waiting for Croft sandwiches always astounded me when the better sandwiches were right next door at Wheat & Sons.

May 01, 2015
js76wisco in Los Angeles Area

What's your top 5 favorite places for lunch in OC?

On Bastanchury and Valley View? Never been but thanks for the recommendation gents.

May 01, 2015
js76wisco in Los Angeles Area

What's your top 5 favorite places for lunch in OC?

I live in Brea not many great lunch choices outside of the fast casuals and chains.

Try Oasis Cafe. It's in the mini mall on Brea Blvd and Lambert. It's good Lebanese/middle eastern especially for the area. Nice small family run joint.

May 01, 2015
js76wisco in Los Angeles Area