It’s so true. I didn’t make that up either, it is actually their tagline.
Oh boy, did I have a great four days of eating in LA, thanks to our friend Keiko knowing all the good places to go. I’m actually going to break this up into two posts; everyday LA and fancy shmancy LA. Yogurtland was defiantly everyday LA, as in I would be there everyday if I lived there! We were happy to get a Red Mango and Pinkberry in Chicago, but they pale in comparison to Yogurtland. Yogurtland is self serve, so you are totally in control of your own dessert creation. I love abundance and having tons of choices even though I hate making decisions. Ironic, huh? Yogurtland had about twenty flavors of yogurt: two types of chocolate, kiwi, pomegranate/acaii/blueberry, raspberry, taro, coconut, pineapple, etc and quadruple that of toppings: blueberries, peaches, mango, kiwi, strawberries, pineapple, all the nuts, cereal, candy, mochi…the combinations were endless. I was in heaven and excited to create my masterpiece. I ended up with raspberry, coconut and pineapple yogurt, topped with mochi, strawberries and blackberries, plus one or two gummi works for good measure. There was also a copycat place called Nubi that we checked out. I got more adventuresome there with lychee, mango and blueberry yogurt topped with toasted coconut, pecans, pineapple and mochi, of course. (I love mochi, so chewy.) At .30 an ounce, our three yogurt creations only cost $9.00. Talk about “everyday”…We so need one of these here. Yogurtland…you rule!
I was so excited for the food trucks in LA. They have over fifty. I found that out thanks to Terry’s, over at www.Blue-Kitchen.com, tweet. So, I upped my text package on my cell phone and signed up to follow twenty food trucks. Boy, are they tweeters, especially the Grilled Cheese Truck. I did not make it to one truck, though. It was a combination of things. #1: It rained for two days, ugh! #2: LA is very big and the traffic is terrible. #3: I’m getting old and wasn’t willing to chase my food down! #4: the Dosa Truck was not at Cole & Sunset like they said they were going to be. I was there, they were not! Oh, I lied. I did eat at one of the old school taco trucks in Echo Park. It wasn’t fancy, they weren’t twittering, but it was good! That’s all that really counts, isn’t it?
Speaking of Echo Park, great neighborhood, sort of the Bucktown to Silverlake’s Wicker Park. I hung out there one night with my friend Victoria. We found a great little wine bar called City Sip that was comfy, cozy and had a good wines and a great menu. We split a panini of Serrano ham, manchego, roasted piqullo peppers and arugula.
We then hopped to Masa, a Chicago style deep dish pizza restaurant that a mutual friend opened with her husband. It was packed. Masa was a great, homey place with friendly service and tasty thin crust pizza, too. We ordered the farmers market special with broccoli, spiced goat cheese, arugula and ginger. I did not hear the waitress say ginger, so while we were eating the pizza, I said “I swear I taste ginger.” But on a pizza? Yes, on a pizza. It totally worked. I usually hate broccoli on a pizza, too, but this was not overcooked or soggy or burnt. Loved it! Good job Rhonda and congratulations on surviving the restaurant biz.
I am always happy to visit LA so I can eat lots of Chinese food. The Midwest is just so stagnant and filled with heavy, old school Cantonese food. We’ve given up eating Chinese food out and just make it at home now. We adjust the dishes to our taste making most of the dishes lighter and more modern. I don’t think I could eat Ma Po Tofu out, if I tried. JTYH is one of those great LA Szechwan restaurants. It is in a lonely mini mall on a somewhat deserted strip of Valley Blvd. in Rosemead. Our friend Keiko found it. Her friend goes there three times a week! So would I if I lived anywhere near it. First of all, it’s cheap. We ordered enough food for six people (there were only three of us) and the bill came to $40! The portions huge. I had two of the best Chinese dishes I have ever had that night. One was sent out as a freebie, probably because we ordered so much food. I didn’t even see it on the menu. It was blanched celery which was then flash sautéed with sesame oil, dried chilies and ginger. That’s it. Ohhhh, was it subtle but flavorful. These flavors were all just hinted at, but with every crunch they teased your taste buds. I don’t know if I even really like celery. I never thought about it before. It was just there. Now I can’t stop thinking about it. There will be some experimenting going on in our kitchen soon.
The other stand out dish from JTYH was simply called “lamb steak” on the menu. Keiko said her friend said we HAD to get it. Ok, whatever. The plate held not a steak, but ribs, lamb ribs. Don’t think I’ve ever had them before. This dish was the opposite of subtle. The flavors exploded off of the plate and sent your taste buds for a spin, but never burned you, even with the thirty or so dried chilies on the plate taunting you. There was ginger, garlic, Szechwan peppercorns, scallions, dried chilies. The ribs were somewhat dry, in a good beef jerky kind of way. This dish was actually very sophisticated. I could see it at a modern Asian restaurant such as Sunda. We got the inside scoop on the preparation as Chinese is Laurent’s first language. This is definitely showing up at New Years Eve this year, with a shrimp version for the fish-a-tarians.
A lot of the good stuff in LA is not actually in LA proper. Take Huckleberry Café, it’s in Santa Monica, but well worth the drive. It’s only sixteen miles outside of LA, but traffic gets brutal here. I was ecstatic to get this recommendation from Sandra Holl of Floriole. I’ve said it before, I love abundance, and nothing gets me as excited as overflowing pastry cases, stacks and stacks of cookies, baskets of baguettes. Huckleberry Café is Abundance Central! Cases and cases of tarts, tea breads, croissants, cookies, English muffins, ciabattas, baguettes, kale, Israeli couscous, turkey meatballs, orzo salad. I wish someone would have come with me so I could have eaten more. As it is I took four pastries home and still wanted more. One of the pastries, a salted caramel square, had my name all over it. This little piece of heaven was a shortbread crust with about an inch of solid caramel plopped on top, that’s it. Unadulterated caramel, just much more civilized than a spoon in a jar, my usual way of imbibing! Onto the perfect breakfast dish: Quinoa, roasted garlic, sprouted broccoli and sunny side up eggs. Take note, someone in Chicago needs to run this as a special. Are you listening Birchwood Café or maybe Floriole? Your friend wouldn’t mind if you stole this dish. You’re all the way in Chicago. The quinoa was not so heavy like potatoes and the roasted garlic was creamy like cheese. It felt healthy, (I think it actually was) and tasted great. Plus, you still have room for a 4x4x1 inch square of straight caramel bliss!
Back to LA and the perfect burger. Just to let you know, I am over In n’ Out, believe it or not. P.Terry’s in Austin is much better and then there is Umami Burger. What a name, huh? Umami is a Japanese word and refers to the fifth taste, after sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Can I just say “ Best. Burger. Ever.” And we only had to wait fifteen minutes. Take that Kuma’s Corner! There are three locations in LA, very modern, simple burger place. (I love simple single concept places. They are genius.) There are eight burger choices, including a triple pork burger and a turkey burger. The menu states that all beef burgers come out medium rare…yes! (Ours actually did not. We sent them back and then ten minutes later two beautiful, juicy, medium rare burgers arrived at our table. Yum!) The burgers are not Midwest ginormous. They are the perfect, do not gorge yourself until you are stuffed, size. Laurent had the Manly Burger with beer cheddar, smoked salt onion strings and bacon lardoons on top. Ohhh, how I love it when he’s so manly! Plus I got to steal half of it. I had the Port and Stilton Burger with blue cheese and port caramelized onions, or at least half of it. I had to share too.
They were both amazing, right down to the bun, which was soft and fresh and tasty. The beef was juicy and flavorful, or should I say umami-ful? The grind was different than I was used to, but that was part of what I loved about it. The beef was not mushy and ground to death. The grind was courser and looser and make the burger have more of a crumbly texture, all a good thing, trust me. We ordered fries and onion rings on the side and they came with house made ketchup. Fries were ok, onion rings were great. Laurent had a root beer float and I had a Mexican Coke. (It IS better!) Dessert was provided by a local baker, Cake Monkey, a “ding dong” with peanut butter and marshmallow filling. This was just the perfect burger fix, the perfect lunch.
Thanks, Keiko, for being as obsessed with food as we are and hunting down the best places in LA and outside of LA to eat at. You did well and therefore we ate well!
Next week…..more LA eating, the fancy shmancy kind, though.