Saturday, March 31, 2012

One Night in Tokyo at Shin-Sen-Gumi (Gardena)

In 1988, founder Mitsuyasu Shigeta came to Los Angeles to study English. Four years later, he opened the first Shin-Sen-Gumi in Gardena, serving yakitori—various chicken parts (gizzards, skin, wings, breast, thighs) skewered on bamboo sticks, grilled over charcoal. When you enter the tiny restaurant, located in a generic strip mall, you'll be greeted by a boisterous wait staff. Pretty much any movement warranted loud cheers—when you place your order, when you ask for your bill, when you leave the restaurant, and especially when you buy the chef and server a round of drinks.

The man behind the grill was extremely amiable and, at one point, even came over to ask if we enjoyed our meal.

The course-ground sausages were Kevin's favorite. Bite into it and the delicious juices squirt out.

These cocktail-sized sausages were good, too, but we preferred the course-ground sausages.

Fried soft-shell crab was one of the specials. It was crisp and glazed with a sweet orange sauce.

I love chicken gizzards. Chewy, grilled perfectly, with a sprinkling of sea salt.

This is the yakitori most people are familiar with: grilled chicken thighs with a sweet yakitori sauce. The smaller skewer in the back is chicken skin. I love the fact that the Japanese value and showcase every part of the chicken.

Grilled jumbo prawn.


This was a funny little dish. Potato with mayo: so simple and yummy, though I can probably make this at home.

Onigiri, the original comfort food.

Crab and cream croquettes.

Beef flap meat.

My favorite of the night was the beef tongue. It was so tender and flavorful.

The fried chicken wings tasted like orange chicken from American-Chinese restaurants.

Chicken breast with fresh wasabi. I don't usually care for breasts, but this was moist and the wasabi went surprisingly well with it.

Each skewer was about $1.75–$3. Total tally was around $66 (including an additional order of sausages and meatballs). Pretty reasonable prices.

In addition to nine locations in Fountain Valley, Gardena, Monterey Park, and Rosemead, there’s also a branch in Japan.

18517 S. Western Avenue
Gardena, CA 90248
(310) 715-1588

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Osteria La Buca

I've lived in Hollywood for almost two years and have driven by Osteria La Buca countless of times. The restaurant is housed in a gorgeous loftlike space with red bricks and wood accents, and it has a "pasta room" where the chefs make fresh pasta daily. I finally had a chance to try it a couple weeks ago, and I can't wait to go back again! It's definitely a neighborhood gem.

I am officially obsessed with the Brussels sprouts with egg, grana padano, and white anchovy vinaigrette. It is so freaking amazing, with the crispy Brussels sprout leaves and perfectly runny egg.

Smooth and delicious house-made chicken liver pate, whipped lardo, pickles, and mostardo

Agnolotti with crispy pork belly

I was surprised to find out that the spaghetti cacio pepe was house-made, too. It's pretty rare to find fresh spaghetti. It's a simple but satisfying dish.

Pizza with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, thyme, and carmelized onions was chewy and savory and umami.

5210 Melrose Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 462-1900

Christmas in Big Bear

Spontaneous trip to Kevin's family's cabin in Big Bear on Christmas eve.

Isn't this the most adorable Christmas cabin ever?

Co-owned by the Hermans and the Moultons.

Oh yes, that's a dead fox behind the Christmas tree.

Roaring fireplace

Christmas breakfast with bacon, eggs, and pandan cake!

Punk rock snowman

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cut Night at Casa Diaz

I've been dying to visit Wolfgang Puck's Cut, ever since my friend Elisa told me about her incredible dinner there. But I'm deterred every time I think about how expensive it is. My friends and I recently started a new food club, and one of our new members is an actual chef trained in France. We hit the jackpot! For our first food club theme, we unanimously picked the menu at Cut.

Jonathan picked up four large slabs of 28-day, dry-aged rib eye steaks from Harvey's Guss Meat in L.A., the same meat purveyor for Cut. Total: $170.

Jonathan's wife, Nina, is from Switzerland, and she made us some delicious mulled wine with red wine, sugar, and vodka.

Eggs poached using the Curtis Stone method.

This was my dish: roasted asparagus, poached eggs, bacon, with a bacon vinaigrette.

Fire up the grill!
Look at the beautiful gill marks. The steaks were finished in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10-12 minutes.

Beautifully cooked.

The majority of us wanted rare, while a couple others preferred medium rare.

Nina's amazing potato gratin with rosemary. There were no leftovers.

Peggy's green beans with almonds, tarragon, and loads of buttery goodness

Look at the spread.

Everything was amazing, including Kimie's creamed spinach.

Esther's Nutella Semifreddo, inspired by Giada De Laurentiis' recipe.

I can't believe we found room for dessert, but I'm so glad we did. Worth every single calorie.

We each pitched in $25 for the steaks, which probably won't even cover the valet parking at Cut. Good deal, great food, even better company.