Category Archives: Food

Kings of the Road

food-2One of the unique things about being a foodie in Los Angeles is that you can find some of the city’s best food in otherwise inconspicuous mini-malls.

Sure, the view from the window is a parking lot, but on the upside there’s usually available parking, the food tends to be more affordable, and the general lack of pretension keeps the restaurant’s ambitions focused squarely on what you’re about to eat.

So let’s drop the fanfare and get right to it — five mini-mall gems that should be on your culinary radar.

Tomi Sushi

Most people know about Ronnie’s Diner, the popular breakfast spot in Del Rey tucked just off Culver Boulevard near Ballona Creek. Asaya Japanese restaurant, across the parking lot, was another local favorite for 30 years. A few months ago, a new sign went up: Tomi Sushi. The community mourned Asaya’s loss on Yelp. But, thankfully, Tomi Sushi kept the same warm staff and is serving up fresh, delicious fish along with other tasty hot kitchen entrees, including bulgogi and udon. My husband and I spontaneously popped in on Valentine’s Day. Nothing says “I love you” like their signature yellowtail jalapeno sashimi special with cilantro and yuzu ponzu sauce. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Advertisements

Don’t Waffle About the Wiffle

waffleI remember the day I drove down Washington Boulevard and saw the sign for Bru’s Wiffle.

“Wha? Where’sa Café Buna?” I blurted out to myself.

Turns out, Café Buna has eased on down the road to the space formerly occupied by Joni’s Coffee Rosters, and leaving room for this new casual breakfast spot in Marina del Rey.

And if there’s anything I love as much as pancakes, it’s waffles. Lucky for me, Bru’s Wiffle specializes in both (more pancakes coming soon).

“My full name is Ebru,” says owner Ebru Fidan Caplan. “My friends started to call me Bru. When I was looking for a name for my restaurant, one of my friends said, ‘What about Bru’s Waffle?’ I wanted something different. My other my friend said, ‘What about Bru’s Wiffle? It sounds like waffle.’ I loved it!”

This past February, my husband’s birthday was creeping up, and I wanted to plan something special. My husband and I have many things in common — one of which is our love of waffles. I invited our whole extended family to brunch at Bru’s Wiffle. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Old World Flavor Goes Fast-Casual

rodini_1

Photo by Courtnay Robbins

Some people, under the tutelage of a parent or grandparent, open a restaurant because cooking is in their DNA. Or, a master chef might’ve inspired them in the kitchen during their first restaurant job.

Peter Georges landed in the restaurant business by happy accident. In 2003, he and his wife, actress Cathrine Georges, moved from New York to L.A. to be closer to her family and her work: She had a recurring role on “Days of Our Lives.”

“I was an executive at a tech company and could work from home,” says Georges. “Plus, L.A. seemed like a better place to raise kids.”

The restaurant business was on Georges’ bucket list. When he found himself with money to invest, he jumped into restaurants and real estate — though “I never thought either would be successful,” he admits.

But he’s now the proud co-owner of Rodini Park Greek Kitchen in North Hollywood, the popular local breakfast spot HASH on Bluff Creek Drive in The Campus at Playa Vista, and, as of March, a second Rodini Park just next door to HASH. …

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

Going Bananas for a Good Cause

CinnamonJen Miller is on a mission to challenge our current food system — more specifically, to tackle food waste. Bunch, her company launched just this year, uses perfectly good produce that’s too ripe to stock to make banana-based ‘nice’ creams. While the product might be free from dairy, artificial ingredients and refined sugars, the seductively named results are full of flavor: Deep Dark Chocolate, Peanut Butter Fudge, Coffee Chocolate Chunk, and Cinnamon Swirl.

“I have a passion for food, health and wellness,” says Miller from her Culver City commissary, where you can pick up her hand-packed pints.

Working in kitchens throughout her life, Miller became aware of just how big a problem food waste is over the course of her culinary career. In fact, she has the statistics to prove it: up to 40% of food in the U.S. gets tossed because of factors like cosmetic imperfections and supply surplus, according to USDA estimates. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

New Kids on the Block

food-1It seems like every other day one restaurant closes its kitchen and another one pops open. It can be hard to keep track, so let us introduce you to several interesting eateries that have opened in the past few months:

The Window

The corner of Rose and 5th avenues has been quiet since Fiesta Brava and Ranch Market left, until now. Last week the brains behind the soon-to-be-in-this-spot restaurant American Beauty have been piquing diners’ interest with The Window, a walk-up counter serving a $3.95 cheeseburger and $2.75 fries. The entire parking lot is roped off, sprinkled with colorful blue, red and turquoise stools and an umbrella for shade. The simple menu also includes a beauty burger (for vegetarians), a fried chicken sandwich, a shaved kale salad and a grain bowl. Drink options are lemonade, iced tea and soda, and an ice cream sandwich for dessert. Everything on the menu is under $8 — a treat in pricy Venice. (JK) …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

The Must-Devour List

food1Honey butter, melt-in-your-mouth strip steak, Hachiya persimmon ice cream: Now that you’re hungry, we present six standout dishes that fall into the exclusive category of one-of-a-kind/too-good-to-miss. Start checking these items off your foodie bucket list tonight!

Shrimp & Grits at Ms Chi Cafe

When someone mentions shrimp and grits, you probably think Southern soul food. Turns out, it’s also a Chinese brunch staple. Chef Shirley Chung remembers her grandma’s dish: “Some people used tofu. My grandma added shrimp. She was fancy.” The “Top Chef” runner-up has updated her brunch menu with requests from regulars, substituting eggplant for pork in her hand-cut noodles and adding her shrimp and grits: a potpourri of fried scallions, crunchy preserved vegetables, sesame granola and shrimp bathed in chili sauce floating around in a nutty batch of brown rice grits. Another pure delight is Chung’s matcha glaze mochi donut, like an old-fashioned buttermilk made with mochi flour, so it’s gluten-free. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Cherryvale Farms Makes Baking a Piece of Cake

cake1

Photo By: Zsuzsi Steiner

It’s 10:30 a.m. on a Monday, and Cherryvale Farms founder Lindsey Rosenberg is already on her second meeting. That alone is not such a great feat, until you factor in that she’s nine months pregnant, the mother of a two-year-old daughter, and that her company — which produces 100% plant-based baking mixes and on-the-go treats — is undergoing a brand redesign. And yet the 34-year-old is the image of calm and control.

“My inbox is only at 36,” she says with a smile when I ask if she’s overwhelmed every day.

We’re sitting comfortably in the front lounge of her husband’s ad agency in Playa Vista.

“After USC, I worked in fashion and entertainment for a few years,” Rosenberg shares. “And I was ready for a big change.”

Change meant going back to the farm — literally. Rosenberg grew up in Soquel, just south of Santa Cruz, population 1,000. Her parents still live on their hobby farm, growing fruits and vegetables on Cherryvale Avenue.

Rosenberg and her father, a veteran entrepreneur, set out to create a brand out of the Cherryvale Farms story. …

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

Sweet Heaven!

sees2Every year for Valentine’s Day, my father-in-law gives my husband and me a large, red, heart-shaped box of See’s Candies chocolates — specifically, the Nuts & Chews. He also mails boxes to his two out-of-state daughters. It’s a tradition he takes very seriously, and he’s not alone: See’s Candies’ single best day for sales is always the one before Valentine’s Day.

In anticipation of the holiday, I dream about the California-grown almonds covered in dark Guittard chocolate. I tell myself I’ll only eat two pieces a day, knowing it will be incredibly difficult to have such discipline — I’ll probably eat more. And I’m not alone: More than 17 million people eat See’s each year.

When I moved from Venice to Inglewood a little over a year ago, La Cienega Boulevard became one of my main thoroughfares. It was during one of my commutes, sitting in slow-moving traffic and swinging to KJAZZ, that my eyes fixated on a building with a familiar, classic logo: See’s Candies.

I began to fantasize about what happened behind closed doors. Was it just like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory in the classic Gene Wilder movie? Could Oompa Loompas be singing and dancing inside?

The factory is not open to the public, but I was able to secure a press tour. I immediately thought of the words printed on the five golden tickets Wonka hid in his candy bars: “In your wildest dreams you could not imagine the marvelous surprises that await you.” …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

In With The New

hals2Sometimes a restaurant becomes so enmeshed in your memory that it becomes synonymous with family and home. That’s the way I think of Hal’s Bar & Grill.

In the late ’80s, Hal’s was one of the fancier restaurants in Venice. It was ultra cool, hosting live jazz and serving the most diverse crowd of artists, celebrities and locals on the Westside. My family and I would excitedly settle into one of their booths to celebrate birthdays, holidays and other special occasions. Hal became a true friend.

At some point during our meal, Hal would slide in next to whoever was at the end of our booth and chit chat about everything from art and entertainment to world headlines and local happenings. He was warm and welcoming, and when he smiled at you, you felt special, a characteristic he shared with my stepfather, the late actor-dancer Gregory Hines. They were kindred spirits and good friends.

The night of my high school graduation, my family rented out the entire restaurant. I felt like a big shot because I got to invite my good friends to a sit-down dinner at the hippest restaurant in the neighborhood. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Merry Meals

food_merryOh what fun it is to ring in the New Year — and yet, the end of the year can also drum up more work and stress: shopping, planning, cooking, baking and more cooking. It’s a time of family togetherness, which is nourishing, but it also means more mouths to feed and dishes to wash. While home-cooked meals are worth their weight in gold, sometimes going out to eat is… priceless. Reserve your table at one of these restaurants that’ll gladly give you the gift of peace of mind for the holidays.

Celebrate Your Good Fortune @ Lunetta

Most holiday scenes are filled with snowy streets and chestnuts roasting by the open fire. But in SoCal, our December days are filled with sunshine, shorts and surfboards. Lunetta Dining and Moon Bar — the nocturnal counterpart to brunch-driven Lunetta All Day — makes you feel right at home in the wintry season. Low lighting and mistletoe hang from the walls, the warm and welcoming atmosphere feels like a toasty lodge après-ski, and chef Raphael Lunetta has crafted Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve menus with a few of his favorite things. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.