Monday, April 25, 2011

Honda Ya Izakaya

Honda-Ya is located in the Little Tokyo Mall in Downtown Japan.  It’s a sad mall, with only a few saving graces such as Beard Papa’s and restaurants like Honda-Ya.  I like Japanese people.  I like Japanese cars.  I like Japanese food.  I don’t like how Japanese sit on the floor to eat.   I was reminded of this when we were seated in the tatami room on cushy pillows.  Maybe I would have been happier if my pants weren’t so damn tight.  No folks, I am not the fat ass you all think I am.  I’m just a trend follower and chose to wear the skinniest of skinny jeans this evening.    But I’m a trooper.  I suck it up when it comes to eating, or more like suck it in…

Big Head Talks A Lot and Lo-Ma Linda had been to the Honda-Ya in Tustin many times so I just let Big Head do the ordering.  We started off with some yakitori items, which for the most part were pretty standard in quality and flavor.  Nothing particularly knocked my socks off except for the chicken meatballs and maybe the bacon wrapped scallop.  I found them both really juicy and flavorful and wanted a whole stick of chicken meatballs as opposed to just one meatball for myself.  The corn gave some nice balance to all the protein.

Bacon wrapped asparagus (left to right)
Pork belly
Chicken meatballs

Chicken gizzard

Bacon wrapped scallop

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Son of a Gun

Can you believe people are too busy to eat?  For me, the world stops just so I can eat.  Some how though, I have a hard time getting people to gather for a good meal.  Always some ridiculous business about work, feeling sick, feeling tired, journal club, I mean the laundry list of excuses is endless.  I mean, uhh, priorities people??   Anyways, I finally got a reservation for Son of a Gun and gathered a small party of people.  Apparrently there is only 1 table that accomodates large parties so I had to keep my party small.  Of course, The Bottomless Pit was first in line.  Buff Bear, who is not as robust as his name would suggest, finally got over his umpteenth sinus infection and brought gf, Cher Bear along.

Shrimp Toast Sandwich herbs, siracha mayo (MUST HAVE #1)
WOW, best mother^%@!ing shrimp toast sandwich EVER!!!  This was my FAVORITE dish of the night.  I totally wished there were more of it to go around.  We ordered 2 to split between 4 people and if I were to return I would suggest each diner get his/her own shrimp toast sandwich.  Sadly, the sandwich is definitely smaller than a 4x4 gauze pad.  The exterior of the toast was well toasted with the help of a generous slathering of butter I am sure.  The bread itself was so fresh and soft.  All the bread that night was perfect!  Now the combination of the shrimp and siracha mayo was a harmonious combination of my favorite ocean protein with a dyn-O-mite creamy and spicy sauce.  It dripped down onto my plate and I seriously wanted to lick it up!  LOVE LOVE LOVE.

Lobster Roll celery, lemon aioli (MUST HAVE #2 per popular opinion)
Somehow I imagined this, and pretty much all the sandwiches to be much bigger than they actually were.  This seriously was no bigger that a White Castle Slider, and again we only got 2 to share among 4 of us.  Anyways, these didn't have as much kick as previous dish.  Similarly though, the bread was super fresh and soft and toasty.  The lobster was creamy without being overwhelming and heavy.  The potato chips were a nice touch but didn't add all that much.  I think it could have used a touch more lemon to balance out the cream.  Don't get me wrong, this was another winner in my book!

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chowder Cook Off

Since Smooth Obturator moved to beach, he's been trying to embrace the true "California fun in the sun" lifestyle and culture.  He goes running on the beach, bike riding up to Santa Monica and down to Redondo Beach, and occasionally surfing if he feels like looking like a fool.  It's been nice to have a place to go to that's right on the beach, even though it's not my own place.  On one gloomy weekend, my mom, Smooth Obturator, and Triple T rode bikes down to Redondo Beach to catch a chowder cook-off near the pier.  Also in this area, there is a small seafood market that sells fresh shellfish like crabs, oysters, and clams and fry joint next door that sells prepared foods like ceviche, fried shrimp, french fries, fried oysters, etc.

Fresh Seafood
You can select the different sorts of oysters you'd like to be shucked.  You can also pick from a good selection of different crabs to be steamed on request.

Chowder Cook Off
I'm not really sure which "charity" they were raising money for and I forgot to ask.  For $7 you got to have 5 samplings out of the 12 vendors serving chowder.  Only one booth was offering Manhattan Clam Chowder.  Everyone else was serving your regular New England Clam Chowder.  In the end you vote for your favorite.

For the most part, none of the chowders were that amazing.  The ones that stood out were the ones that had a nice use of herbs like rosemary and were chunky with plenty of potatoes, veggies, and clams.  The one in the bottom middle was frankly offensive for being watery and salty.  I was the only one that paid the $7 for the chowder sampling.  Smooth Obturator would have preferred I sample all the chowders and then tell him which one was worth buying a big bowl.  

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Osteria Mamma

There are just too many Osterias in town.  From Mozza, La Buca, Angelini, and Mamma, it's quite difficult to keep them all straight.  The common theme for all these restaurants stems from the meaning of "osteria" which "in Italian literally means a place where the owner 'hosts' people, or an Italian-style eating establishment, similar to a tavern, usually in the country, less formal than a ristorante or trattoria, where wine is served as the main attraction and tasty food is served to wash it down."  Since I have now been to all these Osterias, I can confirm that they all share a casual ambiance and serve food that is without frills. 

Osteria Mamma is unfortunately the least impressive of all these Italian eateries.  It's not that Mamma doesn't know her pasta, it's just that La Buca, and especially Angelini and Mozza know it a whole freaking lot better.  It's not fair to compare since the price point is considerably more damaging to the wallet at the latter two places.  Panda Bear, Little Bear, Luau Bear, Bubble Bear, and The Bottomless Pit (aka Hates Asian Food) gathered for the hope of good eats.

Polipolata grilled mediterranean octopus, fresh celery, lemon, extra virgin olive oil and potatoes
I was highly anticipating a warm salad of grilled octopus that was tender while toothsome on the inside and charred and crispy on the outside.  Unfortunately, the octopus was just too soft and lacked texture.  It also had a weird fishy taste which only added insult to injury.  And as a final slap in the face, the dish was sorta room temperature.  It was confusing.  They certainly were generous on the protein, but the dish could have used more balance from the other elements, but maybe not the tomatoes which were disappointingly tasteless.  I will admit, the olive oil was amazingly fragrant!


Crostini di Burrata burrata crostini with black truffle and prosciutto
The burrata didn't quite have the creamy light texture that I had come to expect after having similar dishes from Mozza's mozzarella bar.  The black truffles were the highlight of it all.  The rest was quite unmemorable.  

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