Sunday, March 29, 2015


After too many days of eating the white man's food, I really was craving something Asian.  I can't go too many days without eating Asian food.  I crave chocolates and sweets, but my want for Asian food runs deeper than simple desire.  It's like it's ingrained into my genetic makeup to optimally thrive off of Asian food.  With any other foods, sure I'm living, but who wants to just live?  

It probably didn't help that I spent the whole day sweltering under the unforgiving sunshine of the desert to watch the BNP Paribas Open.  When I'm stressed mentally or physically, I turn to food for comfort.  That day was no exception, and I was happy to be out and about with Old Soul, who is definitely a food fan.  He asked what I wanted to eat after our long day.  I said "Asian" and he obliged.  Simple as that.  I don't think I could be friends with anyone who would put up a big stink about what or where we ate.  We really went to town on the ordering and the waitress laughed in disbelief when she confirmed our order of 6 dishes for 2 people.

House Chicken
I've had chicken like this before and it was called Shan Dong chicken.  Old Soul, being the unusually helpful China man that he is can read Chinese and the Chinese description of this dish, which was none other than Shan Dong chicken.  This dish is quite popular here, but I was actually disappointed. The chicken wasn't as flavorful as I've had before and the cold cucumbers nestled underneath the chicken wasn't as marinated as I would have liked.  You should have seen Old Soul turn his nose up at the site of those green cucumbers.  He's allergic to all things green apparently.

Ong Choy
Old Soul turned his nose at the cucumbers, but he had a look of horror when I pushed for an order of ong choy.  I loved how the veggies weren't sitting in a big puddle of its own juices.  They must have been cooked at very very high heat.  I could never get my vegetables this way at home.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Nana San

Nana San keeps company with Ohshima, San Shi Go, and Ikko as Orange County's best sushi spots.  I've been here before for dinner omakase and was thoroughly impressed with the offering.  It's definitely the most bang for your buck compared to the other 3 places.  Lunch was no exception. Fishing Zebra Man has become my sushi compadre and will never turn me down when it comes to sushi.

Kanpachi (left)
Blue Fin Tuna (right)
Kanpachi was clean, but I've had better blue fin tuna.  I did not like the shiso of course.

Trio of Snappers red, black, goldeneye
Really great sampling.  Goldeneye was my favorite, probably because it was served with a bit of charred skin.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015


After Roy Choi's big success with Kogi and Chego, A-Frame was his next attempt at bringing his style of Korean meets LA, street, soul, all the while keeping it real, to Angelenos.  I was supremely impressed at his offering during my first visit in 2010.  I had been back maybe 2 more times since then with each visit impressing me just a little bit less.  I've accepted that maybe I cannot be impressed by the same trick pony?  Maybe other Angelenos have been feeling similarly about A-Frame, possibly driving Roy Choi to change things up.  A-Frame made the recent change from "modern picnic" to "modern Hawaiian picnic."  The menu feels like they took some of the old menu items and reinvented it with a Hawaiian twist.  So of course I had to call up my Hawaiian buddy, Luau Bear, to get the low down on A-Frame's Hawaiian authenticity.  The other bears joined in of course, Panda Bear, Mani Bear, Buff Bear, and Farm Bear.

Big John Chili Rice Cakes beef chili, crispy korean rice cakes, white cheddar, sour cream, chive, pineapple
I don't remember there being chili on the previous menu, but this looked interesting enough.  It was pretty heavy between the hearty chili and the chewy rice cakes.  The cheese and sour cream didn't help offset the big load here.  It was tasty, but maybe had too much going on.

Poke Sampler
Shrimp, citrus, blood orange
Tuna, wasabi mayo, cucumbers, edamame
The tuna with wasabi mayo was also heavy and needed some restraint.  I'm not a fan of overly mayo-ed foods.  We all preferred the citrusy and lighter shrimp poke.

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Sunday, March 22, 2015


Oishi Nazi, who I dined with at my first visit to Totoraku, is the brain child behind Kinjiro, Little Tokyo's newest izakaya restaurant.  He actually operated b.o.s., the restaurant which previously occupied the same space.  b.o.s. had some amazing food, but it didn't quite get the following it deserved.  So Oishi Nazi, being the passionate and ambitious restauranteur that he is, is back at it again with this new concept, a slightly higher end izakaya.  At first, I was reluctant about Kinjiro because the whole point of izakaya is small eats, grilled things, a mish mosh of stuff to be enjoyed over beer.  So the idea of paying more for food that's meant to be casual and inexpensive did not seem appealing.  Smooth Obturator and Triple T went and gave it their seal of approval, so I figured I needed to give it a shot. 

Kinjiro Agedashi Homemade Tofu mushroom ankake sauce
Triple T talked up this dish saying it was as good as the agedashi tofu at Raku.  It didn't quite hit the mark, but it was still pretty tasty.  I wasn't used to the thickness of the ankake sauce, but it brought a delicious umaminess.

Kinjiro Free Range Chicken Maki-Age
I had a similar dish at Raku, but I think they did a better job here, though I can't pinpoint the reasons. It was just very juicy.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

North Left

Orange County is hurting for quality food that is NOT Asian and not part of a chain.  Food in OC can sometimes lack the imagination and quality that LA restaurants demonstrate.  There are exceptions of course, The Playground being my ultimate favorite spot in OC.  Maybe it's no coincidence that North Left is just a block away from The Playground.  I don't think the places are related, but the food they are churning out here is quite reminiscent of The Playground.  It is seasonal, interesting, and imaginative.  Is it the MOST interesting and imaginative food I've eaten or in OC?  Probably not, but I applaud what they are doing here.  Rock Dweller, Can't Hang, Fishing Zebra Man, and Banh Mi were down to check out this relatively new establishment to hit the Downtown Santa Ana dining scene.

Brussel Sprouts san joaquin gold, hazelnut
For once, these little guys weren't fried!  I think I might try sauteeing them in butter like they were prepared here.  The pile of white stuff is cheese, which added a sharp savory note.  Nuts and raisins added nice texture and sweetness.  Yum.

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Phil's BBQ

Phil's BBQ had been on our minds all weekend, considering it was sandwiched just minutes between our hotel and the tennis center.  We were half serious about going here after our dinner at Buona Forchetta to maximize our eating experience with the short time we had in San Diego.  Fortunately, sensibility trumped gluttony and we instead drank beers, got some take out Mexican, and ate Haagen Dazs ice cream bars (finally got my ice cream fix!) in our PJs back at the hotel.  Ooook maybe we were still being gluttons.  Frankly, I had never heard of Phil's which is odd considering it has over 8,000 reviews on Yelp!  It's probably not a place that has popped up on my radar considering I don't do finger-lickin' good foods like ribs.  Please contain your bug eyes, dear readers.  BBQ just does not contribute to the high fiber diet my body requires if-ya-know-what-I-meeeeeeaaan.

We finally had our chance to grub after our grueling matches in the morning where I pulled my quad and my groin.  But it was all worth it to be able to call ourselves SECtional champions!  Our slanty eyes beamed with delightful triumph as we claimed our victory cups (literally cups for drinking, not like a trophy cup...*womp womp*), while our Amazonian opponents trudged home as losers.  It was 3pm by the time we called it a day.  I figured the line at Phil's would have died down by that odd hour, but Potty Pie and Personal Assistant begged to differ.  Holy smokes, they weren't lying!  It was at least a 45 minute line.  WTF man, it's just ribs!  LUCKILY Potty Pie had the inside scoop and knew a way to bypass that line.  I'm sworn to secrecy, but we were so damn happy to not have to wait in that line.  It was already bad enough we were eating lunch at 3pm, but make it 4pm and we woulda had some hangry birds going cuckoo again...

Beefy Rib 
Sweet Baked Beans
While I usually like to save the best for last, I'm too lazy to change the order of the pictures at this time.  So I'll start with a big YUM-O!  I think the baby back ribs are the crowd favorite, but damn, I was all for the beef ribs, which were so meaty, moist, fatty, tender.  The most I could do was 1 1/2 ribs, but I think Personal Assistant threw down at least 2 if not 3.  Antisocial Background Guy couldn't muster up the strength to conquer as many ribs.  What a disappointment.  The baked beans were just meh.

BBQ Chicken
Ping Pong doesn't eat beef or pork, so it was this sad little chicken for her.  Frankly, I'm not even certain Phil's is really her cup of tea, food or scene-wise.  She was a happy camper nonetheless, probably still high off our victory.  She was the one who pointed out to me our opponents were just men in skirts.  As a girl, it always feels good to kick a guy's ass!

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Buona Forchetta

So most of the random followers of this blog who don't actually know me, might be surprised to know that I'm not actually 300lbs.  I just eat like someone who is 300lbs.  I keep off the couple extra pounds by playing a lot of tennis.  I don't mean the recreational crap the housewives at the country club play.  I've played tennis since I was kid, took a huge break during my time severely overworked and underfed, and now am back at it recreationally competitive.  I went to San Diego to play tennis with my ladies doubles league.  After our first day of play where we swept, beating all the tall ass Amazonian chicks (some could possibly have been men in skirts with long hair), we happily celebrated with dinner at Buona Forchetta.

Mama Cracks-that-Whip said to make reservations for TWENTY-SIX people.  You should have seen the horror on my face *insert horrified emoji here.*  My personal preference for group dinners is no more than 6 diners.  So I pretty much tried to find a place 1) that took reservations that large and 2) served simple but delicious food.  It's hard to go wrong with Italian and Buona Forchetta happily accommodated the large group even at the very last minute.  Usually they don't even take reservations.  You should have seen the beehive of hungry patrons swarming outside this place for a table.

I didn't even want to think about the nightmare of splitting the bill among 26 people at the end of the meal, so I just focused on the 5 people sitting around me: Personal Assistant, Potty Pie, Pink LuLu, JoJo, and Shorty Mak Daddy.  We ordered and shared a bunch of things.  While Buona Forchetta is actually known for its pizzas, there were only 2 pizzas ordered among the 26 that night.  Nobody cared to carbo load for our match the next morning.  There's not a lot of running in doubles I guess.

The appetizers came out in like a second compared to our entrees.  Not overbattered, not too chewy, just right.

Seafood Risotto
This was the best dish of the night.  Runny enough with each rice granule al dente.  Seafood was plenty.  Mama Cracks-that-Whip made it pretty clear this was her favorite dish.  My ding would be that it was a tad underseasoned.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sushi Ota

I have heard about Sushi Ota for a long time.  I have always had the sense it was THE sushi place in San Diego.  I couldn't tell you what that is based on or where I got that notion from.  In any case, when I finally made my way down to San Diego for a tennis tournament of sorts I wanted to be sure to hit up this spot.  Lucky for me, Token Bear and Care Bear call San Diego their home so they gladly joined me here even though they've dined here before.  Unlucky for me, there were no reservations for the bar.  I was pretty disappointed, but I still wanted to take my chances and see what quality sushi could be had at the tables. 


Spicy Tuna Roll
I rarely eat rolls these days when I sushi it up, so it's actually nice to eat them.

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Sunday, March 1, 2015


Before Little Sister and Dia de Campo, there was Abigaile.  I'm not sure why it took me so long to try out this place since I jumped on Little Sister and Dia de Campo straight out of the gate.  Biker-holic (formerly known as Audio Monkey) and Manicure Queen brunched it up with me at this really cool spot in Hermosa Beach.  Unlike Little Sister and Dia de Campo which are Asian and Mexican inspired respectively, the food at Abigaile is "New American."  This is when the non-foodies contort their face to a puzzled and/or blank expression.  Their website describes it as "globally-influenced + domestically-sourced."  Fancy schmancy verbiage for food that reflects the multi-ethnic fabric of today's America.  No more meat, potatoes, with a side of steamed veggies here.  If you still haven't wiped that dumb look off your face, you can keep reading.

First of all the restaurant is beautiful, with a lovely westward view toward the beach.  It's not quite on the beach, and there are some houses and a bunch of palm trees in the way, but it sets a cool beachy ambiance.  Unlike Little Sister, the digs here are spacious.  Brunch was not crowded at all, unlike my recent experience at Canele.  The menu has good variety, and they also had a "dim sum" menu.  Is it just me, or are there more and more American restaurants with "dim sum" style dining?  We didn't partake in anything off the "dim sum" menu, but it's a neat concept to say the least.  

Pao de Queijo brazillian 'chewy n gooey' cheezy poofs, whipped bacon maple butter
We was starvin' so we got some little munchies to share.  These weren't the best pao de queijo I've had, but they were fine.  The best part really was that bacon butter, smokey, sweet, and pure fat.  The pao didn't really need this to accent it, but I slathered it on anyways.  How else was I going to get it in my mouth?  It would have been so tacky to just stick my spoon in their and go at it don't you think?

Tots rooster ketchup
In retrospect, this was not the most interesting order.  While frickin' delicious as all tater tots are, it was no different that the tots from my elementary school cafeteria.  We still loved them though.  Not sure what was so "roostery" with that ketchup.

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