Monday, September 19, 2011

Torrance: Capricciosa Finally Opens!

There's always been a huge demand for Japanese Italian around the South Bay so it's not surprised that Capricciosa decided to open the first US branch in Torrance, where there is a good sizeable Japanese population and where Japanese Italian is widely accepted.

Capricciosa is a huge restaurant chain from Japan, with several locations worldwide. Essentially it is an Italian restaurant with the flavors and dishes tweaked a little to suit the Japanese palate while trying to stay true to Italian cuisine. Nothing is too heavy and all the pastas focuses on more of the ingredients. There's no fusion like bonito flakes or uni as part of a pasta dish.

Took us awhile to find the place though since it shares a restaurant space with Tony Roma's. A little odd, yes, but there's actually a good amount of seating. Just this past weekend was their soft opening but they had most of their menu ready when we were there.

24301 Crenshaw Blvd
Torrance, CA 90505

Entrance to the restaurant! I was definitely very excited to try it out :P

Nice and elegant decor throughout the restaurant. It does get a bit loud near the back, where it is closer to Tony Roma's.

Since 1978!

menu 2 menu 2
Menu (click to enlarge).

Complimentary bread.

strawberry lemonade
Strawberry lemonade. Meh, nothing special but it looked good haha.

garlic toast
Garlic toasts.

garlic toast
It's rolls spread with garlic butter then toasted. We were expecting more garlic flavor. The only disappointment of the night though!

black squid ink
Choi's Squid Ink Pasta. Calamari, sauteed onions, garlic in a tomato based squid ink sauce. One of the better squid ink pastas I've had in the States! I am not a fan of the squid ink pastas with cream sauce as a base, so I like that they use the tomato based. It's much more true to the Italian roots (Venice).

Vongole. Garlic, clams, and wine. As simple as it gets! It's more like pasta in a clam broth. Definitely drink up that deliciousness. They give you so many clams here as well!

orignal tomato & garlic
Original Tomato & Garlic. This is Capricciosa's signature dish. Great Arrabbiata sauce with sauteed garlic & peppers. Arrabbiata sauce is a classic Roman sauce of garlic, tomatoes, and red chili cooked in olive oil. It is sweet and tangy while the garlic chunks provides a huge punch of flavor. Favorite pasta dish of the night!

spicy seafood linguine
Spicy Seafood Linguine. Clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari in spicy garlic cream sauce. Seafood flavor integrated throughout and even though it is a cream sauce, it's not heavy at all! This is a perfect example of a pasta dish that's more suited for the Japanese palate with the lighter cream-based sauce that allows the seafood to shine through.

chicken & mushroom fettucine alrefredo
Chicken & Mushroom Fettucine Alfredo. Marinated chicken, onions, mushrooms, with creamy alfredo sauce. Marinated chicken is pure awesomeness. Tender but slighly crisped on the outside from being pan cooked. A hearty and earthy pasta dish.

Gotta say, I'm a huge fan of their pastas! Definitely will be coming back to try some of the other items like pizzas, lasagnas, and desserts. Also, with the opening of Capricciosa, South Bay has officially become the land of Japanese Italian! Too many good spots with Spoon House, Akane, Italian Tomato, and Il Chianti.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

San Diego: Fooding Around Hillcrest

This past Labor Day weekend, I headed down to SD for the weekend with a few friends, and my priority was definitely eat eat eat. Now... I haven't been back to SD in over a year or two so there's a lot of places that are new to me, or I just never went. Somehow the two new spots that I checked out this time around were both in Hillcrest and both delicious.

Of course, for the SD peeps, these two spots might not be news to you but cut me some slack, I haven't been back in awhile :P

Bread & Cie
350 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103

bread & cie
Bread & Cie for brunch!

Bread & Cie is a pretty cool bakery. You order your food at the front and while waiting in line, there's all these pastries tempting you.

full menu
Full menu.

croque americaine
Jadson's Croque Americaine, which is essentially a breakfast panini. Egg, crisp bacon, pepper jack cheese,tomato and watercress grilled on Lemon Pugliese Bread. Yea sounds crazy, especially that bread!

I think this was the grapefruit juice... don't remember.

ham & swiss gruyere cheese
Rosa's Ham & Swiss Gruyere Quiche. bread & Cie is also famous for the quiche. Very savory, and served cold. I sorta like quiches hot. Nevertheless, still really rich and the smoked ham is very prominent.

vanilla cupcake
Vanilla cupcake. Not your traditional shape but they also add coconut shavings on the top. Nice touch.

turkey pesto
Diana's Turkey Pesto Panini. Probably my favorite out of all the things I tried. Turkey, sliced tomato with a basil, garlic & pine nut pesto on sourdough. Pesto spread is on both sides so each bite is full of flavor!

close up
Panini perfectly pressed.

pickled cucumber
Also came with a side of pickled cucumber. Reminds me of Chinese cucumbers since it has the red chili flakes haha.

single shot latte
My single shot latte. Did not know it was gonna be this big. Served with an almond cookie as well.

lunch box
So being the fatass that I am, I decided to get the Boxed Lunch. Comes with a panini and a slice of lemon cake. Originally it is for people that wanted a to-go lunch so they can bring it on a picnic or wherever they go. I like the way they package it haha.

In a to-go wrapper since it is a "boxed lunch."

california muffuletta
California Muffuletta Panini. Genoa salami, provolone cheese, roasted red peppers,red onion, tomato, fresh basil, and olive tapenade then drizzled with extra virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar. Wrapped and marinated OVERNIGHT on Italian Ciabatta Bread then pressed. I'm a huge fan of muffuletta so I had to get it. Did not disappoint.

close up
Of course it's not the traditional New Orleans muffuletta but all muffuletta has to have some sort of olive spread and the olive tapenade here is punch full of flavor. Ciabatta as a panini is great cause it has that super crunch crust on the outside.

random croutons
Came with some seasoned breadchips, which is just seasoned croutons.

lemon cake
The slice of lemon cake with my boxed lunch :D

lemon cake
Zesty! Jadson said it reminded him of the lemon cleaners and I can see where he got that from, but man it was tasty HAHA.

I like Bread & Cie a lot! Hillcrest is definitely a lot more hipster now and Bread & Cie fits in perfectly. It's a great casual spot to have breakfast or brunch on a weekend or just grab something quick to go on the weekday.


The next day, we originally wanted to grab brunch at The Mission before we headed back to LA but it was too packed. Then we went to Baja Betty's, for their brunch buffet and unlimited mimosa, and after waiting for an hour, we couldn't stand it anymore and decided to go around the corner to Amarin Thai, which turned out to be one of the best Thai restaurants in SD!

Amarin Thai
3843 Richmond St
San Diego, CA 92103

amarin thai
Amarin Thai in Hillcrest.

thai iced tea
Of course, had to start off with a Thai Iced Tea.

chicken satay
We ordered the Chicken Satay to start. Generally not a big fan of satay since chicken always gets so dry but it's quite moist here. The peanut sauce is pure money (forgot pic).

tom kah
Tom Kah (large) was perfect for sharing. Lots of coconut milk in this one but still zesty from the lime juice. Great starter.

close up
Lots of mushroom and chicken!

mambo mambo chicken
We each ordered a dish but ended up sharing among everybody. I got the Mambo Mambo Chicken which comes with stewed chicken with ripe mango in red curry sauce. I am a huge fan of red curry and with the ripened mango it is both savory & sweet. I got a level 7 for the spiciness and found it to be just right since the coconut milk did cut the heat a little.

massaman beef
Massaman Beef, beef in curry sauce with potato and onions. Seems like a mix of yellow and red curry. Great tender pieces of beef.

spicy noodles
Spicy Noodles. So good. They use quite a bit more of soy sauce here so it has more of that aroma that just makes you salivate. Level 5 was perfect for this dish!

garlic salmon fried rice
Garlic Salmon Fried Rice. I couldn't get enough of this! Awesome garlic flavor through the fried rice with a little bit of lime. We spent awhile wondering how they got so much garlic flavor throughout!

choo-chi duck
Choo-chi Duck, which is roast duck in choo-chi sauce. I don't know what the sauce is but I was pouring it over my rice like a maniac :P

We were extremely full satisfied afterwards but since everything tasted so good, we decided to get a dessert to share and went for the FBI, which is fried bananas egg roll with coconut ice cream. The coconut ice cream itself isn't sweet but they drizzle plenty of honey for sweetness, and as for the fried banana, it is super crispy thanks to the egg roll wrappers.

Apparently this spot gets super packed at night. They even have a few awards from Wine Spectator, most likely for pairing wine with Thai food. They do have quite a few bottles near the front. Definitely impressed. But really, Amarin Thai was probably the best Thai food I've had in a long long time, and that's counting LA and Thai-Town! Good way to end the weekend!

Oh and yea, had to throw in a picture of Phil's BBQ. How can you go to SD and not eat Phil's??? Too bad the lighting was so bad at the patio and my iPhone is horrible haha.

double rainbow
Oh and another random pictures... saw a double rainbow on the way home!!! Youtube video is currently replaying in my head hahaha.