Friday, August 31, 2012

Torrance: Fried food feasting at Kushiage Dining Horon

Found a little gem in Torrance!

Kushiage Dining Horon is a restaurant that Calvin and I have wanted to try for the longest time because it is a restaurant that specializes in fried food!  More specifically, fried skewers.  Kushiage is like yakitori, except that it is all fried instead of grilled.  The great thing is that most skewers here are only $1, so we just marked off whatever we wanted.  Not the healthiest thing but meh, feasting time!

Kushiage Dining Horon
2143 W 182nd St
Torrance, CA 90504

Izakaya menu.  We ordered a few things off this menu too.

Of course, beer + fried food is one of the best combo ever.  In this case, Asahi and fried skewers!  Also, from this picture you can sorta tell that it is a small restaurant.  We sat at the end of the restaurant.

Sunomono.  Cabbage not cured for that long, so it's quite crunchy and refreshing!

tonkotsu ramen
First item that arrived was the Tokotsu Ramen.  Very thick, rich, flavorful, oily ramen broth.  Chasu is very good too!  They also use straight noodles, but I do prefer chijire men more because the wavy noodles allows the broth to stick on easier.  Seems like during lunch, the place is a ramen bar.  Need to come here.

Two types of sauce: honey mustard and worcestershire-based.  The worcestershire-based sauce is pretty much a lighter version of tonkatsu sauce.

Different types of salt to try with the kushiage: curry salt, saffron salt, and Himalayan pink salt.  I used the pink salt much more versus the others.

first arrivals
Skewers arrive!  Scallops, salmon, quail.

Scallop with herb butter.  Fresh scallop fried with butter!

salmon with roe
Salmon with salmon roe.  Thin piece of salmon.  Too bad I got a piece without much roe :P

soy infused quail egg
A look inside at the soy-marinated quail eggs.  I love quail eggs so I liked this a lot.  Couldn't really taste the marinade though.  Very good with the honey mustard sauce.

sizzling pork jowl
Before the rest of our skewers arrived, our Sizzling Pork Jowl came!  Pork jowl is actually a really delicious cut of pork since there's tendon throughout the jowl so it gives it a nice bite, but tender at the same time.  The soy dressing was really good and filled the whole restaurant with the smell.

2nd set
Sausages, pork belly, chicken meatball.

Black pork sausages.  A bit salty, but you get a great pop when you bite into the sausage!

pork belly with welsh onions
Pork belly with Welsh onions.  Super soft pork belly!

chicken meatballs
Usually in yakitori places, chicken meatballs are grilled and comes in all sort of shapes and sizes.  Here, it is in a corn dog shape, then fried.

Inside.  Awesome with all sauces and salt.

3rd set
More fried goodness!

curry bread & mochi cheese
Curry-filled bread and fried mochi with cheese.  The curry bread is essentially a small piece of toast, folded in half with some curry.


Fron to back: chicken meatball stuffed shiitake mushroom, enoki mushrooms bacon wrap, garlic trio, and eggplant with miso.  Didn't try the eggplant since I don't like eggplant... but...

Chicken Meat Ball Stuffed Shiitake Mushroom
...  enoki mushrooms bacon wrap was awesome.  Bacon-wrapped anything is good, let alone fried haha.  On top of the shiitake mushroom, is a piece of the garlic trio.  Pretty much just fried garlic.  I liked it since I like garlic but it might be a little too boring for some.

japanese spring roll
Japanese Spring Rolls, with snapper, pickled radish & carrots, Japanese yam, and cabbage.  Forgot what the sauce was... but this was the most forgettable dish though :P 

last set
So after the spring rolls, we wanted more, and instead of ordering from the $1 section, we decided to splurge a bit.  Some of these are around $2.50 per skewer.

soft shell crab
Alice's soft shell crab with tartar sauce.  Sorry for the blurry pic.  I didn't take that good of a picture cause I was too excited to eat what I ordered haha.

Calvin's giant shrimp.

shrimp head
He gave me the shrimp head.  Yummy brains.

Soy marinated tuna.  Tuna is still best raw or rare.  It was a bit tough after it was fried.  The marinade was really tasty though.

My creamy crab croquette.  Could be without the mayo sauce on the top.

Ended our meal with some shishito peppers with ponzu sauce.  I like how they add bonito flakes.

Even though it was $1 for most of the skewers, we ended up spending $30 each... Quite expensive but it was a great experience and we had a lot of fun trying out all the different items!  Probably will have to be awhile before I come back.  My heart is probably hating me right now.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

West LA: Blockheads & Kogi

I bought these Google Offer to Kogi, the food truck, a few months ago, and never got a chance to use it.  Finally made up my mind to head out to Sawtelle, since the Rosita truck was actually gonna be there around 10pm.  Convinced Leonard to go with me so we went after work and ball!

We got there a bit early though so we decided to grab some dessert first at Blockheads!

Blockheads Shavery
11311 Mississippi Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90025

Black sesame + red bean + rice cakes!

black sesame
Black sesame is probably my favorite flavor at Blockheads.  It tastes just like the black sesame rice cakes!

red bean & rice cake
Red bean is not too sweet and not too mushy.  Perfect with the nutty black sesame.

green tea
Leonard's green tea + red bean + walnut

After we finished, the truck did arrive with a long line... but dinner time!

Kogi BBQ
All over LA

kogi truck
The truck.  Too bad this is their "catering truck" and the guy handling the money was not "trained" to take Google Offers.  Psh... still ordered though.

My Blackjack Quesedilla and 2 tacos!

blackjack quesedilla
Seriously my favorite item on Kogi's menu!  Love the salsa verde with the spicy pork.

short rib & spicy pork tacos
My short rib & spicy pork tacos.  Spicy pork is still my favorite out of the two haha.

sweet chili chicken quesedilla
Leonard's Sweet Chili Chicken Quesedilla.  The sweet chili sauce is usually on the calamari tacos but it is used on the chicken quesedilla here.  Kogi's actually taking this off the menu soon.

calamari taco
Calamari taco with the sweet chili sauce.  Another causality of the menu change that will be coming soon.  (Sorry for the blurry pic... hand was all messy from the tacos :P)

Been awhile since I've had Kogi and the tacos are still very tasty.  The Blackjack Quesedilla was a bit mushier than what I remembered or maybe it was because I didn't eat it fast enough?  Glad to try the two items that will be off the menu soon too, but I can see why they are taking it off.  The sweet chili sauce is good but not good enough to want to make me order them over other items.

Since I still didn't use my Google Offer for Kogi, time to hunt down the truck once again!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Pasadena: Trattoria Neapolis

Trattoria Neapolis is good.

I can only remember a few times when I dine somewhere and I loved it so much that I go home and still think about it, let alone a restaurant that just recently opened.  Trattoria Neapolis is a new Italian restaurant that just opened recently, but even though it is the new kid on the block, the place was packed on a Saturday night.  At first I was a little hesistant trying Trattoria Neapolis because it is just so new, and generally new restaurants still have a lot of kinks to work out, but the packed crowd was a good sign!  Luckily we only had to wait for about 15 minutes before we were seated.

Oh and because I didn't really think I was gonna like this place as much as I did, I didn't even bother bringing my camera, which was a huge fail... so all my pictures were taken with the phone!

Trattoria Neapolis
336 S Lake Ave
Pasadena, CA 91101

trattoria neapolis
Trattoria Neapolis.  So new that lunch service and happy hour didn't even start yet.  They will also have beer & wine tasting.

drinks beers
Beer & cocktails list.  I like how they feature local microbrews for their draft beers.  Lots of specialty cocktails done by professional mixologists too.  I can see people just coming here for the drinks at the bar.

pizza pasta
Part of the food menu.  Pizza & housemade pastas!

Campanula Sour
Diana started off with a Campanula Sour, which is Finlandia Grapefruit Vodka, St Germain, Fresh Lemon Juice, Fresh Mint, and a piece of Red Bell Pepper.  Very refreshing and unique.  I had the Blond 5 by Brouwerij West, which is a local brewery that specializes in Belgian style nomadic craft and is based out of Palos Verdes, my hometown!  HAH how cool is that!  I didn't take a picture though cause it was served in a pint... so it looked like any other beer :P
Salumi, which several more unique ones than their typical meat plate.

prosciutto san danielle
Rather than the usual Prosciutto di Parma, they serve Prosciutto San Danielle instead!  Prosciutto San Danielle tastes sweeter to me and I actually prefer it.

fried gnocchi
Beer battered gnocchi. Crispy, salty, crunchy.  Who can resist fried dough?

From the top: Salami,  Bresaola (?), and Capicola.  Salami had a nice peppery note, and Capicola is always good.  The Bresaola was the most interesting because it is actually beef and I've never had beef charcuterie before.

housemade headcheese
They also make their own headcheese, sitting next to some preserved fruits.  Headcheese is essentially a "meat jelly" and if you never had headcheese, you are missing out :P  Generally it is made with all the animal parts people do not it.  Don't know how they made theirs but it is good!

porchetta pizza
Porchetta pizza.  It is seriously a pork lover's dream. It's topped with smoked pork shoulder, Taleggio, caramelized onions, pancetta, cracklings, and sage. The smoked pork shoulder is smoky and goes really well with the Taleggio. Caramelized onions add a bit of sweetness and the cracklings changes up the texture of the pizza. They actually imported a 7000 lbs wood burning from Italy and you can taste the result from the charred parts on their great crust!

Vongole.  Hand cut linguini, manila clams, pancetta, jalapeno, and a garlic white wine sauce. All pastas are made in house and you can definitely tell.  The texture is amazing thanks to the hand cut linguini!

I think the food at Trattoria Neapolis is more rustic Italian, and I definitely did not think I would like it as much as I did.  Next time, I'm bringing the DSLR for sure.  Props to Neapolis for getting it right during the 1st week of their opening!