Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Heaven Sent Desserts- North Park

I have been waiting for my friend to send me the pics...hence the delay on this post.  First time visitor to the joint.  Here is their website:  My gripe of course is parking.  Its not a convenient place to try to park nearby as it is literally on the corner of University and 30th...between the pedestrian walk, fire lanes, bus stop and that its a major intersection, parking right in front is buyer beware.  Prices range from about anywhere in the 3 dollar range to 8 dollar range for a single dessert.  Apparently they serve coffee and tea as well but we didnt mess around with liquids...strictly dessert time folks. 

My choice.  It had me at parfait really.  Attractive presentation with the clear hard plastic cases and mint leaf on top.  I was worried that it might be too sweet or too minty but they did not disappoint.  Flavors wrapped around each other seamlessly.  What you cant see is that there are little chunks of white chocolate chips in the brownie layers.  Its like little easter eggs! And it was one of the more reasonable items for the buck too....I shoulda got a second one for later since its probably seasonal. 

My friend's choice.  She took it home with her so I dont know how it tasted.  Love those little silver edible balls as decor though don't you? 

Red Velvet cupcake.  Again, my friend's choice.  Actually her toddler son ate this one in the car while we drove back to our house.  He had no complaints let me assure you.  He ate it in the way all tots do...nose dive into the frosting.  Cute!

The employee was gracious in letting us take pictures and for hemming and hawing at the counter.  I'd go back during a slow traffic day for sure.  xxoo

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Leftys Chicago Pizzeria- North Park

Do you like pizza?  I have to be in the mood for it actually but I'm a fan.  I prefer a thicker crust than thin, heavy on the sauce, easy on the cheese and toppings like sausage, tomatoes, basil, artichoke, blah blah blah.  Always with crushed red peppers.  So a friend of mine told me Lefty's was worth a try so try I did...twice.  This post will have pics from both visits.  For those who havent been, its off 30th near Upas.  Seating is very limited, 2 small tables inside with a few counter seats and 3 outside tables for 4. I am impressed with my seating observations this time... Parking is street parking and varies based on dinner/ bar crowd rush times.  Staff has been super friendly both times in case you care about that kind of stuff.  Their website:  Food next:

Here we go.  We did a deep dish which is 16" in size and did half and half of 2 specialty pies- the Gold Coast and Monster of the Midway.  The Gold Coast is the half with the basil chiffonade over the top and has the following ingredients-grilled chicken, artichoke, sun-dried tomato, basil, elephant garlic. The Monster comes with a spicy mix of peppers and cauliflower which we asked for on the side as we had anticipated a 2 year old to share in the pizza eating.  It is topped with sausage, pepperoni, hot giardiniera, elephant garlic.  Doesnt the picture look scrumptious?  Here is my humble opinion.  Decent pie, although I cant vouch for authenticity as I have never been to Chi town, never lived there, have no pizza making gene in my Korean blood, etc.  There was certainly alot of cheese.  This is either a good or bad depending on how much you love cheese.  I prefer a delicate balance so it was a bit too much for me.  The crust is very dense.  It wasnt airy as I would have liked.  I couldnt eat more than 3/4 a slice, although I didnt think I would eat more than a slice of a deep dish pizza...sad face.  Crusts are my favorite. 

Loaded fries.  Ingredients: sharp cheddar or bleu cheese, bacon, sour cream, scallions.  We got half and half cheese.  The fries are very good but decadent.  They remind me of fat In and Out fries...YUM.  The cheese is a mix of melted cheese with some sauciness.  Like a mix of shredded cheese and Velveeta.  Portion is pretty big...can easily feed 3 hungry adults as an appetizer or side item. 

Chicago Hot Dog: steamed & served on a poppy seed bun w/ mustard, onion, pickle, relish, sport peppers,

celery salt, tomato & fresh cut fries.  This was my first taste of this acclaimed regional dog.  Average size, could have been larger in my opinion but again, I'm no expert.  It was tasty how everything kind of balanced each other out.  Despite having ingredients that could potentially overwhelm on its own, I enjoyed my bite and found that it actually mixed very well.  Bun was softly steamed and didnt fall apart either. 

Homemade meatball sandwich.  This was the surprise of the 2nd night actually.  Bread was crusty and  nicely toasted.  The meatballs were very tender and had built in spice which broke up the meatiness of the meat.  After all, its meat, bread and sauce only.  The size of the meatballs made it hard to take a bite so I ended up breaking it apart and eating with a fork.  Sandwiches come with fries or if you get the loaded fries they can take 50 cents off your sandwich price instead.  They make a nice marinara btw. 

We also got mozarella cheese sticks.  I didnt include a picture b/c they were basic.  Good but nothing out of the ordinary.  I'd say to save your money for something else on the menu.  I really want to try one of the salads next time.  Really, Im not kidding.  They looked amazing on someone else's table and come in a homey wooden bowl ala my childhood.  Another recommendation.  If its your first time there, start with a slice.  Its very easy to overestimate your hunger and have way too much leftovers.  Well, at least if you buy into such a thing as too much leftovers...xoxo

Monday, March 29, 2010

Island Style Cafe- Tierra Santa

Let me repeat.  There is no good eats near my house.  Especially any asian or island food.  its not like i cant drive 20 or 30 minutes away to go fetch some of my fave asian foods, but dang....sometimes a girl just doesnt want to exert any effort for food.  I had heard about this place from my friend who spent a few years in Hawaii and raved about the authenticity of this place compared to the original Hawaiian eats.  So of course, I made the sojourn to Tierra Santa off the Santo Rd exit on the 52.  The location was relatively easy to find but parking was a bit frustrating.  I didnt eat the food there but the place was cozy and clean.  If you read the website it tells you that they are a family business and that is exactly what you will see when you go there.  Staff was very friendly, especially the female owner.  When am I going to get to the food?!?  Here is their website:

In being the first time here, I ventured in the safe zone and tried their plate lunch special.  This is one of the more popular items I've heard.  It comes with 2 kinds of meat choices (other meat choices arent included in the 2 item price), either rice or potatoes, and macaroni salad.  My meat choices?  Korean chicken and Teriyaki beef.  Overall, all the flavors melded very well.  The potato were seasoned simply and were similar to roasted potatoes for me.  The macaroni salad was awesome...not grossly creamy, pasta cooked to the right softness/ al dente factor, and seemed to have bits of tuna and potato in it too.  At least I think there were potatoes in the macaroni salad although maybe pieces of my potatoes fell into my mac salad?  

A close up of the macaroni salad.  There were bits of carrots in there but it didnt bother me one way or the other.  I usually dont think care for random carrots in most of my foods but I cant recall any negative thoughts on the macaroni salad.  It was overall a very standup salad and went very well to balance out the sweet salty flavors from the meats. 

According to the menu on their website, the Korean Chicken is "a fabulous boneless chicken thigh in Korean marinade".  Im thinking that this is something that tastes much better if eaten in the restaurant.  Flavor was sweet and salty...but texture wasnt very crispy.  Bummer! Again, it may have been a matter of deflating from the steam off the hot food inside of an enclosed food container, but I will admit some disappointment at the texture.  Meat was tender to be sure and well flavored as well. 

Teriyaki Beef.  According to their menu, this was "beef marinated in our soy sauce marinade".  I was hesitant in picking this as my second meat choice since I'm not much of a straight beef kind of girl.  According to the owner, their beef has won a local award for the best tasting Teriyaki Beef recently and so that helped me to make my choice.  Again, seasoning was on point.  But alas, I was disappointed...the meat was very tough to cut up and to eat as well.  The serving was large for the beef (larger than the chicken) but the toughness of the meat made me less excited to eat so much of it.  Thats all I can say about that b/c it brings back my sadness.  Hmph.

Last picture.  This is the potato that comes with plate lunch if you choose over the rice.  I am by no means an expert on island bbq but I cant recall ever being given this option with my plate lunch.  Not that I am complaining as I heart potatoes more than I should.  They appear to be red potatoes with basic seasoning.  I should also mention that they also offer an option to make it more carb free and replace starch with a tossed salad.  

Overall, I would give this place another chance.  It may have been just an off day for them or maybe it was the deterioration of quality due to taking it to go and it sitting in transit for 20 minutes.  Their shaved ice looked delish and the picture of their loco moco (they serve it on a crepe) looks like something hubby would eat.  I would definitely want to try the kalbi as a proper korean girl should on my next visit.  I also would want to try the garlic fried rice! The price is definitely more than I have paid before for island bbq but other people have highly reviewed this place so maybe you pay for the authentic touch.   

Monday, March 8, 2010

San Diego Desserts Part 2- College area

I know that I have recently blogged on this place but today, I tried out their brunch (click here to see my previous post on this place's desserts: San Diego Desserts- visit one.  Again, I will reveal that I do personally know the owner of this bakery but I will still do my best to maintain an objective approach so as not to steer anyone astray.  San Diego Desserts has retail, catering, and commercial baking services as well as newly added dinner, brunch, lunch, happy hour and a small bar inside.  You can apparently use the neighboring parking lot next to the verizon store and its supposed to be ok.  But dont quote me on that since I do not have the slush fund to pay for others' tow fees.  My friend's parents were in town so it was an occasion to go eat and stuff our faces.  They are the cutest people from Ohio I swear.  I love small town people so much....

Here is the brunch menu side one.  They have only about 10 choices for brunch, but you can have dessert first before you have your meal and that ups your options by about 20 more. 

Side two of the menu.  They also had mimosas and a drink menu consisting of different espressos, teas, italian soda, and options to make any of your coffees adult-style. 

This was highly recommended by my co-worker and the waitress as well- the almighty Eggs Benedict.  They bake the french bread on premises and it comes with the potatoes.  The hollandaise was creamy and yummy with a hint of something in the background.  For 8 bucks I believe, a great deal and the portion was enough to make grown man from Ohio who is over 6 ft tall get full.  I did steal a bite of this and was a happy camper.  Potatoes are freshly made but ordinarily seasoned--nicely cooked.  I just hate when you get a hard potato, dont you?  Luckily that didnt happen here....

This was the spinach parmesan quiche that came with fruit.  When it came out, it didnt look very substantial to be honest.  Dont you like the antique-ish dish?  It did come with a mix of fresh fruit e.g. cantaloupe, kiwi, apples, and something else.  I didnt get to try this but it got rave reviews from my friend's mom.  She was also surprised at how filling it turned out to be after her intial glimpse of the dish.  It apparently goes well with mimosas! I think it was 8 bucks. 

Bacon swiss quiche.  Again, I didnt taste this dish either but my friend loved it.  You can see the fruit a little bit in the background.  The crust does look very flaky and the eggs looked creamy and cheesy in person.  I think they do different plates for the eclectic feel.  I have seen similar dishes for brunch elsewhere for at least 4 bucks more...

I got the San Diego egg scramble which had brie cheese, pork sausage, potatoes and mushrooms--it came with their fresh baked soudough bread.  The sausage in the scramble was not like your regular bfast sausage.  It looked more like cured sausages and in more of a tubed shaped...but tasted nice and salty  in a good way.  The brie chunks were big.  The potatoes were the ones seen in the benedict photo.  I thought the eggs were cooked a bit too long but the portion was large.  The bread was soooo good.  Chewy, with crunch.  I could have just had a few slices of the bread with jam and butter and maybe a slice of bacon and been giddy.  Since I had lots of scrambles left over, they were nice enough to give me a few extra slices of the bread for carryout.  Yes! I didnt take a picture of my dish in my excitement...sorry. 

The piece de resistance: Monte Bianco.  Go run and get one.  NOW.  Chocolate and white chocolate mix whipped cream mix with chocolate cake on top and bottom.  Really good fondant topped the entire cake.  Dont get it if you dont want to get another one to go.  I may or may not have gotten two for the road.  Its that good....

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Toro Sushi- Mission Gorge

To tell you guys about this place is my nice deed for the day.  /Sadly, I rarely tell people about this place b/c I dont want to make it get crowded.  HA! Today was a good day which will be another entry, but it motivated me to share my ultimate favorite sushi place with the few of you who honor me with your comments.  Hold onto your chonies and get your sushi eating pants on.  We didnt order as much as we normally would but this is at least a little peekaboo into the place.  Its next to the Souplantation, some pizza joint, fro yo shop, Subway, Thai, Indian, coffee shop all in the same shopping center on Mission Gorge close to Vandevere.  Come to think of it, the entire plaza is almost all eating establishments.  For that reason, parking can get hairy at times-fair warning.  Also Toro itself gets very crowded with locals despite its smallish inside--they dont take phone rsvps (or they didnt use to), so I would go off peak eating out hours aka not at 730 on friday night.  The decor is blah and needs work.  Its kind of like a hole in the wall with big portions and good sushi.  It certainly isnt gourmet sushi but it is reliable, tastes good and wont break the bank.  The wait can be long sometimes from when you order to when you get the food depending on the traffic. 

The menu first page.  It is actually quite an extensive menu with appetizers, bentos, curries, rolls, sashimi, etc.  The portions are generous here, rolls creative, and rarely do we get a not-fresh fish when we come.  Prices are average but you will definitely fill up here.  They also have a happy hour but we have never made it on time for that. 

(Sorry in advance and in repeat for the poor photo quality.  I now have NO actual digi-cam and my smartphone camera does not have flash and is probably just a 1.0 mp quality)  This is yellowtail maki 6 piece.  This is simple and you really get to taste the fish minus sauce, fried somethings, or tons of other ingredients.  It also comes in an 18 piece I believe and is also offered in salmon.  Again, their fish usually is generously cut and always seemed fresh in taste. 

This is the Allen Roll.  I cant remember all of the ingredients and cant seem to find a menu online.  It has spicy tuna outside, wrapped in rice paper.  The inside has surf clams, eels, and some other fish and stuff inside.  I really should have checked for a to-go menu.... The surf clam is a nice touch in this roll.  Not overly chewy.  I could have done with a bit less of the eel sauce but other than that, it was a good choice by hubby.

This is the soft shell crab roll.  Im not always into the fried rolls but this is one exception.  Others might not agree but I enjoy the imo krab toppings that Toro puts on some of their rolls.  It kind of has a sweet taste to it and not over bearing.  It is also cheaper than most of the other specialty rolls and filling. What are you waiting for????

One last picture from another trip.  The Danny roll.  Spicy tuna and crab mixture on top with the spicy aoli.  Wrapped in rice paper I believe.  Inside was some kind of white fish with cucumber and another piece of imo crab.  See the bonita fish shavings?  I love those things.  You better have your grown up panties on cuz this is pretty spicy.  Yum. 

I guess I will leave you with a shot of the inside.  I warned you that it was dive-ish and quite small.  Im in the red/ blk flannel and our table was the last one closest to the cashier.  They have about 6 seats at the sushi bar and maybe 10-12 small tables scattered.  Maybe you can see the photos they have of their customers on the wall?  Its like that kind of place and its family operated. 

Have any of you been here before?  I did check out that four letter word (as Kirk calls it) of a food review website.  Reviews seemed mixed but that doesnt mean anything.  They have been wrong many times over IMO.  You will just have to decide for yourself.  Apparently there are coupons floating out there but I have never got my hands on them before. 

Stay dry

Monday, March 1, 2010

Da Bok Korean Tofu Restaurant- Hacienda Heights

On a family weekend, visiting hubbys family in LA and mine in the IE, we ate lots.  Ate Claim Jumper, 99 ranch fast food, Del Taco, homemade food from the Korean motherland, Krispy Kreme donuts, etc.  Keep in mind its over a 3 day period! After a trip to the ER (long story), I took advantage of being in LA asian-land and had to have some korean tofu stew.  Hubby didnt want anything from Da Bok Tofu Restaurant so there is only one entree being tasted here.  However, if a place has a menu item in its name-sake I would think that trying that one item should be an ok barometer for the rest of their food.  I got the seafood beef tofu stew.  It came with kimchee, fish cakes, seaweed and potatoes for ban-chan (ugh I forgot to take a picture of them).  The banchan for the to-go order was just alright of the mill flavor.  Maybe you get more variety with the eating in orders?

So this is the interior.  Clean, smallish-medium sized inside.  Run by an adorable typical Korean husband and wife pair.  We may have been the first customers of the day judging by the lack of traffic and that it was 1130 in the morning.  The owners reminded me of my parents or their friends so it gave me a warm feeling inside. 

They did seem to have lunch specials that ranged around 13-17 bucks but came with tofu stew and either meat entrees or rice dishes.  The stew was 8.99, normal sized.  I kind of expected it to be a little bit lower in price seeing as the fierce competition in the area (soooo many Korean food places just down the road a bit), but still cheaper than a goumet meal I suppose.  You can see some of the other tofu stew options they offered. 

Again, this is my choice, the seafood beef tofu stew medium spicy.  The broth was tasty.  Perfect spiciness.  The inside vittles could have been more generous as I may have counted 2 clams and 2 shrimps and very little beef even.  Lots of soft tofu.  No egg on the side! I found myself fishing around the stew for more things not in the tofu catgory.  Good flavor but admittedly left me a bit disappointed. 

Had I to do it again, I might splurge for the lunch special combos so that I would at least have substantial leftovers and not feel jipped by the lack of ingredients.  It did meet my sicky sick soup craving as well as my as long as I'm in Hacienda I might as well eat Asian food cravings....