Yesterday was not a good day to cook. Plenty to do and so little time. We had cash and while we were driving back home we passed by 2 taco trucks and decided to go to Rambos. Yes, we passed two (Leo’s and a new one) but Rambos will always be a personal favorite. It seems that Rambos brought many weird, painful, embarrassing, and drunken memories. But tonight was just dinner.
I love their cabeza (beef cheeks) so I went ahead with my cabeza torta (sandwich), carne asada and lengua (cow tongue) taco. We also ordered a BRC (bean, rice, and cheese burrito) with plenty of hot sauce plus a cheese quesadilla. The smell of grilled meat filled the car as we drove excitedly back to the house. I was a happy little kid. My beef cheek sandwich was a heart attack waiting to happen. It was soft, tender pieces of chopped meat that melts in your mouth with just the right amount of salsa verde dripping down the slightly grilled, oily bread. I was ready for some serious licking. My lengua taco was just okay with some salsa roja, this time it was slightly chewy, not like I am used to. The carne asada was a little salty for me but the salsa did cut some of that taste. The quesadilla was really good. Laid on a bed of lettuce, it was warm and gooey inside, and the tortilla was perfectly cooked. Ugh, I would’ve been satisfied with that alone. Sadly, I was too full to try the BRC but by the sound of it, it was promisingly good. I will have totake my friend’s word for it as another morsel would have pushed me to burst in the seams. Ayayayayay Rambo’s.
If you hate waiting an hour for a taco at Kogi’s or Leo’s is not as spicy as you hope it to be, try Rambos. They have not failed me so far. Quick, cheap, and good and you didn’t have to go to Sunset/Hollywood to get it (ooopppss).
I watched way too many Anthony Bourdain episodes last night. This streaming from Netflix jeopardized all that hard work. Any diet is assured of failure post-Bourdain. So a “blogging lunch” was inevitable. I had to keep my sanity before I got to Newport. I was craving. I was hungry. I was salivating. I was told that lunch here was not to be missed. Cheap and good. Two words that entice me endless, bother me continuously, haunt me about a place that only the satisfaction of an experience would suffice.
I entered and was immediately drawn to the tank filled with overweight lobsters calling my name. But my goal today was to prove the validity of this cheap and good premise. The free hot and sour soup came first. FREE…that’s cheap in my book. $5.75 and $6.25 lunch specials. That’s also cheap, considering the recent recession and all; local Chinese food “combo-place” prices inside a very decently designed and appropriately decorated sit-down restaurant. Now to finally taste this GOOD I’ve been hearing about.
Kung pao chicken…it was usual; salty and not even spicy. A taste I would find at any “combo-place” around the corner. Personally, I am not much of a fan of the dish and so the bias has taken over even before I put a spoonful inside my mouth. Salt and pepper fried pork chops, now we’re getting somewheret. Crispy outside with a very tender pork inside. It was breaded ever so lightly and served with salt and pepper on the side for dipping or to pour on top of the whole plate. I can almost see the calories but with complete disregard I forged on bite by bite. But since I am a porkaholic it’s not hard to make a believer out of me. Fish and clams with basil and garlic; both the fish and clams were tender and swimming in a savory, garlicky basil sauce that marries well with either protein. Without the pork chops, I would have been satisfied with a plate of either the fish or clam.
Broccoli with oyster sauce. I know it’s a very typical Chinese dish you can get at Panda Express but I was not the only one ordering at the table. Panda Express is walking distance from my house. If time comes when I would be in dire need of this dish, I would burn calories and would rather walk there and get my fix. Pea sprouts, people said it was good. I say it was pea sprouts. Shrimp fried rice filled with enough shrimp to make it a full meal, which was surprising. I mean, don’t you get tired of ordering this dish and get two or three pieces of shrimp? Shrimp and scrambled eggs, simple, I know i could have easily made this dish at home but something about Newport’s that just made me sigh. Maybe because it was FULL of sweet, perfectly cooked shrimp. Plump and succulent. Ugh, I’m a sucker for excess.
BOBA, they give you a separate menu for this and it comes in a to-go bag. It may have come from another location but when it comes to boba I usually don’t care. I got the durian and it was interesting. Nothing against Newport but my choice of fruit was not exactly the most edible. It tasted like sweetened onions with a very indescribable aftertaste. Go figure me.
I therefore conclude that I have found this place CHEAP and GOOD. For the money you would pay for lunch, this place is indeed an excellent location to satisfy the stomachs of many foodies. Food is good as we did not ask for any to-go boxes even though the portions were considerably larger than the usual lunch plates. The place has either comfy diner booths or large tables that can accommodate a family of many, and all male employees that provide fast and friendly service. I would go back again but maybe only for lunch. I heard the place gets packed for dinner and the prices are double so it may not be worth the drive (especially with Mayflower and Coral Reef around the corner).
So if you’re looking for an Anthony Bourdain moment filled with witty retorts and charming remarks then Newport is not your muse. At least, it was not mine. On to the next No Reservations conquest.
Organic living correlates with healthy living. Supposedly “health is wealth”. Blue Hen prides itself of eating and drinking organic, so try it out if you must for organic food that is hopefully healthy because it will not leave you wealthy after you walk out the door.
This place is Zagat and Citysearch recognized, amongst many others. But with the coming paragraphs, it makes me doubt myself as to what I did a couple of hours before i tread to this Vietnamese place. Was this karma, I asked. Its menu is somewhat authentic and fairly small, but considerably larger than most Vietnamese places. There are additional specials on the wall, next to the many 8.5 X 11 customer artwork.
The imperial rolls ($6.75) were stuffed with chicken (or tofu) and were fried crispy, not too oily as they may tend to. But they were the highlight of the meal. The hand-cut turmeric fries ($4.75) were a mix of soggy and oily russet and Japanese sweet potato, served with diluted fish sauce dip and organic ketchup. The vegetable Vietnamese crepe ($8.95) with tofu was the special of the day. It was filled with fillers; more bean sprouts and carrots, not enough tofu. They all came disassembled on a plate, too much work for something unremarkable. The caramelized ginger and organic chicken and tofu ($9.50) was served with brown (or jasmine) rice and market greens, which at that time happened to be Chinese broccoli. The caramelized ginger was misleading as it did not exist on this dish, maybe it was the “aromatic broth” that tasted more like concentrated fish sauce. It was too salty, failing anything else on the dish to come through. The warm organic banana pudding, although ordinary, was a welcomed taste after the salty onslaught.
Maybe it was my fault to not have their Pho, after all this is a Vietnamese place. But LA does have a lot more really good Pho places and lesser organic Vietnamese restaurants. The better choice might have been to try the soup regardless, but too late now. And their prices question sustainable offerings if one needs to save up for a bruising kidney after. Sad to have such a frowning experience in a promising location. But Blue Hen did make the rest of my day blue.