Monthly Archives: February 2010

Rob Eshman’s Bashing of the LA Food Scene

Rob Eshman, “Foodaism” food blogger from the Jewish Journal, says “It is not a great food city. It is an almost-very good one.” This remark in his recent article is answer to Saveur’s #127th  LA issue featuring the best of LA. Although the famous magazine showcased the most interesting, popular, and hungered for cuisines of LA, it seemed that to convince Eshman would be a feat impossible to achieve. Let us deviate from the usual food reviews and delve deeper into this interesting premise.

First let’s see what Saveur prides as LA at its best. A few of these places are: Pizzeria Mozza (a collaboration between Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali, and Joseph Bastianich) that Eshman describes as an “idea of the ideal”, Koreatown as described by LA Weekly, Gourmet Magazine, and Pulitzer winner Jonathan Gold, Thai town in the eyes of Saveur editor James Oseland, Wolfgang Puck as the “King of LA”, Little Saigon and its exotic offerings, San Gabriel Valley and its many unknown locations for amazing Asian food (happy to say my personal favorite, Savoy was featured, but Din Tai Fung was unnoticed), deli giants Langer’s, Nate ‘n Al’s, Canter’s, and many more places most of us die hard foodies cannot live without.

But even when most of us know how these places and many more satisfy our most discerning palates, the critic in everyone will always have something to say-good or bad. That is the very reason why Eshman’s article tickled the very critic inside me. Is it really true? Are we jaded by the glitz and glamour that we are blind to the many deficiencies of the LA food scene? Are we so into the fads and hypes that we have forgotten the essence of food? Here are Eshman’s 10 reasons why Saveur is wrong about LA, and my 2-cents with it.

1. “Restaurants close too early”. Oh My! What time do people really eat then? There are always places anywhere in LA that will serve you good food with a smile 24hours a day/7 days a week if you suddenly wake up at 4am craving for anything from the usual grease to a salad.

2. “Much of LA is a food desert”. To a point, yes. But only because some of the better places are not necessarily within the reach of everyone. Think-my preference may not be within my geographical location.

3. “Angelenos eat to live. They don’t live to eat”. But isn’t it true for everything else in life? We work to live within our means, not live to work. We keep healthy to live longer, not live longer so we can eat healthy. Besides it’s better to curb our eating habits, what with the recession and all.

4. “Supermarkets and cars ganged up to strangle LA’s food culture”. Driving doesn’t seem that bad when we need to get what we really want, believe me, people will go anywhere for anything they desire. Besides that I agree, Trader Joe’s is a gift to LA.

5. “The Coffee culture is below average”. Depends where you get your coffee, because mine is as strong as it gets, and the culture is as burgeoning and even better than any city I know, and NO, I do not mean Starbucks. It’s more like Insomnia, the Sunset row, etc.

6. “Driving makes for a mediocre bar scene”. I agree about our public transportation, but do not agree with the mediocre bar scene. And I am an expert on this “bar scene”. Take a cab, Yellowcab- (800)200-0063.

7. “There are too few outdoor dining options”.  I agree.

8. “We have the best beaches and the best weather, and some of the worst beachside dining in the world”. Except for Santa Monica Pier and it’s gastro hubs, I agree.

9. “No one comes to LA for the food”. But who does anyway? If you want to go anywhere else beyond your square footage, do you not come for the attraction, and the food comes secondary?

10. “The fresh, local food scene has not permeated beyond the precious”. I agree to a point, the market has not been proven to be supportive of this cause, therefore not many entrepreneurs pursue this route.

LA is such a colossal mecca of gastronomy that it is impossible to know and feature all of its best, and that makes it also easy to feature its mediocre and its worst. I may sound a little biased because I am in love with my LA, but it is but a fact. To have so much places and so little time to scour and devour everything in LA, one is sure to miss the best dishes while assuming what is on the plate is already the ripest of the crop. I am not one to battle against Eshman as his tongue is different from mine, his experience may be more extensive than mine, and his palate may have tasted more of LA than mine. But I say before we judge, let us completely and with abandon explore LA as far and wide as possible. Because, as it is true for any city, the best may sometimes be stuck in the hole in the wall, obscure, unassuming locations. LA will need more improvement as it is not perfect, and I will never claim it to be. But I know it is a great, diverse, and delicious melting pot that can satisfy any hunger, even the loudest, and harshest of critics.



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Pampa’s Grill, Farmer’s Market

(I had to put this in my blog. One of my favorite examiner articles so far-maybe because I love me Pampa’s.)

Nothing is more enticing than the smell of grilled meat. It is the ambrosia that turns heads, tilts noses up, and puts people in a complete stand still. Experience the aroma that spells meat at Pampa’s Grill at the Farmer’s Market and leave your taste buds completely tickled fancy.

Beware of the line, it will be your first obstacle. Know your hours, dinner is the worst so come prepared. Bring your most talkative friend or fully charged phones with your Facebook app in place.

What to pick? The dilemma that is choices is the next hurdle to overcome. As you take your to-go “plate” (as it is likely to not finish, better avoid the hassle and be ready to take it home) and move along, the onslaught of picks might overwhelm you as this is paid by poundage ($8.95/lb). You wouldn’t want to go heavy on the sides as the meat weighs much more but you also wouldn’t want to miss out on the entrancing colors and tastes that lay before you. The garlic rice is a must carb pairing for the salty proteins, the collard greens are garlicky, the chicken stroganoff is unremarkable but a popular choice, the eggplant salad is a refreshing side to the savory, and the Pao de Queijo (cheese bread) is a personal favorite and is always stocked to the top of the plate.

But these are only reminiscence compared to what is the ultimate comfort food here, meat-Brazilian style. Spinning all day on a rotisserie grill, their choices rival the best tailgates and backyards anywhere. And so here comes the next predicament, the meat. You may be forced to try them all, but what with the weight limiting you then pick the ones you think you’ll enjoy the most and move on. Out of the many choices of protein the Picanha (sirloin cap) is the most popular, the Carneiro (lamb leg) is highly recommended as it is both flavorful and tender, the garlic chicken and beef are personal favorites and both salty, garlicky addicting, and the Brazilian sausage is slightly spicy, well-seasoned,and a must-try.

As you hit the end, pick either their Goya coconut water or a Guarana drink to complete the experience. But coming here comes with another warning. You may think that you haven’t put enough on your plate to compare to a sit-down restaurant. This can get pricey, even though it is super fast food. And no, it’s not the plate or the container.

With the many halts Pampa’s brings to the dining table, it is hard to give them a perfect score. The crowd that forms at the blink of an eye, the wait made by fellow confused diners, the price that better suits a restaurant, and the impasse at the line of wondrous food make one wonder if it’s worth it to try. But the many upsides make it then all the more difficult to decide to go or not. Taste over lines? Meat over prices? Comfort over choices? If the craving hits then live a little. Go meat and meatlovers unite.

Pampa’s Grill is at the Farmer’s Market at 6333 W 3rd St LA, T: (323)931-1928. They accept major credit cards.

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Filed under BBQ, Beef, Brazilian Food, Bread, Chicken, Drinks, Lamb, Pork, Related Article, Sausages

Post-Valentine’s Day

I thought I should just share.

February 13- We had a couple’s massage at Barai and it was really, really good. This is not your usual “Burke-Williams” experience. They swing you around, break your bone, bend your body, pop your joints to your limit. Dinner was at AFloat Sushi in Pasadena. It was good. I mean, the sushi was unspectacular but for the price and the fun of it-it was actually worth it. I had a very nice time.

February 14- We had lunch at my favorite hole-CORAL REEF. We may not have had the best lunch conversation but the food was amazing (and cheap) as usual. His fish with black bean sauce and my pork chops were finger licking good as always. Yummy, indeed.

Reviews to follow. I need to get better pictures.

It just goes to show, you really don’t have to spend a lot to make the most out of the day. Sometimes, simple and cheap is as good (or even better) as elaborate and expensive.

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Filed under Chinese Food, Japanese Food, Occasion, Related Article, Sushi

Pre-Valentine’s Day

I  am looking forward to my Valentine’s day. I hope we do get to enjoy our plan. It might be pushing it tight, Joe has school until 12ish and I have a kid’s birthday party to go to, nevertheless we will make it work. I shall have my fill of Filipino food for lunch and IDK for dinner. Yummy.

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Holes for Valentine’s Day

It’s that time of the year again, when all the commercialism and hype rivals that of the holidays. The men work hard to plan one single day that sets the tone for the rest of the romantic year. The ladies get all dressed up and for the rest of the night provide a smile from ear to ear waiting for each romantic moment to happen. Whether it will or not does not necessarily depend on how much you spend on Valentine’s day. Sometimes something simple, comforting, and facile is enough to ignite the necessities of the night.

If you’re still without plans, here are some places you may want to check out:

-Chic Magnolia’s Downtown boasts of a Valentine’s day 3-course menu with homemade short rib ravioli, chocolate pot du creme, and more. It’s delicious and reasonable at only $30/person and the location is both hip and romantic. Magnolia’s: 825 James M Wood LA, T: (213)362-0880.

Melting Pot offers a love day menu for $65/person. Nothing says romantic more than sharing a pot of fondue together, dipping anything from filet mignon to strawberries and pairing it with good champagne. Melting Pot: 88 W Colorado Pasadena, T: (626)792-1941.

-For something different, check out Silverlake Wine for only $12 for a 3 glass tasting. Pair each glass with cheese and olives, generous portions of bread, freshly made pizzas, and more. Wine and dine with less intimidation and more romance. Silverlake Wine: 2395 Glendale Blvd LA, T: (323)662-9024.

-If you want to impress with elegant Japanese food then Sushi Roku is a must try. The ambiance is stylish and romantic. The food is fresh and unique; buckwheat soba noodles, sake sashimi, Ama Ebi fried head, and sweets like Zen smores. Sushi Roku: 8445 W 3rd St LA, T: (323)655-6767.

-Watch a movie at The Grove’s Pacific Theater and head out to the Farmer’s Market after for a less expensive, simple but exquisite comfort food. Farmer’s Market houses Pampa’s for juicy Brazilian meats and yummy sides, Moishe’s for good Mediterranean food, The French Crepe Company for amazing desserts, 326 bar for rare beers, Mr. Marcel Pain Vin Et Fromage for their famous coq au vin, and dozens more of different cuisines for different palates. You can even pick your own wine from World Market, bring it to the tables, and pair it with your dinner. The Grove and Farmer’s Market: 3rd St LA (click on the link for more information).

-Dine at Anarkali Indian Restaurant for their famous Indian food. Hearty, delicious comfort food at $49.95 per couple only on Valentine’s day. Sit down, relax, and enjoy an 8-course meal that includes a bottle of wine or Indian beer. Anarkali’s: 7013 Melrose Ave LA, T: (323)934-6488.

-Pie is a comfort food that’s not only meant for the holidays. If you’re cooking on Valentine’s day, serve some comfort sweets from Marie Callender’s. Each tin is only $6.99 and comes in many sexy offerings such as double chocolate cheesecake, razzleberry, and Kahlua cream cheese. Marie Callender’s Grill: 5773 Wilshire Blvd LA, T: (323)937-7952.

Valentine’s day should break neither your back nor the bank. It’s the day to focus on each other and not on what you can bring to the table. And also this day was not only made for the couples out there. Spend time with friends and family you love. Plan the day and head to these places. It should be about the comforts that your love brings for each other, whether for your special someone or not. After all, love is universal. It is not the sole property of couples, even on Valentine’s day.

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