Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Vegan House - Silver Lake


Today was considered one of our more productive Sundays. After a treacherous 4 hour hike up Brand Park with Mustafa, Reza, and Ena, we were starving! 25% of the hike consisted of figuring out where to eat. We concluded with a mom and pop Thai restaurant called, Vegan House. Yes, vegan, why? Because Ena says so. I've only sampled vegan food once (a cupcake from Yummy Cupcakes) and I must say, I was disappointed. So, let's just say I was less than excited about the decision, but I kept an open mind.

A simple, modest sign. Advocating healthy eating. Not much pizazz.

This restaurant is located in the Echo Park/Silverlake area, in a fairly small plaza. As stated before, this is a mom and pop shop, so nothing fancy is expected. The walls and table cloths are a calming honeydew color; the floors are varnished terracotta tiles, very casual (maybe post a picture of the place? it's up to you). With only two other people in the vicinity, one can only conclude that the food isn't all that great. Maybe the odd time we arrived on Sunday had something to do with the lack of customers. 

I wouldn't say the service was slow, but there weren't a lot of servers waiting on people. With only two parties, only one server was needed. She was the sweetest and friendliest server I've ever experienced. We luckily arrived during their "Happy Hour", everything listed is priced at $4.99. SCORE! I always get the Panang, but sadly it wasn't part of the happy hour menu. The challenging part was picking out which soy based meat to accompany the curry goodness. Being the meat loving carnivore that I am, you can understand the lack of enthusiasm coming from my end of the table. In regular Thai restaurants I prefer getting the chicken over beef, but Ena being more experienced, suggested I order mine with the soy pepper steak. 

We ordered our Thai iced teas and french fries first. Reza and Ena highly recommended them, so naturally I expected an explosion of awesomeness in my mouth. As for the Thai iced tea it tasted much like all the other Thai iced teas I've had, but the fries were very nicely cooked. They had just enough crunch and weren't greasy.

There was a bit of a wait, but that's to be expected with freshly cooked food. The orders came in as listed;
French Fries (Ena)
Yellow Curry (Reza)
Spicy eggplant & pumpkin (Ena)
Red curry (Mustafa)
Pad Kee Mao (Reza)
Pad Thai (Mustafa)
Panang (Me)
*All served with brown rice, for all the health conscious eaters.

That's a lot of food, no? Having ordered from the happy hour menu, the guys expected small portions. WRONG! By the time everyone's food came in, there was no table space left. The happy hour portions are the same as the regular, I assume. Our table was overflowing with food. 

I tried a piece of  the soy pepper steak and I expected nothing short of squishy, bland tofu, but this soy meat felt like real meat and dare I say, it even tasted better!  

The Panang was creamy, sweet, and mildly spiced, with green peas, bell peppers, carrots, and basil. SO AWESOME!

Pad Kee Mao with Pepper steak. The noodles were soft and coated with a gravy like sauce. Also pretty sweet and spicy.

The Spicy Eggplant was definitely spicy, but it didn't interfere with the taste of the dish itself. The eggplant still had the firm yet spongy consistency that I love. The pumpkin was cooked to perfection, not much chewing was required. It practically melted in my mouth. Drool.

I didn't get to taste the yellow curry because Reza scarfed it down faster than you can say "BLAHAKOH", which means it was pretty awesome I guess.

The Pad Thai with pepper steak was amazing!  It had the rich tamarind taste that many restaurants, for some reason or another, overly sweeten, but not this place. This Pad Thai was the perfect combination of sweet and sour. It was garnished with fresh mung bean sprouts, sliced carrots, and crushed peanuts. Mustafa claims that it's the best Pad Thai he's ever had.

Unlike the peanut sauce used in the Panang, Red Curry is based with coconut milk, which I'm not a fan of. With that said, this curry was pretty good. It wasn't as sweet as the Panang, but I doubt it's supposed to be. 

With only one visit, I fell in love. The food was top notch and our server was awesome. Vegan House is the perfect place for all types of eaters. PLEASE!

Info: 2703 W. Sunset Blvd.
        Los Angeles, CA 90026
        (213) 483-2105

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Spitz - Eagle Rock

If you're familiar with the Colorado strip in Eagle Rock, I'm sure you've passed by Spitz often and thought, "Why would they name it "Spitz"? Do they "spitz" in the food. lol. I make funny." To tell you the truth, I don't know why they're named that and I'm too lazy to look it up; yes, I'm too lazy to google it. 

It's a small and nicely decorated place with some good tunes playing in the background. I would say it's a pricier, but a healthier alternative to Zankou. For about $11 you can get a wrap or sandwich with a side, preferably the pita chips with hummus, and a drink. There are a few tables inside, but it has mostly outdoor seating with heat lamps and umbrellas. 

I wasn't blown away, but I did enjoy my Chicken Döner, zesty style. I'd definitely go back. Friendly service and good food. 

Official Website:
Info: 2506 Colorado Blvd.
        Los AngelesCA 90041
        (323) 257-5600

Saturday, June 26, 2010

La Cabañita - Montrose/Glendale

I had an early lunch today at home, went to work, and had forgotten my Clif Bar to hold me over during the long hours. To top things off, I had to run errands immediately after work, so eating was on hold, and by the time I got home, I was starving! One of my errands was getting a haircut before my friend/stylist, Alona, had to leave work. I was telling her how hungry I was and she brought up nachos. The mention of nachos made me instantly crave anything Mexican, but particularly nachos.

After some internet research and a growing headache, I settled on going to La Cabañita with Reza and Gene. We were seated right away and served complimentary tortilla chips that were fresh, crispy, and warm with two different salsas. As soon as we finished the bowl of tortilla chips, the waiter replaced it with a new warm bowl. At this point I figured there's no point on getting nachos.

I skipped the appetizers page and started looking in the combination plates section. The combo plates come with rice, beans, the main dish, and with soup or salad. I remembered how amazing the cream of carrot and cream of corn soup were, so I ordered the cream of corn and Gene and Reza had the cream of carrot. I would seriously go to La Cabañita just to have their soup, it's that good (TRUST ME!). 

There were a lot of great sounding choices as the main part of the meal, but I love cheese, and I chose the Chile Relleno, which is a giant pepper STUFFED with cheese, so how could I resist? I had two of those with my combo plate.

When I finally finished everything, I felt like I turned into a Chile Relleno stuffed with La Cabañita. The food was delicious and beyond filling. Great service, nice decor, and of course, awesome food!

Info: 3445 N Verdugo Rd.
        Glendale, CA 91208
        (818) 957-2711

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Best Fish Tacos In Ensenada - Glendale

Before I ever tried fish tacos, I was completely opposed to the idea of them, but I finally gave in and tried my first fish tacos at Rubio's about six years ago and I fell in love with them. I've tried fish tacos at three different places, Rubio's, Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada, and Taco Nazo, and all of them are great and definitely worth trying.

I used to make the drive to the Loz Feliz area to get fish tacos from Best Fish Tacos In Ensenada (BFTE), but one day I went outside to see that another location had magically opened in walking distance from where I live.

The menu is simple and consists of either Fish Tacos or Shrimp Tacos.

The fried fish is juicy with a soft crunch. It's supported by a thick single piece of tortilla, but if you let it sit for too long, be prepared for your fish taco to fall apart, especially after visiting the salsa bar.

I love hot and spicy foods, but I think all their salsas are a bit too hot to go with the fish tacos. I cover the tacos with cabbage slaw, their "hot" guac (not hot at all), and top it off with their Radish Relish and La Crema Magica (it's like sour cream) and I'm good to go.

The fish tacos at BFTE definitely hit the spot and 3-4 should get you full. I'm glad they decided to open in Glendale, because Glendale heavily lacks in the tasty small restaurant department with a few exceptions. They did locate in an area where I've seen businesses fail consistently, but I'm hoping BFTE stays for good, so come on by, tell your friends, tweet, yelp and facebook about it, and help these small businesses stay.

Let me know if you ever go, maybe I'll walk on over and join you or just to say "hi".

Info: 604 W Glenoaks Blvd.
        GlendaleCA 91202
        (323) 466-5552

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cha Cha Chicken - Santa Monica

Caribbean weather calls for Caribbean food and that's what I got with Cha Cha Chicken. I enjoyed their funky, yet appropriate decor, especially because some of their customers were funky, yet appropriate as well.

They serve a variety of chicken plates that all sounded tempting, but I went with the popular Jerk Chicken Enchiladas. The enchiladas are covered with their sweet spicy mango pineapple sauce and it came with rice & beans, and delicious fried plantains on the side.

The plantains were unfortunately the highlight for me, because everything else tasted mediocre. All the different foods sort of meshed to have this universal taste, so it really didn't matter what you ate. I think it had to do with the sauce that they use and how it just mixed with everything on the plate. Nothing really stood out for me (except the "B" they got for their sanitation grade) and the prices were okay.

Cha Cha Chicken Plate

Ropa Vieja

I wouldn't ever make the drive to Santa Monica for Cha Cha Chicken, but if I happen to be in the area, I would give this place a second chance.

Official Website:
Info: 1906 Ocean Ave
        Santa MonicaCA 90405
        (310) 581-1684

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fab Hot Dogs - Reseda

It was a warm sunny day and I was driving down Tampa Avenue keeping an eye out for Fab Hot Dogs and that was when I spotted the busy hot dog joint. I was starving and a topping filled hot dog was exactly what my stomach was howling for (yes, my stomach howls).

It was one of those menus where everything sounded equally amazing, but one hot dog special definitely stood out for me, the Bacon Cheddar Melt Dog. I wanted to order a second one, but had such a hard time choosing, that I asked, Suzie, at the register to choose her favorite and without hesitating, she rung up the L.A. Street Dog. I also ordered a side of tater tots with Root Beer.

When they called my name to tell me my order was ready, it was as if I won a special yummy prize. First up was the Bacon Cheddar Melt Dog. Right when I picked it up, I noticed how soft and perfectly warm the bun was, just how it should be, hugging all the ingredients inside without getting in the way. This hot dog was epic from the first bite to the last. The combination of the soft bun, grilled onions, mustard, oozing cheddar, and the crispy bacon made this the best freaking hot dog I have ever tasted.

I was sad to have finished the Bacon Cheddar Melt, but I had another hot dog waiting. Oh no! I'm starting to feel full, what the heck!? I sat back in my chair, taking deep breaths, hoping to open up some space in my stomach, but like an impatient eater, I kept stuffing tater tots in my mouth while I was waiting. The tots made a great side to go with the dogs and if I didn't finish them, I would have stuffed them in my pockets to save for later.

There was a party on my L.A. Street Dog and that party wanted to be eaten. I scarfed the L.A. Street Dog down and it had a perfect balance of toppings to make this hot dog great. The toppings consisted of bacon, grilled onions, bell peppers, diced tomatoes, jalapeños, mustard, mayo, and ketchup.

In my opinion, the Bacon Cheddar Melt was the winner of the two, probably because of all that cheese, but both are worth trying. I felt full for the rest of the day, so I might do one next time I'm there (even though I want to try every hot dog on the menu).

Although the place has very limited seating, customers were coming in non-stop. Fortunately, Fab Hot Dogs will be moving a few blocks down to the corner of Tampa Ave. and Victory Blvd. into a bigger place with their own private parking. Lastly, the prices are pretty good for what you're getting. I paid $11.47 for everything, but obviously it will be about $4 cheaper next time because I'll be getting one hot dog.

See you soon Fab Hot Dogs!

p.s. Check out the youtube link below. I just found out that they were featured on Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives with Guy Fieri".

Official Website:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Q-cina Green Cafe - North Hollywood

Q-cina is easy to miss and I hate using this phrase, but it is really a "hidden gem". They have a small menu, but there's something for everyone. If you're a fellow carnivore such as myself and have weird vegetarian/vegan friends, you can bring them here too. Located in North Hollywood, Q-cina is a small and intimate place crawling with hipsters and former hipsters (old people).

My friend, Shannon, and I started with the "Asparagus Guacamole with Pita" appetizer. Although it was quite tasty, it really doesn't make a good choice for an appetizer. When it comes to starters, I like to have a quantity of food instead of taking a few bites and realizing that your food is gone, as if the starter never started (cue X-Files music). I'll probably go with the crisp nacho french fries next time.

They had selections from pastas, salads, pizza, burgers, and mouth watering entrées. Everyone raves about their 1/2 lb. Kobe burgers, so I had to try it. With a great variety of cheeses to choose from, I decided to go with provolone. It also comes with your choice of salad, and garlic or sweet potato fries; I went with garlic fries. I used to always order my burgers well-done, but in the last year I switched to medium-well to get some juiciness and more flavor from the patty.

Look at all that cheese melted on the patty. (wiping drool)

Shannon ordered the seared salmon salad (try saying "seared salmon salad" three times). I got to try a piece of the salmon and I can safely conclude that everything here is outstanding quality.

With tax and tip, we paid $15 each, which is not bad for what we ordered and I'm sure healthier if we ordered something similar from somewhere else.

Our server was very friendly, constantly refilling our water, and always checking on us, but not to the point where it got annoying. I really enjoyed my experience at Q-cina and will definitely come back soon.

Official Website:
Info: 5650 Cahuenga Blvd.
        North Hollywood, CA 91601
        (818) 763-6896