Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lazy Ox Canteen

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Voted best new restaurant for 2010 by Los Angeles magazine, it had been on my radar for awhile and I was really excited for my first meal.

We had reservations for 6:30PM, Saturday Night, for a party of four. We arrived about ten minutes early, but we were seated immediately. The restaurant is not big, it's cozy with a nice outdoor patio. The noise level is a bit high, but I thought it was appropriate. Our table was located near the pass and we could see Chef Josef Centeno, seasoning and tasting all of the dishes as the went out.

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We decided to order two entrees and share five small plates, between the four of us.

We ordered the following small plates:
Fried Rabbit Livers
Crispy Bone Marrow and Lentil Salad
Lamb Neck Hash with Quinoa and a Fried Jidori Egg
Charcuterie Plate
Brussels Sprouts

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Our Entrees:
7oz Lazy Ox Burger
Pappardelle with Shaved Black Truffle

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Butterscotch Pudding
Chocolate Pate

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The highlights were the Pork Rillette, Chicken Liver Mousse, both were part of the charcuterie plate, the Fried Rabbit Livers and the burger. The rillette was meaty and rich, as good as the version at AOC. The chicken liver mousse was so airy and smooth, both items on grilled toast were delicious. The rabbit livers were perfectly fried and not greasy at all. I just took a bite of the burger, but it was very tasty. My only gripe about the burger is that it seemed very small, like a bigger slider.

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The rest of the dishes had execution problems. The lamb neck hash was over salted and could have used some more starch. The crispy bone marrow was not texturally pleasing. My love for bone marrow comes when it's paired with some crusty bread. You would think because it's fried it would have texture, but it was just "mushy". The pasta with black truffle was good, but the shaved truffle was flavorless and considering how much the dish costs, we were expecting more.

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But the surprise of the night was the Butterscotch Pudding, it was amazing. I'm not exaggerating, it was one the best desserts I have ever eaten. I would go to Lazy Ox just for that dish. Not too sweet, great flavor and balance.

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The service overall was decent, except we were never served our brussels sprouts. The prices are a bit high, but you get some very interesting dishes in a very cool environment. Besides Animal, there are not many restaurants doing this kind of food in LA. Looking forward to dining in the outdoor patio on a beautiful summer night.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011


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Took advantage of DineLA week to try out XIV. It wasn't my first choice, but it was a restaurant I had heard good things about. I remember this location way back in the day, it was Coconut Teaser, yes I'm old.

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We arrived for our 6:30 reservations on time, but we were not seated until the entire party was in attendance. We had a nice table near the fireplace and also a nice view of the kitchen pass. The prix fixe menu had a standard variety of dishes and my approach was to try out the more unique dishes, sorta. I did order a chicken dish for my entree.

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Before we ordered, a nice individual basket of garlic naan bread and some type of herbed yogurt was delivered, it was really good.

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Started out with the Butternut Squash Bisque with Spiced Marshmellow, Salted Peanuts and Apples. My entree was the Jidori Chicken with Mac and cheese and broccoli. Last but not least, my dessert was the Bourbon Glazed Doughnuts and Banana Ice Cream.

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The bisque was poured at the table and was the only disappointing dish I had all night. I felt it was a bit bland and could have had more spice. My chicken dish was a nice portion and well seasoned. The chicken could have been a bit more juicy, but was still good. The mac and cheese had a very sharp cheese flavor and the little elbow macaroni were cooked al dente.

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When dessert arrived, the plating of the doughnuts looked beautiful. The doughnuts were a bit heavy but matched with the ice cream it was a nice ending. We also ordered the Root Beer Float with Chocolate Chip Cookies. I was told the cookies were the amazing, and I must admit they were pretty awesome chocolate chip cookies, chocolate all the way through.

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The service was pretty good, but I thought there could have been more descriptions given for items being served. I'm looking forward to another visit and experiencing the entire menu.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


My first visit to Gjelina, I'd heard so much about and I really like the Abbott Kinney area. We tried showing up on a Friday night at around 8pm. We were told it would be an hour wait. So we had a few drinks at The Brig, we waited an hour and came back.

They seated us at one of the tables near the charcuterie bar. It was dark and noisy, but the overall ambience was casual and fun. We ordered the brussels sprouts, goat cheese, mushroom and truffle oil pizza, charcuterie plate and pork belly with polenta.

The brussels sprouts were delicious, perfectly charred and the bacon and dates worked together so well. The charcuterie plate was okay, there was not enough toast, pickles or mustard. The pizza and pork belly were both delicious, but the star was the brussels sprouts.

Looking forward to my next visit to try out more menu items.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


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It's only been open a couple of weeks, so they may be still trying to get their act together. But for now, this will not be on my list for Pho options.

My review is based on two separate visits, the first visit was solo and I sat at the bar. The was during their first week being open. The restaurant was pretty empty when I arrived. I ordered a "33" which is a Vietnamese beer and a bowl of "Pho Bo" with beef tendon added on.

After my order was placed I watched the kitchen in action. It seemed like many of the kitchen staff were being trained throughout the night. I watched as the owner Kimmy Tang instructed the line cook how to prepare a fish dish and each cook checking with Kimmy on the preparation. This was a good sign, quality control.

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What was not a good sign, was the confusion with the servers and the timing on the delivery of the meals. I was told many of the servers were from the existing restaurant, which was a Wolfgang Puck Bistro. They did not seem to have very much knowledge about the menu or Vietnamese food in general.

When my bowl of pho arrived it smelled good, the greens that came with the noodles were bruised and could have been fresher considering the prices. The noodles seemed to overcooked, as was the meat. The broth was the only thing that was decent. I talked to the cooks and they mentioned that there was no MSG used in the broth, which was nice.

On my next visit, I had the Prawns with Green Papaya Salad. It was okay, but for $17, I expected a lot more flavor, not to mention shrimp.

My biggest issue which was not a surprise, was the cost. I understand this restaurant is in Westlake Village, but $22 for a beer and a bowl of pho, is not within my budget. I would much rather drive 10 more miles and have better food at cheaper prices.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ramen Jinya

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I love good ramen. And I am always looking for good options closer to home. I first read about Ramen Jinya on Rameniac's blog.

He gave it a very good rating and I was excited. It's located in a strip mall on Ventura Blvd., in Studio City. It seats about 20-30 people inside and has patio dining as well. I was surprised at how much they promote sushi in the restaurant, I thought it was a specialty ramen restaurant.

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I started with a tomato and avocado salad which I thought was an odd item for a ramen restaturant. I also ordered the classic tonkotsu ramen. The salad wasn't special, but it was what I expected. The tonkotsu ramen came in a large ceramic bowl, with a ginormous spoon for slurping up the earthly broth. Oil from the pork shimmers on the surface of the cloudy broth. Two thin slices of chashu float along with spinach and a pickled radish of some sort. The noodles were good, but I prefer the noodles at Santouka. The star is the well balanced, deep flavored broth.

A good option ramen option, closer to home. I'm happy.