izakaya akatora la

izakaya akatora || 115 w. main street, alhambra, ca 91801 || (626) 943-7872

new gem by michael cardenas of innovative dining group [katana, sushi roku, boa steakhouse], and favorite trendy hot spots all across los angeles & las vegas has arrived: izakaya akatora. it’s a more casual, traditional sushi bar & izakaya feel but offering high-quality fish & tapas located in the historic city of alhambra — a city in the suburbs of la, known as the san gabriel valley.

IMG_4855.JPG

i aint sayin’ she’s a gold digger, but she’s only eating sashimi with gold on top.

IMG_4806.JPG

kinmedai. flame-torched golden eye red snapper. i ate the james bond of snappers, basically.

IMG_4809.JPG

omakase me pls.

IMG_4811.JPG

close up of the fresh, sexy oyster + uni & ikura neighbors.

IMG_4812.JPG

yam ice cream – a reinvented traditional japanese dessert that will make you swoon

IMG_4813.JPG

classic chocolate volcano done right

IMG_4815.JPG

remember to thank the sushi chefs

IMG_4819.JPG

sake to you…sake to me…

IMG_4814.JPG

akatora, red tiger in japanese, is named after michael’s father’s fishing boat.

IMG_4816.JPG

blondetourage. i’m wearing my favorite leather clutch by liucia

thanks michael for a wonderful dinner & for adding another awesome restaurant to this world! need to be back when i’m out west again [and try the foie gras]. arigatou!

for more delicious goodness, visit my post on the neighboring sushi roku in pasadena.

popfoods.tv

the all-star team behind this past weekend’s shoot for popfoods.tv, hosted by the infamous chef russell jackson, directed by raffi asdourian, shot by jon chen, and yours truly [me] as one of the special guests, along with award-winning, tv chopping star chefs lance knowling, and pastry chefs ashley holt & thiago silva. more soon. for now, you can drool over one of his recent tastings below and/or also a past tasting here at louro or the dirty bad santa xmas dinner party i hosted as the top chef.

the subculture dining experience: think a museum, with your favorite artist having an art installation ready for viewing, but only for a limited time — the bonus is you get to harass the chef himself and pull a portandia “can i see the chicken’s headshot & resume? did the chicken have a happy life?” kindly inquire about the dish choices and ingredients since the chef is in clear conversational view. foodies’ challenging questions are welcomed!

chef russell jackson has his “pop-up” tastings enjoyed at various locations, each with a different theme, different exciting courses, different wine pairings, simply different and full of surprises.
IMG_1547.JPG

the chef at work, and we have the pleasure of watching him add final touches to each course, aka front row for a top chef competition.

IMG_1548.JPG

avocado toast: compressed avocado, agua de chile, apricot ginger seed sauce, onion sprouts, crispy tostada
yucca: smoked in mesquite with spiced vinegar tapioca, orange mojo – great refreshing starter
paired with: anahitos

IMG_1550.JPG

empanadas: foie gras in chile spice crust, & spruce smoked calabaza squash and crab, hazelnut, currants, queso fresca – very interesting.
paired with: orange sugar gin, french 75 finished with champagne

IMG_1556.JPG

clams in pozole verde, poblano lime cumin broth, micro greens – excellent.

paired with: toasted kombu rum, velvet flurnum & green juice drink with muddled jalepeno

IMG_1558.JPG

and what do we have here? brown paper bag…bringing you back to its roots

IMG_1560.JPG

picadillo taco: aged cabbage, mexican creme, chile arbol salsa – amazing.

paired with: chile vodka, kummel, lime, pisco style

IMG_1563.JPG

chicken roulade: crispy skin, rose petal mole sauce [perfected poached chicken breast might i add]

IMG_1566.JPG

iberian carnitas press: cascbel adobo sauce & deep fried turnip, scallion ash, nori – something different.
main courses paired with: tobacco-infused rye, barolo, carbonated

IMG_1568.JPG

palate cleanser: deep fried pineapple. dehydrated honey and chipotle salt

IMG_1569.JPG

THIS MAGICAL DESSERT. in the glass for dipping: blue corn alote, chocolate, pilincco, buttered rum + buckwheat churros

IMG_1572.JPG

redefining churros, with a fancy, intoxicating yet delicate flair.

IMG_1571.JPG

loved it.IMG_1573.JPG

the redhot shot.IMG_1574.JPG

the pate de fruit, banana/dry rum

as per usual, i was quite behind on my cocktail pairings. amazing experience.

his next upcoming “art installation” is coming up and more info here! enjoy! 

Share Button

 

soto

soto || 357 6th ave., ny, ny 10014 || 212.414.3088

the worst thing is to accidentally delete a perfectly fine post on one of my favorite japanese restaurants in the city. how, why did it happen. i blame word press. let’s start the new year right by correcting what was wrong with 2014 – the mysterious case of the missing soto blog post.

anyhey, please enjoy [again], this fabulous 2-michelin starred bundle of joy. they are creative with their dishes yet maintain a sense of traditional feel to it. don’t come here if you just want fresh fish over rice balls. nope. also, be prepared to be in shocking bright lighting as it is basically broad daylight here — [perfect for foodies & obnoxious photo-taking] therefore nice, casual dress is acceptable.

IMG_1891

b&w tofu: sesame & soy

IMG_1892

snapper, refreshing

IMG_1893

smoked trout carpaccio, caviar, watercress

IMG_1894

hey flukes. don’t be so sad.

IMG_1895

seared halibut

IMG_1898

shredded surf clam prepared like a lil tiki house

one of my faves:

IMG_1897

uni on sweet raw ebi shrimp

IMG_1896

tuna tartare: chopped asian pear, tuna, pine nuts, marinated seaweed

another favorite…

IMG_1901

toro tartare & caviar.

IMG_1903

chopped kanpachi, wasabi tobiko wrapped in marble soy paper + soy mousse

third favorite dish…

IMG_1899

uni, caviar, snow crab, uni gel wrapped in lotus root

IMG_1911

grilled langoustine. call me maybe.

IMG_1906

green tea, strawberry, mango, vanilla, red bean, passion fruit mochi

love all the courses. it’s simply fantastic.

Share Button

dirty xmas dinner

what an exhilarating experience this xmas — hosting a “dirty” xmas dinner party. since we’re all adults now, i thought i’d pen a filthy uniquely festive dinner menu:

IMG_1079.JPG

“he knows if you’ve been bad or good” …that creeper. #badsanta

***
dirty xmas dinner menu
december 25, 2014:

***

nibbles
mistletoe makeout: champagne + herb roasted kale chips

***
starters

racks on racks on santa: whole milk ovoline + vine tomatoes + alcoholixir balsamic reduction
crème de la snowmån: cambozola + swiss + wine fondue & grapes + turkey for dipping

***
entrée

filthy animal: beef short rib braised in 4 hours of nitty gritty love + red wine

***
side

felíz phallicity: truffled oyster & royal trumpet mushroom medley

***
sweets
green light especiál: canes & balls for shady elves
double d rendezvous: twice baked candied yams topped with snow white

***
naughty cocktails
secret santa sauce: blueberry, pineapple, apple blended with pinot grigio + stoli elīt vodka  topped with magical foam
rudolph’s red rocket: hibiscus, passion fruit, mango, lemongrass, rose hips infused with 50% iichiko shochu & stoli elīt vodka + chia seeds

photos to follow soon. :D

Share Button

eleven madison park

eleven madison park || 11 madison ave. || (212) 889-0905

merry christmas. wow. this delectable, decadent, exquisite experience is truly excellent. the following photos are worth a few thousand words and will perhaps tickle your taste buds.

20140930-150636.jpg

peaceful ambiance at 5 pm [since dinner will last for 4+ hours]

20140930-150356.jpg

getting gossip from the mixologist

there was also a farewell gathering of the staff & etc for the pastry chef that day. it was fun eavesdropping like a creeper from the bar before dinner began.

20140930-150418.jpg

cocktail selection is on point. happy with the options listed. [unlike per se  #spoiledfoodieproblems]

20140930-150505.jpg

secret ingredient choice. i choose you, coffee. or is that the marijuana plant?

20140930-150527.jpg

presents already? savory ny classic b&w cookies

20140930-150551.jpg

caviar + creme fraiche

20140930-150621.jpg

refreshing [hidden] oysters.

20140930-150701.jpg

“fruit salad”

20140930-150853.jpg

their logo now makes sense to me

20140930-150839.jpg

hey la tache = $12K

20140930-150919.jpg

dehydrated tomato stuffed with lobster topped w/baby basil & cream

20140930-150932.jpg

to fill you in on the tasty filling

note: to give you an idea of their stalkery absolute attentiveness, they noticed i scraped the creamy top off to the side of the dish and asked if there was a problem with it. i let them know that i didn’t want too much of the cream, and that preference was duly noted for the later items. thanks guys!

20140930-150907.jpg

light soup made from the tomato they previously squeezed the juice out of

ode to a new york classic. this is when the secret ingredients show face:  cherry soda to the left, coffee soda to the right.

20140930-150947.jpg

“pastrami & soda”

20140930-151011.jpg

pastrami on a fancy fiery simmer plate

20140930-151024.jpg

open-faced sandwich.if you want it put a pastrami on it

20140930-151042.jpg

cocktail: rye whiskey based egg white & anise

20140930-151101.jpg

old fashioned

20140930-151126.jpg

this cucumber salad was for the [silly] ones who opted out of their AMAZING foie gras dish that day. pretty and healthy but not on the same page.

the dish of the night: foie gras.

20140930-153232.jpg

the beautiful, seared foie gras with chanterelles. amazing.

20140930-153251.jpg

aerial view of what i loved.

20140930-153319.jpg

“salad bar”

20140930-153609.jpg

telling stories of the waldorf

20140930-153629.jpg

the waldorf salad + celery puree soup

curious to know how the celery soda would have tasted, we asked for a smidgen & they gave us a bottle. it was great, but cherry was surprisingly my favorite since they used fresh cherries.

20140930-153652.jpg

the sodas + fresh butter & bread

20140930-153724.jpg

halibut with paper thin radish

20140930-153802.jpg

green delight. celtuce.

20140930-153843.jpg

dbl espresso pls

20140930-153957.jpg

the herb-crusted dry roasted duck, stuffed with lavender

20140930-154045.jpg

the slice of duck that you get to eat, which was much more than i could eat at this point

20140930-154125.jpg

hmm. part of the duck

then there’s more…

20140930-154154.jpg

picnic anyone?

20140930-154218.jpg

added my little touch of tying the handkerchief on top.

20140930-154531.jpg

my name on the plates?!

20140930-154557.jpg

virginia sin, the artist behind the ceramic plating that appears to be paper plates

20140930-154641.jpg

goat cheese, candy grapes, basil paste in a jar

finally onto dessert…

20140930-154704.jpg

delicious dessert: butter cream, butter scotch, dehydrated milk, foam, crumble. yum.

20140930-155241.jpg

burning brain…

20140930-155306.jpg

charred brain…

and then because it was my birthday…

20140930-155331.jpg

pretty

sometimes it can be fun in the kitchen…especially special tours of it.

20140930-155358.jpg

hey kitchen crew! you’re awesome.

20140930-155553.jpg

photos along the wall are their farmers and growers from whom they purchase their ingredients

20140930-160911.jpg

37 staff in the main kitchen + ms. expediter

expediter: kitchen manager aka bootcamp captain aka “hurry the eff up, are you a snail or are you a chef” [i’d imagine she yells this] who makes sure everyone is on task on time, down to every minute, every second, and ensures a sufficient amount of all ingredients necessary for the amount of diners every day.

20140930-162509.jpg

the new sous chef making a special icy cone treat

20140930-162538.jpg

we’re all kids again! snow cones, fancy ones.

as if our 4 hour dinner + kitchen tour wasn’t obnoxious grand enough, they relocated us to a pleasant after-the-never-ending-dinner private corner lounge where we can further lengthen our stay by indulging in more caffeine and a complimentary bottle of grappa. if only it were scotch…

20140930-162556.jpg

the lounging area

20140930-162638.jpg

sweet classic new york b&w cookies & pretzel infused with dark, milk, & white chocolates

another birthday surprise…

20140930-162717.jpg

dark chocolate covered coconut bar of decadence

they decided to feed me for breakfast as well.

20140930-162751.jpg

fresh homemade granola.

so good, all the squirrels in the city came running over.

20140930-162809.jpg

the [wrinkled] menu.

a fantastic journey it was — overall a worthwhile experience for a special occasion especially since it is like a classic broadway show + new york history 101 + foodie heaven + michelin snob all packed into one night. take her/him there. :D

Share Button

momofuku ko

momofuku ko

8 extra place, new york, ny 10003 || (212) 203-8095

throwback edition of my visit at the old location of momofuku ko when it was at 163 first avenue. seems right to post some heavy-duty places during the holidays.

bravo, david chang! but a 22-course lunch plus beverage pairing? how can anyone even possibly do this? monsters? or maybe if i wasn’t hungover. this casual 12-seat arrangement is up close and personal along the counter with the chefs working diligently preparing your dishes right in front of you. this was great for all the foodies because we like to stick our noses into everything and ask a lot of questions directly from the chefs who know exactly what everything is, where it’s from, the name of the pig…

it was overwhelming for me, but i’m not complaining. i only have photos of the 1st three courses out of 22 — embarrassing. if i had known no obnoxious foodie pictures were allowed, i would have whipped out my phone discreetly when i was closer to the last few courses which are usually more impressive, like the frozen slab of foie gras shaved onto a wonderful dish of i-can’t-recall-because-i-ate-it-and-have-no-memory-without-photos.

IMG_2235 IMG_2234

she: “sorry, we would like to ask you to refrain from taking pictures.”

me: “oh.” [boiling in misery & thinking to myself, why am i here? to enjoy the food & the moment?]

so i took photos in the loo. great selection of books. IMG_2240 IMG_2241

after a crazy, hearty meal of experimental fusion, i was greeted by this couple:

IMG_2244

 “hey boys! where you goin, room for one more?”

the new momofuku ko now allows photos and is much spacier i hear, but i have yet to try. what a beautiful, [heavy] lunch…and dinner for the next 3 days. thanks. good night.

Share Button

sushi of gari

sushi of gari

upper east side || 402 e. 78th st., new york, ny 10075 || (212) 517-5340

this restaurant has become so popular that they now have 4 different locations in the city – the upper east side is the original that holds the michelin star rating while still preserving the traditional, casual seating arrangement. for all levels of sushi lovers, this is an omakase experience you must try in new york [if you haven’t already]. with every visit, there are new additions [and surprises] to the chef’s tasting menu, and you can let the server know specific likes & dislikes. the major buzzkill surprise for me this time was that they were out of the 3 cravings i had: mirugai [giant clam], sweet raw shrimp, & fresh toro [they only had flame-torched toro]. to be fair, it was a late monday evening — not the best for sushi. as usual, i prefer the skinnyminnie sashimi omakase: more fish, no rice.

IMG_0138.JPG

the sake casing matched my festive nails. fun.

IMG_0141.JPG

fatty salmon belly. fatty

IMG_0139.JPG

snapper rolls.

IMG_0143.JPG

tuna

the outstanding dish of the night:

IMG_0144.JPG

flame-torched fluke + poached quail egg + truffle oil slathered all over. sexy.

IMG_0145.JPG

yellowtail. weakest link of the night.

IMG_0146.JPG

hotate [scallop] + caviar. always a must-get for me.

IMG_0147.JPG

tomato tempura and salmon

second favorite of the night:

IMG_0148.JPG

flame-torched rare snow crab & uni – perfect.

IMG_0149.JPG

tuna tartare with pine nuts & deep fried seaweed chips

IMG_0151.JPG

uni. always a must-get.

IMG_0150.JPG

plum sake in the back & new sake glass for a new bottle. artwork is channeling zelda.

IMG_0153.JPG

marinated snapper & seawead

IMG_0152.JPG

topping was a mixed mushroom medley? i passed the [cooked] fish over to my comrades.

IMG_0155.JPG

seared toro. great but i kinda wanted super fresh raw toro. #brat

IMG_0156.JPG

chopped snapper + black salt. very refreshing!

IMG_0157.JPG

seared lobster – slightly overcooked for my raw diet

IMG_0158.JPG

mackerel with sesame topping. i passed on this one.

IMG_0159.JPG

ikura!

the ikura challenge, just like when it all started at zuma hong kong: how many salmon roe is in one order?

IMG_0160.JPG

separate them in groups of 10 first…

gambling is in my blood. needless to say, i won the challenge.

IMG_0161.JPG

kumamoto oysters, yay. my final course before tapping out.

IMG_0162.JPG

a pretty piece after i ended my tasting.

’twas a wonderful pre-thanksgiving stuff yourself in the face healthy, raw treat i must say. perfect for my raw diet. じゃね! [ja-ne, see you!]

Share Button

zuma hong kong

zuma hong kong || the landmark, 15 queen’s road, central, hong kong || +852 3657 6388

i love hong kong.

IMG_2609

the view from my room at the conrad hilton in hong kong. #love

it’s hard to find hong kong/chinese food as great as here. as much as i love the food, i still miss my raw diet so zuma is the perfect place to satisfy those cravings. this contemporary japanese restaurant and lounge located in the beautiful landmark shopping center is trendy with fresh fish, delicious drinks, and cool people, comparable to the sexy & reliably delicioius sushi roku chain of restaurants in los angeles & vegas, and the likes of novikov in london, and morimoto & catch in new york.

IMG_3799

leeanne my awesome jetsetting gf knows all the best places.

IMG_3795

the cool kids hk crew.

IMG_3801

some of my favorite sashimi on the platter. toro, uni, hotate, kumamoto oysters + caviar, & ikura.

gambling is in my blood.

the ikura challenge: how many eggs are there? winner is the closest guess without going over –> that’d be me. i won.

IMG_3806

ikura being counted with a chopstick, grouping them in 10’s. hilarious.

IMG_3804

me + the boys

IMG_3808

restroom selfie with the cool sinks, why not.

so excited that a new zuma is opening up in new york this winter.

farewell til then, zuma!

Share Button

narcissa

narcissa || 21 cooper square, ny ny 10005 || (212)228-3344

a new, sophisticated, delicious addition to the east village is that of narcissa, located inside the standard hotel in cooper square. as you make your way to the restaurant, you’ll be sure to find some notable decor reminiscent of pleasant pastimes…

IMG_7568

take a little journey into the time machine

IMG_7569

atoms + molecules + the love you had for the periodic table

IMG_7570

forgive me, i’ve forgotten what cocktail this was, but surely i started with the whiskey option and it was fabulous.

IMG_7571

take me to tulum. tequila-based. delish.

the menu is sure to be satisfactory, carefully created by a michelin star chef, john fraser.

the dish that stood out:

IMG_0790.PNG

barley risotto with littleneck clams.

i usually cringe at the thought of risotto because i internally calculate how many more minutes of cardio i must do to work it off + the sloth-who-overdosed-on-heavy-cream feeling afterwards, but this…bravo mister chef! it was the perfect rendition of risotto.

IMG_7575

beet salad – solid. great.

IMG_7577

tuna sashimi jalapeno in a cucumber-basil water

IMG_7579

fluke crudo. light and refreshing.

now for the mains i tried…

IMG_0795.PNG

herb-roasted duck breast. wonderful. must-get especially if you love duck.

IMG_0791.PNG

maine scallops. flavored well but i always prefer scallops raw over cooked, so i can’t say i loved this. anyone with the same preferences should request it to be seared instead.

and finally, dessert…

IMG_7587

riesling poached white peach on a vanilla cream + pistachio amaretti. so delicate, so pretty.

IMG_7588

assorted fruit plate. perhaps one of my favorite fruit plates as of late, since they include a more interesting selection than what you can find in the normal household.

IMG_7590

photobooth downstairs? why not.

IMG_7591

tricky stairwell you must trek in order to use the loo? sure, but first, lemme take a full-body selfie, because i can’t guarantee i’ll be ok afterwards

cheers to narcissa for a delicious dinner!

Share Button

le progrès paris

le progrès || 1 rue de bretagne, le marais district, paris, france

fee fie foe foie,
i smell the cafe full of cool parisians.

why this is my favorite cafe:

1. they don’t have a website [aka they are snobbish cool, just like you & me]

2. they are located in the middle of a 6-street intersection = massive people-watching haven

3. their food is solid. yum.

4. this is the hip hangout with cool [and pretty] people & right next door to a modeling agency & various fashion houses. models & artists central.

5. their servers are consistently entertaining. [one tried to “pimp out” his younger colleague to us…]

with all the positives, i was able to forgive them for not having wifi.

my favorite here, salade gourmande au foie gras + magret de canard fumé: foie gras + smoked duck breast + haricots verts + tomatoes + greens, drizzled with the perfect citrus vinaigrette 20140805-175541.jpgsalad la parisienne: ham + cheese + egg + tomatoes + simple greens 20140805-175640.jpgcool artifacts…20140805-175725.jpgthen i spy 3 guys…20140805-175801.jpghow to pick up on 3 [cute] guys?20140805-175835.jpgpretend to have a parisian cigarette “vogue” right behind them & eavesdrop [like a super creeper] & wait for the right moment to attack start up convo…20140805-180204.jpgphotobomb-kiss by a passerby. i was caught & the targets are leaving…20140805-180308.jpgmission failed. pretend nothing ever happened. denydenydeny. 20140805-180352.jpggoodbye. we’ll never see you again.20140805-180447.jpgbut tomorrow will be another day! 20140805-180541.jpg
and then le progres revisited…
20140805-180648.jpgback for lunch with my favorite, the lovely fashionista paula who i met at cannes years ago! and it happens to be her birthday today!!! parabéns linda!20140809-183730.jpgif it’s delicious, why not get it again? their foie gras has that extra spark in it, infused with magical wine & such. perfect. more than reasonably priced. 20140809-183757.jpgsteak tartare was seasoned well.20140809-183826.jpgcafe viennois was our staple caffeine. yum.20140809-185646.jpgand finally, our last visit here was a wonderful farewell of whiskey drinking games + adventures + lotto tickets.

you win some, you lose some.
but whœuf they are handsome.

if you’re in the mood for fancy, then I guess you already know about matignon

Share Button