What Charmin Bears Love: Food|Dogs|Sephora

Our foodie instincts take over when we're out and about.

Los Angeles: Spago

Spago @ 176 N Canon Drive

The new restaurant we visited this past week was Spago in Beverly Hills.  Don’t assume it’s snotty just because it’s in Beverly Hills.  I actually didn’t feel too out of place here.  The restaurant had a much more low key vibe than Nobu.  The hostesses were friendly and inviting.  Our waiter was a short and to the point middle-aged man.  He has this awesome ear, I swear he hears everything I say or he knows how to read minds.  Every time I say something I want, after he leaves, he comes right back with what I wanted.  The bread guy is also pretty cool.  He comes around with a selection of bread and I picked the meh ones, so he came back and made me try another one he insisted was delicious.  And he was right, it was.  I munched on that while waiting for my food.

I picked this restaurant because my boyfriend’s aunt worked at the Spago in Maui.  He used to go often and get this appetizer called the Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke in Sesame Miso Cone (that name is the length of a short novel!).  He once told me that if it was the end of the world and he could only eat one more thing, this would be what he’d eat.  It’s not on the menu in the Beverly Hills location, since it’s a Maui creation, but you can still ask for it and they’ll make it for you.  Expectations were pretty high for this and surprisingly it did not disappoint.  The Ahi Poke marinade was so good!  It had a real kick to it, but something at the level that I could handle.  The cone was sweet and crunchy.  All the ingredients married so well together.  Must try if you’re ever here.  Oh another example of how the waiter could read my mind.  The conversation went a bit like this…

T: “This isn’t on the menu, but can we get…”
Waiter: “The Ahi cones? I’ll put that right in for you.”
T: GASP.. How did he …

I know, I know, it’s probably very popular and that’s what people always ask for.  But I had no idea what it was called so I was really relieved he knew what we wanted.

Spago - Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke in Sesame Miso Cone

Spago - Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke in Sesame Miso Cone

Next, under our waiter’s suggestion, we got the Blue Fin Tuna Sashimi appetizer.  It looks like a work of art, huh?  I think, don’t hold my word against me, it was different cuts of the tuna.  There wasn’t a lot of sauce involved.  It was mostly just enjoying the fish’s natural taste.  The little one wrapped in cucumber with the flowers on top was quite delicious.  There’s actually sushi rice wrapped inside the cucumber.  The rice was soft and had the right amount of vinegar flavor.  I really liked it.

Spago - Blue Fin Tuna Sashimi Appetizer

Spago - Blue Fin Tuna Sashimi Appetizer

I should probably get something light.  Fish is light. I also love mushrooms.  Oh there’s something with both! That was my thought process for choosing the Slow Roasted French Turbot with Perigord Black Truffle.  At first I thought the fish was a bit bland and was totally eyeing my boyfriend’s Veal Chop, but the more bites I took, the more I just wanted to keep eating it.  The pungent truffle taste finally hit and it  became addictive.  The fingerling potatoes could’ve been cooked a little longer for me, but it was still good.  I eventually ate the entire plate including the endives the fish was sitting on :).  I didn’t take a picture of it, but my boyfriend’s Caramelized Veal Chop was also really amazing.  I really liked the sauces they used.  The bacon, sage, onions, celery and apple puree complemented each other really well.  It definitely has much more flavor than my fish.

Spago - Slow Roasted French Turbot with Perigord Black Truffles

Spago - Slow Roasted French Turbot with Perigord Black Truffles

For dessert we decided on the Mille Feuille, which translated means 1,000 sheets.  I thought this was a solid dessert, but not my cup of tea.  For one, I’m not big on kiwi and there was kiwi all over it.  Second, the cream filling they used was infused with honey and I just tasted too much of it.  I prefer a more vanilla tasting cream.  Third, I felt that instead of being 1,000 sheets, it was 3 thick sheets, which was still good, but it doesn’t achieve the flakiness I generally like.  My favorite is still the Mille Feuille made by Lady M in New York.  In all fairness, Lady M specializes in desserts and devotes a lot of time to each of their creations.  Their mille feuille is much easier to stick a fork in because the “sheets” break off easier.  Also at the bottom, there’s a layer of sponge that makes it feel more like an actual slice of cake and helps it stick to your fork.  My boyfriend called me snobby for comparing the two, but I can’t help it!  The heart feels what it feels!

Spago - Mille Feuille

Spago - Mille Feuille

Coming to Spago was a great idea.  Pat on my back.  I really enjoyed the dining experience there.  We got to sit near the patio, but not outside because I would’ve froze to death.  I just wish we weren’t surrounded by giant buildings that blocked most of the night sky.  But at the end of the night, what mattered was that my boyfriend got to eat his favorite appetizer and we both had a delicious meal.  Mission accomplished.

– Charmin Bear T

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Los Angeles: Nobu

Nobu @ 903 N La Cienega Boulevard

My boyfriend and I decided that we should try new restaurants in LA at least once a week.  This week, we chose the infamous Nobu, a popular multi-location restaurant  throughout the US.  We drove our way over to West Hollywood and found ourselves in this upscale area with tiny streets.  My boyfriend and I could not walk side by side. We found the valet, but we couldn’t find the restaurant.  We circled the corner and came back and asked the valet.  He directed us to this giant black gate, which I can only presume is to keep the poor people out.  I think it’s a bit much to have a 10+ feet metal gate as a door.  We proceeded in and was quickly seated since we had a reservation.  The waiter asked us if we wanted flat or sparkling water.  Flat, of course!  He comes out with a liter of Fiji water. Whaattt?! I wanted tap!  When did paying for bottled water been an opt-out policy? Whatever.  On to the food.

Under the direction of our waiter, we started with the cold appetizers.  We ordered the Toro tartar because my boyfriend and I both love toro.  He introduced me to it and I eventually fell in love as well.  I felt the tartar had the nicest presentation of all the dishes.  It was soaking in a spicy ponzu sauce and topped with a scoop of caviar.  I personally could use less kick, but my boyfriend thought it was just the right amount.  I can’t handle spicy as well as him.

Nobu - Toro Tartar

Nobu - Toro Tartar

We then continued with the Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno due the the large amount of suggestions from Yelpers.  It was quite disappointing.  Although I admit the fish was fresh, I didn’t really see what was so special about it that I couldn’t get it somewhere else for less.

Nobu - Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno

Nobu - Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno

Next for our palette, per our waiter, we should continue onto hot appetizers and we did just that.  We, again, under the influence of Yelpers, went with the Rock Shrimp Tempura.  The shrimp was cooked perfectly and had a great chew to them.  However, the sauce left a lot to be desired.  I much prefer Chinatown’s Honey Walnut Shrimp.  But we might have just selected the wrong sauce to go with this dish.  Perhaps the butter ponzu sauce would’ve been more impressive.

Nobu - Rock Shrimp Tempura with Creamy Spicy Sauce

Nobu - Rock Shrimp Tempura with Creamy Spicy Sauce

We also tried the Black Cod with Miso on Butter Lettuce, an updated version of Nobu’s Black Cod with Miso creation.  I really liked this one.  Fish was cooked well and easily fell apart in your mouth.  The crunchy fried radish on top added a nice texture to each bite.  I was happily fooled by the lettuce that I’m eating slightly healthier.  I would definitely order this again.

Nobu - Black Cod with Miso on Butter Lettuce

Nobu - Black Cod with Miso on Butter Lettuce

My boyfriend and I were dying to try the Wagyu beef.  For those snotty meat eaters out there, no, it’s not Japanese Wagyu, just Australian.  On the menu, you can order 4 oz. (minimum) of Wagyu beef and have it prepared 4 ways:  Toban Yaki, New Style, Tataki and Steak.   But the waiter suggested we tried a style not on the menu, Flambe.  He said it was the same price, so I thought, why not!  They brought our meat out on a hot stone, poured brandy on it, and set the entire thing on fire.   What a flashy, but unnecessary display.  I thought my eyebrows were going to get burnt.  This is a good dish for people who like attention.  Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people.  I just felt awkward when the entire restaurant looked over.  However, despite all that, I fell in love with the fatty tenderness of the Wagyu.  Do I still crave it?  Yes, sometimes.  The sauce was also a great complement.  The veggies that came with it were addictive.  If I could figure out how to cook vegetables like that, I don’t think being a vegetarian would be that hard.  But then, I’ll probably eventually remember the addictive Wagyu it came with and throw that idea in the trash.

Nobu - Australian Wagyu Beef Flambe Style

Nobu - Australian Wagyu Beef Flambe Style

Last, but not least, we ended the night with the 18 Hour Niman Ranch Pork Belly.  I actually had my doubts when my boyfriend first said he wanted to order this.  I usually only get pork belly in my ramen, so I have this impression that it’s going to be super salty.  To my surprise, it was quite light and did not feel heavy at all.  The meat was very tender and not tough.  I really liked this one too.  Props to the boyfriend.

Nobu - 18 Hour Niman Ranch Pork Belly with Miso Anticucho

Nobu - 18 Hour Niman Ranch Pork Belly with Miso Anticucho

I thought the food at Nobu was good, with a couple dishes being a bit overrated. The atmosphere was a little awkward for me because of the type of people they obviously want to attract, i.e.,   people who generally prefer a $9 bottle of fiji water that costs more than a beer, extravagant displays for food, entering through a flashy big black gate. I don’t think the atmosphere of the restaurant is right for the 99% like me.  Fun experience nonetheless and worth having at least once.

– Charmin Bear T

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Los Angeles: The Sweet Life

85c Bakery @ 2700 Alton Parkway Suite 123

J & I are both major sweet tooths and we like a variety of different things.  For our more Asian side, we can’t deny ourselves of Chinese baked goods.  One of my favorite bakeries in the SoCal is 85c Bakery in Irvine.  The line is usually ridiculous (there’s a line to get in, a line to pick up the goods, and a line to pay), but if you come during off-peak hours, you may be lucky enough to avoid the non-locals who act like they’re picking up food for their last meal on earth.

One of my favorite things at 85c is their Mochi Egg tart.  You can’t see it, but there’s a thin layer of mochi underneath the custard.  The crust is also super flaky and crisp.  I love the creamy custard to crust ratio here.  It’s best when fresh, but still super good a couple days old.

85c Bakery - Mochi Egg Tart

85c Bakery - Mochi Egg Tart

My other favorite is the custard bun.  As you can tell, I really like their custard stuff.  The filling is really light and creamy.  Nothing about this bun feels heavy.

85c Bakery - Custard Bun

85c Bakery - Custard Bun

My friend who introduced me to this place told me they’re famous for their Taro Marble bun, which they keep in the back so it doesn’t sell out immediately.  I had the good fortune of getting one one day.  However, the bun did not live up to the hype.  The taro in the bread itself is really subtle.  The filling was thick and gritty.  I didn’t care for it much.

85c Bakery - Taro Marble Bun

85c Bakery - Taro Marble Bun

I probably will just stick to my custard favorites from now on.  They also have these sea salt drinks that are quite popular, but not my cup of tea.

Sprinkles Cupcakes @ 944 Avocado Avenue

There’s a Sprinkles in Beverly Hills too, but I was in Orange County for work and picked up a dozen of these at the Newport Beach location instead.  I bought a variety for the office, but only had a chance to try the red velvets.  These’s cupcakes are pretty expensive at almost $4 a pop after tax.  They’re quite simple in decor compared to other cupcakes, but I guess you don’t have to dress up when you’ve got inner beauty.  The cupcake was really moist and not too sweet.  I, not a cupcake fan at all, actually enjoyed it.  I think it may have been the best I’ve had!  But hey, keep in mind, I’m no cupcake expert.

Sprinkles - Assorted Cupcakes

Sprinkles - Assorted Cupcakes

Jin Patisserie @ 1202 Abbot Kinney Boulevard

For the more refined side of me, I went to Jin Patisserie on Abbot Kinney, one of the cutest streets in Venice Beach.   Unfortunately, by the time I sat myself down here, most of the desserts were sold out.  We ended up getting the leftover.

Brandon got the Mascarpone Banana.  I generally don’t like artificial banana flavor, but this was a very light taste and my love for the mascarpone made up for it.

Jin Patisserie - Mascarpone Banana

Jin Patisserie - Mascarpone Banana

I ordered the Serene, which is basically a pistachio mousse.  It was my favorite of the three, but those who know me well know I have a soft spot for pistachio flavored things.

Jin Patisserie - Serene

Jin Patisserie - Serene

My other friend ordered the inspiration, but it wasn’t very inspiring.  I’m not a huge dark chocolate fan.  It was just too rich.  I needed something else to complement the depth and heaviness of the cake.

Jin Patisserie - Inspiration

Jin Patisserie - Inspiration

Service here is only okay.  I thought it was a bit painful to find and sitting outside during winter  wasn’t exactly ideal.  I will still come back when J visits so she can eat at her namesake.

Milk @ 7290 Beverly Boulevard

I found out about ice cream macarons and thought the idea sounded amazing!  Boy was I wrong.  I came to realize, macarons aren’t really meant to be the “bread” of an ice cream sandwich.  The cold temperature made the normal light fluffy cookie part hard and difficult to bite into.  I was quite disappointed. And at $5 each, they’re unnecessarily expensive for something so mediocre.  I tried the strawberry, the vanilla, the coffee toffee (shown below) and the salted caramel (shown below as well).  The strawberry lacked any real sweetness and tasted quite sour.  The vanilla was partially coated in chocolate, which made it too sweet.  The coffee toffee and salted caramel were okay, but as I mentioned earlier, the tough macaron really ruined it for me.

Milk - Coffee Toffee Macaron

Milk - Coffee Toffee Macaron

Milk - Salted Caramel Macaron

Milk - Salted Caramel Macaron

It wasn’t until after I left that I realized Milk is actually famous for their blue velvet cake.  Oh wellers.  I have very little desire to try the blue velvet.  I feel like it’s just a gimmick to attract people.  How different can it taste from a red velvet?  I don’t want my poop to turn blue.  So alas, I bid farewell to Milk.  I probably won’t be returning.

– Charmin Bear T

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