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Showing posts from May, 2009

Sticking to What You Do Best...

Last week, I was invited to celebrate National Hamburger Day at The Counter in Studio City. I had been to The Counter before, but today was special and met a fellow tweeter who was a first timer. The menu is easy to follow and you actually build your own burger, well at least on paper. First you select the protein, then the cheese, other various toppings, a side sauce, and last is the type of bun you want. If you’re having a hard time deciding, don’t worry, they have signature burgers and sandwiches to choose from. Too many choices make me crazy sometimes.

I get so confused when I see other restaurants trying to be everything to everyone. The food at these restaurants are usually horrible and thus end up closing. Would you be surprised if the pizza at a seafood restaurant wasn’t good? Doesn’t make sense to me. Attention Restaurant Owners: Pick something and do it really really well. In-n-Out hasn’t added anything to their menu in years and they’re still in business and GROWING!

Being in…

Going, Going...

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading a Los Angeles Times article about a pho restaurant. Pho (pronounced fuh) is Vietnamese rice noodle soup which I really like. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a restaurant review, it was about a family that bought a pho restaurant and they’re having a tough time surviving. At first I stopped reading it, since it wasn't a review. But since I'm in the business of helping restaurants, I ended up reading the entire article.

The family spent a lot of money on this small restaurant and is located in an area that has 10 other pho restaurants. This doesn’t add up in my mind, but then again I don’t have the passion to make Pho. After the purchase was completed and the former owner left the business and most of the customers left too. Since a lot of them were his friends and he wasn’t there anymore, why go? Boy, this was a triple whamie.

With this said and as someone who hates to see small restaurants close, I tried to get the word out and help this place th…

Lee's Got Me Waiting...

I love Lee’s Sandwiches and have been a fan for many years. I often visit the Rosemead location, this is a fairly new building with an ice cream counter, steam table for hot items, baked goods, etc. Lee’s Sandwiches is a multi-unit quick service company that specializes in Vietnamese sandwiches that bakes fresh baguettes and makes great sandwiches, in addition to other items. They have over 35 locations in 4 states.

I usually go in early morning or late afternoon when the lines are short. This week, I went during lunch and ended up in a very long line, about 8 people. As I’m watching the cashier walk away from the register with each customer, I realized that the store layout is not set-up efficiently. One of the keys to retail success for sandwich places is to first have the customer order and collect payment first and then make the sandwich.

Lee’s does this, but where they lack the efficiency is after a customer orders they pass by the ice cream counter and steam table. If they want so…

The Confusion of Japanese Restaurants

Last weekend, I read an article from The Bulletin by John Gottberg Anderson called “Teppanyaki cooking at Shoji’s.” This is a Benihana type restaurant where the grill cooking is the entertainment. For John and his party, it wasn’t a good experience.

For me, John’s review was a typical one. Arrived at the restaurant at 6 pm, the place wasn’t crowded, but had to wait in the bar for 15 minutes. Seated at the table, but no drink order taken, wait another 15 minutes, etc. If you don’t care to get your customers seated with drinks right away, it’s downhill from here. During this visit, John and his party didn’t try the sushi, so they went back a week later just for sushi. He’s a better man then me, I would’ve never gone back.

As a Japanese American and as a chef, I’m saddened about the current state of Japanese restaurants. Many owners are retiring and selling their restaurants to people who have no experience in the restaurant industry or think they know the cuisine. Everyo…