Monday, April 25, 2011

May the Best Bento Win

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Earlier this month, I posted "Japanese Lunch Specials in LA." One of the specials that I liked was from Bento Man on Western, just South of Pico, in LA. I said that I could get something similar at an Asian market for $6.99.

Just happened to be looking for some noodles for a client to try and came across this Karaage (Japanese fried chicken) Bento for $6.99 at a major Japanese market in LA.

Store Bought Bento
from the grab and go case

You get 4 pieces of chicken, watery green beans, mini scoop of Japanese potato salad, broccoli, and hard steamed rice for $6.99.

Bento Man
A la Minute
(Prepared to Order)

6 pieces of chicken, a mini egg roll, Japanese sweet egg omelet, daikon salad, and steamed rice for $6.25.

I think you know what my pick is...

Bento Man
1500 South Western Avenue
(Just South of Pico)
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(323) 733-5316

Happy National Prime Rib Day!

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Today is April 27th
or as I know it...
National Prime Rib Day!

Although I jumped the gun and celebrated last Saturday, I had to, I was at Adamsons French Dip in Sunnyvale! Thanks to my cousin Jill who suggested that I go for a prime rib dip sandwich, she did caution me that they get really crowded. A place that specializes on their core item AND gets crowded? This already sounds like a great place...

Prime Rib French Dip Sandwich

A couple days later found me on Highway 85 and heading down El Camino Real to Adamsons. It's a small place, limited menu, but I get it. I'm always curious what other people are ordering, but this place has basically two menu items: 1) Prime Rib French Dip 2) Top Sirloin French Dip.

I hate it when you order a french dip and get Au jus in a small cup that you can't get the sandwich dipped properly. Not at Adamsons, they give you a wide cup to properly dip your sandwich in the Au jus, extra points for that...

This past weekend was actually my second trip to Adamsons, the first time I tried the Top Sirloin dip, which was very good.

Top Sirloin French Dip Sandwich
I was pretty messy, but it was so good...

They also have Wood-Oven BBQ Sandwiches, but you don't go to a french dip place and have a BBQ sandwich, do you? I'm sure they're good...

They have the typical sides: french fries, onion rings, beans (wood-fired), potato salad, and cole slaw. AND they have a selection of premium root beers, including their own Adamsons Root Beer.

One of the best dipped sandwiches that I've had, love that they fire roast their meats, nice smokey flavor. Don't forget to ask for the Horseradish when you get your order.

If you have a special place like this that you go to, please share it with all of us...

806 W El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
(408) 830-9024

Closed Sundays...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fried Artichokes - Happy Fryday!

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While the world watches the Royal Wedding today, I'm wondering why they're not serving "Fried Artichokes and Chips" at the reception? LOL!

One of my favorite vegetable is the artichoke, had to look it up to be sure it's a vegetable. I like them marinated on an antipasti platter, with pasta, in sandwiches, and on pizza. At the food shows, you'll usually find me sampling all of the the marinated artichokes, including the Roman-Style ones too.

Most places don't know what to do with artichokes, except for taking them out of a can. Most people eat artichokes steamed. But for those who've seen the movie "Sideways" and have been to the "Hitching Post II" know about the grilled artichokes served with the smoked tomato mayo. One of the best grilled artichokes I've had.

World's Largest Artichoke
Giant Artichoke Restaurant
Castroville, California

I went up to Northern California to visit family during the Easter weekend and made a detour through Castroville, the artichoke capital of the world. It's been awhile since I last traveled through town and had some fried artichoke hearts at one of the many places around town that served them. I happened to drive right by the Giant Artichoke Restaurant and saw that the parking lot was pretty empty, so I stopped. Usually the parking lot is filled with tour buses in front of the produce stand and gift shop, but it was early and there was parking. I ordered a sandwich and some fried artichokes to go, wanted to get home in time for the Laker game. After seeing how they played during Game 4, shouldn't have been in a hurry to get home...

French Fried Artichoke Hearts
Served with Mayonnaise

For $8.95, you get a good amount of artichokes and side of mayo. They tasted just as I remembered, how could it not be good?

They're FRIED and served with Mayonnaise!

At home with some Ranch Dressing

The fried artichokes were just as good later that evening, this time served with a side of ranch dressing. Didn't think to ask for ranch at the restaurant...Next time...

Overall it was a nice detour on the way home and a chance to eat something that I haven't had in years and it was FRIED!

Would love to hear your comments and I'm always interested in hearing about any unique food places like this...

Happy Fryday!

Giant Artichoke Restaurant
11261 Merritt Street
Castroville, CA 95012
(831) 633-3501

Photos by Jay Terauchi

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pho Filet Mignon

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With last week's discussion of ramen with Randy (a friend's client), it got me thinking about one of my favorites...Pho, saimin is the other favorite.

I'm not sure exactly why I love pho? I know it has a clean taste compared to ramen and I get to put in all of condiments myself. After eating pho, I don't feel sluggish like I do after I eat ramen. Vietnamese food is light and fresh tasting, but I cautious you, it can be very spicy. That's one thing that I like about it, you can adjust it to your taste.

Pho Filet

The one I order here is the Pho Bac, which is the filet and the one in the photo above. I think it has to do with the amount of minced filet mignon that they give you. With ramen, once the 3 slices of pork are gone, it's pretty much over for me. With this pho, there's a lot of filet and a wider noodle. One of the places that I like is Pho Huynh in South El Monte. It's located next to an auto parts store, but it's a true pho place. If you order the Pho Bac, you'll be served in a metal bowl with a wider noodle.

I'm really not the pho expert, but my friend is... Visit his site for more information on Pho and Vietnamese food at

Ahh great, now I'm hungry again...

Pho Huynh
9706 East Garvey Avenue
South El Monte, CA 91733
(626) 350-6688

Photo by Jay Terauchi
(c) Kahuna of the Kitchen

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ramen Monday

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The other day I was visiting a friend's restaurant, he asked me for the name of a good ramen place for one of his customers. Before I answered, I asked a few questions. Although my friend didn't know, he called his customer Randy over to my table. I realized that this guy really didn't know too much except for the ramen lists he's seen online and the three main soup bases: Shoyu, Shio, and Miso.

I explained that each region in Japan is known for their own style and taste. This opened the door to an hour long discussion of ramen. I don't claim to be an expert, but my friend Keizo is, he runs Keizo moved to Japan to learn ramen and has trained at Tokyo's hottest ramen spots. Just following his ramen adventure in Japan makes you want to try the number of places he's been.

I'm not much of a traditionalist when it comes to some foods, so I'm not really a fan of shoyu (soy sauce), shio (salt) , and miso ramen unless it has a twist to it.

For Randy, here are some examples I spoke about:

Hakata Ramen
Rich soup stock made from pork bones

Ebi Wantan
Shrimp wonton ramen
Foo Foo Tei

Shoyu Ramen
Pork broth and soy sauce

Karaage Chicken Ramen
Japanese fried chicken ramen

Gyoza Ramen
Dumpling ramen - the best of both worlds

So for Randy, enjoy your ramen on Monday and let me know where you finally decided to go...

Photos by Jay Terauchi

Friday, April 8, 2011

Happy National Empanada Day!

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April 8th is one of my favorite #foodcalendar days, it's National Empanada Day! If you don't know what an empanada's a baked or fried filled pastry found in Latin America and Europe. A wide range of meats, seafood, vegetables, and fruits are used.

Chicken Empanada

The great thing is each region makes them different. I've had Brazilian ones with ground shrimp, Venezuelan ones with stewed meat, and Columbian ones with pork and chorizo. Doesn't really matter what type or style you've had, there's nothing that beats a pastry with tasty fillings.

Maybe next year, I'll do a Korean beef and cabbage one. Otherwise, I'll enjoy my chicken and vegetable ones...


If you're interested in following along the #foodcalendar, you can find us on Twitter using the hashtag "#foodcalendar" and join us OR there are many food calendars online. Regardless, enjoy food...

Please share what your favorite empanada is and what you think.

Happy National Empanada Day!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Japanese Lunch Specials in LA

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We're living in a time where the economy doesn't allow for extravagant lunches right now, we're all looking for GOOD lunch bargains. This week, I visited two Japanese places that really have that old skool flavor, taste, and price.

Karaage Chicken Bento
Bento Man

Bento Man is a small takeout place with picnic tables. All the food is "a la minute" or cooked to order and that makes it better than those found at the Asian grocery store. It's a bit more American taste, probably why I like it so much, without being too traditional Japanese. It's also a bargain, I've purchased the same fried chicken bento at Mitsuwa for $6.99, not sure how long it had been sitting in the grab & go case.

My only concern, with a name like Bento Man, the bento menu is small. Other items on the menu are ramen, udon, curry, and sushi rolls. But the bento is the real deal here.

Bento Man
1500 S. Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(323) 733-5316
They just changed their hours

Lunch Special
Sushi Dragon

Chicken teriyaki, tempura, California roll, salad, miso soup, and rice for $8.99. Some might say that $8.99 is expensive for lunch, but the quality of the food is the hidden gem here. I've spent the same amount of money at a takeout place that has everything pre-made and Sushi Dragon is a place that is restaurant quality and serves "a la minute" or cooked to order.

These days it's really hard to find a good tempura, most restaurants don't really know how to make it like back in the 70's. The kitchens that I've worked in they all have their tricks in how the batter should be. Some use ice cubes to keep the batter really cold, some use soda water, others add more potato starch to it. The secret is the oil temperature, but not many people know this. Regardless, Sushi Dragon is one of those places that know how to make tempura.

It is a true Hidden Gem in the San Fernando Valley...

Sushi Dragon
8069 Vineland Avenue
Sun Valley, CA 91352
(818) 768-4507

Please share any food finds, I'd love to check it out...