Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Golden State

The Golden State is like a neighborhood cafe that happens to serve beer; I wouldn't really call it a bar. When we first stopped by (a month or so ago), it was with hopes of finding a new spot to add into our weekend social rotation, so we were thrown by the atmosphere, which is more of a place to grab a low-key meal with a good friend than say, "dude, let's get buckwild!!!" I am down with both types of places, I'm just saying you should know what to expect. Recently, we returned for dinner:

Charles got the grilled chicken sandwich with sweet potato fries. No complaints here.

I got the burger, which was flavorful and filling: overall, a good showing. But, the slaw was excellent: so light and crunchy and not drowning in a pool of mayo. Plus, I haven't been eating vegetables much, so it was welcomed with even more enthusiasm than usual (I heart slaws a lot).

French fries with hazelnut romesco (I forgot it was described as such, so thought of it as red pepper dip when I was eating).

The owners apparently love ketchup, curry and label makers as much as I do! This stuff is not with a hint of curry, it's right in your face in a very addictive way. I alternated between dipping my fries in the curry ketchup, regular ketchup and the romesco.

Scoops raspberry triple sec gelato. This was my first taste of Scoops, a much acclaimed gelato shop in town. I was blown away by the complexity of flavors! This gelato was truly an eye-opener. I'm pretty sure The Golden State is the only place to carry their product outside headquarters. I plan on hauling ass to Scoops this weekend, end of story.

I'm hoping to become a regular here, especially with the summer's rapid approach (beer? gelato? forget about it!). The Golden State is a welcome and affordable addition to Fairfax Ave and I hope to see it prosper (looks like they're off to a good start as they were nearly packed on a Tues night)! Viva La Golden State!

The Golden State
426 N. Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Infield

Ever since I read about The Infield on Dig Lounge, it's been haunting my food pre-occupied mind. I am the girl who orders chili cheese hot dogs (although on this visit, I wasn't able to sample their version), so you can imagine how psyched I was to try this hot dog stand. Charles and our friend, Seve, were gracious enough to accompany me last Sunday afternoon.

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A classic hot dog (for Charles) and The Daily Special (for me!): a hot dog (I think the New Yorker with red onion sauce), fries and a Coke. Due to the cash only policy, which I hadn't bothered looking into beforehand, we were limited on what we could order! Next time!

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Fried Twinkies (for free via Twitter). Behold the powdered sugar.

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Recognize. I liked this dessert much more than I thought I would. I'd venture to say the fried version is better because the outside has a delightful crunch to it.

I have to go back to try the following: nacho cheese fries, chili cheese Fritos and one of the hot dogs with sauerkraut (they've got a lot of hot dog creations). My follow-up visit will need to be sooner than later 'cause I'm not doing outdoor dining in the Valley summer heat (it will slay me)!

The Infield
14333 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(818) 501-1850
Follow on Twitter for deals/freebies

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Chung Dam

I was all amped to try Pollo A La Brasa today, but was sadly deterred by their C rating by the public health department! I'm fine with B ratings, but gotta draw the line at C. I've had food poisoning incidents before, so I try my best to avoid living too dangerously. With the parking meter running, I had to improvise fast. Lucky for me, I parked right in front of Chung Dam Korean BBQ, a new restaurant on Western with a sparkly A rating.

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Banchan aka Korean side dish freebies. The quality of these small additions are important to me when forming an opinion about a Korean restaurant: these passed the mark nicely (didn't taste terribly MSG-laden and a satisfactory assortment)!

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More freebies.

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Red leaf lettuce, perilla leaves, seaweed and cabbage to wrap up my...

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Bulgogi! I know Korean short ribs get the most love and I adore those, but the thinly sliced marinated beef is cheaper and also delicious. Chung Dam's version is not too fatty.

The best part is that they have lunch specials daily (including weekends)! The above only put me back $12 and I had leftovers (the server was very friendly throughout and did not give me any attitude about asking for a box). The restaurant's interior is new and very clean, and they've got a patio area, which I'm sure will be nice on summer nights. I want to go back and try the grill for dinner (the lunch specials are prepared in the kitchen, not at the table). And of course, gotta try the nengmyun, the cold noodles that account for much of my summer diet!

Chung Dam
808 S. Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90005
(213) 389-0808

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I have most exciting news, friends: I attended my first ever food-blogger-related event last night at famed Thai restaurant, Jitlada! And it was a whole lotta Jitlada. I didn't keep count during the 3 1/2 hour meal, but I'm told it was 17 courses! Not surprisingly, I was the laziest out of the photographing bunch, but with some encouragement and prompting from the other more dedicated diners (thanks, Sharon and Po!), I clicked a couple:

Khua Kling salmon: turmeric flavored Southern style dry curry with green beans and salmon. The salmon was fine, but the fish paste was quite strong (thank you to Wandering Chopsticks for identifying that exquisitely singular ingredient for me!).

Softshell crab mango salad: one of the highlights for me, mostly because I am passionately in love with softshell crab.

Jitlada is known for its punishing and astounding spicy heat (hello, jungle curry!), but thankfully not all the dishes were of the "my mouth is numb and I need a block of ice" variety. Other items I enjoyed a lot: Crispy Morning Glory Salad, Kung Phae Chup Krung Thawt (fried ship with fried basil/tea leaf), Sun Hang Wua (mild and sour oxtail soup) and Kaeng Tai Khai Mang Kon (Southern style curry with jicama and housemade fish ball stuffed with duck eggs).

I'm pleased as punch that I was able to meet my fellow food bloggers and hope that there are many more food-centric gatherings to come! There were 33 of us, so I didn't get a chance to talk to everyone, but there's always next time. Gotta give a heartfelt shout out to the orchestrator of this intense Thai madness: Tony, thanks so much for the lovely event! You're going to throw these parties every week, right?

5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 663-3104

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hi, My Name Is...

From the management: I am now coming at you as Starchy Marie (no longer "Starchy")! Since it's always been my url, I'm guessing most of you already thought of me as Starchy Marie. I'm changing my blog name to make it a tad more personal.

I don't know that you all have anything to update with this NEWSFLASH, but as they say, please be advised!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Practice Makes Prettier (I Hope)

Taking good pictures of food is harder than you might think. I have a lot to learn, but I have recently acquired two reinforcements to help me photograph "better":

1. Photoshop Express: a free Photoshop service that probably does not come anywhere close to being a substitute for Photoshop, but is great for people like me (read: newbie to editing photos and without the funds to purchase Photoshop).

Yellow curry noodles at Nakkara: $8 lunch special! This photo was auto-corrected slightly with Photoshop Express; even though it was daytime, there wasn't a ton of light at my table.

2. Lowel EGO Light: Charles got me one of these lights for my birthday, which I'm very happy about! I need to play around and get better acquainted with how to best use this light, but I love it and the crisper looking photos it provides like the one below.

Spaghetti with mushrooms, garlic and pecorino: I was lazy that night and didn't use the reflector board, which would have given a brighter look on all sides (or so I would conjecture).

I leave you with a little round-up of bloggers whose photos have given me a dash of inspiration lately:

- udon & stilettos and her lovely posts about a recent trip to Napa. I've never been, but as her pictures prove, I should've gone ages ago!

- Gazing at Last Night's Dinner on any given day makes me wish I lived next door to this woman. Seriously.

- Each time I visit I'm Mad and I Eat, I wonder, why am I not eating that right this second? Mostly inspiring, but also (excuse the pun) maddening!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spinach Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

My nutritional intake has been very questionable lately. Weeknights are especially dicey as I will almost never enter the fray that is the dinner-time-rush at the grocery store (I know I should be better about stocking up over the weekend, but let's not dwell on that right now). I have not been abiding by Ellie Krieger's "eat the colors of the rainbow" advice at all, which is probably why I found myself craving a spinach salad over the weekend.

I baked the bacon in the oven (anything to keep the smell of bacon out of my hair), boiled some eggs and whisked up a dressing with dijon, honey, salt, pepper and... bacon fat (you can pretend this part never happened for the sake of your opinion of me). I planned on using extra virgin olive oil, but got to thinking deviously when I saw the fat on the baking sheet.

This salad can be put together very quickly; it only took me about 20 min. from start to finish. Definitely going to be a keeper as the warmer months approach, but it's funny because I can count on one hand the number of spinach salads I eat in a year and I never order honey mustard dressing. Maybe 2009 is the year everything changes!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hite Kwang Jang

I have been curious about Hite Kwang Jang for a long time; it's on Wilshire, one of Koreatown's major streets, and the word "Hite" always catches my eye. Now, I have no idea how the delicious Korean beer Hite is affiliated with this establishment, but I do know that I could put away a lot of pitchers here with the kind of no frills bar food they've got going on. Charles and I wrapped up the weekend with a Sunday night dinner amidst the kitschy decor (aside from the Korean alcohol ads, Hite Kwang Jang looks like a place that could serve Swedish meatballs and waffles; as in they have an inexplicable nutcracker statue).

Charles pours icy cool goodness into a glass mug, which I'm sure he would love to own. The beer was wonderfully cold!

One of Charles's favorite Korean dishes: dduk-bok-ghee (I hyphenate to facilitate). A spicy rice cake dish that is probably more snack or late night fare than an actual entree. HKJ's version is quite good and a healthy portion, to say the least.

Korean style (sort of) fried chicken aka tong-dak: see, I don't think of this dish as fried chicken straight up. More like roast chicken with super crispy skin and no breading. That pile of shredded cabbage has the obligatory Thousand Island dressing (Koreans love themselves some Thousand Island).

Sweet pickled radish cubes, which is served with the chicken. ONE OF MY FAVORITE ITEMS ON EARTH.

Freebie (I think) pan-fried cake: I heart Korean savory pancakes. I'm fairly sure this one had green onions and kimchi in it. Simple, but tasty.

We really enjoyed our meal here, it's harder than you'd think to find a quiet place to grab a drink and some grub without breaking the bank. Our bill was about $40, which included the cute 1000cc baby pitcher of Hite. Looking forward to many visits in the future!

Hite Kwang Jang
3839 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 384-8999

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

8oz Burger Bar

We had dinner at 8oz over the weekend, but this is the only photo I could salvage:

Let me describe my Melrose burger in detail as my photo is not much help: house blend beef patty, wild baby arugula, garlic roasted tomatoes and red onion marmalade. I added Bel Paese cheese (it was described to me as similar to provolone, I shrugged and said why not).

Very tasty, although I wasn't stuffed afterwards. I don't like unwieldy burgers, so I don't want these babies to be larger really. Maybe a salad or CHEESE CURDS (never had 'em, but have high hopes) would have been a good way to fill out the meal.

Charles and I split an order of fries, which were a pleasant surprise due to the amount of slightly crispy bits. I am extremely interested in trying a bloody mary on a future visit; maybe the smoky bacon one? A bacon stir-stick sounds worthy of investigation.

8oz Burger Bar
7661 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 852-0008

Saturday, April 4, 2009


My friend Mike and I have a long-standing brunch tradition we call Coffee'n'Cobb. Our latest meet-up was at Ugo, a casual Italian spot in Culver City (a place that does not offer Cobb salad, but we had a delightful time regardless). They were still serving breakfast, but I already had pasta on the brain.

I had the rigatoni with bolognese sauce. Pretty flavorful and the pasta was not overcooked! As Jean K. Jean would say: incroyable! And the basil on top complemented the bolognese really well; sometimes I find fresh basil overpowering, but I loved it here.

Mike ordered the egg, bacon and mozzarella breakfast panini. I believe his eyes rolled into the back of his head upon his first bite, so I'm guessing quite good. Didn't get a good shot of the filling, but yes, there was a lot of bread (not an optical illusion)!

And if there's an immense display case of gelato directly across from our table, you know we had to order some:

Mike's mango gelato (an intense fresh mango flavor and would be really good in the summer. Thanks to our server for the initially-confusing-but-later illuminating two spoons per dish, which allowed us to try each other's gelato!)

My dulce de leche gelato (very sweet and awesome! I know I should try another flavor next time, but it'll be hard to branch out from this caramel-y goodness.)

I thought maybe Ugo was yet another hyped restaurant with mediocre food, but I enjoyed the food and the prices were reasonable (with the above and two coffees, our bill was under $40). Their menu has many items I'd like to try, such as lasagna and ravioli, salads and antipasti. Service was okay; friendly, but it took us a while to pay the server. I plan on coming back to Ugo soon (hopefully next time I won't be knocking stuff off the table while trying to photograph my dining companion's food)!

3865 Cardiff Ave
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 474-4482

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Russet Potato Salad with Greens and Bacon

I had two potatoes in my possession, which had been planned as cheapo dinner options, but I didn't think about how long it'd take me to preheat the oven and bake them on a weeknight. So, they were still just sitting on the counter by the time the weekend rolled around. After a search on trusty Epicurious, I found this recipe for Yam and Russet Potato Salad with Greens and Bacon. I tweaked it a bit: only used potatoes, had to use regular mustard after realizing I had thrown out the dijon, and halved the recipe measurements. I had some parsley on hand, so threw that in as well.

I liked this warm salad a lot! The smoky bacon worked really well with the greens and the sweet and vinegary dressing (I imagine it is even better with dijon, the regular yellow mustard was a bit harsh). I'm always pumped to discover new ways to cook familiar-bordering-on-boring ingredients! I highly recommend this recipe, folks.