Sunday, August 29, 2010


Tiato interior

I've been pretty diligent about not spending money on workday lunches, so I felt all right taking a day off the waiting-for-the-microwave rotation and heading to Tiato for, as I imagined it, "something Vietnamese."

Tiato rice noodle bowl
Vietnamese rice noodle salad with lemongrass chicken and chicken rice crispy rolls ($9): hit the spot with the flavors, but missed the mark with the portion size. I wish I had ordered a side or soup; I'll know better next time.

Tiato hazelnut macaron
Hazelnut macaron ($1.75): my first and I enjoyed it, though not earth-shaking or life-affirming, which I was kinda expecting. The middle was dense and rich; I'm eager to try more macarons in the immediate future.

Although I was still hungry after my lunch at Tiato, I'd go back for another mid-day timeout from my desk. The menu is a bit puzzling (half the items are not traditional Vietnamese, i.e. turkey taco salad and a grass fed burger with beet horseradish aioli), but I suppose a smart move for their customer demographic as it is housed in the MTV Building in Santa Monica.

The serene dining room is full service on one side, pay at the counter and wait with your number card on the other (also grab-and-go with a salad bar and pre-made food). And for those wanting to smell the fresh air and feel the sun, there are tables in the spacious garden area, an unexpected treat. FYI: the restaurant is a little tricky to find; I walked in through the Colorado building entrance and had to ask the security desk for directions (you go through the long hallway of what look like offices and suddenly, there's Tiato); you can also enter through the East Garden Gate on Stewart.

2700 Colorado Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ramen Jinya

This summer has not been the most exciting for me in terms of food, but I am quite thrilled to have a new place to blog about: Ramen Jinya. My experience with Studio City restaurants has been a mixed bag and although there have been a few high notes amid the chain-heavy neighborhood, I've largely been disappointed. Happy to report, however, that Ramen Jinya is solid and will most likely become a craving-buster haven for me, especially in the colder months (or as "cold" as it gets in Southern California).

ramenjinya tonkotsu ramen

I'm not particular about having typical breakfast items for my first meal of the day (which goes back to my childhood of Saturdays eating cold pizza while watching cartoons), so I was quite game for a weekend brekkie of ramen. I ordered the ramen/ crispy chicken/salad combo for $12.50. For the ramen, the two options are Jinya (chicken broth and chicken meatball) or tonkotsu (pork broth and chashu); it wasn't a question for me, I went with the pork and did not regret it. The broth was rich, but not overwhelming, though as is the case with all Japanese ramen, I always have to drink water with the meal and I love salt (just an FYI).

ramenjinya crispy chicken

The crispy chicken had great flavor, marinated in a soy/ginger concoction, but as it was white meat, the pieces were a teensy bit dry. Still, I was in the mood for fried poultry, so I was a happy camper. I was very hungry when I walked in, so this amount of food was perfect (the salad was a basic green salad with an Asian dressing, but no pictures because they were out of focus). I enjoyed Ramen Jinya quite a lot and if people aren't already encountering waits at peak times, I have a feeling that will be the case very soon. Hmm, perhaps I've found a new breakfast joint?

Ramen Jinya
11239 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604