Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Mainland Poke


Poke is a wonderful thing that hails from a wonderful place: Hawaii! There are all kinds of poke, but when I hear the word, I think of raw tuna marinated with soy sauce and sesame oil on top of rice. I was so happy to eat poke while in Hawaii where supermarkets have dedicated poke "counters," much like deli or seafood sections. It is a beautiful thing to behold, all the different poke choices before you (memories!!). Poke is riding a big popularity wave right now in LA and I am pretty thrilled because it is a more affordable option to take care of those sushi cravings! Also, I’ve been trying to think of different ways to eat fish after hearing a piece on NPR last year (I think it was this one.).

I recently stopped in at Mainland Poke and tried the lu’au bowl with octopus, tuna and salmon; the pieces were not marinated, but a sauce of your choosing is added (I got the spicy shoyu). I also added tobiko because I cannot resist fish roe. The bowl turned out quite good and made me a happy camper. It was about $12 and, considering the quality of the fish, I thought it was worth it. The shop is small and very casual (like a sandwich shop where you pick and choose as you move down the line) with some counter seats and a few tables outside.

Parting thoughts: to me, any poke shop outside of Hawaii may come close, but will not be the real thing. The way I look at it, even with the best ingredients, the missing component would be Hawaii (the sand, the beautiful water, the relaxed state of happiness that occurs when you are there). It just won’t be the same. But, if you can’t go to Hawaii, let it come to you (sort of) by eating (sushi-grade) poke wherever you can find it! If interested, you can read more about poke over at Bon Appetit.

Mainland Poke
8312 1/2 West Third Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: (310) 234-8800

Saturday, October 17, 2015



This pumpkin sticky bun at Republique was very, very good. I savored every single bite. I have eaten at this place of joy and wonder a few times now and it makes me so happy. Walter and Margarita Manzke have created a thing of (food) beauty with their restaurant.

I can be a little jaded about LA food, but Republique is everyday magic* and has quickly made its way to the top of my take-people-I-love-here list. On my first visit, I had their salmon tartine and it was magnificent. It sounded simple on paper, but when I took a bite of all the components together, it was like time stopped. But, that's what Republique does; it surprises you about something you thought you knew (case in point: smoked salmon and some type of bread. I have had this combination many times in life, so didn't have high expectations. But, goodness, gracious, it was so good.)

If you go for dinner, you must have their bread, order something with butter and/or cheese and save ample room for dessert. They really know what they're doing on all fronts. Two things to keep in mind:

1. it is super popular. Patience is a virtue, but maybe have a snack before you leave the house; if you're going for dinner, make a reservation.

2. speaking of dinner, the price point veers towards "celebration" level. Fortunately, they have their menus with prices on their site (it is so helpful when restaurants do this!).

So, in short: I love Republique and hope you do/will, too.

624 S La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036

*this phrase means that even though I understand real people make this food, it boggles my mind.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Milo and Olive

This photo is of a recent breakfast of baked skillet eggs at Milo and Olive, which is a major favorite of mine. I love everything about this place: THE BREAD (this is one of Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb's restaurants; she is a master of baking and basically a local hero in my opinion), the coffee (they serve Caffe Luxxe, which is really strong and superb), the food in general, the beautiful space and the friendly and professional staff. The first time I ate here, I think I had a margherita pizza and it blew my mind. The crust was hold-the-phone good and I was telling people it was the best pizza in the city. Nowadays, I come in for breakfast, which makes for a wonderful way to start the day, especially during those moments when you need a pick-me-up because you're not living in Paris right now, for example.

But, I need to visit at a pizza appropriate time and have that glorious crust again. It was a pizza miracle. Also, if you're anything like me, you may daydream about having all your meals there like an heiress from a Wes Anderson movie, but we take what we can get. Take note: it is a popular place and they do not take reservations. They recently expanded the space and added more tables, but people really love this place, so consider the time of day and your hangry status before heading over. If you're dining solo, you might be able to snag a seat at the counter or the communal tables. But, just try to pick a non-peak time window and you should be okay. Trust me, it is so worth it.

Milo and Olive
2723 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90403

Monday, February 16, 2015

Homemade Granola

homemade granola

I am trying to make 2015 the year of learning basic recipes that will enrich my life forever (please note how I softened the resolve with "trying" rather than just saying this is THE year, people). Now, my idea of "stuff I should know how to make" will probably differ from yours; it's not like I want to cook my way through a famous cookbook. I don't even have a long list. Off the top of my head, it seems to be just "roast a whole chicken without batting an eye" and make-your-own granola. So, as you can see from the photo above, I'm off to a good start and the only thing I need to learn for the rest of the year is roasting a chicken. 50% of my list is complete! What an accomplishment!

As I knew it would be, making granola is super easy. It is somewhere above PB&J, but definitely below chocolate chip cookies on the difficulty scale (I feel like whenever an egg is involved, things instantly become more precarious and the outcome is a little less certain. Just me?). I used this straightforward and helpful recipe (it has a photo stills, you see). My granola turned out pretty good (I used lots of cranberries and raisins), but next time, I would throw in some slivered almonds and more honey. I was short on the honey, so I used only about 1/4 cup. Really, I wasn't expecting miracles from homemade granola; most of the satisfaction comes from knowing I made it and I can do it again. For me, learning something new, however small, makes that particular day special and gives it the tiniest bit of meaning.

Okay, so if I get serious about this list, a few sauces and some baked goods would probably end up on there. Oh, AND PANCAKES. For a fairly simple pleasure, there is so much mystery around making a good pancake. Let's see how I progress this year. Mastering the pancake might be more of a lifelong goal.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Clams with Garlic & Lemon

clams with garlic and lemon
I love clams. But, it's all about timing. They get too chewy if overcooked, losing their "je ne sais quoi" and resulting in abject disappointment for the eater. One way to avoid such a scenario is to make them yourself! At home! Once your clams are clean, the cooking phase is very quick. BTW, there are many different takes on how to get your clams grit-free. Choose whichever one suits your schedule; I soaked mine in cold water in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Now, on to the cooking steps:

Saute some chopped garlic, throw the clams in and pour white wine on top of them (add a little salt if you want, but they probably don't need it). Add lemon juice now and/or later when serving. Place a lid on the pot, wait for everything to bubble and the clams to open. Take one out to see if it's cooked enough and then turn the heat off. The only thing left to do is eat and cherish the moment.

One ingredient that was missing from my preparation: butter, which will be included next time because the broth needed some depth and richness. Can't wait to eat clams again! (Parting note: most people insist on bread to mop up the broth and they are totally right. I didn't buy any this time, so chose to drink it straight from the bowl.)

Sunday, October 12, 2014


I grew up eating persimmons, but thought it was an Asian thing. So, I am pretty pumped that they seem to be more mainstream now with recipes popping up everywhere; just look at Food 52's Your Best Persimmons contest! These little guys are Fuyu persimmons and I love them. Just so cute and cheery! Although, persimmons are a little more serious than other cute and cheery fruit (like Rainier cherries) because they herald the beginning of autumn, which I think of as the season of gravitas.

Winter is like a whole other thing because it has the emotions of the holidays and, depending on where you are, an enduring wait for spring/light at the end of the tunnel feel to it. I don't hear as much "when is it going to be over?!?!" exclamations about autumn. But, to give winter its due, it's the more "complicated" season (maybe that's a backhanded compliment).

Anyway, if you see persimmons and have never tried them, I encourage you to give them a whirl. It's difficult to explain what they taste like, it'll be easier if you just go for it. Unless you dislike most fruit, in which case, I don't know what to tell you.

And lastly, here's some delightful stuff I've seen online lately:

-Jolly Ranger Vodka from A Beautiful Mess! Sounds like a partayyy.

-3 Everyday Eyeliner Shapes from Cupcakes and Cashmere. I've been wanting to try a cat eye and these tips look very helpful.

-An articles club from A Cup of Jo. Love this idea, mostly because I am that person who is always telling you about this article or that op-ed someone wrote. I'd imagine it's more fun and a longer conversation (ha) if you discuss with friends who have also read it.

Happy Sunday!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Huevos a la Mexicana

huevos a la mexicana

Sometimes, I choose a recipe because it looks easy and the ingredients list is fairly short (okay, on most occasions, this approach is how I decide what to cook). When I was looking for something new to make for breakfast, this Huevos a la Mexicana recipe from Simply Recipes spoke to me (like, eggs? I know how to crack eggs. Tomatoes? We have great tomatoes here! And so on and so forth). I made a couple ingredient changes: instead of green onions and jalapeno, I used half a yellow onion and canned green chiles.

Well, I was floored by how good these turned out! I am so happy I made this dish!!! Don't think I've been this excited about eggs in a long time, not exaggerating. This thing was so good. I highly recommend it for a weekday breakfast when a packaged granola bar just won't cut it or a friend brunch gathering that needs some pizzazz; it will be a surefire hit. I'm definitely adding this one to my repertoire.