Monday, February 23, 2009

Special lunch combo (Tokyo Cafe, Little Tokyo)

I remember years ago when I used to work in the Little Tokyo area we used to eat at Tokyo Garden every Thursday to eat their lunch special. Only on Thursdays were you able to get the Chashu & Shumai Combination. All the old timers and locals knew what days were the "special" days. So years after I stopped working in the Little Tokyo area and learned that they had closed down, I was very saddened to say the least. Fast forward a few years....What? What's this you say? Tokyo Garden is opening again at a new location and under a new name. I can't believe it. I thought I would never get to eat their combo again. Wow! The good thing about the reincarnation of Tokyo Garden is that the new Tokyo Cafe serves the Chashu & Shumai Combination everyday but the bad thing is that they are not open for dinner. So only on special occasions when I am out that way or if someone happens to be in the area do I get to eat the Chashu Shumai Combo. I think of it this way, at least I still get to eat it. The combination once slipped through my hands but time was kind and the combination was given back to me like a heavenly gift. God I hope it doesn't get ripped from me again! Long LIVE Tokyo Cafe!

Chashu Shumai Combination

Tokyo Cafe
116 Judge John Aiso St.
Los Angeles, CA. 90012

Monday, February 16, 2009

One of my all time favorites! (Furaibo, City of Industry)

FuRaiBo is one restaurant that I used to frequent regularly when they were located in Little Tokyo because I used to work in Little Tokyo. Unfortunately they closed that location down years ago, but when I first started dating my wife years ago, she told me that there was this restaurant that just opened up right by her parent's house called FuRaiBo. Then it got me thinking "could this place be the same restaurant? or is my wife (my then girlfriend) mispronouncing it? sounds too good to be true!" Lucky for all us it was the same restaurant. I knew that the original was out on the Westside, but that was too far of a trek for us.

The one thing that keeps me coming back has got to be the tebasaki (chicken wings). I swear they must lace their food with some highly addictive drugs. I get these cravings for their tebasaki that are indescribable! I definitely would have to say FuRaiBo is one of my top 5 restaurants ever! Unfortunately I don't get to dine at FuRaiBo as often now. I guess it's pretty hard to maintain that once a week or once every other week visit to FuRaiBo :)

Age -Dashi Tofu
Furaibo's version of Age-Dashi Tofu (deep fried tofu served in a broth) is very good. The tofu has a nice light coating of potato/cornstarch and then is deep fried and served in tentsuya (Japanese dipping broth) sauce. Although I thoroughly love tofu, you would think that I would love eating Age-Dashi Tofu . But some odd reason it's not one of my favorite dishes.

Now this is one of my favorite dishes at FuRaiBo. The Age-Nasu (Fried Eggplant) is absolutely delish! The eggplant which is deep fried soaks up all that goodness of the broth and brings joy to my taste buds.

I have to admit, the first time I ordered this dish I fell in love it. It was love at first bite! All that crispy goodness contrasting with silky softness of the is pure Heaven! The tofu-katsu is served with a dipping sauce that is equally as good.

Gyu-Kushi (beef on a skewer) is another dish that is absolutely delicious. If I only could grill some meat like this at home. The meat is sooo juicy, tender, and tasty it should be illegal. Squirt a little lemon on this and eat it with some rice and you're good to go!

Now this is the true reason that I keep on coming back. The seasoning is a perfect balance of the slight sweetness and the taste of pepper alongside with the sprinkled sesame seeds which gives the tebasaki (chicken wing) a slight nutty flavor. Because of my inept quality to describe taste, I unfortunately can not begin to describe how good these really are. Again served with gohan (rice) you're good to go!

17859 Colima Rd.
City of Industry, CA. 91748

Monday, February 9, 2009

Simplicity! (Koshiji, Los Angeles)

Koshiji is one of those restaurants that truly has a special place in my stomach. Simplistic and delicate flavors are at the forefront of this yakitori/kushiyaki style restaurant. I've been dining here for well over 10 years now and I always leave wanting more. In the beginning, I didn't appreciate the subtle flavors, but as I've gotten older I've learned to appreciate simple and delicious food. If your looking for bold flavors this is not the place for you. Koshiji truly lets the main ingredients shine.

Chicken Karaage
For those who have read my blog before, you'll know that Chicken Karaage is one of my all time favorite dishes ever. I used to eat Karaage almost everyday while I was living in Japan. Koshiji's Karaage is pretty damn good when it is on....the problem is that this is one of the dishes here that for some reason is really inconsistent. When its good... its really good, but when its bad its just okay.

Elingi Foil
This pocket of goodness is filled with Elingi Mushrooms, Moyashi (bean sprouts), and a slice of lemon cooked on the grill with a dollop of butter and some shoyu. I'm not the biggest fan of mushrooms but I really like this dish. The elingi foil is slightly tart from the fresh lemon and is accompanied nicely by the shoyu flavoring. This is one mushroom dish I love!

Talk about simplicity at it's finest. Sasami (chicken tenderloin) wrapped with shiso leaf and grilled to perfection. The sasami is juicy and perfectly seasoned as the taste of the chicken is perfectly accented by the herbaceousness of the shiso leaf.

Yet another simple and delicious dish. The teba (chicken wing) is simply seasoned and grilled to perfection on the grill. Koshiji simply lets the chicken shine. The teba are absolutely delicious!

Now this is one of our absolute favorites. The Nasu-Maki (Japanese eggplant wrapped with pork belly) are so juicy and tasty they're GREAT! Wow...when I wrote that, I envisioned Tony the Tiger from the Frosted Flakes commercials :) Seriously though, if you like nasubi (Japanese eggplant) and pork belly (who doesn't) this dish is for you. If I only could order one dish, it would be this one.

"This corn is spectacular" is how one of my friends described the corn at Koshiji. It was kind of funny but a spot-on description of how this corn tastes. The corn is always really sweet and juicy. The flavor of the wood coals blends perfectly with the shoyu basted corn. The sweetness of the corn and the saltiness of the shoyu is a perfect balance. The corn at Koshiji has to be one of the best corn I have ever tasted!

You know me, anything with rice I love. The zosui (rice porridge with chicken) is a dish that really hits the spot. Although it is typically pretty good at Koshiji, sometimes it can be a bit over powering. The zosui is served in a hot pot with rice, chicken, carrots and mushrooms. You can add extra ponzu (citrus soy sauce) if you like, I prefer not to. This dish is really good during the winter months.

This is another dish that I always used to order in Japan whenever I had the opportunity. The problem with ordering yaki-onigiri (grilled rice balls) here in America is that they never take the proper time and care to go about cooking the yaki-onigiri. Too many places rush to make it and do not grill or season it enough. Some places also try to get all "Hollywood" and make it all fancy, but Koshiji, true to form keeps it plain and simple. We always order the yaki-onigiri in the beginning because it takes a long time to cook. They take the time to cook it right. The outside is crunchy and perfectly seasoned with shoyu and the inside is hot and fluffy. Perfection!

123 S. Onizuka Street #203
Los Angeles, CA. 90012

Monday, February 2, 2009

Celebrating 4 birthdays! (Mastro's Steakhouse, Beverly Hills)

Can you believe that we were celebrating 4 birthdays in our family? On this particular night we were celebrating my sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and brother's birthdays. All of their birthdays are about a month apart so we celebrated all of theirs together. So when they said that we were going to go to Mastro's, I was game! I was especially excited because of my memorable experience at the Costa Mesa location a few months ago and I was eager to try the Beverly Hills location. And you know me, I am always down to eat some kick ass steak.

My initial impression upon entering Mastro's Steakhouse in Beverly Hills was that this location felt more like a steakhouse than the Costa Mesa location. True to form of traditional steakhouses, Mastro's is really dark but unlike traditional steakhouses it maintains a more modern feel and decor. We were seated upstairs where the dining room was filled with an air liveliness. The jovial laughter and conversation from our table and surrounding tables permeated throughout the room and created this lively atmosphere. There was also a pianist playing and singing which also added to this atmosphere. It truly was a pleasant night, but then again, when isn't it a nice night when you get to share great food with family :)

Chilean Sea Bass
"Mama Gohan" ordered the Chilean Sea Bass and I was happy that she did :) I love when other people order different entrees that pique my interest. The Chilean Sea Bass was really succulent and buttery. It was really good!

18oz. Bone in Kansas City Strip
For some reason or another I veered away from my favorite cut of steak (ribeye) and ordered the 18oz. Kansas City Strip steak. Perhaps it was our waitress' doing. (Okay "Mrs. Gohan" close your eyes.....) Our waitress was extremely pretty and she said that it was her favorite steak, so how can I question her recommendation? Besides I figure I might as well be a little more adventurous and try different cuts. Although the steak was cooked perfectly and tasted great, I don't think it was as good as their Chef's Cut Ribeye.

Mouth watering bite size steak!
Here's a look at "Mrs. Gohan" holding up a piece of the Kansas City Strip for the camera :) The steak actually tasted better the next day, when I ate my left overs with some gohan (rice) But to me, everything tastes better with gohan :)

Wow.... Look at our dessert!
Our waitress had asked if we were celebrating anything and we informed her that we were actually celebrating four birthdays. We were waiting for her to come back to look at the dessert menu to see what else we would order, but when she came back and brought these lavish desserts, we were all shocked. She really did it up! Starting on the top left: Key Lime Pie, Butter Cake, Chocolate Cake. On the bottom left: Cheesecake and assorted fruits with whip cream. They were all so delicious! But my favorite has got to be the Butter Cake. It's so good! You can take a better look at my previous entry for a better view of it.

Mastro's Steakhouse
246 N. Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA. 90210