Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Southern Way to Dine at Preux and Proper

Here's one for the books. What's the best way to have a gin or a southern tea? The preux thing to do is to serve it with fried chicken. The proper thing for the southern tea is to have with biscuits.

In no time, people put it together and have biscuits and fried chicken. Don't get me started on the waffle business mixing with fried chicken... never understood it. Butter goes better with biscuits than syrup on a waffle.

Punk Evans - Beluga Vodka, Lemongrass, Thai Basil, Watermelon Balls

Preux and Proper is an unique dining experience of having an upscale Southern comfort food that locates at the heart of the fashion district in downtown LA. If you ever seen the Triangle shaped restaurant that is in the middle of two converging streets that overlooked on the "A" shaped corner of the street, you'll know you hit the spot.

Honey Lavender Earl Grey Old Fashioned

This Cajun and Creole hot spot didn't always attracted the crowd that they have right now. I think it was the fact it was trying to cash in on the New Orlean's burbon street atmosphere crazy of the Mardi Gras. In my recollection, the frozen daiquiris with the happy hour crowd was a big reason I didn't think much of coming here, but it was a big hit. So never had a good reason to dine here.

Out of the blue, I swore... something changed overnight.


Maybe it was the fact a new chef who  came in two years and decided to overhaul the concept of this southern comfort food restaurant and make it a dining destination. Why not take advantage of the place having the piazza that oozes comfortable chic vibe. It's a gorgeous view from the patio seating (fight for that table spot for reservation should be an Olympic sport). Revamping the cocktail menu, abet the frozen daiquiris get to stay.


Upscale dining on a fried chicken and corn on the cob with some amazing drinks? You'll be amazed  how some of it actually paired up and worked to the right tone. The biscuit that comes with the fried chicken works great with the Old Fashioned I had. Although I think I should have gone with an ice tea at the time.

The menu consists of everything you would have gladly ordered down at the Louisiana like po boys, grits, cornbread, hush puppies, jambalaya, catfish, and gumbo. It does bring a perspective on how a simple comfort food can be re-imagined. Remembered about my post on Taiwanese food (Kato) ?

Thoroughly unexpected as I was trying to imagine a Mardi Gras crowd with the frozen daiquiris, but it's much more of mix of middle aged and younger hipsters. No where near the USC students I was expecting. A classier vibe I guess than a rambunctious chaos of party zone.

My big take on this over is to try their catfish next time. With all the great cocktails and other southern influenced drinks, it's hard not to come back here for dining. Who knows? Maybe I'll be adventurous and get the frozen daiquiris.

It's the Preux and Proper way to have a southern dance.

Preux and Proper
840 S Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014

Preux & Proper Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, October 26, 2018

The One Stop Food Hub at The Gallery Food Hall

It's been a while since my visit to Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade.

I was both astoundingly fascinated and excited to see how much have changed since my yesteryear's visit here in this hip trendy area of the town. The city still attracts beach goers and world wide tourism, but they still kept much of its bohemian charm in many part of the city.


Gallery Food Hall on the popular Third Street Promenade presents a new hub for food lovers looking for the one stop everything dining options. Think of Costco for bulk buying or your local mall for everything and anything shopping.

The Gallery Food Hall surprising also has some of the most well known chefs coming here to set up shop for their stands. Here are some of the dining options available.

SUMO DOG (1st Floor Rear)
29945137487_4e6c494b96_zComplete line up of the Banh Mi Dog and Wasabi Tots
29945136577_52e4017370_zBanh Mi Dog - Daikon, Jalapeno, Cucumber, Lime, Fish Oil, Spicy Mayo, Wasabi
44161320554_6c9327bee9_zFurikake Spiced Rice Tots
Sumo Dog was popular among the vendors in the Coachella Music festivals in many years. Now with a new brick and mortar location in Santa Monica's Gallery Food Hall on the popular touristy attraction area, anyone can enjoy the offerings without going to the music festival.


Their big attraction is obviously their hot dogs infused with many of their popular condiments, but also their unique takes of infusing some of the ingredients from Asian influences. Their take on the rice tots (not potato) is a must get if you wanted something new. Their former location was at a Koreatown place along busy stretch of Vermont Avenue I have visited before. This location is much better suited for the clientele and fans they are hoping to attract.

Oh, one big addition amidst the current time, they are also offering burgers now.

STRFISH (2nd Floor)
43187460390_3978f5c333_zStrFsh Swordfish and Salmon sandwiches with fries
43970392975_36dd829621_zTasty Fries
29945171957_a6a3a32972_zSalmon Sandwich with tartare sauce
43970393785_09f83159cd_zSwordfish Sandwich
One of the offering at Gallery Food Hall on Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade. Strfsh is from Voltaggio Brothers who are Top Chef Winner and Finalists in Season 6. Michael and Bryan Voltaggio are introducing this fast casual fare on the 2nd floor of the Third Street Promenade's newly remodeled food hall. The best ones I got was the Swordfish sandwich and Salmon sandwich.

I also wanted to point in that these fries that accompanied the fish sandwich combo are probably the ones I would get by itself if needed. Go to the balcony patio tables and enjoyed the view of the happenings on third street. People watching have never gotten this good.

Sloan's Ice Cream (1st Floor Front)


This is one of the best attraction for a dessert place. It's perfectly situated right in the front facing the street. The fact that it automatically attracts the walk-in foot traffic and makes visitors visit other part of the Food Hall will be a benefit to everyone.


Sloan's Ice Cream has other delightful desserts that a whole family can enjoy. It's worth mentioning in that the type of crowd on the first floor tends to give the family atmosphere with their own outdoor veranda. While the 2nd floor has an unique situation where the dining fare tends to skew towards on the sophistication side.

Interestingly, there are other future dining options plans to open in The Gallery Food Hall. That also includes a pizza place next to a gourmet taco place I mentioned earlier (Azule Taqueria) and an open space next to Sloan's Ice Cream.

Click "Play" to see the 2nd Floor Patio View

Oh, here's a kicker, the fine dining tasting menu oriented restaurant Dialogue opened by the Alinea alumnus Dave Beran is opened there too. So you can see, this food hall has a bit of everything for anyone who just wants to eat.

There are just so many options to choose from and many exciting things happening at this particular hub center for dining options. Once it complete the space, this will be the one stop for the dining area for all foodies alike.

Best part for any tourists from out of town? It's only only 12 minutes walk to the beach and minutes from all shopping stores. Can we say "win win"?

The Gallery Food Hall
1315 Third Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA 90401

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A Toast to Asian Fusion at Urban Cup

Here's a fascinating thing about the word "fusion", it sometimes get people riled up when you hear that word. Pretty much it meant mixing two or more entities together into one.

For the culinary world, it often meant combining two types of cuisines into one. If you ever heard of kimchi taco, oxtail pho, or even Orange Chicken (super popular), then you automatically assumes Asian Fusion. This gets all umbrage started. Why? Perhaps, people like it simple on how they remembered.

Short Ribs with Garlic Rice and Fried Egg

One of the cool aspects of visiting behind the Orange curtain, south of Los Angeles, was the fact Asian Fusion dining options have multiplied in recent years. It got to a point where a quota was basically needed for every corner. Kidding...

Loaded Fries with Filet Mignon Cubes and Fried Egg

The newest of this Asian Fusion establishment is Urban Cup, which situated to the ever growing presence of the newer aspect in Cypress College area, where students have better dining option. This establishment will attracted a few things that college students and residents will love about: options.


Think of the poke craze where you choose your protein (from filet mignon cubes, salmon, and ribs) with the choice of sides (garlic rice, noodles, and fries), you get your own customizeable meal. For some of us, this reminds us of combining what we love of our American fare and maybe with the sides of what we love in our Vietnamese cuisine.

Imagine you can get anything you wanted and customized to your liking, this would be a fantastic fast casual place anyone ever wanted and can enjoy this any time.

Now, if only we can do something about the stigma with the word "fusion"...

Urban Cup Cafe
9515 Valley View Ave
Cypress, CA 90630

Urban Cup Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

There's LA Pizza Finally at Superfine Pizza

Is there such a thing as "Los Angeles Pizza"? If other cities gets a distinction, why poor ol' Angelenos down here never gets a special pizza?

Many pizza lovers associated thin fold-able pizza as New York style. If you ever seen pizza stuffed with toppings and cheese in a pan like a shepherd's pie, we automatically assumed it as Chicago's style or Deep Dish, which again associated with that city. Fear not, we might actually have something for the City of Angels.

The menu for their six pizzas are on the right hand side in large display

Superfine Pizza, from the fantastic team that gave us Angelenos some of the finer restaurants in Los Angeles such as Rossoblu and Sotto. Those two places already serves some of the finest Italian cuisine, which dazzles many fine dining crowd here. You can bet pizza will be one as well.

If that's the case, why opened up another one in LA? More importantly, foot steps from their critically acclaimed winner Rossoblu? Oh, did I also mentioned in that Superfine is more of a take out window, than a sitdown restaurant?

Press "Play" to check out the courtyard in front of the place

Several observations off that bat on my few visits. I noticed in that you can ordered a few ways. Either an entire 18 inch pie cut into slices or by the slice which average out to $4 each. If you are in big party or have major hunger, the 18 inch would be better deal. If you want to try one of each or just want to take photos of the entire collection, then be my guest on ordering per slice.

Secondly, it's credit card only. Not saying most dining establishments are looking towards electronic payments over cold, hard cash. Based on what I read, it basically protect the place from carrying cash as they do opened towards late of the night. Not surprisingly, they do get the fallouts from people who just left the bars and cocktail lounges nearby. Pizza would be great to soak things up.

Salami Honey Pizza

To my initial thought, this place has something to offer that may give a distinction of a LA pizza. Initially Superfine named a combination of buckwheat honey and spicy salami as Spicy Honey Pizza. This pizza's two star attraction ingredients on top of provolone and Grana Padano cheese makes it an absurdly mouthwatering pizza. You have to imagine on how the crust is being appreciated. If you love a Neapolitan style dough, you definitely will love this.

I have heard they might integrated other style pizzas. My best hunch was that a thinner crust will be easier and faster to churn out if the idea of fold-able pizza is in play for customer who are looking for something simple. So far, the menu are kept in manageable numbers of items with some sides in their repertoire. There are plenty of sodas selections in stock as well for that quench of thirst.

Several thoughts on opening up a take out joint near there flagship would be the fact that the staff can be interchangeable.. for now. More importantly, I can see them opening something similar to this stand at other venues/food hall. This would be an easy cinch when it catches on.

Here's one down of this Salami Honey pizza for LA. Spicy Honey is the bet for LA pizza. It may not be a square or fold-able, but it is spicy and sweet that we can't forget.

Superfine Pizza
1101 San Pedro Street Unit F
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Newest Gourmet Tacos Discovered at Azulé Taqueria

Have you ever had cactus before? Being honest, I never thought the desert plant can be edible. To make it as tacos was quite something else.


Santa Monica has evolved in recent years where it used to be a tourists attraction because of the beach along the coast line to mega shopping mecca in the heart of the downtown area. In recent years, it started to make comeback as a culinary destination as it once was back in the late 1990's where some of the finest dining would be settled in this hotbed.

One of the newest entry to formidable dining scene was a food hall enacted on the busy Third Street Promenade called Gallery Food Hall.

Azulé Taqueria is the newest venture from an established restaurant group K2, which also introduced StrFsh in the same food plaza. Located on the 2nd floor in the Gallery Food Hall, was this exciting casual fare that introduced us to many gourmet tacos.


As I promised a grilled Cactus is used as protein for a taco. Fascinating as it sounds, for me I had to get used to the big chunk, as I was never quite sure this plant can be digested. For some reason, the perception was pins on skins. Eventually I got over it and did wound up loving the fantastic flavor.

The more I pursue the menu, the more I discovered many of the tacos have some elaborated elements to their tacos components that would make a great tapas for some. A fantastic place to grab an elevated casual food and enjoy the atmosphere of a fine surroundings.


As you decided to spent time to look around the food hall, you'll discover a great balcony view overlooking the third street promenade. In a way it was a hidden oasis as I discovered not too many people had ventured out this far yet. Great for now, but will be busier once news gets out.

As I was writing this, Azulé Taqueria are having their promotional sales of Buy one get one free of their tacos until 10/16/2018. It's a great way to try out many of their fine selections.

Azulé Taqueria
1315 3rd Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Best Sushi Omakase In Orange County at Sushi Noguchi

I often get a suggestion on where are the best sushi places people ever gone to. Not surprisingly, it often led to a massive letdown.

Fear not, this one tip pays off as someone suggested that I hit up Sushi Noguchi. Be warned tho...it's in Yorba Linda.

This sushi location strangely enough would not be in some fancy plaza or some upscale locale, but at a strip mall with a supermarket close by. The only reason I would go on a trek to this suburban abyss was that a few friends' families have a gathering in their million dollar community that is far from the busy streets of inner cities. Good thing brand new homes are popping up in droves on this forgotten desert zone.

Sushi Gnocchi
The First platter

The nondescript sushi place may not looked very much on the outside, but incredibly I think the sushi being presented here speaks for itself.

Several things I noticed right off the bat in this place was there are different tiers menu on which type of omakase were being offered. They have several preset meal sets that are somewhat considered a modify omakase. Small scale version if you will, but i decided not to do that and go for the real deal.

Here is a question I'm sure that will get asked... is the chef a sushi nazi like other famous/well known chefs that are out there in needing to be a control freak? Probably not, when you get a modify omakase as a value meal in the menu. More importantly, probably will not be off putting like certain ones that are out there.

Sushi Gnocchi

Second, you'll probably asked is how a traditional omakase works? There are no price set as it is determine by how much you ate and which type of fish that night are being offered. You pretty much handing your wallet over to the chef, but you'll be guaranteed the meal will be served to your absolute satisfaction. Definition of omakase: "I'll leave it to you" (literal translation).

Sushi Gnocchi

You are getting some well known established sushi (the ones with vinegar rice) and some sashimi (which is no rice) that are on the menu on the a la carte to start off, but then gradually you are moving towards to the fantastic fishes that are not being offered in the standardized menu. It'll commingled back and forth between the established dishes and the hard to get dishes.

Often times, you got to take that chance and hope the chef really know what he's doing. I'm quite pleased on this being one of my most fond sushi place that I absolutely enjoyed.

Often times, it's not price that determines the worth or whether or not it validates the proclamation of the best sushi. For this case, I will say Sushi Noguchi is one of the only three places I can totally put my wallet in the chef's hand and know I will not regret at the end.

I don't even trust my father with that!

Sushi Noguchi
18507 Yorba Linda Blvd
Yorba Linda, CA 92886

Sushi Noguchi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato