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LDH Kitchen The Robata Brings New Elements To Santa Monica

LDH Kitchen The Robata, a new restaurant in Santa Monica, integrates modern technology into the fine dining experience. LDH Kitchen The Robata is a part of LDH restaurant group, known for 14 established restaurant locations in Japan, ranging from shabu-shabu to coffee shops, this is LDH’s first venture into the North American dining scene.

LDH Kitchen The Robata
2518 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403
https://www.ldhkitchen-la.com/

Fire Apple Cocktail

The ambiance is based on the idea of projection mapping- a projection technology used to turn objects into a display surface for video projection. Think legit TRON vibes. In the front of the restaurant, there is a display of fire as well as at the bar area. The front of the house, including the bar, represents fire.

The private VIP room is very calming, since it represents water. When you walk in, there is a long turquoise table, with images that resemble fish projected onto it. When you place a glass on the table, ripples of water react to the cool temperature. A plate being set down entertains with fish swimming around it. The wall also projects an underwater world, giving guests legit The Little Mermaid vibes. Additional seating includes a beautiful Omakase bar, that seats about eight people and another private room that can also be opened up for a bigger party.

Executive Chef Makoto and Sous Check Sato

This spot practices robata, the classic Japanese method of cooking meats and vegetables over hot charcoal. Cold appetizers, sushi dishes are also options. Executive Chef Makoto and Sous Chef Sato prepared many different items for the private dining event I attended. There were twelve dishes prepared and three desserts. Items included: the Dome Salad, Sashimi Plate, Salmon Carpaccio, Shishito, Dashimaki-Tamago with Blue Crab Sauce, Corn Kaki-Age, Chicken Nam-ban served with Tartar sauce, Robatayaki (Japanese Charcoal) Kobacha with Butter, Broccoli, Asparagus, Chicken Thigh, Wagyu Sirloin Prepared Sukiyaki Style Topped with Uni, Truffle Takikomi-Gohan served in Japanese Style Clay Pot, Sweet Potato Crème brûlée, Chocolate (Vegan) cake, and Japanese Style Rare Cheese Cake.

Chicken Thigh

My favorite dishes were the Dome Salad, the Salmon Carpaccio, the Robatayaki Vegetables and the Wagyu Sirloin topped with Uni. See the full menu here.

Wagyu Sirloin Prepared Sukiyaki Style Topped with Uni
Sweet Potato Crème brûlée, Chocolate (Vegan) cake, and Japanese Style Rare Cheese Cake

Mixologist Eric Jas made two outstanding cocktails that are showstoppers. The first one he created is called the Fire Apple- Pinot Noir, Apples Juice, and Cinnamon. Then there’s the Water Berry-  Blueberry, Butterfly Sake (one of my faves), Soda Water, Mint spray, Blueberry garnish. Visual bonus: once you add lemon, it turns purple.

Water Berry

LDH is my new favorite restaurant this year, and I think it will be the hottest spot to check out in Santa Monica! Be sure to reserve a table in advanced here.

Myself and Veena Crownholm

Although this tasting was comped by LDH Kitchen The Robata and Creative Director Nelson Diaz, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

MEDIA TASTING: The Thirsty Merchant in Valley Village, CA Brings Out The Kid In Us!

Los Angeles, I’ve just found your new go-to summer hangout! If you’re looking for good drinks, good eats, and fun games in a laid back but classy atmosphere, look no further than the Thirsty Merchant in Valley Village.

THE THIRSTY MERCHANT 

12430 Riverside Dr
Valley Village, CA 91607
http://www.thethirstymerchant.com

I enjoy watching and playing games as much as the next girl, but I usually avoid my local sports bar because I’m not interested in jockeying for a spot at the pool table with a bunch of annoying bros.

Thank goodness for the Thirsty Merchant. Not only are there plenty of games to choose from (bocce ball, foosball, corn hole, darts—even giant Connect-Four!), but the vibe is warm and inviting with an elegant Victorian-inspired twist. The bar is impressive, and they offer a wide selection of beers, but they also have an excellent wine and cocktail list for those like myself who aren’t into brews.

Hot Lips

Upon arriving, my companion and I settled into a cozy, dimly lit booth and perused the menu. We decided to start off with a couple of spicy drinks to get things going. He ordered a Hot Lips cocktail made with jalapeño infused vodka, mezcal, lime, pineapple juice, and vanilla simple syrup. I ordered a Merchant Mary with Bang Bang Shrimp Cocktail from the “Day Drinks” menu (which, by the way, accompanied a rather appealing weekend brunch menu that I intend to return for).

The Hot Lips definitely did as its name implied- it made my lips tingle with flavor. I know spicy drinks aren’t for everyone, but if you enjoy heat, definitely try this drink out. It has a smoky taste on the front end, builds into a zesty jalapeño burn, and softens with the sweet vanilla finish. Delicious!

The Merchant Mary was also a very solid Bloody Mary, though after trying the Hot Lips, it didn’t seem spicy enough for my taste. But the mix is fresh and made in house and had all the right elements – including a refreshing celery flavor that I really enjoyed. Be careful with this one though… it makes for some really easy drinking, and I didn’t realize how strong it was until I finished it. Oh, and did I mention the zesty and meaty shrimp that was the prize at the end of the drink? (Or are you one of those people who eats all the garnishes first? No judgement here!)  

For an appetizer we tried the Roasted Shishito Peppers which were UH-MAY-ZING. Who would think such a simple dish could be so delicious? For me, it was all about the perfect char and garlicky vinegar dressing the peppers were dressed with, and the equally mouthwatering truffle aioli that accompanied them. I could have eaten a bucket of these, but I had to save room for the rest of the night. 

We also tried a Sonoma Salad before diving into the main course. This salad is a refreshing summer treat made with crisp butter lettuce, roasted corn, candied walnuts, and dried cranberries, tossed with a light champagne vinaigrette and feta cheese crumbles. It would make a great meal on its own with some added protein like chicken or shrimp. 

There were a lot of other appealing appetizers that would make for good sharing with a group of friends, such as steak tips and pan-fried dumplings, but we decided to order something more hearty for our main course. After trying the shrimp in the bloody Mary I was tempted to go with the Louisiana Bang Bang Shrimp, but ultimately I decided to go with the Bistro Burger. My companion took a Southern route with the Southern Livin’ fried chicken sandwich.

It was time for a drink refill while we waited for our food and I simply had to try another “day drink” selection, the Frosé (“God’s gift to your mouth” as the menu states.) I have to agree. This is the perfect summer treat. I’m a sucker for frozen drinks, and this one is a delight. If you love rosé, you’ll enjoy its crisp and citrusy flavor. Plus, it’s just plain fun to drink.  

My companion got a Hotsy Tosty – another spicy drink, but more fruity and sweet than the Hot Lips. Like the first drink, it’s also made with jalapeño infused vodka, but the difference lies in the fresh strawberries, agave nectar, and fizzy ginger beer. I liked this one even more than the Hot Lips – but I’m partial to sweet and fruity drinks. You can’t go wrong with either choice. 

Before long our food arrived. The Bistro Burger was one of the best burgers I’ve had in a long time. The patty is ground in-house and crusted with pepper, topped with Boursin cheese and shoestring fries.

The burger was bursting with flavor – it had a hint of heat from the pepper tempered with creamy garlic from the cheese. It was as close to the feeling of having a fancy picnic with summer sausage and cheese as you could get in a burger. The shoe string fries were also perfectly crisp and the burger came with an additional side of them as well. I ate the whole thing, which is rare for me when it comes to burgers.

The Chicken Sandwich was equally amazing, but much heavier (as is to be expected with Southern-inspired cooking). The chicken was double-breaded with buttermilk and perfectly crusty on the outside and juicy-tender on the inside. The pimento cheese added a bit of heat, but the dill slaw provided a crunchy and satisfying cooldown.  

We were pretty stuffed, but we had to had to try the highly-recommended dessert: the Peanut Butter Pie. Trust me, you’ll want to order this one – it was so rich and delicious with its Oreo crust and creamy peanut butter filling. It even had a couple Reese’s cups as a topper along with crushed peanuts and a dollop of whipped cream. Peanut-butter lovers rejoice! 

I was honestly surprised by how good the food was for a place that offers sports and games. Oftentimes at bars like these, the food is an afterthought to the entertainment, but not so at the Thirsty Merchant. Come to watch your team on one of the many screens, or get a group together to share some apps and play a round of bocce ball (or three.) Or come with a date and snuggle into one of the cushy booths and enjoy a romantic cocktail. You can do it all at the Thirsty Merchant, and I for one will be making it one of my hangouts this summer. Connect-Four, anyone? 

Follow Girls on Food at the 25th Annual Taste of Yountville

Hey GOFoodies! I’m super excited to share that March 17-18, I’ll be heading to the legendary Taste of Yountville festival (a part of Yountville Live). This two-day food, wine and music festival features world-class chefs, wineries and recording artists. I’ll be experiencing it all and sharing it with you on the Girls on Food Instagram stories! Be sure to follow along so you can see how the weekend unfolds.

I’m really excited for Stephanie Izard’s demo, which will share the globe-trotting inspirations behind her delicious recipes. A James Beard nominee and the first woman to win Top Chef, Izard is the culinary mind behind the acclaimed restaurants Girl & the Goat and Little Goat Diner.

I’ll be sure not to miss Frank Bonanno’s cheese making demo. The force behind the Mizuna cookbook and host of PBS series Chef Driven, Bonanno will share his tips and tricks for making burrata and mozzarella from scratch. I’m already hungry!

Next up is a lesson on cooking the perfect steak, featuring wines from Eleven Eleven and Michelin-starred chef Ken Frank of La Toque. After experiencing perhaps the best meal of my life at his restaurant, I can’t wait to see what Chef has in store for us.

All that excitement, and that’s only the lineup for day one! Day two includes a deep dive into how environment impacts flavor, featuring experts from Cochon555 and Silver Oak/Twomey Cellars; a demo by James Beard featured chef Lisa Dahl of Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante Italiano; and a session by Claudia Sansone, whose three decades of culinary experience includes writing cookbooks, producing television shows and running her own cooking school—not to mention various humanitarian projects. Follow @girlsonfoodblog so you can keep up with my adventure in real time. If you’re in the area, tickets are still available. Buy yours today, and don’t forget to say hello!

Woman of Size with Jana Schmieding Brings Body Confidence (and Comedy) to Women of LA

On January 20th, at The Lyric Hyperion in Los Angeles, Woman of Size LIVE!, a show featuring songs and monologues by female performers held their inaugural showcase. This audience inclusive show included sets by TV producer/podcaster Lorraine DeGraffenreidt, actress Ruha Taslimi, stand-up comedian Danielle Perez and was hosted by comedic writer/director Jana Schmieding

Women of Size (from top left) Ruha Taslimi, Lorraine DeGraffenreidt, Danielle Perez (from bottom left) Marcy Jarreau, Jana Schmieding, Maria Lopez and Babbs Lopez.

This show opened with a screening of Schmieding’s video Project Genesis, where the female performers in comedy discuss problematic behaviors towards their weight and race in their lives. Then the performers all gathered around a couch to discuss the intersections between their size and race. The show is as insightful as it is funny and women of all sizes and races will appreciate it.

You may have heard Schmieding’s Woman of Size Podcast, which also addressed these issues in a weekly format, also providing interviews with other women of size and color.

Later in the show, a screening of Schmieding’s other video, which is a webseries called Women on the Street also played. In this comedic series, plus-size twins Babs and Maria pick the brains of random on the street about weight issues.

Women of Size LIVE host Jana Schmieding

The next Woman of Size LIVE! show will take place on March 31st at The Lyric Hyperion at 8 pm.

BONUS FOR FOODIES: The Lyric Hyperion does serve food and beverages! Be sure to check out their menu here.

Keep an eye out on their site for more info.

Images by Leslie Korein