Girls on Food

Seafood

Sushi Burritos Hit The Vegas Strip: JaBurritos

JaBurritos Sushi Burritos
3545 S Las Vegas Blvd, Suite L12, Las Vegas, NV 89109
LINQ Promenade
http://jaburritos.com/

JaBurritos Sushi Burritos

Imagine your parents owned a sushi restaurant when you were a kid. Now, imagine you have moved across the country and opened the first sushi burrito restaurant in Las Vegas. Now, imagine you just opened the first sushi burrito restaurant on the famed Las Vegas Strip. Ken Aoki, the owner of JaBurritos, doesn’t have to use his imagination–he recently opened his doors on the LINQ Promenade, where he offers sushi burritos, bowls, and more.

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MeNami in North York, Ontario: U-don Know How Fresh This Udon is

MeNami
5469 Yonge St, North York, ON M2N 5S1
http://www.menami.ca/
http://www.instagram.com/menamitoronto/

You can’t miss this sign!

If you’re looking for some legit udon, MeNami is the place to be! Not only do they specialize in various udon dishes but they also make their udon fresh from scratch. Now, if you know anything about udon (thanks, Google) you’ll know that it is a very temperamental process. The owner, Chae Kim, sent her chef to Japan to learn the art form and brought this knowledge back to Toronto to adjust and perfect it for our crazy environment.

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Market City Caffe: Brews and Bites in Burbank

For the entire month of January, I endured Whole30, which meant no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no sugar, no alcohol, nothing of all the things I love to eat. So when February rolled around, I was only too happy to say “Ahola30” and dive back into the world of eating whatever the heck I want. There was one thing I was craving especially, and it was Italian food. Breadsticks! Pasta! Risotto! Cream sauce! Need I go on?

Market City Caffe in Burbank was exactly what I needed to fill the Italian-food-shaped hole in my stomach and I was excited to sample a number of their dishes paired with beers by 156 Verdugo West Brewing Co.

Market City Caffe
164 Palm Ave, Burbank, CA 91502

Market City Caffe is a casual, but classy, restaurant located on a bustling stretch of eateries in the heart of Burbank. The vibe is warm and lively with a welcoming, unpretentious air, and an open kitchen affords a view of meals being prepared under the care of executive chef Robert Chaidez.

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Oysters for People Who Hate Oysters: Fish City Grill in Dallas

Fish City Grill
18149 N. Dallas Tollway, Dallas, TX 75287
http://fishcitygrill.com/

Confession time: I don’t like oysters. I have tried them raw, fried, smoked and all the other ways imaginable. Really! I just can’t stomach them. Well, that has all changed since I chowed down on the Oyster Nachos at Fish City Grill. These babies are exquisite.

First, the fresh oysters are coated with a cornmeal batter and fried crispy. Then the little babies are nestled on a dollop of chipotle tartar sauce on a tortilla chip and sprinkled with with fresh pico de gallo. The perfect bite: crispy, savory, smoky and sweet. I know these are an appetizer, but I find it really hard to share these. Fish City thinks these nachos are so good they are guaranteed: “Love ’em, or we’ll buy ’em.” I doubt they have ever had to buy them!

I like to split the nachos with a friend and finish up with Raphael’s Mexican Shrimp Cocktail. Picture a shrimp cocktail on vacation at a resort in Cancun, Mexico. Loaded with shrimp, avocado, jicama, tomatoes and onions in a spicy cocktail sauce. So spicy, so buttery, so peppery. Sabroso!

Moral of this story: Forget what you know about oysters and head over to Fish City Grill for a new interpretation. You can thank me later.

Mussel Fest!: Morels at The Grove in Los Angeles

I haven’t been going to the gym at all lately, but I’ve been getting my dose of mussels in regularly!

I’ve loved mussels my entire life but lately, I’ve been craving them more than usual. They’re easily my favorite shellfish, and I love a good broth sauce to dip bread and/or fries in. I discovered that Morel’s French Steakhouse & Bistro (located at The Grove in LA) has Mussel Fest, an exclusive mussel-filled menu being served now through Feb. 9th (also being served at Market City Caffe in Burbank). I popped in to flex those mussels of mine, and I am only hurting in the best way from this foodie workout!

Morel’s French Steakhouse & Bistro
Located in The Grove, 189 The Grove Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90036
http://morelslv.com

The Mussel Fest menu offers many different mussels from Prince Edward Island (aka PEI mussels). PEIs are grown along the coasts of Prince Edward Island, Canada which is just off the coast of Nova Scotia. These mussels are plump in size and juicy in flavor.

Morels have their own brewery in Burbank (Verdugo West Brewery), so I decided to pair their Wax Wing (4.5%), blonde lager with the Mussel Fest items. This is the perfect “pairs well with all flavors” kind of pint; I highly recommend it.

For those of you who love a classic mussels dish, steamed with white wine, I recommend their Neapolitan Style Mussels. These mussels are steamed with Trebbiano wine, garlic, onion, celery, fresh Roma tomato, red pepper flakes, oregano and lemon juice. It comes with garlic crostini to dip it in. The sauce is fragrant, brothy and delicious with the crostini dipped in.

Neapolitan Style Mussels

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Alex and Tania Go To Ocean Market Grill In Long Beach

TANIA: When Alex asked me if I wanted to join her for dinner at Ocean Market Grill in Long Beach, I said, “Hell yes!” even though it’s a bit of a trek for me. We used to be roommates, and now that she lives in San Diego, I gotta get my Alex time in any chance I get!

ALEX: I happened to be back at home for Thanksgiving and was so excited to have the opportunity to check out Ocean Market Grill. This style of a fish shop is one of my favorite things, and since I was an hour and a half closer to Tania than I usually am, I knew I needed her to join me!

It was a rainy evening, and after a quick hug in the parking-lot-turned-swimming-pool we hurried inside.

OCEAN MARKET GRILL
6332 East Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach, CA 90803
http://www.oceanmarketgrill.com

ocean-market-grill-exterior

The interior is clean, minimalist, and casual, with nice lighting. They had the place decorated for Small Business Saturday as it happened to be the day after Black Friday.

ocean-market-grill-interior

The menu somehow managed to be both simple and expansive, with multiple options of fresh fish prepared with different cooking and presentation styles, seasonings, and sides. Not to mention all the appetizers and salads that are also available!

ocean-market-grill-menu

TANIA: To start with, Alex and I ordered the OMG fries, which are served with a topping of clam chowder and delicious bacon. Alex doesn’t eat bacon, so I was more than happy to take one for the team and finish every last bit! The fatty and crispy bacon bits added just the right amount of salt to go with the creamy chowder on top.

ALEX: As Tania very willingly ate all of the bacon off of these fries for me (what a great friend!) I started digging into the fries, and these did make me say OMG! I’m not typically a huge clam chowder fan, but I could not stop eating these. The fries held their crispiness well, and the addition of red potatoes made these unique and extra delicious!

omg-fries

TANIA: For my main dish, I was excited to see that Yellow Tail was an option, as that’s one of my favorite types of fish to eat. The Yellow Tail and Ahi are sushi-grade and come lightly seared. That sounded so good; I decided to try the tacos, one in each style.

tacos

I had the Yellow Tail lightly grilled with garlic butter in an OMG-style taco, served with cilantro aioli, romaine, and Watermelon Pico-de-gallo. This was my favorite taco of the two. It was light, fresh, and had a nice combination of bright flavors. The fish was also wonderfully flaky and tender.

tacos2

For the Ahi taco, I had the fish blackened and served in a Cabo style taco prepared with Cabbage, Poblano Crema, Salsa, Pickled Onions, and a dusting of Cojita Cheese.  This taco offered a much more intense and smoky Cajun flavor, which was good, but I thought it overpowered the flavor of the Ahi. Next time, I’ll pick a different fish such as Salmon or Rock-Cod to go with this style of taco.

tacos3 For my side, I got brussels sprouts, and these were just delicious. I loved the crispy charred edges and with a zesty lemony flavor tossed in. The chips and salsa were also a nice side to go with my meal – I could tell the chips were made fresh.

tania

ALEX: I attempted to regain at least some semblance of health after the OMG fries so I ordered the Paleo plate, and decided on my favorite fish mahi-mahi, blackened, to go along with the sweet baked yams and broccolini. The Mahi on this dish was prepared perfectly, and the seasoning had a little kick that added to the fish without overwhelming it. While these sides were both very simple, they were prepared so well, especially the yams, which I didn’t even need to dress up with any extras because they were delicious on their own!

paleo-plate

alex

TANIA: To finish off our meals, Alex and I decided to skip dessert and go healthy. We shared a CA Artichoke Salad which comes with half a grilled artichoke, mixed greens, tomatoes, charred corn, avocado, cojita cheese, radish, tortilla strips, cilantro, and tossed with a spicy ranch dressing. I thought the salad had a nice mix of flavors, and I liked the dressing in particular. And it came with a side of tasty, crunchy garlic bread – SCORE!

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artichoke-salad2 artichoke-salad3ALEX: It was so nice to see Tania and do what we do best (eat), and everything we tried was so fresh and prepared so well! I will be bringing my family back to this spot whenever I am in the area. Ocean Market Grill has something for everyone, from the healthiest in the bunch, to the one who wants to chow down on a seafood burrito!

TANIA: It’s always nice to share a meal with a friend, but even nicer when that meal is fresh, healthy, and doesn’t weigh you down. Ok… so we might have visited a candy shop across the street after our meal, but still.

smallbizsaturday

A Fatboi in South Carolina

This past September, Fatboi Jess moonlighted as a country bumpkin and embarked on a mini vaca to South Carolina.

Rainbow Row

Boone Hall Plantation (they filmed part of The Notebook here!)

Husk Restaurant & Bar located in downtown historic CharlestonCilantro Will Prevail: tequila, fig, cilantro, lime, tonic, and salt.  Dahl’s Dessert: peach infused Bourbon, peach vinegar, anise, cream, and cinnamon.

Poogan’s Porch, one of Charleston’s oldest independent culinary establishments. The name comes from the pup Poogan that stayed behind when the home was sold and turned into a restaurant. Ole Poogan served as the official greeter before his passing in 1979.Pan Roasted Salmon, watercress, edamame beans, heirloom tomatoes, biscuit croutons, and basil gremolata Mac & Cheese with country ham and aged smoked gouda, bold, savory flavor. This was just the beginning of my mac & cheese journey as I ordered some each day.

Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts open til 2 am on Saturday nights for those post-bar munchiesJeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, a scoop shop with dozens of unique flavors which prompted multiple trips and Forrest Gump imitations…JennayyyyCupcake Down South 

Charleston Farmers Market in Marion Square every Saturday from 8am-2pm April through December, with over 100 local vendors!

My personal favorite flavor, they taste just like a cinnamon roll!

Charleston’s RightOnQue BBQPulled Pork Sandwich, there’s nothing quite like authentic Southern BBQ!

Juice Joint pop-up juice barDreamsicle: orange, strawberry, banana mango (left) Watermelon Agua Fresca with fresh lime (right)Hominy GrillGrilled Eggplant & Herbed Goat Cheese with roasted red peppers and grilled red onion on sunflower toastJalapeño Hush Puppies with sorghum butterIf you don’t smother your hush puppy in mac & cheese, you’re doing it wrong.

Downtown Charleston

Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, they ship nationwide if you’re in need of that Southern comfortSausage, Egg, and Pimento Cheese with The Glass Onion’s “Belle” sausage patty, pimento cheese, and scrambled eggs. I wish I could’ve eaten this twice.Blueberry Biscuit, blueberries baked inside with lemon cream cheese frosting made in-house with sugared blueberries

Magnolias, upscale Southern cuisineSweet Chili Rubbed Ahi Tuna, habanero hummus and Pepper Jack spring rolls, roasted mango salsa, Créole remouladeSouthern Fried Mac & Cheese, BBQ pulled pork, collards, black-eyed peas

Bakehouse Bakery & CafeNot your average s’mores bar with a cold block of chocolate sandwich between a toasted marshmallow and a thick graham cracker. Cold chocolate is the way to go.

Prohibition  Margarita Caliente: El Jimadore Blanco Jalapeño infusion, Cointreau, lime, agave, Scrappy’s lime, chipotle saltGrass Fed Angus Burger, bacon jam, cheddar, house pickles, garlic aioli, fries

I can’t report too much here on account of the jalapeño margaritas and a failed attempt at initiating a dance off with a bachelor party.

We stumbled upon the Savannah Bee Company tucked away in the King Street Shopping District, where they offer mead tastings. Mead is the oldest alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey with water and fruits, grains, hops, or spices. While you won’t ever find me ordering rounds of mead at the club, it was a great experience tasting the different types and learning about its rich history.

Notable Food Trends: Pimento cheese, Fried green tomatoes

Closing Thoughts: “If I lived down here I would most definitely end up on my 600-pound life.”

Jess, @FatboiTendencies

The Gallery Westlake: Keeping Us Very Happy in Westlake Village, CA

I’m a big fan of the happy hour concept. My budget is usually stretched pretty thin, so happy hours are the perfect time to get a deal on quality menu items for less money while mingling with a lively after-work crowd.

The Gallery is a hip spot in Westlake Village known for its gourmet New American cuisine and fresh seafood. It serves up a happy hour on weekdays from 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm that’s not only friendly on the wallet, but is also super-delicious.

the-gallery-exterior

The Gallery Westlake
30768 Russell Ranch Road, #C, Westlake Village, CA 91362
http://www.thegallerywestlake.com

the-gallery-interior

My friend Liz and I arrived right at the start of happy hour and took a seat at the bar, noting the elegant, yet inviting decor. I also couldn’t help but scope out the fabulous looking raw bar nearby. We visited on a Wednesday, but take note—during Thursday night football, happy hour includes .99 cent oysters!

raw-bar

Once we got settled in, Liz and I intended to make the most of our happy hour(s), so that meant drinks needed to be ordered straight away!

Liz ordered the gorgeous Violet Moon, which is a mix of Fords gin, Crème de Violette, and lemon juice, garnished with a caramelized orange wheel flambéed by the bartender with a torch.

violet-moon-carmelized-orange

Her drink was as tasty as it was pretty, with smooth floral flavors leading to a tart finish.

violet-moon

I decided to go with a good ol’ glass of wine. House wines are only $5 during happy hour, but I decided to upgrade to a Foley Estates Chardonnay which was still five bucks cheaper than the regular price. It was rich and buttery with hints of sweet caramel and toasty oak. It was so good, I could have guzzled several more glasses. (Don’t worry—I didn’t. Well… just a couple!)

chardonnay

As we sipped, we chatted with The Gallery’s owner, Karim Megji, who showed us some photos on his phone from a local farm. He had just been picking tomatoes a short while ago and told us that many of the things grown at the farm are used in menu items at the restaurant. Always a good mark in my book—nothing beats fresh, locally grown produce!

My appetite was fully whetted, so we tried our first happy hour appetizer, an impressive mound of Champagne Shoe String Pomme Frites.

pomme-frites

They looked intimidating at first, but it’s ridiculous how quickly we devoured these. Made with Bouvet Sparkling wine and topped with lemon and cayenne, they reminded me a lot of my favorite potato chip flavor- salt n’ vinegar. Only, you know, more fancy—but equally as addictive!

Next, we tried the Ahi Tartare Tacos, with fresh and meaty chunks of raw tuna tossed with sesame, chili oil, and sriracha, nestled inside crispy wonton shells and topped with avocado. These were so good, Liz and I were side-eyeing the last taco until we finally agreed to split it.

ahi-tartare-tacos

duck-egg-rollsNext up, based on Karim’s recommendation, we deviated from the happy hour menu to try a regular appetizer, Duck Eggrolls. (Even better, these were easily shared with two for each of us!)

I often find duck to be a little gamey for my taste, but these were fantastic. Maybe it was the delicious sweet chili sauce the meat was drizzled with, or the crunchy mix of veggies and herbs within, but it tasted tender and delicious and actually reminded me of pulled pork.

duck-egg-rolls-interior

Next, Karim suggested Roasted Bone Marrow, and how could I refuse his advice after he led us to the delicious duck egg rolls? I’d never tried bone marrow before but I was certain that if there was a place to try it, this was it.

When the plate arrived, I couldn’t help but think about how jealous my dogs would be if they could see me. But the question was… would I like it?

bone-marrow

The answer is a big YES. In fact, it might have been my favorite item of the night. Liz described the flavor as the “essence of beef”, and she was right. It was melt-in-your-mouth juicy and meaty and was even better spread on crostini. It was also seasoned really nicely with herbs and hints of jalapeño. If you like the fatty part of meat (i.e pork belly), you will love this. The only downside is that there wasn’t actually as much marrow as it seemed. It was gone far too quickly!

Liz and I were getting pretty full at this point, but we were still feeling meaty after the bone marrow experience, so we tried the short rib tacos to finish out our meal.

short-rib-tacosMade with tender braised short rib mixed with dijon aioli, cabbage, and queso fresco, these were another winner. Like everything else we had tried so far, the meat was tender and nicely seasoned, and the slaw added a nice crunch and a pleasant finish to our meal.

Did I say we were finished?

tania-at-the-galleryWell, not quite. We had to try dessert, obviously.

Apparently Peanut Butter Turnovers are a very popular item at The Gallery, and we could see why. The presentation alone made me forget that I was feeling full and I was eager to dig in!

The pastries were crispy and caramelized on the outside, and fluffy on the inside with just the right amount of warm, oozy, gooey peanut butter-chocolately goodness sandwiched within. The vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and strawberries drizzled with caramel were also a welcome addition. This was one of the more unique desserts I’ve had in some time, and I can see why people return to The Gallery for this treat alone!

peanut-butter-turnover

I’d say Liz and I had a very happy happy hour at The Gallery. I’d recommend going with friends and splitting several things—it’s definitely worth trying everything on the menu, and the prices are totally reasonable. Next time I’m coming back on a Thursday… those oysters are calling my name!

Karaoke And Kimchi Carbonara At La Vue in Koreatown, Los Angeles

Koreatown, a neighborhood of Los Angeles, is one of my favorite locations for food. There are many hidden gems tucked away in strip malls—so tucked away, if you don’t keep your eyes open, you could miss them. However, La Vue—a newer spot on Wilshire that I just discovered—is not one of those places. The space is gigantic, much larger than most restaurants in K-town, and I didn’t know why until I stepped inside.

Not only is La Vue a restaurant serving lunch and dinner, but at night, it becomes a karaoke bar with its own private rooms… but more on that after the food!

La Vue
3855 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010
http://cafelavuela.com

La Vue, led by Chef Alex Kim, is an eclectic mix of Italian and French cuisine; some of the dishes incorporate Asian flavors. The menu is heavy on shared plates, seafood and pasta. Right when you walk in from the parking lot, you enter their modern designed patio, featuring lots of plush furniture. It’s comfy but classy at the same time.

I had the pleasure of breaking bread with pals horror film composer Eric Elick and filmmaker/scream queen Jessica Cameron. We realized, by default, we had to order the Sweet Pumpkin Salad. It’s October and since my guests are in the horror scene, we can’t skip eating an iconic holiday symbol.

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If you’ve got a sweet tooth, this salad is right up your alley. The pumpkin is topped with a light green salad with a balsamic dressing, then drizzled in maple syrup and served with pecans. It managed to remind me of eating both a pumpkin pie and fresh salad in one bite.

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We also shared the Grilled Vegetable Medley Caprese, which came on this fun spinning plate.  The veggies are hot off the grill, so they maintain a crunch when they arrive to the table. Like any caprese salad, there’s burrata cheese, fresh basil and tomatoes — and for a kick, grilled garlic.

I’m a tough critic when it comes to carbonara pastas because I love them so much… so when I saw Kimchi Carbonara on their menu, I was a tad skeptical. Why mess with a perfect recipe?

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I was so wrong. La Vue’s Kimchi Carbonara is my new favorite pasta dish in K-town. The pickled kimchi flavors mix beautifully with the eggy, cheesy sauce. Instead of chopped bacon, it comes as a full slice, with a Parmesan crisp as garnish. We killed this dish so quick, we probably should’ve ordered another. The briny kick from the kimchi with the creamy sauce couldn’t last long on our table.

img_3448Mentaiko Pasta, a popular dish in Japan, isn’t commonly found in LA (outside a handful of places), so I was very excited to try it—especially since I was told it’s Chef Kim’s signature dish. I recommend this dish for lovers of seafood. The mentaiko sauce is prepared by seasoning and brining pollock roe, which break apart to form the light pink sauce. Usually either olive oil or butter is blended with the roe, creating a perfect seafood sauce.

Chef Kim gives the sauce a hint of spice from jalapeño, then it’s poured over pasta, garnished with nori, bonito flakes, Parmesan cheese and served with a halved shrimp. Each bite is creamy, savory and oceanic. Of course the Kimchi Carbonara was the favorite but this is a very close second.

img_3262After the carb-load, it was time to get our sweet tooth on. The Black Tea Panna Cotta comes in a deep black bowl ( a trend I’ve seen popping up), which makes it a little trickier to share, but the decadent dessert makes up for it. The black tea flavor is very present in the creamy panna cotta, and is lightly dark and herbal. Then it’s topped with thin, wafer-like cookies, matcha crisps and a sea salt chantilly cream on top.

img_3451The Pavlova at La Vue was topped with berries as well as mango and raspberry sorbetto. This was the table’s favorite dessert. Nothing beats this classic meringue dish topped with icy, fruity sorbettos. This was the perfect way to wrap-up the evening. Now it was time to explore the karaoke rooms.

 

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Like any traditional K-Town spot, the karaoke rooms are private. Located upstairs, the rooms here hold 20 – 30 people and are priced at $60 per hour. There is a special tapas menu for the karaoke rooms, which features lots of sharables like Crab Tartar, Bruschetta and Tuna Poke. There are also more filling dishes like Herb Grilled Beef Sticks, Baby Back Ribs and Chicken Wings.

The rooms have bottle service and I must say, the prices are very reasonable compared to other bottle service clubs in Los Angeles. I don’t want to list the prices, but trust me, this beats any nightclub in Hollywood. Also, the songs and lyrics are updated weekly, so you can sing off key to many different tunes.

They also have these adorable light up tambourines. As you can see here, Jessica couldn’t get enough.

My idea of a perfect night in K-Town with friends would be dinner at La Vue, then transfer to one of their private karaoke rooms. This Girl on Food will be back for more.