Archive for the 'Chain / Multiple Locations' Category

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Le Cirque – Las Vegas (Bellagio)

Le Cirque - Las Vegas - Bellagio

An irresistible invite from Bellagio brought The Astronomer and me to Las Vegas for a weekend of dynamite wining and dining. After arriving at the hotel, checking into our room, and dropping off our bags, we strolled over to Sirio Maccioni‘s famed Le Cirque for a late-night supper.

Le Cirque - Las Vegas - Bellagio

Le Cirque, which opened 38 years ago in New York City, made its Las Vegas debut at the Bellagio in 1998. The restaurant is the recipient of the AAA Five Diamond rating, as well as one Michelin star.

Set under a plush circus tent, Le Cirque’s elegant and lively dining room felt miles away from the din of slot machines. In a city where bigger is generally regarded as better, this intimate space felt like a real treat.

Le Cirque - Las Vegas - Bellagio

Whereas New York’s Le Cirque is set among skyscrapers, this location is perched lakeside, overlooking the hotel’s famous fountains. Every fifteen minutes, The Astronomer and I were entranced by the dancing water and shimmering lights. It felt quintessentially Vegas, and maybe a little cheesy, but we loved it anyway.

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Hungry Cat – Los Angeles (Hollywood)

The Hungry Cat Restaurant - Hollywood

Weekend brunches and seafood shacks are two of my favorite things, so it was only a matter of time before I made my way to Hungry Cat. A collaboration between Maryland native Chef David Lentz and his wife Chef Suzanne Goin, the restaurant is famous for impeccably fresh seafood, served without fuss, just like they do back east.

The concept has been so well received that the restaurant has opened outlets in Santa Barbara and Santa Monica in addition to its original Hollywood location where I dined.

The Hungry Cat Restaurant - Hollywood

With the restaurant located on an uber-touristy stretch in Hollywood, I found it impossible to channel the seaside spirit. Still, the restaurant tried its best to evoke that eastern seaboard ambiance with fresh lobsters and oysters on display over ice and pictures of cats eating the day’s catch.

The Hungry Cat Restaurant - Hollywood

My friend Amy and I shared a selection of oysters to start. With three varieties on deck this afternoon, I decided to go for one of each—Kumiai from Mexico, Chincoteague from Virginia, and Malpeque from Prince Edward Island, Canada.

The oysters were shucked to order and served with lemon wedges, a red wine vinegar, a rice wine vinegar with ginger, and cocktail sauce. Slurping these briny bivalves instantly transported me somewhere beachy.

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Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits – Birmingham

Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits

Fast food chains generally make me queasy, but I couldn’t help feeling warm and fuzzy inside when I spotted the bright yellow sign for Bojangles‘ in the distance. I read about this storied southern chain years ago and have been curious to taste their signature Chicken ‘n Biscuits and Bo-Berry Biscuits ever since. Sometimes, my soft spot for regional specialties overpowers my disdain for everything fast food.

Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits

The Astronomer and his awesomely adventurous sister Rosalind joined me at Bojangles’ even though neither quite understood my fascination with the place.

Launched in 1977 in Charlotte, North Carolina, Bojangles’ currently has over 500 outlets across ten states and Washington, D.C. There are even two international locations in Honduras. For those residing here on the west coast, the closest Bojangles’ is somewhere down in Mississippi.

Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits

We began with an order of Bojangles’ “famous” Chicken ‘n Biscuits, which was comprised of a seasoned breast filet served on a buttermilk biscuit. Pounded thin and heavily battered, the chicken tickled our tongues with its blend of Cajun spices. The biscuit, which the restaurant claimed was “made-from-scratch,” was buttery, doughy, and on par with other fast food biscuits I’ve come across.

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Hakata Ramen Shin Sen Gumi – Los Angeles (Downtown)

Shin Sen Gumi - Little Tokyo

Shin Sen Gumi opened a branch of their popular Hakata ramen shop in Little Tokyo while I was holidaying in Vietnam. I had heard rumblings from fellow ramen-goers that the noodles here were comparable to Daikokuya without the hour-long wait, so I rushed over just as soon as the jet lag wore off to taste them for myself.

This is the Shin Sen Gumi Group’s fourth Hakata ramen outlet in Los Angeles. The other three locations are in Gardena, Rosemead, and Fountain Valley.

Shin Sen Gumi - Little Tokyo

Shin Sen Gumi specializes in Hakata-style ramen from northwestern Kyushu. This type of ramen is characterized by a thick, pork bone-based soup (tonkotsu) paired with thin, straight noodles. The restaurant simmers Berkshire pork bones for fifteen hours to achieve a rich and luscious broth.

Shin Sen Gumi - Little Tokyo

At Shin Sen Gumi, ramen is served in accordance to diners’ preferences. From the doneness of the noodles to the thickness and richness of the soup, my dining companions and I were able to specify exactly how we liked our bowls.

My cousin Phil and I chose “hard” noodles, “normal” oil, and a “strong” soup base, while The Astronomer went for “normal” across the board.

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