As much as I love exploring the San Gabriel Valley’s restaurant scene for my weekday lunches, I was thrilled to discover recently that East Los Angeles is a stone’s throw from my office. Easy access to some of the city’s finest Mexican food is most definitely a lunchtime game changer.
For my inaugural midday jaunt to the Eastside of town, I wrangled a crew of fellow food lovers and headed to one of my favorite spots: La Azteca Tortilleria.
When the shop’s original owners, Alex Bernal and his wife, Maria Rodriguez, retired in 2010 after three decades of making tortillas the old-fashioned way, from scratch and in small batches, their good friends Juan and Candalaria Villa purchased the business and continued the tradition. It’s a painstaking process, to be sure, but the results are truly fantastic.
The difference between a store-bought tortilla and the handmade wonders here is like night and day. While the former cracks as it rolls and tastes like the plastic it’s wrapped in, the latter is hefty yet plush and is capable of curving around copious amounts of pork, cheese, beans, or most likely, all three.
Continue reading ‘La Azteca Tortilleria – East Los Angeles’
I had the pleasure of dining with my mom at Q Sushi a few Fridays ago. She’s been taking care of June while The Astronomer and I are bringing home the bacon, so this meal was a small token of our gratitude. Bà Ngoại is the best!
Chef Hiroyuki Naruke, who ran a six-seat sushi bar in Tokyo’s Roppongi district prior to relocating to Los Angeles, serves a hyper-traditional, omakase-only sushi experience at Q. I am a total purist when it comes to sushi, so I knew that Q and I would get along swimmingly from the start.
Priced at $165 per person, the omakase typically begins with a slew of tsumami (small appetizers), followed by a perfectly orchestrated parade of sashimi and nigiri sushi courses. All in all, it’s a 2.5 hour feast comprised of 20 or so courses that passes by much too quickly.
Taking care of Mom and me this evening was Chef Rui. He seemed a bit chattier than Chef Hiro, which was a good thing, because I had plenty of questions up my sleeve (per usual).
Continue reading ‘Q Sushi – Los Angeles (Downtown)’
It’s avocado season here in Southern California, and Maude, Curtis Stone’s critically adored restaurant, is celebrating in grand fashion with a month-long tasting menu dedicated to the super-luscious, downright buttery ingredient.
Maude’s menu changes with the seasons, focusing on “one key ingredient” each month. [See what the restaurant is cooking for the rest of this year.]
Our ten-plus course dinner featured California-grown Hass avocados in every single dish. Sometimes avocado was the star of the plate, while other times it elevated the ingredients surrounding it. As a lifelong avocado lover, it was a pleasure to experience the fruit in a plethora of forms, both classic and innovative—avocado leaf ice cream, anyone?
Named after Curtis Stone’s grandmother, Maude is a jewel box of a restaurant with just 25 seats and an impressive open kitchen. The space and service were warm and welcoming with the ideal touch of sophistication.
Continue reading ‘Maude – Los Angeles (Beverly Hills)’
The best meal from my trip to Honolulu last spring was at The Pig & the Lady. The Astronomer and I found Chef Andrew Le and Mama Le’s brand of Vietnamese-inflected island fare awesomely creative and delicious; we couldn’t wait to visit again on our next trip to Oahu.
Although my schedule was jam-packed with work commitments on my most recent return to the islands, I had to make time for another meal at this fabulous establishment.
I rounded up two hearty eaters (Hi, Thien and Kris) and we Uber’d to the restaurant for lunch. The space was packed considering it was a weekday, but we managed to squeeze in at the tail end of the lunch hour.
Thien sipped on Papa Le’s Iced Coffee ($4), while Kris handled the Cobra Commander ($11). The former was plenty strong yet sweet, while the latter was spiked with avocado mezcal and pink-grapefruit liqueur and chilled with Sriracha ice.
Continue reading ‘Lunch at The Pig & the Lady – Honolulu’