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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Kotosh - Lomita

The best of Peru cooked hand-in-hand with the best of Japan is clearly a recipe for success. So different but so much the same.

Cebiche Mixto, for example, isn't much of a stretch from sushi - just a lot more marinated. This mixto of tender tako, irresistable ika, and gigantic kernels of Peruvian corn is perfect.

From the other side, the Tuna Tataki Roll rocks seared strips of tuna with ripe avocado and crispy tempura shrimp.

And then the Chupe de Pescado, OMG the CHUPE DE PESCADO. The heavy, ricey stew brings tears to my eyes it's so good, and the description of "fish chowder" does it no justice. This stuff is hot and heavy, and the rich, savory chunks of fish spread through the soup.

I never thought I'd see pesto and katsu on the same place, but the Tallarin Verde makes it work. The pasta is great, but the lightly-battered and brilliantly fried katsu completes it, like the other half it didn't know was missing.

Peruvian and Japanese...I would love to hear how they met. But how they met is far less important than how they mesh. Mixed marriages make the most beautiful food-babies, and Kotosh delivers one heck of a hybrid.

Kotosh Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Ollie's Duck & Dive UPDATE - Malibu

I love the bartenders, I love the ambiance, and I love the shuffleboard out back. But I get really guilty every time I go because I just can't love the food.

There's nothing wrong with the cooking, nothing wrong with the preparation, far as I can see. But as I said in my last review, I wish they would put things together in a way that is effective. Flavors can purposely harmonize or intentionally clash. I don't know what works for which, but I do know which ones just don't work.

The thick, goopy teriyaki on fresh, tender cubes of tuna? Why, dear god, why? Your tuna is great quality and super-fresh despite the exorbitant cost of shipping so why stick it in a sauce that gives it no credit?

It's hard to mess up cheese, and the Honey Goat Brie is no exception. A winning combination of fig jam with white truffle honey is just right on grilled baguette. I just wish they included a little more baguette.

The Truffled Fries are what bar food should be. I loved seeing them loaded on a skillet, and I loved eating them with pickled onion even more.

The Campfire Cookie is another safe and sensible combination. You can't not love burning your tongue on a chocolate chip cookie that's still cooking when you take your first bite, and a puffy toasted marshmallow made that much better by nutella and salted caramel gelato will have you singing kumbaya, especially if you enjoyed the cocktails first.

My second experience was significantly better than the first, but I made safer selections this time around. I still think Ollie's harbors a ton of potential - I'm just waiting to see it applied to more of the menu.
Duck Dive Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Akasha - Culver City

Akasha is nice. Nice like that quiet kid in school who always shared his cookies or that coworker who always covers your shift. You like them, you don't love them. You get to know them just enough but you don't need to know them better.

On the surface, they're warm and inviting like the Tagliatelle Bolognese, but despite the perfect pasta, the pleasing pork and beef ragu is lacking in complexity and depth.

To his credit, the quiet kid does not deceive. What you see is what you get, and you get a straight answer every time, like the aptly-named Albacore Crudo. A literal interpretation of high-quality fish interspersed with other things crudo, the combination has potential but tastes like they forgot the salt.

The Radicchio & Arugula surprised me as my favorite appetizer, a sweet snack that aims to please. The mix of tastes and textures are in perfect proportions., with soft, sweet dates, firm manchego, and crunchy, hearty pumpkin seeds.

Akasha proves itself a solid chef with sweet Sea Bass & Clams. Both are cooked well, and the beans soak up some of the seafood-y soup.

Most of this menu was neutral at worst, but the Citrus Braised & Crispy Duck Leg was the one thing that did not jive. The duck had a soggy skin and was so flavorless it might as well have been boiled. Although the lentils were perfectly made, they only contributed to the overall blandness of the duck.

The Wild Mushroom Risotto, on the other hand, ended up the surprised winner of the entree race. Mushroom-infused butter and pecorino are loaded into a pan of rice, lingering unforgettably with a perfectly-roasted side of broccolini.

We wrapped up the meal with a Chocolate Almond Torte, the brown sugar ice cream being the best thing we had all night.

The Lemon Budino is almost a pie-filling, but it goes great with lavendar shortbread and the texture is perfect.

Coconut Panna Cotta is far from the best panna cotta, but it is by far the most amusing. The ball of sorbet actually bounces on the panna cotta and it's hilaaaaarious!

It's hard to have a girls' night on wine Wednesday and not have a good time, and it's impossible not to enjoy a bottle of Prosecco, even during restaurant week. I liked Akasha but I didn't like it a lot. I don't know if what I had is worth exploring any further but $39 for a stomach-stuffing meal paired with half-priced wine is one heck of a deal.

  Akasha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Poke Etc - Carson

Etc. Et cetera. Latin for "and other things", American for "the other stuff," or "the other stuff I don't care to mention." Well I'm sure the etc to the poke is fine, but it's hard to care about curry when you're face-to-face with shiny, market-fresh, chunky cubes of fish.

The Ahi with Limu is poke in its purest form, Hawaiian seaweed with a little bit of oil to bring out etc flavors of tuna.

I liked the tuna, but the limu left the slightest aftertaste. Plus the Limu could use a little more salt, seasoning, etc so I liked it better on the brinier Mussels. A saltier alternative is the Shoyu, a touch of soy and salt that doesn't alter the flavor, ideal for dressing tender arms of Octopus.

The shoyu works just as well with Salmon.

But Salmon with Wasabi makes for fun, smooth, neon bites that bite back.

The Ahi with Spicy Mayo renders the ahi obsolete, but annihilating properties aside, spicy mayo is still hella good.

Be sure to wash it down the salt with some island sugar-water. Hawaiian Sun is my senseless guilty pleasure.

Jus' Poke remains my geographic go-to, but Poke Etc has all the goods. The endless permutations of seafood and sauce are an unavoidably seductive selection, and it's impossible to stay away!
Poke Etc. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bossa Nova - West Hollywood

It's been a while since I've gone to a truly deplorable restaurant. After so many diplomatic reviews, I was afraid I was losing my touch. Then I went to Bossa Nova and it's time to let 'er rip.

I left with one lingering question: How does a restaurant with forgettable food and shameful service occupy prime-time real estate overlooking the iconic Abbey?

God I love Pao de Qieijo! Come hither you soft little cheesy breads! You know what I would have loved even more? The Sangria we ordered to go with them! The entire basket of bread was gone before we could flag a server to assist in the search for Sangria-la.

Good thing we got the Sangria before the entrees... It really filled in the 20- to 30-minute gap. The Chicken Skewers were gag-coughing dry and devoid of detectable seasoning. It's not a good sign when the best things on the plate are the plantains and the beans.

The Picanha was significantly better - at least they got the medium rare right. It's a tender cut for sure, and it's the only thing I don't regret besides the booze and the bread.

Seriously guys? One of the flashiest locations in WeHo and you can't wait a proper table? Clearly this place is run by the author of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying!
Bossa Nova Brazilian Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato