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Rabano is one of those places that make me appreciate living in the South Bay.  Supporting small businesses that make fresh, tasty. and healthy food is always a pleasure, and the added bonus of having them close by, makes it on my list of go to places when I don’t want to either cook or drive.

It is popular and the parking lot is tiny, so either go at a non peak time, or park on a nearby street like Artesia or Prospect. The parking is the only drawback here; once you get inside you may either order on the tablets in front of the large menu on the wall (there are daily blackboard specials by the cashier) and take a number, or if you prefer human interaction, order at the cash register. The choices are very straightforward, but on my first visit, it was a bit overwhelming. For the bowls, you can choose any item with white or brown rice, ancient grains, or salad. For the salads and sandwiches, it pretty much self explanatory unless you want an upgrade or add on.

I was very impressed at the quality of the ingredients for the prices. Grass fed beef burgers for $12, free-range chicken in the salads and sandwiches, hand made sodas and dressings.

Their pork belly knockout, with lemongrass marinated pork belly, a sweet miso glaze, gochujang, wilted spinach, pickled slaw and watercress on ancients grains for $11.50, was a hearty meal. Tender pork belly with the contrasting bright pickled slaw, and greens made it a filling bowl, but not heavy or greasy. I put my leftovers on arugula when I got home and had a second meal from my leftovers.

The Lechon Cubano of cuban style pulled pork, mojo criollo, black beans, red pickled onions, and sweet plantains for $9.50 nice riff on Cuban pork. I found my serving about half fat, half pork, but even so, there was more than enough pork and flavor to make me happy. I added lots of hot sauce to spice it up, and next time I would ask for more of the pickled red onions to perk it up.

My favorite bowl here is the El Koreano for $11.50 with grilled certified Angus beef (you can choose free range chicken instead), baby bok choy, cucumber, carrot, gochujang, house kimchi, and a sweet umami glaze. I chose it over white rice, but next time I would choose either ancient grains or brown rice. All the contrasting textures and flavors, from the crunch of the cucumbers to the tender meat and the wonderful home-made spice of the kimchi, worked together to create a colorful complimentary composition.

Service was both friendly and efficient, with a harmonious energy that echoed the food they serve; it really is true that the back of the house is as important as the front of the house, and the house at Rabano is well kept inside and out.

I was so happy to have found a good Vietnamese restaurant nearby that I went three times in one week! Pho Hue Oi is less than a year old, but there are already lines out the door at lunch, and regulars (like me) who are grateful for the flavors of Vietnam without driving an hour to Little Saigon.

They offer something you will enjoy, whether it is Pho, Bun Bo, Rice plates, garlic noodles, or Banh Mi. As a nod to Americans, they offer garlic fries, and as a nod to Vietnamese, they offer the steamed rice cakes Banh Beo Chen, topped with ground shrimp, pork rinds, and fried shallots. Nearly everything on the menu is $10, with the one exception of the wok seared filet mignon with rice, salad, and vegetables for $12.50. As you will see from the pictures, the prices are incredible for the quality and quantity of food.

Seeing the choice of condiments, all in pristinely clean containers, was a very good first omen of things to come.

Of course I ordered the Pho Dac Biet on my first visit, and the freshness of the basil and bean sprouts accompaniment was a second good omen.

The regular sized bowl of sliced filet mignon, well done brisket, flank, tendon, and beef meatball for $8.95 was so replete with meat that I barely had room to add all the basil and bean sprouts! The broth was very clean tasting, the tendon was tender, and the quality of the meat was astounding. My only disappointment was that they did not offer oxtail pho as an option, but this bowl can be customized with 3 of your favorite ingredients for the same price.

On a subsequent visit, I had the Bun Tom Thit Nuong Cha Gio, a salad version of the soup, with grilled pork, shrimp, egg roll, fresh raw vegetables on vermicelli noodles for $9, I substituted grilled rib eye for $1 more and of course I added a myriad of the condiments to heat up the bowl. It was the perfect summertime bowl.

On my latest visit, I opted for a rice plate, going for the Com Dac Biet for $10.50, which was so copious, I nearly had to take some of it home, but I ended up eating very slowly and somehow finished! As you can see, it includes a perfectly fried egg on top of the rice, generous baby green salad, pickled vegetables, grilled shrimp, chicken, and pork. This is really enough for two meals or a big appetite!

Maybe on my next visit I will try the Bank Mi, but I am so happy with all that I have tasted at Pho Hue Oi that I may just repeat my menu choices next week:)

I may not have posted last week, but I have been eating! Hopefully this week’s post will make up for skipping one 🙂

I took a friend to Kagura in El Segundo for lunch and she loved the calm minimalist decor while enjoying her bountiful lunch gozen. She was amazed by the quality and quantity of her sushi lunch with tempura and mini side dishes that were all contrasting textures and flavors for under $25.

I ordered the miso black cod because it is one of the few items I had not yet tried on their menu, and it was one of the best I’ve ever eaten! The side of sashimi was an added bonus since I got to enjoy both cooked and raw fish for the same meal.

I finally went to happy hour at Kagura, that is every Monday-Thursday from 5-6:30 PM when they offer a menu of drinks, rolls, and appetizers, all for $4 or less! An amazing deal, especially considering the quality of the drinks and food they offer, like this 16 oz draft Sapporo for $3!

The seaweed salad for $4 was much larger than I expected but a bit overdone with the dressing; it was very tasty nonetheless.

They offer several hand rolls for $3.75, including this yellowtail version which was chock full of yellowtail.

This was the negitoro (tuna with green onion) also $3.75.

I love fried smelt; they are the french fries of seafood and I have been known to make and eat an entire plateful (see my Instagram for proof), but to minimize the temptation to overdo it, I ordered them here for $4, and although there were only three, they were big enough to satiate my craving.

I was too tempted by the fried calamari legs to stop eating, so I ordered them for $4, which would have been enough for any normal person (but not a foodie intent on trying everything)! Next time I will order either the smelt or the calamari legs, but not both 🙂

Continuing the Japanese theme, Sushi Roku in Santa Monica ended up being my dinner destination, so I continued the Japanese food theme and I indulged in my favorite Spanish Mackerel sushi while watching as my dining companion ate the standard tempura and tuna rolls, which he remarked were boring compared to what I ordered.

My last plate of the night was the yellowtail with jalapeno and ponzu, which was a very fitting way to end a full day of Japanese food, lightly, purely, and deliciously 🙂

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