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Poke places are popping up everywhere; pretty soon they will be like burger and coffee chains. Just as the small unique burger and coffee places stand out with their quality and personal service, Jus Poke stands out for their authentic, fresh, delicious choices. From classic shoyu poke, to spam musubi, and mochi ice cream, they are as close as you can get to eating Hawaiian favorites in Los Angeles without getting on a flight 🙂

Thankfully there is neither salmon nor pineapple anywhere on the premises, but there are outdoor tables and a small parking lot. Peak times mean a line out the door, but everyone who works or comes here is friendly (island attitude, decor, and music permeate the entire place), so the wait seems short even at noon.

For a mainland place, you get a nice selection of choices, and you can mix two kinds of poke even for the regular sized bowl or the smallest container, giving you an out if you can’t decide. I miss not having octopus as a choice, but I know most people in Los Angeles would not order it 😦 Prices are incredible for the quality and quantity; around $10 including tax and tip for all the servings you see below, and the regular size always feeds me for 2 meals!

This is the regular size Original poke with homemade spicy cucumbers and brown rice covered in sesame seeds and furikake. This combo is great if you don’t want spicy poke, but like a side highlight of crunchy cucumbers with some zing.

If you want no spice at all, get the shoyu, with half edamame and half seaweed sides (your choice of brown or white rice).

A fellow instagrammer loves the wasabi poke, so I tried it with half shoyu poke,  and half cucumber, half seaweed. It was such a powerful sinus clearer that I needed three napkins!

My favorite is the Hawaiian Chili Pepper, with half seaweed, half cucumber side and brown rice. The heat is mellower than the wasabi, but potent enough for me to say that only heat lovers should order this.

Everything is served in to go containers as if they know you won’t be able to finish your meal 🙂 But I intentionally got some original and Hawaiian Chili Pepper to go…I couldn’t resist and ate most of the Hawaiian Chili Pepper before I got the container home!

Mahalo to Jus’ Poke for bringing some aloha to Los Angeles:)

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Having guests come to visit makes me actually go visit the beautiful beaches in my backyard. Hermosa Beach is 5 miles from where I live and I know some active fit people who walk, bike, or skate along the paved path from Dockweiler Beach to the Pier in Hermosa and back. Decades ago, I used to bike it, but these days I drive it 🙂

Hermosa Beach Pier is completely pedestrian and lined with bars, restaurants, and a few shops.

 Once the sun sets, the lights go on and it begins to look like a movie set:)

Sunset signals time for Happy Hour, and Abigaile is the local brewery and gastropub that is my go to spot in Hermosa. I wrote a blog post about them back in 2012, when I stayed in Hermosa for a staycation, and I’ve been back since, but it was fun to introduce new people to Abigaile. Happy Hour is 5-7pm and we came for the food, but as a warning to beer lovers, they are upgrading their equipment right now, so their selection of brews is limited at the moment.

 Their menu changes often, but if you see French dip on it, order it!

 

 

 The loaded tots with sunnyside egg on top is messy and fun to share.

Mole nachos had a nice depth of flavor that made my meat loving friends think the chicken was beef!

We took a short walk back to the Pier after eating, and got a gorgeous sky send off before we drove away.

Having good restaurants downtown makes a world of difference, especially when driving anywhere during rush hour traffic to get to dinner can be a nightmare (I actually had to change a dinner reservation twice because it took an hour to drive 5 miles)! Not wanting to subject non-Angelenos to the parking lots called freeways, the option of walking to a good meal made their visit much more pleasant.

I love living walking distance to downtown El Segundo. Even if I had to drive to get to the center of town, parking is easy and free for 2 hours on Main Street and for unlimited time on side streets. No, I don’t work for the city tourism board, I’m just a resident who loves this hidden mecca by the beach as much as the blue butterflies who call this city home.

Jame Enoteca now calls Main Street El Segundo home and I am very happy to have them in the neighborhood. Two veterans of the restaurant world own and operate this small space, focusing on quality ingredients and brilliant execution of classic techniques with a modern twist. My favorite places are those where the chef/owner is sur place because there is no quality control that is better than owner quality control.

Their specials change, but it’s a pretty solid bet to choose whatever strikes your fancy from the blackboard. Seeing a 36 hour tomato sauce combined with one of my favorite pastas was a no brainer choice for me.

It was as delicious as I imagined it would be, generously sauced, in a portion just right for my appetite, but also small enough for a bigger appetite to order a side or dessert.

Another blackboard special was the squid ink with rock shrimp, which was offered with cheese(!) which off course I declined, preferring to enjoy this perfect dish Italian style.

I am sure there will be future visits, so there might be a future post, but the lines are already forming as the seats are beginning to fill with local regulars, so go before getting a reservation becomes as rare as a blue butterfly sighting:)

Thai Cafe has no website, is in a strip mall in Hawthorne, and sometimes the woman who owns it is both the cook and server. I ate there with a friend and we both felt as if we were channeling Jonathan Gold as we marveled at the flavors, quality, and quantity of Thai food.

Nothing on the menu is over $20 and the quantities are copious enough for me to eat two meals (your appetite may be bigger than mine, but chances are you will be very full if you finish your serving). The best surprise of all was that the flavors are wonderful! After just one bite of the Pad Woon Sen with shrimp (glass noodles), my friend started smiling. And although he is bigger than I am, he could not finish his plate, saying, “I usually just eat the shrimp if I can’t finish the noodles, but there are too many shrimp for me to do that!” At $12 for a tasty generous portion, it is truly smile worthy:)

I love rice noodles, so I ordered Pad See Ew with shrimp for $12 and asked for it to be spicy. I beamed after I took a bite and found that I did not need to add anything to perk up the flavors from the array of chilies on the table. As you can see, it was an equally generous portion, and I was so relieved to find it wasn’t greasy! My only note on this otherwise perfect plate was that I found the shrimp a tad overcooked.

Because the cafe is in a strip mall that is not in a great area, I ordered some food to go, the chili ginger stir fry with beef for $10, which was mostly celery and although tasty, not a dish I would order again.

My friend’s Pad Woon Sen looked so good, that I ordered it to go with tofu for $10 and was very happy to be able to choose fried tofu, adding a nice texture contrast to the noodles. I managed to eat about half of the portion for lunch, and enjoyed having leftovers for another day.

They also offer curries, soups, rice, and other sauteed dishes, and I will surely be back to try some other items. They recently repainted and refreshed the interior, so you may want to eat in, but if you do, it is still likely that you will be taking leftovers home!

Happy Hours are some of my favorite times of the day; in a Venn diagram it is the sweet center spot.

 

I’ve written about a few of my favorite places in previous posts, so today’s post is an addendum of some places where I have gone, but are not on my rotation of frequent visits, either because of location, or selections.

Salt Creek Grille has several locations scattered throughout Southern California, and they feature very comfortable and chic decor, with a varied menu Happy Hour is M-F in the bar and lounge from 4-6:30 pm. Choices range from $6 for chips to this $11 plate of mesquite grilled baby back ribs with cole slaw and Asiago garlic fries. The meat was tender and the BBQ sauce was sweet but not over done, and the fries were nicely done, although I could have done without the sprinkling of asiago.

It was a good deal for the food, but I didn’t care for the Paloma, a beautifully presented drink with a candied grapefruit rind, but so sweet it was like drinking dessert. I would have opted for a martini but they make theirs with Tito’s and it’s not a brand I like. Ah well, I think I will just have wine next time.

Local Kitchen in Torrance is a family friendly sports bar that delivers all that you would expect from a neighborhood place, including huge portions, and a large selection of beers. I love their yardbird salad, so I went in one day during happy hour, which is 3-6 pm everyday at the bar for their wings at $7.50. It was a HUGE portion, definitely enough to share with 2 or 3 people. They have a decent selection of wines, but go for one of their beers on draft here, like the Smog City IPA.

Abigaile in Hermosa serves some of the best bar food in the South Bay, and their happy hour M-F from 5-7 pm is their testing menu for food that may or may not make it to the main menu. The menu changes constantly, but if you see the French dip on their menu, it a worth ordering for the tender meat and rich dipping sauce that is perfectly dunkable with the pretzel bun.

Before dunking,

after dunking 🙂

The Whisper Lounge in the Grove, offers happy hour M-F 3- 6 pm, and all day on Sunday. The calamari was over fried and dry, but the short rib sliders for $8 were so good that we contemplated ordering another plate. Their wine selection has enough depth and quality to make a wine snob (like me) happy, and with happy prices $4 less than regular, my friend and I indulged in 2 glasses each:)

No matter where you are, there is bound to be an option (if not happy hour, maybe go to the gym, yoga studio, or a movie) that is better than sitting in freeway traffic for a few hours, and that alone should make you happy 🙂

KimBap Paradise is known for their Korean rolls, kind of like sushi rolls but with different fillings, like beef 🙂 However tempting they sounded, I knew that there was no way that I could eat an entire roll, much less one with a bowl of soup or Bibimbop, so I opted for the bowl of Bibimbop alone. Of course it came with soup, rice, sides of kimchi, and pickled radish. The ingredients were all fresh and delicious, especially after I added the umami laden red chili bean paste (not spicy) into the bowl. Nothing on the menu is over $15 so you can experiment with new flavors without exploring going into debt.

I’ve written about Eboshi before, but I went back with a friend who had lived in Japan and spoke Japanese, so it was an “upgraded” lunch experience my second time around. We started with grilled beef tongue, a simple bite that is rare to find in Los Angeles.

My friend ordered the cold bowl of ramen Hiyashi Chuka for $11.50 that he devoured with gusto, saying it reminded him of his time in Japan.

I ordered the fried oysters which were wonderfully crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside, and even though they were flown in from Japan, the price was very reasonable. Since I hate macaroni salad, I can’t tell you how that tasted, but it was included with a small green salad for around $6.

Even though I no longer live in the neighborhood, the area around Sawtelle known as Little Osaka, Korean Super is still a good place to stop for a bowl of comfort food like this sweet savory chicken with pickled radish. It’s a hearty portion, served in an easily transportable container, so you can take your leftovers home:)

So many bowls to choose from, where should I eat my next bowl?

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:)

The perfect French Belgian fry is the epitome of fried food expertise. Sadly today’s post does not include that example, because it’s been so long since I’ve had a perfect one. If you have eaten great fries in Los Angeles, please comment and tell me where you found yours! Ideally double fried in duck fat, medium thickness, and generously salted 🙂

I have found a great Apple Fritter, with lots of extra crunchy nooks and crannies, and enough bits of apple that you don’t have to wonder if it is simply fried dough. Best Donuts is open 24 hours, so if you are near Hermosa Beach, or on your way from or to LAX, this is an easy stop on PCH and Artesia.

@Jean_de_Paradis calls onion rings the “popcorn of vegetables” and I ate this “side dish” at Rock and Brew Redondo Beach, as my dinner one afternoon with a crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Technically I guess I had a vegetarian dinner, right?

Of course since I’m an omnivore, I had to get some fried chicken at Honey’s Kettle in Culver City to take home. Their crispy hot wings are my favorite but they ran out of the hot sauce, so I “settled” for their family sized whole chicken so that I would have leftovers (they reheat beautifully in your oven).

After watching the incredibly entertaining and fun movie Ocean’s 8 at the South Bay Galleria, I drove a block away for some falafels in a veggie bowl filled with salad and fried zucchini on top of brown rice at King Mediterrano. The tiny counter operation has a nice outdoor seating area, or you can take the food to go, which is a great idea in light of the large portions at prices that make their healthy options comparable to fast food chain prices.

After all this fried food, I will go back to eating my usual menu of grilled, sautéed, baked, and braised food, but variety is the cornerstone of balance, and I needed a few fun fried treats to balance out all my sensible eating 🙂

Walking around El Segundo, I saw a sign that said El Segundo Fish Co was celebrating 15 years, so I stopped in to taste what has kept them in business for 15 years! I am so glad I did 🙂 The extensive menu has everything from seafood to fish, prepared in all the ways you could probably imagine. It reminds me a bit of the Reel Inn along the Malibu coast, casual, local, and friendly.

They had wild sea bass from New Zealand, so I ordered it blackened with a side salad and black beans. The salad was nearly a meal by itself! I didn’t care for the balsamic dressing, so I just used salt and pepper on it. I understood why so many people were taking their orders to go once I got to the bottom of my salad, I was nearly full 🙂

The side of black beans was so good, I could have also made a meal of of them! Whoever cooked them, knows exactly how to season and simmer these legumes to perfection. After one bite of the fish, I knew I would be coming back. It was moist, perfectly seasoned, and just cooked through. It was also a huge filet, and I took my time eating one small bite at a time until I finished the entire thing (I hear that is also how you eat an elephant)! I didn’t use or care for the buttery sauce on the side, so I was very glad I had ordered it blackened. There are also plenty of table condiments so you may custom season your meal.

I came back to try the shrimp, with a side of asparagus and rice, totaling $21, which was a bargain considering the amount of shrimp, but although I loved the asparagus, I found the shrimp over cooked, and the rice had a butter like flavor that I did not enjoy.

I tried a glass of Pinot Grigio, and was pleasantly surprised by the generous serving for $6, even more of a bargain on Sundays when all wines by the glass are half off (I prefer the Sauvignon Blanc after tasting both).

Since I love fried calamari $10.95, I had to try theirs, and it did not disappoint, with crispy batter and tender squid, this was delicious with just lemon and salt, although they offer a trio of sauces if you prefer. Even the appetizer portion is easily enough for two or more, so share it.

I had to order my favorite side of asparagus for $2.50 to round out my meal before braving the long 3 block walk home 🙂

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