Friday, April 18, 2008

Jin Patisserie

I've been meaning to do this post on Jin for awhile but just never got around to do it. So here I am, updating my blog and doing other things than writing my paper for graduate school. =T I first heard about Jin on t.v. and have read about this place in the paper as well. Apparently the place is owned by Kristy Choo who is a young unconventional pastry chef and has brought the popularity of afternoon tea to Venice Beach. A friend of mine really likes this place cause he's into afternooon tea and stuff. Yes.. guys can appreciate afternoon tea as well! It's not just a "chick" thing. =) But then if we're talking about a group of guys having afternoon tea on a Saturday afternoon, eating dainty pretty desserts and drinking tea...then.... comment! Haha! ANYWAYS.. So my friend offered to take me since I've never been there before and I just wanted to see what all the hype was about! =)

First of all, I want to warn you that it took me forever to find street parking along Abbot Kinney Boulevard. I haven't visited Venice Beach since I was a kid.. so I didn't know what to expect when I got there. But yea.. parking was a pain.. especially on a Saturday afternoon.. goodluck!

When I first walked into Jin Patisserie, I thought the place was pretty cute. It was definitely smaller than what I had imagined but there was a nice cozy feel about the environment. I guess I would interpret this place as the modern classy teahouse. Its definitely not the American afternoon tea establishments like Sweet Divas in Brea or Victorian Tea Manor in Orange where the teahouse has hand-painted flowers on the walls and the customers wear cutesy big hats while they enjoy a cup of tea. Those places are definitely not my cup of tea. But Jin is a place where you can sit outdoors in their nice patio area on a nice sunny day, enjoy some dessert and tea, and chillax with a friend IF you can snag a table because the place IS really small.

Anyways, my friend recommended that I get the Afternoon Tea Set ($19). There was the cake set, and scone set but the Afternoon Tea set provided the most variety and samples from their pastry and cake selections. The set also included a pot of their infused tea. They actually had a nice selection of tea in their menu. They had 35 different varieties of green, black, scented, organic, and white tea. I decided to order Jasmine Tea since I love the scent of Jasmine. But the Afternoon Tea Set basically included two egg finger sandwich, a slice of cake, a praline mousse, a meat filed pastry, and some mini sweet desserts. The homemade raffles scones were accompanied by little pots of clotted cream and strawberry jam. My overall impression of the Afternoon Tea Set? It was "okay".... I mean.. I really don't know what all the hype is about. It definitely wasn't filling for me and I understand that all afternoon teas are expensive but.. I don't know if I would order this the next time I come back. I would probably want try something from their good selection of pretty delicate desserts or even order from their lunch menu.

In addition to the cakes, pastries, scones and quiches at Jin, Choo also makes cakes, cookies and chocolate candies, which are sold at a retail counter inside. Jin is also known for their nice selection of handmade macaroons which I bought some to take home to give as a gift to my friends and family. Beware.. the edible arts ain't cheap! But if your like me and like to try everything, it doesn't hurt to splurge every once in awhile. =) Jin is a cute place... I don't know if I would go out of my way to visit this place again. It took me a good hour and half in traffic to drive to Venice from Cerritos.. plus parking there sucked! I guess if I was in the area and happened to come across this place again.. then I would go. Buuut otherwise.. its more like a been there done that thing.

Jin Patisserie
1202 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 399-8801

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Koi Sushi Restaurant

Wow.. it's been quite awhile since I've updated this thing. But after having another wonderful meal tonight at Koi, I figured that I better do a post at this restaurant because it truly deserves its' props and recognition! It was funny because I was asking my friend the other day where she had her date with a guy she just met. She mentioned to me that they ate at her favorite Japanese restaurant in Seal Beach. When I heard that, I instantly said "Was it Koi?!?!?" And she immediately said "YES!! How did you know?!?" We started to laugh and named all the yummy dishes we love at this restaurant. Yup, it's thAt good!

When I first walked into this restaurant, I honestly didn't expect much out of this restaurant. I figured that the restaurant wasn't going to be very "authentic" because the majority of the customers were all non-asian (well.. it iS Seal Beach) and plus I didn't think much of its' atmosphere. I mean, the decor ain't Geisha House or Yamishrio that's for sure! But there is definitely a nice casual, family friendly atmosphere about the restaurant.

So when I think of Koi, I immediately think of their Stuffed Shiitake ($9.50) dish. OMG.. this is one of my favorite dishes! I've ordered this dish in other restaurants but honestly, I feel that Koi does it the best! It is basically two fresh large shiitake mushroom caps on a shiso leaf (Also known as perilla which is an herb part of the mint family) stuffed with snow crab and tempura-fried. The shiso adds a perfume like aroma to the taste of the mushrooms. Plus, the sea salt and japanese red peppers that they bring out with the dish adds such a harmonious combination to this dish.

Next, the California Roll ($7.50). OKay.. I know what your thinking.. California Roll is California Roll.. what's so special about this one? Well, I've noticed that the texture of the crabs are different from what you get in other japanese restaurants. I dunno.. the crabs in the california rolls that I buy at the market all seem kind of mushy and chopped up finely. However, the crabs in Koi's rolls taste like real snow crab.

Crunchy Roll ($9.50) Shrimp tempura rolled with gobo and cucumber and topped with smelt eggs, crunchy bits, and sweet sauce. Good!

We also ordered the Seafood Stuffed Papaya ($12.50). It is basically a warm baked papaya filled with chunks of seabass and scallops, baked with a creamy miso glaze. I've never had baked papaya before so this was an interesting dish to try. Baking the papaya in the miso glaze definitely sweetened and brought up the taste of the papaya in a good way.

Sauteed Australian Lobster ($18.50). The large chunks of lobster is sautéed with tender asparagus, mushrooms, and Japanese peppers. It was good but I'm not sure if I would order this again just because I would probably want to try some new appetizers next time!

Grilled Yellowtail Cheek ($14.50) with ponzu sauce. Yum!

I didn't get a picture of their sashimi.. usually my family orders and shares the sashimi combo appetizer ($17.50) which includes salmon, tuna, and yellowtail. But the restaurant does offer a nice selection of fish and rolls. Seriously.. FRESH sashimi. I'm kind of picky in where I order my sashimi but my family and I agree that Koi's is definitely GOOD and FRESH!

All the entree come with a bowl of salad with sesame or miso dressing and hot miso soup. Koi offers a variety of entrees such as Beef or Chicken Teriyaki and even Chilean Seabass Teriyaki. Honestly, I'm not crAAzy about the entrees in this restaurant. I mean, don't get me wrong.. their good but there not anything different from your typical japanese restaurant. But one entree I usually like to get is their Lobster Tempura ($25.75). THat's right! You heard me.. LOBSTER TEMPURA! How can you go wrong with this dish? The Australian lobster tail that they use is definitely fresh and sweet.

Of course I had to end the meal with Green tea ice cream ($2.50). Lurve it!

Overall, Koi is definitely a restaurant you should try when you want to find great quality sushi in the Seal Beach area. I don't think they take reservations so be sure to arrive early to avoid the long waits cause they dO get really busy! The prices are not cheAap but then again you aRe paying for GOOD quality fish and yummy food. PLUS, they aren't crazy expensive as what you would find in other japanese restaurants like Nobu or Matsuhisa. I would also recommend that you try some of their monthly specials that they offer in their menu. Every month their specials change because they usually offer items that are in season. Plus, the dishes are unique and most of the time they are really good! Like tonight we had their Steamed tile fish with cherry blossoms dish which was soo good and also their Steamed Kampachi with seaweed in white wine sauce. I couldn't help but notice the natural sweetness of the fish. Seriously to die for!

There's my yummy time at Koi! =)

Koi Sushi Restaurant
600 Pacific Coast Hwy
Seal Beach, CA 90740
(562) 431-1186

Friday, January 4, 2008

Gloria's Cocina Mexicana

So after watching I am Legend with my friends, we were deciding where we should eat. My friends suggested somewhere in Cerritos, but I wanted to try a new place since there aren't many gReAT restaurants around Cerritos. I remembered my friend telling me about this place in Downey called Gloria's. She claimed that it was the "best and most authentic Mexican food" that she has ever had! That is a pretty bold statement to just throw out there! So after persuading my friends to drive all the way to Downey for Mexican food, we were off to decide for ourselves how good this place really is!

When I pulled up to the restaurant, I was picturing the restaurant to be this small dingy restaurant because my friend did tell me that it was a "hole in the wall" type of restaurant. But it wasn't at all. It was a pretty decent sized restaurant with a lot of people waiting to be seated inside the restaurant.

Gloria's Cocina Mexicana:

It's definitely a clean family oriented restaurant. There are red leather booths surrounding the room and there is also a separate Sport's bar room with big screen t.v.'s for customers who want to come in for a drink or take advantage of their Happy Hour from 4-7 p.m.

Right when me and my friends were seated, the Mariachi band began playing and taking requests from each table. At first it was nice to watch the band perform, but the music was REAAALLY loud and I kind of felt bad for my friends because they were visiting from Boston and St. Louis and we haven't seen each other in quite awhile and had planned to get together so that we could catch up on what has been going on in our lives. It just got to the point where my friend turned to me and said "Okay.. I'm a little annoyed now.." I'm not sure if the Mariachi band plays every night but if you are looking for a quiet sit down restaurant where you just want to have a nice conversation with your friends or family, make sure you find out what time the band plays because we were barely able to hear each other talk during the music.

One of the great things about this restaurant is that they make their own tortillas. You can really taste the difference because of the elasticity and texture of the fresh hot tortillas.

Tortilla lady:

Warm crunchy tortilla chips and thick salsa verde was immediately served to us at the table. They were really yummy!

Me and my friends ordered the Carne Asada $8.99. The dish comes with Carne Asada, salad, rice, beans, salsa, guacamole, and your choice of corn or flour tortillas.

When our orders came, the first thing that came out of my friend's mouth was "Wow! This is really GOOD!" I turned to my friend and said, "Really???" I took a taste of the beans and rice and said, "MMm.. this is GOOD!" All of a sudden my friends and I stopped talking.. and we were just concentrated in our meal. I think that's when you know the food is good when everyone stops talking at the table. =) The fluffy rice with the thick glutinous beans blended nicely with one another and the carne asada was thinly sliced and seasoned well. They don't mess with their Mexican food at Gloria's! It's not your typical Mexican-American chain restaurants like Acapulco and El Torito. This is real Mexican food. The service there was also really prompt and attentive. Our waiter was open to answer any questions we had about the menu and asked us if we wanted any refills on the chips/salsa. I think the only downside to our experience at Gloria's was not being able to chat with one another because of the loud music played by the Mariachi band. But if you are just there for the food and don't mind the loud noise in the room, it's definitely worth giving this restaurant a try!

Gloria's Cocina Mexicana
7401 Florence Avenue
Downey, CA 90240

(562) 776-1488

M-F: Lunch Buffet; Happy Hour 4-7 p.m.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Well.. well.. well.. we meet again. =) I didn't think I would start writing in my food blog again since it has been poorly neglected the past several months!! However, I'm on winter break now, so I figured I should try to get my food blog running again! And what better way to start this food blog then a post on Ortolan!

This holiday, my parents were asking me where we could eat at.. we thought about Crustaceans.. which is a place we've been to the past 2 years. We also thought about Pacific Palms buffet so that we could take advantage of their all you can eat lobster deal but they were booked. Soo.. I proposed Ortolan.. which I have been eyeing on for a while. The talented Christophe Eme is the executive chef at Ortolan and has made quite a mark on the French dining scene in Southern California. Perhaps he was widely known for his work at L'Orangerie, the once popular French L.A. area restaurant, and for competing in Iron Chef America against Morimoto. However, for me, I remember him as the husband of the Stark Trek: Voyager and recently CBS's Shark actress, Jeri Ryan. =) After reading the reviews and seeing a few news clips of the restaurant online, I knew we had to try this restaurant.

The minute we walked into the restaurant, we were greeted by the French host.. too bad Jeri Ryan wasn't there that evening.. =T and you immediately see the bright room in front of you. The classic crystal chandeliers, cream colored leather booths, and drapes provide an elegant yet not over the top modern atmosphere to the whole room.

Since we had a party of 5, we were seated in the other dining room which included 2 larger dining tables. The room we were seated at was not very well lit plus the downside is that it's closer to the kitchen so if you have a reaaally sensitive nose like my mom, you may smell some smoke in the room. However, I didn't smell anything so being in this room didn't bother me very much.

Since we were seated in the darker room, our waitress handed each of us a mini flashlight so that we could read our menus. What a way to save electricity eh?! :)

After we took our orders, the waitress brings out 5 tubes of soup served with mini straws, which are compliments from the Chef! So our dinner started well since we were offered free food! =) What looked like a solution that you would find in your old High School Chemistry class turned out to be such a delicious yet unique way of serving soup. I believe the brown one with the green top is mushroom soup and the white cream colored one was cauliflower soup.

Our next complimentary dish was this eggplant mixture spread that we were able to put on our bread. Again... very good and a nice alternative to your ordinary butter or EVOO/balsamic vinegar dips.

We decided to order and share 3 different types of appetizers which turned out to be a good idea cause we were able to taste a variety of dishes and still have room for our entrees. The first appetizer that came out was the Seared Napa Valley Escargot $21. It is served in two ways with a side of parmesan crisps. On the right side, the escargot is chopped up finely and deep-fried and on the left side, the chef layered the tube with mashed potatoes at the bottom, then sauteed escargot, and lettuce emulsion at the top. This dish was REALLY good... The only downside I would say is that the waiter did not offer us mini spoons. Therefore, it was extremely difficult to eat out of the small tube with our forks.

The next appetizer we ordered was the Ceviche of Baby Scallop with Osetra Caviar $23. This is another really good dish.. the lemon juice really brought out the freshness of the scallops and the outer crust added a nice sweetness and crunchy texture to the dish. Another winner!

The last appetizer we ordered was the Marinated Tuna with Eggplant Caviear $21. This was an interesting dish cause the mini squares didn't exactly look like tuna. It was served with chopped up seasoned vegetables and herbed goat cheese. It was good and was a unique way of serving tuna but not my favorite appetizer.

I ordered the Roast Duck Supreme with Cherry Tomato $38. The dish was appealing to the eye but I was a little disappointed by the texture of the duck. It wasn't as tender as I hoped it would be. But the fava bean rolls and baby fennel accompanied the duck nicely. One thing that stuck out from the dish was that the two little cigars you see in the dish are actually duck confit.. so the mini cigars is actually filled with finely shredded duck meat inside. I thought it was a type of deep fried vegetable that tasted sweet but I later asked the waitress and she said it was meat. You should have seen my response.. "OHHhhhhh~" =P

My mom ordered the Seared Cod with Watercress Sauce $38. The dish is served with Chanterelle mushrooms, scallion, and clam. I asked my mom what she thought of it and she said that it was a bit too bland. The fish was cooked really well but I think they should have seasoned it a bit more or accompanied the fish with a different sauce. So yea.. I don't think we would order this dish again.

Next, my brother ordered the Filet of Nebraska Beef with Marrow Bone $41. It was served with oxtail, chestnut, and these potato puffs. My brother enjoyed this dish so I guess this is another winner. It's a very hearty yet nice dish for the Holiday.

The next dish that was ordered was the Roast Rack of Lamb with orange reduction $38. It is served with artichoke, eggplant, and tomato confit. My dad said that the dish was cooked well but he was not very fond of the vegetable confit on the left side.

The next dish that was ordered was the Pan-Roast Kurobuta Pork with Onion Soubise $38. It is accompanied with these really yummy and creamy truffle-potato gnocchi and haricot vert which is a fancy way of saying green beans in French. Haha The green beans were wrapped what tasted like super thinly sliced toast. The only downside to this dish was that the pork was a bit on the dry side. Thick pork chop is tough to keep moist.. I would probably try the chicken dish if you want an alternative to red meat or seafood.

After the meal, we were really full and decided to skip dessert. However, the waitress later brought out some dessert samplers, which were compliments from the Chef. The dessert included a variety of different flavored macaroons, these colorful squares that tasted like marshmallows, and some candied jelly. The sweet dessert complimented my slightly bitter jasmine tea. Yum!

After the meal, Chef Eme actually came out to great us and the other customers that were at the restaurant. Too bad it wasn't Jeri Ryan.. hehe j/k. No, but it was a lovely surprise to see the executive chef take some time away from the busy kitchen to greet us and see how well we liked the dishes. Of course all of us were like.. "Oh it was really good!" Even though we were thinking about some dishes he could have improved =P but it was really nice of him to come out and talk to us. It definitely makes the customers feel more welcomed and taken care of. Plus, with all the complimentary dishes we received, it's hard to give a bad review to Ortolan. Not that we had a bad experience or anything, the service was EXCELLENT and the food was really good. But I personally felt that the appetizers tasted better than the entrees. However, one thing I appreciate about Ortolan is Chef Eme's innovative yet contemporary dishes that truly provide his customers an experience of what he calls "haute" cuisine. Not HOT :) .. but haute. It basically means elaborate or skillfully prepared food. And you can truly experience that when you come to Ortolan.

8338 W. 3rd Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Telephone (323) 653-3300

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Blue Coral

WELCOME to my first blog! =D I didn't think I would do this... but because all of my friends and family know that I LOVE to eat and I love to read other people's food blogs, I thought it was time that I made myself one. :) I am by no means a food connoisseur, however, I'm just here to provide you my thoughts about various restaurants and have fun at the same time! Please feel free to comment on my blog. I would love to hear from those who actually reads this thing! =)

I first found out about Blue Coral when I was shopping with my mom in Fashion Island. I didn't have a strong desire to try the restaurant until my cousins came back from the restaurant one night and "highly" recommended the restaurant to my family. So, we had to try it!

Blue Coral opened in 2006 and is located next to Roy's in Fashion Island.

The ambiance was clean and contemporary.

I've never seen tea ($4.95) served this way before. Where it looks like the stem of an "apple" holds the tea bag in the cup.

When we were seated, we were immediately served with these room temperature cheese biscuits. It was tasty but it could have been a little more moist.

For our appetizer, we ordered the Yellotail Crudo ($18). It is thinly-sliced yellow tail swimming in a fresh blood orange vinaigrette. Alaea salt and serrano chiles adds alittle more character to it's flavor, however, this dish didn't do anything for me. I wouldn't order this again.

We also ordered the Blue Crab Cake ($16) which is pan-seared crab cake served with roasted tomato aioli. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of crab cakes until I have tried this dish! The only complaint I have about the crab cake is that it falls apart easily when you try to pick it up but it's probably the best crab cake I've had so far.

White Clam Chowder ($7) is basically a East Coast style chowder with bacon, leeks and potatoe. It's a rich pool of yummy delight. =)

Melted butter for the lobster is kept warm with a tea light.

My brother ordered the Blue Coral Surf & Turf ($55). It is basically a petite filet with chimichurri butter and your choice of shrimp scampi, collossal lump crab cake, alaskan king crab, or broiled tristan island lobster tail. Obviously my brother choose the lobster tail which he enjoyed. Although my brother mentioned that he's had "better" filets before... he still thought that the dish was good.

My mom ordered the Tristan Island Lobster Tails ($55). It is water tails, seasoned with pimenton spice, slowly-baked and served with drawn butter. My mom said that she didn't like this dish as much as she would have liked because the lobster tails could have been a little more moist and "sweeter" in terms of it's natural flavors and juices.

I ordered the Dungeness Crab En Fuego ($44). It is slowly baked dungeness crab with blue coral's signature creamy fuego chile aioli, with homemade chips. Using a fork, I just ate through the center of the crab, which is picked apart and assembled nicely in the crab. However, I wish the chef could have cracked the crab legs for me rather than have me try to crack them myself. =T This dish is full of intense flavors and it's even a little spicy which is great for me because I lUv spicy food!

We also ordered a side of White Truffled French Fries ($7). The fries were seasoned well but I probably would order something else next time because I didn't feel like it was worth $7.

Overall, the Blue Coral experience was wonderful! The service was prompt and efficient and the food was delish! This restaurant is on the pricey side but that's what you kind of expect for an upscale restaurant in Newport Beach. So, if your ever in the OC and in the mood to splurge, be sure to check out the Blue Coral! It's definitely a yUmmY tiMe! =D

Blue Coral
451 Newport Center Drive
In Fashion Island
Newport Beach, CA 92660