Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gardena: The Valley of Good Eating

Once a fertile valley known for its strawberry farms, Gardena is now known for its proximity to LA’s major freeways, an aging Nisei generation and Hustler Casino. But with the gentrification of Little Tokyo and the over-crowded Sawtelle Blvd., Gardena may be Southern California’s best-kept Japanese food secret. And in addition to Japanese food, there are also quality Korean, Vietnamese, Italian, Hawai'ian, Mexican and Chinese eateries. It's all here. But who am I kidding? Gardena is no longer a secret to those who care enough to do an ounce of research for something authentic, so here is my restaurant list (in no particular order):

- Sanuki No Sato (option of Japanese-style no shoes dining rooms as well )
- Otafuku Noodle House

- Azuma (humongous plates! grilled squid should not be overlooked!)

- Shinsen gumi (yakitori and Hakata raman)

- Tampopo - (great for lunch, good value and
- Marukai Market - (2 locations. The Pacific Market one has a takoyaki stand on some weekends)


- Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop
- Local Place Bakery and Cafe (a King's Hawaiian outpost, ahh the )


- Sea Empress Seafood- (dim sum yum)


- Pho So 1

- Pho Consomme (full disclosure: they don't bus tables here until the end of your meal)


- Yellow Cow Korean BBQ -

- Lee's Tofu - (fantastic bubbling tofu soup)


- Eatalian Cafe (super fresh everything! nice open space in the middle of an industrial area)


- Ramona's - (no seating, but if you want your bean & cheese reliable and in bulk...)

- California Fish Grille - (fish tacos! think Chipotle, but way better)

- Josie's Place - (take out only)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Post-Yoga Pub Grub

Anticlimactic eating happens. After a cleansing yoga session SM and I headed to the British pub around the corner from the yoga studio in Santa Monica. ( Or maybe it was because our stomachs grew so accustomed to the large volume of food we've been eating all week that the Whole Foods food bar wasn't going to do.) The British restaurant/pub, Ye Olde King's Head, serves all the traditional fare one could ask for like bangers and mash, shepherd's pie, black pudding and fish n' chips. They even have a proper afternoon tea. There are actually three homey inn-style dining rooms, one of which has a fireplace for those chilly (not really) SoCal days. I had the Brum fish cakes served with peas and chips (fries). Brum fish cakes are basically fish croquettes, probably cod. They were delicious! At least I did the yoga and didn't have a pint.

It appears to be a British celebrity haunt according to the framed photos filling the walls, from Peter O'Toole to Oasis.

Ye Olde King's Head
116 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 451-1402

Friday, November 26, 2010

Everything Turkey!

When I first saw this dessert featured on Diary of a Foodie: Gourmet.com Istanbul episode, I quickly became obsessed. It had all my favorite components: cream, milk, dried fruit, nuts, translucent leaves of dough. I was in Turkey for a brief time several years ago, but we headed straight for the verdant hills bypassing all the delicious food of Istanbul. Last fall I visited SL in Berlin and we scoured her Turkish neighborhood, Kreuzberg, for this special dessert. Most people looked at us quizzically and pointed to the wide array of other flaky and nutty sweets. It turns out that because it is a Ramadan dessert, the rest of the year it hibernates. It wasn't until this fall at a local Arabic grocer, that my mom finds herself at least once a week, I found a box of Güllaç imported from Istanbul. It was meant to be. If I wasn't going to be in Turkey during Ramadan, I was going to have to make it myself and what better day to make it than TURKEY DAY! For the first of two dinners, I decided it was the perfect light sweet that allows room for our second meal at the next house. It was simple to make and not too sweet. A recipe was on the box, but I approximated between it and Gourmet's recipe and it turned out great. We had fresh pomegranates from the backyard, so I added some seeds for color at tartness. Removing the seeds was probably the most difficult part, but everything else easy.

This summer SL went to Istanbul and brought me one of my other favorite sweets, halva, as well as Turkish delights from one of oldest confectioners in Turkey, Haci Bekir. Both delicious.