DineLA Restaurant Week Dinner at Farsi Cafe in Westwood

DineLA Restaurant Week Dinner at Farsi Cafe in Westwood

Farsi Cafe sits in the location where the original and famous Shamshiri Restaurant (not to be confused with Shamshiri Grille up the street) operated for years before the original owner closed the restaurant in the mid-1990’s.

Farsi Cafe is participating in DineLA Restaurant Week, which runs from July 13th through July 27th.  They are offering a $15 2-course lunch or a $29 3-course dinner (actually, more like 4 courses as you get to choose 2 items from the appetizer section), and it is a lot of food.  Persian restaurants are known for serving large platters of food:  kabobs or stewed proteins served with a huge amount of basmati rice, and here it was no different.  By the time you finish you appetizers, some lavash bread and the plate of raw white onions, mint, basil and tarragon leaves (used with butter to wrap in the lavash for a pre-meal nibble), you’re almost full.

The food was excellent, and the service was solid.  The Tahdig & Stews were nice and hearty.  The lamb shank was huge and could easily feed 2 or 3 people.  Tachin (crusted rice mixed with yogurt, eggs and saffron with layer of boiled chicken at the middle served with sautéed barberries on the top) is also offered on their DineLA menu, but only until 7pm, that is if they don’t run out of it earlier in the evening,  as was the case during our visit.

The Persian Ice Cream dessert was probably the most interesting of the 3 options, as the ice cream is made with the combination of saffron, rose water and pistachios, sandwiched in between 2 waffle wafer layers.  Unfortunately, the combination of flavors were more muddled than distinct, and the waffle wafer layers were just soggy from being a pre-packaged item.

DineLA Restaurant Week Menu, July 2018
DineLA Restaurant Week Menu, July 2018
Naz Khaton
Naz Khaton – Yogurt blended with grilled eggplant, walnuts and herbs
Olovieh Salad
Olovieh Salad – Chicken and potato salad mixed with egg whites, peas and pickles
Tahdig and Stew
Tahdig & Stew – Default choice was Gheymeh, chunks of beef shoulder cooked in tomato paste with split yellow peas and crispy potato strips.
Tahdig & Stew
Tahdig & Stew are served separately. Here, I poured my Gheymeh all over the crispy basmati rice.
Mirza Ghazemi
Mirza Ghazemi – Grilled Eggplants mixed with tomatoes, scrambled eggs, and sauteed garlic
Soup & Salad
Soup & Salad – Split Yellow Pea
Soup & Salad
Soup & Salad – Side salad.
Chicken Breast Kabob
Chicken Breast Kabob with saffron basmati rice, grilled tomato and grilled serrano chile
Grilled Salmon
Grilled Salmon with Baghala Polo, lima bean and dill infused basmati rice
Lamb Shank
Lamb Shank, served with a side of Baghala Polo
Lamb Shank
Seasoned, Boiled Lamb Shank
Baghala Polo
Koobideh
Ground Beef Kabob (Koobideh)

Tahdig & Stew – Stew choice here was the Ghormeh Sabzi, made with parsley, spinach, fenugreek and chives (vegetarian version) Black Chocolate – Three Layer Chocolate Cake Persian Ice Cream – Saffron, rose water and pistachios Persian Ice Cream (Sandwich)

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Beijing  Duck Lunch at Duck House 鹿鼎記 in Monterey Park, CA

Beijing Duck Lunch at Duck House 鹿鼎記 in Monterey Park, CA

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For me, there are only a handful of places in the Greater Los Angeles Area that serves up really good Beijing Duck (aka Peking Duck), and Duck House is one of them.  They have been a staple here for over 15 years, and the quality of their food hasn’t diminished since.  In fact, they’re reaching out to foodies from around the city by participating in their very first DineLA Restaurant Week, which runs from July 13th through July 27th.  In addition, you can now make reservations through Open Table.

After checking out their $25 lunch and $49 dinner menus for DineLA, I thought one can get a better deal buy ordering off their regular menu.  So, for a party of 16 (8 per table), I ordered for each table the $268 set menu for 6 people, an extra half Beijing Duck, and 2 vegetable dishes for each table.  The total for lunch unfortunately came out to be about $20 more per person, tax and gratuity included.

However, for the majority, the food was delicious, and everyone was able to get ample amount of duck.  Shiny, crispy skinned duck, where some pieces had a nice layer of rendered fat on them, giving you more flavor with every bite.  Duck meat is sliced nicely and evenly, making them easy to roll up into a wrap with the raw scallions, cucumbers and a drizzle of hoisin sauce.  Each bite into the wrap was a mouthful of savory, ducky goodness.

The other dishes were solid, and the Baked Truffled Lobster was meaty and juicy, doused in a tasty garlicky and peppery sauce that just screams for a steamed white rice so you can use it to soak up those juices and savor the flavor.

Lunch ended with a plate of Passionfruit Konnyaku Jello, made in molds in the shape of Hello Kitty’s face.  Konnyaku is made from the Amorphophallus konjac and is sometimes referred to as yam, yam cake or yam flour.  It has a firmer texture than agar agar or regular gelatin.  It’s not very flavorful, so you can easily taste the passionfruit flavor.

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Calamari with a spicy and garlicky dipping sauce
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Smoked Flavored Pork
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Beijing Duck with all the fixings
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1 1/2 Orders of Beijing Duck
Shredded Scallions and Cucumbers and Hoisin Sauce
Shredded Scallions and Cucumbers and Hoisin Sauce that accompany the duck
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The Perfect Bite
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Duck Soup with Napa Cabbage and Tofu
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Filet Mignon Cubes with Black Pepper
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Baby Bok Choy with Dried Scallops and Crab Meat
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BBQ Eel with Glutenous Rice
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Sauteed A Choy
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Sizzling Tofu with Basil in Pot
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Baked Truffled Lobster in Black Pepper Sauce
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Passionfruit Konnyaku Jelly

 

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They were made in a Hello Kitty mode!
Sichuanese and Cantonese Food at Hop Woo Restaurant 合和 in West LA

Sichuanese and Cantonese Food at Hop Woo Restaurant 合和 in West LA

I can remember when Hop Woo first opened on the Westside.  It was around 2000, and I was working for a solo practitioner/attorney in Bel Air at the time.  I discovered them when I was running errands in the area.  At that time, much like their sister restaurant in Chinatown, they were serving solid Hong Kong style Cantonese food, as well as offering a deli section with roast pork, BBQ pork, roast duck and soy sauce chicken to name a few.  However, when the interest plateaued over the years, so has the quality of the food.  And with that, the crowds became smaller at nights and weekends.

Recently, noticing the Los Angelinos’ craze for authentic Sichuanese cuisine, a new manager brought in a chef who specialized in preparing popular Sichuan dishes, and the result, from word of mouth, was packed dining rooms full of Chinese expats who work in the area or work/study at UCLA.

When ordering the Sichuanese dishes, ask specifically for the Sichuan 四川 menu, a paper menu, separate from the regular menu.  When ordering dishes such as Mapo Tofu or Kung Pao Chicken, which appear on both menus, indicate you want the Sichuan menu preparation, so that you don’t end up with the Americanized version.

The highlight of the menu is the Spicy Chicken (口水雞, cold chicken in spicy chile oil), where the meat is moist and silky, the type of chicken meat you expect in Hainan Chicken, but only now, it’s drenched in a bath of red chile pepper oil with sesame seeds.  Add Sichuan peppercorns, and you have an amazing dish that tingles you mouth nicely.

Their other dishes are quite good as well, especially when you ask them to reduce the amount of salt used in the preparation of the Sichuan dishes.  Sichuanese and Hunanese restaurants in the US, for some reason, use a lot of salt in their dishes.  Sometimes it enhances the Ma-La 麻辣 flavor (balance of the numbing sensation from the Sichuan peppercorns (or Ma 麻) and the spiciness from the dried red chile peppers (or La 辣).  Sometimes, after the spicy burn settles, it’s just salty.  Asking them to cook with reduced salt seemed to have solved that issue for us, though I wonder with the reduce salt, if it might have altered the flavors somewhat at all…

One disappointment has been the lack of Spicy Cold Jelly (Noodles).  It’s never been available every time I’ve eaten there in the last 3 months.    Oh, and parking here is a bitch.  Arrive early to find parking in the streets in the area.

Click on the thumbnail to enlarge the photo.

 

Old School Steak Dinner at The Bull Pen in Redondo Beach, CA

Old School Steak Dinner at The Bull Pen in Redondo Beach, CA

Had a lovely dinner here with former co-workers.  The food was good, the service excellent.  All dinners include soup or salad and a side.  I love the added touch of preparing dinner salads tableside and dressing them with a housemade salad dressing.  Dining here is a throwback to the great steakhouses in the 1970s (and these places have opened decades earlier).  It’s no wonder this place is packed throughout the entire evening we were there.

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Terra at Eataly LA in Century City

Terra at Eataly LA in Century City

Not much I can say about this place.  Beautiful space.  Our server was good.  The food, for the most part, was solid.  Tableside presentation of the gelato dessert was a nice tough, but not sure it’s worth the $8 supplement price if you order it with the Menu Fisso, their $29 3-course prix fixe.

As the first reservation of the day, our group did not appreciate the attitude from the manager and hostess.  We did not appreciate the lapses in service by the rest the service staff:  we were not offered grated parmesan cheese or freshly grounded black pepper for our salads or the ravioli dish, unlike with the table next to us.  And one busser, who was trying to offer a positive spin to our mentioning about the lackluster Chopped Salad, but instead made remarks that were condescending and dismissive.  Realizing how he misspoke, he never tended to our table after that.

The poorly prepared Chopped Salad that lacked some of ingredients, which made it flavorless.  The Pea Ravioli was served very little butter sauce drizzled on the plate.  And an order of iced tea turned out to be a 20 oz. bottle that costs $9.00.

 

Dinner at Rappahannock Oyster Bar at The Row in DTLA

Dinner at Rappahannock Oyster Bar at The Row in DTLA

Loaded inside The Row DTLA, Rappahannock Oyster Bar is the lone dining option here for dinner for the time being, and it’s quite an unusual dining experience, especially if you sit out in their outdoor patio as the rest of the complex is close for the night, and there are no cars nor people around.

Chef Nick Erven reemerges after his much acclaimed veganish restaurant Erven in Santa Monica closed a couple of years ago.  I didn’t order anything from the raw bar, but the small dishes I had were solid.  The Dungeness Crab is a delicate dish that was quite refreshing for the unusually hot summer night we endured while dining al fresco (our party was too big to be accommodated indoors).  The Uni Corn was fun and tasty to eat.  It was savory, sour, and sweet as well.

The entrees seem to still need some tweaking, especially the Fried Mary’s Half Chicken, which was deep fried beyond that golden brown.

Service here was very attentive, and that attitude of the staff was very friendly and accommodating.  There is a way to take drive up to the parking spaces that are adjacent to the restaurant, you just have to enter the road just west of the parking structure from the south end of the complex after you enter from either Center St or Bay St off Alameda St.

Click on thumbnails to enlarge photo.

 

在金都吃點心, Eating Dim Sum at Capital Seafood Restaurant in Arcadia, CA

在金都吃點心, Eating Dim Sum at Capital Seafood Restaurant in Arcadia, CA

Small chain of restaurants with 2 locations in Irvine, and one location in Arcadia that provides a higher end style of dining.  Though this location has been here for years, today’s brunch was the very first here at Capital Seafood.  Prices here are moderate, especially when compared to the other dim sum palaces, with prices starting at $3.98 per plate and up.

At the Irvine Spectrum location, I discovered their delicious shrimp egg rolls which were deep fried to a golden brown and absolutely crunchy and delicious.  Here, it was almost the same, except that their shrimp egg rolls are now prepared in Taiwanese style: long, thin cigar like egg rolls filled with only pieces of shrimp, with the ends twisted closed and deep fried.  They are then cut in half before being served with a sweet brown sauce. That and the mixed mushroom egg rolls were delicious.

Other stand outs were the Baked Pineapple Bun filled with salted egg yolk custard, Hong Kong style egg custard tarts, and Shrimp Dumplings in Supreme Broth.

The only item that I found disappointing was the Rice Noodle Wraps/Crepes filled with ground beef.  The beef was minced and then marinated with too much corn starch that the filling did not taste like beef at all, and the texture was somewhat off putting, like a paste.

While they’re trying to provide you with a higher end dining experience, it can be difficult to flag down a wait person to take your order sheet, or to assist you with any other needs you have.

As always, click over a thumbnail in order to enlarge.