Chef Laurent Quenioux’s LQ Fooding “Fall Series @ MaMaison 2018” in Topanga, CA

Chef Laurent Quenioux’s LQ Fooding “Fall Series @ MaMaison 2018” in Topanga, CA

The owners of this lovely property in the mountains just north of the Topanga Village opened their amazing property to Chef Quenioux and his LQ Foodings team to host a multi-course dinner this weekend.  It was a beautiful night, with lovely views, and the weather was perfect for an outdoor dinner.

And what a dinner it was, considered a bargain by many of the diners, as you get 7 courses plus a glass of apertif: Dijon Cassis Kir, for only $80 plus tax, gratuity and a processing fee for purchasing your tickets online.

Cold/room temperature appetizers were the perfect dishes to serve on this night to start the dinner with, leading up to three delicious main course including the seafood course, garnished with a delicious bouillabase broth, to beef short ribs served with cordyceps mushrooms.

It was a wonderful progression of dishes, and this is certainly one of the better pop-up dinners around these days in the LA area.  It’s the type of dining I enjoy:  gradual progression of dishes, relaxed atmosphere, not excessively loud, and no loud music blaring away.  Instead, contemporary jazz was played in the background, at a volume that did not make it difficult for one to carry a conversation with dinner mates nearby.

Website:  http://bistrolq.com/lq-foodings

Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pictures.

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Sichuan Dinner at GuYi 古亦廚房 in the Brentwood Neighborhood of West Los Angeles

Sichuan Dinner at GuYi 古亦廚房 in the Brentwood Neighborhood of West Los Angeles

The Westside of Los Angeles is becoming a haven for only excellent Chinese restaurants, but specifically, Sichuan food.  A couple of years ago, China’s Meizhou Dongpo opened up their first US location in Century City.  Then GuYi opened up earlier this year, followed by West LA’s Hop Woo adding management and chefs with experience preparing excellent, non-Americanized, Sichuan dishes.  In the near future Sichuan Impression will take over the space where long time Chinese American restaurant Jin Jiang used to reside, in West LA as well.

Though I wasn’t much of a fan of the food at Meizhou Dongpo, it was quite the opposite with GuYi and Hop Woo (both whom have created dishes that are spicy and are packed with indepth flavor).

What a even more surprising about GuYi was that their Sichuan cookery has improved since my first visit back in May.  The dishes were well prepared and seasoned well, offering a good amount of spiciness and mouth-numbingness without the dishes being extremely salty as many other Sichuan restaurants seem to do.

Highlights of our Labor Day dinner at GuYi were the Fish with Green Chiles and the Steamed Chicken in Chili Sauce.  The flavors were outstanding; the spice level, good; and an adequate amount of mouth numbing Sichuan peppercorns used in the dishes.

Because GuYi is located on the west end  of the 3rd Floor of Brentwood Gardens shopping mall, their prices have to be on the higher side in order to compensate for the higher rents they have.  In addition, some of the portions were on the trimmer side. However, the deliciousness of the food made it easy for us to overlook that.

Click on thumbnails to enlarge the photo with captions.

 

Dinner at Moon House Chinese Cuisine 福滿樓 in West Los Angeles, CA

Dinner at Moon House Chinese Cuisine 福滿樓 in West Los Angeles, CA

For the last 2 years, Moon House has been the “go to” place for solid Chinese (mainly Cantonese) food on the Westside, and for the most part, the food is excellent.  This place has also been packed in the past Chinese students from UCLA, as well as those who live out on the Westside.  However, during this time, prices have been slowly creeping up.  What used to be inexpensive and reasonable is now getting to the point of being moderately pricey.   Lunch Specials that used to cost $8 or $9 a dish, and a Buy 4 Lunch Special Entrees and Get 1 Free promo, now run about $12 to $14.  And that Buy 4 and Get 1 Free promo is no more.

In addition to the higher prices, their Health Inspection Rating dropped, for the first time ever, from an “A” rating.  Worse, the rating dropped to a “C.”  It makes one wonder if the 2 issues may be the cause for their foot traffic to noticeably drop off some?  So, we wonder if the offering of a 40% Off Facebook Discount was in response to the decline in sales?  Whatever the reason was, we took advantage of it and dined on 16 different dishes, most of which were prepared well and were tasty.

The most luxurious item they had available was the Peking (Beijing) Duck.  Though it may not have been the best preparation, it was more than adequate to satiate our palates.

The one true disappointment of the evening was the Salt & Pepper Calamari.  The flour coating on the outside could have used a few more seconds frying in oil, so that the calamari would be nice and crispy.  Instead, it was a little gummy, and there was a off taste to the calamari.

Service was good here.  With the discount, we saved about $120 on our dinner, and with the cost of $23 per person, this meal was quite a steal.

If you can read Chinese or use a translator app, you may want to ask for the Chinese only menu to order dishes non-Chinese readers don’t know about.

As always, click on the thumbnails to enlarge the photos.

Xian Kitchen 西安食府 in City of Industry, CA

Xian Kitchen 西安食府 in City of Industry, CA

Small restaurant that opened back in 2014, serving up regional cuisine from Shaanxi Province (陝西) in North Central China, where hand-pulled noodles are popular, as well as flavor-forward dishes incorporating the use of ingredients such as cumin, garlic, green onions, dried red chiles, and vinegar.  Bordering the Sichuan Province to the north, it’s understandable why the last 2 pages of their menu feature many of the dishes you would find in Sichuan cuisine such as Mapo Tofu, Eggplant in Garlic Sauce, and Kungpao Chicken.  However, the most noteworthy dishes are the rou jia mo (肉夹馍, the Chinese style hamburger of baked buns made with fermented dough), lamb pao mo (羊肉泡馍, a lamb soup with rice vermicelli and pieces of bread made from fermented dough, often described as Chinese pita bread), and qi shan ground pork noodle (岐山臊子面, made with a rich, bright red broth using red chiles and vinegar.  Noodles, bean curd, egg, and green onions were featured in this noodle soup.)

The most of the dishes we ordered were delicious and quite distinct in flavor.  Popular with our table were the lamb pao mo, rou jia mo, and the qi shan ground pork noodles.  Quite a hearty dish was the Big Plate Chicken, which is a Uyghur dish (Xinjiang being not too far west of Shaanxi) made of hand pulled noodles, sautéed chicken, fried potatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic and cumin.  The dish was so big, it can easily feed up to 5 on its own.  Even a simple dish as stir fried cabbage with dried red chiles and black vinegar came out to be very flavorful.

Unfortunately, dumplings were the weakest part of the meal.  Though they’re popular in Southern and Northeastern China, the ones offered here were just not well seasoned at all.  Quite bland.

Service is here is “no frills” and may come across rude and flippant, but that’s how most Chinese restaurants are that don’t specifically cater to a Western audience.

Click on the thumbnail to enlarge.

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Celebrating My 50th at 3 Michelin Starred “Quince”

Celebrating My 50th at 3 Michelin Starred “Quince”

I discovered Quince a few years back when I was doing research, planning for a wine trip with a few friends.  Quince never made it to the final itinerary, so I bookmarked them for a future trip.

Cut to October 2016, when the new Michelin ratings were published.  Quince gained their third Michelin star.  Quite a huge accomplishment, which placed them in a list with other SF Bay Area 3 Michelin starred restaurants which include The French Laundry, Restaurant at The Meadowood, Manresa, Benu, and Saison.

After reading about this, I knew I just had to pay a visit to them.  And with my 50th birthday coming up in February, I thought this would be the perfect time to experience the pleasures of top notch fine dining.  I originally had planned to dine here on my birthday day, but with untimely illness and predicted stormy weather, I had to postpone my trip to the first weekend of March.

The dinner at Quince was simply the best dining experience I ever had, even outperforming my LA favorite, n/naka.  The staff was impeccably dressed.  The service was top notch and highly attentive.   The food was gorgeously plated, and it was bite after bite of deliciousness.

Being a milestone birthday, I was treated by Chef Michael Tusk to additional courses that were masterfully prepared, as well as a pour of the 1967 vintage of Travaglini Gattinara.

Chef Tusk and his staff have made this evening a truly unforgettable one.  Dinner here at Quince was near 4 hours long, but they more than exceeded my expectations.  Time to save up and hope to dine with them again…

 

Monkey Town: 5-Course Dinner, Visual Art Installation and Musical Performance in a Cube, September 18, 2016

Visual Art Installation curated by Montgomery Knott, and 5-Course Tasting by Chef Nick Montgomery, with music performance by Rachel Mason. A fun evening of having all of your senses stimulated. It was even more fun to be there with a large group of friends.

Unfortunately, this is one environment where the iPhone 6S camera really shows it’s deficiencies. Can’t wait to get the 7Plus for better pictures and videos in the future.



Lemonade Cocktail (made with vodka?) refresher to enjoy as you enter the building


Entering into the main space viewing the cube from the outside


Obviously, the tasting menu
Tasting Menu comes with Wine Pairing
Seating inside the cube


Lightly Cured Hamachii | kohlrabi, cilantro, yuzu dashi


Heirloom Tomato Salad | torpedo onion, baby squash, wakame


Gnocchetti Tirolesi | pork ragout, cauliflower, almond pesto


Braised Beef Short Rib | confit potatoes, pumpkin seeds, tomatillo romesco 

Caramelized Chocolate Pot De Creme
pistachio brittle, candied orange, whipped creme fraiche



Rachel Mason performed during the dinner


Montgomery Knott thanking all for attending


One last glance at the cube while on the out


3-Course Dinner at 71 Above, atop the U.S. Bank Tower, August 28, 2016

The highly anticipated 71 Above opened at the end of July, and back in late August, my friends and I were able to enjoy dinner with amazing views and wonderful ambiance.  Chef Vartan Abgaryan helmed the kitchen, after having left Cliff’s Edge several months ago.

It was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable dinners I’ve had in a long time, mainly because of the way the dining rooms were constructed, to absorb noise.  That kept the noise level relatively low, despite the fact all the tables were filled.  In addition, the pacing of the service and those amazing views also helped.



Entrance to elevators to 71 Above from the OUE Skyspace level.
 The breathtaking views you get from your table by the windows

Amuse: Savory Canele with pecorino cheese and rosemary 

King Crab | Mango, Avocado, Fresno Chile, Sorrel, Chicharrón


Fig | Purslane, Red Onion, Goat Feta, Honey Vinegar, Lemon, Sumac Crisp

Octopus | Grilled, Peach, Lemon, Mustards, Pickled Pearl Onion, Herbs


Raviolo | Egg, Corn, Black Truffle
Perfectly cooked with a nice runny egg yolk.
Farm Egg | Crispy Potato, Chorizo, Finger Lime, Cilantro 


Strawberry Gazpacho | Strawberry Ice, Pickled Green Strawberries, Black Pepper, Shiso

Oyster | Poached, Uni, Caviar, Tarragon, Champagne
Steak Tartare | Farm Yolk, Mustard, Truffle, Chives, Pommes Maxim

Young Chicken | Breast, Thigh, Foie Gras, Black Truffle, Asparagus, Vin Jaune, Jus Gras
Prime Rib Eye | Dry-Aged, Eggplant, Black Garlic Miso, Onion, Cipollini Jus 











Scallop | Carrot, Vadouvan Curry, Coconut, Barrel-Aged Fish Sauce
Suckling Pig | Loin, Belly, Confit Pressé, Young Lettuces, Cherry, Mustard
DESSERT: Lemon Curd
 Beautiful main dining room with views of Los Angeles all around.
Your view of the City of Angels at night.