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LA Trip Report

Miss Needle Jun 29, 2010 09:10 AM

Bond Street -- Due to a major error with our hotel room, they comped us breakfast. I had no intention of eating at Bond Street. But as I was incensed by what had happened, I decided to partake in the meal. I was seriously tempted to order 5 lobster benedicts hold the benedict. But I ended up ordering just one. It was mediocre. And DH ordered two eggs over easy with potato puffs, sausage and whole wheat toast. The sausage had absolutely no snap in it -- have had better ones at run of the mill diners. Potato puffs were dry and cut with flour -- would have preferred home fries. Instead of crisp light potato puffs, they were like lead. The eggs were fine. Thank goodness we didn't pay for it because our breakfast (along with two teas) ended up costing over $70. So overpriced for what we got. I would definitely stay away for breakfast.

Stan's Donuts -- We got the peanut butter and chocolate donut and one custard donut. As PB and chocolate is one of DH's favorite combos, he really liked his donut. The custard was good and fresh. DH ended up finishing his donut and most of mine as well.

Jitlada -- Thank goodness for the list of the popular 10 dishes on the table because the menu was humongous! We ended up ordering the New Zealand mussels in green curry, fried morning glory salad, crying tiger pork, fishball egg in green curry, and fish kidney curry. The mussels were nice, plump and cooked perfectly. So many times I have had overcooked mussels. The broth was light and flavorful. Thumbs up. I'm not a fan of NYC's Sripraphai's fried watercress salad. So I thought I wouldn't be crazy about Jitlada's version. Glad to say that I was wrong. The fried morning glory wasn't overwhelming and the dressing and seafood stood up to the battered greens. Crying tiger pork was good, but nothing outstanding. The dipping sauce, however, was very good. But the fishball egg in green curry was my favorite item of the evening. I'm generally not a fan of fishballs, but these were awesome. Seems very labor intensive to make the egg-fishballs. The curry was also well balanced and delicious. I know the fish kidney curry has gotten a lot of raves, but it was a bit too funky for my taste. Spice level was fine for me but DH started crying and our friend started coughing throughout the meal. DH also had some GI issues that night. And when we saw our friend again a couple of days later, he told us that the fish kidney curry did quite a number on him that night and the following day -- and he's somebody who claims that he loves spicy food. Beware if you're sensitive to spice. Overall, a great meal and would definitely go to again.

Mariscos Chente -- We ordered the whole shrimp in diablo sauce which was so delicious! Not sure what is in the sauce but I detected some soy sauce in it. I liked how they peeled the shrimp but left the heads intact. DH ended up sucking out the lovely head goo, but I popped every head in my mouth and chewed on it until it was gone -- you get more flavor that way. We also ordered that famed fish dish everybody has been talking about. Sorry to say that it was overcooked. We didn't enjoy it very much for that reason. Very interesting restaurant -- something I haven't been able to find in NYC. Glad to have tried it -- probably would have been best to come here with a bunch of people to try more dishes.

Bazaar -- Pretty opulent and Vegas like. Funny how the crowd drastically changed after 8P as it became more of a scene. At "trendy" places I'm used to staff being aloof, but I have to say that they were very pleasant to deal with. I did notice how the pacing of the courses kind of suffered the busier it got. But it seemed that they were slammed so I can overlook it. Best cocktail I've had in a long time was at Bazaar -- apparently the bartender invented it and they don't have a name for it yet. It was composed of Hendrick's gin, St. Germain and rosewater. I will try to recreate it at home. It was that good.

For food, we shared:

Foie gras cotton candy -- I had something very similar to this in L20 in Chicago. Not sure who came up with it first, but still very good; DH especially loved it as he went for Round 2 and said he would love to snack on them as he watches sports
American caviar cone -- delicious and a bargain at the price; I recently had something very similar to this at Bar Artisanal in NYC for double the price
Bagel and lox cone -- good, but preferred the american caviar one
Japanese taco -- probably not one of the stronger offerings; consisted of eel in a steamed bao
Uni taco -- steamed bao filled with tempura jalepeno, raw sea urchin; one of my favorites of the evening; loved the temperature and texture contrasts
Ottoman carrot fritters -- good; would probably not order again, but still tasty
Cauliflower couscous -- DH liked it more than I did
Sweet potato chips with whipped greek yogurt -- I enjoyed these very much; the whipped yogurt was a nice touch
Philly cheesesteak -- I really enjoyed mine, but DH didn't like it at all -- he said that it was served too cold and the cheese was congealed -- so strange because mine was piping hot and I'm the one who's always complaining that the food is going cold
Steamed brussel sprouts -- delicious; loved the lemon essence with the sprouts
Caprese salad -- also one of my favorites; I'd love to find out how to make the liquid mozzarella balls -- probably the same technique that Top Chef's Fabio used for making the spherical olives
Tortilla espanol "egg" -- another must-order IMO
Hot chocolate pear -- tasty
Chocolate cake with cardamom whipped cream -- I didn't detect any usage of molecular gastronomy here, but it was still tasty

Overall, a great meal. I thought the desserts were on the weaker side compared to the tapas. Perhaps I'm used to Manhattan prices, but I thought prices were very reasonable for all the food and labor involved. And, of course, you've got the over-the-top "show" at the restaurant. We recently spent a similar amount in NYC for "modern" and "traditional" tapas where the food wasn't as good and plentiful.

Ondal -- We originally were going to go to Mapo Kalbi for dak kalbi. But it turned out to be closed for lunch (in spite of what some Internet site said). So we went to Ondal instead. We got the crab soup which was HUGE! This was towards the end of our trip, so my body was craving for veggies in the most major way possible. I attacked the banchan like a madwoman. Oh, eating veggies never felt so good! The crab soup was delicious -- reminded me of what my mom used to make when I was a kid except she added more daen jang and scallions to the broth. Of course, I preferred my mom's version, but who doesn't? Unfortunately, DH was so sick and tired of spicy food by this point that he just ate some crab and refused to have the broth. We had tons of leftovers which we ended up giving to a homeless guy on Fairfax. I wasn't sure if he was going to like it. But when I ran into him later that evening, he told me he thought it was really good! He did ask what those little hard things were. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing sea squirts -- not my favorite thing, I'm afraid.

Animal -- I was a little wary of Animal because of all of the hype I've read. But I have to admit that the food was excellent.

Foie gras and maple biscuit -- probably my favorite item of the evening (along with the pork belly sliders); maple syrup was a great foil for the foie gras and I really dug the sausage cream gravy
Pork belly sliders -- also wonderful; not the largest mustard fan but thought that it cut into the rich pork belly beautifully
Oxtail poutine -- probably best version of poutine I've had; oxtail is one of my favorite cuts of beef and fries are one of my favorite preps of potato; put them together and you've got a symphony; heavy dish -- if you're a light eater, make sure you've got lots of people with you to share
Sweetbreads with capers and hen of the woods mushrooms -- I didn't enjoy them as much as the previous dishes, but were still well prepared; I thought there were too many capers but you can easily pick them out
Foie gras loco moco topped with quail egg - Good dish; I liked the mirin in the sauce; think it would have been better with chicken or duck egg for proportion
Strawberry cream poundcake -- oh, this was really so good. If I had more room in my stomach, could have eaten this by myself; very simple but so tasty

Service was very friendly. I liked the vibe of this place, especially that it wasn't too sceney. I can probably see myself coming here again before going to Bazaar (even though I enjoyed them both).

Santa Monica Wednesday Farmer's Market -- great produce; I really envy everybody in California as your produce is so much tastier than NYS. And the prices are really reasonable compared to Union Square Farmer's Market standards. Got some wonderful white nectarines and some super sweet fragrant strawberries. Forgot which vendor but I do remember they were on the more expensive side -- over $5 for a pint. But one of the best batches of strawberries I've ever had. I was really excited to see a stand that sold raw milk and fresh colostrum! Unfortunately I had no room in my stomach and didn't feel like buying it only to throw most of it away.

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Jitlada
5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Mariscos Chente
4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

Ondal
3160 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005

  1. Das Ubergeek Jul 2, 2010 08:07 AM

    Great report, Miss Needle. I'm glad you ate well (and I'm glad you stuck it to those scam artists at Beverly Pavilion.

    There have been some staff shuffles at Mariscos Chente recently, and the original master of the pescado zarandeado grill at the Centinela branch, Sergio Penuelas, has now pitched up at the Lennox branch and just had his grill installed. I don't know who's cooking at the Centinela branch, but it sounds like they don't have the touch that Sergio does.

    I love the Santa Monica farmers' market, but it's something of an occasional destination for me; I tend to go to smaller, more local (but still very good) markets: Irvine, Long Beach Southeast, Calabasas, Studio City. Not quite the same spread of obscure produce, but when looking for white peaches, figs or other "normal" produce, the prices are much, much cheaper at the smaller markets (peaches, for example, run $1.50 a pound).

    -----
    Mariscos Chente
    10820 Inglewood Ave, Lennox, CA 90304

    1 Reply
    1. re: Das Ubergeek
      Miss Needle Jul 6, 2010 01:06 PM

      Just to clarify, I stuck it to those scam artists at The Thompson. After several phone calls and letters, they ended up giving us a two-night free stay in the future, but I have to say that my opinion of them has been tainted.

      Yeah, I heard about the issues with the chef and Mariscos Chente. Too bad I didn't try the snook when he prepared it.

      And Kevin, I owe my list to all the great folks on this board. What would we all do without Chowhound?

      -----
      Mariscos Chente
      4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

    2. k
      kevin Jul 1, 2010 03:36 PM

      wow, you really did hit up a well-curated list of restaurants in Los Anglees, from Jitlada to Animal to Chente.

      -----
      Jitlada
      5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

      1. b
        bulavinaka Jun 29, 2010 05:16 PM

        Glad to see a solid poster from the Empire State visiting us in SoCal. The SM farmers market even impresses locals (who understand the difficulties of finding exceptional and/or unique produce). Those strawbs you loved were probably from Harry's Berries in Oxnard. This operation has a reputation for consistently having some of the best strawberries in SoCal. Having read and enjoyed your posts over the years, I know you can cook your ass off - you owe it to yourself to visit again, stay at a place that has a kitchen, stop by the SM farmers market again, and let your talents loose!

        3 Replies
        1. re: bulavinaka
          Miss Needle Jul 1, 2010 06:40 AM

          Oh that would be great stay at a place with a kitchen. It's such a shame that I've been in LA before for months staying with relatives and not stopping by the SM Farmer's market. I would love to have some of those strawberries again!

          1. re: Miss Needle
            s
            SeaCook Jul 1, 2010 11:08 AM

            Miss Needle

            Some motels/hotel do have small kitchens in them. But then you wouldn'y go out to eat at some of our lovelt restaurants ;-)

            1. re: SeaCook
              Servorg Jul 1, 2010 11:21 AM

              Actually shopping at the Wednesday Farmers Market in Santa Monica can offer both eating and uncooked food buying opportunities, all rolled into one. And of course a true hound is eating at the very least 3 meals a day. So an occasional "motel cooked" meal will hardly upset the "Farmers Market" apple cart... ;-D>

        2. e
          exilekiss Jun 29, 2010 02:20 PM

          Hi Miss Needle,

          Nice! :) I'm glad you made it out to Animal and Jitlada. :) And I totally understand your wariness of Animal given the amount of hype and talk on the LA Boards, but I'm glad you liked your dinner there. :)

          1. m
            mc michael Jun 29, 2010 11:19 AM

            Good eating. Good writing.

            1. ipsedixit Jun 29, 2010 09:27 AM

              Thanks for the detailed report, Miss Needle.

              Glad you enjoyed your visit (and, yes, they *were* sea squirts!).

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