Thursday, May 29, 2008

Grilled Zucchini with Goat Cheese & Pine Nuts

Who says that a good recipe has to be complicated? I made dinner tonight, after visiting the local farmer's market, and experimented with a new recipe. Every cook has a few favorite ingredients... I think I could eat goat cheese on just about anything. The toasted pine nuts made a fantastic crunch.

Recipe courtesy of Lawry's.

Grilled Zucchini with Goat Cheese & Pine Nuts


1/2 cup lemon pepper marinade (such as Lawry's), divided
2 lbs. zucchini, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese


In a large ziploc bag, pour 1/4 cup of marinade over sliced zucchini and turn to coat (or... do like I do and go nuts - shake it like you're a little kid and hope the bag doesn't pop open, spraying the ceiling with veggies). Close bag and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Remove zucchini from bag and discard marinade. Grill or broil zucchini, turning once and brushing frequently with remaining 1/4 cup marinade. Cook 6 minutes or until tender. Chop coarsely. Toss zucchini with pine nuts and top with cheese.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Marinade time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 6 minutes

Friday, May 23, 2008

Pho So 1

(818) 996-6515
7231 Reseda Blvd, Reseda, CA 91335
Crosstreet Sherman Way

Pho So this place is awesome! It's a local Vietnamese dive which is delicious and you get giant bowls of soup and food for about $6 each. The service is fast and friendly, and their menu consists of like 100 items, of which the #45 beef or ham and eggroll with cold vermicelli noodles and #18 appetizer rare steak are popular and delicious. The shrimp pho #22 is pretty good as well.

I took a chance and got the #52 which was AMAZING. It was a duck curry with rice noodles. It came with some flavored salt and lime which I poured in and it made it extra tasty. I only managed to eat half the dish and had leftovers as usual, but that means twice the enjoyment! In my opinion, the most delicious dish and i'll have to try hard to order something else and try something new next time I go.

They always serve you a small saucer of other spices and sauces so I've been told just throw the whole thing in with your bowl, but be sure to taste it for spiciness or flavor preference, in case you want to temper the amount. But overall good food :)

Great value, great atmosphere. Some tables had hot pot type cooking things and other various steaming bowls. We took some white boys there and they enjoyed it. We saw some white families along with Asian and a variety of people there, so there's something for everyone.

Oh and don't wait around for a check. It's a Denny's style, take yourselves up to the counter and pay thing. We sat around for awhile waiting for a waiter and/or to-go box, but we had some great conversation in the meantime.

It looks like the place is popular and has been around for awhile, so it has potential for becoming a local legend, if it isn't already. So go try it :)

California Wok

16656 Ventura Blvd. (Petit Ave.) Encino, CA 91436
California Wok

This place is ok. We drove down Ventura Blvd. and saw a sign for "California Wok, healthy Chinese food". So we decided to try it. They have a large array of dishes, but no Pork - booooo! We had dinner there although their Lunch menu looked like it had the most food for the best value. Approximately $6-7 for a dish with a side of rice, salad, soup and fortune cookies. I was actually sad I couldn't order the lunch menu for dinner. Zagat rated well, so overall the restaurant was well liked and safe. Plus a lot of healthy options that you may love.

They have regular family size portions for about $9-11 and personalized half size portions about $5-7. Although you could still take home half of the half size portions after eating. I ordered Sesame Beef which I think was too sweet but boyfriend said they tasted better as leftovers. Personally I think Panda has better sweet beef and pork. We chose brown rice on the side, delicious well cooked with great flavor and texture.

Boyfriend got the Moo Shoo Chicken which was very tasty and good. It came with tortilla like things and spicy sauce which you could wrap it in like a burrito or wrap or whatever. The combo of the sweet Sesame beef and Moo Shoo complimented each other well. I think multiple dishes might enhance the flavors and experience. Overall good stuff, although I wouldn't call it great.

There are a million other items on the menu so perhaps there are "great" dishes out there, but we have yet to try them :) Will keep you updated. We'll probably go back eventually and try something new.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Meat Locker

The Meat Locker in Thousand Oaks
2684 East Thousand Oaks Blvd.
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

Drive by The Meat Locker in Thousand Oaks and you'll probably miss it. Drive by once more and you might miss it again. The Meat Locker is one of the oldest eateries in Thousand Oaks but definitely worth checking out. There isn't much decor to the place, but the food is fantastic. They grill their meat outdoors and serve it up inside. It's pretty typical barbecue fair - sandwiches, ribs, chicken and chips, potato salad, garden salad or macaroni salad as side dishes. You can never go wrong with they lunch specials - a tri-tip sandwich and choice of 2 salads plus a drink for 8 bucks. The barbecue sauce they have is excellent. Seating is outdoors on picnic tables or inside on a bar counter, underneath the autographed celebrity photos. I always get the tri-tip sandwich but everything else I've seen and tried here as been nothing short of great.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Pizza Cookery

6209 Topanga Canyon
Woodland Hills, CA 91304

The Pizza Cookery is one of those places where you can say you never had anything that wasn’t great. No matter what kind of Italian food you favor, these guys make it, and make it well.

The House Salad: They keep it simple and it works wonders. Lettuce, tomato, garbanzo beans, gobs of fresh mozzarella and a house Italian dressing that you wish you could figure out how to make at home.

The Works Pizza: Layered expertly with everything in the kitchen, from sliced meatballs, pepperoni, and garden’s worth of vegetables. This is the best jumble of goodies served up on fresh dough and just the right amount of sauce.

And of course, the bread. Fresh pizza dough wrapped around fresh garlic and mozzarella cheese. Served with a monster side of whipped butter – good luck saying “no.”

F. McLintocks Saloon & Dining House

750 Mattie Road
Pismo Beach, CA 93449
Phone: (805) 773-1892

My family bonded annually (and sometimes more than annually) over brunch and dinner at this favorite location in Pismo Beach. From the freeway, you can’t miss the giant cowboy.

For brunch, order anything you like, but don’t skip the famous “McLintocks potatoes” – the best hash browns you’ll ever have. My dad almost perfected a copy of this recipe, but we still have to go back for the real thing.

For dinner, this is a great chop house, so you can’t go wrong with steak of any kind. We’ve also indulged a few times with surf and turf, and the lobster was great.

Aside from the food, this place loves to turn a meal into a family event. Kids’ meals come with a reward – we all have fun memories of rummaging through a saddle bag of cheap toys for our plate-cleaning prize. And watch your water glass. Servers pour from as high as they can possibly reach, and can tend to make a bit of a splash with the show.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Universal Citywalk, CA
Phone: (818) 753-4867

As my husband put it, “This place is terrible for you… and delicious.” Whether you order your shrimp fried, spicy, doused in butter, slathered in cheese, or topped with rich sauces (or a combination of the above), you really can’t go wrong.


I'm Stuffed Shrimp: Great, big shrimp stuffed with crab, baked in garlic butter, on top of rice, then topped with cheese.

Chipotle Parmesan Shrimp: Perfect, bite-sized shrimp cooked in a creamy chipotle sauce, thrown over rice. The combination of cheese and spice was eyebrow-raisingly good. My husband hasn’t stopped talking about this entrée since we left.

Strawberry Shortcake: Lots and lots of melting ice cream, whipped cream, strawberries and sauce on top of a giant, homemade biscuit. Awesome.

Take or Leave It:

I like the drinks here, but don’t expect to get too buzzed. The lava flows and pina coladas are thick and sweet, and the margaritas are pretty good.

Chocolate Cake in a Jar: I could skip this. It was a bit burnt on the outside and too gooey in the middle, without enough ice cream on top to make it worthwhile.

Kit Kat's Reviews

Blue Hawaiian Drink - Tasty drink and a good value at $6. Quenched the thirst.

Hush Puppies - YUMMY! Appetizer of deep fried balls of crab, potato, etc and they're really good. Surprisingly not oily but crisp and flavorful. Comes in a fun pail with cole slaw underneath.

Cajun Shrimp - Really good with a really nice zing. The spice stays in your mouth mildly and doesn't go down your throat. YUM! I did enjoy this.

Cajun Chicken Sandwich - my boyfriend and I split this, yes at a seafood place. Anyway it was DELICIOUS. I was surprised but it had bacon, avocado, deliciously seasoned cajun chicken, and overall very well balanced and tasty.

I'm Stuffed Shrimp - A regular favorite of mine. Can't go wrong with garlic, butter, cheese, rice and shrimp. Although heavy and oily. Plus overall the same flavor every bite. Compared to the Cajun spices - not nearly as flavorful or savory.

Mudd Pie - Had a bite of this and it was alright. If you like chocolate ice cream you'll really enjoy it. But for me it was alright. It was huge so you could feed probably 8 people with this one cake. Good stuff.

Bread Pudding - Oh wow. It was great! Amazingly yum. Very flavorful and warm and great texture. Good size too. Can probably feed 4, but if you had a lot for dinner, could probably feed 6 or more.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sumo Sushi

1714 Newbury Road
Newbury Park, CA 91320

So my husband and I felt adventurous last night. With our 20% off coupon in hand, we were lured into Sumo. I have no better way to say this: It was awful.

The atmosphere of the place is lovely. Contemporary funk is all around with odd lanterns, colorful glasses, and squishy booths. The service was terrible. Although there were plenty of waiters wandering around, none ever stopped at a table. The sushi took an unreasonable amount of time to assemble and serve. A woman even came to the front desk to announce that Sumo provided the worst service she’d ever received.

My favorite part of the night: I ordered wine. There were about 12 on the list – probably 5 brands and few varieties of each. The waiter came back to say they were out of the cabernet I’d ordered, so I tried another. He never came back. When the waitress took our sushi order, I tried again. She came back to say that they have 2 wines in stock: a crappy chardonnay and a crappy chardonnay. No, thanks.

Snow Roll: Just don’t do it. Avocado and cream cheese, wrapped with halibut. I’m not sure why we thought this sounded good, but the end result was terrible. They bake the halibut on the outside, which makes the cream cheese inside an indigestible temperature.

Shrimp and tuna roll: Also not okay. They ground the tuna into a chopped paste inside the sushi. Quality tuna should be a firm slab of fish and melt in your mouth without the help of a grinder. It was doused in some sort of watery vinaigrette.

Tempura asparagus and shrimp: Now this one tasted okay. Sadly, though, they packed it with so many foods that it was the diameter of a baseball bat, and impossible to eat. The lettuce inside was brown.

So, four big thumbs down on Sumo. If you’re looking for some good sushi in the area, try Ocean Blue. I’m definitely skipping the adventure and going back there next time!

The Palace Grill

The Palace Grill in Santa Barbara has to be mentioned on this blog. They say that it's the best Cajun food this side of the Mississippi River, and it's definitely in my top 3 restaurants of all time. I've been there so many times, and I have NEVER had a bad experience, or tasted anything that came out of their kitchen that wasn't extraordinary. My family has a tradition of going to The Palace for birthdays. At first, we would go 1-2 times a year for my mom's, or mine, or whatever. Now, we go anytime we can - birthdays, dinner if we had someone visiting from out of town, or just because we were up in SB!

The Palace Grill
8 E Cota Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
tel: 805.963.5000

I'm going to switch it up here and break my review down by groupings, since there is soo much to love about this place.

Bread: They serve the most amazing little muffins instead of bread. My favorite is the molasses walnut one.

Starters: They have a bunch of great appetizers, but the one I always get with dinner is the Cajun Crawfish Popcorn. My favorite, however, is one that they only serve with lunch - Flash Fried Artichoke Hearts. It's like little pieces of gold sent from heaven for your taste buds. Your Palace experience is not complete until you have had these.

Main Courses: My hands down favorite is the Blackened Filet Mignon. The filet is always cooked to perfection, and the flavors make your mouth water before they even touch your lips. Other faves include the Chicken Tchoupitoulas and the Jambalaya Pasta.

Desserts: This is not the restaurant at which you skip dessert. Even at lunch time. Their house dessert is the Louisiana Bread Pudding Souffle. It is out of this world. Order it with your meal, because they need time to bake up your own little souffle. They also have a Dark Chocolate Souffle, which we have tried. It's amazing as well, but we always go back to the bread pudding.

Coffee: They serve the classic New Orleans-style chicory coffee, as well as regular coffee AND espresso drinks. I always get coffee with our dessert here, because it just feels like it completes the dining experience for me.

Good for:
- Everything!
- Lunch
- Romantic dinners
- Flash fried artichoke hearts and bread pudding

Addy's Rating: 10/10!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I have three words for you: Pineapple fried rice.

15721 Bernardo Heights Pkwy
San Diego, CA 92128
Phone: (858) 676-0166

My husband and I found this hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant on vacation in San Bernardo. There are various locations around San Diego, and I’d highly recommend you look them up. Their food and service were fantastic.

We indulged in pork and broccoli, veggie chow mein, and pineapple fried rice. The food was so good that we insisted on taking the leftovers back to our hotel, even though we had no fridge.

I also can’t believe I’ve never had fried rice with pineapple before – it seems like such a perfect combination overlooked by other Chinese restaurants! Until I find one closer to home, we’ll be dreaming of Chin’s.

Susina Bakery & Cafe

7122 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone: (323) 934-7900

I feel like I shouldn’t write this review until I have experienced more of Susina, but on the few occasions I have, it’s been amazing. So... I want to spread the word.

Our fist encounter with the Bakery was when my sister pawned a piece of Americano cake off a neighboring birthday party at dinner. When the cake box was opened, everyone ooohed and aaahed over the thing. It was a 3-layer cake glorified in curls of white chocolate, dark chocolate, and butterscotch. Inside was chocolate cake brushed with coffee liquor, chocolate mousse and coffee whipped cream. It really wasn’t any wonder why my sister special ordered one from Los Angeles when her birthday came around this month.

On my next birthday, there will be a Bear cake involved. Undoubtedly. I have yet to try out their sandwiches or salads, but believe me, I’m on my way soon… So if you're in the LA area for any reason, call me and I'll have you pick up a cake!

**Special edit by Addy: OH WOW this place has the best croissants I have EVER had. No joke. I've been to France. These are better. If you are ever in the area, GET ONE.
** Update, 5/27: Yes, I drove all the way to LA for this bakery (and to meet a friend in the area). I bought a few goodies, including croissants for Addy.
Bear Cake: Oh yes, it's chocolate overload. Chocolate cake with creamy, regular chocolate mousse (my favorite layer) and white chocolate mousse. The perfect combination to switch between a bite here and a bite there.
Fruit Tart: For the non-chocolate lovers in the family, this went over amazingly well.
Coconut Cake: This white cake is layered with coconut custard and a thin layer of chocolate ganache. Covered in super-sweet vanilla frosting and mounds of sweetened coconut.
Chocolate Raspberry Cake: Chocolate cake layered with more lovely chocolate mousse and raspberries. They must have marinaded the raspberries, because they were especially flavorful.
Also, a note: The menu says a 9-inch cake serves 8-10. My family consists of big eaters and we don't skimp on cake slices. Even so, the cake would have fed 18.


17300 Pacific Coast Highway
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Phone: (310) 454-3474

Lower your expectations a little for Gladstone’s and you’ll have a great time. I think so many people come to the restaurant expecting fancy seafood, and they’re disappointed. This is good, solid food, but can be a little pricey. It’s the price you pay for being right on the beach…

Gladstone’s serves a great selection of fish, and some of the best clam chowder you’ll ever have. I could skip all the rest of their entrees and indulge in clam-chowder dunked sourdough bread. Cheap and easy.

Their steamers are classic – nothing special, just covered in butter and yummy! Their seafood is fresh and unelaborate. And their fried clams (if you can find them on the menu) have always been a family favorite.

The last time we were there, I think I ordered the parmesan halibut, but I can’t tell you how it was because the power went out. We were fed free clam chowder and bargained our way into a slice of cake for the road too… and even without a full course, everything was amazing.

If you order the chocolate cake, invite over the next table. A single slice has to weigh 5 pounds, and could last (even me) a week.

Oh, and don’t forget to bring $4 for parking.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

C’est La Vie Restaurant & Bakery

373 So. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Phone: (949) 497-5100

I love any restaurant where my husband can order dinner while I indiscreetly skip right over all of that and go directly to dessert. If you visit C’est La Vie, you won’t ask why.

Although the café serves a fabulous array of French cuisine, from fancy quiches to warm and gooey grilled sandwiches, good luck holding out that long. You have no other option but to walk past the bakery display on your way in. It’s a genius trick, and it works.

Creations change daily, so if you find something that catches your eye, don’t wait to come back another day! (I sadly found this out the hard way. Someday, my little chocolate mousse, I will be back…)

The back patio is packed, but offers a great view of the Laguna area. The view, a chilled white wine, and a sinful bakery snack is the perfect combination for taking in the ocean air and people-watching. This is the ideal place to sit and rest after a long day of shopping in Laguna.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Cake Balls

I originally found the concept/recipe for these on Bakerella's blog, and just had to try them out for myself! They were a huge hit, so I am linking the post HERE for your viewing (and drooling) pleasure!


1001 N. Alameda St.
Los Angeles CA. 90012
(213) 628-3781

Philippe's is awesome. Located in downtown Los Angeles, it's been around since 1908 and judging by the way they operate, not much has changed. They claim to be the inventors of the French Dip sandwich, and although accounts and stories vary, I choose to believe them. There are traditionally long lines until you get to the front of the counter, where the cashier assembles all sandwiches. The house specialty is their dip sandwiches - you can choose from the original beef dip, or get pork, ham, lamb, or turkey. I always go with the beef dip (specify if you want it double-dipped) with swiss cheese. Traditional sides are macaroni salad, potato salad, chips and soups.

Seating is at long tables with barstool seats, so you're typically sharing some table space with families, corporate suits, old couples, all walks of life. Sometimes the lines are deep and I've waited up to 30 minutes just to get up to the cash register. Is it worth it? Of course. The sandwiches are awesome and the atmosphere is even better. It's located close to Union Station and not far from Olvera Street and Chinatown, so you can easily make a day out of one of those locations and swing over here for lunch. Parking can be a hassle but the name of the game at Philippe's is patience. It's a downtown landmark and if you haven't been there at least once, you're really missing out.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Hero

My Hero
9514 Reseda Boulevard
Northridge, CA 91324
(818) 349-4255

A local legend in the San Fernando Valley serving up the best submarine sandwiches around. They add a legendary tomato salad to most subs and it's a great dive for local starving college students, baseball teams and overall sub lovers. I actually went to CSUN and only discovered this place after I graduated.

Look for this gem on the corner of Plummer and Reseda in the same parking lot as the Baskin Robbins and hidden behind the Jiffy Lube. They only accept cash and as long as you have a $20 you can feed 3-4 people, subs costing about $5-8.

The owner Rosie has worked there countless years and took over the business from the original family owners and now it belongs to her family. You'll most likely see Rosie with tons of elephant jewelry at the cash register taking your order and serving up some sweetness and hospitality. It truly is a family owned and family run business, so go visit and make sure they stay in business for a long time.

Make sure to order Rosie's Special - its the BEST :) We've tried other subs and personally they're not worth mentioning as they don't compare to this one. Although in hopes to be a good food critic I will go back and try other subs to give people a better selection of the menu.

This place has a lot of character so make sure to chat up the people there and check out the walls. The wall of fame has interesting things such as local celebrities that have signed their names along with, news clippings, info on local teams and personal messages from loyal fans.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Mister Tiki Mai Tai Lounge

Gaslamp Quarter
801 Fifth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-233-1183
Website: Mister Tiki

This is one of my favorite places to dine in San Diego. Okay, well, this is one of my favorite places to drink in San Diego, but the food’s good too. The decorations are eclectic and lively. Tables have lava lamps and hand-blown, glass puffer fish hang in schools from the ceiling.

Last time I visited, I was disappointed to learn Tiki had discontinued my favorite drink - a key lime pie martini. It was the perfect combination of pineapple juice, pineapple rum, vanilla vodka, and whipped cream, rimmed in smashed graham crackers. If you ask the bartender, he may still make you one, sans the rim. If not, try the Coconut Kiss – it’s sinful.

The beef short ribs are as close as you can get to the real thing from HI. They also make my kind of sushi – sweet and crunchy. And they’ve figured out just what every meals needs – a tiny dessert. Tiki’s was one of the first locations to offer dessert bites in shot glasses, so no matter how full you are, you can fit in one more. Try the tiramisu or strawberry cheesecake.

Friends Cafe - Port Hueneme

I was a little hesitant to blog about this place, since it's one of our favorite places for breakfast and I almost wanted to keep it a secret... But it's out of the way enough that only true Ventura County-ers will go, so here you are!

Friends Cafe
429 E Port Hueneme Rd
Port Hueneme, CA 93041
tel: (805) 271-9641
Open for breakfast and lunch

There is a very beachy and family owned feel to this little cafe. It's small, but clean, and in the several times that we've gone, we've never had to wait for more than a minute or two to be seated. It can get crowded with familys later on the weekend mornings, but the food is worth it. Best Eggs Benedict I've ever had, perfectly poached eggs, perfectly toasted English muffin, and surprisingly fantastic hollandaise sauce. I was actually shocked that it was so good - the cafe does not seem like the place for gourmet Eggs Benedict, but there it was!

They also have decent "combos" and good omlets, and we have also enjoyed the breakfast burrito there.

Good for:
- Early morning breakfast
- Great coffee and tea

Addy's Rating: 9/10

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Squares

Yummy, EASY to make snack cake that tastes like churros with cheesecake inside. Recipe courtesy of
2 cans (8 oz. each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls, divided
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) Cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg, slightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Unroll 1 of the cans of crescent dough. Press onto bottom of greased 13x9-inch baking pan to form crust, firmly pressing seams together to seal.

BEAT cream cheese, vanilla, egg and 1/2 cup of the sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Spread onto crust.

UNROLL remaining can of crescent dough onto large sheet of wax paper. Pat out dough to form 13x9-inch rectangle, pressing seams together to seal. Invert over cream cheese mixture to form top crust; discard wax paper.

BAKE 30 to 35 min. or until golden brown. Combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon in small bowl; sprinkle over squares before cutting.


On the Sand at the Outrigger Waikiki
2335 Kalakaua Ave., Suite 116
Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808)- 922-2268
Open for breakfast, lunch & dinner

The best drinks in the house are Kalapaki Ritas – a margarita made of tequila, triple sec, passion fruit and pineapple juice. Make sure to order one while you’re at this location, because they aren’t made on the mainland! And although you can find Lava Flows all over the Waikiki area, Duke’s are some of the best.

Duke’s dinner menu has some great food but can get pricey, so we usually stick to the bar menu. It’s just as good. Favorites include the macadamia nut crab wontons, a huge pile of waffle fries, or occasionally they offer specials like beef dip au jus.

At the Water's Edge in Malibu
21150 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265
Phone: (310) 317-0777
Open for lunch & dinner

In comparison to the Waikiki location, it’s disappointing that Duke’s in Malibu doesn’t have any beaches to wander. But it still has a spectacular view of the surf from its cliffside perch.

The menu here lets you to select any fish of the day and its preparation. My favorite: Parmesan and herb crusted mahi. I only wish they’d splurge on a few more macadamia nuts in the mix. And yes, the hula pie is just as good as they claim, so skip the appetizers like coconut shrimp (which is still pretty great with its super-sweet lilikoi sauce!) to save room for it.

Tiki’s Bar and Grill

Tiki’s Bar above the ResortQuest hotel is the epitome of what you’d expect on the main drag of Waikiki. Drinks can be ordered in ceramic tiki mugs and tiki lamps burn brightly all night long. Feeling the theme? What will surprise you is the strength of their drinks and the quality of their food!

2570 Kalakaua Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815-3663
Open for lunch and dinner
Phone: (808) 923-TIKI

Their mai tais were a little too strong for my taste, but (luckily) the bar also provides a great selection of local beer. We moved on to dinner in the main dining room and were not disappointed. My husband ordered a steak that he was able to cut with a butter knife. I munched on the house poi bread with homemade banana butter. Way yummy. If we ever make it back, I plan on trying the seared scallops – they looked great.

Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar

Waikiki Beach Marriot Resort and Spa
2552 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Phone: 808-931-6286
Dinner Nightly: 5:30 P.M. to 10:00 P.M.
Late Night Dining: Friday & Saturday, 10 P.M. to 1 A.M.

Locals recommend this location as the best sushi in town, and they’re wrong. This is some of the best sushi I’ve had – period.

Sansei has some of the most delicious and innovative sushi combinations, without being too “exotic.” One of our favorite aspects of the sushi was the buttery sauces they were served in. Long after the sushi was gone, we dipped remnants of anything we could find into the leftover sauces, loving every morsel.

Tempura asparagus: Perfectly crispy.
Shrimp cake: If you can find your way through the mess of fried noodles on top, the shrimp cake underneath is amazing.
Panko Crusted Ahi Sashimi Sushi Roll: Instead of cold rice, the ahi is rolled in arugula and spinach, then flash fried in panko crumbs. This is the first sushi I can claim “melted in my mouth.”

Friday and Saturday nights from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am, the menu is half off!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Caffe Lucio - Santa Cruz

We had a really great dinner in Santa Cruz at this place called Caffe Lucio. It was awesome. Lucio is this wiry little Italian guy (that's him on their logo) who is just bursting with energy and so awesome to everyone who walks in. He greets everyone in Italian, and I automatically responded in Italian. He then seemed to take a liking to us, rambling on in Italian while putting his arm around my shoulder and guiding us to our table.

381 Soquel Ave
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
tel: (831) 427-0164
Open for dinner

We sat at the bar and shared Bruschetta di Caprino (bruschetta with goat's cheese and grilled marinated veggies), home made gnocchi with tomato sauce, and a thin crust pizza. It was amazing. If you are ever in Santa Cruz, you MUST go there. Everyone working there just seemed to be having a fantastic time.

The pizza cook was wearing this hilarious shirt that said "Free Chorizo" and had an arrow pointing down, and the couple next to us at the bar commented on it. The woman was all "Has your mother seen that shirt??" And the cook just laughed and motioned Lucio over, pointing to his shirt. It said "Half Man," pointing up, and "Half Horse," pointing down. Later, we saw Lucio's very pregnant wife sporting a shirt over her huge belly that said "Lucio JR" on it. Points for the humor and having fun!

I've read a couple reviews that mentioned having to wait - we didn't have this problem, and we went on a Saturday night when there was a college reunion dinner taking place as well. The reviews also mention it being loud and Lucio yelling at waitstaff - it was a bit loud, but we did not witness any verbal abuse. My take was that he was very typically Italian - vibrant and a little bit abrassive. The prices were on the higher side, but that's sort of to be expected at an Italian place in a town with a high volume of tourists.

Good for:
- Atmosphere
- Romantic dinners
- Group events
- GREAT home made gnocchi and pizza

Addy's Rating: 9/10

Rise Supper Club - Los Angeles

A few weeks ago, we went to Hollywood & Highland to the restaurant Rise Supper Club (located at The Highlands Hollywood) for a friend's birthday. I wrote a longer blog about the birthday over at my regular site, but here are some of the details, pros and cons.

6801 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028
(tel) 323.461.9800
Open for dinner

- We arrived a bit early for our reservation and were relieved that they still sat us right away
- Our waitress was awesome, paid attention to detail and went the extra mile
- They made up for our late food by adjusting the bill and giving us dessert on the house
- You get into the club for free if you have dinner there, plus you don't have to wait in line
- The menu was designed by a Wolfgang Puck chef
- The decorations were nice, if not a bit generically Los Angeles
- Lots of LA people, if that's your thing

- It is pretty pricey
- Our food was served over a span of 25 minutes from first plate to last (for 8 people), so the first served's food was cold by the time the last served got her food
- The view wasn't as spectacular as they would lead you to believe
- They don't have beers on draft
- It is super trendy
- Lots of LA people, if that's not your thing

Food & Drink:
- BEST lemon drop martini I've ever had... I'm not even kidding, it was amazing
- Spicy tuna tartare, it was served on a crispy rice patty and was delicious
- The chicken breast dinner was tasty, as was the filet mignon, pad thai, and "Original Chow Fun"
- If I were to go back, I would definitely be trying the Beef Carpaccio

Good for:
- Birthdays, with a small to medium sized group
- Romantic dinners on the town
- Lemon drop martinis and Spicy Tuna Tartare

Addy's Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Acqua Al Due - San Diego

322 5th Ave.
San Diego, CA
tel: (619) 230-0382
Open for lunch & dinner
general site:
San Diego site:

This place is probably in my top 5 restaurants in the world. There are two Acqua al Due restaurants - one in San Diego's Gaslamp district, and one, the original, in Florence, Italy. The one in Florence is located at 2 Via del Acqua... thus the name Acqua al Due ("two" in Italian).

They have the most amazing menu (yes, menu, not menus, it's the same menu in Italy or San Diego!) and my favorite by far is the pasta sampler. It's a sampler of 5 different pastas, and they are "chef's choice," so you get slightly different dishes each time you go. (No worries, though, the dishes are 90% vegetarian)

It's on the fancier side dress-wise, but it's not formal, and dishes range from $10 - $25.

Get the pasta sampler, the filet mignon marinated in balsalmic, and be sure to follow it up with the panna cotta (sublime) and the tirimisu. Amazing food, amazing staff, and amazing atmosphere = the perfect dining experience.

Addy's Rating: 10/10

Pearl Vietnamese - Hong Kong

(852) 2524 9435
G/F 7 Wo On Lane, Central, Hong Kong

Vietnamese restaurant in Lan Kwai Fong serving Vietnamese food as well as fast food variations. Favorite for local businessman and this place has the best sweet/sour/tangy spice sauce that it serves up at each table in pitchers as everyone douses their food with it. I could eat here for days and still want to come back for more.

Very very much a local favorite and hole in the wall. Warning - potentially very scary to newcomers but worth the adventure.

Spring Rolls - The BEST! Just order them and eat. If you don't like them, there's something wrong with you.

Frogs Legs - Tastes like chicken - ok but messy and lots of bones.

Ketchup Rice with Beef cubes - Good stuff. Not terribly healthy but great filler. The ketchup rice is red with a sweet tomato flavor and the beef cubes are seasoned with a Worcestershire flavor. It also comes with a dollup of mayonnaise which tastes quite good mixed around in even amounts with rice and beef cubes. Again not so healthy but good.

Shrimp crackers - Really yummy stuff. Wonderfully topped with a sort of taco mix of onion, seasoned chicken, diced peanuts, parsley, and of course you must douse it with the house sauce. I love the texture, crunch of the cracker with the soft topping and soggy addition of the sauce.

Small Island, Northridge

(818) 341-1884
9545 Reseda Blvd, #16, Northridge, CA 91324

Great food and Great Prices :)
Dishes range from $5-$15

A small Japanese restaurant, clean and very cozy. Great sushi dishes and overall GREAT value for your money. Go eat there and make sure the place stays in business.

Note - they are closed one day of the week - can't remember which, but warning - FYI :)

De Medici - San Diego Gaslamp District

815 Fifth Avenue
San Diego, CA. 92101
ph# 619.702.7228
fax# 619.702.7236
Dinner Served Daily from 5:00pm

I give it 5 stars for taste and quality - and the best Fettuccine Alfredo in the world - no kidding.
Dishes range $15-$20 each. With appetizers and drinks, easily $100 for 2 people.

This truly authentic, family recipe Italian restaurant has regulars that include real life Godfathers, Director Francis Ford Coppola, us, tourists as well as Italian tourists. The restaurant is elegant hosting prom kids and formal dinners in general. Although you can come in with flip flops and t-shirts but will just feel under dressed. The outside patio seating is the best where you can watch people walk by in the famous Gaslamp district. The waiters and staff are all very friendly and accommodating.

Cool Thing - above the Hostess podium is an autographed picture and the shell of a bullet from the Godfather I movie. The autograph has signatures of Coppola as well as Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, John Cazale and Robert Duvall. I talked to the manager and apparently Coppola eats there regularly and they have his wine on the menu as well. And really, we've seen mobster Italian Godfathers eating there with family in-tow. So cool!

Fettuccine Alfredo - The BEST in the world. It's the only main course I've ordered there ever. Been there 3 years in a row and each time it tastes absolutely divine. I even heard an Italian tourist come in and taste the Alfredo and exclaim "Bueno". Just watch it because the side of shrimp costs an extra $15 - crazy, and leftovers don't taste as good but they're still pretty great.

Oyster Rockefeller - ok. Nothing great.

Prosciutto di Parma e Mozzarella (Thin slices of prosciutto wrapped around fresh buffalo mozzarella) - Amazing. They use real fresh mozzarella and prosciutto from Italy.

Lasagna - awesome. The lasagna is well-balanced (not too much sauce, enough meat), thick and a hearty comfort food.