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Minori – A Great Spot For Sushi by vinceklortho

So maybe the sushi didn’t come to me quite like this picture shows, but I love Minori anyway. 

Last Saturday I took a date to Minori, which is located on Robertson, just above Pico, in Los Angeles.  We arrived around 8 p.m.  The sushi bar was full, but there were two open tables at the time. 

Here’s what I love about Minori:  First, it’s kind of a hole in the wall.  I’m not saying it doesn’t get busy, but it is mostly populated by local folks who know the lay of the land.  Second, Minori consistently has great specials.  I recommend any special that they have that involves tempura.  Their tempura is always delicious.  I had the blue crab hand roll special.  It’s on the menu most of the time when I go.  If you haven’t tried blue crab, you are really missing out.  Very light.  Very fresh.  Did I just do a Summer’s Eve commercial?  Third, the price is always right for a cheap asshole like myself.  We ordered 3 cut rolls, two hand rolls, and a large sake, and the total with tip was only $55.  There aren’t a lot of restaurants in LA where you can pull that off, let alone sushi spots. 

Here’s what I don’t like about Minori:  The service usually sucks.  The waiters are inattentive, often missing portions of the order, and rarely stop by to see if you need anything.  So, make sure you order everything you want right off the bat because they ain’t comin’ back.  Also, the place is sometimes dirty.  Last time I went, there was some debris, which looked like straw wrappers, all over the floor.  In addition, sometimes they are understaffed in terms of sushi chefs.  End result…it takes forever to get your food.  Finally, the parking sucks.  Period.  Hope for metered parking on Robertson or Pico after you don’t have to feed the meters at night.

Despite the cons, the pros keep me coming back.  Dates consistently love its charm and tasty food.  Minori stays true to sushi’s roots, which means it also hasn’t adopted LA’s ridiculous prices.

Minori . . . I did it . . . and you should too.

 



Free Southern Chicken Sandwich at Crackdonald’s by vinceklortho

Today was free Southern Chicken Sandwich day at McDonald’s.  Although I had no idea what the quality of the sandwich would be like, the price was right for me (I look forward to more comments from readers about what a cheap asshole I am).  So, I hit the Crackdonald’s in Downtown, Los Angeles for a little lunch.

The sandwich looks like this:

It’s basically a filet-o-fish without the fish, cheese, and sauce, oh, and with pickly things.  Helpful, right?  What I mean is that the sandwich is little more than the same bun, a breaded chicken breast, and three items that McDonald’s represents are pickles.  I gotta’ say, there are few things more simple and tasty than that McDonald’s bun.  As you sink your teeth in, you can taste the fact that there is nothing nutritiously redeeming about it.  The chicken was pretty tasty too.  It was all white meat, unlike the old school mcnuggets from when I was a kid that clearly were made from alternative protein sources.  My brother and I used to break them open before eating them because there were always two types.  There were the ones that were white inside that tasted closest to chicken.  Then there were the ones that were a different texture and sort of brownish.  We never ate those.  You should probably consult your doctor if you did.

Back to the sandmich . . . it wasn’t greasy at all, which surprised me.  I could have done without the pickles.  They were pretty soft and gross.  But if you like the ones on the other Mckie D burgers, then you’ll be fine with these because I’m pretty certain that they are the same.

All in all, I enjoyed the sandwich and would eat it again, but not for the almost $3 they charge on days that it is not free.  It belongs on the dollar menu.  And it needs a little more kick, perhaps from a sauce.  Unless the word “Southern” in the sandwich’s title means bland and boring, the sandwich needs some spice.  But in a pinch, you’re going to be okay with this one.

The Southern Chicken Sandwich at McDonald’s . . . I did it . . . and you should have too when it was free!

 



Nanban-Kan Restaurant by moopiechops

I used to know a guy named Man-bun, but Nanban-Kan is a restaurant. He was also Chinese and this place is Japanese, so big difference for us Californians not-so-much for the mid-westerners.

We decided to grab a light dinner before going to see Ironman and the destination of choice was Nanban-Kan, a Japanese Hibachi / Yakitori restaurant in West Los Angeles. If you haven’t been here before you will inevitably be confounded by the parking situation. I’m fairly certain whoever altered this parking lot reads a lot of Bizzaro Superman comics. The complex they are in has been under construction for somewhere near a year now and maybe this can be an excuse for the lousy parking- but at best an excuse. As you drive into the parking lot, mind you this is after you have found it, and finding it is not simple, you find that all the cars are parked the opposite way of in which you are driving. The immediate thought is that you went in the wrong entrance, but you didn’t, this is the only entrance, and its just a bizarre alternative to the usual. I cursed, many times as i tried to turn my car around so as to conform to the others. With the vehicle taken care of it was time to eat.

This place has been around for 30 years, and is filled with regulars. Its location primes the Japanese pump and many a local feasts here daily. Some even bring their own food. Luckily enough we were there early and had some of the reserved signs moved off of a table so that we may partake. The rooms and tables are tiny, so if you are above average size or grotesquely obese, i suggest take out. Its better for you that way anyway, no one to stare at the mass quantities that you shove down your gullet, no one to wonder if its the wasabi or your morbid obesity that is making your eyes water

Speaking of gullets- the menu is filled with items that you rarely see at Bennigans. Oh – yes you got me, Benny’s isn’t Japanese cuisine, okay Benihana. Sorry off topic again- menu- thats right the menu has some rarities on it. Chicken gullet, chicken liver, chicken feet (this is from memory so it might be off a bit- but you get the picture) the one that caught my eye was Chicken Balls. My first thought was that is sooooooo not going to fill me up. Followed quickly by the thought- chicken balls, is that like the Japanese version of prairie oysters. (Oh- and as an unrealted side not- Don’t order DingleBerry Ice cream and Baskin Robbins- just dont do it). Sadly to say Chicken Balls are only a chicken meatball done on a japanese barbeque. tasty though- made me wonder how it would be to have the real thing- Step it up NanBan-Kan, step it up- lets see some real chicken ball son the menu next time. I bet prep time is a killer on those.

So as to not drag this review on beyond the point of oblivion, cause im getting bored writing it, and i’m sure with the average United States Americans (yes that’s a beauty pageant reference) attention span, i lost you at grotesquely obese. Here’s what you get:

Peanut dipping sauce and a salad to start- tasty enough. The sauce actually allows me to tolerate the taste of a raw carrot. My theory on raw carrots in restaurants- DON’T.

Then we ordered a variety of items. the tastiest of all of these was the corn. Simple fresh local ingredient done to perfection. Really- there was nothing on this corn but butter and salt. It was cooked to perfection (i’m betting they boil it first then throw it on the BBQ) the light charring on the kernels made the thing to die for.

Black cod, nicely done but nothing to wake up in the middle of the night for- nor the middle of the day. I love naps.

Pork Wrapped Asparagus. Now this one they stole straight from the Coliseum hot dog vendors. (Have you had the dogs wrapped in bacon- AKA Diarrhea Dogs- Yum- serious yum) NanBan-Kan style- replace hot dog with asparagus = gourmet diarrhea dog- okay okay- it was delicious, but still a stolen Los Angeles art form. Nicely done. (BTW you cannot get the Coliseum dogs anymore . There is a law prohibiting grilling of dogs on dog carts in Los Angeles.)

Most of the things we had at NanBan-Kan were average to above average with the corn being spectacular. However, one item stands out among the rest as being just freakin awful and that was the rice. Its as if they didn’t cover the rice as it was cooking and just kept adding water. Thank you for the rice reminiscent mush- this is exactly what i would expect from a restaurant who’s cuisine is based on a culture that has rice as its main staple. MMMmmmmm- maybe it was a fuck you from the chef for ordering rice, it didn’t seem to be a popular item.

Nanban-Kan an above average Japanese restaurant that serves stellar corn, above average in most dishes, has a nice atmosphere, is well decorated, and serves the worst rice in Los Angeles.

K- well- i did Nanban-Kan and I think you should too- at least for the corn. Do It



Holy Shu Mai – Trader Joe’s Microwave Chicken Shu Mai by vinceklortho

 

Yesterday I had a tasty little microwave lunch.  I brought Trader Joe’s microwave chicken shu mai with me to the office.  They looked about like this once cooked:

Notice the authentic plate to make me feel like I didn’t just get my lunch out of a box.

Now these little dumplings from heaven are supposed to provide you with a few servings.  But it took the whole box to fill me up for lunch.  I’d be surprised if most men wouldn’t put away the whole box. 

Here’s the upside.  First, they take only 90 seconds to microwave.  You just rinse them in water and then cover them before placing them in the microwave.  It did look kind of odd though when I was rinsing them in the drinking fountain on my floor.  Sorry, no real kitchen at my office.  Make sure you microwave them for the full time.  Otherwise, you get a frozen center at the heart of the shu mai pop. 

Quick microwave time is imperative for me because when it comes to waiting for food, I have major ADHD.  My brain goes crazy and I just start eating anything else in sight.  I’ve been known to pilfer my fridge for olives, pickles, cheese, and anything else handy while I wait for the beep.  Sometimes I’m not even hungry once the microwave is done.  So, quick cooking time was great.

Second, they come with a good sauce.  A lot of times the sauces that come with frozen goodies are terrible.  But this sauce tastes pretty tangy.  And you don’t even have to microwave it.  See previous section about my problems with waiting for things to cook in the microwave.  The only problem with the sauce . . . if you pour it over all the shu mai, you don’t get much of the flavor because it is so thin.  Best to put it in a dish and dip your dumplings.  Oooh . . . that sounded dirty.

Third, the box says there is chicken and veggies inside.  Check me out hitting my food groups.  No bagged carrots for me when shu mai is on the menu.  And if sodium was a food group, this shu mai had it covered.  Plus, don’t forget the diet 7-Up I had . . . lemon and lime . . . servings of fruit . . . what’s up!?!

The downside . . . this stuff smells strong, and the odor stays with you.  Lunch repeated on me a couple of times, and boy did I race for the gum.  The shu mai also kind of makes your pee smell.  Although the jury is still out if I prefer the regular smell of my urine or when my urine smells like a Chinese kitchen.  The jury is also still out on whether the odor was caused by the Chinese massage parlor, instead.

I gotta’ say though that I’ll take the smell for the great taste.  I’ve already picked up another box for a quick and easy lunch next week.

Trader Joe’s Microwave Chicken Shu Mai . . . I did them . . . and you should too.

 



Gordon Biersch – Hard to Find – Harder to Stay by vinceklortho

 

Last Saturday I hit Gordon Biersch in Pasadena to catch the NBA Playoffs.  Gordon Biersch was hard to find as it is buried down an alley.  But it is easier to find than the Barney’s Beanery in Pasadena, which I had intended on going to but could not locate after taking a wrong turn.

Once you do locate the alley, you walk down into a really nice outside seating area.  Only problem . . . the place was empty.  Dead.  No matter.  We were headed for the bar to watch the game anyway.  Only problem . . . this bar is where husbands go to die.  Seated at the bar were a bunch of men, by themselves, with shopping bags from women’s stores hidden at their feet.  This is where husbands came to escape the further torture of seeing yet another fucking paper mache rooster at the Pottery Barn that would go just great in the French country home their wives were slowly erecting to serve as their dungeons.  These men were so defeated that when we got there, they were watching Access HollywoodWe quickly changed that.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let me tell you what else blows about this bar.  Besides the immasculated men, the place was full of super-masculine women.  My friend thought there were some burly lesbos hanging out in front of us.  I just thought they were large and unattractive women.  Tomato.  Toe-mah-toe. 

Gordon Biersch does have pretty much anything you could want to drink.  They even brew their own beers.  I tried the special, which was quite refreshing even to me . . . and I am not a beer drinker.

The food, however, sucked.  I tried the simple approach figuring who could screw up a burger and fries.  Oooh!  Oooh!  I know!  I know!  Gordon Biersch can.  The burger had no flavor and was really greasy.  The tomato on it was overripe.  The fries were the worst part.  They were coated in garlic.  In fact, there was so much damn garlic on the fries that I had to order dessert to get the disgusting flavor out of my mouth.  Notice that you can infer from this statement that although the fries sucked, I ate them. 

For dessert I had some sort of peanut butter, chocolate, Oreo, concoction.  It was enough to almost redeem the place.  Almost.  But it just couldn’t salvage all of the above plus the extremely unattractive waitresses.  Although the 22-year-old hostess with the . . . how shall I say . . . spring-loaded body made up for that.  And the service was pretty impressive.  Our waitress was very attentive and had a fun personality. 

One more weird note . . . the place was a haven for MILFs. 

You’ll find tons of parking in the various parking structures around Colorado Blvd.  But if I were you, I’d try some other restaurant or bar on the street.

Gordon Biersch . . . I’d rather die than do this again. 

 



Not My Father’s Office by vinceklortho

 

Father's Office

 

Last night I took a date to Father’s Office on Montana in Santa Monica for a little Cinco de Mayo action.  I gotta’ tell you that I was really surprised that the place had nothing special going on for the holiday.  No deals on Mexican beer.  No discounts.  Nothing.  Not even a lousy pinata.

Where to begin?  For starters, there was no valet when I got there at 7 p.m.  There was, however, ample street parking, but I doubt that would be the case later on in the evening.

When I walked into the place, I was surprised by how cramped it felt inside.  The place is literally the size of my father’s office.  And as the night went on, the place got packed.  So, it got really warm in there, which I guess is smart because then you order more cold beer of which they have a massive selection.  In fact, I think the selection is too big.  I’d rather they had less beer and more options of other beverages.

I hear the food is great at this place, but I wasn’t eating.  And to tell you the truth, the odor of the food coming from other tables was enough to make me never want to visit this bar again.  The place absolutely stunk of onions.  Even my beer mug smelled when I went to take my first drink.

You know what else I didn’t like?  The bar stools are in terrible shape.  The floor is uneven in the bar and the stools are loose and don’t balance well.  I almost fell off mine before I even started drinking.  I noticed a few other people having the same problem.  Also, I could only see one television in the place.  So, choose elsewhere if you’re looking to watch the big game.

One plus was that the girls in the joint were pretty cute.  The guys seemed to be ex-frat types.  Read into that what you will.  And by 8:30 pm, there wasn’t room for anyone.  If it’s a table that you’re after, you better get there early or wear comfy shoes for your wait.

Father’s Office . . . I’d rather die than do this again.

 



El Rancho Grill Was El Bueno by vinceklortho

Last Saturday, I hit a little Mexican joint in Sherman Oaks.  I also ate at a Mexican restaurant called El Rancho. 😛

El Rancho is a small restaurant with a walk-up counter for ordering.  Don’t expect great service or service at all at this place.  You have to go to the counter even to get a cup of water.  Plus, they charge you for chips and salsa.

But what they lack in warmth and hospitality, they make up for in taste and price.  I ordered a combination plate consisting of a chicken burrito, chicken taco, rice, and beans.  My friend ordered a combination plate consisting of enchiladas and a taco, but they forgot his taco . . . so did he.  We also ordered chicken nachos.  My friend’s dad and his date ordered albondigas and chile verde.  All together, and including 4 sodas, the meal only cost about $45.

I really enjoyed my food and don’t remember anyone else complaining.  The nachos were particularly tasty.  I guess the burrito could have used a little more kick.

The problems with El Rancho:  (1) no alcoholic beverages served; (2) the television is impossible to see if you’re sitting on the right side of the restaurant; and (3) no bathroom . . . never a plus when eating Mexican food.  Although, the absence of a bathroom made for one of the more awkward moments of the evening when my friend’s Dad’s girlfriend asked his Dad to walk with her to the bathroom in the nearby Starbucks and he passed.  Go thank women’s lib!

Overall, El Rancho scored highly in my book.  It’s probably my favorite Mexican place in the San Fernando Valley, short of the OSH in Van Nuys 😛  I don’t want to receive any comments that Casa Vega has it beat when Casa Vega costs a small fortune for slop and you have to wait 20 minutes for a table.

El Rancho . . . I did it . . . and you should too!