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dinner

Red O

November 11, 2013

Red O
8155 Melrose Ave,
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 655-5009

http://www.redorestaurant.com

The moment we walked into this nicely decorated Mexican restaurant, I thought I was up for a good experience. However, almost everything went downhill from then on. We were greeted with bad service and mediocre dishes that were not worth the price we paid for. This might be from my lack of familiarity with the Mexican food culture but I really do think I’ve had better tacos from food trucks that costed much less than what we paid for at Red O.

It all started nicely when our waiter came to take our order, gave us some suggestions, brought us our wine. After that, he was never to be seen throughout the rest of our dinner until we constantly asked other waiters to help us find ours. Yes, it was very frustrating. There’s nothing I find more frustrating than having inattentive waiters where you waste time trying to find him.

Happy Eating List

Guac & Chips: But then again, you can't go wring with Guac & Chips.

Guac & Chips:
But then again, you can’t go wring with Guac & Chips.

Pork Belly Sope: This was an appetizer that I found more enjoyable than the other dishes. After all, it's pork belly! I was pretty disappointed because the waiter did tell me their Pork Belly Sopes were amazing and it's an absolute must-try dish at Red O. If this is the ultimate must-try dish, I have to say that sets a pretty low standard for the rest of the dishes on their menu.

Pork Belly Sope:
This was an appetizer that I found more enjoyable than the other dishes. After all, it’s pork belly on a pastry crust! I was pretty disappointed because the waiter did tell me their Pork Belly Sopes were amazing and it’s an absolute must-try dish at Red O. If this is the ultimate must-try dish, I have to say that sets a pretty low standard for the rest of the dishes on their menu.

Not So Happy List

Tuna Ceviche: Very disappointed. I don't recommend for anyone to order this dish.

Tuna Ceviche:
Very disappointed. I don’t recommend for anyone to order this dish.

Lamb in Mole Negro: This was supposed to be Rick Bayless's winning dish on the Top Chef. Perhaps he did not convey his secret to the chef at Red O cooking our dish the night we dined there because I have definitely had better lamb dishes at other restaurants. This was a dish that was not appealing at all in terms of sight and taste. Again, very, very disappointed.

Lamb in Mole Negro:
This was supposed to be Rick Bayless’s winning dish on the Top Chef. Perhaps he did not convey his secret to the chef at Red O cooking our dish the night we dined there because I have definitely had better lamb dishes at other restaurants. This was a dish that was not appealing at all in terms of sight and taste. Again, very, very disappointed.

I am generally not that harsh on restaurants but this was truly one of the worst dining experiences I have had in Los Angeles. The meal ended costing around $500 including wine and I have to say, I did not think it was worth the price at all. Not so surprisingly, my friend visited Red O this past weekend and had a bad dining experience as well.

I’m still on the hunt for good Mexican food in Los Angeles before I finish off with the school year and head back to Hong Kong for good. Please let me know if you have any suggestions!

Happy eating,
Joey Wong ♥

Il Grano

October 28, 2013

Il Grano
11363 Santa Monica Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 477-7886

http://www.ilgrano.com

We decided to come to Il Grano after searching for the best uni pastas in Los Angeles. Since Il Grano popped up and it was located nearby, we decided to give it a try. Major mistake. I have rarely written any posts where I criticize almost everything about the restaurant but my experience at Il Grano was beyond bad. Let me plunge straight into the “Not So Happy List.”

Not So Happy List

Crudo:  Our crude of the day included one oyster and a few slices of sashimi. None of them were too fantastic and the plating wasn't too appealing.

Crudo:
Our crude of the day included one oyster and a few slices of sashimi. None of them were too fantastic and the plating wasn’t too appealing.

Caprese: It's slightly biased that I'm including the Caprese Salad on the Not So Happy List because of the bad experience I had at Il Grano. However, I have to point out that it's hard to make Caprese taste bad. This is why it all comes down to plating and the colors of the food. Though there were a variety of heirloom tomatoes on the plate, I have to say it looked more like a mess than a plate of carefully placed vegetable and mozzarella cheese.

Caprese:
It’s slightly biased that I’m including the Caprese Salad on the Not So Happy List because of the bad experience I had at Il Grano. However, I have to point out that it’s hard to make Caprese taste bad. This is why it all comes down to plating and the colors of the food. Though there were a variety of heirloom tomatoes on the plate, I have to say it looked more like a mess than a plate of carefully placed vegetable and mozzarella cheese.

Bigoli al Nero: This was by far the worst disappointment of the night. Since Il Grano ranked as one of the best restaurants with uni pasta, I had high hopes for the dish. The pasta could have used a few more seconds on the stove as well as a extra drizzle of sauce. I felt as if everything about this pasta could use a little more of everything. Il Grano could definitely add a little more uni to the dish as well.

Bigoli al Nero:
This was by far the worst disappointment of the night. Since Il Grano ranked as one of the best restaurants with uni pasta, I had high hopes for the dish. The pasta could have used a few more seconds on the stove as well as a extra drizzle of sauce. I felt as if everything about this pasta could use a little more of everything. Il Grano could definitely add a little more uni to the dish as well.

Caramelle: Again, this dish is slightly biased. It did not taste all that bad but then of course, I'm being harsh on this restaurant because of the bad impression and bad experience I have had so far. The "candy-wrap" style ravioli could use a few more seconds in the pot so the sides of the ravioli would not be as hard and dry. I'm personally a big fan of pasta al-dente so it means something it definitely says something if I think pasta is undercooked.

Caramelle:
Again, this dish is slightly biased. It did not taste all that bad but then of course, I’m being harsh on this restaurant because of the bad impression and bad experience I have had so far. The “candy-wrap” style ravioli could use a few more seconds in the pot so the sides of the ravioli would not be as hard and dry. I’m personally a big fan of pasta al-dente so it means something it means something if I think pasta is undercooked.

I would avoid revisiting Il Grano for the time being because of the disappointments I experienced while dining at the restaurant.

I definitely had better Italian food in Los Angeles. If you’re really craving for uni pasta, I’d say Osteria Mozza served better ones than Il Grano did.

Happy eating,
Joey Wong ♥

Osteria Drago

October 17, 2013

Osteria Drago
8741 W. Sunset Blvd,
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 657-1182

http://www.osteriadrago.com

You would not expect this small Italian restaurant in West Hollywood would offer such delectable appetizers and pastas. We enjoyed our dinner for the most part but came to a unanimous consent that everything was great before the meat and fish dishes. Here’s what we liked and didn’t like about Osteria Drago.

Happy Eating List:

Burrata Cheese Amuse Bouche: I love burrata cheese. When they started off our meal with a Burrata Cheese Amuse Bouche in a cute glass jar, it instantly gave me a good impression of the restaurant. I rarely expect for somewhat casual restaurants to offer amuse-bouche at the beginning of the meal.

Burrata Cheese Amuse Bouche:
I love burrata cheese. When they started off our meal with a Burrata Cheese Amuse Bouche in a cute glass jar, it instantly gave me a good impression of the restaurant. I rarely expect for somewhat casual restaurants to offer amuse-bouche at the beginning of the meal.

18 Month San Daniele Prosciutto with Burrata Cheese: Burrata and more burrata with prosciutto. It doesn't get any better than that.

18 Month San Daniele Prosciutto with Burrata Cheese:
Burrata and more burrata with prosciutto. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Beef Tartar with Spring Onion and 100 Year Old Modena Balsamic Vinegar: Loved it. I originally wanted to order the Beef Carpaccio but this was a pleasant mistake.

Beef Tartar with Spring Onion and 100 Year Old Modena Balsamic Vinegar:
Loved it. I originally wanted to order the Beef Carpaccio but this was a pleasant mistake.

Spaghetti with Assorted Seafood in a Light Tomato-Garlic Sauce: I like my pastas al-dente style so it's not too soft or mushy. The spaghetti was cooked to perfection and the light tomato-garlic sauce was just right so the pasta dish was not too heavy.

Spaghetti with Assorted Seafood in a Light Tomato-Garlic Sauce:
I like my pastas al-dente style so it’s not too soft or mushy. The spaghetti was cooked to perfection and the light tomato-garlic sauce was just right so the pasta dish was not too heavy.

Porcini Mushroom Risotto: The risotto was also cooked to perfection (again, very much al-dente). Since I'm a huge fan of almost all-things mushroom, this was one of the top contenders for the most memorable dish of the night for me.

Porcini Mushroom Risotto:
The risotto was also cooked to perfection (again, very much al-dente). Since I’m a huge fan of almost all-things mushroom, this was one of the top contenders for the most memorable dish of the night for me.

Not So Happy List:

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Soft Polenta: True, it was soft and the meat comes apart as you put your fork into it. However, dried short ribs? That's never good.

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Soft Polenta:
True, it was soft and the meat comes apart as you put your fork into it. However, dried short ribs? That’s never good.

Grilled Sliced Wagyu New York with Roasted Potatoes and Broccolini: Most of us doubted that we were really served wagyu beef after the first bite. There's just no way. The meat itself wasn't bad but since I was expecting wagyu beef quality meat, I was pretty disappointed. After all, there is a difference.

Grilled Sliced Wagyu New York with Roasted Potatoes and Broccolini:
Most of us doubted that we were really served wagyu beef after the first bite. There’s just no way. The meat itself wasn’t bad but since I was expecting wagyu beef quality meat, I was pretty disappointed. After all, there is a difference.

Grilled Dover Sole with Pappa Pomodoro and Basil Pesto: This was one of the biggest disappointments for me. Before going to the restaurant, I read some Yelp reviews that said the Dover Sole is excellent and is highly recommended. Turns out, the fish was overcooked and very dry. After living in China for years, I have developed quite a taste for fish. Fish is normally steamed in Chinese restaurants. If the chef is skilled, the fish would be steamed to perfection when the meat would still cling on to the bones and is juicy and tender. Imagine my disappointment when I was served a piece of hard and dried up piece of fish.

Grilled Dover Sole with Pappa Pomodoro and Basil Pesto:
This was one of the biggest disappointments for me. Before going to the restaurant, I read some Yelp reviews that said the Dover Sole is excellent and is highly recommended. Turns out, the fish was overcooked and very dry. After living in China for years, I have developed quite a taste for fish. Fish is normally steamed in Chinese restaurants. If the chef is skilled, the fish would be steamed to perfection when the meat would still cling on to the bones and is juicy and tender. Imagine my disappointment when I was served a piece of hard and dried up piece of fish.

Dark Chocolate Mousse Petit Four: Although I loved the rich, dark chocolate taste of the mousse, the texture was simply not smooth enough. I am picky about the texture of this dark chocolate mousse because it is essential that the texture of mousse is silky smooth.

Dark Chocolate Mousse Petit Four:
Although I loved the rich, dark chocolate taste of the mousse, the texture was simply not smooth enough. I am picky about the texture of this dark chocolate mousse because it is essential that the texture of mousse is silky smooth.

Will I revisit Osteria Drago? Perhaps after I try some of the other restaurants at the top of my “to-try list.” However, I am hopeful that the meat and fish dishes will get better over time.

Happy eating,
Joey Wong ♥

chi SPACCA

October 16, 2013

chi SPACCA
6610 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 297-1133

www.chispacca.com
Dinner at chi SPACCA was overwhelming. If you are planning on going there, make sure you go with a group of friends so you can taste more of their different dishes. Unlike most other Italian restaurants, chi SPACCA serves really large portions. I had the honor to talk to Chef Chad Colby a little while we waited for our food and I asked him what inspired the huge portions. He told me that the large meat portions are all traditional Italian dishes and you have to think country-side farm-inspired dishes where all the dishes are meant to be shared.

Having said that, it explains why their Costata alla Fiorentina is priced at $210.

Happy Eating List

Affettati Misti:  This assortment of Italian ham is a good way to start the dinner. The appetizer sampler gave a taste of a variety of different meat (sorry I can't remember their names). Other than that, it wasn't anything too special.

Affettati Misti:
This assortment of Italian ham is a good way to start the dinner. The appetizer sampler gave a taste of a variety of different meat (sorry I can’t remember their names). Other than that, it wasn’t anything too special.

Tomahawk Pork Chop: The pork chop was really, really well-seasoned and grilled to perfection. I noticed that the chef had to grill the pork for a while before we were served in order to cook through the thick cut.

Tomahawk Pork Chop:
The pork chop was really, really well-seasoned and grilled to perfection. I noticed that the chef had to grill the pork for a while before we were served in order to cook through the thick cut.

Beef and Bone Marrow Pie: I'd say this is a definite must-try. The moment you slice through the pie, the juice from within oozes out. Again, the dish was amazing.

Beef and Bone Marrow Pie:
I’d say this is a definite must-try. The moment you slice through the pie, the juice on the inside of the pie oozes out. It was a bit of a surprise to us when we sliced through the pie. Nonetheless, it was an amazing dish.

Banana Mascarpone Crostata:  Another absolute must-try. The smooth texture from the mascarpone with the banana bits beneath all came together really nicely. This dessert is what makes me want to go back to chi SPACCA.

Banana Mascarpone Crostata:
Another absolute must-try. The smooth texture from the mascarpone with the banana bits beneath all came together really nicely. This dessert is what makes me want to go back to chi SPACCA.

Not So Happy List

Crostata alla Fiorentina: Though massive, I did not think the steak was too special. It was definitely well-seasoned and well-cooked but it lacked the wow factor that makes me want to spend $210 on it again.

Crostata alla Fiorentina:
Though massive, I did not think the steak was too special. It was definitely well-seasoned and well-cooked but it lacked the wow factor that makes me want to spend $210 on it again.

Pollo alla Diavola: The only thing about the chicken was that it was slightly spicy. Other than that, I did not think the chicken was too amazing. It did not wow me like some of the other chicken dishes I've had in other restaurants.

Pollo alla Diavola:
The only thing about the chicken was that it was slightly spicy. Other than that, I did not think the chicken was too amazing. It did not wow me like some of the other chicken dishes I’ve had in other restaurants.

chi SPACCA deserves a second visit but next time, I’ll stick more to the smaller portions so I get to taste more. Despite my comments towards its massive servings, I do think that it is a good place to go with a group of friends to share the food. Just be sure not to go with too large of a group because the restaurant is pretty small.

Happy eating,
Joey Wong ♥