Monday, July 20, 2009

Devour in Victoria, BC

Eating on the road has it's ups and downs. One is usually limited to gas station/truck stop faire, fast food, or whatever the venue decides to feed you that night. Every once in awhile there's a gem waiting for you right by the venue. Today was one of those days.
Meet Devour. It reminds me of a place you'd find in NYC in just about every way. Aesthetically, simple and quaint, like you're in somebody's kitchen, and it's not much bigger than that either! And the food, simple, effective and f**king delicious.
The menu changes daily, which I think is very cool. I ordered the capicola with olive tapenade on ciabatta with a salad (drizzled with the most delicious balsamic dressing I've EVER had.) Like I said, simple yet effective. Flavors were perfectly balanced, the capicola was perfectly spiced, the olive tapenade was not too oily or too salty and the ciabatta had a perfect crunchy outter layer.
Overall everything had a very fresh and homemade feel and gets 5 out of 5 boners from me!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Shabu Shabu

Shabu Shabu, Japanese variant of hot pot. The dish is related to sukiyaki in style, where both use thinly sliced meat and vegetables, and usually served with dipping sauces. Shabu Shabu translates to swish swish due to the swishing motions you instinctively make when you when cooking your items. There are many of these restaurants all over the place, and chances are you have never eaten at one, but probably have had a friend who has. Shabu is as about as simple and it gets. Meat, vegetables, rice, sauce and water. On their own plain, boring and dull, but presented Shabu Shabu style they truly become greater then the sum of their parts.
I have eaten at a 3 Shabu restaurants, and they all sucked..... Except for one, and this one happens to be one of my favorite places to eat in the world. Tucked away in the ungodly out skirts of Mission Viejo, in a shopping center that the surrounding neighborhoods have gave up on years ago, lies one of the few gems of the Orange County. The outside is nothing out of the ordinary. Just a plain sign that read SHABU SHABU (cleaver name). The inside is about the same. Nothing more exciting then.... say you would find in an office cubical. There is a large U shaped bar with pots of boiling water at each station, a few Japanese trinkets and a cork board with pictures and Christmas cards of the patrons. Once you are seated you will be promptly greeted by the owner and operator, Kumi-san. Kumi is one of those restaurateurs that I believe truly loves her work and takes great pride in her restaurant, and it shows. She slices all the meat, pours all the drinks, brings out all the veggies, and helps every newbie cooking there food. In addition to this she makes it a point to make each and every guest feel warm and welcome. It’s the kind of place where you feel like a local after only being there once. I love that. Do you know how many time you have to walk in to a tgifridays before they remember you?
Not much can be said about the food preparation, because you cook it yourself. Swish, dip, eat, repeat. The food it’s self is market fresh. The veggies are sliced daily, the beef is USDA aged angus, and the ramen noodles are imported straight from Japan. You can’t asked for much more than that. Kumi makes all her own sauces and has her own signature sauce the legendary “Hot Mama sauce”. As well they offer staples like fried rice, basic sushi, and teriyaki dishes, which I have never had, because what the point? I think there are on the menu for the kids. If you go there and order anything other that the Shabu, you might as well save your time and money are hit up a Panda Express or a Yoshinoya. The beers are ice cold and they have a wide variety of sake. Word of warning, if you try to go shot for shot with Kumi, she will beat you! You will end up drunk in a cab explaining to the driver how a little, old Japanese lady drank you under the table.
After all the swishing and the drinking and the slurping you will be pretty happy to see that the bill is not as bad as you thought. Shabu Shabu, a few drinks, and dessert will set you back about $30. On your way out Kumi will see you off with a hug, a bowl of candy, and a “Thanks for cooking”. You will leave with a full stomach and this sense that you have discovered a secret treasurer in the middle of the nowhere. A diamond in the gutter. The funny thing is that.... you did.

Shabu Shabu
28715 Los Alisos Blvd
Mission Viejo, CA 92692
(949) 588-3225

Thursday, May 28, 2009

OC street food: WTF?!? Where you at?

0 out of 5 boners (because it's nonexistent)

There isn't really a review here. It's pretty much just me bitching about the complete lack of street food in Orange County. We have a few roaming roach coaches that frequent industrial areas and construction sites but that's it. I miss the street food of LA beyond belief. My girlfriend and I saw a tamale lady the other day in Lake Forest, I lost my shit and she had no idea why the woman had a giant cooler. I think she might have been just an oasis because when we circled back around two minutes later she had vanished. I hope marijuana is legalized soon in California, not because I smoke (I honestly don't) but because I think it would actually spark somewhat of a demand for a street food scene here.

pictured: bacon wrapped hot dog w/ EVERYTHING AKA "the lady killer"

Thyphoon: proof that everything is good if deep fried

3 out of 5 boners

I'm not going to lie to you, we came for the bugs. The food was eh... ok. The bugs are pricey considering the portions are small but I'm not going to complain because it was worth it for the experience. We came in a large group and made reservations a week prior and they told us that we needed to finish in an hour because they needed the table?!?! I'm sorry but,

1) the place was empty and
2) if a large party comes in and plans on spending a grip of money why would you rush them out? We were all ordering drinks and multiple plates but whatever, service sucked.

All in all you don't pay for the taste you pay for the kitsch factor. I would come back but only to bring someone who hasn't been. Oh also I forgot the name of it but they have a martini that is called the diablo or something along those lines... insanely hot, Should be served with Tums.

3221 Donald Douglas Loop S.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 390-6565

Shin-Sen-Gumi Robata & Yakitori: fancy talk for f*cking good

4 out of 5 boners

The only reason I gave this place 4 boners instead of 5 is because I've only been to the ramen side. If the other side is as good as the ramen side it definitely deserves 5 boners! The ramen is ugh-mazing! I crave it on a regular basis. The staff is friendly and everything is reasonably priced. My absolute favorite is the flavored egg completes the hakata ramen! Highly recommended! We've also tried the shark cartilage but I just can't get over the texture...

18315 Brookhurst St
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
(714) 962-8952

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Royal Hawaiian: an epic fail

0 out of 5 boners

Absolute crap! I came here for a birthday party and that proves I'm a good friend because reading reviews on Yelp on the way there definitely didn't get me amped! First let's address the drink issue; the lapu lapu is the sole reason why the doors are still open at this place but, back in the day, it used to be enormous, now they come in brandy snifters filled to the brim with ice... weak. The food is disgusting. The salad dressing is water and mayo. I'm fully aware that mayo is in blue cheese and ranch dressing but this was just watered down mayo with NO seasoning over iceburg. The french onion soup is just beef broth with scallion a small torn roll floating in it and SHREDDED CHEDDAR CHEESE... at the bottom!!! That is not french onion and it should be a crime to call it that. The burgers are store bought frozen burgers along with the chicken. My friend got a shrimp dish and with the price breakdown paid $4.25 per shrimp which also made him throw up later. The filet mignon was a NY strip cut in half and seared on the side served like a hot pocket, ice cold in the center and burnt to a crisp outside. I WILL NEVER COME BACK!

The Royal Hawaiian receives no boners what so ever.

Upon further review I suppose a box of Swanson's beef broth with some scallion, shredded cheddar and a kings hawaiian roll shredded in it for $5 IS market price...

1 out of 5 boners because my mom said it was cool in the 80's