Sunday, March 04, 2012

The New Diner 2

Apparently, The New Diner has reached it limit with Blogger. But, don't worry, The New Diner will continue at The New Diner 2. Same attitude, same types of restaurants, same reviews.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Sugarfish By Sushi Nozawa

Sugarfish By Sushi Nozawa
600 W 7th St
Ste 150
Los Angeles

Sugarfish is a sushi restaurant that has been on my list of places to try for over a year. I finally decided to try it. Sugarfish is owned by Sushi Nozawa, a very popular Studio City sushi restaurant, that recently closed. I've heard some of the best quality sushi in LA can be found at Sugarfish.

I ordered the "Trust Me," $29, which included organic edamane, tuna sashimi, two pieces of; albacore, salmon, yellowtail, and halibut, a tora roll and blue crab roll.

To save time and typing all the sushi was the best I've ever had!!! The fish were so buttery, so fresh and just melted in your mouth. Maybe for the first time ever, I noticed the difference in quality of sushi. Just amazing!! The other big difference is that the rice they use is hot!! A very unique taste and flavor, that I love. Now, I read reviews that said Sugarfish drowns their sushi in ponzi sauce, but I didn't notice that at all. All I tasted was the freshness of the fish.

Tuna sashimi. I'm not a sashimi fan. I like the texture that sushi offers. But this tuna sashimi was just like the sushi I would have later; fresh, buttery and just melted in your mouth.

Albacore and salmon

Yellowtail and halibut.

Toro hand roll.

Tora is tuna belly, and while there wasn't a lot of tora in there, this was a very good roll. They just need to put more toro.

Blue crab hand roll. Nothing can ruin your crab dining experience than biting down on a shell. That happened to me and I wasn't happy. For a restaurant as good as Sugarfish that shouldn't happen. The roll was good and had a good among of blue crab.

I thought the "Trust Me" combo was well worth the price and I was stuffed!! It was a great meal, minus biting down on the crab shell.

Service: I have never been to a restaurant that charged a 16% service charge for TWO, as in TWO, people!! Then to top it off, they charged tax on the service charge!!! While service was good, it's in bad form to add the tip. This is America, not Europe.

If I go back to Sugarfish, I will since the fish is the best quality fish I have ever had, it will only be to go. Screw this 23% service charge.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Woodstock's Pizza

Woodstock's Pizza
928 Embarcadero Del Norte
Isla Vista

About ten years ago I went to Cal St. Goleta, aka, UC Santa Barbara, for a basketball game. People told me I had to try Woodstock's Pizza and they said it was walking distance from the Thunderdump. Well, I go and try to find Woodstock's Pizza, but the nerds that fill up Cal St. Goleta didn't have a clue where Woodstock's was. I gave up trying to find it. But, today with the help of modern technology, I finally find Woodstock's Pizza!!!

What greets me at the front door of Woodstock's? A sign welcoming all Cal St. Goleta fans. Look a Cal St. Goleta's "Hamburglar" logo!! Anyways, there weren't too many people inside Woodstock's. I guess the nerds from Cal St. Goleta were still in class.

You may wonder I call UC Santa Barbara, Cal St. Goleta. If you go to a game between Cal St. Goleta and a Cal State school, the nerds at Cal St. Goleta will chant "State School," as a way to make themselves feel better because the were too stupid to get into Cal and Cal-LA. In other words the nerds at Cal St. Goleta have an inferiority complex. I've never heard that "state school" chant at Cal or Cal-LA, only Cal St. Goleta and Cal St. Bren-AKA UC Irvine. Oh, stupid Nauchos, Cal St. Goleta is a state school, since they receive state funds. Also, Cal St. Goleta, was actually located in Goleta, before the city of Santa Barbara annexed the campus.

I got a personal cheese pizza with wheat crust, $5.82. I've had wheat crust on a pizza at Michaelangelo's Pizza, and I loved it. The firmer texture of the wheat crust, is what sets it apart from the regular flour crust.

The amount of cheese for this personal sized pizza was amazing, I bet there was more cheese on this pizza than other places medium pizzas!! The cheese was melted nicely, gooey and chewy.

The sauce was a bit too tangy for my tastes, they could tone it down a bit, but it was very fresh.

Now, the price listed for a cheese personal pizza is $6.49. But, for some reason I got a discount, maybe for a wheat crust? Either, way a great deal for a very good quality pizza.

Service is very good. The guy who took my order was nice, friendly, and helpful.

If I ever go back to Cal St. Goleta, I would happily go back to Woodstock's Pizza. If I do, I just hope I don't run into the Naucho Loco's, the nerd, sorry I mean, the student booster group for Cal St. Goleta; State School, State School, State School!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Holy Smokes Bar-B-Que-Closed

Holy Smokes Bar-B-Que
116 N Vincent Ave
West Covina

I went to Hungry Al's Bar-B-Que in 2005, when I first started The New Diner. I wasn't impressed and never went back. A few months ago, I drove past Hungry Al's and noticed, what I thought was a new sign. But, a closer look showed a new BBQ place that replaced Hungry Al's.

Holy Smokes Bar-B-Que opened in August, 2011. The owner of Hungry Al's retired and closed the restaurant in April 2011. Today, I finally got a chance to try the BBQ at Holy Smokes.

I got the lunch rib plate, $7.88, with macaroni salad. The lunch portion is served all day and has three spare ribs. The ribs include the tips, so they aren't St. Louis ribs, making them huge, these three ribs filled me up. The ribs had a decent bark, I tasted cumin and a nice smoke ring. But, when I bite into the ribs, they had a weird texture. I thought they may have been boiled before they were smoked, but the more I ate the ribs, I'm thinking they are grilled at high heat, which isn't BBQ, it's grilling!! For what they are, grilled, the ribs were pretty good. But, it's not the BBQ I was expecting. The BBQ sauce is a tomato based sauce with a strong cumin flavor. The macaroni salad tasted like it came out of a can.

Service is pretty good. The lady taking orders, who I believe is the owner or related to the owner, isn't really a people person, she is more reserved and not the friendly out going personality that is more suited for customer service. She is friendly, just not out going. It may bother people that the food was service to to go containers and utensils were plastic, but it's BBQ-which isn't gourmet.

While the ribs were huge and the prices very reasonable, I personally wouldn't go back. The ribs aren't smoked or the very least, they didn't do a good job of smoking the ribs.

Cavaretta's Italian Groceries

Cavaretta's Italian Groceries
22045 Sherman Way
Canoga Park

Until last year, I've never had an Italian cold cut sandwich. I knew what mortadella, capacolla, and salame were but they didn't appeal to me in a sandwich. But, one day I figured they all sandwich meat, so I decided to give them a try. My first version of an Italian cold cut sandwich was at Eastside Market Italian Deli, it maybe my favorite place for an Italian cold cut sandwich. I also like the sandwich from Capri Deli & Kitchen. I found out I really liked an Italian cold cut sandwich. So, now when I go to any Italian deli, I look will order an Italian cold cut sandwich.

I read that Cavaretta's Italian Groceries serves up some great sandwiches, maybe the best in the Valley, so I dropped in. Cavaretta's opened in 1959 and has always gotten good reviews for their sandwiches.

Large Italian, mortadella, cotto salame, Italian salame, provolone cheese, $7.45. Every Italian deli has their version of the Italian cold cut sandwich. Some put capacola, others will include turkey, and others will have ham on their sandwich. Well, Cavaretta's is the first to have two different types of salame, cotto and Italian.

I liked the Cavaretta's version of an Italian cold cut sandwich. The meats were very fresh. I opened up the sandwich to see if I could tell the difference between the two salames, but they looked the same to me. The mayo, lettuce and tomatoes were all very fresh and cold, they were stored properly, until some other places! The Italian roll had a nice, soft chewy texture and good crust. While the sandwich was good, it wasn't outstanding and certainly not the best Italian cold cut sandwich I've had.

Service is good. The guy who made my sandwich was nice and made the sandwich quickly.

I was impressed with Cavaretta's Italian Groceries, but I wouldn't rush back to get an Italian cold cut sandwich. It maybe the best in the Valley, but really, how much competition is there? If you live in the area, this is a great choice, I just wouldn't make a special trip for it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

La Grande Orange Café

La Grande Orange Café
260 S Raymond Ave

Is there a restaurant that has been on your "to try" list that you drive by often, but never actually stop in for meal? La Grande Orange Café is one of the restaurants for me. It's been on my list of restaurants to try, and I'm in or drive by Pasadena quite often.

Recently a friend and I were talking, and she raved about La Grande Orange Café. So, we decided to have dinner there recently. She goes to La Grande Orange Café often and has tried many items on their menu.

She told me La Grande Orange Café, is housed in the old Pasadena train station. In keeping with the a back to the future them, LGO is next to the Del Mar Gold Line Station. If you're like other people in Los Angeles, there is a parking garage that offers two hours free parking with validation.

I got the grilled ahi tuna tacos, $20, with pico de gallo, gaucamole, and shredded kale slaw.

WOW, was the awesome. Everything was so fresh and tasty!! The ahi was grilled rare, and was among the best ahi tuna I've ever had. I've paid more for ahi at sushi restaurants that wasn't even close to this ahi. The ingredients for pico de gallo and gaucamole must have been on the farm that morning, because I've haven't had such fresh pico de gallo and gaucamole, ever!! The tortillas were freshly made. Everything combined made great tacos.

But, what blew me away was the kale slaw. Now, understand, I hate kale. But, it was on the menu and I figured, I would try a little bit of it, and if I didn't like it, no big deal. Well, I took a small bite and I was blown away by the flavor and freshness of this kale slaw. I find the texture and bitterness of kale to be off putting. But, that wasn't an issue here. The kale was tender, mixed with some garlic, red peppers, and some black beans. I think they offer this as a side, but next time I go, I'm going to order a couple of them to make an entree salad.

Service was ok. Our server was nice, but didn't came around that often. I felt as though he was just going through the motions. I don't want a robot as a server!

I'm not sure why I haven't gone to La Grande Orange Café earlier. But, I'm coming back soon.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Bigg Chill Frozen Yogurt

Bigg Chill Frozen Yogurt
10850 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles

After having a great burger at Hole in the Wall Burger Joint, my friends said we should get dessert at a great frozen yogurt place. I figured why not, and so we went to Bigg Chill Frozen Yogurt.

I got a small Irish Mint and cookie covered chocolate, $3.50. Unlike those damn chains that serve run of the mill frozen yogurt, this was awesome. A nice thick texture and wonderful flavor. The Irish Mint was fantastic!! Great mint flavor!! The cookie cover chocolate was almost like eating See's Candies chocolate in a frozen yogurt form.

Service is very good. They allow you to sample their flavors, and they serve up the yogurt quickly. Before I left, I wanted to get a business card, so they gave me a frequent shopper's card, and the guy asked how many yogurts I purchased! I told him, only one and he punched the card. Most places wouldn't have punched the card or asked how many items I bought.

It's a cash only operation, too. What's the matter with West LA? The people are plastic but the stores don't accept plastic?? While I still don't like going to the pretentious West LA, if I'm in the area, I will go back to Bigg Chill Frozen Yogurt.

Hole in the Wall Burger Joint-Closed

Hole in the Wall Burger Joint
11058 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles

Competition is what drives the restaurant business. Foodies are the winners in the these restaurant competitions. While I'm not sure if The Counter, was the first of it's type to open in the LA area, it has competition with Hole in the Wall Burger Joint!! Hole in the Wall Burger Joint is more casual than The Counter, where it's more of a sit down restaurant. But, hell when you have the name, Hole in the Wall Burger Joint, are you really expecting a sit down restaurant? It's a bit hard to find, the store front is actually on Missouri, though the street address is listed as Santa Monica. Look for the shopping center with Winchell Donuts and Hole in the Wall Burger Joint, is behind that Winchell's.

Like The Counter, you fill out your burger order on a sheet of paper. All protein are 8oz portions, and include beef, turkey, spicy chicken and veggie. I got a turkey burger on a whole wheat bun, with onion mayo, cheddar cheese, red leaf lettuce, tomatoes, and mustard pickle relish, $8.95. They offer a pretzel bun and a burger in a bowl, but I passed on those.

I really liked this burger. A turkey burger is usually going to be a bit drier than a beef burger, because of the low fat content in turkey. But, this burger was juicy, full of flavor and just wonderful. The turkey was cooked perfectly and was well seasoned, very important. The toppings were fresh, though I took off the mustard relish after the first couple bites, I just wasn't a fan. For a great topping, on their condiment bar, is their version of ranch dressing and it's great. Next time I go, I'm getting my burger dry and just add their ranch dressing.

Service is good and the burgers came out quickly, hot and fresh!! But, it's a cash only operation, so be prepared. They have an ATM on site, but of course, we'll get dinged by your bank for not using their ATM's!!

I would go back to Hole in the Wall Burger Joint, any time.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Two Brothers From Italy Pizza

Two Brothers From Italy Pizza
4760 Oceanside Blvd

I was in Oceanside and while driving around found Two Brothers From Italy Pizza. I was hungry and I haven't had an Italian cold cut sandwich in awhile, so why not give Two Brothers a try? Looked in the corner of a strip mall, Two Brothers From Italy Pizza is a big location, with plenty of seating and is pretty popular judging by the number of people, either dining in or picking up orders.

I got the half, 8 inches, Paolo's Special, ham, salami, capicola, pepperoni, and provolone cheese, $7.49. I read the menu incorrectly, and this wasn't a cold sub, but an oven baked sub. Not what I'm used to but I liked this sub. The bread as well toasted and added a different texture to the sandwich. The meats were pretty good quality, that were piled on top of each other. The lettuce and tomatoes were fresh. This is a solid, good sandwich at a good price. It's nothing outstanding but much better than anything you're going to get at a chain sandwich shop.

Service was good. The cashier who took my order was nice and friendly. Like I said, I misread their menu and thought I was getting a cold sandwich. So, while waiting for the sandwich, the young girl who taking food to the tables, said I'll check on your sandwich. I guess she could see I was wondering what was taking so long!! But, that's my fault because the sandwich had to be toasted and that does take some time.

I wasn't in the mood for pizza, so I didn't get a slice of pizza, or maybe the pizza that was sitting in the warmer turned me off, it didn't look that appetizing.

Overall, I had a positive experience at Two Brothers From Italy Pizza. If I'm in the area again, I may come get a fresh baked pizza, but I'm not going to rush back.