Maruhide Uni Club: A Sea Urchin-Lover’s Paradise in Torrance

#3 Bowl: Uni, Scallop, Salmon Roe

It may have been ambitious to have driven down to the South Bay on a Friday late afternoon, but we knew what we wanted, and what we wanted was uni.

Having 4 people in my little Mini Cooper enabled us to use the 110 Southbound’s alternating Express Lane (it weaves in and out with more preference now given to FastPassers), which was key in our Silver-Lake-to-South-Bay commute and miraculously amounted to little more than a half hour. We made it to Maruhide’s resident strip mall just after its 5:30 PM opening and, though we imagined there being a line out the door, we were the only table seated for another 10 minutes.

Continue reading

The Raw Power of Fishing With Dynamite

1/2 Dungeness crab, 8 Shrimp, 16 Oysters

You can tell a city has entered a seafood renaissance when several of its most admired chefs and restauranteurs make it a centerpiece of their sophomore-or-later efforts. We watched with delight as they’ve sprung up all over town these past couple of years, and as recently as last week. It’s indicative of a supply feeding the demand, which appears to still grow.

Continue reading

Soaking in Summer Weekends at M.B. Post

Truffle honey laced fried chicken

I don’t make it a secret that M.B. Post is practically my favorite restaurant in the South Bay and one of my top picks for all of Los Angeles. So it pains me to admit that I wish I lived closer so that I could take advantage of their new “Nooner” menu – essentially a weekend daytime menu that’s served from 2 – 5 in the weekend afternoon but also lunchtime until dinner on Friday afternoons.

Albondigas

You can count on Chef David Lefevre’s terrific truffle honey laced fried chicken to be on the mid-day list, as well as Albondigas and Meyers’ Farm “Never Ever” Skirt Steak. Order the Pomegranate Cous Cous with lavender feta, Marcona almonds and grapefruit and the Blistered Green Beans with Thai basil, chili sauce and crispy pork to pair, and you’re pretty much all set.

Oh, but wait. You’d be remiss not to try one of the awesome cocktails at M.B. Post. Since it’s daytime, go for the Coughlin’s Law, or the glorified Bloody Mary. Complete with quail egg, dill and picante, this will likely be the best Bloody Mary you’ve had in awhile.

If you’re good to actually make it to weekend brunch at M.B. Post, even better. You’ll have your choice of egg dishes, including the incredible Breakfast Frittata and the same Meyers’ Farm steak but with a sunny side up egg. Their Benedict incorporates the famous bacon cheddar biscuit and La Quercia prosciutto and truly makes me do a happy dance.

Either way, any time of day – even dinner – is prime time at M.B. Post, since there’s such a great selection and execution of small plates for every occasion.

Peep below for a slideshow of their brunch items:

Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit

Brunch: 10:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Saturday & Sunday Nooner: 2  – 5 PM
Friday Nooner: 11:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Nooner menu

M.B. Post
1142 Manhattan Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
310.545.5405

Giveaway: Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival – September 16-18, 2011

Photo credit to lizfairhurst on Flickr

Who loves seafood? Or more specifically, lobster?

Time to celebrate that lobster love at the 13th annual Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival happening next Friday through Sunday, September 16 – 18th, 2011. And while festivals come and go, this particular event takes the crustacean as it currently holds the Guiness Book World Record for most seafood served at an outdoor event. Impressive.

So, what’s the deal before and when you get there? You can buy a First Class (VIP) ticket in advance for $41 per person, whereby you secure your lobster feast, one beverage, a poster by artists in The Uprising Creative and priority in the food and bar lines. There’s even a special dining area for First Class ticket-holders and 1/3rd of these ticket proceeds benefit the Harbor Interfaith Services.

Feeling more like a pay-as-you-go program? Admission to the festival is $10 (be sure to print out the $2 off coupon) and Maine lobster meals are $19 each. Thinking you’ll want more than one lobster? You can “double up” and add an extra lobster to your plate for a total 2.50 lbs for $33. Every meal comes with cole slaw, potatoes, sweet bread, lemon wedges and a buttery dipping sauce.

If you’re vegetarian, the Lobster Festival has a great deal going on with the adjacent Ports O’ Call Restaurant, where you can dine on their 50 item salad bar. Take your receipt to the front desk for free admission to the festival.

And, while you’re there, you might as well stay for the fun. There will be bands (flashback to the ’80s, anyone? Berlin!) and even Taiko drummers to keep you entertained once you’ve devoured your lobster dinner. And as the L.A. festival tradition goes, there will also be food trucks there like The Lobstatruck (of course), Rajun Cajun, Coolhaus and Barbie’s Q.

*****

And if you’d like to enjoy lobster for free and think you’ve got good luck, I’ve got a giveaway for tickets to the Lobsterfest. On the giveaway block are one pair of First Class (VIP) tickets and one pair of General Admission tickets. The winner and runner-up must have a mailing address to give me in order to receive your tickets. To enter, you must do all of the following:

  1. “Like” e*starLA on Facebook (yes, friends, I’ve given in to the beast)
  2. Leave a comment below (with email address field complete; this will not be shared with anyone) detailing your favorite lobster dish in memory. Make me salivate. Include your Twitter handle if you’d like to be announced as the winner on Twitter (and can be notified in a timely manner).
  3. Tweet this: “I want to win tickets to @PoLALobsterfest, @estarLA! http://estar.la/e/br”
  4. Be ready to give me your mailing address when I announce the winner at noon on Monday, September 12th and email you. If you don’t respond by 2:30 PM I will be forced to choose another winner and/or runner-up!

I’ll be checking all entries to make sure you’ve done #1, #2 and #3 before I put you in the drawing bucket, so make sure you’re thorough. 😉 Good luck, everyone! And see you next weekend at the Lobsterfest!!

Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit

Friday – Sunday, September 16 – 18, 2011

Friday: 5 – 11 PM
Saturday: 11 AM – 11 PM
Sunday: 11 AM – 7 PM

Free Parking – Cruise Ship Parking Lot

Cash only at the event

Lobsterfest at
The Ports O’ Call Village
1100 Berth
San Pedro, CA 90731
(Harbor Blvd. exit off 110 Fwy)

M.B. Post Delivers As The Star of South Bay

Vietnamese Caramel Pork Jowl, Green Papaya Salad, Lime

There’s something really exciting going on over in Manhattan Beach. The cooking is so titillating I’d gladly make the trek to meet a Westside or South Bay friend at M.B. Post, Chef David LeFevre’s exciting and as-yet-still-new venture. It is this that he left Downtown L.A.’s seafood heavyweight, Water Grill, for and it’s a beautiful thing to see his unbridled passion coming out of the kitchen. Call M.B. Post a gastropub, if you will (everyone is doing it), but I can’t remember the last time the small plates in one spot hit it so consistently out of the park. They were playful, but also well-executed.

Cheese, Meats & Accompaniments

Each tasty bread selection is accompanied by a sauce of sorts, with maple butter on the side of their crumbly Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk biscuits, a delicious horseradish mustard on the side of the Fleur de Sel Pretzel and a harissa yogurt sauce dippable by naan. And if that doesn’t properly start things, don’t forget the cheese and cured meat selection – and all the accompaniments.

The cocktail menu by Sal Roses, Jerry Garbus, Gregg Wescott, and Beau du Bois is a composition of riffs on old favorites. I was more than pleased with my Manhattan Avenue, made with Sazerac Rye and finished off with bacon dust. The Landing Strip is their Aviation with a Creme de Violet twist. The real stand-out, though, is the Day of the Dead, made with Fortaleza Silver, amaretto, lemon and sage. It’s a refreshing yet boozefully delightful Spanish Fly – and Fortaleza is one of my favorite tequilas. If you’re feeling like an aperitif, go with their off-menu Virgil’s Ascent, a not-so-ordinary Negroni made with Hendricks, Aperol, pomegranate seeds and orange clove nectar. I love that all the cocktails were personalized to M.B. Post with the use natural fruits while still paying proper homage to the classics by being great stand-alone cocktails.

Yellow Cauliflower wtih Sultanas, Mint, Caper Berries

All of the vegetable dishes that we ordered were exceptional, from the Blistering Green Beans with Thai basil, chili sauce and crispy pork to the Yellow Cauliflower with sultanas, mint and caper berries. They also weren’t just roasted iron dishes brought out with different vegetables, but they were all individually constructed dishes, very thoughtfully seasoned with unique flavorings. Enjoy them before or with your seafood and/or meat dishes, because while I have yet to try their fish and shrimp plates, I can vouch that the Steamed Green Curry Mussels are pretty much as solid as others I’ve had elsewhere. While it’s probably more betraying of which piece of the food pie I’m partial to, I thought the meat dishes were the real highlights.

The Elvis: Peanut Butter Mousse, Caramelized Banana, Chocolate Pudding, Bacon Brittle

Such as the Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Jowl atop a green papaya salad. So tender and flavorful, this pork part is a must-order. The Meyers Farm “Never Ever” Skirt Steak is seasoned with a delicious red chimichurri sauce and comes accompanied by grilled broccolini. It’s got that perfect pink center and it’s as unordinary a skirt steak as I’ve had in recent memory. But don’t forget the Moroccan BBQ Lamb Belly with creamy semolina and cardamom carrots. And if you’re lucky enough to visit while Chef LeFevre still has the Albondigas on the menu, don’t forget those, either. (Bring your people.) It comes glazed with maple miso on top of garnet yam puree – perfectly delicious compliments - and the shishito peppers that top the meatballs make for a slightly spicy garnish.

Day of the Dead

As far as dessert, there are just enough offerings to satisfy that sweet tooth (admittedly, mine borders on savory), with my personal favorite, the Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake, coming in a sealed jar. But if you love all desserts Elvis, you’re sure to order this “wonderful mess” of peanut butter mousse, carmelized banana, chocolate pudding and bacon brittle. It’s the closest thing to that heavenly Wolvesmouth dessert since I’ve been.

M.B. Post wins as my favorite gastropub in South Bay – and dare I say, even all of L.A. Though I’m loath to let trends (yes, communal dining exists here too) filter through my radar, there’s no mistake that I immensely enjoyed practically everything Chef David LeFevre sent out of the kitchen. Then again, is it still a gastropub if there are only two draught beers on tap? To me, it’s not a weakness. It’s indicative of focus. So the end-all is that we can throw away the labels. I have no qualms about calling M.B. Post simply a great place that serves great small plates.

All food and cocktails were hosted.

Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit

Sun – Thur

5 – 10 PM

Fri – Sat

5 – 11 PM

M.B. Post
1142 Manhattan Ave.
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
310.545.5405

@chefdlefevre

Tequila Mixology Contest at Ortega 120

Tequila Cocktails at Ortega 120

Ortega 120 in Redondo Beach, where you can order LA Weekly’s Best Classic Margarita of 2009, will also be the site for an inaugural “Toma Tequila” Mixology Contest. Amateurs will compete for the grand prize of a $250 gift certificate to the restaurant, an editorial feature in Mutineer Magazine and, of course, have their winning recipe on Ortega 120’s cocktail menu alongside Chef Thomas Ortega’s imaginative dishes.

No professionals allowed – only amateurs are eligible to compete. To enter, submit your best tequila-infused recipe. Judges will narrow it down to a final three, which will have been chosen on a set criteria: taste, creativity, visual presentation and mixology practicality. And you should be excited (or intimidated) to find out who the judges are, including Ortega 120’s Demi Stevens, Mutineer Magazine Editor-in-Chief Alan Kropf, Carole Dixon of FEAST LA, Hadley Tomicky of Grub Street LA and Josh Lurie of Food GPS. Selected finalists will compete live at the restaurant on the evening of May 3rd.

Other events going on at Ortega 120 for that week include:

Sunday, May 2 – Sister Cities International Charity Fundraiser
Monday, May 3 – Ortega 120 “Toma Tequila” Mixology Competition Finals
Tuesday, May 4 – Tequila University
Wednesday, May 5 – Cinco de Mayo Grand Fiesta with folklorico dancers

May the best tequila cocktail win!

Finals: Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Entry form

Submit to ortega120contest [dot] com.

Ortega 120
1814 Pacific Coast Highway
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
310.792.4120

@Ortega120

Hudson House Celebrates 1st Anniversary on Sunday

Photo credit to FoodGPS

This weekend, Hudson House in Redondo Beach turns one. To toast the occasion, the also-owners of Beechwood in Venice will be welcoming all who wish to help celebrate with a complimentary Hudson Ale or a Blood Orange Chinaco Tequila Cocktail on Sunday. You can also expect complimentary bar bites to accompany your free drink. Win logoed Hudson House apparel while you’re there. And live music from a local DJ will entertain guests all evening – so groove along in your seat or start up your own dance floor – no one will mind.

A party with a free drink and free food? If you’re in the South Bay, you’d be remiss to snooze on this one.

Sunday, March 14th

4 PM – Close

Hudson House
514 North Pacific Coast Hwy
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
310.798.9183

@HudsonHouseBar

Vegan Desserts A Delight Around LA

Vegan Red Velvet - Kiss My Bundt

Los Angeles is a perfect city in which to eat – whether it entails having access to the cuisines of countless ethnicities or healthful options that honor our moral obligations. There’s a tricky thing, however, about desserts for vegans – most of which incorporate butters, understandably, into their recipes. LA vegans have reason to rejoice, though, with ever more plentiful options to get their sweet tooth on around town:

Kiss My Bundt (Mid-Town)

Kiss My Bundt offers vegan red velvet on Fridays and Saturdays as well as vegan chocolate on Saturdays. They may be vegan, but they certainly don’t look nor taste like they’re in shortage of any sort of ingredient. Incredibly moist and delicious, the red velvet will never let on what you’re missing…it’ll be a secret between you and your bundt. And if you’d like a sizeable order (6 mini-bundts or more), the vegan bundts are available any time of the week. What are you waiting for?

Mini Bundt – $2.50
Baby Bundt – $4.50

Also please read about Kiss My Bundt on ShopEatSleep. Try a full-sized bundt and help keep the most delicious cakes in town around!

Kiss My Bundt Bakery
8104 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
323.655.0559

The Bakery at Akasha Restaurant (Culver City)

The Bakery at Akasha has a few options available for vegans at their storefront. Pick from chocolate cupcakes, tarts and cookies – or go for their meyer lemon scone. If you’re seeing a movie across the street, best come early and buy a few treats to sneak into the theatre – it sure beats the $8 popcorn at the concession stand!

Dark Chocolate Cupcake with Ganache Glaze & Vanilla Icing – $3.25 ea
Salty Chocolate Pecan Tart and Rustic Apple Tart – $4.75 ea
Chocolate Chip and Snickerdoodle Cookies – $1.50 ea
Meyer Lemon Scones – $2.50 ea

Bakery at Akasha
9543 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232-2618
310.845.1700

Babycakes (Downtown Los Angeles)

Los Angeles vegans rejoiced when Babycakes came to us from New York – to set up shop in the historic Pacific Electric lofts downtown. Not only could you get a french dip at Cole’s and a cocktail at The Varnish – you could also get dessert nearby. There are a lot of vegan options here (loaf? cookie sandwich? macaroon?) with a variety of flavors:

Vanilla Cupcake with Zesty Lemon Frosting – $4.25
Banana Chocolate Chip Loaf – $3.65/slice (Check the recipe from Glutenfreebird.com)
Cinnamon Raisin Cookie Sandwich with Vanilla Filling – $5.00
Cinnamon & Sugar Toasties – $3.75/slice
Vanilla Macaroons – $1.50 each

Babycakes
130 E. 6th St.
(between Main & Los Angeles)
Los Angeles, CA 90014
213.623.5555

Continue reading

Veggie Grill Virgins Get Free Entree Tomorrow

All Hale Kale

Are you a Veggie Grill believer and have a friend you wish also was? Or have you heard about Veggie Grill from a friend and are simply curious? Tomorrow (Tuesday, January 12, 2009), Veggie Grill will be hosting a special dinner where veterans can bring virgins who will receive a compliementary entrée!

The exact details about how to participate can be found on Veggie Grill’s Facebook page and Twitter feed today.

Veggie Grill’s food is absolutely fantastic, impressive and even indulgent given the parameters (100% plant-based) within which they prepare their food. Entrées range from the Santa Fe Crispy Chickin’ (Crispy Fried Chillin’ Chickin’, Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onion, Avocado, Southwestern Spiced Mayo), to the All-American Stack (Grilled Veggie-Steak, Thousand Island Dressing, Pickles, Lettuce, Tomato, Crispy Onion Rings), and the All Hail Kale (Marinated Kale and Red Cabbage, Quinoa, Roasted Corn Salsa, Agave-Roasted Walnuts, Ginger-Papaya Vinaigrette) – shown above.

So if you’re a believer or a simply curious, stop on by your nearest Veggie Grill for dinner with a friend tomorrow to see what all the hype’s about – and to take advantage of the free entrée. Be sure to stay tuned to their Twitter account or Facebook page for details today!

Further reading:

Veggie Grill: Delicious and Healthful On the Cheap – e*starLA

Veggie Grill Flickr Set

Veggie Grill Full Menu

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Free entrée for guest with purchase of one at dinner only

Veggie Grill West Hollywood
8000 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
323.822.7575

Veggie Grill El Segundo
720 Allied Way
El Segundo, CA 90245
310.535.0025

Veggie Grill Univ. Center Irvine
4213 Campus Dr
Irvine, CA 92612
949.509.0003

Veggie Grill Irvine Spectrum
81 Fortune Drive
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 727-9900

@VeggieGrill

Tuesdays Are Coming Up Tacos: The Round Up

Photo credit to kevinv033 on Flickr

It’s Tuesday and there’s no better day of the week than to go looking for a place to take that cheap date. Nah … not really (tacky!), but if you and your buddies are jonesin’ for tacos with sit-down service, look no further. There are plenty of options around town – venues serving up a ton of different kinds at taco stand prices. Go ahead – try a different one each week to see how the tacos stack against each other.

Hudson House – $1.00 each

Dubbed “All You Can Eat Street Tacos” – just because they’re so cheap – a couple varieties are being offered by Hudson House. Prime placement for all South Bay dwellers, the resto will serve up Pollo braised with lime and tequila or Confit-style pork carnitas with creamy avocado sauce, diced onions and chopped cilantro. They’re served with charred tomato salsa, limes and fried serrano chiles. And don’t forget the drink specials with which to wash down your eats: Score a 7 oz. Pacifico or Tecate for $2.00 each or a Mexico Mule (Tequila, Ginger Beer, Grapefruit and Lime) for $5.00.

Hudson House
514 N. Pacific Coast Highway
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
310.798.9183

Spanish Kitchen – $2.00 each

One of the most visible spots the West Hollywood end of La Cienega, The Spanish Kitchen offers not only a whole slew of taco choices but salsas to match … or not. Choose from Grilled shrimp pesto, Beer-battered mahi, Grilled blackened salmon and Mexico BBQ pulled pork tacos. You even get to choose the kind of shell (hard or soft) your taco is served in and over 12 salsas to mix and match (Suiza blanco, Tequila lobster, Mole negro and more). These tacos are served family style so be don’t be bashful – order as many as your heart desires the first time around! It’s a party.

Complete Taco Tuesday Menu

The Spanish Kitchen
826 N. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90069
310.659.4794

Continue reading