Tag Archives: dining

High End in Venice? (Barrique Review)

When you’re going out to have a nice, romantic meal for your 1-Year Anniversary, we weren’t expecting to be Hungry & Fit… just Alana & Chris, but we all know it can’t be that easy. If you put food in front of us, we’re probably going to return the plates to you clean, but we’re always going to have a strong opinion about what we just ate. We can’t help it!

You’ll notice that this review is missing something that we normally try to flood you with…our own photos. There are two reasons for that. First, we didn’t bring the fancy camera we use for our reviews. Second, it was extremely dark and every picture that I took with my phone was just blurry, no matter how many filters we applied. We could have used the flash for better results, but that would have taken away from the dining experience of the other guests, and when you’re paying this much for food, you expect an amazing dining experience. Bright lights flashing in your face isn’t the nicest way to enjoy a meal.

When I originally wrote out quick Yelp review for Barrique, I started high… mainly because there was this sense of… it was our anniversary dinner and we were so happy to be together, etc. As I started to think of everything we ate, those feelings faded and that mysterious veil disappeared. All that was left was the service, atmosphere and… the food. So, as always, let’s look at those factors and see just how high-end Barrique really is.

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Tatsu Ramen

So here I am, ready to deliver a three-star review to this ramen spot, Tatsu, when my partner-in-crime stops me and says… no. She demands I put five stars up so we settle for four and I’ll tell you why. She’s strictly judging the ramen, which is one of her favorites in LA. I’m judging the overall experience, which is always going to be lackluster on Sawtelle.

This place is PACKED to the point that it’s more than competitive with Tsujita. You get a lot more of the younger West LA crowd (middle/jr/high school) waiting outside here, so it’s hard to weave your way through even if it’s not your destination. This of course means wait times, so good luck dining in. I’ve only ever gotten take out and delivery. I give Tatsu credit for delivering the same product at their multiple locations. That consistency builds them a strong following because you know what to expect.

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Seasalt Fish Grill

After looking up churros on Yelp and finding that this place offered churro waffles, we decided to check out Seasalt Fish Grill. It helped that it was a seafood specialty stop because we both favor fish-based diets. We expected to be walking into some busy and posh new spot in downtown Culver City, but that isn’t the case. It’s easily accessible and even has free parking. The spot itself offers both outdoor and indoor seating with your very casual order and take a number system. Again, this wasn’t what we were expecting and while I thought there was going to be a small, specialty menu, I was wrong again.

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Fit’s plate (the garlic fries were for both of us)

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The Ramen Joint (Westchester, Los Angeles)

Ramen in LA is as common as concrete in K-town. It’s everywhere, and every single place, claims to be the best. Every single place has a cult following of people who will tell you the same. This happened when I went down to visit a friend who worked in Westchester and wanted to go to The Ramen Joint and I told her… this better be good.

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Plan Check Review

Plan Check has a few locations and I’ve only been to this one, although I have been here multiple times. Since I worked across the street, I would take my staff here for meetings/lunches AND since we knew how to navigate Sawtelle so well, we never had to wait for a table. I also know how long the wait can be because I could see the line from outside my window, so my first bit of advice is… try to time your visit… if you can.

Whenever you go to a hipster-gastropub/New American joint like this, you have to know that you’ll be paying a lot for small portions. If you’re surprised by that when you arrive, I apologize for your ignorance of the LA food scene. So again, coming here is about managing expectations and being strategic. My staff would fill up on fries so they don’t leave hungry.

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LA’s Best Breakfast Sandwich

Pizza, bagels, deli sandwiches, Italian food… it’s hard to find an adequate option outside of the Tri-State area around New York City. It’s something in the water, right? Or some old Italian-American secret? Either way, that’s not necessarily the case anymore as Fat Sal’s and other great pioneers have brought us more than satisfying options to hit the spot at the right time. Despite the leaps and bounds we’ve seen over the past few years alone, there seems to still be a serious lack of quality bagels out here, and more importantly, breakfast sandwiches. 

Sam’s on Sunset and The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel in Beverly Hills have tried replicating the NYC bagel experience but have failed miserably. (That might be a BIT harsh.) When it comes down to it, you can’t find a bagel the right size, texture, and value out here. They’re either too small, too dense, or too expensive. That effect only multiples when you look at breakfast sandwiches. The best breakfast sandwich I’ve ever had is from Bagel Emporium.

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Bar Hayama Restaurant Review (Los Angeles)

On Sawtelle, away from the long lines and commotion of popular spots like Tsujita LA and others, is Bar Hayama. Highlighted by a beautiful outdoor seating area, this bar offers four seating options and multiple menus worth of food. As a result, being seated and served takes far less time than eateries closer to Olympic. Still, as Hungry & Fit, the most important dining aspect is the food, but let’s take about what makes this fiery location worth a visit.

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Cafe Ugo Review

The sun is down and it’s a cool night in early December. The allure of downtown Culver City draws us in and after parking, we walk Main Street. It’s a hip area for that demographic that loves small plates and craft beers but we LOVE food and we want a meal. After checking out a few menus and feeling the auras emanating from each location, we are seated at Cafe Ugo.

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Service:
It was impeccable. 4/5. We wanted to sit outside and they brought us our own heating tower. It wouldn’t work so they got someone to fix it on the spot. We were slow to decide and our waiter put down the load he was busing in order to take our order when we looked ready. We didn’t even call him over. He had recommendations (and they weren’t based on price), he had patience, he had class, and he had a personality. My water was almost always filled, and if it wasn’t for a lapse near the end of the meal I would have given a perfect 5. When our heater went out, they immediately swapped out the propane tank for a new one. Just excellent.

Atmosphere:
A large restaurant with indoor and outdoor options, busy bar fronts and quiet back rooms. 3/5. The tables were just not a comfortable size. It was awkward but everything was clean and orderly. I didn’t love the makeshift walls for the patio but recognize their convenience for weather changes. While I had no major issues, there was nothing to set this place apart from a normal restaurant, dare I say, even a Cheesecake Factory.

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Food:
There are always faults when you aren’t at a Michelin restaurant but they aren’t significant here. 3/5. The ravioli needed more sauce. They were dry and the spinach filling did not compensate for the somewhat dry pasta. Still, they had flavor. The pizza was a true delight to eat. It hit every flavor profile. Salty cheeses with acidic tones from balsamic that were tied together nicely on a well made crust. The structural integrity was questionable, but this is pizza from Naples and not New York so that can’t be taken into consideration. The fried calamari was well cooked but the sauces were a necessity because the breading was not seasoned.

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Pricing:
Let’s just say they could have easily charged us more and while the portions were not massive, the food quality made it a good value. 4/5. It’s downtown Culver City, it’s a prime location, and it’s a specialty. Authentic Naples style pizza is not a common dish around here, especially with an 1000 degree oven and serving it uncut. We were more than happy to pay the price on the bill and tip accordingly.

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We were glad that we stopped by Cafe Ugo that night. It was enjoyable, we were relaxed, well fed, and left happy. We recommend it to groups of 2, 4, or 6 that are passing by or in the area. It might even be worth a little drive in non-peak hours. We’ll be back if we’re in the area and we’ll bring some family next time. And as always, stay hungry and fit!

Cafe Korobokgur — Koreatown, LA

Although Los Angeles brings its hardships in living and finding our way, Koreatown is certainly not lacking in its culinary scene. Get ready for a ton of reviews on Koreatown restaurants. We love to walk around our neighborhood and find hidden gems to feast our faces on. We almost always come out smiling. Especially from places like today’s review– Cafe Korobokgur. Sound like a mouthful? We think so, thus we call it “that little gnome place.” And we mean it in the best way possible. 

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Cafe Korobokgur is an American-Korean fusion cafe. I keep wanting to call it “little” but it’s actually quite large for a cafe. It’s adorably decorated with cute things here and there (with Miyazaki things too which is a plus). It has an incredibly friendly atmosphere. It is certainly a place I would call “hip” but not overcrowded with people, which is nice. It has its own character and feel to it, which I really appreciate in food establishments. They are them and they aren’t afraid to show it. You’ll find cute quotes, sayings, and pictures all over this place. There’s a little “cafe front” and then we assume the kitchen is in back. This cafe is not just for drinks, but for food too. They also have an adorable restroom. 

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Can you find the Cat Bus?

We came here for dinner one night. There were other Koreans and Korean-Americans here–mostly our age–that brought their study supplies or friends to enjoy. Again, we come in with a smile to a relaxed atmosphere. When we are in good, generous moods, we like to spoil ourselves with food. And that means 3-course meals. After bringing us some fruit-and-cucumber-infused water, our waiter took our order. For appetizer, we got seasoned fries and fried calamari. They served different seasonings for the fries which was fun to try out and it was certainly delicious and cooked well. The fried calamari also pleased us. After appetizer, it was time for our main dishes. I got the kimchi fried rice and Hungry got Don Katsu. We were both satisfied with our entrees, though I couldn’t even finish mine. The kimchi fried rice was nice and spicy, so that I had to take slow. For dessert, we got something original by this place called a “Jarming.” Basically it is a mini mason jar filled with a dessert. We decided on the banana nutella sponge cake Jarming and it was absolutely fantastic. I seriously cannot stress enough how good this little thing was. They also make them in tons of different flavors and make seasonal ones too! 

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Fried calamari

Fried calamari

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Full of YUM

Full of YUM

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The service was a bit slow, so don’t come here in a rush. However, it is part of the relaxed atmosphere, I think. We are definitely going to head back to Cafe Korobokgur again and enjoy its adorable details and its yummy food soon. The drinks were rather expensive, but if nothing else, that Jarming will reel me in for another round for sure. If you’re in Koreatown, be sure to stop at Cafe Korobokgur and don’t leave there without a Jarming! I promise, you won’t regret it. And as always…stay hungry and fit!

BONUS KITTY PIC

Sajah resting in between a set of reps

Sajah resting in between a set of reps

Best Thai in Boulder: Aloy Thai

Instead of getting Chinese take-outs growing up, we always got Thai. And I am oh-so-happy for that! It’s rare that I’m not in a mood for Thai food. I just love all the deep flavors right along with that spark of zest at the end. And because we grew up having it as take-outs, it reminds me of home in a weird way. We’ve tried a lot of the Thai places in Boulder and finally we took a friend’s advice to go to Aloy Thaiand I’m so glad we did! The combination of a great price and awesome taste knocks it out of the park.

Aloy Thai Cuisine

Let’s start with the dishes. The first time we came here was after a gym session (surprise, surprise), and I wasn’t feeling so hot. Everyone at work was sick around me, and I wanted to burn anything out! When we would get sniffly or sick as a kid, instead of chicken noodle soup, my dad would go get us Tom Yum Soup, a spicy Thai soup. It is so delicious and has that kick that will make your nose run. So you know I went there and ordered a huge bowl of Tom Yum Noodle Soup with Tofu. Serving was so big I had a full lunch of it tomorrow. Chris got the pineapple fried rice with chicken and he devoured it with a big smile on his face. And he got it a second time when we came back! I got the Pad Thai the second time. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was still good. We also have gotten the vegetable fresh spring rolls numerous times and love them–so fresh and we nearly drink the peanut sauce that goes with it.

Veggie fresh spring rolls!

Veggie fresh spring rolls!

Tom Yum Soup

Tom Yum Soup

The atmosphere is also excellent, with Thai designs and a yellow-orange lighting. They have plenty of staff and the service is always great. The music is nice and it is never too loud. The price definitely seals the deal. The huge tom yum noodle soup was only $9–NINE DOLLARS. Chris’ pineapple fried rice came to only $11. It was such an amazing dinner for such a good price, we are constantly going back.

If you’re in Boulder and craving some Thai, stop at Aloy Thai. It has delicious dishes that won’t break the bank. Avoid the Pad Thai, but dig into anything you can get your hands on! Hungry and Fit gives Aloy Thai a big thumbs up. And as always…stay hungry and fit!

BONUS KITTY PIC

Two cuties under the pingpong table

Two cuties under the pingpong table