You know… there’s something special about chains. There’s this attraction to Subway and McDonald’s. No matter where you are, you feel that magnetism around something familiar and it draws you in. Whether we’re driving cross-country or I’m studying in Korea, I know that there is something I like here, but dang, do I feel bad eating it. Imagine there were chains with that sense of familiarity and comfort, that you didn’t feel bad visiting?
Fortunately for all of us, those chains are emerging and while they might not have 100 billions customers served yet, they’re steadily growing. One of those chains, for those of us in Los Angeles is Sharky’s. In short, Sharky’s provides you with healthy and delicious Mexican food options so that you can enjoy all of the classics at their many convenient locations, without worrying about eating unhealthy.
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.
It’s a very dangerous game at play when you declare that your goal is to go out to eat every week at a different place. Why? Because temptation. Desire. Lust, if you will. While fighting off all of those primal feelings, and avoiding ordering our favorite pizza, we ventured into areas surrounding Culver City to find new eateries. Why? Maybe we were feeling adventurous or maybe we thought we’d been slacking as food bloggers. Either way… this happened.
Stumble to Humble. I can’t remember how this happened. I think we were wandering around Washington, knowing that it is full of amazing eateries. While Humble Potato wasn’t on our list before, despite a very chilly meal there, it is now. Why? Because they have the best burger and fries in LA. But don’t take my word for it; we want you to go and tell us if you think we’re out of our minds. (We already know that we are!)
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.
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.
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.
Recently, we went on an amazing road trip up the California coast. Mutari is a little hot chocolate joint we visited in Santa Cruz, California. We stopped by to escape a rainy Santa Cruz night after dinner and before returning to our hotel on our trip up the coast. It was an experience. I’ll get straight to the point that I did not love their chocolate. But I loved their passion and it made everything taste a little better.
Can we just avoid writing any words and let you eat with your eyes for a moment? As you can tell from all the pictures below, the food here is beautiful and a considerable amount of extra time is spent on presentation, which we appreciate, because it’s a testament to their high standards. The elephant in the room is that The Crustacean, owned and operated by the House of An from Vietnam, is a little on the expensive side, impossible to get a reservation, and requires you to dress up like you’re heading to a wedding, right? Wrong and none of these are necessarily true.
While you can’t walk in off the streets on a Friday night wearing sandals and a fitted cap, expecting to be seated quickly and fill your stomach with a $10 bill, The Crustacean is a lot more than a “fancy restaurant” in the heart of Beverly Hills. Its atmosphere can be magical with the elaborate indoor setup that makes you feel like you’re in the Vietnamese equivalent of a castle grand dining hall. As the host walks you through the entry into the two-level main room, passing over bridges made from beautiful wood, it’s impossible to ignore the glass-covered river underneath the floor filled with large koi. You’ve been successfully transported into a different part of the world and then you eat.