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Monday, July 28, 2014

Mondo Taco: Tacos for a Cause through July 31, 2014

One of my absolute favorite restaurants in Santa Monica, CA is Mondo Taco. They have two new taco creations through July 31, 2014 that are MUST-TRYs. Proceeds of these two onolicious tacos will be donated to Kiva, a program that helps underserved entrepreneurs around the world to grow their businesses and, in turn, help their communities.

8 Arms To Hold You (A throwback for those Beatles fans out there. This was the original name for the “Help” album.) contains braised octopus, Spanish chorizo, lime goat cheese cream, and blackened onions. They had me at “braised octopus”. The octopus is braised to perfection and is so tender. The chorizo adds a meaty and spicy flavor which actually brings out more of the sweetness of the octopus. The lime goat cheese cream is light and refreshing. The blackened onions add a smoky flavor and crisp texture to the taco. Thumbs up, way up!

 Deer Kiva contains venison meatloaf, cauliflower mash, balsamic reduction, and daikon radish sprouts. I love venison and it is a nice game meat addition to the menu. The meatloaf has a soft, tender texture with lean meaty flavor, not gamey at all (but I also like when it is gamey too.) The cauliflower mash is creamy and gives you that “meat and potato” combo without the heaviness. The balsamic reduction works well with the venison by adding some sweetness. The daikon radish sprouts add a zingy green flavor to the mix. Thumbs up, way up!

Tacos are $5 each. They will be sold through July 31, 2014 so grab a few and enjoy!

For more information:
Mondo Taco
2200 Colorado Ave Ste F
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Hours: Every day from 11am to 10pm
Free parking in structure on the east side of building

Mondo Taco on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 25, 2014

Dami Sushi & Izakaya now open in Buena Park, CA

Wikipedia defines izakaya as “’I’ (to stay) and ‘sakaya’ (sake shop) – a sake shop that allows customer to sit on the premises and drink.” If you’re going to stay and drink, you’ll need some food too. In Japan, yakitori or kushiyaki (both words used for “grilled skewered meat”) is the food of choice. Since old times, yakitori was made with the lesser desirable parts of the animal – intestines, heart, liver, stomach, etc. Nowadays, you’ll find chicken breast and filet mignon. There is artistry to making the skewers. The meat is dressed and artfully skewered, basted with a sauce or just salted, and then grilled over hot coals.

Thomas Shin and Sylvia Lee wanted to bring authentic Japanese cuisine, craft sake, draft beers, and people together in a trendy and casual atmosphere. On March 28, 2014, they opened Dami Sushi & Izakaya   in Buena Park’s new Village Circle on Beach shopping center. The shopping center is similar to Diamond Jamboree in Irvine – lots of Asian restaurants and shops. The restaurant space is cozy with booths, tables, and sushi bar. The menu was created by Executive Chef Jun Kim and Executive Sushi Chef John Yoon, along with culinary experts Chef Yoshihiro Matsumoto (owner and head chef of Sakura House in Marina Del Rey) and Joanne Chung (international menu consultant and food stylist).

Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup with clear stock called dashi. Miso paste is mixed in with green onions, seaweed, and cubes of tofu. Dami’s version is served traditional-style in a chawan. I would add a couple more cubes of tofu for texture, but the flavor is on par. Thumbs up!

Dami Sushi & Izakaya on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 21, 2014

FIG & OLIVE highlights Southern California’s seasons in Newport Beach, CA

Laurent Halasz grew up in Mougins, in the South of France. Mougins is also known for the annual event called “Les Étoiles de Mougins”, an international gastronomical gathering of the world’s leading chefs. Together with his mother, Francine, the “Cuisine of the Sun” inspired them to create the foundation of FIG & OLIVE. Executive Chef Pascal Lorange continues the philosophy to create inspirational dishes combining Southern California’s freshest seasonal foods and the cuisine from the Riviera and Coastal regions of the South of France, Italy, and Spain. Olive oils are integral part of the dishes at FIG & OLIVE, using in place of butter. The cuisine also inspired the elegant coastal décor of limestone stucco walls, terra-cotta ceiling, green rosemary, olive trees, and a wall of illuminated bottles of olive oil next to the open kitchen.

Burrata, Tomato, Herbs, Balsamic Crostini has beautiful, sweet, juicy tomato paired well with creamy burrata. The herby balsamic on the toast adds a refreshing flavor to the combination. Thumbs up, way up!

Fig & Olive on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Rance’s Chicago Pizza feeds your craving in Costa Mesa, CA

The idea started years ago when Rance Ruiz visited his older sister in Chicago, IL and fell in love with the Chicago stuffed pizza. Stuffed pizza is a thin layer of house-made dough pressed into a 2-inch deep-dish pan. The pie is filled with cheeses and ingredients and topped with a thin layer of dough. It is covered with sauce and baked until golden brown and the fillings are bubbling hot. At the age of 18, Rance made his first pie in his parents’ kitchen. In September 2013, Chef Rance began sharing his beautifully crafted Chicago-style pizzas with Orange County with the opening of Rance’s Chicago Pizza. This is a scratch kitchen, meaning that all items from the sauces to dressings to dough are all made from scratch.

Spinach & Artichoke Dip is jalapenos, bacon, and spices blended together with savory cheeses. The jalapeno adds a refreshing zing, not too spicy, to the creamy, gooey cheese. The artichoke flavor is really great but, sadly, the spinach flavor disappeared. The green spinach adds a nice color contrast. I love the bacon, adding a salty, smoky flavor to the mix. Thumbs up!

Rance's Chicago Pizza on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 14, 2014

Eureka! opens 12th location in Huntington Beach, CA

In March 2014, Orange County foodies discovered American Craft food and drinks when Eureka! opened its doors at the Bella Terra in sunny Huntington Beach, CA. Eureka! opened its first location in Redlands, CA in 2009 and has expanded to a dozen restaurants in 5 years. Their motto is EATertainment with focus on elevated, all-American comfort food. The one special thing about the Huntington Beach location is the selection of craft beer on tap and small-batch whiskey, the largest selection among the 12 locations. The interior reminds me of a wharf or cannery row restaurant, lots of wood from the walls to the tables. With Huntington Beach being so close to the ocean, you almost feel as if a seagull or two will be walking around to beg for food. Since Eureka! is built into the residence buildings inside the Bella Terra, residents can also pick up food to-go along with provisions from wine to beer to whiskey. I also found that one of my favorite whiskeys, Breaker Bourbon from Ascendant Spirits, is also featured at the bar.  

Eureka! Truffle Fries are a “generous portion of signature hand-cut fries, tossed in creamy havarti truffle sauce and garnished with fresh green onions.” There is a nice truffle flavor, not too light and not too strong. The skin-on fries are crispy. The harvarti is creamy and melty. It actually reminds me of poutine. Thumbs up, way up!

To read more and see slideshow, please visit:

Eureka! on Urbanspoon