Saturday, May 30, 2015


Hak Heang
2041 E. Anaheim St.
Long Beach, CA 90804
Tel: 562.434.0296
$ (under $15)
Cuisine: Cambodian
Sun, 05/17/2015, 11:30am walk-in
    (3.5 Piglets)

Cambodia is a country that has endured economic and political turmoil over the years. It is a country that was once ruled by the Communist Party the Khmer Rouge, which orchestrated the Cambodian genocide with deaths of up to 2 million in the years 1975-1979. The Cambodians managed to survive along with their culture and cuisine.

Cambodian cuisine is influenced from its surroundings of Southeast Asia. Hak Heang offers authentic Cambodian food in the middle of Cambodia Town of Long Beach. Curries, soups and noodles are amongst the popular dishes. The soups are deep and rich in flavor, with duck, beef, and pork bones simmered for hours on end. If you feel adventurous, you can always opt for fried intestines (which we did).

The interior with a singer
MY FAVORITE DISH. COMBINATION RICE NOODLE SOUP DRY ($5.50): The noodles come dry with the soup separate. The noodles are garnished with shrimp, ground pork, fish ball, fish patties, duck and steak. Its customary to pour the soup to the dry noodles to the amount of your choice (I like to pour the whole broth bowl into the noodle bowl). Garnish with bean sprouts and lime like how you would do with pho. The noodles are rice noodles like pho. The dish is comparable to pho, but I think this broth has more flavor. Comprehensively, it has great texture and flavor. 
CHINESE DONUT ($1.00/EACH): Light and crispy, these are the perfect combination with your soup. Dip these in your broth or eat it as is. The ones we had were unfortunately, not as fresh as I would have liked them to be. I've heard that if you head to the restaurant at earlier times, they come out warm and fresh. 
FRIED PIG INTESTINE ($8.75): The fried pig intestine had a crisp exterior, although I think it just needed to be a tad bit crispier. The condiment of the fish sauce was sweet and offered a nice accompaniment to the dish. The pickled cabbage cut through the richness of the dish. If you've never had pig intestine before, the initial bite is good, but offers a potent aftertaste that is reminiscent of fermentation. 

Overall, Hak Heang is a one-of-a-kind restaurant that serves decent, authentic Cambodian cuisine. The weekends feel like a wedding or a karaoke bar. The decor is set to host an Asian wedding reception and singers sing loudly over your lunch/dinner course. The food can use a little work on freshness but in terms of flavor, it is bold and unique. The popular noodle dish is similar to pho and if I had a choice, I would prefer this broth over the traditional pho beef broth. Word of advice: you might have to fight for a table as it can get busy on the weekends. 

Notable dishes: Combination Rice Noodle Soup Dry

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


DK's Donuts
1614 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Tel: 310.829.2512
$ (under $15)
Cuisine: Donuts
Sun, 05/17/2015, 10:00am walk-in
     (4.5 Piglets)

America is the land of the free; where immigrants come from all over the world in hopes to make dreams a reality. Walking into DK Donuts, I found the owner sitting in the corner eating her food staple: porridge for breakfast (yes, not donuts). She was sweet as she told her story of how DK donuts came about: Cambodian-born, endured the hardships of the Khmer Rouge, survived, came to America and opened DK Donuts in 1981. 

A partial display of their variety

The donuts are freshly baked and unique. The donut shop was one of the first to offer a version of the cronut to Los Angeles. Their menu is extensive, ranging from the classics to the O-Nuts (cronut) all the way to the Wow-Nuts, a waffle and donut hybrid. The donuts are extremely crisp on the outside, with a moist and delicate interior. 

NUTELLA STRAWBERRY O-NUT ($5.00): A donut and croissant hybrid with hazelnut cream. Look at the layers on this bad boy! Flaky, sweet, crisp, buttery with the richness of Nutella?!? Need I say more? Oh, it's healthy too! It has strawberries! 

A look at the layers of the O-Nut

BACON BITS UBE DONUT ($2.50): For those of you who do not know what ube is, well, its taro (the purple yam). It has a mild taste suitable for the palate. Slightly sweet, the donut has a crisp outer texture. The bacon bits added a bit of saltiness to balance out the sweetness. It's a winner!
MY FAVORITE. MAPLE BACON DONUT ($2.50): This is so good. I've always loved maple glazed donuts and to top it off with bacon is the ideal garnish. Fresh from the fryer, this donut was warm, crisp, and delightful. Again, the bacon balanced out the sweetness of the donut making it the perfect, complete breakfast. 

DK Donuts offers freshly made donuts, sometimes made to order if you ask. The variety is pretty overwhelming. Obviously, I didn't try all of them, but it is a goal of mine to do so. There is something for everyone at this shop. Additionally, I'm always a fan of learning how an establishment was conceived and the story of DK Donuts is the epitome of the American dream. All the donuts I've tried have been delish and these decadent breakfast items leave you wanting more. Word of advice: Expect a line, especially if you decide to come on National Donut Day. 

Notable dishes: Maple Bacon Donut and the Bacon Bits Ube Donut 

Friday, May 22, 2015


Jon & Vinny's
412 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Tel: 323.334.3369
$$$ ($30-$45)
Cuisine: Italian
Thurs, 05/14/2015, 9:00pm reservation
     (4.5 Piglets)

Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo are the duo behind Animal, Son of a Gun and the anticipated new restaurant Jon and Vinny's. The structure for Jon and Vinny's stems away from the complicated and unorthodox cooking that they're known to produce. Forget the foie gras and pig ears! Jon and Vinny's is straight, simple and to the point. In my opinion, it's good food done right.

Jon and Vinny's is comparable to an upscale diner that I would want to revisit repeatedly. A long bar top is situated along an open kitchen and wood burning oven. In the kitchen, you can see Jon or Vinny working their magic to create delicious pieces. Diners can eat their hearts out while listening to some Kanye or Jay-Z. In the back of the restaurant, a neon sign glowing with "Helen's" (the wine shop) is mesmerizing to the eye. Simple, clean lines create a casual décor.  

The interior with Vinny working in the open kitchen
2013 FAVORITA, ROAGNA ($40.00/btl): Clean, crisp, refreshing. It went well with all the dishes we ordered. 
MARINARA BRAISED MEATBALLS ($15.25): Ricotta, garlic bread. These are one heck of some meatballs! If you never liked meatballs, you may convert simply by this dish. Super moist and super delicious! The sauce was amazing, the ricotta was creamy and the garlic bread was heavenly! I could eat that bread for days!!  Together, they were the perfect combination. 
LITTLE NATS PIZZA ($17.00): Pepperoni, tomato, oregano, caciocavallo, parmesan. I respect this pizza. The crust had optimal firmness and texture that was able to hold its shape for a thin crust. The crust was a little burnt, but who cares? It was a little spicy and full of flavor. My only downer to this pizza was that it was a little greasy. Nonetheless, it didn't stop me from finishing this pizza cause it was still that good. A simple pizza made for a simple piglet like me (but I still prefer Pizzeria Mozza though)! 
Ode to the grease..mmmm
WOOD GRILLED ASPARAGUS ($11.75): Lemon, olive oil, parmesan, black pepper. A plate full of asparagus? Yes, please! The asparagus was cooked well. The lemon added a nice acidity and brought out the flavor to the dish . This was a simple dish and tasted delicious. 
SPICY FUSILLI VODKA ($17.50): Basil, parmesan. The pasta was cooked al dente. The spiciness was not overpowering. It was a simple pasta with a creamy sauce. It was good, but was probably my least favorite dish of the night. 
BUCATINI CACIO E PEPE ($15.75): Pecorino romano. The simplicity of this dish is amazing. Jon and Vinny were able to make this dish perfectly.  The bucatini was fresh and coated well in the buttery cheese sauce. It was comforting and delicious. 
MY FAVORITE DISH. 49TH PARALLEL ESPRESSO SOAKED TIRAMISU ($8.00): Somehow, we ended up with this dish by default cause our original planned dessert was eaten by all the hungry diners. So thankful for that situation or we probably would've never tried one of the best tiramisus in Los Angeles. The  lady fingers were light and airy, the mascarpone was rich and the espresso wasn't overwhelming. This was heavenly! 

Overall, Jon and Vinny's is simple, uncomplicated delicious food. Everything is made in-house. Nothing fancy, just downright homemade ingredients cooked to perfection which I appreciate. For a new restaurant, they've done a good job on keeping the food tasting delicious. How delicious? Well, they ran out of three dishes that night. There were complications with booking a reservation, but seems like they've got that sorted. And the best part...they deliver (but they're still trying to work on the kinks with that situation). Word of advice: Parking is extremely difficult so your best bet is to valet.

Notable dishes: Tiramisu and Marinara Braised Meatballs

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


The District by Hannah An
8722 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Tel: 310.278.2345
$$$ ($30-$45)
Cuisine: Vietnamese Fusion
Wed, 05/13/2015, 8:15pm reservation
    (3.5 Piglets)

The District by Hannah An is an upscale, sophisticated restaurant with décor that is reminiscent of a museum. Intricate details, from the industrial Edison lights to the elaborate wall designs are apparent throughout. A sense of comfort is felt upon arrival, which I admire. The plate setting consists of both a fork and chopsticks for your utensil preference. 

The interior

The establishment is two-stories. The upstairs dining area is spacious, ideal for events. There is an outside patio that surrounds the entrance, with fire pits to elicit a warm ambiance.

The patio

The chef Hannah An is the daughter to Crustacean's chef Helene An. The food is family style. An prepares classic Vietnamese dishes with a modern twist. For example, the French onion bone marrow is made to resemble French onion soup accompanied with a broth that would be perfect for pho.

HOT ASIAN COCKTAIL ($14.00): Lemon grass infused Loft and Bear Vodka, organic Vietnamese chili agave, fresh squeezed lime juice, garnished with lime zest and Vietnamese chili. This drink is sweet, spicy and a whole lot of citrus. Imagine a really delicious spicy orange soda with alcohol and you've got this drink. I loved it!

LOVE YOU LONG TIME COCKTAIL ($14.00): Muddle fresh cantaloupe and cucumber, cucumber-infused Loft and Bear Vodka, fresh squeezed lime juice, organic agave, garnished with cantaloupe and cucumber. The is a refreshing, slightly sweet drink. The cucumber gives the drink a sense of freshness. A winner. 
MY FAVORITE DISH. DISTRICT WOK LOBSTER- 1/2 LIVE MAINE LOBSTER ($32.00): Served with Hannah's Handmade Noodles.  Isn't there a rule about garnishing a plate? Something along the lines of only garnish with ingredients that are edible? Well, this big plate had a huge lobster tail shell. I lifted the shell only to be disappointed that there was nothing underneath. Nonetheless, what was left of the lobster was delicious. The lobster was coated in breadcrumbs. The noodles had a great texture and was mixed with garlic and butter with a hint of sweetness. Together, it created a unified dish. 
FRENCH ONION BONE MARROW ($18.00): Comte cheese, beef broth. This cheese on top of the bone marrow is new to me. It's definitely interesting and different, and I wouldn't say I loved it or hated it either. It was just ok. The beef broth was delicious but together, it didn't make sense. The broth had intense flavors that simply overpowered the bone marrow. I thought the thyme on the bone marrow was a nice touch though. 
DISTRICT BROWN RICE ($11.00): Edamame, quinoa. This rice was delicious. It was creamy, rich, buttery and oh so good. The texture was surreal. It beats plain brown rice any day! 
GRASS FED PRIME RIB EYE (BONE-IN) ($44.00): Confit garlic and anchovy butter. So....this was just ok for me. We ordered it medium-rare but somehow was served with medium to medium-well. The inconsistency of the meat temperature was seen throughout the dish. The meat was a bit tough. Additionally, we were served with a piece of plastic for our initial dish. The above pic is their second one they fired, the one below is the dish with the plastic (located in the middle of the onion). Oh well, mistakes happen. 
The rib eye served with a piece of plastic
HANNAH'S HOMEMADE NOODLES ($12.00): To rectify for the plastic being on the rib eye, we were offered to order any of the other dishes on the menu. We couldn't help but order another round of these good! 

Overall, I respect Hannah An's twist to Vietnamese cuisine. Her food was good, but was not amazing (they're great as leftovers though!). Additionally, I wasn't a fan of receiving a piece of plastic with my dish, but the manager Chris was accommodating to amend for the mistake. That is an act of great service. The waitress we had did not seem knowledgeable; however we did have another waiter Alex who was fantastic. Events tend to be held pretty regularly here. We happened to arrive on an evening when a magazine partnered with Aston Martin held an event upstairs along with Aston Martins lined up in the front of the restaurant. As beautiful as these cars are, it was quite annoying to have people rev up their cars during dinner service (as well as drunk people interrupting conversations with me and my friend). Luckily, the wait staff cleared up the awkward situation, which I appreciated. Word of advice: Check to see if an event is being held prior to making a reservation.

Notable dishes: District Wok Lobster