Sunday, November 29, 2015


Cake Monkey
7807 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Tel: 323.932.1142
$$ ($15-$30)
Cuisine: Cakes/Dessert
Sun, 11/15/2015, 3:30pm walk-in
     (4.5 Piglets)

Cakes, sweets, and desserts are my specialty; not making them per se, but eating them! I love sweets and I have the biggest sweet tooth ever! When I heard that a new bakery had rolled up in Los Angeles, I knew I had to try it!

Cake Monkey Bakery was started by Lisa Olin and Elizabeth Belkind. Their creations are simplified to recollect your favorite childhood treats. Everything from their classic chocolate cake to their cakewich brings you back to when you were a kid, sneaking in a bite or two when you weren't supposed to (or maybe that was just me).

The new bakeshop is their first actual storefront. Their treats were once sold at various locales, but now, you can actually pick and choose what you want with a view of their delicious baked goods.

The interior
The cakes!
Some of their other baked goods
CAKE MONKEY MOGULS ($3.50): For all you snowball fans! Vanilla cake with homemade Caramel filling. Marshmallow frosting and toasted coconut. This was delicious. It was moist and gooey and satisfying all in one go. I definitely enjoyed the toasted coconut and I don't even like coconut!

BROWN BUTTER PECAN PIE ($35.00-WHOLE): This is a delicious pie! I'm very particular when it comes to pecan pie, but this is a good one. It includes toasted cocoa nibs to give it that extra chocolate flavor without taking away from the pecans and the gooey filling. 

ROLL IN THE HAY ($3.50): Vanilla cake with lime buttercream, white chocolate chunky pearls, and raspberry jam, lightly rolled in coconut. Awesome. This isn't super sweet and the lime buttercream gave it that extra zing. I definitely liked the raspberry jam. This is a good snack!

MY FAVORITE DISH. THE CLASSIC ($7.00 slice): Vanilla cake with milk chocolate buttercream. Wow! Amazing. It definitely is what a homemade classic cake should taste like. Its decadent without being overly sweet. I loved the moist texture of the cake and the milk chocolate buttercream was delicious. 
Cake Monkey Bakery is an awesome bakery. The staff are friendly. Their variety of baked goods are numerous. And you are left smiling when looking at the display of cakes and cookies and pastries! They do mini cakes as well starting at $7.00, which are kinda cute. I appreciate the concept of making you reminisce to your childhood favorite treats. They also have an espresso machine at this location to go with your baked goods. The store front is fairly small and isn't an ideal place to sit and hangout (just two bar stools that face the street). Additionally, if you don't live in the area...don't worry! They will ship accordingly. Just check out their website. 

Notable dishes: The Classic Cake

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Yang Chow
6443 Topanga Canyon Blvd
Canoga Park, CA 91303
Tel: 818.347.2610
$$ ($15-$30)
Cuisine: Chinese
Sat, 11/14/2015, 11:30am walk-in
   (3.5 Piglets)

Yang Chow is one of those restaurant institutions that has been around for awhile. The first Yang Chow started in Chinatown in 1977 and has since expanded to two other locations, one in Pasadena and another in the Valley. If you visit the Chinatown location, you can see walls full of celebrities who have visited the restaurant.

Yang Chow serves up Mandarin and Szechuan cuisine. The restaurant was featured in the LA Times back in the 1980s and gained much popularity ever since. Yang Chow is known for the Slippery Shrimp and every single time I visit this establishment, it is a must order in my book!

The interior
COLD NOODLE WITH SESAME ($7.95): This is a nice way to start your meal. Located in the appetizer section, the noodles had a delicate, chewy texture with a cold temperature to resemble a salad. The sesame peanut sauce was delicious. I appreciated the slices of cucumber for a refreshing taste to the palate.

MY FAVORITE DISH. SLIPPERY SHRIMP ($16.50): This is a must order at the restaurant! The pieces of shrimp were delicate with a crispy coating on the outside. An orange and garlic sauce coat the shrimp nicely with hints of ginger throughout the dish (think orange chicken but with shrimp instead). Supposedly this dish is spicy, but I felt there was no spice at all. This dish is the only reason I visit Yang Chow. 
SZECHUAN BEEF ($15.95): This is a good dish, not amazing. The pieces of beef were fried crisp and coated with an orange peel sauce. The sauce is quite similar to the slippery shrimp dish, except this is more savory. Still good nonetheless. 

Overall, Yang Chow is pretty decent if you're just craving some Chinese flavors. I wouldn't say that it's authentic per se, but it is quite tasty. It is an institution in Chinatown and I believe it is worth a visit. The Chinatown location actually tastes better in my opinion, but the parking can get quite crazy there. 

Notable dishes: Slippery shrimp

Sunday, November 15, 2015


114 E. 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: 213.788.1191
$$$ ($30-$45)
Cuisine: Modern American
Wed, 11/04/2015, 8:15pm reservation
     (4.5 Piglets)

Redbird is one of those restaurants that is mesmerizing. Located in Downtown Los Angeles, it is housed in the former rectory building of the Vibiana. The main dining room is open, sophisticated and contemporary with a retractable ceiling. Somehow, Chef Neal Fraser got it right for creating the perfect balance between modern and comfort within the realm of the restaurant.

The food is vibrant, eclectic and innovative. The menu ranges from small bites to large plates that are meant to be shared. The Top Chef Masters contestant collaborated with Julian Cox for a downright beautiful cocktail menu.

The bar
One part of the interior
Complimentary Aperitif ...nice, simple and a good way to start my meal

GRILLED LOCAL CALAMARI ($14.00): Cranberry beans, Portuguese sausage. The grilled calamari was fresh and had a smokey flavor from the grill and the sausage. It had good flavors but it wasn't my favorite dish. Texture wise, it wasn't my favorite either
CHICKEN POT PIE ($14.00): Hearts, Thighs, Thyme, Hen of the Woods. This is absolutely delish. The crust was flaky and the inner portion was rich and savory. Good flavors and definitely representative of what a pot pie should taste like...even if they include hearts. Still tastes like chicken...
NEW CALEDONIAN SHRIMP ($16.00): Grits, Cocoa nib, Chipotle mole. This dish was cooked superbly. The shrimp was cooked to perfection and the chipotle mole was spicy and rich. The dish was cohesive and the grits...oh man...I want me some more! 
FOIE GRAS (COMPLIMENTARY BY THE CHEF): I think I died and gone to heaven. This dish was absolutely magnificent. The foie gras was rich and cooked perfectly. The sauce had Asian flavors, evocative of a Thai curry. Who would've thought Thai curry and foie gras would go so well together? I wanted this dish all to myself! It wasn't on the menu but it definitely should be. 
GRILLED LAMB BELLY ($18.00): Kimchi, Sweet potato, Scallion. This was one of my favorite dishes. The lamb had a delicate, crispy flavor from the grill. And the kimchi was formed into a pancake like component that went well with the lamb. A well put together dish. 
RACK OF RED WATTLE PORK ($44.00): Spaetzle, Oregon Hazelnuts, Apricot Mostarda, Calvados Blood Sauce. The pork had good flavors and was seasoned well, but unfortunately, it was a tad bit overcooked and dry. Regardless, I loved the spaetzle. The apricot added a nice sweetness to the dish. Would I order this again? Probably not. I much preferred the duo of beef that I had on a previous visit than this dish. 

GRILLED SWORDFISH ($31.00): Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Fregola, Fennel, Chevre, Nicoise Olive. This dish definitely had a strong Mediterranean feel to it. The chevre was good and pungent. The tomatoes were delicious. I just wasn't the biggest fan of the swordfish. I felt it was dry and overdone. I needed the tomatoes to coat the fish to counterbalance the dryness of the fish. Not my favorite dish of the night. 
MY FAVORITE DISH. BRAISED GOAT GEMELLI ($21.00): Rapini, Garlic Bread Crumbs, Poached Egg, Fresno Chili. I can't reiterate how amazing this dish is. It was savory with the perfect crunch from the bread crumbs, a bit of spice from the fresno chilis, and the right amount of richness from the poached egg. Everything that I want in a pasta I had in this dish. The gemelli was cooked perfectly. And the added depth and flavor without being too gamey. I loved it and would just go back for this dish! 
FIG TART ($12.00): Parmesan Ice Cream, Caramel. If you like desserts that aren't too sweet or are not a sweets type of person, this is your kind of dessert. It's definitely savory and the Parmesan ice cream was a bit weird to my liking in terms of texture. This dessert is not my favorite, but that's cause I like sweetness. I appreciate the creativity though. 
CHOCOLATE CARAMEL BAR ($12.00): Bourbon Chocolate, Smoked Pecans, Bananas Fosters Ice Cream. My favorite of the two desserts. I loved this dessert. It was sweet and creamy with the perfect texture. The crust of the bar had a bit of crunch and the pecans just added even more texture to the dish. The banana flavor was subtle and bits of banana bruleed was delicious. I just wish there was more ice cream cause I'm a piglet who loves me some ice cream. 
Overall, Downtown Los Angeles is one lucky place to house a restaurant like Redbird. Chef Neal Fraser put his heart and soul into this restaurant and it is apparent in his food he dishes out. The flavors are robust and the ingredients are unique. The ambiance is fantastic. Be sure to ask to sit al fresco in the other part of the restaurant. It's magical, just like his food.


Sunday, November 8, 2015


Little Sparrow
300 N. Main St
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Tel: 714.265.7640
$$ ($15-$30)
Cuisine: American
Sat, 10/31/2015, 6:15pm reservation
    (3.5 Piglets)

Little Sparrow is a cute little café housed in Downtown Santa Ana. It was voted as "Restaurant of the Year" by Orange Coast Magazine and was featured on Bravo's "Best New Restaurant." So, I was a tad excited to check out the fairly new spot after reviewing their delicious menu online.

It was Halloween when my friend and I decided to dine at the eatery. The lights were already dimmed out and the bartenders were checking their stash. The bar and the dining room are separate from one another, so you do have the option of doing something more casual at the bar. The menu we saw was slightly different than the menu I viewed online (which I was marginally disappointed because I was looking forward to the chicken cracklings). Nonetheless, we still ordered and still ate our way through the menu.

The bar
Bar seating
The dining room
POPCORN POLENTA ($10.00): Farm egg, maple sherry creme, butternut squash. This was an interesting dish. The polenta was creamy and there were bits of popcorn in the dish that actually stood out in flavor. The egg made it savory and the butternut squash gave the dish texture. I liked it, but wasn't amazed by the dish. 

BONE MARROW ($18.00): Yakitori, scallion, thai basil cilantro salad, sesame, pickled radish, opal basil. Asian flavors were prominent in the dish. I actually got jipped by the amount of bone marrow. There was barely a tablespoon on the bone, if that. Regardless, the marrow was good and seasoned well. I could do without the cilantro salad. It didn't bring anything to the dish other than take up space on the plate. 

BISCUIT ($6.00): Honey butter, assorted jams. The biscuit was buttery and quite dense. I was disappointed that it only came with two, but I understood why after taking the first bite. It's definitely filling. It wasn't extremely flaky as I would have liked, but still tasty nonetheless. 

A pic of the assorted jams and honey butter. My favorite was the onion spread, next the honey butter, then the jam. 

MY FAVORITE DISH. 1/2 MARYS FRIED CHICKEN ($25.00): Spiced bourbon glaze. This was a love-hate relationship. I absolutely loved the flavors of the fried chicken. It was super crispy, super moist, and super juicy. The skin was to die for and I actually didn't mind eating the breast. The only downfall (which is a huge one) is the meat was still bloody. I know the chefs sous-vide the chicken first, then fried it so apparently it's cooked to temperature; however, it was still unappetizing to eat a bloody chicken. The service was great and they replaced the chicken, but my leftovers were still red when I took it home. 


CHOCOLATE SEMIFREDO ($9.00): Almond brittle crumble, hibiscus glaze. I normally love the semifredo, but I thought this missed the mark. The texture was grainy and didn't taste as cool and smooth as I would have liked. Regardless, the flavors were there, but it just needed to improve on the texture. 

Overall, I appreciate the attempt Little Sparrow makes in bringing contemporary cuisine to the OC. The fried chicken was the best fried chicken I've had in awhile, but if they could just cook it well enough so it is no longer bloody, it's a winning dish in my book. Service was great that night, which is always a plus. I think if they just tweaked a few of the flavors and textures, this place could be one to compete in the OC.