Monday, May 23, 2016


11777 San Vicente Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Tel: 310.237.6174
$$$ ($35-$45)
Sat, 05/07/2016, 6:00pm reservation
    (3 Piglets)

Katsuya Brentwood is the Diners Choice winner for OpenTable of 2015. Located on the popular San Vicente Blvd, the restaurant offers traditional sushi along with contemporary Japanese dishes. It is the first restaurant expansion of the Katsuya group since Master Sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi partnered with SBE.   

The restaurant's décor is sleek and modern. The menu is slightly similar to the original Katsuya in Studio City but a tad unequal in terms of taste. It is a combination of Japanese fare meets Californian cuisine.

BURNING MANDARIN ($15.00): Absolut Mandarin Vodka, Hand Crushed Serrano Chili, Fresh Lemon and Orange Juice, Splash of Cranberry. This was a delicious drink. It was slightly sweet with a hint of spiciness to cut through the sweetness. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
MY FAVORITE DISH. CREAMY ROCK SHRIMP ($18.00): Crispy bite-size rock shrimp tossed in a creamy, spicy sauce. This is by far one of my favorite appetizers. The shrimp is perfectly fried to a crisp texture while maintaining a succulent piece of shrimp. The sauce is creamy, not overly spicy and definitely mayo based. I could eat this as a snack all the time!

CRISPY RICE WITH SPICY TUNA ($14.00): Our most flavorful dish on the menu and the one Katsuya is most famous for. I always order this every time I pay a visit to Katsuya. This time, I'm a tad bit disappointed. The rice was crispy, but it was super stale. The highlight was the spicy tuna. It was creamy and the jalapeno on top added a spicy and crispy texture to the dish. It's quite small, but it's worth getting if the rice was fresh.
SPICY ALBACORE SASHIMI WITH CRISPY ONION ($17.00): A Crunchy Twist on Albacore Sashimi. I always seem to find myself ordering this dish. It's mild in spice and I love the texture of the crispy onion. The albacore's texture was slightly off. I still enjoyed it though.
CORN ROBATA ($4.00): I actually loved this. Yes, its simple. Just mere grilled corn with some sauce on it. Seriously, I could eat those. The robata bar is actually pretty affordable if you want some small bites. Its a good way to fill up without spending so much money!
BRAISED PORK BELLY ($26.00 BUT WAS OVERCHARGED TO $32.00): Twice-cooked Pork Belly, Caramelized Fuji Apples and Asian Pears, Plum Wine Gastrique. Good thing I'm blogging or I wouldn't have noticed that I was overcharged on the receipt for this dish. The pork was nice and tender. The Apples gave the dish texture with a slight crunch to them. The sauce was sweet. I felt like I needed something to soak up the sauce. Additionally, I don't like garnishes that you can't eat. Putting long stems of green onion on the apples and pears is kinda pointless in my opinion.
NUTELLA CHEESECAKE ($14.00): Nutella Cheesecake with Fresh Nutella Whip Cream with a Mixed Berry Compote Sauce. It sounds amazing right? Who doesn't love cheesecake and nutella for that matter? I was hoping that it would be mind blowing, but it wasn't. The cheesecake actually had a very grainy consistency and lacked the smoothness I was hoping for. Additionally, the flavor of the nutella wasn't that strong. I appreciated the ice cream on the side though!

Overall, Katsuya is decent but lacked consistency. I actually think the original Katsuya in Studio City is better. I also wasn't too happy when I learned that I was overcharged for the dish. Would I come back? Sure. It's not bad and it's not amazing either.It's just ok. I would probably stick with the robata bar and maybe the creamy rock shrimp. For the price, I would probably check out other restaurants in the area. 

Notable Dishes: Creamy Rock Shrimp, Corn Robata, Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


219 Main Street
El Segundo, CA 90245
Tel: 310.322.2721
$$ ($15-$30)
Fri, 05/06/2016, 8:00pm reservation
    (3.5 Piglets)

Named after a ranch that once embodied El Segundo and the South Bay, Sausal offers a blend of Mexican cuisine with a Spanish touch. Techniques are inspired by Rancho style of cooking, bringing such elements as smoking, wood-burning and slow roasting. Anne Conness, the chef and co-owner of Sausal, tries to put forth food that is bold in flavor with the use of Hispanic ingredients.

The interior
The restaurant offers a casual setting. The large bar is the main focus of the restaurant, while the decor seems to try to resemble a ranch. The seats could be a bit more comfortable, but it works in terms of establishing the ambiance. 

FRESH STRAWBERRY MARGARITA ($12.00): El Jimador Reposado, Triple Sec, Muddled Driscoll Strawberries, Fresh Citrus, Salt. Mmm....I loved this drink. It was absolutely marvelous. It was sweet and refreshing and you definitely could taste the strawberries. One of the better margaritas I've had in awhile. 
GUACAMOLE WITH CHIPS ($8.00): The guacamole was super fresh. It was creamy, well-seasoned, and had a bite to it. The chips were fried whole tortillas. Everything tasted great, but the guacamole to chips ratio was way off. We had about 2 full tortillas left when we finished our guacamole. 

A closer look at the guacamole. 
CARAMELIZED BRUSSELS SPROUTS ($9.50): Red Chili butter, Sourdough Croutons, Smoked Cashews, and Cilantro with a Sprinkle of Dried Shrimp Powder and Lime. On paper, this dish sounds freakin amazing! So many ingredients to put together a simple dish. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish but to me, they just tasted like any other caramelized brussels sprouts I've had in the past. Nothing really special in my opinion. 
ICE COLD OYSTERS (1/2 DOZEN: $18.00): Kumiai Oysters from Baja California served on the Half-Shell with Cocktail Sauce and Thinly Sliced Jalapenos. I absolutely love oysters. These definitely were good and fresh. The cocktail sauce was just okay to me. I've never had jalapenos with my oysters so that was a bit unique. 
MY FAVORITE DISH. PORK CHILI VERDE WITH SWEET CORN ELOTE ($21.00): Monterey Jack Cheese, Chipotle Cream, Fancy Pico de Gallo, Lime and House Blue Corn Tortillas with Butter. Alright, this was a pretty good dish. I love elote and anytime I see it on the menu, I order it. The dish was rustic and definitely had a kick to it. The chili came out. The "fancy pico de gallo" wasn't all that fancy. It didn't do anything for me. 
The tortillas that came with the chili verde. Good and tasty. 
SAUSALITO BURGER (BEEF-$14.00): Pepper Jack Cheese, Tomato, Avocado, Bacony 1000 Island, Cilantro Onion Relish, Sesame Roll, Sweet Potato Fries. The burger was moist and juicy and downright messy. The sauce was good but I didn't think it reeked of bacon. I didn't like the roll. It just didn't work well with the burger. Change the bun, and you quite possibly could have a good burger. Oh, and the sweet potato fries were good. 
ANGRY MUSSELS ($18.00): House Chorizo, Chili Cream Broth, Hominy with Grilled sourdough. This was probably my least favorite dish. The broth had absolutely no flavor to it. It fell short of richness and depth of flavor that I was hoping for. The mussels were cooked well but that was probably the only good thing about it. The chorizo was almost non-existent in this dish. 
SPANISH DATE CAKE WITH SPICED PECANS AND VANILLA ICE CREAM ($8.00): This was a pretty good dessert. The cake was moist and the caramel sauce was good. I didn't think that the fruit went well with the dish, but a friend of mine thought it was pretty good. The ice cream was a nice touch and so was my birthday candle! 

Overall, Sausal is an option for a casual dinner and if you want food with a Mexican twist. The drinks were good and the food was ok, but I felt the dishes lacked boldness and complexity that you often find in Latin and Mexican cuisine. Additionally, the bar setup could be improved a bit. We waited at the bar for our table (which took a bit of time) and we were practically getting knocked back and forth by the servers walking pass us. Would I come back here? I probably wouldn't go out of my to venture to this restaurant when there are so many other restaurants to check out. 

Notable Dishes: Pork Chili Verde with Sweet Corn Elote and Spanish Date Cake

Friday, May 13, 2016


222 South Hope Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: 213.935.8500
$$$ ($35-$45)
Sat, 04/30/2016, 8:45pm reservation
     (4 Piglets)

In the middle of gorgeous Downtown Los Angeles sits a fairly new restaurant constructed next to the very popular Broad museum. Otium is chic, contemporary and manifests itself like an exhibit. Clean lines, an open kitchen and modern décor makes the restaurant worth checking out.

Chef Timothy Hollingsworth (who had stints at the French Laundry) brings ingredients grown in the restaurant's garden and creates a menu that is rustic and innovative. I celebrated my birthday here and you can be damn sure I ordered multiple dishes, including a birthday drink (cocktail menu is created by Julian Cox).

The interior
The ceiling

UNFILTERED SAKE ($13.00): Yuzu, Green Chile, Ginger, Japanese Cucumber, Vodka. My absolute favorite drink. Why? I'm not a fan of ginger and the ginger in this drink wasn't overpowering. It was slightly sweet and refreshing.

BIG EYE TUNA ($18.00): Rice, Ginger, Smoked Soy. The tuna was fresh and melt-in-your mouth goodness. You could definitely taste the smokiness from the soy. I thought this dish was good, but nothing really spectacular.
LARDO ($15.00): Brioche, Egg, Truffle. This dish was definitely one of my favorites. The creamy and fatty lardo was soft like spreadable butter. The egg was created into a powder form. Unfortunately, the truffle was light which I was thoroughly disappointed. On a high note, the brioche was buttery and crispy. If you like subtle flavors, this is a good dish.
MY FAVORITE DISH. FOIE GRAS ($26.00): Funnel Cake, Strawberry, Fennel, Balsamic. Who would've thought foie gras on a funnel cake could taste so good. The idea was pretty innovative. The funnel cake with the balsamic was sweet and the fennel gave the dish some freshness and acidity. I appreciated the creamy foie gras, which was enough for each bite with the funnel cake. I guess the sweet and savory combination really does work.
BACON TART ($18.00): Peas, Carrots, Crème Fraiche, Lola Rosa. Surprisingly for a bacon dish, this was lighter than what I expected. The bacon wasn't greasy, but still super crispy. The peas and carrots along with the greens added lightness to the dish. It was acidic, savory, and good. This was one of my favorites.
LAMB ($36.00): Pine Nut, Pole Beans, Tomato, Yogurt. I felt like this lamb was just ok. The meat itself needed a bit more seasoning, as did the vegetables. The yogurt was smeared on the side, which was nice, but would have rather had a dollop of it on top. I would have much preferred a big rack of lamb versus slices of lamb.
AGNOLOTTI ($22.00): Green Garlic, Peas, Radish, Pistachio Gremolata. This definitely was one of my favorites and a must order. The agnolotti was pillowy soft and the vegetables were delish. I felt like I was eating a true "farm to table" dish. It wasn't overly heavy, which I appreciated for a pasta dish.
CHOCOLATE TORT ($14.00): Cherry, Peanut Butter, Olive Oil. This was a chocolate made in heaven type of dessert. It was crispy and smooth and a perfect way to end my birthday meal. It definitely is rich, so if you're not a fan of rich desserts or chocolate, you may want to skip on this one.
ICE CREAM ($9.00): This definitely was one of my favorites. I probably am a bit biased since my favorite food is ice cream. The ice cream itself was creamy and not overly heavy. It had floral hints and coated my palate nicely.

Overall, Otium is a beautifully constructed restaurant. The food was definitely innovative, the flavors were good, but it didn't amaze me in my humble opinion. They screwed up my reservation when I first arrived, but they quickly resolved the situation. I also appreciated that they were laid back when we called that we were running late due to road construction (you may need to leave earlier than expected because the construction is kinda out of control). Would I go again? Sure! The food isn't bad, the people are nice and the drinks were delicious.

Notable dishes: Foie Gras, Bacon Tart, and Agnolotti

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


470 Pacific Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
Tel: 415.775.8500
$$$$ ($50+) $198 Prix fixe menu
Sat, 03/26/2016, 9:00pm reservation
     (5 Piglets)

San Francisco is one very lucky city. It is full of exquisite restaurants. The city houses one of the most delicious eateries I was capable of visiting: Quince, a two Michelin starred restaurant delivering Italian-French cuisine.

Michael Tusk, the executive chef and owner of Quince has done something pretty amazing; he brings the most delectable seasonal ingredients and constructs dishes that are contemporary and flavorful. The food is innovative and made with precision. The décor is simple, bringing artful pieces as its focal point. The restaurant itself is separated between the main dining room that presents its tasting menu and a salon where diners can opt to order dishes a la carte. The service was impeccable, and let's be honest, so was the food.

The salon

The dining room

Champagne to start

CANAPE: CHICHARON: This was my favorite of the three. Crispy with a burst of flavor

CANAPE: CROQUETTE: The croquette was done superbly. The exterior was crisp while the inside was creamy just the way I like it.
COURSE ONE: HAMMERSLEY OYSTER: Samphire, Green Strawberry, Lemon Verbena. The oyster was fresh and the lemon verbena gave it a hint of zesty flavor. There was a good amount of acidity to the dish and I would say this was constructed well. A good start to the meal.
A closer look at the oyster

MY FAVORITE DISH. COURSE TWO: TSAR NICOULAI RESERVE CAVIAR: Champagne, Leek, Chive. The caviar was fresh and delicious. Caviar was delicately placed onto a crispy, toasted brioche that offered a balance of salty and sweet. The accompaniment of the caviar and foam was just the right touch. I was surprised at the amount of caviar delivered onto the plate. Definitely not complaining on this one. The dish was well-composed and delicious in all aspects. I could eat this forever!

A closer look at the brioche and caviar
A closer look at the caviar and foam
COURSE THREE: GREEN ASPARAGUS: Anchovy, Burrata, Nasturtium. The asparagus was cooked perfectly, a slight crunch with a bright green color. The burrata wasn't just any burrata: it was composed into an ice cream! Who would've thought burrata ice cream and asparagus could taste so good together? It was like eating a garden in heaven!
A closer look at the green asparagus
COURSE FOUR: WHITE ASPARAGUS: Black Cod, English Pea, Prosciutto Cotto. The white asparagus was fresh. The black cod was melt-in-your mouth. Simple and elegant.
COURSE FIVE: GNUDI: Double 8 Dairy Buffalo Milk Ricotta, Fava Bean. I appreciate that the chefs were able to bring Spring to the table. The gnudi was soft and not at all gummy or rubbery. The dish was light and airy and well-balanced.
COURSE SIX: CASONCELLI: Beet, Lemon Leaf, Bayley Hazen Blue. Casoncelli is a type of stuffed pasta from the northern part of Italy. It looks like a potsticker, but tastes nothing like it. It was filled with a delicate blue cheese where the pasta was made out of beets. The beets complemented the blue cheese filling, which luckily, wasn't overpowering.
COURSE SEVEN: FARM EGG: Carrot, Perigord Truffle, Sunchoke. Who doesn't like an egg? This delicate dish was creamy and full of goodness. The carrot and truffle were very subtle. It was like eating a delicious and creamy soup in an eggshell.

A closer look at the egg dish

COURSE EIGHT: TAGLIATELLE DI FARRO: Suckling Pig, Paine Farm Squab, Morel. I love tagliatelle. I loved the way they cooked it perfectly al dente. The morels gave the dish an earthy tone to the dish. My only complaint, and it's a small one, was that I felt that the meat needed a bit more seasoning. Otherwise, I would've loved every bit of this dish.

COURSE NINE: WATSON FARM SPRING LAMB: Green Garlic, Fiddlehead Fern, Golden Marjoram. The lamb rack from the local farm was cooked perfectly to a medium-rare. The sauce was delicious. Again, my only complaint is that it just needed a bit more salt to bring out the flavor.

The lamb meatball that accompanied the lamb broth. It is basically lamb belly that is sous vide then fried crispy and filled with grilled onion and sausage. Delicious!

COURSE TEN: RHUBARB: Hibiscus, Kumquat, Mandarin. This dish is a palate cleanser. It was definitely zesty and neutralized my tongue in a good way. A little bitter from the kumquat, but that's expected.

COURSE ELEVEN: STRAWBERRY: Buttermilk, Sorrel, White Chocolate. This was a nice, cool touch to end the meal. The white chocolate concrete/meringue component reminded me of the same texture I had in another dish at Alinea. The dessert was refreshing and not heavy, which I appreciated.  
COURSE TWELVE: MIGNARDISES: Chocolates, Confections. Passion Fruit Tart
COURSE TWELVE: MIGNARDISES: Chocolates, Confections: Chili Truffle, Macarons, Meringues

COURSE TWELVE: MIGNARDISES: Chocolates, Confections.
COURSE TWELVE: MIGNARDISES: Chocolates, Confections. So, the way course twelve works is that they roll out a cart full of goodies that you wish you could eat forever and you choose whatever your heart desires. I was extremely full by then but I had to pick out these delicacies. I chose four of the many options and I was quite happy with my choices. My favorite was the tart.
And if that wasn't enough, they send you home with a hot chocolate for your taxi ride back!

A part of the kitchen
Another view of the kitchen

A cold shot of beautiful alcohol that melts in your mouth
A truffle pasta on the house. This dish needs to be on the menu at all times cause it's seriously as good as it looks!
Overall, Quince lives up to the two Michelin stars it is awarded. Michael Tusk brings farm to table food with a sense of sophistication and finesse. The food is defined by the freshness of the food and its seasons. Each dish is well thought out, bringing a dining experience that is happiness to the palate. I would categorize this restaurant as memorable and one of the better restaurants I have visited in my lifetime. It's a must visit whilst in San Francisco!

With Chef De Cuisine Adrian Garcia