Monday, October 16, 2017

SWEET CHICK (LOS ANGELES, CA)

Sweet Chick 
448 N. Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
www.sweetchick.com
Tel: 323.592.3423
Cuisine: Southern
$$ ($15-$30)
Wed, 10/11/2017, 7:00pm reservation 
    (3.5 Piglets)



Alright, so I had to check out this chicken joint that is ever-so popular in New York owned by NAS the rapper. It is a place to get your choice of various fried chicken and waffles amongst other things. It is American comfort food with a twist. 

I heard the restaurant is usually slam packed in NY, and here, on a Wednesday night in Los Angeles, it was kinda chill. There were a few empty tables. The service was pretty impeccable though. The restaurant is pretty dark with a large bar area. The menu is simple, with the focus being chicken and waffles. 

The interior bar and seating

MAC AND CHEESE ($9.00):  Gruyere, Fontina, Aged White Cheddar, Ritz Cracker Crumble. This mac and cheese was surprisingly delicious. It was creamy and luscious with just the amount of flavor. The crumbs added a good enough texture. The pasta was a little too soft for my liking. Other than that, it was perfect. I would definitely order this again. 

MY FAVORITE DISH. PORK BELLY NUGGETS ($10.00): Kimchi, Blueberry Balsamic Glaze, Pickled Watermelon. This was my favorite! The pork belly was so freakin delicous. It had just the right amount of fat without being overly fatty. It was a little sweet and reminded my of hoisin sauce. I wouldn't say that it has "kimchi" per se. It was more like pickled cabbage. The watermelon was interesting. I thought it was radish at first. A bunch of flavors and they were delicious. 
NASHVILLE HOT FRIED CHICKEN ($18.00): with Milk Jam Waffle. Ok, so i love spicy food. Spicy food is one of my favorites. The spice on this chicken was seriously spicy. It isn't for the weak sauce. I know now why they serve the milk waffle with this chicken, but seriously, you need to eat the waffle with the chicken or your mouth will go numb. I enjoy spicy but not when it overtakes everything else you eat. This was one of those moments. If you just want to eat spicy chicken, this may be your jam. I much prefer chicken with a hint of spice and let the chicken shine. 
SWEET CHICK CHICKEN AND WAFFLES ($17.00): 2 PC CHICKEN AND YOUR CHOICE OF WAFFLE-WE CHOSE APPLE N' CINNAMON. I thought the waffles and the chicken were just ok. The chicken wasn't as crispy as I would have liked and the waffles, well, a little bit on the soggy end. It didn't do much for me. After eating fried chicken from Gus', it's hard to beat that chicken in LA. 
Overall, I thought Sweet Chick was just ok. The service was impeccable but the main dishes of the chicken and waffles were sub par. I felt the chicken could use a little more seasoning and the waffles as well. The Nashville hot chicken was almost not enjoyable because of the spice level of the chicken. I actually prefer my waffles with a little bit of a crisp to them, and unfortunately, they were soggy. The side dishes were great though, with lots of flavor and texture. I much prefer the fried chicken at Gus' however, if you want a combination of chicken and waffles, this is a good place for that option. 

Notable Dishes: Pork Belly Nuggets and Mac and Cheese

Friday, October 6, 2017

MARUGAME UDON AND TEMPURA (SAWTELLE, LOS ANGELES, CA)

Marugame Udon and Tempura
2029 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
www.marugameudon.com
Tel: 424.317.2222
Cuisine: Asian
$ (under $15)
Mon, 10/2/2017, 7:00pm walk-in
    (4 Piglets)





Udon is absolutely delicious, especially if it's handmade on the premises. Marugame Udon and Tempura is no exception. The fresh noodles are chewy and delicate, with a nice bite to them. The restaurant itself is completely different than Marugame Monzo located in Little Tokyo. This Sawtelle location is simple, with the focus on the udon and tempura themselves. 

Marugame Udon and Tempura takes you back to your childhood, running like a cafeteria where you pick your dishes. You start with the type of udon you want and they make it on the spot. Afterwards, you roll your tray along the counter and start choosing from the variety of tempura like a buffet line. You also have the option of ordering a rice bowl and at the end of the line, you pay and add extra toppings to your heart's desire at the condiment counter. When all of that is finished, you seat yourself and dig in! 


outdoor seating
Rolling out the dough
Cooking the noodles-made to order
Seating
Communal Seating


Tempura
More Tempura
And more tempura (this one is like an onion blossom)
Cooking up the tempura
So happy!
Condiments
KAKE ($4.50): Served with Our Signature House Made Broth. This was meh to me. I thought the noodles were delicious but the broth itself was a little bland. It was simple and there was no substance. It would be a good alternative to the chicken soup if you were sick and wanted something plain. 
MY FAVORITE DISH. NIKUTAMA-HOT ($7.50 REGULAR): Kake Sauce with Sweet Beef and Soft Boiled Egg. I thought this was delicious. It is recommended you stir everything together and break up the yolk. It creates a nice, creamy sauce that goes well with the udon. The udon was perfect and the sauce was thick and a little sweet. The beef was ok. Reminded me of yoshinoya beef. 
CURRY ($5.50-REGULAR): Served with Classic Japanese Style Curry Soup. I thought this was pretty good. It tasted like authentic curry soup. The noodles were coated well with the curry once mixed. It had a depth of flavor. It wasn't spicy. 
A selection of tempura I picked out including asparagus!
Overall, Marugame Udon and Tempura is pretty good if you want a fast and decent noodle soup without all the fuss. I thought the line went by pretty quickly. I like that there is a variety of tempura and noodle soups to choose from as well as cold or hot options. It's not fancy. It's straight forward and to the point. I actually prefer Marugame Monzo to this restaurant, just for the fact that there are different menu items that I enjoy thoroughly at Monzo vs this location. Tip: Eat the tempura quickly or it becomes soggy if you wait. 

Notable Dishes: Nikutama and Chicken Tempura

Thursday, September 28, 2017

GUS'S FRIED CHICKEN (BURBANK, CA)

Gus'S Fried Chicken 
509 S. Glenoaks Ave
Burbank, CA 91502
www.gusfriedchicken.com
Tel: 747.231.3990
Cuisine: Fried Chicken, Southern
$$ ($15-$30)
Sun, 09/17/2017, 2:00pm walk-in
    (4.5 Piglets)




Crispy. Tender. Juicy. Moist. Flavorful. Those are characteristics that I look for in a good fried chicken. Gus's Fried chicken was able to hit on all points. It is so delectable, that chicken juices fly out of the chicken with each bite (literally, cause it happened to me where the juices landed on my friend).

Gus's Fried Chicken comes from Tennessee. It started off as chicken being sold from a tavern to having expanded to various locations throughout the Midwest and now the West Coast. The Burbank location in California is fairly large and was once a sushi joint that I used to frequent. There were plaid tablecloths, various photos, and simplicity at its best.  

The chicken is fried to perfection. It is juicy and has a bit of a kick to it the way Nashville fried chicken should be. It is simply delicious and the pics below doesn't do it justice.


Dining room

Dining Room
Decor
Condiments
MAC AND CHEESE ($2.90-SIDE ORDER): This was just ok for me. The small is pretty small, but if you order the plate, it was just enough. It wasn't creamy nor was the pasta al dente. It was pretty bland and I felt it needed seasoning. 
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES ($7.50): I love fried green tomatoes. I tell myself that I'm eating something healthy even if it is fried. These are no exception. They come out piping hot and super crispy. It's like eating Carl Jr's Fried Zucchini but 10x better. It's served with ranch, which was great, but if you throw in a little of that Louisiana hot sauce into the ranch and mix, it became that much better. 

MY FAVORITE DISH. 3 PIECE DARK PLATE W/ 2 THIGHS AND 1 LEG ($11.60): Includes Baked Beans, Slaw and White Bread. Man. This chicken. Freakin Amazing. It was a little spicy but not overly spicy. It was extremely moist and juicy. The skin was unbelievably crispy. It was just perfect. The beans are cooked with pork and man oh man, they were mighty tasty. I actually liked the slaw (which I normally hate). The slaw just cooled down the spice and the heat coming from the chicken. Amazing. 

A closer look at the chicken 
CHOCOLATE CHESS PIE ($3.50) ADD VANILLA ICE CREAM ($1.00): I love chess pie, but chocolate? I had to try it. It was decadent, but not overly rich.. The crust was flaky. The pie itself is not as chocolate-y as I would have expected, which I appreciated. The ice cream was perfect. It was a good way to end the meal. 
Overall, Gus's Fried Chicken is probably my go-to for fried chicken. It doesn't beat Willie Mae's from New Orleans in my opinion, but it sure is hella good. The chicken is perfect, the beans were spot on, and the pie was sweet enough to complete the meal. This Burbank location had a seat-yourself program and it wasn't overly busy. I thought the service was decent enough, filling up the waters when needed. Now, if only there could be a westside location! 

Notable Dishes: Chicken Plate and Fried Green Tomatoes

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

FELIX (VENICE, CA)

Felix
1023 Abbot Kinney 
Venice, CA 90291
www.felixla.com
Tel: 424.387.8622
Cuisine: Italian
$$$ ($30-$45)
Mon, 09/11/2017, 9:30 walk-in (called 15 min before to see if a table was available)
     (4.5 Piglets)



Felix is the hot, new Italian restaurant on the Westside. It is in the former space that once housed Joe's restaurant that I visited numerous times. It is now revamped (in a good way), now paying homage to fresh pasta created by none other than the former chef of Bucato Evan Funke. 

Each bite of the perfectly sauced pasta was al dente. Unique pasta shapes take hold of the menu, offering dishes based on different regions of Italy. 


The back dining room
The bar
The dining room

The d├ęcor is simple and comfortable. Upon entering, all you see is a bar; turn to your left and you are welcomed by the hostess. Off to the side of the hostess is a glass space where you may be lucky enough to see peeps at work rolling out fresh pasta sheets. The restaurant is surprisingly large, with a main dining room and another back room that houses multiple tables.  

POLPETTE DELLA MAESTRA ALESSANDRA ($18.00):  Pork Meatballs, Salsa Verde and Parmigiano Reggiano. This dish was good. I thought for being a pork dish, it was surprisingly moist. I'm used to beef meatballs, so this was a nice change from the usual. The texture is different, a little more spongy and chewy. It was perfectly crisp. The salsa verde was a bit on the lighter end and I kinda wish it had a little more.

MY FAVORITE DISH. RIGATONI ALL' AMATRICIANA ($23.00): Guanciale, Pomodoro and Pecorino Romano DOP. This was freakin amazing!!! The pasta was perfectly cooked al dente style, fresh and homemade. The sauce was rich without being too acidic. It was slightly sweet the way pomodoro should taste. It's so simple, yet so delicious. I highly recommend this popular dish.

MEZZE MANICHE ALLA GRICIA ($23.00): Guanciale, Black Pepper and PecorinoRomano DOP. This pasta was also delicious too! The texture is a bit lighter like a pappardelle. The sauce, oh man, the sauce...it was like a cacio e peppe but with bacon in it! It was simple and oh so satisfying. I couldn't stop eating it. So good!!
PICCHIAPO ($26.00): Roman-Style Braised Beef, Pomodoro, Peperocino, and Gnocchi alla Romana. This was delicious! The beef was so flavorful and delicious. I got a little confused with the dish as it is listed as "gnocci" and I expected gnocci pieces but received polenta cakes. Supposedly that was the gnocci? I think it should've been clearer on the menu or they should have listed it as polenta cakes; nevertheless, it was delicious and everything went well together. It was rich and savory and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


TIRAMISU ($14.00): I believe Jonathan Gold had stated that this was worth trying. It is a fairly large dessert, good enough to be split amongst 2 people. I was expecting something a little more lighter, but this was fairly dense and a bit on the drier end. The flavor itself was decent, but I didn't love this dessert.


Overall, I thought Felix lived up to the hype. To get a reservation is pretty much pure luck or reserving way in advance. I was lucky enough to call last minute around 9:30pm and found a table available (although I had to wait about 15-20min for the actual table to free up). The service was pretty good and I was happy with all the dishes we ordered. Unfortunately, they also ran out of some of the dishes we wanted to order, i.e. the pappardelle and the foccacia. I can't wait to go back. It's like the Bestia of the Westside (but pasta oriented)...yes, it's that good.






Notable Dishes: Rigatoni all' Amatriciana, Mezze Maniche alla Gricia, Picchiapio