Saturday, March 25, 2006

Gingergrass - Silverlake

We must be on a Vietnamese food kick lately. Or, maybe it's just that we went to Din Tai Fung twice last week and needed a week off again. So, this Friday, we decided to try Gingergrass in Silverlake. It was finally a WARM, sunny day. I thought I would be wearing sweaters and jackets forever. But, Friday brought us a beautiful 80+ degree afternoon. We found parking easily enough, behind the restaurant. When we arrived inside, it was pretty busy for 12:30 on a Friday. We were seated at the last available table. Being that we almost always spend Fridays in Arcadia, switching to Silverlake brought the 'hipster' level up a ways. But it wasn't too annoying.

The decor was pretty minimalistic, and we appreciated that each table had hot sauce, chili garlic sauce, and hoisin sauce. The menu offered a wide variety of choices, and it was very vegetarian friendly. After careful perusal, we decided to start with the fresh tofu summer rolls - "with lettuce, vegetables and herbs served with our vegan nuoc cham." Delicious. And at $4.50, pretty reasonably priced. The portion was a bit smaller than at Blue Hen, but the quality was MUCH better. Ingredients were fresher, and the tofu was quite well prepared.

For our entrees, I selected the Gingergrass Tofu lunch plate - "crispy tofu with shiitake mushrooms and baby bok choy served with our vegan nuoc cham sauce". At $7.95, it was quite the bargain. It was light, but still filling. The bok choy and mushrooms had just enough seasoning to be interesting, but not so much that they lost their fresh veggie tastes. The dish was also served with broken rice and Vietnamese slaw, which was an excellent, very light, tangy concoction. No nasty mayo or anything like that. I declared this dish to be delicious!

Brian chose the Wok-Tossed Noodles with tofu - "egg noodles with your choice of chicken, beef, or tofu tossed with bean sprouts, onions, carrots, and cabbage". It looked quite filling, and it was $9.75. Brian particularly enjoyed how the onions were prepared - all grilled and sweet tasting.

We will DEFINITELY come back here. There were quite a few items on the menu I wanted to try - particularly their basil-lime elixir and their fresh ginger limeade. They also serve alcohol and are open for dinner. There was a large selection of daily specials posted on a large chalkboard at the front of the restaurant. Lots of yummy things to try!

In our food satisfaction, I completely forgot to take a picture of the exterior. Oh well.

2396 Glendale Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90039


Friday, March 03, 2006

The Blue Hen - Eagle Rock

On this dreary, rainy Friday afternoon, we decided to stay close to home for lunch, venturing only as far as Eagle Rock. We wanted to try the new-ish Blue Hen Vietnamese Kitchen. They use organic, locally grown produce, and they are vegan/vegetarian friendly.

Blue Hen is in a strip mall on the north side of Colorado, a bit east of Eagle Rock Blvd. At lunch time, the little parking lot was crowded, but we finally found a spot down at the far end. The restaurant is quite small, but nicely done on the inside - a lot of dark, modern wood and colorful abstract art on the walls. Very modern feel.

We were both pretty hungry, so we decided to start off with the spring rolls as an appetizer ($5.75). You have your choice of chicken or tofu, and, naturally, we chose tofu. They came out pretty quickly, and were very attractively presented. They were served with the usual spring roll-type peanut dipping sauce. The spring rolls were quite good, and the lightly fried tofu strips inside were a nice touch. I would have liked a little stronger mint presence, though.

For our entrees, I chose the rice noodle salad (also known as bun). It comes with Imperial rolls on top, and again, you have your choice of chicken or tofu. Tofu for me! Also, if you're vegan, you can request a vegan soy sauce instead of the fish sauce normally served with this dish. At first, I was a little disappointed that there was no chili sauce on hand to add to my salad, but one bite of the Imperial rolls told me why. They were SPICY. Quite good, and a nice complement to the lighter flavor of the rice noodles and greens. The dish was a bit heavy on bean sprouts, and I probably could have used a bit more fish sauce, but overall, it was quite good. $8.00 for this dish.

Brian had the carmelized ginger chicken and tofu. It comes with a side of brown or white rice and some fresh market greens. Brian seemed to like it quite a bit, as he barely stopped short of picking up his plate and licking it clean when he was finished. ($8.75).

Overall, quite a good experience. We could have used a water refill before the end of the meal, but other than that, the service was good. We did overhear one server telling a neighboring table that they were out of the broth they used for their pho, so it wasn't available today. That's a shame, because I could imagine that would taste good on such a cold, rainy day. They were also out of their lime tonic, which Brian had wanted to try. Oh well, another time. I can definitely see us coming back to the Blue Hen when the mood strikes us.

Blue Hen Vietnamese Kitchen
1743 Colorado Blvd.
Eagle Rock, CA 90041

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Art's - Studio City

Today found us in Studio City, where Brian did a presentation for the new book he illustrated at Storyopolis. Afterwards, we still needed to run a few more errands, so against my better judgment, we had to dine out again. But it was good! We ended up at Art's Delicatessen. We've walked past it tons of times, and today we decided to go in. It was crowded (good sign), and the menu was HUGE.

Being a vegetarian who eats seafood limits my options in a deli, so I went with the traditional tuna salad on rye with a side of potato salad (which I could not finish - really, really rich potato salad).

Brian had a BLT and potato salad,

and we also had a plate of pickles (which tasted like they must pickle them in house - very fresh and good - and subtle).

The place has been around since 1957, and they even have a wine list and serve mixed drinks! They serve breakfast all day, and their sandwiches are ginormous. Their rye bread was the best I've ever tasted. I probably should have asked where they get it. The servers were all mostly older women - like you see at most delis. Good service, good food. I'd go back when I'm in a deli mood again!

Art's Delicatessen
12224 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604

Friday, February 10, 2006

Din Tai Fung - Arcadia

Today, as is our way most Friday afternoons, we had lunch at Din Tai Fung Dumpling House in Arcadia.

It was a sunny, warm, February day in SoCal, with temperatures in the 80's (yay! I'm glad I'm not still living in Ohio!), but it was kind of smoggy.
It was crowded (as usual), but not too crowded. We only had to wait about 15 minutes for a table. The wait is MUCH longer on weekends.

Here we are preparing for the food to arrive! If you've never been to Din Tai Fung (you should go) - you are greeted with little dishes of slivered ginger, to which you add black vinegar (and soy sauce or chili oil as well, if you want). Now you're ready to dip your dumplings!

We ordered the following:

veggie dumplings (sitting for a second in the vinegar dipping sauce)

fish dumplings (my favorite!)

chicken dumplings

juicy pork dumplings (Brian's favorite!)

sauteed green beans (a bit garlic-y and salty - yummy - and VERY fresh!)

There was a lot of carnage on the table as we were nearing the home stretch!

and we finished it off with red bean paste buns for dessert!

Needless to say, we were quite full and satisfied afterwards.

Din Tai Fung Dumpling House
1108 S. Baldwin Avenue
Arcadia, CA 91007