Friday, October 22, 2010

Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles, Pasadena

There seem to be few hallmark places when it comes to dining in the Los Angeles area, Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles among the more famous joints. Attracting eclectic groups consisting of tourist, locals, and David Beckham, it's 1970's nuance provides guests with Harlem's strange but famed combination of chicken and waffles, and of course other things.

I've been meaning to go Roscoe's for the past several years now, yet I never sought the opportunity nor did the opportunity seek me. It was not until several friends made reservations for 20 or so guests for a birthday celebration there. The table was ready and people started gradually straggle in. Once everyone settled in, we began to order and our food arrived soon after. I was impressed with the efficiency of the service, especially considering how large our group was. I ordered "Scoe's #2" which was chicken smothered with gravy with two waffles topped with scoops of butter. 

At first impression, it was simply two pieces of chicken and waffles. Presentation was basic; nothing particularly fancy. The circular waffle alone was soft and buttery. The dark meat chicken was moist enough, but I was glad to order it with the house gravy because it gave it personality. Otherwise one could have just popped in some Kellogg Eggos in a toaster and ordered some KFC, which actually is a cheaper alternative now that I think of it. 

Eating each individual item by itself seemed plain after a while. I then tried it together on the same fork and I still was not impressed-- at this point I questioned Roscoe's fame. 

Chances are I did not pioneer this mix, but I ventured to try the audacious combination of waffle, chicken saturated with gravy, dipped in maple syrup. Yes, gravy and maple syrup. Very surprisingly, it provided an interesting sweet and savory flavor. Suddenly I was hooked and could not eat my entrée any other way. I shared the concoction with friends. Thankfully they agreed that it tasted good, which therefore proved my sanity. Phew.

Luckily I made that discovery; otherwise I would have been disappointed. Instead, I walked out from the old school diner into the present day feeling satisfied, full, and perplexed about what the heck I just ate.

Roscoe's has 5 locations situated throughout LA and Long Beach. You can check out their locations on their website. Parking at the Pasadena location was adequate; however it's not the best designed parking lot. 

It's worth a trip.

Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 16, 2010

No Cove Like Alcove, Café

Alcove Café and Bakery is a neighborhood treasure in Los Feliz with its lush green, very serene, and quaint environment with a comforting charm. With its colorful presentation, there’s no wonder why it seems that there is a never ending line of people piling in.

It’s never too late for a Saturday morning brunch, even at 3pm on a sunny afternoon at Alcove Café, one will have a difficult time finding a vacant table. I can’t imagine what my experience would have been if I arrived earlier. Actually, I probably could, and this review might not have been as positive. Fortunately for my party and I, people were just started to clear out.

While standing in line with a menu in hand, I was overwhelmed with the choices because all the items sounded appetizing. In addition, one can’t help to notice the tantalizing desserts and pastries in front, further vexing my choice of food. After ordering, I placed my order number on a table I found outside and waited while boisteriously chatting and laughing with my fellow Grub Club members.Yes, simply sitting at Alcove Café might have that effect on people. 

I eventually decided on smoked salmon with eggs because it’s not a common brunch item. Salmon was really well done; not overly salty, smoked to a pink perfection. The eggs were poached; I thought it was sour cream at first glance. It all sat on a layer of crispy hash browns. The vivid fruit cup and other garnishing added an appeal would cause salvation at any angle. The only flaw was that it was $12.95, ouch-- do wallets cry? A bit pricey for a breakfast, yet definitely delicious and worth the ambiance. I recommend it, especially if you like smoked salmon. Thankfully they were large portions.

Also tried the Fruit and Nutella Crepe that had bananas and colorful mixed berries. Topped with powered sugar, the crepes were soft and fluffy that glistened with fruit syrup. Yet, regardless of how amazing it looks,  it was oversickingly sweet and too rich because it was overstuffed with Nutella. However if that's what you like, then it might float your boat, which by the way, costs $11.95 to float. 

Parking is a bit inconvenient but I found street parking. Valet is also available in the rear parking area. It's location is near Griffith Observatory which one should visit if they have never been there before. It's a great place to walk around and burn off the consumed Alcove calories. 

Beautiful in every way, Alcove Café is a fantastic place to eat, socialize, and eat, even if it rains. 

1929 Hillhurst Ave. 
Los Angeles, CA 90027

It's worth a trip, trust.
Alcove Cafe & Bakery on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fosselman's Ice Cream-- Diggity-dank-jizzmania

So, how to describe Fosselman's Ice Cream Co. than good, blissful, or heavenly? "Diggity-dank-jizzmania," is a term my friend E.J. used when trying their exotic lychee flavor. Hmm, yes! Fosselman's ice cream is diggity-dank-jizzmania after all! 

Ice cream is difficult to describe because the differences between brands can be subtle. Additionally, people rarely have bad experiences, although once I had some random specialty ice cream from Rite Aid that compared to toothpaste. I suspect they combined all the lingering leftovers into a blend of crap-- but I digress. Certainly there is no toothpaste flavor among their 48+ choices at Fosselman's, as their creamy handmade ice cream has been a local favorite since 1919.

Fosselman's is an old-fashioned ice cream parlor with a charming interior old-school decor that has a wide variety of special and seasonal flavors. It's a place where people can have old-fashioned fun merely sitting around with the sounds of chatter and laughter buzzing around. Smiles can be seen from every table and even from those eagerly waiting for the chance to order the tasteful substance that seems to bring everyone together. And by everyone, I mean everyone.

Fossleman's brings together a diverse customer base; not only ethnically diverse, but also diverse in age. From children that have the ice-cream parlor going experience as the high points of their young life, to several grown working men happily loitering indoors with cone and ice cream in hand at the end of a busy week. Fosselman's has a special characteristic that unites generations together. Or it could just be the ice cream that does the trick.

This has to the busiest ice cream shop on a Friday night since the queue was out nearly out the door. By the time it was my turn to order, I could not decide because of the large selection of choices such as Taro, Horchata, Green Tea, Macapuno, Spumoni, and many, many other uncommon flavors. The server was uncertain the most popular item after trying to probe him with questions, so after trying several samples, I decided on single scoop of Fresh Peach ice cream with a sugar cone which happens to be one of the unique seasonal flavors

The portions were quite generous for $2.50. It was light, creamy, and of course peachy! It was not overwhelming sweet with a subtle tart aftertaste. It had a very smooth texture that was not fluffy or thick. The Fresh Peach, like most of the other flavors at Fosselman's, does not leave thick phlegm in the back of your throat as it somehow retains the right balance. One scoop of ice cream and the company of old friends were perfect for a warm summer night. It was, should I say, diggity-dank-jizzmania? 

Fosselman's has other options such as sundaes, floats, sherbets, sorbets, frozen yogurt, and even ice cream cakes! I've heard good things about them all, and some day I will give them a try. If one wants to avoid the terrors of their small parking lot, their homemade ice cream in pints or gallon tubs to enjoy in the comfort of home, which is actually what my sister does sometimes. 

Fosselman's Ice Cream Co., diggity-dank-jizzmania indeed. 

It's worth a trip.

Fosselman's Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Grilled Cheese Truck-- More than Cheese and Bread

Some friends invited me to hunt for the Grilled Cheese Truck a few months ago. I declined thinking, “How good could that really be? That can be made that at home.” Somehow though, the Grilled Cheese Truck inevitably found me months later and proved me wrong with its appetizing twists to the American childhood classic. 

To begin, my night took me to Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk, which I highly recommend to anyone living or visiting area. With crowds of people, numerous art galleries, shopping, and of course food vendors, it is certainly a vivacious place to be. I came across an open lot solely dedicated to approximately 10-15 food trucks, yet none seemed appealing at the time. 

I continued down S. Main Street until I saw a crowd surrounding three other food trucks underneath the Pacific Electric Lofts at the entrance of the underground parking garage— among them is the famed Grilled Cheese Truck. After having heard so many positive rumors about the truck, I reluctantly got in line with a few eager friends. The line was not terrible that moment; the wait was only minutes as the queue moved quickly. Soon, it was my turn to choose. 

On the menu, there are six main items that range from $3-8 dollars: Plain and Simple Melt which gave four choices of cheese, Cheesy Mac Melt, Cheesy Mac and Rib Melt, Harvest Melt, Brie Melt, and Dessert Melt. Often times the truck has daily specials including the sandwich of my choice, the Monster Melt. Moreover, there is the opportunity to customize an order by adding in optional items provided on the menu. 

My name (of course I told workers it was sgv food dood) was called momentarily after I requested  a Monster Melt. The rectangular sandwich snugly fit into the provided metallic envelope. Hot and right off the grill, I finally could taste what people have been raving about. 

I opened the package and the first noticeable characteristic is the golden brown grill marks on the outer parts of the bread. The outer bread was crisp and buttery, yet the inner part remained fluffy and moist. In between was a sliced tomato perspiring with juices that added a nice juicy and organic touch. The bacon was crisp yet not overwhelmingly greasy, though a bit stiff. As one may guess, the cheeses were melted to a warm gooey perfection! It acted as a flawless adhesive containing all the fresh ingredients into one portable meal. 

Additionally the Cheesy Mac Melt was glorious. The large pieces of elbow macaroni with the saucy melted sharp cheddar simply cannot compare to Kraft EZ Mac. The buttery grilled bread complimented the mac and cheese with a toasty touch. According the Grilled Cheese Truck website, the Cheesy Mac became overwhelming popular at the 7th LA Grilled Cheese Invitational which led to the inspiration of the Grilled Cheese Truck’s beginning. I’m not surprised at its popularity because it is a genius idea to combine two comforting childhood favorites into one. 

Nonetheless my favorite was the Brie Melt that had double cream brie with sliced pears and honey. Speechless at first bite, this creamy yet mildly sweet sandwich was absolutely amazing. The melted brie acted as an impeccable center between the two pieces of masterfully grilled bread.

Suddenly I crave for Grilled Cheese Truck. Luckily, they will be close to my area tomorrow.  For those who would like to try, their location can be found on Twitter, Facebook, or website. With fleets of food trucks roaming in the Los Angeles area, it is no wonder why the Grilled Cheese Truck continues to endure and remain successful as one of the top favorites. 

It's worth a trip, trust.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Denny's?-- Pancake Puppies Sundae

Why write about Denny's? The thought of writing about Denny's was almost unimaginable since it's such a common place, especially considering not visiting Denny's in the past two and half years. Yet the $2 dollar Pancake Puppies Sundae deal is too dang good not to mention.

It is essentially a scoop of creamy Denny's vanilla ice cream with three deep fried egg-shaped balls of goodness topped with thick chocolate syrup and whipped cream.

Kind of curious to what the "puppies" were, it was to my relief that they were not really puppies! Phew. Instead, they were surprisingly warm and fluffy with a cake-like texture on the inside with a sugary coating and a subtle crunchiness outside. The melted ice cream served as a nice milky dip, but the chocolate syrup was a little too much for my liking. In any case, the puppies were a nostalgic reminder of these fresh homemade donuts I once had in Palau Aur, Malaysia. 

Aside from getting two of the food groups, this 450-calorie dessert is certainly unhealthy. Still, for $2 dollars, it is difficult for most not to indulge. 

It's worth a trip.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Twitter, Tweet, Treat!

Hello readers!

You may follow me on Twitter at if you want to keep updated on where I am or new blog entries! Also stay tuned for a chance to win a free meal if you're able to find me in time! How it works:
  1. I will tweet my whereabouts
  2. You will then find me in the restaurant I am reviewing and
  3. Recite the password (provided in the tweet)
  4. I'll treat the first person to find me to whatever I'm eating!
Sounds good? I think so. Let me know what you all think by posting your comments below. Thanks! 

It's definitely worth the trip, trust.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hoan Kiem—Chinese isn’t the Only Thing in Chinatown

As a Los Angeles native, my perception of Chinatown was that it tourist location with clusters of lame, dirty, and run down restaurants that easily impress tourists and foreigners with their sub par food— not really a place where the locals would eat. However, my experience at Hoan Kiem restaurant begs to differ as it turned out to be one of the best hidden secrets.

Hoan Kiem restaurant is a Vietnamese restaurant that specializes in three items: Banh Cuon (rice paper rolled cake), Pho Ga (Vietnamese chicken noodle soup), and Com Ga Hai Nam (Hai Nam chicken with rice). All these are classic Vietnamese cuisine items other than typical Pho beef noodles. Quick, clean, with friendly service, Hoan Kiem provides an authentic meal for less than $7.
Experienced with Vietnamese dishes throughout life, honestly the banh cuon (pronounced "bun goon") from Hoan Kiem is one of the best and comparable to the dishes in Vietnam. My dad who was born and raised in Vietnam with his 65 years of knowledge and experience with Vietnamese cuisine definitely agrees. With its symmetrical presentation, I was eager to try this hole in the wall’s most well known dish.
First thing first, I doused the banh cuon with every drip of fish sauce that was given. I pulled apart my disposable chopsticks and went right to work. The rice paper was fresh and thin.

At first bite, my eyes opened up as a natural reaction to the surprising warmth of the gooey rice paper, pork bits, and chopped mushroom. It was topped with bits of crispy dried onions with freshly sliced cucumbers and steamed be
an sprouts on the side. Moreover it was surrounded with a Vietnamese style pork loaf slices. The fish sauce was not overly potent and provided the correct balance to the overall healthy meal. I effortlessly devoured the meal within minutes as it was easy to eat, feeling satisfied but not overstuffed.

If you are looking for an authentic Vietnamese dining experience without asking your wallet for a big allowance, this is one of the best places to go. I conversed in English with Jeff, nephew of the original owner, so do not be intimated if you are unfamiliar with the surrounding cultural atmosphere. Around the area you can find Chinese themed gift shops and kiosks to complete your Chinatown excursion.

Finding the restaurant will be an adventure in itself as it is tucked away in the Chinatown Far East Plaza, the same plaza as the Wing Hop Fun herbal store between HSBC and Chusan Plaza. Parking is available on the street. There are also some parking lots nearby that charge between $3-10 depending on the day of the week. The LA Metro Gold Line Chinatown Station is also conveniently nearby.

727 N. Broadway Suite #130

Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 617-3650
Tues-Fri: 10am-6pm
Sat-Sun: 9:30am-6pm
Mon: Closed
It’s worth the trip, trust.
Hoan Kiem on Urbanspoon