Restaurant Review #55: Messob, Fairfax, Little Ethiopia

Vegetarian sampler for two, as always

To be honest, too much time passes between my visits to different Ethiopian restaurants for me to be able to compare them very well. However, Messob is not one of my favorites for several reasons.

Of the five different dishes that come in the vegetarian sampler, one was a salad of just lettuce and tomato. I can make that at home, and it doesn't taste very good wrapped in injera. Another dish was cold pieces of injera with tomatoes and some kind of sauce. Mmm, injera with more injera! No thanks. The lentils and collard greens were good, and the fifth dish, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots, came separately from the rest of our meal--I guess it was taking too long to cook--and, while the cabbage was good and had some flavor from the spices, the potato and carrots were basically just big chunks of steamed potato and carrot. Not too flavorful.

The restaurant was about half full on a Friday night at 8:00. It does have standard Ethiopian restaurant decor, but the lighting was yellowy and gave the restaurant a sort of dingy look, even though it seemed clean.

1041 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019


Restaurant Review #54: Versailles Cuban Restaurant, Encino

Fried yuca

I ordered the fried yuca because they were out of croquettes (I was really excited about those, too, as they were one of my favorite dishes in Spain). Yuca is a plant that grows in the desert which I did not realize had edible parts. It's very starchy, but stickier and sweeter than a potato. I didn't think it tasted like much--they would have benefitted from a dipping sauce, or from not being cut into such large pieces. They were fried perfectly, however-- crispy and pale golden brown, much like tempura.

Black bean soup

I've heard much raving about Cuban black bean soup, and I will confirm that the Cubans do indeed know how to embellish black beans. Yum. This bowl was huge. No one can eat this many beans in one sitting, I'm fairly certain. This soup alone was three meals for small appetite me.

Garlic Sauce

This garlic sauce was excellent. It's a thin, tangy, dare I say pungent sauce. If you go to Versailles, make sure to order something that comes with this sauce.

Chicken and the best fried plantains I've ever tasted

We ordered a roasted chicken (which is a house specialty, and what the garlic sauce came with). I probably wouldn't have liked it without the sauce, because I'm not a fan of roasted chicken. The outside had a great spice rub, but in order to taste that you had to eat the chicken skin, which I'm not fond of. I would have preferred that the onions on top be sauteed, rather than raw. The fried plantains, unlike most I've had, were truly worth raving about, and surprisingly tasted good with the bit of garlic sauce they had sopped up. Next time I'll order a whole plate of fried plantains.

I also had a guanabana shake, which was good, but I prefer the juice alone. The milk/ice cream dilutes the already delicate flavor of guanabana. (By the way, the accent falls on the antepenultimate syllable: wah NAH bahnah.)

The decor was kind of 90's and nothing exciting--dark green carpet, red vinyl chairs (or was it the other way around?) dark wood and a mirrored wall. Service was prompt and unobtrusive. The restaurant smells like a homey Mexican kitchen (or Cuban, but I haven't smelled any kitchens in Cuba). I'd definitely like to go back.

Versailles No. 3
(818) 906-0756
17410 Ventura Blvd
Encino, CA 91316

Other locations too. Visit the website for info.


Restaurant Review #53: Melisse, Santa Monica

Some meals are just too good to photograph, and this was one of them. When you're eating food that's so good you occasionally start tearing up, you don't want to interrupt the mood by sneaking out the camera and telling your friend they can't touch their food until you photograph it six times. Besides, the lighting was too dim for any decent shots.

So, French food. Eh. What's the big deal? It's not raw, like sushi. It's not spicy, like every other kind of food I favor. I've even had French food in France. It failed to impress me. And it's always expensive as hell. Yet French cuisine is the gold standard of food, and I like to consider myself somewhat of a food expert, so I decided to try to figure out what I was missing.

Enter Melisse, which is consistently ranked as one of the top restaurants in LA.. I have walked by (yes, I walk places) this French restaurant on Wilshire with the strangely painted gray box exterior many times. Having not eaten at most of the other 50 or 100 or however many restaurants are supposed to be the "best" in LA (I hate quotation marks, but best can be such an arbitrary designation) I cannot, with any authority, comment on this claim. I can, however, tell you that it was one of the best meals that I have ever eaten.

Like the unusual exterior, the interior was strange as well. It was upper middle class early 90's living room meets garden patio meets nice restaurant dining room. In spite of being located right on a busy street, I couldn't hear a single sound from the street while I was inside. The restaurant was quite quiet. Ahh, quiet. In spite of the strangeness, the place felt very tranquil. I like that in a restaurant. And in pretty much everything.

We sat at a table. There are also booths lining the restaurant, and for a party of 2-4, I would recommend a booth. The dining room, surprisingly, never got more than half full, if that, on a Friday night. The tables are all in the middle, so I felt kind of like I was on display sitting out there when almost everyone else was in a booth.

So what did I eat?

Well, this is going to take a while. It took me four hours to eat it all.

First, there was the bread (3 kinds) and two amuse bouches. The bread was quite good, and served with butter that actually came at a spreadable temperature (room temperature). Who wants to eat cold butter? I've never understood this. Butter doesn't even need to be refrigerated. Americans refrigerate things to death, but I'll save that rant for another day. The bread was quite good. The thing about good bread though is that bread, I feel, has been mastered, and I've tasted enough mastered bread (haven't I?) that I kind of expect it to all taste that way. It's not thrilling when the bread is good--just how it should be. Fortunately, this bread was what all bread should be. Unfortunately, some pieces were a bit burnt, and I didn't understand why they were still serving them. Also, the ciabatta slices came in a significant range of sizes, but no effort was made to compensate for this by serving two small pieces instead of one large one, for example. I think this was the only real flaw of the entire dining experience, but it still seemed out of place, and it's important to start the meal with a polished first impression.

The first amuse bouche was a tiny square of something gelatinous on a cracker. It was good but didn't excite me, except that an amuse bouche always excites me. The second was a porcelain spoon with a salmon mousse and a shot of cucumber foam served in a shotglass with a short straw. I am always intrigued by new things, and this was also good, but in general I don't like salmon much and don't want to drink cucumber.

It may sound like I have a lot of gripes so far. Actually, I was completely enamored of the restaurant from the moment the valet opened my car door. I laughed at the purse stand (a small stool on the floor next to my chair), though I had to admit it was nice to not have to dive under the table or worry about someone stealing it off the back of my chair (I can't shake that necessary pickpocketing pursesnatching paranoia I acquired in Europe). I ordered champagne, and delighted in the tiny (expensive) bubbles. (Good champagne has much smaller bubbles, than, say, a $7 bottle of Martini and Rossi).

Then the first course came. We had the tasting menu, but the tasting menu came with options.

Sweet White Corn Ravioli, Smoked Bacon, Clams, Truffle Froth, Summer Truffles (my friend)

Blue Fin Tuna Tartare, Cucumbers, Mango, Avocado Mousseline, Yuzu-Chili Sauce (me)

Why do I keep ordering tuna? I do not like tuna. I shall repeat, for good measure, to myself, you don't like tuna! Stop ordering it! It's just that when I see raw fish on the menu, I'm always drawn to order it.

Not knowing what any of the dishes were supposed to look like, I took a bite of one of the little squares set on the beautifully presented plate in front of me. Dear sweet god I wanted to laugh and cry the instant my tongue enveloped it (the food in my mouth made that difficult). The pasta was thin so that it burst when you put it into your mouth and sweet creamy goodness flooded out. As it turns out, the guy (not our server) who brought the food from the kitchen put the wrong dish in front of the wrong person. I sadly returned the sweet corn ravioli to its rightful owner, but he let me eat another piece later. It also came with clams, which were also good. I'd never had cooked clams before (only giant clam sushi). They have the consistency of mussels, but chewier, and that same odd texture that makes your back teeth almost stick together. Also, the server shaved fresh truffles over the dish right before my very eyes. Having never even seen a truffle in person before, I was dazzled. However, I didn't think the flavor of the raw truffles was anything to get excited about. I think this may be more a show of opulence than anything else. Pop quiz: What's more expensive, truffles or saffron? Leave your guess (or correct answer) in the comment section.

My tuna dish was just okay. It was layered, lasagne style, and rather large, I thought, given all the food that I knew would be to come. I love yuzu, but didn't really notice it, and I didn't think the flavors quite went together, especially the mango. I didn't really care though, because I was completely enraptured by the ravioli. I even ate the bacon. (For those of you who don't know, bacon is one of my least favorite foods.)

Second Course

Maine Lobster, Heirloom Tomatoes, Lobster-Tomato Consomme, Basil Salad (friend)

Sauteed Eastern Black Bass, Oyster-Meyer Lemon Shooter, Champagne-Leek Reduction (me)

I love bass, champagne, and leeks, and I don't like meat, and I'm allergic to shellfish, so this was the obvious choice of a second course for me. Again, I was ecstatic about the flavor of my dish. Fortunately, I was actually tasting my own dish this time. The champagne-leek reduction, which was poured over the plate right at the table, was really what made the fish so superb. The oyster lemon shooter didn't do it for me at all. I squinched my face up at the bitterness and swallowed it away. I can't comment on the lobster, since I couldn't eat it.


Crispy "Liberty" Duck Breast, Figs, Honeycomb, Cous Cous, Verjus Gastrique (friend) (because I wanted it)

Homemade pasta with truffle sauce (don't have the actual description, sorry)

I thought I liked duck. I had it twice in France, and when I was a true vegetarian, I found myself craving, of all things, duck. This dish, however, turned me off to duck completely. I'm sure that this duck was of excellent quality, but the fatty, chewy meat turns me off. My friend, who ordered it largely so I could try both the truffle dish and the duck, didn't like it either. The figs were delectable, but the honeycomb was icky (I feel like I'm eating wax, maybe I'm eating it wrong? I love honey but I've never liked honeycomb). I don't know what the verjus gastrique was and I don't have any recollection of the cous cous. I generally don't like cous cous (too dry, doesn't taste like much) so maybe I didn't bother.

The truffle pasta was good. The pasta was thin and delicate, like the ravioli. The sauce seemed to involve lots of butter and truffles. It had a rich flavor, but after eating this dish, I fail to understand why truffles are such a huge deal. I have a feeling this has more to do with personal preference than with the dish itself.

Fromage Course

Selection of Fine Cheeses

We had eight! We could have had more. Someone come around with a cheese cart, and by cart, I mean giant marble slab on wheels. I almost started crying again when I saw the cheese cart. I love cheese. I usually have about seven kinds in my fridge at all times. (My favorite cheese is a soft Italian cheese called Bel Paese, not featured in this meal, but available at Whole Foods). You get a plate of fantastic, fascinating cheeses tailored to your own personal cheese taste (easy on the goat cheeses, please). The most interesting thing we had was a very soft (like Brie) cow's milk cheese that tasted like a burnt down house. Yet somehow, it grew on me. I ate almost all of it, so fascinated was I that something that looked like an ordinary piece of cheese could taste like this. Served with the cheese were walnuts (cracked fresh at the table), candied/wine soaked peach slices, and candied kumquats (I adore kumquats, but they're better fresh).

Dessert Course

Sticky Toffee Pudding, Mocha Malt Ice Cream, Coffee-Orange Consommé (me)

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate (friend)

I've never been a chocoholic. What kind of woman am I? Well, not a very typical one. The chocolate dish had a chocolate souffle, one or two kinds of ice cream, and something else. It was all yummy, of course. My dessert did not taste particularly toffee-ish. The mocha ice cream was great (I love it when there are actual coffee beans in my coffee ice cream) and the coffee-orange consomme, served in a shot glass, was bizarre. Alternative uses for shot glasses must be trendy right now. I saw three during my meal, and none contained liquor.

We also ordered the wine pairings, which I highly recommend. There were only a couple that I didn't care for. Most were some of the best wines I've ever had, and were excellent choices for each dish, which my friend and I confirmed by tasting all of each other's wines. The sommelier, a slightly shady looking guy who seemed like he might be a guitarist in a garage band in his spare time (or like he might be a guitarist who is a sommelier in his spare time), clearly knows his wines.

All of the service was friendly, including, unbelievably, the valet, which at many places acts like they have no connection with the restaurant and is not very friendly. Here, the valet welcomed me to Melisse, and remembered by appearance which car was ours when we picked up the car after our meal. I was impressed and pleased that at a place that could have easily chosen to be stuck up, our server instead acted like we were old chums and happily explained how the different tasting menus and supplements worked. Also, the chef, Josiah Citrin, came out and talked to every table. He seemed concerned that I did not like my truffle pasta. I did, but that dish alone was enough food for me to call dinner, and it was course 3 of 7 (does the bread count?), so I had to restrain myself. Too bad Melisse is not really the kind of place where you ask for a doggie bag. Too bad he was gone before I realized he was the chef. I would have liked to talk to him more. I'm not sure about what, exactly, but I have never gotten to talk to the chef before! Excluding sushi chefs, of course.

In case you were wondering about the name, it means lemon balm, which is an herb from the Mediterranean. It is pronounced meh-lee-sah. Very mellifluous, especially when uttered with a French accent.

1104 Wilshire
Santa Monica, CA 90401
You should really check out the wine list. It's insanely long.


Restaurant Review #52: Hurry Curry of Tokyo, Sawtelle, West LA

I thought this place was supposed to be really good. And it smelled good. Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed.

I went on a Saturday evening around 6:00 and only about a fourth of the tables were occupied. It's a casual place, with a nice black tile floor and light wood tables and chairs, but not nice enough to take a date.

Loungey deep house grooves
emanated from the stereo, which turned what would have been a mediocre to poor eating experience into an acceptable to average one, and gave the place significantly more atmosphere. I went alone, and didn't feel awkward about it--not that I ever really do, but I imagine at some trendy spots I might. The waitress/hostess was friendly and asked about the book I was reading.

The service definitely lives up to the restaurant's name: it was extremely fast, probably in part because I ordered what was touted on the menu as the most popular dish--a breaded chicken cutlet with curry sauce. I ordered my dish medium spicy, and got the white girl special as usual--not spicy at all. I'm from Texas, yo, home of three alarm chili cookoffs. I can handle the heat!!! (I quit eating chili around age 10, but that's not the point.)

I wasn't very impressed with my food. I ordered a lychee saketini, which was too sweet and made with not very good sake. However, it was only $4, which made me happy. I thought my eyes were deceiving me. Where in LA can you get a drink for $4??? My chicken was okay. It kind of tasted like dead bird (maybe all chicken does and I'm just now starting to notice it, or maybe this is just a characteristic of lower quality meat, which is the theory I'm going with). It was pounded flat white meat, and the breading was a perfectly cooked crispy brown. The curry sauce, like I said, was not very spicy, and not terribly flavorful--I could really taste the turmeric. The dish ended up tasting a lot like a Japanese version of chicken fried steak. Which was actually kind of nice, since I've been craving chicken fried steak for a while now, but wasn't what I was expecting at all. The side portion of rice was generous, and included with the entree (miraculously) but it seemed gooey and overcooked to me. I realize that this was sticky rice, but it still seemed overcooked, which is just wrong since I'm sure they used a rice cooker. I don't like rice much though in general, so take my opinion on it with a grain of. . . salt. A very small side salad (the size of a miso soup cup) came with my meal. It consisted of iceberg lettuce and shredded carrot. The miso soy house dressing was excellent, and oddly enough the iceberg lettuce seemed to make sense in this salad.

Bonus: Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 they have a (very early) happy hour with $2 saketinis, $2 beers and $2 appetizers. I would almost certainly go back for that, because that could easily be a cheap dinner for my small appetite. The appetizers (and there are only 5) are typical bar food: fried calamari, fried chicken, fried shrimp, croquettes, and edamame (which is not typical bar food, as least, not in the west). I have no great desire to return for another meal, but I might give them another shot with a different dish which I will order "hot." Maybe I'll be adventurous and try some Japanese spaghetti, which they have a whole list of, though it sounds incredibly unappetizing to me. Given that this is basically supposed to be fast food, it was quite good, but it's not priced like fast food: one drink and one entree were $16 including tax and tip. I could have had a fabulous Indian or Ethiopian feast for that kind of money. With lots of leftovers. You won't have leftovers here, unless you are a very light eater, like me.

The restaurant is owned by Enterprise Fish Company (which I have never eaten at), but fish does not feature heavily on Hurry Curry's menu. There are several vegetarian options. I am not sure if the curry sauce is vegetarian, and it seemed like it might (maybe) have animal stock or lard in it--ask if you're concerned.

Hurry Curry of Tokyo
2131 Sawtelle Blvd.
West Los Angeles 90025
Phone: 310-473-1640
Fax: 310-473-7933
Delivery: 310-441-2483

Alternate (new) location:
37 S. Fair Oaks Ave.
Pasadena, Ca 91105
Phone: 626-792-8474
Fax: 626-792-8481
Delivery: 626.792.8474

Restaurant Review #51: Anastasia's Asylum, Santa Monica (now closed)

Poached pear, candied walnut and gorgonzola cheese with dried cranberries

Disclaimer: In the summer of 2006, Anastasia's Asylum became Living Room. Living Room then closed. The original review remains below.

Anastasia's is my other favorite coffee shop (in addition to Literati--they have very distinct personalities). It's date-worthy and very cozy, almost to the point of being cramped (but not quite). The downstairs walls are painted bright cadmium orange and covered with a rotating display of student artwork. The wooden tables are mostly small tables for two, but there is an old (and uncomfy) Victorian couch near the door, and tables can always be pushed together. The somewhat undiscovered upstairs is cozy and has a green and purple vibe, but nightly performers work from the balcony and make it an inconvenient place to sit during those times. I enjoy the performers, but they make it difficult to talk. The small size of the shop offers no quiet corners during shows.

They offer brunch on the weekend, and Sundays seem to be particularly crowded. The coffee is good enough, though not great--they seem to do better on Italian sodas and fruit drinks. They also offer a wide selection of healthy meals, such as hummus or chicken wraps, both of which were quite good. The menu is definitely vegetarian friendly: most of the dishes are vegetarian, and there is a whole list of veggie burgers. The ingredients are fresh and above-average in quality. The service in the past tended to be grumpy, but on my last couple of visits they have been friendly and patient and my food and drinks have been brought to my table promptly. A couple of outdoor tables accomodate smokers, but these are along Wilshire and next to Temple Bar, making them not convenient for conversation.

As far as my thoughts on the salad, above, the pear was a little hard in the middle, and there was only one poached pear half in the entire salad, which was a little misleading I thought since pears were emphasized in the salad's title. The cheese was very good--much creamier and less tangy than all the other blue cheese I've ever eaten. The dried cranberries were the kind that actually look like halved cranberries (but I guess Ocean Spray does call them craisins, after all). I didn't like the walnuts much--several were burnt, and they tasted like cereal. I don't like walnuts or cereal, though I have enjoyed the occasional candied walnut, such as the ones at Warszawa, so I thought there was hope. The salad was a bit awkward to eat, since the spring mix they used contained some unwieldy and in my opinion inedible parts. It came with a balsamic vinagrette dressing. I honestly can't tell you if the dressing was good because I don't like balsamic vinagrette. All I can tell you is that it didn't convert me.

Anastasia's is open until 2 or 3am daily.

Anastasia's Asylum

1028 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA

Other Area Coffee Shop Reviews:
Literati Cafe
18th Street Coffee House
The Talking Stick

Restaurant Review #50: 18th Street Coffee House, Santa Monica

This casual, spacious coffee house has both indoor and outdoor seating. It is neither corporately friendly nor independently hostile. The floors are cement, and the wrought-iron tables have mosaic tops. There are also booths and a fountain. I haven't properly experienced this place yet: I ordered an iced decaf (boring) and went on a Wednesday at 6pm (not a time likely to have many patrons). It was pretty empty. The music was a bit loud, and the bathroom was spacious. If I were to take a date to a coffee house, I would not pick this one as it's not cozy or romantic in any way. I believe they had some meal food in addition to coffee and dessert. If I visit again, I'll give you a more in-depth review.

18th Street Coffee House

1725 Broadway
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Other Area Coffee Shop Reviews:
Literati Cafe
Anastasia's Asylum
The Talking Stick


Restaurant Review #49: Osteria Latini, Brentwood

The Dining Room

I loved the friendly hostess who didn't scold us for not making reservations or give my mom a look like "what are you doing in Brentwood?" The dining room was very inviting, full of natural light, and yes, this is the whole dining room.

Oyster mushroom and yellow lentil puree amuse bouche

Mmmm, mushrooms. Give me a sauteed mushroom and I'm a happy girl. The yellow lentil puree was unexciting, though. Yellow lentils generally are. The dish was on the overly buttery side, but I ate both mine and my brother's.

Complimentary bread basket and dips

Why does there currently seem to be a trend of making a dip out of black olives? Black olives, the kind that come from a can and taste like a combination of metal and nothing? Also, the tomato basil whatever was silly, because the tomatoes were slightly underripe and it came with no utinsel, as if I was supposed to dip my bread in large chunks of tomatoes. No winners here.

Rigatoni with tomato, basil, and parmesan

Good. Nothing amazing.


I like Trader Joe's gnocchi better, actually. This just didn't do it for me. I think I make better pesto, too. There was too much olive oil in this one, and it used walnuts (my least favorite nut) rather than pine nuts.

Lemon champagne sorbet

This was pretty good. It was brought to our table, gratis, perhaps as a palette cleanser before the dessert. It was hard to drink it all though, because the foam resisted drinking and eventually settled tot he bottom of the glass, where my nose prevented access to it. I guess that's what spoons are for. Or a better choice of glassware?

Dessert sampler

The best part of the meal was the fantastic panna cotta on this dessert sampler. I've never had panna cotta before, and really didn't understand what it is (and still don't, but it's that white round thing on the far left). The sorbets were made from fresh fruit--no one told me, but I knew, without a doubt.

So what is the big deal about this place? The food didn't really impress me. My wine was not as good as something I could have bought at TJ's or Whole Foods for $7. Overall, this seems like the kind of place that people with unadventurous palates find really good. I'm not even sure it has potential, since the tomatoes were sub-par (and at an Italian restaurant, that's inexcuseable). Don't get me wrong, the food was not bad by any means. It's just that there is much better Italian food out there. Also, if Brentwood is vying for distinction as a Little Italy, they might want to import some Italians.

It's a good place for trophy wife watching, though.

Osteria Latini
11712 San Vicente Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 826-9222

Future Dining Experiences

Sometimes I have a really hard time remembering the 100 or so restaurants I want to try when it comes time to actually pick a place. Maybe you do, too. My reviews should help you with that. And for me, there's this ever-evolving list of the untried, which not only serves as a reminder, but fulfills my compulsive need to organize everything. This list is not exhaustive, of course, and recommendations are always appreciated.

Cafe Carolina
Stevie's Creole
Tempo Mediterranean

Van Nuys
El Rincon Chileno
El Parron (Chilean)
El Criollo (Cuban)
Mercado Buenos Aires
Green Oaks Korean BBQ
Tacos el Jerezano (5973 Hazeltine)
El Trapiche (pupusas)
pupusa place on Van Nuys near Vanowen in IHOP building
Puro Sabor (Peruvian on Van Nuys)

Elsewhere in the Valley
The Great Taste (7141 Kester)
Ole Tapas Bar (Studio City, live flamenco Tue. nights)
Wine tasting at Artisan Cheese Gallery
Wine Bistro ($39, Studio City)
Tama Sushi
Nata's Pastries
Clay Oven
India Cafe
Taste of India
Iwata Sushi (Ventura and Van Nuys)
Leaf Cuisine
La Pergola
Coffee Roaster
Pane Dolce
Lula's Beehive
Sushi House of Taka

Santa Monica/Brentwood/Venice
A Votre Sante
Urth Caffe

The Counter
Cora's Coffee Shop (Ocean Ave)
La Botte ($55)
Le Petit Cafe ($32)
Taiko (sushi, $27)

Culver City
Bottle Rock
Vinum Populi

Firefly Bistro
Tibet Nepal House
The Venezie ($53)
La Huatesca (upscale Mexican)
Zephyr Coffeehouse

Campanile ($70, La Brea)
Bin 8945 (WeHo)
Susina Bakery ($14, La Brea)
La Boheme ($50, WeHo)
Grace ($60, WeHo)
Sona ($80, WeHo)
Los Balcones del Peru ($20, Hollywood)
Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles
Golden Deli (Vietnamese, San Gabriel)
La Paella

Chosun Galbee (
3330 W Olympic Blvd)
BCD Tofu House (3575 Wilshire Blvd)
Soot Bull Jeep (3136 W. 8th, b/t Normandie and Vermont)
Meals by Genet (Little Ethiopia)
Lee's Sandwiches (Westminister)

Restaurant Review #48: Sham, Santa Monica

A Poem (sort of)

The muhummura was
Too many walnuts
Not enough sweet sweet red pepper
And pomegranate molasses
Wouldn't bring me extra pickled turnips
The service is
Like a dead leaf drifting from a tree
And like that same dreary November day when that leaf fell
There is no atmosphere.

I'll have to find a different Lebanese place.

One with a better name. It's not as bad as the Chevy Nova, but still.

716 Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401


Restaurant Review #47: Kiriko, Sawtelle, West LA

Tuna and tamago

I've been to Kiriko about ten times, and not once have they let me down. It's one of those rare restaurants where the service is always good, the tables aren't crammed together (except sometimes on a busy Saturday night), you can usually get a same-day reservation, and no matter what you order, it will be fresh and well-prepared.

Seared Wagyu beef sushi - $20 for 2 pieces (but worth it)

Kiriko is a small restaurant in the Olympic Collection building, that large yellow shopping and banquet center on the corner of Sawtelle and Olympic. The restaurant opens for dinner at 6:00 and recommends reservations. I've always made reservations to be on the safe side, but it seems like if you arrive early you'll be able to get in.

Shishito peppers, shiitake mushrooms and shaved bonito

The dining room is small and narrow, but not at all cramped. The tables are made of a sleek, shiny dark wood. Low lighting, but not too low, adds to the relaxing atmosphere. The service is always attentive, but can sometimes be slow. The servers are always very respectful and make sure to inform you about any dishes that are somewhat unusual when you order them. The daily specials and desserts are charmingly hand-written on fancy paper. I like that the specials are written down, so I don't have to recall a server's explanations or crane my head to find a dry erase board behind the sushi bar.

Assorted nigiri

The prices are reasonable, too: the bill on one visit was an amazing $43 for 2 people with small appetites ordering many things, including some at market price. Of course, on another visit I managed to spend $63 on myself alone. For $75, you can try the omakase. They also have a great deal on a lunchtime omakase--twelve pieces of six kinds of nigiri for around $30.

Mango-wrapped smoked salmon

The smoked salmon is freshly smoked and bears no resemblance to the semi-translucent stuff you can buy at the grocery store. You shouldn't pass up this fish, even if you don't normally like salmon. The tamago is unusually cake-like: delightfully spongy, fluffy, and sweet, and tastes only faintly of egg. For those who say you can judge a sushi resetaurant by the quality of its tamago, Kiriko is thrilling. The tuna looks amazing, but I'm not really a tuna fan (with the exception of albacore and toro) so I can't give a meaningful opinion on it. Kiriko's fish is some of the best I've ever had, and it's always soft and fresh.

Albacore tataki salad with garlic ponzu sauce

Albacore salad is one of my standby favorites, and Kiriko's version does not disappoint. The albacore is fresh and generously cut. The amount of lettuce is just right--not excessive. While some albacore salads consist of lots of salad with a little albacore, this salad truly showcases the fish. The ponzu sauce is perfect, and sesame seeds are always a great garnish that increase depth of flavor while also looking a bit festive. Kiriko's garden salad is also excellent. It uses flavorful greens that taste like they are from Maggie's Farm topped with a succulent miso dressing.


Kiriko often has nice, fresh flowers on every table--not cheap carnations or craft store imitations. Sometimes they even have orchids.

Yellowtail (back left), halibut (front left), sea eel with salt (back right), toro (front right)

At Kiriko, your server will usually tell you whether a fish should have soy sauce or not, but never in a condescending way. Since sushi novices are prone to drowning everything in wasabi and soy sauce (I know I used to), it's never a bad idea to point out the best way to enjoy a particular fish. It shows that they really care about the food.

Sea eel with salt from Japan

Sea eel (also known as saltwater eel) is my one of my favorite kinds of sushi. Unfortunately, most sushi restaurants don't serve it. The funny thing about eel is that saltwater eel is the one that's actually served fresh. Freshwater eel is often vacuum packed, shipped over from Japan, heated in the toaster oven, and doused with eel sauce (which tastes identical to teriyaki sauce, to me). Sea eel is sometimes an off-menu item at Kiriko, so make sure to ask your server about it. They'll as you if you want eel sauce or sea salt on top. I recommend going with the sea salt to experience the full flavor of the fish.

Fresh salmon roe

Since the salmon roe were actually fresh, and not the usual salt-packed preserved kind, I decided to try them for the second time in my life. They were very liquidy and only had a faint salty taste. I didn't particularly enjoy them, but the popping and oozing is an interesting sensation if you've never tried it.

Yellowtail scallion roll

A yellowtail scallion roll for me is a familiar and tasty way to get a bit closer to full without blowing my budget. Kiriko gets the fish to rice ratio just right, and toasted sesame seeds on the outside add extra flavor.

Teriyaki chicken

A friend who doesn't share my love of sushi ordered the teriyaki chicken. The chicken was moist and tender, and the sauce was sweet without being sticky. Beneath the chicken hides a savory puree of golden sweet potatoes. As far as teriyaki chicken goes, Kiriko's version is above average in both flavor and presentation.

Brown sugar and ginger ice cream

For dessert, don't miss Kiriko's homemade ice creams. My favorite is the brown sugar and ginger, but I also love their honey vanilla with fresh berries. Sometimes they have special flavors like sweet potato or even truffle (the mushroom, not the chocolate.

I always have a wonderful experience at Kiriko--it's never overcrowded, noisy, or sub-par in any way. They've even made it onto Jonathan Gold's 99 Essential LA Restaurants list and into the Michelin Guide, so it may not be my favorite secret for much longer.

11301 Olympic Blvd #102
West Los Angeles, CA
(310) 478-7769

Restaurant Review #46: Place Yuu, Sawtelle, West LA

Update: Place Yuu has permanently closed.

Last night, since I did not realize that Hide Sushi closes at 9:00, I had to pick a different sushi restaurant. There are five sushi restaurants on Sawtelle, and through process of elimination (bar only, closed, closed, already tried it) I opted for the place with no name. I was certain I'd never read about this place, but it was on Sawtelle, so it couldn't be that bad, right? It would probably be a lovely hole in the wall place. No name equals mystery. An undiscovered gem, perhaps.

Wrong. Though you may not believe it from the lovely photos, this is a terrible, terrible restaurant. Please do not ever eat here.
I shall tell you why. And keep in mind that I don't get any joy out of bashing a restaurant. I want to like every place I try.

This was one of those places I had a bad feeling about as soon as I walked in. I need to learn to let that bad feeling process before I find myself sitting at a table, especially when something as expensive and sacred as sushi is involved. I'm thinking about implementing a new policy: walk into the restaurant. Feel the vibe. Walk out. Process vibe. Re-enter if desired. Why did I get a bad vibe? The interior looked more like the set of Cheers than a sushi bar, and there were very few customers. We weren't shown to our table, merely pointed in the general direction.

The waiter showed contempt for us from the start. When he came to ask for drink orders, one person said he wanted water, and the waiter left. He didn't ask the rest of us what we wanted, he just left. I was thoroughly confused. He would continue this odd behavior of trying to get away from our table as quickly as possible for the rest of the evening. He didn't seem like an inherently strange or antisocial guy, though--arrogant as hell was more like it.

The menu, interestingly, has several items (at least ten) that were written only in Japanese. I thought this was either a good sign (very authentic stuff available, right?) or a bad sign (how pretentious to assume that I wouldn't want to try something new? I don't read any Japanese). I wanted to ask for translations, or possibly just take a shot in the dark and order them without explanations, but the waiter wouldn't hang around the table long enough for me to even order my tuna sashimi, let alone translate parts of the menu.

I assumed that the sushi would be very good, so I ordered a lot. This marked the second instance of the complete absence of my usual logic. Normally I order just a couple of things at a new sushi restaurant to test out the quality. I forgot this time, though. Sigh. I also ordered a hot sake that was described as sweet, because, well, I have an indefatiguable sweet tooth (an entire mouthful of them, in fact). I always get the generic hot sake, but I decided to try to upgrade. Unfortunately, this sake was worse than the usual (and perfectly acceptable to my unknowing taste buds) Geikkikan. Yes, I've got to learn about sake one of these days. Anyway, this stuff was sickeningly sweet. Ugh. But I drank it anyway. The sake cups were interesting--they were about 50% larger than usual. A waitress brought sake glasses for the whole table, though I hadn't ordered sake for 4. The waiter who delivered my friend's cold sake only brought him one glass. What great service. Fortunately, my friends left my sake to me.

The meal that ensued made the consumption of copious amounts of sake quite necessary. Well not really copious, but I'm not much of a drinker.

The tuna sashimi was cold, like it had just come out of the fridge. Bad news. It tasted about right, and the texture was about right, though. The red snapper, flown in from Japan and normally one of my favorites, was just okay. The yellowtail was pretty good, but then, it's pretty hard to mess up yellowtail. The same garnish was used to supposedly enhance the flavor of both the red snapper and the flounder, but I find it hard to believe that the flavors of two different types of fish would be best complemented by the same thing. I realize that ketchup tastes good on both hotdogs and hamburgers, but I don't apply the same philosophy to sushi garnishes.

The rice was lacking something, though I'm not sure what. Interestingly, the rice had a dab of what appeared to be soy sauce on the bottom of each piece. Huh? While I was initially pleased that the soy sauce had been added for me, I later decided it was ridiculous because the soy sauce was on the rice, not the fish. Also, the table soy sauce was not reduced sodium and too strong. It interfered with even the strong flavor of my salmon skin roll, so I did not use it. The salmon skin roll was not bad, but I didn't love it.

The entire sushi menu was in English, and, oddly enough, this threw off my order. Do you know what smelt means? I did not. I thought it was an adjective, describing the way egg is prepared. However, smelt is a noun, describing a rich and oily, small, silvery, mild-flavored fish that migrates between salt and fresh water. So I orderd smelt egg, thinking I was ordering tamago, and instead ended up with halibut roe, which I am not a fan of, particularly if it is not fresh, which this was not. Why don't they call it smelt eggs?

I was excited to see flounder on the menu. Hey, something I haven't tried yet! Is this not often on menus or I have I just never noticed it? Flounder, also known as hirame, reminded me of baby yellowtail. It had the same disturbing short, dark grey, stringy flecks in its translucent white flesh. What the hell is that stuff? I didn't think the hirame tasted like much, but then, the sushi here was generally not impressive, so I'm sure I did not have a transcendent hirame experience, especially because it had way too much pre-applied wasabi (one of my pet peeves--I want to be able to taste my fish). And pink ginger? While I used to think it was normal (it is, back in the good ol' Midwest, home of America's finest sushi), I have, at this point, become completely disgusted by it and convinced that it does not taste as good as the natural colored stuff.

The sushi chefs all looked profoundly unhappy. If I worked here, I would be too. I wanted to photograph them--I could have gotten some great portrait shots. However, the lighting was not conducive to that, and I don't like to be intrusive. I probably would have been anyway, because their expressions were just so great, but like I said--the lighting.

Service was highly inattentive, though the restaurant was not busy. No one ever asked how our food was, if we wanted anything else, or brought us the bill. When the bill arrived at least 45 minutes after we were very clearly done eating, and after 10 minutes of trying to get someone's attention to bring it to us, I was quite upset to find that my tuna sashimi was 11.95. On the special list, I swear it had said $2.25. Obviously (not thinking straight again) $2.25 could not have been correct. Maybe it said $7.25. I am certain, however, that it did not say $11.95. I am certain that the waiter did not bring me the bluefin tuna sashimi special, but instead brought me whatever the regular tuna sashimi is. Of course, he had been running away from the table as I'd been trying to order it, so no wonder he got it wrong.

At that point in the evening, I had eaten average to bad sushi, imbibed bad sake, and suffered terrible service that had cut into my sleep time. I was incredibly pissed off, but thankfully, I'd had a lot of sake so I was not feeling outraged. I was, however, pissed off enough to leave a $1 tip. It is very important to note here that I am absolutely not one to stiff waiters. Having had many service jobs, I realize how much they suck, and how important tips are, so I generally tip 20%. I don't think I've ever stiffed a waiter before, in fact. That's how bad the service was.

Place Yuu
2101 Sawtelle Blvd
(Corner of Sawtelle and , in the same white shopping center as Hurry Curry and Volcano Tea)
Los Angeles, CA 90025

Restaurant Review #45: Asakuma, West LA

At first, I thought deliverable sushi was a great idea. Then, I was skeptical of this place for being willing to deliver sushi, as non-fresh sushi makes me want to throw up. I decided to have a friend get some for take-out one night. I ordered a yellowtail scallion roll, a spicy tuna roll, and a pickle roll. I got a spicy yellowtail roll, a spicy tuna roll, and a pickle roll. They were all better than grocery store sushi (where the fish is so chewy and wrong that I won't touch the stuff) but not as good as real restaurant sushi (no big surprise). And I really wished they would have gotten my order right. Two spicy rolls is too many. Actually, one spicy roll is too many. I'm kind of over spicy rolls. Especially when they are made spicy with chili oil and not with spicy mayonaisse (though I'm not a mayo fan either).

Verdict: If you must take your sushi home, why not get it from a better place?

11701 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025

Restaurant Review #44: The Talking Stick, Santa Monica

The Talking Stick is an independent coffee shop on Ocean Park that hosts a different event every night of the week. I hate that about most of the coffee shops around here. What if I want to talk, or read, in relative quiet after work? I'm SOL. Literati Cafe is blissfully event-free, but it's not usually quiet and it's too big and shiny to have that authentic coffee shop feel. Cacao is also eventless, but there you might have to deal with hostile, black-garbed smoker types.

One of my friends is a die-hard knitter (and awfully good at it, too) so I went with her to the Talking Stick one night to check out her Stitch 'n' Bitch group.
The Talking Stick has a cool pillow room where you can sit on the floor and surround yourself with a mishmash of pillows. Very cozy, if you don't mind that many a person has been there before you.

Pre-event, The Talking Stick was blissfully quiet, except for the buzz of the lights hanging from the installed ceiling. I ordered a Greek salad, which was quite good. It used regular black olives, not kalamata olives. I emailed them about it later, and the guy who responded said he'd never heard of them, but he'd keep it in mind. So if you see kalamata olives there, that was me!

No matter who is working, they're always incredibly friendly, which is so much better than the pervasive rudeness and indifference that we so commonly deal with in LA.

I also had a blended mocha, which I really enjoyed. It had a strong coffee flavor and wasn't overly sweet like the drinks at major coffee chains. Actually, I didn't even realize how insanely sweet those drinks are until I had this one. The latte couldn't stand up to a Seattle latte, though--too much air in the foam and not enough oomph in the brew.

Once the knitters arrived, well, 20 women gabbing predictably raised the volume quite a bit. Had I not been a part of the group, I probably would have been pretty annoyed.

Overall, I adore The Talking Stick. Its friendly employees, quiet atmosphere, and cozy decor transport me out of the chaotic superficiality of LA and into a world where I actually feel at ease. I would go before 7:00 PM though to enjoy the quiet. They also have free WiFi.

The Talking Stick

1630 Ocean Park Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Talking Stick Website

Other Area Coffee Shop Reviews:
Literati Cafe
18th Street Coffee House
Anastasia's Asylum


Restaurant Review #43: Tia Juana's, West LA (now closed)


And I know that maybe someday's come...

It's been a long, long time since I've had authentic Mexican food. Since whenever the last time was that I went to La Tapatia in Houston. Though I speak Spanish and have lived nearish the Mexican border most of my life, and have even spent some time in Mexico, I have never been a huge fan of Mexican food. But my mom and brother were in town, and my immediate family's eating regimen only allows for Mexican, Italian, Cajun, American, and, very occasionally, Chinese. So when they were in town, I had a genuine Mexican recommend Tia Juana's to me as a good authentic Mexican restaurant. Sounded good. However, he is a mere half-breed, so that may have skewed his opinion somewhat. I am also a half-breed, but no one seems to consider English-German to be mixed. I'm just Anglo or Caucasian. How dull.


I'll see you smile as you call my name

I was happy when I opened the menu. The food is cheap! Not cheap like a true hole in the wall Mexican place, but cheap like "Are you sure we're on the Westside?" I wasn't hungry at all, since my family eats dinner at the ungodly hour of 5pm, so I ordered a salad. I ordered cactus. It was about damn time I tried some.

Unfortunately, it was straight out of a bucket in the refrigerator. It was too cold, nearly icy. It tasted kinda like pickles. I'm sure cactus can be better than this. I got a kick out of getting my unadventurous kin to try some, though.


Start to feel, and it feels the same

The "meatball soup," as the waiter described it to my brother, was my favorite part of the meal. A few of us gringos have heard of albondigas (though admittedly, my brother would not be one of them). Unfortunately, it was not part of my meal. Mind you, I didn't touch the meatballs, but the broth was damn tasty. Not tasty like pho, but good and homey. Is this a sort of Mexican equivalent of chicken noodle soup? Does anyone eat chicken noodle soup anymore? Does anyone like chicken noodle soup, really, especially Campbell's, even when they're five? Don't you love how in America we're supposed to grow attached to a mass-produced soup in a can whose dominant flavors are sodium and tin as the taste of love and comfort, instead of a home-cooked dish?

I also had some of my mom's cheese enchiladas. My mom thought they were pretty good, and she's quite the Mexican/Tex-Mex/enchilada connoiseur. I have forgotten what they tasted like. I'd like to see someone do something interesting with a cheese enchilada. I should mention here that when I was in Mexico, I never saw a cheese enchilada. They all had green sauce, white sauce or mole. I never saw any cheddar cheese, either. Of course, that was only central Mexico, and I was only there for a month, but I have always been mystified by this.


No I won't do it again, I don't want to pretend

Straight up Mexican food doesn't excite me that much. I've eaten it sooooo many times. I've probably eaten more cheese enchiladas than hamburgers in my lifetime. Nor am I a fan of heavy food or large portions--not because I'm yet another anorexic Barbie, but because it just doesn't feel good in my stomach. I also don't care for corn tortillas, which is what they serve here--I prefer flour. With whipped sweet cream butter with a touch of honey. Yup, that's how they served the all-you-can-eat tortillas at Casa Gallardo in St. Louis, the least authentic Mexican restaurant I have ever been to. I looooved those tortillas, the butter, and the two flavors of salsa they came with. I did not love the $15 tab I always left with. College was all about the $8 Thai food.

Maybe someday always comes again...

Overall, Tia Juana's was boring. Next time I or someone I know wants Mexican, I'm going to re-try Marix Tex-Mex in Pacific Palisades.

Tia Juana
11785 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064-1211
(310) 473-9293


Restaurant Review #42: The Slice, Santa Monica

Mmm, canned mushrooms

I have problems knowing when I am hungry. Often, my stomach does not growl. I just find myself in an extremely foul mood for no apparent reason except that, say, Bed Bath and Beyond is a nightmarish place to shop. So I went to The Slice for lunch the other day in an attempt to thwart low blood sugar before it could attack my generally good nature.

There is nothing exciting about The Slice, but $2.25 for a hot vegetarian lunch on the go is not bad, although it's not a particularly large slice, as you can see. Most people would probably need 2 or more slices to fill up. They have a short list of pizza options: cheese, mushrooms, pepperoni, sausage, and Hawaiian. They also have some non-pizza things, like calzones and salads. The toppings are all standard, there is nothing gourmet about them. The crust was perfectly baked, not burnt at all, thin and crisp (not to be confused with that thin and crispy matzo style crust crap), and with that fresh watery salty yeasty flavor that I love so much about any good piece of bread.

The Slice is nothing worth going out of your way for, but it's good for a quick lunch, and definitely better than your national pizza chains if you want a pizza delivered. Abbot's Pizza is a lot more exciting and has slightly larger slices which are priced accordingly (a slice of BBQ chicken was about $3.25, I think).

You won't want to eat in here--they have greasy formica tablebooths like Subway, but in red and green. Eh.

A slice from The Slice

The Slice
1600 Block of Ocean Park
Also 900 Block of Wilshire
Other locations? Probably.


Restaurant Review #41: Marrakesh, Studio City

Dining room

I went to Marrakesh on a word-of-mouth recommendation and because I was in the Valley. I had no idea what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised over and over again throughout my meal.

When we arrived around 6:00 on a Sunday, the restaurant was pretty empty, and it wasn't until about 8:00 when we left that a respectable number of tables were filled. I couldn't see the whole restaurant from where I was sitting though, only about ten tables. We didn't like the table they first seated us at--we wanted a cozy corner booth, and didn't see why we had been seated so close to the only other party in an otherwise empty room. We switched to another table without any problems. That was the only thing that went wrong the whole night, and it wasn't even a real problem.

A meal at Marrakesh starts out with a hand-washing ceremony. I was a little thrown off, since I didn't really know what to do, but basically everyone puts their hands in the center of the table over a dish and a server comes by with a large, ornamental container and gently pours water over everyone's hands. Then you're given a towel to dry your hands with.

The servers are outfitted in traditional dress, and there are no menus. Everything is served family style, and there are about four options for each of several courses, including a lot of lamb and fish dishes. Our server took care to present all of our options slowly and carefully and to make recommendations since we weren't familiar with the restaurant or with Moroccan cuisine. None of the options presented were vegetarian-friendly, so if you are or will be dining with a vegetarian, call ahead to find out of they can accommodate you. Since the service was so good throughout the meal, I wouldn't be surprised if they were willing to put something special together.

Appetizer plate

My favorite part of the appetizer plate was the reddish mush you see, which was an eggplant and tomato (I think) dish. I also liked the cucumbers and the beets, and, not surprisingly, I didn't like the carrots (I never do). I'm a big fan of variety, so I liked that there were a lot of different things on the plate. The only problem was that for me, this plate alone could have filled me up. I had to pace myself, especially on the eggplant. Our meal also started off with a simple tomato-based lentil soup. Servers come around to serve bread out of a large, traditional basket and encourage you to take as much as you want. I was afraid they would charge $5 per hunk when the bill came, but they didn't charge extra, so eat all the bread you want. I think the bread was French bread, which isn't a surprise since Morocco was a French colony.

Lamb kebabs and couscous

I pretty much left the lamb kebabs to my friend, since chunks of meat are just too carnivorous for me. I poked at the couscous, but it was too dry, as usual. I settled for eating the potatoes and raisins.

Around this time, a blonde belly dancer came out and danced for several songs. I found it a bit awkward--you're supposed to look, and yet at the same time, I felt like I wasn't supposed to look. Since there were only three parties seated in our area of the restaurant, I didn't want to ignore her, but at the same time, watching a woman dance sexily for random men doesn't appeal to my feminist convictions. Also, she invited me to get up and dance, which I really didn't understand, since I would have looked like a moron in my street clothes next to her elaborate costume and I didn't know a thing about belly dancing.

Honey lamb

The meat, served in a thin, sweet sauce, was very tender and juicy. I loved the plump raisins that came with this dish as well as with the lamb kebabs.


The fish was the least exciting dish of the evening--the texture was a bit chewy (it was more of a fish steak than a fillet--I prefer a fillet, and that is what Americans are more accustomed to eating), and the tangy olives really didn't go with the other muted flavors in the dish. My favorite thing on this plate was the potatoes.

Not pictured is the most spectacular dish of the evening--a meat pie the size of a dinner plate. (The white powdered sugar topping and the very low lighting made it impossible to photograph well, even with a flash.) More like a dessert than a meal, this dish consisted of finely shredded chicken mixed with cinnamon and sugar (and some other ingredients I couldn't identify) encased in a thin, flaky pastry covered in powdered sugar. I'm not much of a meat eater, but I enjoyed this dish a lot since it didn't taste meaty and the chicken flavor was disguised by the other flavors--the chicken seemed more like it was there for substance, texture, and nutrition--it didn't taste like meat.

Baklava and hot tea

Possibly the best baklava I've ever had--there is a huge difference between fresh, soft, honey-oozing baklava served slightly warm in a restaurant and even the best store-bought baklava, which is usually a lot crisper and often has more layers of phyllo (or maybe it just seems that way because the layers aren't as soft). The strong, sweet, mint tea was also excellent, and surprisingly, they came back to pour us more! They also served us a fruit basket, which I imagine we were supposed to eat from if we wanted, but I didn't feel like I was supposed to eat it, maybe because it was so perfectly color coordinated--purple grapes, a green apple, a red apple, and an orange.

My friend and I both agreed that it had been a great meal. The food was very good, the servers treated us extremely well, and the restaurant had a great atmosphere and a unique meal format. It was even quiet enough to have a conversation, and the cozy booths make a great start to a romantic evening. My only complaint is that the tables are very low, almost the same height as the bench seats, which makes eating a bit awkward. I would definitely go back, though. I've been to over one hundred restaurants in LA, and very, very few of them have good food, reasonable prices, good atmosphere, and are conducive to conversation--most places are missing one or two of these components. We also had tons of food and tons of leftovers for a very reasonably price. Make sure to go with a big appetite!

13003 Ventura Blvd,
Studio City, CA 91604
Tel. (818) 788 - 6354