Saturday, June 30, 2007

Movie Review: Ratatouille

This is will be a very boring critique as I pretty much have no qualms about this movie and will just sing its praises for the remainder of this post.

Friday was the opening of the latest Pixar/Disney project: Ratatouille. Not since the days of Finding Nemo could we expect a quality computer animated film as Hollywood continues to personify every animal (eg. penguin/moose/bear/penguin...again? C'mon!) without giving much effort to storyline. Nevertheless, with the release of this movie it looks like things are turning for the better. The premise of Ratatouille is that a epicurean rat, Remy, tries to pursue his love for cooking in a reputable Paris restaurant while trying to overcoming his inherent rat-ness.

On the surface, I'll admit that the film isn't easily differentiable from the slew of aforementioned CGI movies with cute animal characters. Look closer and you'll find that the midas touch of the Pixar team is its meticulous attentiveness to detail and the dynamic orchestration of the story-telling. In the beginning of the movie, you watch Remy become inspired by a chanterelle mushroom/cheese combination and it's immediately apparent that the food is not just a prop in the story but the inspiration for it. True to his gastronomic tendencies, Remy is a bit of a snob who tries to talk his fellow rats out of eating garbage. His character is very well crafted, indeed. The animation is also Pixar's finest! Each little rat hair is depicted with extreme precision and the collective movement of the fur is very believable.

Basically, Ratatouille is an excellent movie with enough elements to satisfy any adult, child, food snob or animation zealot. Huzzah!

Rating: 10/10 (Just when you thought I couldn't grade any higher)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Reading: Garlic and Sapphires

The book Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl was first recommended to me by my foodie friend Cynthia ( Ruth Reichl was once a food critic for LA Weekly and LA Times before she was wooed over to the New York Times. Ms. Reichl's tenure at the NY Times was the timeframe of the book's content.

Many out there may not sympathize with this particular cause but food critics have it hard. If not properly conducted in a discreet enough manner as to enjoy a meal completely unrecognized, a food critic can become overwhelmed with overtly friendly service, barraged with the finest dishes prepared with the kitchen's most quality ingredients and dare I say, even forced to eat for free. The only word I can think of for this kind of victimization is heinous. What about you? But all sarcasm aside, food criticism may not be the most important type of work but clearly, I love it.

It took me a while to decide whether and why I was compelled to finish this book. On one hand, I felt that Ms. Reichl took food writing a bit too seriously. Sure, I can understand her suggested issues of journalism politics. Especially at a paper as venerable NY Times, she a painted a picture of a somewhat conservative office culture and uptight editors. But when she wrote about picking low-key but quality ethnic restaurants to review as almost a form of advocacy for diversity (as compared to the bias towards traditional French-fare of the previous critic), I thought it a bit too righteous. Anyway, her stories revolve around her disguising herself in various costumes to avoid being recognized as the NYT food critic and also the personas she found herself taking on while incognito. The more she tries to be someone else, the more she realizes she is only accentuating a part of her she never knew about herself. (That sounded like a terrible movie promo but it's basically true).

Overall, the stories aren't nearly as cheesy as I made them sound and in fact, Ms. Reichl's description of food was so divine that I'm atttempted to ask if any real food can even taste as good as she made them sound. She would often write about the sensations of eating a certain dish with near odes of poetry and it's pretty clear that if food criticism can be considered a real career, she is a master of the art.

Rating: 9/10

PS. Dear reader(s), thank you for checking the blog! I apologize for my super slow frequency in posting but graduation is just around the corner and I will have nothing better to do in my life than write in this. Woohoo!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Restaurant Review: Chapeau!

Borrowing the excuse of visiting SF, I researched restaurants in the area. After a brief browsing, I came across Chapeau!, a quaint French restaurant in the Richmond District. I took particular notice to the restaurant because of their early bird special, which is a 3-course meal for $25.50 from 5pm to 6pm on weekdays. We arrived exactly at 5pm, only to find that the staff was still finishing setup. It was a little awkward to find the restaurant in mid preparation but it wasn't long before we were seated and merrily on our way to eating.

The first item was a complimentry cream of cauliflower soup topped with truffle oil. Before being told what it was, I wasn't quite certain what the flavor was. All I could have detected was the strong taste of cream. This was also my first encounter with truffle oil. Truffle oil is suppose embody the same aroma as the highly prized (and not to mention, uber expensive) fungi. Sadly, my pedestrian tastebuds did not react any differently to the gourmet ingredient than it would have to say, canola. But I enjoyed the dish nonetheless, especially with their homemade baguettes!

My first course was the duo of salmon, which was an elegant display of smoked salmon wrapped around cubes of salmon tartare and finally topped with thin potato waffles. The dish was not large but quite filling. Now here is a dish that looks good and delivers in taste! My mom had the mescun salad was also pleasant (though not nearly as fancy looking, in my opinion).

My main entree was bass atop pureed potatoes. Again, the presentation was superb! The portions were also commendable. The fish was rich, flaky and crispy on the edges. The potatoes puree was basically very fine mashed potatoes but the little moat of onion sauce around it reminded you that this was a classier cousin to the American-stick-your-ribs-type counterpart. My dad ordered the pork loin, which I did not try but he commented that it was delicious and generous in size.

Finally for dessert, we had their homemade portiferolles, napoleon with basil sauce and trio of sorbet. The portiferolles were terrific! The homemade pate a chaux contained scoops of vanilla bean gelato from the local Ciao Bella brand. The napoleon was an interesting combination of fresh fruit and an unusually flavored syrup. I enjoyed my order the lemon, pear and raspberry cabernet sorbets very much. My favorite of the three was probably the cabernet, which was heavy on the fruit flavor and only suggestive of the alcohol.

Service was very friendly throughout the entire evening and it's worthwhile to point that the restaurant owner even personally greeted each table. Not long after we walked out the door, he rushed out also to thank us for visiting. Adorable!

Chapeau! is a charming and upscale neighborhood restaurant and I would love to revisit one day.

Rating: 9.8/10 (Fabulous!)

1408 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94118

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Restaurant Review: Dong Ting Chun

Admittedly, our original plan was to have dim sum that Sunday morning. But sadly, Sam Woo was closed for renovation so we found ourselves searching for another restaurant in the large Ranch 99 plaza in San Gabriel. In the end, Dong Ting Chun was our lunch spot of choice.

Dong Ting Chun specialized in the style of cooking from the Hunan province in China. Characteristics of such cuisine are bold spicy flavors and the usage of smoking/curing ingredients. Hunan cuisine also commonly utilizes humble, "peasant" ingredients like common meats and vegetables. And humans. Haha gross, just kidding! Though, they did make the unfortunate mistake of mistyping "Human" in place of "Hunan" on the menu. Addtional misfortune since the modified noun was "Ham" of all things.

Here is our colorful array of dishes:

Top row first, left to right: stir-fried beef, roasted fatty pork, steamed tofu, seaweed salad (?), farmer chicken, and vegetable medley.

Perhaps it's been too long since the meal to recall the details but I do remember liking everything. The tofu may have been a little bland, which was in stark contrast to the flavorful yet slightly greasy vegetable stir fry. The chicken was supposed to be the highlight as the waitress pointed out that it was a popular item on the menu. I did enjoy the chicken, which was stewed carefully in its own juices. The meat was mostly from parts of chicken that are not commonly featured in Western dishes, such as the neck and other sinewy parts I cannot quickly locate on a chicken anatomy. I also liked the roasted pork, though I couldn't help but avoid the blantant chunks of fat.

I guess I will end this post now since I have nothing left to say about the food, partially because of my faded memory and partially because there is nothing spectacular left to point out. But yes, I would revisit Dong Ting Chun...someday.

Price: $9 average a dish

Rating: 8.5/10 (Pretty good...I think?)

Dong Ting Chun

140 W. San Gabriel Ave., No. 206
San Gabriel, CA

Friday, March 23, 2007

Restaurant Review: Osteria La Buca

I have eaten at way too many places to not have posted for this long. Nevertheless, school has its way of getting in my food-related indulgences.

So about a month ago, I went to Osteria La Buca, a tiny but well-liked Italian restaurant on Melrose. The first time we went, we came without a reservation and was surprised to find that the 20 people (or so) seating could not accommodate our impromptu dining. The initial rejection only made me more determined to eventually return successfully. Hence on my next attempt, I called a week or so in advance to secure places. The voice on the other end of the phone was super Italian sounding, which I took as a good sign.

The area of the restaurant can pretty much be compared to the size of one's living room. This even includes the counter space, mind you. What limited wall space that was available, was adorned with black and white photos, altogether giving the eatery a quaint, hole-in-the-wall atmosphere. However, I was a little disappointed when the waiter asked if we wanted "LA river water", as to insinuate that free water was nearly a sewer equivalent fluid.

The entrees on the menu were divided between pastas and pizzas. For the fresh pastas, you
first choose the type of pasta (the width of the noodles which ranges from linguine to pappardelle) and then a sauce, which determines the price. Here are the pastas we ordered:

From left to right: tagilatelle with fume, tagliatelle with vodka sauce, pappardelle with fume sauce and trenette with arrabiatta sauce. We also ordered a pizza with broccoli and chicken, but it wasn't particularly remarkable so hence the lack of photo. I had the vodka sauce pasta, which I thought was fantastic. The sauce was very good--creamy, savory but not too rich. The highlight was certainly the pasta noodles. Unlike dried store bought pasta, this counterpart was thinner and consequently covered more fully in sauce. Mmm. Though I didn't try all the pastas, everyone did seem content with their selections. For dessert, we succumbed to ordering th classic tiramisu:

The cake was very good. The taste of espresso was very bold, a plus in my book. Also, the ratio of the cream to cake was just right. We thoroughly enjoyed this treat--only to later find that it carried the unfortunate price of $9.

Finally, I can check Osteria la Buca off my "to eat" list! The pasta was truly first rate. Good, home made Italian need not be presently fancifully to be delicious, as this restaurant has shown. However, for as small as la Buca was, it was not as humble as it could have been. I will also mention that they only gave us half a loaf of bread for 7 people to share (which is hardly generous if you ask me). Will I go back? Perhaps, but not often.

Price: $14 a person for entree alone

Rating: 8.8/10 (Barilla ain't got nothing on fresh pasta)

Osteria la Buca
5210 1/2 Melrose ave.
Hollywood, CA 90038

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Restaurant Review: Hop Li

It was Chinese New Year Day and to celebrate in the only way I know how to, I ate. Originally, we had plans to drive over to San Gabriel/Monterey Park but laziness got the better of us and our only criterion for a restaurant was proximity. Jessi used her sharp Citysearch skills and found Hop Li in the area.

When we first stepped into the establishment, we all habored doubts about the authenticity of a Chinese restauranted located in a very non-Asianified (commercially speaking but population is another story) area that is West LA. However, as soon as I heard the harsh sounding exchanges in Cantonese, I knew my fears were unfounded. For Chinese New Year's, the restaurant didn't seem very full at all and we were seated right away.

The menu was pretty decent. We weren't looking for any particular dishes so we were content with the generic selection. We ordered the following:

From left to right: (the ubiquitous) hot and sour soup, pan fried beef noodles, Buddha's delight (aka veggie stirfry), prawns and green beans, and variety pot ..thing (ok I've clearly forgotten the name).

Everything was pretty tasty, in short. I don't know if there was any outstanding aspects but the prawns were certainly very tender (which is good). I liked all the medley of vegetables and the fried green beans too.

All in all, I would definitely go back to Hop Li's, not just because it's close but because it's Chinese food done right (enough)!

Price: $10 average for a dish

Rating: 9/10 (The Chineseness in me revels)

Hop Li
10974 W Pico Blvd (Cross Street: Greenfield Avenue)

Los Angeles, CA

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Restaurant Review: Cafe Orleans at Disneyland

Remember when you thought that Disneyland was the greatest place on earth and that everything in that park was wonderous beyond words? I do. Yes, I remember last Saturday well.

Before I go into the actual details of the restaurant, let me talk, nay, complain a little about the economy of visiting the Happiest Place on Earth. First of all, tickets are now a steep $60 if you're over 10 years old and only $10 cheaper for children between 3 to 9. Secondly, it is almost humanly impossible to spend a whole day at the park without giving in to buying at least of their
food items from a cart. $3 a churro, $4 a cup of frozen lemonade--resistance is futile. Personally, I was suckered into buying a $3.75 Mickey shaped ice cream sandwich. (The weather was especially warm when we went). Must we become fat and poor at once?! With all that said, the ice cream was actually fan-fricking-tastic. Had I been younger and more naive, I would have hesitated at the idea of biting into Mickey Mouse's head. But now that I am older and less compassionate to adorable icons, I had no problem consuming Mickey's sweet, chocolatey face. Mmm icon.

For dinner, we ate in the New Orleans region at Cafe Orleans. Congruent with the rest of the theme of the park, the restaurant was very family friendly. Many a times I have wished that I could still order the kid's meals for their creative names, various side dishes and naturally, the toys. Sadly, this was not a day that I indulged in childish whims. Here is the adult foods we ordered:

From left to right: chicken caesar salad, crab salad roll and grilled prawn salad. I ordered the crab salad roll, which was actually quite good. Maybe it wasn't original but there was plenty of avocado to keep me happy. (Plus I was also famished from all the rigorous dodging of baby strollers throughout the day.) Jason had the chicken salad and I think he liked it all right. I've never been a huge fan of salads that you have to cut up yourself but I suppose the preserved whole leaves of romaine give a touch of class...somehow. The prawn salad, however, left something to be desired. There were only 4 shrimpy looking prawns, artfully (to someone's discretion) stabbed onto two small heads of iceberg lettuce. Oh and there was also a ribbon of prosciutto on the plate, laid out with a few halves of cherry tomatoes. Although I didn't taste the dish, I would have to give the creator points for effort but it's hard to avoid the fact that there just wasn't much to eat! Kinda interesting looking but tragically meager is my judgment on the shrimp salad.

As to the question of whether I would go back to Cafe Orleans, I would answer that there are many more mediocre and overpriced restaurants to try before I would return. Although, if find yourself hungry in New Orleans, Disneyland, there is no better place to be than Cafe Orleans.

Rating: 7/10 (Theme parks are surprisingly not epicurean hotspots)

Cafe Orleans (Disneyland)
Anaheim, CA

Restaurant Review: Lemon Moon

In a plaza seemingly containing only office buildings resides Lemon Moon, a quaint breakfast/lunch restaurant. If you're down with name dropping, the eatery was founded by Josiah Citrin and Raphael Lunetta, respectives owners of Melisse and Jiraffe, two much fancier restaurants located around LA.

In its location, Lemon Moon almost looks (and perhaps acts) like a high-class cafeteria to the surrounding office workers, as there were plenty of customers in ties and other business attire. The inside of the restaurant was spacious and there was even a back patio to sit in.

Now, ze food:

3 types of salads: a) corn, mango and shrimp ceviche b) 5 spice chicken c) cubed polenta and mushroom (left) and pulled pork sandwich (right)

I got the salad combo to get a taste of the various flavors Lemon Moon had to offer. You could choose 1, 2 or 3 salads at once among a selection of 15 or so types. The three salads were more than enough for a person's meal, I thought. Now about each of the salads: a) corn/mango/shrimp: delicious! The corn was uncooked and sweet and crunchy. The mangoes were more rare but a fine addition. Shrimp seemed like nothing more than chewy protein but it certainly did make the dish more substantial. All three ingredients were blended with a strong lime flavor, which was very bold, indeed. b) 5 spice chicken: Very good. This salad was obviously concocted with Asian influences, though I don't know which specifically. I also forget the name of the brown vegetable but it has the consistency of bamboo, which I likey. The salad was sort of sweet with a hint of spiciness. c) polenta cubes: Hm. I see lots of recipes with polenta but I've never really tried it before (unless you count the time where I ate a congealed yellow mass from the dorm dining hall). The polenta here was smothered in a goat cheese (I think), which provided most of the flavor. Unfortunately, I was not a huge fan of these dense blocks. I am not sure how one can crave a chunk of cornmeal so tightly compacted. But that is just me. Maybe if the polenta were paired with something very savory. Maybe. Anyway, the pulled pork sandwich was very good. The meat was juicy and tasty. The bun was airy and lightly toasted in a most awesome of ways.

Lemon Moon: a semi-yuppie lunch joint started by chefs of really expensive restaurants- the result? Creative dishes and overall, a very pleasant dining experience. I'll be back, fo' serious.

Rating: 9/10 (Watch out Whole Foods)

Lemon Moon
12200 W. Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Homemade: Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

It's no surprise that every dessert I've made recently contains chocolate. Perhaps it's because of those chocolate cookbooks I received as gifts that have inspired me so. Or the fact that I still have 2 pounds of chocolate left from my overzealous chocolate-shopping over winter break.

Anyhoo, I found the recipe for Chocolate Crinkle Cookies at the Joy of Baking website. I was pretty much sold on just the name alone.

Making the cookies was a pretty straightforward procedure: melt chocolate, beat eggs, combine everything together. The only trick was to refrigerate the dough for at least one hour so that it would be firm enough to scoop up and roll into ball shapes. Once the chocolate dough balls are formed, simply roll them in powdered sugar and bake for 12 minutes or so, at 325 degrees.

The results? Well you can see for yourself in the photo. Erm, not exactly the little snowballs with crackles of chocolate as I had envisioned. They actually resembled more like dried earth covered with a slight dusting of talcum powder. I attribute this to the fact that I did not roll the cookies in enough sugar powder before baking them. The taste? They were okay. I cut back on the sugar a bit in the batter and that could have altered the desired texture and flavor. For some reason, the cookies were actually quite fluffy and almost cake-like. I was expecting more chew in my mind.

Overall, the cookies were decent. They did not satiate a strong craving for a chocolatey dessert and the texture was softer than expected. Nevertheless, I ate them all so I guess that still counts for something.

Recipe Rating: 6.5/10 (Cutting back on sugar? I must be crazy)

[EDIT: I've lowered the rating on the recipe after reading Surafel's comment...and plus I feel like I need to readjust my rating system to make full use of the 1 to 10 scale]

Friday, February 02, 2007

Reading: "Unhappy Meals" article

Recently, the NY Times featured the article "Unhappy Meals", written by Michael Pollan, a professor of journalism at UC Berkeley and author of the book The Omnivore's Dilemma (has anyone read this yet?). It's a pretty interesting piece on the idea of "nutritionism" and how it's taken over our country and molded the way we perceive food--as reduced components of fiber/vitamins/etc that we ingest to cater to specific health advantages. In this notion of eating processed foods with engineered "benefits", we fail to eat just natural foods with no flashy labels touting their health boons. The article points out that studies of diet and health are often flawed in their nature since scientists are forced to study individual components of a food and track their effects when in reality, one component simply cannot paint a full picture of the complex processes inside our bodies. Hence, purported positive consequences of a certain chemical may not perform in reality as claimed by studies. Another interesting point is that large studies of diet habits are sometimes performed via questionnaires, which inevitably risk the chance of people lying their asses off. The thought that a large-scale, biological research effort can derive its results solely from surveys is pretty disconcerting.

So what is the solution to our reliancy on processed foods? The articles suggests eating lots of vegetables and foods in their natural form. The more a food product claims to be healthy, the more doubtful one should be of its validity.

I highly recommend at least reading part of the article for yourself (since it is a bit long). Meanwhile, all this mention of whole foods and returning to nature leads me to think that if I want to extend my life, I should probably just live in a bed of vegetation and also eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Post-graduation trip to the Amazon rainforest, anyone?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Homemade: Chocolate Stout Cake (aka Beer cake)

In honor of Christina's birthday, I felt compelled to make a cake that would bring together things we both loved: stout beer (think Guinness) and chocolate. (Note: I heart chocolate but I have yet to form strong opinions about beer.) I found a recipe at with fork ratings that were through the roof. In summary, the recipe called for stout, flour (duh), eggs, butter, cocoa powder, baking power, sour cream and sugar. The creation process was pretty simple: 1) mix 2) bake. The cake itself didn't contain a super strong beer flavor but the presence of the added alcohol was noticeable in the aftertaste. The chocolate factor in the cake alone was also moderate (read: not enough for my tastes). Perhaps cocoa powder on its own just isn't potent enough!

Fortunately, the recipe also called for chocolate ganache icing, for which I was more than willing to accomodate. In case you did not know already, chocolate ganache is just melted chocolate thinned out with heavy cream. The cake with ganache was quite good in the end. Maybe it wasn't even the cake. Maybe ganache is just the secret weapon to making anything delicious. All I know is that anything I bake in the future will probably be dipped or thickly encrusted in this glossy goodness. Viva ganache!

Cake rating: 8.5/10 (Not bad, not bad at all)

Ganache rating: 10/10! (My life is now complete)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Restaurant Review: Beacon

A combination of my food blog browsing and a mention by Ravi led me to become interested in Beacon, a "pan-Asian" restaurant in downtown Culver City. (Might I add how many good food places there are in Culver City!)

Even before stepping into the restaurant, I was won over by the free parking spot I found right in front of the store. I know parking has nothing to do with eating but free AND available parking spots are just so rare in these areas that I had give someone credit for it. Anyway, we were seated outside in the back patio (which we can do in LA during this dead of winter season). The menu featured an array of Asian cuisine. Since it was during the lunch hour, there was a good selection of wraps and noodles. Small dishes like edamame and rolls were available for both lunch and dinner.

Here is what we ordered:

From left to right: Beacon roll (cucumber slices wrapped around smoked salmon, crab and avocado), miso cod, bento box (which containted the cod as well as chicken and tuna), seafood curry and avocado salad.

The avocado salad consisted of an entired avocado sliced and placed in a bed of Japanese herbs. The dressing was made with a soy sauce base, which gave a clear reminder of the restaurant's Asian influences. All in all, it was a pretty refreshing salad. I had to order the Beacon roll for at least asthetic purposes but it proved itself in taste as well. The bento box was a pretty good deal. For $15, it featured 3 kinds of meat (cod, chicken and tuna) prepared in 3 different ways! Albeit, the portions were pretty tiny but the variety made up for the lack of bulk. The curry was tasty too thanks to the fresh seafood ingredients (crab, shrimp, mussel (?) and swordfish).

Beacon is a lovely cafe, in short. Sure the food is "fusion" (fusion (n.): ethnic food made for people of other ethnicities) but the fare is well prepared and worth a try!

Price: $ 11 (average lunch entree)

Rating: 9/10 (delicious)

3280 Helms Ave
Los Angeles, California

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Restaurant Review: Le Village Buffet at Paris Hotel

How could I go to Vegas and not go to a buffet? Why, that would be ridonkulous! With only one meal allotted to gratuitous feasting, we decided to go to the Le Village buffet at Paris. We narrowed down the difficult selection with all the rave reviews we had heard from our friends about that particular restaurant. Let me just say now that the praise was indeed warranted.

The decor was that of a fair weathered day in a French village. It was completely adorable except that the entire waitstaff was forced to dress in village-people costumes, which was milding amusing for everyone but the people donning the suits. The food was mostly French-themed (surprise!) and much of it contained meat, and tasty meat at that. Seafood dishes were aplenty too-crab, shrimp, salmon...etc. The salad bar was complete with many grilled vegetables in stock. There is not much to say but endless deliciousness. For me, the highlight was definitely the dessert selection. Firstly, the crepe station was too awesome for words. Kristen and I ordered up the classic Nutella/banana combination and even for two people the crepe seemed too large. The dessert station was also amazing and I will just let the following photos speak for themsevles:

mmmmm. I can't say any of the sweets stood out in particular but they were certainly all fabulous and if I hadn't been so greedy in eating everything else, I probably could have actually finished even one of them.

Price: $25 (Saturday night dinner)

Rating: 9.4/10 (delicious)

Le Village
Paris Hotel
Las Vegas, Nevada
(I am getting a little lazy with the addresses)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Restaurant Review: Fabiolus Cafe

So far I have pretty much rated every restaurant I've written about with exuberants statements of love (which were all genuine) but to the credit of my critical side, here is a restaurant that I didn't wholeheartedly adore. It's called The Fabiolus Cafe and first of all, with a name like that, you best be fabulous or just sort of vain. You can already guess that I'm leaning towards the latter. Originally, we were hoping to go to Osteria La Buca, a cute little Italian restaurant across the street but sadly, it was filled up and we had no reservations. Hence, Fabiolus was the next best thing in the area. In contrast to the previous restaurant, seating was no problem here. Apparently, Fabiolus Cafe is a bit of a small chain, with one location on Melrose (that we visited) and another on Sunset. Interestingly enough, even though the restaurant did not yet have a liquor license, their placemats were printed with all the regions of Italy and the respectives wines they produce.


Left to right: spicy tomato sauce/eggplant/smoked mozarella, sundried tomato gnocchi, and vegetable risotto.
Aruna and I shared the pasta and risotto, while Cindy had the gnocchi. The eggplant pasta was quite good actually. The gnocchi was a success too- soft on the inside and smothered in sundried flavor on the exterior. However, the lowpoint came from the risotti. I have no qualms about the vegetables and of which there were plenty. But the rice, which were soggy on the outside and dried and rigid on the inside, supplied the bulk of the disappointment. I did attempt the rice numerous times but each time I was defeated but the roughness of the texture. Ultimately, I ate all the vegetables and left most of the dish with the grains of undecisive mushiness.

So I guess the food wasn't terrible but any means, but from my single experience I wouldn't recommend the vegetable risotto is all.

PS. The bread was crunchy and fun to eat.

Price: $12 (plate of pasta)

Rating: 6.8/10 (I could eat this again)

The Fabiolus Cafe
5255 Melrose Ave
Hollywood, CA