Guess what? My friends over at Octoplace.com chose me as their featured foodie! How exciting! We spent a day together, and I took them to my favorite places in the Arts District Los Angeles.  I talked about my blog, the group I organize, the LA Food Bloggers, and my tips for snagging crossaint-donuts in my hood. You can see where I took ’em and read all about it on their blog!

Thanks Octoplace for choosing me as your featured foodie! I can’t wait for the new Octoplace app to launch!

photos by Puno


Hinoki & the Bird

There are restaurants that you love, and then there are those that you want to tell all your friends about over and over again.  Hinoki & the Bird is one of those restaurants you want to keep talking about over and over again.  The ambiance, the decor, the drinks, the food, and even the bathrooms! I couldn’t stop raving about the decor in the bathrooms when I sat down to my table.  As soon as you walk in the scent of Japanese cedar lightly perfumes the air.  Their large, open patio makes this place a perfect setting for warm summer nights and enjoying dinner and drinks al fresco.

I organized a LA Food Bloggers dinner here with a few bloggers from Octoplace.com, In My Red Kitchen, and Volted Magazine.  The restaurant was kind enough to plan a prix-fixe meal for us.  At the end of the meal the restaurant manager asked which was our favorite plate, and I was literally speechless.  The creamy pumpkin toast, the insanely crispy fried chicken, and the California kale salad done 3 ways were all sticking out in my mind.  I couldn’t pick just one! It would be unfair to all the other star dishes.

pumpkin toast with miso jam and goat cheese {$11}
salt and pepper calamari with ajwain-tomato jam {$13}
crispy marinated chicken with aioli {$14} | Griffith Park swizzle with bourbon, mint, lime, bitters, and absinthe {$14}
California kale crispy and raw salad with curried almonds and pecorino cheese {$12}
This salad was so memorable that I still think of it to this day.  Kale done 3 ways, fried, raw, and braised made a delicious, complex salad with different textures that never got boring.  Ellen, from In My Red Kitchen actually recreated this salad after our dinner.  I’ve been thinking of recreating it also but would rather pile it with baked kale chips instead of fried.
grilled drunken duck breast with persimmons {$24}

I paired the drunken duck with a side of the roasted yam with mild chilies, peppers and crème fraiche {$9}.  The duck was tender and perfectly rendered of the fatty skin.  My husband had the Scottish salmon {$24} which I couldn’t get a great picture of but was one of the best cooked salmons we both have ever had (I finished his plate off).  He paired it with the grilled organic rice lightly glazed with a bit of soy {$5}.

We all finished the meal with homemade mochi ice cream.  Not even close to the ones you get in your freezer aisle!  It was obvious the mochi was freshly made. The different flavors of the ice cream and spices were so intense and all went well together. Miso mochi with butterscotch and togarashi was for the salty/sweet dessert lovers. The chocolate mochi with curry and caramel was more middle of the road, not too sweet but decadently chocolatey.  My fave, the dulce de leche mochi with cajeta and toffee was the sweetest of the three, a perfect way to end a meal {all $4 each}.

If you plan on visiting this restaurant I suggest that you make reservations at least 2 weeks ahead of time.  I plan on visiting again soon to try the lobster roll which recently made the list to the Best Lobster Dishes to Eat Right Now in LA by Eater.

Wanna see what the other bloggers wrote and ate at this meal?
An Inexperienced Chef from Hinoki and the Bird – Octoplace.com
Review: Hinoki & the Bird – In My Red Kitchen

Hinoki & the Bird
10 Century Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Neighborhood: Century City
(310) 552-1200

The Hart & The Hunter

Last Sunday I organized a Blogger Brunch with local food bloggers.  We had a great meal at The Hart and the Hunter, a new restaurant in the renovated Palihotel on Melrose Ave. And guess what? It’s also a new fEATure!

I’ve been here for dinner and weekday breakfast and loved both, but brunch is where it’s at!  The biscuits are a must when dining here no matter what meal.  They come with 3 different spreads. Try all three together or separately.  I really like the pimento spread, spicy and cheesy! The biscuits are so buttery and soft, they are truly melt-in-your-mouth goodness.
I ordered the fried green tomato and crab eggs benedict ($18).  It was so decadent! The crab was deliciously fresh, and acidity in the green tomato added a bit of balance to the buttery hollandaise sauce and the perfectly runny yolk. Perfect for sharing!

Barbecued oysters and shrimp ($18)
I forgot what this was called but it’s a apple dumpling with bacon inside and cheddar cheese on top.  It’s a breakfast twist on a classic American treat!
Anastasia from Simply Delicious Photography, Kiki from Dinner With Kiki, and Susan from Park This

Pecan praline pancakes with maple syrup and butter ($10)

Jamie from Green Beans & Grapefruit, Sarah from Sarah Bearclaw, and Puno from punodostres

Chicken cracking sandwich with fried egg, lettuce, tomato, and avocado ($13). I love the chicken cracklings paired with crisp veggies.  I welcome chicken skin cracklings in place of bacon any day!
Thanks to all the food bloggers that joined me for brunch! It was so fun getting to know all of you.  I’m already looking forward to the next blogger event!
Looking to join me for a future event? I welcome bloggers and foodies of all kinds! I’d love to eat with you! Join me at Los Angeles Food Bloggers.
7950 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 424-3055

LA Weekly’s Plate

Last weekend I went to the LA Weekly’s Plate event.  This was the 5th annual food and wine event with several restaurants such as Border Grill, The Oinkster, Night + Market, Picca, and Lukshon.  There were over 80+ wineries, restaurants, and drink brands represented that I knew I couldn’t miss this event.  
The event was held at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Andrew is a huge vintage car enthusiast so I knew it wouldn’t be hard to convince him to go.  Who wouldn’t love to see vintage cars and eat and drink extraordinary food and wine? 
One of my favorite bites there was Palasik‘s pork belly served eight ways (photo of two ways on the top left).  The flavors were so savory and satisfying.  The Oinkster‘s pork adobo slider (top right) reminded me of familiar adobo flavors from home and was balanced well with the acidity from the tomatoes.  I loved that they came in pan de sal buns – exactly how I served them at my wedding.
Some amazing wines were served and I’m so happy to learn that I can pick them all up from Buzz Wine and Beer Shop in Downtown LA.  Roy Choi was nice enough to chat it up with me and take this awesome picture while serving his version of cheese fries from Chego.

The vibrant Starry Kitchen‘s ownerNguyen, and his homemade Deadmau5 costume serving shrimp chip, beef bite topped with pickled vegetables (not pictured).  Tom Bergin’s grilled oysters (top photo) and Nickel Diner‘s fried mac and cheese (top right photo) were all memorable.  Other honorable mention dishes that I loved was Night + Market‘s Thai style salmon ceviche (it had a good kick!), Allumette‘s dessert of citrus gels was the perfect sweet and tart to cleanse my palate, and Rocio’s mole, and I usually don’t like mole!

Can’t forget about the cars.  There were so many from the past to the future and even ones that can only be made from the imagination for blockbuster films like Batman and Speed Racer.  Walking through the miniature city set in the museum made me feel like I stepped back in time!

Now that summer is just around the corner, you can expect me to be at many other food and wine events to come.  Are there any that you are looking forward to going to this year?

See more pictures from LA Weekly here!