Summer Canteen | Toluca Lake, CA

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Recently I’ve visited Summer Canteen with the kids and had a blast. I don’t know why I’ve never blogged about it before but Summer Canteen is a family favorite. So let me show you what we had.

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Blood Orange Sodas for everybody

Who does not like these blood orange bubblies? Totally refreshing!

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Miang Kham

These littles nibbles are little bites of heaven, I tell you! It is coconut, peanut, lemon peel, shrimp, ginger, chili wrapped in spinach leaves drizzled with tamarind caramel. Totally food-gasmic.

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Beef Panang Curry

A classic Thai curry dish. It’s beef slow cooked in spicy coconut curry sauce. Delicious.

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Pad Thai

Not all Pad Thai are created equal. This one’s superb by my standards.

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Rib Eye Steak

Perfectly done with lots of veggies. The best part? The brown rice that came with it.

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Mango Sticky Rice

I will never get tired of Mango Sticky Rice. Two of the things that I love.

Summer Canteen
4444 Lankershim Blvd, Toluca Lake CA 91602
818-985-6611

https://www.facebook.com/summercanteen

xo, Emilie

The Sycamore Kitchen | Los Angeles, CA

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new favorite spot
I first heard about The Sycamore Kitchen when I read Jonathan Gold’s tweet…two of them

And so, with kids in tow…off we went to the hip artsy-cool area of La Brea in the Mid-Wilshire district.

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love the very low-key facade

There are three options on seating. There isn’t a lot of chairs indoors but there’s lots of shaded tables out on the patio.

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there are three tables like these right next to the windows overlooking the patio and they seat about 4 comfortably

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on the other side of the cafe there are community tables for larger groups or smaller groups sharing one table…the exposed brick? lovely texture adding some cozy, home-y feel

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the patio is dotted with lots of tables with their own umbrella so there’s always a shade (we need one in this indian summer days)

Ordering is easy as they do have menu boards up and specials are also displayed. Baked goods are not easy to pass up as they’re right there to feast with your eyes. Everything is nicely labeled with name and price. There is not questioning the freshness of the baked good as they pretty much go from oven to display area (of course with the mandatory cooling in between). They also offer a nice variety of drinks from coffee, specialty coffee to non-coffee choices.

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Let’s check out what we ordered for our brunch…

Iced Hibiscus Tea and Ginger Limeade

Iced Hibiscus Tea and Ginger Limeade

My DD had the Iced Hibiscus Tea while my DS and I had our own Ginger Limeade. Both were very refreshing especially coming from the scorching heat outside.

Double B-LTA, crispy and braised pork belly, butter lettuce, balsamic tomatoes, avocado, mayo, country bread #thesycamorekitchen #BLT #sandwich #food #foodporn

Double B-LTA, crispy and braised pork belly, butter lettuce, balsamic tomatoes, avocado, mayo, country bread #thesycamorekitchen #BLT #sandwich #food #foodporn

The DD had the Double B-LTA (described above) and I have to say it was delicious (I had to take a bite so I can give you my first hand experience). The butter lettuce was crisp, avocado was creamy and the pork belly was succulent and tender all balanced out by the balsamic tomatoes. To round up the whole experience were two slices of crispy, sweet, tart pickles. A must.

Toast - house made ricotta, stewed citrus, fennel, mint, hazelnut

Toast – house made ricotta, stewed citrus, fennel, mint, hazelnut

The DS had the toast with ricotta (described above). I chose this for him because we are still training him to eat his veggies and he’s doing really good (as long as the veggies are not green and crispy). He’s doing good vegetable wise, we just have to work on his aversion to anything green and crispy. This dish, served on a thin, crispy bread (hence named Toast) is both sweet and tart and very refreshing. The addition of hazelnut is a wonderful contrast in taste and texture. While the sprinkling of mint just provides an additional “freshness” factor to the while dish. Very good these scorching hot days.

Toast - chicken salad, grapes, walnut, tarragon, Greek yogurt aioli #toast #chickensalad #food #foodporn #brunch #thesycamorekitchen

Toast with chicken salad, grapes, walnut, tarragon, Greek yogurt aioli

I had the toast above and I absolutely love it. I can have it for breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner and midnight snack. Fresh, light yet substantial. Love.

(left) Salted Caramel Pecan Bobka Roll; (right) Brown Butter Date Mini-Bundt

(left) Salted Caramel Pecan Bobka Roll; (right) Brown Butter Date Mini-Bundt

I have to try the Salted Caramel Pecan Bobka Roll as it is apparently crack (of baked goods, that is). So I ordered one and a Brown Butter Date Mini-Bundt as recommended by one of the staff. Both were good, like crack-kind-of-good. I am now in love with this place. Thank goodness I don’t live anywhere near otherwise I would be sweating sugar crystals. LOL.

Bottom line: A great, relaxed place to grab a meal from. Food is as fresh as it can get. Pastry snobs would be very happy here :)

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

xo, Emilie

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Hanabishi Izakaya and Sushi Bar / Kyushu Ramen, Van Nuys CA

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I’ve recently discovered a hidden gem in the valley(SFV, that is) that serves decent affordable Japanese cuisine. One late night we were looking for something open that’s not a Denny’s or IHOP (not that there’s anything wrong with them, we were just not in the mood for breakfast food). And I remembered this ramen place close to where we live that’s open late. And that’s the first time we ever tried Kyushu Ramen. Now I have no photographic evidence of that visit since I was dead tired and so not in the mood to take pictures. But now I do and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Hanabishi Izakaya & Sushi Bar / Kyushu Ramen

Hanabishi Izakaya & Sushi Bar / Kyushu Ramen

The restaurant is located on a strip mall along Sherman Way very close to the 405 freeway. I actually don’t have the story behind the union of these two restaurants or what have you but there’s two different signs outside. However, they are essentially just one restaurant and you enter through Kyushu Ramen and you can sit anywhere. They have 2 kinds of menu so make sure to look at both.

Hanabishi Izakaya & Sushi Bar

Hanabishi Izakaya & Sushi Bar

This time we were seated at the Hanabishi side and on a Friday night, it was a full house.

One interesting detail that caught my eye was the row of sake bottles along the wall…cute :)

Staff was very friendly and efficient. After we looked through the menus we decided on the following…

shumai

Shumai $3.00

We’ve had it before and I don’t know why it escaped my mind that this shumai has that ready-made, store-bought taste to it and this visit just proved it right. I had to send it back because the middle is still frozen cold. But then, this is not a dumpling place so I can’t really complain.

sushi set

Sushi Set (Tuna, Salmon, Albacore, White Fish & Shrimp) $9.50

Since I was craving for raw fish I decided to order this and it was ok. Quality was not bad nor was it excellent.

Pork Miso Ramen

Pork Miso Ramen

B had this the last time and wanted to order it again. Their portions are big. It was delicious.

Salmon Oyako Don (Grilled Salmon Rice with Salmon Roe)

Salmon Oyako Don (Grilled Salmon Rice with Salmon Roe) $5.50

This is what I ordered for J since he loves salmon so much. It was indeed as expected. Heaven on a bowl for a kid (or anybody else) who loves fish.

Salmon Miso

Salmon Miso $7.50

The salmon comes on a bed of mushrooms that are sliced paper thin. It was cooked just right. It was slightly sweet almost resembling the teriyaki flavor but not quite. I enjoyed this one very much.

Overall, it wasn’t the best experience but for the price and location you can’t really beat it. We would probably be making a return visit soon :)

Hanabishi by Kyushu
15355 Sherman Way
Van Nuys, CA 91406
open everyday 11:30 am – 1 am
http://www.freewebs.com/hanabishibykyushu/

xo, Emilie

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Esquire Dinner at Playa

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Esquire Dinner at Playa

Esquire Dinner at Playa

Last November 28 Playa hosted a pre-fixe dinner celebrating Esquire Magazine’s 2011 Best New Restaurants in Los Angeles featuring chefs from Playa (Chef John Sedlar and Chef de Cuisine Kevin Luzande), Sotto (Chefs Steve Samson and Zack Pollack) and Ray’s and Stark Bar (Chef Kris Morningstar).

To read more about my experience, click HERE.

President Thai Restaurant, Pasadena CA

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Years ago when the San Gabriel Valley was the hubs’ area at work, we used to  go to President Thai – Pasadena for lunch and dinners (pre-blogging years). I’ve always found the food good and authentic.

President Thai Pasadena

President Thai Pasadena

Recently we got the chance to revisit the restaurant twice in a week and I’m glad the exterior aesthetics hasn’t changed.

entrance

entrance

I have always liked the intricate wood carvings that’s part of the design theme.

interior

interior

close up of wood carvings

close up of wood carvings

While you’re waiting for somebody to take your order or while waiting for the food to arrive, you can feast your eyes on the decor, the intricacies of the wood carvings or if it’s not your thing you can always pull out your phone.

So these are some of the dishes we had on those two days that we came by for dinner (because I neglected to take a picture of the dessert).

rice

rice

Anyhoo, I love how most Asian restaurants have really elaborate rice serving bowls and  this is no exception.  Look at the intricacies on the metalwork.

Crabmeat Fried Rice $9.95

Crabmeat Fried Rice $9.95

The Crabmeat Fried Rice has both real and imitation crab meat. This one though has more real than imitation. This is already a meal in itself.

Chu Chi Shrimp $13.95 - pan fried shrimp in red curry and coconut milk

Chu Chi Shrimp $13.95 - pan fried shrimp in red curry and coconut milk

The Chu Chi Shrimp in this establishment is quite different from those in other restaurants. Their version is less creamier, more bite (chili factor) despite the fact that we asked it to be “mild” on the spiciness scale. Taste-wise it is really good. Chu Chi Shrimp has always been a family favorite and this one garners a thumbs-up from the troop.

Chicken (White Meat) Panang Curry $10.95 - all white meat chicken, red curry in coconut milk and peanut sauce

Chicken (White Meat) Panang Curry $10.95 - all white meat chicken, red curry in coconut milk and peanut sauce

Another family favorite is Panang Curry and we ordered it in all white meat chicken. The sauce (like that of Chu Chi Shrimp) is less creamier although it’s not lacking in taste. This time however, I prefer the creamier version.

President's BBQ Duck $11.95 - stir fried BBQ duck with chili, bell peppers, onions and basil

President's BBQ Duck $11.95 - stir fried BBQ duck with chili, bell peppers, onions and basil

The President’s BBQ Duck is special. The vege combo balances out the richness of the duck. A balanced dish showcasing the duck.

Chinese Broccoli with Crispy Pork $11.95

Chinese Broccoli with Crispy Pork $11.95

another view of Chinese Broccoli with Crispy Pork $11.95

another view of Chinese Broccoli with Crispy Pork $11.95

We had the Chinese Broccoli with Crispy Pork on both instances that we were there. That in itself would tell you how much we loved the dish. The crispy pork just elevated the dish from being just another vegetable dish. I would order this again and again. And President Thai’s version has a very high meat to vegetable ratio. The best in this regard compared to it’s counterpart in Thai Town and the San Fernando Valley.

Chicken and Pork Satay $9.95

Chicken and Pork Satay $9.95

We had the Chicken and Pork Satay on the recommendation of our server. It was an ok dish. Nothing extraordinary. Peanut sauce was good.

Overall, our return visits just proved that while it may not be my favorite Thai restaurant in the world, it is a solid choice when you’re in that side of town. You can always count on to have good service and their restrooms are clean. They do have a parking space but on busy nights it might be a problem but they now have a very courteous parking attendant that helps with parking issues.

President Thai
498 S. Rosemead Blvd.
Pasadena, CA
open daily 11a-10p
626-578-9814
http://www.president-thai.com

xo, Emilie
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