Chinatown Summer Nights (Los Angeles, CA)

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Chinatown Summer Nights is an event I attended years ago and would normally pass on now because of the large crowds, rip off parking, food trucks, endless lines, and white people in straw rice hats.  I figured this year would be different.  I just assumed they would have figured it out and got things more organized, but unfortunately it’s more of the same.

The food here was dogshit.  Plain and simple.  Typical over priced food trucks galore.  Shitty B/C grade restaurants with an hour long wait and it’s dirty as fuck. Initially paid $20 for parking, then when I returned to my car they dropped it
down to $5.  Sounds like a hellish time, but the atmosphere alone made up for all wpid-20150822_210835_hdr.jpgthe negatives.  The live music, neon lights, constant confetti, and free Orange chicken from Panda Express made it worth the trip.  Don’t come expecting a religious food experience, but definitely light one up and enjoy the lights and music.

943 N Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 680-0243

3-star

Kanda Sushi (Thousand Oaks, CA)

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Kanda Sushi in Thousand Oaks provides authentic Japanese sushi but at a cost. Upon entering, you will notice the cleanliness and feng shui design.  The sushi bar seats 10-12 people, which is the preferred way to roll for any sushi pros.

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Uni ($10)

I ended up ordering the lunch special Kushiage for $11 and an order of uni for $10. The kushiage combo included miso soup, 6 piece California rolls and 2 BBQ chicken sticks. The California roll was nothing special (given) and the bbq sticks were decent but lacked flavor a regular yakitori stick would have. The uni was good, but they definitely skimped out on the urchin. After spending around $30 for lunch, I felt a little satisfied but wanted a bit more.  The quality and selection is there, but the price is about the same as high end sushi restaurants in DTLA that do everything better.

3637 E Thousand Oaks Blvd
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
(805) 230-0101

3-star

Sakae Sushi (Gardena, CA)

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Cash only, street parking, no drinks, no dine in.  With that said, this is some of the best take out sushi you could possibly get. I look for reasons or make up excuses to go to Gardena just so I can order some of their glorious inari.  I usually get a few California rolls (made with seasoned shrimp instead of imitation crab), saba, ebi, and inari. Their attention to detail and quality is very impressive. Since it’s take out, the expectations are low but that will thought will be quickly erased after the first bite.  Easily the best California rolls and inari you could get anywhere. The rice is seasoned and cooled to perfection. It’s so good I don’t even bother with soy sauce.

Although it’s cliche as hell to say, Sakae is the definition of a hidden gem. The ordering area is about the size of a bathroom and there’s no dining area, but that doesn’t stop the brilliance behind the counter.

1601 W Redondo Beach Blvd
Gardena, CA 90247
(310) 532-4550

9TzrMX8TE

Recipe: Maryland Style crab

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For two servings:

  • 2-3 lbs Blue crab or Dungeness crab (dungeness crabs will have more meat)
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Salted butter
  • Minimum 1 gallon cooking pot with lid
  • 1/2 cup vinegar & 1/2 cup water

I’ve been making this dish for years.  It always kills it at parties and people beg for the recipe.  It’s a simple, quick, and delicious dish that anyone can make.

  1. Using the cooking pot, bring a half cup of water and vinegar to a boil.
  2. Place the crabs into the pot and cover with lid.
  3. Leave on high heat for 10 minutes then turn off heat and leave covered for another 10 minutes.
  4. Remove crabs from pot.  Season the crap out of the crabs with the Old Bay.
  5. Serve with melted butter and you’re done!

Fishbar (Manhattan Beach, CA)

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Fishbar is a cozy restaurant that’s a quick stroll from the beach and offers an excellent happy hour menu.  There’s convenient meter parking and a parking lot across the street as well.  Majority of the dishes will run you from $10-$30, however, the happy hour offers a good selection of affordable dishes and drinks.

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The lobster mac and cheese ($6.99), garlic fries ($2.50), and oysters ($1.75) are happy hour gems.  On a recent trip, I got myself the grilled lobster.  Split, seasoned, and grilled to perfection.  They also offer king crab, clams, and other shellfish. It isn’t the best seafood around town, but it’s a great spot for a date or a few drinks and critters with friends.

3801 Highland Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(310) 796-0200

4stars1

New Orleans Cajun & Creole Cuisine (Hermosa Beach, CA)

wpid-wp-1438411921740.jpgEvery time I go to Hermosa Beach, I stroll past the beautifully lit New Orleans Cajun and tell myself, “When you sober up, you should go here and eat some gumbo.” It took years for this to happen. Fortunately, tonight was the night I took on the challenge and decided to demolish the ultimate seafood gumbo. This bad bowl contains king crab, shrimp, sausage, chicken, and a scoop of white rice with green onions.

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Ultimate seafood gumbo ($31)

The broth has the flavor of all the seafood and some of that classic Louisiana gumbo stock. Absolutely delicious with the rice and a few splashes of their hot sauce. It came loaded with tons of shrimp, sausage, and chicken. However, there was only 4 small cut pieces of king crab. It’s also a bit salty and doesn’t have enough white rice for my Asian-ass. With that said, it’s not the best gumbo around town. New Orleans has the best gumbo on Earth, but there’s a Louisiana Fried Chicken joint in Compton equipped with bulletproof glass like a bank and has the best gumbo outside of The Big Easy (serious). On one hand you’ve gotta dodge crackheads and panhandlers, on the other you’ve got shitty beach parking and douche bags. Pick your poison.

140 Pier Ave
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
(310) 372-8970

4stars1

Sushi Damu (West Covina, CA)

wpid-20150829_212354_hdr.jpgAll-you-can-eat sushi?  With uni?!?!
Needless to say, this sounds like premeditated volcano ass in the making, but luckily my intestines were in tact after consuming the food. Parking was easy and free since it’s located in some kind of plaza/mall.

How it works; they give you a piece of paper that has three rounds. Each round you check off what you would like to have made and sent to your table. After your third round, they give you another paper to continue the madness. Unfortunately, they limit the uni to 2 pieces per person so I wasn’t able to uni the fuck out. Figured there would be some limit as uni is a premium sushi.

Besides the uni, which was fantastic, the fish quality was better than most other AYCE sushi joints. Although, that’s not really saying much as most AYCE sushi restaurants tend to have terrible to mediocre quality. wpid-20150829_214739_hdr.jpgThe ikura was a bit too salty for my taste but the salmon, yellowtail, and tuna were on point. No amaebi or toro but it’s somewhat expect for only $24.99 per person.
Overall, I’d give it a 3.5/5. The price is great for the amount of sushi you get, but it won’t keep you away from your favorite sushi spot.

1230 Lakes Dr, Ste 101
West Covina, CA 91790
(626) 699-1046

4stars1

Japonica (Redondo Beach, CA)

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Hamachi collar

Japonica provides an interesting modern take on Japanese food.  While it’s not exactly authentic, it’s got some creative fusions to make it stand out from the rest.  The interior is low lit and mellow.  Feels like a classy winebar in LAX or something.

The food itself ranges from $10-$30 a dish.  Majority of the food is Japanese style tapas.  Which means small, but delicious eats.  I usually get the hamachi collar and karage chicken. Their sushi/sashimi isn’t bad either, but it also isn’t going to amaze you. The atmosphere is more of a date environment than a stuff yourself silly type of establishment.  Parking is in the back and shared with the liquor store/bar. Cool place for a date, but definitely other places around for more bang for your buck.

1304 1/2 S Pacific Coast Hwy
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
(310) 316-9477

3-star

The Chowder Barge (Wilmington, CA)

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32 oz Captain’s Mug ($6)

There’s no other place I’d rather be than at The Chowder Barge on a Sunday afternoon slamming down a huge mug of beer and devouring the best fish and chips around.  This has been a local secret for a while and I’m almost hesitant to share this gem, but they deserve the attention.

Their specialty is their clam chowder (get it with the fried clams) and it doesn’t disappoint, but I come here for the fish and chips, view, and beer.  It’s setup on a dock in the random industrial area of Wilmington.  It can be somewhat hard to find at first, but once you get there it’s like knowing a secret hideout.  The beers range from $4-$8 and the food ranges from $8 to $12.

The quaint scenery make this an optimal spot to grub, drink, and fade the night away watching the various animals and boats roaming around.

611 N Henry Ford Ave
Wilmington, CA 90744
(310) 830-7937

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The Shrimp Lover (Redondo Beach, CA)

10181_10200941055782464_1289491809_nThe Shrimp Lover (formerly known as the Boiling Shrimp) is basically a Thai owned version of the Boiling Crab.  It resides on the 2nd floor of the Redondo Beach Pier, so it can be somewhat troublesome to find at first.  The view is extremely beautiful and makes smashing critters that much more enjoyable.

Once inside, you’ll notice the familiar setup of tables covered in paper and rolls of paper towels. The bucket of seafood we got was around $35 and it came with shrimp, snow crab, king crab, mussels, and crawfish.  Enough food to feed 2.5 baked Asians.  They give you several different sauce options like the Boiling Crab, but with a Thai twist. I noticed the use of sweet basil in almost every dish.  The service can be somewhat lacking and they aren’t the friendliest people, but its my go to joint when at the Redondo Beach Pier.

125 W Torrance Blvd
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
(310) 374-6555

4stars1