November 26, 2012
asian fusion, calasian, ennar, family, fountain valley, japanese, new restaurant, skewers, vietnamese, yakitori
My parents don’t claim to be foodies, but I’m convinced they are because they always seem to catch wind of new restaurants opening up in Orange County. A few months ago, it just so happened that a family friend opened up a Vietnamese-Japanese fusion yakitori place and my parents came to visit within weeks of their opening. Having enjoyed their visit, they invited us to check it out this happenin’ hot spot – Ennar Calasian Grill – for Happy Hour. (Yes, it’s an interesting experience going out for HH with one’s parents, in case anyone was wondering…)
Ennar Calasian Grill – Fountain Valley, CA
To them, Happy Hour isn’t about cheap drinks (although we did start with a round of discounted Sapporo) — it’s about cheap food! The HH menu at Ennar is full of assorted yakitori-style skewers and izakaya-like starters. I’ll be honest, I was caught a little off-guard trying to order yakitori with a menu that only had English and Vietnamese on it (like asking for lưỡi when I would usually order gyutan). We spotted a few items that seemed a little out of place (roma tomato bruschetta?) so we steered clear of those. Still, we ordered a good variety of what the menu had to offer so without further ado, we present everyone’s favorite part… the food.
I love checklists!
October 15, 2012
amaebi, ankimo, chef phillip, japanese, omakase, overland, palms, sushi, sushi central
Perhaps the best hole-in-the-wall discoveries are the ones that are right under your nose. Sometimes you acknowledge its existence and brush it off, most days you go on with your life without giving it a second glance or thought. ‘Twas the case with Sushi Central, a quaint little sushi place situated in the corner of a strip mall that includes a great doughnut shop (DH Doughnut House) and other businesses. Located at the corner of Overland and Palms, I literally pass by this strip mall every morning on my way to the 10 fwy to get to work. But fate finally brought me and my dear friend S here one unassuming Monday night.
Stumbling into the quiet restaurant, we requested seats at the counter and were the only pair occupying the limited bar seating. The best seats in the house when it comes to sushi, if you ask me. A quick glance at the menu full of rolls and I proposed to S that we do omakase for dinner. Omakase is frequently translated on sushi bar menus as “Chef’s Choice”. I think the subtleties go beyond that a bit. Omakase means to “entrust” the chef, to put yourself (and your dinner) in his capable hands. Lucky for us, that night those hands belonged to the renowned chef-owner Phillip.
Kurodai (left) and Halibut (right)
May 18, 2012
date night, david gelb, documentary, japanese, jiro dreams of sushi, jiro ono, nuart, sushi
Back in March, we snagged tickets to one of the two showings of Jiro Dreams of Sushi on its opening night at The Nuart in West LA. I know this entry is long overdue (the screening was on March 16th!), but it was such a great experience I wanted to share anyway in hopes that you, our dear reader, will be inspired to go track down a showing and check it out. It is definitely a movie worth seeing.
Source: Magnolia Pictures
September 23, 2011
date night, izakaya, japanese, nanbankan, restaurants, sawtelle, yakitori
By no means has yesterday been our first visit to Nanbankan, more like our 8th or 9th. Alice definitely has sizable number of check-ins on Yelp! and Foursquare. It’s one of those places we love to go to after a long day or week of work, a Japanese version of a gastropub if you will. Although given the option, I would much prefer Nanbankan.
Nestled on the first floor of an office building on Santa Monica Blvd but far enough away from traffic-ridden Sawtelle, Nanbankan is a hidden gem, especially during the seemingly endless construction to that building in the previous year or so. We usually sit at the bar whenever we can so we can watch our food being cooked. If you plan to go during dinner hours, especially on the weekend, plan ahead and get a reservation, you’ll thank yourself later.
The ambiance is inviting and warm, literally speaking if you’re sitting at the bar and can feel the heat of the grill; this is why we particularly like to dine at Nanbankan during the winter. The wooden panels on the walls marked with Japanese characters is not just for decor, it’s the menu! The oddly placed whiteboard toward the back stands out, which is really a good thing because it has items not on the menu. Many people overlook this obvious menu until they see someone else order something that looks like it’s not on the menu, the Australian lamb for example.
Love these panels - they're decorative and functional!
Read more about this nom adventure