Hello Rakkan Ramen Redondo Beach!

After visiting Tokyo late last year, I truly found an appreciation for all things “umami.” What exactly is umami you may ask? Umami is actually one of the five basic senses. The other four being sweet, sour, bitter and salty.  Rakkan Ramen is all about umami and offering dishes that are full of flavor. There’s five locations in Japan; four of which are in Tokyo. No need however to fly all the way to Tokyo however to get a taste of Rakkan Ramen because there are actually three locations in the USA and they are all in Southern California! The three locations are in downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Redondo Beach. The latest one to open is the one in Redondo Beach.

I recently had a chance to visit the Rakkan Ramen in Redondo Beach and my senses were instantly transported back to Tokyo.

My meal here first started off with their Rakkan Buns.

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There are three offerings of Rakkan Buns; pork, chicken and vegetable. My choice was the chicken buns. This starter indeed was a definition of sensory overload. Two steamed buns were filled with crispy chicken, milk, sesame, baby mix greens with teriyaki sauce and mayonnaise.  I loved the melt in your mouth softness of the steamed buns followed by the delightful crisp of the deep-fried chicken. A mix of the mayonnaise and teriyaki sauce was delightfulness to the palate.

After such a savory stater, next on the table was the star of the meal; the ramen. Here at Rakkan Ramen; they have four different types. Amber, Pearl, Garnet and Ruby. The ramen are just as special as the names of the gemstones they are named after.
Amber is their soy sauce ramen and their most popular at Rakkan. Pearl is the salt sauce ramen that uses specially selected Japanese salt and white soy sauce. lt is Rakkan Ramen’s “healthy” ramen. Garnet is the miso ramen that is well-known in Hokkaido. While ruby is the shrimp miso ramen made with shrimp paste and shrimp slowly boiled in olive oil to concentrate the umami flavor.
Upon my visit, I tried the Garnet ramen.

 

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The Garnet uses original blended miso and has vegetable broth, sesame paste, grilled pork, green onion, bamboo shoots and seasoned egg served with thin noodles. I instantly became a fan of the vegetable broth! I love that they used vegetable broth to help keep the dish healthy yet tasty. This in itself makes it a winner in my book. The seasoned egg along with the tender pork were superb. With an addition of their chili sesame oil; this ramen dish made for one hearty meal. The umami flavor was evident throughout the whole meal.

I am very happy to see Rakkan Ramen in Southern California. It’s a little taste of Tokyo here at home.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Rakkan Ramen Redondo Beach.

Hello Steelhead Coffee Torrance!

Steelhead Coffee hits the South Bay!

The popular coffee shop that has two locations in Long Beach and a location in Laguna Hills has now hit Torrance!

There’s nothing like having some freshly brewed artisan coffee to kick off the weekend and that’s just what I did on a fine Friday that marked the end of the work week.

Steelhead Coffee’s location in Torrance is cute and small. It’s located at the lobby of the office of the Daily Breeze Newspaper. With a very minimalistic design, I could definitely see how this would be a great place to simply enjoy a warm cup of coffee.

Their menu consists of drip coffee, cold brew, cortado, lattes and cappuccinos. One can add vanilla, lavender, caramel and chocolate to their drinks too.

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I found their caramel latte to be so smooth. It was not too rich but yet perfect for a slightly sweet kick to start off the morning.

Asidefrom their coffee and tea offerings, Steelhead also offers various pastries from Bakers Kneaded; a wholesale Los Angeles bakery that offers organic whole grain breads and pastries.

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I instantly became a fan of their almond croissant. With its crispy, flaky skin on the outside topped with sliced almonds and almond paste in the inside; this croissant was the perfect pairing for my caramel latte.

The food offerings doesn’t stop however with bread and pastries because there is more at Steelhead Coffee! The Steelhead Kitchen offers a variety of freshly made hot dishes such as congee, avocado bread and even a Steelhead burger!

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I got to try their congee and was amazed at all the wonderful ingredients in the bowl. The rice porridge had fresh persian cucumber, kimchi, sriracha mixed in toasted sesame and soy sauce and topped with soft-boiled egg.  It was definitely one of the most special rice porridges I’ve ever seen or had!

It is no surprise Steelhead Coffee has been such a hit in their first three locations.  From their sweet sips to their savory treats; one is sure to smile and have a an amazing start to the day!

For more smiles; please see my latest Yelp review on Steelhead Coffee Torrance.

Hello Kitty Themed Dental Office!

Smile! Just the other day it was National Dentist Day and during that day, Sanrio gave us one big reason to smile as they announced their new partnership with Los Angeles-based, Parklane Dental.

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Sanrio and Parklane Dental is bringing us the most kawaii kitty dental office ever as it brings to the U.S. the first ever Hello Kitty dental office! Not only will Hello Kitty designs be all over; there will be decor too featuring Hello Kitty’s friends such as Little Twin Stars, Chocolate, Keroppi, Pompompurin, My Melody, Badtz Maru and Gudetama.

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Patients get to choose from a super kawaii Gudetama or Hello Kitty themed treatment room.

There’s definitely nothing meh about cleaning your teeth says Fairy Eggmother Gudetama!

Hello Kitty says brush your teeth and be supercute!

The Hello Kitty and Friends experience is only available at the Temple City location of Parklane Dental and it truly is a place for small gift, big smile! For more information and to book appointments, please visit: https://www.parklanedental.net/.

Hello 189 by Dominique Ansel!

Chef Dominique Ansel is known world-wide as the inventor of the cronut; the delightful sweet treat that is a hybrid of a croissant and donut. His culinary expertise however goes beyond the sweet as he does savory as well as can be seen in his first ever restaurant venture, 189 by Dominique Ansel.

189 by Dominique Ansel is located in  The Grove Los Angeles; a popular shopping and dining destination. The Grove is the perfect location for Chef Ansel’s first savory undertaking as it a beautiful and bustling place located right at the heart of LA. As special as The Grove is, the name of his restaurant is also very special and unique. The number 189 is the bakery address of Chef Ansel’s original bakery address in New York (189 Spring Street) and also happens to be same street address for this restaurant in LA (189 The Grove Drive).

I recently got to dine at 189 by Dominique Ansel and it truly was a beautiful and special evening. The restaurant itself is located on the second floor above Dominique Ansel’s bakery. From tables that overlook The Grove’s famous water fountain to intimate booths with backgrounds that resemble Chef Ansel’s famous croissants; this restaurant is lovely.

The dinner menu consists of “Small”, “Medium” and “Large” and all dishes are meant to be shared family style.

We started off our meal with the Butternut Squash and the Hand-mixed Acorn Squash Gnocchi.

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The Butternut Squash was a beautiful plate with long pieces of butternut squash in Vadouvan coconut curry, treviso and orange fennel salt. The soft butternut squash was full of flavor from the coconut curry. I loved the sweet and slight spice of the curry.

Equal in delight to the tastebuds was the Hand-mixed Acorn Squash Gnocchi. These small and soft dough dumplings simply melted upon first bite. I loved the brown butter taste. Garnishing this dish were young radishes and sage. These little touches added a nice crunch to the gnocchi.

For our next dish, we tried another “Small” plate; Seared Organic Hen of the Woods Mushrooms

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This was a very unique, earthy dish. The hen of woods mushrooms were topped with shaved parmesan and dipped in fresh egg cacio e pepe sauce.  The egg sauce was thick and popped out the flavor of the mushrooms.

For our main dish, we had the Grilled Lamb Chops.

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The lamb chops were phenomenal. They were perfectly grilled with a nice char. Dipped in mustard seeds, they made for a great savory dish. The meat was sweetly offset with pickled farmers market black plum.

No trip to Chef Ansel’s restaurant would be complete without a sweet treat. Each savory dish we tried was excellent but we couldn’t leave without trying one of his special desserts.

To wrap up this special evening, we tried “On the Half Shell.”

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This has to be one of the most beautiful and special desserts I’ve ever had. On top of rocks were dark chocolate molded in oyster shells. These dark chocolate “oysters” were topped with lime sorrel gelée, mango jam, sea salt ice cream, oat crumble and one edible crispy pearl made out of chocolate. This dessert was truly exquisite and a must try!

The evening ended up not being over quite yet because post dessert we were delightfully surprised to an invite to a small room where there is a “granola bar.”  Each guest is invited to fill a bag with the restaurant’s housemate granola. There are toppings such as golden raisins, dried pineapple and sweet meringue. It’s the restaurant’s way of saying thank you the guests as well as giving guests “breakfast on the house” for the next day. This was a wonderful surprise and a lovely souvenir for the evening.

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Visiting 189 by Chef Dominique Ansel made for a fantastic evening out feasting on excellent dishes full of flavor and unique touches. I have been a fan of Chef Dominique Ansel since he created the cronut. Now I am not only a fan of Chef Ansel’s sweet creations but his savory ones as well.

 

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on 189 by Dominique Ansel.

Hello Newberry Coffee and Tea!

Coffee, Tea and Newberry!

There’s a new place in the South Bay to get a good cup of coffee for cold days  or an iced cold boba for chilly days.  Newberry Coffee and Tea just opened up this January 2019 in Torrance, CA! Newberry Coffee Roasters gets all their coffee beans from Brazil, Columbia, Indonesia, Panama, Guatemala and Hondura and they roast their coffee locally in Los Angeles weekly. Being a big coffee and boba fan, I had to check this place out.

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Since it was a rather warm day in Los Angeles, my eye was on their Favorite Blended menu. Two in particular caught my eye; the Caramel Frappe and the Taro Milk Molly

For those looking for a great day kickstart, the Caramel Frappe is one that I recommend! With espresso,  caramel, coffee jelly and oreo; it’s the perfect blend of coffee and sweet. I liked the hints of caramel within in the espresso. Typically espresso drinks can be a bit too strong for me but here they do it just right.

The Taro Milk Molly has milk, taro, panda boba and custard. This one is a classic boba drink for those who like simple and sweet.

The frappe and molly were just two of the drinks that I enjoyed. They have many more in their Favorite Blended menu but you can also customize and make your own!

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It’s always nice to see a nice new coffee shop. Newberry Coffee and Tea Company hits the spot for when craving some coffee or boba!

For more smiles, please my Yelp Review on Newberry Coffee and Tea Company!

Hello Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco & Music Festival 2019!

The biggest event is about to hit this April 6 and April 7 in Southern California! Coming to Doheny State Beach is the  Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco & Music Festival 2019!

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This festival is brought to us by our friends from Gringo Bandito and will be filled with unlimited tastings from over 150 craft beers and gourmet tacos. There will also be Luche Libre style wrestling as well as performances from awesome bands such as The Offspring, Flogging Molly,  Bad Religion, Descendents, Good Charlotte, Black Flag and many more awesome bands

Hello Kitty Foodie is excited about the amazing variety of tacos! Among the delectable delights on the taco menu are carne asada, chicken, al pastor, grilled fish, fried fish, shrimp and lobster! A perfect pair with the tacos are our favorite Gringo Bandito sauce!

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This year will also mark the 9th Annual Gringo Bandito Chronic Tacos Challenge, where professional eaters from around the world compete for cash prizes and the highly-coveted title of Chronic Tacos Eating Champion. 2018 Gringo Bandito Chronic Tacos Eating Champion Takeru Kobayashi, from Nagano, Japan returns to defend his 2018  title. Last year he devoured an 154 tacos in 10 minutes. Hmm, Hello Kitty Foodies do you think you can eat that many tacos?

This event has sold out the last two years and so you definitely don’t want to miss it. Single Day tickets start at $59.50 (plus fees) and Weekend tickets start at $89.50 (plus fees). Kids 7 and under get in free with an adult ticket holder. There also special VIP lounge tickets available!

A portion of the proceeds from the festival will be donated to the Doheny State Beach Interpretive Association (DSBIA). Sabroso will also partner with Big Brother Big Sister, who mentor many of our youth facing adversity.

Tickets our officially on sale now at www.SabrosoTacoFest.com!  Be sure to grab the hottest ticket in town!

For more info on Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco & Music Festival powered by Gringo Bandito, you can also check out www.SabrosoTacoFest.com and their social media channels Facebook: @sabrosotacofest,  and instagram: @sabrosotacofest, 

#sabrosotacofest

Hello Thai Hub Torrance!

Thai food is one of my favorite types of cuisine and I’m always on the lookout for a good place to find some great Thai dishes. This 2019, there’s a new “hub” in Torrance just for that!  Thai Hub Torrance Street Food and Dessert Cafe just opened up this new year and is quickly becoming a go-to Thai place for those in the South Bay (and beyond).

Thai Hub Torrance says that their love for Thai food is “infinite” and this is evident in the menu consisting of a large variety of Thai dishes. One can find authentic dishes such as  E-Sarn Rice Sausage, Tom Zap Baby Pork Rib soup, Thai Papaya Salad and Ka prow Grounded beef.

A good way to try out their different offerings is through their lunch set. The lunch set is offered daily from 11am through 3:30pm. I’ve found that these are great deal to get a glimpse of their variety.

Their Pad See Ew lunch set is one of my favorites.

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The Pad See Ew comes with egg, wonton soup and two chicken wings. The chicken wings happen to be one of their appetizer offerings too! The Thai style breaded chicken wings are scrumptious! Served piping hot, each bite gives a delightful crunch. Not to be outdone is the wonton soup that consists of  fully stuffed chicken and shrimp wontons, tender BBQ pork and bok choy. The star of this lunch set of course however is their  Pad See Ew. The fact rice noodles have a good mix of eggs, Chinese broccoli and chicken.

Another popular lunch set and one that I also really like is their Yellow Curry Chicken.

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Yellow Curry Chicken is a staple in Thai cuisine and here at Thai Hub they really know their curry! The Yellow Curry is full of flavor! There is tender chicken breast, potatoes, onions and carrot. It’s great over the white rice and mixed with hard-boiled eggs that comes with the set. On the side is their Spicy beef Salad. This salad has a bit of kick to it because of the spicy lime dressing. There is grilled beef, cucumber, lemongrass, tomatoes and mint.

I am happy to see this new “hub” for Thai food in Torrance! It’s one amazing new addition to the South Bay this 2019!

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Thai Hub Torrance.