Hello Howlin Ray’s!

Summer is officially here! With temperatures spiking up to 100 degrees plus around LA, we can definitely say the heat is on. It however has been hot at Chinatown’s Far East Plaza since 2015, thanks to Howlin’ Rays!

Howlin’ Ray’s originally started out as food truck by a Silver Lake chef Johnny Zone and then in 2015, Johnny and his wife decided to put up shop at Far East Plaza. The rest as many will say his history…hot history.

Lines can be found snaking through the Far East Plaza for hours. It almost seems like everyone in town wants to get their hands on the Nashville Hot Chicken that Howlin Ray’s is all about. How hot do you want your chicken? The spice ranges from country (no heat) to howling’ (can’t touch this 10++).

Hello Kitty Foodie finally met Howlin’ Ray’s recently and I can say the hype is real!

The chicken comes out fresh from the kitchen from a very happy and eager restaurant crew. Watching the Howlin’ Ray’s crew is amazing. They’ve got the teamwork down and their manager Mario can be seen taking the time to say hello to all the foodies.

Chicken offerings are served with white bread and pickles and one can choose from a quarter bird, half bird, skinny jimmy (boneless chicken breast) and wings.

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The fried chicken is piping hot with the skin super crisp and oh so delicious. The chicken itself is tender and practically melts in your mouth. It’s perfect with the soft white bread and pickles that comes with the chicken. Spice level was just right and it definitely was getting hot the afternoon I tried it. 😉 It’s no surprise folks wait for hours for the crunch, the taste and the mouth watering experience.

Howlin’ Ray’s also offers The Sando; their version of the chicken sandwich.

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In between two butter buns is the crispiest boneless breast that is topped with slaw and lots of comeback sauce. Can one say crunch err love at first bite? The boneless chicken breast in this sandwich is amazing. Crispy texture, tender meat; it’s one that you’ll want to come back for over and over. Speaking of come back; the comeback sauce itself is like is lovely treat to foodies. It’s a mayonnaise based sauce with a slight hint of pepper and brings even more flavor to the already tasty sandwich.

Hello flavor! Hello heat! Hello Kitty Foodie loved Howlin’ Ray’s. It’s no wonder the Far East Plaza is so hot! Howlin’ Rays hot.

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For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Howlin’ Rays.

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Hello Island Flavor Cafe!

Summer is in fill swing. Sun’s out and it’s time for some vacation fun. An island vacation would be perfect. Perhaps Hawaii? 😉 If a Hawaiian vacation isn’t in the plans any time soon; have no fear because Island Flavor Cafe in Torrance is here to bring Hawaii to you.

Island Flavor Cafe is a new a cafe offering us the most ono dishes ever. (Ono means delicious in Hawaiian). They have all the (Hawaiian) local favorites such as oxtail soup, spam and loco moco. Their breakfast grinds actually includes not one but three loco mocos (regular, roast pork and chicken katsu). They also have daily specials. Some specials in the past include pork lau lau, hamburger curry and sweet and sour spare ribs.

On the day I visited their special was the Beef Curry Stew.

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The Beef Curry Stew is one tasty Hawaiian treat with tender beef, potatoes, carrots and lots of curry sauce. The curry sauce has a homemade feel and it goes perfect with the white rice.

The main speciality of Island Flavor Cafe however is the Furikake Chicken.

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This dish is unlike any other and I was definitely both intrigued and delighted by it. In this past I have had many food dishes such as fries sprinkled with furikake; the dry Japanese seasoning that has sesame seeds and chopped seaweed. It is only here that I got to see it sprinkled over chicken. Their version of Furikake Chicken is delicious! The chicken itself is perfectly fried to perfection. The fried chicken is topped with a nice sweet glaze and sprinkles of furikake. It’s very flavorful and definitely ono.

Hawaii maybe 2,479 miles away from Los Angeles but the taste of the islands is not. Island Flavor Cafe in Torrance will bring a bit of Hawaii to you along with some ono kine grindz 😉.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp Review on Island Flavor Cafe.

Hello Dave and Buster’s at Del Amo Fashion Center! 

Torrance just said hello to the one place where one can “Eat, Drink, Play and Watch Sports.” Dave and Busters recently opened up at Del Amo Fashion Center!  This new hot spot is one gigantic place full of fun for every one. From classic games to hot new virtual reality games; they have it all! There’s also plenty of big screen tvs where one can watch the latest sports games. (Hmm World Cup, anyone?)

Aside from sports and games; there is also food! A wall at the new Dave and Busters sums it up perfectly! It says “We’re the fun place that’s serious about food.”  Just like like their game offerings, Dave and Busters does not mess around with their food offerings. One of their best deals is there  “BFFs Best Food Friends” offerings.  Through BFFs, Dave and Busters combines some of their popular items like Philly Cheesesteak Sliders and Goldfingers. Crispy hand breaded chicken tenders with house made buffalo ranch sauce plus four sliders with thin slices of grilled Philly ribeye steak and melted cheese along with seasoned French fries await diners at Dave and Busters!

Fun, food and more…. Dave and Busters at Del Amo will be sure to bring smiles to all!

For more smiles, please see my recent Yelp review  on Dave and Busters. 

Hello Tocaya Organica at The Point!

Ever since The Point opened up in El Segundo, California; I have been a fan! It truly is a premier destination to shop and dine at.  From Italian pastas at North Italia to burgers at Hopdoddy;  this Hello Kitty Foodie has enjoyed it all.  Adding on to the diverse dining family at The Point is yet another wonderful restaurant; Tocaya Organica.

First founded in Venice in 2016, Tocaya Organica also has locations in Hollywood, Santa Monica, Playa Vista and Century City. This Tocaya Organica at The Point is the sixth Tocaya Organica location.

Tocaya Organica is a modern organic Mexican restaurant that is all about always sustainable, always fresh, always sustainable cuisine. They offer a variety of salads, tacos, bowls and burritos that are made out of the highest quality ingredients paired with bold flavors.

One of the things I enjoyed at Tocaya Organica is the ability to customize your taco, bowl or burrito with your choice of protein or queso. For meats, you have a variety of choices from carne asada to vegan picadillo. Cheese choices range from queso fresco to vegan chipotle jack.

For the bowls, one of their most popular items is the Fajita Del Rey bowl.

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The Fajita Del Rey bowl comes with sautéed poblano peppers, onions, spanish rice, black beans, vegan chipotle cream, guacamole and pico de gallo. I chose to get it with Tocaya Organic’s very special vegan picadillo. This is their own picadillo recipe featuring their house made pea-based protein that has  carrots, zucchini, onions, potatoes & tomatoes. The picadillo was made perfectly. It was soft and tasty and went well with the rice and guacamole. I combined this with the zesty flavors of tapioca, arrowroot & chipotle that came from the Vegan chipotle jack. This bowl full of vegan delights was simply amazing.

The bowls are awesome but so are their tacos too. I highly recommend getting their taco combo plate which gives you a little taste of everything because it comes with your choice of two sides and a drink.

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For the tacos, similar to the bowls; you can choose your protein and queso. I got the Cali Green taco with marinated shredded beef and manchego cheese and the Barrio Style taco with achiote chicken and jalepeno jack. Tacos aren’t just for Tuesdays friends! If you dine at Tocaya Organica; you’ll want them every day! The bold flavors of the tacos are sure to please your palate. Pair these up with some of their amazing sides and you’ll sure to be in heaven. I truly enjoyed by side of tortilla soup that had large chunks of avocado inside along with tomato, roasted bell pepper, vegan mozzarella and crispy tortilla strips. I also had a side of their soft and sweet corn tamale. Tacos plus sides equals happy foodie, happy tummy. Best of all this is all healthy! Healthy, happy eats!

As I mentioned, the taco combination comes with a drink as well. You do not want to miss their great iced teas, aguas frescas and limeades. My favorite is the watermelon but their cucumber mint and strawberry basil are also very refreshing!

Tocaya Organica at The Point is a great place to enjoy customized organic Mexican eats. It’s a wonderful addition to one of the best plazas in El Segundo!

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Tocaya Organica at The Point.

Hello Little Sister Redondo Beach!

There is a new sister in town and she is no other than Little Sister Redondo Beach.  With the success of restaurant endeavors such as Abigaile,  WildCraft ,  Dia De Campo, Steak and Whiskey, Little Sister Manhattan Beach and  Little Sister LA;  Chef Tin Vuong now brings us one more special “sister” restaurant in the opening of Little Sister Redondo Beach.

Similar to their sister restaurants; Little Sister Redondo Beach brings us some fantastic cuisine of Eastern and Western cultures combined.

The menu of this new restaurant has a mixture of old favorites as well as new dishes. Regardless of an old, classic dish or a new surprise; each dish is truly innovative with a special flair of Southeast Asian flavor courtesy of Chef Tin Vuong.

My meal at this new Redondo Beach hot spot started off with the the Pan Fried E-Fu Noodle. This dish is aa favorite found at the other Little Sister restaurants.

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Symbolizing long life; E-Fu noodles are often served at celebrations such as birthdays and weddings. It seemed only appropriate to have long life noodles at the grand opening of a new restaurant 😉 and this dish is indeed a reason to celebrate because it is amazing. Topped with confit shredded pork, long beans and tea egg; it was definitely full of flavor. The tea egg is meant to be broken and mixed in with the rest of the noodle. The yellow yolk once drizzled into the dish adds to the depth of flavor.

Next up after the E-Fu noodles; I tried the Goi Cuon Fresh Spring Rolls.

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Spring Rolls are a classic Asian dish and Chef Tin Vuong does a superb job of offering a traditional roll with a little bit of a twist. These fresh springs rolls has pork and shrimp along with a special crispy wafer. The crunch that the wafer brings to the rolls is a surprise and one that adds a uniqueness (and deliciousness for that matter) to this rice paper entree.

The third dish I had here was my personal favorite for this visit. This dish was the “Xoi” Sticky Rice.

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Xoi is a savory Vietnamese dish made from glutinous rice. Here at Little Sister their version consists of sticky rice with lap cheung, pork floss, crispy shallots, slow egg and roasted chili vinegar. The sticky rice is slightly deep fried and topped with the egg and pork. Slightly spicy and definitely savory; I really enjoyed this dish.

Little Sister is definitely not so little in terms of taste and quality. Each dish is packed with savoriness; full of unique Asian flavors. Chef Tin Vuong once said that this is the type of food he likes to eat and he is not alone because this is the type of food we like to eat too.  The new sister in town plays big (sister) in terms of bringing a delicious blend of Eastern and Western cuisine.

Little Sister Redondo Beach officially opens today, May 28, 2018.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Little Sister Redondo Beach.

Hello Jimmy’s Kouzina!

It is on my vacation bucket list to see the sights of Santorini, Greece and walk the beautiful town of Venice, Italy. Perhaps one day, I’ll visit those wonderful places but in the meantime I get to have a little taste of Greece and Italy; thanks to Jimmy’s Kouzina.

Jimmy’s Kouzina is lovely restaurant located at the heart of Manhattan Beach. Specializing in Italian and Greek food; this eatery has been serving the South Bay since 1984. It was formerly named Old Venice but now has a new name via Jimmy’s Kouzina. The restaurant is renamed in honor of owner and chef Jimmy Hantzarides and is currently owned and operated by his family; wife Julie and children Natalie and Andrew.

Chef Jimmy’s legacy lives on with homestyle cooking and fresh made food inspired by his Greek upbringing. The food here at Jimmy’s Kouzina is truly special and upon my visit here, I saw that.

I started off my meal here with one of their meze (appetizer) dishes; the Spanakopitas.

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Spanakopitas are a traditional Greek appetizer and Jimmy’s Kouzina does a wonderful version with crispy file dough triangles stuffed with spinach and feta. I loved how they added an Italian twist with having marinara sauce as a dipping sauce. This was the start of a wonderful meal and the best was yet to come.

For our main dishes; we started off with another traditional Greek plate; Chicken Gyros Shawarma.

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All plates come with choices of two sides. Our chosen sides were yellow squash and rice pilaf. These two sides matched perfectly with the tender strips of chicken gyros. Another perfect pairing were the pita bread and tzatziki. Flavorful and fulfilling; it was  agreed feast indeed.

From traditional Greek we went with a fusion dish next via their Santorini Special.

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As I mentioned up front in this post; I’ve always dreamed of going to Santorini and so the name of this dish really caught my eye. The other thing that caught my eye however was all the special ingredients in this dish! It’s penne pasta tossed in olive oil, basil, tomatoes, garlic clove with a touch marinara sauce. It is topped with pieces of Gyro meat and feta and parmesan cheeses. It’s an Italian pasta with a lot of Greek flavors. I liked the incorporation of the Gyro meat in this dish and loved the blend of traditional parmesan cheeses and feta. This dish is very innovative and creative and is wonderful reflection of what Chef Andrew’s dishes are all about.

From the savory to sweet; we were in for more treats this day. Being a big coffee fan; I was ecstatic to see a full menu of various coffee delights. Greek coffee, Freddo Espresso, Affogato and more; my coffee crush was in full swing. My choice for this day was the Mochaccino.

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The Mochaccino is a four layer chocolate cappuccino. With a shot of espresso and chocolate milk; this drink was rich, smooth and simply divine. It was the perfect drink to go along with our chosen dessert; baklava.

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We started our meal here with crispy filo dough treats and we ended our meal here with more crispy filo dough treats. The baklava consisted of crispy layers of filo dough and walnuts in simple syrup. It was drizzled with sweet honey. To the side were some fresh fruit and whipped cream. It was truly a sweet ending to a lovely meal.

Each dish I tried was full of flavor and creative.  It’s rare to find a place with great Greek food in the South Bay and even rarer to find a place with great Greek and Italian food with some Mediterranean flare. Jimmy’s Kouzina is special indeed.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Jimmy’s Kouzina

Hello Manhattan Beach Post!

Ever since Manhattan Beach Post opened up in April 2011, this lovely social house has been one of my favorite places to dine at. Every thing that Chef/owner David LeFevre has on the menu is simply superb and it is a natural go-to restaurant for special occasions. It was thus perfect to celebrate Mother’s Day today here with my forever best friend, my mom.

Manhattan Beach Post was packed right at it’s opening at 10am but we were blessed to get a table. The biggest blessing however was being able to bond with my mom at this wonderful place.

First up for us is famous Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits.

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These fluffy biscuits with little pieces of bacon and cheddar cheese are perfectly meaty and cheesy. The magic lies with that side of maple butter though. Smother on some of that sweet butter and you truly are in for a sweet treat.

For our main entrees, we started off with Manhattan  Beach Post’s Chimichanga.

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The chimichanga here is one gigantic fried piece of deliciousness. It is stuffed with green chile pork, golden fertile egg, potato and oaxaca cheese. On top it is smothered with guacamole and there is even more guacamole along with sour cream on the side. It’s fulfilling and wonderful.

The other main entree we tried was the Huevos Tinga.

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A comfort food, that is normally found in Mexican restaurants, Manhattan Beach Post has their own version with poached egg, hominy and oaxaca cheese. I loved the tomato and chili chipotle sauce. This dish was truly full of flavor.

Manhattan Beach Post has never disappointed and both my mom and I were thrilled to celebrate here today! We were full of smiles from start to finish.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Manhattan Beach Post.