Hello El Barrio Neighborhood Tacos!

Located on busy Aviation Blvd in Redondo Beach is the equally busy El Barrio Neighborhood Tacos! The taco shop just opened up this summer and officially had it’s grand opening today, September 1. Ever since it’s opening one can see the hustle and bustle of folks coming in and out to enjoy the taqueria.

The brains behind the new eatery are actually two culinary personnel very familiar with the South Bay scene; Ulises Pineda-Alfaro and Jesse Duron. They both work at Umi by Hamasaku, a sushi restaurant located at The Point in El Segundo. Pineda-Alfaro is the chef and Duron is the general manager of the sushi restaurant. Both thought it was time to bring some good tacos to the South Bay and good tacos they indeed brought.

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The menu primarily focuses on eight tacos: Gobernador (shrimp), Carne (mesquite grilled hangar steak), Birria (stewed US Wagyu beef), Al Pastor (split roasted Beelers pork), Pork Belly carnitas (crispy pork belly), Chicken Tinga (Mary’s chicken), Cauliflower con Mole (roasted cauliflower) and Nopal (Roasted cauliflower)

The tacos are all served on housemaid corn tortilla and you can actually see them make the tortillas right there. They are made using masa from heirloom, non-GMO corn raised by a collective of family farms in Oaxaca, sourced through the Sawtelle masa company Masienda. I will have to say these tortillas are the best. Fresh and warm; they’re excellent no matter what meat you choose.

Speaking of meat; each of their meat is perfect topped with sauces or cheeses that truly compliment their flavoring. The Birria; US Wagyu beef brisket comes with oozing tomato salsa emulsion while the Pork Belly Carnitas have tomatillo salsa and cilantro. They’re simply delightfully delicious.

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Aside from tacos they also have Mulitas which are served on two if the housemaid tortillas and come with melted cheese, escabeche and salsa. You can choose one of the eight meat offerings.

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They also have Tortas which are served on artisan Telera roll, shaved lettuce, onion, tomato, guacamole crema, salsa and pickle escabeche. These tortas are gigantic. They’re not only big on size but big on fillings and taste!

No matter whether you want a taco, mulita or torta; you will sure to love this new neighborhood taqueria. The grand opening today is offering 50% off all taco, mulitas and tortas. Adelante on over to El Barrio Neighborhood Tacos!

For more smiles, please my Yelp Review on El Barrio Neighborhood Tacos and check out the El Barrio Neighborhood Tacos website.

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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 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 The Grail Churros & Ice Cream!

“Not all who wander are lost.”

Wanderlust is defined by the strong desire to wander and for this Hello Kitty Foodie, I often find myself wandering to the hottest and sweetest spots in town. Such was the case when I found myself “wandering” to The Grail Churros and Ice Cream shop in Redondo Beach.

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The Grail Churros and Ice Cream is a new sweet shop that recently opened up in Riviera Village in Redondo Beach. Specializing in churros and ice cream, it is truly a gem of a place. The fact that their name is “The Grail” is perfect; as it symbolizes the prize at the end of wandering.

Each of their offerings here is indeed a prize. One has the option to choose between a sixteen inch churro stick with dust, glaze and toppings, a cup/cone of ice cream or even a combination of churro and ice cream via their Sahara tent; ice cream plus churro or their sandstorm; churro ice cream sandwich. They also have signature churros via their matcha churro, campfire churro, magic wand churro or the churro con cafe. The campfire churro is similar to a s’more; with the churro dusted with honey graham crackers, glazed with melted marshmallow and drizzled with hot fudge and mini marshmallows. The magic wand is indeed magical as it glazed with purple cosmic dust and is sprinkled with colorful stars.

The ice cream choices here are equally as fascinating as their churro. They’ve got yummy classics like cookie dough and butter pecan as well as exotic flavor like Ube (purple yam) and Langka (jackfruit). Perhaps one may be surprised with the Filipino flair in their ice cream. The Pinoy touch is no coincidence as The Grail is partly owned by the half Filipino Sakr brothers. The Sakr brothers are also the brains behind another South Bay favorite;  Torrance Civil Clothing.

If choosing between churro and ice cream is hard; the Sahara tent or sandstorm are perfect choices. The Sahara tent is one sixteen inch churro with one scoop of ice cream while the sandstorm is a churro ice cream sandwich with one scoop of ice cream, choice of dust and one topping. Dust options are matcha, signature cinnamon, spanish espresso or cosmic; a lovely purple dust topping. Toppings include honey graham crackers, sprinkles, m&ms, captain crunch cereal and more delights.

Upon my trip here, I chose to get a sandstorm dusted with cosmo dust, paired with langka ice cream and topped with Captain Crunch cereal. Sugarlust indeed.

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Not all who wander are lost…for sometimes it leads you to a sweet prize.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on The Grail Churros and Ice Cream.

 

Hello Paris Baguette Bakery Cafe!

Bonjour Hello Kitty Foodies!

We now have a  little taste of France in Redondo Beach! Paris Baguette Bakery Cafe has recently opened up in Redondo Beach and this place is sure to make you say “Je T’aime Paris Baguette.”

It is truly not hard to fall in love with this cute little bakery cafe. Walking in you are greeted with a wonderful assortment of French bread and pastries. They have a wonderful array of both sweet and savory goodies for you to enjoy. Among the delicious sweet treats are raspberry cream cheese and blueberry cream cheese croissants, lemon pain aux raisin bread and chocolate croissants. (I love how the raspberry cream cheese croissant has lots of sweet raspberry jam in it! I also love that the lemon pain six raisin bread has swirls of cream cheese on top!) Savory delights can be found in their ham and cheese panini and their hash brown bread. (I am simply crushing how the ham and cheese panini has a hint of pesto! This Hello Kitty Foodie is also enamored with the hash brown bread that is packed with a whole hash brown, ham and cheese!)

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To go along with their fresh baked offerings, Paris Baguette has a full coffee menu with iced coffee, lattes, cappuccinos, americanos, mocha and drip coffees!

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It is no secret that I love cute coffee houses and Paris Baguette just made me oh so happy with their fragrant cup of hazelnut coffee. A croissant plus their coffee is truly a match made in heaven!

Last but definitely not least, is their beautiful desserts.

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It is truly every sweet tooth’s dream come true here. They have various cream puffs, fruit tarts, cheesecake, cake rolls, cakes and macarons! They also have “Delightful Bites” of cookies in cranberry almond flavor and salted caramel chocolate in cute small mason bars. These sweet treats are perfect for a small afternoon snack or dessert!

From their freshly bakes French bread and pastries to their fresh brewed coffee and their beautiful cakes and dessert, it is hard not to fall in love with Paris Baguette! It makes my heart happy to see this new bakery open up in Redondo Beach!

Je T’aime Paris Baguette!

Hello Suburbia!

In the past couple years, Chef Tin Vuong has been making quite a name for himself in the South Bay. It first started in 2012, when he took over as Executive Chef of Abigaile in Hermosa Beach and brought to that restaurant a variety of unique gastropub eats like poutine with braised lamb belly and fried organic egg. Then in 2013, he opened up the pizzeria WildCraft in Culver City and the Asian eatery Little Sister in Manhattan Beach. Shortly after he brought us the Hermosa Beach Mexican beachisde resto Dia De Campo and the classy Manhattan Beach Steak and Whiskey. Last year, Chef Tin Vuong  ventured outside beach cities via the opening of Little Sister LA in downtown Los Angeles. Now this 2016 he brings us his “lucky 7” in the opening of Suburbia in Redondo Beach.

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Suburbia is located at the heart of Riviera Village in Redondo Beach. Alongside with Chef Tin Vuong’s partner Jed Sanford, they bring modern neighborhood eats with an emphasis in new American dishes. In the eclectic menu, one can find favorites from their other restaurants. I recognized Abigaile’s pao de queijo and AB snickers. I spotted a tribute to Little Sister’s popular lobster dish via Suburbia’s S&P Lobster. Suburbia simply has one extensive unique menu filled with Mexican, Asian, Middle Eastern and American dishes.

On my recent visit here, my meal started with a couple of items from their menu’s “first bites and snacks” section.

First up was Suburbia’s fried green tomatoes.

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This starter consisted of five crisp fried green tomatoes accompanied with buttermilk dressing, pimento cheese and pickled peppers. The crispy coating on the outside and soft tomatoes inside made for a light, nice appetizer. This is another offering that was influenced by Chef Tin and Jed’s other restaurants. This dish is reminiscent of Steak and Whiskey’s wedge salad that has fried green tomatoes.

After the fried green tomatoes, we got to feast on Suburbia’s tapas plate.

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Pleasing to the eye and to the palate, was this huge tapas platter filled with various meats, cheese and nuts. There was a bowl of mambas with white sausage along side with jamon serrano, almonds and Manchego cheese.  Mixing in some sweetness to the salt were roasted grapes, fig jam and fig cake.  This platter also had tomato toast and olive torta.

The starters at Suburbia are very fulfilling but they are not to be outdone with the main entrees. One has to save room for the main courses!

The Lebanese Spiced Ground Lamb and Hummus was a favorite for many at the restaurant that evening.

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This dish comes with a bowl of ground lamb mixed with mint, cilantro, pine nuts, walnuts, dukkah and hummus. One the side is za’atar naan. Hummus with a twist, this was one very fulfilling dish.

My personal favorite of the night came in the form of Suburbia’s short ribs.

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This entree gives new meaning the word tenderness. This dish has the most tender short rib that simply melts with the touch of fork. The amazingly soft meat was accompanied with anson mills grits, charred kale, raclette and horseradish cream.

Just like all the other restaurants of Chef Tin Vuong Suburbia is simply superb! I have heard in planning Suburbia that Jed Safford wanted a restaurant where he can enjoy a variety of meals with his kids. With it’s globally inspired dishes, Suburbia is indeed a perfect place where friends and family can come together. There is something for every palate.

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Suburbia, the modern-day neighborhood eatery, welcome to the neighborhood!

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Suburbia.

Hello Bollywood Zaika!

One of my favorite Indian restaurants in the South Bay is Addi’s Tandoor. When I discovered Addi’s Tandoor a couple of years ago it quickly became my go to spot for delicious Indian cuisine.  One of my most memorable birthday parties was even held there.  Their saag paneer and chicken tikka masala are tops in my book and a forever favorite.

It was thus with much excitement for me to hear that the owner of Addi’s Tandoor, Addi Decosta along with Urvi Radia have opened up new restaurant again here in the South Bay via Bollywood Zaika.

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Just recently I got to check out Bollywood Zaika. Just like Addi’s Tandoor Bollywood Zaika is truly special.  The name itself is a wonderful and different.  Bollywood is Indian cinema and Zaika is “flavor.” As their website states,  this restaurant is about bringing customers “sizzling Indian food packed with “Zaika” (flavor) straight from the heartland of Indian Cinema “Bollywood” to Hollywood.”

The Bollywood theme can be seen in their simple and classic decor. I loved seeing the movie reels hanging on their restaurant wall.

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The “Zaika” or flavor is all over their different food offerings. They’ve got an amazing line up of Indian cusine that I will be sharing with you in this blog post.

My meal here started off with trying their Samosa-Pav

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The samosa-pav consists of a deep-fried spicy potato and peas filled samosa sandwiched between pav buns and flavored with  sweet and spicy chutneys. I really enjoyed the crisp outer crust of the samosa. The sweet chutney also brought a nice flavor to the pav buns.

The samosa- pav is one of five of their small plate offerings. The other offerings are vada-pav, samosa chaat, spicy chicken wings and calamari pakora.

After the small plate, it was time to try the entrees. Here at Bollywood Zaika, there are four different styles for customers to enjoy their main meal. They can choose to do a bun-eat, a wrap-eat, a bowl eat or a plate-eat. With each style, customers then have the choice of choosing between different entrees, pilaf rice or brown rice and quinoa, various sides and condiments.

There is something for every one here at Bollywood Zaika. They have vegetarian, chicken and seafood entrees.

One of the chicken entrees I enjoyed was their chicken kebabs. Their version consists of grilled chicken breasts marinated with yogurt, garlic, ginger and spices. The chicken kebabs were very tender and went well with the pilaf rice and the raita, cilantro-yogurt condiment.

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As for the vegetarian entrees, I tried their palak paneer. The palak paneer had spinach and cottage cheese cooked with garlic, fenugreek and mild spices. I loved the smooth creaminess of the palak paneer.

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Each entree was wonderful and to add more to the flavorful meal was the various sides. For the sides, Bollywood Zaika has dal, chana masala and jeera aloo.

The dal side is lentils cooked with ginger, garlic and spices. Flavored with aromatics and spice, this was one very nice side.

Equal in deliciousness was the chana masala. The garbanzo beans cooked with tomatoes and aromatic spices was packed with zesty, pleasing taste.

Perhaps my favorite side of all was the jeera aloo. The potatoes sautéed with cumin seeds and mild spices were so soft and delicious.

Along side with the savory entrees, I enjoyed a refreshing cup of mango lassi.

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This yogurt based mango drink was a great way to beat the heat of this summer day and it was the perfect match for the main dishes.

From savory to sweet, we ended our meal here with a wonderful dessert of kheer or Indian rice pudding.

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The rice pudding was rich, creamy and delightful. This dessert was a perfect way to wrap up meal here at Bollywood Zaika.

Every thing I tried here at Bollywood Zaika was packed with flavor. The “Zaika” in their name is so appropriate. Addi Decosta has been in the restaurant business for over 25 years and has been offering up delicious Indian cuisine in the South Bay for over 13 years. I am sure that his and Urvi’s new venture in Bollywood Zaika will also enjoy much success in Redondo Beach. I was full of smiles at my first visit here and I am sure to come back to try more of their flavorful Indian cuisine.

For more smiles, please check out my recent Yelp review on Bollywood Zaika.