September 17, 2014

République LA

I'll keep this simple because honestly, République already has an arsenal of glowing reviews (some of which can be found here, herehere, here, and here).  The Manzke husband-wife duo has brought yet another successful restaurant to Angelenos.  Not only is the new culinary digs housed in a beautiful space, but it serves French food that reverts you (or at least me) back to Paris in a single bite.  The meal may be pricey, but it's worth your money because as most know, high quality = high satisfaction.

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting République during the day for a lovely Sunday brunch.

Chill atmosphere during the day.
Unlike evening service, breakfast and lunch (i.e, brunch) is much more casual.  You stand in a queue (that typically goes out the door) until you reach the cash register to place your order.  The length  of the queue, and the speed in which it moves (slow) are not that suspect, but the placement of the queue -- alongside the alluring display of Margarita Manzke's masterpieces -- is strategically brilliant.  So by the time you reach the register, not only are you salivating, but you'll likely walk with at least two delightful treats.  (Yes, I am victim to this -- one canele and chocolate fudge bundt cake, please).

Window display of various goodies, greeting you upon your arrival.

So... many... things... that... I... want...

Everything looks glorious, doesn't it?

As if we haven't seen enough bread/ baked goods.

Daytime menu.

Walter's Favorite -- soft-boiled eggs, poblano chili, half a baguette, butter, jam, orange juice, and coffee -- $12

Walter (aka - the chef) understands the beauty behind a simple, but fresh breakfast.  The perfectly poached farm eggs swim in what almost seems like a poblano chili soup.  Dip a piece of baguette into the delicious sauce/ soup, which less barbaric than gulping it down (which I may or may not have been tempted to do).

Regular Breakfast -- two eggs (scrambled), bacon steak, fingerling potatoes, and baguette -- $12

Another excellent traditional choice is the Regular Breakfast.  Although the components of the dish is more or less "regular," the tastes that come together with each bite is far from ordinary.  Plus, bacon steak (not just bacon) is involved - yes, yes, yes! 

The desserts (not pictured because we inhaled them) are also delightful.

Although dinner at République will be a different experience -- one I cannot speak to yet -- daytime dining is highly recommended!

République on Urbanspoon

dine-in date: 9/7/14 at 1pm (Sunday brunch)
cuisine: French
location: Mid-City
hours: Bfast/lunch: M-Sat, 8am-3pm; Sun: 8am-4pm. Dinner: M-W: 6pm-10pm, Thu-Sun: 6pm-11pm
websites: { Republique | yelp | facebook | twitter | instagram }
parking: Valet ($5) or street meters
attire: Casual
prices: $10-$20 for brunch

Pine & Crane

In the heart of Silverlake -- yes, Silverlake -- and not far from Sunset Junction, there is a small cafe that serves tasty Taiwanese food at reasonable, almost comparable to SGV prices.  I consider this a huge win for everyone, particularly Silverlakers (Silverlakans?).

Why hello, Pine & Crane.  I'm so glad to have finally met you... and all the wonderful things you have to offer.

Wait in line to place your order, grab your number, and find a seat.

Finding a seat may be tricky; don't be afraid of communal seating.

Simple, easy-to-read menu.

Side Dishes on display.

Wood Ear Mushroom Salad -- a cold refreshing summer salad that have a crunchy texture and plenty of nutrients.

Marinated Cucumber -- also a crunchy, refreshing summer salad.

Three Cup Jidori Chicken -- with Chinese basil, red pepper, sesame oil soy sauce, and rice wine -- $12

Beef Noodle Soup -- with beef shank, baby bok choy, and preserved mustard greens -- $9

Perfectly-cooked, springy noodles in a broth that was surprisingly refreshing and flavorful.

Beef Roll -- $6

Mapo Tofu -- with Kurobuta pork and Sichuan peppercorns (v) -- $9


Potstickers -- stuffed with Kurobuta pork shoulder and Taiwanese cabbage -- $6

Minced Pork on Rice with soy-braised egg and house daikon pickle -- $6


All of the rice dishes (mapo tofu, jidori chicken, minced pork) come with a side of rice and the beef noodle soup is lip-smackingly good (oh, that broth).  The one dish that happened to be subpar in the above picture is the minced pork, not because it is horrible, but because everything else outshines it.

Although Pine & Crane may not be the most authentic and best Taiwanese food offered outside of Taiwan, there's something awfully charming about this casual, yet hip eatery.  And coupled with food that is carefully prepared and served, it's certainly a noteworthy place to write home about.  Grab a couple of friends and enjoy share a meal, family-style.

Pine & Crane on Urbanspoon

cuisine: Taiwanese
location: Silverlake
hours: Everyday except Tuesday; noon-10pm
websites: { P&C | yelp | facebook | twitter | instagram }
parking: Street
attire: Casual
price: $5-15
must-haves: Beef noodle soup; Mapo tofu
tips: No reservations. Don't be afraid to sit near/ with strangers. It's all about sharing the dining experience. Seating outside is also available, but order your food to-go. They're vegan/vegetarian-friendly.  Lastly, they serve alcohol!
other reviews: { LA Weekly | darindinesEating LA | e*star LA | LA Times }

September 16, 2014

Haché LA

Every once you awhile, I stumble across a local gem that I want to talk about with everyone while simultaneously wanting to maintain its "under the radar" identity.  Despite the clear tension created by these competing interests, my generous spirit always seems to win (ha).  So whether you fancy burgers or not, I’m here to share with you a steak haché joint that will quickly be identified on LA’s (ongoing) list of best burgers… just in time for its grand opening this Thursday, September 18, 2014!

Haché LA serves burgers… but not in a conventional way.   First and foremost, true to its French namesake, each burger boasts steak that is minced in an in-house meat grinder.  Second, due to this process, the steak is juicy without being fatty.  The other accompanying ingredients compliment the oval minced steak patty well, but what really stole the show is the bun -- fluffy, buttery, and delicious!

Outdoor Patio.

Super refreshing Strawberry Basil Lemonade -- $3.25

Like its sister restaurant, Mick's Karma Bar in Irvine, CA, the burgers are lean and mean.  And while every bite in your burger is unique, it also reminds you of something familiar.  For me, I tasted hints of In N Out and Shake Shack (the best of both coasts), all wrapped up in a wonderful warm brioche (I'm not even a huge fan of bread, but this bun is worth the raves, promise).  Best of all, the burgers are totally affordable!  For a burger meal (burger+fries+lemonade), the total bill comes out to less than $10.  Seriously, for both quality and quantity, what a steal!

Of the two burgers that I sampled, the slight, but gradual heat of the Habanero Burger won my vote.

Habanero Burger -- with habanero chiles, queso fresco, garlic mayo, lettuce, tomato -- $6.25

But the Karma burger is fab too, in its own classic way.

Karma Burger -- with American cheese, red onion, tomato, lettuce -- $5.75

Crispy French Friets -- $3.50

The friets reminded me of British chips (aka - fries).  Each fry has just the right amount of potato, salt, and golden crispiness.  If and when Haché LA adds some seasoning for a kick or some fun dip flavours, you will likely be in French fry heaven (and who wouldn't want that?).

I foresee myself frequenting Haché LA, not just for a reliable burger fix, but also to hang out and chill with the friends and family in an unpretentious and comfortable setting.  See you there!

cuisine: American burger with an European twist
location: Silverlake
hours: Open Daily. Sun-Wed: noon-10pm; Thu-Sat: noon-midnight
websites: { yelp | facebook | twitter | instagram }
parking: Free adjacent lot or street meters
attire: Casual
price: $5-10
notes: In addition to delicious food, there are several additional awesome things about Hache LA: (1) free parking lot, adjacent to the restaurant, (2) outdoor seating, (3) good (not too loud) music, and (4) more menu items to come!