Tender Greens

Hellooo Culver City. I’ve been to Culver City many a time. But never to eat there. When I played lacrosse in high school, I suppose you could have called Culver City High School a rival of ours so we played there often. This was when there were only four lacrosse teams in the Los Angeles area. And then it gained more popularity and we had twice as many teams join our league a few years later. I also went to Loyola Marymount University my freshman year so I had to pass through Culver City pretty much everyday. Whoa, if I never transferred to USC, this blog could have been called The Hungry Lion. Hey, that kind of works out too!

Well, today was supposed to be our elementary school reunion. This moment made possible by Facebook. Tender Greens was the site of our reunion. The thing with these reunions, well, they always turn out to be small. It’s usually the same three or four people that come out. I just keep that in mind every time we organize some sort of get-together.

So it was three today: C, D, and myself. While waiting for D, the two of us were killing time by doing pretty much nothing. I wonder why I couldn’t think of this before but we ended up at a wine bar, Bottle Rock. I don’t really drink alcohol, maybe on some occasions, but why not give this wine bar a chance. I had a bottle of beer though. Not being much of an alcohol person, I can’t really enjoy what I drink. Beer is alright, and I thought this is one of the better beers I’ve had, but keep in mind I don’t drink much beer. I’m going to come here again instead of staying here for only 15 minutes. The ambiance was nice. So I guess this is more of a head’s up of one of my future destinations. I’ll say this though, they got quite a lot of different imported as well as local beers and a pretty long wine list. Go figure, this is a wine bar.

But why am I stealing the spotlight from Tender Greens?? Tender Greens certainly deserves more attention than this! It is very simple. And many times, simple is good. The menu is split up from Simple Salads, Big Salads, Soups, and Hot Stuff. You get to choose four different types of “Hot Stuff”: flank steak, chicken, albacore tuna, and vegetables. If you decide to get the Hot Stuff, you can have it as a sandwich on ciabatta bread, or with a side of a simple salad and some mashed potatoes. Then you got your assortment of the different salads.

I got the herb-brushed tuna with a side of simple salad which had some baby spinach, hazelnuts, and goat cheese. It’s my first time having tuna prepared this way. I’ve had tuna in tuna salads and sandwiches or raw in sushi. Never seared like this but I have to say I liked it prepared this way as well. But I’m no fish snob so I can’t really gauge quality. Eating the tuna with the salad and the potatoes was something my mouth found favorable. And all this is only $10.50. It’s good food at a good price. Considering I’m not that far from Culver City, this is definitely a place to stop by again, and also try all the other places in the area.

If you’re thinking of making reservations here, don’t. You stand in line, order your food, see them prepare the food, pay, get your tray and seat yourselves. It’s pretty fast and convenient though.

As for the three of us that showed up today, we finished off our night by going to Coldstone’s across the street. C told us it was good. D and I ended up dumping what we got and ate our waffle cones instead. Well, at least dinner was good!

Tender Greens
9523 Culver Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
Phone: 310.842.8300

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El Caserio

Ever had moments where you realized you totally forgot something or you did something wrong but it was too late to do anything about it? Well, that happened today. Let me explain.

I have a pretty long list of places I want to try as probably everyone else does. That list on my Blackberry is getting pretty darn long. It’s growing much faster than I am taking things off that list. I think that trend is going to continue for some time. Today I hit up El Caserio in Silverlake. Little did I know how close it is to the middle school I attended. Let me just say, that door to get into the restaurant is huge and heavy. What a door.

El Caserio is supposed to be some sort of cross between Ecuadorean and Italian food. I assumed it would be some sort of fusion type food I guess. I definitely knew what Italian food was but I definitely did not know what Ecuadorean food was like. Being ignorant as I am with regards to Latin America, I probably assumed they all had the same kind of food. You know, carne asada, tacos, burritos, menudo, taquitos, and all the stuff you’ll find at taquerias. Okay, I kid, not that ignorant. But the point is, I did not quite know what to expect. After eating there, I still probably don’t know what Ecuadorean food is like. As far as the Italian food goes, I don’t think I ordered anything Italian. I guess I was wrong about the fusion, or maybe there were some fusion dishes, but I didn’t find a trace of Italian in my dish.

First thing you’re given is bread and butter and… I don’t know, ahi? alli? It’s some hot sauce made from chilis and cilantro. That was some good stuff. I’m not one to handle spicy stuff so I just dripped some on my bread. So if you’re like me and you see this reddish-orange liquid, don’t dip, you may set your mouth on fire. But this is coming from someone who can’t really handle spicy things.

I had the Llapingachos con Fritada. It’s “Grilled potato patties with cheese served with pork rib roasted with garlic and onions topped with one egg over easy and peanut sauce.” Whew, try reading that again. Considering how long and descriptive the description was, I just assumed this just had to be El Caserio‘s signature dish. If it wasn’t THE signature dish, it had to be one of them. Nothing about it seemed quite Italian so I assumed this was a taste of Ecuadorean food. Let me just say this dish was great. The pork was well cooked, and eating the pork alone would have been good but not amazing. This is where that peanut sauce comes along. That peanut sauce and that egg. That peanut sauce and that egg and those potato patties. Eat that all with the pork in one bite and it creates a bite that calls for another bite and another. Only complaint I had was that I wish they gave me some more of that peanut sauce. Oh, and that other picture up above is the Casuela Marinera, “Fresh fish with mussels, clams, and shrimp broiled in green plantain and peanut sauce.”

After a satisfying meal, we ordered dessert. Though the entree was good, I think you could all pass on the dessert at El Caserio. It was okay, but at $8 a pop, it didn’t seem quite worth it. My friend ordered the crème brûlée and I had the “Strawberry Forever” pictured below.

Nothing worth mentioning but just look at it. Save that dessert money for elsewhere.

So I have a reason to come back. Two to be more exact. First, I thought the food was great, the ambiance is nice, prices are somewhat moderate, and service is great. Second, well, I guess more like fifth… I calculated the tip wrong and we ended up undertipping. Service was great but I calculated only a 10% tip rather than 20%. I forgot to double. I realized this by the time I got home; too late to do anything about it. In doing so I upheld a stereotype and broke one at the same time. I validated the fact that Asians are cheap but broke the stereotype of Asians being good at math. But they’re probably just assuming that Asians are cheap. I guess I just have to go there again to pay it off. Awesome!

El Caserio
401 Silver Lake Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Phone: 213.273.8945

El Caserio (Silver Lake) on Urbanspoon

Dong Il Jang

One question I don’t like is, “What’s a good Korean restaurant?” I kind of dig that I’m being asked that, but to me, that’s such a general question. I like it when it’s specific like “Where can I find good Galbi?” or “Where can I find good Sullung-tang?” or “Where can I find some good (fill in the blank)?” Though a friend did stump me once when he asked “Where can I find good Gamja-tang?” To cut myself some slack, I DID know of a place, but it was so long since I’ve been there to know if they still had good Gamja-tang. Plus, the parking there is horrendous. I digress. Though I find the what’s-a-good-Korean-restaurant question a bit too general for my liking, I’ll probably still respond and I’ll probably respond with this answer: “Dong Il Jang.”

Dong Il Jang is good; they just do a good job overall and it’s very consistent. They might not have the best Galbi in town, but it’s still good Galbi. They might not have the best Chadol-Baegi in town, but it’s still good Chadol-Baegi. They might not have the best Eundaegu-jorim in town (see Jun Won), but it’s still pretty darn good. But I suppose Dong Il Jang has a specialty as well. It’s called “Roast-Gui.” To be honest, I don’t know what cut of cow this is. And the meat isn’t seasoned at all. But I sure do like the taste of meat and that butter on the grill pan sure helps. They do give some sesame oil with salt and pepper in it for you to dip the meat in and also some sort of green onion salad,if you will, to eat along with the meat. I don’t go too crazy over the oil as well as this salad. They do have this other salad made of lettuce that comes as ban-chan (side dish) with some dressing on it and I replace my green onion salad with that. Just simply ask for more of it and they’ll get you some for yourself.

Once you’re done with the meat, the waitresses come along with this mixture of kimchi and some cut up pieces of the Roast-gui. They dump it on to that grill pan you were cooking your meat on. By this time you’d have all sorts of oily goodness on the grill pan and they start making kimchi fried rice once that kimchi mixture gets cooked somewhat. Mmm Mmm Mmm~! That fried rice is freaking awesome. What’s more awesome is when you start scraping off the scorched rice from the grill. We Koreans call that “noo-roong-ji.” There’s a technique to this. Get your spoon and drag the grill pan into the corner of the grill pit(?). You’ll know it when you see it. This will hold the grill pan steady and scrape away with the spoon. For me it’s a gold mine. That rice is good but that stuff on the bottom is better.

My goodness, I love this place.

Dong Il Jang
3455 W 8th St
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Phone: 213.383.5757

Dong Il Jang on Urbanspoon

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