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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rocco's Italian Market and Deli

Rocco's Italian Market and Deli
1761 N Vermont
Los Angeles

Rocco's Italian Market and Deli is located on the same street as House of Pies Restaurant & BakeryFred's 62, and Palermo Ristorante Italiano.  I heard they served great sandwiches, so I decided to drop in.

Rocco's is a long narrow deli, with a large selection of Italian meats and pastas.  There are a few tables inside and outside, but this is mostly a take out place.

Rocco sandwich, $9.25, mortadella, capocollo, sopressata, provolone, giardiniera, prezzemolo spread, arugula.  I got mayo inside of the prezzemelo spread.  The giardiniera had cauliflower, onions, and celery and was spread on the bottom piece of bread.  Added a pleasant tangy flavor to the sandwich.
The meats and cheese were excellent quality.  The capocollo had so much flavor.  The bread was a soft Italian roll that had a nice texture.  A very good sandwich. 

Service was good.  The young lady who helped me was nice and helpful.

Some Italian delis and restaurant use average quality meats in their sandwiches, but Rocco uses very good quality meats.  Now, at $9.25 for a sandwich, that buys a pretty good amount of mortadella, capocollo, sopressata, provolone, so I can make my own sandwich.  But, overall it's a fair price for the quality sandwich.

Samosa House East

Samosa House East
10700 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 559-6350

I made plans with some friends, I haven't seen in a long time, for dinner.  While we were deciding where to go, I suggested Samosa House and Bharat Bazaar I was shocked when my friend asked, "Which one?"  I had no idea Samosa House East opened!  I understand Samosa House East has been open for about three years.

There is a steam table, a few tables inside and more tables outside.  It's a bright airy space at a very busy corner in Culver City.

Combination plate, $9.72, includes rice, soup or raita, and choice of three entrees from the steam table.  I think the portion size is OK, for the combo plate.

Sambhar- Lentils and vegetable soup-pictured next to the rice.  I got this instead of the raita.  I loved this soup.  I would order this anytime.  Very well seasoned, not too spicy and balanced.  The lentils were cooked perfectly! 

Jackfruit Curry-on the left-this was different.  I looks like pork but is jack fruit.  Had some flavor but I wasn't too impressed with it.

Dal-lentils with some carrots.  Somosa House does lentils very well.  The lentils were well cooked and flavorful.  Pretty spicy, more so than the soup.  But a very good dish.

Chana Masala-garbonzo beans- Very well cooked and seasoned.  I enjoyed the flavor and soft texture of this dish.

Service is good.  The guy who helped me was friendly and helpful.

I liked Samosa House East and would come back for the entrees if I was in the area. Maybe the next time I go, I'll order the combo plate at Samosa House and Bharat Bazaar and some somosa here!

Samosa House and Bharat Bazaar

Samosa House and Bharat Bazaar
11510 W Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90066
(310) 398-6766

After eating at Samosa House East I decided to go to the original Samosa House.  Samosa House was featured on a Food Network show.  They were raving about the great samosa and I wanted to give them a try.

This is the original Samosa House, which is an Indian market that serves food.  They expanded and took over the next door unit, so they is much more seating than what was featured on the show.  The food is on a steam table at the back of the market. 

Somosa-$1.50 each.  The somosa are bigger than most somosa I've had.  I love the flacky outside, that is so light and crisp.  The inside was filled with potato and peas with a kick.  The spices they put in are pretty spicy.

Service is OK.  The young lady who took my order seemed more concerned about closing than helping me.  But, another lady, who I believe is the owner, was very nice and helpful.

I noticed the steam table had more selections here than Samosa House East, but I assume the quality of the food is the same.  I have heard that you get more food here, but I didn't see anybody having a combination plate when I went.

I liked the somosa, but I wouldn't say it was the best I've ever had.  I would come back for the somosa if I'm in the area, but wouldn't make a special trip.  Maybe next time, I'll order a somosa at Somosa House East and order the combo plate here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Oh Queso-Closed

Oh Queso
14270 Chino Hills Pkwy Unit E
Chino Hills

While I enjoy reading David Allen's column every week, I really look forward to his Restaurant of the Week feature.  Last week his Restaurant of the Week was at Oh Queso.  I was expecting Mexican food, so I was shocked to read that David went there for the burgers, on a recommendation from a friend; who said Oh Queso serves an excellent burger.

Located in the Stater Bros. shopping center, the same center as the closed Wing Wing BBQ restaurant I reviewed back in 2007, Oh Queso is good sized restaurant.  There is one long communal table down the middle of the restaurant, about 8-10 tables along the wall and two flat screen TV's on the walls.  When I went they were showing the Dodgers losing to their hated rival, the Giants. 

Fish taco- $3.25- Hand-breaded cod in a flour tortilla served with cabbage, tomatoes, cilantro and a chipotle sauce.  When I saw this fish taco on the menu, I had to try it.  The piece of cod in this taco is huge, maybe twice the size of other fish tacos.  The batter was crunchy, maybe a bit too thick.  But, don't think this was all batter and a small amount of fish, there was plenty of cod inside the batter.  The fish was tender and moist, but this lacked seasoning.  I thought it was bland, even the chipotle sauce didn't help the blandness.

Bacon Cheeseburger, $6.50, Patty on top of a toasted bun with apple wood bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and a special sauce.  WOW, just wow!  This was an amazing burger.  The burger is made with “6 ounces of fresh ground chuck and brisket beef.”  The bun is a toasted egg bun and holds up to the juicy burger and toppings very well.  The burger was cooked perfectly, medium rare and was very juicy.  You will need and use a lot of napkins for this burger.  The bacon was perfectly cooked and the special sauce-a thousand island style sauce added a subtle flavor, not an overpowering flavor.  I loved this burger and for $6.50 a steal of a price.

Service was very good.  The young lady who took our order was very nice and friendly.  You order at the counter and your food is brought to your table. While we were eating she came and cleared the plastic basket that had my fish taco, while she was cleaning up the dining area.  She asked us how we liked the food; we loved it, and really made us feel welcomed. 

So, does Oh Queso have the best burger-fast food or diner style restaurant, in the Inland Valley?  The burger at Oh Queso is better than a regional chain like, The Habit, or a national chain like Red Robin, or non chains like The Back Abbey; especially if you compared prices, $6.50 at Oh Queso compared to $11 in 2009 at The Back Abbey.  I haven't tried places like Eureka or Rounds.  I really liked the burger here at Oh Queso and would come back anytime.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

101 Cafe

101 Cafe
2763 S Diamond Bar Blvd
Diamond Bar

101 Cafe is located next door to Mr. G's Pizza, and is a Taiwanese restaurant.  What is the difference between Chinese and Taiwanese?  To be honest, I'm not sure.

101 Cafe is a fairly small restaurant with about ten tables inside and a few table outside.  It wasn't busy when I walked in on a Saturday night. 

Sauteed spinach, $7.95.  This may have been the best dish I ordered, even tough it was a very small portion.  The spinach was cooked perfectly.  But, was bland and lacked flavor.  It was a bit put off by the clear liquid that was as thin as water.  Put some corn starch and thicken that liquid!  I was also put off but the large slices of garlic in the spinach.  I love garlic, but come on, cut it into smaller pieces!

Chicken chow mein, $6.50.  Again, very bland and lacking flavor and it's white.  Where is the soy sauce?  Not only would it add flavor, but it would look at chow mein from every other Chinese restaurant I've been to!  Again, a small portion and not worth the price.

Kung pao shrimp, $10.95.  Finally a dish with some flavor!  But, it wasn't spicy at all, even though there were the dried chili.  What was missing was a good amount of shrimp.  They small number of shrimp that was in the dish were cooked perfectly but I have a feeling the shrimp was frozen, because it wasn't as fresh as it could be.  Now, there were too many fillers, like huge pieces of zucchini and huge slices of garlic.  Portion size was not worth the price!

Service is pretty good.  The guy who took my order was nice and helpful.  My order came up quickly.

If 101 Cafe is an example of Taiwanese food, I'll still to the Chinese food at Diamond Palace Seafood Restaurant!  Hell, even white washed Chinese food at Mandarin Taste, is better than 101 Cafe.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

U PiCK Cafe

U PiCK Cafe
720 N Lake Ave Ste 9

U Pick Cafe is next door to The Slaw Dogs, a gourmet hot dog restaurant that I reviewed back in 2010.  Looking at the picture of The Slaw Dogs, I saw that the restaurant next door was called Grand Chicken, and they also served kebobs, sandwiches and pizza.  So, I don't know if U Pick Cafe is owned by the same owners of Grand Chicken or if they are new owners.

Chicken breast kebob; $8.99 with basmati rice and salad.  The menu says a choice of two sides with options like falafel, regular salad, basmati rice, and tabouli salad.  They didn't ask what choices I wanted, but after reading the menu, I asked for rice and regular salad.  They told me if customers do not specify, they will get rice and salad.

The chicken was a bit charred and tough on the outside, but surprisingly moist, tender and flavorful on the inside.  The portion size is a bit small for the price, but overall I thought the chicken was good.

The basmati rice was undercooked and not fragrant or fluffy as other basmati rice I've had.  The salad is fine, with fresh lettuce and a tangy dressing.

Small cheese pizza, $4.99.  I just had to try the pizza.  The pizza is comparable to the large chain pizza, with a slightly better crust. They need to work on the sauce, which was pretty bland.

Service was pretty good.  They should ask what sides I wanted instead of just assuming rice and salad.  Looking back I should have gotten the falafel instead of the salad.  But, they were friendly and helpful.  They seem to care that all customers enjoy the food and their dining experience at U Pick Cafe.

I wouldn't go back to U Pick for the pizza, but I did like the chicken kebob.  Maybe I'll just order a couple kebobs.