Los Angeles: Boxwood Cafe

Afternoon tea? I have always wanted to do that. Being a British colony for years, Hong Kong have many places for afternoon tea. The most famous one has to be at The Peninsula Hotel. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to try it yet. Someday for sure…

Back in Los Angeles, Bryan and I saw a sign about afternoon tea in The London Hotel a year ago. I knew that I would love to try it. Last Saturday was my birthday, I suggested to have afternoon tea in Boxwood Cafe for my celebration. Bryan and I went with my sister. We all had a good time. It turned out to be a great idea.

Boxwood Cafe is owned by Gordon Ramsay. It only opens during the day and afternoon time. At night, Boxwood Cafe turns into Gordon Ramsay the restaurant for dinner. Since Gordon Ramsay is British, I think his restaurant may be one of the best place for afternoon tea.

When we sat down at our table, we were given a wood box which contained many small bottles of tea leaves. There were the basic, like jasmine and English breakfast, but there were also some unique flavors, like life through water and tangerine. We can smell each bottle and pick what tea we wanted. It was tons of fun. At the end, we all picked something fruit related. My sister and Bryan got mountain berry. The tea color was purplish red. It smelled amazing. It was sweet with a hint of berry flavors. It tasted great by adding a little bit sugar. I got cassis. It was aromatic. I liked it without sugar. At the end of the sip, I got a hint of bitterness which was perfect with the sweet treats on the table.

Tea choices

Enjoying my cassis tea

Afternoon tea food is a pre-fix menu. The only thing we got to choose was the tea. It was perfectly ok with me, because there were tons of different things on the pre-fix menu. There were two kinds of scones, four kinds of savory sandwiches, and four kinds of sweet treats. The scones were ok, nothing too spectacular. The savory was one of the best part! Our favorites were the roast beef with red onion marmalade and the curried chicken with golden raisins. They were so tiny, but packed with so much flavors. Delicious! For the sweet treats, my favorite was the berries tart. It was sweet and tart. The peach crumble was good too. But I wish there was something chocolatey. Then, I will be even more happier.

Food!!!

Overall, it was a fun experience and something different. The food was fine. I had a great birthday. I would love to come back soon. Maybe when they change the menu? Also, we saw a few groups of people having bridal shower and baby shower. Boxwood Cafe sounds like a perfect place to have small parties. I would love to do that someday.

Boxwood Cafe at The London (1020 N San Vicente Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069)

Recommend: Mountain berry tea, cassis tea, roast beef sandwich with red onion marmalade

Price: $28 per person ($40 per person with champagne)

Lokness’ Rating: ★★★★

Tip: Remember to make reservation ahead of time.

Boxwood Café  on Urbanspoon

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Las Vegas: Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill

Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill was Bryan’s and my last dinner in Vegas for CES week. We didn’t plan on going there at all. We were in MGM Grand walking around, and we wanted to eat. We almost went to Rainforest Cafe. Fortunately, we didn’t! Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill was an excellent surprise!

On a Saturday night at 7pm, Bryan and I were seated right away. We ordered the Butter Lettuce “Caesar Salad”, Meatball Wood Oven Pizza, and House Made Spaghettini Pasta. The salad was fresh. The Humboldt Fog Cheese was too strong for Bryan and I. But it was a good salad.

The pasta had the simplest ingredients, which were tomatoes, basils, and garlic. It looked so simple that I didn’t even take a picture. But the dish was amazing! The pasta was fresh and al dente. The sauce was packed with flavors. I couldn’t stop eating. The meatball pizza was another surprise. The first bite was like a party in my mouth! There were layers of flavors, like the creamy Mozzarella, the sweet tomatoes, the fresh basil, and the tasty meatball. Everything went so well together. Bryan loved the pizza absolutely.

Even though we were a bit full, I just couldn’t pass the dessert. We got the Raspberry Chocolate Chip Souffle. Wow….. It was light, a little tart, and very chocolatey. It was the best souffle ever! That was the perfect sweet ending for our CES trip.

Overall, Bryan and I were very satisfied. The food was simple. It wasn’t some expensive ingredients, but everything was delicious. A simple meal can go a long way if food is seasoned well and cooked right. It was a very memorable meal. I couldn’t wait to go back. Maybe we can try the one in Los Angeles!

Meatball Wood Oven Pizza

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Souffle

Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill (3799 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109)

Recommend: Meatball Wood Oven Pizza, House Made Spaghettini Pasta, Raspberry Chocolate Chip Souffle

Price: $30 – 40 per person

Lokness’ Rating: ★★★★★

Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill (MGM Grand) on Urbanspoon

Las Vegas: Mesa Grill

Mesa Grill by Bobby Flay

I have always heard about good reviews about Mesa Grill. Finally, Bryan and I got an opportunity to go and try out. We made a reservation a month ahead. The interesting part was that Mesa Grill required the customers to provide their credit card numbers. If the customers didn’t show up on their reservations, they would charge the credit cards $50. That is quite an interesting policy. I don’t oppose it. I think if people really want to go to the restaurant, they would be willing to go through the trouble.

Mesa Grill is located in Caesars Palace. The restaurant is nicely decorated. I love the ceiling with the flaming painting. Nothing would match better with Bobby Flay’s cooking style, chili peppers and spices. Before going to Mesa Grill, I was very worried that I couldn’t get anything to eat, because I don’t eat spicy food at all. When we got there, I talked to the server. He said that most of Bobby’s food is not that spicy, and the chili add flavors. He gave a couple of suggestions, and I went with the Wild Striped Bass. Bryan got the New Mexican Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin. And, we shared Blue Corn Pancake for appetizer.

The Blue Corn Pancake is served with shredded duck pieces. The first bite definitely reminded me of the Chinese Peking duck. The duck was good and juicy. Even though there was Habanero (one of the most intense chili pepper in the world), it wasn’t spicy at all. It was very flavorful. Bryan loved it! Bryan’s pork tenderloin was placed nicely on the plate. The rubbed was definitely spicy. Bryan said it was a bit spicy for him, but it was edible. The sweet potato tamale was sweet and delicious. It was a perfect balance with the spicy pork. My bass was crispy on the outside, and cooked perfect on the inside. My favorite was the Piquillo Pepper Clam Chowder under the bass. It was packed with different layers of flavors, and it was not spicy! Fantastic!

Blue Corn Pancake

New Mexican

Wild Striped Bass

The meal was great. The food was very good. Bobby has lived up to his reputation. I definitely respect him more. I would love to go back again. This time, I will save some rooms for dessert!

Mesa Grill (33570 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109)

Recommend: Blue Corn Pancake, Wild Striped Bass, Sweet Potato Tamale

Price: $50 – 60 per person

Lokness’ Rating: ★★★★

Tip: Remember to make reservation ahead of time. The restaurant can get really busy.

Las Vegas: Mon Ami Gabi Restaurant

Bryan and I found out about Mon Ami Gabi Restaurant by accident last year during CES. It was a great discovery. Mon Ami Gabi is located in Paris Las Vegas Hotel, and it is right on the strip with outdoor seating. I think this is probably one of the most romantic restaurants in Vegas. The outdoor view is magnificent. Bellagio is right across the street, so you can enjoy the fountain show while having your meal. It is very cool.

Bryan and I couldn’t wait to go back in this year CES. We ordered the Onion Soup Au Gratin to share as usual. It was still very delicious! The broth was light, and the cheese was tasty. It is one of the best French onion soup we had in our lives. Like last year, I ordered the Lemon-thyme Seared Salmon. It was slightly different, but it was good. It was well-seasoned, and there was a crispy crust. Bryan had Filet Mignon. The steak was so juicy and tender. It was cooked perfectly. The red wine reduction and merlot butter brought some extra sweetness to the meat. I liked the frites too. They were crispy! We ended our meal with Creme Brulee. It was very good too.

But nothing is better to complete a wonderful dinner with a nice fountain show and great music. This is one of the restaurant that Bryan and I will always visit when we are in Vegas.

View of Bellagio

Lemon-Thyme Seared Salmon

Filet Mignon

Mon Ami Gabi Restaurant (3655 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109)

Recommend: Onion Soup Au Gratin, Filet Mignon, Lemon-thyme Seared Salmon

Price: $30 – 40 per person

Lokness’ Rating: ★★★★

Tip: You can make reservation ahead, but that is only for indoor seating. For outdoor seating, you will have to walk-in. But if you can get there early, there shouldn’t be a long wait.

Tasty Korean BBQ

Brisket on the grill @ Ma Dang Sae Korean BBQ

Korean BBQ is very different from American style BBQ. Instead of having the chef cooked for you, you have to cook your own meat on the dining table. In the middle of the dining table, there is a grill that uses either gas or charcoal. The meat is being cut into smaller pieces, so it doesn’t take long to cook. Other than meat, Korean BBQ usually comes with many sides, like kimchi, and cucumbers. There is always a bowl of lettuce or salad. And, my favorite is the rice paper that is like a wrapper. After a piece of meat is cooked, you can wrap with a rice paper and some salad. Then, take a big bite! Yum….. It is just too delicious!

On the westside of Los Angeles, there are a few Korean BBQ restaurants here and there. But of course, they are not cheap. It is at least $20 per person. The best place to eat Korean BBQ has to be in Korea Town near downtown Los Angeles. There are many choices. Because of the competition, some of the restaurants have really good price.

Bryan and I always go to this specific Korean restaurant. It has some really good deals. It has a all-you-can-eat menu. There are four different choices of price, which are $7.99, $9.99, $13.99 and $17.99. For more you pay, the more variety you can choose. My sister likes shrimps, so we got the $13.99 one. We only ordered three things, which were the thinly sliced beef brisket, marinated short ribs, and shrimps. The short ribs were sweet and juicy. The brisket is flavorful and best with rice paper and salad. My sister liked the shrimps a lot. For $17 per person, this has to be one of the best all-you-can-eat deals! We were unbelievably stuffed!

Brisket with salad and rice paper (The Perfect Bite!)

Where can you get this tasty meat?

Ma Dang Sae Korean BBQ (901 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006)

Bye Bye Taro Sushi

Sushi is one of my favorite food.

Back in Hong Kong, my family would go out for sushi at least once a month. Sushi is very popular there. You can almost find a sushi place in every corner of downtown. But you can still see long lines all the time. At one point, there were so much competition that some places were selling HK$10 (US$1.3) a plate. Each plate had 2 pieces, and they are some decent price sushi, like salmon and tuna. Nowadays, the sushi in Hong Kong can still very inexpensive. A plate of 2 salmon sushi is about HK$13 (US$1.6) in a decent sushi chain restaurant. When Bryan and I were in Hong Kong last year, we had some fantastic sushi, and the price wasn’t over the top. That was one of Bryan’s best sushi meals.

In Los Angeles, sushi is definitely expensive. It is lucky if you can find a plate of salmon sushi for US$3 (HK$23.7). And of course, don’t expect to see quality in that. I love sushi, and I always want to have sushi. But the price can be really scary.

Taro Sushi in Culver City was one of the cheap and good sushi place. Bryan and I love that place. The cut of the fish was big, and it tasted good. The spicy tuna roll was one of the best spicy tuna I have had. It was flavorful, but not too spicy. The tempura was crunchy and tasty. We spent less than $30 each time, and we were full and satisfied. Unfortunately, Taro has closed down now. As I heard, the owner has retired. Bryan and I were both really sad. It is hard to see a good restaurant go, especially with the ones that you attach to. Taro will sure be missed…

Salmon Sushi and Spicy Tuna Roll @ Taro Sushi

Now, we just have to find another cheap and good sushi-to-go place. It is not going to be easy. Last night, we tried Ugly Roll Sushi. Sadly, it really can’t compare to Taro. Some of the fish had no flavor. But at least, the rainbow roll was good.

If you know a good sushi place, please let me know. We are willing to give it a try.

The Bazaar’s Experience

The Bazaar is probably one of the most upscale and trendy restaurant in Los Angeles. It is a Spanish tapas restaurant. Bryan and I are mainly interested about their deconstruct food. Deconstruct food is to reinterpret a classic dish, and recreate into a new form. We are very curious on how the food will look and taste.

Luckily, we got a reservation during Dine LA Week. Dine LA Week happens twice a year. There are set menus and set prices for all the participating restaurants. It is perfect for foodies who like to try out new places without breaking the bank.

The setting of Bazaar is really bazaar. Nothing really matches. Most of the tables and chairs were different. Bryan and I both agreed that we liked the food. Some were very surprising that can blow your mind, like the Philly Cheesesteak and Organized Caesar. These were both deconstruct food, and they were very interesting to look at. Some were very delicious that you never forget, like the Jamon Serrano Fermin with the tomatoes bread. The prosciutto was so yummy, and the bread was refreshing. Some are just fine that you may have it before, like the codfish fritters. I have had similar thing in Portuguese cuisine before. I believe we will go back. There is something that we definitely want to try, like the bagel and lox cone, and the cotton candy foie gras.

Organized Caesar @ The Bazaar

Philly cheesesteak @ The Bazaar

Bunuelos (codfish fritters) @ The Bazaar

Nobo Whole Fruit Tea (berries) @ The Bazaar

The Bazaar (SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills, 465 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048)

Recommend: Philly Cheesesteak, Organized Caesar, Jamon Serrano Fermin

Price: $60 – $80 per person

Lokness’ Rating: ★★★★★