Saturday, April 24, 2010

Akane Chaya

Chips and salsa

A Japanese style pasta house? Sounds kinda strange. Sounds kinda odd. Sounds kinda scary. Tastes pretty good!

Bread and balsamic.

Potato Soup


Tarako, Kinoko - cod caviar, mushrooms, squid and spaghetti.

Salmon, potato and cream sauce.

Tonkatsu, rice and salad.

Meat sauce with hamburger steak and melted cheese.

Meat sauce, hamburger steak and salad combo.

Akane Chaya
1610 West Redondo Beach Blvd.
Gardena, CA 90247

Fit For A King???

A "cappuccino" at King's Road Cafe.

The other morning, Marianne was telling me about her favorite coffee spots: Intelligentsia Silver Lake and King's Road Cafe. Hmmm, never heard of the latter before but then it came up in a couple of conversations this week as we were looking at locations, so I decided that I should go and check it out.

King's Road is a cafe with a food menu that looks pretty good, but they've got a reputation for coffee so I decided to order up my usual: cappuccino. I was a brave soul.

Sadly, there's no way to relate the event without sounding disparaging. Over the years, I've discovered certain tell-tale signs that cause me to not order, or order iced tea instead. Unfortunately, King's Road has all the tell-tale signs in spades.

As I stood there waiting for the couple in front of me to order (there was only three of us), I couldn't quite process just what that high-pitched whine was that didn't stop. It sounded like an espresso grinder, but it never stopped. That's right when the barista reached over the grinder to click it off - leaving a dosing hopper full of quickly staling ground coffee.

Choice of espresso machines is also a sign of how serious a shop takes their craft and product. Brasilia espresso machines are almost a guarantee of mediocrity. Then there were the crusty 32z milk steaming pitchers which the barista refilled by adding cold milk to whatever was leftover in the pitcher.

I could go on but to what end? My 12z cappuccino was about 4z of overextracted and burnt espresso and 8z of milk foam. Disgusting. One of the worst coffees I've had in years. It was so bad I threw it out and guzzled water to cleanse my palate.

The barista was nice enough. Friendly, no attitude and even poured a little latte heart on the couple's latte. He seemed like a good person, just a person who's been led down the path of craft 1995. It's disappointing to see cafes remain mired in the mediocre methods of old.

In a way, it's kind of sad. In another way, it's textbook study of what not to do as a barista. I'd write more about the poor practices I observed, but it hurts too much.

Intelli Venice Again

Back in line like the regular people.

After too much to eat at 26 Beach, Anna wanted an affogato from Intelligentsia. It's times like these that I ponder how nice it is to have nice coffee shops to visit in your city - meaning, one that you don't own. Just cruise in, have a coffee and take off. No dealing with shop issues, customer issues, supply issues, etc. When you have your own coffee spot, you never, ever are able to come in, have a coffee and just "hang."

When traveling to coffee places, I prefer to remain incognito. I like being served like the regular customers and since I didn't notice my usual friends here today, I figured today would be a good day to remain inconspicuous.

Phil prepares our beverages.

Of course, when you're ordering three affogatos, a macchiato, cappuccino, iced mocha, a brewed coffee and taking pictures of them along the way, that kind of gives you away. Especially when our barista asked me if I was in the coffee business - what am I going to do? Lie?

How nice it is to stop in and just have a coffee.

Pouring my Serra do Bone capp.

Latte art for Kimmy and Bex.

Iced Mocha


Nicole pours over an Escuela Vieja, Colombia

The Damage

Bob and Polly

Anna, Gerry and Christian

Baby you'll be famous, chase you down until you love me, Pappa-papparazzi.

Al and Polly

26 Beach

Gerry and the spicy bloody mary.

It's Saturday and our crew has gathered at one of our favorite restaurants, 26 Beach. The other day, another friend said he had grown "tired" of 26 Beach and urged us to try another restaurant instead. Sadly, the other restaurant proved to be pricey and bland in flavor. Maybe it's because I live on the other side of the country, but I'm hard-pressed to find a restaurant that is as eclectic, fun and adventurous as 26 Beach. The Chicken Curry Royal is killer and has been a "must eat" for years. But nothing here has disappointed - and the menu is quite large.

Chilaquiles Diablo

Bloody Mary Forest

Curry Chicken Royal - scrambled eggs with chicken, onions, snap peas, bean sprouts, coconut curry and brown rice.

Red Hot Chili Pepperzzz - scrambled eggs with ziti, chili, jalapeno, habanero and crushed red peppers, cheddar cheese and onions.

The Bob samples Chicken Curry Royal.

Panchetta & Eggs - eggs, pancetta, mozzarella, peas, tomatoes, linguini and red pepper.

Breakfast Sandwich - applewood smoked bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato, avocado and mayo, with fries.

Steak & Eggs - choice ribeye grilled with scrambled eggs and rice.

Sides of Fries and Bacon.

Mendoncino Pear Salad - caramelized pears, chicken katsu, bacon, baby mix, blue cheese, tomatoes, candied pecans and pear vinaigrette.

Ian eats fries.

Anna and the Lemon Ricotta French Toast - fresh ricotta, mascarpone, honey & lemon zest with fresh blueberries and raspberry coulis.

In the sun


26 Beach
3100 Washington Blvd.
Marina del Rey, CA 90291

Morning Concha

La Favorita Concha and vintage 2007 Stumptown Ethiopia Hache.

The Quest for Concha (gotta love those double entendres) continues with one from La Favorita (again, so much complexity in meaning). Sweet and delicious, the texture is slightly coarse and grainy. Good, really good - but still not equal to Bondy in Mexico City.

Paired it with a 2007 Ethiopian Hache roasted by Stumptown that still had nice citrus and light berry notes. French pressed - just the way I like it. A nice way to recover from the previous night's festivities.

Life in the Lane Mas Rapido

Where the streets have no name

I want to run, I want to hide,
I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside.

After a week of living in L.A., I feel like I'm starting to get sucked in. It's a whole different way of thinking out here. Life is fast. Life is expensive. You want, no you need to have the toys.

Back in Baltimore, I'm perfectly happy with a modest GMC Sonoma pickup. Here you need to have, maybe an H1 Hummer - or at least some sort of BMW sedan. M5 would be nice. Tesla would be eco-friendly. The Aston would be classy. An F430 would be money.

Designer jeans, expensive t-shirts, Audemars Piaget watches, Louis Vuitton wallets, Thomas Pink shirts. Hmmm, that diamond encrusted Rolex that would be ostentatious back home seems about right on Sunset Blvd.

The need to impress through wealth is everywhere. Just last night, I watched amusedly as a guy was hitting on one of our girls, telling her that he's "successful" and started to list off the car he owns (BMW 335, not that impressive buddy) and dropping hints that he's wealthy this and successful that.

I wondered if this kind of shit works out here. I'm from a different school. If I had money, I certainly wouldn't talk about it (I don't, BTW - remember I drive a GMC Sonoma and don't have diamond encrusted Rolex watches). I would let them find out on their own. My mindset is that if you have to talk about it, then you probably don't have it. Because all the cats that I know who have serious click, never talk about what they have.

But living in L.A. is starting to make me think that perhaps I too need those same luxuries (trappings). A BMW M5 would be a nice start. Maybe a flat in West Hollywood or that little neighborhood between Fairfax and Beverly Center?

Add to that a girlfriend slash baby mommy - wife might be too much, plus I would lose half in a divorce. A true hottie. Into clothes, expensive Louis Vuitton bags, European cars, designer sunglasses et al - but a stellar hottie. Maybe I really don't like her but keep because she's that stellar looking. Maybe a nice blonde or Asian/White mix.

Ah, L.A. - maybe it's time to give you a go...

Hola Ruben

Rubens Tacos on Santa Monica.

After a night of one too many Sapphire Tonics and a bottle of Laphroaig, I need something to eat before we head back to the house. I was thinking Jack in the Box for a cheeseburger and taco (cheap food, si!) because we didn't want to drive all the way across town to Tommy Burger at Beverly and Rampart.

That's when she spied Ruben's parked on Santa Monica in West L.A. STOP!

A couple of tacos later, all is good in the world.

Carne Asada and Chorizo Tacos.

L.A. Two Three Five

With Jane at La Piazza in The Grove.

We're back on the town again where Jane has culled her girls for drinks at La Piazza at The Grove. I get there a little late and things are rolling along smoothly. A couple of perfect Sapphire Tonics later and things really are rolling smoothly. There's talk of late night drinking back at the house but I've got to meet up with the boys for a little business talk.

L.A. - they keep telling me the opportunity is here. It's late night talk about an on-going discussion and I think I'm starting to listen.

The Bob and Kim, who's got a show on Fox this season.

The Boys discuss.