Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gettin' the Middle Eastern Fix with Baba Ghanouj

Gettin' a hankering for some Middle Eastern Flava, Druu and I hit up Baba Ghanouj in Long Beach.


It's a rockin' Lebanese joint that made us feel warm and fuzzy. Our host, Tony, took good care of us after we were seated-adding to ambiance as we grooved to the middle eastern music. We even noticed fresh flowers on the tables; a nice touch that's normally overlooked in restaurants.


The most expensive lunch item was under 10 bucks and Dinner nothing over $19. We had the Baba Ghanouj (Finely chopped charbroiled eggplant mixed with tahini, garlic, lemon and olive oil).


Druu had the Shish Taouk, cubes of marinated chicken breast, charbroiled and served with hummus, garlic sauce, Basmati rice and seasoned onions. Druu was surprised at how soft and tender the chicken breast was, as it burst with flavor.


I had the Lamb Shish Kabab. It was simply exquisite (Crap, I don't use that word) so we'll use: Awesome! It too was tender and flavorful.


It's a wonderful dining experience: These folks make great food and will make you feel welcome!

Baba Ghanouj on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bite Me TV's Druu is a Judge for the 2011 Tasty Awards

The Tasty Awards is an annual awards show that takes place at the beginning of each year to recognize the finest in food, drink and fashion programming on TV, in film and on the web.  The list of judges for the 2011 Tasty Awards was just announced yesterday, so we can let out the secret that Bite Me TV's Druu was asked to be one of the judges in the food and drink categories.  SHWEET!!!

Druu will join some of the top food bloggers, food and drink show hosts (including some past Tasty Award nominees), magazine publishers and media companies (including Scripps Networks which runs a little cable channel nobody's ever heard of called the Food Network) in reviewing this year's award nominees and voting for the best of the best.

We don't have schedule info yet on the 2011 awards show, but this year's Tasty Awards were held in January up in San Francisco.  As the show gets closer and we gather more info, we'll spread the word.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Good Food - Crummy Service = Ruined Lunch

I was reminded today about how important good customer service is to an enjoyable meal, or any other experience for that matter. Joel and I decided for lunch that we'd head over to a restaurant that we've frequented since it opened a couple of years ago. It's a small, family-owned place that serves some good food.

Sure enough, our food was as yummy as usual and I took some pics for the blog. But I'm not going to post those pics as our meal ended up being ruined by crummy service. We've been good customers of this restaurant since their beginning, yet we definitely received the cold shoulder today. While other tables were waited on in what looked like a timely fashion, we waited and had to ask for basic things that noone usually has to ask for. Even a minimum level of friendliness seemed to be absent. It was weird receiving service like this in a place so small and by people we've supported, and it made for the most uncomfortable lunch I've had in a long time.

I'm not going to name the restaurant as I didn't become a food blogger to start bashing people. Instead I'm going to take today's experience as a reminder of how important good service is. I read Danny Meyer's book Setting the Table a few years ago, and he made a huge point (a number of them, actually) about the importance of customer service. Meyer is a highly successful New York restaurateur whose restaurants include Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern and The Modern. And he's right. The quality of the food matters at a restaurant, but I was reminded today that yummy food is not enough. We go to restaurants for experiences, and that means that food and service have to work hand-in-hand. The food can be stellar, but if the service sucks then the experience is ruined. Buzzkill...

Maybe I can find a way to discreetly communicate that point to the folks who run our unnamed restaurant. I'm all for promoting independent eateries and small family-run businesses, but I'll have to admit that I don't feel any desire to have lunch at that same place anytime soon.


Surf, Turf and Brews at Taps Fish House & Brewery in Brea

My wife and I discovered Taps Fish House & Brewery about 10 years ago and have been fans of the place ever since.  They serve delicious seafood and steaks, they brew their own beer, the dining room is upscale enough for a proper "date night" yet the bar and outside patio areas are casual enough to keep the place from being too stuffy and they offer one hell of a Sunday brunch.

We've been through most of their menu over the years.  Their drunken mahi mahi is one of my faves, but on our most recent dinner at Taps I decided to go with their seafood stuffed jumbo prawns.  The shrimp are butterflied and stuffed with a mix of crab, scallops and more shrimp then served with swiss chard topped with au gratin potatoes and surrounded by lobster Thermidor sauce.  This might be my new favorite dish at Taps.

My wife went with one of their dialy specials, a surf 'n turf combo of steak and pan seared jumbo Maine sea scallops.  The scallops and steak are on Taps' regular dinner menu as separate items, but that night they happened to offer them together.  The steak was fine, but not mind-blowing.  This dish was all about the scallops.  Meaty, tender and delicious, they were definitely winners.

Taps has three locations, the Brea restaurant we regularly visit, one in Corona and a third restaurant named The Catch near Angel Stadium in Anaheim.  Their beers are excellent and expect to pay $20-25 per entree.  Sunday brunch on holidays such as Mother's Day are usually crazy-packed, so make sure you place reservations far in advance for those days.  Weeknights and during lunchtime you can simply walk in and be seated, but I'd recommend reservations for Friday or Saturday dinners.


Taps Fish House & Brewery on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 26, 2010

So Pho So Good

Druu and I have been going to this Pho Joint in Carson for a few years called Pho Bistro. I showed up a couple weeks ago and thought they had closed. I read the sign closely and it was closed for renovation. I showed up earlier this week and noticed the name had changed to So Pho So Good.

Not knowing what to expect I, I went in and noticed the menu was the same. It was the same awesomeness as before, with the food a little more dressed up. Marie, the owner introduced herself and made me feel comfortable and welcome. I told her that I'd be back the next day, since I forgot my camera. I lied, I showed up today with Druu and Sean for some down home Vietnamese cooking. I got some Lemon Grass Chicken, which was phenomenal. Druu and Sean got some Vermacelli with grilled chicken and egg rolls. I also got some Pho: I was, however in a place named after it.

The food was fantastic and the menu didn't have anything over $8.00! So for fast and healthy dining in Carson, Check out So Pho So Good located at 1818 E Carson St, Carson, CA 90745 (Corner of Carson and Wilmington), You won't be sorry(=

So Pho So Good on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Three Sheets Begins Airing Wednesday Nights on the Travel Channel

We shared the good news a few days ago that the Travel Channel was picking up Three Sheets, one of our favorite drinking series'. We now know have word that all 52 episodes of Three Sheets' four seasons will air Wednesday nights at 11pm and 11:30pm, beginning next Wednesday, June 30. And...if the show's ratings are good enough, the Travel Channel will throw down some cash to produce a fifth season.

So grab a cocktail or a cold one on Wednesday nights and flip on the Travel Channel to catch episodes of Three Sheets. If you're on the West Coast, you may even get to see the show at 8pm and 8:30pm depending on who your cable or satellite TV provider is. Check your local listings.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hawaiian-Style Grinds at Bruddah's in Gardena

I moved to Southern California from Hawaii back when I was in high school, and even though I ended up living not too far from a little suburb called Hawaiian Gardens (funny, eh?), it took driving around town during my college years for me to find decent Hawaiian food near my new home.  One of my early finds, and still one of my favorites, is Bruddah's in Gardena.

Bruddah's is a small, casual eatery crammed between storefronts on Gardena Blvd. that attracts a regular flow of transplants from Hawaii.  The place has a laid back local vibe and the food is "ono" (that's "delicious" to those not in the know).  It's been more than a year since my last meal there, so when Joel mentioned Bruddah's yesterday as a possible lunch stop I was all for it.

Joel digs their Hawaiian combo plate, which includes lau lau and kalua pork as well as the required scoops of rice and macaroni salad.  A plate lunch can't be called a plate lunch unless it includes scoops of rice and mac salad, and not only does Bruddah's do kahlua pork and lau lau right but I'm convinced that they serve the best mac salad around.

I tried to balance the food groups a little bit with my meal and went with their daily special of shoyu chicken and chow fun.  The chow fun mixes noodles with veggies, so it wasn't the total meat and carb fest that Hawaiian food can often be.  The shoyu chicken took me back to my childhood and the mac salad disappeared in a flash.

Bruddah's food isn't fancy or upscale, it's just good local grinds.  Oh, and they make their own Portuguese sausage too.  Mmmmm...  They're closed on Monday's and offer a variety of daily specials every other day.  Grab a plate lunch and a can of one of the Hawaiian Sun drinks and you're set.


Bruddah's on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

BITE ME! the MAN Cooking Show - Shabu-Shabu

BITE ME! the MAN cooking show
Episode 205 - Shabu-Shabu

The Japanese dish shabu-shabu might possibly be the world's perfect date food. Why? Not only is it light, healthy and delicious, but you cook it together with your date right at the table. She'll think it's crazy romantic and the next thing you know your clothes will be all over the floor.

In this episode, Josh Landis shows you how to set up and serve this secret weapon right in your own dining room. Here are the written recipe instructions.


1 pound shabu-shabu beef (Find it in the meat section of your local Asian market or have your butcher slice ribeye or top sirloin paper thin)
1 small head of napa cabbage
4 green onions
1 package of enoki mushrooms
1 bunch of chrysanthemum leaves (optional)
1 package firm or medium firm tofu
1 package udon noodles
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (optional)
1 bottle of pon shabu sauce (ponzu dipping sauce)
1 bottle of goma shabu sauce (sesame dipping sauce)
2 cups of white rice (preferably calrose)

Place portable burner in the middle of your table, or where you and your date can both reach it, and start a pot of water boiling. If you don't have a portable electric burner you can use your stove, but the whole cooking-together-date thing works way better with a portable burner at the table. You can get one for about $20 at your local discount store. Cook the rice. (For rice cooking instructions, see BITE ME! the MAN Cooking Show, episode 102.)

Peel off some napa cabbage leaves and cut them into 3-4 pieces each. You want each piece to be a little larger than bite-sized. Cut off the end of each green onion, then cut each one into finger-sized pieces. Cut off the dirty ends of the enoki mushrooms. Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes. Place all of your vegetables, plus the tofu and udon noodles, on a plate or plates next to your pot of boiling water. Pour the two shabu-shabu dipping sauces into small bowls for each of you. Finely chopped garlic goes great with the ponzu sauce, but if you're cooking for a date you might want to pass on it.  Once the rice is prepared, fill a bowl with rice for each of you.

To cook and serve, place pieces of vegetables and beef into the boiling water. Cook each bite as you go. The beef only takes about 15 seconds, while the vegetables, noodles and tofu take a few seconds longer. Once cooked, dip the pieces in either of your dipping sauces and eat with rice.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Going Light and Healthy with Shabu-Shabu at Shin-Sen-Gumi in Gardena

For a light, healthy and delicious meal it's pretty hard to beat shabu-shabu.  You cook it yourself, it's quick and easy, it tastes awesome and it never weighs you down.  Shin-Sen-Gumi in Gardena is a favorite lunch stop for Joel and me, and Friday was feeling like a shabu-shabu day.

One key to Shin-Sen-Gumi is to go at lunchtime.  Ok, dinner there allows you to kick back and have a few Sapporo's or Kirin's with your meal, but going for lunch will generally save you a good amount of cash.  The food is the same, but the dinner portions are a little bigger and far more expensive.  The large beef is my standard order.  A plate of paper thin beef, another plate of cut veggies, udon and tofu, a cup of rice and the standard two dipping sauces and I'm ready to rock 'n roll.  There's bar seating as well as table seating.

Shin-Sen-Gumi is having a special during the month of June.  They are offering their Japanese style hibachi BBQ dishes for $3.00 each Monday through Thursday, 6-9pm.  Also, they offer their shabu-shabu at 50% off for lunch on the 29th of each month.  The Shin-Sen-Gumi Group actually runs a total of ten restaurants, nine in Southern California and one in Tokyo.  Some specialize in ramen, others yakitori or shabu-shabu.

Another thing to consider is shabu-shabu at home.  Again, it's not only delicious and healthy but it's also great date food as you sit together cooking and eating.  We've just finished a new BITE ME! the MAN Cooking Show that features Josh Landis demonstrating how to prepare shabu-shabu at home, and we'll have the episode released tomorrow.  We'll post the episode to the blog as soon as it has been unleashed.


Shin-Sen-Gumi Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pig Out at the Eat My Blog Charity Bake Sale - Saturday, June 19

If you find yourself in the mood for some serious grubbing tomorrow, you might want to head over to West Hollywood where the Eat My Blog Charity Bake Sale will be going on from 10am - 4pm.  There are going to be gobs and gobs of fine baked goods and other yummies prepared by local chefs, restaurants and food bloggers, with all proceeds going to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.  Check out the menu:

Bacon chocolate chip cookies with a maple glaze?  Bolivian sweet & salty empanadas?  Chocolate Guinness cupcakes?  Yeah, this isn't gonna be your standard community bake sale.  So, you can pig out on a ton of killer treats that are priced reasonably at $1-$4 each and do your part to help a good cause.  SWEET!!!

Oh, and the brand new Manila Machine roving Filipino food truck is supposed to be camped out at the sale from 10am-1pm cooking up adobo, lumpia, pan de sal sliders and more.

The bake sale will be held at Tender Greens, 8759 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Handling our Indonesian Cravings at Toko Rame in Bellflower

Casual Indonesian joint Toko Rame in Bellflower is on the Bite Me TV list of lunch stops for those times when we want something a little out of the ordinary, but quick and pretty inexpensive. It's a hole-in-the-wall nestled in the corner of a tiny strip mall literally just north of the 91 freeway (think 40 feet north) on Bellflower Blvd. There's zero impress factor as far as the look of the place, but Toko Rame serves up some good grub at good prices. Plus all the food is Halal, so you can feel comfort knowing that the meat isn't pumped full of the hormones, antibiotics and other garbage that our food industry has gotten us used to.

I went with their Nasi Rames combo plate. It's a good selection for those unfamiliar with Indonesian food as it has a little of this and a little of that without getting scary with wild ingredients. They start with rice (of course), then add beef rendang (a dark and spicy helping of beef brisket), a bowl of veggie curry, a mashed potato cake, a drumstick of fried chicken, a cool mix of veggies that's sort of an Asian slaw, and a hard-boiled egg covered in chili sauce. The potato cake is easily my favorite part of the dish. It's delicious. The beef rendang is also yummy. It's tender and has a bit of a kick. Overall, the combo offers a good mix of spicy and mild and is a good value at $7.50.

Joel went with the Nasi Timbel Parahyangan combo. It's similar to the dish I had, except that it kicks up the adventure a little.  That's deep fried fish you see in the middle of the plate, plus tofu, a small bowl of tamarind soup, a drumstick of fried chicken and rice wrapped in a banana leaf.

Except for a couple of fish dishes, everything on the menu is priced under $10.  The service is quick, the food is good and the place is casual and seemingly never very crowded.  That's "thumbs up" for a midweek lunch.


Toko Rame on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Three Sheets is Coming Back with More Libations

If you're a fan of the cable TV series Three Sheets, then you know that Zane Lamprey's show has endured quite a roller coaster ride since its humble beginnings.  If you've never heard of Three Sheets, then let me fill you in. 

Three Sheets is a drinking travel show hosted by comedian and everyone's drinking buddy Zane Lamprey.  Mix drinking customs and related history from around the world with pub crawling and cavorting, and you've got the idea.  In other words it's awesome!  History because it's good for you, and drinking because it feels so good...all wrapped up in one package ready for you to enjoy.  The show first aired on the early HD network MOJO.  When MOJO went belly up at the end of 2008, Three Sheets had aired 3 seasons and the 4th was in production.  Fine Living Network picked up the series in 2009 and aired the new 4th season as well as the earlier episodes.  Then, Scripps Networks, the owner of Fine Living as well as the Food Network, decided to rebrand Fine Living into the Cooking Channel starting in June 2010 and Three Sheets was dropped like a rock.  It's not a cooking show, after all.

So, here we are.  Fine Living is now the Cooking Channel and Three Sheets is off the air.  But it's coming back soon!  SWEET!!!  Scripps Networks recently bought the Travel Channel (which must have pissed Anthony Bourdain off to no end) and thank goodness somebody over there at the Travel Channel had the good sense to add Three Sheets to their line-up.  No word yet on when season 5 will go into production, but we'll spread the word once we get it.

In the meantime, Zane Lamprey is on the road all over the U.S. doing his Drinking Made Easy Comedy Tour and is shooting a Drinking Made Easy TV show for HDNet.  The comedy tour runs through July.  For dates and locations, head here.  The show is supposed to air on HDNet beginning in September.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dinner with the First Lady (sort of) at Osteria Mozza

I got together with my brother Josh Landis, who hosts BITE ME! the MAN Cooking Show, for dinner last night.  He mentioned an Italian place not too far from his pad in Hollywood that looks interesting, so we decided to give it a try.  It turns out Josh has a good eye.

Osteria Mozza, and Pizzeria Mozza next door, are owned by celebrity chefs Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali and restauranteur/wine expert Joseph Bastianich.  Osteria Mozza sits at the corner of Melrose and Highland Avenues.  Reservations are HIGHLY recommended, but we lucked out and were able to simply walk in and get seated at the mozzarella bar. 

The mozzarella bar is probably my choice for the best seating, as opposed to the tables.  You sit at a wide expanse of marble that is covered with plates, little metal characters like the bunny family above, candles and foodstuffs for the cooks to use as they prepare antipasti and such.  Plus, the cooks are doing some of their work right in front of you and are very approachable.  Many thanks to Grace (that's her in the pic behind the wine and bunnies) for helping us through the menu and giving us the lowdown on the place.

The vibe is urban relaxed upscale and the food is pretty darn fabulous.  Dark wood, tall ceilings, wine bottles everywhere and an open layout that lets the crowd chatter waft through the space help lend an energy to the place.  We started with some cheese and white wine.  That's the cheese dish above, burrata with leaks vinaigrette and mustard breadcrumbs.  The presentation was awesome and the taste even better.  The mustard is prominent, but mixes well with the flavors of the cheese, vinaigrette and leek.

For pasta, Josh took a step out of the ordinary with their corzetti stampati with eggplant, olive and sheeps milk ricotta.  It was light and delicious.  I went for a classic Roman pasta dish, spaghetti carbonara, and found it too salty.  That was disappointing, however it was the only low point in an extremely enjoyable dinner.  A bit of espresso following our meal picked me right back up, plus Josh let me have a couple of bites of his corzetti stampati.

Ok, so here's the exciting end to our dinner.  As we left the restaurant, we noticed that we were suddenly surrounded by police and security guys.  There were police cars and three big black SUV's, a camera dude from TMZ watching and waiting on the sidewalk like a vulture and people milling about wondering which celebrity warranted all the security.  It turns out that while we were finishing our dinner, First Lady Michelle Obama was in a private dining room on the other side of the wall beginning her dinner.  Nice...  One interesting note is that all of the Secret Service agents looked like clean-cut Orange County country club guys.  They left their dark suits and sunglasses at home, and instead went for the  golf shirt and khaki pants vibe.

Next time, we're gonna have to give the pizza at Pizzeria Mozza a try.  For info and reservations, head to


Osteria Mozza on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 14, 2010

Gaffey Street Diner

Featured on Food Network's Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, the Gaffey Street Diner is located near the end of the Terminal Island Freeway and the end of the 110 Freeway.

It's an awesome diner that offers huge, heaping portions at reasonable prices. I had the Eggs Florentine and my wife tried the Chile Verde yesterday for brunch, and both were outstanding. Sometimes there are lines outside, but it's worth the wait. They recently expanded their hours and are now serving dinner. Visit their website at

Gaffey Street Diner on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Christopher Michael Handcrafted Chocolates

I first found out about Christopher Michael Handcrafted Chocolates last week at the Wine Lab in Newport Beach, and decided to stop by the store to check out what his chocolates are all about. I was floored by the variety of hand-painted chocolates that are available there.

I even found myself buying as much in chocolate as I would buy in groceries at Costco, especially the sizzling bacon chocolate... Yeah, Chris' stuff is that good!

 Chris at his store.

Also found out that he is the Chocolatier to The Grammy Awards and The Academy Awards. He's been featured on the Today Show, CBS Early Show, Extra!, and Fox & Friends. Great job Chris!

Visit him at or just show up at his store at 2346 Newport Blvd in Costa Mesa.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Burgers and Beers at Father's Office in Culver City

Last night, the Bite Me TV crew hung out with James Rooke and Brandon Merenick of the Canadian indie rock band Low Level Flight.  The band is in L.A. to play at a Hollywood charity event tonight and shoot a music video over the weekend.  They're staying over on the West Side, so we decided to take the guys to Father's Office in Culver City for their awesome burgers and killer beer selection.

(In front - Bite Me TV's Druu, Joel Bonifacio and Joei Bonifacio)
(In back - Low Level Flight's Brandon Merenick and James Rooke)
Photo by Ernie Uy

Father's Office is one of the new breed of hip gastropubs that are popping up all over town.  A gastropub, you ask???  Take a pub, add some gourmet-ish food to the menu, dress the place up so it has a hip vibe and focus on boutique beers, spirits and such, and you've got yourself a gastropub.  It's a fancy pub that's spendier than it's old-fashioned, standard pub cousin.  Father's Office, in particular, is known for offering up one of the best burgers around as well as for having an extensive selection of beers on tap and by the bottle.

Their burger is pretty fabulous.  I'm not sure if it's the best burger I've ever had, but it's definitely one of the best.  It's thick and juicy, served with gruyere and blue cheese, carmelized onions and arugula on a roll (instead of a bun).  It is only served one way, so don't bother trying to ask for ketchup, no cheese, etc., etc.

Their sweet potato fries are also most excellent, and are served with a garlic aioli.  An order is usually large enough to share between two people.

Now, Father's Office can get crowded.  Very crowded, and there are no reservations.  You may have to stand around with your drink, watching like a hawk for a table to become available.  Oh, and you'll probably have to place your order (even for the food) up at the bar.  But if you can put up with that, you'll be richly rewarded with a yummy meal and some quality liquid refreshments.  There are two locations, one in Culver City in the old Helm's Bakery building and the original in Santa Monica.


Father's Office (Los Angeles) on Urbanspoon