Posts Tagged ‘Appetizer’

Reminiscing back to our childhoods, we recall all the good times and bad times that significantly impacted us as children. Everyone remembers certain moments during their childhoods that has permanently affected our personalities today. Even without anything to capture those moments, we can still reminisce about the good old days through photos taken way back then. In fact, today’s society has accepted Throwback Thursdays as an homage to the good old days, when life did not bear so much worry, and we could live out our days without fear or oppression. These days, society has to deal with corruption on many levels, from governments to the internet to bullies in school and more. Like the human immune system, society reacts to these corruptions by implementing methods to combat those problems by either minimizing problems or eliminating them altogether. This may not restore the good old days, but as a society, we still like to look back to what paved the way for us to stand here today. Significantly, we remember the foods we once ate as children, even recalling the low prices. Those old signs advertising $0.10 French Fries did not lie – food stands actually sold items that now cost ten times more, or even more than that! Though we can still buy the same fast food items as back then, we have much better options today as far as finer dining without the inflated price tags. If you miss those $0.10 fries, wait until you see some of the appetizers that you can share with friends or enjoy as an entrée. I have discovered five different shareable appetizers that you can find in the Greater Los Angeles Area, and you can either enjoy these on its own or share them among the table.

5. The Abbey‘s Roadkill Fries

With all this newfangled technology and modernism going on these days, sometimes it helps to go back to the basics. We turn to the originals to inspired us to prepare for the future. For the originals, we head over to The Abbey in Seal Beach. Dubbed as Seal Beach’s legendary gastropub, The Abbey takes some of America’s favorite restaurant meals and does them well. You can taste the quality of the food here while appreciating the food styles that we grew up with. The Abbey does not try to push the envelope or invent new foods – they take what exists and cooks it up right. Look at their Roadkill Nachos on their appetizers menu. The Abbey treats nachos the classic way here with tortilla chips piled high with ground beef, grilled chicken, black beans, cheese, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream. You can order a small plate for $9.50, or go all-out for $13.50. Sure it may not seem like a new concept, but if you do not want to try something new and simply want to stick with what you know, The Abbey has the remedy for you.

4. Limerick’s Tavern‘s Irish Pub Nachos

More often than not, the hole-in-the-wall places have the best food that too few know about. From the outside, the restaurant may appear lackluster. Even once inside, the interior may appear dreary. As the old saying goes, “You cannot judge a book by its cover.” While hole-in-the-wall restaurants represent a game of hit-or-miss, the people’s voice may help to steer others in the right direction, which led me to the discovery of Limerick’s Tavern in Upland. When I first heard about this Irish pub, I expected the typical Irish faire that I encounter at every other Irish pub that I had dined at. To my surprise, Limerick’s Tavern shattered that conception with an unbelievable menu with desirable food. At Limerick’s Tavern, they serve up great gourmet food that no one would expect to find at a pub or sports bar. The dishes may represent classics, but their use of high-quality ingredients and plating presentation make them shine above the rest. Take a look at their Irish Pub Nachos. This beautiful plate of fresh home-made potato chips comes topped with chopped corned beef, pastrami, bacon bits, Swiss & cheddar cheese, sour cream, and scallions. This $10 plate of food can feed a group of four, or you can go nuts and treat yourself to this mighty fine dish.

3. The Smoking Ribs‘ Pulled Pork Nachos

As far as the style of cuisine goes, The Smoking Ribs truly lies off the beaten path. The Smoking Ribs specializes in southern-style barbecue, from ribs to brisket to pulled pork and more. As others have shown, many cultures around the world have no familiarity with American barbecue, such as Koreans and the Irish, so some may ponder about a non-Asian barbecue restaurant in an Asian part of town. However, I assure you that The Smoking Ribs stays true to its roots, boasting some top-quality smoke and meats. At The Smoking Ribs, you can go the traditional route and order a plate of meat with sides. The Smoking Ribs also offers a handful of other dishes that contain their meats, such as their Pulled Pork Nachos. For $10, you get a huge basket of nacho chips, nacho cheese, pulled pork, barbecue sauce, and coleslaw. It sounds simple, but after one bite, you will want to devour this entire thing yourself instead of sharing it, despite its large size that can feed multiple people.

2. Meat Up BBQ‘s Smothered & Covered Chili Verde Fries

Ruling over their domain of meat, Meat Up BBQ does meat good and barbecue with their own culinary twist. The barbecue does not represent completely authentic southern barbecue, but rather barbecue with a slight Caribbean influence, evident in their use of tropical and fruity flavors. Sauces range from sweet to spicy to smokey, and meats include all the bases such as chicken, pork, beef, and even a few seafood items. Meat Up BBQ does not skimp on portion sizes, so when you order anything, even their appetizers, expect a huge plate, such as their Smothered & Covered Chili Verde Fries. $10 gets you a huge basket of BBQ-rub fries topped with pulled pork chili verde and a helping of cheddar cheese. You get some barbecue with the fries, and you get some Latin influence from the pork chili verde. This huge appetizer can easily feed a family of four, and I would not attempt to eat this entire thing as one person. However, after one bite, you may want as much of this as you can handle.

1. Súp Noodle Bar‘s Shaken House Fries

The United States promotes a mixed melting pot society. We take people from all nationalities and religions, and throw them into one country to unite them together. While many prefer to stick to the original ways and stay with their traditions, many of the younger generation want to see change and mixing of cultures. This has led to the creation of fusion foods, combining elements of different cuisines together. Plenty of fusion restaurants exist out there where you can taste the best of multiple worlds, such as at Súp Noodle Bar in Buena Park. Nestled in a large strip mall in a densely Korean area, Súp stands out from the crowd with their personal take on Vietnamese cuisine in a not-so Vietnamese area. Sure they have the traditional noodle soups, noodle bowls, and rice bowls, but for those not well versed in Vietnamese cuisine, Súp eases the transition with their versions of familiar foods, such as with their Shaken House Fries. This $13 massive plate of skinny fries comes topped with Súp’s shaken short rib, minced garlic, caramelized onions, sharp cheddar cheese, and spicy tartar sauce. This represents a calamity of flavors as you have the sweetness and savory from the beef, the sharpness from the garlic, more sweetness from the caramelized onions, creaminess from the cheese, and a bit of kick and tartness from the sauce. While this can feed up to four people, after one bite, you may want this all to yourself.

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Reminiscing back to our childhoods, we recall all the good times and bad times that significantly impacted us as children. Everyone remembers certain moments during their childhoods that has permanently affected our personalities today. Even without anything to capture those moments, we can still reminisce about the good old days through photos taken way back then. In fact, today’s society has accepted Throwback Thursdays as an homage to the good old days, when life did not bear so much worry, and we could live out our days without fear or oppression. These days, society has to deal with corruption on many levels, from governments to the internet to bullies in school and more. Like the human immune system, society reacts to these corruptions by implementing methods to combat those problems by either minimizing problems or eliminating them altogether. This may not restore the good old days, but as a society, we still like to look back to what paved the way for us to stand here today. Significantly, we remember the foods we once ate as children, even recalling the low prices. Those old signs advertising $0.10 French Fries did not lie – food stands actually sold items that now cost ten times more, or even more than that! Though we can still buy the same fast food items as back then, we have much better options today as far as finer dining without the inflated price tags. If you miss those $0.10 fries, wait until you see some of the appetizers that you can share with friends or enjoy as an entrée. I have discovered five different shareable appetizers that you can find in the Greater Los Angeles Area, and you can either enjoy these on its own or share them among the table.

5. Out Of The Park Pizza‘s Pizza Poppers

No matter where in the world you may find yourself, certain foods always make their way to every corner of the world. From hamburgers to hot dogs to rice and more, ingredients play a major role in the coverage of certain types of food. Big corporate chain restaurants ensure the spread of many of the more common foods, lending part to the world’s love of these foods, such as pizza. Various types of pizzas now exist because people try to get creative with how they eat pizza instead of the traditional round pizza cut into slices. For something a little more portable and fun, head to Out Of The Park Pizza. Out Of The Park Pizza does not shy away from extravagant toppings on their pizzas, coming up with different types of pizzas such as a Western Barbecue pizza or a Buffalo Chicken pizza. While they have interesting toppings for their pizzas, they have turned their pizzas into an appetizer in the form of their Pizza Poppers. Imagine a slice of pepperoni pizza that they rolled into a ball that resembles a round pastry stuffed with cheese and pepperoni, and you have Pizza Poppers. It does not contain tomato sauce – they provide marinara sauce on the side as a dip. You can order Pizza Poppers as a five-piece snack for $6.99 or a 12-piece shareable appetizer plate for $9.99.

4. Abigaile‘s Pão de Queijo

As humans, we live for variety and diversity. Unlike animals that “eat to live,” some might say that humans “live to eat.” For example, a pet dog or cat feels perfectly content eating the exact same food everyday for his or her entire life. However, if a human attempted that, he or she would go insane from the thought of it. As an aside, this regularly occurs in prisons where inmates get no choice in what they can eat. Humans crave variety, and need something different in their lives instead of living a routine day by day, and people can find diverse foods at a restaurant like Abigaile. Although appearing upscale and fancy, Abigaile actually functions like a casual gastropub, especially given their location by the beach so that beachgoers can dine at Abigaile without worry of their outfit. Perhaps Abigaile appears upscale due to their food menu, which contains some highly eclectic items such as their Pão de Queijo. A Brazilian classic, these Brazilian cheese puffs resemble a hybrid between a bread roll and a hot cheese snack. Chewy and gooey, biting into these cheese poofs feels like biting into a solid mass of warm cheese coated with butter and a slight fluff of bread. For $5, this heavenly appetizer at Abigaile comes with a side of spice honey to help complement the cheesy flavor.

3. Peter’s Gourmade Grill‘s Gooeys

How do you get the word out about your business if you do not do any marketing? You have to deliver something so good that the customers will spread the word about you. In this modern time of internet marketing and social media, all business owners need to utilize all available tools to get the word out about their businesses. Consider that many of these marketing tools have no cost to using them other than time to set up the information. Once set up, the people will do the work as long as you provide something that the people will want to come back for, such as the memorable food at Peter’s Gourmade Grill in Tustin. As a hole-in-the-wall that many people can easily drive by without ever noticing it, Peter’s Gourmade Grill only focuses on what they do best: grilling up foods with a twist, and each twist varies between each menu item. Perhaps the people continually return to Peter’s for these twists, since not many other places have the same combinations that Peter’s offers. Take, for example, their Gooeys. Originally intended as a shared dessert, this massive pile of sweet potato fries gets dressed up with brown sugar, maple syrup, and toasted marshmallows. Has anyone else ever thought of this combination? Perhaps so, but definitely nowhere else in Southern California can you find something like this. At $7.25, this can treat an entire family, as I cannot conceive any sole person devouring an entire order in one sitting.

2. Eat Chego‘s Ooey Gooey Fries

When a food truck converts to a restaurant, one can expect to find similarities between the food truck and the restaurant. When the founder of Kogi BBQ opened Eat Chego, food truck fans from all over flocked to this permanent Kogi fixture to experience Kogi in a more solid setting. As one of the originals, Kogi had one of the largest fan bases of any gourmet food truck, and continued to prosper in long lines for years to come. This popularity easily carried over to Eat Chego and also attracted countless more food fans to savor the flavor of what started a revolution. Although Eat Chego does not serve exactly what Kogi does, the flavors resemble each other, especially in the fan favorite Ooey Gooey Fries. This $6 bowl of beer-battered fries gets topped with sour cream sambal, three cheeses (Monterey jack, cheddar, and cotija), chilies, cilantro, and pickled garlic. Despite its vegetarian nature, people go nuts for this bowl, especially for the pickled garlic. The sauce adds a sour yet spicy flavor, while the cheese gives it a more gritty texture. The pickled garlic does not overwhelm the palate – it contains enough of a bite that you will immediately detect it, but the pickling essentially dilutes its potency. It adds the perfect amount of zing to this bowl. Although one can finish these fries as an entrée, because of the intense flavor profile, I suggest sharing this with a friend.

1. Smoqued BBQ‘s Burnt Ends

With a handle on what the people want, Smoqued BBQ ensures that they rarely run out of customer favorites. This BBQ restaurant in Old Towne Orange delivers classic BBQ dishes using their own recipes, while slinging out over a dozen different types of craft beers at any given moment. Their extensive food menu carries multiple variations of their signature BBQ meats, from brisket to pulled pork to tri-tip to ribs and more. Perhaps the one dish that brings customers back the most resides on their appetizers section. In the appetizers section lies the appropriately named Brisket Burnt Ends. Sure they list this in the appetizers section, and they present it in a way that multiple people can share it. However, after you bite into one of these juicy morsels, you will want the plate all to yourself. This half-pound mound of meaty goodness consists of double-smoked brisket cube ends, which they caramelize in their house BBQ sauce. For burnt ends, the pieces retain their juiciness, as the seared caramelization of the sauce on the outside seals the meat’s natural juices inside. As if the outside did not contain enough heavenly flavor, the meat itself gives a rich, hearty, beefy taste that only true grillmasters can produce. Smoqued BBQ vows to always have the Brisket Burnt Ends available for customers to order. However, if they get slammed on any given day, they may run out by the end of the day. As a result, if you desire some top-notch burnt ends, head on over to Smoqued BBQ in Orange as early in the day as possible, and order up some burnt ends for yourself for $13.49. The price tag may appear steep, but once you get hooked, you may quickly overlook that.

As a connected community, today’s society have gotten used to generally accepted styles of food. For the most part, we see a lot of a certain type of food based on the region. To no one’s surprise, the greatest concentration of a particular style of cuisine resides in its locale of origin. However, many modern communities appreciate the diversity and variety of carrying different types of food places around. This has paved the way for the various types of restaurants to crop up all over. From Latin restaurants to Asian restaurants to sub-genres of food such as barbecue or noodle restaurants, we have seen a restaurant for virtually anything consumable. But even when a restaurant specializes in one particular thing, they can always break the mold and introduce something a little bit off the charts. For that, we turn to Súp Noodle Bar.

Nestled in a Korean shopping center in Buena Park, Súp Noodle Bar delivers noodle bowls so delicious that they usually have a full house every night. Specializing in phô, this Vietnamese restaurant puts their own unique flavor into every curated entrée on their menu. At first glance, their food may appear alike any other ordinary restaurant’s food. Ask the locals about Súp, and they will attest to the unbelievable flavor profile of every item here. In addition to their wondrous noodle bowls, Súp has also gained notoriety with their Shaken House Fries. This massive plate of fries comes with truffle oil, marinated short rib, minced garlic, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, and spicy tartar sauce. This plate that can easily feed a party of four contains a savory punch that will leave your taste buds seeing stars. Although listed as an appetizer, one or two people can easily consider this an entrée.

For more about what Súp Noodle Bar has to offer, visit their Facebook and Twitter page, and check them out in North Buena Park on the northwestern corner of Beach Blvd and La Mirada Blvd.

How often do you deviate off the beaten path? As creatures of habit, humans tend to stick with safe things rather than venture out and feel adventurous. People tend to cluster around certain established areas instead of going out of the way to discover something new, which may prove more effective or not. Highly urban areas have a greater concentration of people and businesses, but places in between large urban areas do not carry as much in the way of businesses. For example, Baker between Southern California and Las Vegas may have lots of food options, but not much else to make them a “destination” area instead of an area you pass through to get to somewhere else. Lately, we have started to see these “pass through” areas start to add more businesses to attract people to intentionally visit there. The city of Jamul basically exists between the San Diego metropolitan and Tecate, but people rarely venture out to Jamul as a destination. That all changed when Brody’s Burgers & Beer opened their doors to the public.

Jamul appears as a town in the hills that you drive through to reach somewhere else, but once you take time to discover the gems there, you may find at least a day’s worth of things to do. Make sure you include Brody’s Burgers & Beer as a spot to dine at, a place that looks like a dive bar but has the food and beer that rivals many other fancy gastropubs. Family owned and operated since 2012, Brody’s has a rotating craft beer lineup that always features a handful of beers outside of San Diego County, but perhaps their food makes them stand out the most. Using only fresh ingredients, you can get great traditional food here constructed very well, from their burgers to their salads and their sides. All of the food tastes fantastic, but their Spicy Onion Petals remain a standard menu item that I always order here. These fried onions look like potato wedges, but if you imagine thick-cut onions, battered with herbs & spices, then deep-fried, you get this delicious appetizer that goes well with any of Brody’s food and beer.

If you seek something off the beaten path in San Diego County, you will want to input Brody’s Burgers & Beer as your destination. Whether stopping by for a meal or just a drink, make sure you accompany your visit with some Spicy Onion Petals for just $4.50 with your choice of dipping condiment. Support this local family-owned business by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter, and tell all your friends and family about this gem.

Barbeque exists all around the world in multiple forms. Most Americans visualize barbecue as Southern style, such as smoked chicken, pulled pork, ribs, tri-tip, brisket, and so on. In Mexican cuisine, grilled meats have the word asado/a in it. Korean culture has introduced the western world to Korean BBQ. Pacific islanders have graced the world with their renditions of barbecue that include short ribs and Kalua pork. Regardless of the nation of origin, people worldwide recognize the general savoriness of barbecue foods. Due to the general craving of it, some crafty people have started to learn how to utilize every piece of the meat. While some methods go to rather extreme lengths to utilize all parts of the meat (see Rocky Mountain oysters), most people prefer to consume these extraneous cuts of meat. Commonly, Southern style BBQ restaurants may serve rib tips and burnt ends. If you have yet to try either of the aforementioned, you owe it to yourself to seek it out soon, such as at Smoqued BBQ.

With a handle on what the people want, Smoqued BBQ ensures that they rarely run out of customer favorites. This BBQ restaurant in Old Towne Orange delivers classic BBQ dishes using their own recipes, while slinging out over a dozen different types of craft beers at any given moment. Their extensive food menu carries multiple variations of their signature BBQ meats, from brisket to pulled pork to tri-tip to ribs and more. Perhaps the one dish that brings customers back the most resides on their appetizers section. In the appetizers section lies the appropriately named Brisket Burnt Ends. Sure they list this in the appetizers section, and they present it in a way that multiple people can share it. However, after you bite into one of these juicy morsels, you will want the plate all to yourself. This half-pound mound of meaty goodness consists of double-smoked brisket cube ends, which they caramelize in their house BBQ sauce. For burnt ends, the pieces retain their juiciness, as the seared caramelization of the sauce on the outside seals the meat’s natural juices inside. As if the outside did not contain enough heavenly flavor, the meat itself gives a rich, hearty, beefy taste that only true grillmasters can produce.

Smoqued BBQ vows to always have the Brisket Burnt Ends available for customers to order. However, if they get slammed on any given day, they may run out by the end of the day. As a result, if you desire some top-notch burnt ends, head on over to Smoqued BBQ in Orange as early in the day as possible, and order up some burnt ends for yourself for $13. The price tag may appear steep, but once you get hooked, you may quickly overlook that.

Meat eaters around the world have this unexplainable fascination with bacon. This little strip of pork drives millions around the world crazy for that one special piece. If you ask random people why they like bacon, I assure you that the answers follow no sort of consistency. From portion size to the crisp texture to the salty goodness, everyone has a different reason for loving this thin strip of pork. Some producers and manufacturers have capitalized on this by selling bulk bacon with added ingredients. This results in cheap bacon circulating the markets, where the common package of bacon no longer only contains meat, but now contains other ingredients that 99% of bacon consumers cannot even pronounce. To alleviate this problem, consumers should purchase bacon not in bulk, since that comes pre-sliced and contains additives, but as a full slab of bacon. Many chefs and restaurant owners love slab bacon for the ability to control portion size, but many do not realize that pork belly also comes in this form. In America, nearly every form of bacon derives from pork belly, while in the rest of the world, people prepare pork belly as they would forms of pork, such as shredded, diced, or as one entire piece. Anyone who loves bacon should learn to also love pork belly, as you obtain more bacon goodness than just strips of it. Want to get into pork belly? Check out these five places in the Greater Los Angeles Area that serves pork belly in simple yet delicious forms.

5. Vizzi Truck‘s Pork Belly Taco

Since its inauguration in 2009, the gourmet food truck community has risen from one man’s ambition to the global empire as it stands now around the world. Thanks to numerous media outlets, especially Food Network, citizens worldwide now seek out these food trucks not only for novelty, but for the street food depicted in the media. As the hometown of gourmet food trucks, Los Angeles has provided a home to some of today’s top food trucks, and has proved a battleground for newer ones or others that simply could not keep up with the strenuous work of operating a food truck. Luckily, the bad ones fall out quick, while the good ones remain to serve. One can determine the quality of a food truck by its age – the longer a food truck has remained open, the more they know about the industry. Trust in Vizzi Truck, a gourmet food truck that opened back in 2009 as the first generation of gourmet food trucks. Their penchant for Coastal Cuisine appeals to a wide diversity of consumers by utilizing French cooking techniques and mixing different styles of cuisine. For example, take a look at their Pork Belly Taco. This taco takes a Vietnamese approach to pork belly and applies it to Mexican street food logic by grilling pork belly, inserting it in small street taco-size flour tortillas, then topping it off with cucumbers, pickled carrots & daikon, cilantro, and Gochujang sauce, a Korean sauce that tastes salty with a kick of spice. The veggies give the taco a tart taste to balance the savoriness of the pork belly, while the sauce helps to open up your palate to better absorb the pork belly’s flavor. Although it appears small, this taco can fill you up, not to mention that Vizzi Truck serves this taco on a bed of truck-made popcorn. If you track down Vizzi Truck, you can snag this taco for $4. Vizzi Truck employs a seasonal menu, so track them down quick before they remove the Pork Belly Taco!

4. Flying Pig Café‘s Pork Belly Buns

As a food truck owner, you would not want to stay in that realm for too long. For the most part, entrepreneurs and/or chefs enter the food truck industry as a means to get their feet wet, learn the ropes of the industry, invest some capital, and then apply the acquired knowledge towards opening a brick & mortar business. In some cases, the entrepreneur can continue to operate the food truck, but due to the uncertainty of profit on a food truck, at least it will operate under the safety bubble of the brick & mortar business. While a few of today’s food trucks derived from a brick & mortar business, a great number of food truck owners have made the step up into establishing a brick & mortar business. Flying Pig Café, one such business that started from a food truck and still operates that food truck, now calls Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles their home. Flying Pig Café still serves many of the items from the truck that many fans will recognize, but they now also serve plated entrées, such as fried rice or Loco Moco, and alcoholic drinks such as wine and craft beer. Luckily, the fan favorite Pork Belly Buns still remains on this menu. They braise pork belly and place it on a steamed bao bun with red onion escabeche (similar to pickled red onions), pickled sesamé cucumbers, and death sauce, their signature spicy sauce. These ingredients work well to bring out the flavor of the pork belly, as the death sauce opens up your palate, while the tart veggies provide balance to the meat to support the savoriness. If, for some reason, you still have doubts about this, check out their Happy Hour that runs from 5pm to closing Monday through Thursday, where all customers can not only receive $4 beers (including Allagash Curieux!), but also order 2-for-1 buns, meaning TWO Pork Belly Buns for just $4! Come here much? Park in the Arts District a few blocks away, where the street meters only run until either 4pm or 6pm, depending on the street.

3. Hopscotch Tavern‘s Pork Belly Rillettes

As time marches on, things cannot remain the same forever. Over time, everything has to change as part of human nature. Our way to living has provided us with the necessary means to adapt to change and fit in to new lifestyles quickly, while those who take longer to adapt tend to suffer setbacks or misfortunes in some areas. Many people may swear by old standards and traditions, but eventually these traditions will meld with the present. This explains the need for some restaurants to change their menu every so often. While some simply employ a seasonal menu based on product availability, few others may completely overhaul their menu. Hopscotch Tavern in Downtown Fullerton recently completely redesigned their menu after roughly 7-8 months in business. With a half year’s worth of experience under the table, the crew at Hopscotch decided to carefully examine the menu and revamp everything. They did away with the previous Low & Slow moniker, and now serve up gastropub faire, such as fried duck, chilaquiles, blue crab tots, pig ears, and their new Pork Belly Rillettes. The Hopscotch crew concocts the rillettes with pulled pork belly, fills a mason jar with it, and tops it off with an apple & lemon salad. On the side, you receive toasted baguette slices and a scoop of Bacon Onion Jam. If you have never had rillettes before, you eat this like a spread – spread some of the jam on a baguette slice, then lather the pork belly on the slice. Pro Tip: spread everything on every slice prior to eating – this allows you to control how much each slice receives as well as attempt to balance the jam and the rillettes. If sharing this plate, inform your party of allocating the spread if you intend to do so, so they know that each slice will have similar amounts of the jam and rillettes. Looking for a craft beer pairing? Go for an IPA to cut through the saltiness of the rillettes. Personally, I usually order whatever they have on nitro. Truthfully, you cannot go wrong with whatever you order here. Despite a completely brand new menu, Hopscotch remains a true gem nestled in a town of club-goers.

2. Red Table Restaurant‘s Grilled Pork Belly

Thinking about marketing and public relations, who honestly uses it the most? What levels of business utilize strong marketing versus free marketing? Everybody can benefit from free marketing media, such as Facebook and Twitter – those only require time for research and generating content. Who would you say utilizes paid marketing? I can tell you right now that those at the top do not pay for marketing. Entities at the top already possess the best position, and thus do not need to market. Those at the bottom do not pay for marketing, as they cannot yet afford it. Those in the middle, or the second-best, will pay for marketing, as they already have a decent position in the industry, but need that extra boost to usurp the leading individual, group, or company. When you have a product or service so great that consumers constantly crave it, your consumers turn into your free marketing material, as they will market for you via word of mouth. Red Table Restaurant has come a long way with their worldly gastropub cuisine. Since their inception in 2011, Red Table has traveled a long way to get to the status that they sit at right now. Masked by a Trader Joe’s and tucked away behind the respective shopping center, Red Table needed something to get the word out about their strange location out to the general public. Needless to say, Chef Louie Jocson’s international epicurean experience has received international media attention, using just his unbelievable food to garner a solid following with the associated word of mouth that slips around from ear to ear. Although Red Table displays daily/weekly specials, their regular menu contains plenty of unforgettable dishes, such as their Grilled Pork Belly appetizer. This $9 plate comes with four thick slices of grilled pork belly with crispy skin, drenched in soy vinegar, and topped with pickled onions & herbs. A perfect portion for parties of two to four, each bite seems to get better than the last with the soy vinegar sauce building in intensity, not to mention the tartness from the pickled onions resetting the salty flavor from the combination of the pork belly and the sauce. For a craft beer pairing, you definitely want to go with an Imperial IPA if Red Table carries it; otherwise, go for a regular IPA. Feel daring about the pork belly? Red Table offers an entrée with pork belly – the Pork & Beans, which I will cover in a future post. Until then, get over to Red Table in West Huntington Beach, located behind Trader Joe’s once you find it. With its proximity to the beach, how can you not want to go to Red Table this summer?

1. Fickle Restaurant‘s Molasses Pork Belly

Three cheers for fresh faces, who we always welcome into the industry for bringing on new challenges and new ideas. Whenever faced with a new person, such as a new kid in school or a new co-worker, we welcome them for bringing on a new face to break monotony, plus any of their ideas and intellect that they can bring to the table. Although far from the hivemind concept, pooling together knowledge generally leads to improved outcomes for the setting, from the classroom to the workplace and further than that. New people will also face challenges adapting to the new setting, and will require time to acclimate with everything going on around. Sometimes, the new people will have to pair up and work together to solve problems and make progress. Other times, a sole new person will come up with multiple ideas, and will need to somehow combine them to work out for the greater good. So when building space opened up in Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles, the genius behind Fickle Restaurant swooped in to claim the space. However, Fickle only came out as one of the many concepts for this space. In the end, travelers can now find two different businesses in the same space. By day, this place operates as The Sandwich Smith, of which I will review one of their sandwiches in a future post. At night, this space transforms into Fickle, a restaurant with a menu that can unpredictably change at any given time based on the chef’s whim. Whereas many other restaurants change their menu based on season and availability of ingredients, the folks at Fickle simply change the menu whenever they want, in addition to the available supply of ingredients. As such, customers can only truly find an accurate menu by visiting the restaurant to read a menu in person, as opposed to looking up their website, which they have not updated since late June. Luckily, Fickle does keep some of the fan favorites on the menu for a longer duration, such as their Molasses Pork Belly. They sear a giant slab of pork belly, and place it on top of charred savoy cabbage and pumpkin purée. They then sprinkle lime pepitas around the plate before drizzling a balsamic sauce around the plate. Pork belly lovers rejoice – you now can have your pork fat and eat it too! Very few places will serve a slab of pork belly this large, let alone for the reasonable price of $18. Good luck getting through this dish, as most ordinary people cannot get through half of this pork belly due to the overwhelming pork fat presence. If you can stomach it, you will taste this pork in your mouth for days, on a similar degree to foie gras. Got a hankering for craft beer? If you feel the need to tone down the intensity of this dish, order an IPA, which they usually carry on tap. If you want to intensify the pork flavor, order any Belgian beer, which Fickle currently carries in bottles. If you find yourself visiting often, note that you can likely park in the Arts District, located just a few blocks southeast from here, on the street for free, as the street parking meters stop running after 4pm or 6pm, depending on the street. Parking meters also do not go into effect on Sundays all day. Who knows when Fickle will decide to take this off their menu? Just like the definition of the word, this menu changes on a whim, so if you go in one time, do not expect to observe the same menu on your next visit.