Posts Tagged ‘Restaurant’

We live in an age of technology, the internet, social media, and smartphones. The days of face-to-face interaction have died with the past, as most people spend their time in public with their faces buried in their smartphones. People use this as their means of interacting with others, and social media provides an outlet for that. Social media has also paved the way for one-upmanship, or posting something to gain more attention than the previous person – basically, “Oh yeah? Well check this out!” Especially today, we have Instagram food – basic foods made to look pretty so that customers will share it online. With the premise of one-upmanship, Instagram food keeps getting weirder and wackier, from rainbow grilled cheese to donut ice cream sandwiches to rolled ice cream and more. You take an existing food item and make it look different while tasting the same, and you have Instagram food. If you want the perfect example of Instagram food, endure some traffic to reach The Loop: Handcrafted Churros.

Oddly located in a heavy Vietnamese area of Westminster, The Loop: Handcrafted Churros takes the basic churro and fancies it up for customers to snap away at it. Sure you could go to, say, a Costco and get a simple churro for a dollar, or you could spring $3 or more for a curled churro! What makes The Loop’s churros better than any other churro you can get anywhere else? Why, the fact that you get your churro bent to form a loop that you can hold with a paper holder! For just $4.50, you can sample one of The Loop’s Glazed Churro. The Loop takes one of their ready-made churros, dips about half of it in a glaze of your choice, and coats that part with a topping of your choice. It just looks so cute and fancy that you will want to share this with the digital world before you actually bite into it! Check out The Loop on Facebook and Twitter to see tons of posts of people tweeting their churros instead of eating it! Perhaps if you tweet your churro enough, you will get featured!

In today’s generation, those growing up aim to set their own trends instead of following in their parents’ footsteps. For the most part, parents raised their children with what they (the parents) learned growing up, passing on their behaviors and lifestyles on to their children. However, as the children grow up, they start to desire independence from their parents, and as such they will want to develop their own wants and desires, usually opposite from their parents. For example, while parents will likely want to eat something familiar such as pizza and burgers, the children may want something special, usually something different or fusion. Today, fusion food exists in many restaurants, which combines two different foods into one concept imagined by the chef. Instead of trying to divide parents from children, why not make a place friendly to both, such as Pizza Port?

Bearing no relation to the pizza place in Disneyland with the same name, Pizza Port resembles a true Southern California staple. Not only do they craft their own family-friendly food, but they also brew their own huge lineup of craft beers. This makes Pizza Port a great place for the entire family – the children can enjoy the fun food as well as the games inside the restaurant, and the parents can enjoy the fantastic food as well as a cold one or two. While Pizza Port revels in the awards they win for the beers they brew, their food ought to win awards as well. When you see their BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza, you will understand why both parents and children love this dish. This pizza pie comes with tangy barbecue sauce, beef meatballs, diced bacon, chopped red onions, and mozzarella & cheddar cheese with red onions. All of their pizzas can come on traditional pizza dough or their beer-infused whole grain dough.

You can enjoy this savory pizza pie at any of Pizza Port’s locations for $9.50 for a small, $18.25 for a medium, or $22 for a large. Check out what else Pizza Port has serving up by liking them on Facebook and following them on Twitter.

Americans have a strange fascination with bacon. Something about this small strip of pork drives people to spend obscene amounts of money to add it on to something. Fast food restaurants routinely charge a dollar more to add a piece of bacon, while some restaurants charge up to $4 more to add some bacon. I will never understand why people do this, but I do know that if I crave the flavor of bacon, it had better taste good. Sure bacon may not always represent the healthiest option on any menu, but it certainly beats other questionable ingredients such as white bread. At least with bacon, you do get a minor source of protein, while something like white bread will generally come with fillers and maybe preservatives depending on where you got that bread. But if you want something with a lot of bacon in it, you most likely will not care about the nutrition in it – you care about the taste and how much guilt you can cram into one item of food, and for that I go to Pig Pen Delicacy in Santa Ana.

As the name of this food stand suggests, Pig Pen Delicacy sells pork and pork accessories products in whatever manner they can fashion. Located inside the 4th Street Market, one of Orange County’s well-known food halls, Pig Pen Delicacy wants to deliver pork to you until you just shut up and love it. From pulled pork to pork belly to bacon and more, if you want pork, you got it here at Pig Pen Delicacy. While they have a regular menu with all the porky goodness around, they also have a limited-time specials menu that contains obscene items such as the Cheesy Mac Bun Burger. This burger comes on fried mac & cheese “buns” instead of regular bread, and holds the beef patty (cooked to order), cheddar cheese, candied bacon, and barbecue sauce. I hope your arteries can handle all this greasy goodness, because the faint-of-heart will most definitely not handle this thickness.

For $9.50, you can indulge in this guilty pleasure for a limited time at Pig Pen Delicacy in Downtown Santa Ana. To see what other specials they have cooking up, check out Pig Pen Delicacy on Facebook and Twitter.

While corporate chains tend to pose problems for local mom & pop shops, sometimes they can revitalize an area. An area may lack cultural diversity, sometimes due to the location or the local population’s culture or inability to adapt new ways. When a corporate chain steps in, sure they bring in the same thing that all of their other locations carry, but this can bring about change in the location that they step into. For example, think about a Kentucky Fried Chicken opening in China. Traditionally, fried chicken represents a foreign concept to the Chinese. However, the introduction of Kentucky Fried Chicken in China proved successful, as the local population got hooked on this American-style fried chicken. They got hooked on it so much that Eastern culture tried to imitate it and create their own version, which led to the eventual creation of Korean Fried Chicken. Lots of Korean restaurants and shops now serve Korean Fried Chicken, such as the recently-opened Jumping Däk.

If you visit Jumping Däk, you will get Korean Fried Chicken and not much else, but you will get Korean Fried Chicken made very well! Having just opened less than a month ago, Jumping Däk boasts a menu specializing in the savory food, along with sides and desserts to accompany the main course. This fast-casual restaurant replaced an old Hawaiian BBQ fast-food restaurant that never really saw too many customers. However, with the recent opening of a ramen restaurant next door, it made sense to open something here to take advantage of the overflow of the ramen restaurant’s customers, and here we have Jumping Däk. For those who have never tasted Korean Fried Chicken, luckily Jumping Däk provides samples of their three flavors: Sweet, Spicy (pictured below), and Fiery. Sweet and Fiery explain themselves, while Spicy represents a happy medium of the Sweet and Fiery. Basically, imagine popcorn chicken tossed in their signature sauces. Customers can enjoy this Korean Fried Chicken a la carte, as a sandwich, or as a combo with sides and a drink. Jumping Däk also utilizes a unique method for a dessert: Preferé Ice Cream. If you have seen or used a Keurig machine before, this concept will feel familiar. They take a small sealed cup of ice cream and place it in the top of the machine, which then dispenses soft-serve ice cream. I personally have not tried it yet, so I cannot attest if it tastes better than regular soft-serve ice cream – I will save that for a future blog post.

Jumping Däk opened their first location in Buena Park in early December 2016. They said they have plans to open additional locations, including a second location somewhere in Northern California. To see what they have planned for 2017, make sure you like them on Facebook for updates as they come. In the meantime, make sure you visit Jumping Däk in Buena Park soon and experience some real KFC for yourself. At Jumping Däk, KFC stands for Korean Fried Chicken, not that other corporate place.

When people go to dine out or enjoy some drinks, they often seek the complete experience more than simply going out. Going out represents an experience in itself, not just going to fulfill a hunger or thirst. Experiences vary between people, depending on what they deem as interesting versus others who deem things by how much they fulfill. For example, a plain dive bar or simple fast-food restaurant may satisfy some people, while others may prefer a more lively place to enjoy some time. Some of these places have themes that give the place a different ambiance; for example, a Tiki Bar often has islander themed beverages, along with food to go with the theme. In addition to the products, a Tiki Bar may also decorate the place appropriately. If you seek a place that does all of this right, look no further than Hatch.

Despite its short and nondescript name, Hatch contains a lot within a small space. Located in a back corner of the Union Market in Tustin, Hatch delivers a full Tiki Bar experience with a wide assortment of delicious beverages along great food that both serve as a meal or as a pairing with their beverages. On the beverage side, Hatch follows the craft beer industry by rotating beers continuously, also keeping their taps fresh and current with the season. In homage to the Tiki Bar experience, Hatch boasts a full lineup of exotic rums from around the world, lending to some incredible cocktails that one cannot find easily anywhere else. Besides the drinks, Hatch offers a great selection of gourmet sliders and sides. For $14 (price subject to change in the future), you select two sliders plus a side of your choice. The menu currently contains at least 15 slider varieties, which includes some vegetarian varieties. I have yet to try all of their sliders, but so far I have eaten the following:

  • The Hatch: all-beef patty, fried onions, hatch sauce, cheddar hat
  • Fried Soft Shell Crab: fried crab, tomato, greens togarashi aioli
  • Rum Braised Pork: pulled pork, roasted garlic aioli, pineapple chutney, cilantro
  • Duck: duck patty, Asian slaw, cilantro, barbecue sauce

Hatch opens their doors to the public seven days a week inside the Union Market in Tustin, which offers free self-parking as well as (not-free) valet parking. Head on over and check out their wonderful menu for both their sliders and their drinks. Check out Hatch on Facebook to see what else they have cooking up.

The HatchSoft Shell CrabRum Braised PorkDuck

How does one discover the best of local food spots? They ask the locals, of course. When one travels, they still need to eat. What will they choose to eat at their new destination? Will they stick to corporate chains that they have familiarity with? Or will they explore the local places to savor the local flavor? How would they find these local places? Will they search their smartphones for them? Not all places will appear in searches, however. Some hole-in-the-wall places do not have an internet presence, so digitally searching for some of the better places may not work out. It takes word-of-mouth from the locals to spread the information of such places, such as a little food stand simply called Melt.

When it comes to Melt, word-of-mouth has never applied so much before. Tiny does not describe Melt, as they simply exist as a food counter in a supermarket, kind of like a mall’s food court. In Diamond Bar, a local H Mart houses its own food court with a plethora of unique food counters, ranging from unique desserts to traditional Korean food to all the fusion, which leads us to Melt. From a distance, glancing over at the Melt counter makes them appear like some ordinary burger counter, with hamburgers and fries shown on their menu. However, upon closer inspection, you will discover that Melt does the fusion thing here, and they do it well. They cross Korean cuisine over to the world of burgers and fries, such as with their Bulgogi Cheese Fries. Though it appears small, this makes for the perfect side dish portioned perfectly, as Melt tops a side order of fries with melted cheddar cheese, marinated ribeye beef, bulgogi aioli sauce, chopped green onions, jalapeños, and housemade Melt sauce. Although you cannot share this due to its size, it costs so little that anyone can enjoy their own order of Bulgogi Cheese Fries for $4.75 each.

Interested in tasting this creative creation of fusion? Head on over to the H Mart in Diamond Bar, and locate the food court within to discover Melt. Melt has no method of marketing other than word-of-mouth, not even a website or social media. If you like what you encounter, help them out by telling friends and family about Melt!

Craft beer continues to get big across the world. The establishment of local microbreweries shows no signs of slowing down. Some regions show greater growth of craft beer than others for a handful of different reasons. One particular reason could involve the local community’s preference towards craft beer. Another particular reason could involve a city’s enthusiasm to house microbreweries. Regardless, microbreweries tend to exist in regional clusters. When you look at states with a prevalent craft beer following, you will notice groups of microbreweries very close to each other. For example, Los Angeles County has the South Bay where a bunch of microbreweries exist close to each other. I had already covered multiple breweries in the South Bay in the past, but new breweries continue to pop up over time. In addition to all the microbreweries, additional craft beer experiences exist, such as a little brewpub known as HopSaint Brewing Company.

Residing on the border of Torrance and Redondo Beach, HopSaint Brewing Company brings another craft beer presence to the South Bay. Although listed as located in Torrance, you can get to King Harbor Brewing rather easily from HopSaint, plus HopSaint resides closer to Redondo Beach (the physical beach, not just the city). Like many of the big breweries in Southern California, HopSaint had a lot of publicity and hype prior to opening their doors to the public because of their marketing and presence at local beer festivals, restaurants, and bars. Their popularity carried over to their facility in Torrance/Redondo Beach, as evident in the full capacity their facility consistently sees. Speaking of facility, HopSaint does more than just a tasting room – HopSaint exists as a full restaurant, serving both food and beverages. This also lends to the popularity of HopSaint, and why they usually have a packed place. If you want to check out their brews, I suggest visiting HopSaint during lunch hours or off-peak hours. Check them out on Facebook too to see if they have any food or beer specials.