Saturday, April 21, 2007


BJ's is yet another Westwood favorite discovered while attending UCLA. Having been there so many times, we've had some great food, ranging from a variety of deep dish pizzas (gotta love the "Great White") to sandwiches and pastas. But, there are really just two reasons to keep visiting this brewhouse chain: Beer and Pizookie.

Beer Sampler

(Click to view the sampler list)

BJ's Famous Pizookie
A freshly baked, hot out of the oven, rich and delicious cookie (Half Chocolate Chunk, Half Chocolate "OREO") topped with 3 scoops of vanilla bean ice cream and a dollop of creamy mousse, served in its own deep dish.

Although we frequent BJ's quite often, it has been a long time since we allowed ourselves this ultimate treat. We chose 1/2 chocolate chip and 1/2 oreo cookie, although they also have white chocolate macadamia nut, peanut butter, or oatmeal raisin. One bite into it and we couldn't figure out why we had been denying ourselves one for so long. The warm, gooey, chocolaty cookie and creamy vanilla ice cream is, as you can image, simply fantastic. Our spoons were literally clashing over the last bite. Somehow I don't think we will be waiting that long again before having another.

Friday, April 20, 2007

IZAYOI, Downtown L.A.

I (Andrea) convinced Suni to go to this cool little Japanese restaurant in Downtown L.A. by touting its unusually high Zagat rating given its affordable prices. One step into Izayoi and it's clear why it's so highly rated: This is a REAL Japanese restaurant with lots of Japanese customers (not to mention a staff that would seem to prefer avoiding English whenever possible). The menu is izakaya-style, which is Japanese for small plates. For me, this meant loads of fun trying new and interesting dishes. As for Suni, his only responsibility when it came time to order was sit back and relax with his bottle of Sapporo followed by a pint of Kirin.

Flavored Grilled Duck Sirloin

The juicy, rich, and somewhat sweet duck was complimented perfectly by lightly dressed greens and red onions.

Shrimp with Chili Fondue

These fried shrimp were served with a sweet and spicy red chili sauce that we couldn't get enough of. Had there been a spoon on the table I most likely would have polished off the rest by itself.

Black Cod Marinated in Sake and Miso with Candied Miso Soybeans

Miso-marinated Black cod is my absolute favorite Japanese dish, and this one definitely lived up to my expectations. The fish is usually marinated in miso for several days - the end result is a buttery, sweet, and slightly salty dish that literally melts in your mouth. The candied miso soybeans were an excellent touch and complimented the dish perfectly.

I am so proud of Suni for agreeing to venture out and try new foods - and even though he may not admit it willingly, he truly enjoyed all three dishes. He even voluntarily used the chopsticks that were provided and actually did quite well. All that's left now is getting him to like Sushi and my mission will be complete.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Yes, again. And this likely won't be our last visit to one of our Westwood favorites since our UCLA days. While our first post from Napa Valley Grille featured a delicious lunch, dinner is our usual choice and usually features some wine. On this night, we took advantage of a free wine flight special earned through their mailing list and matched the wines with a pair of steaks...followed by an unlikely dessert.

Wine Flight
2003 MOSBY, Primativo, Lojocono Vineyard, Santa Ynez
2005 SEGHESIO, Zinfandel, Sonoma County
2004 ADDAMO, Syrah, Santa Barbara Couny

Prime "Filet" of Center Cut Sirloin
dou of asparagus, roasted salsify, red pomme potatoes, smoked blue cheese butter

Napa Valley does steak quite well - and even though Andrea was craving their short ribs and was extremely disappointed when she discovered that they were not on their new Spring menu, this steak definitely satisfied her meat craving. Luckily, she let me take home her leftovers so I got to enjoy it as well.

Grilled Center Cut Bone In New York Steak
hand cut kennebec fries, spring onions, wild ramp butter

I am a huge fan of the NY cut, and this one was very juicy and flavorful. The onions on top made the steak, as did the seasoned fries it came with.

Peanut Butter Mousse Chocolate Torte
Peanut graham cracker crust, caramelized banana, chocolate sauce, creme anglaise

{Andrea} You can imagine my surprise when Suni agreed to order this dessert - as he absolutely detests peanut butter. I'm sure he won't let me forget this selfish act for a long time. However, not only did he eat it, but he actually enjoyed it - which means he can never deny me chocolate-peanut butter desserts ever again.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

DUKE'S, Malibu, CA

In search of an early afternoon snack, we decided to relive part of our Hawaiian indulgence from last year by visiting Duke's in Malibu. During our week in Kauai, there was a Duke's just footsteps from our door and just as close to the crashing surf. We made a few pit stops during that time, and each time tried their incredible coconut shrimp and, at least once, attempted to finish one of the huge Hula Pie desserts. So, after a short drive up the PCH we were seated at the bar at Duke's to see how the California version of those two dishes compared to the Hawaiian ones:

Crispy Coconut Shrimp
Skewered, sweet and spicy Thai chili sauce

Compared to the Hawaiian dish, these shrimp were juicier and the thai chili sauce sweeter and more flavorful. The version we tried in Kauai had a flakier, crispier coconut crust and the shrimp were larger. I'd take either one again.

Hula Pie

This is virtually identical to "KIMO’S ORIGINAL HULA PIE®" at Duke's Kauai right down to the "Hula Pie" labeled plates. It was equally large, equally messy, and an equally essential part of the Duke's experience.