Another year, another move. This time, the year was split between LA (Pasadena) and Phoenix (Scottsdale). While LA is certainly more of a melting pot of cultures, Phoenix certainly has its fair share of good food driven by transplants from all over the country, if not the world. And what year would be complete without a bit of travel as well? As is usual, I’m keeping the travel out of the Best of, but you can see it all here (including some amazing food from a trip to Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan). So without further adieu, bring on 2017.
You don’t really associate Japan with fried chicken. I mean, sure, if you’ve spent enough time in Japan or with Japanese food you have undoubtedly discovered karaage and more, but those aren’t exactly Earth-shattering compared to the fried chicken of the American South or even the fried chicken of Japan’s neighbor buddy (kind of), Korea. But Tokyo Fried Chicken in Monterey Park is doing its best to change that perception. So when it came down to choosing new restaurants or eating at old favorites before making the move to Phoenix, Tokyo Fried Chicken is where I found myself eating my last reviewable meal as a resident of Southern California (at least for now!).
Melt It! in Pasadena refers to itself as “A Grilled Cheese Co.” I’m not sure what else would have been expected from a place called Melt It! (except maybe like fondue or a ton of patty melt options, which are basically just grilled cheeses with burgers in them anyway), but I was eager to see what kind of twists this place would make on the old standby.
Restaurants come and restaurants go. But I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a restaurant come and go as fast as TLT in Pasadena’s Playhouse District. Fortunately, there was almost no delay in replacing it with The Stand, a burger concept that already had a few locations around LA and Orange County. The burger options were pretty unique and at a reasonable price, so I had a hard time choosing.
It’s not easy to go across town for breakfast or brunch. Especially if you’re like me and consider noon to be the beginning of the day on a weekend. But, I managed to pull myself out of bed for brunch downtown at a place called Artisan House. Surprisingly, it didn’t just have the kind of upscale brunch items I have grown used to, but a couple items I hadn’t seen before.
When you need breakfast or brunch in Encino, where do you go? Well, when the opportunity presented itself to me I found myself at Claudine, which is like a bakery and restaurant in one. You order at a counter, and seats are hard to come by on the weekend, but I managed to snag a table right out from under an old lady. To be fair, all she needed was 2 seats and we needed 6 so I found another table for her. Sheesh.
When I found out that a Taiwanese fried chicken place had opened next door to my office, I knew I had to stop by, especially because I would soon be paying a visit to Taiwan. It’s called Hot Star, and for some reason it specializes in flattening the fried chicken to make it look massive. I don’t know if this is meant to make it taste or look better, but I was ready to find out.
In preparation for traveling to Borneo, I wanted to get a taste of Bornean food. This, of course, is not an easy thing to do, but when you live in LA pretty much all food is a possibility. Thus, I found myself with my Bornean traveling companions at Borneo Kalimantan in Alhambra. This place is more focused on the Indonesian side of Borneo, and although we were heading to the Malaysian side it still seemed as close as we were going to get. Plus, it also had Singaporean and Malaysian, so we weren’t completely off.
It seems like just yesterday that I packed up my bags in Michigan to move to Los Angeles, but alas it was nearly 10 years ago. A lot has changed in those 10 years, and aside from housing prices and traffic much of it has been for the better. Take, for example, breweries. Michigan was littered with them and I found LA barely had one (San Diego was strong, though). Now, they are much easier to find and have even come around to serving brewery food instead of fancy stuff (I’m looking at you, Golden Road, but glad that you have also fixed yourself up!) Highland Park Brewery is one of the new entrants and I set out to test both its food and booze.
Sometimes all you want to do is watch sports and eat wings. And sometimes there’s not enough time to get home to watch said sports and you have to find the spot closest to your office. Thus, I found myself at House of Wings in La Verne. House of Wings not only had a great variety of wing flavors, they also sported a pretty great happy hour for beer and food.