burgr burgr2

Went to Las Vegas this weekend and tried Gordon Ramsey’s famed BurGR restaurant. (Capital GR for Gordon Ramsay!)

We were much too excited to take photos before diving into the burgers, but from the service to food, we thoroughly enjoyed our experience here.

The display of flames were quite impressive and we ended up buying a copy of the photos they took of us at our table. We weren’t about to buy them but as a last ditch effort to sell them the photog offered 2 for $10. She framed them well with the flames and restaurant logo behind us, so we took her up on it =)

Now for the important part: the food!

Maui Onion Rings: DELICIOUS – especially as they came out first and we were quite hungry. The onions were juicy, not dry and stringy as is the risk any time you order onion rings. The batter was well seasoned and nice and crispy. Comes with a truffle aioli and house ketchup (curry, I think).

Hell’s Kitchen Burger: asadero cheese + roasted jalapeño peppers + avocado + oven roasted tomato. Cooked medium – had the perfect amount of heat to pick up the taste without being too spicy. Roasted peppers and tomato gave it a smokey taste that complimented the heat and rich cheese/avo flavors too.

Gordon Ramsay Burger (not on the menu, but the award winning entree here): avocado + cheese (I think it was the english cheddar) + option of beef or pork patty (pork is recommended, and what I got). Juicy and delicious, think of the basic flavors in a burger, take them to the next level and this is what you’ve got. I loved the pork patty, it gave a slightly different and tender texture here that seemed even juicier than beef.

Truffle Parmesan Fries: Disappointing, would not recommend these (would try the sweet potato fries next time, or even TWO onion ring dishes instead!). Same aiolis came with these as did with the onion rings. Seasoning was good, but when paired with the truffle aoili was a bit too truffle-y. The fries were overcooked. Dry and lacking the fresh fluffy feeling fries should have when you bite into them.

We also got a few drinks. The waitress had a drink menu on an iPad for us to flip through. I had some sort of berry spritzer which was tastey. I liked the mixed drink Jon selected with a shot of whisky in it though – it was sweeter than I expected (which helped balanced the normally dry taste I’ve experienced with whisky). They were a good strength and did their job.

Tip: If you’re a Total Rewards member, you can save $1 off the entrees and apps!

tatsu ramen


This review is years overdue. Tatsu Ramen is THE BEST – and my absolute favorite restaurant in the Little Osaka neighborhood.

Both Jon and I have had bouts where we’ve stayed home sick and had Tatsu ramen every day for a week. I’ve taken many a friend and family there for an impressively delicious meal and converted them into fellow Tatsu lovers.

First thing to do when you get to Tatsu: place your order on iPads near the door. Explore the menu, select your broth, level of spiciness, garlic, onion, protein (pork, free-range chicken, or organic tofu), and any add-ons or sides. Then pay, and take your receipt to the wait staff who will seat you before sending your order to the kitchen. Your food is always steaming and fresh. The owner and creator of Tatsu Ramen modeled this after what he experienced in his native Japan where they order on a vending-type machine, and collect a ticket with their order on it to present for their food. I like that Tatsu takes a modern twist on this, and more importantly it’s not pre-packaged ramen broth or anything. It’s all made fresh for Tatsu.

Tatsu might not have the most traditional ramen, but in my opinion, it beats traditional ramen. The fried garlic topping makes for a healthy(ish) and delicious flavor profile along with the 10 other bold ingredients in their Bold Ramen, my favorite item on their menu. The eggs are perfectly seasoned and soft boiled. The yolk, still gushy, provides an even richer mouthful with your noodles and broth.

Their fried rice is also pretty damn good.My 1-year-old niece couldn’t get enough of it. I like to think I have high fried rice standards, but this restaurant meets my demands. Not too greasy, a bit of stickiness to hold it together, plenty of aromatics (green onion), flavorful meat (char siu), and egg (the best part!).

Tatsu is there for your sick days, your hangovers, the precursory night to your hangovers, cold grey weather, lazy Sundays, lazy anydays, really, any occasion. It’s open ’til 2am every night but Th-Sat it’s open until 3am.

UPDATE – Dec. 2015:

The above is for the food ONLY. The service, sorry to say, is subpar. In many recent visits, it’s taken much too long to get seated. I can only say it was “much too long” because there were a few separate occasions in which groups who ordered much later than my group got seated and FINISHED their food before my group was even seated. I was only ever in a group of 2 or 3, so it couldn’t be attributed to needing a big area to seat a large group. Service has been pretty disappointing, but their food is so addicting I still manage to crave it and go! (Getting items to go is pretty much our standard now so we don’t have to deal with the service)

leftover edition: meatloaf

meatloaf wrap


Q: What should I do with leftover meatloaf?

A: Make a wrap!

Might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but we’ve been eating a lot of wraps lately so I wondered how successful a meatloaf wrap could be. One reason wraps are so lovely is because they’re extremely versatile and handy. From prep to transport, they’re a quick and easy alternative to the traditional lunchtime sandwich. And if you’re cutting carbs, a low-carb lavash works great! I also recently discovered some tortillas that are only 6 carbs per tortilla.

For the meatloaf edition, I used tomato sauce to create an aioli and keep all the delicious flavors of meatloaf in wrap form. I also recommend heating it up a bit in the microwave before eating. Just enough to make the cheese a bit melty and warm the greens. It’s like an my wrap imagined what an italian inspired burrito might be. Ok so maybe an Italian burrito would involve pasta of some sort, but we’re talking fusion here.

Meatloaf Wrap:
  • Leftover meatloaf
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 4 slices provolone or mozzarella cheese
  • 2 big handfuls of greens (I used a supergreen mix from Costco. You can use spinach or baby kale too)
  • 2 pieces of lavash bread (note: you can use a tortilla instead, but you may need to adjust the amount of filling to be a bit less so it doesn’t explode on you)
  1. Make sure you have a nicely shaped piece of lavash bread to start. The traditional low-carb lavash can come in very large oblong shapes. If you’re using one of these, it may help to cut it into a rectangle. Any shape will work though it may help the wrapping process to have it wider than it is tall. The size of a cutting board is pretty good and will keep you full all day.
  2. Mix the mayo and tomato sauce to make the aioli, which helps keep the lavash from being too dry. Spread the aioli on the bread. I usually make sure there’s spread on the right 2/3 of the wrap, but you can cover the whole wrap in it if you want!
  3. Place 2 slices of cheese on the wrap along the right edge. You want them to line up against the short side of the wrap. That way, when you roll it (from right to left), there’s cheese in every bite =) If you’re using a tortilla, just make sure half the tortilla is mostly covered with the cheese.
  4. Slice the leftover meatloaf and place the slices on top of the cheese so there’s a vertical line of meat along the right edge of the wrap. It’s ok if you need to cut the slices in half so they’re more narrow/wrapable!
  5. Cover the right edge with lots of greens. Proceed to wrap and roll from right to left, compressing the greens in there to keep the wrap wieldy. Make a nice diagonal cut for flair and enjoy!

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie

This is a filling meal that makes great leftovers. It takes a bit of planning because you’ve got to cook/prep the ingredients before assembling and baking. Sometimes it can feel like a waste to have to put hot food in the oven to bake for another 30 minutes when it’s fresh off the stove and tastes great as-is. But trust me, the time in the oven is really what pulls it all together, otherwise you’re just eating an inconveniently mini-bite-sized stir fry and mash. The food just needs to get to know each other and bond (so it doesn’t fall into a pile when served). Plus it gets crispy on top – a little crunch is good! I’m a texture fan.

I substituted cauliflower mash for the potatoes, which I encourage for their added fiber and vitamin content, but it’s a matter of taste and ease. I get it, sometimes food processors are a pain – if mashed potatoes are your jam, go for it! I’ve made this dish with colored cauliflower too (yellow) and it was just as tasty then too.

Shepherd’s Pie

Cauliflower Mash Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 3 T butter (garlic butter, if available)
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • cheddar cheese, optional (I used about 1/8 cup)

Filling Ingredients:

  • 20(ish) oz. ground beef (1 package of their organic beef, for you Costco shoppers out there)
  • 2 T oil (I used coconut oil, but any will do)
  • 3 cups frozen veggies
  • 2-3 T worcestershire sauce
  • 3 T water
  • 2 T corn starch
  • salt/pepper to taste


Chop the cauliflower into florets and steam. You want it to be extremely well-cooked. To the point where it takes no effort whatsoever to pierce through. This is what will give them a mashed potato consistency when processed. (I’ve tried roasting cauliflower to create a cauliflower mash but it didn’t turn out as mashed potato-like as when they were steamed through.)

If you don’t have garlic butter, that’s fine, you can steam some garlic at the same time. Just make sure to remove the skin when you add to the cauliflower mash.

While the cauliflower is steaming, start cooking the filling. Mix the ground beef with salt and pepper to taste. I like a blend of white pepper and freshly ground black pepper, but this is up to you! Heat up the oil in a pan and when it’s nice and hot, add the ground beef and sauté.

Cook the veggies. Microwaving them is a time-saver and saves you from having to wash another pot =) I like sticking them in the microwave with a few teaspoons of water until tender (5-6 minutes depending on your microwave). It’s a quick way to steam them and by the time they’re nuked, it’s prob about time to add them to your ground beef.

You want the ground beef to be about 80% cooked through when you add the veggies. Drain the water from the veggies before adding and then mix ’em all up together. Turn the heat down to low and prep the sauce/gravy.

Mix the worcestershire sauce, water, and corn starch in a small dish or cup so there are no lumps. Add this mixture to your pan, turn the heat back up to medium, and watch gravy appear as you mix (the cornstarch will cook and thicken). Mix it all up so the filling is even all around. Turn off the heat and set aside.

By this point the cauliflower should be cooked through. Add the florets to a food processor, along with whatever you’d usually add to mashed potatoes. Garlic butter and a bit of cheese were my choices, but regular butter and steamed garlic will do in a jiffy. Feel free to add a bit of broth, cream, or milk if your into that too. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Here comes the part where the flavors come together!

Find yourself a dish/a few dishes. It can be a 9×13 casserole dish like I used. It can be smaller individual portion-sized ramekins. Whatever floats your boat. Add some filling to the dish until it’s about half full, then top it off with cauliflower mash! Make sure the mash goes all the way up to the edges of the dish so the filling/sauce doesn’t bubble up.

Stick these pies in a 400°F oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the top is just crispy. 

Let it cool, and enjoy!

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Simple Seared Salmon


Seared salmon is scrumptious, satisfying, and salutary.

I’ll let you in on a secret. When I was in elementary school, my mom told me that fish made me smarter. Truth! And she wasn’t wrong. Those omega-3s are beneficial for memory, synapses, and more. This meal reminds me of those simpler times. I also love being able to taste the essence of foods. Blanched green beans are not boring. They are beanful. GREEN beanful. Salmon has that umami essence of the sea, without smelling too much like the ocean. More like melt-in-you-mouth flavor complimented by a crispy, chewy, skin.

As an “adult,” I’ll admit that the loveliest part of this seared salmon meal is that I went from kitchen to dining table in less than 10 minutes. Okay, so the veggie part of this was already done (thank you leftover green beans!).

Salmon pairs so perfectly with basic veggies too. I made a batch of green beans earlier this week which served me well here! The salmon came frozen, so I’d taken a moment the night before to move it to the fridge. I guess this does take a bit of planning. By a bit I mean ten seconds =)

Simple Seared Salmon

  • Wild salmon filet, skin on
  • Salt
  • Oil
  1. Oil a pan and heat over medium. I’ve been using garlic oil lately which adds a nice aromatic flavor to the salmon.
  2. While oil is heating, generously cover both sides of the salmon with salt. I like Himalayan pink salt.
  3. Once the pan is hot, lay the salmon filet skin side down for 4 minutes.
  4. Flip the salmon over and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Salmon should flake but still seem moist! Remove from heat immediately to avoid overcooking.

spicy pork sandwich from seoul sausage company

spicy pork sandwichSeoul Sausage Company started as a food truck – I remember first encountering it years ago in K-town at a food festival in a small parking lot. I somehow managed to have too many tickets to redeem for food and ended up eating TWO sausages from these guys, on top of full meals from other trucks. Incredibly, they were still enjoyable.

Now they have a more permanent location in Little Osaka: a storefront off Sawtelle that’s poppin’ even on weekdays. They’re a down to earth spot with great staff; even though I’ve only been inside once (so far!) I remember how nice the guy was behind the counter when we couldn’t decide what to get. I’m pretty sure he gave us free drinks when we realized we forgot to order them.

seoul sausage coJon brought me take-out from Seoul Sausage Company last night – a Spicy Pork Sandwich. He’d eaten there and ordered the Poutine, which he described as a creamy french fry dish.

The sandwich buns threw me back to earlier childhood days, when burgers were a simpler affair. My first bite was actually quite spicy – much hotter than any other bite into the sandwich. I think I may have bitten into a rouge and substantial chili or something since none of the other bites had the same amount of heat. In fact, aside from the echo of that first spice, “sweet” is how I’d describe this sandwich.

The apple cabbage slaw provided a creamy respite to the heat of that first bite, but I’m not the biggest mayo person, so as I continued to eat, it was a bit much. The patty is the star of the show here, and I made sure that for my last bite, I savored it alone—sans bun or slaw!

I’d recommend it as a new blend of flavors to try, but think that next time I’d like to try one of their balls instead =D

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simple pesto aioli chicken wrap

pesto chicken wrap

Here’s a quick lunch you can take to work and a snazzy way to eat up those chicken breasts.

lavashJon loves flatbread and we’ve found  that Trader Joe’s lavash is pretty awesome and easy to use. It’s already cut into a handy rectangle that happens to fit perfectly into my toaster oven and is easy to roll up. Unlike other flatbreads we’ve encountered, it also holds together pretty well after being toasted and rolled.


  • 1 Tbsp mayo
  • 1-2 Tbsp Pesto sauce
  • 1 piece lavash flatbread
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cooked chicken breast, sliced thinly
  • 1 1/5 cups chopped spinach
  • 1 sliced tomato (optional)

To make:

  1. Combine the mayo and pesto. This is your pesto aoili!
  2. Spread evenly on the lavash
  3. Cover with shredded mozzarella
  4. Toast until the cheese is just melty
  5. Spread the chicken strips on top, about 2/3 of the way across the lavash
  6. Add the chopped spinach on top of the chicken
  7. Optional: Add sliced tomato on top of the spinach (this helps to keep the tomato in the middle of the wrap and avoids a soggy wrap when lunchtime comes around)
  8. Roll tightly, starting with the spinach/chicken covered side
  9. Cut in half diagonally for added style points. Stick 2 toothpicks in each half to keep it from unravelling in transit.


garlicky greens

Garlic Spinach
Sautéing greens is super easy, and they cook quickly.

I like to add garlic to mine for flavor (and health benefits!). When I’m feeling fancy and don’t mind the extra time, I’ll chop up some onions too.

How to cook fresh greens:

  1. Add some oil to a warm pan. Use whatever you’ve got handy (olive oil, coconut oil).
  2. Add garlic (optional). You can add a whole clove as is, minced, or crushed.
  3. (If you’d like to use onions, add chopped onions here. Turn the heat down to low and let them get lovely and translucent. ~15-20 minutes)
  4. Chop up some greens. Use a lot because they shrink down to about 1/4 of their original volume!
  5. When the garlic/onion are ready, turn heat to medium and add the greens until there’s no more room in the pan
  6. Stir around until they’re mostly wilted, and add more fresh greens
  7. Continue to stir around, add more fresh greens until their all cooked up

chickpea crust quiche


I found a recipe from Cake Batter and Bowl for a quiche with a crust using mainly chickpeas. Intrigued, I adapted it based on what was in my fridge and pantry. The results surprised me. Not only is it pretty easy to make, but the crust holds together very well, and it’s tasty to boot! Feel free to modify as you see fit to your fridge and tastebuds. In the quiche pictured above, I used spinach and chopped up some sliced pepper turkey we have in the fridge for sandwiches.

For the crust:

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • scant 1/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 well-rounded Tbsp coconut oil

For the filling:

  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 3/4 cup of meat, crumbled or diced (turkey slices, cooked bacon, sausage…)
  • 1 cup cooked greens (spinach, chard…I bet broccoli or grilled asparagus would taste great too!)

Add chickpeas, wheat flour, and coconut oil to a food processor and process away until a soft dough forms. Mold this into a greased pie pan. You can have fun making a pattern in the edges. Or attempting to (see picture above for my first go at this). Bake the crust alone for 20-25 minutes at 350°F oven.

Note: You might have a little dough leftover – this is OK. My pie pan seems a bit small. It’s 6.5″ in diameter at the bottom though it measures almost 9″ at the top, if I include the little aluminum edge. Which is the diameter to measure pies with anyway? Indeed, despite similar labels, pie pan volume varies quite a bit. Tricky tins! You might have to adjust the amount of filling based on how it looks sitting in your pie pan. The good news is, another beaten egg and milk are pretty easy to add if you need more volume.

Note II: I use a small convection toaster oven, which I believe adds a few minutes to the cooking time. Start checking on it at around 20 minutes to make sure your crust doesn’t burn.

While that bakes, get the filling ready. I like to use freshly sautéed greens as opposed to frozen. It seems like an extra step but doesn’t actually take up much more time and adds so much more flavor! Beat your eggs, add milk and a dash of salt, and mix together.

Once your pie crust is ready, remove from the oven. Mix up the greens, meat, and cheese so they’re all evenly distributed in the cooked crust. Then, slowly pour in your egg mixture. It will take a few seconds to settle into all the nooks and crannies, so gently agitate the pan and continue to pour your egg mixture until there’s absolutely no more room.

Carefully get this back into the oven and back for another 40 minutes at 350°F or until the egg is set.

Slice and serve!

steaming slice(Best served when warm and the cheese is melty!)


jury duty and grand central market

20150115_124617 copyI got pretty lucky yesterday. Sure, I didn’t get selected to serve Jury Duty after being called in to court, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I got to visit the Grand Central Market during my lunch break!

They gave us a generous 1.5 hour lunch break, plenty of time to explore Grand Central Market, savor a sentimental meal, and enjoy the sun at Grand Park.

I used to visit Grand Central Market as a kid with my grandma. Back when bus transfers were free, we’d stop by on our way to/from Chinatown and buy produce. Dragging a rolly cart along would help us to take advantage of major sales like taking home half my weight in tomatoes. At 8 lbs for $1, I’m not far off from the truth!

It’s sure changed a lot since then. As with the rest of downtown, it’s re-invented itself as a go-to spot for lunch and other foodstuffs. Stands like Olio Wood Fired Pizza, Press Brothers Juicery, or The Oyster Gourmet draw new, younger life in this historic building. The line for Eggslut wrapped around the stand. I was tempted to join in because who doesn’t love egg–centric food? 😉 Still, I felt nostalgic for old comforts instead.

Sarita’s Pupuseria has been around since before the eggsluts and fancy juices got there. I’ve had their pupusas many times before. Of course they’re handmade to order – I can’t think of a time I’ve ever had a pupusa that wasn’t handmade. But I can’t give a recent review of their pupusas because I ordered platanos fritos con frijoles y crema.

20150115_122620 copyThis dish isn’t anything particularly special, nor is it specific to El Salvador. However, I can say that it is traditional (perhaps mostly for breakfast) and when done right, hits the spot like nothing else. At Sarita’s, the platanos were certainly ripe enough and the natural sugars had crystallized into the perfect crispy-yet-chewy, sweet crunch on the edges. Plantain ripe-ness can be a big problem when ordering, which is why I usually like to see them before ordering. A darker color and seemingly limp texture are signs of delicious and sweet platanos that compliment the savory rich beans and sour cream. Underripe plantains will lead to a dry and tough meal, missing the sweet compliment to the beans/cream.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I didn’t try anything new. I stopped by the Booch Bar by Better Booch to try the Kombucha. I was looking for a healthful drink that might have a bit of caffeine in it to keep me from falling asleep in the juror’s waiting room. I sampled every flavor they had on tap. That’s right, they have tea on tap.

Daily Revival was my first sample and it was a clean and refreshing flavor. Simple and appropriate for a drink if you weren’t afraid to shell out about $6/16 oz. drink on a daily basis. I’m a huge fan of ginger in general and particularly love ginger teas. The Ginger Boost here, however, was much too sweet for me. Same with the Morning Glory, although a fellow sampler filled a growler with it, claiming it had a taste of coconut (I didn’t taste any coconut).

Snow Day - Better BoochI ended up with Snow Day. Living in Los Angeles, this is a dream the kombucha somehow achieved. Light, not too sweet, the chilled drink managed to warm and refresh me. I’m a sucker for ciders and almost anything remotely related to holiday treats. The ingredients listed only: rooibos tea, honeybush, evaporated cane juice, kombucha and other probiotics—all organic. I could have sworn it had notes of cinnamon and cloves, but maybe Better Booch’s specialty is to make you taste what you desire. It was served in a bottle and the guy serving it warned me it wouldn’t quite be as fizzy as what was on tap. True, but it didn’t take away at all from the delicious and refreshing drink.