Finger lickin’ Waffle Chix

When I told my friends that I went to a semi-healthy chicken and waffles place, they laughed. They laughed harder when I said I liked it. Note: I say “semi-healthy” because fried chicken is still fried and that’s not healthy.

Waffle Chix is located in the heart of Westwood by UCLA and they use hormone and antibiotic free chicken. My friend works in the area and took me here right after the lunchtime rush. I wasn’t feeling too adventurous this day so I passed on the Raspberry Red Velvet Waffles and instead got their house chicken and waffles.

The chicken was juicy and had a good crispy skin but wasn’t overly greasy. The waffle was thinner than what I expected but it was tasty and had the nice crisp edges that I like on a waffle and a hint of cinnamon. On the side I got hot sauce and some honey to eat with my chicken and waffles and a 1/2 OJ and 1/2 lemonade.

One of the reasons I think this place is healthy is because their portions aren’t too generous – it’s just the right amount so you don’t feel bloated when you walk out the door. You do feel full but you don’t feel like you have to unbutton the top button of your jeans. They use organic products and really embrace the “California” twist to southern cooking and it’s your “healthy” alternative to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles.

I read the Yelp reviews after I went and found them to be surprising. A lot of the reviews complained about the price and I think the price point is a little high but if you think about how they are using local and organic products, it makes sense. I wonder how this moderately priced restaurant with proper (bot not generous) portions will survive in a college neighborhood where quantity on the cheap often wins out.

Compare and contrast at First and Hope Supper Club

Ever have those meals where you look across the table and wonder to yourself “Why didn’t I order that?” That was me when I went to dinner at First & Hope Supper Club in downtown Los Angeles during Dine LA a couple months ago. It’s as if every dish I ordered was slightly off or below average to my dinner companion’s choices.

He chose the modern waldorf salad with pear and walnut. It was simple, clean, and refreshing – a nice way to start the meal. The dressing was a light vinaigrette which is a bonus in my book.

I ordered the crab cakes with blood orange and fennel – big mistake. It’s one of the few times where I couldn’t even finish my appetizer and my dinner companion didn’t want to finish it for me. The crab cakes were undercooked and it didn’t taste fresh. It wasn’t seasoned well – I fell like it needed more acid to bring out the flavors because I could barely tell there was blood orange flavor on my plate – flavors were dull.

For the main dish, he ordered the braised beef and potatoes. The meat fell right off and the au jus was great for the potatoes to soak up.It was a simple dish done well.

I figured you couldn’t go wrong with fried chicken at a supper club – I was wrong. The mashed potatoes and gravy gets a thumbs up but the biscuit and fried chicken didn’t fare so well. The biscuit was too dry – I admit at some point, I blurted out that I wished I had a Kentucky Fried Chicken biscuit (and chicken) instead. The crispy fried chicken skin was under-seasoned – I added salt hoping it would add some flavor to no avail.

We ended our meal with dessert. He ordered the  apple crisp with almond streusel and maple gelato. This was the best course of the night by far. The sugary apple crisp and almond streusel was abated by the cool and creamy gelato. The comforting flavors of the apple crisp definitely came through on this dish.

And of course to keep the unfortunate theme going, I ordered the forgettable dessert: red velvet with cocoa bits and frosting. Did the chef just give up on this dish? I think I could make a better red velvet from a boxed cake mix. The cake was heavy and lacked the subtle cocoa flavors that red velvet is known for. The way the frosting was laid out on the plate didn’t look appetizing. It looked as if someone just squirted the frosting and threw on some cake bites they bought pre-made at the market. I took a couple bites and didn’t finish this dish – such a shame because I love red velvet cake.

I admit the decor in the restaurant and bar and presentation of the food were memorable but I was disappointed with the lack of consistency. I think my dinner partner ordered well and if I copied him, this review would have had a different tone. However, don’t you think every item on the menu should be something the restaurant believes in? My advice if you go to First & Hope, follow the masses and order the meat and potatoes and don’t expect many surprises.

My current craving: KyoChon chicken wings!

If you’re my food fairy, you’ll magically bring me KyoChon soy garlic chicken wings for lunch today. Those who haven’t had the privilege of consuming these tasty Korean-style fried wings are missing out and I truly feel sorry for you. The wings are double-fried and coated with the special KyoChon secret sauces that was created by the founder in Korea – there are three different ones (soy garlic, hot & sweet, honey) but my favorite is the soy garlic.

The Korean-based chain has over 1,000 stores mostly in Korea and China but they have about 10 stores in the U.S. (the American flagship one is in NYC) and a few are right here in Los Angeles. The first shop opened in 1991 in Gumi, South Korea according the the KyoChon website. The website also says the founder and his wife are the only ones who know the secret of what’s really in their sauces. Oh yeah, and they like using seasonal vegetables and use free range chicken!

I recently went to the Culver City one and snapped these photos for you.

My friend and I ordered the bi-bim-bap rice ball and 10 soy garlic wings to split.

Next time, I’m going to skip the bi-bim-bap rice ball because it was lacking flavor for me – all I could taste was the sesame oil even though there were bits of veggies and meat in there. I realized the rice ball was poor foreplay for the main course: the chicken wings. Lesson learned.

Take a look at the crispy wings that make my salivary glands to what they do best when I think about consuming this dish… salivate!

What’s great about the Korean chicken wings is that they aren’t greasy like the ones from KFC or Popeye’s. You don’t feel guilty after eating these wings. After one bite, you’ll realize why KyoChon is the largest chicken wing chain in South Korea.

Los Angeles has plenty of chicken wing places – what’s your favorite? Why? And if you want to be my new foodie BFF, you’re more than welcome to take me to your favorite spot.

April foods!

Just by thinking about the food I consumed in April just added a few more pounds on my body. But it was worth it. Here’s some of the highlights of my favorite tastes in the last month.

Let’s start with my favorite dessert… ice cream. Sure, the gourmet food truck thing may have run its course in Los Angeles but ice cream trucks will never get old for me – even if it’s gourmet. One lucky Friday the @coolhaus truck came to downtown LA where I just happened to be. But the best part was that the Food Network was filming Cool Haus for their new street food series called Eat Street – it was as if the stars had aligned.

The ice cream sandwiches were on the pricey side but at the same time it wasn’t your average ice cream or cookie that came with it. Ice cream flavors that day ranged from maple bacon to foie gras to strawberry. The cookies ranged from snickerdoodles to chocolate to a brioche bun! So how does this tasty ice cream look like… looks like this:

So from sweet… I’m going to savory. My entire life, my one savory food weakness has been fried chicken. If I see it on the menu and it looks crispy good – I must have it. I always say it was a good thing I didn’t grow up in the south because I don’t think I’d be able to stop myself from all the home-fried chicken.

I have this ongoing list of places I want to eat in Los Angeles since I moved back from Minnesota. This list keeps getting longer but that is not a bad thing. When I read about Honey Kettle Fried Chicken online a while ago, I immediately started to salivate. Rightly so… take a look:

I went to the Culver City location and let me tell you… the chicken was juicy and the crispy skin had the right mix of spices and grease. The biscuits were flaky on the outside and dense and heavy on the inside – just the way I like it. Best part is there are dispensers with warm honey and hot sauce. I will definitely be going back for more.

But across town near USC is a place called La Taquiza. It’s in this tiny corner strip mall and I probably wouldn’t have bothered to stop by if it wasn’t for my co-worker who said La Taquiza had something called mulitas that was the best thing ever. So we decided to hop in the car and check it out. When we got there, I ordered two – one with al pastor and one with carne asada… the al pastor was hands down the best. So what are mulitas? It’s this…

If a sope and quesadilla had a child, it would be the mulita. Two warm tortillas that have been heated on the grill snuggle the meat, melted cheese, fresh guacamole, tomatoes, and onions. I added some extra salsa to mine but it wasn’t necessary because the al pastor was well seasoned. OK, I’m getting hungry as I read this so I think I should skip to the next food stop.

Ever since I moved back to Los Angeles, my friends have been raving about Boiling Crab. And last week I was able to finally understand why. For those who have read the article in the New York Times talking about how the Vietnamese American community is carrying on cajun cooking know what I mean. I got to the restaurant early and felt foolish asking for a table of 10 but then I looked around and realized it was mostly large groups at the tables. When I looked at the menu and realized you ordered shrimp and crawfish by the pount, it was obvious why you would want to go in a large group.

Here’s a look at my dinner feast…

Shrimp by the bag! I admit I like the food at boiling crab but I was bothered by all the plastic they use in serving the food. Basically everything is served in a plastic bag.

We ordered some corn with garlic and butter but decided to put it in the bag with the shrimp so it could soak up the cajun spices.

This is a mix of salt, pepper, and freshly squeeze lemon juice – delish for dipping crab meat in and less messy than garlic butter.

As you can see, April was full of some good eats. I can’t wait to see what May will bring! Come on friends — where else should I eat? And will you come out and eat with me?