Spaghettini Celebrates 30 Years of Success

Laurie Sisneros and Cary Hardwick, the charming owners of Spaghettini, have a lot to celebrate. They’re a few months shy of 30 years in business, have unveiled a lovely alfresco seating area and released a book of Spaghettini’s recipes in collaboration with their accomplished Executive Chef, Victor Avila, called From Our Home to Yours. All in all they have a lot to be proud of.

Their new outdoor space focuses on comfort first and foremost. The surrounding greenery and abundant shade umbrellas enhance the calming experience. So guests can now take full advantage of warm Seal Beach afternoons and evenings.

We sampled Spaghettini’s brunch menu and were duly impressed by the deconstructed Wedge Salad which has a history dating back to 1916. Not only is it beautifully presented, the flavors and textures of crisp cool lettuce and juicy ripe tomato play exceptionally well against the smokey bacon and full bouquet of Blue Cheese Dressing.

For starters, the fresh and healthy ahi tuna tartare is a meaty and supremely satisfying powerhouse that melts in your mouth beside the crunch of oil brushed, toasted baguette slices.

Another winner included in the book, is the Pommery shrimp which is a perennial favorite that has been flying off the menu since the restaurants opening back in 1988. The secret recipes for Pommery Mustard Sauce and Garlic Butter are generously shared, so you can create this crowd pleaser at home for family and friends.

Heirloom tomato bruschetta, on page 18, starts with the highest quality tomatoes elevated by a mix of garlic, shallots, vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and fragrant basil.

Spaghetti and Meatballs is of course found here. It’s made from a recipe that accentuates the intensely porky flavor with lots of garlic, parmesan and onions.

For those looking for lighter fare, there is plenty to choose from including the Caramelized Salmon. Ginger and lemongrass incorporate a delicate Asian touch that aligns perfectly with the fatty fish. The crisp topping of  sweet potato strands add not only a burst of color but also a crunch that plays well against the brawny slab of heart-healthy salmon.

A combination of “Peas and Feta Cheese work exceptionally well together, especially if made with French Feta” according to Chef Avila, and we were tickled by this new commingling.

For a serious splurge, the Mac and Cheese is loaded with heavy cream , parmesan and gorgonzola and takes this childhood favorite to a very adult level.

The dessert section is loaded with house specialities and don’t miss the light, airy and supremely satisfying White Chocolate Cheesecake which we absolutely adore and would eat every day if we could.

2018 presents many great opportunities to celebrate life with a visit to Spaghettini for their world class Jazz and delightful California and Italian menu or a whirl around the kitchen under the excellent tutelage of From Our Home to Yours Cookbook. Enjoy the journey.

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Istanbul & Beyond Champions Uncharted Turkish Delights

Stunning, slice-of-Turkish-life photos by David Hagerman and recipes from remote regions of Turkey, are the focus of Robyn Eckhardt’s latest cookbook, Istanbul & Beyond. The two spent 18 months digging deep into “one of the most gastronomically complex countries anywhere”, as Robyn so eloquently states it. The diverse terrains combined with interactions with neighboring countries has produced a richness that can only evolve through centuries of experimentation with local ingredients.

The breath of the book is expansive and no single recipe defines the cuisine. We found it best to follow our whims through the dense contents. The purple basil cooler is a great place to start with its anise back-notes and cool, sweet refreshment. Robyn tips us off to the fact that alcohol enhancement produces a wonderful cocktail.

Turkish red pepper paste and flakes can be found piled high at almost every market in Turkey.  The liberal use of this important element of Turkish cooking requires chefs to decide on a preferred flavor profile from deep and smokey to fruity spicy and every combination in between. Red pepper flakes elevate the Spicy Egg Salad on page 260 to a dish that complements every meal or snack served throughout the day.

Do not miss Robyn’s green olive salad with pomegranate molasses, a pomegranate reduction, which can be found in middle eastern stores. The recipe is from Hatay in southeastern Turkey, which was just honored by UNESCO for its exceptional cuisine, and after tasting this salad we know why.

Frangrant Orange Cookies from page 75 are just that, and so addicting we are actually afraid to make a batch for fear of not being able to stop at just a few.

Istanbul and Beyond delightfully champions hidden treasure dishes that have made Gaziantep and Antakya cities of noteworthy gastronomy according to the United Nations Creative Cities Network. You are unlikely to find these gems in your local Turkish restaurants. So thank you Robyn for sharing these recipes that we hope to have the good fortune of tasting in Turkey, but until then we’re covered.

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Westside Thai With A Delightful Zest


Always on the lookout for a westside Thai fix similar to what we find in Thai Town, we visited Tuk Tuk Thai and were pleasantly surprised. Located on Pico near Robertson, the small eatery has been in business for 15 years and continues to innovate with a mix of traditional Thai and health conscious leanings.


The dining room is a bright and pleasant respite from the daily grind and LA traffic.


Starters include a crab roll which incorporates a melange of ground chicken, crab meat, carrot, cabbage and black mushroom into a won ton skin before deep frying to a crisp golden hue.


On the plate are lettuce leaves, carrot and mint which can be used to wrap the egg roll prior to dipping in the sweet accompanying sauce. This results in an exciting mix of cool against warm, sweet against savory and smooth interior against crunchy exterior.


The Thai curry dumplings are steamed and filled with scallop and shrimp that float in a luxurious green curry sauce.


These luscious bundles of well balanced ingredients provide an etherial experience.


One of our favorite dishes is the pula goong. The quintessential refreshing salad dresses grilled shrimp, grape tomatoes, dark greens, red and green onion, lemongrass, mint and kaffir lime leaves in a high-spirited, garlic and chili laced dressing that satisfies completely.


Don’t forget to check out the wall board of daily specials that list standouts as well as seasonal specialties. We are looking forward to their Valentines and Songkran (Thai New Year’s) offerings.


No Thai meal feels complete to us without a curry, and Tuk Tuk’s gaeng keow wan green curry is made with the protein of customers choice. We went with the tender white meat chicken, which basks in its curry bath alongside thai eggplant and an abundance of fragrant basil for a spicy, slightly sweet, creamy dish that is ideal over rice.


Health conscious guests will want to take a look at the seafood specialty section of the menu.


The pla rad prik is a crispy whole fish in a spicy, tomatoey, curry sauce topped with fresh chili and crispy thai basil.


Vibrant heat and a profusion of herbs complements the mild, white flesh of the pomfret.


They are more than happy to help dissect fish from bone or customers can have a go at it themselves. For those not wanting to fuss with their seafood, the pad ped tally sautés shrimp, scallops, calamari and white fish with fresh chili, lesser ginger, lime leaf, green peppercorn and thai basil for an ocean extravaganza that is both healthy and delicious.


A beer and wine license means Thai beer and soju based cocktails abound.


We prefer to end all our Thai dinners with the famous seasonal dessert, mango sticky rice. But when mango is out of season, our sweet tooth is quenched by an ultra creamy, coconut ice cream served atop sweet red bean and sprinkled with crushed roasted peanuts for a cool, smooth finish to the meal.


For westside Thai that stays true to the flavors, herbs and spice of the cuisine, a visit to Tuk Tuk Thai satisfies and saves time by relieving us of a rush hour trek to Hollywood’s Thai Town.

Tuk Tuk Thai, 8875 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone – 310-860-1872          web site –

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Healthy Fast Food Wins Us Over Everytime


We have become completely aligned with the new fast food model, embracing the ease, abundant variety, freshness and speed through which our meal is assembled. PokiNometry falls squarely into this genre, with a thin sliver of a space at Hollywood and Highland that we saunter through before receiving our self-designed poke bowl.


The third floor of the entertainment center houses the outdoor food court called The Deck, and those tables or booths provide customers of PokiNometry a space to chow down. Bad weather means we have to pack food to go, fortunately LA has mostly sunny, mild days.


The protocol is simple. First chose your bowl size and your base. We opted for a large bowl with half and half, brown rice and deep greens.


Then come the add ons which are unlimited and included in the price, except for the faux crab meat and avocado which after the first scoop are $1.50 for each additional helping.


We found the scoops included to be just the right amount, but we can’t slight anyone for wanting more avocado.


Next we chose our fish. The large bowl incorporates 5 scoops of any combination of seafood desired.


After asking about the freshest available that day, we opted for tuna, albacore, yellow tail and two scoops of mashed tuna. The cooked shrimp adds a different consistency so we kept the bowl strictly raw to retain a uniformity of texture.


At Station 4 we got to choose our sauces and since we like it hot we let them know.


Sauces can be added directly to the bowl or served in to go cups for those wanting to add as they consume. We requested the spicy, original Nometry sauce and a couple of cups of spicy mayo and miso just in case.


The last decisions to be made are about the toppings, again unlimited. We went heavy on the green onion and ginger plus requested extra cups of pickled ginger because we adore the flavor.


Our alluring bowl was delivered to us exactly how we like it, quickly, efficiently and by a staff that couldn’t have been nicer.


Drinks and miso soup are also on the menu for an additional charge.


We found the bowls to be vibrant and enjoyable, with the large containing too much for one lunch, and they happily packed up the left overs to go. Validation at the visitor center kept parking at $2.00 for two hours, giving us a chance to browse a bit after lunch. When in Hollywood looking for a quick, easy and healthy meal, PokiNometry fits the bill swimmingly.

6801 Hollywood Boulevard, Suite 316, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Phone – 323-645-7730           web site –

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Inexpensive Sushi Stop


As sushi fans we are always looking for good sushi at affordable prices. We have been long time customers of Sushi Stop from back in the day when they had only one tiny outlet on Sawtelle.


They now have six, four of them on Sawtelle, one in Hollywood and another in Pasadena. We attribute their success to quality seafood and a $2.95 price point for most rolls.


A rich miso soup, at $1.60 a bowl, does not skimp on the miso. It’s a soothing, warm, velvety, healthy broth dotted with scallions, seaweed and a few tofu squares.


While the crunchy seaweed salad pops with the delightful essence of the ocean.


Besides the menu, there are specials listed on the wall with slightly higher prices.


A pen and order form list the offerings and we simply place check marks or the number of orders we want next to chosen dishes.


The seared peppered tuna is super fresh and meaty, seared at the very edge only.  We roll them up, capturing the onion and sesame seeds, then consume the little ponzu marinated packages.


Specialty rolls also come in at $2.95 per plate and we definitely have our favorites.


The dynamite roll conceals a California roll under baby scallops in a rich sauce  quickly broiled and presented still bubbling. The hot, creamy topping is a memorable contrast to the cool inside out crab and avocado roll underneath.


A shrimp tempura roll pairs crisp, batter encased shrimp with cucumber and avocado, then drizzles everything in sweet eel sauce.


Under the appetizer section are spicy albacore tartare, fried wonton skins with spicy tuna, avocado, onion slivers, sesame seeds and a serious splattering of spicy Sriracha mayo for one crunchy, smooth, spicy bite.


The Las Vegas roll is artistically playful, with eel and cucumber beneath spicy tuna and architecturally stunning fried lotus root wheels, smeared with eel sauce.  Another attractive and flavor packed combination.


Desserts also fall under the $2.95 price point making them a no brainer.


Being near UCLA, there is usually a wait at peak meal times, but we were seated immediately at 5 PM on Saturday night. Be aware that it is a cash only establishment, but with these prices the bill is usually manageable, plus there is an ATM on the premises. For affordable sushi in a lively environment, Sushi Stop is a great choice that we frequent when the mood strikes.


SushiStop, 2222 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90064
Phone – 310-479-1222           web site –


SushiStop, 2053 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Phone – 310-473-3999


SushiStop Izakaya, 2218 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90064
Phone – 310-479-1001


New Japan by SushiStop, 11283 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Phone – 310-477-0557


SushiStop, 5917 Franklin Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Phone – 323-468-2496


SushiStop, 58 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91101
Phone – 626-405-1518

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Imports, Selection And Live Seafood Abound In Asian Markets


Asian Markets are a joy to shop. We find so many exciting items that pique our curiosity and encourage us to dive right in. Shun Fat Market in Monterey Park is a prime example of what we love best about foreign supermarkets.


First and foremost the seafood section has a fantastic selection of live, fresh and frozen fish.


Clean tanks display live fish and shellfish, including oysters and clams.


Prices are very reasonable on a wide variety of seafood.


We love the expansion of unusual offerings, including frozen durian, the king of fruit.


A butchers counter offers meat at minuscule prices.


While coffee and tea lovers have long aisles full of options, sometimes with coffee, milk and tea all in the same package.


And what is a great coffee or tea break without an extensive selection of exotic cookies to serve alongside.


We can always find our birds nest drink, a health supplement according to ancient Chinese medicine.


And tons of noodles,


to complete any cuisine or recipe.


The produce section offers choices we simply cannot find in traditional markets, including cases of sweet young coconut at $9.99 for a case of 9.


Rice bagged for serious consumption is the standard.


Small shops offering jewelry, sweets, snacks, clothes, sunglasses and household goods make a final attempt to fulfill customers needs as they make their way to the parking lot.


We appreciate Asian markets for carrying everything we need and want. They also extend what is accessible to us to include imported Asian goods that expand our palate, kitchen ware and view of our small planet in exciting and interactive ways.

Shun Fat Supermarket, 421 North Atlantic Boulevard, Monterey Park, CA 91754
Phone – 626-308-3998          web site –


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Our Dream Fish Market


We love fish and are always looking for the freshest fish markets.  We think we have found a winner in Seafood Paradise.


We were thrilled with the colorful Sea Worldesk tanks which are pristinely clean and loaded with lively fish and shellfish.


Beautiful shelled creatures lounge under fountains of crystal clear cascading waters.


The infinity pool concept abounds along the western wall, constantly circulating and purifying the watery enclosures.


What looked to us like very happy shrimp and oysters do what they do best in their spotless homes.


We also love the prices and saw such as Maine lobster for $9.99 a pound and Dungeness crab at $12.99 a pound.


If exotic is your thing, sea snails are abundant.


As are live frogs at $4.99 a piece.


Besides the numerous tanks with live sea creatures they also feature fresh seafood on ice.


All looking bright eyed and ready to go these beauties were also well priced.


Eel and squid glisten, packed on ice and ready to become part of our favorite Asian recipes.


A tiny produce section carries some essentials to enhance the fish dishes. All in all we found Seafood Paradise to be immaculately clean, with beautiful live and fresh on ice seafood. They are happy to take care of the challenging task of dispatching our super fresh dinner which we greatly appreciate, and they do it all with prices that make the drive out to Rosemead a no brainer.


Seafood Paradise Fish Market, 8955 East Garvey Avenue, Rosemead, CA 91770
Phone – 626-288-2088

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We’re Addicted to Poki


The poki/poke craze has hit hard and we think the more fresh sashimi bowls the better.


This miraculous dish of sushi rice, raw fish chunks, vegetables and seasoning sauces are a hybrid of Hawaiian, Japanese and American influences that meld into one delicious and filling meal.


There are four steps at Pokiholic. First decide how many scoops of fish are needed, chose a base from rice to salad to nachos or any combination that pleases. Step two involves choosing the seafood from eleven raw and cooked offerings. Step three is spice level from hot to not. And the final step four entails a yea or nay to a wide array of toppings and sides added to your bowl at no extra charge.


The assembly line of ingredients are all refrigerated and the process moves faster than one would guess for such a detailed endeavor.


Yes, we would like a sushi rice and lettuce mix, with 5 scoops of fish. Spicy tuna (two scoops), yellowtail, ahi and seared garlic albacore please. Spicy! Avocado, cilantro, white onion, cucumber, jalapeño, green onion, seaweed salad, sesame seeds, spicy mayo, wasabi and ginger, thank you.


The ingredients are cold from the refrigerated case and shine with super freshness. Tossing the “salad” creates a creamy, spicy, chunky, ocean kissed, textural extravaganza that was big enough to serve two. Hot Sriracha found on the table can be added if it’s still not picante enough.


For high quality poke/poki bowls made with super fresh sashimi and a huge array of free add ons, all crafted to customers preferences, we strongly recommend a visit to Pokiholic to get your raw fish fix.


Pokiholic, 2201 South Atlantic Boulevard, Monterey Park, CA 91754
Phone – 323-268-5988

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Chinese Dim Sum Parlor Pleasures


We checked out the bustling, mega dim sum parlor known as Atlantic Seafood in Monterey Park and we’re amazed with the ease, grace, precision and tasty bites we found.  A long line out front on Sunday morning resulted in a 15 minute wait, so don’t be put off by the crowds, they are an indication of the quality and tasty food available inside.


Dim Sum means “to touch the heart” and these little snacks have been a staple of Cantonese cuisine for thousands of years. Although the origins are unclear, dim sum was definitely a part of tea house culture provided to travelers along the Silk Road. Today, Atlantic Seafood brings the tradition to the San Gabriel Valley at the price of $2.58 per order on holidays and weekends from 9 AM to 3 PM.  There is also a per person charge of $1.18 for tea and sauces, a small price to pay for the spectacle and on demand plates provided.


During our brief wait we enjoyed the fish tanks at the entrance that are illuminated in blue light and showcase the fresh seafood available from the menu.  When our number was called we followed a black suited employee to our table in the lively dining room.


Warming carts, manned by servers wearing sneeze guards, are piled high with metal containers containing dumplings, stuffed buns, steamed dishes and Chinese specialties. Customers are offered a glimpse into the canisters to decided if they are desirable and then choose those they prefer. Seafood, chicken, vegetable and pork bites are presented in groups of three or four, so it’s always a great idea to enjoy dim sum with larger groups of people, allowing more variety to be sampled from the scores of dishes being pushed around the room.


Open trays also circle laden with fried dishes, desserts and items that don’t fit inside the metal warming boxes.


We definitely have our favorites and also love to try new things which is why dim sum brunches make us exceptionally joyful.  We started with a scallop and shrimp dumpling in a rice paper wrapper that is delicately steamed to keep the juicy flavors at their peak.


Dim sum parlors are often judged by the quality of their hair gow, the translucently thin skinned, shrimp stuffed dumplings. Atlantic’s sweet shrimp were a testament to the quality of the seafood and skill of the kitchen staff.


Shumai, are open dumplings of shrimp, pork and vegetables, and these succulent beauties are two bite wonders.


Spicy chili oil is available on request, while little cups of hot mustard and Sriracha sauce are laid on the table to dip the dim sum if desired. Hot tea can be requested in a number of brews including jasmine, oolong, and crysthanamum.

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We sampled a seafood stuffed, fried tofu dish that combines wonderful textures and tastes.


And the sugared pastry encased “chicken pot pie” is a inspired mix of sweet and savory.


Shrimp egg rolls come with their own special dipping sauce.


While the stuffed, fried eggplant are crisp on the outside and warm, meaty goodness inside that floats in a savory sauce.


We fell in love with the coconut filled pasty dessert and will definitely be looking forward to lots more of these in our future.


For a traditional, hectic Hong Kong style dim sum experience with high quality little plates, Atlantic Seafood is the spot to get your southern Chinese fix.


Atlantic Seafood & Dim Sum Restaurant, 500 North Atlantic Boulevard, Suite 200, Monterey Park, CA 91754                                               Phone – 626-872-0388          web site –




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Savoring Fresh, Organic, Slow Food At Slow Fish


We recently had the pleasure of savoring slow food during our dining experience at Slow Fish.  We throughly enjoyed their commitment to uber-fresh, organic, blended Japanese, Korean and Italian cuisine.


The playfully elegant dining room is a relaxing setting to snuggle into for a tranquil and healthy meal.


Check out the board near the sushi bar for a list of daily special in addition to the extensive menu.


We began our Slow Fish repast with a sweet blue crab salad pairing the snap and fresh ocean taste of seaweed salad with not only blue crab, but also firm tofu squares drizzled in goma dressing.


The Slow Fish well rounded sushi menu, offers sushi and rolls that can be made with the super food, black rice or forbidden rice. This nutty flavored delicacy is lower in sugar and higher in fiber, antioxidants and mineral content than both white and brown rice, adding beauty and health benefits to our meal.


We dove into their meaty seared ahi tuna carpaccio. The fish is enhanced by a blanket of sour onion and sweet pickled lotus root and radish, adding a crunch to the tender, succulent red slices marinating in a lemon juice spiked dressing.


The Korean halibut carpaccio starts with a sharp, radish sprout bite, then pickled capers add tang to the slight spicy dance on the tongue before being calmed by parmesan shavings.


We can’t say enough good things about the salmon with sweet, cool, juicy mango and creamy avocado.  It’s finished with a sprinkling of sea salt kicking the fruit and bright pink sashimi into the highest levels of pleasure and enjoyment.


Thick slices of albacore are first seared before being doused in a citrus and mustard ponzu and then topped with radish sprouts and sliced green onion, creating a sweet tart experience with the melt in your mouth fish slabs.


The gangster wrap is tuna and cucumber stuffed into a soy paper wrapper with no rice, so nothing takes away from the freshness delivered. A dip in the small side dish of spicy sauce and a squeeze of lemon juice, serves to enhance and highlight the roll even further.  This is one tasty gangster wrap.


The menu is loaded with small plates of salad, vegetable and fish dishes to share.


Besides being a beautiful architectural structure, the fat avo is also mouthwatering seasoned albacore tuna in a woven avocado embrace, atop a sweet, sticky puddle of unagi sauce and a goma character of smooth sesame richness.


The tuna tostada starts with crispy fried wonton skins and tops them with a refreshing salad of aji tuna and juicy tomato chunks tossed in a spicy dressing. We could eat this tuna salad all day long in a myriad of ways and be exceptionally happy campers.


Slow Fish has an eclectic lunch menu to entice the foodie in all of us at prices that satisfy our wallets as much as our palates.


We couldn’t leave without a solid helping of black rice under miso cream sauce concealing mushrooms and a delicate filet of halibut. The saltiness of the miso is balanced by the rich creamy Japanese/Italian melding that all soaks into the forbidden rice and is impossible to stop eating. Small bundles of pickled jalapeño and onion cut through the richness and add a jolt of tartness and heat to the mix.  An explosion of flavors, textures and temperatures all add up to one remarkable entree.


For an immersion into fresh, organic, healthy Asian fusion, Slow Fish brings a variety of tastes that are unique and exciting in their presentation and flavor profile, which makes us wonder why we would ever eat anything but slow food.


Slow Fish, 5406 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone – 323-930-0170          web site –


Slow Fish, 16051 Bolsa Chica Street, Huntington Beach, CA 92649
Phone – 714-846-6951

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