Mizu 212 (Organic Shabu Shabu)

Mizu 212 is one of my favorite Shabu Shabu restaurants to eat at on the westside of Los Angeles.  Purists may argue it’s authenticity because it’s Korean-owned, but what I like about MIzu 212 is it’s food consciousness.  Most of their food items are organic and locally grown.  They have a “Vintage natural beef” option which you pay more for but the beef is hormone and antibiotic free from whole-grain fed cattle.  They also offer free-range buffalo, chicken, kobe wagyu beef, black pork and lamb as other meat options.

Their seafood is also hormone and antibiotic free, not genetically modified and sustainably harvested.  For gluten-free individuals, they serve udon and harusame noodles which are both wheat-free.  You also have the option to order brown or white rice with your meal.  With the vegetables you also have the choice to order vegetables that are organically grown!

They have regular USDA approved beef served at this restaurant but they also provide you with the option to choose a healthier alternative with every ingredient (of course with a higher price).  But that to me, is what makes Mizu 212 different.  Sure it costs more to eat organically, but I would rather pay for more to maintain my health now in order to avoid expensive medical bills, hospitalization and medication later.  Here’s to great, healthy eating!


Larchmont Bungalow

With lines that go out the door on any given weekend, Larchmont Bungalow is one of Los Angeles’ well-known breakfast/brunch spots. When near the Mid-Wilshire, Larchmont, Koreatown district, I like to meet up with friends here and introduce them to their red and blue velvet pancakes (pictured above).  This is one of Larchmont Bungalow’s breakfast specialties that are definitely worth trying.

As mentioned in previous entries, I’m definitely an eggs benedict girl when it comes to breakfast and Larchmont Bungalow has an array of interesting options to choose from in this department.  Pictured above are the Lobster Crab Cakes which were cooked just right and I was able to devour in one sitting.  Oh so good!

The setting is nice and cozy.  It’s like you’re eating in a big house with several rooms to choose from and a nice breeze flows through the open rooms as you eat.  The layout does not make you feel like you have to talk over another table’s conversation and there’s enough room to give you the personal space that you need.  It’s a perfect place for groups, children young and old, and the clientele is mostly local and diverse.

If you’re ever in the area and looking for a nice breakfast spot, definitely put Larchmont Bungalow on your list of breakfast/brunch places to choose from.  They don’t have alcohol, which takes out the mimosa option (a little bit of a bummer), but there are an array of yummy breakfast options to choose from.

Ibex Ethiopian Restaurant

When it came to Ethiopian food, Merkato would be my “go to” restaurant in Little Ethiopia off of Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles.  That is until I discovered Ibex Ethiopian Restaurant.  This was another discovery that surfaced from the short-time period when I was working in Inglewood.

Ibex Ethiopian Restaurant is located off of La Brea Avenue between Centinela and Florence.  It’s easy to miss because it’s a small “hole-in-the-wall” type of restaurant that seems to be more popular amongst the locals.  I passed it on my first journey there but once I found it, little did I know that I was in for a treat.  I ordered my usual: the vegetarian plate with the fried fish on the side and since I knew I had to return to work, I also ordered Ethiopian coffee.  The coffee was pretty strong and kept me up for the rest of the workday, but the vegetarian plate and the fish in my opinion, exceeded my expectations.  It was more flavorful than my usual order from Merkato and I thought to myself, “this must be what good Ethiopian food really tastes like”.  I had no idea that I would discover a good Ethiopian Restaurant outside of Little Ethiopia, but this place really has an authentic feel not only in the food but also in the comfortable atmosphere.  

Take away the decor and the flashiness that Little Ethiopian restaurants can bring and find the true essence of Ethiopian cuisine at Ibex Ethiopian Restaurant.  The closest thing that I could associate to this place was an Ethiopian Restaurant that I ate at in Washington D.C. but I’m glad that I discovered something just as good in Los Angeles.  If only they had the honey wine now that they sell at Merkato, that would give it a solid yelp 5 star in my book =)


Sage Organic Vegan Bistro

Sage is a “hit” or “miss” for folks.  I think it’s a “hit” while I know others who think it’s a “miss”.  I like to order their root vegetable tacos, their gluten-free coconut curry, gluten-free vegetarian pesto bowl and their “go green” (pictured above).  I also like Sage due to the proximity to where I live.  If I wanted, I could walk there which is an added bonus for my health.  It’s definitely a “hipster”, Echo Park place to dine at but in the end, they have a wide-variety of dishes that are ultimately healthy and good for you.

Kind Kreme is their ice cream section that is also organic, raw and vegan.  There is no dairy involved in their ice cream.  It is a great way to end your meal here at Sage.

If you’re on the vegan/vegetarian/organic tip, give Sage a shot.  I’d love to toast a “go green” to your health =)


L & E Oyster Bar

My boyfriend LOVES oysters so this place was a no brainer for his birthday.  We came across this place hanging out at Lamill Coffee one night and as we exited towards the street, there it was!  I told him, “I’m going to take you there someday” and locked it in my brain.  When his birthday came around, I knew I had the perfect treat =)

I consulted some other foodie friends of mine for guidance on what to order at this place.  They had recommended the oyster po’ boy sandwich (although I must say, I still am a fan of the one from Little Dom’s), but this one is a good alternative.  The daily dozen was also recommended so we picked that too.  Man, that was good!  Fresh raw oysters with three different marinades…AMAZING!  There were 4 oysters each from 3 different regions, so you are given a chance to compare the different oysters that come from various regions all from the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans.  It’s quite a fun experience.  Mind you that was the first part of the meal, the sandwich and the clam chowder that I ordered (with pieces of bacon), hadn’t come yet.  We split the meal of course, and it was plenty for two people.  I had to order a complimentary glass of sauvignon blanc to cleanse my palette after a few bites.  The clam chowder was also incredible.  There is still more on their menu that I would like to explore for another time. 

It is on the higher range in terms of price, but for the average person, a once in a while splurge to treat your stomach to some oysters is not a bad thing to consider.  Street parking is available as well but try to plan for a weekday dinner, for a calmer ambiance.  You could always grab a cup of coffee from Lamill after you’re done and call it a day.  


Yuko Kitchen

Yuko Kitchen was one of those “Yelp” discoveries. Just like “Bon Juk”.

We were craving Japanese food and were looking for something in closer proximity to us than Little Tokyo or Little Osaka.  That’s how we decided to try “Yuko Kitchen”.  They seemed to have great reviews.  Although Yelp could still be a hit or miss at times, they were on point in my opinion with Yuko Kitchen.  

I went for the spicy tuna bowl and the mint lemonade (pictured above) and it was DELICIOUS!  I felt very healthy eating the spicy tuna bowl as it felt like for the first time in a long time there were actually more vegetables in the bowl rather than rice.  My friend ordered the apple mint lemonade rather than the regular mint lemonade and I actually liked that one better although I’m sure that it depends on your preference. The venue is very cute, in my opinion.  I was sold once I saw Cryptik stickers, “Spirited Away” on their TV monitor and heard house music playing in the background.  Too many of the same things that I love combined in one place.  The waitresses are young, cute Japanese girls that remind me of the restaurants in Japan.  There are so many good things to say about this place, in general.

If you catch yourself looking for a Japanese dining option near LACMA and don’t want any food from the food trucks parked on Wilshire, you could always give Yuko Kitchen a try. You never know it may not be your last visit but the beginning of a new foodie relationship :)


Bon Juk

When Asians are sick, the automatic go-to food is porridge.  We all have different versions of it too.  Japanese and Chinese people have their stylized porridges, Filipinos have arroz caldo and Koreans have juk.  But if you’re like me when you’re sick and don’t have the energy or will power to make yourself a warm pot of porridge or chicken soup, you’re going to want to find a place that already makes it for you.  To me, Bon Juk is that place.

I discovered Bon Juk on a whim.  I was craving porridge because I felt myself coming down with something so I “Googled” porridge one evening while at a cafe in Koreatown and that’s how I discovered Bon Juk.  

I was extremely impressed by their packaging for “to go” orders, the complimentary banchan/side orders (ex. kimchi, daikon, etc.) that accompany your meal and also the wide variety of juk that they offered from chicken to salmon, mushroom and oyster, seafood, abalone, pumpkin and more.  Some of them contain ginseng and other nutritious ingredients to help you heal or maintain your health.  They don’t use any styrofoam in their packaging so you could reuse the tupperware that they serve your juk in or recycle all the items, all the same.

The next time your ill, have no fear, Bon Juk is here, located in Koreatown next to BCD Tofu on Wilshire between Ardmore and Kingsley.  They also have locations in Fullerton and Garden Grove.  

Pho Cafe, a.k.a. “2841”

“Pho Cafe”, or “2841” (because the restaurant has never had a sign since it has opened), is what my friend calls “the hipster pho spot”.  Yes, it’s located in Silverlake, a.k.a. “Hipsterville”, but I think it’s pretty legit considering that the majority of the people that work there are still Vietnamese, from the waiters to the chef.  The positive spin on this place is that the ingredients are organic from the chicken to the vegetables and they are veggie-friendly with vegetarian pho options, vermicelli and even vegetarian spring rolls.  

My favorites are the #4 (vegetarian spring rolls), #5 (vietnamese crepe, they also have a vegetarian version of this but I don’t eat veggie all the time), #13 (chicken pho, pictured above) and #17 (vermacelli mixture w/out soup).  I usually order the #13 in the winter and the #17 in the summer.  Their homemade limeade is another favorite of mine and if you’re in the mood for beer, there’s a variety of to choose from.

Next time you’re in “Hipsterville”, give “Pho Cafe/2841” a try.  The downside could be the parking and/or the wait depending on when you go because the venue is pretty small and intimate but who could say no to “organic” pho.