More Fun Recipes!

More Fun Recipes (and Food Infographics)!

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Here are collected recipes from my hard drive.

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Gazpacho (makes 6 servings – about 1 1/4 cups each)

Ingredients:
1 cup finely chopped unpared cucumber
1 avocado, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
1 quart tomato juice
2 tblsp olive oil
Sour Cream

Directions:
1. Place cucumber, avocado, onion, salt, oregano and vinegar in large pitcher or serving bowl. Pour tomato juice over vegetable mixture; stir gently. Cover; refrigerate 2 to 3 hours.
2. Stir olive oil into juice mixture just before serving. Top with a dollop of sour cream.

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Chipotle’s Guacamole Recipe:

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JoshWillTravel’s Easy Fresh Made Guacamole

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JoshWillTravel’s Easy Fresh Made Guacamole

Ingredients:
1 large or 2 small ripe avocados. Skined and deseeded. (Save the pit!)
finely chopped onion (white, yellow or red, a thin slice diced)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder (or 2 chrushed/chopped garlic cloves)
1/2 tsp ground cumin (adjust amount to taste)
1/2 tsp cayenne power (adjust amount to taste)
dash of red pepper flakes (to taste)
2 dashes of lime juice (fresh or bottled, to taste)

Optional Ingredients:
small amount of finely chopped jalapeño pepper (fresh or canned, to taste)
small amount of finely chopped fresh cilantro or dried cilantro flakes (to taste)

NOTE: Adjust the amount of spices depending on the size/ripeness of the avocado, the amount of “HEAT” you like in your guacamole and the food you are serving it with.
Don’t hide the flavor of the avocado! And if you over-spice, just add more avocado.
We do not like a lot of cilantro! (and sometimes we don’t want any at all)
Use other spices to add “Heat” instead of cilantro if you agree.

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a small-medium size bowl.
Use the back side of a fork to crush and mix the avocado, onion and spices.
DO NOT OVER MIX! Guacamole should be slightly lumpy.
Chill in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes, serve in small bowls or as a garnish.
(to prevent “browning” place the unwashed pit in the bowl with the guacamole)

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JoshWillTravel’s Easy Fresh Made Guacamole (ingredients)

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VINTAGE RECIPES:

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OTHER RECIPES:

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Manny’s Artichoke Recipe

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Manny’s Artichoke Recipe (from Manny’s Bistro in Westwood and the Renaissance Faire)

Manny’s Churros (makes 18-20)

Ingredients:
Vegetable Oil
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup milk
2 tblsp butter (melted)
1/2 tsp vanilla
Powdered sugar

Directions:
1. Heat oil (1-1/2 to 2 inches) to 375 degrees in a 12-inch skillet or fry pan
2. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Beat eggs until thick and lemon-colored, about 5 minutes. Beat in granulated sugar gradually. Beat in flour mixture alternately with milk. Stir in butter and vanilla.
3. Fit a pastry tube with a large star tip.* Fill with dough. Squeeze dough into hot oil in 6-8 inch lengths, cutting off ends with a knife. Fry until golden brown, about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels; keep war. Repeat with remaining dough. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
*Tip: A cookie press with the star plate can be used in place of the pastry tube.


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Steak-On-A-Stake (makes 6 servings)
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Steak-On-A-Stake (makes 6 servings)

Ingredients:
1-1/2 pounds of beef loin sirloin steak, boneless, 3/4″ thick
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tblsp honey
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp sesame or vegetable oil
2 tblsp dry sherry
Pineapple chunks
Black olives

Directions:
1.  Cut meat into strips about 3/4 inch wide and 2 inches long; place in shallow baking dish. Mix remaining ingredients except pineapple and olives; pour over meat. Cover; refrigerate  and marinade 1 to 2 hours, (turn meat over in marinade at the 1/2 way point).

2. Remove beef strips from marinade. Thread on a 9 or 10 inch bamboo (or metal) skewers, using about 5 pieces of meat for each. Grill 4 inches from medium-hot coals until meat is browned, 3 to 5 minutes on each side (or broil in oven 3-4 minutes on each side)

If desired, baste with separate marinade mix (do not use marinade used for raw beef). Garnish with pineapple chunks and black olives.

TIP: Soak the bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before prepping the meat to prevent them from burning.

NOTE: We used a London Broil, cut it into chunks and broiled the meat 3-4 mins on each side instead of grilling for these pics.


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“Sticky Chicken” Dry Rub and Directions for Baked Chicken
(add flour and egg wash for a Baked “Fried Chicken”):

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Citrus Cuban Garlic Chicken (just like Versailles Restaurant’s)

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Baked Buffalo Wings
Bake at 400 degrees for 45 mins, dip in butter & sauce, bake another 45 mins
(use Frank’s Red Hot Sauce or your preferred brand):

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Orange Fruit Ice (makes about 3 pints before freezing)
or Strawberry, Lemon or any fruit flavor you wish!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup boiling water (CAUTION!)
3 cups orange juice (fresh squeezed is recommended)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp grated orange peel
Mint sprigs

Directions:
Dissolve sugar in water; cool. Stir in juices and grated peel. Pour mixture into freezer container or ice cream maker. Freeze until firm, stirring frequently. Serve in hollowed-out orange shell if desired.* Garnish with mint sprigs.
*Tip: The juice from the fresh oranges can be used as the juice in the recipe.
NOTE: For other fruits, use a blender/juicer/food processor and adjust the amount of sugar as necessary (less for berries, more for lemon).

Lemon Fruit Ice (makes about 3 pints before freezing)

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 cups boiling water (CAUTION)
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp grated lemon peel
Mint sprigs

Directions:
As above, use hollowed-out lemon shells if desired.


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“Fiesta” Ice Pops (makes 4 popsicles)

Ingredients:
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon/lime juice
2-inch knob of ginger, peeled and grated
Zest of 1 lime
1/2 cup honey-ginger simple syrup (recipe below)
1/2 cup water

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, stirring to combine.
Pour the mixture into ice pop molds and freeze.

Honey-Ginger Simple Syrup (makes about 2 cups)

Ingredients:
2 cups water
1 cup honey (or agave syrup)
6-inch knob of ginger, chopped

Directions:
In a small saucepan, combine water and honey (or agave syrup) on medium heat until the honey dissolves.  Add chopped ginger and simmer on very low heat for 20 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool slightly.  Strain and let cool completely to room temperature.
There will be usually be some syrup leftover. Cover and refrigerate for up to one week.

Homemade Ginger Ale

Ingredients:
1 cup club soda
3 Tbsp honey-ginger syrup
Ice

Directions:
Combine ingredients. Squeeze a lime over the top and enjoy!


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Marge’s CHOCOLATE CHIP PIE
(my friend Mark Teich’s Mom, pics below by Mark)

1. mix 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup flour
2. add 1 stick butter (melted and cooled a bit), 2 slightly beaten eggs,
1 cup semi -sweet chocolate chips and 1 tsp vanilla
3. pour into a unbaked pie shell
4. bake 1 hour at 325 (test with toothpick when done)
5. serve with whipped cream or cool whip (my fave)


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FOOD INFOGRAPHICS:

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Margaret’s Green Goddess Dressing:

Use equal parts of mayo and light sour cream, (about 1/3 cup each), add a few tablespoons of buttermilk, a TBLSP of lemon, 2 anchovies, 2 small garlic cloves, salt, pepper, about a TBLSP of parsley, it calls for a tsp of tarragon but Margaret prefers a tsp of dill. Mix it all in a food processor or blender, refrigerate and let chill for a couple of hrs to let flavors marry.


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Disney’s Secret Recipes
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Cooking With Kenny Rogers – DOLE Cookbook Recipes
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FUN COOKING RECIPES
https://joshwilltravel.wordpress.com/fun-cooking-recipes/

FUN COCKTAIL RECIPES
https://joshwilltravel.wordpress.com/cocktails/

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Memorial Day Weekend 2016

Memorial Day Weekend 2016

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USA! The United States of America!

Memorial Day: A Day of Remembrance!
Originally it was called Decoration Day. A day when Americans went to cemeteries and placed flags or flowers on the graves of the war dead. It was a day to remember ancestors, family members, and loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice and died in service for the United States of America. Waterloo, New York, was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, but over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of the holiday. Decoration Day was created during the Civil War to honor the dead. It was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic: “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years and many Americans have forgotten the meaning and traditions of the day. At many cemeteries, the graves of American war dead are increasingly ignored or neglected while backyard barbecues and a three day weekend are now the only celebration of the holiday.

FRIDAY

Our “three day weekend” began on Friday afternoon.

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Friday Lunchtime!

Lunchtime! Quesadilla with red pepper salsa, avocado, celery & carrots, persian cucumber, dill pickle, strawberries, blueberries, mango and an iced espresso

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Dinner with a friend at Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant in North Hollywood. We been here before and you can read about it (See our Previous Blog! Search Box: Mucho Mas^^^^^)

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Dinner at Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant in North Hollywood, California

On The Menu: 2 beef tacos, a cheese enchilada, Mexican rice, refried beans, a green salad with ranch dressing, fresh made tortilla chips & spicy salsa and a Dr Pepper.

DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!
Memorial Day Weekend in Los Angeles is a “Maximum Enforcement” period by local law enforcement to combat drunk driving. On our way to NoHo we saw LAPD Metro cops on motorcycles already patrolling the San Fernando Valley. Once again we were the designated driver, so we didn’t drink any alcohol before dinner or at the restaurant, so our friend could enjoy his beers and stay safe in North Hollywood.

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Neon Clown Drive-by at Circus Liquor in North Hollywood

SATURDAY

Chore Day! Laundry and Spring Cleaning! We spent most of the day trying to clean and get organized. We are on a mission to get rid of the clutter and stuff we don’t need.

We finished and posted a new Blog about the “Slugfest in Hollywood” on Tuesday: the Dixie Hollywood Hotel, Dinner at Susan Finegar’s Mud Hen Tavern and The Cure at the Hollywood Bowl”.

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Saturday Lunchtime!

Lunchtime! Sesame bagel with hummus and persian cucumber, dill pickle, avocado, carrots, celery, red grapes, blueberries and an iced espresso.

A beautiful sunset in the San Fernando Valley:

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Saturday Sunset in the SFV – San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, California

And a pretty boring Saturday night at home…

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Dinner: Enchilada Nachos!

Dinner: Enchilada Nachos! Used the leftover Mexican food from last night: cheese enchilada cut up with the rice and beans and then more cheese over tortilla chips with taco bell hot sauce. “Life is short, make it saucy!”

And we watched “The Intern” with Robert Deniro and Anne Hathaway on HBO. A cute film about a 70 year old retired business man (played by Deniro) who interns for a successful online women’s clothing company owned by a young, overworked woman with an adorable young child and a “stay at home” husband (played by Hathaway). The cast is rounded out by a crew of young, nerdy “Tech Bros” and Rene Russo as the company masseuse.

It’s really a romantic comedy without the romance between Deniro and Hathaway, adding Rene Russo as the hot, younger old person and love interest. It was a fun movie with a great cast, but the happy ending was kind of lacking in resolution and could have been much better! Deniro got to chew on the scenery and play a custom tailored part and that’s what he’s great at. Hathaway is a terrific actress, and this role mirrors her part in “The Devil Wears Prada” as a young and successful working woman conquering adversity.

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And we ate some Hot Tamales to better simulate the “movie theatre” experience.

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Hot Tamales!

We also did a little Periscope viewing too. We watched The Cure live from Washington and Steven Brody Stevens killing it and rockin’ comedy at the Improv on Melrose.

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FOLLOW Good Guy Steven Brody Stevens on Periscope and Twitter: @Brodyismefriend

And then we worked on laying out this Blog until we got tired and fell asleep.

SUNDAY

We slept in and then made breakfast/brunch.

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Sunday Breakfast – Bacon and Eggs!

Sunday Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with cheese & hot sauce, bacon, English muffins with peanut butter & raspberry jam, nectarine, orange juice and an iced espresso.

And we were going to do stuff today and then we turned on HBO and saw they were running a marathon of “The Pacific”, the under appreciated follow up to “Band of Brothers” in honor of Memorial Day. It’s a great period piece about World War II and the war against the Japanese. So, we didn’t watch all 10 hours, but we did watch…and worked.

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Hot Dogs! Sunday afternoon with the dogs in the backyard:

We were invited to go to the movies, but passed because we didn’t want to see the film and we hate going to the theatre on weekends or holidays because there are just too many people, and all it really takes is one person with a cell phone to ruin the experience for me. So, we stayed at the home office and someone brought me dinner!

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Sunday “To Go” Dinner delivered: Orange chicken, steamed rice, sautéed vegetables from The Cheesecake Factory and a Dr Pepper. Tasty “comfort” food makes me happy.

Sunday night “must see TV” on HBO: New episodes of “Game of Thrones”, “Silicon Valley” and a previously aired episode of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”

SPOILER ALERT! 

“Hold the door!” We waited all week for this episode of Game of Thrones. Last week’s episode “The Door” was excellent. And sad. And emotionally involving. And as always, there are so many story lines running that each episode feels incomplete…
And so, with great anticipation we waited and watched this week’s episode.

Do you think Hodor will return as a wight?

NOTE: “Silicon Valley” is “genius” humor.
This week’s episode was pretty great. Oh the Bachmanity!

MONDAY – It’s Memorial Day!

Grapefruit, coffee, leftover cold orange chicken for breakfast and then back to bed…

The annual “Band of Brothers” marathon on HBO was interrupted by a LIVE televised Memorial Day Holiday High Speed Pursuit at noon!

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“Band of Brothers” is a 2001 American war drama based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose’s 1993 non-fiction book. It is based on the true World War Two story of the men of Easy Company from the US Army 101st Airborne division who fought in Europe during the war.

NOTE: We’ve seen “Band of Brothers” in it’s entirety a couple of times. So when a social media alert was broadcast about another LIVE high speed pursuit in Los Angeles, we switched over and began watching the car chase.

Memorial Day Holiday LIVE Televised High Speed Pursuit:

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Memorial Day Holiday High Speed Pursuit in Southern California

The French Open was rained out so NBC stayed on the chase that started at about 10:30am… Stolen vehicle: a silver KIA Sorrento SUV with an “impaired” driver on surface streets in East Los Angeles. We picked up the pursuit at noon as the suspect got on the empty freeways and continued driving for almost 3 hours. NBC commentary was complete speculation and stupidity, so we switched over to ABC and then KCAL9 (our local CBS affiliate). Please just the facts, not ignorant newscaster’s uninformed opinions!

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Memorial Day Holiday High Speed Pursuit in Southern California

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Memorial Day Holiday High Speed Pursuit in Southern California

And Fox 11 had coverage too:

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Memorial Day Holiday High Speed Pursuit in Southern California

At 1pm, KCAL 9 and FOX both cut off their news coverage and returned to regular programming, so we switched back to ABC and NBC because KTLA 5 News didn’t pick up the chase at all for their one o’clock broadcast. And just after 1pm he ran out of gas on the 405 near the Long Beach Freeway, smoked some more meth in the car and then surrendered without further incident to the California Highway Patrol.

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Memorial Day Holiday High Speed Pursuit – 405 South near the Long Beach Fwy

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Memorial Day High Speed Pursuit – Suspect in Custody!

Just another holiday Monday in Los Angeles! And with the suspect in custody and the chase over at 1:30pm, it was time for lunch.

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Monday Lunchtime!

Monday Lunchtime! A bacon, lettuce and cheese sandwich on challah bread; dill pickle, celery, carrots, blueberries, red grapes and pineapple juice.

Afternoon CHILLIN’ in the backyard and more episodes of “Band of Brothers” while getting some work done in the office was how we spent the rest of the day.

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Monday Memorial Day Holiday Chillin’ on the Backyard Patio

We worked, we cleaned, we played with the dogs.

And then we got hungry and went to see what ingredients we had for dinner. We decided to make some pasta and did a little fancy cooking in the kitchen:

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Dinner on Monday: Spaghetti with garlic alfredo sauce, grilled chicken, stir-fried broccoli & sautéed onions and a coke.

Where did the three day weekend go? Mostly boring. We hope you had a good one!

REMEMBER THE FALLEN! Some gave all so you could BBQ in peace.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

All photos copyright 2015-2016 JoshWillTravel

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Here’s a better pic of the Circus Liquor’s Neon Clown in NoHo:

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Neon Clown at Circus Liquor in North Hollywood, California

Taco Tuesday! Dinner at El Torito Mexican Restaurant in Sherman Oaks

Taco Tuesday! Mexican food at El Torito in Sherman Oaks.

Thinking about chips and salsa! We hit up the El Torito Mexican Restaurant at Ventura blvd and Van Nuys blvd. There’s a parking lot that’s always full, valet parking and (TIP) street parking available. If you get lucky, you’ll find a parking space in the lot. If you’re smart you’ll find street parking at a meter on Ventura blvd, Moorpark street or Van Nuys blvd.

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Mexican Food at El Torito Restaurant in Sherman Oaks

Enter through the double doors and into the reception area. There’s a Taco Bar (and Lunch and Brunch) Buffet area and a hallway to the restrooms on the left. The Bar is ahead of you behind the hostess desk and the large dining room divided into three areas is to the right.

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Dinner at El Torito Mexican Restaurant in Sherman Oaks

The Bar is usually busy, and on Tuesdays it is really crowded because of the Taco Tuesday $1.99 Taco special (It used to be $1.00) and the Taco Bar spread which is only available in the Bar area. It’s also very loud with music and conversation, so we decided on the regular menu and a comfortable booth in a quiet corner of the center dining room.

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At the Bar at El Torito in Sherman Oaks

The Bar is pretty fun if you can find a seat. They have beer, wine and spirits. Usually there’s a tequila drink (margarita) on special or it’s “happy hour” and there’s always a game on the televisions and loud music playing.

Besides the Taco special and Taco Bar Buffet, they have a Bar Menu with appetizers and small plates and you can order off the regular menu in the Bar area as well.

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Taco Tuesday! The Taco Bar Buffet at El Torito in Sherman Oaks

I haven’t tried the lunch buffet or Saturday/Sunday brunch in a long time, but it’s a pretty good value and a they have a lot of different choices available. A Mexican food buffet is always pretty good! Tacos, burrito makings, fajitas, enchiladas, tamales, rice, beans, desserts, fruit, salads, soups, salsas and more; and then breakfast foods, menudo, juices and pastries for the weekend Brunch buffets.

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Center Dining Room at El Torito Mexican Restaurant in Sherman Oaks

The Dining Room is large and spacious, and divided into three areas. There are tables and large booths available. The menu is traditional Mexican (gringo-style) fare, but they recently upgraded the recipes and the food is very tasty and you get a lot of it!

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Mexican Food at El Torito in Sherman Oaks

Drinks from the Bar and all kinds of fun cocktails are available at your table too!

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Drinks on the Menu at El Torito in Sherman Oaks

On the Menu: Chips & salsa, Fiesta platter (nachos, beef flautas, chicken wings and a cheese quesadilla), Macho Combo (chicken burrito, beef taco, tamale & chile relleño with rice, beans and sweet corn cake) and a shot of Silver tequila with lime.

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Warm Tortilla Chips & Roasted Pepper Salsa

The chips are made fresh and served warm with roasted pepper salsa. They’ll make fresh guacamole at your table if you order it. They have a good selection of appetizers, entrees and ala carte items. Not so much on dessert, only deep fried ice cream, flan and a tres leches cake. Free refills on soda and most other beverages and more chips and salsa too.

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Silver Tequila Shot with Lime(s)

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Fiesta Platter! Nachos, Beef Flautas, Chicken Wings & a Cheese Quesadilla

I recommend the Fiesta Platter to start. Eat the nachos and chicken wings, take home the quesadilla and flautas. Then order a Macho Combo (your choice of four items) with rice, beans and sweet corn cake. Eat what you can and take home the rest for tomorrow.

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Macho Combo! Beef Taco, Tamale, Chicken Burrito, Chile Relleño, Rice & Beans

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Happy Birthday! Mexican Birthday Song at El Torito Restaurant!

It wasn’t my birthday, but the waitstaff came over and sang to the table next to ours so I got a nice picture. The service was excellent! I didn’t have to look around for our waiter because he was checking in with us regularly. When I finished the coke, he was right there asking “would you like a refill?”. Every request was handle promptly and the Manager even came by to ask how everything was.

The prices are reasonable. The Buffets and Specials are a pretty good value if you’re hungry and want to eat a lot of food. Drinks are also pretty reasonable and some of the drink specials are excellent! You get a lot of food and we even got a AAA discount on the check!

It was a very good meal and a pleasant dining experience. Good food and lot of it. The service was excellent and it wasn’t too expensive. A Very Happy Taco Tuesday!

El Torito Mexican RestaurantVentura Blvd (at Van Nuys Blvd) in Sherman Oaks

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El Torito Mexican Restaurant in Sherman Oaks

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Dinner at AYCE GOGI Korean BBQ in Van Nuys

Sunday Dinner at AYCE GOGI Korean BBQ Restaurant in Van Nuys, California

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AYCE stands for ALL YOU CAN EAT!

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Dinner at AYCE GOGI Korean BBQ Restaurant in Van Nuys

Literally, a HOLE IN THE WALL in Van Nuys, California! I was invited to dinner and just went along for the ride. And it was a fun ride! We arrived at AYCE GOGI Korean BBQ a little after 5pm and it was already crowded.

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As you enter the restaurant, there is an undecorated waiting area between the front door and the dining room proper. There are two benches, some beer signs and two pinball machines in the enclosed “waiting room”.

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Then as you pass through the second set of doors you enter a large dining room. The host desk is just inside. There are booths along the two side walls and long tables in the center. Even with the industrial fans overhead, the room was thick with smoke from the grills. We were told there was a 20 minute wait, so we decided to hang out, and then they seated us at the center of a long table after only 5 minutes.

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AYCE GOGI Korean BBQ Restaurant in Van Nuys – Booth or Table?

There was a salad, dishes with an assortment of appetizers and sauces placed on the table and waiting for us when we sat down. They took our drink order and left us to look at the menu (a single sheet in a plastic standee and a beer & wine list):

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AYCE GOGI Korean BBQ – On the Menu: ALL YOU CAN EAT!

On the Menu: All you can eat! Green salad, alfafa sprout appetizers, glass noodles, dumpling soup, beef bulgogi, spicy pork, beef kalbi, garlic beef, apple pork, pork ribs, lemon pepper chicken, steamed rice and a coke.

And then they give you a small frozen yogurt too…so full.

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Green Salad, Appetizers and Sauces

 

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Dumpling Soup, Steamed Rice and a Plate of Cooked Meat

 

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Glass Noodles (Mung Bean) with Vegetables

 

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Marinated Spicy Pork and Beef Bulgogi waiting to be cooked

I took some good pictures, but then the food started coming fast and furious! So, I had to focus on the food cooking on the grill while trying to eat the food on my plate, while having a conversation with my dinner companion, so the picture taking stopped.

NOTE: The dining room is very loud. There were a lot of people, they were playing music, the fans were relatively quiet but still noisy and there was a lot of action and food service happening. I wouldn’t recommend coming here for a quiet romantic dinner. This is a place that’s all about the food and the food is good. Everything else is “NO FRILLS” so don’t expect much more than a constant stream of raw marinated meats ready for grilling.

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“You cook it yourself!” Beef Kalbi Cooking on the Grill

We tried a lot of different meats and our favorites were the beef bulgogi, beef kalbi and the spicy pork, although everything we ate was pretty darn good.

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Spicy Pork and Pork Ribs Cooking on the Grill

 

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Steamed Rice, Alfalfa Sprout Appetizer and 3 Kinds of Meat

Too Much Food! Meat Coma… so full!

Well, we went for it! And it was a good dinner. The service was good, the food was good and certainly plentiful, and we enjoyed our dining experience very much. I would definitely go back again.

The All You Can Eat Dinner is priced at $22.95 per person after 3pm (NOTE: “If any member of a party is ordering AYCE, all members must also order AYCE”) and it’s worth it if you’re hungry and want a lot of meat. I’m pretty sure we both got our money’s worth! They also have beer, wine and sake, as well as a selection of other beverages. They have Lunch for $17.95 and there’s also an express lunch priced at $12.95 served between 11am – 3pm.

AYCE GOGI Korean BBQ7128 Van Nuys blvd Van Nuys, CA 818-465-3050 http://www.aycegogi.com

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Tokyo Sushi – Dinner in San Jose, California

Tokyo Sushi – Dinner in San Jose, California

Road trippin’ back down to Los Angeles, I arrived in San Jose at dinner time. My friends were still at the graduation ceremony, so I found a shopping plaza with many kinds of asian cuisine restaurants and went looking for food.

Tokyo Sushi in San Jose, California

Tokyo Sushi in San Jose, California

There was Pho, Hot Pots, Hot Wings, Chinese, Thai, and “Tokyo Sushi”. I settled on sushi, and sat at the sushi bar. I ordered a three item Bento Box dinner with teriyaki chicken, tempura mix (shrimp & vegetables), and a California roll. I also added a spicy tuna cut roll, and 2 orders of nigiri sushi (salmon and albacore). The dinner included miso soup, green salad, rice, a pot sticker and fruit. They brought me teriyaki salmon by mistake, so I let them take it back, and they brought me chicken.

Tokyo Sushi - San Jose, CA

Tokyo Sushi – 3 item Bento Box with teriyaki salmon, tempura mix & California roll

Tokyo Sushi - San Jose, CA

Tokyo Sushi – Sushi! Spicy tuna cut roll, salmon and albacore sushi

Tokyo Sushi - San Jose, CA

Tokyo Sushi – Spicy tuna cut roll, salmon and albacore sushi

Tokyo Sushi in San Jose, California

Tokyo Sushi in San Jose, California

The Golden State Warriors were playing basketball and the game was televised, so the restaurant was almost empty. I was alone at the sushi bar for the entire time I was there. The food was good, if not great and I really enjoyed the tempura. The damage was only $40 (with tip included) and I took most of the chicken teriyaki and cut rolls with me and shared the food with my friends at the graduation party later.

The Graduation Party in San Jose

The Graduation Party in San Jose later!

All photos copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel.

Tokyo Sushi1715 Lundy Ave #156 San Jose, CA 

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Thai Food at Sri Siam Cafe in North Hollywood

Thai Food! 

First time dining at the Sri Siam Cafe, a “Hole in the Wall” Thai Food restaurant in a mini-mall on the corner of Coldwater Cyn and Vanowen in North Hollywood. Everything was stellar! The portions were large and the prices were very reasonable. Each dish was done just right, super tasty and delicious. I give this establishment a big thumbs up!

On The Menu: Crispy rice salad (lettuce wraps), chicken satay with peanut sauce, cucumber salad and toast, yellow curry with duck, shrimp & egg pancakes, crispy spicy trout and a Thai iced tea with no cream.

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Sri Siam Cafe Thai Food

Sri Siam Cafe Thai Food

Crispy Rice Salad (Lettuce Wraps)

Crispy Rice Salad (Lettuce Wraps)*

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce, Cucumber Salad and Toast

Chicken Satay w/Peanut Sauce, Cucumber Salad & Toast

Yellow Curry with Duck

Yellow Curry with Duck

Shrimp & Egg Pancakes

Shrimp & Egg Pancakes

Crispy Spicy Trout

Crispy Spicy Trout

Sri Siam Cafe – 12843 Vanowen St (at Coldwater Cyn) North Hollywood, CA 91605
(818) 982-6262

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UPDATE Saturday March 26, 2016:

Dinner at Sri Siam Cafe last night was terrific! The food was great, we’ve been back a few times now, and this time I brought a friend.

ON THE MENU: Thai food! Chicken satay with peanut sauce and cucumber salad, crispy fried rice salad, fried calamari and a Thai ice tea (no cream)

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UPDATED Sunday February 19, 2017

We had a very nice dinner party at Sri Siam Cafe on Friday night:

On The Menu: Crispy rice with pork, beef panang and steamed rice, chicken satay with cucumber salad and toast, pad Thai noodles with chicken, green curry chicken, tom kai soup and a Thai iced tea (no cream). There were three other dishes that I didn’t eat and we cancelled two other dishes that they didn’t bring. So much food, so full.

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Dinner at Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise Encino

Dinner at Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise Encino

We were going for dinner tonight at Sushi Hirosuke and instead found this sad news taped to the door:

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Sad News! Sushi Hirosuke RIP (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

My friend Hiro, the sushi chef, opened this place in the early 90s and we used to have dinner here twice a week. He sold it to a nice couple who ran it for a long time. It was a good place, not great, but it was reasonably priced, local, and always good enough.

My friend Hiro-san now owns the amazingly awesome Sushi Ichiban Kan in Tarzana (you can read about it and see the pictures in my previous blogs).

There’s a lot of sushi competition in the neighborhood! On Ventura Boulevard, between Sepulveda and Reseda, there are more than fourteen sushi restaurants: Katsu-ya, Midori, Yamato, Benihana’s, Okamura, Cho Cho San, Dancing Wasabi, Octopus, Four on Six, Sushi Ajito, Crazy Tokyo, Sushi Tsune, Makoto, and our new destination for dinner Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise Encino.

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise Encino (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Upstairs in the mall where they shot “The 40 Year Old Virgin” is a new Japanese restaurant. I had heard nice things about it, but this was my very first time dining there. Ride the escalator or elevator to the third floor, enter the restaurant and enjoy the asian food and drink experience.

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

The Bar of Tokyo at Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise has a great selection of sake and a full bar! They have a Happy Hour menu and specials from 3-6:30pm and after 10:30pm.

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Bar of Tokyo (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Bar of Tokyo (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Bar of Tokyo (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Bar of Tokyo: Great Selection of Sake!(copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Bar of Tokyo: Beers on draft. (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Restaurant!

Tuesday at 7pm, the place was empty. When you enter through the restaurant you are greeted at the Host Desk by the Giant Face seen below.  There’s a glass enclosed covered patio with a nice view of Ventura Blvd, the Sushi Bar area and a Dining Room area. We sat inside in a booth, which was too low for the table, wasn’t very comfortable for my back, and felt very cramped and claustrophobic. I did have a view of the glass enclosed kitchen, but could only see the grill from where I was seated. 

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Welcome!  (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Sushi Bar (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Sushi Bar (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Patio Dining (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

 

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Kitchen & Grill enclosed in glass (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

It’s a very pretty restaurant, done in very modern Japanese design. We were seated, greeted and provided with drinks while we perused the menu and decided on our food choices. They have a massive menu with sushi, salads, rolls, entrees, sides, and desserts….and it’s very confusing. They also have an ala carte sushi and sushi roll menu and a yakitori menu with all kinds of traditional (chicken, beef, vegetables) and weird things (intestines, livers, and other parts) grilled on a skewer. Mark those menus with a pencil.

The prices are VERY REASONABLE!!! You can eat a lot of different things, share them, try stuff you might never try if you feel adventurous, and just have a really big meal Japanese meal for a good price. The drink prices are also GREAT!

ON THE MENU: hot sake, cucumber with sesame sunomono, grilled shishito pepper, avocado & negitoro (spicy tuna), fried calamari, spicy tuna roll, Wisconsin roll (salmon and crab), sushi – salmon, yellowtail and albacore, potstickers, chicken meatball and pork kalbi skewers and an iced green tea. We also ordered the live Uni pasta, roasted eggplant side, and a big Spicy Tuna and Rice bowl (we asked for brown rice, but got steamed white rice instead).

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Hot Sake! Large size! (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

 

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Cucumber with sesame sunomo (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – grilled shishito peppers (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – avocado and negitoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – fried calamari (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – chicken meatball and pork kalbi skewers (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – potstickers (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

 

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Wisconsin roll: salmon over crab (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – spicy tuna roll (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Sushi! Salmon, yellowtail and albacore. (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Everything was good! The fish was good quality, fresh and tasty. The cooked stuff was also done right. The fried calamari was excellent! I also enjoyed the spicy tuna dishes quite a bit. The avocado and negitoro was a good choice. Next time I’ll have the pork kalbi salted instead of sauced and forget about the cucumber and sesame sunomono.

They’re open late weeknights, and really late on Fridays and Saturdays, so I might have to go back soon….

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Enjoying my dinner! Tasty Japanese Goodness! (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

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Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Into the Sunset on Ventura Boulevard…Time to Blog This. (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise – 17401 Ventura Blvd., B21, Encino, CA 91316 http://www.otootorestaurant.comhttp://www.ramla.net

 

“Chef”, Sherman Oaks Galleria, ArcLight & Dinner at Versailles

“Chef” (the film) at the ArcLight Cinemas in the Sherman Oaks Galleria and Dinner at Versailles Restaurant in Encino!

Memorial Day Monday! It’s a national holiday!

USA! The United States of America!

Memorial Day! – USA! The United States of America!

I hung the American flag out front first thing in the morning, then changed my facebook cover and profile photo to reflect the patriotic nature of the holiday. I had bacon and coffee for breakfast, and then fried chicken, watermelon, strawberries, avocado, and an iced espresso for lunch. Later I munched on some popcorn and then went to the movies and saw “Chef” at the ArcLight Cinemas in the Sherman Oaks Galleria (it was very good, but don’t see it on an empty stomach). Then we went for dinner at Versailles Cuban Food Restaurant in Encino and had a great meal.

There are four parts to this Blog:

1. “Chef” (the film) starring and directed by Jon Favreau, with John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, and “the kid”. Great supporting roles performed by Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, Scarlet Johansson, and Oliver Platt. There’s also a small but memorable cameo appearance by Robert Downey Jr.

"Chef" the film

“Chef” the film

“Chef” – My Review of the Film: I liked it! It was a very good story, it was well written and well acted with interesting characters to care about. There was almost no CGI and no one got assaulted, murdered or blown up. It was well directed with a straightforward and low-budget “indy film” quality. It’s a feel-good, buddy movie/romance/father-son bonding story,  with (spoiler alert) a happy ending. The story was fun! It was made up of a series of both comedic and dramatic vignettes, about a middle-class, hard-working chef trying to manage both his career and his fractured family. There were several very clever creative choices both in plot and direction that explore social media (Twitter, facebook, vine, etc.) and it’s influence on our culture and society.

"Chef" the film

Exploring the Influence of Social Media and Twitter in “Chef” the film

Jon Favreau does a great job as the title character, Chef Carl Caspar, including performing difficult knife tricks and cooking tasks with practiced skill. John Leguizamo is great as his sous chef, buddy and comic relief. I’m sure sales of corn starch are going to spike. Bobby Cannavale is good as the other sous chef, playing the wasted but capable second fiddle with his usual almost over-the-top “New York theatre trained” style. Scarlet Johansson plays the restaurant’s beautiful hostess and the chef’s “friend with benefits”, and in this case the benefit is pasta! Dustin Hoffman is terrific as the intractable restaurant owner. Sofia Vergara is gorgeous and shines as the chef’s ex-wife and romantic interest, remarried and divorced from a sleaze bag investor played by Robert Downey Jr., but sharing custody and co-parenting of their adolescent son. “The kid” did good job, and I gave him a pass on the few times he was “acting” it, because he was cute and his performance was both capable and pivotal to the storyline. And a tip of the hat to Oliver Platt for his performance as the food critic Ramsey Michel. There’s a lot of music, both soundtrack and live performance, in the film. I enjoyed the ethnic Cuban beat (made me miss Tito Puente), Gary Clark Jr.’s Texas blues, working in the kitchen, cooking good food, road-trip playlist and even enjoyed the sing-along to “Sexual Healing”. From the opening cooking sequence accompanied by Aiko-Aiko I found myself tapping my feet along with the music. And of course, as a film titled “Chef” necessitates, there was a lot of cooking and good food involved, so my advice is to go see it, but don’t see it on an empty stomach, because you’ll be hungry for something good (maybe a Cubano sandwich) by the time the credits roll at the end.

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The holiday adventure began with a drive down Ventura Boulevard at 4pm. Normally on a weekday, there would be a lot of traffic. Everyone must have left town or stayed home to barbecue, because there was hardly anyone on the road.

Ventura Blvd east going to Sherman Oaks (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

No Traffic on Ventura Blvd going east to Sherman Oaks! (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

A short drive down the nearly deserted street brings us to the world famous SHERMAN OAKS GALLERIA (the second incarnation). Parking is available in the structure under and next to the Galleria Complex. Valet parking is located under the main mall structure and self-parking is located in the structure next to the bank, offices, restaurants and retail shopping. There is a charge for parking, but there are validations available at the theatre, the Starbuck’s, and in the restaurants. Parking in the structure can be crowded and difficult at times, so be sure to allow for traffic and a long wait to exit the parking structure and/or get your car back from the valet when there are a lot of people at the Galleria (or when all the movies let out at the same time).

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

2. The Sherman Oaks Galleria at the intersection of Ventura and Sepulveda boulevards is a San Fernando Valley Landmark. Used as a filming location since it was first built in 1980, and featured in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, “Commando” and many other films and television programs. The original mall was damaged during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and then repaired, but never fully recovered. It closed in April 1999 for a major renovation and remodel. It reopened in 2002 as a mixed-use open-air center, it’s second and current incarnation, a collection of office space, retail shopping, a few familiar chain restaurants, a Starbuck’s, a Ben & Jerry’s and the ArcLight Cinemas.

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – “The Wind Tunnel” Patio Area (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – Fuddrucker’s Hamburgers (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – The Water Wall in “The Wind Tunnel” (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – covered walkway (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria - P.F. Chang's Chinese Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – P.F. Chang’s Chinese Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – P.F. Chang’s Horse Statue (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – The Cheesecake Factory (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – El Torito Grill Mexican Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The walk from self-parking (once you’ve found a space) takes you past the restaurants, retail shops, patio, courtyard and fountain. Continue through the “wind tunnel” and covered walkway, to the rotunda and the escalator and elevator. And be sure to leave enough time for parking and the walk if you’re going to the ArcLight Cinemas!

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Ride the escalator or the elevator (past the DSW Shoe Store) to the third floor and the ArcLight Cinemas lobby. There’s a fitness center and membership gym on the second floor, so just expect to see people in workout clothes anytime of day or evening and there may be a funky smell in the elevator.

NOTE: If you Valet Park, you can ride the elevator or the escalator up to the third floor without walking through the “wind tunnel” and covered walkway, but all you’ll see of the Galleria is the rotunda. There is an additional charge for Valet and as previously noted, you may have to wait awhile to get your car back. But on a positive note, you might meet a celebrity while you’re waiting! I said hello to Ice Cube last time I used the Valet.

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – rotunda, skylight & glass elevator (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The ARCLIGHT CINEMAS in the Sherman Oaks Galleria

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas in the Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

3. The ArcLight Cinemas in the Sherman Oaks Galleria was originally the Pacific 16, but was rebranded, renovated and upgraded in 2007 (with further improvements made even more recently). In addition to the traditional popcorn, candy & soda concessions, there are better food items available. They have a coffee, tea and espresso bar and a gift shop that sells Hollywood “movie-related” knick-knacks and other souvenir items.

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Box Office is inside the theatre, in the lobby, and you don’t need a ticket to visit the espresso bar, gift shop, concession stand, lobby exhibits or cocktail lounge.

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – Concessions Stand (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – Gift Shop (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Marvel Merchandising! Get your Spider-Man 2 lunchbox and Wolverine sippy-cup here!

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – Gift Shop (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

 “Double espresso with whipped cream, please.”

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – Coffee, Tea and Espresso Bar (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

And there’s a BAR & COCKTAIL LOUNGE AREA with a full liquor license in one corner of the lobby! Cocktails, beer and wine are available of purchase but can only be consumed in the lounge area!

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – THEY HAVE A BAR & COCKTAIL LOUNGE! (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

They had a large promotional display for Disney’s “MALEFICENT” with Costumes & Artwork in the lobby. (see my next blog with more pictures and details)

Maleficent! Costumes at the ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Maleficent! Costumes & Artwork at the ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The film was showing in a theater adjacent to the Bar & Cocktail Lounge Area, and it was a full house for a 4:30pm showing on Memorial Day Monday.

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – Full House for “Chef” the film (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

I wandered past the X-Men Days of Future Past lighted wall of marketing, and it was cool.

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – X-Men Days of Future Past wall of marketing (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Going Down at the Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria- covered walkway (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Usually we like to hit the Cheesecake Factory after a film, when it’s not a total madhouse. The food is good and you get a lot of it, and the cheesecake is THE BOMB. It gets pretty slammed when the Galleria is busy and a there are good films showing, but that’s true of all the restaurants in the complex on high traffic days. I don’t care for the El Torito Grill, and P.F. Chang’s is pretty expensive for Chinese food. Fuddrucker’s is an okay burger, but it’s almost “buffet style”and there’s a FatBurger and In-N-Out not too far away if you want a real good burger. There’s a Sisley Italian Kitchen and an upscale Denny’s across the street within walking distance, or any number of good restaurants on Ventura Blvd just a short drive away. I recommend Cafe Bizou (east of Van Nuys Blvd) but you should make a reservation well in advance for dinner.

Well, after seeing “Chef”, the decision was made to have Cuban food. So, after the walk back to self-parking and a short drive back down Ventura Boulevard, we arrived at our dinner destination, VERSAILLES CUBAN FOOD RESTAURANT in Encino.

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food Restaurant in Encino (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

4. Dinner at Versailles Cuban Food Restaurant in Encino

If you want Cuban food, Versailles is the place! We’ve been eating here since they opened the Encino restaurant. The original space is in West L.A. at Pico and La Cienega, and there are also Culver City and Manhattan Beach locations.

Versailles Cuban Food

Versailles Cuban Food – The Dining Room (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Encino location is a large storefront dining room with floor to ceiling glass windows tucked into the corner of a small strip mall on Ventura Boulevard. The parking lot is small, but there is always metered street parking (8am-8pm) available nearby. They have a small bar area and there’s usually a sporting event on the television. It’s pretty much “no frills”, just good food, and when the dining room is full at peak dining times, it can get very loud.

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – The Menu (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

They have an extensive menu of classic Cuban food, with a wide choice of chicken, pork, beef, fish and vegetarian options.  The food is consistently excellent! We usually pick up “take out” and our regular order is the house specialty, the garlic roast chicken served with steamed rice, black beans (or moros, a combo of dirty rice and black beans), onions and plantains. The roast chicken (and also pork, beef and fish) is marinated in their special Cuban garlic-citrus-vinegar sauce, which is also sold by the bottle at the bar.

Versailles Cuban Marinade - sold by the bottle at the bar

Versailles Cuban Marinade – sold by the bottle at the bar

Start with a glass of sangria and the bread with butter and garlic, choose an appetizer, an entree and later, if you are so inclined and not too full, a dessert. The entrees are large and easily shared by two people (or more), so bring friends and order a few different things.

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – Sangria and a Coke (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food- Bread w/chopped garlic & melted butter (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ON THE MENU: I had the Bistec Empanizado (seasoned & breaded steak) and plantains served with steamed rice & black beans! Also had to have the bread with garlic and melted butter, a taste of pork tamale (with garlic sauce which I also drizzled on my rice), a glass of sangria, and a coke.

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – Pork Tamales in Garlic Sauce (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – Bistec Empanizado with Plantains (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – Bistec Empanizado, the breaded steak (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – The Roast Chicken in Garlic Sauce! (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

I also recommend the roast pork in garlic sauce and the oxtail stew in tomato and wine sauce, which were also on the menu at our table.

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – Shredded Pork in Garlic Sauce (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – Oxtail Stew in a Tomato & Wine Sauce (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The prices are very reasonable, and they have lunch and dinner “specials” with discounted prices on both food and drink items. You get a lot of good food for a decent price. The service is usually fast and efficient, but it can get a little chaotic in the dining room when the waiters are slammed or serving a couple of large parties at the same time.

We all enjoyed the food and drink, had a really good time, and when we finished the place was packed. So, if you like Cuban food, definitely try Versailles. It was a great dinner, but no one ordered a Cubano sandwich (see “Chef” the film).

"Chef" the film

“Chef” the film – Russell Peters and Jon Favreau recreate a scene from “Lady & The Tramp”

Versailles Cuban Food Encino – 17410 Ventura Blvd., Encino http://www.versaillescuban.com  818-906-0756 (and 3 other locations in L.A.)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – 15301 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks 91403 (on the northwest corner of Ventura Blvd and Sepulveda Blvd) http://www.shermanoaksgalleria.com ArcLight Cinemas (same address) – https://www.arclightcinemas.com 818-501-0753 

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Great Dinner at Sushi Ichiban Kan in the Valley!

Far away from the Westside and Hollywood and Santa Monica and Downtown, in the west end of the San Fernando Valley, is one of my favorite restaurants: Sushi Ichiban Kan.

Sushi Ichiban Kan (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi Ichiban Kan – Sneaking in the back door! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The restaurant is beautiful, from the front to the back, and the parking is FREE!  Or at worst, you’ll have to park at a meter (which now run until 8pm) on Ventura.  We went to dinner early, parked in the rear and entered through the back door.  We were greeted and seated and then the real fun began

Dinner tonight was fantastic!  Everything was fresh.  Everything was prepared beautifully. The service was friendly and efficient.  I’ve known the owner and masterchef Hirosuke and his wife for twenty years and have followed him from Kabuki in Northridge, to Hirosuke in Encino, and now to the new restaurant Ichiban Kan on Ventura Blvd in Tarzana, between Corbin and Winnetka.  Trust me, if you love sushi it is definitely worth the trip from wherever you are.

Sushi Ichiban Kan - Assorted Sashimi Combination & California Roll (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi Ichiban Kan – Assorted Sashimi Combination & California Roll (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

On the menu tonight: stuffed shitaki mushrooms stuffed with creamy crab starter, miso soup, green salad, spicy tuna and blue crab handrolls (with no rice), an assorted sashimi combination (with tuna, albacore, yellowtail, salmon), assorted tempura and an iced green tea.

Sushi Ichiban Kan (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi Ichiban Kan – Miso Soup and Green Salad (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi Ichiban Kan (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi Ichiban Kan – Spicy Tuna & Blue Crab Handrolls (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi Ichiban Kan (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi Ichiban Kan – Assorted Tempura (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

It’s not cheap, but it’s not “over the top” expensive.  You can get a lot worse and pay a lot more at other places.  This is top of the line fish, that rivals Nobu, and it’s a real value for sushi lovers.  Be sure to tell Hiro-san that I sent you!

Sushi Ichiban Kan – 19723 Ventura Blvd in Tarzana http://www.sushiichiban-kan.com

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