Sunnin, West LA

While our main objective was to get to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, my friend Brian (Sharon’s boyfriend) and I decided to stop by Sunnin Lebanese Café in West Los Angeles. It’s a longtime favorite restaurant of Brian’s, going back to his undergraduate days. It’s the second time I’ve eaten there. Sunnin is light on the wallet, has an interesting variety, and is a satisfying eat for the money.
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The owner was offering some kind of spinach special today, but neither of us were feeling very adventurous. It was hard to go wrong with anything from their sandwich selection and also a few of the appetizers. We got four of the appetizers and shared them between us.
Some appetizers Rekakat
First photo, clockwise: Baba ganoush, pita, hummus, stuffed grape leaves . Second Photo: Rekakat.

Brian had the falafel sandwhich (not pictured), while I went with the beef shwarma. As far as the shwarma offerings in various San Diego places – no comparison. This one is too good, almost putting me in a food coma.
Beef Schwarma Sanwich Foiled Beef Shwarma Sandwich unfoiled

I haven’t been by a Starbucks yesterday morning, but no problem. Who needs the Christmas blend when you can have the thick Turkish coffee in a tiny cup. That small shot kept me going all day, and even drinking the sludge was part of the fun. Finishing things off, there was this goat milk pudding with honey and pistachio nuts. I don’t know what the name of it, but it was absolutely delicious.
Turkish Coffee Goat Cheese pudding with honey and pistacchios

Overall, good food, good times, minimal bill shock. Now if I can only find somewhere as good as Sunnin in San Diego.

At the Linkery – Again

I went to the Linkery the second time this month. Last week, it was a crowded dinner party affair for Jen and I got to meet some interesting people. This time, I met up with my longtime friends Sharon and Nadia. I haven’t had the chance to hang out with both of them at the same time in a while, so it was nice. Plus, I haven’t been able to go out to lunchtime foodie adventures with Sharon in a while, and going out with her for lunch or dinner is always fun.

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Much to Nadia’s amusement, Sharon and I took pictures of the food, starting with the chorizo and goat cheese flat bread. This was our starter.

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Nadia ordered the picnic plate with the potato salad and cole slaw. This time, there was no confusion.

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I ordered the same thing as I did last time. I freely shared the sauerkraut with my friends. Sauerkraut’s going to have it’s day and Trader Joe’s will stock it. Only, they don’t carry it now. Trader Joe’s, how do you expect me to replicate this $$ experience on the cheap?

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Sharon ordered the butternut squash with Israeli couscous. Wonderful vegetarian option, but Sharon has a link.

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After dinner, before dessert, Sharon gave us some Dove’s chocolates. The insides of the wrappers were like fortune cookies.

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Mine said “Be Fearless” and “Smile Before You Go To Bed. You’ll Sleep Better.”

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Sharon’s read, “There’s a time for compromise. It’s called later.”

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Nadia’s read, “Send a love letter this week.”
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Dessert was lovely. Sharon, Nadia, and I all shared the carrot cake with lemon cream cheese icing.

While the food was great, the best part of the evening was being able to catch up with Sharon and Nadia. Happy Holidays, friends.

Confoundingly Fun Fondue

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There is never a dull moment whenever I hang out with Melodie. For her birthday, something completely unexpected happened – her chocolate fondue caught on fire!

Melodie was after an interactive kind of dining experience – one where the everyone was active participants in cooking the dinner, so something like the Turf Club or the Strip Club sounded good or even Benihana. Fondue fit the concept nicely, so Fondue Fusion & Bistro, formerly known as Forever Fondue, seemed like a perfect choice.

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Saturday night was her birthday, and a lot of Melodie’s friends showed up, including some mutual friends of ours Gema and Rob, also known as Downtown Rob. We know each other through Twitterville, but several of Melodie’s other friends know her through other contexts, such as work and yoga classes. I got to talk to some of them as I was seated at the other table.

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The owner obviously loves Picasso, as there were reproductions of his work on every wall. However, Gema found the display of a Guernica print very disquieting. Perhaps the owner didn’t think through the effects the painting may have had on the diners. However, the lack of thoughtfulness didn’t seem to end there.

The menu itself was bewildering, especially the fondue combinations. It took the waiter several times to explain to all of us how the combos (or All Inclusives, as they were called) worked, and even then we were all confused.

I found the booths to be very cramped, but I’m a very big guy. Thankfully, there were a few chairs at my table.

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To a minor digression from my mini-rant: Drink Porn. These martinis were very lovely.

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Rob wanted to get a signature shot of him holding a martini, so here it is. In the short time I’ve known him, I can tell lots of stories. He’s that colorful a person. He’s also very fun to party with, which is a source of all those stories.

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In spite of my earlier complaints, the food was actually very good. My newfound friend and I got to enjoy Queso Fiesta, which consisted of beer, Wisconsin Cheddar, and some jalepeños. There was plenty of sourdough bread, apples, and vegetables for dipping. Then there were the salads, which were satisfying, but were too much. Then, the main course, which consisted of meats and vegetables to be cooked in broth were delicious and easy to cook.

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Some more cheese fondue. Yum!

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Here is the birthday girl enjoying some of her fondue.

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While waiting for the broths to boil, it was was fun to watch the vegetable broth. With the vegetables swirling about, it looked as if there were tiny fish swimming around.

The dessert fondues were also wonderful. My neighbor and I ordered the same items for our inclusives, so we got a chocolate and Irish creme sauce. Melodie’s was simply a chocolate fondue. How it caught on fire I don’t know, but our friend Rich poured something on it to get it to burn brighter. It took a few clicks to get it right, but I finally wound up with the intense photo at the top of the entry.

Overall, a very good time was had by all despite whatever confusion occured. I even got a pleasant surprise in the end. In the tab shared by me and my neighbor, we expected to pay $37 each for our All Inclusive. We were only charged for one, so it was cheaper for both of us. After that, a few of us went out for drinks and karaoke.

Oh, It’s Not Hummus

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All I wanted was to get this lovely item for the family dinner on Sunday. And, I was hoping to get it from one of my favorite stores.

Yesterday evening, when I was searching for sauerkraut at Trader Joes in Hillcrest, I was beginning to get the feeling I was looking for the uncoolest item in the world. I simply could not find it anywhere. I looked on the shelf with the pickles. I looked near the sandwiches and sushi, and I even looked near the franks. Not to be seen anyhwere. Of course, I sent my search out into Twitterville, and one of my twitter friends told she saw it, and I looked again. It wasn’t there. Then I got confirmation from an employee who told me they don’t stock sauerkraut.

I was hoping not to pick up just any sauerkraut. I could have easily done that at the Ralph’s next door. I wanted a green gourmet, Trader Joe’s branded approach to America’s favorite accompaniment to hot dogs, sausages, and corned beef. After all, I can pick up a box of dry macaroni and powdered cheese mix, which is not much different from its Kraft counterpart. With the former, I can feel super cool, while with the latter, I just feel trashy. Somehow, I left Trader Joe’s feeling like I was uncool, the wrong kind of customer, or something. However, I wasn’t daunted in my search. I just took it somewhere else.

I found plenty of jars of sauerkraut at Whole Foods. As shown in the photo, there were several different kinds. Naturally, Whole foods offers more choices than Trader Joe’s. However, with all their expensive gourmet products and hip eco-friendly groceries, Whole Foods even offered the tragically unhip sauerkraut. Now I have my contribution to Sunday dinner.

As for culinary adventures and traveling the food world without a plane ticket and passport, Trader Joe’s doesn’t seem to like Germany.

Out for Food Burlesque…

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It’s been a while since I’ve uploaded some food porn to ShindoTV. For a while, I was going out to lunch or dinner every other day and taking pictures. Food is fun and so are the pictures, but there’s only so much dining I can do in this economy. In the second night that I’ve hung out with Jen in a row, I joined her, our mutual friend Melodie, and some of her friends out at the Linkery. Jen was still in birthday mode, so what better place for her birthday than where the food is dramatically presented?

As pictured above, the kitchen is only separated from the dining area and bar by glass windows. While this has the advantage of keeping the kitchen staff from doing nasty things with the food, the true objective is more likely to give the diners a show. This is how the food is prepared and it is definitely sexy! Also, everyone can feel like they are at the chef’s table.

I could have easily included the table drinks in the pics, but your need for alcohol porn, especially beer, will have to be satisfied with the two photos below. The menu contains a bewildering list of wines, beers, and ciders, and they all can be paired with starters and courses. I played it safe and asked the waiter what went well with the link plate (where the diner can have 1-3 sausages). I ordered the Choucrotte, which essentially was three sausges with some sauerkraut. I’ll save the fun details for two photos later.

Alex, one of Jen’s friends, had a plate of flat bread with some links. Looked tasty like a pizza. Also, it was very light on both the wallet and the stomach.

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Now here is where it gets fun. There was a mix-up as someone else at our table also ordered a link plate (the picnic plate). At first, I thought the chef put the wrong sides on the plate, forgetting my sauerkraut. I figured I’d ask the waiter for some sauerkraut when he came back to our table . In the meantime, I got the money shot of this plate, and Melodie and I sampled the potato salad. We only had a few bites between us.

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Needless to say, the other person at our table had my plate. Once we realized that there was a mix-up, there were some casualties. As mentioned before, Melodie and I took a couple of bites out of the potato salad. On the choucrotte, one of Jen’s friends amputated one of the weenies.

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She didn’t eat the piece, but I wouldn’t have been offended. I did eat some of her potato salad after all. I was left with a John Wayne Bobbit piece of food porn, though.

Now to the alcohol presentation. Food and beverage storage is usually out of site for the customers, but the Linkery has the bottled beers in plain sight for any customer who wants to walk up to the pantry in the back and see the inventory.

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Modern beer kegs are ugly devices; however, the beers created by the Linkery brewery are also in plain sight. Too bad no staff member was around to give me the money shot.

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The last time I was at the Linkery was in its old location, a few blocks south of the new one. The food theatre component is part of the new location. Given that there was a lot of stage tease with the food and drink, lovely presentation, and the comedy of errors regarding some link plates, I’ve been out to a night of food burlesque.

Just a few photos today.

I’m stealing this photo post idea today from Chris.

All pics photographed with my handy, dandy iPhone.

Bank of America Plaza
Bank of America Plaza, taken from a nearby high-rise.

Taking the food out of one's mouth
Not dove love at all. These pigeons are fighting with the fattest one over food he has in his beak.

Sucuk Ekmek
In the afternoon, I ducked into Pasha‘s, a new Turkish restaurant in Hillcrest, to get away from the traffic. I ordered this tasty lunch and the Ayran, a yogurt drink. Not my usual fare.