Archive for the ‘Eating Out & About!’ Category

Mottainai Ramen

June 10, 2012

Mottainai Ramen is a fairly new restaurant in the Pacific Square Shopping Center in Gardena off Redondo Beach Blvd. In the same complex as Pacific Market.

I had the Monttainai Ramen which is the Yokohama style – a heavy and rich pork broth with big slices of roasted pork, spinach, green onions and nori. Alana had the Shoyu ramen that had roasted pork, bamboo shoots, green onions and nori. For a shoyu broth, it was still very rich and tasty. The noodles were a thicker style and perfect al-dente. We just had the small bowls but for 1.50 more you can have a large size. You can also add other toppings on request. They also have appetizers, rice bowls, curry, beer and sake. They also have a Sapporo style (miso) and one called Gardena style (spicy miso) and these flavor “bombs” you can order to add in the ramen. We will be returning to try other items for sure. The ambiance is also very nice and the staff very friendly with great service.

The Pacific Square is also a great destination since they have Book Off (used manga and Japanese books/videos), the supermarket to stock up on Japanese food, bakery and boba shop. Don’t forget Beard Papa (the best cream puffs anywhere!) inside the supermarket.

The Counter

March 30, 2012

The Counter’s slogan is Custom-Built Burgers. They give you a menu on a clipboard when you sit down. You choose from beef, chicken, turkey or even veggie burger in 1/3, 2/3, or 1 lb. sizes. Then from a selection of cheeses like blue, feta, gruyere, goat, cheddar, etc. The toppings selections are hard to choose from since they have so many and you can come up with all sorts of variations which makes this fun! Alana got lettuce, red onion, grilled onion, (yes, she likes onions) and pineapple. I got tomato, mixed greens, grilled onions, and roasted green chiles. Among other selections are olives, cranberries, salsa, eggs, guacamole, chili, bacon, etc.  Also you get a choice of bun like regular, multigrain, onion (yes, she got the onion bun), or bun-less in a bowl for those watching carbs. Then you also choose a sauce from steak sauce, barbecue, and caesar to gourmet ones like chipotle aioli, pesto, tzatziki, etc. Each section of choices also has something called Market Selection which features something that is “local” from the area of the restaurant. Did not find out what those were featured. If you have a hard time deciding, they also have their signature burger selections and sandwiches which look very tempting. We also split a “50/50” sweet potato and regular fries order which were a lot between us.

If you like wine and beer, they serve that too. Burgers start at $8.95 and the fries were $4.25. The one we went to was on Pier Ave. in Hermosa Beach but it is a chain and you can find them all over So. Cal and a few locations popping up elsewhere. Go to to find locations.


February 20, 2012

Pho PCH probably has the best tasting pho we’ve had. We actually went back a second time after visiting a few other pho places inbetween and confirmed our first impressions! Alana had the pho tai and I had the combination. First thing I always do is taste the broth without adding anything. It was full-flavored but not heavy. I do not like dark, heavy broth but appreciate the hints of the many spices and rich base. I really notice the rich, complex flavors in this light broth. Then I add in the basil, sprouts and peppers – nothing else needed. Noodles were perfect. Quality of the meats are also first rate. Will also have to go back to try the spring rolls, Vietnamese sandwiches, etc. Only other comment is that this place only has around 8 tables with a waiting list board posted outside. So I recommend coming mid-afternoon to avoid the crowd.

Pho PCH is in Redondo Beach next to Albertson’s – 623 N Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach, CA 90277


September 29, 2011

Stacked is a new restaurant concept that is fantastic! Each table has an iPad mounted for you to view the menu and order. This is so convenient and fun – you order exactly what you want in an entertaining way! After the hostess seats you slide in a credit card to get started. Next  just jump on the iPad and order drinks. Everything is listed by category so very easy to find – it is really fun to scroll through the selections on the iPad. There is a good list of softdrinks/juices/teas as well as a nice selection of beer and wine. After you make your selections, just click the button to send the order to the kitchen. Then you can go to the food categories as your drinks arrive.

Their specialties are the burgers, hence the name Stacked. You use the iPad to select  burgers and sandwiches like a Pepper Stack, Kung Fusion, or Gobbler… but we’re here to Stack Your Own Burger. Here you drag items from the right to build your burger on the left. So you can select a type of bun from brioche, pretzel, whole wheat,  gluten free, or lettuce wrap. Then select a patty from, angus beef, turkey burger, grilled chicken breast, salmon burger, veggie burger, or pulled pork. Then selections of cheeses, lettuces and this is where it gets interesting is the list of toppings from tomato, bacon, grilled onions, peppers, fried egg, etc. Then there are sauces to choose from like garlic aioli, chipotle mayo, teriyaki, etc., as well as from a list of condiments like grey poupon, a-1 sauce, sriracha sauce, etc. The selections list also give you great ideas for combinations like the Upstream that features a brioche bun, salmon burger, pickled ginger, slaw, cilantro, and dijon horseradish dill sauce… sounds good to me!

Alana built a turkey burger with caramelized onions, pickles and lettuce and I build a pulled pork with tomatoes, grilled onions, jalapenos, with soy ginger sauce. There is a base price for the food and as you add items you can see the price build depending on what you put on. Alana’s came out to around $6.97 and mine came out to $7.95. They also have a section called Sides that has french fries, sweet potato fries, onion strings, homemade potato chips, cheese fries, chile cheese fries, coleslaw, and chicken bytes. You can also choose sauces for these.

There are sections for Pizza, Salads, and Sausages that all feature selections and Stack your own options. Then there are Soups and a Kid’s menu. The list is so long that I won’t even start to describe what’s offered in these categories.

The only “problem” is that while you are eating you will find yourself scrolling through the menu… then the Desserts section grabs your attention for Cookie Sandwiches and Shakes of which there are many tempting selections as well as Stack your own options. They also have an Ice Cream only option or Cookies only option. Two scoops of ice cream is only $1.00!

When you are done, just click the button checkout and it itemizes everything and you can add a percentage for automatic tip calculation. You can elect put it on the card you used at the beginning or pay cash.

Because of all the possible selections and combinations, I don’t see getting tired of the menu any time soon… BTW, the service was very fast and the food was very good! Big screen tvs keep the atmosphere lively.

Stacked is in the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance next to the theaters on the ground level under Lucky Strike. There is also a location in San Diego and one in Cerritos.



Gardena Ramen

February 15, 2011

Jade introduced us to Gardena Ramen and it has also become one of our favorite places. This night that we came, it was a one man operation – waiter, cook and cashier all into one. Ramen is a Japanese wheat noodle soup served with a few simple toppings. There is no menu here except for what is written on the walls. You can order 2 types – either shoyu or miso ramen. Both are very good! They come with sliced green scallions, bamboo shoots, pork, and half of a hard-boiled egg on top. The shoyu version is very flavorful – rich tasting but not heavy. The miso is very high quality – tangy, bright flavor and not heavy. Miso done at other places are sometimes over-cooked reducing the flavor and beneficial properties. The noodles are al dente and absolutely perfect. Perfectly flavored soup and perfectly textured noodles – can’t ask for more! Maybe this is why that is all they serve…

You can also order fried gyoza (potstickers) as an appetizer for $3.50. The ramen is $6.50 and for $1 more a large bowl. We have never ordered large or have seen other diners with the large size and we always leave full! They also serve Asahi beer and soft drinks.

Gardena Ramen is on the SW corner of Western Ave. and 182nd St. in Torrance just north of the 405 freeway – same shopping center as the 99 Cent Store.

Phở Consommé

January 9, 2011

Gardena has a lot of noodle restaurants and so trying to decide which one to go to is difficult. We first tried to go to Pho Hong Long down the street but it was packed and decided not to wait. We saw Pho Consomme right on Redondo Beach Blvd. and decided to give it a try. It is a free-standing restaurant so has lots of parking and lots of seating inside unlike Pho Hong Long which is in a small shopping/strip mall and not much seating. First impression is that it is very modern – computer touchscreens for the waiters, big screen tvs with the games on, and very clean looking. The menu is huge with so many items to choose from but we had a craving for pho so stuck with that page.

Here’s a disclaimer that this blog is not about restaurant reviews but just our general impressions on what we like. We are fairly new diners to pho so don’t have a ton to compare from. I love ramen but something about the beansprouts, basil and jalapeno that just creates a craving for me. Plus the rice noodles are just awesome!

Alana had the rare beef version and I had the #1 which had everything – rare beef, meatball, tripe, tendon, flank and also brisket. Small bowls are $5.50 and the large is $6.25 so these photos you’re seeing are large bowls. There is a lot of meat for sure! The only thing I would notice is that the rare beef is not a thinly sliced as other places. Something about the broth was also not as good as other places… maybe tasted more of star anise and lacked a flavor that I just can’t place… a little flat. I usually like to start eating as they serve it to get a sense of the soup base then add everything else in after. Since all we had was pho we would rate it only for the pho at 3 stars out of 5. Alana was a bit disappointed that they were out of boba and fruit smoothies even though they were advertised on the outside and on the menu… and this was 12:15 on Saturday. We discussed it and may not come back for the pho but maybe for the other items on the menu. We noticed the food our neighbors were also getting and it all looked really good. Also of note was that the waiters were very attentive and service was very fast.

Pho #1 on the menu – with rare beef, meatball, flank, brisket, tripe and tendon.