Tag Archives: los angeles

Our Year in Review (2014)

2014 went by so fast! We can’t believe it has been almost two years since we started UCL. Here’s a review of our eventful year:

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We went to Canoe for Winterlicious.

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We learned about Nigerian cuisine for a school project.

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We went on a Vancouver food trip. This was Ricelessasian’s first time visiting  Vancouver.

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Baked a giant cupcake for a special girl’s birthday party!  

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Ricelessasian made a lot of colourful cupcakes.

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Although Matchachoco stayed in Vancouver, we met again in Los Angeles a few months later. We went on a food trip…again (lol).

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We made our own birthday cakes!

Ricelessasian’s birthday cake:

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Matchachoco’s birthday cake: 

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Virtual Thanksgiving Potluck with EatPrayBake 🙂

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We had a couple of pasta posts throughout the year 😛

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Ricelessasian made an edible Christmas tree.

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Looking forward to more food experiments in 2015! 🙂

Happy New Year!

– Underground Culinary Lab Team

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Los Angeles Eats


Our trip to LA came and went! I don’t know about you, but sometimes the best part about a vacation is getting home, looking through all the photos taken and reminiscing about all the cool places that were visited. Naturally Ricelessasian and I did some research about which places to eat and visit (see reviews below). I’m really not sure if we ate more in Vancouver or in LA (haha!) I’m guessing Vancouver still, due to the number of days. Some more impromptu events that we came across on our trip were actually quite exciting and fun! For example, being in the midst of dozens of paparazzi at the Sin City 2 premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and randomly walking into the red-and-black themed afterparty at the historic Roosevelt Hotel. I’d say we definitely had our fair share into the glimpse of the Hollywood Life.

Enough about our sightseeing, and now about the FOOD…

– Matchachoco

A.) Matchachoco’s Reviews

1. Bouchon Bistro
235 North Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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I’ve heard a lot about Bouchon and of course, the reputation of Chef Thomas Keller. My introduction to his work began when my friend and I once tried to make his classic chocolate chip cookie recipe in Ad hoc cook book – they were so delicious! Unfortunately we weren’t able to go to another one of his amazing establishments, French Laundry, because it was quite far in Napa Valley, but I guess it’s somewhere to put on my bucket list for another trip!

We were presented with the baguette placed directly on the table (they have a famous Bouchon bakery downstairs). The crust was perfectly crunchy, yet the interior was soft and chewy. It was warm and the whipped butter was a lovely addition. My pet peeve is definitely a cold baguette or bread – and yes, some restaurants still serve them that way 😦

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We passed on the appetizers and went straight for their entrees. After hearing their specials from our friendly waiter (who reminded me of the comedian Dane Cook), I decided on the Flat Iron Steak with Arugula salad. Ricelessasian tried the Steak Frites with caramelized shallots and maître d’hôtel butter, their popular French entree. Steak Frites reminded me of the time I went to Paris in 2005. It is a classic dish – and you can’t go wrong!  Our waiter mentioned about truffle fries, but it didn’t occur to us that it was a substantial upgrade! Haha oh well. We were on vacation we figured. Ricelessasian and I were surprised at the large portion size of the Steak Frites, perhaps representative of American standards. Half of her plate was consumed by the thinly cut truffle fries, which we felt was a tad overwhelming and unnecessary to be paired with such a lovely piece of protein. Her steak was cooked perfectly, medium rare, and I would have to say the same for my lighter flat-iron steak salad.

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My favourite part about Bouchon was the ambiance. When we first arrived, we noticed there were three different parts to the European-style building – Bouchon Bakery, Bar Bistro and Bouchon Bistro, which is more fine dining upstairs. The hallway with the wine cellar leading up to the dining area was quite impressive, as well as the dining room with a high vintage blue and gold trimmed ceiling. The ambiance was casual chic and is fit for any occasion such as business lunches or even lunch with the girls!

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Rating:
Food: 4/5
Ambiance: 4.5/5
Service: 4.5/5

2. Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038

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At first glance, Osteria Mozza looks like a typical restaurant in a suburban area. I guess that’s why they say, never judge a book by its cover. The star-frequented joint is no stranger to the foodie world, owned by two mega chefs, Batali and restauranteur Bastaniach (Eataly). Not to mention that its head chef, Nancy Silverton, recently won the James Beard award and has been a key gastronome in the culinary world. Nestled on the left side of the restaurant is Pizzeria Mozza, a casual sister restaurant of the more upscale, Osteria Mozza.

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For the appetizer, the grilled octopus with potatoes and celery caught my attention. The octopus was unfortunately overseasoned with salt, despite being paired well with the acidity of shredded celery and lemon. Without a doubt, though, the octopus was grilled beautifully and was as tender as could be. I can forgive overseasoning, but not octopus that is overcooked and rubbery.

For the main course, I ordered the orecchiette with sausage and swiss chard. It had great flavours. The balance between the meaty flavour of the sausage and the subtleness of the swiss chard flavour was perfect. It was recommended by the chef (the waiter explained) to add bread crumbs on top of the pasta. I loved the extra crunch because it gave a more layered texture to the entire dish. The orecchiette was on the heavier side and I wish it was cooked a little more because the pasta texture was quite chewy (a little less al dente).

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I enjoyed the Bastianich Vespa Rosso (red wine) from Italy immensely. It was smooth, had very bold fruit flavours and had a hint of spiciness (gave it an extra kick!). I hope to buy a bottle of this one day!

The service was spotty at times, despite there being several waiters standing around. The waitress that was attending to my table was MIA later into the dinner service, and she was not there to give me my bill. Another waiter, however, was nice enough to take a photo for me.

I would recommend it partly for the food, but also for that slight chance you might see Adam Levine there one day! (We hear it’s his favourite).

Rating:
Food: 4/5
Ambiance: 4.5/5
Service: 4/5

B.) Ricelessasian’s Reviews

1. Mateo’s Ice Cream & Fruit Bars
4234 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019

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I’ve been wanting to go to Matteo’s Ice Cream & Fruit Bars ever since I’ve randomly seen a photo of their wonderful popsicle display on Instagram. Matteo’s also offer a variety of bionicos (Mexican fruit salad), vegetable and fruit shakes, milkshakes, and sandwiches. Upon visiting Matteo’s, I got pretty excited about the assortment of flavours that they have, some which I never even thought of being popsicle flavours, such as tamarind and smoked milk.

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Out of curiosity, I tried out the leche quemada (smoked milk) popsicle. In the photo, it’s the white popsicle with a dark red layer at the bottom of the popsicle. Surprisingly, it tasted it exactly what it’s called, milk that has a smokey flavour! I initially didn’t like the taste of it, but as I kept eating it, it turned out alright. The smokiness certainly added an interesting layer to it, but what I really enjoyed about it was the milky and creamy flavour of it. I also liked the fact that they added a fruit layer at the bottom of the popsicle balance the creaminess.

My mom had the strawberry popsicle dipped in chocolate with shredded coconut. I liked how they put a fresh piece of strawberry at the bottom of the popsicle. I had a little taste of popsicle, and I preferred it to the smoked milk one. The strawberry popsicle complimented the chocolate. It also wasn’t too sweet or too sour; I thought it was just right.

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I wanted to try their other popsicle flavours, but I only got to go there once. If you’re in Los Angeles, and you have sweet tooth for something refreshing , I’d definitely recommend Matteo’s.

Rating:
Food: 4.5/5
Ambiance: 3/5
Service: 4/5

2. Sprinkles Cupcakes
9635 S Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly HillsCA 90210

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Sprinkles was one of the dessert places I planned to visit during my stay in Los Angeles. I was curious to find out what was the big deal about Sprinkles, other than their signature cupcake look and their cupcake ATM.  The first time I passed by Sprinkles in Beverly Hills, there was a huge lineup outside of the store for ice cream. It turns out they are also famous for their ice cream and cookies.

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Matchachoco and I were looking forward to try their cupcake ATM, but upon learning that they charged more for the cupcakes at the cupcake ATM than the store, we decided to buy a cupcake at the store instead and just take pictures of the cupcake ATM (lol). The popular cupcake flavours were already out of stock at the cupcake ATM anyways. In case, you’re wondering how the cupcake ATM works, check out this video on Youtube.

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Matchachoco and I shared one red velvet cupcake. The cupcake had a nice hue of red. Overall, it was a good cupcake, but there was nothing really special about its taste. It also wasn’t as moist as other red velvet cupcakes we’ve tried before. I wasn’t a huge fan of the circular topping on the cupcake; I just didn’t like how it tastes like. On the plus side, it wasn’t overly sweet as we thought it would be, and it just had the right amount of frosting. Perhaps trying out their ice cream or cookies would have been a better option.

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Rating:
Food: 3/5
Ambiance: 4.5/5
Service: 4/5
(Plus points for creative marketing of cupcakes lol)

3. Churros Calientes
11521 Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90025

Eating churros in Los Angeles wasn’t even part of the original plan. One day during our trip I decided to Google “Best churros in Los Angeles” after my mom said she wanted to eat churros. One of the churros places that appeared on my Google search was Churros Calientes. We decided to see for ourselves if it really was as good as Google claims.

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We had the plain churros with thick, hot chocolate for dipping, and another one with that was drizzled with dulce de leche.  We found that there wasn’t enough churros for the hot chocolate dip, so we ordered another batch of churros.

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Overall, I was very satisfied with their churros, along with the hot chocolate dip and the dulce de leche. My parents, on the other hand, thought that the hot chocolate dip could’ve been richer, and it wasn’t as good as the one we used to eat in the Philippines.

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An interesting fact I learned about Matchachoco during this trip was that she never really liked churros because she was only familiar with the greasy kind that was available at fairs. I think she has gained some respect for churros now after this experience.

Rating:
Food: 4/5
Ambiance: 4/5
Service: 4/5