When it rains, it pours...
Yes friends, the long-awaited Koreatown Pinkberry is now open, and I dare say it's the best Pinkberry yet.
Because it's freakin' HUGE!
At nearly four times the size of the West Hollywood location, the Koreatown Pinkberry has a row of about 15 tables you can fight over, seating for nearly 40 (lots of long benches), and an entire public street where you can line up without being harrassed by angry neighbors. The place appears custom-built for a yogurt-frenzied mob, and if the first opening hours are any indication, it will be very soon.
Their yogurt machines are fully stocked, and when I arrived Friday evening, an army of super-pretty-cute yogurtista trainees shouted a warm hello to all who walked in. Now that's something the WeHo location could take a lesson from...
On to the yogurt. You know the drill.
It the best thing you'll ever put in your mouth... manna from heaven... crackberry... heroin... etc. etc.
But last night I discovered something new.
Now, I really shouldn't be telling you this, but you can get the green tea and original yogurt flavors swirled! It's not on the menu, but if you pay the higher green tea price and ask really really nicely, they just might hook you up. The combination of both flavours is awesome and I wouldn't be surprised if it pops up as a secret menu item in the coming days (think In n' Out).
When you've eaten as much yogurt as you can handle (which in my case was a medium plain, then a small swirl, then 30 bites of Brian's large), you can shop. The baselit glass shelves are stocked with the world's cutest kitchen and home furnishings from Italian super-design store Alessi.
Right now they're just on display, but the plan is that everything will be available for purchase very soon.
They also have plans to expand the space, with room for a cafe next door and possibly even a salon of some sort. Before you know it, you'll be fully indoctrinated into the Pinkberry lifestyle, which, actually, would be a pretty awesome thing.
But the best part about the Koreatown Pinkberry? You've got an entire parking garage to clog up...
6th St at Berendo
Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Yes, it’s true, Pinkberry’s second
My favourite celebrity blogger – Perez Hilton – posted the news last night.
I can’t believe I got scooped (I’m the yogurt reporter for goodness sakes!). But at least now I know that Perez shares my Pinkberry addiction.
Perez, I love you. See you at Pinkberry!
Posted by Colleen Cuisine at 10:15 AM
Monday, September 18, 2006
Do you ever claim to hate something when, secretly, you love it? In my case, that list is populated by jury duty, fast food, Peeps, and business travel.
Take jury duty for example. Of course I hate jury duty, right? Everyone does. Endless hours of just sitting, waiting around. All that time to do nothing but read, daydream, and take two hour lunches... who on earth would enjoy that?
I complain about business travel too. Gosh it's so hard living out of a suitcase. Being away from the office, with no phones, no meetings, no copy machines... having to eat out for all your meals, which, by the way, are paid for. Terrible.
So when business took me up to Montreal, I tried to contain what would certainly appear as an unnatural excitement to leave the office. I mean, it's not like I was going to Bentonville, AR. Montreal is one of the world's premier cities, a magical world where people speak French, even though the U.S. is mere miles away, where the food is divine, the shopping, amazing, the people, diverse, the food, divine (oh wait, I said that), where... oh! I've run out of breath.
Since this was a last minute trip, I didn't have too much time to prepare my itinerary, but I knew that walking around the city would lead to culinary treasures galore.
Maybe I should've planned better.
It's not that I didn't like the food - I did - it's just that I don't feel I really got the best the city had to offer. Oh well, next time. Hopefully next time I'll be able to eat and enjoy it with someone else, and not alone. Because dining alone is something I say I love, but secretly hate.
First of all, dining alone always brings the dreaded and pitiful "just one?" question. And even when you're not "just one" in everyday life, being reminded that you're "just one" in a bigger city is a sad and kind of, well, lonely realization. It's not that I want to be "just one," I just am.
I didn't really want to eat at [restaurant I can't even remember the name of]. I just did. And certainly I didn't want to be reminded that I was at a not-my-top-choice restaurant... alone.
Oh yeah. I had a rack of lamb. It was decent.
Lunch at the hotel the next day was a little better. For one, the hotel was adorable, beautiful, and perfect. And supposedly its restaurant - "S" - was one of the better dining spots in the city.
I don't remember who exactly I heard that from, but I suspect it might have been the hotel's own Web site, because the food was slightly better than decent, and a little more than overdone.
OK, I can't make fun of this dish too much. It was only $4! But I seriously thought it was going to attack me. That's a mango avocado parfait, dressed up as Chewbacca. With vinaigrette.
For the main course, I had a fish, delightfully less garnished.
It was decent (recurring theme).
After lunch, before my plane left at 5PM, I had a few hours to shop and take in the city. Boulevard Saint Laurent is a popular shopping and eating district, and it didn't disappoint. I was expecting it to feel a bit like Soho, but it reminded me more of LA's Melrose Ave., minus the bums and Eurotrash. Tons of cute boutiques, lots of fun places to eat, almost all of it pretty cheap.
I was more in the mood for shopping than eating, so I didn't have too many blog-worthy adventures. I was lucky enough to stumble upon one bright spot on the walk home... Ripples home-made ice cream. I sampled a few flavours and instantly knew my new love - lemon chiffon.
Lemon chiffon ice cream really is sunshine in a cup. It's lemony, tart and flowery - it made me want to dance and skip all the way home!
Of course I couldn't leave Canada without some canady (haaha! get it? nevermind). Why do the Canucks get such yummy things that we don't get in the States? Do they think we can't handle it? Probably not...
All of these were pretty good. CandyBlog - one of my favourite blogs - has more in-depth reviews on Coffee Crisp and Aero... so I'll defer to her expertise. Wunderbar was a new one for me. It's essentially a peanut butter, caramel, chocolate and crisped rice concoction, similar (I think) to the 100 Grand bar and the UK's Star Bar.
And, fortunately, I was able to eat and enjoy these * not * alone. It was good to be home.
Posted by Colleen Cuisine at 8:35 PM
Remember how I vowed to stop blogging about frozen yogurt?
Yeah, me neither.
Check out today's New York Magazine restaurant page which features a link to yours truly and my fellow foodblogging friend Jeni from Oiishi Eats. You go yogurt girl!
If this keeps up, I may have to rename the site Colleen Eats a Lot of Yogurt and Sometimes Other Things.
Posted by Colleen Cuisine at 10:48 AM
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Here's proof that advertising (sometimes) works: a work friend of mine mentioned a funny TV commercial for the L.A. County Fair, which I didn't see, but it prompted me to go to YouTube and look up their past commercials, which I found, which made me laugh, and made me decide to go to the Fair this weekend. For whatever millions of dollars they spent in media, I was happy to contribute my $10 share.
In case you haven't seen them, these TV spots are pretty clever...
TVC 1: Does Cashmere Come From Cows?
TVC 2: What Comes From a Cow?
Iced caramel macchiato!! Precious!
I have fond memories of the Fair - my first "real" job was working the cash register for Grant's Hamburgers at the Orange County Fair, age 15. Not only did it indoctrinate me to the working world (as a carnie, nonetheless), it gave me a special nostalgia for the lights, sounds, tastes, and smells you only find at the Fair.
So when Brian and I decided to hit the LA County Fair Friday night, I went partially for the memories, and partially for the food. I mean, where else do you have an excuse to eat really, REALLY unhealthy food, then go shop for a jacuzzi or a ski-doo? (besides Wal-Mart)
Friday-night traffic aside, we got to the Pomona Fairgrounds fairly quickly, and we hit the ground running. For our first course, we started with a corn dog, nachos, frozen banana, and chocolate-dipped cone (not pictured). Sorry, I was so excited I forgot to take out my camera!
Then we moved on to some freshly fried potato chips, accurately named "Tasti Chips."
After gorging on all that food, we took a spin on the Zipper, the swings, the Moscow Circus fun house, the Euroslide.com (sadly, not a real Web site), and the Orbiter. Uggh. Maybe we should've held off on the food until after the rides... why do all carnival rides have to involve so much spinning? And spinning... and spinning...
After what seemed like an hour of spinning, we decided to settle our tummies with some dessert.
First a funnel cake. I didn't realize there were two different varieties of funnel cake: Pennsylvanian Dutch Funnel Cake, which is the kind pictured below, and Mexican Funnel Cake, which resembles churros squeezed through a much thinner, longer tube. Take your pick.
After that (what? you think we were full?), we split a caramel apple. Plain, no nuts, fresh from the bottom row.
It was at the end of all this gorging that I caught sight of the food miracle I wanted to try most: Deep Fried Oreos and Deep Fried Twinkies. I mean, really...
Despite their claims - "Try Me I'm So Good" - I was too full to stomache even one more bite. Too bad, I would've really liked to give you an update and some photos.
Maybe you can go to the LA Country Fair, try them, and update me. Then we'd really push the new media advertising bubble full circle.
LA County Fair
Ends October 1st
Located at the Pomona Fairplex
1101 W. McKinley Ave.
Pomona, CA 91768
Posted by Colleen Cuisine at 8:02 PM
Saturday, September 16, 2006
I woke up this morning and vowed to myself that I would stop blogging about frozen yogurt... I mean, I'm starting to get a reputation and I wouldn't want that.
But then I was in line tonight at Pinkberry and something happened.
It was 10:55PM and the Pinkberry line was still about 20 people deep. A Pinkberry employee came out to cut off the line, right as a couple women were walking up. "I'm sorry, we close at 11PM and I have to cut off the line - no more people," she said.
The women, clearly devastated, started begging to be let in line to no avail. "Can I just go in and look at the yogurt? I've never even seen it before," one asked. "Oh please, oh please, oh please?"
What happened next would stick in my mind for the rest of the evening: one of the women proceeded to run back to her car and pull out a box of 4 Sprinkles cupcakes. "I'll give you these Sprinkles cupcakes if you let me get in line." The Pinkberry employee, who was clearly unwanting of the bribe, relinquished (I think she felt badly), and the women took their place in the queue.
Four Sprinkles cupcakes in exchange for a spot in line at Pinkberry... the cupcakes ended up on the ground (see photo, left), the women left smiling, yogurt in hand.
I think it's safe to say that the Sprinkles trend has officially bit the dust.
Posted by Colleen Cuisine at 11:44 PM
Friday, September 15, 2006
With more than 100 unique votes (nearly twice that of its closest competitor), Fiore All-Natural Italian Frozen Yogurt has emerged as the people's choice for best real frozen yogurt in Los Angeles (see poll: Who's the Fairest of Them All?)
I'm sure many Pinkberry and Kiwiberri fans will be shocked at how a non-descript, quiet little blip on the radar managed to outshine not just their yogurt, but also their public and very vocal rivalry. I'll continue to leave the poll open, but I doubt either Pinkberry or Kiwiberri will be able to catch the momentum of what was certainly an "email everyone you know and get them to vote on this random foodblog poll" campaign. However, if the results change by the end of the month and Fiore is unseated, I'll announce the new reigning yogurt king.
Your official L.A. Yogurt Reporter, signing off...
Posted by Colleen Cuisine at 7:50 PM
Friday, September 08, 2006
It's time for The Pinkberry vs. Kiwiberri vs. Fiore Challenge. Please vote for your favourite below!
OK folks, it's time to settle this frozen yogurt debate once and for all. No more accusations, no more name-calling... it's time to let the people decide whose frozen yogurt is king.
Colleen Cuisine brings you: The Pinkberry vs. Kiwiberri vs. Fiore Challenge.
Three yogurts enter, one yogurt leaves.
I assure you that in true Democratic fashion, this poll is 100% independently owned and operated. You can only vote once, so there will be no ballot-stuffing or unfair play.
May the best yogurt win!!
Posted by Colleen Cuisine at 12:08 AM
Monday, September 04, 2006
We wrapped up our San Francisco trip with Sunday brunch at Chouquet's, a French Bistro just off Fillmore on Washington St (formerly occupied by Pauli's Cafe).
Chouquet's is a rather trendy little restaurant that has a cute little patio with little tables and little chairs. Emphasis on the word little. The chairs are so tiny that little ol' me even had a tough time getting comfortable. Those French like you challenge you.
The tables are also really close together, so you get a great opportunity to eavesdrop on your neighbors. Sometimes you get a boring dining neighbor who talks too loudly about nothing particularly interesting. This morning, however, we were fortunate enough to get a zinger: the morning after breakfast of a first hook-up between two officemates. Oooh it was good. For starters, she was clearly head over heels for him, and he clearly couldn't wait to get away from her fast enough. She was obsessed with her job and office politics, he could care less. She kept throwing out snappy one-liners like "I could never work under you... well, at least not at work" (wink, wink), which he politely pretended he didn't hear. She became increasingly obsessive ("so you WERE awake when I was calling you the other night"), while he tried to keep his story straight on the other parts of his dating life. Too much good stuff to write about.
Fortunately, the food was just as indulgent as listening to their conversation, and our decadent eavesdropping turned into decadent brunching within about 30 minutes (I certainly can't accuse this place of hurried service).
Brian had the eggs benedict, which I like to think of as an Egg McMuffin deluxe. The Egg McMuffin is actually thought to be inspired by eggs benedict, although I doubt you'd ever see Lemuel Benedict shoving one of those in his mouth on the way to Wall Street. Picture perfect, and just about as solid an eggs benedict as one can get.
I'm a sucker for a good quiche, and Chouquet's was perfectly elegant and delicious. Instead of a slice of a bigger quiche, they serve an individual quiche tart... which was tasty and oh-so-cute. And probably 2000 calories... who cares...
We were on vacation, so of course we had to have french fries for breakfast... it's a free country, right?
Anytime I eat french fries, I can't help but think back to the completely silly episode of Freedom Fries from 2003. Just last July, the House finally changed the name back to French Fries in all of its restaurants. Hill fries free to be French again - thank God! I mean, it was only a matter of time before we packed up the Statue of Liberty and shipped it back to France, right?
If only our dining neighbor could ship his
mistake date back on the same boat...
2500 Washington St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
Brunch: Sat-Sun 10AM-3PM
Lunch: Tues-Fri 11:30-3PM
Dinner: Tues-Sun 5:30-10PM
We decided to continue on the French theme with some treats from Boulangerie down the street. Bay Bread Boulangerie specializes in organic artisan breads, which I'm sure are great. But when I decide to get serious about eating, I go for the sweets.
When I saw that Boulangerie had macaroons, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. A very authentic-looking French bakery in San Francisco, the food mecca of the West Coast - the macaroons would be awesome, right? Well, almost. Actually, not really.
Will I have to travel straight to Paris to find a macaroon better than the ones at Boule? Perhaps, but that's certainly a trip I wouldn't mind taking...
Bay Bread Boulangerie
2325 Pine St
San Francisco, CA 94115
Posted by Colleen Cuisine at 4:57 PM
Sunday, September 03, 2006
I mean really... how many natural frozen yogurt stores does one city need? (and how come they all have the same pink and green logos?)
I'm confused, are they OPEN, or coming soon?
Let me guess, Yogurt Queen (on Melrose between Fairfax and Gardner) is planning to sell... all-natural, non-fat, sour-tasting frozen yogurt? What in the world would motivate them to do that?
Let's take a look at the Los Angeles yogurt timeline, shall we:
Posted by Colleen Cuisine at 6:10 PM
I told you I went to San Francisco to eat, right? For our third meal of the day (I'm counting gelato as a meal, mind you), Brian and I took a quick walk from our hotel to Fillmore St. in Pacific Heights. Pacific Heights is like, my dream neighborhood, and if I ever were to live in San Francisco, it would have to be somewhere within a one block radius of Fillmore between Bush and Broadway.
My friend JW, who used to live in Pacific Heights, wrote down a bunch of places we could try during our San Francisco weekend. As we were walking up Fillmore, I recognized the name of one of them: Chez Nous, which translates to either "your place" or "with us" depending on which free online translation service you use. Note to self: take some French lessons.
Chez Nous is an adorable little cafe that specializes in Mediterranean small plates at equally small prices ($4-13, nothing over $13). They have a decent selection of wines by the glass, and it's the perfect little spot to relax and nibble, or have a full dinner, depending on your mood.
Our waitress brought out a homemade walnut bread to start, which had a good flavour but was remarkable hard and chewy - almost inedibly so. Perhaps they tried to heat it up, then left it sitting out too long? Along with that, we started with a spinach, gorgonzola, pear and candied almond salad which was very much edible, crisp and refreshing.
Chez Nous had a couple specials that day - we chose the ahi tuna tower, which featured a mound of fresh ahi mixed with minced onion, cucumber and tomato, topped with avocado and clover sprouts and served with wonton crisps and a wasabi creme fraiche. Mmm... I get hungry for this just typing out all the ingredients.
Like the salad, this was simple and refreshing - high quality ingredients assembled with just enough finesse to feel gourmet, not too much fuss to feel overdone.
After the light dishes, we moved on to steak and potatoes. The gnocchi caught my eye early on... I love gnocchi of all types for its pillowy fluffy goodness. This dish was served with baby corn in a pesto cream sauce. Heavenly, it a bit rich.
The one lowlight of the meal was the dish I thought I'd like the most - wagyu beef with baby carrots in a mushroom sauce. While it certainly looked pretty, the meat was tough and almost a bit stringy... a characteristic I've noticed often in wagyu.
Despite the one disappointing order, most everything coming out of the kitchen looked delicious, and I'd be happy to return to Chez Nous again to sample the remaining dishes.
1911 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
Lunch : 11:30am-3pm daily
Dinner: Sun-Thurs 5:30-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30-11pm
Posted by Colleen Cuisine at 2:03 PM
Saturday, September 02, 2006
After we went shrimp-loco at Gold Mountain Dim Sum, Brian and I took our palates on a little flavour adventure at Yoogo Gelato across the street. Yoogo Gelato is like the multiethnic version of 31 Flavours, except they only have one location and they serve gelato, not ice cream.
They also bring on the flavours in ways Baskin Robbins would never dare: durian, budweiser, taro, avocado, seeweed, yogurt, and black sesame were just a few of the more exotic offerings.
Rather than simply labeling each container, Yoogo's purveyors decided to drop a key ingredient plop in the front of each bin. I'm sure this was to remind and reassure customers that the gelato was made with real ingredients, but the effect was akin to trash scattered on the beach. Especially when you got to the empty Budweiser can and the mini bottle of cheap rum.
I noticed they DIDN'T drop a durian fruit in the durian gelato. Hmmm... wonder why?
In my mind, durian is one of those flavours you can't not sample, but when I asked the barista for a taste, she responded with "Are you sure? Do you know what durian is?" Yes, yes I do know what durian is thank you very much. It's a stinky awful miserable fruit and I'm very curious what it tastes like in gelato form.
I didn't actually say that...
She handed me a bite and I took a sniff - didn't smell awful. Then I tasted it. Blech - it was just like the fruit, but sweeter. Like sweet manure. I swear, anyone who says they like durian is lying and just trying to make themselves sound like a foodie badass. Acquired taste? I just can't believe that's true...
Brian went ahead and ordered two scoops: budweiser and lime. The budweiser gelato tastes exactly like budweiser. Whether or not that's a good thing has a lot to do with your taste in beer. It seems to me a shame that they wasted such a novel concept on such an inferior brand - the world could definitely benefit from a guinness gelato or a trappist monk ale gelato. Oh well, the budweiser mixed really well with the lime flavour, and it actually tasted kinda good. For about two bites.
I had to get the awful taste of durian out of my mouth, so I went with two flavours I knew for sure I'd enjoy: yogurt and mango. I was expecting the yogurt to be a little more sour - instead it tasted almost exactly like the yogurt flavour of Hi-Chew, but in gelato form. In a similar manner, the mango tasted exactly like mango Hi-Chew. I was in heaven!
Granted, the gelato at this place is not that great (no Mikawaya, that's for sure). But it is worth a visit if only to try some flavours you'd never find in gelato anywhere else.
Again, whether or not that's a good thing is entirely up to you...
601 Broadway St.
San Francisco, CA
Posted by Colleen Cuisine at 12:33 PM
Friday, September 01, 2006
Let's start the morning off with some mathematical logic, shall we?
- Colleen's Corollary 2.0: the fancier the restaurant, the more likely you are to want to blog about it.
- Colleen's Corollary 2.1: the fancier the restaurant, the dimmer the lights
Take a look at exhibit A: Jar Restaurant on Beverly Blvd. Despite being one of the better lit upscale LA dining establishments, the mere act of shooting without a flash produces photos of the yellowish-squint-and-you-can-barely-make-it-out variety.
Excuse me waiter, do you mind if I take this dish outside for just a moment? I just want to
Oh well, I trust that you all can use your imaginations and forgive me for the lack of photographic detail.
I'd been to Jar once before, several years ago, and had a great meal sitting in the clubby dining room. This time we sat at the bar and I enjoyed it even more. There's something about kicking back at a fancy place and treating it like bar food - it allows you to be even more surprised and delighted than you would be sitting at a table, where expectations are high.
We started out with a couple martinis, Brian's a watermelon, mine lychee. Unlike trendier bars that interpret fruity drinks as "Jolly Rancher in a glass," the martini specials at Jar are subtle, with the essence of fruit, not a full-on fruit cocktail. The lychee was especially good...
Sadly, they had run out of the homemade potato chips, but we did get a big heaping bowl of mixed nuts, which are roasted on location at the restaurant and tossed in a salty and barely sweet dust.
Since we had eaten a late lunch, we decided dinner would be one appetizer and one entree shared between us. We chose the lobster cocktail for an appetizer, and it came out piled high with lobster - equivalent to the amount of claw meat you'd get from a full 2 pound crawler. Resting atop a bed of julienned green mango with a spicy lime vinaigrette, this dish was refreshing and surprisingly filling.
Jar had a couple specials that night and we decided on the fish - grilled mong chong from Hawaii. Mong chong is a white fish with a surprisingly rich flavour... it almost has a steak-like quality in that the meat is luscious, full and satisfying without tasting fishy at all. Crunchy and a teeny bit charred on the outside, smooth and rich inside, it came with a creamy citrusy sauce that really hit the spot.
This was hands-down the best cooked fish I've ever eaten at a restaurant... we asked our waiter to add us to the mailing list so we could be notified whenever they were serving it again. It's that good.
Fun fact: mong chong also means "a bloody idiot" according to Urban Dictionary.
In a smooth and seductive environment like Jar, it would be a shame to pass up dessert. Everyone seems to rave about the butterscotch pudding, so we drank the Kool-Aid and dove in.
Wow. Now I know why people go nuts for this stuff. Every ingredient in the dish comes to life, from the rich toasty butterscotch to the fluffy cream floating on top. It's clearly made with an expert hand - I hate (I mean HATE) pudding, and yet I loved every bite of this.
So much for bar food...
8225 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
Posted by Colleen Cuisine at 10:11 PM
Pinkberry copycat Kiwiberri opened today, and while they're giving away free yogurt all evening long, it's really not worth the gas money or the parking hassle.
Anyone who reads this blog knows I love Pinkberry, and when I saw the first signs of Kiwiberri, I was just happy to have more sour-tasting yogurt in the neighborhood. Then things in the blogosphere went sour, and my comment section became a battleground for the Pinkberry/Kiwiberri feud.
I promise I went to Kiwiberri with a completely open mind. In fact, I really wanted to like it, simply for the fact that their location is closer to me than Pinkberry. Bottom line: not only was it not as good as Pinkberry (or Fiore, for that matter), it was actually kinda bad. The yogurt had no depth to it, no richness, no creaminess. It was just sour, then it morphed into a bitter aftertaste. The toppings were awful: blueberries were mushy and tasted a bit spoiled, the mango wasn't ripe enough, and the "granola" was actually Kashi Go-Lean Crunch (classy).
Compared to Pinkberry and Fiore, Kiwiberri's portions are small. Their regular size was equivalent to the Pinkberry small, and at a slightly higher price ($5.00 vs. $4.95 for a medium with 3/toppings), Kiwiberri doesn't exactly bring on the value. Skimpy on the toppings too.
Was there anything good about Kiwiberri? Let's see... they have bathrooms (Pinkberry doesn't). And that's about it.
In addition to the mediocre yogurt, the store seems to be the hangout of an unsavory cast of characters. When I walked in, a group of about 10 hoodlum-looking guys proceeded to stare me up and down the entire time I was in the store. They weren't eating yogurt, they were just... hanging out. Every couple minutes, a manager-looking guy in a Kiwiberri apron would go over to their table and give them all high fives. Hey, if the yogurt business doesn't work out, they can always go back to running drugs.
Me, I'll continue to fuel my sour yogurt addiction at Pinkberry.
Minimall at the corner of 3rd/La Cienega (kitty corner to the Beverly Center)
Posted by Colleen Cuisine at 7:19 PM