Me and My Nine Iron

October 16, 2012

Argo review

Filed under: Food reviews,Movie reviews — BJ @ 5:33 pm
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Seen at a pre-release screening in Los Angeles:

If The Town didn’t sell Ben Affleck as a more than capable director, this movie surely will. Argo‘s current IMDb rating would make this the best of his three directorial pictures–hell, a top 50 film, though I wouldn’t go that far–and that’s no shabby feat considering his first two are at 7.8 and 7.6. All the Oscar talks for Best Picture are valid.

Affleck managed to adapt a huge real-life story in the Iran Hostage Crisis into a cinematic masterpiece, capturing perfectly the feel and look of 1980, the tension and chaos in Iran and in the great escape and the funny and cool Hollywood aspects of making a fake movie studio shown by Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine) and John Goodman (Roseanne, The Artist), which shifts a lot of heaviness and tension away from the grave situation throughout the movie.

Well-acted, a great story and an ending that will keep your butt cheeks clenched, Argo delivers as a satisfying biopic with the actors’ resemblance similar to those of the hostages.

Affleck turned down directorial duties for the Superman reboot, Man of Steel, a $175 million movie set to come out in June of 2013. Yes, he’s that legit.

Argo opened in theaters on Friday.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 8.4
What it should be: 7.9


In another supplement to my pizza posts, I checked out Vito’s Pizza under high recommendation from a friend. I ordered two slices–Pizza Margherita and The Garibaldi, meatballs, tomatoes and jalapenos–which came out to over $8 – a huge difference when I could get fresher pizza for $5.


One, in Los Angeles.


Regular slice – $2.50, w/ Pepperoni – $3.00, 18″ Cheese – $16.50, 18″ 1 Topping – $19

The most expensive slices and pies of the five places, a big deal when you factor in that their slices aren’t made to order.


3 stars out of 5

Though tasty, the freshness simply wasn’t there due to the lack of made to order pizza, and you can’t replicate that with any type of re-heating. Catch them during dinner time or catch ’em later. Closes at 11p.



October 12, 2012

Two Saucy Broads review

Filed under: Food reviews — BJ @ 10:41 am

In a supplement to my post on the best pizza in the area, I checked out one in my hometown with a Yelp rating of 4.5 stars – higher than all three of my raved and reviewed pizza joints.

In short, Two Saucy Broads is a very good local pizza place. Unlike the Yelp ratings, it’s not better than the other top places, but a great substitute if you’re in the area. I liked it all: salads, the garlic knots, the specialty pizzas. Open ’til 10p.


One, in Fullerton.


8″ – $5, w/ Pepperoni – $5.50, 18″ Cheese – $13, 18″ 1 Topping – $15

The cheapest whole pies of the four places.


4 stars out of 5


October 9, 2012

Here Comes the Boom review

Filed under: Food reviews,Movie reviews — BJ @ 11:24 am
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Seen at a pre-release screening in South Gate:

Taken from P.O.D.’s eponymous song, which also serves as Kevin Jamesentrance song to his early fights, it’s simply a solid feel-good movie. Enough giggles throughout and some surprisingly emotional scenes make this a watchable PG-film for adults. An adequate amount of MMA action, with the only knock coming from the realism and absurdity of the underdog story.

Henry Winkler provides some laughs as the whacky music teacher whose job James is trying to save, and Bas Rutten plays an immigrant who trains James with spouts from his popular self-defense videos. Co-written by James and Mr. Big Time, Allan Loeb (Rock of Ages, Just Go With It).

Here Comes the Boom opens in theaters on Friday.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: n/a
What it should be: 7.0


I’ve been to Porto’s several times to pick up a birthday cake or have their popular potato balls and cheese rolls, but I finally tried their sandwiches. The prices are very reasonable ($4.15-$6.70), and I had the Cubano sandwich and the Pan con lechon (roasted pork sandwich). (Half of each, not both.)

The latter is the traditional Cuban shredded pork and doesn’t offer as much variety as the Cubano, which has pork and ham, mayo/mustard and pickles. And the fried maduros (plantain slices) makes a good complement as a substitute for chips.

Definitely worth checking out at any of their three locations.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5



September 30, 2012

Dino’s Chicken & Burgers review

Filed under: Food reviews — BJ @ 9:43 pm

I went to Dino’s Chicken & Burgers twice in the last few months, the first time in Pomona and then in Pico Rivera. With high reviews and voted one of the top restaurants in Los Angeles, I was excited to try the craze that was their famous char-broiled chicken.

I got their Chicken Dinner both times; the first time, a half-chicken, rice, beans, salad & tortillas ($6.25) and then, the half-chicken with french fries, coleslaw & tortillas ($5.50). The first order was definitely better, as the fries got over-seasoned from being under the chicken and the flavor was overwhelming. Plus, the rice and beans always provide a more complete meal.

Quite simply, the red chicken lives up to the hype and blows away an El Pollo Loco or any fast-food chicken place. The only problem is there’s only five locations, but if you’re around, it’s a generous portion for a great price.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5



August 2, 2012

Ruby Sparks review

Filed under: Food reviews,Movie reviews — BJ @ 8:53 pm
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Seen at a pre-release screening in Hollywood:

A feel-good rom com about a writer whose fictional character comes to life – and everything he writes about her coming true. As uncomfortable and envelope-pushing as these “rules” become, they’re believable for anyone in his shoes and plain maniacal fun.

Written and starring Zoe Kazan, who’s absolutely adorable, and her real-life boyfriend, Paul Dano, who’s made it a long way from his dorky role in The Girl Next Door. He’ll next appear in Looper, the intriguing sci-fi flick coming out in September. Also appearing: Elliott Gould (Friends), 4-time Oscar nominee, Annette Bening and a horny Antonio Banderas.

Not a perfect movie, but certainly not deserving of its negative reviews. Still, one of my favorite movies of the year by the way it made me feel and just below Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Moonrise Kingdom.

Ruby Sparks opened in limited release last Wednesday.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 6.5
What it should be: 7.5


I checked out Jones in West Hollywood, looking to eat some Italian food. The interior was pretty boojie, especially considering its affordable prices ($11-15 for pizza and pasta dishes). More a place to take your date with its dim lighting and intimate booths, I was totally fine having a candlelit dinner in the gay part of town with my guy friend. They have a casual room past the main room, which is where we had to sit because there weren’t any tables at 9:30p on a Tuesday. We shared a spicy sausage pasta dish and a brick-oven pizza, and they were both amazing.

With the aforementioned and good-looking waitresses, I can’t think of a single reason not to come back if I’m in the area. Great find via the highly-rated Yelp reviews.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5



July 11, 2012

The Counter review

Filed under: Food reviews — BJ @ 12:02 am

There’s a couple of custom build-your-burger joints around like Slater’s 50/50, but this time I went to go check out The Counter in Newport Beach. The place was pretty crackin’, and the seating was a little more comfortable this time, unlike my experience at Umami Burger. The concept behind these restaurants is genius, and the opportunity is something to get excited about…if you know what you’re doing.

Yeah, you can choose from pre-set burgers made by the restaurant, which I have no doubt are amazing, but what fun is that? Just make your selections from this 5-step process, and hopefully, your burger can turn out as good as my Greek Feta Burger with Jalapenos and Roasted Green Chiles.

With much better prices than Umami Burger, too. A 1/3 lb. burger and french fries for $10.45. My burger and side at Umami Burger – $15.50.

The Counter has 22 locations in California.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5



July 10, 2012

Village Pizzeria vs. Lamonicas

Filed under: Food reviews — BJ @ 11:33 pm
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I don’t know about y’all, but my friends are always about finding the best New York-style pizza…here in Southern California. I might get shit for this, but to me, pizza–like burgers and most other foods–gets to a point where the quality tops off somewhere, and the difference on top of that, though maybe noticeable, is minimal. Everything under a miscroscope, I’d put Pedone’s as the best pizza place I’ve tried.

The next tier or the A- level would be Lamonicas and Village Pizzeria. In the Lamonicas video, the owner states that they ship the dough from Brooklyn using Brooklyn city tap water. How fucking tight is that?

I’m not going to break it down by sauce, dough, crust, etc., except simply to say I’ve tried both the cheese pizza and pepperoni pizza at all three places. While the cheese pizza seems to be universally solid, I found that the pepperoni from Village Pizzeria was one of a few things where the quality faltered. While they have a very unique, fancy-looking pepperoni–cute, little circles with the edges raised–it was salty to the point I didn’t want to eat them all…on my first slice.

Village Pizzeria also offers a thick-crust pizza (is that even New York anymore?), which was significantly worse than the traditional thin-crust. Overall, it’s a solid place, but they have a salty pepperoni pizza, and they close earlier than the other two places; generally, 9:30p while the other two are around 11p, 2:30a at Pedone’s Hermosa Beach location.


Village Pizzeria – Two, in Los Angeles.

Lamonicas – One, in Los Angeles (Westwood).

Pedone’s – Two, in Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach. (Though, the one in Redondo Beach is said to be better.)


Village Pizzeria – Regular slice – $2.35, w/ Pepperoni – $2.75, Regular thick crust – $2.40, w/ Pepperoni – $2.85; 18″ Cheese – $15.95

Lamonicas -Regular slice – $2.35, w/ Pepperoni – $3.10; 17″ Cheese – $15.50, 17″ 1 Topping – $17.00

Pedone’s (Hermosa Beach) – Regular slice – $2.70, w/ Pepperoni – $2.95; 18″ Cheese – $13.75, 18″ 1 Topping – $15.75

Village Pizzeria has the cheapest prices by the slice, about the only thing it can claim over its rivals.


Village Pizzeria – 4 stars out of 5

Lamonicas – 4.5 stars out of 5

Pedone’s – 5 stars out of 5

Interestingly, all three hold the same 4 stars on Yelp. But like I said, all solid places I would recommend for New York-style pizza.


May 30, 2012

La Tavolata review

Filed under: Food reviews — BJ @ 1:20 pm

We decided to check out this Italian eatery after its 4.5-star rating on Yelp and its 5-star rating on Urban Spoon. In short, it all held up. There’s really only one way for these little cafes to be successful and have repeat customers: make bomb dishes. La Tavolata is no different.

The pasta dishes are flawless and make this place an instant Italian favorite. The long wait (>30 min.) to get our food was worth it, as you can taste the al dente in all of the pasta. You won’t taste fettucine alfredo better than here, and the portions are perfect – at very reasonable prices ($12-13 for pasta).

La Tavolata is on South St. in Artesia.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5



May 29, 2012

Hokkaido vs. Onami

Filed under: Food reviews — BJ @ 6:26 pm
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For us SoCal’ers, we’ve all been to Todai, but for $29, I wanted to shed light on alternative seafood buffet options in the area.

Chinese Food

Or as the restaurants call it, “hot entrees.” Or as my friends call it, “food you don’t waste your stomach on so you can gorge on as much sushi as possible.”

Hokkaido: I’ve yet to find a place where the food is near inedible. Todai is no different. Hokkaido is among the worst. Their roast beef and ribs = yuck. Made to order = Mongolian BBQ.
Onami: The best food you’ll find at a seafood buffet. If I only ate this, it would still be a good meal. Enough of a difference to make it the best seafood buffet, but I’ll go on.┬áMade to order = kalbi.


Hokkaido: Bread and butter rolls. Items offered: 13.
Onami: I’ll admit their Spicy Tuna Rolls–with that carrot and asparagus some places use–is kind of bunk, but the Philadelphia Roll and the adequate selection more than makes up for it. Some items offered here you can’t find at Hokkaido include the Salmon Skin Roll, Philadelphia Roll, Shrimp Tempura Roll, Spicy Scallop, Albacore Tuna and Yellow Tail. Items offered: 52.


Hokkaido: You would think having a chocolate fountain makes it unmatchable, but the rest of the dessert bar is skippable.
Onami: A handful of bite-sized cakes you would find at Todai or even a Las Vegas buffet, topped off with three ice cream flavors on a cone–including Green Tea–makes you forget about that chocolate fountain.

Prices (weekend)

Lunch: $17.99
Dinner: $17.99
Lunch: $17.95
Dinner: $26.95

You get what you pay for, but more so, I’m not paying $18 for a subpar meal. Hokkaido’s $11 lunch on Mon. thru Fri. is something to consider though.


Hokkaido: Three, including in Long Beach and Los Angeles.
Todai: Three in CA, including in Orange, Westminster and Arcadia.
Onami: One, in Torrance.


Hokkaido: 2 stars out of 5

Todai: 3 stars out of 5

Onami: 5 stars out of 5

A few misses to keep Onami from being flawless, but the best seafood buffet I’ve had by far.


May 23, 2012

The Lazy Dog Cafe review

Filed under: Food reviews — BJ @ 5:15 pm

I had previously never heard of this place and was surprised to find they had ten locations; I went to the one near Angels Stadium on W Katella Ave. in Orange. Notwithstanding the name of the restaurant, I didn’t know they were a dog-friendly place. We decided to eat out in the patio since it was a nice day, and the waiters brought doggie bowls filled with water for the dogs. I didn’t know how I felt about a restaurant fostering an environment for dogs in the same area as patrons eating.

Sure enough, a pitbull was barking the entire time, and just as I took my last bite, a furry dog whose owner got up to leave, shook himself off and all of his fur floated in the air. A truly disgusting sight while eating.

The food was very run-of-the-mill American. I got a Baja California burger ($9.75), which was pretty good, but the fries were so unseasoned that I gave away the few I had after I finished my burger. And when you have bad fries, no matter how good the burger is, it sours your meal. That being said, the food really wasn’t all that bad, and for the price, I wouldn’t mind dropping in after an Angels game.

But one thing’s for certain: no matter the weather, I’m eating inside.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5



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