Izakaya Bar Hanbay (Torrance, CA)

asian, japanese, sushi

Was fortunate to have been invited with a group of other diners for a tasting event. 
Interior/decor was nice and typical of what one would find in a typical Japanese restaurant. 

First dish presented was the Assorted Sashimi…


Sashimi was tasty! A little surprised that ginger had to be requested… Oh, well… 

What I really enjoyed about this plate was the presentation–especially the ice bowl in the middle… So creative! 

Daikon Salad–pretty simple and straightforward with the addition of daikon. The dressing was kind of like a homemade vinaigrette, but needed a bit more acidity to balance it out. Could see this being ordered more during summer months since it’s refreshing. 


Dashimaki… Rolled up egg omelet. I was pleasantly surprised by this one; wasn’t expecting much at all. Turned out to be tasty as to get 2nd helpings! ๐Ÿ˜ Didn’t care too much for the side of daikon that it came with; I’m fine just how the omelet was. 


Kushi Age… Assorted tempura skewers. Though tempura doesn’t have too much flavoring normally, this one was particularly bland; even with the tempura sauce. One of my least fave dishes. 


Tonteki… Pork steak. Got one of the end pieces and it was juicy but on the fatty side–if you don’t mind that, the end pieces will be your fave (except for the fact that there’s only 2 pieces ๐Ÿ˜‘). The rest was on the salty side and a bit dry. Rice would be a good complement. 


Cold Soba comes with a dipping sauce. Please note the word “dipping”–yes, I almost poured the sauce all over till a diner caught me right before while I had the uncertain look on my face, haha! Though this doesn’t look like much, it was yummy! I’m not much into cold noodles, but this was good! What’s also neat about their soba is that it’s freshly made in-house… That’s probably makes it so good ๐Ÿ˜€ Must try!!


Hot Soba… Soothing broth and noodles, can you really go wrong?? ๐Ÿ˜œ Actually, you can… But that’s not the case w/ this one! ๐Ÿ˜ Similar to the cold soba, this doesn’t have much to it but it was good nonetheless. I prefer thicker broths but this did well for what it was ๐Ÿ™‚ I imagine eating this in replace of rice with other dishes. 


Green Tea Crรจme Brรปlรฉe… What’s always good w/crรจme brรปlรฉe in general is that it’s not too heavy (but still creamy) and not too sweet. And you gotta love that crispy top layer! ๐Ÿ˜‹ I enjoyed how this was not overly flavored. Sometimes when green tea flavoring is added, it can get overboard. Not this, though! Another must-try!


Lychee Sorbet… Nice presentation… But could have done without it. Just slightly too sweet (the syrupy tasting kind of sweet). Kind of reminds me of the lychee I would eat out of a can–not necessarily bad, just not preferred. But if you’re a lover of lychee in all forms, definitely order! 

In the end…
This place has more going for it than not. The sashimi and noodles were my faves for this trip! 

Next time, I would order the fried kimchi–they were frying some when we were there but didn’t get the chance to order, smelled tasty! So, if you try it, let me know how it is ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

Thai Haven (Winter Haven, FL)

Thai

While visiting Davenport, FL, we drove out a bit for some Asian food–originally, we went to Royal Asian Fusion (unfortunately, it was closed when we got there *argh!* – Yelp said it was open). But maybe it was better off, because only a few miles away was Thai Haven. 


9 out of 10 times, Eli orders Thai Iced Tea. It’s usually too sweet for me o_O but this one was sweeter than usual because even Eli was diluting it with water. By the color of it, they didn’t put enough creamer in there–not sure how much that would affect the sweetness. 

If you love Thai Iced Tea and rarely dine Thai without it, this might not affect you; but this is not the place I would have a person unfamiliar w/ this tea to try it for the first time. 


Eli’s dish… It was on the sweet side but okay. What’s awesome about this dish at Thai Haven was that when I asked for medium spicy, it was Thai medium spicy; not the tamed “American” medium spicy ๐Ÿ˜€ Thai food isn’t as good when it’s not spicy! Well, for me, no dish is as tasty if there’s no spice ;P

My dish was the Drunken Noodles. I don’t have a pic of it because the image was blurry and I didn’t realize till we had already left :*( 

Their spicy rating is 1-5, 5 being “extremely spicy.” That wording scurd me, so I opted for level 4 ๐Ÿ™‚ It had a real good kick to it. When ordering, I did mention that I’m Thai–wonder if that had an impact… Usually, it doesn’t. So, I’m surprised, if it did. 

Overall, this place is a must if one is in the area! Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised! Wasn’t expecting the flavor to be as good as it was–glad my expectations were wrong! ๐Ÿ˜€

Anejo Cantina & Grill (Sherman Oaks, CA)

happy hour, Mexican

IMG_5388IMG_5389

If one is familiar with the Sherman Oaks area on Ventura, you might have seen this place. Though we don’t live in the area, we drive by this area numerous times and have never seen this place! It’s only been open since October 2015–in all this time, I would think I would have at least noticed it! Maybe because it’s on the 2nd floor of the shopping center? Who knows… oh, well…

Walking up the steps to this place, I was excited. To the left of the entrance is an outdoor patio seating area–looked chill/relaxing. I now had high hopes.

Went to meet some people for happy hour–gotta love that! ๐Ÿ˜€ When we stepped inside, decor wasn’t disappointing at all! Ambiance was classy and casual. Service was attentive–maybe a little too attentive, haha–food runners and couple servers tried to take my partially eaten tostada away thinking that I might have been done.

As mentioned, we had a tostada, but I forgot to take a pic of itย :*( Eli and I had shared the tostada since we weren’t too hungry and didn’t want to go overboard on the eating since we have the tendency to clear our plates (even though we may be full 1/2 way through the dish) 0_O The dish was okay, nothing special or out of the norm from a tostada anywhere else. The price was great though since it was on the happy hour menu. I added a bunch of their salsa and mixed it all up–made it a bit more tasty.

IMG_5391

As with most happy hours, can’t go to one w/ one ordering an alcoholic bev ;P Considering they were only $3 or $4, it wasn’t too bad. We both had 2. The non-happy hour pricing wouldn’t be worth it to us. Found out from our lovely server (from England) that the HH margaritas are pre-made. So, don’t know if it would have tasted any different if it were individually made. One of the people from our table did end up ordering a margarita after HH ended–it looked the same :/

IMG_5393

Before the first bite, I wasn’t expecting the salsa to be that good… and I don’t know why, but with most Mexican places we’re visiting lately, I don’t have much expectation for their salsas ๐Ÿ˜ฆ This one tasted better than I thought–only because it was more of a chipotle type of salsa, I’m not too fond of chipotle in salsa. It was definitely good enough for me to pig out on, though–chips and salsa, one of my weaknesses o_O

IMG_5392

We didn’t have this sangria, another person in our party did. I didn’t taste it, the person who ordered it said it tasted okay. The presentation is okay–flower makes it look like they wanted to add something but didn’t really know what, haha!

CONCLUSION –ย We’d definitely come back here for happy hour and try other items on the menu–I was eyeing the ceviche ๐Ÿ˜€ Probably wouldn’t order the margarita again. And most likely wouldn’t come here unless it was for happy hour (going by our HH experience). It’s definitely a place to check out but don’t expect anything too phenomenal.