Bar Hayama

Despite living within walking distance of Bar Hayama, I finally went for the first time last night for dinner. The outside is unassuming and easy to miss, but inside is a nice spacious shelter from the traffic on Sawtelle. The seats around the large fire pit were already taken, but we nabbed a table near it and it was just as pleasant without having to face a roaring fire.

Bar Hayama

We started with some sake samplers: the Legacy and the Classic. Each sampler (about $15) included 3 different sakes in 2 oz. cups. This was perfect for a sake newbie like me to taste different types without breaking the bank.
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Review: AOC

AOC

To celebrate our anniversary, the BF treated me out to a wine and tapas restaurant called AOC. The food is roughly mediterranean and comes out in small dishes to be shared with the whole table. The space itself is sleek and modern while still being cozy and warm. We were seated upstairs in the back room, which ended up being a great idea once the restaurant filled up because the rest of the restaurant was really noisy.
AOC

Upon being seated, the waiter brought out some bread and spread. The black olives that accompanied the harissa spread were delicious. They weren’t overly salty and had a great savory flavor to them. The spread was a bit spicy and smoky, but went well with the olives and bread.
AOC

Our helpful waitress suggested the Valencay Loire Valley goat cheese from France and it was delicious. The rind had a peppery taste, the outer layer of the cheese was creamy and melt-in-your-mouth, and the inside was savory and chalky. It took me a few tries to get used to the inside, but it definitely tastes better with the rest of the cheese. If I could just get a huge chunk of that cheese, some figs and a nice glass of wine, I could eat it all day.
AOC

The BF, an olive fiend, ordered the marinated olives. The small green ones were good and had a fresh spring taste to them, and there was a big one that was stuffed with something like a smaller olive with lots of small seeds in it, which was interesting. I’m still not sure if I like olives yet, but these tasted alright. The really big olives were awkward to eat because the seeds were also large and hard to maneuver out of my mouth.
AOC

The endive salad with fava beans and meyer lemon dressing was refreshing and a fitting spring dish. There could have been more fava beans, but considering how much of a pain they are to shell, I could understand why there were so few. The dish was good, but not that easy to eat because it’s so hard to spear a crunchy endive with a fork.
AOC

I ordered the marinated beet salad with fried chickpeas and feta on the side. The beets were sweet and tender without being too soft. I thought the lighter colored beets were great and not that heavy. The white sauce that came with it was confusing because I couldn’t tell what it added to the dish. It tasted a bit like sour cream, so I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to dip my beets in it or pour it over my salad. The fried chickpeas were great and added a nice crunch to the salad.
AOC

I love fish, but I’m always scared of ordering it at restaurants because I’m used to fish prepared the Chinese way. Despite that, I thought the halibut with bacon, sorrel, and gribiche was delicious. The halibut wasn’t too overdone or dry and the bacon definitely added to its flavor. The fish was topped with chopped sorrel, which gave it a fresh lemony taste without the acidity. It also came with a side of gribiche, which I suppose is a fancy way to say ‘delicious hashbrowns’.
AOC

Then we had some young broccoli, which sounded simple and boring, but was surprisingly good. It looks just like young broccoli cooked with some garlic, but it had a lot of depth to it. It tasted so much more than just broccoli.
AOC

After that came the farro and black rice with pine nuts and currants, which was satisfying and comforting. I thought it was a bit heavy on the pine nuts, but that might be because pine nuts have such a bold flavor. I really liked the farro, which was plump and chewy, and the currants which lent a smoky sweetness to the dish.
AOC

The waitress later suggested the long-cooked cavolo nero, which she described as a black cabbage that tasted like cooked kale. It was an accurate description, but I was surprised when it came out because I had it before in Chinese cooking. In Mandarin, we call it mei gan cai and we usually only get it dried here. It’s soft, but dry at the same time and tastes really earthy. It doesn’t look pretty, but it has a satisfying savory taste to it, like a delicious autumn leaf.
AOC

For dessert, I had almond cake with strawberries, candied rhubarb, and vanilla ice-cream. The almond cake was unexpectedly dense and moist. It tasted great, but I would describe it as more of an almond bar. The rhubarb was good, but since it was my first time having rhubarb, I thought it was a bit weird. It was like a cross between a celery and a tart apple.
AOC

Lastly, the BF had the blood orange sorbet, which was what you would expect blood orange sorbet to taste like: tart, rich, and delicious.

The food at AOC as a whole was good, our wine was good, the cheese was great, and they were accommodating to the BF’s vegan-ness, which is always a nice thing. I wouldn’t mind going there again, maybe for our next anniversary to try some of their other cheeses. I saw that they had something called a Stinking Bishop cheese from England that I’m curious to taste.


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AOC
8022 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 653-6359

Tara’s Himalayan

I can see eating at Tara’s regularly because it has a lot of great things going for it including:

  • It’s halfway between home and work, which means it’s close to both.
  • The food is delicious in a simple and home-made way.
  • Their lunch specials are a great deal considering how much food you get.
  • The staff is friendly and helpful.
  • They’re vegan friendly.
  • The dipping sauce for the momos is tasty and addictive.

Tara's Himalayan
We started off with the aloo achar, which was kind of like potato salad with a curry or chutney sauce. I still can’t figure out what it is supposed to be, but it was flavorful and tasty nonetheless. It had just enough spice to perk up my appetite without being so spicy that I couldn’t taste anything after it.
Tara's Himalayan
Next came the steamed vegetable momos which are basically dumplings. The waitress was nice enough to let us know they didn’t contain egg or dairy for the vegan of our party after checking with the kitchen. I thought the filling was a little too mushy, but the the flavor was good. I really liked the tomato dipping sauce that came with it: tangy and salty but very unlike ketchup.
Tara's Himalayan
As the main meal, I had the chicken masala with a side of garlic naan. The sauce was great and went well with the naan. The chicken was surprisingly tender and savory. It was even better heated up as leftovers the next day.
Tara's Himalayan
The BF had the okra curry which they made without any dairy or ghi for him. I wouldn’t have said this was curry if I hadn’t known because it doesn’t taste like curry at all, but it’s still good. Some pieces of okra was tough and stringy and there were some stem pieces left in, which was disappointing. I thought it was better the last time I ordered it, but I didn’t have them make mine vegan that time.
Tara's Himalayan
Their garlic naan was light and puffy, but I didn’t really taste the garlic until I had some leftovers reheated the next day.

The food is decent, the prices are good, and they serve manga lassi (which I love). I can’t see any reason why I wouldn’t return.



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Tara’s Himalayan
10855 Venice Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 836-9696