Dining

 Richard Foss

Paul Martin’s American Bistro [RESTAURANT REVIEW]

Paul Martin’s American Bistro [RESTAURANT REVIEW]

The first person who told me about Paul Martin’s American Bistro started by saying something puzzling. “It’s like Fleming’s, but without the steaks,” she explained. Fleming’s without steaks? Might as well say it’s like Baskin-Robbins without ice cream, or The Spot without vegetables. What could this be? I had to find out. Once there, I […]

 Richard Foss

Dragonfly Thai [RESTAURANT REVIEW]

Not all of these exotic cuisines are represented on the Peninsula, but there are a few gems within reach. Among them is Dragonfly Thai, a relatively new restaurant on the north side of the Peninsula Center. They’ve only been open for a few months, but they set standards for authenticity and flavor that will be hard to beat. This is a bit surprising because owner Emily Tjakra featured the cuisine of Indonesia, her home country, rather than Thailand at her previous restaurants, the Banyan and Chakra.

 Richard Foss

Dolce Vita [RESTAURANT REVIEW]

Dolce Vita is Italian for “The Sweet Life,” and you might expect the restaurant in Redondo Beach to reflect an Italian idea of paradise – probably something involving tiny cups of very strong coffee, plates of pasta, gnocchi, and antipasti, and regular demonstrations and labor unrest. Instead the focus is more German; one of the employees told me that when the place was named they planned a pan-European concept, but the owner’s German food was most popular so the place became more northern European. The little café and deli now serves some antipasti and homemade French-style sandwiches and pastries, along with a lot of German items that are otherwise unavailable in the beach cities.

 Richard Foss

Darren’s [RESTAURANT REVIEW]

The people who answer the phone at Darren’s in Manhattan Beach must sigh when they’re asked the question, “What kind of food do you serve.” A number of adjectives come to mind: “eclectic”, “creative”, and “excellent” are all accurate descriptions, but raise as many questions as they answer. Chef Darren Weiss is an artist, and his original creations are hard to pigeonhole.

 Richard Foss

The Chicken Shack [RESTAURANT REVIEW]

This Chicken Shack is decidedly upscale, the lighting modern and muted, the paintings on the wall moody and romantic. As for deep-frying, they obviously do have a fryer, because they serve French fries, but the chicken here is cooked on a rotisserie. It’s still home cooking, but home was in Peru, and this fast food has a touch of South American elegance.

 Richard Foss

Asia House, El Segundo

Sometimes I think it’s unfortunate that there were so many tests in grade school that required students to name countries and their capitals. It’s useful to know these things, of course, but it leads people to think that capitals are all that are important, both politically and culturally. Often, they’re not. As an example, Sacramento […]

 Richard Foss

Hoka Hoka Sushi & Sake [RESTAURANT REVIEW]

I really enjoy traditional sushi, and I really hate describing it. At many restaurants, there is a limited variety of preparations and condiments, so descriptions become monotonous even when the actual experience was interesting. When everything is a matter of subtlety, the difference between fresh fish cut perfectly and the same fish cut almost perfectly, […]

 Richard Foss

Papillon, Filipino food in El Segundo [RESTAURANT REVIEW]

One thing that may have reduced the popularity of Filipino cooking in America is the preference for cooking with a lot of fat, especially fatty pork. Papillon may therefore be the best possible place for an introduction to this cuisine, because they offer both standard and vegetarian versions of most dishes.