Restaurant Review: Maui Chicken

Yes, that’s right. A new restaurant post. Life has been busy, but in a good way. I kept writing drafts for this review but now, here’s the final.

Maui Chicken is a Hawaiian inspired fast food restaurant that opened within the last year here in Torrance. I’d say it’s doing pretty well since I went in for some lunch, all the tables were full, and a lot of people were waiting on their takeout orders.

They have so many different combos of teriyaki & katsu dishes, that it’s crazy. You could probably spend a couple of weeks sampling just that. There were also some fish dishes, as well as shrimp, and the ever popular spam.


I for one was in a katsu mood, so I went for the basic chicken katsu combo which was served with a generous amount of rice, some macaroni salad, and a small house salad.

I really enjoyed my lunch. With the crunchy chicken, hot rice, fresh salad & sweet macaroni salad, there was a lot to be happy about. The portions were also very huge, that I had enough for dinner later on. Their service was very friendly too. The food was also delivered in a timely manner, despite the wait & a packed house. I’ll be back for more, especially the poke, which they were out of that day. If I’m not at King’s or Back Home in Lahaina, I’ll be here when I crave some Hawaiian.

What’s your favorite Hawaiian take out place?

Maui Chicken on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: The Tripel

The Tripel, a cozy gastro pub on Culver Blvd is the sister property to Hudson House here in Redondo Beach. I enjoyed Hudson House so much that I knew I had to try the new restaurant.

The Tripel is a small restaurant with many communal tables and of course, a bar. The scene is dimly lit, the ceiling is exposed, and brown is the dominant color, giving a warm fee. The chalkboard above the beer taps displays the beers they carry, as well as their origin. There’s quite a variety, thankfully the staff was very knowledgeable and helped narrow it down.

The menu was just the right size, offering many tapa portions as well as burgers, sandwiches, and desserts.

We started off with some sweet potato tots. The minute I saw that there were tater tots on the menu, I admittedly got very excited. I don’t know anyone who could refuse these. The tots were crispy on the outside but still very moist on the inside. The tots came with two homemade dipping sauces, one a bit spicy, the other tangy. All in all very addictive.

The pretzel burger was different than the one at Hudson House, so it was good to give it a try. The juicy burger was accompanied by the mild cheese and the crunchy slaw which gave the burger the boost of flavor that it needed.

Call it risky, unique, or harkening to the beach. No matter what, the po boy was a nice addition to the menu. The calamari was lightly breaded, the sauce wasn’t too spicy. The bread was very chewy. It made for a very good sandwich, a Californian take on a New Orleans staple if you will.

We finished the evening with grilled cibattini bread, generously spread with nutella, and topped with strawberries and pistachios. I loved that this dessert was very light. It didn’t go overboard, didn’t bring any guilt. The sweet strawberries, nutella, and crunchy bread were a nice way to end the night.

I enjoyed my time at The Tripel and will most definitely be back to try more of the menu very soon.

What are your favorite gastropubs?

The Tripel on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Ortega 120

Yes yes, I’m probably one of the last people to try out three year old Ortega 120. I’ve heard so much about their margaritas, their selection of 120 tequilas, yes that’s where that number comes from. Most importantly to me, I’ve heard good things about their food.

So we decided to check it out very recently. The layout was very spacious with red as their main color on the walls which were adorned with eclectic decor. Sculptures, paintings, photos, you name it, it was there. So it was a cross between a sophisticated restaurant and a cozy house at the same time.

Earlier in the day, I commented on Twitter that the menu looked so good that I wasn’t able to decide.

One of my “tweeps” suggested the queso fundido. From the moment I ladled some onto my tortilla chip I could see why. The cheese just oozed onto the chips. It was still pretty hot. A mixture of the mild cheese flavor, the savory chorizo, and just a hint of spinach & mushrooms was perfect. A nice way to start for sure. We loved the queso so much, we finished it up really quickly!

Another Twitter follower suggested I try the duck confit chilaquiles. Let me tell you, the last time I had chilaquiles was when I worked for a major hotel chain. The chilaquiles we served were simply a sunny side up egg on a tortilla with refried beans underneath.


Well let me tell you, this right here blew my preconceptions right out of the water. These chilaquiles were in a class of their own! The tender meat fell off the bones, the cheese covered tortillas were warm and comforting. I can see why this is one of the house favorites.

Thanks to all that suggested this place to me! Ortega 120 is a great place for happy hour, traditional Mexican food, and Mexican dishes with a twist. Be sure to check em out if you’re in the area!

Ortega 120 on Urbanspoon

Teriyaki to Go

I’ve always enjoyed quick service Asian food as far as I can remember. The first chain that I frequented as a little one was Yoshinoya. It still holds a special place in my heart with the steamed rice, pickled ginger & all but a girl needs some variety too.

Yogi’s Teriyaki isn’t too far from me but I always seemed to forget about it. I finally decided to give it a try. I walked into the small restaurant at noon on a weekday so needless to say, it was pretty busy. The menu consisted of small and large bowls of teriyaki chicken and beef. I couldn’t decide so I just got a small combo to go since the restaurant was pretty full. Fortunately, I barely waited at all for my lunch.


When I opened up the container, the charred smell straight off the grill wafted through the air. Both the beef and chicken were very tender and generously basted in a teriyaki glaze. I picked up some extra teriyaki sauce but I really didn’t need it since the meat was so tender and juicy. The order also came with a generous serving of warm & fresh rice. There was so much that I didn’t finish it all but that’s ok since the meat was the star. Yogi’s definitely reminded me a lot of The Flame Broiler, another teriyaki chain. However I’ll be going to Yogi’s more since it’s closer to home. If there’s one near by, try it out!

Lookin for more Asian restaurants?

Yogi's Teriyaki on Urbanspoon

Sushi on the Go

In college, I’d treat myself once a week to grocery sushi. When you’re living on practically nothing, grocery sushi is a big deal. I still grab grocery sushi every now & again when I’m in a pinch but I crave fresh sushi more than anything. However, I don’t want all the pomp and circumstance of a full on restaurant sometimes.

So I used to frequent California Sushi & Teriyaki in Hermosa when I wanted a quick sushi lunch. However I’m in Torrance now & while the trek to the beach isn’t too bad, I’d like something close to home when I’m super hungry.

That’s where Sushimon comes in. It’s not the best sushi in the South Bay let alone Torrance but if I’m craving a small snack, it does the job & doesn’t hurt the wallet either. I first became intrigued by the place when I saw that it was busy on most evenings. On this particular afternoon, it wasn’t too full. We were seated & waited on right away. As we waited on our meals, we were served complimentary miso soup which tasted like every other I’ve had. I’m not complaining though, it was free!


Like many of its fast food sushi counterparts, there was quite a selection to choose from. I settled on the 10 piece Osaka ($8.99) which was colorful and very refreshing. No complaints on the taste front. The sushi was fresh, the rice, warm, nothing wrong there. The only issue I had was the settling of the bill. After we finished eating, we couldn’t find our waitress. A few moments later, she pulled up to the bar & started having a meal which was a bit awkward. We finally got her attention and got the bill.

An awkward way to end the meal but I wasn’t expecting anything fancy when I walked in. So I’m glad to have some fast food sushi in the area.

Lookin for more Asian restaurants?

Sushimon on Urbanspoon

Have you gotten shaved?

If you recall a few months ago, I talked about authentic Hawaiian ice and how good it was. Well thankfully, a friend of mine told me right after that post went live, that theres a Hawaiian Ice place right here in the South Bay, Torrance to be exact.

Calling Get Shaved popular was really one of the biggest understatements. The line snaked around the outside of the store. It wasnt really a hot day either but nonetheless we decided to brave it out. After 20 minutes in line, we made out selections. I chose Monkey Brains with banana strawberry syrup generously poured over the smooth ice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream underneath.


When I got my order, it was already blatant how this dish got its name. Personally I thought it was pretty cool looking. The syrups did retain that fruity flavor I tasted while in Kihei, Hawaii but they were a bit high on the sugary side. The consistency of the ice was the same and the scoop of ice cream was pretty sweet. The one thing I really didnt like was the long line. I know thats a good sign for the business but I dont think Id like to wait in it like that all the time. Also the floors were really sticky which sadly couldnt be helped with such a long line snaking around the corner, heavy foot traffic is inevitable. This was probably why everyone took their shaved ice to go.

We did go back a few weeks later on a school night and there was no line, maybe thats what we need to do in the future. So go ahead and try Get Shaved. Try going on a weeknight, maybe there’ll be no line.

1790 W Carson St
Torrance‎ CA‎ 90501

Get Shaved on Urbanspoon

Ocean Diner

Yes, Ocean Diner was yet another place I’d mean to visit but never got a chance to, until a few weekends ago. The line stretched out the door as I had grown accustomed to seeing. However, the wait wasn’t too long though.

What attracts me to diners is that they seem so comforting. All the nostalgic decor just made me wanna randomly hug someone!

The flip side to diners? The food is pretty greasy… however here at Ocean Diner they do feature a section for those like me who like the diner atmosphere but may not necessarily like the greasy food, or like the greasy food but don’t have the time to run it off!

Along with my fresh cup of coffee, I had their new menu item, the High Protein Breakfast ($11.50) with a buttery teriyaki glazed salmon, egg whites, brown rice, and corn tortillas. Talk about a good way to start the morning. I couldn’t get enough of the salmon. My other favorite part of the dish was the warm corn tortillas. It was one of those meals that I finished so quickly because it was just that good.

So needless to say, the Ocean Diner didn’t disappoint. Next time I’ll have to try something from their pastry case!

Ocean Diner on Urbanspoon

Old Torrance Coffee

I like supporting local businesses. It just gives me a good feeling. I stumbled upon Old Torrance Coffee & Tea a year ago and I remember really liking it, but sadly I kept forgetting to go back. I was in the area so I of course walked on in.
And they had a cute and colorful menu board


a comfy couch…


of course the obligatory coffee shop bongo drums…


and all that jazz.

It was pretty busy on that sunny afternoon. Most of the patio was full. However, I decided to take full advantage of the comfy furniture as I curled up with my iced vanilla latte. ($3.70)


It was pretty sweet already but not to the point where it felt like it was rotting my teeth thankfully! Not too strong either, just the way I like it. I enjoyed my drink as well as the free WiFi. I did like the old feel of the small shop, the brick walls providing some ambiance. It was a very chill vibe. The staff didn’t make me feel rushed or anything. I’ll have to try their specialty drinks and teas soon. Maybe even their sandwiches.

The prices are fairly reasonable and the parking is free, and they have live music on the weekends sometimes so that enough gives me reason to come back.


I was surprised they’d only been around for a year! With how busy it was you’d think it was an old local favorite. However, I’m glad they’ve been successful especially at a time like this & I wish them many more years to come.

Old Torrance Coffee & Tea on Urbanspoon

Cupcakes Couture is Cupcake War Champ

I’m not participating in Muffin Monday this week so I decided to post on its more flamboyant cousin, the cupcake. Let’s face it, we’re lured to these decorative beauties. We ogle at them in display cases. We don’t care if we have to run an extra mile after we’ve devoured a few. It’s worth it.


The good news for us folks in the South Bay bubble is that we don’t have to go all the way to Sprinkles or Crumbs to get our cupcake fix. There’s quite a few contenders here in the South Bay. One of those is Cupcakes Couture in Manhattan Beach. I didn’t know it was a participant in Cupcake Wars on Food Network when I walked in. For me it was simply a cute little store that I’d walk or drive by when I was in the area. They have an open kitchen where you can see the bakers hard at work assembling these little beauties. For many, that and the display case are worth the trip alone. For me, I wanted to try one of these pretty treats that are available on a rotational basis so I suppose you could come in every day to try them all.


So of course I had to get a Lady in Red which is the obligatory red velvet cupcake which was very moist. Its cream cheese frosting was sweet and creamy.


If you’re like me and a whole cupcake can seem like too much to finish in one seating, they have mini versions that calm that sweet tooth of yours. I could really taste the banana in the Nutella Banana one. There were no holding back on the flavors. I would like to see the larger version.

This little shop definitely packs a punch although their cupcakes are a bit on the pricey side. They are standard sized cupcakes but are priced comparably to those found in Sprinkles. However it’s a nice treat every now and then if you don’t want to leave the bubble.

Cupcakes Couture of Manhattan Beach on Urbanspoon

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