Son of a Gun (2)

Son of a Gun
8370 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 782-9033
http://sonofagunrestaurant.com/

Previous visit: July 2011

I can’t believe it had been almost 2 years since my first and only visit to Son of a Gun, before my return this past weekend. From what I remember (or more like what came to me when I read about my previous post of the restaurant), I liked the place plenty, but it wasn’t without flaws, and was still solidly in big bro Animal’s shadows. However, I’ve been hearing and reading nothing but praises for the seafood-centric restaurant since, and when buddy Paul came into town to visit, it seemed like an appropriate time to return (since he was there during the last meal, and had initially wanted to return to Animal).

Comparing this dinner with what I remember about the last one (aided by the previous post of course), and I can say that Son of a Gun has gotten better. Like with Animal, portions are small and prices are (relatively) high, but there’s plenty of positives here, especially with regards to creativity with seafood (i.e. not just raw bar assortments), and more importantly, the dinner as a delicious meal. Also, the bar program is pretty damn good there. I don’t remember it from the last dinner (or whether it even existed back then), but we tried a handful of cocktails and drinks across the menu, and they didn’t disappoint (and they were strong too). Below are photos of what we ordered, with some notes:

Today's Oysters on the Half Shell, Condiments
Today’s Oysters on the Half Shell, Condiments ($3/each)

Didn’t hear what the varieties were, but they were certainly fresh, however straightforward with the standard accompaniments. A great way to kick off the night of seafood though.

Gloucester Scallop, Yuzu Kosho, Pickled Shiitake
Gloucester Scallop, Yuzu Kosho, Pickled Shiitake ($16)

Here was a single jumbo scallop from Gloucester, MA served sashimi-style, right down to the yuzukosho. The pickling of the shiitake mushroom wasn’t strong, but added an interesting, earthy flavor component to the dish. Nicely done.

Smoked Steelhead Roe, Maple Cream, Pumpernickel
Smoked Steelhead Roe, Maple Cream, Pumpernickel ($16)

I believe this has been on the menu since opening day, but I didn’t get to try it last time. Separately, it’s just steelhead roe (basically ikura), whipped maple-flavored cream cheese, and pumpernickel crisps. But get everything together in one bite, and the dish becomes a wonderful play on lox on bagel with cream cheese.

Uni, Burrata, Button Mushroom, Yuzu
Uni, Burrata, Button Mushroom, Yuzu ($19)

I’ve read plenty about this dish, and it didn’t disappoint. Uni + burrata is an interesting combination, seeing how it’s creamy-on-creamy, but it worked. However, it could’ve used more uni (greedy me) to get a better uni:burrata ratio.

Lobster Roll, Celery, Lemon Aioli
Lobster Roll, Celery, Lemon Aioli ($8)

The people’s favorite from day one. Still the people’s champ.

Curly Kale, Caesar Dressing, Walnut, Parmesan
Curly Kale, Caesar Dressing, Walnut, Parmesan ($11)

We felt the need to order a vegetable dish to counter all the protein, so we found it in the form of this kale Caesar salad. Straightforward, but well-executed.

Fried Chicken Sandwich, Spicy B&B Pickle Slaw, Rooster Aioli
Fried Chicken Sandwich, Spicy B&B Pickle Slaw, Rooster Aioli ($14)

The people’s co-favorite. One that I actually wasn’t as crazy about as everyone else in town. However, I found a much better sandwich this time around. Still the same-looking gigantic sandwich, but the chicken this time was juicy and flavorful. And of course, the slaw was great once again. Southern hospitality at its finest.

Linguine and Clam, Uni Aglio-Olio, Chili, Breadcrumbs
Linguine and Clam, Uni Aglio-Olio, Chili, Breadcrumbs ($19)

A lot of people like this dish, and what’s not to love, with it being an spicy, uni-infused version of the classic linguine and clams. But this dish was a little heavy-handed with the cream (I can’t believe I’m writing this), and a bit too oily. Too much of a good thing, really. Tone it down a bit, and the dish would be amazing.

Shrimp Toast Sandwich, Herbs, Sriracha Mayo
Shrimp Toast Sandwich, Herbs, Sriracha Mayo ($12)

I had more than just a bite this time around, and it’s…good. But I think it was one of the weaker dishes of the night.

Soft Shell Crab Tempura, Crispy Pork, Ginger-Soy
Soft Shell Crab Tempura, Crispy Pork, Ginger-Soy ($22)

This sounded great (especially given my love for soft shell crab), and came highly recommended by our server. Besides being a little too heavy with the batter, I thought this was indeed great. A nice variation of the traditional tempura-fried soft shell crab with ponzu you’d find at Japanese restaurants, with the crispy pork adding some extra fattiness.

Frozen Lime Yogurt, Graham Crumble, Toasted Meringue
Frozen Lime Yogurt, Graham Crumble, Toasted Meringue ($6)

Had this last time, a solid deconstruct key lime pie of sorts.

Italian Hamburger: Gianduja, Brioche, Caramel, Maldon
Italian Hamburger: Gianduja, Brioche, Caramel, Maldon ($7)

An interesting dessert here, basically an ice cream sandwich with a sweet brioche bun and gianduja (basically Nutella) ice cream. The caramel and maldon salt gave it an salted caramel flavor.

Today's Sorbet: Coconut
Today’s Sorbet: Coconut ($6)

Might seem standard, but the sorbet and ice cream were actually the dessert standouts, pleasant surprises. It was rich (but not overly so) for a sorbet, and I believe there was a toasted flavor to the coconut.

Today's Ice Cream: Dreamsicle
Today’s Ice Cream: Dreamsicle ($6)

Why don’t more people make creamsicle/dreamsicle-flavored things? They were one of my favorite frozen treats from my childhood, and it was really cool to see it in ice cream form here. This captured the orange + ice milk flavors perfectly.

To sum it up, an inspired and improved Son of a Gun has now stepped out of Animal’s shadow (in my eyes – I’m sure most people saw things differently), and is now standing toe-to-toe with big brother. It’s probably the best seafood restaurant in LA after Providence, but do know that the dishes do add up once you get too excited (and you will). It won’t be two more years until the next visit, that’s for sure.

Cuisine City/Neighborhood Price Grade
American, Seafood Mid-City West $$$ A-

Son of a Gun Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Paiche

UPDATE: added 2nd visit photos

Photo by: Paiche

Paiche
13488 Maxella Ave
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
(310) 893-6100
http://paichela.com/

Pre-Opening Lottery Dinner:

Tuna Tartar
Tuna Tartar ($16) – caviar, soy ceviche dressing, wonton chips

Rock Shrimp Tempura
Rock Shrimp Tempura ($10) – spicy chancaca soy dressing, rocoto aioli

Assorted Pickles
Assorted Pickled ($9) – mixed vegetables

Ceviches
Ceviches – halibut ($9), seabass ($8), yellowtail ($12)

Tiradito de Wagyu Beef
Tiradito de Wagyu Beef ($12) – seared wagyu, parmesan sauce, aji amarillo vinaigrette, black truffle

Tiradito de Paiche
Tiradito de Paiche ($10) – Amazonian fish, aji amarillo lemon vinaigrette, tamari, sweet potato mousse

Pacu Ribs
Pacu Ribs ($12) – Amazonian fish ribs, anticucho lime miso, zapallo puree

Saltado de Quail
Saltado de Quail ($19) – sauteed quail, five spice, rosemary rocoto dressing

Yuquitas
Yuquitas ($8) – stuffed yuca beignets, manchego cheese, grated parmesan

Chicharron de Pescado
Chicharron de Pescado ($11) – crispy fish chicharron, lime yuzu sauce

Uni Shrimp Toast
Uni Shrimp Toast ($14) – sea urchin, shrimp paste toast, rocoto honey sauce

Amaebi
Amaebi ($12) – filo dough wrap, sweet shrimp, jalapeno ponzu dressing

Churros
Churros ($9)

Chicha RaspadillaChicha Raspadilla ($9)

2nd Visit:

Note – 20% all food & drink 2:30-5pm, all 7 days.

4/13/13 Happy Hour
Tiradito de Paiche ($10) – Amazonian fish, aji amarillo lemon vinaigrette, tamari, sweet potato mousse

4/13/13 Happy Hour
Paiche Wrap Lettuce ($12) – Grilled Amazonian fish, anticucho miso marinated

4/13/13 Happy Hour
Ceviches – sweet shrimp ($14), jumbo scallops ($12)

4/13/13 Happy Hour
Pacu Ribs ($12) – Amazonian fish ribs, anticucho lime miso, zapallo puree

4/13/13 Happy Hour
Calamari Relleno ($10) – stuffed baby squid, chorizo, aji pepian

4/13/13 Happy Hour
Arroz con Conchas Negras y Erizo ($18) – blood clams, sea urchin, risotto

4/13/13 Happy Hour
Tiradito de Kampachi ($12) – rocoto oil infused, yuzu onion garlic dressing, Himalayan block salt

4/13/13 Happy Hour
Chaufa de Langosta ($12) – lobster, mixed seafood, fried rice

4/13/13 Happy Hour
Pork Neck ($10) – grilled pork neck, gochujang, green onions

4/13/13 Happy Hour
Green Tea Coconut Cake ($12)

Cuisine City/Neighborhood Price Grade
Peruvian, Seafood Marina Del Rey $$$ N/A

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Newport Seafood (3)

Another place I’ve already written twice about, so won’t say too much here. But Newport Seafood continues to be my favorite Chinese restaurant (even if it’s not completely Chinese). It was a crime not returning for over eight months, so it was the perfect place to celebrate my birthday early with family. There were only four of us, so didn’t get to order too much. Of course, the lobster and beef loc lac are must-orders, and the clams are always a hit with my family. Decided to try the fried frog legs this time, since they were out of elephant clam (geoduck) – they were pretty good, but nowhere near the quality of the other three dishes. Still, everything else was as good as ever. And we went around 5:30pm on a Thursday, so the restaurant was less than half full. By the time we left, it was packed. So go early, since they don’t take reservations.

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Chris Hei grade: A

Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
518 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 289-5998

Tan Cang Newport Seafood on Urbanspoon

Boat House

Forgot whose idea it was, but a group of us came here during halftime of the UCLA-USC football game, after watching it at Ben’s house nearby. Actually we were supposed to come after the game, but UCLA was getting destroyed, so we needed to get out. But little did we know that the game would be on multiple screens at the restaurant – just great. Anyways, Boat House is essentially a rip-off of the Boiling Crab chain, with the requisite Asian waitresses with fake eyelashes and too much makeup. It was funny because Michelle ordered the “whole shebang,” an obvious reference to Boiling Crab (imagine ordering a venti size at Coffee Bean), but the waitress knew what we wanted ;)

This type of food isn’t very exciting – just a bunch of Cajun seasoning thrown in bags of various seafood. It is, however, very filling. And Boat House emulates Boiling Crab pretty well. So if you have a craving for Boiling Crab, and the lines are way too long (like 95% of the time), then don’t hesitate to make a detour to Boat House. If it was up to me though, I would never visit these restaurants personally. If I want real Cajun food, I would just go somewhere like The Gumbo Pot in the Farmers Market next to The Grove (does anyone have a good Cajun recommendation?).

Chris Hei grade: C

Boat House Cajun Boiled Seafood
25 W Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91801
(626) 282-2888

Boat House Cajun Boiled Seafood on Urbanspoon

Seafood Village

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The family decided to come here for my grandparents’ 59th anniversary, because it was near their place. I remember coming to Seafood Village a while back, and thought that the food was decent, but not noteworthy. But my grandparents said that they’ve been here recently, and it was pretty good. So I was definitely open to the idea of trying it again. Also, who am I to complain? I’m terrible at making decisions, and I was in an area where there are a dozen restaurants per block.

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We ordered a combination of lunch special dishes, and house specials that are displayed on the restaurant’s walls. The pork belly dish was good, as was the tofu and seafood dish and the black bean oyster dish. Their version of the beef loc lac was nowhere as good as Newport’s (way too sweet), although their clams with basil weren’t too far off. Overall, it was a solid lunch, but was very filling and satisfying. If I do go back, I’ll have to order their house special crab, and some more of-the-wall seafood dishes (literally).

Chris Hei grade: B

Seafood Village
684 W Garvey Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(626) 289-0088

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Newport Seafood (2)

7/15/11

For Ben’s birthday last Friday, we decided to go to Newport Seafood (my first follow-up review!). I was very happy with the choice, as the restaurant received an A from me last month. But I was a little worried for two reasons: 1) I was afraid that there might be a letdown from me hyping up the place so much, and 2) we had a party of sixteen at 8pm on a Friday night, at a place that doesn’t take reservations. We probably waited outside for around half an hour, and during that time a waiter brought out some menus so we can place the order ahead of time, and the food can come out shortly after we get seated. The entire group placed their trust in me to choose what to get – so much pressure! Since we were being divided up into two tables, I decided to get seven dishes x2.

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Clam with Spicy Hot Sauce

Like I said in my post last month, the clams are one of three dishes I’ve ordered at every one of my visits to Newport. As good as always.

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Ong Choy

I believe this is ching gang tsai (I think that’s the correct pinyin – don’t know if there’s an English name for that). We had to get a veggie dish, and the waiter gave me a rundown of which ones were fresh for the night. Eugenia heard the ching gang tsai and wanted it, so we obliged. Simple and effectively sauteed with garlic. UPDATE: Allison pointed out that the veggie is ong choy, or should be. I’ll have to agree with her on this one. Thanks Al!

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Squid Newport Style

The waiter, probably feeling my enthusiasm as I was ordering, was trying to bait me into ordering the geoduck. While I myself would’ve done it, I didn’t know if the others were open to eating it, or if they were willing to fork over the amount of money. So the waiter suggested a squid dish in their Newport sauce, which is not on the menu – it’s actually for the geoduck (elephant clam on their menu). Not as good as the geoduck would’ve been in the sauce, but still very good.

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Newport Special Lobster

I believe we got a five-pound lobster for each table. After much deliberation, I think the lobster is arguably my favorite dish of the year so far. And everyone followed my advice regarding using the sauce and bits in the rice – we left nothing on the plate!

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Beef Loc Lac (French Style)

Another cornerstone of the restaurant. The plate was empty after one complete rotation on the lazy susan. Enough said.

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House Special Seatrout Whole Fish

I’ve had this dish a few times, and it’s just another example of the restaurant’s expertise on seafood. I would’ve used some more of the sweet and sour sauce on the rice, but it was full of the lobster goodness.

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Deep Fried Tofu

Despite it being just fried tofu, I thought that this was done very well. The batter was thin, but still provided a good crunch. And it seemed like soft tofu was used (it was more silky than the usual fried tofu, which uses firm tofu). I love tofu, and I can eat this and never get bored of it.

So I think that this visit solidified the A that I gave Newport Seafood on my visit last month. I really hoped that everyone else felt the same way. At least we left nothing to take home on both tables. And the staff was very upbeat (and un-Asian) in their enthusiastic happy birthday singing (we ended up singing twice more for other tables after Ben’s celebration). Expect more posts for Newport before the year is over – it’s that good.

Chris Hei grade: A

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Happy birthday Ben!

Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
518 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 289-5998

Son of a Gun

7/2/11My friend Paul is one of my favorite dining companions. Like yours truly, he’s knowledgeable about food (at least we think and talk like we are) and isn’t afraid to try everything. Too bad he moved back up to the bay area last year. But every time he visits L.A., I make sure to make it count by planning a nice dinner or two. We only had enough time for one meal though this time. But luckily, both of us were adamant on going to Son of a Gun, so that was the obvious choice. Everyone knows what a fan of Animal I am, and I made him a believer earlier this year. Therefore, both of us were really looking forward to the seafood version Animal. We brought along Ben, Daniel and Linh-Nam, hoping to expand our group dining horizons. I had high hopes and expectations, and hyped it up quite a bit for the guys.

PhotoMenu

PhotoBest table of the house – but very hot under the sunlight.

Ginger BeerGinger beer ($6)

Today's Oysters on the Half ShellToday’s Oysters on the Half Shell, Condiments ($3 each)

We got a dozen of these. They were served with cocktail and mignonette sauces, horseradish, and lemon. Nice and fresh. Great start to the meal.

Lobster RollLobster Roll, Celery, Lemon Aioli ($7 each)

OMG this was awesome! The lobster filling was creamy deliciousness and went well with the bun, and the mini chips provided a nice contrast with the crunch. But beware – this is small (probably 2-3 bites). Should’ve ordered two each per person MINIMUM. My favorite dish of the night.

Hiramasa PokeHiramasa Poke, Yuzu, Orange, White Nectarine, Serrano ($16)

Besides the obvious choices for the table that we’ve heard/read so much about (lobster roll, shrimp toast and fried chicken sandwiches), each of the guys chose a dish they really wanted to try. Ben chose the poke, he said, “because I’ve had poke in Hawaii hehehe.” Stupid reasoning aside, the hiramasa (type of yellowtail) was of good quality. However, this dish tasted like a fruit salad more than anything else. The citrus was a little too overpowering in my opinion.

Shrimp Toast SandwichShrimp Toast Sandwich, Herbs, Sriracha Mayo ($11)

We ordered two of these (and three of the fried chicken – should’ve flipped that). They were really good. Too bad I couldn’t remember too much about it – I only had about a quarter of one “sandwich.” But it’s a must-order on the next visit.

BrandadeBrandade, Soft Egg, Arugula, Grainy Mustard ($13)

I think I liked this a lot more than the rest of the group. Eating it gave me a very homey feeling. I guess this is how French people in the country feel. Meanwhile, us Americans feel like shit from eating fast food.

Ling CodLing Cod, Pho Fumet, Herbs, Lime, Bok Choy ($15)

With 2.5 Viets in our group, we were ready to talk shit about this so-called pho that was obviously Paul’s choice to order. I told Paul that I imagined him crashing the kitchen and calling everyone assholes for insulting Vietnamese food. But this was not bad. The broth was refreshing and spicy at the same time. However, the proportions of the ingredients made it feel more like an herbs dish more than a cod or pho one. Plus I didn’t get the onion strings.

MusselsMussels, Tarragon, Pernod, Fennel, Toast ($13)

This was Daniel’s choice. It was a good call. The pre-shelled mussels were meaty, and you can really taste the Pernod in the sauce. I made sure to scoop up every last drop with the toast.

Peel & Eat Shrimp BoilPeel & Eat Shrimp Boil, Lime Mustard Sauce ($19 half pound)

The shrimp was a mouthful of Old Bay flavors, which always goes well with shrimp and crab. No need for the sauce at all. I’d take this over the shrimp from places like The Boiling Crab any day.

Niman Ranch HangerNiman Ranch Hanger, Fried Oysters, Bearnaise, Fries ($25)

This was Linh-Nam’s choice. The hanger steak was cooked medium-rare and tasted good, although I just had CUT the night before, so those steaks were still on my mind. I remember the fried oysters and bearnaise much more – they were delicious. The fries, while being pretty good as well, were a little excessive. We couldn’t finish them.

PhotoOnly thing we didn’t finish.

Fried Chicken SandwichFried Chicken Sandwich, Spicy B&B Pickle Slaw, Rooster Aioli ($11)

This was one of the must-order items (the others being the lobster roll and shrimp toast sandwich) according to everything I’ve heard/read. We got three orders of these, and man they were huge (that’s what she said). Unfortunately, the fried chicken breast was a little too crispy and dry. It also had a little too much of the slaw, although the slaw was really good. Why did we get three of these again Paul? Like I said before, should’ve got three of the shrimp toast instead, or even multiple lobster rolls per person. Maybe I’ll get it again next time for a final verdict.

Frozen Lime YogurtFrozen Lime Yogurt, Graham Crumble, Toasted Meringue ($5)

We were really full, but dessert was necessary. This is basically a deconstructed key lime pie. Pretty good.

Nectarine & Berry PieNectarine & Berry Pie, Buttermilk Ice Cream ($8)

According to the service, this is their most popular dessert by far. Tasted like an awesome pie from an old-school diner.

Overall, I felt that our meal at Son of a Gun was really good. It’s hard to impress diners like Paul and myself, especially us being big fans of Animal, but the restaurant did a good job. Not all of the dishes were clear hits, however, and I still prefer Animal at the end of the day. But given time, I think that Son of a Gun can/will achieve the level of its older sibling. I will definitely be back. I need to take the guys to Animal before making my way back here though.

Chris Hei grade: B+

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Son of a Gun
8370 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 782-9033