Taster Tots L.A. http://tastertotsla.com Kid-Friendly. Adult Fare. Finding the best family-friendly restaurants. Thu, 18 Sep 2014 23:11:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5
The Right Restaurant at the Right Time and Place: Pine and Crane, Silver Lake http://tastertotsla.com/2014/09/17/pine-and-crane-silver-lake/ http://tastertotsla.com/2014/09/17/pine-and-crane-silver-lake/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 21:18:54 +0000 Jessica http://tastertotsla.com/?p=4937


Kid Hit Menu Items: “I can eat this everyday,” my friend said during my introductory lunch at Pine and Crane. She wasn’t kidding. I was practically craving my next meal there before I had even finished my first. Although I was kid-less that day, I immediately scanned the menu for items my not-so-great-eaters would go for. They’re not interested in the light and chewy wood ear mushroom salad, nor the stewed intense 3-cup trumpet mushroom mix. Forget about the silky chili-flecked mapo tofu (with or without pork option). Fine, more for me. With plates of pork dumplings (or “ducklings”) and pancakes, however, they’re off to the races — and that includes my super picky one. He demolished an order to himself, a feat I imagined impossible outside of DTF. Crazy long Dan Dan noodles keep them busy, too. Plates of veggies fresh from the owners’ family farm (and also available for purchase by the pound) and cooked minimally are too beautiful and pristine not to try.

Adult Perks: After a several month-long wait for beer and wine license, Pine and Crane recently offers craft beers on tap and a small wine list. Previously, or main beverage indulgence has been letting the elder child have full-on caffeinated strength milk tea boba. When that happens, WATCH OUT.

Pros: Counter service can be a mixed bag for instantly popular restaurants. But for early diners it’s less of an issue, and we all know that not having to wait for the check is a huge plus. The minimalist stylish dining room has space for strollers, skateboards, or whatever compact wheeled transport you might need to put somewhere. (Just to fit all the neighborhood cliches, I’ve used the bike rack out front.) Speaking of other plusses, Pine and Crane has the added perk of sitting directly behind the Silver Lake’s Sunset Triangle pedestrian plaza, so there’s plenty of room to run off some post-meal steam.

Be prepared to hover. Awkward! When dinner there included 5 cousins and only 3 adults, scoring seats around the communal table was a big help.

Changing Station: No. Still, a super nice bathroom with beautiful gold stenciled ginko leaves, as well as one of those sensor trashcans my kids love, overuse, and therefore nearly break.

High Chairs: Yes


Parking and Access: Street parking, which is a little tricky come nighttime and during lunch service on ticketing day.

Other Tidbits: We will ALWAYS love and appreciate you, Thai Town, and yet for a long while there it seemed as if our area could use some improvement and diversifying in the Asian cuisines department, and Chinese in particular. True, there’s Chi Dynasty and the Palace on Hillhurst, but those places are essentially are phoning it in from another era, and after one delivery experience, we let go of high hopes. (That said, I’ve been long remiss in following up on this trusty report.) Along with Pine and Crane, Blossom and Night + Market Song are rounding out the restaurant scene in these parts with overall sensibilities that are very much in tune with the community (yeah yeah, go ahead, make hipster jokes) and times. Based on an anecdotal sampling of conversations I’ve had, parents in particular are enthused about Pine and Crane. Meanwhile, we might need to start gradually feeding the kids chili peppers in order to work up to dinner at Night + Market. Bonus fact: limited delivery is available via Try Caviar’s service.



1521 Griffith Park Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026
(323) 668-1128
Cuisine: Chinese/Taiwanese
Price: $$
Hours: noon – 10 p.m., daily. Closed Tuesday.


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Ask the Experts: Chef Judy Han, Mendocino Farms http://tastertotsla.com/2014/06/26/chef-judy-han-mendocino-farms/ http://tastertotsla.com/2014/06/26/chef-judy-han-mendocino-farms/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 19:34:56 +0000 Jessica http://tastertotsla.com/?p=4916

Chef Judy 1If it’s anyone who understands how to balance the dueling demands of convenience and quality — a shared concern of both parents and chefs — it’s Judy Han. The Executive Chef of Mendocino Farms develops the ever-growing L.A. restaurant group’s menu of seasonal sandwiches and other multiculti, California-inflected lunch specialties. Mother to a nine year-old daughter and five year-old son, the Chicago native, Northwestern grad, and self-described “law school dropout” traded one potentially stressful, rewarding career for another. Her current position and schedule are intense, but she makes it all work, and Chef Judy is also super fun to talk to.

Why is working in the fast casual restaurant world a good fit for you?   

At the time [when I started], we only had 300 South Grand, and we were only open for four hours. [Owner] Mario [Del Pero] was doing breakfast catering, so I started my days 4:00 a.m. I did production and started the kitchen, and I stayed until after we closed our doors at 3:00, so from 3 to 5:00 I did more production for the next day. I did all the cooking at the store. With that said, I got all my weekends off, and all my holidays off, because we were on Bunker Hill and there’s no business during the holidays. I could take Christmas off, and have extended weekdays. Things like that are worth the trade off.

Although now I work evenings and weekends as well, because we’ve grown into a seven-day, lunch and dinner concept. It wasn’t what it was when I first started. It’s a different thing now. The role has changed.

How did you get started?

Suzanne’s [Goin's Lucques] was my first restaurant. I had actually met her through a chef friend of mine, who had met her in Aspen. At the time she wasn’t taking any interns, because it’s an investment to take on an intern, but somehow he convinced her to take me on. I was on the line at Lucques for about a year and a half. I dabbled a bit at other restaurants to see what style fit my style. I spent some time at Sona, which was really great. Then I landed at Literati II, and did that for another year and a half.

What do your kids eat?

They like sandwiches. My son eats the steak BLT [from Mendocino Farms]. My restaurant friends, their kids are all open minded to food. Not to say my daughter doesn’t want peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on Hawaiian bread every day of her life, but I don’t let her! This morning I gave her some Greek yogurt with honey that we sourced.

I threw a birthday party for the kids, and I had fruit and pastry and cheeses, and stuff my kids like. Even chocolate croissants! They ONLY wanted cheese pizza, that was the only thing that was empty. It was fascinating! American kid food is pizza, grilled cheese. On a personal level, my kids’ favorite thing is rice and seaweed, and noodles.

It seems like kids’ palates are probably changing.

I went to go eat Korean food with my son, and he wanted salt. I was like, do you understand how much salt is there already? You’d never ask for salt in a Korean restaurant, because you have kimchi to give it that salt boost that you want. But you want a clean palate to taste the other ingredients.

So what’s your cooking routine?

I get home too late to cook. I actually have a Saturday and Sunday cooking prepping thing, so I cook for the week; easy to microwave things, and braising. I try to mix it up. Sometimes I’ll do Asian, sometimes I’ll do Latin, American, Italian. I try to keep it multicultural on a weekly basis. Delivery programs are hard for me, because I have to go to the market. I go to Silver Lake and Hollywood farmers’ markets on the weekend. If I want to do Korean I’ll go to an Asian market. We usually go to the Woori Market.

I rarely cook a whole baked chicken. Instead I’ll braise it, or I’ll do baked chicken legs. I don’t do it very often but I’ll do karaage, Japanese-style fried chicken that my kids love, but if I do that, it’s gone, and then I have to think of something else! The trick is to always have leftovers, and make your kids be comfortable eating leftovers. And then I always have emergency food, like peanut butter and jelly.

Where do you like to eat out with your family?

We have to eat out on the weekends. I get palate fatigue. I actually don’t eat my food at home! A lot of cooks, they don’t like to eat what they’re making. I like to support the local businesses as much as we can. We usually get cravings for Asian food, and we venture into uncharted territory. We always find something on the menu, like at Pa-Ord Thai. I love their Number One soup. I don’t have a Korean favorite. Some places are good for some things. It’s easy to make simple rice and a couple dishes at home.

I think Asian restaurants generally are good for kids, like Pine & Crane is really nice. But we’ll make trips to San Gabriel Valley and go to 101 Noodle, or do dim sum over the weekend. What every family in Silver Lake and Echo Park does!




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All Aboard for a Car-Free L.A.-Santa Barbara Day Trip on Amtrak http://tastertotsla.com/2014/05/14/car-free-l-a-santa-barbara-day-trip-amtrak/ http://tastertotsla.com/2014/05/14/car-free-l-a-santa-barbara-day-trip-amtrak/#comments Wed, 14 May 2014 21:47:38 +0000 Jessica http://tastertotsla.com/?p=4890

Amtrak3We’d come close, but hadn’t yet fully taken the mini-adventure I kept promising my boys: a round-trip Amtrak ride to Santa Barbara from L.A. No car, no firm agenda, no private transportation backup plan. The idea was to arrive at the charming and historic Glendale train station a few miles from our house in the morning, and come home that same evening. There would be no meeting up with dad in Santa Barbara and then piling into the car to cruise back at our leisure. It’s simple: just the three of us on a random school holiday, schlepping as little gear as possible. Simple, right? Yes and no. Here’s how the day shaped up, and a few things I learned.

Amtrak11. You can relax, but you’ll need to mind the time.
Unlike car trips, for which the biggest concern is dodging the worst of traffic, there’s a specific schedule to keep in mind. (Major perk: you don’t have to think about traffic. AT ALL.) I didn’t go overboard and prep a preschool style visual itinerary for the day, but I did have to keep somewhat close eye on the clock. This isn’t, say, the northeast with frequent train departures, and Amtrak only runs a few trains per day on the Surfliner. We left around 9 a.m., which got us in around 11:30, and I booked a return trip on the 4:30. Just enough time to have some fun by the coast and to grab lunch (and an ice cream treat) in town. I could have pushed it and taken a later train, but better to wrap up while spirits are still high.

LuckyPenny2. Think about how much you’ll all want to walk (in other words, how long until the kids start complaining).
The beautiful Mission Revival style Santa Barbara train station’s location in the heart of town on State Street, and just a beach pebble’s throw away from the ocean, makes this destination ideal day trip material. But you’ll still need to get around. After we stepped off the train, we headed across the tracks to Lucky Penny, part of a stellar food mini-complex that entrepreneur, all-around terrific lady, and mom of two Sherry Villanueva has developed in the city’s so-called emerging Funk Zone (or what my husband calls the “Drunk Zone”), where my kids cannot get enough of the penny tile wall. The wood-fired pizzas and top-notch coffee eaten super casually around outdoor picnic-style benches make it a perfect first stop. (Go back to the complex without the kids for dinner at the Lark and wine tasting at Les Marchands, run by a couple sommeliers with serious creds.) Full of pizza and myself properly caffeinated, We were then ready to hit the beach.

Amtrak43. Bring as little as possible, but enough for a beach visit.
This was the toughest part. I’m not a big beach-goer, but we’ve skipped it enough times in Santa Barbara that now I really can’t deny my kids a romp in the ocean anymore. I brought a stroller, almost as much to use as a cart for our stuff as for rolling around a small human being. I packed bathing suits, a light throw to lay down on the sand, and one large towel for the kids to share. I didn’t however, bring a bathing suit for me because I didn’t want to spend the rest of the day without access to a shower and thus swathed in briny residue. There was a lot of nervous supervision as I kept them close to the shore’s edge as I trailed along, and yet I had to make sure no one took advantage of my divided attention by absconding with our stuff. (Not an issue when another adult is present.)

Amtrak54. Figure out what’s doable on foot, and take public transit.
Since Santa Barbara is a compact, quaint, heavily-touristed town, the city makes getting around fairly easy. An electric trolley-style shuttle bus runs along the waterfront and through downtown. So if the kids are clamoring for the Zoo and you’re not sure how to get there without your own wheels, just hop on the bus. Our beach visit zapped a good amount of their energy, but a Santa Barbara jaunt isn’t complete without indulging in a special afternoon treat at local favorite, McConnell’s Ice Cream on State Street (or one of their other locations). Given the reward, that was a walk they were willing to do.

Amtrak25. It’s all about the journey, not an economically practical or fast excursion.
Unlike airlines, Amtrak offers lower fares for kids. That said, the train trip still cost over $120, so it’s obviously about the journey rather than maximizing bang for the buck, or getting to Santa Barbara as quickly as possible. Frankly, we could have made it there and back on about half a tank of gas in my hybrid, and possibly even found a deal on a hotel room for close to the same amount of money we spent on the train. Also in optimal traffic situations, we usually get to Santa Barbara in about an hour less time than the two and a half hours minimum the train requires. The Shinkansen ’tis not. Nor does traveling alone with two kids look or feeling anything like a writer’s contemplative and productive train nirvana.

But winding our way through the deep Valley northwest of L.A., watching miles of farmland stretch out around Camarillo and Oxnard, and riding what feels like mere inches away from the glimmering Pacific makes the Surfliner such a distinct Southern Californian experience.

Arguably the most awesome part was not having to drive back during Friday night rush hour. So what did I do instead? Kicked back on the train while nursing a Negro Modelo, as my exhausted boys watched the scenery fade into the dimming evening light.

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Come for the Parking, Stay for the Pizza: DeSano Pizza Bakery, East Hollywood http://tastertotsla.com/2014/03/07/desano-pizza-bakery-east-hollywood/ http://tastertotsla.com/2014/03/07/desano-pizza-bakery-east-hollywood/#comments Fri, 07 Mar 2014 22:10:57 +0000 Jessica http://tastertotsla.com/?p=4872

DeSano2Kid Hit Menu Items:
Pizza, pizza, pizza! What else do you need? Out of the three pies we sampled at DeSano Pizza Bakery, the lone adult (me) ate the capricciosa and San Gennaro topped with sweet sausage and spicy peppers, whereas the boys split a Margherita. That left plenty of leftover for Papa’s dinner and for lunch the next day, making me happy because the older I get, the more I LOVE leftovers. Anyway, pizzas come in two sizes, and are priced for the $10-15 small pies, and $15-22 for the large ones. There’s a case of tantalizingly piled-up gelato, house-made cannolli, and a fridge stocked with San Pellegrino limonata and aranciata, which are some of the sodas I let my kids drink based on completely irrational decision-making. Well, I’d argue the small bottle size is a legit reason.

Adult Perks: Long ago are the 1980′s when we’d head to Caffe Roma in Beverly Hills for the occasional dose of what my parents thought was the closest authentic Italian pizza we could find to remind them of their days in Rome and Parma, where they’d lived during the late 1960s. Angeli came along in ’84, and even offered delivery. Sadly, Angeli isn’t part of L.A.’s current pizza passion that’s ushered in a wave of new options, mostly Neapolitan style, and many of which emphasize a Chipotle-like template and customization. DeSano, where I was invited to eat via the PR firm, isn’t an iPizza restaurant. The menu features a fixed listing of Neapolitan classics, a few set topping creations of their own, and calzoni, all made with super authentic ingredients brought from Italy, the evidence of which is stacked on shelves and palettes all over the semi-raw space. DeSano’s beer and wine license is pending and will happen soon, thankfully, since it’s a shame not to be able to have a Moretti with these charred pies to give the experience a proper pizzeria/beer garden feel.

DeSano3Pros: Think of DeSano as blending the best elements of the pizza parlor you grew up with – I mean, what’s not to love about those big tables and big flexible rooms at Shakey’s – with growing demand for quality ingredients, authentic preparation, unfussy interior design, and handmade wood-fired ovens. In the plural. We’re not just talking one, but FOUR, each named for a locality in Italy along with its patron saint. The ordering and service process is great when you’ve got a hungry brood to deal with (read more about that below). DeSano is open continually, making it totally ideal for those family dinners that need to happen ASAP in the 5:00 p.m. hour.

DeSano1Cons: For many reasons, we’re very loyal to a certain neighborhood pizza place, where my youngest son orders zucchini pizza and delights in actually eating a vegetable that’s not blanched broccoli. I’m also personally more partial to a crust with slightly more tang from sour starter and tomato sauce.

Changing Station: No, but bathroom facilities are ample and spacious.

High Chairs: Yes, but not really needed.

DeSano4Parking and Access: The size of the parking lot is fairly startling, given the population density of this East Hollywood neighborhood. As a matter of urban design and big-picture-livability principle, although not of suburban reality, I’m generally opposed to excessive available of this certain good. And yet, I confess that parking this easy just helps eliminate one stress factor from going out to eat, and we all know how CRUCIAL that can be. I sent a friend to DeSano yesterday, and he texted me just to rave about what he thinks is arguably the easiest parking in our entire area. I’ll ride Metro this weekend or something to make up for this sin.

Other Tidbits: The food destinations associated with this portion of Santa Monica Boulevard are more likely to be Marouch, Villalobos Market, or Sasoun Bakery, so a Neapolitan pizza restaurant that’s actually a Nashville and Charleston import and run by the former GM of a fancy West Hollywood power lunching spot isn’t expected. DeSano is very casual — as well as surrounded by a chain link fence — but the pies all cost double digits. Furthermore, the price point seems more in line with what you’d find in neighborhoods further west or northeast. Then again, this type of post-light-industrial, massive square footage isn’t available in those areas, and DeSano needs space for its concept to work smoothly. (It’s also across the street from the — *moment of silence* — former Hollywood Star Lanes.)

DeSano5So, back to how it all works. First you place your order at the counter in the room by the very small (relative to the size of the building) entrance, then make your way around the wall to the main dining room/open kitchen, where after a few minutes you pick up the pies (and salads, since DeSano has some of those, too) by the pizza ovens, and take your seat(s) at one of the picnic benches. It’s a smart fast-casual hybrid system and I’m probably making it sound more complicated than it is. Unfortunately, disposable cups and utensils are part of the package. The overhead lighting is a bit police interrogation room-style harsh, and it’s not a cozy spot to linger over long conversation, but once the space fills up with the din of chatter and intense pizza chewing, I bet they’ll get a nice convivial buzz going on in there. Marino, the man behind the operation, is incredibly friendly and committed to good service, and he patiently humored me as I attempted to dust off my rusty Italian conversation skills.

Given how convenient DeSano makes having a high quality pizza meal, how much my kids loved it (the eldest already says he wants to have his eighth birthday in the private party room there; and yes, there’s a private party room, which is a general query I frequently field from friends, so that’s just an extra little FYI for y’all), how often our family will gladly eat pizza, and again, how easy it is to park, we’re adding DeSano to the regular rotation.


4959 Santa Monica Boulevard, East Hollywood
: Italian/Pizza
Price: $$
Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m., daily

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Ask the Experts: Samantha Barnes, Kitchen Kid and Raddish http://tastertotsla.com/2014/01/30/samantha-barnes-kitchen-kid-and-raddish/ http://tastertotsla.com/2014/01/30/samantha-barnes-kitchen-kid-and-raddish/#comments Thu, 30 Jan 2014 19:34:47 +0000 Jessica http://tastertotsla.com/?p=4856

RaddishSam&CecilySamantha Barnes is a local mom, chef, and culinary instructor who knows how to get kids interested and engaged in the kitchen. In fact, she’s built an entire business around it with her first venture, Kitchen Kid. Her newest project is Raddish, a beautifully designed meal kit that looks like a fun craft kit but involves the stuff what will actually become dinner (useful!), and draws from her extensive experience designing and operating Kitchen Kid’s culinary classes, camps, and group cooking parties. It’s delivered monthly, with a grocery list emailed ahead of time so parents can stock up and prepare ingredients for when the recipes and activities arrive. (I’ve also written about Samantha’s ventures in stories elsewhere.) Now with two very young kids of her own, Samantha is even more adept at helping other parents put into direct practice what she’s been teaching for years.

How many kids do you have, and how old are they?

My daughter is almost 4, and my little guy is “not so little” any more, at 20  months.

Although every child is different, generally speaking, at what age do you think it’s best and most realistic to get kids involved in the kitchen?

I really think 3 is a great age to get your kids excited about cooking and preparing food. 3-year-olds can wash veggies, sort ingredients, help you measure liquid ingredients, scoop dry ingredients, scissor-cut herbs, chop apples, and so much more. Even before 3, kids are curious about how things look and smell and feel. As long as you make the time to let your little chefs explore, (read: not when you are rushing to get dinner ready on a busy night), I really think they are never too little to be a part of food preparation. When my daughter was an infant, I cooked with her in a sling, and described every smell and taste.

But don’t expect too much – at 20 months, my son does a lot more eating and rearranging than anything else. But, he absolutely insists on being part of the action with this big sister. (The FunPod from Luca and Company makes it totally possible!) Of course, the older the child is the more you can expect them to do. Years ago I taught a 5-year-old who could mix batter like a pro and adored Ina Garten.

Raddish Box shotWhat inspired you to branch out from your already busy business as founder of Kitchen Kid and start Raddish?

I love teaching cooking to kids through our after-school enrichment classes, birthday parties, and summer camps. For a while I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to scale Kitchen Kid so I could empower kids to cook beyond Los Angeles. Raddish allows me to do just that. We adapt Kitchen Kid’s techniques, engaging lessons, and delightful recipes and package them for home kitchens anywhere.

How can Raddish help overwhelmed parents prepare food more healthfully and efficiently at home?

For me, the kitchen is the logical place to spend meaningful, “quality” time with my kids. We all have to eat – and we know it’s cheaper and healthier when we cook at home – so why not cook and eat together? Through Raddish’s beautifully illustrated recipe guides, parents and kids together can follow simple, delicious, nutritious recipes step-by-step. We even email the shopping list in advance so busy parents are ready to go when their box arrives.

I’m a working mom, and totally get that involving my kids in every recipe every day is just not always practical or efficient. But even on busy nights I take a few extra minutes so my daughter can help. Tonight, after the rest of dinner was ready, I called her in to tear lettuce for the salad and make a quick dressing.

Sure, it probably added 5 minutes to my dinner prep, but was well worth it. She delighted in the magic of seeing oil and vinegar emulsify (science), tasted the tartness of the balsamic while devouring cucumbers (palate / nutrition), and counted the Romaine leaves – I asked her to tear each into 4 pieces (math).

Raddish boxes are designed to teach skills and create a framework for cooking with kids, so eventually empowering your kids make the salad becomes second nature, and not a “make work for mom” chore.

If kids aren’t interested in cooking (I have one who LOVES to pitch in, and one who couldn’t care less), do you have any other tips for how parents might get them involved in the kitchen or to engage with food in a positive way, other than just eating? 

It is definitely true: kids who help prepare food are much more likely to eat what they’ve made. But I think it goes beyond actually cooking – and just getting kids involved with the whole process of mealtime.” I wonder – does your child like doing the dishes? (Kids LOVE playing with that soapy water!) Will he/she play waiter and take orders and set the table? Or clear the plates? How about a kitchen and fridge scavenger hunt to find all the ingredients? (Or better – take the hunt to the grocery store.)

If all that fails, open up your kitchen while you cook and just let him or her read a book, build Legos, do homework, or for younger kids, sort trinkets in muffin tins. Keep them present to observe the sights, smells, and tastes of the kitchen, and maybe one day they’ll jump in.

How has your attitude towards kids and cooking changed since you’ve had your own children?

Yes, cooking with kids can take more time and make more mess – but now that I cook with my own kids I am even a bigger believer that both are worth it! I definitely understand the weeknight dinner rush! So I bought a crock-pot — the 15 minutes it takes to prep dinner in the morning saves at least an hour after work!

I was really moved by Karen Le Billon’s book, French Kids Eat Everything. After that, I thought beyond what my kids were eating and carefully considered when and how and where. (I promptly stopped giving snacks at Target during a meltdown.)

Where do you like to eat out as a family?

We don’t eat out too often, but gravitate towards fun and active restaurants. My kids looooove tacos, so Wahoo’s is always a win. We also like El Sombrero in Manhattan Beach, too. We go “out” to Whole Foods El Segundo and Mitsuwa Marketplace. Alejo’s in Westchester was where “FDNO — Family Dinner Night Out” was coined with our dear friends. (Nothing says chaos like 4 adults and 4 kids under 4 out to dinner – thank goodness for their vino della casa!) And tiny, authentic sushi spots are a favorite, too. We like Sushi Anza in Torrance.

How do you keep your kids occupied if they get antsy in restaurants?

My kids? Antsy? This afternoon my son wouldn’t stop demanding water at Good Stuff in Hermosa Beach. It went something like this, over and over:

“WAAAA WAAAA?????!!!!!”

“The waitress went to get water.”

“WAAAA WAAAA?????!!!!!”

“She will be right back with your water.”

“WAAAA WAAAA?????!!!!!”

Thankfully we were outside so the disturbance level wasn’t as bad as it could be. But by the end of lunch we had definitely employed all the necessary “dining out with a toddler” tactics: walk around and smile at every other table, play with my iPhone, color, and stretch the silly putty I carry in my bag. Oh, and dessert, preferably ice cream. That buys you at least another 10 minutes of adult conversation.

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Give It a Go: Blue C Conveyor Belt Sushi, Hollywood http://tastertotsla.com/2014/01/07/blue-c-conveyor-belt-sushi-hollywood/ http://tastertotsla.com/2014/01/07/blue-c-conveyor-belt-sushi-hollywood/#comments Tue, 07 Jan 2014 19:09:35 +0000 Jessica http://tastertotsla.com/?p=4843

BlueC1Kid Hit Menu Items: Given that it’s become a standard part of the bourgeois American diet over the past couple of decades, children nowadays tend to have some form of sushi they dig. Most probably massacre their rolls, while other rare types berate anyone who dares submerge his/her nigiri in soy sauce. (Meanwhile, my son takes his soy sauce straight, no chaser.) Along this spectrum, Blue C Sushi, now at the ArcLight complex in Hollywood, is more friendly to the former group. When it comes to conveyor belt sushi, however, I don’t need to go into too much depth when convincing parents of this food service arrangement’s inherent appeal. Don’t like what you see now? Wait all of TWO SECONDS for something else to appear that might be desirable. Wheeeeee! Magic! And all of that. Or pick something else from the other sushi and cooked foods menu.

Adult Perks: Blue C has a sake list and flights, about which I’m too ignorant to weigh in on with any authority, and cocktails that skew slightly undergrad-bad-judgment (who ordered that fourth Cosmo with Blue Curacao?). I will, however, gladly try the shiso mojito on our next visit.

BlueC2Pros: Damn, I kinda buried the lede. Call it a cheap trick by a business already flogging a questionable pun for a name, but Blue C is based on a SUBWAY THEME. Pricing is color-coded and identified with subway lines.  Between this restaurant and Stella Barra, pre- and post-movie family dining has improved if not by leaps and bounds, then by considerably strong strides. For dessert, grab one of those gross-good-in-the-best-way-possible Rice Krispies treat chocolate chip cookies next door. Screen visuals are aplenty, including loads of transpo-related imagery and even, yes, Hello Kitty (see above).

Cons: The menu reads like a hodgepodge of multi-cultural creative license applied to Japanese cuisine, which to us types who went to liberal arts schools in the PC era and/or food purists, has a slight reek of culinary co-option. The concept and customizing philosophy is as aggressively anti-omakase as can be; this fact might be either exciting or vexing, depending on how you might respond to a “Trust Me” sign posted behind a sushi bar. The cost can add up, so if you’re in it exclusively for the novelty factor, then maybe consider one of the other chains that are cheaper (e.g. all dishes $2 each instead of Blue C’s $2.50-$6 range). In the area, Kabuki on Vine will set you back fewer bucks.

BlueC3Changing Station: Yes, and one of the city’s most exciting bathrooms, if that could be said without sounding sketchy, covered with wallpaper based on the Tokyo subway map, plus recorded sounds from the same source piped in. Only downside: everything in there is automatic, meaning there’s no way my hand dryer- and auto-flushing toilet-phobic son will go near it. (In the years since I started this site, avoiding hand dryers has become MUCH more of a concern than locating changing tables. Some of you readers out there might understand/empathize.)

Parking and Access: The restaurant validates for the massive ArcLight lot.

Other Tidbits: I had never noticed that the words “revolving” and “revolting” share all but one letter until our son picked quite possibly THE WORST sushi restaurant in possibly all of Little Tokyo as his favorite. It pains me to no end that we’ve irrationally waited substantial amounts of time for instant gratification once seated. So when I heard word that a higher quality conveyor belt sushi spot would be coming to Hollywood via Washington State, this was very good news, and along with Stella Barra, is hopefully a business that can make a go of it in what’s proven to be a challenging retail space within an in-demand area. Give it a whirl! (Sorry!)


6374 W. Sunset Blvd. Hollywood
(323) 391-2241
Cuisine: Japanese
: $$
Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 11:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – midnight.


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