Tag Archives: rancho palos verdes

Mar’sel A delicious (secret) local burger

It’s been one year since I moved to the suburbs, and I’m still constantly looking for local food joints that I like. So far, I’ve got a wings place, a soul food spot, a pizza place, and a few breakfast spots. Noodle joints are good, but they still take some time to get to from my house in the boonies.

I thought Terranea would become a regular spot for me to grab food and drinks, but it hasn’t panned out thus far. The food at Nelson’s is terrible. The service at Catalina Kitchen is unbearably slow. For the first time ever, I decided to check out Mar’sel.

Mar’sel offers fine dining for guests and visitors at Terranea. It was apparent when I walked in with jeans and sneakers that I was under dressed.  They’ll still serve you, but you might feel slightly out of place.

This is why we came. I’m always looking for a good burger. This In-N-Out Double Double inspired burger is not on the menu. A limited number are made each day, and you just have to ask for it.

Cutting this burger in half reveals a layer of house made pickles, onions that have been rendered down ever so slowly, two patties of rich ground beef covered in white cheddar, and his own version of the famous Thousand Island sauce that make In-N-Out burgers so delicious.

This burger is delicious. Someone described this as a better In-N-Out burger, but that’s far too simple. The array of flavors that comes bursting forward with each bite is complex. The different cuts of beef that go into making this patty give a much richer and fuller taste. Crisp pickles and sear on the outside meat contrast well with the gooey cheese and soft insides of the patty. A light and airy brioche bun holds the burger together, adding a touch of sweetness to each bite.

On flavor alone, the burger might not taste as good as reheated leftovers, but top it with a fried egg and eat it in your pajamas, and you have an experience that is definitely as good.

Southern Food

Nope. There will be no talk about grits and fried catfish here. I’m talking about food I’ve found since we moved to the South Bay. Michelle and I are looking for a spot to call our local eating joint.

Although I’ve been here before, Ramen Yamadaya deserves another mention. This is easily is my top five ramen joints after just the one visit. The second time we went back, I decided to try some other things.

Curry and rice. Nothing to write home about. It’s barely even worth writing about here on my blog.

Their friend chicken is nicely done. It’s light and crispy.

Their pork chop did not have the same light texture as the chicken. This just felt heavy.

While their side dishes are hit or miss, the main attraction is always superb. Ramen is what they do best. I can’t wait to make a trip back here.

One of the first joints we checked out was Nelson’s at Terranea. We know people in the area are always stopping here for food and drinks. It’s a great location, right along the cliffside overlooking the ocean. Unfortunately the food and drinks are not cheap and mediocre as well.

This is their burger. It tastes like a cafeteria burger.

This is Michelle’s portobello mushroom sandwich. It’s a lot better than the burger, but it’s nothing special. Since it was Cinco de Mayo, she also ordered a margherita. It just tasted like nothing but mixer.

Nelson’s gets a big thumbs down from me. I won’t be coming back except to enjoy the view on a warm summer night.

Another place we checked out was Coco Ichibanya, a curry house in Torrance. I originally thought it was going to be just like the well known chain, Curry House. I was surprised by how many options they had for their curry dishes.

I decided to order the mushroom curry and went for a level 3 out of 10 for the spiciness. I was surprised about how much heat this dish had. Their menu notes that they won’t let you try level 6-10 unless you’ve eaten a whole plate of level 5 first. That’s probably a pretty good idea.

Since this was a first time for me at this restaurant, I decided to gorge myself and try another dish. I ordered the mini keema curry with naan. The naan was fluffy and light. It went well with the curry.

A newly opened joint, 1321 Downtown Taproom Bistro Restaurant, was my stop this weekend. I’ve been meaning to check this place out but with the move of my office, I’ve had zero time to do it. The place was busy when I showed up, always a good sign for a new restaurant. I took a seat at the bar to wait for my friends. The bar staff was very friendly. I was pleased with the wide selection of beers available, and for a double bonus the beers weren’t all priced at ten bucks a glass like some gastro pubs.

Meatball appetizer. Not sure what kind of meat they used. It seemed a bit spongy, almost the consistency of tofu. Other than the sauce, I was not into this dish.

Chicken and waffles, definitely not the traditional take on this dish. The waffle portion was a blue cornbread muffin, very donut-like. The chicken was perfectly fried and the crispness of the skin went well with the soft texture of the “waffles.” I did wish that the chicken would have been slightly saltier. It’s sweet with a hint of mustard in the taste, but coupled with the “waffle” portion of it, it was a bit too sweet.

Other dishes that we scarfed down but forgot to take pictures of include the Mod Burger, Turkey Burger, and Hot Link. Both burgers were solid. I opted for the turkey, because it said something about hot. I was in the mood for some heat. The heat on this burger was very minimal, but definitely enough to satisfy my craving. I normally don’t like sauerkraut, but the kraut they were serving with the hot link was not too sour, a great compliment to the wiener.

Last on our new discoveries of the South Bay was Inka Wasi, a casual Peruvian joint that is owned by the same guys as El Polla Inka. This storefront in the Peninsula Center in Rolling Hills Estates is aimed at people who want a quick bite or even something to take out. I figured we should try this since the local pho restaurant is across the plaza from this place and I’m sure I will have plenty of that in the future.

It’s pretty apparent this restaurant runs under the same group as El Pollo Inka with their chicken soup to start off the meal.

Michelle’s seafood dish. The noodles here were a bit overcooked, but overall the dish was pretty tasty.

Chicken Saltado. I remember this dish being very salty at El Pollo Inka, but it was good this time around.

Don’t mistake that compliment to mean that it stacks up to Mario’s in any way. Mario’s is the de facto standard to which I measure all Peruvian restaurants. Even the special green sauce here isn’t the same, probably not enough crack in it. I would come back to this place again, but mostly because I want something other than pho.

There you have it. We have exhausted all the restaurants in the South Bay. Kidding. While it doesn’t have the smorgasbord of choices that Los Angeles area has, I’m sure we will discover some more treats. If you have any recommendations, please share.

Trump

I miss eating at Trump National Golf Club. It’s a one minute drive from my parents’ old home. I always disliked the actual restaurant at Trump but the clubhouse food is always delicious and not too expensive, especially for a place that won’t even let you hit the driving range in jeans. This past weekend they were working on their house to get it ready for renting, so I suggested we eat at the clubhouse. You can’t beat the view of the ocean while you eat.

Clam chowder.

My mom’s Chinese Chicken Salad. The conclusion was that American joints still don’t know how to deal with dishes that have vegetables.

Michelle’s burger and fries. I split this with her. Good burger.

I had the pork sandwich. This was really good, juicy and flavorful. Definitely worth another order.

Michelle and I have contemplated moving to this house, but then we’d have to eat at Trump all the time and that scares us. Gone would be the variety of life as we settled into oceanside  monotony. Not yet.

One More Year Until Life is Over

Well, another year has gone by since the world was graced with my presence. I can’t believe I’m twenty nine. I feel like I haven’t done enough with my life. That will have to change, but for now just enjoy some pictures.

For my birthday I kept it low key. My parents wanted to take me out to dinner so we decided to check out Terranea, since it just opened up and it’s ten minutes away from home. Michelle came along and we explored the grounds.

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I figured they wouldn’t park my Camry up front even though I just got it cleaned.

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This is where I will come to drink my Scotch.

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Who is going to sneak in here with me this summer?

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I am always on the search for the perfect calamari.

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Salmon.

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Halibut

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Macaroni & Cheese, Pancetta, Truffle Oil

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Lamb chops.

I ate so much I couldn’t move. Is there any better way to spend birthdays?

Putting Palos Verdes on the Map

These little buggers (no pun intended) are why they can’t build anything behind my old house. It’s just a barren hillside that flowers in the spring and is a fire hazard the rest of the year. Most of these butterflies are not blue at all. They look white, and I’m pretty sure I’ve killed a dozen of them in my 20+ years living in that house thinking they were moths. You can read more about them here and see the whole gallery of extinct animals back from the dead here.

Lighthouse