Plan [to] Check [it out!]

Harbored on Sawtelle’s strip of superb Asian eats (aka Little Osaka), Plan Check s a vintage, architectural, industrial, rustic, fresh and hipster place that makes a branded burger and fries taste as good as its spatial expression. PC has been on my Bookmarks for a lengthy time, so when friends were in town visiting, I suggested to check out a cool spot on a hot day.

 

4pm on a Saturday is not your typical lunch hour, so we had pretty much the entire interior space to ourselves.

I actually got to meet and hear Terry Heller, owner of Plan Check, talk about his business at a recent Career Synergy event.

Terry purposely built Plan Check to be different than its neighboring businesses. It’s an American comfort food driven restaurant with a full bar service in a hub of many ramen, sushi and Japanese-inspired shops. To be different is a risk worth taking, especially if it proves to be successful like this!

Every ingredient is crafted in-house as much as possible and some things are just so specific like: miso mustard, ketchup leather, pig candy, spicy pickled okra.

Extra crispy fried kale on top of Swiss cheese and steak sauce, on top of portobello mushroom, on top of cheese, on top of mushroom. That’s what constitutes the Stuffed Mushroom—I wish they’d have a burger version, perfect for that vegetarian alternative.

If there’s ever a sweet potato french fry option, it’s my instinct to order it. A+ for these Sweet Potato Waffle Fries! It’s adequately crispy, mealy and toasty and I love that there’s still so much sweet potato left after the frying process. For a little more oomph, maybe some cracked black pepper and sea salt or dried parsley.

*Tip: go for the peach ketchup (top right in the photo). It’s slightly tart, kind of pulpy, and such a fun, innovative condiment.

Another weakness of mine is beet salad because it’s never really your normal tossed salad. At PC, it’s more of a worthwhile side that’s as punchy as its counterparts on the menu. Their Pickled Beet Salad is a trio of personalities: super tart and juicy beets are tamed by fresh peppercress and whipped goat cheese accessorized with pomegranate molasses and olive oil.

*Tip: dip your fresh cut fries and sweet potato fries (yes, I ordered both) into the smooth, tangy cheese along with some of that peach ketchup. Mixing and matching never tasted so good!

PC doesn’t use your average sesame bun, instead, these guys have crumbled bread crumbs on top—makes life more interesting.

Overall, a fun and retro place to hang with the gang.

Kitchen is to Bar, as Food is to Friends!

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Soul-searching starts with Ramen

Life is all about finding your way back to the basics; with food, it’s no different.

Bar seating eating

Tatsu put together a Facebook event called Tatsu Ramen Friends & Family Nosh that serves a free bowl of ramen to anyone who gets on the guest list (by selecting “going” on the event page). After discovering today was the closing of the event, my friend, Jane and I jumped on this opportunity for ramen on the house—how RAD is that, right? Result: full-up bellies, big smiles and bright mindsets for our next ambition in life thanks to an inspirational chat with Tatsu Ramen owner, Ryu Isobe.

Ryu, owner and president of Tatsu Ramen, opened his shop which debut just last week in one of Sawtelle’s strip mall (the one with Volcano Tea House on Sawtelle and Mississippi), to craft ramen with a soul—what Ryu envisions as really good ramen

CONCEPT: “I never found a place in LA that served really good ramen, so I decided to open my own shop.” – basic explanation for a basic menu: ramen with or without broth +  just a few fresh ingredients.

Goodness starts here

Ryu, who’s originally from Tokyo, said he’s never seen this type of operation implemented in a restaurant in the States, so why not? I say, that’s one fabulous idea! (It’s almost a given; iPads are the new registers!)

People love interaction and customization, and Tatsu has just the right number of choices—not too many so you become indecisive, but enough to insure that people get what they want.

Choose between Tonkotsu (pork-based broth) or Naked (broth-less, meatless, with sauce) Ramen. Then, tailor your garlic desires, spiciness, egg no egg, and amount of green onion. Add-ons include items such as: soft egg, green onions, seaweed, sweet corn and pork cutlets. Select drinks, pay and place your order. What a fun way to check-in to a sit-down!

Bar seating

Tastu table

Photographs that ring good memories for the ramen maker.

Tatsu wall art

SPACE: In the same way the ramen isn’t over-dressed, the shop isn’t either. In fact, the space is furnished quite resourcefully: dark paint with white and red accents, wall graphics, wood flooring, ceiling panels and furniture, and thick rope that cascades the walls—just enough visuals to make it look interesting.

Naked ramen

Ramen and soft egg

I opted for Naked Ramen: “lots of garlic”, “barely spicy”, “lots of green onions”, tofu, soft egg, extra shredded seaweed and sweet corn.

This is definitely a chance to embrace the savory side! My Naked bowl was generously seasoned, super peppery, but not overly-doused in sauce. Lots of green onion paired nicely with the sauce and noodles, and that egg…still tender on the inside, spilling just a bit of yolk seals the goodness of a bowl with soul.

Ryu, Tatsu Owner

It was especially inspiring to converse with Ryu about how Tatsu Ramen came together. Thanks, again, for sharing your story. I’m so motivated by people who really just paint that vision with flying colors!

We’ll definitely be back for seconds when it’s open to the public starting May 23 and you should, too!

Itadakimasu! (Bon Apetit!)

Modern Mediterranean

The bride to a sunny afternoon. 

Like the rest of Beverly Drive, my Momed lunch totally dressed my day in fresh and tart, warm and spiced, Mediterranean bliss.

Concept: fine, fresh, clean cuisine adapted from flavors of countries in the Mediterranean region. As restaurant, deli, espresso bar and marketplace, Momed uses local, seasonal and organic ingredients spun with spices, herbs, and olive oils leaving you with at a refreshing state.

Momed logo

The logo speaks it all:
Tools that help you eat are essentially  flavors that enhance your food.

Momed is a place where old world leisure comfortably abides with new world convenience, so whether you drop in for a carry out or settle down for a feast you’ll be part of the bustle of a classic Mediterranean café. –Momed

Mint lemonade

That mint lemonade will win your tart’s content. It’s got the right amount of cool and sunny in a glass cup.

Avocado hummus, pilaf, pita and shrimp

Food: While the menu sits on the higher tier of my budget—or you can say it’s “Beverly Hill-ian” priced—the quality of each dish is up-scale to match it. My favorite part is the versatility in playing with flavors. Eat your avocado hummus by itself, with a forkful of pilaf, or stack a little bit of each item fork-high for an all-in-one bite.

Try this: Grilled shrimp touched by the tang of lemon pulp, essence, and sea salt, dipped in velvety avocado hummus, loose clusters of pilaf, a piece of peppery arugula and warm pita. I ended up finding a satisfactory way of eating with my hands after fork-and-knifing the first two bites. There’s just something so delicious when you get into your food, especially a boat-full of tasty in an edible wrap!

Shrimp skewer salad avocado hummus

Salad selection

Momed interior furnishings

Space: I have yet to make it out to the Mediterranean region, but Momed might just be the adaptation of the Med’s mild, chill, raw and clean environment on Beverly Drive of Beverly Hills.
In keeping with the fresh and pristine food theme, Momed’s kitchen is stainless steel open to a dining area furnished with white and light-wood furniture, exposed pipes running along the ceiling leading to radial clusters of interesting circular lamps.

Momed

Sidewalk seating lets you absorb abounding sunshine under the shade while enjoying Recipes from the Modern Mediterranean.
You’ll want to try more than one or two things, don’t overwhelm yourself:

Marketplace menu

More Momed reviews here!

800 Degrees and Rising!

Casual, fresh food accentuated with an authentic Italian flair, a bold concept, spiked with a fun twist for Westwood, LA. 

The discovery: While taking a digestive walk after dinner, we trekked down Lindbrook Drive and were astonished to find the new, much-talked-about pizzeria! Apparently a second stomach for Dessert exists for 800 Degrees, too!

Space: the slightly swanky yet casual atmosphere dressed in dark wood furniture and black-and-white tiles connotes a masculine edginess that wires customers for a fun meal ahead—there really is something about elasticity in (food) creativity, especially in building your own pizza from the dough up! Warm lighting hit the spacious dining area, which is super populous with seating. Since there’s “no saving seats”, luckily these pies can be super portable in a graphically-appealing cardboard box you can take with you to-go.

Concept: With a Chipotle-like concept of custom-building your pie, 800 Degrees leaves you with full-up satisfaction without an over-stuffed giant burrito aftereffect. (I still love Chiptole!). You can follow your 10″ personal pizza from tossed dough to oven, which bakes quickly since the toppings are already cooked and the crust is so thin.

800 Degrees embraces tradition, too, which means they honor the Vera Pizza Napoletana style, a pizza-making method cultivated from Naples. There is an established movement to help protect the tradition of baking properly kneaded dough in a wood-fired oven for—get this—no more than 90 seconds! No processed ingredients or toppings can make it onto the dough, after all, freshness is not an acquired taste.

Feeling colorful or vegetarian-inspired? Go for the Burrata and Beet Salad.
A vegetarian’s personal pizza preferences: olives, wild mushrooms, artichokes and EXTRA garlic on Pizza Marinara (cheese-less crust). Tastes so similar to what I had in Italy!

*Caution: The pizza crust is very thin and the toppings tend to be in the center, so even using both hands will have you leaning in and playing catch with your mouth open wide.

Master your order (with no buyer’s remorse):

What do other people think about 800 Degrees?