The Exchange Restaurant – New Fushion Mediterranean Concept in DTLA 

When my friend said that he wanted to eat Mediterranean food at a new restaurant in DTLA I was skeptical about driving from the OC for falafels and hummus. Boy was I in for a big surprise. This restaurant is an upscale fusion Israeli cuisine that uses bright and fresh ingredients for their healthy dishes. I’m on a diet, so finding anything that’s both appetizing to look at and to eat ranks top of my list (at least for now – I can be fat for winter 🙂 ).

Restaurant Interior
Upon entering you’ll notice the high ceiling and wood decor. It’s very rustic in nature and the natural lighting made it perfect to snap photos of all the Instagram worthy food and let me tell you the food not only looks but tastes uh-maz-ing.

My favorite dishes were as followed:
1) Pate – oh my gawd, so creamy and light. It just melted in my mouth. It was so luxurious without being overly indulgent. It’s really out of this world and you would be a fool not to order this.
2) Exchange Chraime – Presented in a pan filled with seafood galore swimming in a sea of tomato sauce. The presentation was on pointe, and tasted flavorful as well.

(Left to Right – 1st Row to 2nd): Pate, Exchange Chraime, Sweet Potatoe, and Olive Oil Cake 
3) Sweet Potato – I would hardly think that a vegetable could be a star dish, but this one definitely held it’s own. It’s roasted so it really heightened the root vegetables flavor and made a unique statement in taste. Super delicious!
4) Olive Oil Cake – OMG! I rarely order dessert at a restaurant, but I would definitely order this again and again. The flavor profile of this treat is moist and sweet, but not overly so. The  dollop of cream or whatever was on top paired with the cake perfectly. I’m a believer in desserts now!

img_5288-1Overall, this is a fantastic addition to DTLA. The atmosphere is beautiful, food is delicious and the service was on friendly and accommodating. Whether you’re planning to impress a hot date, discussing business, or going with a group of friends this is an excellent destination to enjoy a great meal with good company.

Which of the dishes would you be most excited to try?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Yelp Review of the Day: REPOST Gourmet Sandwich at Deli-Licious @Huntington Beach, CA

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Hi YuBargainRockstar Fans!

I’m excited to announce that my Yelp review on this Deli-Licious was selected as today’s  ROTD (short for Review of the Day) for the Orange County spotlight. Woohoo! It’s a great honor and as my first ROTD, I thought I’d also repost my original entry for your enjoyment. This restaurant truly deserves all the credit in serving excellent food and outstanding customer service. Check it out if you haven’t done so already! – Irene

 

Sandwiches are the quintessential lunch food and while mom’s sandwiches are made with love, there’s something special about eating a gourmet sandwich from Deli licious (Yelp Review) in Huntington Beach.  With over 300 reviews and a staggering 4.5/5 average on Yelp, I had to investigate the validity of these positive endorsements.  And yes this definitely lived up to the hype.

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I was looking for a cute shop, but after only seeing rows and rows of boring gray buildings I stared down at my GPS and realized that I missed the shop. Hmm… that’s peculiar. However, unlike many restaurants, this small mom n’ pop shop was located among the rows of gray buildings. This is definitely not the type of shop that you’d casually drive by and stop to check it out, because it was not visible from the street!  Nevertheless the restaurant was pretty busy for a weekday afternoon. So I thought that it must be good if next-door-neighbors are frequenting this shop.

Upon looking at the chalk menu I decided to order their top seller “Sue’s Chicken-Avocado Caprese” while my girlfriend tried the same sandwich with a ½ southwest salad. ImageMmm… The ingredients used for the salad were fresh and crisp it was a solid choice for a mid-day meal. And the sandwich, wow… tender roasted chicken with sliced avocados, fresh mozzerlla, plump roma tomatoes, and a light lemon caper mayo all between a ciabatta roll. Mmm.. makes me hungry just thinking about it.  I wonder if my mom could replicate this masterpiece. Hehe…

Additionally, I loved that it was also a nice sunny day and we had a lovely conversation out on the patio. Good food, great company, you really can’t ask for much more.

What’s inside your favorite sandwich?

XOXO

Rockstar

$6.95 AYCE Lunch Buffet @Vishnu in Irvine, CA

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India is such an exotic country and their food is just as (if not more) intriguing.  The bright colors and different spices make this culture’s food a fest for the eyes and stomach. So when I stumbled upon this little AYCE lunch buffet in Irvine on yelp, I could not have been more ecstatic, although the drive there was an adventure in and of itself! After driving loops around the industrial complex we finally found the restaurant- Vishnu (Yelp Review).  It’s definitely a no frills joint, and we helped ourselves by loading up our sectioned styrofoam plate!

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The selection was diverse with curries and other traditional Indian dishes. I’m embarrassed to say that my knowledge for Indian cuisine is rather limited, but I do know that each dish had it’s own distinct flavors and that the variety was incredible for a whopping $6.95 a person. I can’t even imagine how this is profitable considering the selection and how time-consuming it is to make all the items.  I’ve been told that certain dishes take more than 5 hours to prepare, as it needs to simmer to allow the flavors to meld into one another.

I inquired with the owner about his business and was informed that it had only been opened for three months (!!!) but that he’d been in the catering business for well over 15 years. He’s done events as far as Reno, NV and the Bay Area, so I imagine that’s he’s your guy if you want an authentic Indian feast in the Golden State (and surrounding bordering states).  The restaurant is only open Monday-Friday from 10:30-2:30 since evenings and weekends are reserved for catering gigs. Ah! It’s all coming together now.

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Lucky for me this little shop is not too far away. Muahaha… delicious food for a fraction of the cost, although, I am curious about his catering options. So if you’re in the market for authentic Indian, Vishnu’s Restaurant and Catering’s got you covered.

What’s your favorite lunch special spot?

XOXO

Irene

Date Worthy Dessert to Share @Scraps in Huntington Beach, CA

New York has Serendipity3 and Orange County has Scraps.  For all you non-chick flick movie goers, Serendipity3 is where they shot the ironic romantic comedy called Serendipity staring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. It’s a must see feature that is the epitome of romantic comedy and there are very few movies that even come close to this classic.  The two stars shared a dessert and the rest is history- gosh I miss New York!

Panne Cotta

So for the Orange County hopeless romantic, I found the best substitute! The Panna Cotta ($7) with homemade kumquat marmalade at Scraps (Yelp Review) is amazing and way too good not to share. It’s silky smooth, but with a firmer consistency than pudding. Combined with the tart kumquat, this dessert is heavenly.

What’s the perfect dessert to share?

XOXO

Rockstar

The Great Food Truck Race Season 1 Winner- Grill Em All @Alhambra CA

IMG_0928 I’m a huge Food Network junkie and absolutely love all of the different shows on that channel.  One show that I am particularly fond is a reality show called The Great Food Truck Race,” a competition where food trucks from across the country competed for $50,000.  The rules were simple, make as much money as you can with a given budget in designated cities from LA to New York.

And what’s crazy was the fact that I was in New York while they filmed their last episode.  I remember a girlfriend of mine texting me to come support the Nom Nom Truck (1strunner-up) while I was studying in New York. Unfortunately I choose not to leave the library, asI was nose-deep in textbooks.  *snaps fingers* What a lost opportunity!

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Anyways, this past weekend I attended a networking social in Alhambra and noticed a peculiar sign in the theater plaza.  It looked vaguely like Season 1 Winner Grill Em All (Yelp Review) and as I stepped closer to check out the store it indeed was!  Turns out they actually bought a storefront with the money and publicity earned from the competition.  So obviously I had to check it out the local celebrity!

Upon entering I could not help but notice all the rockin’ artwork plastered over all the walls.  The setting is definitely home to heavy metal enthusiasts and the menu was presented on an enormous black chalkboard.  After carefully examined my options I decided to try the powerslave, a ½ lb burger with brie cheese, bourbon apple compote, balsamic aioli, and field greens. And because the sign said so I ordered it medium rare—good choice!

IMG_0927It was definitely a gourmet burger with the juices goeying all over. I’d never imagine putting an apple as a burger condiment, but combined with the soft brie cheese and field greens it was a tasty treat.  It’s a bit on the pricey side at $9 or $9.50 for a burger, but it had all the elements of a Rockstar. Solid!

What does a Rockstar meal look like to you?

XOXO

Rockstar

Gourmet Sandwich at Deli-Licious @Huntington Beach, CA

Sandwiches are the quintessential lunch food and while mom’s sandwiches are made with love, there’s something special about eating a gourmet sandwich from Deli licious (Yelp Review) in Huntington Beach.  With over 300 reviews and a staggering 4.5/5 average on Yelp, I had to investigate the validity of these positive endorsements.  And yes this definitely lived up to the hype.

IMG_0765

I was looking for a cute shop, but after only seeing rows and rows of boring gray buildings I stared down at my GPS and realized that I missed the shop. Hmm… that’s peculiar. However, unlike many restaurants, this small mom n’ pop shop was located among the rows of gray buildings. This is definitely not the type of shop that you’d casually drive by and stop to check it out, because it was not visible from the street!  Nevertheless the restaurant was pretty busy for a weekday afternoon. So I thought that it must be good if next-door-neighbors are frequenting this shop.

Upon looking at the chalk menu I decided to order their top seller “Sue’s Chicken-Avocado Caprese” while my girlfriend tried the same sandwich with a ½ southwest salad. ImageMmm… The ingredients used for the salad were fresh and crisp it was a solid choice for a mid-day meal. And the sandwich, wow… tender roasted chicken with sliced avocados, fresh mozzerlla, plump roma tomatoes, and a light lemon caper mayo all between a ciabatta roll. Mmm.. makes me hungry just thinking about it.  I wonder if my mom could replicate this masterpiece. Hehe…

Additionally, I loved that it was also a nice sunny day and we had a lovely conversation out on the patio. Good food, great company, you really can’t ask for much more.

What’s inside your favorite sandwich?

XOXO

Rockstar

 

BBQ Tri Tip Chopped Salad Lunch Special @Stonefire Grill in Fountain Valley, CA

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It’s no secret that I love Stonefire Grill (Yelp Review) because of their fresh ingredients and expansive menu selection. But it’s also a destination that bargain hunters swarm to as they prepare large portions of food for a very reasonably price. I love taking large groups because the food is served family style and we’re able to sample many dishes with a low per person average cost.  They also have a large seating area that makes it a popular spot after a team victory meal or office outing.

However, there are times when I just don’t feel like sharing and just want to indulge in a dish all to myself. My all time favorite dish there is the BBQ tri-tip chopped salad and it is amazing! The salad is topped with freshly chopped tomatos, roasted corn, carrots, black beans, red cabbage, cilantro and jack cheese then tossed with tortilla strips and Buttermilk Ranch. Mmm… makes me hungry just thinking about it!

And going during lunch for their lunch special is just twice as nice since this petite entree also includes a delicious garlic bread stick. For about $7, this healthy entree does double duty as a tasty value-worthy meal that’s good for you pocket-book and belly. There are several branches in the southern California region and if you haven’t paid them a visit, you’re definitely missing out!

Locations

What’s your favorite lunch spot?

XOXO,

Rockstar