Saturday, February 25, 2017

Landini's Pizzeria - San Diego

When it comes to pizza, I've decided I like it good and thin. Chicago-style? It's fine if you want a cheese casserole disguised as pizza. But for me, a good pizza is one that hews close to the Neapolitan original. And a great pizza? Well, it's gotta be a New York-style slice.

A New York pizza, in my opinion, possesses the perfect balance of the thin, hand-formed dough of a Neapolitan, but also the uniform amount of cheese and sauce that I fully recognize as the American contribution to the pizza arts.

While I've not made the pilgrimage to the New York pizza temples in actual New York to eat an actual New York pizza, some of the best pizza I've had in my life has been in this style. The two at the top of my list are APizza Scholls in Portland, Oregon and Home Slice in Austin, Texas--cities where I would not have expected to find great pizza.

So far, in Southern California, the closest to the ideal I've found is a pizza parlor called Landini's in San Diego's Little Italy.

We decided to try it out one day simply because we were down there, craving pizza, and happened to have a San Diego Restaurant Gift Card we got last Christmas burning in our pocket. Landini's happened to accept the card.

So we ordered a whole pepperoni pie, made-to-order for about $20. Having it made-to-order--I have to tell you--is the best way to eat this pie. It came out fuming from of the oven, served on the warped aluminum pan I assume it was baked on. And when we took our first bite, the molten cheese and hot pepperoni grease burned the roof of our mouths. But it also put us into a pleasure-induced trance.

Here was the optimal ratio of tart sauce, creamy cheese, and crust that was neither too thick nor too thin. It was uniform all the way to the edge. If I had only one complaint about this pie, it's that the dough might have been slightly overworked. Jaw fatigue set in after I finished my second larger-than-my-face slice. But then, maybe it's good that it did, because I would've eaten two more slices, which would've meant eating half the pizza.

Native San Diegans might want to tell me right about now that I may have missed out on Little Italy's other pizza temple: Filipi's, which is located directly across the parking lot from Landini's. To that I say that Filipi's did not accept my San Diego Restaurant Gift Card.

And you know what's better than a great New York pizza? Not having to pay for one!

Landini's Pizzeria
1827 India St.
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 238-3502

Eight Korean BBQ - Buena Park

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Monster Munching now on Instagram!

Cafe Hiro's Valentine's Day 5-course prix-fixe. $49 per person. Worth every penny. #cafehiro #food

A post shared by MonsterMunching (@monstermunching_oc) on

My dear readers: Monster Munching is now on Instagram.

(Well, actually, it’s just me. Who are we kidding. This blog has always been just me.)

And the minute I signed up for IG (I'm told that’s what the hip kids call it), I realized that nearly all the food bloggers I know such as Chubbypanda, Brekkie Fan, Dylan & Jeni, Eddie Lin, and Daily Gluttony have been there for what looks like years.

So I’m late to the party, again. So late, in fact, that it seems everyone’s already drank the punch and told all the good jokes.

But in case you still want to find me as I stand alone awkwardly in my little corner of the room, here it is:

Seasons Kitchen - Anaheim

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

When is the best time to go to Cafe Hiro?

There's never a bad time to go to Cafe Hiro. If I could, I'd eat there daily.

But if there's an absolute best time to come, it's when Chef Hiro Ohiwa offers his special prix-fixe dinners. To my knowledge, he does it only twice a year: Christmas Eve and Valentine's Day. And ever since I found out about these dinners nearly ten years ago, I don't think I've missed one.

In my opinion, it isn't just a great way to spend Christmas Eve or woo a date on Valentine's; it's also the best way to experience Ohiwa's cooking in all its creative glory...not to mention that it's a great deal when you do the math, especially when you consider he's using ingredients such as scallops and sushi-grade ahi.

What follows are the pictures of the 5-course, $49 per person prix-fixe I ate two months ago on Christmas Eve, which I only post now because the Valentine's prix-fixe is less than a week away.

As you look over these pics, know that though Ohiwa is, once again, going to be doing a 5-course prix-fixe for the same price for Valentine's, it's likely that you'll see an entirely different array of dishes than what you see here.

What will it be? Will it be like this or like last year's Valentine's prix-fixe? I can't wait to find out!

Cafe Hiro
(714) 527-6090
10509 Valley View St
Cypress, CA 90630

Bluegold - Huntington Beach

Friday, February 03, 2017

Summer Roll at Brodard - Garden Grove

Going to Brodard without ordering one of their signature nem nướng cuốns is like going to Disneyland and not riding Pirates of the Caribbean. This signature item, which I've described before as "a spring roll to end all spring rolls" is an inextricable part of Brodard's DNA as the pirate ride is to the Magic Kingdom--it will never, ever go away.

So you can bet that even as Brodard is set to close its original restaurant to move to better digs in Fountain Valley later this year, the nem nướng cuốn and its secret sauce will go with it.

But this post is about the other Brodard roll that I love almost as much as the nem nướng cuốn. It's called bò bía and contains sauteed carrots and jicama, lettuce, fresh basil, peanuts and roasted shallots. The English translation is "summer roll", because, well, "spring roll" was taken and "fall roll" sounds like something you do when your clothes catch on fire.

The most defining thing about Brodard's summer roll, though, is the dried shrimp, sweet Chinese pork sausage and shreds of omelette, which I would argue make it the closest thing you can get to a breakfast burrito in Little Saigon.

I eat mine with a dip--no, make that multiple dips--in the plum sauce and in between bites of Thai chili peppers.

And since an entire serving has a tendency to disappear before my eyes like an apparition, you could say that the bò bía is like the Haunted Mansion to the nem nướng cuốn's Pirates--but that would be carrying the Disneyland analogy a bit too far.

Mall of Fortune
9892 Westminster Avenue R
Garden Grove, CA 92844
(714) 530-1744

Salerno's - Laguna Beach