Tuesday, June 28, 2011

21. South Africa

I've been in South Africa for the past couple weeks for work and I'm taking the time to enjoy some of the local eateries here. Also, hopefully this explains why I haven't really written anything lately.

I've mostly spent my time around the periphery cities of Cape Town like Simonstown, Kalk Bay (hee hee!), and Fish Hoek. Because of the long work hours, we don't usually get many chances to eat out, but here's what I've come to realize about restaurants in South Africa. You can expect pretty decent quality of food, with zero attention to the customer.

You can expect all restaurants in Simonstown to be closed at 8:30pm, and not just "Sorry sir, the kitchen's closed." kind of closed. Literally a "Sir, it's 8:30, you need to finish your meal right now because we're closing." kind of closed. Also, you should get your food orders in around 6:30pm at the latest because the food takes so long to come you probably won't be done with even a quick meal until 2.5 hours later. What the hell kind of restaurant that serves dinner closes at 8:30?...and not just that...but turns away paying customers. Maybe I'm brainwashed by my American standards of eating, but sometimes it baffles me how these places stay afloat.

The food itself tends to be quite nice and of decent quality but I haven't ventured too far yet. Anyway, not much to report, I'll be back in a couple weeks with some better stuff to talk about.

Name: Restaurants in South Africa
Genre: Pretty much everything except Mexican
Value: The company pays for meals so...excellent!
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: Meager appetite and infallible patience
Rating: 3 / 5

Sunday, June 12, 2011

20. Bruhaus

So after a delightful dinner in Brentwood, my friend Scott, a couple of out-of-town visitors, and I decided to go check out the new German sausage and beer house "Bruhaus."

Nestled snugly between Wilshire mainstays Cabo Cantina and Q's Billiards club, Bruhaus is Brentwood's attempt at bringing a taste of class to the otherwise party-hearty environment that local residents have come to know, love, hate, and somehow always wind up at.

Before I get too much into Bruhaus, I should explain that when you go to Q's or Cabo, you go to get silly drunk and try to sleep with as many liquored up post-grads that you can rapid-fire hit on. It's a college bar scene through and through, with sexual exploits including my friend Brian getting public domers on the balcony. But, why, you might ask, would I EVER want to listen to rocking music, screw floozy chicks, and drink reasonably priced booze with my bro's?? Good question, and the very same thing occurred to the founders of Bruhaus, who decided to deviate from that winning recipe and bring a taste of Hollywood douchebaggery right smack into Brentwood's Party Alley.

Because Bruhaus is new, I understand that people will check it out squarely out of curiosity. But it was literally shoulder to shoulder packed when we arrived. Mind you, we didn't walk immediately inside because the "Bouncer" (some dorky emo looking Brian Setzer wannabe) informed us that we were "at capacity" and would need to wait until people left. At that moment a guy walks straight out the door.

"Hey," I said, "that guy just left."

The Bouncer looked left, right, then for cocky measure, up and down, and replied, "He's just going to smoke a cigarette."

"Yes," I retorted, "that means he left. And look he's not smoking a cigarette at all, he's just hanging out outside with his friends and that blonde chick." I replied as I watched the man walk outside to meet up with some friends and a blonde chick as they continued to talk and mingle nearly 10 yards from the bar entrance.

The bounce pretended to ignore me. We waited another 45 seconds and a group of 5 people walked outside. I looked at the bouncer he looked at me, and he let another 30 seconds or so pass. He took a long breath and finally replied, "Ok let's see your ID's."

What a prick. Seriously I expect that kind of pompous crap in Hollywood, but not in Brentwood. This is where people go with one shoe on, wreaking of day old puke, and still manage to shack up with some sloppy co-ed before the night's out. Whatever....we went inside.

As previously mentioned, it was packed. Everyone was shoulder to shoulder and merely getting to the bar proved to be a 20 minute errand.  Everyone was dressed to the nines in their hippest outfits making lame attempts to yell at one another over the poorly chosen DJ set. Most people just wandered aimlessly from one end of the bar to the other hoping something would happen, because conversation and dancing were both certainly out of the question. A lot of people just stood motionless and stared at their phones hoping a random  text message would come through.  I would estimate that 75% of the patrons at Bruhaus were incredibly uncomfortable with this environment, but because most people are malleable sheep they thought that since this was the "cool" place to be then they should just keep their mouths shut and pretend to love it.

This is what you do in Hollywood, stand around pretending to have fun.
I don't understand why people could be so spineless as to not actually vocalize that this place clearly sucked. Worse still, Cabo Cantina was at a perfect mingling capacity, offered cheaper drinks, and was a merely 2 second walk from Bruhaus. After 2 drinks at Bruhaus we cut our losses and went to Cabo Cantina to meet up with some other friends who were enjoying an actual table and binge drinking Tecate's instead of sampling a flight of Czech pilsners for $27. I'm not defending one type of partying and denouncing another, to each their own of course. But it's unfortunate that a strip of property that was once a haven from Hollywood socialites has now become a hub for them. Seriously, Bruhaus has a valet. How fucking retarded.

This is what you do in B'wood, try to bone girls while acting like an idiot.
People in Los Angeles are constantly reminded that they aren't rich enough, attractive enough, or cool enough. Cabo Cantina and Q's were a great place to just be yourself. The same poor, socially awkward weirdo we all love. Thanks to the assholes at Bruhaus, that's no longer the case. Best put your flip flops back in the closet.

Name: Bruhaus
Genre: German Beer and Sausage Bar
Value: Never tried the food (heard it's decent from the idiot patrons) Liquor a bit overpriced.
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: A story about the show you're "developing", an agent, and an incessant need to check your iphone/blackberry.
Rating: 1.5 / 5

Thursday, June 9, 2011

19. The Veggie Grill

I found myself running some works errands in El Segundo (wallet intact) and I had a brief break for lunch. Because I'm probably the fattest I've ever been in my life I thought I could passively lose weight be eating at this place called the Veggie Grill. It's in the big random El Segundo shopping plaza way in the back.

At first glance the decor is something out of an IKEA nightmare. But I'd heard good things about the food so I figure I'd stay the course and order something.  As you hopefully already guessed, there's no meat served at the veggie grill. But rather than rely on the brash assumption that people want to eat vegetables, they pretty much make sandwiches and burgers as usual except instead of meat they make a slurry of reconstituted proteins and curds and flavor them with chemicals to resemble meat (which vegetarians somehow think is better for them.)

The creepy moustachioed teenager at the counter took my order of a Santa Fe Chicken Sandwich and handed me a number. I opted out of the sweet potato fries as they unfortunately were $2.50 extra and also as previously mentioned, I'm fat. I sat at a seat and waited for my order.

Something struck me as awkward. As I waited for my food I looked around and while I couldn't put my finger on it, I felt there was something about this place....The ambiance music in this place played in this order: Jesse McCartney, James Blunt, LFO, Howie Day, Sarah McLaughlin, repeat, repeat.

Then it hit me. Excluding the workers, I was the ONLY male customer in the entire place. And mind you, this wasn't like there were 4 girls and me. There had to have been close to twenty women sitting and eating with even more in line. It was either the beginning of some awesome porno movie or some twilight zone nightmare. They were all dressed in either yoga pants or business suits, neither of which were appropriate since there's really nowhere to exercise nor many office building in the general area.

Thankfully I was dressed in probably the most heterosexual outfit I own (replete with hockey team hat) with masses of unkempt facial hair, so it was clear as day that I was obviously lost and not looking to discuss their relationships, bosses, or insecurities. I did however, have to overhear 47 women discuss those subjects with one another. All  My food was brought to me and I dug in, silently.

Truth tell, for not having any chicken in the fucker, it was a damn good sandwich. And I mean REALLY good. Modern science has somehow not only chemically found the flavor for chicken, but also for slightly mesquite, crispy chicken. The taste, consistency, and presentation were all spot on. I also really like How the soda machine only serves water, so you don't have to feel like a freeloading chump for ordering free water like you do at the movie theater.

Notice the man in back sitting quietly.
I wolfed the sandwich down REALLY fast. It was so good! Needless to say, all the jabber-jockey chicks in there were about 1-2 bites in and still running their mouths to one another by the time I finished. I was full despite no fries and I had a feeling of pride for eating quasi-healthy. Bachelors take note, there are a gaggle of women in this place, old and young. I can't verify if this would actually be a good place to meet women though, lest you be caste as a potential man-friend or shopping partner, but it's worth a shot if only to try the awesome food.

I will say that you're going to drop around $10 per burger/sandwich at this place. Which is a little on the steep side, but the quality shows through in all their ingredients. They have lots of juices and shit too if that's your thing but water is usually enough for me. If you're into good food and cockblocking some chick's gossip hour, then I would totally suggest the Veggie Grill, no yoga pants required for dudes.

Name: The Veggie Grill
Genre: Women-Only Vegetarian Sandiwches
Value: A bit steep but good quality ingredients, around $10 bucks to fill your face.
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: Heavy Duty Earplugs.
Rating: 4.5 / 5

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

18. Ramenya

It was yet another insufferable morning of alcohol induced regret. Waking up sleeping on a leather couch is probably the worst feeling in the world. I was at my friend Mark's condo, blurry-eyed with an insatiably sore throat and an urge to both piss and vomit simultaneously.

The kitchen counter was littered with last night's post-drinking munches: Chili-cheese fries with stale cheese forming an impenetrable crust, half eaten hamburgers with too much mayonnaise dropping from the bun, it was truly a dismal site.  Chris, Mark, and I each took turns expelling our demons in the bathroom before we convened on the couch to rehash last night and formulate a game plan.

Conveniently, and not surprisingly, Chris had weed. (He has dreadlocks - hence the lack of surprise). The drugs helped take the edge of the hangover, but left us with *gasp* an insatiable lust for food. The problem with getting stoned and discussing something simple like where to eat is that while ideas come free, no one has the conviction to decide on a place. We'd literally suggest a place, agree, get excited, then find ourselves trailing off and sitting on the couch for another 10 minutes before one of us starts the cycle anew.

After about 1.5 hours of trying to leave, we exited Mark's condo still with not a 100% idea of where we were going. We got to the bottom floor of his place and finally one of us asked, "Hey, where are we going, anyway?"

"Let's go to Ramenya," Mark drove the final nail into the coffin of our indecision.

Ramenya is a Japanese noodle house on Olympic. I could tell it was generally going to be good by the wide variety of customers in the place. There was one table left which we took. A cheerful old asian lady with a comically fat ass handed us some menus.

We started with some Gyoza and Mark and Chris ordered some kind of ground pork ramen. I opted for a corn, tofu, and egg style soup which was not so different from Eggdrop soup. We waited for what seemed like forever (I'm sure the weed helped that.) until the waitress brought out our soups.

Holy Shit! These bowls were massive!!! Each of us had a punchbowl sized bowl of ramen. They seriously were the size of a DirectTV satellite dish. If these bowl's followed the Goldilocks principle of dish sizing, these were Great-Great-Grandpa bear.

Worse still, our fat asses finished every last drop. I have to admit, it really hit the spot. It wasn't too salty and it had ample noodles so you weren't just drinking your meal. Also, I was REALLY impressed with the spoon design... I'll try to give a visual example:

We left with over a gallon of soup each in our bellies. And honestly, while I liked the soup a lot, the feeling of carrying that soup with you all day was terrible and made me shit like 5,000 times. Though with that being said, I'm sure the hangover helped in that venture.

This is a great place to go while stoned. But please, exercise caution and don't finish your meal. We went back to Mark's place to smoke more pot to make our stomach's feel better.

Name: Ramenya
Genre: Japanese Noodle House
Value: Good, but cash only.
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: OG Kush and  throbbing headache.
Rating: 4 / 5