The Hungry Cat chows Santa Monica

Restaurant: The Hungry Cat

Location: 100 w. channel road. santa monica, ca   90402. (310) 459-3337

Date: September 11 & 25, 2011

Cuisine: Seafood

Rating: Can never get enough seafood

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I’ve been trying for months to find a convenient time to go to the new opening in our neighborhood, the Westside branch of The Hungry Cat. This particular spot, on the corner of PCH and Channel Road is a bit cursed. Years ago it was the Beach House, which got destroyed in the middle of the night by a crazy driver (who literally crashed into the dining room). Then it was the Brass Cap, a lousy and ill-fated brasserie. After 3-4 years empty it’s now reopened as The Hungry Cat. This is a very raw bar and seafood oriented joint.


I started with a “Dark and Stormy,” the classic Bermuda cocktail. Excellent.


The interior doesn’t look too different than it did in it’s previous incarnations, but it was always a pretty looking place.


Oyster crackers substitute for bread. I’ve always had a weak spot for these puppies, shades of my Eastern Shore of Maryland upbringing. The menu can be found here.


The cat has one of those reasonable corkage policies where they waive the corkage for each bottle you buy off the list. This almost always makes me buy a bottle.


“hawaiian albacore / cherry tomato / cucumber / opal basil / tomato water.” Lots of bright vinegar/citrus flavor hear. Plenty tasty.


“marinated hamachi / stone fruit / shisho / togarashi / lime.” Another nice sashimi dish, although none-too-much fish.


A special. Raw scallop, uni (sea urchin), various salad bits. The combo is great. The scallops tasty. The sea urchin was a little “fishy.” Maybe it’s the Sunday factor, I don’t know. Overall I enjoyed it, but slightly better Uni would have sold it.


“heirloom tomato / watermelon / red onion / persian mint / french feta.”


“heirloom tomato / opal basil / red onion / arugula / burrata / red wine vinaigrette.”


This is the two tier “medium” seafood tower. It was certainly good, although not quite as tasty as the Mastro’s one, but more reasonable also.


On top are shrimp (two types), a bit of trout caviar, Alaskan crab legs, and a half lobster.


Beneath are oysters, muscles, and two types of clams (littleneck and cherrystone).


A nice assortment of sauces.


Off the kids menu. Basic pasta with parmesan.


Fish and chips, also from the kids menu.


A softshell crab in a sort of thai chilli sauce. According to its killer, delicious.

Another special, lobster roll with fries. This was SOLID. As good as a lobster roll gets — and I’ve had plenty. On par with this one I had back east last year.


The dessert menu. But we were too full.

We didn’t try too many things. And I seriously have to come back with some crustacean lovers and get a huge raw bar tower, but I enjoyed this little feline foray. So I’ll return soon enough.

For more LA dining reviews click here.

Quick Eats: Tofu Ya

Restaurant: Tofu Ya

Location: 2021 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, Ca 90025. 310-473-2627.

Date: Jan 06, 2011

Cuisine: Korean BBQ & Tofu Soup

 

Some friends of mine wanted Korean for lunch so I found this Westside place on Zagat (it was the best rated west of the 405 at 23 for food). Boy, is this place a great value! And good to boot. I’m not nearly as experienced a Korean eater as I am at Japanese, but this was certainly very tasty.

The tiny little Sawtelle shop front. Random Thursday afternoon at 12:30 and there was a 20 minute wait. An excellent sign.

The simple menu. Besides the ubiquitous BBQ meats this place seems to specialize in “soft tofu.” I didn’t know it exactly by this name, but this is my favorite kind of tofu. I’ve often gotten this in Japan. Served differently, but the same tofu. We’ll see some of it in a bit.

Not a big joint. Smells like BBQ meat. Yum!

The usual spread of small Korean dishes. Kimchi, sprouts, noodles, spicy marinated cucumbers, marinated tofu, eggs, etc.

The spicy tofu soup. I should have gotten a picture after the bubbles settled down. The soup is filled with lots of “soft tofu,” beef, and various seafood. I ordered it medium spicy and it wasn’t very hot by my standards, pleasant though. The soft tofu is that kind of medium-firm off-white tofu that has a luscious smooth texture.

It comes out sizzling. Click on this picture above to see a video of it going nuts.

Steamed rice.

Bibimbap. I’ve always liked this dish. Various veggies and meats. You jump the above steamed rice in.

Then add korean red sauce and stir.

Looks like this. Tastes good.

Galbi. Beef ribs, marinated to perfection and BBQed.

Bulgogi. More or less the same thing, but with no bones, and onions. After awhile the onions caramelized. Beef and cooked onions always goes well together. Full as I was, I could have eaten two plates of this stuff.

Teriyaki Chicken.

The tiny prep area.