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Dining at Sugercane In Las Vegas

Conveniently located on restaurant row in the Venetian/ Palazzo property in Las Vegas, Sugarcane is an elevated but still casual dining experience. I’ve dined here once, and would definitely come again to try more dishes.

Here is what I learned about the restaurant from their website: “Globally-inspired small plates come from three kitchen concepts – an open fire grill, raw bar and traditional kitchen – overseen by award-winning Executive Chef & Partner Timon Balloo, inviting guests to “kick back, eat well, and stay awhile.”  Embarking on a quest to celebrate the simple pleasures in life – eating well and celebrating with friends – the restaurant focuses on a “shared experience.” Sugercane’s raw bar grill’s menu ranges from shareable small plates from our three kitchen concepts to more hardy fare with our large plates”.

Sugercane
Photo Credit: Sugercane

Here is how my experience went:

Staff: The hostess was fine, the servers were great, and the manager was amazing! We had a party of 6 and he took care of us all and was extremely attentive the entire time.

Atmosphere: Vegas-like (Read: dark and kinda sexy), but more relaxed. We appreciated the chill vibes as our party had been in Vegas for an entire week for a trade show and our mind and bodies were hurting by the end of the week! Also, wait time was very short for a Friday night – possibly because they have recently opened?

Sugercane
Photo Credit: Sugercane

Food: Started our meal with some kind of rose slushy drinks (on the house) which were fantastic. We ordered several dishes from their tapas style menu and I remember enjoying everything.  A few items that really stood out that I can still recall are as follows:
*Blue fin tuna tartare (yuzu kosho, avocado purée & sesame seeds)- Must order
*Smoked fish dip ( served w/ potato chips)- Dip was yummy, but chips were a bit burnt
*Whole roasted chicken (truffle marble potato, wild mushrooms) – Simple, but very flavorful
*Nutella sundae (nutella ice cream, nutella hazelnut brownie, cracker jacks)- LOVED it!!

Be sure to stop by if you’re looking for a non-stuffy place with good drinks and shareable food!

SUGARCANE Raw Bar Grill – Las Vegas
$$$ Tapas/Small Plates, Cocktail Bars, Desserts
3355 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109

 

Mediocre Japanese Teppanyaki Dinner at Tokyo Kitchen

Our Japanese teppanyaki dinner at Tokyo Garden could be described as moderate at best. Being super generous by rating them 3 out of 5 stars as I don’t see myself coming here again, but I think 2 stars equates to gross food, and nothing tasted bad.  All the food we tried was just OK and forgettable.

FOOD: Teppanyaki dinner for 2 without any drinks was around $85.00 and it didn’t feel like money well spent. I ordered steak and shrimp, and my friend ordered steak and chicken. We shared an order of California rolls. The food lacked both quality and quantity. I had a bag of Hot Cheetos for dinner, after my dinner :/

SERVICE: Just meh overall.
• The 2 hostesses in the front looked tired/bored and one was eating food.
• We had to wait about 30 minutes for a chef to come to the table after being seated.
• After 15 minutes passed and we asked the server about when to expect a chef, she said “maybe 10 to 15 to 20 more minutes” – my friend didn’t like that response and requested her to narrow down that time range. Her response was “I don’t know; do you want to wait or not?”  Though she said that really politely, I still felt like a kid who just got yelled at in class.
• We had to flag people down for water and soda refills each time.
• Our chef did put on a little bit of a show which was nice.

This restaurant has been around for a very long time hidden away in a quiet parking lot in the city of Montclair and I was really hoping to love it – but after this experience, I don’t wanna drop another $100 bill on dinner that tastes “MEH”. Pass.

California rolls Broth Tokyo Kitchen Bar Area

Tokyo Kitchen
$$ Japanese, Sushi Bars
8851 Central Ave
Montclair, CA 91763

 

Make Your Own Pizza at Pieology

Pieology is my favorite make-your-own pizza place and luckily there is one down the street from my home and my work place. If you’ve never been to a make your own pizza restaurant before, don’t feel daunted- here’s the process:

Step one: Choose your crust from House-Made White, House-Made Whole Wheat, or Gluten-Free.
Step two: Choose your sauce from House Red, 3-Cheese Alfredo, Herb Butter, Olive Oil,Fiery Buffalo, Pesto, or BBQ.
Step three: Choose your cheese from Mozzarella, Ricotta, Parmesan, Feta, or Gorgonzola.
Step four: Choose your meats from Pepperoni, Sausage, Meatball, Canadian Bacon, Bacon, or Chicken
Step five: Choose your vegetable toppings from Black Olives, Mushrooms, Red Onions, Green Peppers, Artichokes, Garlic, Pineapple, Jalapeños, Corn, Kalamata, Olives, Fresh Cilantro, Spinach, Banana Peppers, Fresh Basil, Grape Tomatoes, or Roasted Red Peppers.
Step 6: Wait impatiently for your pizza to be done in the wood-fired oven!

 

Photo Credit: Pieology

Apparently there are 78 billion pizza possibilities with the different topping choices they offer, but I always tend to get the same ones! Here’s how I create my Pieology pizza: I always choose house made white crust and top it with red sauce and mozzarella cheese. I usually skip the meats. For my fresh toppings, I like mushrooms, jalapenos, pineapples, and cilantro.

All their toppings taste fresh, cheese is always ooeey goeey, and their original white dough always creates a good crunchy thin crust pie. They also have a wheat dough and a thicker crust option which I look forward to trying soon.

Their salads are great as well. You can create your own, or try one of their signature ready made ones. I absolutely love their Classic Salad which has organic field greens, gorgonzola, all-natural chicken, dried cranberries, candied walnuts & is tossed in a light raspberry vinaigrette.

This location is clean and employees are usually helpful and friendly. Try to come at an off time to avoid a line. Plenty of seating inside, and limited seating outside so you can enjoy your pizza while its hot and fresh.

Tip: Join their e-club for coupons. You get an option of herb butter sticks or cinnamon sticks for free just by signing up 🙂

Veggie Pizza

Pizza

Pieology Pizzeria
$ Pizza
1071 E 19th St
Upland, CA 91784

 

Omakase for Dinner at Katsuya

When in doubt, Omakase!

Katsuya is smack in the middle of LA Live so the place is always busy and often frequented by celebrities. Don’t worry too much about some of the negative reviews you’ll find on social media and Yelp about this restaurant; it honestly IS possible to have a positive experience here, if you dine knowing the following:
-Service will be a bit spotty
-They will be busy
-Place will be loud
-Some patrons will be inebriated
-Food will be pretty good; not amazing

Dining at Katsuya:

Dining here is all about the overall experience of being in the heart of Los Angeles at LA Live just a few steps away from Staples Center.

katsuya eyes
Photo Credit: Katsuya
katsuya
Photo Credit: Katsuya

Keeping the aforementioned in mind, I dragged my husband here. We were in the area to watch the show Absinthe, and there was no wait on a Wednesday night around 9:00 pm when we found ourselves starving after watching the 90 minute show.

I like ordering Omakase every chance I get, and their price didn’t seem too steep at $75.00 per person. Service was up and down all night, but I was on a hot date so wasn’t too bothered. Some dishes were explained to us and some weren’t. We had to ask for wasabi and drink refills. We didn’t let the inconsistency ruin our night and just enjoyed our surroundings, our food, and each other.

Overall, honestly the food exceeded my expectations. Sure it wasn’t authentic sushi – lots of stuff was soy-sauced up and sweet sauce ladened, but everything still tasted fresh and looked really pretty 🙂

Omakase
Omakase Dinner
Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice Appetizer
Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice Appetizer

They have seating inside and outside and its always fun to people watch as this locations] is in a prime touristy spot. I would love to return and try other items from their menu. Fun time overall!

Katsuya L.A. Live
$$$ Sushi Bars, Venues & Event Spaces, Japanese
800 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90015

 

Business Dinner at Bluewater Grill – A Seafood Restaurant

We dined at the seafood restaurant Bluewater Grill in Redondo Beach for a business dinner recently, and really enjoyed our experience. They are a 20 year old local to California family owned restaurant chain which opened in 1996 in Newport Beach.

Both my husband and I enjoy seafood very much and were excited to try this restaurant. While previewing their menu before our meeting, I learned that they operate their own swordfish harpoon boat, Pilikia, and serve the finest quality locally harpooned swordfish in season. This instantly made me want to try a swordfish but I changed my mind after finding so many other interesting sounding dishes.

seafood restaurant
Photo Credit: Bluewater Grill

Food: Their menu is expansive covering simple seafood dishes to fancy preparations. House bread was served which was just ok. I ordered a pasta dish from their favorites section. It had shrimp, scallops, asparagus and was tossed in a pesto sauce. It was a little heavy but super tasty. My husband had the beer battered fish and chips which came with fries and coleslaw. His fish tasted light and fresh, not greasy at all. We shared a key lime pie for dessert which was perfectly tart and sweet.

Service: We were greeted and seated promptly. Service was amazing from start to finish.

Atmosphere: The restaurant had a casual and laidback overall vibe. The full length glass windows allowed every seat at the restaurant incredible views of the marina at Redondo Beach. They are located right in King Harbor, surrounded by sailboats and palm trees.

I can’t wait to return so I can try more menu items, hopefully to enjoy a romantic non-work related dinner with my husband. The views are amazing from almost every seat !!!!

Bluewater Grill
$$ Seafood, Venues & Event Spaces, American (New)
665 N Harbor Dr
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
 
seafood pasta
Pasta with shrimp, scallops & asparagus.

 

pie
Key Lime Pie

 

Specialty Pizza, Subs, and Salads from Z Pizza

Healthy and tasty specialty pizza- Yes please! Z Pizza claims to “turn ordinary flavors into extraordinary flavors by using only premium ingredients that are naturally better for you”.  Since this is a chain restaurant, I’ve tried several different locations. The Claremont Z Pizza is super close to my work, located in the Claremont Village and I find myself frequenting it every opportunity I get.

They have lunch specials which are perfect portions and are reasonably priced. I always get a pizza slice and side salad which is just the correct amount of food to fill you up, but not put you in a food coma during your lunch break. They also have subs and salads included in their lunch menu incase you don’t want pizza.

Recently I used the Claremont Z Pizza location to cater a very last minute work pizza party. Ordering was super convenient through Yelp. I ordered 11 pizzas at 10:30 am to be delivered at 11:45 am the very same day. They were delivered right on time and the associate making the delivery was super courteous. All the pizza pies had unique flavors and were delivered perfectly warm, crispy, fresh, and oozing with cheesy goodness.

Their specialty pizzas are unique and flavorful, and they are one of very few places that carry chicken sausage. I love that their menu is so expansive. They serve simple cheese pizzas along with pies that have fancy and gourmet ingredients equally well. They are also very well known for their vegan pizzas, though I’ve never tried them. If you are in  the mood for pizza, a sub, or a salad- Z pizza will not disappoint!

Zpizza
$$ Pizza, Vegan, Gluten-Free
520 W 1st St
Claremont, CA 91711
 
pizza pizza
 

 

Desi Food from Tikka Wraps & Curry Bowls

Tikka Wraps & Curry Bowls is the best semi-fast food restaurant in town if you are craving desi food! And by town, I mean the city of Claremont, which is just a few blocks away from my workplace.

It’s a convenient and reasonably priced option if you’re craving Indian food. The food is a bit “Americanized”,  so don’t expect super authentic flavors. With that said, everything I’ve tried tastes really good as I regularly continue to order from them.
They cook you a fresh meal once you place your order, and it’s ready super quickly. Also, they totally adjust the spice levels to your liking which means I can get a fix my spicy food cravings. Their sauces are sooo good- especially the mango chutney and the mint raita.

I think they use the same masala/spice sauce for a few different desi dishes because they taste exactly the same. For example, the Chicken Tikka Masala Curry Bowl and the Chicken Biryani have the exact same flavors, except the curry bowl just has more sauce. So its redundant to order both of these dishes. If you ask for spicy food, they are able to accommodate to your request and add a little extra spice which I appreciate. Their naan isn’t amazing, but pretty good. They serve their gulab jamun cold versus warm like most places – but 30 seconds in the microwave quickly fixes that.

What To Order:

Desi food can be daunting if you aren’t too familiar with it. A couple of my favorite dishes are Chicken Karahi Bowl, and the Chicken Tikkah wrap. Their gulab jamun’s are also yummy, but they tend to run out of them often. If you don’t know where to start and you get overwhelmed by the menu, go with “Chicken Biryani” – It’s always a safe option and its always good here. They have three different sauces which all taste great – be sure to try them all to find your favorite!

Every one is always nice which is also a plus, and they sell Pakola!!! 🙂

Tikka Wraps & Curry Bowls
$ Indian, Halal, Pakistani
1 N Indian Hill Blvd
Claremont, CA 91711
 
gulab jamunspicy chicken bowl

 

Happy Hour at Sycamore Inn

I got to try the Sycamore Inn for happy hour with one of my girlfriends recently and I was a happy camper.

This restaurant is right on the edge of the city of Rancho Cucamonga and Upland. Growing up in Upland, I passed by this restaurant almost daily, but never had the opportunity to try. The property looks super romantic, especially at night time as the grounds have several trees which are covered in twinkly lights. Though the Sycamore Inn is as a fancy steakhouse, they are also very popular for their generous happy hour offerings which are available daily from opening until 8:00 pm – which gives me perfect time to stop by for a quick bite after work!

porch
Photo Credit: The Sycamore Inn

Atmosphere: Pretty casual with a hint of fancy. We sat on the outside porch area as the weather was perfect. The porch provides a perfect place to wait for friends, have drinks, and enjoy great food. The inside seemed dark or dim with leather chairs and sectionals – I suppose it could be considered upscale and romantic by some and stuffy by others.

Food: we tried a few of the appetizers which were on the happy hour menu.
• Oysters- must order!!! They taste super fresh!
• Roasted garlic-served with goat cheese and bruschetta. Good shareable, but nothing amazing.
• Sliders- mini braised short rib sliders with BBQ sauce. Super tasty, must order.                                                                                          • Cheese Plate – Very generous portion. Highly recommend.

Service: Really nice and efficient. Our waitress was attentive without being too pushy.

Everything we got to try was great, but my favorite item was the plate of fresh oysters. Can’t wait to be back and try other menu items.  I may have found my new go to happy hour place!

 
Sycamore Inn
$$$ Steakhouses
8318 Foothill Blvd
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730

 

Disappointing Chinese Delivery from Lotus Garden

Two out of five stars as our dinner from Chinese restaurant Lotus Garden last night was edible – but far, VERY far, from being enjoyable. A bag of chips would have been far more tasty than the disappointing delivery from this restaurant .

We recently moved to Upland and are still trying to find businesses that deliver to our part of town, and it seems that the choices are pretty scarce. Lots of restaurant options nearby in the colonies area if you want to dine out, but it seems I’ll have to do some cooking myself if we’re in the mood to Netflix and chill.

I ordered delivery from Lotus Garden last night. This place is about 4 plus miles away from our house, and they delivered within half hour which was surprising. At first I was excited for the quick turn around time, but immediately after looking at our delivery I could tell that all the items were probably sitting there all day as nothing looked fresh.

Here is what we ordered:

• Egg rolls – Two vegetable egg rolls which were super slimy inside and really oily outside. No actual flavor.
• Chicken dumplings – These were pretty burnt. I just had a small bite and put it away as it just tasted like char and oil.
• Combination Chowmein –  Oily and flavorless, with grey looking meat bits.
• Orange Chicken (half order)- Sweet dough balls that were possibly fried 12 hours ago and were now just a glazy mush.
• Mongolian Beef (half order)- Watery and salty sauce. Meat wasn’t tough but I could taste a raw flour after taste. Hard to explain, but this was the most edible dish.
With tax, delivery fee, and tip, we spent $45.00.

I ordered through Yelp, and requested the chow mein and the Mongolian beef to be “very spicy”. I don’t think they pay attention to any requests as all of our dishes were simply flavorless and were far from even having a hint of spice. Salt and oil seemed like the two main ingredients they use.

I love supporting small businesses and were really hoping to find our new go-to Chinese delivery place. Unfortunately the food was very disappointing, and we would never eat here again. My better bet maybe to pick up a Chinese cookbook and learn to make a few staples items the next time we get a craving!

orange chicken
Soggy Orange Chicken
noodles
Tasteless Oily Chowmein
beef
Mongolian Beef

 

Pizza Delivery at Vdara from Little Italy

We tried Little Italy Pizza for the first time last May when we visited Vegas for a quick family get together. We were meeting lots of family members in our suite at Vdara and this place conveniently delivered. Though I love the suites at Vdara, the hotel isn’t exactly in the middle of the strip where all the restaurants in the world are open all day and night. Also, my sister’s two little toddlers were present, and I’d way rather snuggle and play with them inside the hotel room than dress up and explore Vegas for the billionth time!

Little Italy Pizza Dinner:

There are so many picky eaters in our family with varying taste buds, but pizza is unanimously loved by all. Realizing that they serve halal food, we ordered a meat lovers pizza and a supreme pizza that has meat and veggies. They are super generous with their toppings and the quality of the ingredients totally shines through. Cheese was oooey gooeeey, but we all commented that the crust could have been a little crispier. Pizza was still really good overall though! In case people in your party are not in the mood for pizza, Little Italy does have several other specialty items on their menu  such as chicken wings, burgers, pasta subs and salads.

Two large pizzas and a bottle of sprite cost about $50 with delivery fee and tip. Vdara alike most hotels wouldn’t let the delivery person come up to the room but they gave us a call when they were on the premises and requested us to come down – pretty convenient. Fair prices, tasty pizzas, and quick delivery – Littly Italy did not disappoint!

Fun fact about this place – they are open for delivery or carryout 24/7.

Little Italy Pizza
$ Pizza, Halal
3711 S Valley View Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89103