Page 26 of 30« First...1020...2425262728...Last »

Big Itzik Grill, Encino

A few weeks ago, my girlfriend and I were invited to experience an authentic Israeli meal. Since our host is Israeli, when he told me it was the real deal, I really had no reason to doubt him. After all, he wanted us to experience what a true Israeli meal was like, and if this was the best example he knew of in the Los Angeles area, I was game. We were not disappointed.

We met him at Big Itzik Grill, which is located in a strip mall on Ventura Blvd, in Encino. I have to say, I am beginning to think some of the best kept secrets in the culinary world seem to be located in strip malls. I used to shy away from even considering a strip mall for a location, preferring a restaurant with a view, but it seems that every time I eat at a restaurant in a strip mall I walk away extremely satisfied. Big Itzik Grill was no exception.

To be honest, I was not sure what to expect. Since I needed an address for the place, I headed over to Google and read some reviews. Naturally, the [presumably] college age kids that frequent Yelp were complaining about the price. Since I have yet to see a review there that did not have someone complain about cost, I took it with a grain of salt. I read what the menu consisted of to be sure there would be something Tanya would eat and decided that as long as they had lamb we would be fine.

Once seated, our host ordered what I thought was a salad for us to share. Well, if you saw the pictures I linked to above you will see that the “salad” was about 20 different salads. The waitress just kept coming out with more and more food. There was eggplant, cucumber, carrots, potatoes, eggs, hummus, falafel, and a couple different kinds of bread. Each of the salad dips came in small bowls that were immediately refilled upon request. The amount of food was almost overwhelming.

Since we were told we had to try some kabobs and skewered meats (not exactly the same thing), we dove in. Delicious! I know we had lamb and I am pretty sure there was some chicken and beef involved along the way, but the food just kept on coming, so it would have required that I take notes to be able to list everything we had.

As we were guests I did not see the check, however, I read that a meal like that runs between $20 and $25 per person. For the amount of food and the quality, I do not know how anyone could complain. The hot tip seems to be to eat up, let them refill your order, and then pack that to go. They do not have a problem with that and will pack it nicely for you. In fact, there were so many leftovers that the next day we headed to the Arabic market down the street to pick up some pita bread and we enjoyed it for lunch the next day. It was just as good then as the night before.

Will I go again? You can bank on it. One nice thing about this restaurant is that if you have a group of people and some of them are vegetarian, you are not going to have a problem since all of the salads are all vegetables, even if they do taste like they could have meats involved. One was an eggplant dish that was a faux chicken liver (or that is what I gathered). All I can say is that chicken livers never tasted that good when I was a kid.

If you are in the Encino area and want to try some great mid-Eastern food, Big Itzik Grill gets two thumbs up from me.


Israeli Food is Tasty

Big Itzik Grill
[adrotate group=”3″]
Authentic Israeli Food

salads and kebobs photos Big Itzik Grill
photos salads and kebobs Israeli food

[adrotate group=”1″]

Continue reading

Gu Gu Sushi and Roll, Hermosa Beach

The first time I ever tried sushi was back in the early 70’s. Some new chain, whose name escapes me, had come to Southern California and my [now ex] wife and I decided to give it a shot. I was not impressed and never returned.

Fast forward 30 years and I found myself in an industry whose members seemed to exist for sushi, so I was pretty much forced into developing a taste for it. I still would never consider ordering, and relied solely on others, as I did not have a clue what would be the best rolls. As time went on, I found myself becoming fonder of it, and I would even go to a sushi restaurant by myself. I never dared to sit at the sushi bar and relied on the recommendations of my server.

About a year ago, a good friend of mine invited me to dinner and introduced me to Gu Gu Sushi and Roll, in Hermosa Beach. I will be honest. I was paying more attention to my friend than I was to the food. I remembered there were a couple tasty rolls that I had picked mainly because of their names (420 and opium rolls). I did not even remember the name of the place.

A few months later, my assistant and I decided we wanted to go have sushi. There was a place down the street that we had gone to a few times which is very authentic Japanese. I suggested that perhaps we could try the place in Hermosa again. I called my friend to get the name of it. After a best two out of three coin toss, we ended up at Gu Gu Sushi. It was a decision I have yet to regret.

Roland enjoying rice ball hella spice

Roland enjoying rice ball hella spice

If you are into the $15, all you can eat sushi bars, then Gu Gu is definitely not for you. You can spend more than that on a single roll, but I promise you, it will be one of the best rolls you ever tasted.

So, what makes Gu Gu Sushi so special? Put it this way. They have three menus. The first menu lists their standard rolls, sashimi and the kitchen items (tempura, soups, etc). Then they have their specialty rolls which comes on a separate menu with about 30 rolls on each side (no, I never counted them). Then they have four white boards up on the wall with even more specialty rolls. I have read reviews at Yelp that suggest they have over 100 selections. Again, I have never counted, but it sounds about right. What is really nice is that they regularly change up their specialty offerings, so you can come in over and over and have something new every time.

I have a tendency to stick to the specialty rolls, because they are so dang good. I do not even need to read the menu. It does not matter what the roll is made of because the fish and other ingredients are so fresh that the rolls literally melt in your mouth. Some of their rolls, like the Rice Ball Hella Spice, are so good that I use it as a dessert!

The chefs, Song and Alex, have made me feel so comfortable there that 99% of the time I sit at the bar. Truth be told, I will wait for a seat at the bar. I particularly enjoy taking people there for the first time, as the reactions are always the same. “We must do that again.” Some have suggested that Gu Gu is a little pricey. Well, if you are accustomed to assembly line sushi, it probably is. If you enjoy quality food, Gu Gu Sushi and Roll is more than fair in their pricing.


Page 26 of 30« First...1020...2425262728...Last »

Purchase Your Photo!

If you are interested in purchasing the high quality version of the photo you see on this website without the logo on it, contact Send the URL (link) of the photos you are interested in and we send you a quote. Please let us know if the photo will be for personal or commercial use as well. Thank you and we look forward to your business.