Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I have been going to Ichiza for a long time. It is great for a late night snack! Since a friend recommended this place for great Izakaya, it has become a tradition for Ms. Lin and I. In fact, I often come to Vegas and cheat on Ms. Lin by bringing different friends here and going with different people all the time. If you have been here, you'd understand why and if you haven't, it's about time for you to drive off the strip for an adventure.
One of my favorite items here is the Sakana Roll, Pinchos. This is not your typical roll. They are little bites of heaven where they mix fresh ingredients that you wouldn't have thought would be a great combo, but somehow makes it work! Going against the traditional idea of a roll, all the ingredients layered on top and not inside the roll. At the bottom is just rice wrapped in seaweed. They exquisitely match fresh sashimi and add tasty dollops of fun. One of the most surprising combos is using tamago, shiso leaf, mackerel, and a dollop of ume! At first glance I was a little turned off but after the first bite I was on cloud nine! A perfect blend of flavors (salty, sweet, a little sour) that you never thought possible. The salmon, avocado, shrimp, mayo, and ikura are a great combo that's very smooth and tasty. My least fave of the three but still delish is the tuna, cucumber, squid, mayo, and roe (masago). This dish is a must!
They added a new great item called the Seafood Quesadilla, intriguing no? I first tested it out before recommending it to Ms. Lin. They top the freshest cuts of sashimi on top of a piping hot quesadilla. Simple and delicious! Who could ever forget the nice drizzle of Japanese Mayonnaise that really helps add another layer to the dish. Mixed in with finely sliced daikon and a few sprouts are delightful miniature capers that resemble roe, which adds just the right amount of saltiness to the entire dish. The fish they use are salmon, tuna, yellowtail, albacore, octopus, squid and ikura. It's a brilliant dish to utilize any end pieces or left over sashimi. I started out with the half order, but I recommend you get the full order! It's worth it and if you can't finish just call me up and I will help! =D
What has kept me coming back here is the Yellowtail (Hamachi) Tartare! This is definitely not your traditional tartare. Here they totally had me after my first bite. We start of with a thick crispy tortilla chip layered with rice, lettuce, & pico de gallo then another chip followed by a flavorful mix of yellowtail tartare and avocado! **drool drool** I simply adore the crunchy tortilla chips and explosion of flavors. My guilty pleasure here. Ms. Lin knows I need two orders of this every time.
Here is when I first introduced Ms. Lin to Wasabi Octopus. They give a good portion and their wasabi mixture is always very flavorful and sweet. At the bottom of the bowl is a shiso leaf that's used as a decoration but serves a great purpose. A secret tip is to use that leaf to wrap up around the savory, crunchy, and fresh octopus like a taco to eat. The refreshing cool burst of shiso will really enhance the experience.
Ms. Lin loves Uni and here they serve it in a nice lemon cup! One of my trade secrets is to squeeze some lemon on top of my uni to enhance the natural sweetness. The uni here is fresh and the portion is not bad. On top they have finely sliced cucumber and a dash of yuzu chili pepper. Yum!
If you are lucky, they will have some special grilled items. I was able to have some tantalizing Pork Cheek Skewers that are nicely glazed and full of flavor. Last time I went back they didn't have it again, but this will not stop me from looking again and again!
All in all this is a MUST TRY place in Vegas. Of course this is if you have a car to head on over to Vegas' on version of China Town. You can always take the cab to cross the bridge on Spring Mountain and believe me, it's worth it. I am thinking about flying to Vegas again, but I think I'd rather drive so I can explore the great eats on and off the Strip! Ichiza is open super late. So if you ever get that 4th meal craving, don't worry they'll be there for you!

4355 Spring Mountain Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89102
(702) 367-3151
Ichiza Sake House on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 28, 2011

With the ever growing popularity of Vietnamese Cajun Seafood in Garden Grove, I am always looking for another tasty place to try. The lines at The Boiling Crab are waaay too long and I have grown tired of that place. It is not worth the long wait and I feel like the flavor has been lacking. One late night we were driving around looking for some delicious Cajun food and unwilling to wait for TBC, I looked up Artist Crawfish Express. Some friends claimed that this is their favorite place, so I had to give it a try. It took me a while to find this location on Trask Ave. because it is tucked away next to a 76.
There wasn't that many people there at night, but service was very friendly. We kind of over ordered. What else is new? I always order to my heart's content. To start off the evening, we had some Garlic Fries that were fresh from the fryer and loaded with garlic. You can't really go wrong with fries and tons of garlic IMHO. On a cold night, this really hit the spot. The extra bonus is they sell Vietnamese Ice Coffee for those who enjoy a refreshingly sweet drink with their heavy meal.
I like that they have Crawfish Egg Rolls. Who doesn't loved fried goodies? They were nicely wrapped and fried well, but they weren't quite what I was looking for. It was more like a Vietnamese egg roll than the flavor of crawfish. For me, I was hoping to taste the savory rich flavor of crawfish embedded inside.
Being as unhealthy as we were, I wanted to try their Artist Wings. This was a lot different from other Vietnamese Cajun restaurants. They used the whole wing here and is glazed versus the other places rub the wings in seasoning then fry it. Personally, I prefer the latter style but I am glad I tried them out. It's good to know for future reference.
My friend wanted to test out her spicy tastebuds and chose to try the Clams in Cajun Garlic Butter. This turned out to be quite spicy for her. I will have to admit that I just sat back and chuckled a little. At that time I wasn't as into clams, aka clammies (what I like to call them endearingly). I thought the flavor could be heavier and have more body. The spices did overpower the overall taste that night.
For me, I wanted the shrimp because you get the most meat/body to eat compared to the weight of the shell. One thing I found odd was they didn't do a combo of flavors so I succumbed to the Texas Cajun in the end. Again, I thought the flavor was only so-so. The shrimps looked nice and plump but I was not amazed by the flavor. It was interesting to see that they are tossed and served in a metal bowl versus the plastic bags I am use to.
This is not the end. We also got a Crawfish Fried Rice, which resembles a jambalaya. It was colorful and full of content. Would I order it again? Nah. Not so impressed.
All in all the food was just so-so to me and not memorable at all. It has been a while since I went there and I am finally able to catch up and review this place. This can also serve as my own reminder when I am pondering where to eat next. While writing this post and looking at all of the pictures, I really really really want some Cajun food to satisfy this hunger but I wouldn't come to this place. I saw online that they offer frozen crawfish for $4 a lb. but I also saw some people saying that it was nasty. If you want to try and report back, you are more than welcome to. One day I might go back to give it another try but currently I will stick with Claws and The Shack. So many better choices around, so keep on searching! =D

Artist Crawfish Express
9041 Trask Ave
Ste A
Garden Grove, CA 92844
(714) 537-7260
Artist Crawfish Express on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 25, 2011

I wish I could always go there just to fill up on Toro-don and maybe an added bonus of their infamous Kuro ramen. For me, it is all about the amount of toro you get for such a great price! They have great lunch sets and everyone knows it. So if you plan on stopping by for a quick lunch, it might be a little tough with the wait. If you come towards the end of lunch hour you won't have to wait as long. Either way, it is worth the wait! Not only will you be full and satisfied, but your wallet will thank you.
While you wait for the food you can snack on their homemade Kimchi on the table. My only qualm is that there are times where I have bitten into chunks of salt that scare me because it felt like I might have cracked a tooth on them. Still, that won't stop me because I will just be extra cautious on the next bite.
The word Kuro in Japanese means black. Around 1960 in a little shop on the street corner of Hitoyoshi City, known as Kyushu's Little Kyoto. There they prepare the ramen with browned garlic that was called "Kuro Ma Yu" and later know as "Kuro Ramen". Here at Maru Ichi, they make fresh homemade noodles daily. Each of the ramen includes an Egg, Chashu (Roast Pork), Seaweed, Bean Sprouts, and Green Onions. For the Kuro Ramen they used Browned Garlic and a Pork & Chicken Soup.
I love the mixture of black and brown. The Kuro Ramen is definitely different from your every day ramen. If you look closely, you would think the black are oil drops that stay separate from the soup. The soup is very flavorful, aromatic, and rich. I do think the soup is on the heavier side but tasty nonetheless. How you can balance the heavier palate is getting the Toro-don to complement the dish.
Nowadays I cheat and just order the Toro-don because it's such a great deal. For around $5 you can get a full-sized bowl of chopped toro and green onions topped off with shredded seaweed is a dream come true. Fortunately eating with Ms. Lin, I can rely on her to order the Kuro Ramen set and steal a few bowls of the ramen while reveling in my own mix of heaven. I am still amazed that they can offer toro at such a low price and they definitely don't cut down on the portion. Everything is fresh and finely chopped. One plus is that I have yet to find any scales mixed in. You can always ask for more wasabi like I do to add that extra special kick mixed in with soy sauce. I wish I could find a place like this closer to home because I'd be there every day! Oishii おいしい
Maru Ichi Japanese Noodle House
368 Castro
Mountain View, CA 94041
Maru Ichi on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Recently there were some great deals and cash back bonuses for the Revlon Custom Eyes Mascara. Did I really need mascara? Nah, but I can't pass up a great deal! I basically got this product for FREE after all my wheeling and dealing. So why not test out the product for fun? I have a lot of beauty products but never bother to use it because I don't really need make-up because I have a lot of naturally defined features. My eyelashes are definitely one of them and I like them to look full and luxurious. They normally are super curly and full without any make-up so it shouldn't be that tough to enhance, right?

Well I finally decided to open my new Revlon Custom Eyes Mascara. At first I didn't really get the 1 and 2 feature. Initially I thought there were TWO separate mascara applicator wands, but after I finally opened the package I realized that you twist to get the supposed "different" applicators. To be honest, what difference??? I fixated and focused my eyes on the wand as I twisted and couldn't really tell if it really changed much. Look 1 is supposedly for "Length & Drama" and Look 2 is "Length & Definition". When you can't really see the difference in mascara applicator I doubt there is any difference in the end result.
The brush does separate the eyelashes well

Did NOT see any length or definition
Felt like there was LESS definition and drama
Ended up making my eyelashes look SPARSE, supposedly from the side someone told me they looked good but front on they looked baron
The ad I found online doesn't even look that well done. To be honest I am NOT a fan of Jessica Biel and wouldn't want my face to look like her in any way. She looks old in that photo and the eyelashes look hideous! Maybe next time I will take a pic of my eyelashes to show how undefined this mascara makes them. I had to use another brand to add more pizazz to the overall effect. Needless to say I was NOT satisfied with this customer.

Kat's 9 Lives rating:

Monday, March 21, 2011

My new obsession is all about beauty products! I enjoy getting my monthly facial to brighten any dull skin or to even just lay back and be pampered! After all, I am working hard for my money and I deserve to treat myself out once in a while! ^_~ Every girl needs a little now time. So listen up gentleman and boys! Here are some handy tips to help bring a huge smile on your gal's face or even just your good friends. It's not just about looking good on the outside but also feeling great on the inside. After all, everyone is gorgeous on the inside. Why not use some great products to bring out your natural beauty?
So this will be the launch of a new segment onto Kat's 9 Lives. I will share any random finds, may it be food or beauty products. My new rating scale will be a cute "paws" system. I will use a scale from 1-5 paws because I don't feel like generating more than that. Needless to say 1 paw is not a good thing and the more paws the better! This will be something exclusive to products for now and not the restaurant reviews. I am hoping to join the Las Vegas Convention this year to bring to my readers the most up to the moment beauty products. There's so many great products out there and I will start testing them out for you! =D
Join me on my new adventure and fascination as Kat's 9 Lives will start growing and spreading topics of interest. I working hard on the new layout to come!

Monday, March 14, 2011

I need to go shopping at H-Mart more often! The Irvine location now offers on the weekend a variety of food stands. As you walk in there is a Fresh Roasted Chestnut stand and a Hot Pastries/Dessert Stand. When did H-Mart become like a night market? I love the idea! Everyone there is super friendly and courteous. I know this is a Korean supermarket but I swear they were speaking Japanese.
The most tempting stand is the fresh made hot pastries. Inside these crisp shells are custard or red bean filling. Make sure not to be too greedy and order enough to eat there because they tend to become soggy as they cool. They are best when they are piping hot and fresh. Sink your teeth into the lightly crisp outer layer and into the steaming hot center filled with sweet goodness.
I personally don't like red beans, so I wouldn't really recommend them. The whole red beans inside are definitely not for me, but if you love the texture of chunks of red bean then you would like this filling. My one qualm is that the red beans barely have any filling inside.
The custard is better because it melts and fills the center. It's very interesting to see them pump the dough into the preset molds and add the fillings.
As I started shopping around the supermarket, my Mom notices the Takoyaki stand. Of course she wanted to get some to eat because they looked good. I didn't get to see them made freshly, but the bright side is I didn't have to wait as they cooked. There wasn't a line, so another plus.
I chose Shrimp and Octopus (Tako). They do offer a vegetable option for anyone who is a vegetarian. I thought the flavors were not bad and there was a decent amount of shrimp and octopus. The texture of the takoyaki was very firm and not undercooked or overcooked at all.
Watching as the nice gentleman drizzle the mayo and sweet sauce in an artistic manner only makes me wish I ordered more. Then he tops it off with fresh chopped green onions and a generous helping of bonito flakes. Yum! Itadakimasu! H-Mart
2100 Alton Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92606
(949) 833-0111

Friday, March 11, 2011

Guru Palace is a new addition to Tustin (or so the flyer says). They offer free delivery which is always a plus. Sometimes you just don't have the time to grab lunch or even leave to pick up. With gases sky rocketing, I need a place that delivers! Their lunch offer seemed pretty decent. For $8 they offer Tandoori Chicken, 1 Vegetable dish (no choice), Butter Chicken or Curry Chicken, Samosa, Rice, and Naan plus a choice of dessert.
Keep in mind, I am sure they offer a buffet at their restaurant for about the same price. So yes, it's a pretty good deal but if you eat there it's an even better deal! Most Indian restaurants offer an All You Can Eat Lunch Buffer under $10. Even though I have not been there myself, I am pretty sure they would be doing the same too. For now, I will settle for delivery because the portions are quite reasonable. They offered us Garlic Naan and I don't think they extra charged us for it either.
The Butter Chicken was super tasty in my opinion. It resembles Chicken Tikka Masala but in a richer sweeter and savory sauce minus tomatoes. I love dipping the naan into these creamy sauces for flavor. For me, it's best to pair the meal with some Mango Lassi. I thought it was very sweet and tasty. I will definitely have to get another one. Even though they took a while to deliver, it was worth the wait. I will probably order it again this week.
Guru Palace
17292 McFadden Ave
Tustin, CA 92780

(714) 832-9988
Guru Palace on Urbanspoon

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