Pleasure Palate

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Texas-Style Barbecue at Smoke City Market

Dinner at Smoke City Market

Awhile back, I was invited along with a guest for a hosted dinner at Smoke City Market in Sherman Oaks, a restaurant that features Texas-Style Barbecue.  Sherman Oaks isn’t exactly near where I live, so doing the long drive from the Eastside to the Valley is definitely a testament to how much I enjoy bbq. For our meal, we tasted our way through 4 meats, 7 sides and 2 desserts. First, let’s talk meat.

Dinner at Smoke City MarketDinner at Smoke City Market

Dinner at Smoke City MarketDinner at Smoke City Market

Or maybe, I should first mention the sauce. I thought the bbq sauce had a nice sweet tang to it, but it was the Hot Vinegar that I fell in love with. It’s fantastic with the chicken, which by the way, was juicy and had a delicious smokiness to it. We also tried one of their beef links that Smoke City Market gets from a company in Texas and it was definitely also a thumbs up.

I’m a big pastrami fan and their pastrami is made from corned beef that they cure themselves, so it was good, although I prefer it when it’s thinly sliced on a sandwich as opposed to it just being served by itself.  Their brisket, which is barbecued for 16 to 18 hours, comes in a lean version as well as a moist version, that tends to be more fatty.

Both cuts of meat were tender and again had a lovely smoky flavor like the chicken; however, the lean brisket was very dry while the moist brisket wasn’t moist enough. The friend who came with me has been to Smoke City Market before and said that when she had the moist brisket, it was pretty juicy. Perhaps, the brisket just had an off night that night.

Dinner at Smoke City MarketDinner at Smoke City Market

As for the sides, we tried the following:  apple and cabbage slaw, pit beans with brisket, creamed corn, Texas caviar (black-eyed peas), Longhorn mac and cheese with four cheeses, beet salad and cucumber and tomatoes.  One of my favorites was the apple and cabbage slaw. I loved its sweetness and crunch. The mac and cheese got even better with the hot vinegar and the pit beans and brisket was deliciously meaty. 

All the other sides were fine, except for two of them. I thought that the Texas caviar was too vinegary. I also just didn’t get the cucumber and tomatoes. I love cucumber for its fresh crunch and it just seemed flabby with the tomatos. Plus, these two veggies together were just really bland. Now, on to the desserts.

Dinner at Smoke City MarketDinner at Smoke City Market

Sad to say, what had been a good meal ended on a negative note when it came to the desserts. Suffice to say, they were disappointing.  The banana pudding tasted artificial as if it was made from a box and the bananas that layered the plastic tray were not ripe.  As for the pecan pie, the filling had a gummy, pasty texture that was just really unappealing. My advice to you. Skip the desserts.

Overall, except for the desserts, I enjoyed the food at Smoke City Market enough that if this restaurant was close by, I’d probably visit it more. It was good, but not fantastic to the point that Smoke City Market would be a destination restaurant where I’d do another 45 minute drive any time soon.  But if you live close by, remember that hot vinegar on the chicken and/or the mac and cheese is a must do.

Smoke City Market
5242 Van Nuys Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91401
(818) 855-1280

Filed under ppfoodventure bbq texasbbq shermanoaks restaurant

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Okonomiyaki Cooking Class with Foodstory

Recently, I was invited to an Okonomiyaki Cooking Class with Foodstory, a company owned and operated by Yoko Isassi.  Foodstory is a company that focuses on cooking and other classes based on Japanese food. Have no clue what okonomiyaki is? Well, simply, it’s a Japanese savory pancake. My previous experience with it was having it cooked for me at Gaja, a restaurant in Lomita. I should emphasize the “having it cooked” part because those of you who may know me, know that I don’t really cook; yet, there I was doing some prep work and even cooking my own okonomiyaki. Props to me. :) You can see my creation in the picture above. As for the class itself, here’s how it went.

Dessert was made first with agar, orange juice and sponge cake and then it was put in the fridge to set. I was the one who cut the cake into thinner slices and lined the pan with them before the liquid was pored in. The end result was a fruit agar jelly.

Dashi broth was made with seaweed, water and bonito flakes to be used for both the miso soup and the okonomiyaki. Dashi broth, yamaimo (slimy yam) and wheat flour are what make up the okonomiyaki batter.

Chopped cabbage and egg are must adds to the okonomiyaki batter and after that, it was up to you. The batter shown here also had fried wheat flour (tenkasu), red ginger, green onions and dried shrimp. You had to add enough ingredients so that it was a thick versus a watery batter. After the batter was poured into the pan, it was topped with mochi, shrimp and pork belly. Fry on both sides, top with okonomiyaki sauce, Kewpie mayonnaise, seaweed flakes (aonori) and bonito flakes (katsuobushi) or feel free to experiment with other ingredients and then eat up!

After all the cooking, we all sat down to enjoy our okonomiyaki along with miso soup and the agar fruit jelly for a tasty meal. As I mentioned, I’m not much of a cook, but the okonomiyaki was so easy to make that I might even surprise myself and cook it again. Check out the recipe for okonomiyaki after the Foodstory Contact Info.

Foodstory hosts both public and private Customized Cooking Events and Classes. Other classes include udon making, a Japanese knife skills workshop and more. If interested, you can reach Food Story below.

Food Story

Okonomiyaki (Serving for 4)


Flour Mix:
1 cup wheat flour (or cake flour)
1 cup dashi stock
1/2 cup yamaimo (slimy yam), grated

Other Ingredients:
3/4 to 1 lb cabbage
8 Tbs. scallion
4 eggs (1 egg for each okonomiyaki)
4 Tbs. pickled ginger
4 Tbs. dried shrimp
4 Tbs. Tenkasu (fried wheat flour)

6 to 8 slices pork belly
4 medium shrimp
cheese (as much as you like)
sliced mochi
katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
aonori (seaweed flakes)
okonomiyaki sauce


  • In a large bowl, whisk wheat flour and dashi stock well until smooth.Then add grated yamaimo and mix well.
  • Cut cabbage into ½” strips first and then cut again to make ½” square. Chop scallion and pickled ginger and set aside.
  • Divide the flour mix into 4 separate bowls. Then add cabbage, scallions, ginger and other ingredients. Add 1 egg to each bowl. Mix roughly and see if you need to add more cabbage or not. (It’s best to mix everything together right before you make Okonomiyaki. Never premix and leave them in fridge.)
  • Heat up griddle to medium heat.
  • Pour the okonomiyaki mix over the griddle and put your favorite toppings on top.
  • After 4 to 5 minutes, check the bottom of okonomiyaki. If it’s ready, flip upside down.
  • Cook another 4 to 6 minutes. Then flip again and cook another few minutes before serving to the plate.
  • Top your okonomiyaki with okonomiyaki sauce, then aonori (seaweed flakes) and katsuobushi (bonito flakes). Eat as soon as possible!

Filed under cookingclass food foodstory japanesecuisine japanesefood okonomiyaki ppfoodventure