Having garnered praise from the likes of Gayot, LA Weekly, and foodie blog Eating L.A., Gobi Mongolian BBQ fulfills the hype with menu featuring a customizable, self-serve buffet of veggies from local farmers' markets and lean, all-natural meats. After visitors load bowls with proteins such as certified Angus beef, chicken, pork, turkey, or tofu, they add a selection of vegetation before hitting the sauce station. This is where the fun starts. As L.A. Times writer Jessic Gelt put it in her 2009 review, "saucing is a science" at this Silver Lake hot spot. Whether they strike off on their own or follow one of the restaurant's handy guides, diners can choose combinations from 11 MSG-free sauces ranging from traditional hoisin and green curry to "Facebook-generation" flavors including lemon mint and asian pesto.
With sauces taken care of, noodles top off the feast before cooks step in to stir-fry the igredients and serve the steaming dish with two homemade hot sesame rolls. Other menu offerings include small bites such as crispy pork dumplings, mixed greens salads with creamy sesame dressing, and brownie sundaes with vanilla bean gelato, candied pralines, and whipped cream.
Five-pour flights from an extensive beer list complement bites, with local craft brews including AleSmith's IPA, The Strand's 24th Street Pale Ale, and Iron Fist's Renegade Blonde often gracing the taps. Brews are joined by freshly mixed soju cocktails, as well as traditional highballs, organic wine, sake, and bottled craft soda. In the zen-like dining space, dark wooden tables are surrounded by ledges lined with candles, much like a shrine to birthday cakes.
Not long after beginning their relationship, Fabrison’s co-owners Fabrice and Alison—from Marseilles, France and Columbus, Ohio, respectively—traveled to Europe together, seeking a change of scenery. Inspired by the warm hospitality of European cafés, they returned home to open their own cozy shop, combining their first names to form its distinctive moniker.
Crepes are the specialty at Fabrison’s, with customers perusing a menu of sweet, savory, and breakfast iterations of the traditional French food. The La Galette combines ham, mushrooms, and spinach with a fried egg, whereas the L’Isabelle keeps its ingredients as simple as Count von Count’s locker combination, mingling sugar, butter, and a topping of powdered sugar. Patrons can begin their mornings with a spot of espresso and Fabrice’s Breakfast Crepe, filled with sausage, bacon, and spicy harissa sauce. Rounding out the menu is a selection of patisserie-style desserts and pastries.
The couple’s friends and family helped them plan their café’s look, with Fabrice’s mother sending over photos and swatches from European cafes, which influenced its bright palette of crimson, gold, and washed turquoise. Alison’s mother sewed the gingham curtains on the windows, and artist Derek Little created the vivid painting on the front window. Fabrison’s also shares French culture with the community through regular evening events that include crepe-cooking classes, French movie nights, French speaking classes, and French kissing workshops.
After marinating some beef tenderloin with galangal herb, chef Richard Yu finishes off the succulent cut with a sweet-and-spicy cambogee sauce. This signature dish is emblematic of the China-born cook's creative work at Mosaic, where his Asian-fusion and American meals stand out with locally grown produce, hand-cut meats, and fresh seafood. He also puts his unique stamp on other classic Eastern and Western dishes, such as his orange chicken with sun-dried mandarin-orange peels and his 8-ounce salmon stuffed with crab, shrimp, and cheese.
To complement Chef Richard's cuisine, bartenders craft a variety of hand-shaken cocktails such as Mosaic's signature Mosaic-Tini, a blend of muddled strawberries, simple syrup, and organic riesling. Many of those cocktails come spiked with house-infused vodkas, and other imported liquors also stock the bar alongside wines and domestic and imported beers.
Meals unfold on Mosaic's outdoor plaza or in its chic lounge inside the historic Four Points by Sheraton San Jose Downtown hotel, which affords stunning views and often hosts late-night entertainment. A nightclub sets up residency Thursday–Saturday nights, and jazz musicians improvise their way through tunes in the dining room each Friday and Saturday.
Samba Global Cuisine's menu spans continents, uniting dishes toasted over the leaping flames of a Brazilian grill with those cooked in the heated clay interior of a tandoor oven. Samba's signature rodizio dinners deliver skewered meats to tables, where they are carved by servers directly onto diners' plates. Picanha, a cut of beef, is a popular choice. For those who would rather not indulge in the all-you-can-eat option, the picanha burger—covered in mozzarella, grilled mushrooms, and peppers—offers a taste of the Brazilian beef.
Indian offerings include seven types of naan bread, chicken tikka masala, and biryani rice entrees. Samba serves Mediterranean as well, from falafel appetizers to shish kebab lunches and pizzas dotted with feta cheese.
Though the food comes from various regions, the venue positions diners under the same sky—or at least, a ceiling charmingly painted to mimic the clouds. Samba also celebrates birthdays with above-average fanfare: drums, tambourines, and song, instead of the traditional treat of fine-dining establishments, a lobster clutching candles in its claws.
The bride stood under the photographer’s lights, resplendent in her wedding gown, as her family looked on from a distance. As she and her photographer, M. Chen, prepared for the shoot, she was handed a package—a prewedding gift from her soon-to-be husband. When she lifted the lid, she immediately burst into tears. Inside laid a photo of a great dane puppy—the dog she’d always wanted, which her husband planned to give her on their wedding day. As she ran to hug her mother, Mr. Chen ran after, shooting image after image, capturing the exact moment she fell into her mother’s arms. These quick reflexes have been honed through his nearly 30 years as a sports photographer and professional fly swatter, and he draws on photojournalistic techniques to compose a traditional portrait or snap once-in-a-lifetime, candid moments.
Regardless of specific approaches, he consistently draws from the landscape style of Ansel Adams and the dramatic lighting techniques of Monte Zucker. His work as a photojournalist and private portrait photographer has earned him more than 300 publications in the glossy pages of New York Daily News, Popular Photography, ESPN Magazine, and Professional Photographers of America magazine. When not snapping on-location engagement shoots, family portraits, or boudoir sessions, he passes on his technique through traveling photography seminars, hands-on workshops, and by gently tapping the heads of his students. Though formerly designed only for professional-level photographers, these classes instill confidence and camera basics in beginners. As he frequently finds new class examples and takes feedback from his students, Mr. Chen frequently fine-tunes the curriculum after each seminar.