Category Archives: Dining Out

OC Weekly: Niyaz’s Top 5 Dishes of 2014

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I was fortunate that 2014 was a year of great eating across the country: Spicy Pie slices on the Coachella sprawl (an old favorite); the best steak of my life in Maui; impossible gnocchi in D.C. But there were many dishes to be discovered in Orange County as well. From new twists on old classics to simple things done right, I knew right away what dishes inspired me in the kitchen, or simply kept me coming back for more.

Read my Top 5 Dishes of 2014 at OC Weekly’s Stick a Fork In It blog.

22 crazy courses and more at SAAM at the Bazaar

saam_1My wife Nadia’s 30th birthday is today and we were lucky enough to celebrate with our many of our friends over the weekend. Our group of five—myself, Nadia, middle school friend Neil, his wife Gina, and high school friend Matt (known nerdily to ourselves as the Pentapod)—have made it tradition to celebrate our milestone birthdays together. I’ve blogged about those epic trips before, like when we ate through San Francisco, CoachellaSolvang and Las Vegas (twice).

This weekend the Pentapod was in L.A. and Orange County so we found places near home to enjoy together. Neil and Gina are fans of molecular gastronomist and chef José Andrés, having been to two of his restaurants—é in Las Vegas and SAAM at the Bazaar. They wanted to share the experience with us and I’m glad they did because the 3 1/2-hour meal we had at SAAM turned out to be one of the best dining experiences of my life.  Continue reading 22 crazy courses and more at SAAM at the Bazaar

Just Mauied

IMG_1160-0.JPGThe day Nadia and I got married was one of the best days ever … my boo, my family, my friends, the food.

For our honeymoon, we jumped in the car and headed to Palm Desert because it was what we could afford at the time. But we always wanted to take a far away vacation together, just the two of us, and this year being our five-year anniversary, Nadia picked Hawaii. She planned an adventure that I luckily reaped the benefits of. Continue reading Just Mauied

Fat Dude in the City: If you’re going … to San Francisco


San Francisco and Vegas are two cities with a lot in common in my book. Now, just hear me out. Both were places that, as a kid, I only visited when family was in town. Every trip involved the same food: fast food on the long car rides and clam chowder in Frisco or the Circus Circus buffet in Vegas. Clearly, my window into both cities was very limited until I became an adult.

Las Vegas was a whole new world to me when I started going in my 20s. The food. The debauchery. My dad never said nothin’ ’bout that before. But explore I did, and eat I did. Though I’m from the Bay Area–P-Town represent!! San Jose represent!!–I never experienced much of San Francisco aside from Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge.

After spending only a couple days in The City, I left with two main takeaways: 1) I could walk from neighborhood to neighborhood having dinner out and probably not repeat places for years. 2) I want to eat through this city, every night, for years. Here’s the first two days of that lofty, imaginary goal, in celebration of our friend Neil’s 30th birthday.

Check out the adventure after the jump. Continue reading Fat Dude in the City: If you’re going … to San Francisco

A Fat Dude Staycation: The Palm Springs getaway

The area between Palm Springs and Indio has always been a special place for me and my wife. We make a mostly-annual pilgrimage to the Coachella Valley Music & Arts festival with our friends, plus we honeymooned out there.

Nadia was all about going back for her birthday earlier this month. She Groupon’d an awesome suite at The Riviera and mapped out a few places to visit.

Keep reading for some delicious desert food picks. Continue reading A Fat Dude Staycation: The Palm Springs getaway

Fat Dude in the Desert: A Vegas Vacation

When most people vacation in Las Vegas they drink, gamble and catch a show. I go to eat. And eat, and eat and eat.

It’s easy to do when you’re hanging out with a chef, particularly Chef Brian, who is always keen on pointing out new restaurants and planning return trips to old favorites.

Here’s a Fat Dude tour of Sin City, where gluttony is our guilty pleasure. Keep on reading for the dirty, filthy proof.

Continue reading Fat Dude in the Desert: A Vegas Vacation

Killer Shrimp: If you can’t stand the heat …

My best friend Clint and his girlfriend Diana visited SoCal this weekend for the first time in several years. I love when he comes down because we usually go on a tour of his favorite L.A. and O.C. eats. There’s a stop at Morton’s for a burger and a little Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffle action. And on this trip, I took it upon myself to introduce him to Break of Dawn.

But one place we’ve left off the rotation for some time is Killer Shrimp, a Marina del Rey/Studio City joint that slings spicy bowls of broth teeming with succulent shrimp. In the last few years the locations closed, seemingly for good. Clint had heard through the grapevine the Marina del Rey location had reopened and a little Google action confirmed the good news.

After a few years away, an old favorite has returned. Continue reading Killer Shrimp: If you can’t stand the heat …

Summer vacation

I can’t believe how fast summer is flying by.

I started June feeling super stressed out because I had hit a plateau. Defeated, I spent too much time sitting on my ass staring at the TV and eating junky food (nothing processed though, I’m still good with that).

The guilt and remorse finally ate at me enough that I started planning and plotting.

Short story shorter, I’m in the gym swimming and weight training. More on that later.

Chef Brian’s yummy dishes will return Aug. 2. Expect salmon, lamb and branzino on the grill, plus fresh Mex and Thai, too.

In the meantime, check out the spread below from Locale magazine. I drop in on their summer issue to piece together a pretty killer picnic basket from various Orange County restaurants and markets. The screen shot is below and if you want more Locale, be sure to check out

L8r sk8rs. K.I.T.

Fat Dude does Solvang: A food and wine extravaganza

Back when I was writing for Food Frenzy, my co-blogger/homeboy Jeff traveled to exotic locales including Europe and … er, St. Louis while I sat at home and lived vicariously. I gave up travel each year, mostly for the time and expense  required to go to the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, but that doesn’t really count — it’s more of an endurance test than an oasis of relaxation.

This year, the festival sold out in a record six days, and I was left with a week’s worth of free time to fill. I wound up in a tiny town 30 miles north of Santa  Barbara called Solvang — essentially “Little Denmark” — with Wifey Nadia and friends Matt, Neil and Gina.

I ate (a lot), I drank (too much) … I even fed ostriches (and some emus, too).

Follow the jump to feast your eyes on my travels through a true California gem.

Continue reading Fat Dude does Solvang: A food and wine extravaganza

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