Malibu, CA: Neptune’s Net


Photo by Crystal A. Johnson

Neptune’s Net is a unique seafood spot with a clear view of the Pacific Ocean, surfers and surfing in the not too distant view.  It’s favorite spot for motorcyclists riding up the Pacific Coast Highway.  It’s located at the Malibu County Line Beach area.

What’s on the menu?

Expect a lot of fried seafood served over fries and with a side of coleslaw.  The calamari which has come to be a favorite of mine there is tender and delicious.

There are also a number of non-fried items on the menu such as clam chowder and ceviche.


View from the deck at Neptune’s Net


Dining is available both indoor and outdoor.  It’s a casual spot and you can enjoy the beach before or afterwards.


Nov-March Hours:

Monday-Thursday: 10:30a-7p

Friday: 10:30a-9p

Saturday-Sunday: 10a-7p

April-Nov Hours:

Monday-Thursday: 10:30a-8p

Friday: 10:30a-9p

Saturday-Sunday: 10a-8:30p


A Taste of Nigeria in the San Fernando Valley- Toto’s Restaurant

In major city like Los Angeles it may be hard to believe how rare it is to find African Cuisine besides Ethiopian,  Toto’s offers a the West African country of Nigeria

Being Cultured

There’s an interesting strip mall which hosts a taste of the world from Thai to Ramen to Middle Eastern to Mexican to Nigerian.  The African cuisine is the rarest to find in the area.   I got a chance to experience Jollof Rice, Moi Moi (Moin Moin) a spicy preparation of goat and my friend ordered Pounded Yam. 40530028_10156169188571865_4940957736260075520_n

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Manhattan Beach, CA: Homie Restaurant


Homie is a restaurant I want to root for but there are some shortfalls in one major area…the food.   The cuisine by no means is bad or offensive but blah.  It doesn’t have a wow factor.  And a restaurant’s decor should not overwhelming exceed the core, the actual culinary dining experience.  My friend said his sandwich was bland and he would never dine here again.   So why would I want to root for this restaurant?   The location, location is great and the decor is eye-catching with the menu on the wall that even a 90-year-old could read the bold big letters.   The menu ideas are as ambitious as the beautiful decor and warm environment.  But no matter how chic the restaurant may be or how friendly your staff may be, the food has to be the best thing going in a restaurant.  Homie is riding in the mediocre lane. If you want a basic salad, a healthy sandwich and if you think healthy means no flavor then Homie is a safe choice.

Now on a more decadent menu item, dessert.   I ordered an $8 ice cream sandwich called “The Buddy”.  This classic treat takes on a not so classic spin covered in bacon and chocolate sauce.   Vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two perfectly soft chocolate chip cookies.    The dessert did not fail visually but the bacon choice needed to pop it didn’t offer much to the dessert but calories.   Perhaps a more smokey or salty bacon might have added to the flavor profile.   39501077_10156137043491865_6786184868985307136_n.jpg

The next item I tried was the Lavender latte.   The latte had a perfect foamy heart but the lavender notes didn’t shine through so the beverage came across as no more than an unflavored latte.


If I wanted to simply hang out and pass the time then Homie is a great spot.   But if I wanted to dine on great food, I would go somewhere else.   I hope the restaurant can elevate their flavor and seasoning to help Homie be an amazing experience.   I haven’t met more obliging and friendly staff than the people there so I hope they continue with great servers.

The website for Homie:

Open for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.  They also have a coffee bar.


1140 Highland Avenue, Manhattan Beach

310-546-4663 (HOME)

The Lake House – LA- Is Not Just Par for the Course Dining

Evchef-geore-and-chef-pauler had a meal so good you had to meet the chefs, I just did. The Lake House – LA – Nice to meet you Chefs George and Chef Paul.   This is not an obvious choice for dining as it is situated at Woodley Lakes Golf course but if you are golf,  work up an appetite  then crave a meal, you won’t be disappointed with this restaurant.   Check their schedule of Facebook for hours and events because even if you don’t golf, this restaurant is worth the trip.   Eat indoors or outdoors.   I dined outdoors and found it soothing to look out over the golf course as I sat at the nicely shellacked and rustic picnic table.


This was an inadvertent dining selection.  After walking four miles on the golf course, we were famished.  I wasn’t expecting much more than to extinguish my hunger.  Yet, quite the contrary happened.  I  took two bites of an incredible pulled pork sandwich brimming smoked flavor, my taste-buds totally impressed.  I offered a bite to my dining companion.  I could tell by his facial expression which spoke before he did that he had just eaten something more than ordinary.  He instantly mentioned how good it was.   I once review a bbq place where the made a simple statement, “If it is good you will not need sauce.”   If you ask for the sauce, it’s a crutch or habit because the flavor of this sandwich stands on its own.  You don’t need sauce.  Chef Paul knows a thing or two about BBQ.  It is a passion of his.  If you come to visit his restaurant, he confidently suggests that you try the tri-tip.   Now, I learned this after having no more room in my stomach to eat but I did devour the delicious pulled pork sandwich.

Van Nuys, CA: Colombian Cuisine at Meson Criollo Grill Restaurant

On a Sunday afternoon, I walked into joy my friends at Meson Criollo Grill Restaurant.  The husband is from El Salvador and his wife a Colombiana.  She would order for me and plate could have been three dinners for me.   We started with these piping hot crisp empanadas.   I would go back for those alone.   Then my hearty meal of steak, egg, rice, beans and plantains were the feast.   When in pseudo Colombia you drink as they do so I order a Colombian soda.

As for the decor, it seem casual.   I was so into my food and company that I barely noticed.  The restaurant is located in a strip mall.

– Crystal Johnson, MCCN Editor

Meson Criollo Food

Northridge,CA: Szechuan Place

Spicy wonton soup

Spicy Wonton Soup- Photo by Crystal A. Johnson

While going to do my laundry at a strip mall, a vibrant place caught my attention called the Szechuan.  Something about it even from afar screamed authentic.  The crowd mostly, if not all Asians except me tends to validate my authenticity suspicion.

The restaurant has an extensive menu.  Things caught my attention like Szechuan pork, a couple nearby sharing tofu stew,  and corn chowder soup.  However, I settled on something that I don’t see everyday which is spicy wonton soup.   This is not you standard American Chinese won ton soup.   Instead it is a mixture of chili oil, broth, green onions and garlic and my wontons were filled with pork.  Though, I enjoyed the flavor,  I did think it was too oily.  I would like to maybe had more broth based.  It was very rich.  The garlic and green onion tasted very fresh.   I also order some crispy spring roll that were perfectly crispy and the vegetables inside tasted fresh and were crunchy.

Appetizers average around $10.  Hot pots average $42 and include best for hot pads or chicken hot pot or duck hot pot.   Entrées Tinta range between 14 and $20.

On the day I visited,  service was extremely slow.

The decor is beautiful.  It make you kind of forget you are in s strip mall by a laundry mat and cleaners.  I definitely would like to explore some of the other dishes.

Szechuan Place

The restaurant is located by California State Northridge University.

Where: 9250 RESEDA BLVD UNIT #7-8 NORTHRIDGE, CA 91324

Los Angeles, CA: Joe’s Cafe

Joe's Cafe

Joe’s Cafe- Photo by Crystal A. Johnson

Located in the Granada Hills section of the San Fernando Valley is Joe’s Cafe.  Despite the ordinary name, it is not an ordinary restaurant.  Breakfast and Lunch are two meals of the day specialized at Joe’s Cafe.  If you know anything anything about this area then you know that Food Trucks meet on this business strip every Friday night.  Joe’s Cafe could be easily missed if it were not for the crowds waiting and the rare outdoor dining that you see happening during the weekdays especially.

Pretzel burger

The restaurant has heightened popularity with a Chopped Champion chef.  And let me tell you, the food does not disappoint.  I went with two men who ordered sandwiches that are accompanied with pretty green salads.  One dining partner kept talking about his menu item called The Beef , describing it as the best burger he every had.  Now, he had been to the establishment for breakfast and wasn’t originally that impressed but this time, he was.  His burger was sandwiched between a pretzel bun and the burger was topped with cheddar cheese, drunken onions and roasted jalepeño aioli.

Joe's Cafe Burger

I opted for the popular Belgian waffle which can be filled with chocolate

Belgian waffle

Bacon filled Waffle- Photo by Crystal A. Johnson (Joe’s Cafe)

chips and bacon.  I opted out of the chocolate.  I can say this was one of the better waffles that I have eaten.  It was light in texture and flavors included sweetness plus the right amount of savory imparted from the bacon.

Joe’s Cafe is not open for dinner.

Address: 17815 Chatsworth St, Granada Hills, CA 91344




Northridge, CA(Los Angeles) Review of Señor Sol

Believe it or not this this review of Señor Sol has some divine inspiration.  My pastor loves this place.  He would talk about how I had to try these fish tacos. If he was Catholic I would say,  “Father knows best” but instead I’ll say my pastor selected a a great choice.  The incredible taco  will include two tortillas so it will not fall apart, perfectly grilled whitefish, cheese, cilantro and delicious sauces.  I’ve become a regular now.  I almost always order a fresh made agua fresca like jamaica.

You may be familiar with the sister restaurant Los Fuentes but I enjoy this restaurant better.  It is great looking.  If you are looking for a nice spot to take a date without having to leave a tip, my tip is check out this spot.

Señor Sol on Urbanspoon


Northridge, CA: Rincome Thai Restaurant

papaya 2

Papaya Salad with Shrimp

Now, this is a restaurant that I have been to many times.  It virtually never fails.  Why do I say virtually?  Occasionally, the service is slow or not attentive but the Thai food served at this establishment is stellar.

I constantly go with a friend of mine.  We split the the Yum Woon Sen from the salad menu, a silver noodle with chicken which boasts of citrus flavor.  The servers always ask you for your spice level of choice.  Although, I love spicy food I would stick with low to medium spice so it doesn’t compete with the great citrus flavor of this dish.  Next, we always order the spicy seafood soup.  It is amazing.  Expect hot and sour flavors coupled with lemongrass.  Now as for entrees, you can’t go wrong with the yellow curry chicken or the Pad Thai.  We have also tried the appetizers including the shrimp toast.  Normally, I don’t like the shrimp toast that I have ordered at Chinese restaurants in Baltimore.  I mention the town because regionally even in the United States dishes may tend to be prepared differently.  I like the shrimp toast at Rincome.  My suggestion is not to let it sit is will taste greasy soon.  I have tried this with two people and I don’t think they were fans.  They cited the greasy taste.

As for the ambiance, it is great for friends or a simple date night.  The dress is casual.

Location17050 Devonshire St, Northridge, CA 91325
Telephone: (818) 366-5805


Northridge, CA: Review of Musashi


Musashi is a Japanese restaurant chain in Los Angeles with several locations.  I joined some friends at the tail end of dinner.  I quickly ordered the Bluefin sushi selected by a friend as a good choice.

And a good choice it was while I was eating my dinner from the appetizer menu, the rest of the party’s dessert was served.

I sampled the Banana Flambe.  The vanilla ice cream looked and tasted home-made and that is a good thing. The bananas were perfect, not overcooked maintaining a bit of firmness in the texture. This was truly a flavorful Banana Flambe.


As for the tempura ice cream it was visually striking.  I appreciated the contrasting textures and flavor.  However, pure taste would dictate that the Banana Flambe as the dessert of the night.

Musashi has teppan yaki (food cooked and served in front of you) tables and traditional sit down tables.  There is also a sushi bar.

Where: 9046 Tampa Avenue, Northridge, CA 91324
Phone:(818) 701-7041
Hours: Saturday hours 5:00 pm–10:00 pm