Came into town for a couple of business dinners - Friday night at Shutters restaurant - pre set menu, a dungeness crab salad that was just ok, but the entree of grilled day boat scallops with oxtail ragu with pappardelle was fabulous. Dessert of molten chocolate cake with chocolate mousse and vanilla ice cream was good, but way too large a serving. Service was excellent (party of 22).
Saturday night - Melisse (party of 24). Amuse bouche of cucumber "soup" with cucumber froth on top, very refreshing. Mixed greens salad was ordinary. Lobster thermidor over bed of creamed spinach - sinfully good. Entree of t-bone, just 2 slices off the bone, one a little gristly, but the side dish of potatoes parmentier had everyone gasping - served in an oval shaped ramekin, bottom layer of shredded beef stew meat, a thin layer of foie gras and topped with buttery mashed potatoes nicely browned on top, the ultimate shepard's pie. Dessert of strawberry crepes with a poppyseed parfait studded with peppercorns, unusual but good. Once again, excellent service.
Other meals where we benefitted from chowhounds' tips:
Lunch at Asahi Ramen - Gyozas were an excellent rendition, tender wrappers, nicely browned bottoms with just enough juicy filling. Ban ban ji - thinly shredded cucumbers with chicken in a slightly spicy dressing, very enjoyable. Chasu ramen came in a bowl as big as my head, could only finish half. Noodles were done just right, but the broth was not as flavorful as I expected. Nonetheless, quite satisfying.
Sunday's breakfast was in Santa Monica at Blueberry cafe on Santa Monica Blvd. near JiRaffe. Had the breakfast sandwich of scrambled eggs, bacon, chees and avocado, which came with home fries. This is an organic cafe and bakery that always has people waiting outside. Nice touch - free coffee while you wait outside. Probably would not go again.
Afternoon drive to San Gabriel:
Lunch at Mei Long Village - Crabmeat xiao long bao were very good. Large bowl of west lake soup for husband who wanted leftovers, a bit too thick with corn starch but good flavor and no trace of msg. An order each of the daikon radish pastries (3) and the Shanghai glutinous rice shao mai (4). The filling in the radish pastries were very fresh and the pastry was baked just right. The shao mai were way too big and had little flavor. We saw many other dishes to try another time.
Dinner at Lu Din Gee - Beijing duck 2 ways, with soup. Also got an order of sausage fried rice (lovely). The duck broth had excellent flavor. The pancakes were fresh and thin, shredded cucumbers and scallions were properly cut and the tianmianjiang was obviously house prepared. The duck itself was slightly disappointing, as the skin was not as crispy as I was expecting and not all the fat had been rendered. The meat was tender though, and once you wrapped everything together, the taste was just right. It would have served 4, and there were just 2 of us, so we had lots left over. Maybe the problem with the skin was just a fluke, as we went at 3:30, well before the normal dinner hour, maybe the oven was not hot enough. There were only 2 other tables occupied. I would try it again and bring a larger group to sample other dishes.
I am now officially on a fasting diet. Thanks 'hounds for all the great information.