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Jack n’ Jill’s
Reviewed by Julia Waldow, 15, Beverly Hills HS

I remember the first time I went to Jack n’ Jill’s, my favorite restaurant at the moment, and ordered PBC (peanut butter cup) pancakes. They were three large buttermilk pancakes with gooey, peanut butter cup pieces mixed in and butter and syrup on the side. It was like eating a slice of heaven!

Unfortunately, PBC pancakes are off the menu now (yes, I couldn’t believe it either), but the restaurant has plenty of other options to fill any hunger craving of mine. Jack n’ Jill’s has typical American food (burgers, sandwiches and salads), but it also has unique foods, like crepes (a thin pancake).

One reason Jack n’ Jill’s is my favorite restaurant is because its atmosphere makes me feel right at home. The booths and tables are comfy and the decorations are unique and fun (in the Beverly Hills restaurant, plates, baskets, and bowls are nailed to the walls).

The waiters are friendly, too. One time, a couple of friends and I were looking at our school yearbook when our waitress came over to take our order, noticed the yearbook, and asked if we knew her brother, who was a senior. We looked up his picture and said we had seen him around, and then we all started talking about the school. I appreciated that she made an attempt to be welcoming, rather than just ask for our order and walk away.

If you’re in the mood for something savory, try one of the delicious crepes. I recommend the Evangeline crepe, which is stuffed with artichoke hearts, tomatoes, chicken and cheese with a basil cream sauce. If you want a dessert crepe, I would go with the chocolate banana cream crepe. I love chocolate and bananas, and it was so sweet and yummy.

However, if you feel like breakfast food, their eggs are delicious as well. I like the Sunset omelette, which has asparagus, mushrooms, spinach, onions, tomatoes and jack cheese. All of their eggs and omelettes come with two sides. I usually get blueberry mini-muffins and home-style potatoes. Breakfast is served until 5 p.m. at the Beverly Hills location and all day at the Santa Monica location.

If you’re craving a sandwich or burger, I suggest the chicken pesto panini, fried chicken sliders (sliders are like mini burgers) or roasted turkey and brie croissant. But it doesn’t stop with just meat; Jack n’ Jill’s has vegetarian sandwiches too, like the veggie wrap and veggie burger.

I usually go to Jack n’ Jill’s with friends after school, but sometimes I go with my family for a Sunday brunch. It’s not too loud, so you can hear what the people across from you are saying—which is nice!

The prices range from $9 to $14 for an entrée and $6 to $11 for a crepe. Breakfast items are $8 to $12.

I think the best part of the restaurant, though, is when they give you Tootsie Pops with your check!

342 N. Beverly Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 247-4500

510 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 656-1501

Fogo De Chao

Reviewed by YeJean Kim, 16, Arcadia HS

Sometimes you just want to splurge, and Fogo De Chao is a good place to do it. A Brazilian barbeque restaurant in Beverly Hills, it has great food, good atmosphere and, best of all, all the meat you can eat.

My family and I went there to celebrate my younger brother’s birthday. My dad had heard about the restaurant. As we are a meat-worshipping family, and had eaten Brazilian BBQ before and loved it, everyone wanted to go. We would probably go more often if it weren’t so expensive. The price for one person to eat dinner is $56.50.

When we pulled up to the restaurant, the first thing that drew my eye was a huge waterfall wall that frames the entrance. It was really luxurious and exotic looking, and so is the inside. There are funky-shaped lights on the ceiling and the light is dimmed, so it gives off a mysterious vibe. Everything is clean and fancy looking, but overall there is a fun atmosphere, making it that much better for a celebration. I thought the place would be filled with stern-faced staff and uptight rich people, but I was totally wrong. There were people in dresses and button downs, but some people were wearing jeans and T-shirts. One family, in the middle of what looked like a reunion, was wearing matching hats and T-shirts. They were happy and lively, and so was everyone else. Endless meat can do that to people.

Fogo de Chao specializes in Brazilian barbeque, which is when different cuts of meat are grilled using a special technique. The waiters walk around with the grilled meat speared on stakes and offer it to you. They cut it right from the stake then you are supposed to spear it with a small fork they give you and put it on your plate. Fogo de Chao, like most Brazilian barbeque restaurants, gives you a card painted red on one side and green on the other side. Green means yes I want meat, while red means taking a break or done. It may sound odd to people who have never eaten that way before, but it actually adds to the fun. Sometimes I would be too full at the moment and so I would flip the card, but everyone else would want more and so they would un-flip it, and the waiter would accidentally interpret my oh-please-no-more-meat-because-I-am-about-to-bust hand motions to be a more-meat-please hand motion.

Ah, the meat. There are 15 cuts to choose from and not just beef either, there is also chicken and pork. But that night there were eight main ones in rotation. All of them were delicious, but the most loved meat at our table was picanha, or rump cover. The picanha was juicy and cooked perfectly. But that doesn’t mean the filet mignon, or anything else, was bad. Everything was well cooked and tender. The meat tasted like meat, not that over-salted mess that can happen when grilling.

The service was attentive without being stifling. The great sides they give make eating at Fogo de Chao even better. The cheese bread was airy and crisp, the mashed potatoes were fluffy, the polenta was crispy, and the fried bananas were sweet and tender. The salad bar also features cold foods like smoked salmon, mozzarella cheese and pasta salad.

After eating as much as humanly possible, my family and I finally stumbled out. It was great eating at Foco de Chao because of the relaxed atmosphere and abundant food, but is not cheap, making it more of a special occasion restaurant. So if prom or a birthday comes around, think of Foco de Chao as a good bet.

133 N La Cienega Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211-2206
(310) 289-7755

The India Restaurant

Reviewed by Sydney Chou, 14, Sonora HS

Indian food has always been very unusual to me. In elementary school, my friend would bring Indian “french fries,” which were basically yellow potatoes, for lunch. My friends and I called them French fries because they kind of tasted like them. Whenever she brought the potatoes, we will all be excited because they tasted delicious. A couple months ago, my uncle suggested that we eat at The India Restaurant in Artesia, which specializes in tandoor (clay oven) dishes and curries. It was so good that I have gone back a few more times and tried different dishes on the menu.

In contrast to Japanese curries, Indian curries have hotter, more flavorful spices, while the Japanese ones are sweeter. My favorite is the karahi chicken curry, which on the menu is referred to as “a recipe from the mountain.” The meat is so moist that when I bite into it, flavorful juice spills into my mouth.

The lamb vindaloo, cooked with tomatoes and potatoes, is a combination of sweet and hot spices. Vindaloo is a traditionally spicy dish. I order it mild but it is still pretty hot, though not as hot as the karahi chicken. It is also a bit sweeter than most of the other curries I tasted there. The lamb is great and almost tastes like beef and the vindaloo (which is the sauce with the spices) gives the meat tons of flavor.

The chicken tikka is white meat marinated with spices and herbs and then put into the special tandoor. When it comes out of the kitchen, the meat is covered with different peppers and a variety of vegetables on a sizzling platter. All the curry dishes taste excellent with the long grain rice and the chicken tikka tastes good even without it.

At The India Restaurant, “mild” is moderately hot, giving the curry dishes a nice kick. I would definitely recommend The India Restaurant to others. Most of the dishes are less than $20 and the portions are generous. It changed my view on Indian food—it’s not just yellow potatoes, so-called “french fries,” there is a lot more to it. Now, I think Indian food is interesting and wish to try more.

17824 Pioneer Blvd.
Artesia, CA 90701
(562) 860-5621

JJ Bakery & Cafe

Reviewed by Leslie Ho, 17, Walnut HS

JJ Bakery & Cafe in City of Industry is unlike the restaurants that most people think of when it comes to Chinese food, because the food hasn’t been Americanized. It is located in a new plaza off of Highway 60. I go there often with friends and family because of the casual atmosphere and inexpensive food. Most of the dishes are $5 to $10, and the fragrant jasmine tea is free.

JJ Cafe does not put heavy emphasis on decor. The walls are mostly bare, and the space is cluttered with dark wooden tables and chairs, but the restaurant gives me a comfortable, down-to-earth feel. The vibrant, chatty atmosphere actually encourages me to talk more with friends and family.

Do not be afraid if you can’t speak Chinese, because the menu is printed in both English and Chinese, and the servers will still understand you. They are not big on customer interaction because most traditional Chinese diners prefer to be left alone in restaurants, but they will come back to check in on you.

The food is different from what you’ll get from Chinese takeout or Panda Express. Certain foods may seem strange like the pan fried daikon (a mild flavored Asian turnip) cake, simmered pig ears and braised pork feet noodle soup, but don’t be afraid to try them because they are all delicious. They do have fried rice dishes, but I encourage you to try the unfamiliar foods because in authentic Chinese restaurants, fried rice is usually ordered only if you’re still hungry after finishing the main meal.

JJ offers a lot of Taiwanese food. The restaurant is famous for the ultimate Taiwanese comfort food, minced-pork-rice. It is a bowl of rice and sliced pork belly that has been slow braised in soy sauce.  The slices of pork belly are soft and full of flavor. The meat-flavored soy sauce soaks into the rice, and transforms even that plain bowl into an extraordinary meal. Each bite tastes decadent, and at $1.95 for a generously-sized bowl, the pork-rice is considered a steal. I always order a bowl to take home. The cafe also offers it as a combo meal with a bowl of soup and vegetable dish of your choice for $6.95. I like that at JJ Cafe, I can have a well-rounded meal that tastes homemade with the money that it takes to order a meal at some fast food places.

The desert menu is limited to semi-sweet Asian soups, though it is not a problem because the bakery is just a few feet away from the dining area. It is a must to bring at least one of the breads or slices of cake back home. The most common item is different types of savory buns with various fillings like taro, curry or shredded dried pork.

All in all, the food is good and the prices are reasonable. I can’t wait until I have an excuse to go again.

18558 Gale Ave. #168
City of Industry, CA 91748
(626) 965-1388 for other locations.