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The Famous, KaPow Comics & Coffee, House of Yakitori 2 

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click to enlarge House of Yakitori 2
  • House of Yakitori 2

House of Yakitori 2

1612 N. Academy Blvd., 596-7511, yakitori-house.com

I'm skeptical pulling up to House of Yakitori 2, feeling like it might be generic strip mall filler on the cheap, but I'm quickly proved wrong by attentive service and impressive yakitori — spot-on for flavors and textures. Our waiter notes 26 years in business, in the same family.

Complimentary soup (excellent miso) and salad (a small, tangy tangle) launch us, followed by tori bits ($4.75): crisp-shelled, chewy chicken hunks like a kid's menu item elevated. Then comes the yakiniku and gyoza ($12.95), skewers of pink-centered beef cubes with sexy charred edges (read: grill-flavor love), dripping with a salty soy yakitori sauce (read: umami action). Accompanying doughy, pot-sticker-like gyoza (the only item not made in-house) play a balancing carbohydrate role, with rice. The pankodon ($9.95) delivers pounded-thin panko chicken in a mild sweet-and-sour sauce over rice, with a yolk-popped fried egg, and notably crisp but non-oily, kick-ass panko onion rings. — MS

click to enlarge The Famous
  • The Famous

The Famous

31 N. Tejon St., 227-7333, thefamoussteakhouse.net

If the bill reads $35 for two cocktails and a dessert to split, expect The Best, or something pretty close. And pretty close is just what we get from the crème brulée ($9). Flecked with vanilla bean, the creamy custard rates as pudding paradise, with a crisp and toasty crust that has us raving for hours. But the pale strawberries in the three-berry garnish chew once-frozen, or heavily macerated, and the white chocolate stick atop adds nothing. Garnish issues wouldn't merit mention if the dessert weren't 1) 9 bucks and 2) basically perfect without.

The crisp Famous Orchard ($11) blends Breck vodka with Schönauer Apfel schnapps, with peach Stirrings and a Gruet Blanc de Noirs float. Our bartender laments a vague recipe, which is the only reason we can tell that the five spice powder should be mixed in instead of atop. Try also the Ol' Berries & Bourbon ($11), which adds vanilla bean simple syrup, sweet vermouth and orange bitters for a caramel-sweet sipper. — GS

click to enlarge KaPow Comics & Coffee
  • KaPow Comics & Coffee

KaPow Comics & Coffee

4239 N. Nevada Ave., 896-4376, kapowcomicsandcoffee.com

It's important for us to keep in proportion the service irregularities we see when we visit this café and comic shop: General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) had died that morning. So even though my order was forgotten for around 15 minutes of my 20-minute wait and my cold sandwich was instead prepped and served as a panini, probably don't expect that as the norm here. Truly, there had been a great disturbance in the Force.

Getting down to it, we try the chipotle turkey bacon ($5.75) sandwich — petite, but tasty, even in its unusual form. Punchy red onion does well with turkey and bacon, but the chipotle mayo lacks kick. We get the lunch combo version, paying $2 more for a medium drink and side. We go for the soup of the day, loaded baked potato, which comes pleasantly creamy with good bacon/green onion notes. And for the included drink: the Dark Side, a house dark chocolate mocha that errs quality cocoa, hiding its coffee kick. — GS

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