Category Archives: eat Las Vegas

i8tonite with OC’s Las Brisas Chef Johannes Bernau and Recipe for Coca Cola Carnitas

i8tonite with LA’s Las Brisas Chef Johannes Bernau and Recipe for Coca Cola Carnitas“The cuisine at Who Song’s & Larry is meant to be fun. It’s Mexican-inspired food,” say 32-year old Chef Johannes Bernau. “The food at Las Brisas finds its inspiration in Mexico, but is really Southern California.”

Born in Utah to a Japanese mother and Dutch Indonesian father, the talented man behind the Real Mex Restaurants stove holds the unwieldy title of Corporate Chef for Specialty Brands. Behind that long designation lies a thoughtful human who creates delectable South of the Border-encouraged dishes at Las Brisas, an iconic cliff side eatery overlooking California’s famed Laguna Beach, and Who Song’s & Larry’s, a newcomer to the restaurant scene. Real Mex also owns additional Southern California chains such as Acapulco, Chevy’s, and El Torito Grill. Bernau oversees the kitchens of the single standing operations, which include the aforementioned, but also El Paso Cantina in Torrance, CA and New York City’s Sinigual.

i8tonite with LA’s Las Brisas Chef Johannes Bernau and Recipe for Coca Cola Carnitas

“Like every chef, I started out helping as a kid in the kitchen, then I started inviting my friends over for barbeques that I would make,” Bernau recalls. “I worked at a pizza place between the ages of 18 – 19. Today, I still crank out a pizza for family (staff) meals.”

Seafood Tower Las Brisas. i8tonite with LA’s Las Brisas Chef Johannes Bernau and Recipe for Coca Cola Carnitas
Seafood Tower Las Brisas

The food at Las Brisas, with its breaktaking views of Laguna’s golden sand beaches and Pacific Ocean waves, is a must for every traveler and visitor to the legendary ocean community. The white tablecloth eatery serves dishes such as the fruta del mar, a mixture of lobster, scallops, shrimp, and the catch of the day with a saffron sauce. Also, surf and turf plates exist with Latin flavors, such as the New York Strip with Mexican Shrimp. Adding to the overall theme of Southern California dishes are starters such as ceviche and Ahi Tuna Poke.

i8tonite with LA’s Las Brisas Chef Johannes Bernau and Recipe for Coca Cola Carnitas

Who Song’s & Larry is themed more like a cantina with lustful eats, including Hangover Fries. Created by Chef Bernau, the dish is crispy fries covered in carnitas, bacon, green chili sauce, melted pepper jack cheese, pico de gallo, a fried egg, and fresno chiles. Served in a small crock, the mighty curative sounds overwhelming but in truth, it’s delicious with bold flavors to settle anyone who might be leaning too far after a night of drinking. “The inspiration was from the Canadian poutine and from my love of smothered fries…plus a fried egg can go on anything,” chuckles Bernau. “It was so popular we named our brunch after our fries.”

Hangover fries. i8tonite with LA’s Las Brisas Chef Johannes Bernau and Recipe for Coca Cola Carnitas
Hangover fries

 

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking?
Since I was able to crack eggs… (Mom and dad probably ate plenty of egg shell omelets…)

What is your favorite food to cook?
Anything off the grill, especially Steak.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Surge (classic soda from the 90’s) – they took it away once… not going to let that happen again.

What do you cook at home?
Mac and cheese.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
Their love for food.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
Customers that want their steaks well done.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Rubbermaid

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Beer

Your favorite cookbook author?
Ferran Adria

Street Corn - Who Song and Larry's. i8tonite with LA’s Las Brisas Chef Johannes Bernau and Recipe for Coca Cola Carnitas
Street Corn – Who Song and Larry’s

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Chef’s Knife.

Your favorite ingredient?
Thyme – everything could use a little more thyme.

Your least favorite ingredient?
MSG

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
When I was a young cook, one of my jobs was to peel grapes.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Tacos

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Beef

Favorite vegetable?
Broccolini

Chef you most admire?
Jose Andreas – worked for him back in the day & learned how to cook with liquid nitrogen.

Food you like the most to eat?
Ramen (not instant)

Food you dislike the most?
Natto, a Japanese dish of fermented soy beans.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
none

Recipe: Coke Cola Carnitas

i8tonite with LA’s Las Brisas Chef Johannes Bernau and Recipe for Coca Cola Carnitas
Photo Wikimedia Commons: Mike McCune

5 lbs of large chunks of pork butt
1 onion chopped
1 sprig of thyme
1 sprig of oregano
1 can of coke
1 can of beer
2 TBSP salt
1 tsp pepper
Water

Put everything in crock pot on medium before you go to work.

Eat after work. With tortillas and cheese.

– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Dining in Downtown Las Vegas

Courtesy of Marc Cooper. i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Dining in Downtown Las Vegas
Courtesy of Marc Cooper

On my fourth or fifth visit to Las Vegas, I wanted something different. I’ve danced at nightclubs, eaten the fancy meals with celebrity chefs, played slots and viewed the shows. On different occasions, I saw Bette Midler and Cher on both of their final farewell concerts before they came back with “I’m still here” tours. There are the repetitive Cirque de Soliel extravaganzas which are fun the first time around but by the third show, it’s schtick.

This time, I wanted food indicative of living in Las Vegas: What do the locals eat and where? I wanted to go beyond the Wynns and Arias, the Stratospheres and the MGMs. Nick and I were in agreement, walking through another smoke-filled casino to locate decent food should not be trying to get through a gauntlet.

Courtesy of Mob Museum. From i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Dining in Downtown Las Vegas
Courtesy of Mob Museum.

Luckily, great food exists in Sin City – without the gambling — but it is in downtown Las Vegas. The rents are still cheap in the historic area. Restauranteurs have always been mavericks when it comes to selecting destinations for their outposts – fringe and marginal are words that come to mind. Moreover, downtown Las Vegas is no exception to that theory. Bright with a billion lights. Rowdy but there’s an honesty as the drunkards had all the intentions of getting drunk.  No pretending it was post-theater. It is Las Vegas for the hipster set. Ignore – if possible – the Fremont Experience, which isn’t as fascinating as it sounds and Robert Urich has sadly long left the area. If you must, go ahead and at least do a one-time plunge down the Slotzilla Zipline. Once you’ve had the familiarity and said, “Okay, now I’ve done that”, head to the thought-provoking spaces such as Container Park, the Mob Museum and Emergency Arts building where artists, writers and other creative denizens showcase their wares.

Downtown Las Vegas Eats: 

Eat! i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Dining in Downtown Las Vegas
Courtesy of eat.

Breakfast:  eat. Designed by Chef Natalie Young as a showcase for her creative breakfasts and lunch dishes in the Las Vegas’ downtown dining scene, eat features American comfort classics prepared with the chef’s culinary-trained twist, using the freshest and locally-sourced, organic ingredients.

  • My suggestion:  Shrimp and Grits with Two Poached Eggs, Pico de Gallo. It’s Vegas. Have shrimp for breakfast and Chef Natalie’s cooking will make you see the night-time twinkling stars.
  • Price: $14.00
  • Hours:  Monday – Friday, 8 am – 3 pm. Weekends, 8 am – 2 pm.
  • Address:  707 Carson Street (at 7th), LV, NV, 89101
  • Phone Number: (702) 534 – 1515
  • Website: www.eatdtlv.com

Lunch:  Carson Kitchen. The late celebrity chef Kerry Simon’s Deviled Eggs with Pancetta and Caviar. Carson Kitchen. From i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Dining in Downtown Las Vegasrestaurant is an anomaly in the pantheon of Las Vegas eating establishments. First, it’s splendid and should be considered one of the city’s finest places to eat except the drinks don’t come in tumblers, there isn’t a slot machine, and I don’t remember seeing anyone smoking inside. It’s pure American comfort food with twists. Bacon Jam with Brie? Yep. Deviled Eggs with Pancetta and Caviar? Yep. Sophistication meets trailer-trash. Thank god they pulled the underwear from the clotheslines.…although, at Carson Kitchen, I probably would envision La Perla flapping in the desert wind.

  • My suggestion: Crispy Fried Chicken Skins with Smoked Honey. This is revelatory. I will come back for this time and time again in Las Vegas. Who knew it was just the skin you needed to eat and not the chicken?
  • Price: $6.00
  • Hours: Sunday – Wednesday, 11:30 am – 10 pm, Thursday – Saturday, 11:30 am – 11 pm
  • Address:  124 South Sixth Street, Suite 100, LV, NV, 89101
  • Phone Number:  (702) 473 – 9523
  • Website: http://carsonkitchen.com/
Chillspot. From i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Dining in Downtown Las Vegas
Courtesy of Chillspot.

Snack Time:  ChillSpot by SassaPops. Located in Container Park. The owner and creator of Zappos.com did something brilliant for the community and families of Las Vegas. He created an outdoor shopping mall and play area with interesting food – from high-end eating to handmade sweets. The park and mall are built entirely of shipping containers, and it includes a playground, a stage for music, and a screen for outdoor movies, plus food, glorious food. Chillspot’s conception is an outlet for the brother and sister team of SassaPops.  Essentially, Sassapops or SassaSnow are freshly-made frozen desserts – ice cream, snowcones – without the use of additives. They make scrumptious chocolate brownies and cookies as well.

  • My suggestion: International Snow. Asian iced treats such as Filipino Halo-Halo or Korean Patbingsu. Sweet, fun, and culinary.
  • Price: $7
  • Hours:  Monday – Thursday, 11 am – 9 pm; Friday – Saturday, 11 am – 10 pm, Sunday, 10 am – 8 pm.
  • Address:  707 Fremont Street, LV, NV 89101
  • Phone Number: (702) 900 – 7873 (PURE)
  • Website: www.chillspotlv.com
Andiamo’s Italian Steakhouse in the D Hotel. From i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Dining in Downtown Las Vegas
Courtesy of D Hotel

Dinner: Andiamo’s Italian Steakhouse in the D Hotel. Reminiscent of an old-school Las Vegas, when the Italian mobsters ran the town. The leather banquettes, smoky mirrors, and brick might have something to do with it, but the place is fairly new. I expected to see The Rat Pack – led by Frank Sinatra – walking through the joint with a martini in one hand, a showgirl in the other and a cigarette dangling from Dean Martin’s lips. Thankfully, guns are outlawed but singing is not.

  • My suggestion: The enormous Andiamo Grande Meatball. Meat. Tomato sauce. Ricotta cheese. The size of a basketball.
  • Price: $11
  • Hours:  5 pm – 11 pm, nightly.
  • Address:  301 Fremont Street, LV, NV     89101
  • Phone: (702) 388 – 2220
  • Website: http://www.thed.com/dining/andiamo-steakhouse/

 

Pin for later:

 i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet for Dining in Downtown Las Vegas

The End. Go Eat. –