Sweetfin Poké at the Village in Woodland Hills

sweetfin poke mango albacore

I’ll sum up my meal at Sweetfin Poké in one word: satisfaction. It’s satisfaction in a bowl, folks. You heard it here first.

To expand, I’ll even say it’s surprise, delight, savory, and filling.

Sweetfin Poke exterior

But let’s go back to the beginning. This is only the second location of Sweetfin Poké in the universe; the first is in Santa Monica. I love that so many forward-thinking businesses are choosing Woodland Hills as a place to expand. Anyway, when they invited me and a guest to try their poké bowls, I went with more curiosity than anything (okay yes, my appetite too) because raw fish as the main ingredient of a meal has never been my number one choice. But if I am going to torture myself with death-defying workouts in the name of a good story, I’ll put raw fish in my mouth for you. (Cue the Breakfast Club music.)

sweetfin poke drinks

Sweetfin Poké is a fast-casual style restaurant on the first level of The Village toward the south end. You can build your own bowl by choosing the meat, the base, the sauce, and any add-ons, or choose from a list of “signature bowls.” And it doesn’t have to have raw fish – you can choose tofu or chopped vegetables instead. And even with the signature bowls, you can subtract, add, substitute, and generally go crazy with mixing and matching.

sweetfin poke menu

Because I am a novice, I let the staff pick for me. I ordered (with manager Calista’s help) the mango albacore bowl which comes with ponzu-lime sauce, macadamia nuts, and fresh ginger. But I had them omit the ginger (I’m not a fan) and add sweet potato and kale to the bowl along with a rice back. All bowls also have scallions, white and black sesame seeds, and salt. I also poured myself some lemon water after sampling all of the freshly brewed teas, which had interesting flavors but I wanted to have a palate cleanser for my meal.

sweetfin poke meal

My trusty plus one, Jennifer, is more of an experienced sushi fan, so she went for the spicy tuna bowl with avocado, creamy togarashi sauce, hijiki, and crispy onions on top, using kelp noodle cucumber slaw as her base. She liked the mango black tea.

sweetfin poke spicy tuna bowl

Much to my delight, I really liked the tuna! It was actually a great vehicle for all of the other flavors that were mixed into my bowl. Jen enjoyed hers too, and we both ate it all, which is a bummer for my husband, who loves to eat and review my leftovers.

sweetfin poke popcorn chips

He did get to sample the dessert-type goodies they sent home with us though. These flavored popcorns were unique and tasty, and he loves the fresh taro root chips seasoned with sriracha powder.

The bowls are only $7.95-$9.95 for a small and $11.95-$13.95 for a large. I had a small and it was the perfect size to satisfy but not make me feel stuffed. The atmosphere in the restaurant is open and friendly, if a bit too cold. We sat outside since it’s still summer in November in SoCal.

sweetfin poke outdoor seating

I am looking forward to returning to Sweetfin Poké with my fish-loving husband, and my wacky kids who will love the climbing features just outside the restaurant. Let me know if you try it out – I’d love to get some suggestions for other flavor combinations to try!

Sweetfin Poké
at The Village
6256 Topanga Canyon Blvd. #1310
Woodland Hills 91367

At IHOP Kids Eat Free Every Day (thru 9/25)

It’s IHOP for an easy meal where kids eat free until September 25.
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Sure I could’ve made this for him at home for 99 cents. But he won’t eat it there.

We’re lucky enough to have plenty of places to go out to eat in and around Agoura Hills. But while many families will bring their kids to any restaurant (I once saw a family with multiple children at The Charthouse), there are a few places that are more obviously suited to children. One of those is IHOP.

Our International House of Pancakes is on Kanan, south of the 101, all the way around the back of the plaza but facing the freeway. It’s a little bit of a treasure hunt to find it while significant construction is happening in that area, seemingly forever. But if you make it there, IHOP is a great place to take your kids for a cheap and satisfying, if not very quick meal.

Back to School Convenience

For a limited time, kids eat free. This is a great time for it, actually, with people running around getting the kids ready to go back to school. There’s soccer practice, doctor appointments, back-to-school shopping, and if you’re like me, lots of purging and reorganizing our stuff. My kids grow 2 inches a year on average, so I like to wait until the last minute to buy them new clothes for the school year. This means we’re doing that while everyone else is out getting school supplies and new clothes too. It can be pretty hectic.

The last thing I want to do after all that is make and serve dinner. My husband is a great cook, so he’ll do dinner, too, but he’s easily talked into going out when there’s an opportunity.

kids eat free funny face

Photo evidence that my husband was there too. My boys make nice family photos hard to get!

As guests of IHOP, we visited the Agoura Hills location to check out the new menu offerings and test the kids eat free promotion. As we’ve experienced before, dinner during the week isn’t the most popular shift. One very nice manager served us, and he seemed to be the only wait staff on the floor, so when several other families came in, service slowed down quite a bit.

kids eat free chicken sandwich

And while I wanted to try the new chicken ranch avocado club, he ordered and brought me the spicy chicken ranch sandwich instead, so I accidentally indulged in a cheesy, fried sandwich vs. a vegetable-heavy, grilled one. Since the wrong sandwich was still delicious, I ate it anyway. I mention this though because getting a dish or drink we didn’t order is another thing that seems to happen at this IHOP every time we go.

Kids Eat Free

The kids eat free promotion lasts through September 25. You get one free kid’s entree (ordered off the kids’ menu, drinks not included) with each adult entree ordered from the regular menu, from 4pm to 10pm every day. Dessert not included either.  For kids 12 and under.

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In the end, it was still a $40 meal. Since soft drinks were about $3 for adults and $2 for the kids’ lemonade, it added up quickly.

Still, I would recommend IHOP during this busy time, especially if you like breakfast, because even with the slow service and the potential for getting the wrong order, it’s a great place to get a plate of pancakes in the evening without messing up your kitchen or lifting a finger.

IHOP
5031 Kanan Rd,
Agoura Hills, CA 91301
IHOP.com

Casa Escobedo in Agoura Hills – New Mexican Restaurant Review

Casa Escobedo opened early this summer where The Rabbit Hole used to be.

casa escobedo chips and salsa

 

Simple and delicious. Perfect for a neighborhood Mexican restaurant.

Casa Escobedo opened quietly (well, it opened while I was out of town, so if there was a big fiesta, I missed it) at the northeast corner of Thousand Oaks Boulevard and Lake Lindero Drive in Agoura Hills. Some of my friends had tried it earlier in the summer and they’ve raved about it. I finally got a chance to dine there with my friend Michelle. We met for lunch in their redecorated spacious double-wide storefront restaurant, and I thought the change from The Rabbit Hole to be remarkable.

casa escobedo storefront

The new eatery retains the two-unit nature of its previous occupant, and they’ve added a big rectangular opening in the wall between, opening it up even more. The walls are painted a lighter shade than the dark and cozy atmosphere it used to have, giving Casa Escobedo a bright, airy, welcoming feeling. Authentic-looking Mexican art adorns the walls and the shelves installed in the interior wall’s opening.

casa escobedo kitchen

casa escobedo mexican art

casa escobedo dining room

There are a few tables in the main kitchen area with plenty of seating and tables in the adjacent space. When this place gets packed, I’ll bet it will be a fiesta indeed. For an early lunch on a Friday, though, there was lots of room.

Welcoming Decor, Tasty Food

Kitchen staff and a customer greeted us warmly when we entered, and the woman who took our order and served us was very friendly. She suggested the lunch special, which was 2 soft tacos, rice, and beans for $8.95.  You can choose from carne asada, chicken, or pastor. Our plates looked delicious and simple – adorned only by a a generous sprinkling of cilantro and onions. The salsa served on the side was flavorful but not too spicy. As I recall, we asked for extra.

casa escobedo lunch special

Since it was our first time there, our server said, she wanted us to try the chicken soup. Just one little sample was enough to keep me thinking about that soup for days. The flavor was intense and the soup was obviously homemade. I need to go back and get a big bowl of it, served with corn tortillas.

I tend to like milder flavors, so I was pleased with the simple dish, the Mexican rice, and the beans, but the flavor was on the plain side for my friends. I’m definitely eager to return and try some more dishes, like that soup and the tamales they serve only on Saturdays and Sundays. Casa Escobedo is open every day 9AM to 9PM. They serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and crepes, flan, or bread pudding for dessert.

Casa Escobedo
30651 Thousand Oaks Blvd.
Agoura Hills, CA 91301