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Q-Cina Green Cafe: Indulge your inner foodie at prices that can’t be beat

Posted By Karen Young On January 8, 2010 @ 12:38 am In Budget Dining,Cuisine,Dinner,Eat,Featured,Food,Fusion,Healthy,Lunch,My Daily Find,Restaurants,spotlight | No Comments

Karen_Young_MDF100BY KAREN YOUNG  (THIS RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED DOWN)

Q-Cina Green Café is one of those exciting food finds tucked away in a strip mall that makes you say “why is this not located right next to my house because if so, it would be my new dining room?”

Open since March 2009, Q-Cina is the epicurean brainchild of Chef Anthony Velarde, Jr. a graduate of the  Cordon Bleu program at the College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, and his wife Abby, who co-owns it with him.

Seared ahi tuna and crab wrap with guacamole, arugula, tomato and herb ponzu aioli. ($9). Photos: Karen Young

Seared ahi tuna and crab wrap with guacamole, arugula, tomato and herb ponzu aioli. ($9). Photos: Karen Young

Located on Cahuenga, just north of Burbank Blvd in North Hollywood, this small, simple café with about a dozen tables  has the look of a fast, casual establishment without any real ambiance — except for the brightly painted orange and green hued walls — which does provide a slight edge.

Upon entering, you don’t know what to expect — until you open the folded four-color paper menu which lists a most eclectic and completely original selection of quality gourmet choices at extremely reasonable prices.  The Velardes refer to their cooking as   “California cuisine with a European flair.”  There are some organic ingredients used, but it is not an organic restaurant. On the whole, they serve wonderfully fresh, seasonal cuisine.

How about four styles of ½ pound Kobe burgers? Try it with sliced tomato, lettuce, carmalized onion and herb aioli ($8.25); California with guacamole, roasted jalapeno, lump crab, tomato, bacon, cucumber and spinach ($11.25); Greek with eggplant caviar, tomato, spinach, cucumber, roasted garlic aioli, sundried pesto ($10); and 5th Flavor with grilled portabello, tomato, arugula, roasted garlic pesto ($10.75).

1/2 pound Kobe burger with tomato, lettuce, carmelized onion and herb aioli ($8.25) with sweet potato fries.

1/2 pound Kobe burger with tomato, lettuce, carmalized onion, jack cheese and herb aioli ($8.25) with sweet potato fries.

The burgers, sandwiches and wraps are served with a choice of herb garlic fries or salad.  For an extra $1.50, you can order sweet potato fries which  have a perfect slight crunch on the outside and are soft and flavorful on the inside without leaving a fried sensation.

You really can’t go wrong with the sandwiches which are all prepared with a unique fusion of  fresh ingredients. Seared ahi tuna and crab wrap with guacamole, arugula, tomato and herb ponzu aioli is a must for sushi lovers ($9); the salmon club sandwich with pear marmalade, lettuce, tomato, bacon and herb aioli is a refreshing take on a traditional BLT ($9); another interesting selection is the chicken curry wrap with baby spinach, sliced tomato, alfalfa sprouts, herb aioli and pesto.

Seared Wild Caught Scallop with sauteed spinach, grape tomato, parsnip puree, curry lime buerre blanc. (S10.75)

Seared Wild Caught Scallop with sauteed spinach, grape tomato, parsnip puree, curry lime buerre blanc. (S10.75)

Salad selections are generously served with crisp, fresh ingredients.  Favorites include: Crab salad with a crispy lentil tortilla, avocado, roasted corn, grape tomato, romaine heart, mesclun and chili citrus dressing ($8.75);  Skirt Steak salad marinated in soy ginger lime  with mesclun, grape tomatoes, alfalfa sprout,s daikon and sweet chili dressing ($8.50); Asian pear salad with baby spinach, crumbled blue cheese, candied walnut and aged balsamic vinaigarette ($8).

There’s also a selection of individual pizzas made with both flat bread and traditional dough. Toppings include an array of vegetarian options as well as lamb, ground Kobe,  scallops, shrimp, crab and chicken ($7-9).  Make your own pizza are $8.99 (14”) – $9.99 (16”) with toppings for $1.45 to $1.69.

Asian pear salad with baby spinach, crumbled blue cheese, candied walnut and aged balsamic vinaigarette ($8).

Asian pear salad with baby spinach, crumbled blue cheese, candied walnut and aged balsamic vinaigarette ($8).

Pastas and noodles include such specialties as Butternut Squash Ravioli with a hazelnut brown butter sauce and walnut/pomegranate reduction sauce ($8.25).  Or check out  the Green tea soba noodles with basil, grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, asparagus and olive oil pesto ($8.25).

Entrée selections are simply mind-blowing. The most expensive entrée is Broiled Lobster Tail flamed in cognac with asparagus, lime zest beurre blanc and basil essence with a choice of rice pilaf, mashed potato, parsnip puree or garlic fries ($17).  The Herb-garlic cornish game hen is well sized and juicy and served with mushroom rice pilaf — a big hit for $9.75.  Rack of lamb in a pomegranate marinade ($12.75) is a gourmet indulgence.  Try the NY Steak for $10, Pan seared salmon for $9 or wild scallops ($10.75). If you like parsnip puree over mashed potatoes, they’ve got it here.

Don’t forget to check out the daily specials on the chalkboard next to the kitchen entrance. Where else can you get short ribs with mashed potatoes for under $12?

Q-Cina is a most unassuming storefront.

Q-Cina is a most unassuming storefront.

Even if Q-Cina isn’t near you, take a drive when you’ve got the time and indulge your inner foodie for a really good price.

Q-Cina. 5650 Cahuenga Blvd. North Hollywood, CA 91601 (818) 763-6896  q-cina.com Hours: Mon-Thu. 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.   Fri-Sat. 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Sun. 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.  No alcohol. BYOB with no corkage.

Karen Young is the Publisher/Editor of My Daily Find.

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