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Las Vegas: Buldogis

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The Skinny:  I was surfing the net looking for places to eat with a few of my friends.  I came across this place called Buldogis.  I read an article saying that the hot dogs were like the ones from LA’s food truck Kogi.  I was SO excited that this place is right by my house and I finally get to try Korean infused hot dogs.  I love hot dogs & Korean food so this was a definite treat.  I walked in and it was like walking into a subway, but with the smell of bulgogi cooking in the air.  I ordered the Buckeye dog, Bulgogi beef dog & angry fries.  I wasn’t that hungry but definitely had to try a bit of it all and save the rest for lunch the next day.  It took about 15 minutes for my food to be ready for take-out which I’m fine with because that just means everything is made fresh and to order. As much as I loved it, it’s not something I can eat every day.  The best part of it all is that the hot dogs are 5 bucks.  You definitely get a bang for your buck here.

The Good:  The Buckeye dog is delicious!!! It starts off with 100% beef frank with pork belly bacon, corn relish, cheddar & garlic mayo on top.  Who can resist?!  The Beef bulgogi dog is good too, but it was just way too much meat for me.  It was topped with asian slaw (carrots & radish), green onions, sesame seeds,  bulgogi mayo. I definitely needed a fork to finish this the next day.  I think this dog would probably be better on top of rice.

 The Bad:  The Angry fries.  It’s not really a bad, but just not something I’d order again.  It was good for 2-3 bites, but then it was just too much. One order is huge!  It’s sweet potato fries topped with spicy pork bulgogis, kimchi, give cheese blend, fried egg, green onions & jalapenos.  Your behind will be angry at you after you eat it lol!

Would you come back again?  Yes I will, I saw a euro special on their menu I’d like to try.  I don’t think I’d order so much food again though.  I do love that buckeye dog though.

More Info:  2291S. Fort Apache Las Vegas, NV 89117 | (702) 570-7560 | Mon-Thur 11am-9pm; Fri & Sat 11am-10pm; Sunday 11am-5pm | Very reasonably priced.  Nothing over $4.95.

– Sniper Tam

Las Vegas: MSC (Min Sok Chong)

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The Skinny:  I needed a nice little reality check from some good friends and they decided to go here.  Apparently I’ve been here before, but it was so long ago when food was just something I ate to survive I couldn’t remember.  It did feel familiar when I first walked in.  I was a little excited because it is a Korean/Japanese restaurant.

The interior is this cute little homely place.  I felt comfortable the minute I walked in.  It was like you’re walking into your best friend’s Asian dining room.  We sat down and first thing we ordered was alcohol.  Soju (Korean alcohol),  Hite (Korean beer) & fresh iced green tea.  I’ve never been here and was open to try anything.  My friend ordered a dish that was slow cooked pork belly with oysters, tofu steak & a spicy potato & beef rib soup.  I loved that the owner’s daughter came to our table with fresh limes and made a special cocktail we named Achy hands drink because she squeezed fresh lime juice into a cup of ice and soju.  Loved it better then drinking soju straight up.  For our happy ending we had candied corn with cheese. OMG who thinks up these things?  At first when it came out my friends and I looked at the dish and looked at Sarah (the owner’s daughter) and said that’s a huge dish of corn!  Don’t know why we were so shocked by the plate, we actually finished majority of it.  It is THAT good.

The Good:  I didn’t have one bad dish here.  The slow cooked pork belly with oysters was fantastic!  I’m normally not a big fan of pork belly because of how fatty it is, but Sarah’s mom made it so good, I could’ve eaten the whole plate if it wasn’t so filling.  The dish came with pickled napa cabbage leaves to wrap the pork belly, oyster & sides (raw garlic, raw jalapeno peppers, and this fermented soy bean paste).  This dish is like an explosion of flavor in your mouth.  It actually really messed me up the first bite.  My brain couldn’t decide what I was eating.  I had the flavorful pork belly, the oyster and all the other flavors from the sides. It was delicious.

The spicy potato & beef rib soup was a great choice too.  It went well with the other dishes we ordered.  A lot of places when I order this type of soup are too spicy.  The spice level and flavor was perfect here.

Our last dish was the candied corn with cheese.  My friend told me that this is the best dish when drinking.  Boy is she right.  This dish is no joke.  Definitely a must try if you ever go.

 The Bad:  I don’t really have anything bad to say about this restaurant other than it’s kind of in a ghetto area.   The best restaurants are the little hole in the walls right?  It is a couple blocks from the University so it’s not that bad, but still quite a drive from where I live. Worth the drive though.

Would you come back again?  Absolutely, we didn’t even begin to take a crack at the menu.  There are so many choices to choose from. I will definitely be back again.  It’s Korean home cooking and you can’t find such great Korean home cooking unless you’re Korean yourself and if you are, then I’m jealous you grew up with such great food.  Next time I’ll try some of the Japanese items and report back.

More Info:  1801 E. Tropicana | Las Vegas, NV 89119 | (702) 262-5592 | Reasonable pricing

– Sniper Tam

Torrance: The New York Deli

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The Skinny:  Yesterday for my older brother’s birthday, we went to The New York Deli in Torrance that has been around since 1985.  It’s pretty much the only Jewish style Deli in the South Bay that I know of and they are known for  classics like Matzo Ball Soup, Kosher style meats, Chopped Liver, and hot and cold cured cut sandwiches.  The restaurant itself has the eclectic vibe of  that “Harry Met Sally” movie and the walls are covered with black and white photos of legendary actors from the past 70 years.   Pictures of the sandwiches on the menus are reminiscent of the stuff Dagwood would make in his comic strips.  It would be my first time here.

I ordered the Hot Beef Tongue New York High Sandwich which comes stuffed with Cole Slaw, Swiss Cheese, Russian Dressing, and your choice of bread;  I got the Sourdough.  On the side, I got pickles and a choice of Salad, like Macaroni and more Cole Slaw;  I got the latter.   My brother got the New Yorker, which comes with Hot Corned Beef, Pastrami, Swiss Cheese, Cole Slaw, and Russian Dressing stacked inside 2 pieces of grilled bread.  My mom got a large Matzo Ball Soup and we all shared some French Fries and Red Wine.

The Good:  The Hot Beef Tongue in my sandwich was super beefy and tender, maybe a little bit too tender.   The Russian Dressing certainly gave the sandwich some more depth and the Cole Slaw in it helped bring all 3 components together into one delicious bit.   I also liked the Macaroni Salad and even though it took me a while, the Kosher Pickle flavors grew on me.  I did try the Matzo Ball Soup my mom ordered and I liked how it had real pieces of Roasted Chicken, freshly cooked Noodles and Vegetables.  Not exactly sure what a Matzo Ball is suppose to taste like, but it tasted fine to me. 

 The Bad:  My only complaint about my sandwich is that the Tongue was too tender, therefore it just felt too mushy in my mouth.  Other than that, everything was okay.

Would you come back again?  Yeah, sure, why not!…I would like to try their other hot sandwiches, like the Corned Beef and Pastrami.

More Info:  www.thenewyorkdeli.com | Torrance:  2424 Sepulveda Blvd | Torrance, CA 90501 | 310-891-1229 |  Pasadena:  25 North Raymond Ave | Old Town Pasadena, CA 91103 | 626-578-0010 | Not the cheapest sandwich in the world.

– MJ

Westminster: Pho Nguyen Hue

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The Skinny:  So, not too long ago I made my way to the real Sin City below the border and safely made it back  onto US soil alive.  On the way home, I stopped by Westminster for some Pho at Pho Nguyen Hue, which was recommended by Yelpers on my smartphone.

 The Good:  I ordered the Pho with everything, which meant it had rare & well done Beef, Tendon & Tripe.  The broth was super beefy and marrowy, and little bit different from what I like my Pho to be.  I tend to favor a broth that has a strong herbie presence, but regardless that, the soup was satisfying and  soothing.  There was also plenty of meat in it, but I didn’t really touch them….or the noodles.  I just needed the broth.

 The Bad:  I got nothing.

 Would you come back again Yup.  I wouldn’t go out of my way to go there, but if I happen to be in the neighborhood and needed something to flush the tequila out of my system, I’m there.

 More Info:  www.phonhue.com | 10487 Bolsa Ave | Westminster, CA 92683 | Cash Only

– MJ

Xoia Vietnamese Eats Revisited

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The Skinny:  So yesterday (12/1/11) I went to Echo Park to go watch Jamie Woon perform at The Echo.  Initially I was going to go there by myself, but I ended up with two guests who wanted to go eat dinner.  We ended up eating at Xoia Vietnamese Eats.  It would be my second time. (1st time here.)

I ordered the Mi Quang which is a “Hoi An specialty! Wide yellow rice noodles served w/ seasoned shrimp and pork, lettuce, bean sprouts, sprinkles of crushed peanuts, banana blossom, fresh mints, sesame crackers in a shrimp/pork broth.”  I also got some Spring Rolls with Beef and Shrimp in it.

The Good:   I never had Spring Rolls with Srhimp and Beef before, so that was something different.  It reminded me of Bulgogi (Korean marinated beef), especially with some Soybean leaves mixed into the other greens and bean sprouts.

The Mi Quang was a little sweet, sour, fishy, crunchy, and kind of healthy tasting, if there is such a thing.  The waitress mentioned that the broth in it would have a concentrated flavor of Shrimp and Pork, but I think it was a bit too subtle for my taste buds.

The Bad:  The Mi Quang left me with wanting more and it made me regret not ordering the Pho.

Also, Jamie Woon….not very good live…..

 Would you come back again?  Yup!  Even though Xoia kind of has a fusion theme going, their dishes seem legit in it’s Vietnamese authenticity.  So I still need to try their Pho and the Bahn Mi on their secret menu that has an runny egg on top.  Also, one of the waitresses was really…..realllllly……cute, and what she wore that night….wow.  😡

 More Info:   www.xoiaeats.com | 1801 W Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

– MJ

Manhattan Beach: Simmzy’s

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The Skinny:  Simmzy’s is a small crowded American style gastropub in Manhattan beach that serves over 20 kinds of beers on tap, wine, burgers, and salads.  The place was recommended by my brother who said that their burgers was 2nd to none, especially the Bacon Blue Deluxe which is stacked with wood-fired grilled Sterling Beef, Bleu Cheese, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Garlic Aioli, fried Shallots, and Candied Bacon.

So I went with that, along with some Shoestring Fries and 15 Minute Wings.   As for beers, I ordered the Monkey Knife Fight Pale Ale and a Dogfish Head Punkin Ale.  I also had to finish my brother’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout since he later remembered that he was on antibiotics.

 The Good:  The medium well done Bacon Blue Deluxe was juicy and delicious.  I usually don’t like Bleu Cheese but it wasn’t too overwhelming in the burger.  But what I really liked about the burger overall was how the bun managed to soak up all the juices flowing from the beef patty and still maintained it’s form.  It was just a tasty and well built burger.

The 15 Minute Wings were also good.  They were crispy, messy, salty, sour, sweet, and had a nice heat that crept up on you later.

 The Bad:  The chopped up Candied Bacon didn’t seem candied at all, it was just salty.

 Would you come back again?  Yeah, I think I would, but parking is a bitch.

 More Info:  229 Manhattan Beach Blvd | Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 | www.simmzys.com 

– MJ

Little Tokyo: Fat Spoon

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The Skinny:  So I learned about the Fat Spoon from another food blog called Weezermonkey.  The blogger had an Uni (Seah Urchin) Croquette, loved it, and that’s what I wanted for lunch today.  Unfortunately for me, when I went there with some coworkers, they did not have any in supply to fry up for me.  So instead, the waiter recommended their Uni Pasta special, so I went with that.

The Fat Spoon is a new restaurant in Little Tokyo that serves Japanese style Curry, Croquette, and Pastas just like the Curry House chain.  It’s right next door to the popular Daikokuya Ramen house and I’m pretty sure that Fat Spoon is owned by Aburiya Toranoko, which itself is somehow connected to the people at Lazy Ox.  I could be wrong though.

The High: One of my coworkers ordered some Mini Corn Dogs as an appetizer.  They were actually pretty good because the Hot Dog they used had a good meaty bite to them, while the Ketchup it came with had a bold Steak Sauce kick.

The Bad:  When Uni is good, it’s really good, but when it’s bad, it’s really really bad.  From what people tell me and what I’ve experienced, fresh Uni tastes sweet and like the ocean.  Well, my Uni Pasta did taste like the ocean, but without the sweet and saltiness of the sea.  There were slivers of Uni still in intact throughout the dish, but they were quite bitter and a bit off-putting.  The Pasta sauce was creamy but bland, I literally had to drown my bowl with grated Parmesan just to add some salty depth.  The only redeeming things about the Pasta dish was the mixed Mushrooms that serve as a meaty texture component, and the Spaghetti Noodles, which were cooked just right.

Would you come back again?  In retrospect, I should have got the Curry since that’s what they are known for.  So next time, I’ll order that….but I won’t be in any rush.

More Info:  Yelp | Address: 329 E 1st St | Los Angeles, CA 90012  | They serve Beer and Shochu | The Uni Pasta cost me $14, but on average, every other dish costs around $10.

– MJ

p.s. pics taken with my android smartphone….sooooo….yeahhh