The Skinny: Beer Belly is a relatively new pub that opened up in the center of Koreatown. It’s like a “where everyone knows your name” kind of place and is a welcoming hang out for the non-Koreans living in K-town. It’s owned by a young couple who for some reason, seems to know everyone, even my co-workers and cousin! The beer selection is solid and meant to pair up with the items found on their good size menu and daily specials. While they do offer full steak meals to justify having dinner there, they also have fried Twinkies and Oreos; so you don’t have to wait for the county fair to get that fried lard induced heart attack.
I went with Echo and my cousin Wendy, who works at Beer Belly, and we ordered:
Citizen Garlic Tapatio Wings (which uses the Cismontane Citizen Steam Lager),
Duck Fat Fries w/ Raspberry Mustard and Duck Skin Cracklings
Cornbread Fried Okra w/ Frankenstein Ketchup
Mac n Beer Cheese (w/ Bacon, Orzo Pasta, and a Sunnyside Egg on top),
Grilled Cheese (4 decker w/ Asiago, Gruyere, Goat cheese, Bacon, Maple Syrup Drizzle)
Lamb Meatballs (on Baguette w/ Red Curry Marinara, Tzatziki, Dill).
And we drank:
Bootleggers Spring Ale
Ladyface Blind Ambition
Craftsman Triple White Sage
Taps Irish Red
The Good: Everything was solid and the beer we drank did match well with the food we ate. The Cornbread Fried Okra were tasty Hush Puppies that were complimented with the A1-ish dipping sauce which gave them a nice bold kick and zing. I didn’t really notice the Okra, but I guess it kind of balances out the guilt since it’s a vegetable hidden in fried corn breading. The Duck Fries were really crispy and the scent of Duck Fat was quite noticeable, but what really helped the fried strips of potatoes taste good was the Raspberry Mustard. It helped cut through the fat with it’s play on salty and sweet. I just wished the Duck Skin Cracklings were a little big larger and more noticeable. If you’re going to make a guilty pleasure even more guilty, then you might as well go all the way. The Citizen Garlic Tapatio Wings were good too and had a nice heat that creeps up on you after your done eating them. The Mac N Beer Cheese with Bacon and a Sunnyside Egg was as gooey, creamy and salty as it should be. I just wished I had some Tobasco sauce to dot that runny yellow eye for good measures.
By the time we got to the Grilled Cheese with Bacon & Maple Syrup, I was pretty much tapped out on space in my stomach. I can’t say I liked it because of the state of mind I was in at the time, but I do think it’s a nice play on the Montecristo. The slices of Bread used to make that sandwich were actually pieces from a Grilled Cheese Sandwich. I did have to force myself to try the Lamb Meatballs, and while they were tasty….I kind of wished they were in a bowl of Chili. mmm…Red Curry Marinara Chili with Lamb and Tzatziki sauce!
Of the beers that I had, the most memorable one was the Bootleggers Spring Ale. It was herby, a bit spicy, and had a nice hint of Honey. I think it would be the perfect Autumn beer to have since it reminded me of Pumpkin Spice ice-cream. I do remember liking the Ladyface Blind Ambition Ale, but at the moment I don’t remember what it tasted like. However, the Craftsman Triple White Sage was….well….SUPER SAGEY. It wasn’t bad and it did pair up well with the Lamb Meatballs, but it wasn’t my favorite.
The Somewhat Bad: They don’t have a burger and it doesn’t seem like they’ll be having one any time soon. I think a good quality burger at an affordable price with some unique creative touches would be well respected and garner a loyal following anywhere.
Would you come back again? For the prices they offer and the friendly staff that works there, I can see myself being a regular there. I think I’ll have everyone call me “Norm.”
More Info: www.beerbellyla.com | 532 S. Western Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90020 — (213) 387-2337 | food prices range from 5 to 20 bucks | beer on tap range from 5 to 9 bucks while their bottled selection can go up to about 20 or so. | The place is Iphone friendly, so if you have a playlist you want to share, you can do so at Beer Belly. Just DL the app. | Ask for Wendy, she’ll help you figure out which beer goes well with what.
Video by Joel Kuwahara
For anyone who’ll read this….have a safe 4th of July, because the USA is broke and cops are looking to bust some festive drunks for their next paycheck. JK about the paycheck, but they are looking to round up a lot of happy people this year just to make payroll……..just kidding! Just don’t drink and drive .
“Kitten with a Whip” via: alycamus
The Skinny: On June 28th, I finally got to see Kitten the band at Echo along side with The Postelles, Pageants, and Pan Am. I arrived 2 acts late with a group of friends but we got there just in time for Kitten, The Postelles, and some beer.
The Good: Kitten’s Chloe Chaidez and it’s pride of instrumental beasts, were everything I thought they were going to be. They rocked out like overachieving child prodigies infused with some Rage Against the Machines, making people over 30 feel even older with their long bursts of energy. Their music was melodic when it needed be and controlled chaotic when it was time to let their youth shine through. It was just a fun experience and I couldn’t help but smile like as if I was watching a bunch of kids achieve something people twice their age could never. They are a talented and hungry group and the more crazy they acted on stage, with their hair twirling about and their sibling love punches towards each other’s backs, the more engaging the show got. They also sound completely different from their recordings. Their live sets, like “Chinatown” and “Kitten with a Whip” had more raw energy, as it should, and I loved it. I’ll be looking forward to seeing Chloe Chaidez rise to fame and into hearts of young aspiring musicians younger than her.
The Postelle were solid too, and if weren’t for a few helpful loud female fans in the way front, I think their time spent at Echo would have been a dud. Their music was melodic and for some reason it reminded me of when Michael J Fox played at his mother’s prom in “Back to the Future.” I thought they had that classic 60’s rock sound at times and I read somewhere that they were like The Kooks and The Strokes. Since I’m unfamiliar with those bands at the moment, all I can say is that I just liked how their music sounded. It’s just too bad their vocals got drowned out by the bad levels in the speakers. And on a side note, one of their band members looked like Jim Halpert from The Office. It was kind of humorous….if you’re into the whole “who looks like who in the world of television sitcoms.”
The Somewhat Bad: While watching Kitten play their set, one of Chloe’s friend, who was drunk off his rockers, got on stage with her and had a nice personal moment. After that, he got back to the floor and started slamming into the female section of the crowd like as if it was a mosh pit. I shouldn’t judge…much, but that was pretty weak and I think he even dropped his butterfly knife in the process.
“Hey Chloe’s buddy, if by some small random chance you read this….if the knife is yours and you want it back, the bartender at Echo has it.”
And the only somewhat bad thing I have to say about the Postelles is that, since I was standing in the center and near the stage, lead singer Daniel Balk; who comes across looking like Screech and the Artist formally known as Prince, kept on indirectly looking towards my direction, lifting up his shirt and exposing his man boobs. It was pretty uncomfortable, so I had to hide behind one of my friends so she could endure the blunt of that awkward glare.
The Bad: While Echo usually has great opportunities, at cheap prices, to see up and coming music acts, the place suffers from painful levels in the sound system that range from blood piercing high pitches to drowning out lead vocalists. Either their equipments are just old and decayed, the venue is too small, or their sound engineers just aren’t that good when there are too many instrumental elements or band members to take care of.
Would you come back again? Despite the sound system, Echo is still a great place to find good live acts, street tacos, and easy parking…so yes.
p.s. Nico Vega, Kitten, and Two Door Cinema Club……are off the bucket list, next up….yeah yeah yeahs!