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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


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


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


Las Vegas: Blue Ribbon Sushi

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The Skinny:  The last and final restaurant I wanted to try inside the Cosmopolitan.  When my friend from LA said he wanted Japanese food, I automatically thought of this restaurant.  A bunch of my co-workers had been raving about this chicken dish so I had to try it.  Blue Ribbon participated in Restaurant Week, so what a great time to try it!  The pre-set menu was $50 and it consisted of:

  1. First Course:
    Choice of: Miso Soup ~OR~ Hijiki Salad
  2. Second Course:
    Chef’s Choice of Assorted Sushi
  3. Third Course:
    Choice of: Braised Short Ribs with Celery Root Puree & Truffle Teriyaki ~OR~  Fried Chicken “Blue Ribbon Style” (which was fried chicken with a spicy seasoning accompanied with honey wasabi sauce)
  4. Fourth Course:
    Choice of: Ginger Bread Pudding ~OR~ Green Tea Cream Brulee

My friend and I tried one of each of the first course, we both were not fans of either.  Second course you can’t go wrong with.  It was a spicy tuna roll, one piece of salmon nigiri & one piece of tuna nigiri.  Third Course, my friend had the braised short ribs and I tried the fried chicken.  Both were delicious.

The Good:  Great atmosphere.  Has a traditional yet trendy feel to it.  Service was really good, food came out in a timely manner.  I LOVED the honey wasabi sauce for the chicken.  It was a sweet sauce with a kick.  The wasabi wasn’t overpowering at all.

The Bad:  A little too expensive for what it is, in my opinion at least.  A bowl of shishito for $10 when I can buy it at the store for $2?  Yea, kind of ruins it when you know exactly how much the dish really costs.  The Ginger Bread Pudding was disgusting! I know it says it in the description GINGER bread pudding, but I thought it was ginger bread cookie type of pudding.  Nope, had chunks of ginger root in it, almost made me throw up.  My own personal experience, I just REALLY dislike ginger.  So imagine the one thing you hate most, eating that dish with it in it not knowing it’s in there.  Good thing that wasn’t the second course or it would’ve ruined my whole dinner.

Would you come back again?  Probably not,  unless they had something like the Restaurant week at that price, it’s a little to expensive for me for Japanese food.  I’d rather spend my money at Yellowtail at the Bellagio

More Info:  Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill Las Vegas | 3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South | Las Vegas, NV 89109 | This is a splurge restaurant.

– Sniper Tam  


Redondo Beach Crab House

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The Skinny:  Over Labor Day weekend I went to Redondo Beach Pier for some Seafood with my mom.  She wanted to get this flat Fish that’s kind of like a small Halibut, (not sure what it is….it could just be a baby Halibut), but the price per pound was ridiculous.  At the Redondo Beach Crab House, it was $30 something for a pound of that fish, and each one was no less than 4.  So we settled for some Fried Clams with Fries, a $45 Sashimi platter, Nakji Bokum (A Spicy Korean Octopus dish) with cold Somen Noodles, and a bottle of Hite.

The Sashimi Platter comes with Baby Abalone, Tuna, Halibut, Hamachi, Salmon, Red Snapper and some of the Flat Fish my mom wanted.  The restaurant also provided us with some Ban-chan (Korean side dishes), fresh Lettuce to wrap stuff up, and some chopped up Sea Squirt….which I didn’t touch.

 

The Good:  The Sashimi Platter was actually a whole lot better than I was expecting.  The thick slices of Fish seemed fresh, especially the Salmon, which was sweet and fatty.  If the Sashimi selections came prepackaged in vacuum sealed plastic bag from China, I couldn’t tell.  The Nakji Bokum was also very good and tasty.  The Octopus was cooked just right, which made them very tender and sweet.  The sauce it came with was a lot spicier than I was expecting, but the cool Somen Noodles and extra veggies helped balance the heat out.

The Bad:  The fried breaded Clams wasn’t really needed but I just wanted something fried at the time.  They were a bit dry and only a little bit clamy, but they weren’t awful.

Would you come back again?  Not really….but the view was good.

More Info: Redondo Beach Crab House | yelp | 100 Fisherman’s Wharf Ste F | Redondo Beach, CA 90277  | Not the cheapest food in the world

– MJ


Hollywood: Pa-Ord Noodles

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The Skinny:  So after watching the Noodlewhore make an appearance on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservation in Los Angele,s I’ve been meaning to try the  Thai Boat Noodles they had.   I’m not a big fan of Thai food in general and the only thing I ever really get at a Thai restaurant is the Pad Thai.  However, I am a fan of Soupy Noodles, and the Thai Boat Noodles would be something new for me.  So after 3 years had gone by since I first saw that No Reservation episode, in 2011 I finally became proactive and found a place with those bowls of Noodles.  The restaurant I went to is called Pa-Ord Thai and it’s in Hollywood and next to a dozen other Thai places.

Pa-Ord’s restaurant space is pretty tight and with limited seating, which is the reason why there was a line out the door during lunchtime.  I did notice though that everyone eating there was Thai themselves and that’s always a good thing.  Their menu offers all types of Thai dishes,  like Curry Catfish, Crispy Pork Belly, and Roast Duck with Gravy; and all at a very affordable price.

Since I was there for the Thai Boat Noodle, I got Tom Yum (no.1), which has Pork Balls, Ground Pork, Pork Liver, Dehydrated Baby Shrimps, Bean Sprouts, Ground Peanuts and Pork Skin Cracklings.  With it you get a choice of either Egg Noodles or different sized Rice ones.  I got the Rice Noodles that are similar to what you find in a bowl Pho.  There are also different levels of heat you can have in your soup.  I did ask for “very spicy” but the waitress stopped me and said medium was enough for me, so I listened.  I also ordered some Thai Iced Coffee.

The Good:  My bowl of hot Thai Boat Noodles was simply delicious.  The soup felt lighter than eating a bowl of Pho, and it had a nice component of being a little sweet, salty, and sour.  The Bean Sprouts gave the dish the texture of crispness and the different assortments of proteins kept me satisfied as a carnivore, especially the Pork Skin Cracklings.  However, the “medium heat” was melting my face off and I had to keep on wiping away streams of sweat.  Despite the searing pain of spiciness in my mouth, I just couldn’t stop sipping the soup after I had ate everything in the bowl.

The Bad:  The Noodle portion size is pretty small, but for a large bowl that costs 5.50, I guess it’s okay.  Also, I hate pork liver, it just tastes like funky bad breath.

Would you come back again?  Yup!  It’s cheap and very good eating, plus the people working there are very nice and helpful.

More Info: Yelp| 5301 Sunset Blvd. Ste 8Los Angeles, CA 90027 | Cash Only | menu and prices

MJ


Little Tokyo: Takoyaki Tanota

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The Skinny:  Went to Little Tokyo in Los Angeles to play around with my digital cameras and came across a Nisei festival and a Takoyaki stand named Takoyaki Tanota.  In general I love Octopus, which is also why I love Takoyaki and this find was a treat!

The Good:  The painfully hot pancake balls with chunks of Octopus was just that.  They burnt the insides of my mouth, but the  portion size of the Octopus nuggets were good and made it worth while.  5 dollars bought me 8 pieces and they were all delicious.   I got the regular Takoyaki sauce but they also have Ponzu and Jalapeno versions.

The Bad:  It’s not the most filling meal in the world, but then again, it is just a snack really.

Would you come back again?  Sure, if I’m lucky enough to come across it again.

More Info:  Little Tokyo: www.takoyakitanota.com

– MJ


Moodaepo II

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The Skinny:  Moodaepo 2 is another gas powered All You Can Eat Korean BBQ restaurant found in Ktown.  There are two no-limit combos to choose from on the menu.  Combination A has both seafood and barnyard animals for just 19.99.  Then for only 16.99, you can get combo B which just has the pork, beef, and chicken.

What makes Moodaepo 2 different from other Korean BBQ All You Can Eat places, is the night club atmosphere.   There are flat screen television sets everywhere with Kpop music videos playing on all of them.  If someone is celebrating their birthday there, the whole restaurant dims out the lights and plays a happy jingle for that special person.

The Good:  It was cheap and the meat seemed to be good quality.  With a group of 10 people, we ordered probably more than 20 servings of Seasoned Sirloin, Pork Belly, Pork Neck Meat, Small and large Intestines , Brisket, and Beef Rib Meat.  The Pork Belly was thick and succulent while the Rib Meat were tender and juicy.

The Bad:  The food was good, because it wasn’t great.  While the side dishes were minimal and the service suffered because of the packed house of hungry customers, the only thing I really dislike about Moodaepo is the Korean night club atmosphere.   It felt cheesy and made my dining experience feel like I was eating in a crowded metro bus since I was elbow to elbow with my fellow diners.

Would you come back again?  Not if I had a choice, I’m just not a fan of All You Can Eat Korean BBQ places.  I prefer restaurants like ChoSun Galbee on Olympic, their quality over quantity menu, and the outdoor seating area they have.

More Info:  Moo Dae Po II website | 3014 W 7th St | Los Angeles, CA 90005 | (213) 381-9990 | Menu


Dan Sung Sah

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The Skinny:  Dan Sung Sah is a M*A*S*H themed Korean pub where all the furniture is made out of wood and people use worn out utensils that seem like they were used during the Cold War.   The place serves Korean style fried goodies, mystery meats grilled on sticks, free communal soup, and cold Makgeolli (Korean Rice Wine) that comes in a tea kettle.

The Good:  I usually always get the Dalk Dong Jib (Chicken Butt House), Chicken Wings, and Daeji Kalbi (Korean Pork Ribs).  The Dalk Dong Jib are  Chicken Gizzards fried with Garlic Cloves and sprinkled with Jalapenos and crack (MSG).   The stuff is addictive and I always get it when I go to Dan Sung Sah.

The Chicken Wings are not Buffalo style and there is no sticky sweet sauce.  They are lightly breaded, fried to perfection, and maybe sprinkled with some crack as well.  I especially like how the cartilage at the ends of each wing are fried up nicely on their own and become crunchy.

Something new I did try was the sliced grilled Pork Belly that comes with a side of Green Onion Salad.  It was very tasty and unhealthy.

The Bad:  The only Rice they serve comes in a Kimchee Roll with Cheese…..and it’s not good.

How long have you been going there? For over 10 years!

More info:  Yelp | 3317 W 6th St. Los Angeles, CA 90020 | They finally have a menu in English.

– MJ


Casey’s Irish Bar & Grille

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The Skinny:  Went to an Irish Bar & Grille in Down Town Los Angeles for a quick dinner before a night of heavy boozing at a friend’s birthday.  Casey is a place that has a full bar, pool tables, television sets all over the place, and a menu with actual Irish food.

I got the Shepherd’s Boxty, Irish Pub Fries, and a pint of Bass Pale Ale.

The Good:  Casey’s Shepherd’s Boxty is pretty much like Shepherds Pie, but it is made with ground Lamb, celery, onions, and carrots.  It is served rolled up in a savory Pancake and with some gravy on top.  The dish itself was tasty and the subtle gaminess of the Lamb added some nice depth to the flavors and whatever seasonings they put in it.  The warm pillowy Pancake was nice too, even though it didn’t really taste like anything.

The Bad:    The Irish Pub Fries weren’t bad, but it wasn’t as crispy as I wanted them to be.  Since they were pretty big Potato wedges, I think they weren’t fried long enough and was steamed up from the inside while in the fryer.

Would you come back?  Yeah, I’d like to try the Fish N Chips that cost $16.50.

More Info:  www.caseysirishpub.com | 613 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90017 | (213) 629-2353

MJ


El Flamin Taco + Xoia Vietnamese Eats

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The Skinny:  On April 8, 2011, I was suppose to go on a food crawl with some TMF247 people and end the night watching The Naked and Famous perform live at the Echoplex in Echo Park.  However, one by one, people started to drop out and so I ended up going there by myself.

While I was at Echo Park waiting for the show, I hit up El Flamin Taco Truck and Xoia Vietnamese Eats since they were close by.   I usually drive by the El Flamin Taco Truck  when I’m on Alvarado Street and on the way towards the Dodgers Stadium.  It would be my first time eating there that day.  Xoia is a fusion style restaurant that serves up Pho and Vietnamese influenced Street Tacos.

The Good:  The truck that wears “El Flamin” decals proudly all over it’s body, was quite impressive.  It had television sets playing Napoleon Dynamite, a LED lit sign greeting costumers in different languages, a rotating spitfire for their Al Pastor, and a full open salsa bar.  They obviously must be doing something right to have their colorful truck to be pimped out like that.

While I was at El Flamin Taco Truck, I ordered the Buche and Al Pastor tacos, 2 of each.  From the Salsa bar, I added the red sauce and some of the Cilantro Onion mix on all of them.  I definitely liked the Buche because it was clean tasting, had a nice texture, and was flavorful.  The red salsa was nice, but for me  it didn’t really add much to the tacos themselves.   Their hand made fresh tortillas were a first for me, but unfortunately I couldn’t really taste the difference.

At Xoia Eats, I got the 3 Chicharones Tacos combo and Vietnamese Iced Coffee.   The Chicharones Tacos were tasty and the Iced Coffee was Vietnamese style strong.  The red salsa that came on the side was a good palette cleanser.

The Bad:  First off, I’m just not a fan of Al Pastor at the moment.  I just don’t get it or at least I haven’t had some where I understand that “that is what Al Pastor is supposed to taste like!”  Not too long ago, I had some that tasted like Chinese style BBQ Pork, and I liked it.  The first Al Pastor Taco I had at El Flamin was kind of bland, crunchy from a piece of gristle, and greasy.  It reminded me of  Korean Pork Bulgogi that is void of sugar.  However, for some reason the second serving of the Al Pastor had better pieces of meat and it tasted much better than the first.  The grease became greasy in a good way and the marinated pork was tastier.   Weird.

At Xoia Eats, the Chicharones Tacos was disappointing because I was expecting pieces of Crispy Pork in it.  Instead, the Pork seemed to be regular cuts of meat fried up in a pan.  If there was Vietnamese style seasoning on the meat, I didn’t notice it.   The tortilla the Chicharones came bedded on had the texture of thinly sliced re-hydrated stale corn chips and I just wasn’t a fan of it.

The Fail:  So after killing 2 hours of time in Echo Park and waiting in line for 2 more hours for the Naked and Famous show, it turns out my ticket was for the following night.  I did see them the next day, and they didn’t disappoint as a live band.

Would you come back? Yes on both accounts.  I’m sure the taco meats and other items at both locations are worth exploring, especially since I’ll be coming back to The Echo/Echoplex for other shows.

More Info: 

El Flamin Taco Truck:  www.elflamintaco.com | yelp

Xoia Vietnamese Eats:  www.xoiaeats.com | 1801 W Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026 | Cash Only

– MJ


Lucky Noodle King

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The Skinny: Lucky Noodle King, sans the cheesy name, as got to have some of the best Chinese noodles I’ve ever eaten.  They’re located off of Delmar in SGV(aka new Chinatown).  My close friend Jesse Duron(GM of the new Miku Restaurant In Downtown LA, projected to open early summer across from the Standard Hotel) suggested that we go check the place out.  He read about it on Eater LA and the place did no disappoint

The High: I ordered the Beef & Tendon Noodle soup…it was definitely super tastey.  I actually think it might give sue’s Kitchen’s version a run for their money.  The soup was just the right amount of heat and if you wanted to add more there was of course the Chinese hot sauce with pepper and hot oil.   Jesse got the dan dan noodles which area a traditional Sichuan style of noodles. It consists of a spicy sauce containing preserved vegetables (often including zha cai, 榨菜, lower enlarged mustard stem, or ya cai, 芽菜, upper mustard stems), chili oil, Sichuan pepper, minced pork, and scallions served over noodles. –according to wikipedia.  These noodles were some of the best I’ve ever had in my entire life! We also had the Green Onion Pancake which was a great side dish to compliment the noodles that we were eating.

The Low: Do not go here on a Hot day.  We went on a day that it was near a 100 degrees out and….NO AC+HOT SOUP+SPICY = SWEATING BULLETS.  Also if you get the dan dan noodles…eat that after you eat the other stuff because the flavor is so overpowering it makes everything else taste almost bland!

Would you come back? YES! I’d like to try everything there!

More info: www.luckynoodleking.com | 534 E. Valley Blvd. Suite 10, San Gabriel, CA 91776  | (626)573-5668

Echo



Han But Sul Lang Tang

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The Skinny: Han But is a Sul Lang Tang restaurant in Koreatown I’ve been going to for last tens years.  It’s a hole in the wall that specializes in a Beef Soup that has your choice of Brisket, Flank, Tongue, Intestines, Tripe, Spleen, or all of the above.  With each order of Tang(soup) you get a side of Ggakdugi (pickled Daikon), Napa Kimchi, and a bowl of Rice.  And to help personalize the overall flavor of the soup, you get to add your own helping of Salt, Green Onions, and Red Chili Paste. It’s as good of a hangover cure as Phở.

The Good: The Sul Lang Tang at Hanbut is always good.  It’s tasty, filling, and comforting, especially on a rainy day.  The soup itself leaves collagen on your lips from all the bone marrow sucked out while stewing and any meat you order melts away easily as you chew.  The Ggakdugi is aged just right, so it doesn’t have that offensive pungency you get from raw radishes.  The regular Kimchi isn’t my favorite, but it’s not bad either.  Han But is a no frills kind of place, you get in, eat well, and then get out.

The Bad: Nothing. Wished they served Soju though.

Would you come again? Does Geico commercials ask rhetorical questions?

More Info: Yelp | 4163 W 5th St. Los Angeles, CA 90020 | (213) 383-9499 | Mon-Sun 7 am – 10 pm | Cash Only

Extra: One street South of Han But Sul Lang Tang is a Cigar store that hand rolls their product on location.  The place is called Leon Cigars and their prices range from 3 bucks up to around 7.

I went there for dessert.

MJ


Lechón by Rod Carbajal

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The Skinny: Went to a Filipino birthday out in Hemet, California.  When I arrived, on the dining table was Lechón which is a whole roasted pig that was cooked over an open fire.  Like a Rotisserie Chicken, the Pig is roasted on all sides for several hours until finish. The process involves basting it while it cooks so the skin crisps up and the color becomes a reddish golden brown.

Rod Carbajal, the Lechón man of mystery, roasted the pig for us and from the comfort of his own home.

The Good: The skin was crispy on one side and fatty on the other, it was pretty much like eating hard meat candy.   I was actually surprised that the crispness of the skin survived 30 minutes in a car as the pig steamed itself up in a closed up box.  I guess that’s a testament to Rod Carbajal’s handiwork.    I’ve had Lechón at least twice beforehand and Rod’s version was the best so far.  He really captured the essence of the pork and maintained the integrity of the skin and fat.

The Bad: The Lechón went from piping hot to cold and then lukewarm throughout the day.  Because of that, the meat became really dry as the dinner progressed.  Despite that, most of the skin was still crispy by the end of day.

Would you eat it again? Sure!  You buying?

More Info: Rod Carbajal is the man that made the Lechón & his house is 30 minutes away from Hemet, which is pretty much in the middle of no where.  Other than that, I have no idea who he is and how anyone can contact him for his services, but I’ll find out sooner or later.

MJ


Gaja Okonomiyaki + Ryo Izakaya

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The Skinny:

Gaja is a Okonomiyaki restaurant that allows you to grill up Japanese style savory pancakes for Lunch or Dinner.  It’s located in the City of Lomita and sits in a tiny plaza next to two popular Udon Noodle shops.   Along with the Okonomiyaki and the vast variety of toppings, like Cheese, Seafood, and mystery Meats, you can also get Italian style Pastas, Soupy Noodles, and Beer.  A good time to go to Gaja is during lunch because they have specials where you get 3 personal size Okonomiyaki with 1 topping each, a side salad, and a drink for just about 15 bucks.

Ryo is a Izakaya not too far from Gaja and serves Japanese style Tapas, Sushi items, Ramen, and Yakitori.  It’s located in the Rolling Hills Shopping Plaza in Torrance and sits right in front of an AMC Movie Theater.  The interior has trendy old style wooden furniture and uses empty alcohole bottles as decorations.

The High:

Gaja was an interesting experience and cooking your own savory pancakes with a few friends is always fun.  We ordered their “Sparking Beer” which either has Blueberries or slices of Grapefruits. Both were good and refreshing.  Since I was in a party of 3, two of us ordered the lunch special to share and topped them with Cheese, Mushrooms, Scallions, Octopus, Teriyaki Chicken, and Shrimp.  I ordered some Takoyaki with a Spicy Sauce.  Of the 6 toppings that were ordered and shared, the Cheese was the best one, that is after we finally mastered the grill and made some decent well-done pancakes.    The way the Cheese crisped up on top of the stove was pretty awesome.   It was also fun seeing all the shaved Bonito flakes come alive as you place them on top of each cooked Pancakes.  The Takoyaki balls were decent and the spicy sauce needed more spice.

After Gaja, I went to Ryo Izakaya with a party of 4.  We shared Ramen with Pork, Yakitori items, a whole grilled Quail, Takoyaki, fried Squid Legs, Shrimp in Chili Sauce, Lamp Chops, Unagi, Asparagus in something-something sauce, and stewed Tendon in a spicy broth.  Of all the items that stood out, the stewed Tendon was my favorite.  It was gelatinous, tasty, and left a lovely sticky film on my lips.  The Ramen that one of us ordered had the thick porky broth and it was as good as those specialty places that only focuses on making really good Ramen.  The grilled items we ordered were the Chicken Hearts, Breast, Wings, Liver, Cartilage, a whole Quail and Lamb Chops.  The Chicken Hearts were pretty beefy in flavor while the Quail and Lamb Chops were both juicy, charred, and seasoned just right.

The Low:

I have no real lows about Gaja, it’s a fun place to eat at and once you master the grill, eating rare Okonomiyakis and half cooked seafood won’t be a problem.  You don’t even have to cook the stuff yourself, you can ask the waiter to have the in-house cook make it for you in the back kitchen.  Actually, one complaint I do have is that the Octopus came out raw and after grilling it with the pancake mix, it was super rubbery.  I think they should have precooked or prepped seafood items like that before hand so it’ll be easier to cook later.

At Ryo Izakaya, the tapped Kirin Beer during happy hour seemed to be really watered down.  It also came in a pitcher that has a pint size indent from the bottom for regular water to freeze up and keep the beer cold.  That’s just BS.  I didn’t really like the Chicken Cartliage, but only because it just isn’t for me.  Other than that, no real complaints about the environment or food.  The female waitresses were all friendly and the cook came out once in a while to see if the customers were cared for.

Would you come back?

Gaja: Only if I’m with a group of people. They have a menu that has as many combo items as a karaoke book has songs.

Ryo: Yes!  It’s a fun place to drink and eat among friends.

More Info: www.gajamoc.com | 2383 Lomita Blvd. Ste 102 Lomita, CA 90717 | (310) 534-0153 | Ryo-zan Paku | 2589 Pacific Coast Hwy. Torrance, CA 90505, Torrance | (310) 530-8720

MJ


Sue’s Kitchen

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The Skinny: Sue’s Kitchen is a tiny hole in the wall Taiwanese restaurant found in the South Bay and I’ve been driving right pass it for the last 20 years.  From what I read on Yelp, the place is known for it’s Beef Noodle Soup and the workers not speaking a lick of English.  The place also serves other Taiwanese and Northern Chinese dishes….stuff I’m not familiar enough with to explain.

The Good: The Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup with Tendon I ordered was simply delicious.  I’ve only had it at least 4 times in my lifetime, but I never really took a liking to it or found it to be a special treat.   But for some reason, that day at Sue’s Kitchen, it just all made sense.  The Beef Noodle Broth seemed tastier than usual with the Star Anise and other spices being more pronounced.  There was a nice heat to everything and both the beef and tendon melted away easily in my mouth.  The long noodles weren’t as thick as I had hoped, but they did have a nice bite to them.  It could have been that I was just in the mood  for hot Soupy Noodles on a cold rainy day, but as of now I can understand how people can be as obsessed with Beef Noodle Soup as others are with Pho.

Along with that Beef Noodle Soup, I did get a side dish of cold Pig Ears.  I’m not sure why I got it, but I just felt like eating something odd.  The thin slices of Pork Skin and Cartilage tasted neutral on their own with subtle reminders that I was nibbling on a Pigs Ear.   If it weren’t for the Chili Oil that added another layer of flavor, I don’t think I would have continued eating it.  It wasn’t bad and I kind of liked it the more I ate it.

On top of the food being good, the people working at Sue’s Kitchen were nice and they did understand English, they just couldn’t speak it well.

The Bad: Nothing really.

Would you come back? Yes!  I have other stuff to try!

More Info: Yelp | 23918 Crenshaw Blvd. Torrance, CA 90505 | (310) 539-1992 | They do accept credit now! Yelp needs to update that bit of info. | Beef Noodle Soup only cost around 6 bucks.

MJ


Gardena: Shin-Sen-Gumi Yakitori

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The Skinny: The popular and always busy, Shin-Sen-Gumi’s Yakitori is in Gardena.   It’s one of those dining experience where everyone is shouting as you enter, have your first drink of beer, and after you paid your bill.  The place is as Japanese as it gets and it would be my 3rd trip there.  This time I ordered the Pork Belly, Pig Intestines and Knuckles, little sausages, Asparagus wrapped in Bacon and the Tail End, Wing, Heart and Breast of a Chicken.  Since I went with mi Madre, she was craving Duck, so we got that as well.

The High: For some reason, I love the promo videos (watch it here) they have playing at every location and the enduring quality of them.  The music playing let’s me know that I’m in for something good and it kind of makes me feel like I’m slightly buzzed on the strip of Las Vegas.   I bet drinking games can be made with how often the staff members look off to the side to read their lines.

Anyways, my favorite item at Shin-Sen-Gumi is the Pig Intestine.  It comes out crispy like Bacon, slightly fatty on the inside, and sweet because of the Teriyaki sauce used to coat it . Also, the tail end of the Chicken was succulent and the hearts were tenderly tasty.

The Low: The sliced Duck Breast was served cold and it was forgettable.  Mi Madre was slightly disappointed because she wanted the rendered kind of fatty Duck you get at a Chinese restaurant.

The Pork Belly is usually good, but that time, it was thinly cut and it wasn’t as juicy as the other times I had it.

Would I come back again? Yes!  I actually left my lucky hat there and they kept it safe for me.

More Info: Shin-Sen-Gum | 8517 S. Western Avenue. Gardena, CA 90248 | Phone: (310) 715-1588 | NOT CHEAP!

MJ


Little Tokyo: Orochon

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The Skinny: Orochon, the Ramen place that television host Adam Richman of “Man v. Food” visited and placed on the Travel Channel so viewers can see him drip away like the Wicked Witch of the West.  The restaurant is known for a challenge that gives patrons 30 minutes to eat a spicy cesspool of molten hot broth full of Egg Noodles and more Jalapeno slices than a bowl of cheerios.  The payoff, if someone finishes it, is a free t-shirt and a Polaroid picture of them placed next to Adam on their Bulletin Board of Fame.  While I did try to take on the challenge and failed in front of Nom Nom Bobbie a year ago, I only went there today to eat lunch with Echo and Jazzy.  Since every food blogger and their 2nd cousin on Yelp has already reviewed Orochon, I might as well too.

Orochon offers 3 styles of broth to choose from, Miso (which is a thicker kind), Soy, and Salt base. You get to choose levels of spiciness, 7 being free of it, 1 being face melting hot, and  “Special 2” being the reason why you died on the toilet. Each order of Ramen automatically comes with slices of Pork, Green Bell Peppers, and Green Onions.  You can also add extras like a Boiled Egg, Bean Sprouts, Char Siu Pork, Butter, Garlic, and more.  While Ramen is their thing, you can get side dishes like sauteed Bamboo Shoots and Gyoza and then pair it with cold Japanese beer on tap.

The High: I do enjoy Orochon’s version of Ramen since I am a fan of clear based broths.  I like how they use Green Bell Peppers to influence the scent and taste of the overall broth.  It is simply tasty stuff and their noodles are decent.  Jazzy ordered the Miso base version with a Boiled Egg, Bean Sprouts, and Hyper level 2 spiciness.  I could tell he liked it because even after we paid the bill, he kept on sipping on the leftover soup.  Echo got the Salt based Ramen at level 4 and even though his face was melting off from the heat, he was still enjoying the tastiness of it all.  I got the Soy based broth with Char Siu Pork and Bamboo Shoots at the same heat level as Echo’s.   Like I mentioned before, the stuff is just tasty and the fragrance from the Green Peppers really adds something different to their Ramen in comparison to other styles that prefer that thick broth.  Also, that extra Char Siu Pork I ordered melted between my chopsticks…..not sure if that’s a good thing, but it tasted great!

With our orders of Ramen, Jazzy also got some Gyoza and while I didn’t have one, I do remember a few times that I did and they were delicious.

The Low: Orochon isn’t the best Ramen in the world, but that’s as low as it goes.  People will either love it, hate it, or think it’s whatever.

Would you come back again? Yes and I have.

More Info: 123 S Onizuka St. Los Angeles, CA 90012 | If you pay by card, be sure to order more than 20 bucks.  All 3 Ramen without any extras are under 7 bucks.

MJ


Lomita: Jang Mo Jip to Go!

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The Skinny: Jang Mo Jip, which means Mother In Law House, is a small  Korean restaurant in the City of Lomita that serves Kalbi Tang (short rib soup), Soon Doobu (tofu stew), Soondae (blood sausages), grilled meats and other hot pot stews.  I ordered their Sul Lang Tang with beef and tripe to go.

The High: For 8 bucks you get everything you see in the pictures.  That’s what great about soupy Korean food, it’s one of the easier kinds to contain and order to go.

The Low: The thing I love about Sul Lang Tang is the collagen and fat you get on your lips thanks to the long hours of ox tail bones being stewed and the marrow that gets pulled out.   The Sul Lang Tang at Jang Mo Jip did have some of that effect but not even as close as Han But, my favorite Sul Lang Tang place in Koreatown.  Their take on it was pretty bland, even with the use of the salt provided.  I actually emptied the whole serving  into half a bowl of what is seen in the soup container, but it didn’t make a difference.  And even though there was no real taste to the tripe,  it did have that tripey “back in mouth” action going on.  It wasn’t unpleasant, but it wasn’t good either.  The sliced beef that were also in it were tasteless and dry in texture despite being bathed in hot broth.

As for the Ban Chan, the Mu (Daikon Radish) Kimchi they gave needed more time pickling because it was offensively raw in pungency.  The other Ban Chan selections were good though.

Would I come back again? Probably not, but if I am there again, I’ll probably try the Kalbi Tang instead.

More Info: yelp | 1824 Lomita Blvd. Lomita, CA 90717 | (310) 530-6017 | 8 bucks for Sul Lung Tang that comes with Ban Chan and rice…is a good deal!

MJ


Irvine: Fukada

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The Skinny: Fukada is a very popular, local, Japanese spot in BFE Irvine. They’re known for their healthy and fresh ingredients and greatly-priced combos.  You can pair a hot/cold udon or soba noodle with a variety of different donburi bowls with brown/white rice, i.e. Oyako don, spicy tuna don (the most popular), curry don, etc. If you’re not in the mood for noodles, you can also get a seafood salad with a donburi bowl or sushi roll.  Unlike other places, they are VERY generous with the amount of sashimi they give for the price.  The salad comes with tuna, salmon and albacore but they’ll even let you substitute for one kind of fish without an extra charge. They also serve a plethora of izakaya items which are fairly priced and very delicious. Overall, the prices are great, the food is even better and the décor is peaceful and soothing to the eyes.

The High: One word…combos! For people who love variety but don’t want to order the whole menu and look like a piggy (like me), this is the perfect place.  They give you just the right amount of food so you can finish both items in the combo, if you’re super hungry, or take one to-go for later.  The seafood salad is definitely worth trying here.  If you like sashimi salad, this place will definitely not disappoint.  They give you huge chunks of tuna, salmon and albacore tuna on a bed of organic spring mix salad and topped with a pepper onion dressing. Their donburi bowls are also very tasty and you can get it with brown rice for no extra charge!!  The first time I went, I tried the oyako don which is chicken pieces folded into an omelette and placed over brown or white rice.  I loved it.  The spicy tuna don is the the most popular bowl and they give you a good amount of tuna without all that mayo. The noodles that come with the combo are simple but still delicious. I’ve tried their hot udon and thought it was very tasty as well.  Their fried squid legs are crispy and not covered in batter.  Everything tastes fresh and you feel healthy even if you stuffed your face.

The Low: The only thing that was disappointing was the shrimp roll that comes with the combo.  It’s tempura shrimp and asparagus wrapped in too much rice and not enough flavor and fillings.

Would I come back again? Hell yeah!! I’ve been here twice in the past month and I can’t wait to go back.

More Info: www.fukada2go.com 8683 Irvine Ctr Dr. Irvine, CA 92618 | (949)341-0111  | They also have Fukada2Go if you don’t want to wait.  Fukada2Go also offers brown rice for their rolls which they don’t do at the restaurant.

– Nom Nom Bobbie


Gardena: Shin-Sen-Gumi’s Hakata Ramen

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The Skinny: Shin-Sen-Gumi is a brand name associated with a chain of high quality Ramen, Shabu Shabu, Sushi, and Yakitori restaurants in both Japan and the USA.  Hakata is a popular hot spot in Gardena that usually has a long waiting list.  The Ramen shop allows customers to customize their order by letting them use a sushi-like check-list where they can dictate how al dente the noodles will be and the strength of the broth.  You can also get combo meals by adding chicken fried rice, gyoza, and other stuff.  And if you’re still hungry after killing a bowl, you can order more noodles and broth without having to wait

I’m not sure I should even bother reviewing the place because many people have already done so and we all pretty much like the place.  Anyways….

The High: One of two things I enjoy doing while waiting at a Shin-Sen-Gumi spot, in this case Hakata Ramen, is to watch the awkward but endearing promo videos of the staff members acting out skits.  When I’m with friends, I always play the “where’s the cue card the poor employee is reading from?”  Since there’s always a wait, the 2nd thing I enjoy doing is putting a name on the sign-up sheet that doesn’t fit me at all.  One time it was “Tyrone” and the last time it was “Jethro” to represent the redneck that is in me.

As for the Ramen itself, I’m personally a fan of the kind that has a clear broth, but the stuff at Hakata is solid regardless.  If you like that thick porky broth with those melt-in-your-mouth char-siu cuts, you’ll love the stuff at Hakata.  I can’t say that I’m a dedicated fan of the stuff, but I certainly didn’t hate it.  Their chicken fried rice is as tasty as chicken fried rice gets as well.

The Low: My only complaint about Hakata is that their broth is sometimes inconsistent and the style of their noodles are little too thin for my liking.  But other than that, it’s all good.

Would you come back again? Sure, why not!  They serve beer!

More info: www.shinsengumiusa.com | 2015 W Redondo Beach Blvd. Gardena, CA 90247 | Credit Friendly | Expect to spend around 10 bucks per person

– MJ


Hollywood: Hoy Ka – Ord Noodle

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The Skinny: Hoy Ka is the new name for the Legendary Thai Noodle House ORD NOODLE.  The place is in the heart of Thai Town in Hollywood and its probably one of the most authentic restaurants for Thai in all of LA.  I’ve been coming to this haunt for years and just because the name’s changed, the food and quality has definitely stayed the same!

The High: I ordered the classic Hoy Ka Noodle Soup (chicken version) and my buddy ordered the Roast Duck Noodle Soup.  Both were savory and both dishes Spice level were Magma/Volcanic.  You can choose to get the noodles either, skinny, skinny flat, or the wide flat noodles!  I chose the wide flat noodles and they were amazing.  The soup is also great for hangovers in case you were wondering.  Add some of the Green Chili sauce or pickled chilis for extra heat if you want to sweat out all those toxins from a night out drinking in Hollywood.

The Low: What can I say…there is almost nothing wrong with this place!  We went in and it was packed at 1pm and they actually had the AC on which is a plus since the old owner of ORD used to never turn that on!  The bad thing was that they ran out of diet coke and everyone knows I’m addicted to that stuff so I had to settle for a Thai Iced Tea which was decent.

Would you come back again? UM….YES…I will continue to eat at this spot at least a few times a month…and will continue promote them for free to friends because

1.    they’re freakin good
2.    they’re freakin cheap
3.    they’re as authentic as you can get according to House of Glam Rep, DAVID CHOU

More info: Yelp It. | 5401 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90027 – Cash Only

– Echo