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Booze

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


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


Ktown: Beer Belly

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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.

MJ


VTM#7: 4th of July Long Weekend

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 .

– MJ


San Pedro Fish Market + Restaurants

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The Skinny:  The San Pedro Fish Market is a favorite family weekend hot spot for seafood stalls, beer, and a festive atmosphere.  It’s also the most crowded place ever, which means good luck trying to find parking.

The Bad:  This blog entry, because I didn’t pay for the food so I don’t know where they came from.  I also had 2 big gulp sized plastic cups full of Corona….sooooo….I didn’t bother to find out.

The Good:  Everything we ordered was pretty solid…especially the fried Squid and Garlic Shrimp.  The Garlic Shrimp, with tasty bits of garlic chips underneath the juices…was well….garlicky and as savory as it should be.  The fried Korean-ish style Squid was the perfect beer food because it was salty, crunchy, and tender all at the same time.  And I know it was Korean because I recognized the style in which it was cooked and my brother said he did get it from a Korean food stall.  So that’s a clue if you want to find out where he got it from.

We also got some French Fries, Garlic Bread, Octopus Ceviche, BBQ Shrimp Fajita, and a small charred up baby Tuna.

The Somewhat Bad:  Anything that came covered in red seemed to be made with Ketchup.  So the Octopus Ceviche and BBQ Shrimp Fajita all had that sugary dried up Tomato paste taste to them.  Also, that day they had a small adorable karaoke show where little kids were singing Justin Bieber songs.  I thought the heat from the sun was making my ears sweat a bit, but no…it was just blood pouring out from the pain.

Would you come back again? Yes! Being able to drink cold beer out in the open on a nice sunny day with a bunch of happy strangers….is worth the parking space hunt.

More Info:  www.sanpedrofishmarket.comyelp | 1190 Nagoya Way – San Pedro, CA 90731

MJ


Hermosa Beach: Hot’s Kitchen

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The Skinny:  Hot’s kitchen is a gastropub in Hermosa Beach that specializes in 5 dollar mini size burgers, tacos, and a very large selection of beers.  There are about over 50 kinds of those tacos ranging from Oxtail and Jerk Rubbed proteins to Alligator and Duck Confit.  I was expecting to get the Foi Gras Burger.

I went with family and we ordered:
Fat Burgers (Fried Egg, Grilled Onion, Shredded Lettuce, Mayo, American Cheese)
Mexilaci Burgers (Roasted Poblano, Corn-Jalapeno Mayo, Fried Onion Ring, Oaxaca Cheese)
Hot’s Burgers (grilled Onion, Avocado, Tomato, Cheddar Cheese)
Grilled Korean Wings
Grilled Buffalo Wings
Lobster Heirloom Tomato Salad
Clams in a Spicy Beer Brother with Leguisa, Spinach, and Cheese Bread
Mussels in a roasted Red Pepper and White Wine Broth and served with Toast
A Bunch of Tacos (don’t remember what they were though…)

The Good:  Everything we ordered were all solid, but the one thing that was really memorable for me was the Fat Burger.  Despite it’s small size, the Burger packed a big beefy punch and the runny Egg made it even more excessively good.  I didn’t get to try a Taco and the Lobster Heirloom Tomato Salad, I did however get to pair the Clams and Mussels in their soupy broths with my very hoppy and refreshing Green Flash Imperial IPA….and it was very tasty.

The Bad:  For some odd reason, the things I wanted were on the menu but they weren’t available for that day.  I was hoping to get the Foie Gras burger I’ve read about on Yelp and some Crispy Picatta Wings, but I got neither.

Would you come back again?  Yes and I’m going to order that Foi Gras Burger when I do…and they better have it!

More Info:  www.hotskitchen.com | 844 Hermosa Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA — (310) 318-2939 | Parking will be a pain on a busy night.


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