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Soupy Noodles

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

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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


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


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



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


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