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!
The Skinny: Echo, a friend known as Jazzy, and I went to Dino’s for lunch. Actually, at first we wanted to go to Pollo a La Brasa on 8th and Western, but for some reason it was closed. So we all headed to Dino’s Chicken and Burgers for our very first time. The flame broiling poultry pit is best known for their signature dish, which is the charred and vinegary chicken that comes in halves. At the time we went, there were no wall menus to order from, but we knew what to get. If you get the chicken, which we all did, you get it in a styrofoam box with some coleslaw and a bed of french fries.
The High: The flame broiled Chicken was pretty tasty and it did have a distinct flavor. As we ate we all speculated what they marinaded the chicken in. Echo mentioned Tandoori because we saw a bunch of uncooked ones covered in something thick, vibrant, and very red. Personally, I can’t remember the last time I had something Tandoori so I couldn’t make the flavor connection, but I do remember looking at photos of India where you see mounds of colorful spices used for Masala. The pants-staining red used to marinade the chicken reminded me of that. The Chicken was also pretty sour, which we all assumed came from vinegar and not citrus juices. There was also a nice heat to it and seeing how there were red pepper flakes all over the place, I guessed they used the chili oil you find next to the Sriracha at Pho places. The char on the outer part of the chicken was good and the moist inside was welcoming, but my favorite thing about the meal were the fries. The way they soaked up all the extra sauce and meat juices was pretty addicting. It was like eating soft pillows of salt and vinegar potato chips that was drizzled with charred chicken bits.
The Low: Dino’s Chicken is a solid meal, can’t really complain too much about it. Although, I do have to admit that it was a bit too sour and I think it would’ve tasted better if I was drunk.
Would I go to again? Not really, it’s too out of the way and if I had other choices, I’d go there. However, if I was drunk, those sauce sucking fries would be worth the drive by a designated driver.
More info: yelp | 2575 W Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90006 | Credit Card Friendly | About 8 bucks for the Chicken and large drink
The Skinny: Salakot is a Filipino restaurant found in the heart of Los Angeles’s own Historic Filipinotown. The place serves popular Filipino dishes like Adobo, Sinigang, Lumpia, and Pancit. They even have a 2nd floor dedicated to those who love to eat and party with a karaoke machine.
I actually discovered Salakot when I went to go see the indie folk-rock band The Steelwells, a great live act with 2.5 kick ass drummers, at the Bootleg Theater. The restaurant itself is about a block away from the venue and I took a mental note of it because one of my co-workers was looking for a Filipino one. It turns out, he had already discovered the place on Yelp, so we went there for lunch along with a few other colleagues.
The High: Of the 5 things we ordered and shared, the Spicy Sisig and Chicken Adobo were the best. The Adobe was unapologetic about the strong Filipino flavors and ingredients it had in it. The chicken was cooked on the bone and tender enough to use a spoon and fork to peel the flesh right off. The smell of vinegar was strong, but it hardly bothered me in terms of flavor. It did however repel one of my co-workers who couldn’t even hold the dish due to the sour pungency. I don’t really have a gauge on what is a really good adobe, and although it was complex, the chicken Adobe tasted fine to me.
The Sisig was what I was anticipating but it wasn’t what I was expected. The first time I saw the dish was on TV during the travel show No Reservations. The host Anthony Bourdain went to the Philippines and had the popular Sisig at a late night pub. It was suppose to be made out of crispy gelatinous pig ears and snout mixed with fat and pieces of actual meat and potatoes. I was hoping to get that but instead received salty vinegary steak-ish pork bits with green peppers and onions. It wasn’t bad, but if I didn’t have rice to eat it with, I’d have a hard time enjoying it. It was tasty though, maybe a little bit too tasty.
The Low: We also ordered shrimp fried rice, Pancit, and Lumpia. The fried rice, with just 5 pieces of shrimp, was whatever. I only appreciated it because it helped mellow out the saltiness of the Sisig. The Lumpia was filled with a rather bland pork filling that only picked up flavors once you dipped it into a sweet chili dipping sauce. I’m sure it would taste even better during a drunken state of mind.
With Pancit, I’ve always found it a bit bland whenever I eat it. Salakot’s version of it didn’t make me think otherwise either. At first, all it’s flavors were found at the bottom of the plate because we didn’t mix the noodles and condiments together well enough. However, when we did mix it properly, it still didn’t make a difference. The Panci was just an one note dish of blandness with only a few hints of citrus to break up the monotony of it all.
Would you come back again? Yes! Even though some of the dishes were more misses than hits, the Crispy Pata looks really good.
More Info: Yelp it!
Boxes by The Steelwells
I think The Steelwells should have named themselves Beards Papa since they all have full on facial hair, well except for the Korean keyboardist who has a peach fuzz pornstache thing going on. It’s also so they can get sponsored by Beards Papa, the Japanese cream puffs store, and make it rain pastries on the crowd!
Anyways, even though the Rolling Stones magazine did put the ever so annoying Justin Bieber on their cover and asked him douchie questions about rape and abortion, it would be nice to see these talented bearded kids on it instead. So rate them with 5 stars at the Rolling Stones website. Link