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
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: 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
The Skinny: The Fuku Burger Truck is burger heaven on wheels. I’m not much of a burger eater, but everyone kept raving about it, so I had to try it. The truck is decorated with all these cartoons of the owners and the Fuku Girl. You’d have to see it to believe it. When chatting up the owner, he told me that everything is freshly made. All the ingredients are local. They go to the meat market every day and season the beef. Once they’re out, they’re out.
The High: Everyone kept talking about the Tamago burger so that’s the first one I tried. The first bite into this burger it was an explosion of flavors. I had a foodgasm eating this burger. All the flavors just went well together. It consisted of the fuku burger, fried egg, fried string onions, topped off with teriyaki and furikake. The naga dog is a great alternative if you’re not in the mood for a burger. It consists of a spicy link topped with home-made pickled daikon relish and grilled kim chee. Drizzled with wasabi mayo and kabayaki sauces then finished with hari nori. Colin said it’s like the Jap dog in Vancouver. Makes me miss Vancouver lol. Another alternative would be the Katsu Burger. It’s panko crusted chicken with shredded cabbage finished with wasabi mayo, & katsu sauce. I like to liven up by having the Katsu burger Karai style. Karai style is everything on the Karai burger replacing the fuku patty with the katsu patty. The Karai burger which consists of the fuku patty, with sliced cucumber, lettuce, avocado cream, finished with spicy mayo and habanero kabayaki. This is my new favorite from the Fuku truck. They’re garlic fries are awesome too. It comes with a sweet ketchup sauce & crack sauce. OMG this cracksauce is amazing and IS like crack, you can’t get enough of it. They’ve added new items such as the local moco, it’s like your Hawaiian favorite but with a fuku patty. Mac salad and special burgers once in a while. All of it was mouthwatering. For a girl that can’t sit in a dirty restaurant and eat (cuz we all know the dirtier the restaurant the better the food) , questioning whether these trucks are clean enough to not give me tummy rumbles…this truck gets two thumbs up from me.
The Low: My friend had the buta burger which consisted of the fuku patty, miso-glazed apple wood smoked bacon, american cheese, pickled ginger, + Japanese bbq sauce. It was a little greasy for me. My friend seemed to like it, definitely flavorful, but anything with ginger that I can taste will make it a low for me. The other burger I wasn’t too fond of was the Kinoko burger which is their mushroom burger. It consists of the fuku patty, grilled shitake mushrooms, ginger……and I’m just going to stop there because again, it has ginger :). Not the type of mushroom burger I’d like, but I know a lot of other people that enjoy it. So to each their own. Another low is that they’re not always in the same place every day. You have to go to website and check the schedule. Now that they’ve got all the legal stuff together they are a little more consistent in their locations. My favorite locations are Chinatown & the one on Flamingo + Decatur (they’re all close to my house) 😉
Would you come back again? Absolutely! I try to expose as many of my friends to this truck as possible. Also the Fuku staff are all really nice and down to earth. This alone would make me want to keep searching them out. The Fuku truck is like having a drug addiction, except it’s a food addiction, when they were on hiatis for a week I was having withdrawls. Horrible right? Believe me though,the minute I bit into that burger mmmMmMmm my mouth waters thinking about it right now. If it wasn’t so late in the evening I’d drive the 10 minutes to go get it to go right now.
More Info: www.fukuburger.com ; expect to pay $5.00 a Burger, $2.00 for Fries; $2.00 for a Strawberry Lemonade; $6.00 for a Naga Dog.
– Sniper Tam *Pew Pew Pew*
Song: After Hanabi – Nujabes