Thursday, June 24, 2010

Super Pho and Teriyaki

So continuing with my on again off again World Cup Bender, I came home last night and died. I literally died. It wasn't a nap because when I woke up I felt like a zombie and my apartment smelt like death.

In comes little brother, just in time to drive to get us something to eat. Both stomachs a bit sour from the whole celebrating every goal with a toast thing, we decided on soup. Ramen. It being late we thought it was a sure fire Jack in the Crack night though. But passing the little shops on Venice in Culver City we passed by a little place offering pho. The real selling point was the OPEN sign lighting up the sidewalk at 10:30 on a Wednesday.

We started with the BBQ pork which came with two dipping sauce friends on either side. One a tangy sweet and sour sauce and the other was a hot mustard. Incidentally, while tasty, the hot mustard may take you to the brink of acceptable table behavior. So small servings of that from now on.

The true dope was the huge bowl of pho I got. Everything was clean. This helps when your throw down rare steak, tripe, and tendon. Nothing was chewy and the whole meal was delicate in a very good way. The quality of the meat and broth was so good I can't wait to go again to try their kalbi or teriyaki plates. A true whole in the wall that settles the stomach.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Sometimes a dish can get overlooked when a restaurant specializes in other faire. The Huevos Racheros at El Tepeyac is probably the best breakfast dish in Los Angeles. It gets overlooked sadly because the place makes such great burritos. The “Godmother” sandwich from Bay Cities in Santa Monica is lauded as a crucial stop for all of those craving a delicious sandwich. Yet many would bypass a simple fresh loaf of bread from the place. The warm batch held in the back of the store is a must stop and grab.

I had the pleasure of stopping by one of the better sushi joints Culver City. Sakura’s on Centinela hardly ever misses with their sushi. But I was forced to order off the main menu this time as I was told they also had one of the better bowls of Ramen in town.

They do. The Tanmen is a cure all for what might ail you. It is an amalgamation of stir-fried beef, chicken, shrimp, pork, veggies, and ramen, Where other places make you choose your protein Sakura’s demands that you try to figure out which is your favorite. By the end of the meal I was still unsure so I must order this dish time and again until I figure it out.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Flying Pig

A few years back it would be that a truck serving food on the street had either burgers, tacos, burritos, or greasy fish sandwiches that assured you a couple of sick days from work. Times and options have changed. Many already know the bounty of flavors that fall onto the curb at various Kogi Taco trucks. But I was recently able to try a new culinary coach.

The Flying Pig is, well, cute. The truck is pink and light blue and adorned with flying pigs . The staff is welcoming and the food delightful. Their mantra reads on the side of the truck “The perfect blend of Asian & Pacific Rim flavors with French technique.” I must admit I was wary. You just don’t find solid food stuff at pink locales. It may be an unwritten rule but it should probably be inscribed somewhere.

But I liked it. I understand delightful may not be the best way to describe some food experiences but it is spot on in this case. I even had a slight smirk after finishing my meal. This mostly had to do with the food. But it partially had to do with the fact that I was not suffering from the stomach pains that usually accompany a trip to the local taco truck.

The braised pork belly is served as most Korean style steamed buns, open face. This meant two things: the bun was attractive. The pork sat tucked away in the folds of the soft dough and the pink colors of the onion escabeche poked out. The bun was also fun to eat. Because it was opened on one side it was like a puffy taco with sweet Korean-style meat inside.

I continued with a “snack” of crab balls that, to my enjoyment, tasted a great deal like crab. In fact the crab taste rather overpowered the accompanying chimchurri. Now I could not stop at a taco truck and not get a taco. I opted for the spicy pork. It was good. The meat was prepared well and seasoned properly. Yet the tortilla was a bit greasy and not soft nor was it hard. It found itself in taco shell purgatory. In this instance the tacos are better elsewhere. But all in all it was well worth the stop. As an added bonus I had to wait all of five seconds to order as opposed to the Kogi taco soup lines that take hours to get through.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Uncle Darrow's

Once in a while I visit an eatery that typifies passion and dedication. I recently visited Uncle Darrow's Cajun eatery and realized why I love this place. The owner Ronald and the rest of the staff just plain care.

Upon entering the establishment you are typically greeted and asked if you are visiting for your first time. If it is, be prepared for a friendly rundown of the menu and some free samples. I would recommend limiting your samples as you will want to order everything you taste.

Here is the overlying problem with Uncle Darrow's. The food is not good for a motivated person. My favorite Po' Boy is the Zeke. It is a combination of bread, fried catfish, fried shrimp, and potato salad. You see, there is no way to get any errands done after eating a sandwich like that. I recently had half a Zeke, jambalaya, and gumbo from Uncle Darrow's. I immediately went home and stared at a wall for three hours.

Normally food of this weight would be hard to get through. It can be easy to over fry or under fry and get the food all greasy. This is far from true at Uncle Darrow's. The seafood is always served hot, fresh, and crispy. My favorite side may just be their File Gumbo, a sopping concoction of shrimp, crab, and sausage with a hint of spice.

Either way I cannot recommend this place enough. I would just pencil in a nap after visiting.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Hollenbeck Burrito

A burrito should strike fear when it is placed before you. That is the main difference between a burrito and some stuff wrapped in a tortilla. A burrito should necessitate a plan of action. You should have to take a second and realize that the plans you may have had for the rest of the day will go unfulfilled. That's a burrito.

I happen to be indulging at the moment in what I and many others find to be the pinnacle of Los Angeles burritos, the Hollenbeck. El Tepeyac, Manuel's to many, has always been a special place to me. My parents would take us when the mood struck and we were good. That's right. When other kids were being taken to the circus or a museum I was being carted off to eat burritos.

The Hollenbeck is about a pound and a half of meat and rice and beans and guacamole all placed perfectly together in a tortilla like a boy band about to go on tour. Like said boy band they rock the shit out of my taste buds. The meat is stewed all day in a red chile sauce giving each bite a tender texture. You get plenty of meat throughout and a ladle is generously portioned on top of the burrito. That's right. After they run out of room stuffing the burrito with meat they scoop some on top. Why? Because more meat won't fit in the burrito, that's why!

When you first get your burrito you immediately realize that it is as big as an infant. Sometimes I don't know whether to eat it or raise it to be something in this world: doctor, lawyer, hell something honorable. I mean at the very least something better than me at this time. I often think my burrito could be a major league baseball star if it just applied itself. Burritos. Right? Ah, you have to let them make their own mistakes I guess.

Immediately after you eat this tortilla baby you are faced with two brutal truths: 1) You now realize you have no self respect and probably could have saved some of that burrito for later but were smitten with the taste of gently stewed pork chunks, and 2) You need to get home as soon as possible.

Friday, April 3, 2009


I just ate my fourth burrito in as many days. This is not my only burrito feat. I once had two burritos in one day. These are the types of achievements not made out of planning and fortitude. They are created from living a certain lifestyle. I did not wake up one day and plan to eat two burritos in one day. Happenstance and luck created the moment when I looked down at crumpled paper and foil and thought "Shit, I just ate two burritos today." The nap that followed allowed for the requisite self reflection. Why am I doomed to eat copious amounts of food as if I were about to hibernate for a few months? The answer hit me like the tail end of a buffet bender. I love food.

I love how it tastes, smells, and sizzles. I love that carnitas have some symbiotic relationship with guacamole and lemon that make them truly great friends. I love that the aromatics from an Italian meat sauce are so closely aligned with the taste that I can decide the quality before a taste test. I love burgers. I love foie gras. From Tapas to yakitori, this blog is sort of a diary of indigestion and delights. So let's laugh, drink, and eat. I will make sure there is plenty of napkins and the tums as always are by my bed.