March 19, 2011

Daikokuya Review : When It Rains It Pours

Who ever said it never rains in southern California was lying. When those rare cold rainy days are upon us, Karen and I go down to Little Tokyo to get some warm ramen at Daikokuya. Although Little Tokyo has several ramen restaurants, Daikokuya is definitely our favorite. Judging by the long lines that are in front of this little gem, you know it is a huge fan favorite around LA.

The gyoza at Daikokuya is made fresh everyday, and these are a must-have for us when we come here. When they prepare the gyoza they throw in a few scoops of broth in the pan to help steam them and to give a distinctive crunch to the wrapper. The pork filling is really flavorful with hints of ginger and green onion.

Like we’ve said before, pork belly is one of our favorite things. At Daikokuya they don’t just use any pork belly, they use kurobuta (commonly known as Berkshire pork in the US) pork belly which is known for its tenderness and full pork flavor. The shredded pork bowl is fatty, tender and delicious. It is covered in their special sweet glaze (not teriyaki sauce, so don’t call it that) and green onions, and makes for a great side dish with a hot bowl of ramen.

What we both enjoy about the ramen at Daikokuya is the broth. The broth is cooked for over 15 hours using the kurobuta pork bones and it makes for a rich flavorful broth unlike any other. The shoyu soaked egg and fatty chashu that are served on the ramen have us coming back time and time again.

327 E 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

March 10, 2011

The Kitchen Review : This Is A Bitchin' Kitchen!

Whether we're just grabbing coffee at Intelligentsia in the morning or I’m riding my bike to Tang’s Donuts to meet for the Wolfpack Hustle, Silverlake is one our favorite places to explore. So, when we heard there was a small place on Sunset and Fountain that had awesome brunches, lunches and dinners, we had to try it. We’ve been to The Kitchen several times for their lunch and dinner menu, but have yet to try the brunch. All I can say is, if their regular weekday menu is any indication of what to expect on weekends, we will definitely eat it up!

The Kitchen
The Mac and Cheese at The Kitchen is creamy and has a distinct garlic flavor that you don’t see in most. The “cheese” in the Mac and Cheese is almost like a garlic flavored sharp cheddar bechamel sauce. Also, since they bake theirs it leaves a crispy top with the molten hot cheese on the inside.

The Kitchen
Another thing that we enjoy about the food at The Kitchen is how fresh it is. The albacore is sushi grade so you can have it cooked as raw as you’d like. Thin slices of Asian pear make the sandwich light and refreshing. Wasabi mayo is spread on a fresh baguette from La Brea Bakery to serve as your vehicle to flavortown, so just sit back and enjoy.

The Kitchen
One of my favorite things to make at home is braised short ribs. So when I saw the Short Rib Sandwich on the menu at The Kitchen, I had to try it. The pickled red onion and arugula add a refreshing bite to the slow cooked beef. The Jack cheese that they put on top of the short rib is good but I’d like to try it with Gruyere next time. My only gripe about the sandwich, be it a very small one, was the thinly sliced sourdough. I would have enjoyed the sandwich more on heartier slices of bread, especially for a sandwich with such a moist and juicy filling like braised short ribs. But I’m willing to overlook the sourdough cracker slices because the short rib was so flavorful. 

The Kitchen
4348 Fountain Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90029

March 8, 2011

LA Pastrami Review : Capriotti's vs Langer's

Let me just clarify, before anyone starts hootin' and hollerin' about not including The Hat or Johnnie's or even Oinkster in this little food fight, I wanted to compare pastrami sandwiches that had similar toppings. Pastrami sandwiches are definitely one of my favorites and I just wanted to highlight two places here in LA that make some of the best. I know Capriotti's is a franchise, so maybe Langer's might have a slight lead out of the gate. Personally, it's only because Langer's is an LA landmark, and since they are the only one in town you know the pastrami is made fresh in-house. That's not to say Capriotti's doesn't make their pastrami in-house also, I'm not really sure. But since they are a national chain that offers so much more than just pastrami and to protect product integrity across the country, I'd imagine that they have a central "Capriotti's kitchen" somewhere. But enough with the pleasantries, "let's get down to the nity griiity(in a Nacho Libre voice)". Let the battle begin!

Langer's #19
Across from MacArthur Park, Langer’s Deli is one of the most popular places for the LA lunch crowd (maybe because they’re only open until 4pm). They also serve your typical deli favorites like corned beef and matzo ball soup. The #19 at Langer’s is not only one of my favorite deli sandwiches, but it is one of my top things to eat in LA. The tender thick slices of pastrami are full flavored and with the crunchy coleslaw, it gives the sandwich a textured bite. The Russian dressing and Swiss cheese don’t overpower the meat but add a creaminess to each bite. Rye bread isn’t my favorite because of the tough crust (I think you can order the sandwich with another kind of bread), but if a place is known for something I usually don’t mess with perfection.

The challenger in this bout, the Capastrami from Capriotti's, stands toe to toe with the LA giant and has a few tricks up its sleeve. As you can tell from the picture, we couldn’t even wait to take a picture of the sandwich intact, we tore into the sandwiches without a second thought. The thinner sliced hot pastrami and refreshing coleslaw are piled into a softer sub roll, which is why Karen likes the Capartami better. Even though the Capastrami is similarly topped with Swiss cheese, Russian dressing and coleslaw, the thinner slices of meat and softer bread really make this sandwich a knockout.

Both of these awesome pastrami sandwiches took us the distance; thick vs. thin slices, deli vs. sub sandwich. Although Karen and I voted this food fight a draw, the real winners were our stomachs. OK, so maybe throwing these two pastrami heavyweights in the ring wasn’t the cleanest food fight but it was sure delicious!

Langer's Deli
704 South Alvarado St.
Los Angeles, CA 90057

Capriotti's Sandwich Shop
9683 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

March 7, 2011

Hopefully The Camera Really Does Add 10lbs.

We are fortunate to have a couple of friends that are also interested in showcasing some of LA's great food spots. Check out their facebook page Eat LA

March 3, 2011

Chego Review : L'ego my Chego!

We have been huge fans of the food truck movement here in Los Angeles. Oddly enough, this movement has turned some food truck chefs into local celebrities(sometimes even national celebrities). We've spotted chef Roy Choi(aka Papi Chulo) a few times at art galleries and local dive bars in our neighborhood(without the Kogi Truck mind you, but always with the signature fitted flipped to the back). So we were very excited to hear that Papi Chulo, of the famous Kogi BBQ truck, was opening a brick and mortar restaurant near Culver City. Tucked into the corner of a nondescript strip mall on Overland, Chego offers Asian inspired comfort food by the bowlful. 

Chego's bowls are good as is, but adding a little something extra can really make it a whole new dish. We can never pass up ordering pork belly if we see it on a menu, even if we have to add it on. We ordered the Buttered Kimchi Chow with kurobuta pork belly added on. One look at the yolky topped rice bowl and we were ready to eat it up! The bold flavors and fresh ingredients that chef Roy Choi puts into his dishes are distinct and will have you lining up with bowl in hand, begging for a sliver of that scrumptious pork belly.

The Rock Yer Road at Chego may rock your world. Karen definitely has the sweeter tooth and could not resist this deconstructed Rocky Road dessert. Chocolate ice cream is topped with crushed smoked almonds, caramel, brownie chunks, melting marshmallow fluff and a Luxardo cherry(a fancy Maraschino).

3300 Overland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

February 27, 2011

Mendocino Farms Review : Getting a Dose of Culture

Since the Metro Red Line is walking distance from our apartment, we decided to hop on the Metro and venture into downtown to experience the SUPRASENSORIAL exhibit at the MOCA. Another reason for our DTLA adventure, was for a downtown sandwich shop which prides itself on original sandwiches made with some of the freshest ingredients.  Suffice to say, once we finally found Mendocino Farms nestled on the bottom floor of the California Plaza, we were ready to eat it up!

Mendocino Farms
When we go to new places, it is almost expected that we will order one of two things, the chef's special or the place's signature dish. Need-less-say, I was extremely excited to try Mendecino Farms when I first walked up to the menu and saw "Duck Confit" written as Chef Judy's Pick, that got the hooks in me for sure. The sandwich has confit of duck leg with roasted fig spread, crispy chicharrones, breadcrumbs, spinich, herb aioli and chimichurri on ciabatta. The tender duck and crispy chicharrones makes for the best salty bites.

Mendocino Farms
Karen's eyes lit up when she saw a few banh mi sandwiches on the menu but couldn't resist the sweet call of braised pork belly. Mendecino Farms' Kurobuta Pork Belly Banh Mi includes braised, caramelized pork belly, daikon and carrots pickled in-house, cilantro, cucumbers, jalapenos, chili aioli on panini grilled ciabatta. The sweetness from the salad and raw jalapeno peppers balanced well with the savory pork.

Mendocino Farms
Pure cane sugar soda fountain provided by Boylan. Sweeeeet...

Mendocino Farms
300 South Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90071

February 24, 2011

Din Tai Fung Review : Are You DTF?

We're not the biggest fans of Chinese food(sorry to all our Chinese buddies). I'd like to think that maybe we just haven't gone to the right places yet. Even though I grew up in the SGV(San Gabirel Valley), I grew up eating more Mexican food and Filipino food. So as a kid, I thought Chinese food was Dim Sum Express and Sam Woo. Which is what this blog is really all about, finding and sharing good food around town(so please school us if there is some good Chinese food out there). For us, going to a place like Din Tai Fung made us realize that just because we might not like the type of food, we will always enjoy the food if we know its freshly prepared.

We both enjoy places that have DIY dipping sauces, be it a shabu shabu restaurant or just a place with a huge condiment counter. The ginger always seems fresh, and boy do we love us some fresh ginger.

We would put garlic on everything if it tastes good, so the sauteed garlic green beans is one of our favorite starters. They usually have a few seasonal vegetables that they serve sauteed. The vegetables are never overly greasy and still have a good crunchy bite to them. 

We always get a little excited when we see these 10 little guys in the steamer. A puff of steam will bellow out when the waitress opens up the steamer(I'd like to imagine that they've been hot boxing in there waiting for us to eat them). All of Din Tai Fung's dumplings are made in house just like they are supposed to. These pork and soup filled morsels can be really delicate to handle with chopsticks. So be gentle or it might just squirt out prematurely(it's never happened to me though, I swear). We're still talking about dumplings right?!?

Fortunately, the proper way to eat these things is printed on the back of your chopsticks(sorry we didn't snap a picture of that). The gist of it goes: dip, nibble, sip, add ginger and devour. I'm sure you'll get the hang of it because you will not stop eating these things. The filling is well seasoned and the dumpling wrappers always have that fresh made doughy bite to them. The initial bite is a rush of pork flavor from the soup, and adding the ginger at the end makes the final bite that much more tasty. However, the dumplings are on the smaller side. We've been to other places that served xiao long bao(soup dumplings) and theirs were almost twice the size, but that will have to wait for another review.

1108 S. Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91007

February 21, 2011

Kalbi Burger Review : As Seen On TV

We are a couple of good ol' Americans with red, white and blue (some purple and gold mixed in there too) running through our veins, so we are always on the look out for a good burger and fries. Imagine the buckets of drool when we came across Kalbi Burger near Koreatown. Their signature Kalbi Burger patty is made with half ground chuck and half Korean marinated short rib. Not to mention, all the burgers they cook are 100% Natural Angus Beef, which means cows raised with no hormones, or antibiotics. I may not be a vegetarian, but these cows are.

That is what chef/owner Hawk Lee spoke to us about during a taping of our friend’s upcoming public access food show “Eat LA”. He is proud of the product he has put out, as far as quality of ingredients and inspiration for his menu, and you can really taste the difference in these burgers. Did I mention you can customize your burger as well? One of our favorite burgers to get here is the Kalbi Burger but with a little kimchi added on. The pickled kimchi and marinated Kalbi patty just go together well. The Asian inspired burgers that Hawk has created are a refreshing twist on the American classic.

Karen's favorites are split between the Kalbi Burger with kimchi and the banh mi inspired Saigon Burger. The jalapeno and cucumber cut thin to give the burger a distinctive crunch like a banh mi sandwich. Hawk confessed he would drive all the way to San Gabriel for a good banh mi.

My vote is also split but between the Kalbi Burger and the LuLu Burger, which comes from da islands brah. The Lulu burger is topped with a grilled pineapple with bacon and a spread of Hawk's secret LuLu sauce.

Kalbi Burger
Kalbi Burger topped with American cheese, standard salad (red onion, tomato, lettuce) with a Korean vinaigrette and Kalbi aioli sauce. Fries were tossed in two different types of sea salt and red wine vinegar.

Whether you are familiar with Korean/Asian flavors or just want to try a fresh, quality burger with a new taste, try a Kalbi Burger and eat it up!

Kalbi Burger
4001 Wilshire Blvd., Unit E
Los Angeles, CA 90010

February 20, 2011

Table for 2

Thank you for stopping by to take a look at our sliver of the internet. With open minds and bellies full, we hope you find it fun and informative. We both enjoy good food and cherish its ability to bring people together. Come join us as we sift through LA's strip malls, food trucks, neighborhood pubs and other great places to Eat It Up...enjoy

We ♥ Food!
Urth Caffe
Roasted Turkey Panini w/ Jarlsberg Swiss and whole grain mustard on honey wheat @ Urth Caffe.