April 28, 2011

Good Things I've Eaten Lately

I haven't had much time to blog, or maybe I'm just content with letting this website just fade away into the sunset. I guess I could sort of share some of the delicious things I've had despite being locked down at the shop for most of the day.

Korean BBQ at Genwa

The banchan selection is just astounding. Something like 25-some banchan on any given day, and they're more than happy to refill them for you. The ambiance here is probably the best of any Korean BBQ restaurant, with the exception of the elegance of Chosun Galbi in Koreatown. The meats are very high quality. On this visit I had a bit of the kalbi and the bulgogi. On future visits I definitely want to try the hyu-mit (tongue) and the spicy ssam gyup ssal (spicy pork belly). Prices are a bit high but it's worth it for the service and ambiance. I would get one of the combo deals because you get a bowl of soontubu, salad, and steamed egg.

Oysters and Fried Clams at BP Oysterette

3rd Street Promenade is riddled with terrible, overpriced restaurants, but BP Oysterette is a gem. The fried clams should always be order halves at a time to ensure freshness. The dozen oysters are also a must-get, although they are a bit pricey at $3 each.

Jay Chou Ahh Choo Bowl at Chego

Like all Chego bowls, you're best off sharing one unless you can handle a lot of food in one sitting. These days, I can't eat as much as I used to, so even splitting this is perfectly fine. I pretty much mooched off one of my employee's bowls and thought it was good enough to order on a repeat visit. The bowl has everything: spice, sweetness, umami, fried pork chop, comfort. Get it before it goes off the menu.

Green Bean Salad and The Glutster Burger at Biergarten LA

My buddy Neil runs this Korean fusion pub in KTown and we've always talked about revamping the menu to make it less Korean and more fusion. Thanks to Eddie Hah (formerly of 8oz Burger), there's a trio of delicious new burgers to try, including the Chosun One, which was on 8 Oz's menu for a while. The Green Bean salad features crisp haricot verts and tangerine slices with chopped hazelnuts and a tart vinaigrette. Well constructed and a great start before a heavy burger. The Glutster Burger (named after Javier Cabral of The Glutster) contains epaizote aioli, fried green tomato, pickled onions, and guacamole with your choice of either beef, half-pork half-beef, or all pork patty. Biergarten's new menu is one of the most exciting in Koreatown at the moment, especially with where Eddie is taking it.

Italian Sub Sandwich at Canele

Admittedly, I wanted to get the fried chicken sandwich and the french toast before this one, but it seemed like half the menu was 86'd when I was here for brunch on Easter Sunday. Good for them, but too bad for me. Thankfully I was sort of in the mood for some mortadella (which I grew up eating often since my parents grew up eating it in Brazil and insisted that we eat "gourmet" bologna). The fat sub is a better, refined version of the Godmother from Bay Cities Deli, though perhaps the thick crusted bread is a bit too hard for my jaws. The Godmother's bread is really what makes it great, but the meats and the well-constructed stature of this Italian sub sandwich is quite good if you're not feeling anything fried or super-sweet at Canele's renown brunch.

Foie Gras Torchon at 1886 Bar at the Raymond Restaurant

It was a quiet Tuesday night here and the Lakers had just won Game 5 of their first round playoffs (essentially sealing the series). It was nice to celebrate with Caroline and Lindsay and a bevy of amazing cocktails thanks to the bartending crew at 1886, which I might dub The Varnish of the Eastside. The vibe is similar - low lights and attention to drink detail, though with easier access to those who don't want to make their way to Downtown. Marcos Tello was in the house showing us some very cool cocktail tips and tricks of the trade, but I really enjoyed this Foie Gras Torchon (only $12 on the bar menu!), which came with warm mini-ciabatta bread and grilled pineapple. Definitely a must-order if you're in the mood for foie (which for me is almost any time).

Double Cheeseburger at A-Frame

Roy Choi knows his way around casual dining, and A-Frame might be his grand slam. The Double Cheeseburger is his nod to the South L.A. burger shacks run by Korean-Americans. The burger melds the best of the pub-style burger and fast-food burger. He uses two smash patties that get a great crisp char, putting oozy sharp cheddar cheese in between. Then the burger is topped with a tomato confit, pickled onions, butter lettuce, and whole sesame leaf! Sesame mayo and large, pillowy brioche buns keep it altogether. It's a fantastic new burger that's against the grain of the two prevailing schools at the moment. I've already had it twice and wish that I could get it again...maybe...tonight?

Fennel-Crusted Pork Chop at Sotto

I saw that chef Steve Sampson sent back at least two pieces before finally allowing this one to leave the kitchen at Sotto, the Italian-centric restaurant that has replaced Test Kitchen in Beverlywood (south of Beverly Hills). This is one amazing piece of roasted meat - the flavor just explodes for a piece of pork that's not belly or offal. And the terrific green tomato mostarda takes it to another level. This might be one of the best entrees I've had in recent memory. It's a huge portion, so definitely shareable between two or even three people, and still moderately priced at $25. It was $22 when I was there and thought to myself that that price just didn't seem right. Food this good should cost more. The new decor at Sotto is also one of my favorites - clean, sexy, dark, yet still inviting. You also can't go wrong with barman Julian Cox's amaro-based cocktail menu. Definitely grab one before you have your dinner.

Katsu-don at Wakasan (lunchtime)

I think Wakasan is one of the best deals for dinner, with up to 12-13 courses for a mere $45 (used to $35!). Now they have lunch most days of the week (except Tuesdays), which features terrific technique with good product at a moderate price. How can you go wrong? One day I had the katsu don, which is a piece of fried don-katsu pork over a bed of rice and an egg-ponzu-onion mixture. It's such a simple, comforting dish that reminds me of Japan in an instant. Might be one of the best lunch items in Westwood at the moment.


Burp and Slurp~! said...

My parents are coming to visit me in 3 weeks...I hope to take them to Chego...and hop over to Scoops!:-)

Please don't neglect your blog...T__T

Darin said...

Dammit I haven't tried any of these!

gourmetpigs said...

I love the torchon at 1886! I liked Genwa too but since a lot of the banchan was too spicy for me, I couldn't enjoy the $40 meal to the fullest.

Joshua Lurie said...

Good rundown. Considering you have a business to run, glad to see you're still finding time to eat so well. I'm interested to try Genwa and Biergarten LA, and of course Sotto's pork chop.

Kelly said...

I just had lunch and now I'm salivating again. This all sounds absolutely amazing, especially the foie because I will admit to being a bit of a foie lover.

Spencer H. Gray said...

I've just got to get down to Sotto!