Bon Vivant's written and pictorial diary of her culinary adventures that will amuse and excite your virtual taste buds...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Park's BBQ

I know that these are fightin’ words but I’m going to say them anyway: move over Soot Bull Jeep! There is a new King of Korean BBQ in town!

Ok, maybe I’m being a bit premature. I recently went to Park’s BBQ and it was love at first site and bite. I declared it my new fave. But a few of my dining companions stated that the still liked Soot Bull Jeep better. Hmmmm. I don’t often go to Soot Bull Jeep, I think that it is good, but it’s not my favorite (Sa Rit Gol has held that spot for a while). So, let the Korean BBQ challenge begin! I will be revisiting Sa Rit Gol and Soot Bull Jeep in the near future and we’ll see how they stack up to Park’s.

But in the meantime, delight your visual sense in the world that is Park’s BBQ…

Our three dippies: coarse salt with toasted sesame seed; a soy based sauce with chiles; and fermented soybean sauce.

Panchan! I had such a case of Stendhal’s Syndrome that I didn’t get a solo picture of the potato salad (it’s at the 3 o’clock position) but it was fabulous. It was oil based (slightly, and no vinegar) with a hint of garlic.

The wonderful spinach with ground tofu and roasted sesame seed:

The Gae Jang (this stuff has a cult following):

The seafood pancake (this did not have a lot of seafood in it – I think that Sa Rit Gol will win this part of the competition):


And the piece de resistance – the de rigueur #2 – prime kalbi (thanks, ipsedixit!):

A luscious piece of sizzling kobe beef:

One thing that I like about Park’s is that they let you keep the bone from the short rib which they don’t do at Sa Rit Gol (I think at Soot Bull Jeep they have an order of bones!)

Raven stated that she likes the tongue better at Soot Bul Gui Rim since it’s cut thicker; I’ll have to try tongue at the other places.

Not as expensive as I thought it would be. It came out to $25 per person with a hefty tip (the service here is excellent!)

And for dessert, some Pot Bing Soo at Ice Kiss. Woof!

Park’s BBQ
955 S. Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90006

Ice Kiss
3407 W. 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90020

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Vietnamese Soycafe - A Hidden Gem in Silver Lake

If you race up and down Hyperion in order to hit the green light at Lyric (or Fountain, as the case may be) you might miss the lilliputian Vietnamese Soycafe. If you are a true foodie, you’ll see a glimpse of it out of the corner of your eye. The first thing that you’ll notice is that it is not open on Fridays and Saturdays. This piques your interest.

You finally go there one Sunday morning after being intrigued by the limited but unique menu that you happen to look at through the window one Saturday when the pet food store was not yet open and you needed to kill some time, so you walked up the block to check this quirky place out.

Below, a cup of cinnamon soymilk:

If you usually buy your soymilk at Trader Joe’s you have not had soymilk until you’ve had it at the Vietnamese Soycafe. Viet, the warm and personable owner, makes the organic soymilk in house. Other flavors include black sesame, mint, and yerba mate. It’s a better deal to buy a quart and share it with someone – you’ll end up with twice as much for about the same price.

Below, a double Vietnamese coffee – you are in heaven.

Below, the jicama fresh rolls:

These are wonderful. You cannot eat the peanut sauce with which they are served (or you’ll take a trip to migraineville) but it doesn’t matter; the texture is perfect and the minimalist flavors blend so well together.

Below, the overwhelmingly popular lemongrass chicken banh mi:

You pledge that next time you’ll order the green onion and sardine banh mi. There is also a vegetarian option: the shitake mushroom and tofu.

Below, two views of the Sunday special bun with tumeric whitefish:

You’ve heard about this dish through the foodie grapevine, and you purposely came here on a Sunday just to get it. It surpasses all of your expectations; it’s so simple and lovely. You’ve declared this the best dish in LA County since the late Kuala Lumpur’s wonton laksa.

Below, the soyskin mushroom bun and the soynugs:

On a health kick? You’ll have to try the “C Shot” – Viet’s upscale version of the uber-cleansing detox libation of lemon juice and cayenne pepper.

Vietnamese Soycafe
1997 Hyperion Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Luscious Dumpling!

A preview of coming attractions – my luscious dumpling:

This is one review wherein the flix and pix will do all of the talking for me. All I can really say about Luscious Dumpling is that it is very aptly named. The dumplings (and soup noodles) are just fabulous. I will also add that I like the fact that you can arrive there at 10:55 am on a Saturday and get a table; the same arrival time at Din Tai Fun would earn you an hour and a half wait.

The always wonderful chive, pork, egg, and shrimp dumplings (I missed the “money” shot):

The pan-fried pork dumplings – spectacular!

The stewed pork soup noodles with big pieces of unctuous pork belly – yum!

The cabbage, pork, and shrimp dumplings – delicately delicious!

Everyone loves this dish – the beef tendon soup noodles (though they forgot to bring the broth – it’s served on the side) with hot and sour sauce. Divoon!

“Flavors” stewed beef soup noodles – one non-beef eater loved this!

My favorite dumplings – the pan-fried napa, pork, and sole dumplings. These are so friggin’ good!

The steamed dumplings with cabbage, mushroom, and bean curd – good, but not the crowd favorite:

The steamed pork with soup dumplings (more on these below):

Ok, I have to say one more thing: once, I made the mistake of referring to Luscious Dumpling’s pork with soup dumplings as XLB (xiao long bao) on a chowhound thread. Not the thing to do, Dear Reader! Even though I apologized profusely (offering myself up to be pelted with several orders of soup dumplings – not a bad way to die when you think about it) I have never been forgiven and I’ve been ostracized ever since!

The above feast, with the addition of stewed flavored bean curd as an appetizer, came to $13 per person. Good times. Good times.

Luscious Dumpling
704 W. Las Tunas Drive
San Gabriel, CA 91776

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Osteria Mozza

I was really looking forward to going to Osteria Mozza since Mario Batali’s Lupa in New York City is one of my favorite restaurants. From the reviews that I read, I had very high expectations of Osteria Mozza. After the dinner I realized that the Nancy Silverton dishes, especially those at the Mozzarella Bar, were the standouts. Batali’s dishes have not yet translated to the wonderful dishes that I know them to be. If you haven’t had Batali’s cooking before, you would probably find his dishes to be quite good by LA standards.

Our “amuse bouche” – a mozzarella involtini stuffed with fresh basil, roasted tomato, and olives. This was really good and would have tasted even better with the wine that I had ordered that arrived to the table extremely late.

Since it was still officially Summer, I ordered a Bastianich Rosato. It suited my appetizers well.

My grilled octopus salad:

This was really fantastic, though the octopus could have been slightly fresher. The salad was composed of braised leeks, fresh chives, boiled potato, and the octopus tossed with a vinaigrette. The vinegar was way too strong but somehow worked with the blandness of the octopus. I took most of this home and ate it the next day for lunch and it was just extraordinarily delicious. The vinegar dissipated somewhat and the flavors just really came together.

My Bufala Mozzarella with multi dippies:

This was just fabulous! I loved the mozzarella wit the assertive flavors of most of the dips. I thought that the romanesco worked the best as it was made with a nice smokey pimenton that complemented the mozzarella well. I also liked the caper berry relish (which I put on my cold steak sandwich the next day – delicious). I had a problem with the tapenade though: it had too much lemon essence in it plus a touch of what I think was lavender. That might go well on crostini but it was quite awful with mozzarella.

Bonus Pic! Burrata with Bacon and Sauteed Escarole:

My Bavette Cacio e Pepe:

This was good but was missing most of the unctuousness that you would find at Lupa (also, the cheese was melted through instead of being in soft, small crumbles). Despite this, I thought that this dish was executed well due to the perfect balance of the cheese and the pepper, and for the fact that the Bavette was perfectly cooked.

The Beef Brasato with Polenta:

My great-grandmother used to season her meatballs with some chopped celery leaves so I was excited to see them as a garnish on this dish. But unlike my great-grandmother, who used the leaves sparingly, Osteria Mozza put a big handful on a dish, and the leaves were so aggressive that it dominated it as opposed to augmenting it.

Most Foodie Chicks preferred Pizzeria Mozza to the Osteria. I have to agree but I will definitely come back and sit at the Mozzeralla Bar.

Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Corner Place

A preview of coming attractions – my bowl of Dongchimi Guksu (somen like noodles in cold radish broth):

Late last year I started working for a Korean firm. One morn, before work, I was perusing the Chowhound board and read a post about these cold noodles (Dongchimi Guksu) at a place called The Corner Place. I was in love with these noodles, sight and taste unseen. Later that morning, the office manager, Judy, asks me if I want to go to lunch with her and Chris. She said, “It’s probably going to be Korean, is that ok?” and I replied, “OMG! I’ve been cravin’ Korean all day!” and she looked at me really funny and said, “You’re serious, aren’t you?” Perhaps she had forgotten that I and another employee were the only two people to eat the Jo Gee Gui (fried whole Yellow Corvina fish) at the last firm luncheon.

Needless to say the noodles were all that I had expected and more. I had been meaning to go back, like every day, but there have been so many other places to try. Finally, I got a group to go on what would definitely be a hot summer day. The day before, one of my colleagues tells me that the Dongchimi Guksu “aren’t as good as they used to be.” What! “I think they changed the recipe or something.” Oh, mon Dieu!

The recipe for Dongchimi Guksu is a closely guarded secret. Legend has it that a little old lady in Cerritos makes the broth and it is delivered to the restaurant in a Brinks truck. This is one secret that you’ll never learn: you are not allowed to take home your leftover noodles nor may you order them to-go.

The one secret ingredient that everyone can agree on is 7-Up which was very distinctive the first time that I had these noodles but since the 7-Up flavor has diminished somewhat. My colleague was right, the recipe probably has changed but in my opinion they are even better now. They are slightly more spicy (almost like a jalapeno agua fresca) and taste a little more of cucumber.

The waitress splits our noodles for us:

Raven wants something extra in her noodles and I explain why she’s out of luck:

Below, a photo of our Kalbi that we ate with the noodles:

Above, we just ate the meat with the scallion salad and sesame oil dippy. Rice and lettuce leaves were extra and with the noodles who needed them anyway?

Below, select photos of our panchan:

Above, the fermented cabbage in jalapeno water. This was so refreshing! It’s pretty spicy but it also came with a whole bunch of ice cubes in the bowl – perfect for a hot summer day.

The Corner Place
2819 W. James M. Wood St.
Los Angeles, CA 90006

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