Canelé

For most of my time at USC, I associated myself with international students from Korea.  It was part accident, part not.  A good thing about surrounding myself with the folks from Korea was that my Korean improved drastically.  It was kind of hard not to improve when these folks don’t really want to speak English and you end up having to speak Korean to them.  A bad thing about surrounding myself with the folks from Korea was that once they’re done with school, they’re going back to Korea.

L (her English is perfect) is off to Korea in due time so I figured I treat her out to a parting dinner.  I’ve noticed the international students limit themselves to only a few parts of LA.  Take S for example.  I thought I should throw something else into the mix to show that there’s just so much more to our great city of Los Angeles.  It’s so vast and there are so many things to try.  It’s a shame to have my friends from Korea study in LA but not get to really experience it.  So we ended up on deciding on Canelé in Atwater Village rather than the typical spots she’s used to.

Canelé seems to be a nice local establishment and I must say it’s a solid restaurant.  The ambience is definitely there.  But more importantly, the food is there too.  The menu is quite simple with various types of meat options to choose from.  We had the Avocado Citrus Salad to start.

It’s arugula with avocado and slices of grapefruit and oranges.  The citrus from the grapefruit and oranges went real well with the bitterness of the arugula.  It was nice to start our meal with something light.

I got the seared market fish, which was halibut today.  It comes with pea tendrils, green garlic, and saffron beurre blanc (butter).  The greens accompanied the halibut well.  But what brings everything together is the beurre blanc.  The seasoning on the halibut was a tad salty by itself, but taking the dish as a whole, it was great.

L had the clams.  Not much to say here other than she cleaned it up!  And got some extra bread to soak it into all that juice that was left.

Canelé was pretty solid.  They don’t go too crazy with the food.  It’s simple.  And I like simple.  The service there is quite friendly.  Food comes out promptly.  Really, no complaints and much praise.  And they give you a canelé on the way out.  A nice way to end the meal.

So I said my farewell to L.  But I have a feeling she’ll be back… often.  Haha, it’s the City of Angels.  How could anyone not come back?

Canelé
3219 Glendale Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Phone: 323.666.7133

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Masa

I was going off about how this one taco stand in Echo Park was pretty amazing. I had a bunch of people follow me only to find no stand. Fail. Then I said, wait, I know Tacos Arizas is next to the CVS on Sunset. Fail. Ok… how about Rodeo Grill. So we start walking towards Rodeo Grill and then I see Masa not so far away. I read about how they had Deep Dish pizzas. Wait! How about Masa? It was Valentine’s Day and the place was about to be packed with reservations and we had a 50 minute window to order and eat. No Deep Dish pizzas for us because they take 40 minutes to make, they said. So we had various bistro pizzas that were pretty darn good. But this post isn’t about their bistro pizzas. It’s about their Deep Dishes and I had to come another day.

So I came again some time later, with an even bigger group (awesome group, if I may add) from my church. It was better planned unlike last time. I called 40 minutes ahead and ordered 4 pies. The Deep Dish pizzas would be ready soon after we arrived.

It was glorious. I’ve never had a Deep Dish pizza before but it was something I’ve been wanting to try for a very long time. I’m assuming I’m in the minority, but the Chicago variant of pizza seemed a whole lot more appealing to me than the New York kind. I’m not too crazy about New York-style pizza. But that’s just me. But the Deep Dish, with the thick crust cooked in a pan, the ridiculous amount of toppings, the abundance of cheese, it all sounded good.

Masa was a good find. It has something that the rest of Los Angeles probably doesn’t have. Chicago-style pizza. But I’m going to have to say that the toppings weren’t as abundant as I imagined and it wasn’t as cheesy as I imagined. And I’m going to assume the pizzas in Chicago will blow me away. That makes Chicago a destination I need to get to. I want some pizza and steaks…

I feel like I’m stealing Masa’s thunder. In all honesty, I liked it. I liked it a lot actually. And it’s really something other places in this city doesn’t offer. Or at least I haven’t heard of any other places offering Deep Dish pizza. And being that flying all the way over to Chicago for a pizza is probably not reasonable every time you get a craving, Masa definitely isn’t a bad option. The servers are friendly. The prices are more than reasonable. Parking isn’t a problem. And a churro truck is a couple blocks away. Really though, Masa is an establishment in Los Angeles that’s worth frequenting.

Note: Deep Dish pizzas must be ordered 40 minutes ahead of time. And no earlier. It is a bit inconvenient that they don’t take orders earlier but hey, just don’t forget to call. Also, you can’t add toppings to the Chicago Pizzas that aren’t “Build Your Own.” They explain why but I still don’t understand. In that sense, they aren’t so accommodating. Everything else is great though.

There’s a metered lot on Lemoyne which is across the street from Masa.

Masa
1800 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Phone: 213.989.1558

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Chico’s

In 8th grade, my uncle and aunt took me and my best friend at the time to Las Vegas so we could watch Battle Bots live! I was so excited that I was going to see this clash of metal. My personal favorite was Overkill. So I was definitely stoked to go see that. We met up at my uncle’s house on Mt. Washington. For dinner, we went over to some small little Mexican place nearby. In this small little Mexican place I had my guacamole experience. Before, I absolutely disliked guacamole and I didn’t know why. I never wanted to try it either. And I don’t know what made me decide to try it on this particular day. But I fell in love with guacamole since.

The only problem was that I was only in 8th grade and didn’t know where anything was, nor did I remember. For eight years, I’ve been having guacamole that just wasn’t as good but helpless because I had no idea where I had this excellent guacamole. Then it all came to me after my first trip to My Taco for some potato tacos. I was heading over to My Taco and some parts looked familiar, then I saw the Mt. Washington sign and realized my uncle lives here… Passed by a supermarket which looked familiar. On my way back to USC from My Taco, I saw Chico’s. Shoot!!! Small Mexican place near the supermarket at the base of a mountain. This has got to be it. This has definitely got to be it. I was getting so excited.

I went back to USC and looked up Chico’s on yelp. I saw a picture of a table and seat and started to get even more excited. But I did have a little chance for doubt still left. The only way to get to the bottom of things was to go try their guacamole.

So I did. I went and ordered the guacamole along with a chile relleno. The guac came out and I was filled with joy. This was it. This was THAT guac. And I didn’t even taste it yet at that point. What makes Chico’s guacamole different from others, aside from it’s taste, was some white crumbly stuff that’s in it. I believe it’s cotija cheese but I could be wrong. Then I ate it with their chips. Let me tell you, I was a happy man.

It really sucked to set the guacamole at Chico’s as a standard for all other guac. Only thing that came close from the guacamole I’ve had was the one at El Cholo. As gringo as that establishment may be, they have some good guacamole. But still, I couldn’t find anything that was good as this.  The guacamole at Chico’s is of the chunky kind, the avocados aren’t completely mashed.  You can’t really taste the cotija cheese as the taste of the lime, cilantro, and onions are stronger, but again, to my eyes, it’s what made it distinct.

The guac here is great and the food here isn’t bad.  I’ve been getting the tampiquena (carne asada and enchilada) here the last couple of times and it’s good.  The chile relleno isn’t bad either.  The food is good but I don’t find myself raving about it.  It’s all about the guacamole at Chico’s.  So if you’re around Highland Park and you’re looking for some good guacamole and Mexican food that’s not bad, stop by.  Or maybe you can order chips and guacamole from here and walk over a block and a half for some bomb lobster burritos at Via-Mar.

Oh yeah, and Battle Bots… I remember that I had good time but what I took away from that trip was an appreciation for guacamole. And I guess it technically wasn’t even a trip at that point because I was still in LA.

Chico’s
100 N Ave 50
Los Angeles, CA 90042
Phone: 323.254.2445

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Malibu Seafood

Malibu. Or the ‘Bu rather. Somewhere along the coast, a couple minutes past Pepperdine, is Malibu Seafood. There really isn’t much to eat in Malibu because it seems like a predominantly residential area. But of the few eating establishments there, Malibu Seafood, along with Subway, is great.

The seafood here is fresh. So fresh that I have to spell it out, F-R-E-S-H, fresh. But I come here for the fried seafood. I mean, you put together quality ingredients and consistently fry them to as perfect as they can be, you can’t ever go wrong.

I usually get the fried shrimp and fries.  They’re cut in butterflies and covered with panko bread crumbs.  I’m always amazed at how they’re so consistent with frying their foods.  The crispiness is just right.  It’s never overcooked.  It’s never too hard.  It’s never soggy.  And the shrimp inside is cooked just right as well.  And this pretty much goes with everything else that’s fried.  And how could I forget their cocktail sauce!!  I normally don’t like cocktail sauce.  But this has got herbs and spices in them or something.  It’s perfect for the fried seafood.

Their Ahi Tuna Burger is great too.  The thing pictured above is actually the Fried Scallop Sandwich.  But aside from the Ahi Tuna Burger, I have yet to venture off from the fried foods, which is a shame really.

Everything about Malibu Seafood screams quality.  And if you’re into the whole beach view thang then you can do that here too.  Everything here is “take-out” but they do have a patio area to eat your vittles.  There are three tiers with the view.  The popular tiers are the bottom two, which I don’t really understand.  It’s closer to the coast but not that much closer.  Huge parasols are your only source of shade but you know that game you play when you’re the unlucky one that gets all the sun.  Screw that, go to the top where there’s a roof over your head, more seats, and you still have a view of the ocean.  And it’s further away from PCH, though not by much.  And you get to listen to Elton John nonstop (that was kind of supposed to be sarcastic).

Can’t find parking?  Park along PCH.  Need to head back to LA but can’t make a U-turn?  Drive a bit further until you hit the signal light and there’s a “U-turn” light.

Malibu Seafood
25653 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA 90265
Phone: 310.456.3430

Malibu Seafood on Urbanspoon

Hite Kwangjang

When I think of a Korean bar, I think of a place that’s pretty loud, not so clean, dark, and decent food. The crowd is either the ktownerz or middle-aged people drinking away. But once in a while, you’re thrown with surprises… I don’t know, maybe a family-friendly Korean bar? A clean Korean bar. A bar with mild-mannered customers. A bar with freaking great fried chicken wings in the Korean way. And they have alcohol and a bunch of tv sets as well if you’re into that kind of stuff.

I’m not much of a drinking person so I don’t frequent bars. Koreatown is famous or infamous, depends on how you look at it, for it’s night life. Yet, Mr. Koreatown right here does not know this night life. Sad, very sad. But I know a bar with great chicken wings, haha.

The chicken wings are fried to perfection. The outside is so very crisp. But be careful because these wangs are hot, temperature wise that is. It’s so hot that at first you think it’s spicy. But then you realize it isn’t and once you can get over the heat, the chicken fried perfectly dressed in that sweet sauce is amazing.  In between wings, eat the potatoes that are cooked in this sauce.  I’ve had the Korean-style fried chicken wings at a couple of other places in Koreatown, but I don’t think they come close to this.  Only place that might compare is Ogamdo on La Brea but it’s been years since I’ve been there.

I’m not sure if Labbokki is considered bar food, but here it is.  This thing was spicy.  And I can’t handle spiciness so I couldn’t quite enjoy this.  I don’t like ddukbokki in general for this very reason.  Labbokki is a mix of ddukbokki and lamyun (ramyun).  Ddukbokki is a mix of rice cakes, fish cakes, and of course gochujang (red pepper paste).  Lamyun is what most folk call ramen.

But to counter the spiciness of the labbokki was the staple of Korean bar food.  The sweet potato fries.  Thin crispy little things sprinkled generously with sugar.  You can never not order this if you’re at a Korean bar.

Hite Kwangjang
3839 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Phone: 213.384.7999

Hite Kwang-Jang on Urbanspoon

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