Hamjibahk

If you didn’t know, I am currently trying to be an Officer in the Marine Corps. I was required to go to Officer Candidate School (OCS) prep weekend at the School of Infantry in Camp Pendleton from 4/22-4/25.

It was supposed to be a little taste of what OCS would be like. I haven’t been selected for OCS yet but I still had to go. Of the food we ate, they gave us only ten minutes to eat our Meal-Ready-to-Eat (MRE) for every meal. These MREs weren’t as bad as I was expecting. But they had that kind of cardboard-y taste and it totally sucked if you got a horrible meal. For the most part, I got some decent ones and hunger made anything taste good. But as I was eating, I couldn’t help but think to write a post about these MREs. I was thinking of how much I like to post about all the nice things I eat back home but there I was eating this military ration.

When I got back home yesterday from Camp Pendleton at around 1:00pm, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some REAL food, not food that has a three year shelf life. Though I had to pass on lunch, I went with my parents to Hamjibahk for dinner. I couldn’t be any happier to eat some samgyupsahl (pork belly)! Hamjibahk is a fairly well known place for their pork. They started out on Pico and somewhere near Crenshaw and they initially catered to the middle-aged Korean men. And it later grew and grew more popular among a more diverse group of people. So much so that a second location was created on 6th Street, the young and vibrant part of Koreatown.

The owner is usually at the Pico location but it closes on Sundays and she’s over at the 6th Street location then. Apparently, my dad frequents the Pico location and apparently the owner knows him. Nice old lady!

We ordered the black pig pork belly from Jejudo. Jejudo is quite known for their pork but because they were from Jejudo, they were frozen. It’s strange that I don’t like bacon, but I love samgyupsahl. With samgyupsahl, you need some good kimchi to go along with it. The kimchi needs to be ripe, the riper it is the better. Also important is the grill. You do not want grills with holes in the middle, the best are the ones that are huge lids. You want all that oil to trickle down the surface of the lid so you can grease up the kimchi and cook it in the oil from the pork belly. Strategically put the kimchi below the pork and the kimchi should be cooked until it is golden brown and has some burn marks. Flip it over and do the same for the other side. Kimchi that is cooked but dry because it wasn’t cooked in the oil is no good. And for kimchi, I recommend the fatter part of the cabbage, not the leafy part. You shouldn’t just dump the kimchi on there, treat it like you do the meat.

It’s hard to find a good combination of it all. At one point, Hamjibahk did not have good kimchi. That was a downer because their pork was awesome. Saebyukjip in Chapman Plaza on 6th Street had super-ripe kimchi and pretty good pork but they closed down. Kkool Dwaeji, incorrectly referred to as “Honey Pig”, was probably the spot with the best combination of the grill, pork, and kimchi after Saebyukjip closed. But now, Hamjibahk has kimchi that’s a whole lot better for the purposes of grilling so it is now my go-to spot for samgyupsahl. They have the trifecta.

But in addition to good samgyupsahl, they have amazing “Dwaeji galbi” (pork ribs). Dwaeji galbi is probably what they are most known for actually. It’s not overly sweet. The pork is great. And the portions are definitely generous. This is probably as good as it’s going to get in Koreatown.

For the pork variant of Korean BBQ, come to Hamjibahk. You really wouldn’t need to go anywhere else.

Pictures taken a while back… the kimchi wasn’t good then.  But now you don’t need to worry about that.

Hamjibahk
3407 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020
Phone: 213.365.8773

Ham Ji Park on Urbanspoon

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Taco Crawl on York Blvd.

This post is to pay homage to the folks over at York Blvd. and to Eat Drink & Be Merry. A couple of posts on “York Blvd.” and the taco post of taco posts by “Eat Drink & Be Merry” inspired me to go on a taco crawl of my own.  It took me some time to get familiar but once I had things down, I was confident about this particular crawl.  I put together what I could find from both of these blogs and what I came across was a glorious feast of tacos for about $10.

On a certain stretch of York Blvd. in the neighborhood of Highland Park, on a good day, you’ll have yourself about five taco stands and trucks to choose from.  Let the journey begin…

York Blvd. & Milwaukee

These folks used to be over on York Blvd and Ave 56 but they moved east quite a bit to where they currently set up.

There aren’t that many places that serve al pastor with pineapple but this is it.  The sweetness the pineapple goes really well with the al pastor.  And this combo goes great with their handmade tortillas.

The tripas here are not so bad and the chorizo here ain’t that bad either.  But at this particular stand, it’s all about the al pastor and pineapple on their handmade tortillas.  Dress it with onions and cilantro, squeeze some lime on it, and top it with the green salsa that kind of looks like guacamole, and you’ll have some happy taste buds.  Make sure you specifically ask for some pineapple.  And ask for the green onion as well.  It’s another great addition to the taco.  Tacos here are a dollar each.

York Blvd. & Ave. 57

It was my first time seeing this stand.  Tacos and Enchiladas.  They set up across the street from the stand with the al pastor and pineapple and the closest signal light is a block away.  You’ll need to do some crazy J-walking to get there.  Try doing that with a group of 11 people and you’ll get madness.

I didn’t try the enchiladas here though most of the people in my group did.  I didn’t want to fill up my stomach with enchiladas.  It was too early in the game to fill my stomach.  So I passed.  But it’s an interesting addition to the scene on York Blvd.

Birria de Chivo on York Blvd. & Nolden

This trailer is well known among those searching for some great birria.  Birria is goat meat for those who didn’t know.  It was getting dark so I couldn’t get a picture of the tacos.  Goat isn’t for everyone.  It leaves a heavy aftertaste, kind of like certain Mediterranean food.  If you like that, then I totally recommend it.  The chorizo here is pretty  dang awesome too.  Tacos here are a dollar each.

Pupusas on York Blvd. & Ave. 56

I have yet to get my hands dirty when it comes to Salvadorean food.  I’ve tried the pupusas here when they first began to set up towards the latter part of last year.  It was my first time trying pupusas and it seemed like the people here weren’t in business that long.  I didn’t really know what to order so somehow I ended up with a pupusa filled with beans.  I’m not big on beans.  Also, what I got was falling apart way too easily.  It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t like it as much as I did tacos.  So this time around, I decided to pass on the pupusas.  But I guess practice makes perfect.  The pupusas they were hammering out today looked quite good and literally intact.  They do take some time to make but I’m willing to give these pupusas another try the next time I’m here.  I believe the pupusas are a dollar each.

York Blvd. & Ave. 56

What I like here is the al pastor.  I feel like the al pastor itself is actually better than the taco stand with the al pastor and pineapple.  But the pineapple does a lot of great things.  Anyway, it’s not cooked on a spit here but that’s okay.  The chunks are bigger and the meat actually tastes better.  The carne asada tacos here are pretty good too.  I remember the first time I was here they had tripas.  They made some mean tripas.  But that was the only time I’ve seen them have tripas.  Tacos here are a dollar each.

Tacos La Estrella on York Blvd. & Ave. 54

It sucks that this is the only picture I’m going to give you.  But don’t worry.  On a brighter day and when I won’t be nearly as full as I was, I will give you some better pictures.  This post is a work in progress.

But fortunately, I’ve been here enough times to know what is good.  May I recommend to you the carnitas and the carne asada.  At one point, the tacos from Tacos La Estrella were my favorite.  The carnitas here is great.  The carne asada was pretty good, but I’ve had better.  However, when judging the taco as a whole package, I had to give the carne asada taco here a big nod of approval.  The tortilla was cooked perfectly where you had a bit of crisp to it.  And must I mention their salsa roja?  It wasn’t too spicy where all you feel is heat and it had enough of that smoky taste as well.  It’s perfect.  Oh yeah, and did I say the carnitas taco is great here too?  Al pastor isn’t that bad either.  Also, this is I believe one of four locations.  Tacos are $1.25 each.

El Pique on York Blvd. & Ave. 53

This truck is literally a stone’s throw away from the La Estrella truck.  And at this point of the taco crawl, I was too full to even eat anything.

I’m not too big on the tacos here, though the al pastor here is pretty good.  But what I really like here is the quesadilla.  This is the last stop on the York Blvd. taco crawl, or first if you’re coming from the opposite direction.  But assuming this is the last stop, if you’re not full at this point, though I don’t know how you wouldn’t be, a quesadilla will do the trick.  But really though, I think you should try their quesadilla outside the context of a taco crawl.  The quesadilla with carne asada here is pretty money.  They’re generous with the mozzarella cheese, but my favorite part… I really like how they grill the quesadilla so that the tortilla is nice and crisp.  And both the salsa roja and salsa verde go well with the quesadilla.

The course… It’s literally all on one street.  Before the taco stand with al pastor and pineapple moved, it was a good course to walk all the way through.  Now, you may need a little driving to do.  So after your tacos with al pastor and pineapple, drive to the birria truck.  After some birria, I suppose you could walk but the next stand is a couple of blocks away, driving isn’t a bad idea.  Once you’re on Ave 56, walking to La Estrella isn’t that bad.  But should you decide to walk the whole thing, prepare for a long walk back.

Trucks are parked throughout the day and until late night.  Stands begin to set up around 6PM and should close at around 10PM, and they’re usually there every day but on occasion, they may not set up.

For the crawl itself, bring a lot of one dollar bills.  Giving them a $20 bill is a disservice to them and if you could prepare that ahead of time, that’d be great, and you wouldn’t need to worry about them not having change.  Also, come in comfortable shoes to walk in and bring some outerwear just in case it gets cold.  Most importantly, be prepared to EAT!

This post is a work in progress.  When I can, I’m going to update with more pictures and actually have pictures of the food I’m talking about.  Stay tuned.

Milk

This is a post that is long overdue. Those who know me personally know that I absolutely love Milk. I can’t say I’m big on ice cream but the thought of ice cream from Milk gets me all giddy. If you want to put a smile across my face, all you need to say is, “Let’s go to Milk.”

I can’t really say Milk has anything special that I like. When it comes down to it, all it is is just ice cream, and I suppose baked goods, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But I don’t go to Milk for anything else other than their ice cream selection. I may venture into their baked goods occasionally, which by the way are very good, but that’s about it.

What I like so much about Milk is the simplicity of everything and how well they execute it. To me, Milk is a glorious ice cream parlor. Their flavors aren’t wild, they aren’t bold, and they aren’t innovative. But that isn’t what I look for when it comes to ice cream. Vanilla bean ice cream that’s the perfect sweetness will make me happy. Add black cherry soda for a black cherry float and you have yourself something else that’s awesome. Or a simple banana split served in an ice cold banana shaped dish. Or a simple sundae served in an ice cold bowl. Or strawberry ice cream that’s taste very strawberry-y. Or nutella ice cream with its great flavor and texture. Or the banana dulce de leche ice cream that tastes so much like banana with nuts and dulce de leche drizzled in there. I could go on and on and on but I’ll let you try it for yourself.

To not acknowledge Scoops as the preferred ice cream shop in town is being in denial. But I prefer Milk over Scoops any day. Scoops is all that Milk is not. Scoops is bold, wild, creative, and innovative. But again, that’s not what I look for in ice cream. I like it simple. Sometimes, less is more.

People are usually impressed by the fridge on the left in the picture above. I mean, they have drumsticks, ice cream bars, and macaron ice cream sandwiches. Total eye candy right there. But my favorite part of Milk is the fridge on the right side of the picture. Right when you walk in through doors, it’s to your left. It’s the fridge with the pints of ice cream that are pre-packed. You can take these home with you. Enjoying Milk at home? How could I not be happy with this?

When it comes down to it, Milk is just ice cream, good ice cream at that. It’s not a life-altering experience. But this is some good freaking ice cream.

I end with a picture of a black cherry float with Sko making a little cameo.

Also, a shout-out to H! Come closer.

Milk
7290 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone: 323.939.6455

Milk on Urbanspoon

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