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?

3219 Glendale Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Phone: 323.666.7133

Canelé on Urbanspoon

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

Mariscos 4 Vientos

After seeing pictures of the Shrimp Tacos on LA Taco, I knew Mariscos 4 Vientos would soon have to be crossed off my I-seriously-need-to-go-there list. I headed east on Olympic Blvd. and learned that the street suddenly ends in the Fashion District in Downtown and mysteriously starts elsewhere.  I started looking for the truck in unfamiliar territory.  Then I ended up on an intersection where I thought the truck was supposed to be at.  Great.  But I had to use the bathroom.  So I continued back on Olympic to find a supermarket or something.  Well, several blocks down, I found the brick and mortar location of Mariscos 4 Vientos with a bathroom.  Nice.  And then I had the Shrimp Taco experience at Mariscos 4 Vientos.  That was a few weeks ago.

I’ve gone a couple of times since.  I’ve never had anything quite like these tacos before and they’re great.  You have a generous amount of shrimp with some sort of mixture that’s in tortillas and then deep fried.  It’s covered in their salsa and a generous amount of avocado.  The salsa has a refreshing taste to it, kinda different from the salsas at other taquerias where they have more of an earthly taste.

But don’t stop with the Shrimp Tacos here.  Go on and try the other things that they offer.  The Tostada with Ceviche and Shrimp is pretty good too.  There’s a nice citrus flavor and may I add that they are very generous with the amount of shrimp they pile on.  And on every table there is a bag of tostadas which, I suppose, you can take as much as you please.  The Coctel de Camaron is also great.  Again, Mariscos 4 Vientos is generous with the shrimp.  The cocktail sauce has a nice sweetness to it.  The Coctel would be awesome on a hot summer day to cool you down.

This brings me to wonder… I wonder how some dining establishments are able to offer great food with generous portions at generous prices whereas other places offer great food but with not-so-generous portions at not-so generous prices.  Eh, I guess I do have some idea why: Cost of doing business, property value, supply and demand, the cost of living, etc. etc.  Well, can’t have everything your way, right?

Something that’s pretty neat is the roving bands that play here.  Live music!  With maybe a little price attached.

Mariscos 4 Vientos
3332 E. Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90023
Phone: 323.269.3605

Jun Won

I am the self-proclaimed Mr. Koreatown. In all my modesty, I like to say, I KNOW Koreatown. In all my humbleness, I know everything there is to know about Koreatown. Okay, I was joking. But I do feel I know Koreatown pretty well and I can suggest places for a handful of things. I have confidence in knowing Koreatown well enough for my needs. I suppose getting random calls from friends asking about where they can find good so-and-so helps pad my ego; too bad I can’t answer their questions all the time. But my heyday was a while ago and the dining scene in Koreatown has changed some.

With that said, I decided I wanted to go to Jun Won today. This restaurant has mostly fish dishes, good fish dishes I must say. I thought it would be my first time, but as I was approaching the place, I realized I had been there before. It was long ago when I did not like fish all too much. But some fish is good now. I wanted to come to Jun Won because on Olympic and… somewhere near Serrano, or maybe it is Serrano, this restaurant just opened a very small store where all they make is ban-chan (side dishes) and sell it. You have to have a lot of confidence if you’re a small restaurant and you are willing to pay rent in Los Angeles to just sell ban-chan, and only your ban-chan. And I have to say, their confidence is justified because I keep coming back for more, well my mom does, not me, but you get the point.

So I thought, if their ban-chan is this good, then the food this place makes must be good as well. If you’re looking for some Korean Barbeque then back off; there’s none of that unless you consider Bulgogi barbeque. Like I said before, fish.

We had the Dong-tae-jjigae (“Pollack casserole”) and the Eun-dae-gu-jorim (“Steamed cod fish”). I honestly don’t know why it’s translated into a casserole and I’m not too certain if “jorim” means steamed. I’m sure there’s another word out there for jorim but that’s not important. Casserole on the other hand, does not sit well with me. Jjigae is jjigae. It’s somewhere in between a soup and a stew, yet those aren’t good descriptions. Go eat a jjigae and you will know what a jjigae is. Damn English translations.

Anyway, the Dong-tae-jjigae is jjigae with it’s main ingredient being pollack (go figure). You can taste the fish in the jjigae and I guess you’re supposed to since it is the main ingredient. It tastes nice and it has a nice kick of spiciness to it. It is sure to clear your throat if it is in need of clearing. With most jjigaes of this type, you can taste the water and the red pepper flakes but the flavors are more distinct. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be like that but the dong-tae-jjigae here seemed to have a more unified taste. Maybe it’s just me. I usually don’t enjoy this jjigae; I eat some of the soup and that’s it. I have to say, I enjoyed it more here.

The other main dish we had was the Eun-dae-gu-jorim. Now this is a fish dish I like very much. It’s “simmered” in this marinade of which I have no idea what it’s made of. You have this cod cooked in the marinade with huge radishes. The marinade itself has some spices in it, and for the most part, is sweet. The fish itself is moist. Umm, don’t let the sauce go to waste. Make sure your portion of the fish is covered in this sauce.

I have to say, I liked it at Jun Won. It’s a small cozy place with good Korean food. Nothing fancy, but what can I say, ahjoomas make good Korean food. There is plenty of parking to find in the back but this place will not accommodate huge groups. It isn’t too big and Jun Won filled up pretty fast. I believe they close from 3:00pm to 5:30pm. Other than that, I do not know their hours. It’s on 8th Street in between Catalina and Berendo. It’s easy to miss and I guess the sign being in Korean does not help my non-Korean readers. It’s on the south end of 8th Street and the parking lot is on the Southwest corner of 8th Street and Berendo.

Jun Won
3100 W 8th St #101
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Phone: 213.383.8855

Jun Won on Urbanspoon

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