Dim Sum at J. Zhou (Los Angeles, June 2022)


Here, finally, is my last restaurant report from our time in Los Angeles in June. It is of our last meal eaten out, which coincidentally bookended the beginning of our eating out on that trip quite well. As you have doubtless memorized, our first meal was at 101 Dim Sum/Dim Sum 101 in Lomita. And this last also featured dim sum, at J Zhou in Tustin. Dim sum aside, the two restaurants are quite far apart in ambience and style. You could fit several 101 Dim Sums inside J Zhou and where the small restaurant is done up in a hipper, more contemporary style, J Zhou’s decor is in a more maximalist banquet restaurant style (unlike 101 Dim Sum, J Zhou becomes a Cantonese seafood restaurant in the evenings). Their menu too is much larger than 101 Dim Sum’s and contains a lot more than just the greatest hits/standards. But did it all add up to a better meal for us? Read on. Continue reading

A Farewell to Kiriko (Los Angeles, June 2022)


My penultimate meal report from our Los Angeles trip in June is of what was probably my favourite meal of the trip, and definitely the most melancholy. Favourite because, well, sushi and particularly the lunch sushi omakase at Kiriko has always been excellent (see here and here). Melancholy because a few minutes after finishing and pledging to once again start eating regularly at Kiriko on our Los Angeles trips we discovered that they were only two weeks away from closing for good. We kicked ourselves for our years of neglect—though I should add they did not close due to lack of business; rather, due to exhaustion borne out of the stresses of the pandemic. Well, as sad as we are to see Kiriko go and to know we won’t be able to eat there again, it was a wonderful last meal. That’s something. Continue reading

Gwang Yang BBQ (Los Angeles, June 2022)


Alright: back to Los Angeles. On our trip in December we somehow managed to not eat in Koreatown, something that would have been unthinkable, and indeed downright impossible in the past when Koreatown was our home base. But in December we ate Korean food instead at the smaller Korean enclave of Garden Grove, south of Seal Beach. Those meals were good but we could resist the siren call of Koreatown only so long. The boys wanted to eat bbq and we wanted a location somewhat central’ish between us and friends in Pasadena and so it was to Koreatown we went, to Gwang Yang BBQ. Continue reading

Ambala Sweets & Snacks (Los Angeles, June 2022)


Here is a quick look at my solo Father’s Day brunch in Los Angeles in June. Why solo? Well, we’re not really into the Mother’s/Father’s Day stuff in our family in normal times—and when we’re in Los Angeles we’re really not: I’m still outranked by Jebus, you see. I did manage to wiggle out of attending my mother-in-law’s church that Sunday and—in proper Old Testament style—offering up the boys as a sacrifice, I made my way to Artesia for some chhole-bhature. My port of call was Ambala Sweets & Snacks. This was a nostalgic return to one of the OG Indian establishments of Pioneer Boulevard. Of course, like the rest of Pioneer Boulevard, it’s become much shinier than it used to be back when I used to eat there every few months in the 1990s. Continue reading

Hakata Ikkousha Ramen (Los Angeles, June 2022)


Here is a quick report on a quick meal on our Los Angeles trip in June. I’ve noted before that my mother-in-law’s move to Seal Beach a few years ago has meant a major adjustment to our Los Angeles life. We are no longer in the heart of Koreatown, no longer a short hop to Thai Town—and quite a bit further away from the San Gabriel Valley. There are, of course, compensations. These include proximity to the beautiful and numerous beaches of the South Bay; and from a food standpoint, we are now much closer to Artesia for Indian food and, above all, much closer to Torrance and Gardena for Japanese food. As a result, our Japanese food intake has risen sharply on recent trips. On our previous trip we enjoyed lunch at Jidaiya Ramen in Gardena; here now is an account of another ramen meal just a little further away on Western Ave. in Torrance. Continue reading

Noree Thai (Los Angeles, June 2022)


My Los Angeles meal reports from our trip in June have so far encompassed a dim sum meal and a sushi meal. Let’s switch cuisines again for the third and do a Thai meal. On our last trip—back in December—we’d eaten after some years at one of our favourite Thai restaurants in L.A, Luv2Eat Thai Bistro. We didn’t go back there on this occasion but we did the next best thing: we ate at Noree Thai, which is owned and run by the same chefs who own and run Luv2Eat. If, as I’ve noted before, Luv2Eat is located some distance outside Thai Town proper, Noree Thai is further out still, on Beverly just short of Fairfax. The restaurants’ menus are nonetheless still quite close to each other and it’s fair to think of Noree Thai as another location of Luv2Eat. Which is not a bad thing at all to be. Continue reading

Kanpachi (Los Angeles, June 2022)


My meal reports from our trip to Los Angeles in June began with the first of two dim sum meals. Here now is my second report, on the first of two sushi meals. In my write-up of our dinner at Sushi Takeda in the winter I’d noted that on our next trip we were unlikely to go out to another expensive sushi dinner, given the escalating prices of omakases at the high end. And we stuck to that sort of resolution on this trip. For one thing, we only went out to sushi lunches, not dinners, and for another, we only ate the set lunch omakase specials at the places we went to. The first of these places is an unheralded restaurant in Gardena, the kind that does not show up on lists of the best sushi bars in Los Angeles: Kanpachi. It was a satisfying lunch anyway. Continue reading

Dim Sum 101 (Los Angeles, June 2022)


Alright, let’s get started on the meal reports from our 9 days in Los Angeles before we headed off to Hawaii. Unlike our two weeks in Hawaii, our time in Los Angeles was very food-focused—as it always is. We are not tourists in Los Angeles: all we do is hang out with family and friends, hang out at the beach and go out to eat. And one of the three categories of food we look forward to eating the most when in Southern California is dim sum (sushi and Korean are the two others). Usually, we head to one of our favourite places in the San Gabriel Valley for dim sum but on this trip we decided to stick closer to home, which is now in Seal Beach (which is not only not Los Angeles, it is not even in LA County). We ate dim sum twice on this trip—coincidentally for both our first and last meal out—and at two different ends of the spectrum. First up, a quick meal at Dim Sum 101 in Lomita, a relatively new operation. Continue reading

Sushi Takeda (Los Angeles, December 2021)


Here finally is my last meal report from our trip to Southern California in late-December. Somewhat improbably, I have wrapped up all these reports in less than two months from the end of the trip (you can find all the others here). We had a lot of good restaurant food on this trip but this dinner, eaten on our penultimate night, may have been the true highlight. In this I suppose it follows the pattern of most of our recent trips to Los Angeles: we typically eat one expensive sushi meal as the splurge on the trip. After this trip, however, I’m not sure that this will always be the norm for us going forward. This is not because our dinner at Sushi Takeda was bad; far from it—it was in fact excellent. But the rapidly intensifying price race in the high end of the sushi market in Los Angeles makes it unlikely we’ll be able to continue to partake of it. Continue reading

Garden Grove Korean x 2: Jong Ro + GamjaTang House (Los Angeles, Dec 2021)


This is an account of our last restaurant meal in Los Angeles in December but it’s not my last meal report from the trip. That will come next weekend—a write-up of dinner at Sushi Takeda. This meal comprised Korean food picked up from two different restaurants in the Korean enclave of Garden Grove (where we went earlier for an excellent dinner at Mo Ran Gak). There were a number of things we wanted to eat: sullungtang (beef bone soup_, soondae (blood sausage), gamjatang (potato and pork neck stew) and also yeomsotang (black goat stew). Specialization being all, we decided to get the first two from Jong Ro and the latter two from GamjaTang House—both located on/off Garden Grove Boulevard. A short drive back to Seal Beach and we ate it all on my mother-in-law’s patio in the midst of late-December Southern California rain. 10/10, would do it again. Herewith, the details. Continue reading

Luv2Eat Thai Bistro, Take 3 (Los Angeles, December 2021)


The loss of Koreatown as a home base on our trips to Los Angeles—now that my mother-in-law has moved to Seal Beach—has not meant only the loss of the excellent Korean restaurants that used to be all around us—to say nothing of fantastic Korean markets. It has also meant the loss of easy access to Thai Town. Usually we’d be 20 minutes away from the main drag on Hollywood Boulevard; now we don’t really know where to go for good Thai food in the South Bay or Orange County. But we did manage one good Thai meal on this trip. On a day that promised rain we decided to take the boys to the Petersen Automotive Museum which meant we were within easy range of one of our favourite Thai restaurants, Luv2Eat Thai Bistro—which is located quite a bit west of Thai Town proper on Sunset Boulevard but is up there with the best of Thai Town in our estimation. Here’s how it went. Continue reading

Jidaiya Ramen (Los Angeles, December 2021)


With this report I come to the end of our first week of eating in Los Angeles. No, there wasn’t an entire second week of eating: only three more restaurant meals after this one. This, our seventh meal out, took us back to the scene of the first. Jidaiya Ramen is, you see, located in the same strip mall in Gardena as Shin-Sen-Gumi Yakitori. Indeed, while leaving Shin-Sen-Gumi after lunch that Monday we’d noticed people eating outside Jidaiya as well and that is a big reason why we picked it as the scene of an early lunch on our way to wander around the Manhattan Beach pier. Things didn’t go quite according to plan. Despite it being a bright, sunny day they told us they weren’t going to be setting the outside tables up as they were expecting to be too busy to be able to staff both the inside and the outside. But we’d got there right after opening and there was no one else there yet and so we decided to make a quick lunch of it indoors anyway even though they too were not checking vaccination confirmations. Continue reading

Chennai Dosa Corner (Los Angeles, December 2021)


Yesterday I reported on a brief stop at Surati Farsan Mart in Artesia to eat paani puri and chaat. After that tasty start I made my second stop: at Chennai Dosa Corner for, well, a dosa.

Chennai Dosa Corner has been open for about eight years (so the gent at the counter told me). It is now one of several South Indian specialists open on and off Pioneer Boulevard. Back in the day if you wanted a good dosa in L.A County you had to go to Udupi Palace further up Pioneer Blvd. (Well, Paru’s in Hollywood was also quite good but didn’t have quite the same ambience for the immigrant nostalgist; nor did Sunset Blvd. have a branch of the State Bank of India right at the freeway exit.) My local informants tell me that Udupi Palace is still the gold standard in Artesia, and as an immigrant nostalgist of the old school it would have been my first choice except for one problem: yes, no outdoor seating. Thus Chennai Dosa Corner just a little bit up the road. Here’s how it went. Continue reading

Surati Farsan Mart (Los Angeles, December 2021)


I noted in my review of dinner at Mo Ran Gak earlier this week that my mother-in-law’s move to Seal Beach a couple of years ago has meant the loss of Koreatown as our base of operations on our trips back to Los Angeles. But as an unfortunate bearded bloke once said, what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts. For us this has meant greater proximity to the Japanese restaurants of Gardena and Torrance. And it has also meant even greater proximity to Artesia whence is located Southern California’s premier Indian enclave. Back when I lived in Los Angeles in the 1990s and early 2000s, trips to Artesia to eat on the long drag of Pioneer Blvd. were always special—there not being very good Indian food in Los Angeles proper (a situation that is still probably true). But it was also a major pain in the ass to get there from the Westside. Now, it’s a short 15 minute drive from my mother-in-law’s door to Pioneer Blvd. And so on a day when the boys demanded burgers from In-N-Out I abandoned the family and sallied forth in search of chaat and dosas. My first port of call: Surati Farsan Mart. Continue reading

Mo Ran Gak (Los Angeles, December 2021)


When my mother-in-law first told us in 2019 that she considering moving to Seal Beach we thought this was going to be a rather dramatic shift for her. This because she was leaving Koreatown where she had been based for 30 odd years, in the embrace of what is probably the most hardcore Korean enclave outside the two Koreas. It turned out, however, that the retirement community she moved to has a large population of Korean seniors; and that just 10-15 minutes down the freeway there is another Korean enclave in Garden Grove. Now this is not news to anyone in the South Bay but back when we lived in Los Angeles—or when we visited Koreatown every year—places south of the Orange County border weren’t really on our radar. But Garden Grove has a significant Korean population too, along with major grocery stores and lots of restaurants. It’s not Koreatown but there’s enough there to not make us mourn the loss of our Irolo/James M. Wood base too much either on our trips back. For example: Mo Ran Gak. Continue reading

Shin-Sen-Gumi Yakitori (Los Angeles, December 2021)


We got back from Los Angeles about 10 days ago. Given how maniacally we ate out while there, we’ve been taking a break from eating out since we go back. We’ll probably get back on the horse next weekend. Until then I’ll be posting more meal reports from the Los Angeles trip. Unlike from trips past—where I have posted reports 6 months to a year after the meals were eaten—I’m hoping that this time I’ll be done with all of them before we get too far into February. Here now is the 4th report of the 10 meals we ate out. It is, as it happens, an account of our very first restaurant meal on the trip: at Shin-Sen-Gumi Yakitori in Gardena. Continue reading

Holbox, Again (Los Angeles, Dec 2021)


One of our favourite meals on my last visit to Los Angeles before the pandemic was at Holbox, the seafood-centered counter at Mercado La Paloma from the people who first brought us the excellent Chichen Itza. We have been plotting a return ever since, never expecting that it would take another three years. Of course, dining out on this trip was complicated. While proof of vaccination is required for dining in at restaurants in Los Angeles proper—the mandate is not really being followed elsewhere in LA County—our preference was also for dining outdoors whenever possible. Thankfully, both sets of caution were in evidence at this meal: proof of vaccination was checked stringently on entry to Mercado la Paloma to order our meal and there was excellent outdoor seating out front on a lovely, sunny day. And so, our meal. Continue reading

Sushi Nozomi II (Los Angeles, December 2021)


If dim sum is one of things we most look forward to eating in Los Angeles, so is sushi. My views on Minnesota sushi being just about as beloved as my views on Minnesota dim sum, I will say no more about that. I will instead only reiterate that it is very easy to find good sushi all over Los Angeles county—you don’t need to go to the temples of sushi in order to eat very good fish served atop very good rice. And if you’re in Torrance one of the best choices for that combination is Sushi Nozomi. I’ve previously reported on a meal eaten there six and a half years ago, a bit on the run on the way to the Long Beach Aquarium. We stopped in again on this trip—Torrance being much closer to our new base of operations in Seal Beach than to our previous in Koreatown—and this meal was even better. Herewith the details. Continue reading