Beverly Soon Tofu (Los Angeles, December 2017)


Here is the last of my meal reports from our trip to Los Angeles in late-December. And I’m ending with our last meal out, at one of the great institutions of Koreatown: Beverly Soon Tofu. As it’s located on Olympic Blvd. and is owned by Monica Lee, you might wonder why it’s called Beverly Soon Tofu. Well, it started out on Beverly Blvd. in 1986 before moving to the present location—well, I’m not sure when that was. And adding to the semiotic confusion of the name is the fact that their external signage proclaims their name to be Beverly Tofu House. Best not to worry about all this too much and just sit down and order a bowl of their soon tofu/soon dubu (or soft tofu stew). It’s hard to order much else as their menu is limited and very focused on variations of soon tofu.  Continue reading

Tenno Sushi (Los Angeles, December 2017)


My Twin Cities readers who are sick of my criticisms of sushi in Minnesota and my constant praise of sushi in Los Angeles will be pleased to read this review of Tenno Sushi, a restaurant in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo that is no better than the places I’ve found lacking here (though also no worse). How did we end up here despite our commitment to eating high quality sushi in Los Angeles? Well, due to the intersection of two reasons:  we needed to be at the Natural History Museum after lunch; and our older brat decided on this trip that he wanted to finally try sushi and we needed to find a place that was relatively kid-friendly. Continue reading

Hansol Noodle & Korean Food (Los Angeles, December 2017)


Back to Koreatown, Los Angeles. The night after the Oo-Kook outing with elders, we ate dinner with younger members of the missus’ extended family—two nieces and a boyfriend. They chose the restaurant and just as my nephews would in Delhi, they chose a trendy-looking restaurant in a shiny mall (the Madang Plaza at the corner of Western and 6th): Hansol Noodle & Korean Food. However, this may be the lowest-utility review I have ever posted—whether of a whisky or a restaurant. This because in the month or so between our eating there and this post, Hansol Noodle has closed. I’m going to post the review anyway, if only because I’d already resized, uploaded and captioned all the photographs. This will remain as a monument to yet another casualty of the Koreatown dining scene, where no amount of shine will keep open a place that doesn’t deliver on its food.  Continue reading

Dim Sum at Sea Harbour, Again (Los Angeles, December 2017)


Thanks to a less than indifferent meal at Yangtze in October I’ve had recent cause to once again deplore the dim sum scene in the Twin Cities. Fortunately, thanks to our recent trip to Los Angeles I’ve also been able to erase the memory of that meal courtesy a dim sum outing to one of the San Gabriel Valley’s finest: Sea Harbour. Along with Elite—or just above it, depending on who you ask—Sea Harbour remains at the top of the San Gabriel Valley dim sum scene. There have been some new challengers who’ve opened relatively recently—Longo Seafood is the latest in the San Gabriel Valley—but nothing I’ve read led me to want to go anywhere else for our one dim sum meal on our trip. And Sea Harbour rewarded my confidence: it was a very good meal.  Continue reading

Jitlada II (Los Angeles, December 2017)


Last October brought the terrible news of the passing of Chef Tui Sungkamee. Along with his sister Jazz Singsanong, Chef Sungkamee ran what has probably been the greatest Thai restaurant in the United States for the last decade. She runs the front of the house and remains the face of Jitlada; he was the unassuming presence in the kitchen whose cooking introduced so many of us to the flavours and ingredients of southern Thai cooking; and even through its intense heat, made us understand how nuanced and subtle Thai food can be. A major loss but our meal there in December—intended as a paying of respects—allows us to believe that his legacy and the restaurant will survive. It was another excellent meal and made us kick ourselves for having waited four years since our last visit to go back.  Continue reading

Shiki: Lunch Omakase (Los Angeles, December 2017)


On our last two trips to Los Angeles we’ve done a big, expensive sushi omakase at Mori. On this trip we decided not to spend most of our sushi money on one meal and instead spread it around a bit more. Accordingly, we hit up Osawa a couple of days after we arrived; the plan after that was to go back for Kiriko’s lunch omakase and then see if we could find an acceptable budget place somewhere between Koreatown and downtown. The latter plan came to a bad end—more on this in a couple of weeks—and as it happens, we didn’t end up going to Kiriko either. Instead, we ended up at Shiki in Beverly Hills. I’d read accounts of their lunch omakase that sounded quite appealing and we decided we’d give a new place a go. And we were very glad we did. In the process I also ended up with my first and probably last ever bit of restaurant breaking news: the return of one of Los Angeles’ sushi legends to the sushi bar.  Continue reading

101 Noodle Express (Los Angeles, December 2017)


It is a tradition for us—as it is for many others—to eat lunch on Christmas at a Chinese restaurant. When we’re in Minnesota on Christmas this always means lunch at Grand Szechuan. In Los Angeles, however, we have a wide range of excellent options to choose from. I’d originally thought to go to Sea Harbour for dim sum this Christmas—especially after being thwarted the previous weekend by various of the missus’ elderly aunts and uncles (we ended up at Oo-Kook instead); but then I recalled again the massive crowds we’d seen while driving past it to Chang’s Garden on Christmas a few years ago. And so we punted our Sea Harbour meal to a regular weekday and ended up instead at 101 Noodle Express in Alhambra. Thankfully, there was only a short wait. Continue reading

Oo-Kook (Los Angeles, December 2017)


As I’ve said in reports from previous trips, we don’t really plan Korean meals in L.A. We’re based in Koreatown when there and when the missus’ extended family decides to get together to go out to eat it’s usually to a Korean place, and always one of their choice. This lunch was actually supposed to be dim sum at Sea Harbour. I’d been trying to get a group >8 together so we could make a reservation and it backfired on me. We ended up being a group of 10 but mostly elders and they rebelled and said, why go to the San Gabriel Valley to eat Chinese food when we can go eat galbi-tang right here in Koreatown? If I’ve learned anything in 48 years, I’ve learned to not argue with large numbers of your partner’s older relatives with whom you don’t have a language in common. And so it was that we ended up at Oo-Kook.  Continue reading

Chichen Itza (Los Angeles, December 2017)


Chichen Itza, located in the Mercado La Paloma building in the Figueroa Corridor, right by USC and the Exposition Park museums, is one of the most celebrated Mexican restaurants in the city. This despite the fact that it’s not a restaurant per se but a counter in a food hall within a community center. It specializes in the food of the Yucatán (it is named for the Mayan city site there), which even in Los Angeles is not very widely available. A mainstay on Jonathan Gold’s annual lists of the best restaurants in the greater L.A. area, it doesn’t lack for publicity. As always with cuisines of which there are not very many exemplars available, it is hard to know to what extent enthusiasm is driven by relative uniqueness. As someone who has not been to the Yucatán (or any other part of Mexico), I can’t really evaluate this. I can tell you though that we liked the food a lot, even though it was not as revelatory as the talk had perhaps led me to expect it would be. Continue reading

Osawa (Los Angeles, December 2017)


As I’ve said a number of times before, sushi is the one thing we no longer eat in Minnesota. Rather than be disappointed (at not insignificant cost) over and over again, we save our sushi dollars and get our fill on our annual trips to Los Angeles. On the last few trips this has involved a blow out dinner at Mori (see here and here). On this trip, however, going out to dinner sans the brats turned out to be a no-no and so we’ve had to pass on Mori (they stopped opening for lunch a couple of years ago). We decided instead to turn the cost of an omakase at Mori into a few more meals at mid-tier places. This is where Osawa comes in.  Continue reading

Aburiya Raku (Los Angeles, December 2017)


One of our favourite meals on our last trip to Los Angeles was at Kinjiro in Little Tokyo. We’d planned to return on this trip as well but prices at Kinjiro have shot up dramatically since our last visit (see the comments on that review) and that dimmed our fervour. Instead, we opted to get our non-sushi heavy Japanese fix at Aburiya Raku in West Hollywood. This branch of the famed Las Vegas izakaya opened a couple of years ago and has received very strong reviews from Los Angeles foodies. Unlike Kinjiro, they’re also open for lunch. And when I saw pictures of their lunch bento box, I was sold. It turns out that you can also order things from their regular menu at lunch, and as these figure lots of grilled meat dishes, we took our boys along. And they may have liked their meal even more than we did. The younger brat keeps asking when we’re going back to “the awesome restaurant”. So there you have it: Aburiya Raku is approved by Jonathan Gold and our six year old. Here’s why.  Continue reading

Chengdu Taste III (Los Angeles, December 2017)


I’ve previously written up two meals at Chengdu Taste, the celebrated and absolutely essential Sichuan star of the San Gabriel Valley. Though I call it essential—and it is—it has somehow been two and a half years since our last visit. This is partly because it has been one and a half years since our last visit, and partly because on our last two trips we’ve docked instead at Szechuan Impression—essential in their own right. We were resolute, however, that we would return to Chengdu Taste on this trip. Annd we were there for lunch on Tuesday, less than a day after arrival. They are now a mini-empire—with three locations in the SGV and one in Las Vegas—but the original in Alhambra (which is where we always go) is no less busy for it. We got there just after noon and were given one of two empty tables. When we left at about 1.15 there were a lot of people waiting inside the door. On a Tuesday. For lunch. But the food tells you why: our third lunch was as good as our first (and that was just about a year after they’d opened). There’s been no resting on laurels here.  Continue reading

Mori Sushi (Los Angeles, July 2016)

Mori Sushi
Our first visit to Mori was almost a year ago—it was our very last meal out in 2015 and it was one of the best meals we ate all that year. It was not cheap—the most we’d spent on a sushi-centered meal so far. It was, however, an excellent meal—by far the best sushi we’d ever eaten and we knew we wanted to go back on our next trip in the summer (yes, it has taken me five months to finally finish writing up all our meals from our L.A trip in the summer). We’d planned to go back for lunch and eat slightly cheaper: we’d been told on our last visit that at lunch the omakase ran about $80 and served up 15 pieces of fish; that seemed like the sweet spot between our appetites and our wallets. Alas, right before we got to L.A. Mori stopped serving lunch. I thought briefly about going somewhere else for our anniversary meal but the missus suggested that we just bite the bullet and go back to Mori and just eat one less meal of sushi elsewhere in the trip. And so we did. It was very good again but the experience fell a bit short of our first visit. Continue reading

Ham Ji Park (Los Angeles)

Ham Ji Park: Gamjatang
I have two more London restaurant write-ups yet to come but I also have two restaurant meals from our trip to Los Angeles in July that I’ve planned to get to for a while. Here, therefore, is one of those: a quick lunch at Ham Ji Park on 6th Street in Koreatown.

Ham Ji Park has been around since they opened their first location on Pico in Arlington Heights in the late 1980s early 1990s. This 6th Street location is the second to open. As this one is in Koreatown proper, and much closer to our usual base of operations in L.A, we’ve never actually been to the original and so I can’t really compare the two—I’m told this location is more than a little shinier than the original. I can tell you though that if you eat here you will be happy. Continue reading