Despite how often I move, I have a bad habit of trying to do too much myself, thus getting injured in unplanned and unfortunate ways doing so. Sadly, this rule has come true once again this November…
As I was moving boxes around my narrow hallway, I kicked and then stepped on the side of a box that led to a nasty bruise on the outside of my foot, from the little toe down half way towards my ankle. Crap, totally not what I needed…as I needed to shift many of these boxes, bags, shelves, etc into a car on the street at 3am in Manhattan…
After that painful experience, you throw in a 5-hour drive to Virginia through dawn into DC morning traffic, and that foot is stiff as hell. I moved all the stuff into my temporary storage space, now utterly limping. Then I ran a bunch of errands and made my way to Dulles to get myself to Los Angeles…
The trip began quite good, with a fabulous tasting menu at my favourite restaurant in the world, Il Grano (the review is here). I thought finally, things are going my way. I even forgot about my foot…at least until the morning. It was stiff and bruised in the morning, and it was not easy to walk.
Whilst in LA one of my desires is to enjoy cuisines that are not done well in New York, and the first target is Persian. I found Jino’s Pars by accident near LAX a few years ago, and I’ve been coming back to this modest eatery nearly every trip. I had a nice big lunch the next day…
A simple but voluminous lamb koobideh was my usual there, and once again I tore into this simple treat. I love their take on it, with the meat not too flaky or wispy, juicier than many other preparations of this dish I’ve had in New York. And it’s so close to the airport…
As time went on, my foot improved, thank goodness. The bruising was down and the swelling minimal. However, this shifting in weight on that left foot exacerbated the ankle injury from my London trip (yes, it is still bad, because it healed badly)…crap on a stick indeed…
I had a few other interesting meals during this part of the LA trip, including dinner at meat-centric Chi Spacca that still left me with mixed feelings (review here), as well as at the excellent and creative Ink (review here). Please ignore the gaps in meals, as issues including time constraint, mobility and my guilty pleasure of the Ultimate Cheeseburger from Jack-In-The-Box (they don’t exist in the East Coast, so I need my fill whilst in LA)…
Then I went on a more Asian vein, with a solid lunch at Slow Fish (review here). However, it was dinner that turned out to be the impressive meal of the day. I wanted a good sushi night but without the stress of one of the “stressful” omakase places that LA is known for. So I chose the well-regarded Kiriko for my big sushi dinner.
I had told them I will be doing a sushi omakase, so they expected me. I was shocked at how slow it was — I was essentially the only person at the sushi bar the 2+ hours I was there. I know it’s a Tuesday night, but…wow… But that just means excellent pace for the fresh seafood. I was in for a treat.
It turned out to be a 25-piece tour-de-force. I was frankly more impressed by this place than some of the most raved-about sushi places in the US. To be honest, I enjoyed this meal more than my many sushi experiences at New York’s Sushi Yasuda — the cuts were larger, done equally well, and had a wider array of more unusual items. I did not take pictures of all 25, but chose 2 of the best to feature. For instance, the seered brook trout.
This was excellent, as were so many other pieces, such as the interesting take on the dungeness crab.
Just for the record, the 25 pieces were in order:
* hon-maguro (bluefin);
* akamachi (red snapper);
* wild king salmon;
* wild hamachi (yellowtail);
* aji (horse mackerel);
* kinmedai (goldeneye snapper);
* hotate (scallops) from Hokkaido;
* uni (urchin) from San Diego;
* wild meiji (baby bluefin);
* ika (squid) with uni;
* anago (saltwater eel);
* red kamasu (barracuda);
* mirugai (giant clam);
* sanma (pike mackerel) lightly smoked;
* dungeness crab with roe;
* seared o-toro;
* baby sawara (spanish mackerel);
* house-smoked sake (salmon);
* hiramasa (amberjack);
* engawa (halibut fin);
* seared brook trout;
* saba (mackerel);
* ika-geso (squid tentacles);
* ikura (salmon roe)
After this experience I wish I took pictures for all the pieces, as they were all utterly fantastic. The only one I asked for specifically was the ikura to finish, as that’s kind of a tradition for me. But there were so many stand-outs here it’s hard to rave about any of them beyond the ones I already have. But this is an awesome place, and I will certainly be back next time in LA. This was utterly fantastic! Will write a full review next time for sure, fully photographed! Awesome!!!
The next day I devoted to the crazy world of Downtown LA…there is much regeneration, but it’s still a bit chaotic at places. And the one thing it really needs? SIGNS! Tons of missing street signs and directions, utterly frustrating to drive around. But I ended up walking to a place I was told had excellent sausages. Last trip I did Seoul Sausage, which was very interesting (part of that trip is detailed here). This time I headed to Wurstküche, a popular sausage-and-beer place in downtown.
I enjoyed a beer and somehow consumed three sausages (some of the buns were abandoned, naturally). From left-to-right they are the duck & bacon with jalapeño (not bad, but hard to really get the flavours synched); the Austin Blues (a spicy multi-pepper smoked pork sausage, quite nice with the onions); and the Louisiana Hot Link (this also had a nice kick). They were good, and this is what a sausage place is all about.
I’ll always prefer a place like this or Seoul Sausage — where the focus is on the sausage — than a place like London’s popular Bubbledogs — where the focus is on the condiments that I usually wipe away (read my comments from a previous trip here) because all they do is drown out the core.
Of course from my previous post you know that later that night I had the disappointing meal and experience at the much-raved-about Bestia…best I just let that review speak for me before I get another headache… Sigh…
Before I left LA, I went to one of my favourite places for a last dinner — the awesome yakiniku Hakata Yamaya. I always love coming here for beer and awesome beef and awesome offal self-grilled. I always start with the awesome sen-mai sashimi (2nd stomach)…
Tonight the superior kalbi really stood out, intense marbling and flavour. A 5-second sear and they just melt in your mouth…mmm…
Another standout tonight was the giara (4th stomach)…
I didn’t need to write another review as this was a similar experience to my previous two reviews (#1 here, and #2 here) of Hakata Yamaya. I totally love this place. Inexpensive, friendly, fun, quick, delicious. Exactly what anyone would want, especially a meat and offal fan.
This is what I love about LA, the ability to get top-notch ethnic cuisine, whether it is amazing Italian at Il Grano or sushi at Kiriko, or Persian at Jino’s Pars or yakiniku at Hakata Yamaya. If it wasn’t for the crazy people and traffic and weather I would actually consider LA, but…it’s better to keep a distance for me. Otherwise I take it too for granted.
But my conclusion from eating in LA? The basic, true-to-character ethnic foods (Kiriko, Hakata Yamaya) trumps by far the trendy places that are so raved (Bestia, Chi Spacca) by the “foodie” community in LA. The established places (Il Grano) are more valuable as well than the many flavours-of-the-month that come and go. I don’t like the direction LA is going — it seems to be headed down the same disastrous path as NY and London, where “trendy” and PR-driven takes over from real good places.
Final note: This isn’t the end of the trip. I was off to Chicago for a few meetings, but will manage to fit 6 Michelin stars into 4 meals (2 massive tastings)…reviews forthcoming. I am still recovering now back in NYC, ready to make the final move to VA…ugh…memories of the food is all that’s keeping me going…
Second final note: With my foot injury and frequent hangovers on this trip, plus switching hotels almost on daily basis (to cut down my travel time — and risk — to dinners), I didn’t make it to the gym once. I don’t even want to guess how much weight I’ve put on this trip…it was like my Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled into one… Once this move is out of the way, it’s time to go nuts back at the gym…
5844 West Manchester Ave
Los Angeles, California
11301 Olympic Blvd
West Lost Angeles, California
800 East 3rd St
Los Angeles, California
2529 Pacific Coast Highway