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Beverly Soon Tofu (Los Angeles, CA) – A Bowl of “Home”

March 19, 2013

Even though I don’t mention it often enough on this blog, I adore Korean food. I consider Korean food to be one of my favorite cuisines and soondubu, in particular, to be one of the ultimate comfort foods, just one step below home-cooked meals from the mom. It’s surprising that I feel so strongly about both seeing that I was only introduced to Korean food relatively recently (when compared to the other staples in my life). However, I have no doubt that my love stems from that first Korean meal a little more than 10 years ago…

———-

First, to preface: the parents are not “foodies” by any means. They can eat the same thing for lunch and dinner week after week and be perfectly content. They definitely don’t go out of their way for food.

However, when my extended family came in town that particular weekend and we began playing the “Where should we go for dinner?” game, they decided that we would drive almost an hour to BCDs for dinner. (At the time, they had never had Korean tofu themselves either. Since then though, they have embraced soondubu as closely as I have.)

My memory is honestly a bit blurry but what I do remember vividly is this:
Hunger in my stomach before dinner.
Relief and satisfaction upon that first bite of bubbling tofu and rice.
Warmth from being surrounded by family, now happy and full.
Peace in being exactly where I wanted to be.

That bowl of tofu was “home”.

———-

Eating soondubu at Beverly Soon Tofu transports me back to that moment.

When I was still working in public accounting, there were nights when I felt like I was going to collapse (physically, mentally, emotionally)…those were the nights I’d go to Beverly Soon Tofu.

I’d walk into that small and homey restaurant just off of Olympic and Vermont and hide myself in the corner, behind an old wood table. I always ordered the same thing: Seafood soondubu. Spicy.

The nice women working there would then bring barley water and banchan. The banchan was simple but comforting, somewhat ordinary but absolutely delicious.

Sweet potatoes.

Marinated cucumbers.

Pickled radishes.

Cold tofu.

Soon after the banchan, the soondubu would arrive, piping hot and about to bubble over the sides. With a bowl of rice in one hand and a spoon in the other, I would dig into the silky tofu filled with plump mussels and clams and tender squid and octopus. I would crunch on small shrimp and slurp the runny yolk of an egg. I would shovel banchan, tofu and rice into my mouth until my belly was full, until my body was warm…until I felt like I did after that very first bowl. Even if it was just for a split second, I was at peace and I was happy.

TL;DR: Sometimes food is more than just food. It can transport you.

Beverly Soon Tofu
2717 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(213) 380-1113

Beverly Soon Tofu House on Urbanspoon

Mariscos Jalisco (Los Angeles, CA) – Avocados, Galore!

May 9, 2012

My coworker once told me, “I love California. They put avocados on EVERYTHING.” (He must have visited Mariscos Jalisco when he was there.)

(That IS a lot of avocado.)

The ceviche tostadas are a great deal. Fresh fish, citrus juice and, obviously, tons of avocado for $2.50. The fried tortilla on the bottom gets soggy from the ceviche’s juices if you don’t eat immediately; therefore, eat it immediately.

Although the tostadas are good, the tacos de camaron (i.e. fried shrimp tacos) are THE THING to get. They’re the reason why Mariscos Jalisco tied for 1st in LA Taco’s Taco Madness 2012! Shrimp stuffed in a crispy shell, topped with salsa and more avocado. Order as many as you want; they’re only $1.75 a piece. It will get messy (seeing how the salsa is just poured on top), so be sure to grab napkins.

Mariscos Jalisco
3040 E. Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90023
(323) 528-6701
Twitter: @mariscosjalisco

Mariscos Jalisco on Urbanspoon

Echo Park (Los Angeles, CA) – LA’s Not NYC…But It’s Close

July 6, 2010

I’ve been missing Manhattan like you wouldn’t believe but seeing that it’s currently 100 degrees with over 50% humidity over there, I *think* I can deal with Los Angeles for a little while longer. Plus, ever since I found out that all my NYC firsts are also easily accessible in LA (specifically Echo Park), I’ve been trying to convince myself that I can satisfy my New York urges in LA. (It’s not a very convincing argument, but that’s another story…)

For example, the novelty of hand shaved shaved ice originally experienced at People’s Pops in Chelsea Market?

(Check it out – Shaved ice, shaved by hand!)

It may not be made from fresh, natural fruit flavors but this cup of sugary goodness may be just as good. The shaved ice man called it vanilla flavored, which basically means it tastes like liquid flan. He even topped the whole thing with condensed milk!

As for my love of Cafe Habana‘s Mexican corn?

(Picture taken by Jin N.)

Not quite as sweet as my first, but it hit the spot. Plus, that monstrous corn on a stick was only $2! (I bought it from a woman grilling corn out of a shopping cart…Oh LA, so resourceful, you are…)

Now if I can just find an LA substitute for the 53rd and 6th Halal Cart

Petrossian (Los Angeles, CA) – Pictures Are Easy When Food Looks This Good

June 20, 2010

(For my first two Petrossian reviews, refer here and here.)

I feel a little guilty writing this review because this is my third review of Petrossian. I have 30+ reviews still sitting in my backlogs (including two New York trips and now an Atlanta trip too!), waiting to be written. Is it fair to write yet another Petrossian review while so many other restaurants have been sitting for months in queue, waiting to be typed onto screen?

No, it’s not really fair, but it’s just so easy to write Petrossian reviews. The food inspires me to write and the aesthetics behind Chef Ben’s food translate from plate to picture so effortlessly.

(Picture taken by Liz of Food, She Thought.)

Unlike my previous visits to Petrossian, which were basically planned to satisfy my hunger for fine dining, this visit was for a special occasion – this meal was the one that would later be featured on ABC7’s “Food Paparazzi” segment for both local and national broadcast. (I was very excited.) Given the occasion, Linden the Gastronomnom requested a small tasting menu and, as usual, Chef Ben did not disappoint.

Course 1: Caviar Surprise with King Crab and Apple Cider Jelly

We began our meal with a glass of hibiscus champagne, with its distinct vibrant rose color, and a hearty portion of “caviar surprise”. I was happy to finally taste the surprise, which I had seen on many a food blog, and enjoyed the sweetness of the crab and apple cider jelly against the saltiness of the caviar.

Course 2: Salmon Tartare, Caviar, Quail Egg

The salmon tartare was also delicious, as tartare and caviar have been known to do. (Another example: the steak tartare and caviar referenced in my first review.) As the course was perfectly seasoned, I found myself directly putting fork into mouth, completely ignoring the toast points provided on the side.

Course 3: Crispy Egg, Cipollini Onion Soubise, Pressed Caviar

My favorite component of this dish was surprisingly not the crispy egg but instead the onion soubise. Although a soubise is defined as a bechamel based sauce, I found the consistency to be more similar to a puree or a very thick soup. The runny yolk of the egg spilled into the soubise, making it even richer than originally plated.

Course 4: Skate, Brown Butter Foam, Crushed Potatoes, Sherry Vinegar Gelatin, Capers, Croutons

My first ever taste of skate will not be my last as I’ve never had anything similar in texture; it seemed to flake away in distinct layers. (To borrow an apt description by Ruth Reichl, it has a cordoroy-like texture.) The sherry vinegar gelatin was like a punch of flavor in the face (I mean that in a good way) and, surprisingly, did not distract from the rest of the dish. A complete bite of fish and accoutrements was salty and tart and buttery all at the same time – simply delightful.

Course 5: Sweetbreads, Baby Spinach, Maitake Mushroom

Our last course is typically not found on the menu, although I wish it was. As a lover of sweetbreads, I appreciated the simplicity of the dish because the natural taste of the sweetbreads was allowed to shine.

As mentioned previously, this meal was for a special occasion and Chef Ben outdid himself with this menu. Looking back now – the caviar in excess, the flutes of champagne, the TV crew – it feels a little surreal. This is, in no way, “normal” in my life…but I could get used to it. I just have to find a camera crew to follow me around and I’ll be set!

(Note: Since I’ve had people ask: ABC7 did NOT cover any part of this meal. I don’t think they would have let us splurge on caviar and champagne if they had…)

Petrossian Paris Boutique & Cafe
321 N Robertson Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90048
(310) 271-6300
Website: http://www.petrossian.com/
Twitter: @petrossianweho

Petrossian Boutique & Cafe on Urbanspoon

McDonald’s – Killa Kali McGangBang

June 11, 2010

Before the KFC Double Down there was…the McGangBang. Two items from the McDonald’s, sandwiched within one another to create a sandwich where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. We’re talking about a McChicken inside a double cheeseburger, chicken inside beef, McDonald’s inside McDonalds. This sandwich is NOT messing around.

I first read about this monstrosity on folie à choisauce, who personally recreated the McGangBang and lived to tell the tale. She even added her mark on the sandwich by adding fries to the mix, and dubbed it the “Killa Kali” McGangBang (i.e. the KKMGB).

From the moment I read that post, I never forgot about the KKMGB…ever. It was like the thought of the KKMGB was lurking in the back of my mind, jumping out whenever a McDonald’s came into sight. Sooner or later, I had to give in.

I wish I could say that I’ve only tried the KKMGB once but, sadly, that’s not the case.
I wish I could claim I was drunk but, sadly, that’s also not the case.
(If this totally kills my credibility as a food blogger, I completely understand.)

My first time was accidental. I was working in the office and had rushed downstairs to grab a quick bite for lunch. Halfway through my meal, I realized I had all the components for a KKMGB. Did I dare? I dared.

My second time was premeditated. Somehow, during a normal conversation at work, I had convinced others to join me in trying the KKMGB. We made plans to build it the following day at lunch, with one slight adjustment: The original McGangBang was based on two items from the $1 menu, coming together to create something worth more than $2. As double cheeseburgers are now $1.19, we agreed to use a McDouble instead to keep that original spirit alive.

($3.19+tax later, I found myself with all the tools to make a KKMGB.)

With a crowd starting to form in the office lunchroom, eyeing our goods and whispering of the events to come, we built our KKMGBs and took a bite. (Yes, I actually ATE it.)

(“What does it taste like…?”)

If McDonald’s had a generic flavor, the KKMGB would taste like that. The flavor of fake chicken was dwarfed by the flavor of burger. It was a little dry and needed more ketchup, some BBQ sauce, or maybe sweet and sour sauce…SOMETHING.

Afterwards, I felt disgusted. I was completely unproductive the rest of the afternoon. We looked up the nutritional facts – 1040 calories, 47 grams of fat. I told myself I wouldn’t eat dinner that night. (Sadly, I did eat again.)

Note to self: I am NOT doing this again.

McDonald’s
330 S Hope St
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 626-0709
Website: http://www.mcdonalds.com/
Twitter: @mcdonalds

McDonald's (Wells Fargo Center) on Urbanspoon