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Daikokuya (Los Angeles, CA) – A Party of One

March 25, 2010

Most people don’t like eating alone. I’m one of them.

As much as I try to avoid it, I find myself eating alone more often than I’d like to admit. Not only do I eat alone, 90% of the time I forget to bring a book and end up sitting around watching everyone around me chow down while I sit……at a table…doing nothing…by myself. (Yeaaaaah. Sounds lame, I know. I promise you – I have friends! And social skills!)

That said, there are a very small handful of places where I will willingly eat alone as the happiness I get from that meal exceeds any discomfort of being a party of one. Of that very small handful of places, there is only one restaurant that I will willingly wait an hour – BY MYSELF – for a meal that will only take half of that time to consume.


I’ve come to realize Daikokuya doesn’t care if you’re a party of one or four – you’re going to be seated based on where your name falls on THE LIST (i.e. their wait list, which is secured on a clipboard and sits on a lone chair smack in the middle of their front entrance). See that empty space by the counter, perfect for me, myself and I? Unless you’re next on the list, it’s going to stay empty until the couple next to it leaves, when it will be then used for a party of three instead.

For me, no matter how long I find myself waiting, Daikokuya is worth the wait. The dressing on their cabbage starter salad is simply addicting. Its rich, milky tonkotsu broth washes away the troubles of the day with each warm sip. The noodles are just to my liking – not too soft, cooked just enough so it doesn’t feel like they were tossed into the bowl as an afterthought.

I can go no matter if I’m having a good day or a bad one, whether I’m with friends or by myself – it always hits the spot.

(Read my original review on Yelp.)

327 E 1st St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 626-1680
Twitter: @daikokuyaramen

Daikokuya on Urbanspoon

Max Brenner (Manhattan, NY) / Syrup Desserts (Los Angeles, CA) – East vs. West Waffles

January 30, 2010

When I went to NYC in December, I had the opportunity of going to a wondrous place called “Max Brenner”. Walking through the doors was like walking through a curtain of chocolate – you were immediately greeted with the smell of it and its warm embrace. I remember loving Max Brenner’s carefree, sugar-loving establishment and wishing that something like this existed in LA.

Little did I know, there already was.

Stumbling upon Syrup Desserts was like walking into LA’s adult version of Max Brenner. Not quite Candyland, this was the more sophisticated version for those who enjoyed a good french press with their sugary delights. You may not drown in chocolate at Syrup Desserts, but you can definitely appease your sweet tooth here.

Now comes the question: Which one is better? I can’t say for certain, but I do know this: They both make a mean berry waffle.

Max Brenner

“It’s so simple. All you have to do is just really love chocolate!”

If Max Brenner were the Willy Wonka of NYC, I would be the girl who got stuck in a tube because I was drinking too much chocolate out of the river. (Yes, the short little rotund one.)

Max Brenner is just a happy-go-lucky kind of place. Open until 2AM, it’s perfect for a midnight snack or, in my case, a warm cup of hot chocolate on a cold New York night. They’ve got half a dozen varieties of hot chocolate on their menu, each made with your choice of either dark, milk or white chocolate. I personally recommend the dark Mexican hot chocolate – the spiciness in that cup kicked the cold right out of me!

After hungrily eyeing the neighboring table’s Tutti Frutti waffles for five minutes straight, I figured I should order a plate of my own. The waffles themselves were a bit dry but the mountains of strawberries compensated for it. The berries were ripe and sweet and had just a hint of citrus to punch things up a bit. The vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup were eaten separately – There was no need to load that waffle up any more than it already was, it was great as is.

Max Brenner
841 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

Max Brenner, Chocolate By the Bald Man on Urbanspoon

Max Brenner in New York

Syrup Desserts

If parking downtown wasn’t such a pain, you’d find me at Syrup Desserts every weekend, fork full of waffle in one hand, coffee in the other and a lonely laptop sitting in front of me. (Hey, I only have two hands!) Any establishment that serves both LAMill and Intelligencia coffee already gets an “A” in my book. Add some of the best waffles I’ve had in recent memory and you’ve earned yourself that extra plus.

Syrup Desserts serves three types of waffles: buttermilk waffles, Belgian waffles and liege waffles. Again, with the help of Wikipedia, I shall define my food. Liege waffles are:

“a richer, denser, sweeter, and chewier waffle. Invented by the chef of the prince-bishop of Liège in the 18th century as an adaptation of brioche bread dough, it features chunks of pearl sugar, which caramelizes on the outside of the waffle when baked.”

In other words, it’s pure deliciousness.

(Side tangent: My food photo skills are slowly getting better! YAY!)

As mentioned, the waffles are noticeably chewier than your typical Belgian waffle but I personally like the consistency. I was surprised to find blueberries baked inside my waffle; they were a welcome addition and didn’t soggy the waffle at all.

As for the accompanying blackberry jasmine ice cream, I could eat vats of the stuff. Although my dining companion Austin thought they had overseeped the blackberry jasmine tea, I loved the bold blackberry flavor and the heavy tea aftertaste.

I can already tell Syrup Desserts is soon going to be one of my regular late night stops. The last time I was there, I noticed they have a Mexican hot chocolate on their menu too – if it’s as good as Max Brenner’s, I’ll never leave.

Syrup Desserts
611 S Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 488-5136
Twitter: @syrupdesserts

Syrup Desserts on Urbanspoon

Syrup Desserts in Los Angeles