May 2019 Weekend Rundown

agree to disagree / not mutually exclusive

My 2 cents. Not sure who first started using the phrase (maybe it was me…) but I was certainly an early adopter.

My use of the derogatory term was specifically directed at Japanese restaurants due to their typical restaurant business model where the chef is highly visible to diners - i.e sushi bar, yakitori-yas, ramen, udon, food court takoyaki stands etc. Kitchens of most other cuisines are typically hidden away and you can’t see the chef. except maybe the fancy-schmancy chef’s counters which is a whole other discussion (3 hr tasting menus sitting in front of the chef and pretending you’re enjoying the horrible food).

So coming back to the defense of the term bait-and-switch. New famous restaurant chain hailing from Japan opens, advertising how it’s the #1 chain in Japan of of so-and-so food and during the initial few weeks or months, diners can see the skilled imported Japanese chef whipping out the specialty. Wow it’s a step up from the usual fare and I’m totally enjoying the quality and execution with cheesy humble brags proclaiming its authenticity and how this taste like so-and-so dish from my last trip to Tokyo. Spread this like wildfire to all my acquaintances that there’s a new Japanese restaurant staffed with Japanese chefs and it’s excellent. Like dining in Japan without paying for a plane ticket.

Fast forward a few months and they completely replace the kitchen staff. Gone are the Japanese masters. Instead of the skilled udon master stretching and cutting udon masterfully, there’s now a guy who’s lazily slapping things around and doing a terrible job making noodles. More often than not, once this switchover occurs, there is a marked decline in the quality to the point it no longer merits the reason why I was initially excited to dine there. My most recent experience was at Sushi Nakazawa, I was drawn like most others to the story of the lowly assistant rising through the kitchen after slogging for 10 years mastering his skill. What do I get when I dine there? A non-Japanese chef who in Japan’s rigid high-end sushi training regiment would probably have still been relegated to scaling the fish or washing the rice… Did I get a discount? Nope. Was he skilled? Nope Was the food good? nope…

I think these specialty single item/dish restaurants (not limited to Japanese cuisine) is when the switchover is most pronounced. I think it due to a deep understanding of the cuisine ingrained growing up with it in the country of origin (or training many years), your taste buds and eyes have been trained to understand what the last 5% of the dish needs for it to be authentic. Once the local chef leaves and is replaced with a staff that’s lacks this intimate understanding - the differences are noticeable. Just like @Starchtrade 's comment about the correct consistency of takoyaki interior. Can you train the new staff to understand and execute to a comparable level? YES, no doubt in my mind but like everything else it takes time and the handoff should be gradual. But alas once there’s a 100% switchover this is very unlikely…

To me the term “bait-and-switch” is appropriate in the case of Japanese restaurants stateside.

Don’t tell me the proprietors are not aware of the reason why glass displays exist to exhibit the udon/soba etc prep. Or why sushi bars are built they way they are, it’s to highlight the chef and their skill. They “bait” us in with these skilled masters when they first open and then “switch” the staff once all the professional reviews, social media, yelp *s, food boards, word of mouth has achieved sufficient positive traction to keep the crowds flowing. Tell me I’m wrong in this assessment. And yes I do agree “shitty business planning and execution” also applies.

Sorry for my Friday rant. Bad dining week…


damn, that sucks. Glad I got in there beforehand.


Was it Nakazawa-san’s day off? Or is he no longer working there altogether?

He’s wasn’t there during my lunch. I can appreciate Jiro’s rumored chagrin at Nakazawa coasting on his rep, many wrongs observed on that day.

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The travelbug hit me all of a sudden as I was driving today.

Alas, I had no passport with me at the time, so I did the next best thing: Headed straight to Hong Kong Cafe in Monterey Park for some HK-style tea and snacks…

HK Style “Roadside” Steamed Rice Noodles ( 路邊蒸腸粉 )… No joke, this was prepared perfectly. The mouthfeel of the rice noodles, the complex sesame-peanut sauce, the flirty slipperiness of each bite as one wrests to grab the delicate noodles with chopsticks - Just the right thing for a HK-style mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

HK Style Milk Tea ( 港式奶茶 )… Not overly sweet (condensed milk can be added by the customer to adjust sweetness levels), this warm serving of tea is a reminder of HK’s British colonial past.

HK Style Pineapple Bun with Butter ( 香軟菠蘿油 )… Denser than its Taiwanese cousin, heated up, and stuffed with a generous pat of butter while hot, this pastry accentuated the HK milk tea beautifully!

Total tab before tip: $9.50. Lovely service to boot.


Best in the city.

Introduced my coworkers to the great hood food at Marisco Jalisco and The Manufactory. The coconut cream tart is fantastic…great sturdy crust, a light layer of caramel, and a coconut whipped cream that’s light as feather.


I know. Shame on me for going to an AYCE.

Shiki Seafood Buffet in Temple City

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For an AYCE, Shiki isn’t bad.

LA Times Food Bowl BBQ at Grand Park. Loved the APL Beef Ribs. Long lines but worth it


Holbox - another torta de camarone

Mixed the inferno white salsa with the smokey deep red one.

Naturally I bang banged with Chichen Itza

Potato salad

Chicharron tacos

Crispy tamale


Spicy triple HiHo - perfectly cooked and juicy AF as usual

Perfectly cooked burger.

Really nice cheesecake, love the graham cracker crust

Little Sister

Papaya fuckin salad

Pea shoots with pork belly, good

Pho bahn cuon with beef and tendon

‘tom rang thit ba chi’ carmelized prawns with pork spare rib and lardons in clay pot

Lemongrass chicken

Steamed black cod - excellent

Harry’s Berries


How does that compare to a double double from In N Out?

I really enjoy the spicy HiHo burger but it is $12.50 compared to a double double @ $3.45.

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I meant more in size. Is the double double at Hiho around the same size as the double double from In N Out?

Oh, a double @ HiHo is 1/3 lb and a triple is 1/2 lb vs a double double at 1/4 lb.

I think in terms of overall food, a double HiHo and a double double are about the same. But HiHo has more meat and less condiments. HiHo also is way more juicy and the meat has great texture. I go triple cuz I am not a fan of their fries, and their desserts are pretty great, especially the key lime pie and cheesecake.


Thanks. I still haven’t made it to HiHo. It’s on my list but my kids love the damn Shake Shack. I’ll have to trick them one day.

LA Magazine Burgers & Bourbon Event at The Bloc… Belcampo Lamb burger was amazing…


Tacos Don Goyo (Downey)
Gotta love tiny joints that make their own tortillas. I am a sucker for crispy, griddled cheese so picking the quesataco option was a no brainer. They have a proper trompo for their al pastor and there are pieces of perfectly ripe pineapple to top the taco…I adore that some of the al pastor was dried out and crispy. I was most particularly impressed with the al pastor and the lengua taco…lengua was braised and reminded me of a good cabeza. The asada was a bust…dry, needed seasoning, but had a nice smokey flavor…but I’ve grown accustomed to mesquite-grilled asada now. All-in-all it was a good lunch for about $7. Would have been cheaper if I had just stuck to queso-less tacos. They also do quesadillas, mulitas, and fries. The loaded fries being the most expensive item at $7.50.

Edited to reflect L.A. Taco article from October 2018. Saw it reposted on Twitter today.