November 2018 Weekend Rundown

We were at Aburiya Raku last Saturday. This place never fails to impress. Did they still have the Iberico pork on the Specials board?

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They did have it! Should have gotten it.

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:heart_eyes::heart_eyes::heart_eyes:

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Hi @bulavinaka,

Nice! You should post your dinner thoughts / report back when you can (either here or in the Raku thread). :wink: And yes, the last 3 times we went recently they still had Iberico Pork on the Specials board.

B.S. Taqueria

Chef ray garcia’s churros are like sugary, ethereal angel poops from heaven.
:angel:
:poop:

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Kimukatsu


Now that Kimukatsu has been open for a few years, it feels like it’s been set on auto-pilot and the staff is there just to earn a paycheck. The last 2 times we went to Kimukatsu (mainly because it was close and convenient) really underlined that feeling, with what looked like local college kids just going through the motions of keeping the place operating (barely).

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Takoyaki:

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These were barely crisped and rather wet in the middle. The best version of Takoyaki locally is still at E.A.K. Ramen despite its kitchen staff problems with Ramen. Their Takoyaki has still been excellent surprisingly.

Agedashi Tofu:

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Soggy battered exterior, basic dashi saucing. It’s passable if you’re craving Agedashi Tofu but didn’t want to go anywhere else.

Kimukatsu Signature Set - Original Tonkatsu:

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The main reason to go to Kimukatsu (originally back in the day and in Japan) was for their “Mille-feuille”-like 25 layers of thinly sliced Pork(!), stacked together and then breaded and fried in a classic Japanese Tonkatsu (Fried Pork Cutlet) style.

One of our friends from Japan lamented how this Sawtelle location is so much worse than the Kimukatsu branches she’s tried in Japan (and confirmed by @J_L).

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On this visit, the layered Tonkatsu is OK, not as juicy nor well executed as when they first opened up, and nowhere near as good as Kagura. It’s also slightly oilier than we remembered it. :frowning: But it’s their best Tonkatsu on the menu.

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We appreciate the choice for Brown Rice. :slight_smile:

Another visit:

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Cabbage Salad:

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Pork Loin Katsu:

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In a perfect example of how bad the restaurant has become, our server didn’t bother asking us if we preferred White Rice or Brown Rice (which is the one basic choice with these sets). Then when we did ask for the Brown Rice (realizing he never asked us), he said OK, and disappeared (we assumed he entered it in the order).

When the set arrived (pictured above), it was clearly White Rice. We mentioned this to the server, who then simply said, “Oops. Uh, let me ask them to switch it for you.” Only to come back about 5 minutes later (we were one of 2 tables seated in the restaurant - it was ~90% empty and slow), with our food getting cold, and he said, “Uh, it’ll take another 10 - 15 minutes to heat up some Brown Rice. Is that OK?” :expressionless: :rage: :roll_eyes: (We declined.)

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The batter looked nice on the outside, but this standard Pork Loin Tonkatsu turned out to be one of the driest overcooked Pork Cutlets we’ve had in years. :cry: I can’t remember the last time I had Tonkatsu this bad; it was terrible. :frowning:

Ebisu Ramen (Our Signature Ramen, Pork and Chicken Broth):

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We remembered @J_L mentioning that Kimukatsu actually had an underrated Ramen offering, so we decided to try it.

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Taking a sip: Wow. @J_L was right! There’s a surprisingly good Ramen Broth, a mixture of Tonkotsu (Pork Bone) and Chicken. It’s bold, thick, has a noticeable porky funk and probably puts most of the average local Ramen-yas to shame. Thanks @J_L. :slight_smile:

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Their Pork Chashu tasted old, however, like it was made in batches from earlier in the week, refrigerated and thrown in when needed.

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The Egg was overcooked (from the Aji Tama / half-boiled style).

But ultimately, that Broth made it a surprisingly tasty underrated version that we had no idea was worth ordering at first.

At this point Kimukatsu just feels like it’s a place going through the motions. Whether it’s the staff (never refilling any of our drinks, forgetting to ask us for basic options or forgetting about some requests), to the execution of the dishes like the terrible Pork Loin Katsu or their appetizers, it’s not a place we feel like going back to, even though it’s so close. (Also interestingly, Kimukatsu Japan’s website doesn’t even list the U.S. Sawtelle branch anymore.)

Especially in light of the excellence that is Kagura’s Fried Cutlet offerings, we’d rather just drive further to enjoy a much better experience.

Kimukatsu (Sawtelle)
2121 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tel: (310) 477-1129

Apotheke

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We remembered an Eater LA news blurb mentioning a famous New York mixologist team opening up a branch of Apotheke in L.A. It turned out to be right around the corner from Majordomo, so we decided to stop by and give it a try a while back.

There is no signage, but walk towards the unmarked building (pictured above) with the doorman in front and you’ve found the right place.

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Apotheke is definitely gorgeous in vibe: Dark, moody, yet warm, with little touches that make you feel like you’ve been transported back to an era of yesteryear.

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One of the charms/gimmicks of Apotheke L.A. is a Themed Bar vibe: The menu, mixologist garb, the bar and most of the Bitters & Tinctures added to the Cocktails are in the theme of an old Apothecary, with everyone dressed up in Pharmacist whites / lab coats, with test tubes displayed throughout. It’s cute and interesting.

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Their Drinks Menu is listed as a “Prescription List” with a little note:

“Our ingredients are house made daily using organic produce, herbs & botanicals.”

Glancing over the menu, many of the drinks sounded wild and maybe more like ingredients for an entree than a Cocktail? :sweat: For example:

Kale In Comparison (Quinoa Vodka, Kale, Pineapple, Ginger, Lime, Anise, Sesame Sea Salt). :open_mouth:

I settled on:

Cosmonaut (Lavender Infused Vodka, Starfruit, Ginger, Hibiscus, Lime, Ginger Beer):

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Which sounded great, but in execution, it was too tart. :frowning: It threw off the whole drink.

Land War In Asia (Vodka, Gun Powder Tea, Matcha, Pandan Leaf, Burnt Rosemary, Lime, Aqua Faba):

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This was herbal and also too tart. :cry: Neither of us finished our drinks. :frowning:

Our friend ordered:

Nuvem De Terra (Bourbon, Dark Rum, Blackberry, Acai, Ginger, Lime, Peated Scotch Mist, Golden Pea Shoots):

Which turned out to be… too piquant and unbalanced as well. :frowning:

Apotheke also featured an obnoxious DJ that was playing music a bit too loud, and the song selection ranged from up tempo EDM to weird interludes of what might best be described as “Muzak Electronica” with some verbal yapping through a mic as well. It just seemed to throw off the vibe of this place.

Visually stunning with a cute ancient Apothecary / Alchemist vibe and drinks menu, Apotheke fails at its most core calling: Actually making delicious Cocktails. All of our drinks this evening leaned too tart and piquant, unbalanced and for some of them, too herbaceous. After leaving the place, all I could think of was, “I miss Bar Maestro Julian Cox.”

Apotheke L.A.
1746 N. Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: (323) 844-0717

https://www.apothekela.com/

Jeon Ju

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We were in the mood for some great Socarrat (that Crispy Rice at the bottom of a Paella pan), probably because it is @J_L’s “white whale” here in L.A., or perhaps something many of us on FTC hope to find as well. :wink: While a great Paella might still be hard to find locally, we thought of Jeon Ju, and their Dolsot Bibimbap, which might be the next best thing, so off we went.

Complimentary Banchan:

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Their free Banchan (Small Side Dishes) selection is adequate. My favorite was probably their Stewed Eggplant.

Mul Naeng Myeon (Noodles Made with Buckwheat and Starch, Served in a Chilled Beef Broth):

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Our friend from Seoul came along with us and felt like ordering some Korean Cold Noodles as we waited. I like Naengmyeon (Korean Cold Noodles) normally so I was looking forward to this dish.

The Buckwheat Noodles were fine, a bit clumpy in parts and too chewy at times. But then taking a sip of the “Chilled Beef Broth” and something was wrong. It was sweet, fizzy and unmistakable:

  • Jeon Ju added 7-Up into their Naengmyeon! :open_mouth: :nauseated_face: :grimacing: :face_vomiting:

Why?!

I stared at my Korean friend, who looked up after slurping some Naengmyeon and taking a sip as well. Her face was priceless (the same as mine)! :laughing: :angry: She was just as puzzled as we were.

I have no idea if this is some new Korean trend or some style of Naengmyeon I don’t know about, but suffice to say it was gross and offputting. :frowning: Avoid at all costs.

Haemul Pa Jeon (Korean Pancake with Green Onion and Seafood):

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Their Pajeon (Savory Korean Pancake) was OK, with big chunks of Seafood (unfortunately including Krab (Imitation Crab)) and large chunks of Green Onions and Jalapeno Chilies. It lacked the crispy sear of great versions around town.

Namul Dolsot Bibimbap (Served Piping Hot in an Earthenware Pot, consisting of Rice and 8 Kinds of Cooked Vegetables):

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I love a good Bibimbap (a Korean Rice dish topped with a variety of ingredients and you mix it all together), but having a Dolsot Bibimbap (served in a sizzling hot earthenware pot so the Rice crisps up) is even better.

Jeon Ju’s version of Namul Dolsot Bibimbap is excellent! 8 types of Vegetables including Carrots, Bean Sprouts, Spinach, Cucumbers, Mushrooms, Napa Cabbage Kimchi, Green Onions and Radish are then mixed together in the searing hot earthenware pot, with a Fried Egg and a nice dollop of Gochujang (Red Chili Paste).

It sounds rather basic, but as we mixed the ingredients around and heard the “clink” sound as the metal spoon got stuck around the edges, it was like striking gold! :grin:

Yes! There was fantastic, perfectly crispy Rice and plenty of it around the bowl for everyone. :heart:

And despite the lack of meat, the 8 types of Vegetables, Egg, Sesame Seeds and Gochujang and seasonings made for a delicious and excellent meal! Definitely a standout (@Bookwich @TheCookie @PorkyBelly @JeetKuneBao @J_L @ipsedixit and others interested in this dish). :slight_smile:

Another Visit:

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Haemul Dolsot Bibimbap (Served Piping Hot in an Earthenware Pot, consisting of Rice, Cooked Vegetables & Seafood, Mixed with Red Chili Paste):

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Their Seafood version of the Dolsot Bibimbap was unfortunately not as good: This is because their Seafood selection ended up consisting of Krab (Imitation Crab) and small, previously frozen Shrimp. :frowning: Had it been Squid, Octopus and other Seafood selections with brighter Shrimp, this probably would’ve been incredible.

However, the base “Socarrat” (Crispy Rice) was in full effect and absolutely delicious again! :slight_smile:

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Just look at that golden brown crispy happiness! :blush:

While Jeon Ju might have only 1 dish that’s noteworthy, it is done so well it’s worth a stop if you’re in the mood for great Crispy Rice in Dolsot Bibimbap form. I still find myself thinking about the Namul Dolsot Bibimbap (Rice served in Earthenware Pot with 8 Kinds of Vegetables) which has plenty of flavor, Crispy Rice and doesn’t bog you down.

Jeon Ju
2716 W. Olympic Blvd #101
Los Angeles, CA 90006
Tel: (213) 386-5678

Meet Fresh

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We were already in Koreatown for Jeon Ju when our friend mentioned trying out a place she heard of in the San Gabriel Valley called Meet Fresh for Dessert. So off we headed, further East for Dessert.

It turned out this place was in the same plaza as Bistro Na’s (of Beijing Imperial Cuisine fame).

And even more shocking: There was a massive line (at 9:00 p.m. at night(!)) snaking out the door. I estimated it was probably at least 40+ people. Wow.

It turns out Meet Fresh offers a variety of Taiwanese Desserts, mainly based on Grass Jelly with various additional toppings like Red Beans, Mung Beans, Barley and Soft Tofu, etc.

Signature Icy Grass Jelly:

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I enjoy Grass Jelly ever since my dear friend from Taipei introduced it to me years ago in college. Their Signature Icy Grass Jelly sounded like a safe place to start.

The first bite was shockingly bland! :open_mouth: Taking another bite and making sure to mix everything together… still bland. :cry: I don’t like a lot of sugary-sweetness, but this was seriously just… flavorless.

The promised “Taro Balls” (which our order taker said they make in-house) was flavorless as well! Zero Taro flavor, it tasted like the outer doughy, chewy Mochi-like consistency found in Chinese Sesame Ball Desserts, but without any filling in it.

Our friend ordered a variation that had Red Beans and actual chunks of Taro (what gives?!) which tasted slightly better but was still bland.

I’ll leave it up to our SGV experts (@ipsedixit @strongoxman @secretasianman) and others to explain why there’s a 40+ person wait in line at 9:00 p.m. for mediocre Taiwanese Desserts. Everyone else in line looked like they were local Chinese hamsters, high school and college kids taking selfies and looking like they were having the time of their lives. Maybe we ordered wrong?

Meet Fresh
9055 E. Las Tunas Dr #100
Temple City, CA 91780
Tel: (626) 537-1715

http://www.meetfresh.us/en

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Prior to AR’s dish only Iberico I’ve tried is ham. Don’t know what AR wizards did but it was so flavorful. Definitely get it next time.

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It’s the Pavlovian “grew up eating it” syndrome.

From their perspective, they’d probably be asking why people would wait in line, or the drive-thru idling their engines, waiting for a, gasp, In N Out burger.

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Take outs from NYC Seafood Restaurant in Monterey Park

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i’ll abstain on the expert thing, but frankly i don’t understand it either. i was once engaged to a taiwanese (before i started getting into food the way i do now) and the only thing i can recall from that about food was the observation that taiwanese tend to go for more intensely flavored things in small portions and snack a lot. that may help explain the 9pm thing.

I love Jeon Ju’s bibimbap, I think it remains the one to beat in Koreatown and So Cal.

Re:7up. Not uncommon ingredient for those cold noodles and water kimchi. I think it’s used as a hack for something quick rather than letting natural flavor develop from a pear or apple. Someone correct me if I am wrong!

Yu Chun, has one of the best Mul Naengmyun in town. Also has self served hot beef broth!

There is also a spicy dry variation called Bibim Naengmyun. Myung Dong Kyoja makes a good one.

Re:Taiwanese desserts. I agree the toppings are meh and likely mass produced.

But I do like grass jelly, hot or warm with a little cream. Maybe not worth trekking back too but if you are back in the area, you can give it a try “hot”.

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A big box of chicken feet for Netflix-n-Chill!

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It was a massacre aight.

Love Jeon Ju! Try the kimchi dolsot bibimbap next time. It’s the most flavorful of the bunch imo.

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I was there Friday - meal was sensational.
First time with the Salmon and Ikura Kamameshi (is that the same as Gohan?)

I inquired and Matt and was told he will be back very soon.

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i think the difference is kamameshi is cooked in an iron pot (kama).

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hahaha I was actually there on Friday night too…Got there 9p and sat at the bar! Where were you?

Hi @JeetKuneBao,

Thanks! Good to know you also are digging Jeon Ju’s Bibimbap. :slight_smile: And yes, I loved Yu Chun when I tried it a few years ago; thanks for the reminder. :slight_smile:

For the self serve hot beef broth, do you… dip the chilled noodles into that separate bowl instead? Or drink it separately later? Thanks.

Hi @CiaoBob,

So glad you liked the Kamameshi! Isn’t so good? :slight_smile:

That is great news that Matt-san might be back (and soon)! :slight_smile:

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I just sip it. It’s a good contrast in temperature and flavor.

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