October 2019 Rundown

Yessir…or maam!

That place is really good!

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Nagoya hitsumabushi, from Azay (Little Tokyo)… Outstanding.


Thanks I learned something new today!


Do you like the eel plain, with condiments, or with the dashi?

And what a cool place. Japanese breakfast, bento of the day, Nagoya Hitsumabushi (might be the only place serving this), and some French classics.

Bang it up with the Hayashi Rice at Suehiro and a imagawayaki across the street. Or the Mentaiko Butter Udon at Marugame Monzo. Let the hordes wait at Daikokuya.


Much love for Suehiro.

The local play is Suehiro’s Higawari Teishoku Lunch (Special Lunch). The price has risen slowly (was $4.75 when I used to go) but steadily in recent year, but if you work in the area it is an excellent value.

I remember that Wed is assorted tempura. Another day is karaage, Another day was ginger pork. Another day was crab croquette.

They come with rice, miso soup, pickles, small salad, and hot tea and will be listed on the wall (picture from Yelp, 2015):

Somebody that has been more recently can fill in the missing details.




Niku miso itame (eggplant, minced miso pork, chili oil, stir fry) from the specials board at Izakaya Mayumi SF

Old school kappo washoku (Kiss Seafood SF), Chef Naka san originally from northern tip of Hokkaido, worked in Tokyo at legit places then did his own thing in SF. Trumpet mushroom and dried scallop chawanmushi

Japanese saba from Sushi Maru (San Jose Japantown)

$15 corkage at Din Tai Fung, found a sake pairing for XLB :sake::laughing::nerd_face:


Shanghai Dumpling House

No breakage here, these are some of the juiciest XLB’s. The skin is medium-ish thick. I’ll be back if the mood strikes. I got the Salted Egg Yolk XLB’s…hmm a play on savory mooncake??? Yup underground parking, but I parked at Focus Plaza because I need to pick some stuff at 99 Ranch.

Alices Kitchen

The milk tea was okay, I think Hong Kong Cafe does it better. The warm pineapple bun with cold butter is always a delight with the milk tea. Got the Satay Beef Noodle (egg noodle instead of the traditional instant noodle and no toast/omelette on the side).

I am a sucker for Baked Pork Chop Rice and Tomato Beef over Rice so I’ll give them a repeat visit.

Gaenali Bon Ga
More good eats on Garden Grove Blvd…

Come Friday or Saturday, your banchan comes with spicy gejang (raw marinated crab). Suck away! The nice owner brought me a second helping without asking.

I went on 2 different visits and they seem to rotate banchans. The celery banchan pictured here is killer! Never had anything like it in OC/Cerritos area/Koreatown. Koreans really know how to make celery taste good! Another good celery banchan is Soban’s. I like the thinly sliced radish as well.

The kimchi is good too not as danky funky like the soup places.

The dishes:

Seafood Pancake. The bottom is not too crisp but damn they stuff this with squid, octopus, and green onion. Good stuff. Just wish it was more crisp.

Octopus Bibimbap. The Jeonju style Bibimbap is probably the most popular non-bbq Korean dish. Always tasty but this variation of Octopus is just as good. Spicy-sweet sauce, and crispy bottom. A winner.

I’ll be back for the jorims and jigaes. I saw a few tables with a platter of noodles with squid.

Service is excellent.


Nice report @JeetKuneBao! :slight_smile: That Bibimbap looks delicious.

I love Shanghai Dumpling House as well; one of our favorites for a juicy XLB.

Upper West in Santa Monica. Fried sweet potato with chimichurri sauce. Salmon over couscous. My version of fish and chips :laughing:

Ms Chi in Culver City. I had been wanting to pay another visit after my lackluster meal shortly after their opening week. What a difference a year makes. Lots of new items on the menu. Food came out hot, not room temp like yesteryear. Standouts were the vegan dumplings and Kung Pao cauliflower with a level of heat you’d expect in the SGV. Outstanding.


Whoa, that’s not the Ms Chi I know… Gotta go back. Thanks for doing the mulligan!

Do you go often? My one visit was a few yrs ago, and I found the food and space very pretty, but the flavor was surprisingly lacking.

Ramen & Tsukemen TAO (Buena Park)
I had read about this one in last week’s LA Times weekend newsletter. Apparently, the L.A. Times also got a scoop on it in September before it opened. However, the menu is described differently in the article. A Tsujita disciple from Japan making Hokkaido-style miso ramen in a tiny strip mall in Buena Park on the border of Cypress/La Palma/Stanton. The shop used to be a ramen shop, and I think the new proprietor has spent a lot of care designing his new space. Lots of lovely modern cedar panels and counter space next to the open kitchen. The accent wall is half stone with pop-out cherry blossom topiary. The restaurant only seats 20.
We arrived on Friday evening, and forgot to use the Yelp waitlist function to put ourselves on the list. We were 9th in line with an estimate of 15 minutes, but it was more like 35. This waitlist is interesting in that they only allow you to use it if you are within a 2 mile radius of the restaurant.
I’d never had Hokkaido-style miso ramen before. The broth is both rich and earthy and light at the same time. There are two noodle options depending on the white or red miso base. Thicker noodles accompany the red miso base. There’s an option to make the ramen spicy by adding the house made Tao paste. Each bowl is topped with chashu, green onions, bean sprouts, and toasted nori squares.
They also offer a small selection of small rice bowls. A chashu, spicy tuna, and pickled mustard green bowl. The rice was perfectly cooked…each grain properly cared for…not mush at all. The spicy tuna was interesting…spicy, but spiked with umeboshi. It was a bit on the odd side, but I didn’t hate it. I’m just not entirely sure I would order it, again.

I ordered my ramen with the white miso broth, egg, vegetables, and spicy. The spicy Tao paste melts into the hot broth and it packs quite the punch. This ramen is quite lovely. The egg is perfectly seasoned and soft-boiled. The chashu is freshly roasted and very tasty. The broth is well balanced…savory, earthy from the miso, but also light at the same time. What’s super interesting was that the spice and the broth clung to the noodles so well. When I added the vegetables (blanched bean sprouts and scallions)…the vegetables didn’t pick up the broth the same way as the noodles. This ramen was leagues better than that HiroNori nonsense I had a couple of weeks ago. You can tell that a lot of care and thought has been put into each element of this bowl. This is legit ramen that should be given Michelin recognition…not that run-of-the-mill crap.

From our counter seats, you can see the all Japanese crew hustling in the kitchen speaking in hushed Japanese tones. They only spoke up to welcome folks coming in and thank patrons leaving. Front of the house was managed by a staff of 2. It was very hospitable. The only rather strange thing they do is when it’s busy, they ask if random groups of people share a table together before they can split you into your own tables…so they were asking singles to share 2-tops and doubles to 4-tops. I understand that they are worried about the ever-growing queue, but I think that would make organizing front of house operations even harder. I don’t think anyone obliged their requests. My only gripe about them playing musical chairs with FOH is that they seated my group of 2 at a 4-top and then transferred us to the counter when it became available so they could bring in a group of 4. This happened at the same time as our bowls of ramen were ready. They were so concerned about shuffling us that our piping hot bowls sat on the counter while they cleared off the counter, cleaned, and then moved us over. Time bowls of ramen were hanging out on the counter…at least 3-5 minutes. I was worried that our noodles were going to over cook…and that’s exactly what happened…my thinner bowl of noodles was a touch softer than I would have preferred.
This place is a real winner. I really enjoyed my experience here. I look forward to frequenting this place more. Between Kitakata and Ramen & Tsukemen Tao, Buena Park is lucky indeed.

Burritos La Palma (Santa Ana)
It’s tradition that whenever the chowpup plays a match nearby that we have lunch here afterwards. He’s become a big fan of their fresh tortillas and birria.
We always order the combo special with the bottled Coke. In addition to my deshebrada and birria, I tried the chicharron for the first time. I can see why the cashier doesn’t give the chicharron a resounding recommendation…for the untrained palate, the chicharron braised in a salsa verde takes on a rather gelatinous texture much like braised sea cucumbers or tendon while also being spongy like fried and braised tofu. That texture is definitely not for everyone, but I loved it! The salsa verde is bright and a just hint spicy. Though there’s a lot more liquid to this one so it oozes out of the burrito. The birria and deshebrada remain amazing. The chow pup went in for a 3 burrito combo, too. He had the birria, deshebrada, and the tinga…and then ordered himself 2 more tingas.
Coming here, we had to bring some home for the husband. He actually loves this place more than us…he’ll often want to swing by whenever we’re passing through.
We also learned some interesting things while we were in house. They purposely don’t make their house salsa spicy. It’s made exactly the way it is in Jerez. The accompanying Serrano should take care of the heat level. Salt is also available on each table to help counterbalance excessive heat…meaning you can pour salt directly onto your tongue to help if you’ve bitten off more of that Serrano than you can handle or sprinkle salt directly on to your food if it’s already covered in spicy chiles so that the salt hits and coats the palate first. Tortillas are only sold on weekends if they think they have enough to cover their service. I was lucky a while back and picked up a package on a Sunday, but haven’t seen them in the counter since. However, on weekdays, they will be more than happy to sell packages of tortillas.


I mean that egg.
This place is on my radar. I went to Santouka today but this place seems to have more options.


The egg was just perfect.
I overheard the servers mention that in addition to the toppings on the menu, they also offer corn, bamboo shoots, and a few other things.
I found myself really impressed with their spicy tao and how nicely it just blends into the broth.
That being said, this place is like In-N-Out. They make white miso ramen, red miso ramen, and tsukemen. There are rice bowls…and that’s it. I’m going to try the tsukemen next time.

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This looks wonderful @attran99! Thanks for the report back. I can’t wait to try it. :slight_smile:

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Sexy looking egg

@paranoidgarliclover Yes Upper West is in our rotation – we visit once or twice a month. Excellent service and consistent execution keep us going back. Maybe give it another try?

@J_L At Ms Chi, chef Shirley Chung was there bringing out dishes and talking with customers. I bet her presence is helping. The place was packed when we left around 8:30pm last Saturday so perhaps Ms Chi has found its stride.


Pao’s Pastries & Cafe, Van Nuys.

Without leaving Los Angeles County, you will not come across another place to satisfy your cravings for Bolivian baked goods, coffee, and some platos fuertes other than Pao’s Pastries in Van Nuys. Snuggled into the back of a building that faces busy Van Nuys Blvd on its other side, this Friar Street storefront hides away from the main thoroughfare. Despite this, Bolivians in the area all seem to know where to find it, as many came and went during the hour observed on a recent Sunday morning.

Being the most populous neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley, you can find a lot of the world in Van Nuys, from East African homes opened up as community feeding centers to evening pupusa stands and Tijuana-style taco vendors to South African sports bars and Syrian kebab shops. More on the rest of these later, but for now a little slice of the Andes and the rich tradition of Bolivia.

Pao’s is a tiny shop that packs in the most it can. Handcrafted souvenirs share precious counter space with stacks of cookies and pastries packaged to go. All the small commodities from back home that people might miss have a good chance of ending up here, whether that is a container of alfajores or fresh and hot cheese empanadas known as pukacapas.

Main courses like silpancho (not shown) invoke the cuisine of Cochabamba, well known in Bolivia for having some of the best foods and the most fertile lands in the country. For these reasons, Cochabamba’s two nicknames are “City of Eternal Spring” and “The Garden City.” Much of Bolivia is in harsh lowland-jungle regions of the north and east or high, arid altiplano (plateau) regions of the south and west. A small stretch of land in between these two is home to Cochabamba, a place with a high level of pride.

Wanting to try as much as possible for breakfast, a variety plate was put together including (from back to front) a pukacapa ($1.95), rollo de queso ($1), and two alfajores ($1 each) to add a little sweetness.

Any Bolivian feast begins with multiple salteñas ($3.15 each, below), possibly the most famous food outside the country but beloved by Bolivians just the same. The country’s version of an empanada is almost a work of art, dough wrapped carefully around a juicy meat center that must be eaten with caution to prevent a mess and the molten hot filling from burning your entire face.

The meats (the two above are chicken and beef, differentiated by a few sesame seed sprinkles) are first slow cooked and then frozen. Once wrapped with the slightly sweet shell, they are put in the oven and baked at just the right temperature and duration so that the inside melts but does not boil and cause the skin to burst.

Just as the most popular vendors back home might sell out well before noon, come here on the wrong day and you might find the restaurant out of salteñas as well.

It often is fascinating what foods do and do not catch on in the realm of popularity. Some world foods go through phases of being sought after by the wandering mobs of followers, while others remain obscure except in their communities. Salteñas have that feeling like they could someday be the “next big thing” when white people decide they are, ready to be gentrified and exploited by folks that capitalism privileges.

To enjoy them in their natural environment, baked by experts, don’t wait for this to happen and come to Pao’s in Van Nuys.


Awesome find. What pastries did you enjoy most?

Thanks for such a great review! So much thoughtful context.

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