Archive for February 2010

Lunch Links (The “Dim Sum Truck Sneak Peek” Edition)


Photo courtesy of Gas•tron•o•my Blog

Last Day For Crispy Tofu Balls

Just a friendly reminder to all our Downtown lunchers… today is the last day for Crispy Tofu Balls at Starry Kitchen (until they bring them back by popular demand of course.) Sweet… delicious… crispy… fried… green… tofu balls… I would eat you in a wrap, I would eat you as a snack, I would eat you in a tree, I would eat you in banh mi…

Quenching a Westside Taco Craving: Tacomiendo vs. Pepes vs. Carniceria Sanchez

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There are some who will claim there is good Mexican food to be had in Manhattan, but after 5 years there (and two weeks here) I can honestly say those people are mistaken.  I’m not saying it’s impossible to find… in Midtown, for example, you can get decent stuff at the El Rey del Sabor cart, and over on 10th Ave. in Hell’s Kitchen there are a few great dives for sopes, tacos, and mole.  (There are no good burritos, but that’s a different matter altogether.)  It’s like the equivalent of pizza in L.A.  You can make a convincing argument for a few places here and there… but overall, you’re not going to find too many good slices of New York pizza in L.A. and you’re not going to find too much good Mexican food in NYC.

I guess what I’m saying is this week I was craving some tacos! The Glutster treated us to his favorite taco spots in the latest issue of Saveur, and then of course there is the Taco Task Force… but I was looking for something a little closer to home.  For me that’s Culver City, and when most people say tacos and Culver City they’re usually talking about Tito’s (which was just named one of The Guru’s 99 things in L.A. to eat before you die).   There is something to be said for Tito’s fried crunchy goodness, but I don’t really like to be limited to ground beef, and I was looking for something a little more authentic softer (in the tortilla category.)

Thankfully, just west on Culver there are 3 places serving just what I was looking for… and after a few weeks of doing Midtown Lunch: L.A. I feel like I haven’t fulfilled my cliche blog post quota this month.  So, without further ado, it’s TACO CRAWL TIME!

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My “To Eat” List Keeps Getting Longer and Longer

If a measure of a city’s food is the length of their citizen’s “To Eat” lists Los Angeles could be top 5 in the world. It’s bad enough that Saveur released their gorgeous ode to L.A. eating the very month I moved here… add to that all the recommendations, the emails, comments, in the forums, suggestions from friends, and of course all the great food blogs. And now this: Jonathan’s Gold’s 99 Things to Eat in L.A. Before You Die!?! My lord, you people are killing me. (And yet it be a crime if I didn’t say this… keep ‘em coming.)

Starry Kitchen is a (Now Legal) Downtown Godsend. Just Make Sure You Go By Friday!

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I’ve only been in L.A. a few weeks, so I never got a chance to try the now infamous Starry Kitchen.  But it sounds right up my alley!  An underground, take out, Asian food dinner spot being run by a couple out of their North Hollywood apartment? Amazing.  Sadly (but not surprisingly) it was closed down by the Department of Health after a 9 month run, but has resurfaced as a legal lunch’ing option Downtown in the “watercourt” at California Plaza (on Grand btw. 3+4th.)

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Unlike the apartment “supper club”, which only served one dish a night, the new lunch spot offers a slightly larger menu of options.  Admittedly, the “Asian Fusion” menu will make some purists cringe- and eating at a generic looking lunch place in a Downtown food court is not exactly as exciting as eating out of somebody’s illegally run apartment restaurant.  But if you work near the watercourt, and the thought of choosing between Mixt Greens or Salads 2000 one…more…time  makes you want throw up in your own mouth, you should be super excited about the arrival of Starry Kitchen.

This week’s menu, and a look at the food is after the jump…

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PROFILE: L.A. Lunch’er “Nina”

As is customary on Midtown Lunch, every Tuesday we’ll profile a random reader to get their recommendations for the best spots to lunch near their work. This week it’s Nina, a web developer looking for some good downtown Thai food.

Name: Nina

Age: 25

Occupation: Web Developer

Where in L.A. do you Work?: Civic Center, Downtown

Favorite Kind of Food: Practically everything. Breads & pastries, seafood, fatty meats, leafy veggies, crunchy food, Asian food.

Least Favorite Kind of Food: Pickled food. Connective tissue (tendons & cartilage). I haven’t really taken to offal yet either.

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch: Chin Ma Ya in Little Tokyo. They’re on the 2nd floor of Weller Court and serve up a Japanese version of the Chinese dishes: tan tan mien and mapo tofu. The Tan Tan Men is a ramen noodle soup with a spicy sesame-based broth. It comes with ground pork/beef that has been marinated (it’s a little sweet for me, but I feel it complements the rest of the dish nicely) and some spinach. You can order additional toppings for your noodles. My usual order is a half-size (which is actually half the price of the regular order) of medium-spicy tan tan men with a boiled egg and enoki mushrooms. The half size is plenty filling and the price is extremely affordable for a sit-down restaurant. They also have a decent chicken karaage (Japanese fried chicken with chili-mayo dipping sauce). I’ve never actually tried the mapo tofu (their other signature dish) because I love the tan tan men so much.

Wurstkuche. I heard about this place the week they opened and have been excited to watch it grow in popularity ever since. They serve gourmet sausages, Belgian style fries (with dipping sauces!) and lots of beer. They don’t make the sausages themselves, but I won’t complain. I’ve enjoyed all the ones I’ve had. I absolutely love their Belgian fries – they’re thick cut & tossed with a coarse salt. I like the chipotle ketchup, bleu cheese walnut and bacon, chipotle aioli, and pesto mayo dipping sauces (the chipotle has a nice heat that creeps up on you after a few fries). The service is super friendly and they’re always happy to recommend you a beer. However, what really brings it all together is the atmosphere. They have a large back room where the bar is. You seat yourself at any of the rows of long wooden tables and benches. It’s a great place to hang out, relax, and drink some tasty beer with friends. I personally like the fruitier stuff like the Floris Apple Ale and the St. Louis Framboise. My friends like the Franziskaner Hefe Weisse and the Aventinus Eisbock.

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Things My Mom Would Not Be Proud Of: I was Bar Mitzvah'd, but considering how much I love pork and lobster it's no surprise that the Jewish Journal and I would completely disagree about L.A.'s food scene.  I was going to post a "From a Former New Yorker" rebuttal to their "10 Reasons Why Saveur Magazine is Wrong" article, but thankfully Grub Street did it for me!