PROFILE: L.A. Lunche’r “Thomas”

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 Thomas, a cook who seems to know a ton of spots in Koreatown.

Name: Thomas

Age: 31!?

Occupation: Cook

Where in L.A. do you Work?: Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Pasadena

Favorite Kind of Food: Comfort food, done simple and done right.

Least Favorite Kind of Food: Anything that’s a “trend” just for trends’ sake. Offals (not that I don’t enjoy a crispy pig’s ear, buche or chicken gizzards now and again). Trendy burgers that cost 15 dollars. Portions that I can fit inside a matchbook.

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch: Koreatown – Um Ma Jeep (that’s about as phonetic as I can get) 3126 W. 8th in a small strip. They have killer soups, particularly Sul Lung Tang which is many a Koreans’ remedy after a hard night of looking at the bottom of bottles. The soup is a restorative, made from a rich broth made from long simmered beef and bones, buckwheat noodles, slices of beef and tripe with a fistful of green onions. When I first started coming here back 10+ years ago the price for a bowl was $1.99! With the economy being what it is, the price is now $3.99 but still a great deal. Not to mention you can show up anytime since they don’t seem to have locks on the door. 24-7 real deal. Another spot is Mandarin House (3074 W. 8th), a Korean version of Chinese food. Noodles in Black Bean Sauce (jah – jang meun) is cheap and good. I walked out of there with a large order of Jah Jang Meun and Orange Chicken with all the accoutrement (rice, kimchi, soup, etc.) for a steal at $10 bucks and change. Chin Go Gae (3063 W. 8th St.) was a little hole in the wall for Koreans looking to score some Black Goat. It’s becoming more open to eaters looking to be more adventurous. Their black goat stew is another soup that does a body well after waking up a bit hangin’. The stew comes with all of the extra dishes normal of Korean joints. Kimchi and such. The stew is chock full of chile, garlic and perilla seeds. Strong flavored and filling. Although its 15 dollars a pop its enough for 2, so spilt the bowl and the bill and you can walk out of there less $7 bucks and change.

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? Pasadena – Rick’s in Pasadena (680 E. Walnut) for a burger and hard shell taco. Yahira’s (698 E. Colorado) for their burritos, Europane (950 E. Colorado) for the egg salad sandwich on toasted brioche with arugala.

The farthest place you’ll drive for lunch on a normal day? Farthest I’d drive is to Culver City (15+ miles) for a Father’s Office burger and a side of Harissa mixed olives, sweet potato fries (only on Friday – Sunday). Walking would be Delancey’s Hollywood (4 miles) for the Bleecker or Mercer pizza and the fried artichokes with oranges.

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Hong Kong. Street food orgy. Period.

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers in L.A.? Is Kogi tacos really worth waiting 2 hours?

*Sigh*  Nothing is worth waiting 2 hours for… but Kogi at the Alibi Room is some of the best cheap “bar food” I’ve ever had.  (Sorry, I’m kind of a fan!)  Got a recommendation for Justin? Put it in the comments, and as always if you would like to be next week’s Profiled: L.A. Lunch’er (or know somebody you’d like to nominate), email me-


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