Archive for June 2010

Kalbi Burger is Like the Korean Umami (or is it the Korean Counter?)


If given the choice between “authenticity” (whatever the hell that means) and “fusion” I will choose the former every time.  Ethnic food that’s been watered down, or muddled, by the inclusion of some other cuisine is not my idea of a good time, and yet every once in awhile something “fusion-y” comes along that is too perfect to be mad at (and for some reason it seems to often involve Korean food.)  Korean fried chicken is possibly the greatest invention of all time, Kogi started a food truck revolution, and now there is this: the newly opened Kalbi Burger, in Koreatown (which I first read about on LA Taco.)

Korean burgers are not exactly a new idea.  Kogi serves Korean sliders on their truck, there’s a Bulgogi Whopper available overseas, and hell- even this fat white guy thought to throw some bulgogi marinade into his burgers for a Superbowl Party in 2001 (a no-brainer combo that was probably tried long before, and has been tried many times since.)  But there’s something about Kalbi Burger that got me all excited.  Maybe it was the Umami Burger looking orange and black sign.  Or the fact that it’s not from a truck (there is something to be said about the permanence of a brick and mortar restaurant.)  But either way, I was intrigued enough to head over there yesterday and eat my through most of the menu.

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Free Iced Coffee Alert: Today (6/29) from 4-7pm, you can get a free 12oz iced americano, iced coffee, or iced tea from participating Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf locations in Los Angeles.  Freeloaders... engage.  [via Grub Street]

PROFILE: L.A. Lunch’er “Evan”

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 Evan, a grant analyst who works in Westwood Village- but has never lunched in the area just south of Wilshire! We need to break him of that…

Name: Evan

Age: Soon to be 31

Occupation: Grant analyst

Where in L.A. do you Work?: UCLA (but office is in Westwood Village)

Favorite Kind of Food: Mexican

Least Favorite Kind of Food: Most kinds of shellfish. I was vegetarian for over two years in my early 20s, and though I’ll eat all kinds of meat now, the texture of shrimp puts me off, and I don’t find lobster and crab to be worth the price (or the effort).

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch: Westwood isn’t a great lunch mecca, but there are some old reliables. It never gets mentioned among the best pizza places in LA, but I love LaMonica’s (1066 Gayley Ave, Westwood), and they have a Monday-Thursday deal for two slices of cheese pizza and a drink for $4.25. I found Isaac Toast (10887 Weyburn Avenue, Westwood) thanks to this site, and I’ve been there a few times and liked it, though I think the sweet sauce kind of overpowers everything else in the sandwich. I think the basic falafel sandwich at Falafel King (1059 Broxton Ave, Westwood) is one of the best deals in the area (around $5), and Sak’s Teriyaki (1121 Glendon Ave, Westwood) is pretty decent Japanese/Chinese hole-in-the-wall. It’s a bit expensive, but I also like Iso Fusion Cafe (1108 Gayley Ave, Westwood). They have a good sweet barbecue beef salad, and you get a lot of food. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I don’t venture south of Wilshire all that often, and I haven’t tried the lamb tongue sandwich from Attari yet (1388 Westwood Blvd, Westwood), and I haven’t been to the new Sunnin yet (1779 Westwood Blvd, Westwood).

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Izakaya Fu Ga’s Lunch Might Not Be Traditional, But It’s a Deal


What’s there not to love about a proper Izakaya?  Copious amounts of beer, sake and shochu to wash down plates of yakitori (chicken on a stick), karrage (fried chicken), and other assorted Japanese dishes that are too big to be considered snacks, but too small to be considered entrees.  And the best part is, they don’t rush you… so you can spend hours and hours eating and drinking, drinking more and eating more.  In other words it’s more of an after work thing, which is why most traditional izakaya don’t even open until after 5pm- although here in L.A. it seems like that word might be used more for hipness, than to describe their bar/restaurant accurately.

So when I first read about the lunch menu at Izakaya Fu Ga, a new “Izakaya” that opened recently in Little Tokyo, I had mixed emotions.  If they’re open for lunch, they couldn’t possibly be a truly traditional izakaya- right?  On the other hand, their lunch specials looked kind of awesome… and they were all around $10.  “Authenticity” (whatever the hell that means) be damned! I had to check it out.

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Lunch Links (The “Kalbi Burger Looks Gooooood” Edition)

Photo courtesy of Galo Eating

  • KOREATOWN Hello new Korean hamburger spot! [Galo Eating via LA Taco]
  • WEHO Petrossian looks good for a birthday lunch splurge [NomsNotBombs]
  • BEVERLY HILLS Japanese crepes and free Wi-Fi? Yes please! [Gourmet Pigs]
  • PALMS More on the new branch of Scoops, opening this fall [FoodGPS]
  • SANTA MONICA MTV is getting a fancy banh mi spot on Monday [Grub Street]
  • WESTWOOD Soleil has added 10  “designer” poutines to their menu [Eater]
  • WEST L.A. Don’t go to Jin Jiang. It’s terrible. [Squid Ink]
  • MOBILE Another look at the ESPN World Cup Truck [Street Gourmet LA]
  • MOBILE/MID WILSHIRE Are brick and mortar business owners taking the food truck parking spots on Wilshire?! [LAist]

Ludo Parisian Sandwich Now Available at Gram & Papa’s

Gram & Papa's

Like many folks in Los Angeles, the first time I ever heard of Gram & Papa’s was when Chef Ludo Lefebvre announced he would be bringing his pop up restaurant sensation there this past April.  But for people who work in the Fashion District, and don’t mind spending $10 on a sandwich, Gram & Papa’s is a decent (albeit pricey) lunchtime standby. Their chicken salad sandwich was named one of the best in the city by Los Angeles magazine last month, but Ludo was clearly the biggest thing to ever happen to this place- and even though Ludobites 4.0 dinner service ended a few weeks ago, his spirit lives on in the form of “Ludo’s Parisian”- a lunchtime special now being served at the Downtown sandwich shop.

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Paddy Rice’s Decent Vietnamese is Better Than No Vietnamese

Los Angeles - Paddy Rice

Good, cheap, Asian food is always a tough proposition for those of us who don’t work in the San Gabriel Valley. And that’s definitely true of Vietnamese food. If you work near Koreatown, you can make due. And there are a few options in Westwood and Beverly Hills. But Hollywood? Nada. Zilch. Nothing. So when Squid Ink reported that Paddy Rice had opened along Melrose, Vietnamese food fans in the area had good reason to get excited. Sure, there were some big time red flags (the most notable one being the fact that the restaurant was opened by a Korean architect and interior designer) but whatever. Everything on the menu is under $10, and if you work in the area you’re not going to care that better Vietnamese food can be had 30 minutes to the East.

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