Archive for August 2011

Gjelina Take Away’s Meatball Sando Will Bankrupt Me


My cheap bastard-ness knows no boundaries… but I will admit something to you, provided you never mention it again.  Once, I had lunch at Gjelina.  *Cue shriek, followed by breaking glass.*  It was my cousin’s birthday, and you can’t get all cheap with birthdays, lord knows I’ve tried. (“Hey sweetheart… what do you say we go to In N Out for your birthday! There’s a free hat and stickers in it for you…”)  Plus, as much as I love Poke Poke and Lemonade, sometimes you want a nice sit down lunch in Venice.  So where else are you going to go?  Cha Cha Chicken?  Uh… thanks, but no thanks.


Long story short, the lunch was great.  So when I heard they were opening Gjelina Take Away, a breakfast and lunchtime annex, I got pretty excited.  Surely the prices would come down a little.  After all there’s no seating, unless you count milk crates in the alley alongside the restaurant.  That’s got to be worth a small discount, right!?

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PROFILE: L.A. Lunch’er “Darin”

As is customary on Midtown Lunch, every Tuesday we profile a random reader to get their recommendations for the best spots to lunch near their work. This week it’s Darin, a banker by day/food blogger by night looking for some fried chicken in DTLA.

Name: Darin

Age: 26

Occupation: Union Bank

Where in L.A. do you Work?: Downtown L.A.

Favorite Kind of Food: Asian noodles (both stir-fried and in soup) and dumplings, anything based around meat (especially beef, duck, lamb) and potatoes, fried chicken, whole-cooked fish, Italian fresh pastas

Least Favorite Kind of Food: Yogurt, vinegar, overcooked meat, stinky cheeses, salad

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch: Lately, I’ve been really into Mendocino Farms. My favorite sandwich on the menu is the banh mi but I love the “create-your-own” option. Basically, you have all of MF’s ingredients to play with and can create something unique and personal. Try getting steak with caramelized onions, fresh mozzarella, pesto, and arugula – panini grilled. So good. Cabbage Patch (520 W 6th St) is also in the regular rotation. The rotisserie half-chicken is a steal at $6 (dark-meat only, $9 for white & dark). The seasonal sides are generous and quite good at $2 each (try the Brussels sprouts and French fries). They have a pretty good burger too.

When I have a little more time, Octopus (729 W 7th St) has some solid Japanese food. A 3-item bento box is under $10 with enough food for two meals. You can choose from about a dozen items; my favorites are the sesame chicken and salmon teriyaki. The sushi is half-off during lunch… and it’s better than it sounds.

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Obligatory Summertime Lunch: Naengmyeon From Chil Bo Myun Ok


Considering how hot it has been, a lunchtime post about Chil Bo Myun Ok is pretty predictable.  When summertime hits, so do the obligatory posts about naengmyun- a Korean cold noodle dish that it’s safe to say is only really craved by Koreans who grew up eating the stuff.  And the version at Chil Bo Myun Ok is considered one of the best you can get in K-Town, so of course that’s where I ended up on Friday.  But if I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t there for the naengmyeon.  I had read somewhere that Chil Bo Myun Ok served spicy galbi jim (stewed short ribs) sauteed with rice cakes, and had hoped that by some miracle of all miracles they sold a lunchtime version of the dish for under $10.  I say “miracle of all miracles” because not only is galbi jim one of the more expensive dishes you’ll find in Koreatown, but Chil Bo Myun Ok is one of the more expensive places in K-Town- even for naengmyeon.

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Lunch Links (The “Bigger Is Always Better” Edition)

ink.sack’s cold chicken sandwich. Photo courtesy of Aaron Tell

  • WEHO A look at ink.sack’s larger sandwiches [Savory Hunter]
  • BEVERLY HILLS Venga’s lunch menu looks pretty good [EstarLA]
  • CULVER CITY Moko is being rebranded G2 with cheaper options [Grub Street]
  • CULVER CITY Newly open Savor’s has arepas [Grub Street]
  • CULVER CITY Ramen Yamadaya opens on Saturday [Grub Street]
  • DTLA Korean chain Mr. Pizza is coming to Little Tokyo [Squid Ink]
  • DTLA Your first look at Mo Chica on 7th [Food GPS]
  • DTLA Shin Sen Gumi is coming to Little Tokyo [LAT]
  • DTLA Two Boots Pizza is coming to Downtown [Eater]
  • DTLA The BLTA at Nickel Diner is great [SE]
  • HWOOD Ricky’s Fish Tacos is still the best [Dig Lounge]
  • MOBILE A Chego Truck is still possible! [Eater]

7 Reasons to Hate L.A. (Lunching, That Is)

I try to be positive here on Midtown Lunch… and I freakin’ love this city.  The food is amazing, and there’s no better place to be a “Midtown Lunch’er”.    But as much as I love much of the food in L.A. (and will defend it to the death against any outsiders, or natives with an inferiority complex) there are some things about eating lunch in this town that really annoy me.  Here are 7 of them, LAist style, for your enjoyment…

1. Oh Los Angeles, sometimes the things you flock to in droves are so silly.  If I cut a baked potato into strips, it doesn’t make it french fries.  It’s just cake people.  Maybe it’s the best cake ever made, but it ain’t doughnuts. And people should not be this excited about this in THE GREATEST DOUGHNUT CITY IN THE WORLD!  The biggest irony? (Besides the fact that the calorie info on these things will likely make you throw up the 4 fonuts you ate this morning.) It’s replacing a shop that failed selling bundt cakes, which are… wait for it… baked cakes cut into the shape of a doughnut!  Huzzah for brilliant marketing.


2. If the word lunch is permanently painted on your window, you should probably be open for lunch more than just Saturdays and Sundays!  BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

3. Amazing restaurant and dishes I wish were just a little bit cheaper so that they could be considered “Midtown Lunches”.  I’m looking at you Lukshon’s new lunch menu, galbi jim from Seongbukdong, Sotto, and Cube LA.  What’s more important to you guys?!  Staying in business or pleasing cheap bastards who don’t appreciate the value of superior product.  On second thought, don’t answer that.

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Barbacoa-less Gish Bac Still Makes a Great Weekday Lunch


L.A. Times’ “The Find” column has sussed out some pretty amazing lunches over the past few months. In March it was all over the completely under-appreciated Flavors of Belize on La Brea. Then came Koreatown jokbal in April. Chimu was the big June discovery. And this month the streak continues with Gish Bac, a Oaxacan restaurant in Mid City uncovered by Bill Esparza, L.A.’s resident food expert of all things south of the border. And for me, when Bill says go eat something you know it’s going to be good.  (Cases in point: Mariscos Jalisco, Ricky’s Fish Tacos, and Mariscos Chente.)

A big portion of the article focused on their weekend only barbacoa, but it also had high praise for their 30+ ingredient house-made mole negro. So when I saw that nothing on their lunch menu was over $10, I rushed right over to check it out.

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PROFILE: L.A. Lunch’er “Joanna”

As is customary on Midtown Lunch, every Tuesday we profile a random reader to get their recommendations for the best spots to lunch near their work. This week it’s Joanna, a professional eater who loves Korean Pho but hates improperly cooked risotto.

Name: Joanna

Age: 25

Occupation: Marketing and customer relations, the better half of LA in Stilettos, and professional eater and shopper.

Where in L.A. do you Work?: Miracle Smile Dentistry in Miracle Mile and El Segundo, but I mainly work at home in Downtown LA.

Favorite Kind of Food: Oh gosh, this is a tough one. Of course, Korean food is my comfort food so that definitely makes my list of favorites. But besides that, it all depends on my mood. I love a good cheeseburger and fries, but I also have a major truffle obsession.

Least Favorite Kind of Food: I try not to discriminate when it comes to food and I’m not a picky eater, but I highly dislike overcooked food or food that’s not made properly, especially risotto. For some odd reason, that really bothers me so I’ll rarely order risotto from restaurants unless I know they’ll make it correctly.

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch: I mainly work from home in Downtown LA, but since I do work from home, I’m not restricted to eating lunch just in this area. Of course, like everyone else, I love Starry Kitchen for lunch. Not only is the food great and affordable, but Nguyen never fails to crack you up and bring some laughs and tons of f bombs into your life. I love their Tofu Balls, but I also like that their lunch menu always rotates. It can get a bit tiring eating the same thing day after day, but that’s never the problem at Starry Kitchen.

I eat a lot of sandwiches for lunch so Mendocino Farms is the place to go for that. I always get their Kurobuta Pork Belly Banh Mi, which I love since the meat is so tender and it’s balanced out perfectly by the pickled veggies and has a nice kick to it from the jalapenos. I generally can’t handle too much heat (weird since I’m Korean…) so this sandwich provides the right amount of kick.

My regular lunch spot is actually around Larchmont.

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