Help Starry Kitchen and Roy Choi Fund Their Next Projects

If your New Year’s Resolution was to be more charitable, or support a local business, here are two crowd funding campaigns going on right now that are worth taking a look at…

Just after the holidays Starry Kitchen launched the Kickstarter to end all Kickstarters. It’s called “Save Our Balls” (naturally) and they’re hoping to raise $500,000, an obscene amount for a restaurant kickstarter, for sure, but a drop in the bucket for a couple looking to give themselves some security to open the permanent restaurant of their dreams.   For those who don’t pay much attention to food blogs or Jonathan Gold lists, or find it super easy to ignore a guy in a banana suit with a megaphone, Starry Kitchen is the former illegal eatery, turned legal water court lunch spot, turned pop up restaurant that is currently operating out of Grand Star in Chinatown.  Their food, a menu mix of pan-asian homeyness,  has gotten better and better with every incarnation. But clearly the 5+ years of jumping around has taken its toll, leading them to issue this shocking ultimatum: they raise the full $500k to open their own place, or they go do something else. It’s a longshot they make it to their goal, but I’m not going to be blamed for losing out on Thi Tran’s garlic noodles, Singapore chili crab, pandan chicken, and their infamous tofu balls.  And make no mistake about it… if they close, and you didn’t donate, I will blame you.

But wait, there’s more…

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Pok Pok Phat Thai Now Open in Chinatown; Night + Market Song Finally Starts Lunch Service Today

It’s been two and half years since we first whined about Night+Market not being open for lunch, and while WeHo still has to go to Talesai for their mid-day taste of Thai food, the Silverlake branch of Chef Kris Yenbamroong’s Night+Market has finally answered our prayers.  N+M Song opens for lunch today, launching with a “fast plates” menu designed for quick lunchtime eating.  A few of the dinner favorites, like the khao soi, are available and the fried chicken sandwich has finally made it to the printed menu.  Plus you can get meat in your pad thai!  Check out the full menu over on Eater.

But wait… there’s more.

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Join Us For A Special Screening of The Search for General Tso + Q&A and Free Food

What’s better than Chinese food on a Sunday night?  A great movie about Chinese food on a Sunday night.  Join me and Evan Kleiman from KCRW’s Good Food this Sunday night, January 4th, at the Arena Cinema in Hollywood (1625 N Las Palmas) for a special screening of The Search for General Tso, a great new documentary about Chinese food in America.  After the screening there will be a Q&A with the film’s producer Jennifer 8 Lee (author of the Fortune Cookie Chronicles) plus free General Tso’s chicken and beverages in the courtyard.  The screening starts at 5:10pm and you can buy tickets here>> 

Check out the trailer, here

China Catering Unlocks the Mystery Behind General Tso

My 10 Favorite Versions of Pad Thai in Los Angeles

I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point over the past 10 years pad thai went from being the most popular Thai food dish to the laughing stock of so called serious eaters everywhere.  “You don’t want to order the pad thai” has become the rallying cry of so called “foodies”, even though it blends together all the best parts of Thai cooking. Sweet. Spicy. Sour. Funky.  Well, consider this the backlash to the backlash.  There is some seriously awesome Pad Thai to be had in Los Angeles right now… and with Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok Phat Thai set to open any day now, it’s only going to get better.  In the meantime here’s a list of my 10 favorite versions of pad thai that I put together for DineLA.

Mister Bossam is a Welcome New Pork Belly Option from Korea

It would appear as if L.A. is in the midst of an Asian chain invasion. Following in the footsteps of Din Tai Fung, the famous Taiwanese dumpling shop with 2 locations in Arcadia and 1 in Glendale, we’ve seen a steady stream of big (?) names from overseas open all over the city.  Korean BBQ from Kang Hodong Baekjong, Sichuan specialities from Meizhou Dongpo, Hai Di Lao’s hot pot, and Japanese ramen chain Larmen Dosanko are just a few of the new spots looking to test how hungry L.A. eaters are for “authentic” Asian experiences- without having to go through LAX.  The latest to join the parade is Mister Bossam, a South Korean cafe specializing in pork belly and something called “LA Grilled Cheese Baby Pork Ribs”.

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Dosanko Larmen, Japan’s Oldest Ramen Chain, Comes to Los Angeles


8 years ago this week as a wee lad lunching in Midtown Manhattan I stumbled upon this sign perched high above Madison Avenue.  Promising the world’s finest noodle shop; pointing to nothing. Being a hub for Japanese businessmen, Midtown already had its share of ramen joints but it would still be another two years before the Japanese chain Ippudo brought truly great ramen to New York City.  In other words, the opening or closing of a Midtown ramen shop in 2014 would barely register a raised eyebrow.  In 2006, the Larmen Dosanko sign was a truly exciting mystery.

With a little bit of online sleuthing, I discovered that Larmen Dosanko was one of very first and largest ramen chains in Japan.  “The McDonald’s of Japan” according to this 1981 article in the New York Times.  In the 70s they expanded to New York, serving up noodles in soup or sautéed with meat or veggies, but by the time this photo was taken all of the branches had closed down.  Well, last week Dosanko quietly returned to the United States. But instead of New York they decided on Los Angeles, taking over the Ramenya space on Olympic near Barrington.

And 8 years after seeing that mysterious sign, I finally got to taste what Larmen Dosanko was all about.

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Due to Rising Rents, Zam Zam Market’s Last Day is on Sunday

The first of what will hopefully be a few goodbye meals at this place, before it closes down on Sunday.

A photo posted by Zach Brooks (@midtownlunchla) on Nov 11, 2014 at 2:23pm PST

Bad news from Chowhound about Zam Zam Market, our favorite Pakistani halal place in Culver City, and ironically enough one of the 5 most underrated lunches we wrote about last month. Due to rising rents, they’re being forced to move out of their longtime location on Washington- in the shadow of the King Fahad mosque. Considering the more recent success of neighbors like Copenhagen Pastry, Yamadaya Ramen, and the new shopping area on the corner of Sepulveda and Washington, it’s no surprise that their location can command a much higher rent than Zam Zam can afford. But it doesn’t make it any less sad to lose such a great neighborhood place. (Full disclosure: This place is walking distance from my house.)

There was talk that they’re looking for a new space in Hawthorne, but the guy working behind the counter today said they were looking to stay in the neighborhood- close to the mosque, and their current customer base. Fingers crossed the latter is true. In the meantime, you’ve got 4 more days to enjoy their insanely awesome food. Thursday for lunch they’ll have the same $10 combo they always have, with chicken biryani, tandoori chicken, kebab, and a few other dishes from the steam table. Friday there will be the chicken pies and lamb pulau. Saturday during the day they’ll have lamb and chicken biryani; Saturday night they’ll have curries as well. And Sunday, they’ll have Pakistani breakfast, in addition to the birayni they always have.

Zam Zam Market, 11028 W. Washington Blvd. 310-331-2504