Ramen Bowls Aplenty

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Ramen is having its day all over Los Angeles and we feel obliged to try them all.  Last night we hit Slurpin’ Ramen Bar, in the hopes of cozying up on a chilly night with warm bowls of noodle soup.

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The modern space is centrally located in Koreatown and there is a bit of Korean spin to the menu.

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One of the Korean adaptations is the bulgogi egg roll, which is stuffed with thin seasoned slices of beef, fried, split in half and topped with nacho cheese sauce and jalapeño slices. We placed the order because it was such an unusual appetizer, and were pleasantly surprised to find the tender and flavorful meat a playful match to the liquid cheese and spicy pepper, reminiscent of an Asian cheeseburger.

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We then moved on to the main attraction, with options including the original slurpin’ ramen, vegan ramen, dipping ramen (soup served in a separate bowl) and a chashu bowl (pork over rice) all available to us.

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We went with the super spicy slurpin’ ramen and found the small bowl plenty big and the regular great for big appetites. The creamy, pork bone based broth has been slow simmered to garner all the richness this soup commands. The description, super spicy, is inaccurate and is instead a mild heat.

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A big part of the ramen fun is the toppings and although they charge for every one, we had a blast checking them out and chose a few that we easily shared in two bowls of soup.

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From the top 5 toppings list on the wall, we found the spicy umami oil gracefullly smoothed out the ramen and made it sing. This spicy mix also added a great kick to the bulgogi egg roll.  We basically love the spicy umami oil on everything.

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The crunchy garlic and onion added a dilemma regarding how to consume it.  Should it be added to the soup where it would get soggy or consume it straight from its little saucer following each bite of soup to be savored at its crispy best?  Ultimately we did a bit of both.

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The exceptionally well cooked noodles were an easy choice and two of us were able to shared the extra noodles easily from the substantial sized serving.

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The soup includes a choice of chashu or super tender fatty pork which melts away on the tongue like a dream.

We find Slurpin’ Ramen Bar to be a respectable contender in the ramen landscape that is ever expanding in Los Angeles and beyond. We look forward to more warm bowls of noodle soup which seem to be growing at a delicious rate.

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Slurpin’ Ramen Bar, 3500 West 8th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90005
Phone – 213-388-8607

Koreatown French Bakery

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Deep in the heart of Koreatown is the seductive Paris Baguette, an elegant bakery displaying luscious traditional French pastries, as well as Asian fusion surprises. Originating in Korea, the franchise came to Los Angeles in 2005 and has been expanding ever since.

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The attractive space is well organized with crisp, clean, exceptionally packaging, making the goodies even more enticing.

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Creme filled buns and chocolate covered doughnuts glisten in glass cases.

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A wide selection of French macarons pack some serious punch. We fell hard for the passionfruit version which is a spot on, sweet and tart reflection of the tropical fruit.

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Attention to detail, design and decoration is the focus here, with sweets that are as visually ravishing as they are orally pleasurable.

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An assortment of ready to heat and eat appetizers can also be found on the shelves.

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Adorable mini croissants temp with flakey, puffed, buttery layers.

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Charming packaging makes every corner a joy to explore.

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Sandwiches, unique sausage stuffed pies and cheese tarts are savory options. Individual pastries start at under a dollar and rise to just a few greenbacks which makes us feel a whole lot better about giving in to such attractive and indulgent baked goods.

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For divine splurges that will impress at any party, Paris Baguette is one of our favorite spots to shop.

Paris Baguette, 3470 West 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90020
Phone – 213-384-0404          web site – parisbaguetteusa.com

or

Paris Baguette, 125 North Western Avenue, Suite 101, Los Angeles, CA 90004
Phone – 323-467-0404

or

Paris Baguette, 621 South Western Avenue, Suite 105, Los Angeles, CA 90010
Phone – 213-368-0404

Impressive Asian Cuisine In West LA

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We returned to Asian Fusion to delve deeper into their Asian cuisine mix.  The Vietnamese owners have a way with not only Vietnamese food but also Chinese, Korean and Thai, no small feat.

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The dining room is pleasant with steaming soup bowls carved into the seat backs.

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The menu expresses the diversity available and we were beyond pleasantly surprised by the proficiency they have with all of it.

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We began with the Japanese favorite edamame, these lightly salted soy beans were tender and warm, getting us off to a great start.

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We couldn’t resist the hybrid cheese wonton appetizer of fried wonton wrappers stuffed with a dollop of herb infused cream cheese. Crispy skins erupt with creamy flavor that can be dipped in the sweet and sour sauce served alongside.

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The flakey egg rolls come 2 or 4 to an order depending on what is requested.

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Tender poultry mixed with greens fill the chicken dumplings that come with a ginger packed sweet chili sauce enhancing the mild crescents.

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We love their banh mi and again had to heed the call of soft French baguettes cradling grilled meats with pickled and fresh herbs and vegetables.

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The caramelized marinade is singed onto the edges of super tender chicken for a flavor pop that along with tangy radish and carrots, fresh cilantro and hit of jalapeño, meld in perfect unison inside freshly baked bread.

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The pork version is also warm, moist, juicy savory goodness against the cool vegetable toppings.

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The extensive menu covers 125 Asian dishes in all, plus sides and drinks.

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Pan fried noodles are crisped brown under a riot of sautéed vegetables and protein of customers choosing.

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While beef udon are extra thick, well cooked al dente soft noodles that can be served with succulent slices of beef and a flavor-filled array of onion and peppers.

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Large portions and lunch specials make Asian Fusion an affordable and honestly one of the best Asian/Chinese/Vietnamese restaurants we have on the westside of Los Angeles.  We will be visiting his hidden treasure often for a delightful taste of some of the most well loved Asian cuisines available in Los Angeles.

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Asian Fusion, 1710 South Robertson Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone – 424-298-8247          web site – asianfusionla.com

All You Can Eat Korean BBQ Bargain

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Koreatown in Los Angeles is a wonderful jumble of businesses, spas, restaurants, nightclubs, karaoke bars, malls, coffee and tea shops. Exploring here is one of our favorite pastimes. We recently had a memorable dinner at the All You Can Eat Korean BBQ, SanYa.

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The bustling restaurant runs Korean music videos on screens prominently located around the dining room.

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There are three menus to choose from, allowing customers to decide how deep into Korean BBQ they care to dive. We love menu A, because we get to chow down on all the fantastic marinated chicken bulgogi, spicy pork spare ribs, beef brisket and spicy pork bulgogi we can devour for just $11.99 per person.

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No matter which menu you choose, every table is supplied with continually replenished servings of banchan (side dishes), including fresh green salad and the uber garlic and chili saturated, fermented kimchi.

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Other side dishes include a creamy potato salad,

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broccoli with red chili sauce,

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sesame oil bean sprouts,

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and a corn and cheese dish that left us fighting long strands of stringy white cheese as we maneuvered the sweet corn from table to mouth.

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Each guest is provided with a dipping sauce and spicy chili paste for submerging the meat that is cooked on the hub cap shaped grill at the center of the table. Each customer cooks the meat to their liking, we love ours singed at the edges, creating a caramelized flavor that gives the marinated meats an extra dose of umph.

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The spicy pork spareribs come already cooked and well done at that, allowing the juicy meat and spicy, sweet marinade to commingle with charred spots and grilled onion, a savory barbecue combination not to be missed.

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For a solid Korean Barbecue experience at a beyond reasonable price, SanYa is a great place to start.

Sanya, 2897 West Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90006
Phone – 213-383-1144

Chinese Korean Magic

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Korea town is a huge expanse of business’ and restaurants reflecting Korean culture, traditional and melded cuisines.

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Zzamong is one spot that combines Korean soup and noodles dishes with Chinese food.

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Upon arriving hot tea and a smattering of banchan were presented.

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Sweet, pickled daikon radish are addicting and crunchy.

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Spicy radish cubes offer a hot contrast to the other dishes.

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A small saucer of black bean sauce is a salty dip for the freshly chopped onion served alongside.

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There specialities include a black bean jjaljanqnyun and spicy seafood jjampong.  The spicy seafood jjampong is a complex, spicy soup bowl loaded with muscles, shrimp, calamari, clams and vegetables that we immediately fell in love with. If spicy speaks to you, a warm, comforting bowl of this soup will make your day.

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Appetizers and lunch  specials make the reasonably priced offerings even more enticing.

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We ordered a combination which pulls together four of their most famous dishes and serves them up for a price of just under $24.

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The freshly fried beef dumplings are crisp and juicy.

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While the black beans and onion laden noodle dish caries a savory homestyle feel.

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The long noodles are tossed and cut to make eating them an easier endeavor.

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We informed them we love spicy and a container of seriously hot chili powder arrived that we doused over our noodles liberally.  The addition of vinegar from the table also kicked these comforting noodles into another realm of satisfaction.

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Our combination came with a thick, crispy battered sweet and sour pork, providing enough food for four people.

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And we must mention that we were regaled with magic all through dinner, that’s a chicken he pulled together in just seconds from a dish rag.

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Between the spicy seafood soup that we fell in love with, the abundance of freshly made food, great prices and the magic show that went on at intervals throughout dinner we were amazed, amused and well fed, all things we love about exploring Korea Town.

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Zzamong, 4255 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90004
Phone – 213-739-2747      web site – zzamongrestaurant.com

 

 

 

 

 

Savoring Fresh, Organic, Slow Food At Slow Fish

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We recently had the pleasure of savoring slow food during our dining experience at Slow Fish.  We throughly enjoyed their commitment to uber-fresh, organic, blended Japanese, Korean and Italian cuisine.

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The playfully elegant dining room is a relaxing setting to snuggle into for a tranquil and healthy meal.

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Check out the board near the sushi bar for a list of daily special in addition to the extensive menu.

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We began our Slow Fish repast with a sweet blue crab salad pairing the snap and fresh ocean taste of seaweed salad with not only blue crab, but also firm tofu squares drizzled in goma dressing.

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The Slow Fish well rounded sushi menu, offers sushi and rolls that can be made with the super food, black rice or forbidden rice. This nutty flavored delicacy is lower in sugar and higher in fiber, antioxidants and mineral content than both white and brown rice, adding beauty and health benefits to our meal.

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We dove into their meaty seared ahi tuna carpaccio. The fish is enhanced by a blanket of sour onion and sweet pickled lotus root and radish, adding a crunch to the tender, succulent red slices marinating in a lemon juice spiked dressing.

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The Korean halibut carpaccio starts with a sharp, radish sprout bite, then pickled capers add tang to the slight spicy dance on the tongue before being calmed by parmesan shavings.

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We can’t say enough good things about the salmon with sweet, cool, juicy mango and creamy avocado.  It’s finished with a sprinkling of sea salt kicking the fruit and bright pink sashimi into the highest levels of pleasure and enjoyment.

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Thick slices of albacore are first seared before being doused in a citrus and mustard ponzu and then topped with radish sprouts and sliced green onion, creating a sweet tart experience with the melt in your mouth fish slabs.

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The gangster wrap is tuna and cucumber stuffed into a soy paper wrapper with no rice, so nothing takes away from the freshness delivered. A dip in the small side dish of spicy sauce and a squeeze of lemon juice, serves to enhance and highlight the roll even further.  This is one tasty gangster wrap.

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The menu is loaded with small plates of salad, vegetable and fish dishes to share.

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Besides being a beautiful architectural structure, the fat avo is also mouthwatering seasoned albacore tuna in a woven avocado embrace, atop a sweet, sticky puddle of unagi sauce and a goma character of smooth sesame richness.

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The tuna tostada starts with crispy fried wonton skins and tops them with a refreshing salad of aji tuna and juicy tomato chunks tossed in a spicy dressing. We could eat this tuna salad all day long in a myriad of ways and be exceptionally happy campers.

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Slow Fish has an eclectic lunch menu to entice the foodie in all of us at prices that satisfy our wallets as much as our palates.

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We couldn’t leave without a solid helping of black rice under miso cream sauce concealing mushrooms and a delicate filet of halibut. The saltiness of the miso is balanced by the rich creamy Japanese/Italian melding that all soaks into the forbidden rice and is impossible to stop eating. Small bundles of pickled jalapeño and onion cut through the richness and add a jolt of tartness and heat to the mix.  An explosion of flavors, textures and temperatures all add up to one remarkable entree.

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For an immersion into fresh, organic, healthy Asian fusion, Slow Fish brings a variety of tastes that are unique and exciting in their presentation and flavor profile, which makes us wonder why we would ever eat anything but slow food.

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Slow Fish, 5406 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone – 323-930-0170          web site – slowfishusa.com

or

Slow Fish, 16051 Bolsa Chica Street, Huntington Beach, CA 92649
Phone – 714-846-6951

Spicy Garlic Kimchi Delight

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Korea town inhabits a huge slice of Los Angeles and we are attempting to eat our way through as much of it as we can.  Not an easy task, but certainly one we enjoy immensely.  One of our favorite Korea town spots is Myong Dong Kyoja.

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The large dining room seems to be open and serving constantly and with hours of 8 AM to midnight they practically are.

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One of the specialties of the house is their kimchi.  They serve the most intensely spicy and garlicky kimchi we’ve ever had and we keep coming back for more.

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A side of lightly pickled cabbage leaves also arrives sans chili, if the hot stuff is a bit too intense for guests.  Waiters walk the floor with buckets of the two banchan, so eat to your hearts content as kimchi is a power packed side dish loaded with cruciferous and probiotic benefits.

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All the menus appetizers are wonderful and the steamed dumplings come 10 to an order.

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We favor the pork dumplings, with thin skins stuffed to capacity with pork and vegetables.

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The kicker for us is the dipping sauce we concoct from the ingredients on the table.

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We start with the dadaegi, an onion based spicy chili sauce that we mix with white vinegar and soy sauce to create a spicy, tangy, salty bath for our dumplings before we consume the juicy pouches.

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The menu offers a range of entrees from noodles, to soups, to barbecue and the majority of the almost exclusively Korean clientele have a bowl of soup or noodles in font of them, so we tend to follow suit.

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The bibim guksu (spicy noodles) has a base of cold chlorella noodles made from an algae that has healing properties.  We have enjoyed this dish with buckwheat and arrowroot noodles as well, which are all slightly different but always a refreshing cold and spicy meal that makes the heat of summer a welcome reason to dig in.

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We like to hit this dish with a splash of white vinegar which cuts the slightly sweet tomato sauce creating a cool, sweet and tangy pasta into which we mix the egg, fresh cucumber, pear and radish slices.

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Sticking to our health commitment is easy at this establishment, and they even have a health conscious menu section.  We chose the dolset bibmbab which is served in a stone pot to keep everything warm down to the last bite.  Over millet rice are small piles of mushrooms, bellflower roots, spinach, bracken fern stems, lettuce, carrots, zucchini, seaweed, bean sprouts and radish.

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A bottle of chili paste and another of sesame oil are brought to the table which we use to douse the veggies along with a final sprinkle of vinegar, transforming  this bowl into a savory and satisfying healthy meal.

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For a taste of some lesser known Korean dishes and for those who like intensity, heat, and garlic, Myung Dong Kyoja brings some delightful flavors that wake us up.

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Myung Dong Kyoja, 3630 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90010
Phone – 213-385-7789       web site – mdkyojausa.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring Little Tokyo Marketplace

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In the south-eastern part of Little Tokyo, in downtown Los Angeles, stands the Little Tokyo Galleria.  Inside this three story mall you will find Little Tokyo Marketplace, a large supermarket loaded with Asian wonders.   We started our exploration at Little Tokyo Sushi, an extended part of the food court, where we grabbed some invigorating fish for lunch before continuing our adventure through the store.

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We were ecstatic to find a wide assortment of brightly colored sushi to choose from even though it was 2:30 PM and clearly late for lunch hour.  We picked our sushi and paid the sweet woman at the register, who validated our parking for an hour and offered us a cup of miso soup which accompanies all sushi purchased.

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Prices for the Japanese rolls and nigiri start at $5 and the vibrant red tuna nigiri, sliced tuna laid on top of vinegared rice, came in at $6.75.  The fresh delicate tuna was the precise light lunch we were searching for and the pickled ginger added a nice zing as it chased each bite.

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The market itself is a wonderland filled with a large selection of prepared foods and side dishes ready to go.

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The produce section offers exotic and traditional fruits and vegetables at very reasonable prices, blood oranges are currently $1.99 per pound.

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The greens were robust with specials on cilantro, 5 bunches selling for .99 cents.

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And scallions were on sale at 6 bunches for .99 cents.

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The seafood department overflows with fresh iced and live fish.  Wild US lobsters are just $8.99 a pound.

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They also offer live demos every Saturday at 2 PM and 3 PM on tuna cutting.  What a great service.

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Upstairs from the market is an Asian department store called Home Mart which overflows with household sundries, clothes, knickknacks and a lot of practical and fun stuff to peruse.

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For a little taste of Japan and Korea amongst other Asian cultures, have a spin around The Little Tokyo Marketplace.  It will not only introduce you to some new sights, tastes, smells and sounds, it will also save you money and those are our favorite types of adventures.

Little Tokyo Sushi, 333 S Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Phone – 213-617-0343      web site – littletokyosushila.com

Little Tokyo Market Place, 333 S Alameda St, Ste 100, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Phone – 213-617-0030     web site – littletokyola.org/index.php?o…

Little Tokyo Home Mart, 333 S Alameda St., Ste 2f, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Phone –  213-617-8383

Crossing The Threshold

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Los Angeles is home to the largest Korean population in the nation and our sprawling Koreatown serves the community by providing a taste of South Korea for expatriates.  Businesses, services, products, markets, bakeries, spas and restaurants all bring a familiar note to those longing for the traditions and experiences left behind.

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We are lucky to have such a vast Korean enclave running through the middle of Los Angeles and you will know you’ve arrived by the switch in signage from English to Korean.  This can be quite daunting, as it is when we walk into The Real 3rd Street Chicken House and see the menu is written solely in Korean.  We consider ourselves educated people and walking over the threshold we became immediately illiterate.  But the staff is all smiles and helpfulness as we work our way through the ordering process with the assistance of a nearby group of young women and a lot of pointing at dishes on other tables.  We throughly enjoy the necessary interaction and the owners and guests couldn’t be more hospitable.

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Unsure if we had mistakenly entered the establishment, they do start out with a warning that the food is quite spicy, but we assure them we love piquant and clear the first hurdle.  All the banchan, Korean side dishes, are dressed in red chili paste, which is fine by us.  Blanched bean sprouts, pickled cucumber, crunchy radish and fermented kimchi, are all restorative and delightful.

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The side dishes a Korean restaurant serves are as important as any main course.  Restaurants are judged first on these and it’s almost impossible to recover from a negative review of these important shared staples.

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The Real 3rd Street Chicken House focuses on homestyle cooking and brings it with their rendition of spicy Korean chicken stew,(Dak Dori Tang).  This slow braised dish loaded with bone-in chicken, potatoes, carrots, jalapeños, greens, scallions, and onion all cook down into a spicy, stewy soup that definitely brings the heat.  You can pull out the chicken and vegetables, eating them alone, or indulge in the hot broth which we are sure will cure just about anything that ails you due to enough capsaicin to kill or at least seriously maim any germs lurking anywhere in the body.

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When we have had our fill of soup they take the remnants back into the kitchen where they add rice and stir fry it all together to create a spicy fried rice flecked with seaweed that completes the experience.

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If you need a respite from the zesty chilies, they make a stunning seafood pancake known in Korean as hae mul buchu jeon.   This version is crisp on the outside while the inside is warm, soft and stuffed to capacity with tender squid, red peppers, onion, scallion and the fragrant sesame leaf.  This satisfying vegetable and seafood pie the size of a personal pizza is pure coziness on a plate.

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We have found that stepping outside our comfort zone and allowing others to come to our aid, educating us about their culture and cuisine has always provided a mutually rewarding experience.  So what if we can’t read or speak Korean, our happy tummies and the communication breakthroughs empower us in ways we had no idea a meal could.

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The Real 3rd Street Chicken House, 4254 1/2 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90020     Phone – 213-386-1135

Secret Spot for Cumin Lamb Skewers

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I’m not sure if we’re pyromaniacs or it’s just that everyone loves grilling meat over an open flame, but we can’t seem to get enough of the cumin lamb skewers at Feng Mao in Koreatown.  This hard to find Beijing street food is beautifully captured and recreated in this tiny corner restaurant.

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As the specialty of the house, the lamb kebab is spiced raw lamb threaded onto ten metal spikes and presented for each diner to barbecue.  Our technique sent the waitstaff into a fit of giggles and they rushed over to help properly place and maneuver the meat on the fire pit at the center of our table.

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The menu lists a page full of reasons why we should eat lamb, but flipping the kebabs over glowing coals, inhaling the smoky aroma, watching the fat drip and ignite flames that dance and char the meat, are all reason enough for us.

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The highlight was dipping the juicy meat into the cumin, red pepper, sesame seed and spice blend provided, which added a dry rub texture and spicy cumin kick to the black edged nuggets of lamb.

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The meal is served with an assortment of banchan (side dishes), which include a stone pot of egg custard, sesame oil tossed bean sprouts, seaweed salad, spicy pickled cabbage, boiled peanuts, a green salad and the addicting spice powder which we dipped everything we had into.  All of these are refillable on request for no extra charge.

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We also ordered Chinese broccoli with garlic to up our greens for the day. Delicious on its own, we couldn’t help but dip the cruciferous vegetable in the cumin spice powder as well.

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The kebab menu is eclectic to say the least and you can order main stream items as well as a wide selection of organ meats and bull penis, which we hear can be rather chewy.   But do not miss #1, the lamb kebab, to fully embrace the experience here.

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So grab a booth, wait for your charcoal to glow and dig into this Korean interpretation of Chinese cumin lamb skewers.

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Feng Mao Mutton Kebab, 3901 West Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019     Phone – 323-935-1099

and

Feng Mao Mutton Kebab, 414 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90020
Phone – 213-388-9299