There aren’t many good Korean restaurants in the San Gabriel valley. . . So when there is a decent one, they seem to do a combination of things well.
Young Dong Tofu, specializes in tofu, but also has grilled meats and a decent kimchi pancake. Their tofu ranges from seafood, kimchi, pork, and beef and others with varying levels of spiciness. In addition, they have sizzling iron plate with short ribs, beef, chicken, and pork – which I like. And they have my favorite korean dish of all – kimchi pancake – or some sort of pancake. The soup or porridge they make with the rice – from the hot stone bowl – is also a nice treat at the end. And they also have dolsot bibim bap (a mixed rice dish in a hot stone bowl) – a meal in itself.
Overall, I like Young Dong. There seems to always be a lot of Chinese customers, both in San Gabriel and Arcadia. I guess you could say that Young Dong caters toward this palate. I know some Korean friends wouldn’t say that Young Dong is good compared to the restaurants in K-Town. Expect to pay about 15 buck/person. And there seems to always be a wait, so get there early.
Young Dong Tofu 927 E Las Tunas Dr San Gabriel, CA 91776 (626) 286-6031
JJ Cafe is your typical Monterey Park/Alhambra Cantonese late night cafe. You might have tried Garden Cafe, ABC, Sunday Bistro, and others. They all serve similar items on their menus. JJ’s features several rice dishes including Fu Zhou Fried Rice as well as some noodle dishes.
Fu Zhou fried rice is a favorite for a few friends of mine. This particular fried rice dish is “wet” with the sauce they smother. With small diced pork or chicken, with green peas and mushrooms.
Personally, I like the pork chop or the chicken steak with black bean sauce. The black bean sauce is what makes these cafes unique. You won’t find this type of black bean sauce anywhere.
These cafes are open late and are a great deal. Dishes start around $6 or so. On weekends, you’ll find the clubbing crowd there after 2am.
JJ Cafe 447 W Garvey Ave Monterey Park, CA 91754 (626) 280-3833 Open till 4am everyday
This place in Taipei is known for their Chinese Tamale. A Taipei institution – this place is open late and seems to always have a diverse young and old crowd. Their limited menu featuring the Bah Zhang and some side dishes and soups – keeps everyone happy with consistency.
The Chinese Tamale is made with a bamboo or lotus leaves. The leaves give them a distinct flavor. Wrapped inside and steamed together is cooked rice and pork. You can add other things as well.
I was fortunate enough to get to go to a Dodger game and experience a Dodger win. Amidst the game, there was some great fare. We had a regular dodger dog, a super dodger dog, bratwurst, chili cheese fries, and garlic fries. I tried a taste of each. Each were different and was a change from the traditional American foods you would find at the ball park.
The regular dodger dog and the super dodger dog were different only in girth. They were the typical Farmer John dodger dogs that have been around for years. Dodger dogs are longer than the average super market hot dogs. These beef dogs, $3.75 for the dodger dog and $5 for the super dog, are consumed by the thousands at a typical game. I would know. . . I had 2! With self serve helpings of mustard(yuck), ketchup, onions and relish, these dogs are the best deal at the stadium.
The bratwurst, another new feature for the last few years, is catered to those with finer hot dog taste. . . For about $6 you can get the bratwurst or the Louisiana Hot Link. Also at the condiment stand, you’ll find top shelf mustard – which I found to be pretty good. Though the brat. . .I only wish I had ordered the Hot Link, for more flavor.
The garlic fries and the chili cheese fries were probably the best thing, after the dogs. The chili, with bean and all, was quite good. One of the best chili cheese fries I had had. If I remember correctly, the chili cheese fries were about $5 and the garlic ones about $5 as well. I know my friends enjoyed the fries.
All and all, the food at Dodger Stadium is pretty good. In fact, most people in LA go to the game for the dogs. . . and hope for a win at the game. Personally, I like both equally.
Santoka is located at three locations around L.A. and all are in the food courts of the Mitsuwa marketplaces in West L.A., Torrance and Costa Mesa. I think their Japanese website is spelled Santouka but the receipt I got said Santoka so I’ll just go with that. The food stall has no English name so just look for the ramen place with the line. Don’t worry, it moves pretty fast. Be warned that this places closes early like around 7/7:30ish.
Your first sip of the broth will tell you there is something special to this ramen. What sets it apart is the amazing depth of flavor and the richness. It’s like the broth has been cooking for days. Chris and I had the spicy miso and shio(salt) and both were killer. The pork that it came with was off the hook tender and pretty damn tasty. Most come in three sizes and I was totally satisfied with the regular size.
This is by far the best ramen that I have ever had. The only thing that comes close is Daikokuya with their kotteri flavor. One time I went and they were out of their kotteri flavor and after eating it, I was like why bother. My friend Scott tells me there are some better places in Gardena which I find hard to believe but I’ll have to try it to believe it.
Cha Cha Cha is a long time Los Angeles favorite. Not just for Latin Star – like Jimmy Smit, but all Angelenos alike. Cha Cha Cha is a Tapas restaurant specializing in Carribean fare. Tapas is a type of cuisine of little dishes, sort of like appetizers. Food is great with wine or Sangria.
Located just west of Echo Park and north of the 101, Cha Cha Cha is located right in neighbood where you wouldn’t expect the best Sangria. I am willing to put Cha Cha Cha’s sangria up against anyone else’s Sangria in LA. . . .It’s that Good!
But they also have food. . . pretty good food, too. When you get a chance, make sure you get the Jerk Chicken Pizza, Mushrooms, Fried Yuca, and the Empanadas. If only ordering for two, this is more than enough food. The Jerk Chicken Pizza is probably my favorite. The Jerk sweetness and spicyness is one of those things, when you think of it, your mouth starts to water. Traditional tapas is spanish cuisine. I always get the Yuca, as well. If you go with a larger group, try the paella. I’m sure you’ll also go through a pitcher or two of the Sangria.
They have valet parking, since street parking is not readily available. Expect to spend about $30+ per person including alcohol.
Cha Cha Cha 656 N Virgil Ave Los Angeles, CA 90004 (323) 664-7723 theoriginalchachacha.com
One night. . . after stumbling for a few hours in Hong Kong and Macau, we were all heading back to out hotels around 6am. But being that we were on vacation, we decided to stay up for breakfast. Breakfast in Hong Kong means Dim Sum.
A friend told me of a reliable place in Causeway Bay called Jade Garden. Jade Garden is sort of a chain in Hong Kong. It was also open early, too – around 7 or so. As we walked in, we quickly asked for the foreign English menus. Thank goodness, too.
The regular things I ordered, similar to what I usually get in the States, included siu mai, har gaw, char siu bau, cheong fun, lou mai ge, pai gu, fung zao, and lo bak go. My favorites are the char siu bau, lou mai ge, and the lo bak go.
Jade Garden had quality dim sum that you would expect from a dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong. I would fully recommend this place to any of my foreign friends visiting Hong Kong. In addition, dim sum at Jade Garden is reasonable priced and would be around 100-200 HKD for 2 people.
1 Hysan Ave. Causeway Bay(銅鑼灣), Hong Kong 銅鑼灣希慎道1號 tel. 852/2577 9332 open daily from 7:30am to midnight. A link from open rice
lo bak go, Turnip cake and taro cake (the purple one)
fung zao and char siu bau, Chicken feet and BBQ pork buns
Porridge or congee is one of the best things to have when you are drunk, hung over, or sick. This bland, stomach filling meal is perfect to sooth that the body that you put it through.
Mountain Cafe, in Koreatown, serves some of the best congee, abalone chawder, around. Make sure you get a spoonful of the meat juices from the sides dishes for flavor. This soupy goodness helps fill that drunk body. And when you are drunk – it tastes so good. But when you are sober, for whatever reason, it is just a bit north of ordinary. You don’t see much abalone, only little bits and pieces.
The chicken soup is good, too, from what I hear. But I go to Mountain for the abalone congee – which is about 9 bucks. Since Mountain Cafe is open 24 hours – you can get it anytime you want. But late night is when it get crowded. Its a small place, so be prepared to wait. If you plan to go after a night of clubbing/drinking, try to get there before 2am or after 3am. . .
Mountain Cafe in Korea Town 3064 W 8th St Los Angeles, CA 90005 (213) 487-7615 Open 24 hours
Mango fruit on top of Mango Pudding with Manago ice cream . . . absolutely delish!! If you ever go to Shanghai look for a small restaurant called Bellagio. They feature afternoon snacks, coffee, tea, and desserts. They have this dessert called Mango Delight. I haven’t had this dessert in few years. I thought I never have it again, unless I went back to Shanghai.
But one night after dinner, after an insistence from one from our group, we had to go to a place called Tasty Dessert. I usually only try new Asian restaurants on multiple recommendations. But since we were looking for a dessert place and ran out of options – I decided to, and quietly, make the best of it. . . . I was still skeptical.
The place, Tasty Dessert is located in a shopping center in San Gabriel on Valley Blvd. With a nice corner spot right by the street, It looks like a typical Asian boba tea shop. Once inside, you notice the solid wood stools that you don’t usually find here in Southern California. These wood stools and tables remind me of the traditional tea houses found in Asia that sell tea by the pound. Aside from the stools/tables, that’s where the similarities stop. The bright oranges hues and the colorful menus attempt to draw the youthful market in the San Gabriel valley. You could see they made a big effort in the design of their menus. I thought is was one of better menus with the big pictures.
Once I saw The Mango Dessert on the menu, I knew I had to order it. I know it wouldn’t be the same since the taste and sweetness of the Mango’s differs from the US and Asia. Given that the Mango fruit is not especially sweet, it has nice subtle tangy flavor. Mango’s are one of my favorite fruits. Asian cultures differ from Western cultures with foods that are not necessarily too salty or too sweet. . .Back to the dessert, the mango pudding is just like the ones that you find in cantonese brunch dim sum restaurants. Coupled with the mango fruit and ice cream round this great little dessert nicely. You gotta try it. In the US, mango’s are not as popular as they are in Asia. This rare combination could be quite popular here. They also have another version with coconut milk.
Another dish that I would like try here at Tasty Dessert are the knife cut noodles. These are my favorite style of noodles. They take a large pieces of dough and hand slice, with a knife, strands right into the boiling water. The doughy and soft chewy texture make the noodles unqiue. You can have the noodles in style – dry (without soup), and soupy. Unfortunately, I did not try it. I know of two of places in Southern California that feature this style of noodle.
Anyways. . .overall, I do suggest that you try Tasty Dessert for their unique dishes. With the noodles, I must plan another visit.
Tasty Dessert 250 W Valley Blvd Ste A San Gabriel, CA 91776 (626) 282-8263