July 29, 2014

bld { a dineLA dinner review }

dineLA Restaurant Week is a biannual event (summer/ winter) that typically spans over the course of two weeks and many courses of delicious dishes made by some of LA's most prominent chefs. For dineLA Summer '14, I decided to check out a restaurant that I've visited many times, but for a meal I've yet to have there.  


"b" (breakfast/brunch) and "l" (lunch) I've enjoyed plenty of time, but "d" (dinner") at bld was going to be something new.  Boy, was I in for a treat...

First Course Option #1 -- Maine Lobster Roll with Sriracha aioli, shaved celery, and cilantro 

First Course Option #2 -- Prosciutto & Figs (prosciutto fritters, caramelized figs, brown butter aioli, spiced creme fraiche)

First Course Option #3 -- Tomato Salad (heirloom tomato, pickled cherry tomato, fried green tomato, goat milk feta, arugula, pistachio with opal basil vinaigrette)

Second Course Option #1 -- Duck Ravioli (duck confit, mushrooms, watercress, radicchio, pancetta, yellow pepper coulis (thick sauce)).

Second Course Option #2 -- Pan-Seared Branzino (tomato farro, sauteed pea tendrils, shimeji mushrooms, olive nage).

Dessert Option #1 -- Guinness Caramel Doughnuts

Dessert Option #2 -- Lemon Ripple Ice Cream Pie (with graham cracker crust and strawberries).

All things considered, the dineLA dinner at bld was a smashing hit.  Though the portions were small and none of the dishes are on the regular dinner menu, everything was equally tasty and fulfilling.

My ultimate favorite dish was probably the lemon ice cream pie -- light, yet creamy, refreshing, yet not too lemony -- it's the perfect way to end a pleasant evening out with friends.  The next time bld is participating in dineLA, make that reservation and enjoy each delicious offering.

BLD on Urbanspoon

cuisine: American
location: Mid-City
hours: Sun-Thurs: 8am-10pm; Fri-Sat: 8am-11pm
websites: { bld | yelp | facebook | twitter | instagram }
attire: Casual
parking: Valet or Street meters (2 hours max)
notes: They now take reservations for breakfast, lunch and dinner via Opentable! Weekend brunch hours will still be crazy.

July 22, 2014

Honey Pig

"Honey Pig" in Korean.  

As a recent Eater article points out, there are a plethora of Korean barbecue places in Los Angeles, probably more than any other place in the world (Korea, included).  Some are all-you-can-eat (AYCE), others serve high-quality meats, but the common thread is the arguable novelty (?) of cooking your own meat in between feasting in between gulps of Hite or soju.  But no one seems to really mind that most of these Korean establishments have poor service and that cooking your meat takes more effort than expected.  No, the concept of chowing down on fatty meat always seems to win.  And at Honey Pig, if you pig out (and spend enough money), you get a pig lighter that shoots flames from its nostrils!

Each round table has a round grill in the center.

Kimchi and Kongnamul muchim (seasoned soy beans) sizzling on the grill.

A variety of sauces and lettuce leaves to wrap the meat and veggies.

"Honey Pig. We will serve you well/ carefully." 

Classic dipping sauces: Denjang (fermented soy bean paste) (left) and ssamjang (denjang + gochujang (spicy pepper paste)) (right).

Let the kimchi (fermented cabbage) and bean sprouts fully cook.

Thinly-sliced Beef Brisket

These slices of meat cook really fast so keep a close eye on them.  Dip them in any of the various sauces and wrap them in lettuce or dduk (rice paper wrapping).

Pork Belly, lightly salted and peppered, but thickly sliced.

At the end of the meal, they add leftover veggies and rice onto the grill and mix gochujang to create delicious fried rice.  It's like dinner #2!

Honey Pig is not an AYCE (m)eatery nor is it the best of the bests, but it's open late (until 11pm M-Sat and until 1am on Sun), lively, and provides a good taste/ glimpse of how most Korean barbecue restaurants in Koreatown LA function.  Plus, they offer other items on the menu such as noodles and soondubu (tofu stew). For those reasons alone, it's worth a visit.

[Obvious] P.S. - Get the pork.  Nom nom.
P.P.S. - There is no English sign outside, so look for the sign with pigs.
P.P.P.S. - They speak English, but like at most Korean restaurants, it's going to supremely help if you have a person who speaks Korean in your group.

Honey Pig on Urbanspoon

cuisine: Korean
location: Koreatown LA
hours: M-Sat: 11am-11pm; Sun: 11am-1am
website: { yelp }
parking: Street or valet ($2)
attire: Casual
notes: Don't wear your favorite clothing items because most likely, you'll leave the restaurant smelling like barbecue meat/ pork.

Shop House

"The Asian Chipotle" is how they describes themselves, and accurately so.  Like Chipotle Mexican Grill (its parent company), ShopHouse Kitchen takes (Southeast) Asian flavors and marries them with a wide variety build-your-own-bowl options -- choices, a hallmark of American culture.

ShopHouse was, and is, a hit in Washington, DC and it's a well-received in LA, too.  With two locations so far, ShopHouse allows room for creativity of experimenting with Thai, Vietnamese, Singaporean, and Malaysian flavors within a quick and casual dining environment.

Oh, be careful what you order -- they aren't shy when it comes to heat.

ShopHouse Hollywood.

Brown Rice bowl with chicken & pork meatballs (5), charred corn, green curry, green papaya slaw, Thai chilies -- ~$7

Cold Rice Noodle Bowl w/ chicken satay, summer squash & Thai basil, pickled veggies, tamarind vinaigrette, toasted rice, and herb salad (cilantro & Thai basil) -- ~$7

Up close and personal.

Rice bowl...


As shown above, the portions are sizable and the bowls can end up being very colorful.  I highly recommend the chicken-pork meatballs -- very flavorful!  If you like pack on the heat, go for the green curry (spicy) and the Thai chilis (even spicier).  There are plenty of options for the spice-intolerant and the vegan or vegetarian.  More about the food here. If you really have no idea what to get, they usually have daily suggestions.

If you're shopping on the Third Street Promenade or catching a movie at ArcLight Hollywood, give ShopHouse a try!  Hopefully, they'll start expanding to other locations soon.

ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

cuisine: Southeast Asian
location(s): Hollywood, Santa Monica, Westwood (also in Maryland and DC)
hours: Daily, 11am-10pm
websites: { SH | yelp | facebook | twitter | instagram }
parking: Street meter ($2/hr until 8pm)
attire: Casual
price: Under $10
notes: Feel free to sample some of the options to see if you like the flavor or can handle the heat.