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!

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 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.

July 08, 2014

JiST Cafe

Breakfast food for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and linner.  
I first visited JiST Cafe shortly after they opened the doors to the public (last summer).  I was instantly hooked.  Maybe it is the hot skillet full of roasted potatoes, fatty chashu (pork belly), and the perfect soft-boiled eggs.  Maybe it is the nice, shaded back patio for enjoyable outdoor dining/ people-watching.  Maybe it's the sweet Japanese grandma who greets you with a huge smile that comforts you to the core.  It's likely all of the above.

Cool architecture.

Friendly faces.

Chashu Hash Skillet -- breakfast potatoes, chashu pork belly, and a pair of 6-min (soft-boiled) eggs -- $12

Perfectly soft-boiled. 

Katsu Sandwich -- panko-encrusted, deep-fried pork cutlet with shredded cabbage and Kewpie mayo -- $11

Thick pork cutlet hiding underneath the mountain of cabbage.

Half-size of Grandma's Chopped Salad with chicken -- $9

Angeleno Veg Scramble -- Brussel sprouts, garlic, mushrooms, tomato, potato, lemon segments -- $9

Comes with a side of toast.

Porky Omurice -- Fried omelet rice with peas, hickory ham, and demi glace sauce -- $10

Half-size of Grandma's Chopped Salad with pork belly chashu -- $9

Yummy Bonito fries.

Croissant Ham Sandwich -- with hamburger meat and demi glace sauce and soft-boiled egg

Small bowl of chili with half of a grilled cheese sandwich.

Ooey, gooey, buttery, goodness.

Outdoor patio (shading available).

Come here, and come home.

It's been awhile since I dropped in for lunch, but it'll be difficult to go wrong with any of the dishes (unless you order something you know you'll despise).  They also serve Stumptown Coffee (my fave)!  Enjoy the generous portions, sweet service, and casual dining at this small, but impressionable Little Tokyo brekkie spot!

JiST Cafe on Urbanspoon

cuisine: American with a Japanese flair.
location: Little Tokyo, LA
hours: M-F: 7am-3pm; Sat-Sun: 8am-3pm
websites: { JiSTyelp | facebook | twitter }
parking: Street meters or one-time fee parking lots ($5-$8); lot right across the street is $1/ hour.
attire: Casual
seating: Indoor (limited) and outdoor patio
notes: Order, take a number, and be served.