A Weekend of Deliciousness in LA
Los Angeles, a melting pot of seemingly endless cultures, has quietly been developing one of the most amazing culinary scenes in the country. Join us as we eat our way through Los Angeles for a weekend!
One of the best places to get authentic Oaxacan mole - even the mayor Oaxaca comes here to dine when he visits LA.
Located in Koreatown - the architecture is a bit confusing since the roof is clearly of Korean origin, but the building is completely covered in Mexican colors. But this is just a prime example of the melting pot of LA.
The meal starts off with tortilla chips covered in velvety, cream mole and white cheese. If you haven't had mole before, it's hard to explain the depth of flavor - all I know is that we wolfed those chips down so fast!
We also ordered a horchata that was quite different from any horchata we've ever had. This one was not that sweet and was topped with cactus fruit and nuts. Probably the most delicious horchata I've ever had.
The server gave us a free sampling of all six mole sauces since we couldn't decide what to order.
Our favorite sauces were the Estofado and the Negro Mole. The Estofado had a smoky, sweet flavor that paired well with anything while the Negro Mole had an intense, smoky complex flavor.
We ended up getting the Oaxacan Pork Tamale with Negro Mole Sauce and the Tlayuda Epazote.
The Black Mole sauce with the Pork Tamale was one of the most interesting flavor combinations I've had. Super smoky with the scent of the banana leaf permeating everything - just a perfect pair with the cornmeal of the tamale.
The Tlayuda Epazote was like a tortilla pizza with oaxaca cheese, queso fresco and epazote leaves. I chose to have some Estofado mole on top, which was a nice touch to the whole dish.
By then we were stuffed to the max (portion sizes are HUGE here!!). But we'd definitely come back and try the chicken thigh/leg entree covered in mole sauce.
Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken
Born and raised in Texas, I've always had an affinity for soul food (translation: anything deep fried).
Honey's Kettle Fried makes the crispiest and juiciest fried chicken I've ever had. I remember always hating breast meat because it was always dry and tough. But not at Honey's - it's outrageously juicy along with their dark meat. In fact, I almost prefer the white meat at Honey's since it's so juicy!
Make sure to also get a buttermilk biscuit and some honey to go along with it!
Ham Ji Park
No visit to Koreatown or LA is complete without a swing by Ham Ji Park for what I consider one of the best pork rib joints in the states. Served with a large array of banchan (Korean small bites) along with being a massive portion, come armed with a big appetite!
The ribs here are just so damn delicious! They are super tender with just the right amount of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. There's also a nice char on them in the right places, giving them a great smoky flavor. We literally ate until our tummies hurt and there were still leftover ribs.
Also - I love their iced barley tea they give instead of water!
Parking is a bit tough in Koreatown, but they offer validated garage valet parking!
Tsukemen - the famous 'dipping ramen' that boomed in popularity in Japan in the mid to late 2000's and invaded LA soon after. Tsukemen is actually pretty hard to find in the States outside of the typical gastronomical cities like San Francisco, LA, NYC, Seattle, and Chicago. Another reason you really must stop by Tsujita, which I consider to have the best Tsukemen outside of Japan. If you're curious where to get the best Tsukemen in Japan, check out my post here!
One of the key points to Tsukemen is the fabulous, super concentrated smack-you-in-da-face broth. The broth at Tsujita is simmered for 60 hours using a combination of Kurobota pork bones and some secret concoction of spices, greens, and herbs. They are served with the perfect accompaniment of chewy curly noodles, lime wedges to squeeze over everything, and a custardy semi-sweet ramen egg that is the dream of any egg lover.
Make sure to ask them to pour some hot soup into the leftover tsukemen broth so you can drink the magical goodness when you run out of noodles.
A cute Iranian sandwich shop with a leafy patio that beckons you in to sit and gossip the afternoon away - much of the Iranian community and locals alike flock here for the star of the show, the beef tongue sandwich.
Placed in a perfectly toasted piece of French bread, the tender beef tongue is surrounded by tart Iranian pickles, tomatoes, and just the right amount of greens and parsley. If you've never had beef tongue before or were afraid to try - this is the place to pop your beef tongue cherry! Even my girlfriend who doesn't like pickles was marvelling at how well they paired with everything.
Japanese people have perfected the art of making perfect milky desserts. Hamada-ya reminds me of the super creamy milk custards back in Japan that are actually hard to find here in the states. So when I'm in LA, I always make it a point to swing by and get a couple (haha) milk custards to gobble down away from everyone else (no I don't want to share!!).
They also have an amazing drink in the summertime which is coffee jelly mixed with milk and a shot of espresso. It's outrageously and sinfully good to the point where you're wondering why this isn't served at all coffee joints.
One of the best dolsot bibimbap bowls I've ever had - this unassuming strip mall eatery will satisfy any picky Korean cuisine eater.
With great banchan to start the meal, the bibimbap is served hot with a runny egg yolk on top. All the components of the bowl tasted fresh and delicious, with the rice perfectly crisping on the edges. This is how bibimbap should be, with the perfect ratio of vegetables, meat, and crispy rice.
Shuhari Matcha Cafe
A cute little matcha cafe on Abbot Kinney, we stopped in to have some liquid refreshment. We were delighted that they had matcha yuzu soda on the menu! It was light and refreshing, with just the right amount of tart yuzu, bitter matcha, and sweet sparkling soda.
The perfect place to sit and watch the rest of Sunday go by.