Caffe Bene is a cute Korean cafe 26 miles east of Korea town in the City of Industry. It’s located in the same plaza as Jazz Cat and has been gaining some popularity on instagram due to their large pat bing soo desserts and more. Just like their other store in Korea town, this location also sports the beautiful wooden furniture and quiet, mellow feel.
Off the Grid is a a food truck experience more so than anything. I first stumbled on this event on Yelp, essentially a food truck market held once at a week at Fort Mason Center, which was once a military port.
Now I must admit, I’ve never been too fond of food trucks (especially those of the bourgeois sort), and Off the Grid didn’t really change my general opinion of them. Granted, there were a lot of interesting dishes I ended up having, given the sheer volume of trucks present on site.
I know this post is a bit overdue, but my schedule’s been jammed packed as of late and this is the first real down time I’ve had in a while. I know I’ve told several people that I was done with my 626 Night Market reviews, but I have to say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the 626 Night Market summer series this past summer, and I just had to blog about it.
2331 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95051
This is not an all you can eat Korean bbq place, nor it is cheap. But what it does have is quality meat, that is not found in any AYCE bbq restaurant. I was craving brisket so much that I had to get some. This place has a $39.99 deal that comes with a plate of beef brisket and pork belly, steamed egg, and soybean soup. It also comes with the standard sides, salad, rice paper, and rice. The special thing about this place is that instead of a gas grill, it uses coal, so the meat is supposed to taste a little different, but I couldn’t really tell since I was so hungry.
The sides that is came with were pretty good, the kimchi wasn’t fermented enough and the mashed potatoes tasted old, but the other side dishes were delicious, especially the seaweed salad and pickled radishes. Salad had a good amount of dressing and was freshly made, so it was very refreshing to eat with the meat, especially the fatty pork belly. Steamed egg and soybean soup were standard, nothing too special about them.
The brisket had amazing marbling, and melted in your mouth when it was cooked. It was just so much fresher than what they serve at ayce bbq. Pork belly was very fatty, but that’s how I like it! It took a while to cook it to be crispy like I wanted it, but it was worth it.
The service here is great, they are very friendly and never rude to us, making sure we were taken care of. One thing I did not like though, was the fact that they insisted on cooking the meat for us. I like cooking my own meat and deciding when it’s done, but they didn’t really let me do that here, because they assumed I had no idea what I was doing. Little do they know what kind of a kbbq master I am! Just kidding. But really, they turned off the grill before the pork belly was crispy enough for my taste, so I was a little irritated about that.
I wouldn’t come here on a regular basis just because there is just no where near the amount of food I could get for the same price in lovely Ktown, but once in a while when you’re craving ayce so much that it hurts, this would be a good place to splurge at.
Coffee Tomo has become one of the premier coffee shops in Sawtelle. In between Tsujita LA and Blockheads, it seems to be always buzzing with students. The lighting is impeccable and the interior’s pretty spacious.
The decor’s seriously meant for coffee aficionados A Diedrich coffee roasting machine on site, coffee bags hung on the wall like flags. The place has got it all.
Unfortunately, Alvin and I weren’t in the mood for a caffeine buzz the day we went. So we opted for lattes, namely their sweet potato and red bean lattes. They’re pretty pricey IMHO, but thought we’d try anyway.
The drinks were alright. They came out piping hot, but were more steamed milk than anything else, with pureed sweet potato/red bean settled at the bottom. I guess I have to return once again to try their big boy coffee drinks.
11309 Mississippi Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90025
I recently purchased a clay pot from “Hawaii Supermarket” in San Gabriel and wanted to put it to work. It’s been a while since I’ve made homemade jjigae, and wanted to give it another go. I’ve tried so many different recipes and ways of making this tofu soup, but it never turns out exactly like the kind you would get at a tofu house. I’m not sure what it’s missing, but I’ve followed all of the other recipes to a T, and it still doesn’t turn out the same. I don’t know why my broth is a little lighter than the ones you would find in tofu houses. Either way, the result is still good, but I have to warn you that the flavor may not be authentic.
I’m using a similar recipe to an old recipe I posted a long time ago, back in 2010. However, I’ve made a few changes from then. I hope you enjoy this anyway!
- 1/2 Pack of Enoki Mushroom
- 1 pack of soft tofu
- 1/2 zucchini (cut into one inch, quartered size)
- 1 green onion (chopped)
- 1/2 small brown onion
- 1/4 chopped Kimchi
- 1 tablespoon of red pepper paste
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon of red pepper powder
- 1 egg
- Sesame oil (to finish)
- 1/4 lb of ground beef
- 1 tablespoon of cooking wine
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
- 1/2 tablespoon of chili oil
- 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce
Combine the ground beef and marinade ingredients. Set aside for 10 minutes. During this time, prepare your vegetable ingredients.
Heat a pot over medium heat with 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil. Add the beef and stir fry until beef is cooked through and onions are translucent. Stir fry the kimchi into the beef, onion mixture. Add 1 cup of water and the sliced zucchinis. Bring the soup to a boil.
Once the soup is boiling, reduce it to low and add the mushroom, soft tofu, red pepper paste, and soy sauce. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Add the egg to the soup, and spoon the soup mixture over it–making sure that the egg will get cooked through. Add the chopped green onion over the top and allow the soup to simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and drizzle some sesame oil over the top to finish.
This was one of my favorite soups to make on cold nights in my old apartment. Something that I didn’t do in this recipe that I normally would do is add one chopped chili over the top. The flavor of this soup is lighter than traditional jjigae. Please feel free to add salt or soy sauce to taste.
If you have any recommendations for jjigae recipes I should try, please comment below! I’m still searching for the best jjigae recipe out there that will get me results closest to tofu houses! haha..
My House Korean BBQ & Hot Pot
3465 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020
$19.99 for AYCE Kbbq AND hot pot!? NICE. Parking at this plaza is valet, which is $2.00 with validation from the restaurant, or you can try your luck with street parking, but we went on a weekend. This plaza has a bunch of restaurants and nightclubs, so it’s very popular. This restaurant is new, very roomy and decorated with a modern lounge feel. It wasn’t too crowded when we went at 8pm on a Saturday evening. The owner is the same owner as the club Belasco, so the music and vibe of the place feels like a club. Except with all you can eat food!! The service is exceptional, we had a waiter named Steven who was the best waiter I have ever had at any Korean restaurant. There were also some other staff who helped us, and everyone spoke English fluently, were polite, and didn’t rush us at all. I couldn’t believe how wonderful they were and how quickly they brought out the food, always checking on us and changing our grills constantly.
The $19.99 kbbq and hot pot deal works this way: your table has to eat kbbq first, and when you’re done, you can switch to hot pot, but there is no going back. That was probably the only pitfall of this deal, because it’s hard to enjoy hot pot when you’re already so full.
The KBbq choices came with the standard beef brisket, marinated beef, pork belly, short rib, spicy pork, and some other bbq marinated meats, and baby octopus (which I can’t eat). These meats were very high quality, with little fat on and it melted in your mouth, the marinated choices were very yummy, super tender, and not salty at all. I asked for 2 slices of pork belly to try, and unfortunately it was 90% fat, so that is one item you should not get here. The meat choices that stood out to me were the Vietnamese marinated shrimp and the Vietnamese lemon grass beef, since I’ve never been to a Kbbq place that served this, but I was pretty disappointed since the shrimp didn’t taste like anything but shrimp, and the lemon grass on the beef was not infused enough, so it wasn’t anything special to me. We also tried the beef tongue, which I didn’t like, it had a really weird kind of leathery taste to it. Not appetizing to me. We didn’t get to try the wine pork and the pork neck, but judging from the fat on the pork belly, it was probably a good thing we didn’t try it.
The hot pot comes with two broths, a spicy Thai-style one, and a miso-style one. The Thai one was very spicy for me, but we all know how horribly my tolerance is. It kind of tasted like instant ramen broth, a little too salty. The miso broth was very good, I mixed some of the spicy broth in it and added a lot of the peanut dipping sauce, which I loved. We got spinach, tofu, imitation crab, beef balls, fish balls, inoki mushroom and sliced catfish for the hot pot. Everything was standard and nothing too special, but the catfish was really tender and fresh, no fishy smell. I know it’s one of the cheapest fishes to get, but it was still nice to eat fresh fish.
We got a complimentary bottle of beer and plenty of banchan and rice paper to keep us full, so we didn’t need to order rice. This place does not give you free steamed egg, they charge $2.99 I believe. I didn’t walk out feeling like my pores were sweating oil and bbq because this place has very good ventilation. We sat in an area that was inside, but the windows were just screens so it let the smell out and didn’t leave us with teary eyes from the smoke. Overall, it’s a pretty good place if you want kbbq and hot pot, but I do wish they had a sauce stand or something so we can mix our own sauces like at the bbq & hot pot restaurants I go to in NorCal. The choices are plentiful if you want to splurge a little, and the services is amazing. It was worth trying just to see, but I think I will just stick to $9.99 kbbq when I visit SoCal from now on.
Bon Chon Chicken
572 E El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
Bon Chon Chicken is a popular Korean fried chicken joint in Sunnyvale, and finally I was able to try it. We ordered the large 20 piece combo, 10 pieces with the soy garlic sauce and 10 with the spicy hot garlic sauce, regular coleslaw, curly fries and 2 extra orders of rice, it came with radish too. We also ordered a large pitcher of yogurt soju. I loved both sauces, and I was dying while eating the spicy one, but it burned so good! The chicken wings had a lot of meat (compared to Wingstop…), and it was crispy on the inside and seasoned well inside. Nothing special about the curly fries, it was just filler food for me. The coleslaw was good though, I like how they kept the pieces of lettuce big, so it was crunchy with just a little cream from the sauce; I hate coleslaw that’s swimming in sauce. The radish was very tang, it kind of tasted like I was just eating vinegar, which wasn’t too pleasant. But if you eat it with the chicken and rice, it was balanced out well. The yogurt soju was really refreshing to chase down the hot wings with! Service was quick and friendly, and they were very nice and suggested us on what to order. Korean fried chicken is Korean fried chicken to me, so I can’t really say this is better than BBQ in Westwood…they’re all yummy!!
ToBang Korean Cuisine
1052 Kiely Blvd
Santa Clara, CA 95051
Restaurant.com coupon: link
$25 off $50 coupon for $10, why not! This place has the best customer service out of all the Korean restaurants I have ever been to. Usually you need to go with a Korean-speaking friend in order to get good service, but this is not the case at this place. They treated us so well, brought us refills on banchan and rice paper without asking (to the point where we actually had to tell them to stop), asked us constantly if everything was okay for us. My friend and I were so shocked with the service, we were just expecting to be ignored and given our food!
Anywho, the restaurant is small, and there isn’t much seating, it’s very spaced out, and there is a huge draft so it’s cold inside, but the good thing is that you won’t smell too much afterwards. We were seated and we gave them our coupon, so they explained to us the restrictions very kindly and asked us what we wanted to drink. The yogurt soju is not part of the deal, but we ordered it extra since this was a celebratory dinner. I believe it was $12.99 for a big pitcher, and they only have yogurt flavor, but it was so good and definitely a creeper.
Originally, we wanted to order the seafood pajeon as our appetizer, bulgogi and kalbi as our meats, and combination tofu soup. When we ordered though, the waitress told us the pajeon was on the house! So we ordered panfried dumplings for an appetizer instead. We knew it was way too much food for just 2 people, but we decided to get it and take leftovers home.
The banchan were just like any other place, except they had string potato strips that I’ve never had, and also they had sliced pickled Korean daikon that were huge and instead of using regular vinegar I think they used red vinegar since it had a pink hue to it. That was really good with the meat. When the pajeon came out, I died a little inside. It was so good!! Crispy, warm, with a perfect amount of octopus in it…it had been so long since I had it. I still can’t believe it was free.
The bulgogi and galbi were spectacular, and much more than what BCD gives per portion. They had asked us before ordering the galbi if it was okay, since usually they marinate it for 2 days before, but since they ran out, they had marinated this batch that day only. We were fine with that, and when we got the meat, the chef came out to make sure it was okay with us. It tasted like it had been marinated for days! So juicy, tender, and well seasoned. They were good pieces of meat too, with little fat on them. Yum!
The combination tofu soup was a little bland for me, since we had ordered medium and it was not spicy at all, but there was a lot of tofu and huge chunks of meat and seafood, so that made up for it. Panfried dumplings were so crispy! Fried to perfection and even though I have no idea what the filling was, it was good.
The waitress brought us fishcake and rice paper refills, and gave us a whole pitcher of water when we asked for it. She was kind and funny, something seriously lacking in the waiters and waitresses at other Korean places. Our bill came out to be $54 after the $25 discount, plus the soju, tax, and tip (tip is calculated based on the whole order, which was roughly $80), and we were so happy with their service that we gave them another $5 tip on top of everything and wrote them a note on the back of the receipt. We also got 2 complimentary yakult drinks to finish off the night!
I am definitely coming back to this place, the customer service alone is good enough to pull me in, but the free pajeon, yakult, and the tasty high quality food is the real main catch!
Heyri is one of those fancy Korean coffee houses, with tall Korean waiters serving you at your beck and call, like in the dramas. Not exactly, but the coffee is indeed expensive ($5+ for a cup), even though it’s your average run-of-the-mill brew (I prefer McCafe’s). The coffee house comprises a building that resembles a single family home, with an extended patio area for outdoor seating. It’s a cozy affair, really. Tea lights and a water fountain in the back, and picnic tables laid out.
Since we had just eaten at Mr. Pizza (review here), we weren’t too keen on filling ourselves some more.
The mochi ice cream ($5.50), with green tea flavored mochi bits looked enticing. But the portion size was so measly. It was good, but nothing to write home about.
I thought the coffee ice cream ($6.25) was watered down and totally overpriced. A scoop of ice cream should not cost as much as a lunch special…
In spite of my criticisms, I suppose what you pay for is the ambiance, not the food. Heyri is a good place to come with friends and chat on a Friday night, but be prepared for pretty high prices.
Heyri Coffee House
755 S Hobart Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90005
This is a popular side dish that I have had in Korean restaurants and bars in both NorCal and SoCal, so I just tried to make it at home, it’s really easy!
-1 cup of corn (I used the frozen white corn from Trader Joe’s)
-Mayonnaise (I used lite mayo)
-Shredded cheese (I had Mexican 4 blend in my fridge)
The corn was still frozen but I just put it into a bowl, put enough mayo to coat the kernels lightly, added half a teaspoon of sugar, a pinch of salt, and some pepper. I microwaved for 30 seconds, mixed and microwaved for another 30 seconds. I added 1/4 cup of cheese and microwaved for another 30 seconds, mixed, and added another 1/4 cup of cheese, and microwaved again for 30 seconds.
It came out really yummy, just like the ones they serve in the bars…so easy to make too! You can adjust all the ingredients to your taste or to how sweet your corn is. Next time I might try baking it and putting some bread crumbs on top for texture.
This recipe is adapted from this bulgogi marinade recipe by my cousin Leslie, with a twist in the added ingredients to make a fusion mouthwatering burger that’s simple to make. Instead of using thinly slices of beef, you can use any kind of meat you prefer and it will come out delicious! In this variation, she marinaded ground beef formed into patties.
-Ground beef 80/20 (the amount will depend on how big you want your patties and how many patties you want to make, she formed them into patties the size of her palm. You can also decide how fatty or lean you want your beef when you buy it.)
-1/3 cup of soy sauce
-3 tablespoons of sugar (white or brown, your choice, we chose brown)
-1 tablespoon of sesame oil
-3 cloves of minced garlic
-1/4 an onion, diced (we used white onion this time)
-2 green onions, chopped finely
-3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
-1/4 red pepper flakes
-2 pinches of black pepper
-1 can of sliced pineapples for topping (optional)
-1/4 an onion, sliced (for caramelized topping, optional of course)
-Pepper Jack cheese (for topping, you can choose your favorite cheese)
-Hamburger buns (amount depends on how many burgers you’re making, we chose Hawaiian bread buns)
Pretty simple – form the patties (we didn’t even marinade the meat by itself). Mix the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, onions, green onions, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, and black pepper together for the marinade, put the patties in the marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before grilling. You can do this overnight for more flavor and flip the patties too, but we didn’t even need to do that and the flavors were still amazing.
Grilling time! We used a George Foreman grill and grilled the sliced pineapples first, while I caramelized some onions with brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Toast the bread, grill the the meat to how you like it (we did it around 4-6 minutes per patty and the inside was still slightly pink, perfect for our taste), add your condiments (we used mayonnaise, lettuce, and mustard) and construct the burger! I recommend letting the patty rest for a few minutes to seal the juices inside 🙂
These burgers were really easy to make from scratch and you can taste the bulgogi flavor and sesame seeds, which was complimented by the spicy cheese, grilled pineapples, caramelized onions, and crispy slightly sweet Hawaiian bread buns. It was the cherry on top of a great vacation, yum! Thanks Leslie ❤
The marinade is so simple to make, as long as you have the ingredients, and you can definitely adapt it like we did to fit your tastes and make anything you want like Leslie did. If you try it out, let me know how you liked it, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
Mr. Pizza Koreatown
A few weeks ago, Nicole, Justin, Alvin and I went to Koreatown for dinner. Nicole chose Mr. Pizza, the first and only of its kind in America. Mr. Pizza is apparently a well known pizza company in Korea.
The restaurant is big and very open, with high ceilings. It wasn’t too crowded on a Saturday night. We were seated right away, next to the window facing Wilshire Boulevard. There were a lot of choices on the menu. There were only a couple of “Korean” pizzas, including a Bulgogi pizza. Other than that, the other pizzas seemed like any other typical pizza.
We ordered the regular sized barbecue chicken pizza, the gold sticks, and this large pizza that was a combination of four different pizzas. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the pizza, but I think it’s a combination of the Secret Garden Pizza, the Potato Gold Pizza, the Shrimp pizza, and the last one is the supreme pizza (I think).
The barbecue chicken pizza was really good and straightforward as usual. The gold sticks were something new to me. They were these bread sticks filled with sweet potato. I was pleasantly surprised when I found that in the combination pizza, they used the gold sticks as the crust. Definitely different from your usual cheese stuffed crusts.
My favorite of the combination pizza was probably the Secret Garden pizza. I didn’t like the shrimp pizza all too much. I think seafood and pizza makes a weird combination. It just doesn’t suit my palette. PLUS, on a personal note, one of the things I consider when eating pizza is whether it’ll taste good cold.
I love cold pizza. Yes, as strange as that sounds, but definitely it’s a deciding factor for me.
But anyway, just to give you all a heads up, Mr. Pizza is pretty pricey. The combination pizza was $36 from my recollection. That is a lot for one pizza. I don’t think I’ve ever spent that much on a pizza before, but it was worth the one time try.
Overall I liked the restaurant. The food was good, but the prices were not.
Check it out.
3881 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Western Doma Noodles is one of those hole-in-the-wall restos, located in a pretty shady strip mall, but serves hearty meals. Apparently the ahjummas who service the tables liked our group, so we got a complimentary appetizer of ddukbokki, spicy rice cakes with gochujang sauce, along with an array of other banchan, or side dishes.
As the restaurant’s name implies, their name to fame are their handcut noodles, kalguksu, served with a broth of your choosing. We shared the seafood and kimchi kalguksu, which came in pretty large portions. I’d say that these are among the best noodles I’ve had.
We also ordered a side of mandu, steamed dumplings with pork (or beef?). I remember being confused by the mystery meat inside, which smelled like beef to me, but looked like pork. Ah well..
Definitely recommended, for a cold winter day!
Address: 429 N Western Ave Ste 10, Los Angeles, CA 90004
This is one of my favorite AYCE Korean BBQ places that I don’t often get a chance to go to. My friends brought me here for the first time for my birthday a few years ago. I’ve been here about 3 times at two different locations, and I’ve never been disappointed.
The first time we went, we went for a late lunch. There weren’t that many people, since it was a weekday. Cham Sut Gol has different prices and packages for AYCE. I know the prices range between $13-$20, and it is definitely worth it.
They provide a large number of sides which includes, fluffy egg soup, spicy vegetable soup, salad, potato salad, kimchi, and other spicy goodness.
The ladies that work here are really nice, and since they weren’t too busy, they would sometimes come by our tables and help cook the meat for us. It was like having your aunt cook for you. It was great.The quality of the meats is really top notch for the prices.
At this particular location, they also have self served ice cream. It’s really great.
I love this place, and wish I lived closer so I could have it more often. This is saying a lot for me, someone who doesn’t eat meat that much. 🙂 Love love love it.
Try it out
9252 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92842