Food of the World in Los Angeles: Tokushima, Japan

 

Ramen is often thought of as a quick, cheep food eaten by college students on a budget. But in Japan, where Ramen originated, it’s a complex and delicious dish served in an almost infinite amount of styles.

For a quick lunch I stopped into a Ramen Shop in Little Tokyo, near downtown LA. It’s a great neighborhood to visit for people watching, shopping, and of course eating. There are bakeries and grocery stores, as well as (non-touristy) gift shops and public spaces.

Little Tokyo in Los Angeles

I had a bowl of Tokushima Ramen at Men Oh, a small clean restaurant in a nondescript shopping center. Much like I noticed while traveling in Japan a few years ago, the exterior of the restaurant was dark, plain, and almost uninviting, however the interior was bright and welcoming.

Men Oh Front

Service was fast, and the noodles were warm, hearty and delicious. It wasn’t too salty, and you could customize the style with extras like scallions, chili pepper flakes and more.

Men Oh Interior Men Oh Menu Men Oh Ramen

 

I’m sure there are many other styles of Ramen to find in LA, but Men Oh probably had the best bowl I’ve eaten so far.

For more Food of the World in Los Angeles, check out my posts on LA restaurants serving the food of South AfricaCanada, ShanghaiVietnamEthiopiaSingaporeAustralia and Guangdong.

Food of the World in Los Angeles: South Africa

Very close to where the 101 and 405 freeways intersect in the valley there’s a big public space called Woodley Park. The park is home to running trails, archery, a lake (!) and several Cricket Fields. While the sport of Cricket isn’t terribly popular in the US, but here in Southern California there’s a sizable population of fans and enthusiasts. So when they’re done playing and need a good place to eat and drink nearby, Springbok Bar and Grill is conveniently located right across the street.

Springbok Bar and Grill

Exterior of the Springbox Bar and Grill

“This bar isn’t just a place for South Africans, but rather a place where people from all over the world can get together and share their passion for good sports and good food. ” – Springbok website

Springbok is a medium sized restaurant with lots of TVs and beers on tap, many from all over the world (but none from South Africa!).  The interior is divided into a bar area and a dinning area, and the menu full of interesting items such as the “Biltong Bowl” (similar to beef jerky), samosas and “Gunpowder Chips.” They also serve typical bar food like burgers and club sandwiches.

Springbok Bar and Grill

Bar Area at the Springbox Bar and Grill

Springbok Bar and Grill

Menu at Springbok Bar and Grill

I coworker of mine grew up in South Africa and when I told him I wanted to try a good South African dish he recommended the Chicken Peri-Peri, so that’s what I ordered.

Springbok Bar and Grill

Chicken Peri-Peri at Springbox Bar and Grill

Peri-Peri is the name of the seasoning sauce used to flavor the grilled chicken, which I later learned is derived from an African Chili. While the waitress and menu warned about how spicy it was, I didn’t think the heat level was too high at all, maybe a 5 out of 10. But it was very tasty, as were the fries, side salad and cole slaw on the side.

I also enjoyed sampling some other items, including the buffalo wings, some veggie and beef samosas, and a few cold beers to wash it all down.

Springbok Bar and Grill

“Pete’s Pili Pili Tiger Prawns” at Springbok Bar and Grill

Overall it was a good spot to refuel and unwind, or to watch some cricket, rugby or soccer.

For more Food of the World in Los Angeles, check out my posts on LA restaurants serving the food of Canada, ShanghaiVietnamEthiopiaSingaporeAustralia and Guangdong.

Food of the World in Los Angeles: Canada, Eh?

Being less than 150 miles from the border, Los Angeles is known for it’s Mexican food, but tonight I visited a restaurant that features the culture, food and drinks of our friendly neighbors to the north, the Canadians.

P'tit Soleil Poutine Flags

More specifically, food in the style of French Canadians who mostly live on the Eastern Canada’s Quebec Province. At P’tit Soleil in Westwood you can find a variety of French Canadian dishes and drinks, including the deliciousness on a plate known simply as poutine. Poutine consists of french fries smothered in gravy and toped with cheese curds.

What more do I have to say. Fries, gravy, cheese. This place knows their poutine so well they have an ENTIRE MENU for the stuff! I’m getting hungry again.

 

P'tit Soleil Poutine Fries

Anyway it’s a very cozy and charming little restaurant with a nice bar area and some good happy hour specials to enjoy, including some hard to find Canadian beers on tap. This would be a great stop for dinner, for a snack after a day at the beach or maybe even to watch an hockey game. See you there, eh?P'tit Soleil Poutine Exterior

For more Food of the World in Los Angeles, check out my posts on LA restaurants serving the food of ShanghaiVietnamEthiopiaSingaporeAustralia and Guangdong.

Food of the World in Los Angeles: Guangdong (China)

For the latest instalment of my quest to eat various food of the world here in Los Angeles I took the train down to Chinatown and checked out the Chinatown Bakery& Deli.

Chinatown Bakery and Deli Exterior

Located in the heart of Chinatown, this small restaurant was full of older asian guys chatting away in a language I didn’t understand as I picked out a few steamed buns to snack on before work.Chinatown Bakery and Deli Interior Chinatown Bakery and Deli case
If you’ve never had a chinese pork bun, or cha siu bao, you’re missing out. As I understand it, a cha siu bao is a baseball-sized bun of dough that’s stuffed with pork, sauce and seasoning and either steamed or baked. The result can be either a fluffy, sticky cloud that’s still moist with steam or golden brown and sometimes toped with a sweet, honey like glaze. Both are good, but I prefer steamed. Seriously, next time you see and chinese bakery go in and try a steamed pork bun. So good.

Chinatown Bakery and Deli Bao

Although these buns weren’t the best I’ve ever had (nothing compares to the subway station in Tokyo) these baos were tasty and for only ¢.60 each you really can’t go wrong by giving them a try. The young woman behind the counter was friendly and told me this type of food is found in Guangdong Province, in South East China near Hong Kong.
Chinatown Bakery and Deli Bao

For more Food of the World in Los Angeles, check out my posts on LA restaurants serving the food of ShanghaiVietnamEthiopiaSingapore, and Australia.

Food of the World in Los Angeles: Australia

G’day mates!

Two things I love are pies and well-seasoned meat.  Fortunately, at The Bronzed Aussie in downtown, the two are combined into a delicious meat pies.

Bronzed Aussie Exterior

The shop is located in a short alley off South Los Angeles Street in a quiet alcove of new stores and apartments called Santee Court.  The area is welcome escape from the noise and bustle of the main street, and could be a nice place to sit and enjoy a coffee or chat with some friends over some pies.

Bronzed Aussie Interior

The owner Samantha serves up a variety of pies, tarts and coffees.  She informed me that in Australia meat pies are like a hot dog here – fast, cheep, and omnipresent.  She says it was the English who first brought “pie culture” to Australia when it was a colony, but it was the french who added flavor and a gourmet touch.

Bronzed Aussie Pie Case

I tried the “The Original” pie, with lean ground beef, gravy, tomatoes and spices.

Bronzed Aussie Meat Pie

The crust was flakey and delicious, the filling was warm and hearty. It was good for a quick snack or lunch and I’m planning on returning to try some other flavors and desserts.

Bronzed Aussie Meat Pie

For more posts from my Food of the World of Los Angeles Series, check out my posts on the food of ShanghaiVietnamEthiopia and Singapore.

Food of the World in Los Angeles: Singapore

I stopped by Singapore’s Banana Leaf at the Farmers Market near the Grove the other day for a quick snack and some Malaysian food as part of my quest to eat local food from all over the world.
Banana Leaf at the Grove in LA

The Farmers Market is a part of the Grove, a huge complex in the heart of LA that has lots of stores and shops, restaurants, a food court and produce stands. It’s a cool place to window shop, see some unique things, do some shopping or grab lunch. We didn’t have a ton of time or much of an appetite so we just split a few apps – the Curry Puff (below) and a Roti Parathan.
Banana Leaf at the Grove in LA

The Puff was deep fried, filled with warmed seasoned vegetables and served with a delicious sweet chili sauce. The Roti was a warm, thin bread served with a coconut curry dipping sauce. Both were flavorful, but I bet the real action is in the main dishes, which I”ll have to come back and try.Banana Leaf at the Grove in LA

For more Food of the World of Los Angeles, check out my posts on the food of VietnamShanghai and Ethiopia.

Food of the World in Los Angeles: Ethiopia

I finally made a stop on Fairfax Ave in the neighborhood known as “Little Ethiopia” for dinner tonight, and it was a very cool experience.

Of the many restaurants all along both sides of the street we decided upon Messob, both because we thought it looked interesting inside and because it had good reviews on Yelp.

Exterior of Messob on Fairfax in Los AngelesThe dining room was full and smelled of interesting spices and dishes, people sat around eating communally with their hands out off large platters filled with a variety of colors and textures.

Massab InteriorI’d never had Ethiopian food before, and I’ll admit the prospect of eating soft, saucy food without any utensils or plates (Gursha style) sounded both challenging and different – right up my alley.

From Massab’s website:

Gursha is an Ethiopian tradition of hand feeding your dinner companion. The tradition of giving Gursha plays on the exotic component of eating. Gursha means mouthful and refers to a morsel of food which one places carefully in another person’s mouth, usually as a gesture of affection. This is perfect for couples wanting an intimate experience that is out of the ordinary.

Out of the ordinary for sure. After consulting our waitress for a popular, signature item to try we were served the Super Messob Exclusive, which as you probably know consists of Doro Wot, Siga Wot, Yebeg Siga Alitcha, Yater Alitcha, Kitffo, Tibs, Yatakilt Alitcha, Alitcha, Yemisir Wot & Collard Greens.

Super Messob Exclusive

The dish is served on a large plater along side and over lots of spongy bread called Injera which is used to scoop up the food for eating. There was salad, corn, lentils, chicken, beef, lamb…and…who knows what else but it was flavorful and filling and I’d try it again for sure. It reminded me of mild Indian food with the addition of lots of veggies and of course the injera.

I sipped on a floral Ethiopian beer and K enjoyed a homemade honeywine in an awesome chemistry-class style glass flask.

Honeywine

For more Food of the World of Los Angels, check out my posts on the food of Vietnam and Shanghai.

Food of The World in Los Angeles: Vietnam

“The Food of The World of Los Angeles.” is a series of posts intended to identify, discover, enjoy and share unique foods which originate from various places around the world.

 I got a recommendation from my barber (who moved to the US in 1993 from Vietnam) for a good place to grab a Bánh mì, or Vietnamese style sandwich.

Bánh Mì Mỹ-Tho ExteriorAnd when I say sandwich, I mean SANDWICH.

Fresh baguette bread (leftover influence from when the French colonized Vietnam), jalapenos, pickled carrots and radish, cucumber and fresh cilantro and your choice of meat or filling.

Bánh Mì Mỹ-Tho Interior

Bánh Mì Mỹ-Tho is really more of a takeout counter / store than a restaurant, I didn’t see any seating, but the place was very busy with customers. Along with the sandwiches made fresh to order, they also have lots of other vietnamese food which I couldn’t even attempt to identify, but which looked very interesting.

Bánh Mì Mỹ-Tho MenuPer the recommendation, I went for a Number 8, the Charbroiled Pork Sandwich.

Bánh Mì Mỹ-Tho Number 8

Well bah ME this thing is tasty! Crisp, warm bread, fresh veggies and a healthy heap of flavorful and juicy minced pork, all for under three bucks, you really can’t beat that. You could try, but trust me, you can’t. I’ve heard good things about their meatballs too, and I’d love to go back and try some egg rolls, which are sold from a case near the counter for fifty cents each.

For more info checkout Bánh Mì Mỹ-Tho’s website or their page on Yelp.

The Food of The World in Los Angeles: First stop Shanghai…

Tonight I’m starting a new theme of posts “The Food of The World of Los Angeles.”

It’s my goal to identify, discover, enjoy and share unique foods which originate from various places around the world.

It’s an amazing time we live in, one where the globe has never felt smaller and America has never felt more diverse. While I might not be able to travel to all the places I’d like to see in my lifetime, through this project I hope to open up to new experiences and flavors and to take advantage of living in this huge, international city.

First up is Emperor Noodles in San Gabriel for some Shanghai style buns.

Emperor Noodles ExteriorI first heard of this place through an LA Weekly article about Shen Jian Baos, or Pan-Fried Buns.

Since I basically fell in love with Baos on a trip to Japan a few years ago, I knew I had to check out the pan-fried version since pretty much everything is better fried up to a crispy golden brown.

Emperor Noodles InteriorThe restaurant itself was decorated with all types of red furniture and decor, the cliental seemed to all be speaking in another language I assume to be Chinese, and the waitress was very helpful in taking my order, despite a pretty significant language barrier between us.

Emperor Noodles MenuIt took about 5 minutes before my 4pc Pan Fried Pork Buns were ready to go, and I couldn’t wait to try them, despite their molten-hot interiors.

Emperor Noodles Pan Fried Pork BunAs you can see they are comprised of a white, fluffy dough toped with black sesame seeds that’s been seared slightly on the bottom with white sesame seeds.  Each one was about the size of a peach, the outside soft and the bottom  just barely crisp, creating good contrast of texture and flavor. Inside was a savory pork filling along with some very tasty (and very hot) liquid.  I’ve had a fair amount of baos over the past few years, but these stand out because of their unique flavor and presentation.  I was tempted to eat all four, but I resisted and the urge after two and saved the other two for some friends.

Overall? Good food, good price, pretty convenient location for me, so I’ll likely be back for more Shen Jian Baos or for some of the delicious looking soup the rest of the customers were enjoying.

For more info, check out Emperor Noodle on Yelp.