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: 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.

New Year’s Day Chili Recipe

A warm bowl of chili is always a good thing on a cold day, and recently I made a batch that got good reviews, so I thought I’d share the recipe here on the ol’ blog. Secret ingredients are bacon fat for flavor and brown sugar to cut down on the tomato’s acidity.

New Year’s Chili
Prep – 20 mins
Cook – 30 mins
6-8 servings

1 Lb lean ground turkey
2 small yellow onions (or 1 large), diced
1 TBS olive oil
1 tsp bacon fat (or butter or more oil)
1 tb minced garlic (about 1 clove)
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can pinto beans, rinsed
1 28oz can of crushed tomato
2oz (approx) of tomato paste
1 TBS brown sugar
1 TBS chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 TBS liquid smoke
Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, light sour cream, Texas Pete hot sauce, cornbread and / or Fritos

In a large stock pot over medium-high heat brown the ground turkey, stirring and breaking up chunks occasionally.
Add additional oil as needed, as well as bacon fat or butter and sauté onions and garlic for about 3 minutes.
Add diced peppers, stir and cook an additional 3 minutes to soften.
Add beans, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar and remaining seasoning, stir to combine and bring to a boil (add 1/4 cup of water if it looks too thick). Simmer on low until color darkens and flavor develops, at least 30 minutes. Then put on a college football game, serve with toppings and enjoy.

Breaking Bad Cookbook

Breaking Food Logo

I was a big fan of the AMC show Breaking Bad which concluded this year. For those who don’t know, it was a show about the misadventures of an average middle aged guy as he descends into the seedy business of producing and distributing crystal meth.  The focus on the show was the characters, the drug trade and family drama. But there were also many other layers to the show, including the presence of various foods.

I randomly woke up the other day with an idea for a Breaking Bad cookbook.  Not instructions on how to synthesize or “cook” meth, but rather collection would be a humors take on how to prepare and serve some of the foods featured in the show.

Here are a few dishes I thought of:

  • Flynn’s Flapjacks
  • Heisenberg’s PB&J
  • Skylar’s Greenbeans and slivered almonds
  • Hank’s ‘Schraderbrau’ brew
  • Gus’s Chilean Paila Marina
  • Los Pollos Hermanos Fried Chicken with Madrigal Franch Sauce
  • Lydia’s Camomile Tea with Soy Milk (and Stevia)
  • Tuco’s Tight! Tight tight, yeah! Burritos
  • Jesse’s Funyuns with Chili P (Chili Powder)
  • Venezia’s Cost-Saving Uncut Pizza

Which am I missing? The show was so dense I’m sure there are a few other good ones out there!