Friday, January 31, 2014

Sashimi.. Korean Style :) (Jeju Japanese Restaurant)

So I first found out about this place thru my best friend and I thought i'd try this place out. Given that my family is really big on Sushi and Sashimi (especially Korean style) I didn't have too high expectations for Jeju Hwaluh. But nevertheless, it was food so I was definitely excited.
The below is all that comes in the Combo for 2 people with assorted sashimi. (You have the option for assorted sashimi or white fish sashimi only)

This is the usual start to a Korean style sashimi meal. It is a rice porridge called "Jook" and the Japanese call it "Congee". It is very thick and slightly salty. The base of the soup is usually made from chicken or turkey stock. Some people like to add soy sauce to this porridge to give it more of a little kick. I have found that depending on the restaurant, it may be necessary. This one in particular had great flavor and the saltiness was subtle but present. If you're trying this for the first time, definitely do not add soy sauce. Taste it first and if you feel it is too bland, add a little soy sauce.
Now on to my favorite part of Korean style meals, Banchan. Banchan is Korean for Side dishes. As many (or all) of you may know, if you go to a Korean restaurant, Banchan is a staple. Every Korean restaurant provides them in many variations depending on which restaurant it is, and what you have ordered.
This is a Squid and Vegetable side dish that is served chilled. It has julienned cucumber, white onion, chives, and squid topped wih sesame seed. The soup base is a mixture of water, red pepper paste, vinegar, and some sugar. It isn't too spicy although it looks like it is. So if you're still an amateur to spicy foods, you should be okay.

Starting top Left clockwise: Sea Snails, Chives, Steamed Squash , Seasoned Raw Tofu
Chives are seasoned with red pepper grounds and sesame oil with some soy sauce. I like to eat a couple after I eat a slice of Sashimi.
Steamed Squash has a sweet sauce poured on top which is liquid sugar. I'm not really a fan of sweet foods during a meal but some people love it.
This Raw Tofu was seasoned with Soy Sauce, red pepper grounds, and green onion. It is served cold.
Now on to the Sea Snails which need a little bit of work to get into...
This is a side dish that is very popular with this type of Sashimi meal. As you can see there are toothpicks provided along with the dish. There is a particular way for you to use the toothpick in order to pull the meat out of the shell. Here is a quick video (taken at a different restaurant) of how to pull the meat of of the shell.
There is a very thin round film that covers the hole of the shell. Use the toothpick to pick out the film and set aside. Now you will be able to see the meat that is inside the shell. Take the toothpick and poke the meat and while holding the shell with your left hand and toothpick in your right, turn each hand in opposite directions. The meat inside the shell is in a spiral shape so in order to not break the meat, you must pull it out in the shape it is in. Hope this helps and good luck! :) 

Pictured on the left is a potato pancake. It is a little chewy in texture and tastes better with a little bit of soy sauce. (It's a little bland without the soy sauce. Just a little tip)

On the right is Pork Tonkatsu. It is a deep fried pork cutlet with sweet and tangy sauce. I didn't feel like this went well with anything else on the table so I only took a couple bites. Not my favorite. There is another place that is great for Pork Tonkatsu but I will save it for another post. :)

Pictured on the left: Fried garlic

Pictured on the right: Raw oysters with hot sauce and lemon juice with raw sea squirt on the side

Garlic goes well with anything. (in my opinion) But FRIED garlic?? The best way it can be prepared in my opinion. :) You can eat this along with any of the sashimi. Because it is cooked fully through, the taste is very mild. I must warn you, although the taste is mild, I would still suggest not to kiss anyone after eating these.

The raw oysters when I went on this particular day were big, but the actual flavor of the oyster was not sweet. The overall flavor was very fishy. But as you all know, a different day, a different oyster. For the sea squirt, if you are not familiar with eating this, chew very slowly. The outside of the sea squirt is very tough and usually is not meant to be eaten. I usually chew on the piece of sea squirt and then spit out the skin.

Now on to the good stuff....

This is their assorted sashimi platter. (Flounder, Tuna, Salmon, Yellowtail, Uni, Abalone)

My favorites were the Abalone and Uni. Not the sweetest freshest Uni I had but very good compared to the rest out there. Make sure you ask for extra seaweed on the side for the Uni. It tastes much better wrapped in seaweed and dipped in soy sauce.

While they get you started on the sashimi, they start bringing out the second round of small plates.
This is a sushi roll which is a california room topped with raw scallops and vegetables, covered with eel sauce. If you like your sushi rolls sweet, you will like this. Or if you are like me and like the more simple rolls with less sauce, you might be okay after just a taste. You don't want to overpower your tastebuds with so much flavor and then go back to eating sashimi. It won't taste the same :(
This is cold soba noodle. The noodles are made from buckwheat flour and have a very light texture. The normal way this is served when ordering at a restaurant is with the soba noodles separately and a small bowl of the soup base for dipping the noodles. This is usually topped with ground radish and chopped green onion.
Here are some more small side dishes that come with the combo.

Grilled Mackerel... Tastes like any other grilled Mackerel hahaha. Always delicious. The texture of the fish is a little chewy but full in flavor. Lightly salted. Amazing.

This is a Korean dish called Agu Jjim (Monkfish stew). The main components of this stew is Monkfish and beansprouts. The Monkfish has a lot of bones so be careful when eating it. The texture of the Monkfish is very soft when chewing and falls off the bone fairly easily.

Random assortment of tempura which included fried oysters and potatoes. Interesting.. nothing special.
So when you go to a Korean Sashimi Restaurant, this is usually how the meal ends.

Pictured on the left is Nurungji (누룽지) which is made with boiling burnt rice in water. Although it sounds tasteless, when eaten with this spicy soup it is AMAZING. :) I also feel like it helps to wash down all the food you just ate.
On the right is a spicy seafood stew called Maeuntang (매운탕). In this particular soup at this restaurant, they add fish and crab. The soup is served in a scorching hot small clay pot so it's still boiling when it is served to you. These two dishes go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly.
I know this seems like a lot and it is. But more than just going for dinner, go for the experience. It may be a longer dinner than usual but well worth it!!
Jeju Japanese Restaurant
4100 W Pico Blvd
Ste 10B

Los Angeles, CA 90019
Thank you for reading! Hope you Enjoy!
XOXO - Christine

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Gots to Love Me Some Intestines... :) (Byul Gopchang - Koreatown)

Something you must know about me is that I am a very adventurous eater. (I'm sure i've mentioned this before) But what you're about to see is somewhat normal in Korean culture. :) It is beef intestine. And there is a place in K-town that specializes in this and I must say it is something I cannot live without. I need to have this at least once every 2 months or else my cravings just turn me into a nasty person. (Food has a very strong influence in my life)

Okay so I guess i'll start off with my two favorite side dishes... They serve a few more but i really wanted to emphasize on my favorites. :)

P.S: The lighting in the restaurant wasn't great so I apologize in advance for the pictures.

This is a spicy dried squid dish. When I came here with my mom one time she asked them what makes this taste so different. My mother is an amazing cook and can cook just about any korean food just by taste. But when she tried a little bit of this little dish, she was able to notice that there was a unique taste in this that she didn't recognize. So after asking the waitress they mentioned that they add mayonnaise in this seasoning. We were both surprised but it tastes amazing. It has a very very light spicy taste to it but mostly it is sweet. Even if you are unable to eat spicy foods you should be okay with this one. :) Good luck!

YUMMMMMM!!! This is and has always been one of my favorites! This is beef tripe that is seasoned with salt and sesame oil along with some black pepper and veggies. My mom used to make a huge plate of this when I was little and I used to eat this as a meal while my dad picked at it while chasing it down with some beer. (Sounds so refreshing right about now) I have always liked tripe because I like the crunchiness to the meat. If you aren't an adventurous eater and get freaked out by freaky textures of food, I don't recommend eating this. The meat has a rough texture and is a little crunchy when you chew. It does not have the same consistency as any other meat.

Just to give you a birds-eye view of what you get when you order the byul combo (Star Combo)
Top: Small Intestine
Bottom left: Large Intestine
Bottom right: Last Intestine
You also get 1 free bottle of your drink of choice between soju or beer.

Also as a heads up, the outer parts of the intestines all are tough and chewy. :)

This is the Small intestine. Most people who like intestine, and have experience eating this, like it better than the other parts. This part of the intestine has more flavor. When you chew it, there is almost a grainy texture to the center. (Don't worry it is normal) While it is cooking you will notice that the meat will start to swell and sometimes it pops so make sure you keep an eye on it. :)

The Large intestines taste nothing like the small intestines. The Large intestines have a very fatty filling. (Which I am told is good for your skin due to lots of collagen) Because the waitresses cook everything for you, they will give you an option if you want to have them round or flat. While it is being cooked it is still round but they can cut it to open it up. When you open it up, It releases some of the fatty meat but honestly, it's the best part. If it is your first time, keep it round. That way you can experience it for what it is.

The Last intestine is just flat so there is nothing inside of it. (don't worry) Out of all three, this has the toughest skin. If it is cooked really well done, be prepared to work out your jaw bones. :)
Because there is nothing inside of this, there is less flavor.

 Here are some pictures of how it looks before and after it is cooked:
They first cut up all the pieces and they also mix it with a marinade which is amazing. The marinade is sweet and you can taste garlic in there.

Almost done...

You want the colors of the meat to be fairly brown. This is one of those types of meats that you want to make sure you cook all the way. Regardless, the waitresses cook everything for you and also tell you when it is safe to eat.

Towards the end of your meal they offer you the choice of soup or kimchi fried rice for free. I always like to get the Kimchi fried rice but i'm sure both are delicious.

I hope this didn't freak you out!! There are many more interesting food posts to come. :)

I highly suggest making reservations if you want to go during rush hour. 

Here is their address:
3819 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020
Phone: (213) 739-0321


Monday, February 18, 2013

Can I get some Beef Jerky with that cocktail? (Rivera - Downtown LA)

Hello friends!

Who would have ever thought.. beef jerky in a cocktail!! It's pretty amazing actually. Okay so here is a little background...A couple of my friends came to this place called Rivera in Downtown LA and they told me (althought pricey) it's a great experience and they have interesting presention and drinks. The words experience, interesting, and drinks really caught my attention. So I went ahead and made a reservation to go there. Lets get to it!

This is their famous Barbacoa drink. Includes "Mezcal, Chipotle, Ginger, Lime, BEEF JERKY". They garnish this drink with lime and bell peppers as well. Let me just tell you. I LOVE beef jersey so whoever thought of this..THANK YOU! The drink itself is not back, definitely something different. You can really taste the different flavors and bell peppers too. I like to take a sip and then rip off a piece of jerky to chase it with. :) Delicious.

This is called their Blood Sugar Sex Magic with "Rye, Basil, Lemon, Red Pepper" garnished with bell pepper and lettuce. This drink is a little spicier...I wasn't a huge fan of this drink because of this. But if you are into spicy cocktails, this is definitely something you want to dive into.

Now onto the food.. (yay!) This is their Tortillas Florales which is their "housemade nixtamal tortillas" They serve this with a side of something they call "India Butter". But to me it tastes like very light guacamole. (Sorry it got a little cut off in the picture) The tortillas taste like regular tortillas it's just the presentation that makes it interesting. This is good to get if you got a meat dish that you can wrap inside of this tortilla. Otherwise, you will be just eating the tortilla by itself with the light guac.

This is called Peruvian Quechua..."Sweetbreads, Huacatay from the Incan world" as they describe in their menu. So this was ordered without knowing what it really is. And I am still not really sure. All I know is that it is some type of a gland from a cow. BUT I can tell you, it tastes like very clean, deep fried beef intestine. (gopchang as Koreans call it) If you are not a fan, you will not like this dish.

They call this Caracoles which is "Snails, Inerico Ham, and Herbs". Have any of you tried escargot? Yea, well this is nothing like that. Escargot has a very creamy buttery taste. This is much more fishy BUT flavorful. (choose your battles carefully). I couldn't finish this dish because the aroma was a bit too much for me especially with this being an appetizer. However, after looking around restaurant, I noticed a lot of other customers had ordered this dish and they finished every last drop. 
(ordered from the Dine LA menu) 

YUMMM!! This is by far my favorite. The Brazilian Feijoada..."Fire grilled lamb chop, Brazilian bean and chorizo stew, Malbec reduction"
This Lamb was cooked to perfection. I usually eat smaller cuts but I was able to finish this one which means it was really good. If you like Lamb, I would definitely try this. If you are new to eating Lamb, I would wait only because the Lamb taste could be a little overwhelming.

Beet Salad! Listed on their menu as Ensalada Semana Santa..."Sevilla-style salad of beets/oranges/garbanzos/moorish spices".
Beware, the appetizer portions are small. The flavor and sauce they use on this plate is absolutely amazing. It is sweet because of the oranges, a little nutty from the garbanzo and almost creamy from the beets. I can eat this everyday.

Perfectly cooked and seasoned scallops. Scallops Arabesque "Sea scallops / eggplant / preserved lemon / ras el hanout"
I'm not a cooked scallop fan. I like raw scallops better. But these looked too good to pass up. So I ordered this off of the Dine LA menu so the portion is a little smaller. However, the flavor is huge. The scallop itself is cooked so the center is still soft and it melts in your mouth. The outside of the scallop has a light saltiness to it so once you bite into it, you can the saltiness from the outside the sweet melting meat through the inside. Yumm. :)

I mean...look at that presentation! It's so fun. This is the Gitano..."Rib-eye, pimenton, jerez vinegar, patatas bravas"..what?
All I understood was Rib-eye. We asked for this steak to be cooked Medium but it came out a little more on the Medium well side. This doesn't usually happen because I know someone that has gone there and gotten something cooked perfectly when asked for Medium. The more pink the meat is on the inside, the better. This dish is great along with the presentation but it's more like your classic steak and fries. 

This was also ordered off of their Dine LA menu. This is the Diego Rivera Seabass. I love how they glaze the skin of this fish so it is extra crispy. The portion was so small it was a perfect snack. :) The plate is huge but the food was small. I'm sure if you order this from the main menu it is a lot bigger but I cannot gaurantee. Just like the scallops, the outside of this Seabass is a little salty but the crunchiness is the best part.

Now onto the desserts!! Gotta love me some chocolate cake. Xochimilco..."Ancho Chile chocolate cake, avocado mousse, lime pepper sauce". Sweet but a little too much chocolate for me. The inside is filled with some chocolate fudge so it's very very juicy. Chocolate lovers this is a must!

Now this is the dessert I was all about. This is Baba Cachaca..."Individual sponge cake soaked in Brazilian rum syrup, dulce de leche, fresh citricos"
You can definitely make out the aroma of the Rum on this one. But the sweetness of the syrup and caramel make it bearable. The garnish of grapefruit and oranges don't compliment the taste of the dessert but it's fun to just eat separately.

Here is a link to their complete menu:

You will realize they have several different menus. They have three different sections in their restaurant and each section has their own special menu. The above meals are combined from all three rooms (which is why it is so much food).

Overall, this really was a great experience AND the ambiance is very intimate although it gets pretty loud during happy hour.

Thank you for reading!



Monday, January 14, 2013

Best Korean beef BBQ in K-town (Park's BBQ)

Hello Friends!
I wanted to share with you my experience as Park's BBQ in Koreatown. It is located on Vermont and Olympic Blvd (Northwest side). They have Valet parking available so don't worry about finding a parking space in the tiny parking lot.

I've been going to this place for a couple years now and they have always in my opinion had one of the best Korean BBQ beef ribs. We didn't order much this time because we were so tired from a full day of golfing but here are a couple items that are a MUST when you go to this place.

This is their Yuk-hwe which is basically a beef tartare. They marinate the meat with some soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, salt, pine nuts, pear, and other seasonings. Every restaurant prepares this dish differently but at Park's BBQ they serve it with thin slices of chilled cucumber. I used the cucumber as a wrap for the meat and it was delicious! The meat is actually very fresh tasting and sweet. The contrast in taste between the meat, cucumber and the sweet pear makes every bite a great balance of yumminess. :) 

I HAD to take a picture of this because it is seriously one of my most favorite side dishes when I go to Korean restaurants. This is Gaejang which is spicy marinated raw blue crab. Now it's not a good idea to go to a restaurant and just order your crab raw. They usually use fresh live blue crabs to make this dish. It is really spicy and the meat inside the shell is fairly sweet. I can eat just this and rice and be perfectly happy. :)

Now before moving on to the real food, I wanted to take this overview picture so you can see just how many side dishes come out when you order your meat. This is only 3/4 of the table shown in this picture. They have side dishes including; potato salad, kimchi, steamed broccoli, japchae (noodles w/ vegetables), cucumber/shrimp, and many more.

Mmmmmm.... :) You always want to order their seasoned Galbi. The marinade is always on point and not too salty. We ordered 4 ribs for 5 people and it was more than enough. Remember this is not an All-you-can-eat Korean BBQ place so the meat is higher quality AND more expensive. They also cook everything for you.

This is what it looks like when they bring it out to you. (This picture was taken after they had already put two onto the grill)

Now this little gem is amazing. You can order this by asking for the "Special Bean Paste and Ssam". This is called dwenjang which is a bean paste. But this isn't just any normal dwenjang that you can find at the korean market. This is homemade and they add meat and seafood into this. This is used as a sauce and you can eat it with your meat and rice.

The bean paste also comes with Ssam. Ssam is what they call vegetables that you can use as a wrap for things like meat. They bring out this plate with steamed and raw cabbage, veggie sticks and some red leaf lettuce. See below on how to eat this as a wrap.

This is just how I eat it but everyone has different taste and likes different things in their wrap. I used the steamed cabbage and put some lettuce on top. I then put a small spoonful of rice and topped it with the special dwenjang sauce. I put the best part (meat) on top and added some spicy vegetables from the side dishes that were brought out at the beginning of the meal. You wrap it up as small as you can and eat it up!

If you're with a small group of people that don't mind spending a little more for better quality (compared to AYCE Korean BBQ) this is definitely the place to go.

I really hope you found this post helpful and make sure you come back to visit again soon!

XOXO - Christine

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Appetizers Galore! (Cork Bar - Downtown LA)

Hello Friends!!

Sorry it has been such a long time since my last post. I've been really busy with things going on in my personal life.
I had to stay at a hotel (with my puppies) for almost 2 weeks while a contractor put in new flooring in my unit. After all that trouble, they ended up installing the wood flooring incorrectly and may need to re-do my whole place. (so depressing) 

Anyways lets go on to the food. :)

I went to this little wine bar in downtown on 12th and Grand Ave. I really only found this place because I was in need of a wine night. :)
They have a great wide selection of wines that you can order by the glass or the bottle.

I am a huge fan of Ceviche which means I've tried it at many places and I have a huge opinion about it. When I ordered the Ceviche I was already thinking, it probably won't be great since this is a wine bar. I was bascially already expecting it to be bad (or mushy). But when it came out and I tried it, it was very crisp and fresh. I was very surprised and happy. :) You can taste the lemon and the seafood is not overpowering, it has the right amount of balance between the citrus flavor and the seafood.

This is their Marinated Olives and Spiced Nuts. This is just a good snack to pick on while you drink your wine. I was accompanied by my dad when I went to this place and we have the same taste buds...We don't need a heavy dinner we are good with a few appetizers and a nice glass of wine. 
The olives for the most part were not too salty, I would just eat them in small bites so it isn't overwhelming. I'm not a huge peanut fan so I only had a few of the nuts but they have a slight spicy cajun flavor if that is your forte.

Another thing I like about corkbar is that they offer a limited variety of cured meats. (I love cured meat!) So I just sampled a couple that I had not yet tried.
Pictured above is the Duck Salami (aka - Fabrique Delices). This was sliced like sausages in thicker pieces. I cut them into smaller pieces so I can fully enjoy each bite. This Duck Salami has a slightly sweet flavor and is a little tougher than Genoa Salami. However, it has larger pieces of fat so it helps with the toughness. They serve the cured meats on a platter with pickles and french bread with honey and jam on the side.

I LOVE PROSCUITTO!! :) I had to try it here. Although I've tried it everywhere else, I had to get it at this place just because they had it. The first time I ever had proscuitto was in Italy on a Pizza...and I've been in love ever since. :)
I really liked this proscuitto because it was not salty or chewy. I ate this on top of the french bread that was lathered in honey and jam. (delicious) That is really how you should eat it, it is salty, sweet, and crunchy.

Next came the Root Beer Braised Short Rib served over cheesy polenta cakes. 
This meat is very very tender. You can tear the meat into pieces with your fork very easily. When you put it into your mouth the meat just melts. I must say that the flavoring itself was good but a little bit on the salty side. I like salty foods so It was okay for me but if you are sensitive to sodium, I would have a glass of water next to me just in case. :)

This is their Hanger Steak Salad. There was nothing special to this. The meat was nicely cooked (a little bit on the rare end) but it is something that you could make at home easily. I would look at other things on their menu if you wanted meat.

I don't have a picture of the pork tacos but I did try them and they were VERY juicy and delicious. I suggest you order those instead.

Overall I had a great dining experience at Cork Bar and would definitely like to go again in the near future. Make sure you sit next to the entrance of the kitchen so the waitresses have no choice but to pass you everytime they enter the kitchen. Try to catch their happy hour for their great wine prices!

Have a great week! XOXO