Asian

We are bangin’ out the new year with ramen. Noodles are a representation of long life, and is a perfect way to start off the new year. Ramen shops are expected to boom in Los Angeles for the year 2015 and Tsujita is leading them all. The shop is small, modern and quite relaxing. It’s easy to get in for a quick bite and get out. This is the year of the ramen.

What better way to start if off the new year with ramen, Tsukemen to be specific. Tsujita’s Tsukemen is touted as being somewhat of perfect. Honestly, the bowl was quite delicious. The noodles were nice and tender, thick, and perfectly cooked. Dipping the noodles in the thick broth, the noodles did a good job of soaking in the flavors. The char siu though was quite thick and juicy. It wasn’t dry or flavorless. The bite of the pork was perfectly fatty and porky — probably some of the best char siu I’ve ever had.

The broth was mild, not as salty as I’d like, and not as hot as I’d like. It was warm, but not really hot. The flavors of the dashi was prevalent but not overpowering. It was fatty and had a nice mouth feel to the soup. I just wish it was a bit hotter — that would have made the noodles and the char siu and noodles warmer when eaten. Other than that, the broth was quite flavorful.

My experience at Tsujita was great, and I’d come again and again for a bowl of Tsukemen. The broth was pretty good, but the noodles and char siu still managed to overshadow it. That’s how good quality this stuff is. They take pride in having the perfect noodles. Long noodles are a sign of long life. This 2015 and on, I want to wish everyone a nice long healthy life. Ramen may not be “healthy,” but its good for the soul. And anything good for the soul is a good thing.
Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle on Urbanspoon

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KC’s Crepe Cafe

by Franklin on February 20, 2016

Kc's Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Tokyo Fried Chicken Co. – I’m Guilty

by Franklin on February 4, 2015

It is always good to see a somewhat popular restaurant in Monterey Park that isn’t Chinese or Asian. Even though Tokyo Fried Chicken Company suggests something Asian, I still think of it as southern fried chicken. Though it may have some Japanese influences, it is all about the fried chicken here. Fried chicken was the main event today, and we had a feast indeed.

We started things off with chicken skins. When I saw that on the menu, I knew I needed to have it. I remember as a kid, I was forced to throw the chicken skin away when eating KFC or Pioneer Chicken — my dad was kind of a health nut. Well, I got my revenge with these fried chicken skins. The basket was full of crunchies, almost like a basket of chicharon, I was dipping them and popping them in my mouth. They were delicious and such a guilty pleasure.

The sauces were key. The ponzu was much needed as it did a good job in cutting the fat of the fried goodness. The acidic and the fatty chicken was a great mixture. I wasn’t really a fan of the sweet soy sauce though.

The chicken was the main dish, but sadly the chicken wasn’t the main event. I have had my share of fried chicken (guilty), but their chicken was very different in a way not pleasing to my palate. As a savory and salty lover, their chicken was a bit on the sweet side. The sweetness was a bit off-putting. Even the chicken was a bit tough and seemed like it was more chuncky than juicy. The batter was crunchy though and had good flavors.

Mac and cheese with fried chicken go together like mac, and cheese. Their was quite delicious with the nori on top. The cheesy dish combined with the seafoody seaweed was a nice mix. It was cheesy and macy — delicious!

Dessert was made possible by Quenelle of Burbank. The push pops orange creamsicle of manderine orange and vanilla bean was nostalgic to the max. I remember eating the Flintstone push pops as a kid, and these were just delicious. The ice cream bar, apple pie a la mode was delicious as well. The apple pie ice cream, brown butter glaze, and graham cracker strusel crust was exactly what I imagined. If you were to make an apple strusel crisp pie into an ice cream bar, this would be it. The ice cream was a perfect ending to our fried chicken dinner.

Tokyo Fried Chicken Co. on Urbanspoon

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Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong – Flower Beef FTW

by Franklin on December 22, 2014

The acronyms AYCE and KBBQ go hand in hand, almost to the point of interchangeability. (Side note: the word “interchangeability” is the longest word used on this blog, I think.). I’m a carnivore to my core, and having all that my heart and stomach desires is welcome. For this reason alone is I think the reason why it took me so long to eat at Kang Ho Dong Beakjeong. For years, I’ve heard people tout that this is the best meat ever and I’ve seen crowds waiting to get a seat. Why are these people waiting for KBBQ with a limit? This must be good.

We ordered the beef cut called Flower meat. This is their signature cut and what everyone comes here for. The meat came in strips, and the marbling on the beef was incredible. It was a very fatty piece of beef. I am not quite sure on the cut of the beef — Judging the look, taste and texture, I’d guess it’s either a flank or rib. Am I way off? Regardless, the beef was pristine, and despite the large price tag, we wanted more.

We ordered the lesser priced, but equally popular, pork jowl. I liked the pork jowl (hang jung sal), but was more partial to the beef. Over cooking can cause the meat to be very rubbery. The taste was clean and the fat content was definitely there. Just the cooking process caused the texture to be quite off putting. In fact, this was the most rubbery piece of meat I’ve had in quite some time. Get the beef — flower beef.

To go with our meats, we also ordered the “lunch box” (doshirak). This was a bibimbap kind of dish. It reminded me of what I’d eat at home when there was nothing to eat. Just rice and a bunch of stuff from the fridge, add an egg on top to “keep it real” and I was good to go. Theirs was done nicely, with a mix of marinated seafood side dishes. It had lots of dried seafood actually and intensified the flavors a lot.

I guess I should mention Kang Ho Dong was a Korean comedian and MC. I don’t really follow Korean pop culture so I don’t really know much else about him. I guess having a famous person owning a restaurant is helpful. People flock to this place. Luckily, I went on a Monday and fit before the dinner rush. As the sun sets, expect a wait on any given night. A wait is expected for reasons not so mysterious. Even though the meat isn’t endless, the quality and atmosphere is why people come. Everyone loudly greets you when you enter, and everyone bids you farewell. The experience was great and the beef was exceptional. What more can I want?

Kang Ho-dong Baekjeong on Urbanspoon

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POT – Hot POT

by Franklin on September 29, 2014

Chef Roy Choi owns the Line Hotel as far as eating goes. With POT, Pot Cafe, and Pot Bar, and now the newly opened Commissary, Roy Choi definitely is taking over the food scene. With the opening of the Line Hotel and POT, there was a lot of buzz. Working in Koreatown, I tend not to eat around there. I have my reasons. Finally though, I was able to eat at POT and see what all the fuss is about. Way late in the game, I know. Better late than never.

Named POT, Chef Roy Choi is definitely referring to marijuana. Though he is referring to POT as being the hot pot restaurant that it is, there are plenty of references to marijuana inside the restaurant. You just have to come in and see. The space was a lot more casual than I thought. It honestly reminded me of the Koreatown PLaza food court in the 90’s. Maybe that’s what Chef Choi had in mind? Nonetheless, it was interesting.

We started things off with a trio of Korean side dishes. The kimchi was a bit sweet for some reason, but the sprouts were fresh tasting — almost refreshing. I really liked the marinated green onions. Again, the metal dish reminded me of Koreatown mall food courts.

Upon my buddy’s request, we ordered the potato pancake. I sure was glad we ordered this dish. The pancake was so crispy on the edges, it was insane. I like dipping it in the soy sauce concoction. It was exactly how my mom would make it. The potato pancake had a great flavor, but the crispy texture put it over the top.

The Beep Beep, Uni Dynamite rice bowl has been circulating around Instragram and Yelp since the dish became popular. Honestly, the pictures make it look like a huge bowl of rice and uni. When it came out, I was kind of bummed out, but thats what internet does to you. The flavor of this dish was quite intense, and so much so that the flavors of the uni was a bit lost. All of the other flavors really took away from the unique taste of the uni. I am an uni enthusiast, and this dish, though flavorful did not do it for me. I did like the crispy rice on the edges and the unique flavors, but a simpler approach might have been better.

Of course at POT, we had to order a hot pot. We opted for the Jamal Wilks, a seafood hot pot mix of silky tofu, shrimp, clams, mussels, kimchi, scallions, pork belly, and eggs. The seafood was fresh and had lots of seafood essence. The broth was intense with flavors, like it had too much flavor. The soup was thick and almost mudded with spices and ingredients. The small, which was $37, was actually pretty huge. I think it would have been big enough for about 4 people. I cannot justify the cost as I could get a nice personal bowl of seafood tofu soup at BCD for less than 10 bucks. I did finally find the little bits of pork belly inside which was delicious. The broth though was over flavored, and it had a nice depth of flavor. Not saying it as a positive or negative, but just as a matter of fact.

POT was an interesting experience. I think seeing it online and on the blogs before I finally experienced it for myself ruined it. I had such huge expectations for this place, and ultimately, my expectations were not met. Maybe my expectations were unrealistically high? I am not sure, but I can’t find myself eating at POT again. The food was average and everything seemed to be over flavored. I know too much flavor seems like a good thing, but it wasn’t in this case.

Pot on Urbanspoon

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Snow Flower Ice – Shaved Snow “Crumble”

by Franklin on September 16, 2014

The green tea snow itself was smooth and delicious, though you can find much better, creamier shaved snow in SGV. I’d even say Fluff Ice is a little better, and Class 302 just being untouchable. The addition of green tea mochi and mango popping balls made this even more flavorful. The mochi was soft and the mango popping balls were bursts of flavor. This was indeed a nice way to beat the heat.

Snow Flower Ice was a nice stop to beat the heat, but I’d say there are much better places to get shaved snow. Shaved snow has to be “dry” but then still remain creamy when you eat it. Snow Flower Ice interestingly was a bit dry and crumbly. I miss ice cream.

Snow Flower Ice on Urbanspoon

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Asian Night Market hosted by Chef Masaharu Morimoto was a success with plenty to eat and drink. Chef Morimoto’s dumplings were plenty. The peppery and somewhat acidic tartness was delicious on top. The dumplings seemed endless. Team Morimoto was like a well oiled machine. The dumplings just kept coming, as others’ lines just grew and grew. This event definitely had more people. I guess when Morimoto hosts LA Food and Wine, people notice.

Asian tacos were huge in this Asian Night Market. Chef Jet Tila was the first and last thing I ate that night, and for good reason too. His pork belly taco was quite delicious. He is slowly gaining presence on TV and Food Network. Phorage’s fried drunkenness crab and shrimp cakes were quite memorable. When shrimp and crab come together, its always a beautiful thing. Chef Tin Vuong from Little Sister Manhattan Beach did a wonderful charcoal grilled shrimp in a nice sauce.

Definitely, seafood played a large part in the Asian Night Market. From snails, fish, scallops, to octopus, seafood, in the addition to pork is what Asians do well. The night was amazing with a lot of Asian variations and cuisine. It was good to see Asian food lifted up and taken to an extreme level. The food preparation was quite impressive and the dishes the chefs were producing was impeccable.

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There are times when your body needs a refresh. I had all the intentions of living up to my carnivorous nature, but sometimes, one just needs to give the delicious meat a rest. That is where Samosa House and Bharat Bazaar comes in.

I ordered the combo plate. The pakora curry had yogurt cream with cauliflower. The cauliflower taste was masked by the curry and yogurt mixture. The barbecued soy protein nuggets was delicious as well. In a pool of spicy (not really spicy) barbecue sauce, the protein nuggets had full of flavor and all the characteristics of actual meat. My favorite was definitely the jackfruit curry. It was a bit salty and sour, but the texture was quite interesting. It was like nature’s meat. Not really sweet like a fruit, but more like a artichoke flavor and texture wise. All were delicious with the basmati rice and naan.

The garlic naan was just ok and nothing special. It didn’t have the pliability and tenderness as other good naan is. Theirs was more stiff and a bit burned on most spots. A little less time in the tandoor would have done wonders. Still though, I enjoyed sopping up the curry and sauces on the plate.

Samosa House and Baharat Bazaar was a nice place to enjoy the vegetarian side of eating. I always enjoy some meat with my meals, but experiencing all these meatless dishes wasn’t that bad. The flavors really stood out and the textures were really meat-like. They did a great job getting all the flavors and textures to represent meat in a positive way. I would probably dine here frequently if I were vegetarian.

Samosa House on Urbanspoon

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Mikawaya Mochi Ice Cream – 2 Buck Chuck

by Franklin on August 26, 2014

Something about mochi ice cream is so satisfying. That soft dough-like mochi on the outside, and the cold flavorful ice cream on the inside just hits the spot. Its cold, chewy, and delicious. The best part is, you don’t need a spoon — you eat it with your hands and there is no mess.

Little Tokyo’s Mikawaya has them for a dollar each. At those prices, you can scarf them down like popcorn. I got the mango and green tea mochi ice cream. I literally sat there, looked at my two treats, and carefully determined which one to eat first. Mango then green tea, or green tea, then mango… Hmm. Like I don’t have any other more important life decisions to make. In the end, I ate the mango first, then green tea second. That just seemed like the logical order to eat it. Either way, I was happy.

Mikawaya on Urbanspoon

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Chengdu Taste hit #46 on the top 75 best restaurants in LA inside Los Angeles Magazine’s May 2014 issue. That is pretty impressive considering the list doesn’t have many Asian restaurants and none from Alhambra. SGV is officially on the map! Prepare to wait anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour for a table. The Boiling Crab wait times can get a bit boring, but the wait is definitely worth it. We almost gave in to go to some cafe, but out patience was rewarded greatly. Chengdu, China is the capital of Sichuan province in southwest China and is a huge food city. I am happy to know that a little piece of it made it out to Alhambra. Score!

Mung bean noodles are slippery, taste like nothing, and has a consistency of hardened jello. It was the perfect vessel and blanks slate of all things flavor. This seemed to have been a favorite among diners as far as starters go. The house made chili sauce wasn’t as spicy as I thought it would be. Bite on the wrong pepper, and your mouth is in for a real surprise. The mixture of oil, Sichuan peppercorns, chili peppers, and a handful of other ingredients made this such a tasty dish. A little sweet, spicy, and tangy, this was a fiery component that was a little teaser of what was to come.

The cumin lamb is probably the most popular dish at the restaurant, and I could see why. The dish is generously coated in cumin and chili peppers. The lamb was tender to the point of almost the texture of ground meat. Some pieces were slightly fatty which was very unctuous in flavor. Some were saltier than others, and fatty too — not complaining really. It’s just the luck of the draw. These cumin lamb bites were incredible and would probably order them at every visit. I had a pile of toothpicks at the end of it all — a large pile.

The boiled sliced fish in hot sauce was a doozy. Albeit quite salty, this chili on chili molested dish was interesting and honestly delicious. The fish was delicate and quite mild in flavor. The soup/sauce that it swam in was quite the contrary. The heat from this dish is like no other. Hot wings and sauces like Tabasco give a little pinch on the tongue kind of heat. Red sauce from King Taco or green sauce from Mario’s is more of a mouth full of fire. This dish though, was more of a tongue numbing feeling. The sensation was interesting, and at a certain point, I was worried I was reacting to an allergy. The Chinese peppercorns really do a good job in numbing your tongue. It tingles and the feeling leaves you a bit on a high level.

The double cooked pork fried rice was a let down. Not that it didn’t taste good, and not that it was cheap. I just felt like I could make this at home. Honestly, the dishes we ordered would have went well with just plain white rice. This fried rice though, had nice slices of pork belly. I guess it wasn’t all for nothing.

The last dish of boiled vegetables, meats, in a Sichuan style special hot sauce was interesting. It was similar to a Korean budae jjigae that includes almost anything in the fridge and pantry into a pot of soup. This hot pot had duck blood, intestine, stomach, beef, and Spam. I can live with the duck blood, intestine, and stomach, but the sight of the Spam made this feel like home. The intestine had a nice texture but the funk level was higher than usual. The duck blood had a nice soft texture and subtle flavor. I didn’t really like the soup base for this. It didn’t have that kick in the face heat or bold flavor. This would be pretty nice on a cold winter night. It was warm, comforting, and that Spam just hit the spot.

The lines are long, and everyone in the area and maybe beyond want to eat at Chengdu Taste. After my experience here, I can see why. The flavors are powerful and daring. The spice levels are out of this world! I had such a good time dining here.

Chengdu Taste on Urbanspoon

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Ina ve been hearing such good things about Cafe Dulce, and seeing all the yummy looking photos, I had to give it a visit. During my dreaded two day jury duty visit, my 1.5 hour lunches made it a time to urban hike the crap out of downtown. Mindlessly walking, I ended up in Little Tokyo. It was either Spitz (the safe choice, and the choice I should have made), or elsewhere. Of course my curiosity led me to Cafe Dulce.

I ordered the Spicy Korean Cheesesteak. I don’t know why I ordered it. It. Just sounded good and though it would be. The marinated beef, homemade slaw, kimchi, provolone cheese, and their secret hot sauce between a stale roll was my lunch. The beef was thin, tasteless, and there wasn’t much of it. The house made slaw was not crunchy or tasty, and the kimchi somehow worked against the sandwich. I was definitely regretting not going to Spitz as I took each bite.

To cheer myself up, and to try their baked goods, I ordered a bacon donut hole. Honestly, this wasn’t that bad. It was soft, sweet, salty, and gave satisfied my craving of something at least somewhat tasty. I guess I was a better off not ordering lunch here but just getting some donuts and baked goods. Lesson learned.

Café Dulcé on Urbanspoon

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KTOWN Night Market Recap

by Franklin on May 13, 2014

LOS ANGELES – On April 18th and 19th, the highly anticipated KTOWN Night Market welcomed an estimated 80,000 guests to the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools for its twoQday community festival. In partnership with the City of Los Angeles District 10, the free to enter event showcased over 100 multi ethnic food vendors, merchandise booths, art exhibits, carnival games, and live entertainment.

Both nights featured a food truck lineup curated by Seoul Sausage, which included two winners from Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race”—Grill ‘Em All and Lime Truck. The “Food Truck Alley” also included locally renowned trucks like Fluff Ice, India Jones, White Rabbit, East LA Tacos, Bowled & Beautiful, CoolHaus, Jogasaki Sushi Burrito, and Carb & Nation—the fanQvoted winner of the event’s Last Food Truck Facebook contest. The “Food Truck Alley” was so popular that most of the vendors had to cart in more food after selling out earlier than expected.

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Humble Potato – Hambagas and Fries

by Franklin on May 3, 2014

Humble Potato has a simple concept. It puts a Japanese twist on American comfort food. This fast casual has an identity crisis. I initially thought they were a French fry shop– you know, kind of like a create your own French fry bar with your choice of toppings. I was surprised this place has no real emphasis on potatoes, but more on burgers. Good thing!

I ordered the Battle Royal– “Organized chaos!” Towered high is fresh Angus beef, “fried egg-splosive” egg sprinkled with seasoning salt, avocado, romaine, thick cut tomato, onion, Applewood smoked bacon, and HP spicy sauce. This burger was taller than it was wide. It was difficult to eat. Honestly, the burger gets an “A” for effort, but the is about it. The bun was off, and the beef was cooked all the way through. No medium rare or even medium here. The avocado gets lost in everything and all the ingredient come through individually. The burger fails to bring everything into one cohesive meld of things. It was an interesting burger.

The Shichimi & Garlic Parmesan Fries was quite the contrary to the burger. The potatoes themselves were fried to a crisp. It was the crunchiest and most solid French fry I ever had. The plastic fork had such a hard time poking at the fries. Think potato chips in the form of thick fries. This made for some awesome crunchtastic fries. The shichimi seasoning was a nice touch, and the Parmesan just created that extra depth. Of course, the garlic was welcome immensely, and everything came together quite nicely. I’m telling you, the crunch was insane and nothing like I ever had before.

The Humble Potato was an interesting experience. I getting he concept of Japanese American fusion, but I don’t quite understand the restaurant name. Nonetheless, the food was interesting. The burger, s let down, and the fries, an interesting surprise. Come here only slightly hungry. Get the fries — the hot dogs are next on my list.

Humble Potato on Urbanspoon

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Sushi Stop – Snack Time

by Franklin on April 9, 2014

You got to love the Sushi Stop for their logo. A spoof on the Game Stop stores, Sushi Stop’s signage really makes your do a double take. It looks like Game Stop, but it says sushi. Well the signage worked, and I did stop by for some sushi. The best part? Everything is $2.75. Score! I just stopped by to get a few cheap bites of sushi. I didn’t have much cash, as they are a cash only joint.

I ordered the spicy tuna roll, and yellowtail with truffle oil hand roll. Both were pretty decent for a quick and cheap sushi joint. The rice, the most important part of sushi in my opinion, was better than most. Still, it wasn’t the best tasting rice — it was a bit overcooked and had a sticky consistency. The fish was fresh and tasty though. Never have I ever had sushi with truffle oil. The yellow tail and hint of truffle taste was interesting. I didn’t necessarily think the flavors were needed, but interesting nonetheless. I did want to try mixing truffles and soy sauce. I think that will have an interesting body and taste. Something to consider for the future. If it starts getting popular, you heard it first here!

Sushi Stop was a fun experience. The food came out quickly, and the price was amazing. The little snack cost only about 6 bucks, cash only. Not bad at all. For a fast casual sushi joint, the quality of the fish was quite nice. Honestly, I tried this place only because the name intrigued me. I literally stopped for sushi, and it was good.

Sushi Stop on Urbanspoon

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Noodles (Bellagio) – A Little Bit of the SGV in Vegas

March 4, 2014

As someone who fancies authentic Chinese cuisine form the SGV, I don’t know how I ended up here. Maybe it was the intrigue, or the feeling of homesickness. Ultimately, I just wanted something completely different. I really don’t remember the last time I ate Chinese food or even a bowl of noodles in Vegas, if […]

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Koreatown Night Market

February 28, 2014

The night market makes its way to Koreatown! Presented by the City of Los Angeles, The inaugural festival will be help on Friday, April 18, and Saturday, April 19. The event will be held at Robert F Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles. The event is free to the public and will feature over 100 […]

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Santouka Ramen (Costa Mesa) – Mitsuwa Marketplace with some Japanese Ramen

February 18, 2014

It has been a while since I wrote a blog post on Orange County eats. Not that I don’t have love for the OC, its just not exciting to eat here anymore. All of the restaurants are too chain like. Except for a small few, all of the eateries are just average. To me, the […]

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Seoul Sausage Company – Sawtelle Hosts 3 Korean Food Truck Race Winners

January 5, 2014

Seoul Sausage had humble beginnings —Simple Korean BBQ sausage street vendors turned reality TV competition stars pretty much sums it up. The Great Food Truck Race season 3 winners immediately gained popularity, and in 2012, they opened up a small shop in Little Osaka on Sawtelle. Serving up their popular Korean BBQ style sausages and […]

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Lotus of Siam – Las Vegas Hole-in-the-Wall(ish) Thai Authority

December 7, 2013

Lotus of Siam is a bit off the strip, and sits in a sketchy area. There is nothing special about this place, inside and out. After reading so much about it, and hearing Andrew Zimmern rave about this place, it was on top of my list for my last Vegas trip. It goes to show, […]

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Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori & Shabu Shabu – Monterey Park’s Very Own

November 22, 2013

Shin Sen Gumi is one of those places that I always pass by on the corner of Atlantic and Garvey, but never gave it a thought. It might be the location, or it might be the quite plain writing, but I never thought twice about it. I do remember passing by it often though. After […]

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