BBQ

Hambone’s – That BBQ Got Me

by Franklin on February 24, 2015

Good southern barbecue is hard to come by. Either the sauce isn’t right, the meat is dry, or the sides just don’t cut it. Stumbling upon Hambone’s in Bellflower, I was onto something delicious here. The look was right and the smell was intoxicating. This is that soul food — this stuff sticks to your ribs and stays with you. The food was indeed memorable, and we all know this stuff stuck to my ribs among other parts of my body. Barbecue is a beautiful thing and Hambone’s does it right.

Ordering the rib tips and fries, I knew not having any greens or veggies were going to kill me. It didn’t matter as the rib tips were succulent — it had the right amount of tender meat and flavorful bark. The plate came with more than I thought, and the pieces were perfectly sized. The fries were dusted with seasoning salt which I liked. Call me unconventional (or a typical Asian), but a side of rice with these rib tips would have been quite nice. Just saying.

The tri tip sandwich to me was good, but not great. The meat was a bit on the dry side, but was aided with their spicy sauce. I saw everyone ask for some spicy sauce, and I naturally ordered some as well. That stuff was addicting — spicy with the right kind of kick and all the goodness of barbecue. That saved this somewhat bland sandwich. The mac and cheese though was on point. Cheesy and greasy as it should be, the noodles were perfectly coated in the cheese sauce.

My visit to Hambone’s was quite pleasant. The price for everything wasn’t too much. I was quite surprised at the price actually. At this calibur of barbecue and with these affordable prices, I will surely be back.

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Lala Argentine Grill – Skirt

by Franklin on January 16, 2015

Argentinians and barbecue go to together like skirt steak with a side of chimichurri. This is probably why the national dish of Argentina is asado. Anything centered on barbecued beef, anyone can love. Lala Argentine Grill does a great job on the classic. Their food is consistently good and a favorite amongst Los Angelenos.

The bread and chimichurri was a great start to our meal. The bread, quite bland and a bit stale was saved by the chimichurri. The sauce had a nice bite to it and was garlic heavy. The garlic made it quite spicy — not in the sriracha sense, but like raw garlic.

Getting ready for some awesome asado, we started off with a sensible salad. The Melrose salad was a perfect choice. It had chopped grilled chicken, tomato, onion, feta cheese and warm rice tossed in spicy honey mustard dressing. The spicy mustard dressing went well with the feta and chicken. The tomato and onions balanced everything out nicely. The rice made this salad quite heavy, and was immediately full after the bread and salad.

Skirt steak skirt steak can easily be my favorite cut of beef. The somewhat chewy texture gives it bite, and has the perfect ratio of fat. The skirt steak before was perfectly cooked medium rare. The garlic heavy sauce on top and the beef was a perfect combo. I don’t know why I didn’t get fries with my steak. They must have run out for the night. The rice was a great substitute and healthier too (I guess). The salad was a good counter balance from the heavy steak.

Lala Argentine Grill is a good option for a decent meal including meat and rice. I grew up on meet and rice, and this really hit the spot. It was comfort food in the form of meat and rice. They offer sandwiches and pastas and the like, I always go for the skirt steak and fries, maybe rice if I am feeling ricey. Their food is solid and one can always expect something delicious.

Lala's Grill 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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Gen Korean BBQ – Top Notch AYCE

by Franklin on October 14, 2013

If you didn’t know by now, I am Korean. I grew up on rice, kimchi, and SPAM. Now in my late 20’s, I don’t get to eat my mom’s cooking as often. I think these days, the closest thing I get to Korean cuisine is Korean BBQ. One of my all time favorite Korean BBQ joints, unfortunately a bit far, is Gen Korean BBQ in Tustin. Yeah, Alhambra has their very own Gen Korean BBQ, but that place was a disappointment. The one in Tustin though, it quite the spot.

Ban-Chan was all symmetrically prepared before us. You know how mirrors make rooms seem larger? This “mirror” effect gave the illusion that there was a lot of ban chan. Yeah, most places would make people share this stuff. It was cool that for two people, we each had our own set.


The reason why Gen is one of my favorite Korean BBQ spots is because of the meat. The thinly sliced beef brisket (Chadol) and non-marinated short rib is my favorite. The beef brisket has a pure beef flavor and the fat has an indescribable quality to it. It seems like it was never frozen; the meat doesn’t dry up once cooked. The short rib has a perfect balance of meat and fat, and the marbling is excellent. And yes, that is large intestine you see in the picture. It’s a bit chewy and a lot fatty, but dang good! The quality is the best — clean and pure.

The experience at Gen Korean BBQ is like no other. Not only is the meat great, but the ambiance is on par. With modern leather(ish) chairs and granite(esque) tables, to the blue ambient lighting, the space is cool and relaxing. From great quality meat and modern fixtures, what more can I ask for?

Gen Korean BBQ & Yakitori Bar on Urbanspoon

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Bossa Nova – Sunset’s Brazilian Hot Spot

by Franklin on January 21, 2013

For the longest time, I wanted to eat at Bossa Nova. I always plan on eating there for lunch or dinner, but something else comes up or I go eat somewhere else. Finally, I made it here and the experience was pleasant. The only brazilian food I am used to is the BBQ. Whether it be M Grill in Koreatown or Fogo de Chao in Beverly Hills, the endless meat is what I go for. Maybe that is what kept me hesitant about Bossa Nova for so long. The Sunset location was somewhat packed that night with a 30 minute wait. Waiting all that for semi-outdoor seating was a bummer. After the food came out, I wasn’t really complaining.

The night started off with complimentary bread. Not particularly a favorite, the bread was a bit boring. It wasn’t really soft, warm, or chewy — it didn’t have any qualities of being good bread. It felt like they served it just because. Not that there isn’t anything wrong with that, it was free afte all.

The chicken brochette is probably the most decadent thing I had in a while. It was a fried on fat on more fat combination of pure bliss. Fried chicken breast wrapped in bacon sat in a vat of gorgonzola cream sauce. Served with a side of sliced bread (which was way better than the bread they gave us), this appetizer was tasty. The bacon was crispy and salty, and the chicken inside was moist and tender. It was a perfect match in taste and texture. To top it all off, the gorgonzola cheese sauce made everything just pop. It was warm, creamy, and delicious with all that blue cheese funk. This was a killer dish for sure.

To keep this fried on fat on fat theme going, we ordered the deluxe dutch fries. These were french fries with a drizzle of homemade gorgonzola sauce and crumbled gorgonzola cheese. I did not like this dish at all. The fries came out nearly cold, leaving the fries soggy and soft. The gorgonzola sauce didn’t help stiffen them up either. It was just a mash of limp fries and fatty sauce, with not a lot of crumbled blue cheese. I think if this was made perfectly on the spot, it would be perfect. Imagine perfectly crisp and crunchy fries, warm cheese sauce and gorgonzola. This perfect recipe for deliciousness was just a disappointment.

The night was saved by the main dish. I ordered the flank steak picanha. The flank steak was cooked nicely to a medium rare, but the side items were what made this dish exciting. The white rice and black beans were simply cooked and gave the dish balance. Eating everything with the salsa made everything pop. The most interesting thing on the plate was the yucca flour. It had a very crunchy texture, almost like eating granulated glass. I know that may sound unappetizing to some, but it had a very mild flavor which and added the crunch. Everything was perfected by the fried plantains. The sweetness helped give my taste buds diversity. This was a well balanced dish and wouldn’t go with anything else.

I saw a lot of people order pizzas and pastas, but I wanted to reserve that for next time. I felt like I owed myself to have Brazilian BBQ that wasn’t all you can eat. This meant no filling up on pao de queijo and It wasn’t about eating a years worth of meat. This experience was more casual — pay for what you eat. For that, the food tasted better in some way. After my meal, I was beyond stuffed. I wondered how I could ever and why I would eat more. The price was affordable and everything was exactly as expected. No frills. Just good food. Bossa Nova is a popular spot amongst Angelinos. Next time around will be pizzas and pasta, Bossa Nova style.

Bossa Nova Brazilian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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When you are in Santa Monica seafood comes to mind. BBQ, let alone, good BBQ isn’t one of the first things you think of. On a random weekend trip to Venice Beach / Santa Monica, I stopped by Baby Blues BBQ. After reading glowing reviews on this joint, I had to see for myself. Just the rarity of a barbecue restaurant near the beach got me intrigued. Situated on Lincoln Blvd., I wasn’t expecting anything gourmet. The rugged interior and simple decor made this place a very casual spot. There was a little wait for a table, but the anticipation made me hungry — not a bad thing.

I ordered their pulled pork plate. A barbecue restaurant is only as good as its pulled pork. Baby Blues BBQ made some amazing pulled pork. It had the right amount of fat and meat — it was tender and not dry at all. Per their recomendation, we added some of their spicy vinegar sauce on the meat. This brought the dish to a whole new level. The tang from the vinegar went perfectly well with the fatty pork. Slathering the meat with 1 of their 4 sauces was awesome. My favorite was the original. With a side of mac and cheese and mashed sweet potatoes, I was in carb load heaven. The mac and cheese was amazing, hands down. Baked from a large batch, the mac and cheese was rich and cheesy. This was southern cooking at its best. The mashed sweet potato was perfect. A little bit of sweet helped keep my taste buds excited. This was a southern style plate that impressed.

My all time favorite at Baby Blues BBQ is their tri tip sandwich. The meat was a soft and the best part is their marinade. A little sweet and robust like that of teriyaki, the meat had a nice barbecue taste — kind of like an Asian barbecue sauce marinade. The brioche bun soaked up all the flavor and was a perfect vessel for the goodness. The cole slaw on top gave the sandwich enough crunch and texture. I feel good cole slaw is important in a pulled pork sandwich and Baby Blues’ doesn’t fall short. The sandwich was so simple and the tri tip really shined. With a side of a pickle spear and this meal was perfect.

Who would have thunk an awesome barbecue joint would be situated near the beach? Their simple menu and decor really brought them down to earth. The quality of the meat was memorable and their barbecue sauces were no joke. How perfect was it to eat some great authentic BBQ and then relax at the beach? Something about eating seafood at the beach is so cliche and normal that it doesn’t seem exciting. Barbecue on the other hand is always a win win situation. Adding the beach to the equation just sweetens the deal.

Baby Blues BBQ on Urbanspoon

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Fogo de Chão translate in Portuguese as “Fire Ground”. Such a fitting name when you are talking about meat cooked with direct fire. When you think of Brazilian BBQ, Churrascaria in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills to be exact, Fogo de Chao comes to mind. If you put endless quality meats together with Beverly Hills, you know its going to be expensive. Taking advantage of the Dine LA menu, you save nearly 20 bucks a person. Not only do you get to eat all the meat you want, but well, I guess that’s it. Bottom line, its a buffet, but nothing like the cheapy-deapy stuff. I tend do eat everything and anything that is served at buffets, so I had to strategize. Not a lot of carbs, just meat. You and your green on one side, red on the other coaster, and your meat. My coaster was on green for a while, meaning, bring on the meat! The servers made sure I had the cut of meat I wanted. Servers with swords came by and carved away at the perfectly cooked meats — think meat skewers for a T-Rex. I got lucky and always had the outer crust — that’s where all the flavor is. Green means go — I was ready to eat.

Speaking of strategy, the restaurant has their own game plan — get guests full on breads and carbs. As am appetizer, they serve some pão de queijo, the bread. Freshly baked and warm, they were so chewy and gooey in the middle with a nice milky flavor. You can easily eat too much of these and leave no room for the meat. Be careful. To add to this carbohydrage stomach filler, they give three sides — garlic mashed potatoes, crispy fried polenta, caramelized bananas. They even offer more sides of rice, beans, and forofa upon request. Wanting the meat, I forewent the extra sides. My favorite were the crispy polenta. It tasted like large sheets of french fries with a crunch like no other. The caramelized bananas were great in between meats — It helped keep the taste buds alive, going back and forth from savory to sweet. The sides were delicious and plenty, but I made sure not to over do it.

Brazilian Barbecue restaurants have a lot of signature meats. Bellow are some of the popular meats served:

Picanha: This is their Top Sirloin. The meat is very tender and lean with a nice fat layer encapsulating the meat.

Alcatra: This is also their Top Sirloin. This had a strong beef flavor, probably the most of the group.

Filet Mignon: Of course, this was one of my favorites. Not wrapped in bacon like other Churrascarias, this one was the purest and cleanest beef of the bunch. Though very lean, it was very juicy. It was the softest of them all and it melted in your mouth.

Ancho: This is the Rib Eye. One of my favorite cuts of beef, this was one of my favorites. It had a good balance of fat and meat. It was cooked perfectly.

Fraldinha: This is the Bottom Sirloin. The meat was tender as well but had more marbled fat within the meat. I liked this far more that the Picanha.

Cordeiro: This is the Lamb. I am not much of a lamb fan. They cooked it well enough to make it juicy and not so gamey.

Frango: This is the Chicken. On the bone, the flavor was clean and of the highest quality. It was cooked nicely with a tasty seasoning on the outside. It was a nice pair with the Linguica.

Linguica: This is the Sausage. It had a nice snap with the natural casing. The sausage was salty and not too fatty. It was perfect with the chicken.

Fogo’s salad bar was impressive as well. Ranging from vegetables, salads, cheeses, salumi, sauces, and more, they were perfect pairings with the meat. Some of the things that stood out were the endive, cheeses, and bacon. Yes, they had a whole bowl full of fried bacon. Any buffet with a large bowl full of bacon is fine by me. Another thumbs up for me was the whole Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese wheel. This was the real stuff, from Italy. It was great with the prosciutto and the meat. All of the vegetables and cheeses were great with the meat.

The Dine LA menu has changed since the past. Fogo was a few bucks cheaper and gave dessert at the end of the meal. Though the dessert was taken off the menu, it was still a great deal. The meat was amazingly tasty and generously seasoned. The sides and salad bar was fresh and good quality. When you dine at Fogo, you are eating like Kings. Thanks to Dine LA and Restaurant Week, I could do it for cheap(er). Any carnivore like myself can appreciate Brazilian BBQ, but at the end of the day, it’s a buffet, a mega chain that exists all over Brazil and United States. At the end of my meal, I got my money’s worth and felt I needed to take a shower. Covered in meat sweat and filled with grease, I was satisfied.

Carnivores 1 / Vegetarians 0

Fogo de Chão on Urbanspoon

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We all have our favorite go to BBQ joints. Some of my favorites, interestingly located in Orange County is Blake’s and the chain, Lucille’s. LA and Orange county is in a position where good barbecue joints are plenty, but truly great ones are few and far between. As of yet, I don’t have a favorite authentic bbq spot. Short Stop BBQ, a mobile food truck serving, well, BBQ was a shot in the dark. I didn’t know anything about it and I didn’t do my research beforehand. I just saw the words BBQ and I went for it. It let me to wonder how a food truck can smoke racks and racks of ribs and slabs of pork. Intrigued, I had to try their bbq.

I ordered the pulled pork sandwich, a common item at any bbq joint. Topped with creamed corn, I was excited to try it. The pork was tender, but as expected, it was a bit dry. The creamed corn, though it helped moisten the pork, it was mushy. Traditionally, pulled pork sandwiches have a slaw of some sort. This gives it a nice bite and crunch with the tender pork. The creamed corn actually added to the pork’s mush. I wanted the corn to have that bite that the cole slaw offered. The bbq sauce, another important element in good bbq was a bit lacking as well. It didn’t have a flavor profile that distinguished itself from the rest. It was neither spicy, sweet, or tangy. Maybe the creamed corn had to do with the taste of the sauce, but it would have been better with a more pronounced sauce. Don’t get me wrong. The sandwich wasn’t all bad. The bread was a perfect, and the pork in it of itself was great, but the sandwich didn’t leave me wanting more. I ate it, and it was immediately forgotten — I didn’t crave it after it was all gone.

I know. It was only one thing out of all of their items on the menu. Still though, a sandwich that is probably the most important when it comes to bbq should be the end all, be all. I would like to give Short Stop BBQ another whirl. Their tri tip sandwich seemed promising with the “bleu slaw” and the burgers with smoked pork belly seems like a winner. Heck, even their bleu cheese and tri tip frites seem delicious. Did I order the wrong thing? Possible. I just know that great authentic bbq is hard to find at any restaurant. That means finding it at a food truck is a near impossible task. But then again, it seems to me that I have a weird and insatiable criteria for bbq. I would have a field day if I ever had a chance to try the great bbq meccas in America, whether it be in Texas, Illinois, Kansas, or the Carolinas. Some day, I suppose. Sadly, those may never reach the west.

Shortstop BBQ (Food Truck) on Urbanspoon

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Santa Ana is going through a great urban renovation. Old buildings are being turned into offices, condos and restaurants. At the Santa Ana Arts District, the streets look more lively it seems like. Starting in the mid 90’s, the artists rented out undesired buildings as workspace. Soon after, the area saw a growth in artists and art galleries. This new and hip reinvention of the city also brought along different kinds of restaurants. Lola Gaspar, for example provides great regional food without the pretense. Situated in the historic Santora Building, it is in the center of Santa Ana’s Artist Village. At Lola, they specialize in small plates with dishes made from scratch. Specialized in Latin and European classics, they use only local ingredients. They are open late for those who like to drink and snack late into the night.

I took advantage of their small plates and had a snack. Their smoked bacon wrapped dates were great, and I would order them again. Stuffed with bleu cheese, the inside was hot and creamy. Though I would have liked a more pungent blue cheese flavor, the bacon shined. The salty bacon contrasted well with the subtly sweet dates. The sherry mustard emullsion on the side did a great job in balancing the flavors. It added enough of the extra sweetness that this dish needed. It was a great start. I would just bring my own blue cheese, because we all know how much I love blue cheese.

Their baked flatbread was interesting and honestly, I kind of thought it would be better. Everything was fine. The cured chorizo was exceptional — it had a smokey, yet complex flavor. The mozzarella was fresh and left me wanting more — the goat cheese tasted gnarly and strong as heck but still added to the experience. My only gripe about this flatbread was the dough. Their dough sucked. They put all these marvelous ingredients on top of a flatbread dough so plasticky and uninspired. It was as if they just got water, flour and oil and made some kind of makeshift dough. I really wanted a good bite on the dough and sadly didn’t get it. If it weren’t for the dough, this would have been an amazing experience.

Lola Gaspar is a great tapas style eatery with a nice bar and outside seating. Drinking my favorite juice, grapefruit, and eating small plates, I was experiencing the full Santa Ana Arts District environment. Amidts all of the night’s wonders and lights, the history of it all filled me with a feeling of ease — the simple flavors and organic ingredients surrounding me all culminated into something special. I realized then that the food itself was only half of the whole. Once you are in the area, you are taken to a different place. This is what Santa Ana Arts District is all about. Using the old to push the ideas of the new in a classical way, restaurants here like Lola Gaspar keep the history alive. Come for the history, come for the scenery — For me, I came for the food.

Lola Gaspar on Urbanspoon

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Houston’s (Irvine) – Ribs, Ribeye, And #1 Tuna

by Franklin on November 12, 2011

This may be one of my favorite restaurant chains.  Houston’s offers a home feel with a bit of class and sophistication.  It doesn’t try to be pretentious and is not image driven.  They let the food speak for itself. It is a step above Yard House, which is a large step above TGIFriday.  Though I didn’t really know what to expect, I was impressed with the food.

We ordered the spicy tuna roll salad.  On the menu, it said “inside out #1 tuna roll”.  We didn’t know what the whole #1 thing was about, so I asked the waitor.  Supposedly, that meant it was top grade tuna. The tuna was indeed fresh and wrapped with greens avacado.  I liked that the tuna was whole and not chopped up.  Well, why would anyone chop up #1 tuna anyways? The mango and lettuce salad was a nice touch. The ponzu sauce was delicious with it.  It looked too good to eat, but guess what — I did anyways.

The Hawaiian ribeye is a sure thing here.  I like my steaks rare, and they cooked mine perfectly.  It is marinated in a subtly sweet sauce and the then grilled over hardwood. The taste was amazing.  The sweetness was a nice change to a lot of steak I had in the past.  It was juicy and had a perfect fat to meat ratio.

The barbecue pork ribs were good as well.  It had a nice sauce which is important to any BBQ dish.  There was a lot of meat and flavor was definitely there, though a bit more meat would have been better — the ribs were kind of skimp. The best part of this dish was the cole slaw with parsley.  It was such a simple side dish, but it made all the difference.  The crunch from the cabbage and chew from the meat was a great combination.

Houson’s in Irvine was a great dinner.  The atmosphere was friendly and sophisticated at the same time. Food was perfect.  The price is a bit on the steep side, but you get what you pay for.  In hind sight, it was worth it.  I still dream about that ribeye.

Houston's on Urbanspoon

Houston's on Urbanspoon

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One in a while, you come across a BBQ spot that that really hits the spot.  A good BBQ restaurant is hard to find.  Checking my best friend yelp, I found this Blake’s Place, literally off the grid. Located in the industrial parts of Anaheim, they are hard to find.  You wouldn’t even think there would be a restaurant within a few blocks from there.  But once you get there and try the food, you will be glad you found it.

Walking in, I had a good feeling about this place.  Not only did I see the catering trucks outside, there were a few police officers enjoying a meal.  You know if the police eat there, it has to be good food.

I read many good things about the Blake’s pulled pork pile.  Once it came out, my mouth dropped to the floor.  This thing was huge.  As they say,  You definitely need napkins for this one. The pork was not dry at all.  Most pulled pork I tried was overly sauced because the meat was so dry.  Blake does the pulled pork right.  The cole slaw gave it a nice crunch and the red onion really made every come together.  This was one of my favorite pulled pork sandwiches.

We also ordered the rib plate.  It included a lot of different cuts so we got to try everything.  It included baby back ribs, pork spare ribs, and of course a beef rib.  The plate also came with bbq beans, mac and cheese, cole slaw, and garlic bread. The BBQ at Blake’s really is delicious.  The meat was so fall off the bone tender and is never dry or burnt.  My favorite of course, was the beef rib.  Not only was it humongous, it was delicious.  Eating it with the mac and cheese and garlic toast was good too.  It was a great BBQ meal.

Of course, we ended the meal off with a nice dessert.  The banana cream pudding was really good.  It wasn’t too sweet and there were nice slices of banana and vanilla cookies inside. Delicious.

This was a cool spot.  I would never have came here or found this place if it wasn’t for the internet.  Hopefully, someone will read this blog post and find it to be a nice BBQ spot as well. So where is this place?  Its near the 91 and 57 around the outskirts of Anaheim.  You can Google Blake’s Place.  Make sure you keep that map open and GPS on.

Blake's Place on Urbanspoon

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Some days, you have to let loose.  Diets and counting calories don’t matter.  You shut down your hunger sensors and gorge in a all you can eat meat fest.  Koreatown has Korean BBQ restaurant at almost every corner.  One of my favorites is Hae Jang Chon on 6th Street. They offer some good quality meat and I personally like their selection.  This is one of my favorites because of the stone plates that the meat is cooked on.  These things are like the iron skillets that get passed down generation to generation.  All the meat essence that was cooked before is still on there from past patrons.  Time after time after time, all that meat essence is still there, and it comes out in the food.

The time me and my family went, just like any other night, was a busy one.  We waited nearly over an hour, so plan on doing the same.  It was particularly loud inside.  People were binge eating and drinking — nothing out of the ordinary on a Saturday night in Koreatown. This is all part of the Korean BBQ experience.

The food here is just as good as the experience.  Besides their many side plates, my favorite meat options are thinly sliced beef, short rib meat, and pork belly. I also like to get the tongue.  The tongue has a nice beef flavor but is not as chewy.  It is tender and the flavor is really nice., contrary to what others may think.

I also tried the baby octopus.  The beef on pork on beef was getting kind of tiring.  I roasted the baby octopus for a little, making sure not to over cook it. It was very tender and wasn’t rubbery at all.

The ending is the best.  Once you are done with the meat, it is time to eat more.  They clean the rock slate and cook this vegetable rice mix.  It is crispy on the bottom and so good as a finisher.  Check out the video to see the waiter in action.

Eating all you can eat is good, but not all the time.  Once in a while though, you have to give in.  Cook all the meat that you want, just the way you like.  It is right in front of you and once it is done, you just eat.  Watch your tongue though, that grill is hot.

Hae Jang Chon Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Who doesn’t like a grilled cheese sandwich?  It is a childhood standard meal.  I always think of those Kraft cheese commercials where they split open a grilled cheese sandwich, and all that gooey cheese starts stretching out.  Man, I love that commercial.  The cheese has to be the star of a grilled cheese.  Though they do have regular grilled cheese sandwiches, the ones I ordered weren’t ordinary at all. The Grilled Cheese Truck uses cheese, and they use the good stuff from Tillamook.  I don’t really know if they are a partner or they just use exclusively that brand, but the cheese is top notch.  You can check out some of their recipes there too.

What’s better than grilled cheese that mac and cheese?  The cheesy mac and rib, undoubtedly one of their most famous sandwiches, had macaroni and cheese made with sharp cheddar, bbq pork, and caramelized onions. Surprisingly, the bbq pork was the star.  It wasn’t dry or bland.  The the consistency was mush on mush, the mac and cheese was cheesy and delicious.  It was a solid sandwich.

The brie melt was probably my favorite.  It had bacon and fig paste on a peppercorn potato bread.  Aside from the bacon, the best part was the almonds inside.  It gave it that texture I was craving.  The creamy taste of the brie went well with the bacon, and the fig paste gave it that sweetness. It was a perfect sweet and savory combination.  This one wasn’t your typical grilled cheese, that’s why I liked it.

One of their popular sandwiches is the pepperbelly melt on habanero bread.  It has chili inside with a mix of salsa.  The kicker was the crushed Fritos corn chips inside. Though the chips were soggy and got lost inside the sandwich, the taste was bold and spicy.  Intense and delicious.

All these delicious sandwiches were accompanied by some tater tots.  Surprisingly, the tater tots were nice and crispy.  They were especially delicious dipping them in the cheese sauce.  Sandwiches and tater tots are an amazing combination. It took me back to elementary school days in the cafeteria.

This is an awesome food truck.  The lines get really long.  If you notice the pictures, the sun is out while I was waiting in line, and the sun had set when I got my sandwich. I remember back at the Santa Anita Food Truck Fest, the lines were the longest I have ever seen, and they were sold out.  I don’t know how that happened, but it did.  This time, I was smart.  I follow them on twitter, and lucky for me, they were in my neck of the woods one evening.  The line was still long, but manageable.  They are one of the top gourmet food trucks in Los Angeles, and I finally got mine.


Grilled Cheese Truck on Urbanspoon

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I really don’t want to like Lucille’s.  I mean.  It’s a chain.  Albeit, it is a west coast chain covering only California, Nevada, and Arizona, but still a chain nonetheless.  Even though there are a bunch of these around southern California, I am here to talk about the best one — I am talking about the one in Brea, CA. I’ve been to a couple of other Lucille’s and this one tops them all.  The interior is the nicest, and the food tastes best here.  I am easily proven right by the lines here, because on any given weekend, you will wait nearly an hour for a table.

When my carnivorous side kicks in, a trip to Lucille’s Smokehouse is a must.  I usually get the beef ribs. Those things are humongous.  There is so much meat and fat on each rib, all covered in sauce — they are so delicious.  My always go-to item though, is the rib tips.  They have a good smokey flavor and there is not a lot of bone.  I come here sometimes during happy hour and the rib tip plate is really cheap. All I need is that and some of their amazing biscuits.  Top that off with their “muddy water” (lemonade + iced tea) in the cool glass jar, and I am fully satisfied.

I really do like barbecue sauce, and Lucille’s could possibly have my favorite.  They offer 3 different kinds, but I like to stick to the original.  It is sweet and has a little tang, but not too much.  It just has that familiar sweet and smokey barbecue taste that I like.

Good BBQ always need some tasty sides.  My favorites are the garlic mashed potatoes and the the mac n cheese.  My all time favorite side though, is the cheese grits. I never really had grits until I tried it here, and it is delicious.  It has a strong cheese flavor and the texture is really nice.  I’m sure it’s not the best out there, but this is great with the charred meats.  By the way, I need to know where to get some really good grits in southern California.

There you have it, the truth.  My favorite BBQ comes from a chain.  Though that’s not quite true, Lucille’s is definitely one of my go to BBQ joints.  The flavor is just right and the atmosphere is really fun.  Hands down, this is my favorite chain restaurant I like to dine out. And always, the best one of the them, is at little ol’ Brea.
Lucille's Smokehouse BBQ (Brea) on Urbanspoon

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Scottie’s Smokehouse Barbecue – Saucey Sauce, Beefy Beef

May 13, 2011

Finding a good barbecue spot is really difficult.  Usually, I can hit up Lucille’s and my BBQ fix is pretty much met.  But the fact that one can get that BBQ anywhere, it doesn’t become something special.  When I walked into Scottie’s, it exuded a BBQ restaurant to its core. The beef ribs we had […]

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The Hat – Pastrami + Chili + Cheese + Fries = Yum

May 5, 2011

Pastrami is probably one of my favorite cured meats. Done right, it can sometimes even beat out bacon. Shocking, I know. That along with porchuto and pancheta, I feel that pastrami is so widely available, it has to be my favorite. I dream of a fantasy land in my head where pastrami, bacon, porchuto, and […]

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Barbecue My Meat!

March 13, 2011

In sunny Southern California, we have the pleasure of nice warm weather nearly everyday, at any time of day.  This calls for BBQs every Sunday and a relaxing time dining outside.  I had the pleasure to host a birthday BBQ dinner for a buddy of mine.  On the menu?  Meat, junk food, and beer of […]

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