spicy

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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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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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 street food, the food is innovative and exciting. Never have I imagined Korean BBQ to be stuffed inside a sausage.

It is a sausage company after all, and I had my eye on the spicy pork. The Handmade Korean BBQ pork sausage was flavorful. It had great pork flavor, but a bit on the mild side. I am used to sausage that is salty and full of flavor. This just tasted more like spicy pork inside a tube casing, which by the way was missing the snap of good sausage. It definitely need just a pinch more salt and way more spice. I did enjoy the apple cabbage cole slaw though. It was fresh and gave it that crunch it needed. Served on a toasted soft roll, this was an interesting experience. Never would I have thought that Korean dishes would make its way into a sausage.

The flaming ball was a genius idea. I choose the kimchi fried rice ball. Inside was a cheesy kimchi fried rice with spicy pork served with DMZ sauce. This sauce was perfect — it is a garlic jalapeno kimchi sriracha aioli that went well with the slightly spicy kimchi fried rice. The outer fried batter held everything together. The fried rice inside was pretty standard, but the mixture of the crunchy outside and killer DMZ sauce made everything work together. It was a nice little snack.

The shop is small and only has limited outdoor seating. Situated on Sawtelle and Mississippi, it sits at the bottom of an apartment/condo. The food choices are limited, but with the addition of a fried chicken dish (Da KFC), and galbi poutine, hungry customers should be satisfied. If you’re hungry, or just looking for a little snack, Seoul Sausage Co. has just the right fix. This is what LA is all about — a mashup of ideas and cuisine that creates a fusion of food from different regions. Seoul Sausage Co. hits home for me because of my Korean roots, and spins it in such a way that something so familiar is transformed into something brand new. Creativity is the key, and Los Angeles is the most accepting of anything new.

Seoul Sausage Company on Urbanspoon

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Eating here was just out of luck, chance, random act of randomness.  I always seen this place on Vermont in Koreatown, but we needed to eat dinner in Irvine.  I saw BBQ Chicken and thought I’d give it a try.  I went inside, and it looked promising.

The name BBQ Chicken is a bit misleading.  They don’t specialize in BBQ at all.  They are more of a specialized fried chicken restaurant. Amazingly, Koreans do fried chicken well.  BBQ Chicken’s fried chicken was really delicious.  Not dry, not too greasy — it was just good good food.

We ordered the half and half, one regular and one spicy.  The chicken here is delicious — plain and simple.  The sides as salad and rice were perfect for this.  The pickled daikons were perfect.  It helped cut the rich fattiness of the fried chicken. Add that with some rice and side salad, it was a great meal.

Warning:  If you love spicy food, I would reconsider the spicy chicken. Honestly, the spicy sauce they put on the chicken was uncomfortably spicy. It was good, nice and crispy, but this stuff was mouth torturing.  Even for the advanced spicy food eaters, this would be a challenge.  Hey, if you love spicy food, order it.  Just remember that I warned you.

After the spicy meat sweats, I looked back on the meal.  For a good price, I had a really tasty meal.  Decent fried chicken and experienced some of the spiciest food ever.  If you happen to be at Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center or Koreatown in Los Angeles, check out BBQ Chicken.  You will regret eating it, and regret not eating it.

BBQ Chicken on Urbanspoon

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I feel bad for those who are allergic to shellfish.  You can’t eat crab? lobster? shrimp? Wait, is shrimp considered a shellfish? I think so.  Anyways, I do feel bad for you, because that stuff is some of the best stuff the ocean has to offer.

I love Boiling Crab — I also love to boil crab.  Maybe that’s because I love crab and because seafood is good stuff!

The vibe you get at Boiling Crab (BC) is a Cajun seaport theme serving up seaside fare.  For some reason, I feel like someone in a pirate outfit would fit in nicely.  It’s very casual, and very messy.  They even let you write on the walls.  The one in Alhambra has every inch covered with writing.  One bad thing about coming to BC is that there is most likely a wait.  I remember one time, my family and I had to wait almost 2 hours! For a restaurant that has so many people wanting to eat there, it has to be good.

The food is exceptional.  What’s on my table?  If I am a little tight with my budget, I usually go for the shrimp and some corn.  Maybe throw in some clams in there with some Cajun fries.  The fried catfish basket is great too.  On days I want to splurge, I splurge.  I order the dozen raw oysters and finish it off with some dungeons crab.  I tried the craw fish (crayfish), and I realize that I am not a fan of it.  It’s pretty much a small lobster that is yields little meat for a lot of work.  I’ll stick to my shrimp.  All of this seafood won’t be what it is without the sauce — the reason why this seafood is so good is because of the sauce.

Sauce is important in your meal.  It is the main flavor element.  At BC, you can choose from Cajun spices, garlic butter, or lemon pepper.  Most people get the “whole sha-bang” — this is a combination of all three sauces.  This place is a fan for those who like spicy food because they can go from really mild, to “XXX” spicy.  You can get this seasoning for your fries as well. I tried the most spicy level, and it is really spicy.

You have to be careful because you may regret eating “all that spicy spice” the next morning.  You will reek of garlic and spices.  Your friends will plug their noses when you talk to them, and vampires will stay away.  You will constantly reminded that you ate at Boiling Crab last night.  Is that a bad thing?  I don’t think so. 🙂

The Beginning

Eating at Boiling Crab is really a great experience.  You wait  for  hours, put on a bib, and make a mess.  You get fresh fish and seafood with amazing flavor.  It is a seafood lovers paradise and is definitely a go to spot when I need my seafood fix.

The End

Boiling Crab on Urbanspoon

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