lobster

EMC Seafood – Oyster and All for Happy Hour

by Franklin on February 20, 2015

EMC Seafood seems like a fish out of water in K-Town, pun intended. With a clean cut interior and a fresh menu of seafood offerings, there is no smidgen of K-Town funk. Don’t get me wrong — as a Korean with a love/hate relationship with Koreatown, restaurants in this part of town seem to replicate each other. You have your typical Korean bar/restaurants, numerous BBQ spots, and everything in between. EMC seafood is refreshing and a beam of light for future things to come.

We started things off with a dozen oysters. At a dollar a pop during happy hour, I don’t know why I didn’t get more. The oysters were plump, juicy, and fresh. Topping them with the various sauces, or having them raw, oysters are always enjoyable. No, seriously though. Why didn’t I order more?

The soft shell crab sliders were pretty ok, not the best. I felt the bread somehow overpowered everything. I know from the looks of it, the crab is hanging out from the sides of the bread. For some reason, the soft shell crab lacked flavor. Maybe salting it more or spicing up the batter would have helped a bit. It really didn’t stand out and was the most underwhelming dish of the night.

The lobster roll was quite delicious. The lobster was plenty but didn’t seem cooked recently. Lobster is usually a bit firm, succulent, and has a nice bite to it. The lobster here was a bit flaccid and somewhat flavorless. Maybe it was the lack of mayo. It just needed something extra. Even the crispness of a lime or lemon would have done wonders. I would probably stay away from the lobster roll next time.

The uni pasdta is a favorite of mine. Though the pasta sauce was a bit watery and the uni flavor was not prominent. Still though, uni pasta is uni pasta, and uni is delicious. The spaghetti was cooked nicely al dente, and nice big sliver of uni was great. I think honing down the sauce and making it more robust would do wonders for this dish.

For Koreatown though, EMC is a great spot for seafood. The flavors and ingredients are fresh and it is one of the premiere spots in Koreatown that isn’t your typical “K-Town” flair.

EMC Seafood & Raw Bar on Urbanspoon

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I don’t know whether it’s a myth or if it is true, but I ponder if cats actually like fish. You always see cartoons portraying cats with an appetite for goldfish, swimming helplessly in a goldfish bowl atop a small table. I always thought cats hated water. And don’t you see cats in the wild (lions, tigers..) munching on some antelope or zebra? When’s the last time you saw a cheeta hunting for salmon at the nearby river? Never. When I saw that The Hungry Cat specialized in seafood, I was a bit amused. Clever name I thought, but so not realistic! I kid of course, and I ultimately was excited to try this place. The freshest seafood creations made by chef David Lentz who knows his way around the kitchen? Great! Along with his wife Suzanne Goin, they own some of my favorite restaurants in LA. Lucques, AOC, and joining the list, The Hungry Cat.

Located in the courtyard at the Sunset and Vine building. It is kind of hard to find as it isn’t visible from the street. The inside was dark and intimate with a casual atmosphere. The white walls and sharp edges in design gave the interior a futuristic look. The open kitchen was an eye opener for me. It was cool to watch David Lentz and his crew make dish after dish. It was like the Food Network, live.

We started off with some oyster crackers. It was interesting. Not your ordinary bread and butter, but unique in its own way.

I only had raw sea urchin (uni) from sushi restaurants (pre-packaged), so naturally, having sea urchin straight from the body was a neat experience.  Difficult to eat, it was food you really had to dig for. Apart from the pieces of shell and spikes, the flavor was exceptional. The essesnce of the sea was embedded in each morsel of sea urchin. Sprinkling it with some sea salt, and a squeeze of the lemon made everything pop. I am a purest and eating the sea urchin without any other condiments is the way to go.

Their Lobster roll was one of the best I ever had. The lobster was packed on and the pieces were large. Perfectly cooked, it left the meat very tender and had a nice bite to it. The lobster mixed with the mayo and other seasonings were perfectly balanced. The celery gave it a nice crunch. The split rolls were nicely buttered and toasted on the side, leaving it crispy on the outside, warm and chewy on the inside. Though this was a delicious sandwich roll, I wish I could have tried their pub burger. Blue cheese, bacon, avocado, and a fried egg are some of many of the ingredients on the pub burger. I originally wanted to to The Hungry Cat for the pub burger, but felt like seafood that night. Ultimately, I was happy with my decision.

My house-made chorizo and braised clams was excellent. Not a fan of clams because of their rubberiness, I was skeptical about this dish. Mindful of not overcooking the clams, they were left tender and soft. The brother was definitely the star of this dish. Filled with shell beans and black kale, the broth was hearty. Mixed in with their house made chorizo, it was meaty, salty, savory, and full of robust flavor. Though the chorizo took away from the seafood essence of the dish, it fortified the broth to the point where it did not matter. This was all topped off with a grilled bread, quite possibly the best bread I ever had. Grilling the bread gave it a nice crust on it and gave it a complex flavor. Topped with aioli, the bread simply delicious.

The cuisine was nearly flawless. Everything tasted as expected — delicious. The atmosphere was great and the staff was on point. They were attentive and helped us choose the many items on the menu. By the name, The Hungry Cat you would expect some fine seafood, and that is what you get. After my awesome meal, I thanked David Lentz for the great meal, and left with a great seafood experience. I’ll be back to try the pub burger though.

Hungry Cat on Urbanspoon

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Living in Los Angeles, I rarely have the opportunity to have Lobster Rolls. In fact, I never had a lobster roll in my life.  Shocking!  It’s more of an east coast thing anyways, right?  I mean, it’s lobster. When I think of lobster, and lobster rolls, I think of states like Maine or east coast cities near the water.  That is why when I saw the Lobsta Truck at the Santa Anita Food Truck Fest, I jumped on the opportunity — the opportunity to try my first lobster roll — from a food truck of all places.

Let me just tell you a little about this food truck fest.  This places was packed!  There were so many people waiting in line for food, and the Lobsta Truck had one of the longest lines.  Kudos to you guys.  Check out the video below to see how long it was. (It’s fun to listen in on the people chatting in line about what they ate.)  The line literally snaked around other trucks and other lines.  It almost became hard to distinguish which line was for the Lobsta Truck.

This truck offers a simple menu — lobster rolls, crab rolls, and clam chowder. They even have woopie pies and ice cream sandwiches, but I came here for the lobster roll and clam chowder.  So how was my first lobster roll?  Freaking delicious — I mean, it is lobster after all. Yeah, it was my first lobster roll, and I don’t have any value of comparison.  It is lobster — it’s good no matter what.  Thankfully, at 12 bucks a pop, they sure didn’t skimp on the meat.  There were huge chunks of lobster meat in every bite. The best part was the split top bread, perfectly buttered, and perfectly toasted on each side.  The worst part was noticing that I had fished it all.  All good things must come to an end, and this time around, it was the lobster roll.

This truck opened my eyes to lobster rolls.  Where can I get a good lobster roll in Los Angeles anyways? Until I find that restaurant, the Lobsta Truck is going to have to do for now.  By the way, you guys should feel honored @LobstaTruck — you guys served me my first lobster roll!

Lobsta Truck on Urbanspoon

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