The Unvegan

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A Solid Bowl at Orochon Ramen

View from the top.
View from the top.

It’s pretty well-known that Little Tokyo is now home to some of the best restaurants in LA. One of these is better-known for their spicy ramen challenge perhaps moreso than how good their ramen actually is. This place is Orochon Ramen, which can be found in one of Little Tokyo’s mini malls and I set out to try their non-crazy-spicy ramen to see how it held up.

On the Lamb at Philippe the Original

Since 1908, eh?
Since 1908, eh?

A long, long time ago, some friend of mine told me of Cole’s (click this link only if you want to see how awesomely bad my writing was in 2008). At the time, they were having a 100th anniversary/reopening party and dishing out French Dips for 100 cents. They also claimed to be the “originator of the French Dip,” which is no small claim. Shortly after, however, I learned that this claim might not be true. As is often the case with something wildly successful, more than one entity claims to be first (ever see The Social Network?). It seemed that Philippe the Original felt they were the…achem…original and I was inclined to decide for myself.

A Slap of Awesome at Mexicali

Look for this sign. Now.
Look for this sign. Now.

Once upon a time there was a little taco stand in downtown LA called Mexicali. For unknown reasons, they had to shut down, which was very upsetting to me considering I hadn’t yet tried their supposedly amazing food. Yet, after some time they opened up a brick and mortar near Chinatown that I just had to get to. And now that I’ve been, I can safely say that anyone who hasn’t been needs to go. Like as soon as possible.

Opening the Expo with The Lazy Ox Canteen (CLOSED)

Egg and pasta as one.

Sometimes a restaurant sounds incredible, but is in a difficult part of town to get to. It lingers on your to-eat list for what seems like ages until a golden opportunity comes around to seize it. For me, this restaurant was The Lazy Ox Canteen and the opportunity was twofold. First, the Expo Line from Culver City to Downtown LA was finally opening opening and second, Blackboard Eats sent me a 30% off coupon for the place. It was the perfect storm and I rode the newly opened Metro train to Little Tokyo for a piece of The Lazy Ox.

Feeding on Curry at Fat Spoon (CLOSED)

Just keep swimming…

Apparently some place called The Lazy Ox downtown is a big deal or something. I wouldn’t know because I haven’t been, but supposedly the guy behind it,├é┬áMichael Cardenas, is also a big deal. Such a big deal, in fact, that he took it upon himself to open another restaurant, called Fat Spoon. The new place is down in Little Tokyo and is conceptually a Japanese curry house. As a man with a fair amount of Japanese curry experience, I definitely wanted to check the place out, and it didn’t hurt that I had one of those Blackboard Eats 30% off printouts either.

The Thrill of Far Bar

These drinks could kill me softly.

A month or so ago, Thrillist Rewards made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. For $29, it included one half-pound burger, unlimited wasabi fries, unlimited wings and two flights of delicious beers at a place called Far Bar in Little Tokyo. A few of us capitalized on this deal and finally made our way there to indulge. But finding it wasn’t exactly easy, as it required a walk through a strange alley. In fact, I walked into the restaurant next door by accident, but a guy there walked me over to the actual bar. Upon arrival, my friends who had gotten there first thrust a basket of fries and wings in my face and I knew I was home.

The Dodger Dog

There's just something about that dog.
There’s just something about that dog.

In celebration of National Hot Dog Day, it’s time to write about the Dodger Dog. I’ve always enjoyed a good hot dog at a baseball game, but until I moved to LA, I didn’t realize that hot dogs were a baseball necessity.

Dodger Stadium offers two kinds of Dodger Dogs, one regular hot dog, which I assume is filled with various pork products, and their Super Dodger Dog, an all-beef version for an extra bit of money. I prefer the all-beef, so I ordered mine with a load of garlic fries, which I could smell from the moment I entered the stadium and just knew they had to be mine.

Doing Dim Sum at the Empress Pavillion

The shrimp potstickers are a must.
The shrimp potstickers are a must.

In the old Chinatown of downtown LA, there is a massive restaurant called the Empress Pavillion. The restaurant consists of a giant ballroom filled with chairs and tables.

In the mornings, the room becomes packed with hundreds of Chinese and westerners alike, all clamoring for a taste of the dim sum. Chinese women (whose command of the English language varies from non-existent to mediocre) push carts of plates around with varying dishes. If something on the cart looks good, you stop the lady, point to the food and she sets it on your table. Afterward, she takes out a stamp and presses it somewhere on the card on your table. You look to see where she stamped, but can’t really tell what anything means because it is all written in Chinese. Luckily, I can read some Chinese, and

Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf
Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf

determined that the stamps go in different sections, meaning small, medium and large. There are more complex symbols, but at least those make some sense to me. Through this mysterious stamping system, they are able to determine how much you owe.