Once upon a time, Koreatown boasted an all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ joint called Manna and long before I had my own meat blog, I made my way to Manna for a protein-fest. The memory of this visit stuck with me as I visited the inferior Manna outpost in the Fox Hills mall. Granted, I wasn’t too disappointed, because you can’t really be disappointed with so much meat, but I knew there was something better out there. By the time I made it back to Manna in Koreatown, it was no longer Manna, but had become Meat, which is a far more appropriate name.
On a one-night bender, I found myself facing down three strange taco trucks on Main Street in Santa Monica. None looked familiar and none looked particularly amazing. But it was 2 am in Los Angeles, when food options are usually limited to subpar diners and…well…taco trucks. The trucks here seemed to be some sort of missing link between gourmet and roach coaches and so after much circling we wound up at TnB BBQ.
Once upon a time I was totally on top of the food blogging world. Not so much that I was a good food blogger, but that I knew everything that was going on with food in LA. New restaurants, restaurants closing, new Taco Bell items. You name it, I knew it. But then I got busy with my real job and fell out of the loop. So when my buddy invited me out to dinner at A-Frame in Culver City, I really had no idea why he wanted me to go. But then with a little research I found out it was Ray Choi’s (the Man behind Kogi and Chego) newest restaurant escapade and was not to be missed. The old unvegan might have gone opening day, but the new unvegan let this restaurant opening get away from him, but was plenty excited to try it out.
I think we can all agree that there are not enough places in the world that offer unlimited food. And the places that do are usually pretty bogged down by endless salad bars and other assorted vegetables. Manna Korean BBQ in Culver City is not one of those places. Instead of concentrating on veggies, they have decided to concentrate on meats. For only 16.99, you get all you can eat meats. And these aren’t just generic grade D meats, these are a collection of short rib, brisket, pork belly, pork, chicken, spicy chicken and beef.
Where the mac and cheese balls from World Fare were my appetizer at the Silver Lake Jubilee, I still needed to find myself a main course. After a long stroll around the trucks, I found myself at a truck that I had never seen before, called Lee’s Philly. Lee’s Philly is born of the same vein as many of the Kogi-style food trucks. Their specialty is gogi beef, but while they have fused it with tacos and burritos, they have also created a Philly cheese steak out of the stuff. Wording on their truck claims that they have “LA’s Best Gogi,” but I took it upon myself to be the true judge of that.
EDIT: Chego has relocated to Chinatown. Perhaps someday it will get a review of its own.
With the resounding success of the Kogi BBQ trucks and the Kogi location at the Alibi Room, the people behind Kogi are looking to revolutionize the foodscape of LA once again, with rice. Well, not just with any rice, but with fanciful rice bowls from a real location in Palms called Chego! Their website describes their food as “Chillax peasant food from the soul” and while the word “chillax” sends shivers of discomfort down my spine, I had to see if Chego! carried on the Kogi magic.
Last week I was invited to an event called TOAST N’ TASTE, presented by Urban Daddy. The event was by invitation only, so first off, thanks to Dana for the invite. Not only did I feel awesomely elitist for being invited, but the event was free and featured the launch of the Komodo Truck. This newest truck in LA has confirmed the trend that many food trucks have been leaning towards. Basically they make some good food and stick it in tacos (and burritos in Komodo’s case, although on this night they were only making tacos). I suppose the idea is to keep withe the concept of street food and to make it easy to eat. Fine by me, as long as it tastes good.
When you walk into Kaya Sushi, there is a massive glass waterfall blocking your way. Do not be deterred, though, because you can easily circumvent this waterfall by walking to the left or right. If you make it past, you’ll find yourself in the posh new sushi restaurant in El Segundo.
The place had an apparent brush with Korean as well as Japanese, since the lettering in their logo was distinctly Korean and there were even a few Korean items on the menu. Their sushi roll list was quite extensive, but I managed to find the least sushi-ish dish on the menu for myself.
A while back, many of you may recall, I visited the Kogi BBQ taco truck at The Brig. I guess this was before they got big, because I ordered in two minutes and only waited another two to get the food. Soon after, I began hearing stories about how people would be waiting in line for 45 minutes to get in on that Kogi and there was even an article written about them in the New York Times! In response, they added a second truck, and finally expanded into the kitchen at the Alibi Room.
Eager for another piece of that Kogi, I went to the Alibi Room to see the new offerings. Everything was slightly more expensive, as I suspected it would be. In addition, Kogi expanded their menu to include such unvegan no-nos as kimchee quesadillas and the vegan sesame leaf taco platter. I was mildly intrigued by some of the new unvegan offerings like the sliders, but in the end settled on the burrito.
Over the weekend, a friend of mine enlightened me to the existence of Kogi BBQ, a Korean taco truck. The very concept of this blew my mind, in a good way. The truck’s whereabouts can be tracked via Twitter. Now I’m not entirely sure what Twitter is (perhaps a polite way to say twister without offending people with lisps?), but we found out that the truck would be outside of a bar called The Brig on Abbot Kinney that night.
We set off, and although most of my friends were looking forward to the bar, I really only cared about the taco truck.