Korean Cuisine + Tourism Night

Korean Cuisine + Tourism Night
Serenaded with traditional Korean music

I know there is more – much more – to Korean cuisine than Korean BBQ. Through the wonders of living in Los Angeles, home to the largest Korean population outside of South Korea, I have been able to sample a handful of Korean foods. These were typically at informal events and homemade, though, with no induction other than “JUST EAT IT!” And while I could have made the effort to experience Korean food out of the realm of AYCE BBQ and kimchi, I am shamed to say that it never struck my interest. Until, that is, I watched The Kimchi Chronicles. I followed Marja on her quest to get in touch with her Korean roots via food – leaving a trail of saliva behind me.

Sorry about the visual. What I am (poorly) getting around to saying is that thankfully the Korean Tourism Organization invited me to their Korean Cuisine and Tourism evening, hosted at the traditional Korean restaurant, Yong Su San. Travel industry professionals (and me lol) were treated to an evening of music, information on what to expect and where to visit in South Korea, and food, glorious food.

Korean Cuisine + Tourism Night
Beoseot Juk
mushroom porridge made with sweet rice

Korean Cuisine + Tourism Night
Kaesung Namul
Mixed vegetable salad of bean sprouts, radish and apricot

My favorite dish of the evening! I have been searching for store bought (which I know won’t compare) but to no avail. If there any Korean grandmothers out there that can cook this dish and would like to stuff me silly with it, I would be the most gracious dinner guest ever.


Korean Cuisine + Tourism Night
Tang Pyeong Chae
Thin sliced mungbean jelly marinated in sesame oil

I need more of this dish in my life as well. Gods be good, I need to hit up a Korean market this week.


Korean Cuisine + Tourism Night
Paeju
Skewered sea scallops with mushrooms sauteed in sesame oil

Scallops AND mushrooms on a skewer? Yes, ma’am!


Korean Cuisine + Tourism Night
Jeon
Korean pancake with egg battered fish or meat

I have actually eaten this before, both as banchan and at a little party a Korean-American friend held at her house. Her mother whipped up a bunch of dishes for us, many dishes a hybrid of typical American party foods with a Korean twist, but others just straight up Korean comfort food, like Jeon. I’m proud to say I was the most enthusiastic white girl at the gathering, eating my fill and making Korean mom glow with pride.


Korean Cuisine + Tourism Night
Kaeseung Bossam Kimchi
Gaeseong cabbage kimchi stuffed with radish, pine nuts, jujube & pickled seafood

I hate to be this stereotypical, but anything to do with kimchi is heaven for me. As we were dining family style at large, round tables that sat eight people, we had to share all of these dishes. I am only partially ashamed to admit that I did whatever it took to keep this dish within arms reach so I could gobble up the lions share. Hashtag sorry not sorry.


Korean Cuisine + Tourism Night

Korean Cuisine + Tourism Night
Gujeolpan
Beef, shrimp, mushroom, assorted vegetables to be wrapped with small thin crepes

This dish was my learning curve, because it arrived at the beginning of the meal and it was through this dish I learned we were eating family style. No, Rachael, that whole plate of Gujeolpan is not just for you! Take one and pass, you oinker!


Korean Cuisine + Tourism Night
Daeha Yori
Fresh egg battered king prawn

Anything to do with prawns is a winner in my book, and this crispy, zucchini laden shrimp fritter is no exception.


Korean Cuisine + Tourism Night
Galbijjim
Slow braised short ribs, radish, chestnuts, ginkgo and dates in soy based marinade

So meaty I could only snack on one of these beefy delights. Not my favorite dish of the night personally, but definitely an overall crowd favorite.


Korean Cuisine + Tourism Night
Naengmyeon
Cold noodles

Another knock-out dish; so elegant in its seeming simplicity. The bowl was a LOT bigger than my photo will lead you to believe, and this was one of the few personal dishes we did not share. After everything we’d already gobbled down, it was my absolute pleasure to scarf and slurp this down, setting my belly on maximum overdrive.


Korean Cuisine + Tourism Night
Naengmyeon
Cold noodles


Korean Cuisine + Tourism Night
Bibimbap
Mixed vegetables & beef over rice

Ah, yes, a true classic. I did not partake in this dish (I chose the cold noodles), but my friend said this bibimbap was a knock-out.


Korean Cuisine + Tourism Night
Chilled cinnamon ginger punch

A common dessert-y digestive, this cinnamon punch was precisely what my stomach craved after that delicious feast. I was raving about it equal to the food.

Now that we have become more familiar with the traditional food of South Korea, which alone is good enough a reason to visit as far as I am concerned, let’s add some obligatory visuals to sweeten the pitch:


Korean Cuisine and Tourism Night
I mean – can you even?


Stop it, Korea. Stop it this minute. You are gorgeous.



Let Korea get on your “To Visit” list, take photos, eat lots of Korean cuisine and send me a postcard!

photos of Korea courtesy of Korean Tourism Organization

Bombo by Mark Peel – Grand Central Market

Bombo Foods - Chef Mark Peel 2
Chef Mark Peel

It’s funny how cyclic the world is, you know? In what seems like the blink of eye, a place goes from “hot” to “not” to “hot” again. Case in point: Grand Central Market in downtown L.A. When I was a kid/teen, GCM was the last place anyone would recommend to eat in downtown Los Angeles. It was still listed as a place to take your visiting cousin, because, y’know, history, but chances were high you’d take them to Philippe’s for lunch. If at all in DTLA. For reference, this is also the same period of time when walking along the east side of Alameda Street in Little Tokyo was not even an option unless you were looking to score some sweet, sweet crank.


Bombo steam kettles
Steam Kettle Cooking at Bombo

I don’t know when it happened, precisely, but Grand Central Market slowly but surely received a much needed injection of vitality and innovation in the form of chefs taking an interest in L.A. History and wanting to simplify the dining experience by trading in the fine linen for counter service. Wexler’s Deli, Berlin Currywurst, Belcampo Meat Co., Horse Thief, Oyster Gourmet, and of course, Eggslut are the heavy-hitters now, packing in crowds so wrought with hunger and zeal, it’s commonplace for food to sell out. Joining their ranks is Bombo, brought to us Chef Mark Peel, regarded as one of the founders of California cuisine. Serving up broth-based seafood dishes and salads, with the majority of the cooking done in steel-jacketed steam kettles, I was fortunate enough to score a preview before Bombo opened and sample selections from their enticing menu.

Please enjoy – and try not to droll on your keyboard.


Bombo


My favorite dish of the evening was the steamed clams with pork sausage, accompanied by roasted onion, chickpeas in lobster broth atop a bed of pappardelle. Dishes I have to go back for: steamed mussels, Seattle Fish Stew and the chicken salad!


SteamedMussles
Chef Mark Peel


Have you tasted Bombo yet, or visited Grand Central Market as of late?

BOMBO
317 S. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013
11a-3p
http://bombofoods.com

Fickle – Downtown L.A. (Vlog)



My friend and fellow food adventurer, Evan, had prompted me to suss out some new places for us to try. We like to keep it fairly local, and without too much trouble, I narrowed it down toThe Boiling Crab and Fickle. I put it to Evan, and The Boiling Crab won out for its proximity to our area. We fell in love with TBC, but that is another story for another day. Fickle had been weighing on his mind, and we wound up giving it a go once our schedules aligned. Though I’m wearing exactly zero make-up, my hair was cute and the lighting was amazing so I felt the inspiration to film another Tastemade episode. Enjoy!






Here are a couple of snaps I posted on Instagram:




Buffalo Cauliflower


The buffalo cauliflower is an item on their special happy hour menu only. On the weekends and after 7pm weekdays, it’s unavailable. It’s made with “tapatio buffalo sauce”, which Evan enjoyed but I thought tasted more like Tapatio rather than a buttery buffalo sauce (like Frank’s or Duff’s). It’s still good, especially with those generous blue cheese crumbles. Mmmmm!




Roasted Bone Marrow
Ginger Soy Lacquer | Citrus Basil Gremolata | Pickled Daikon Salad

My favorite bite of the night, hands down. Though anyone who knows me well enough is not surprised in the least, because I have been writing sonnets about my love for sucking the literal marrow out of life for quite possibly forever and a day. The gremolata added a layer of flavor and texture I never knew I was missing before, but now need to incorporate the next time I decide to roast some bone marrow at home. The daikon salad was refreshing and just the juxtapose to round out the dish.




Bacon Wrapped Quail
Mushroom Risotto Filling | Spinach | Pine Nuts | Cranberry Demi Jus



Evan and I zeroed in on that quail as soon as our eyes fell on the mains portion of the menu. Quail is not something I’ve attempted to cook yet, but not for lack of interest on my part, just a touch of nervousness I have when dealing with poultry. Also, I don’t really remember that I want to work with it until I am wandering the butchery at Bristol Farms, but then I have no idea what to do with it and you know what? Stop hounding me. I’ll get to it eventually; for now let me enjoy the occasional quail dish. Yeesh. This dish had everything going for it: a bed of greens, my favorite nut in the nuthouse, a savory delicious sauce to sop up the meat and spinach with and stunning risotto. My one quibble? The bacon was a touch salty for my palate. Otherwise, a damn tasty dish.

Though Fickle didn’t completely blow our minds, Evan and I were overall impressed and know we have another spot to check out when the seasons (and therefore the menu) changes. Best of all, Fickle is located just one short block away from the Metro Gold Line!

Fickle
362 East 1st Street
Los Angeles CA 90012
Tel: 213.628.1888
http://ficklela.com
Happy Hour: Monday-Friday, 5p-7p

Speed Tasting at FIGat7th – Downtown Los Angeles

TASTE at FIGat7th


When I was a little girl living in southeastern Pennsylvania, the mall was the place for suburbanite kids like me to blow my allowance at. Check out the latest My Little Pony’s, smell all of the scented candles at the funky fantasy and New Age store, try to score a free ball on the Elvira pinball machine, and bum around the food court, enjoying my 10 year old metabolism as I gorge out on Boardwalk Fries, a slice of cheese pizza and an Orange Julius. However, ever since my childhood mall took consumerism to a whole new level of grotesque, I’ve put considerable distance between myself and my old mallrat ways. I prefer simpler, toned down shopping areas to the mass corralling of consumers.

In the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, the newly minted FIGat7th stands as a shopping and dining destination with a decidedly Southern California flavor. Enhanced with Brookfield’s $40 million makeover, this open-air destination offers a contemporary urban retail experience for Downtown’s professional, visitor and growing residential populace. Anchored by one of the nation’s first City Target stores, FIGat7th boasts more than 330,000 square feet of retail and public space, including the TASTE FIGat7th culinary collection.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a big “Speed Tasting” event hosted by FIGat7th to introduce the new fast-casual options patrons can select from while on-the go in Downtown, taking a break from shopping or grabbing a quick bite on their lunch break. I guess the term “food court” is passé, harkening back to those Fast Times at Ridgemont High days of greasy junk food nobody wants to associate with anymore?

Before I dive into my run down, I’d like to offer major kudos to the management of FIGat7th and especially the delightful servers, who busted their butts to deliver hundreds of dishes to a substantially sized crowd.

Below are the highlights from the “best, worst, and middle of the road” samplings.

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Tom’s Urban – L.A. Live

Tom's Urban - Media Preview
Tom’s Urban

Too much of a good thing is going to be my ruin, I tell you what. Yesterday I went to David’s Bridal to pick up my maid of honor dress, and much to my chagrin – I’d gained some weight. Blast it. It’s not a lot, just enough to not get the last bit of the zipper up and annoy the ever living crap out of me. I guess the whole Unemployment Diet isn’t working out for me, huh? In all honesty, it’s not that big of a surprise, and it’s just the kick in the ass I need to get me to (A) incorporate more movement in my daily routine and (B) get some more self control on my eating habits. I’ll be okay, it’s just aggravating. Especially since I’m going dress shopping on Wednesday for my other bridesmaid dress. Ah, well.

I guess the moral of the story is for me to only go hog wild when I am invited out – as I was las Tuesday to enjoy Tom’s Urban, the latest addition to L.A. Live.

Tom Ryan is the namesake of Tom’s Urban, and this is the first location to debut outside of Tom’s home state of Colorado. Tom also founded and developed national better burger concept Smashburger, along with the recently launched Neapolitan pizza joint Live Basil Pizza, both of which also reside alongside Tom’s Urban at L.A. LIVE. Together the three restaurants occupy the space of the former ESPN Zone.

Let’s dig in.

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Dim Sum at Ocean Seafood Restaurant – Chinatown




Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Chinatown

What did you do to ring in the new year? I went bowling with a couple of girlfriends, but did not imbibe for fear I would be unable to wake up bright-eyed and busy tailed the next morning, for i was accompanying my friend Liz and her family to the 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. It’s easy to take for granted how accessible I am to so many cool goings on here in Los Angeles, and I think that is a serious problem we locals struggle with, to not take all of this good shit for granted.

Attending the Rose Parade took care of that, however, as I joined 700,000 other individuals for this New Year’s Day tradition. The float from Singpoli Group wound up being my favorite and I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out why:



Pegasus! Ahhhh! There were a lot of magnificently creative floats and talented marching bands this year. You can check out the rest of my Tournament of the Roses Parade 2014 videos on Vine right over here!

A couple of days prior to the Parade, Liz and I took off for a downtown Los Angeles adventure. Ever since Liz took me to Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Chinatown back in, oh, 2008? 2007? I’ve been a big sucker for Hong Kong style dim sum: grouchy Chinese ladies pushing rickety, dented metal carts as they shout their wares in my face, “Chicken feet!” “Shumai!” “Char Sui Bao! You want?!” I feel the daggers in my chest whenever I politely wave off an offered dish, but that’s all part of the experience. I’ve ate at table service style dim sum and it leaves me rather wanting.

Neither Liz nor I have returned to the quintessential Hong Kong style restaurant since my inaugural visit, but there was something about the end of 2013 that compelled us to return.

I did not snap any still images, but you get the grand scope of our meal from this Tastemade video. I’ll list my favorites below.

My favorites:
– Shrimp in rice noodle
– Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings)
– Egg yolk buns
– Seaweed
– Chicken buns

Ocean Seafood Restaurant
750 N Hill Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 687-3088
http://www.oceansf.com

The Lexus Grand Tasting: L.A. Food and Wine Festival


Lexus Grand Tasting - Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival 2013

The Lexus Grand Tasting – Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival

Late as usual, but I swear I have an worthy reason this time. The day after The Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival concluded, I was off the grid at my annual volunteer excursion. I had to be up at 5:00am and out the door by 6:00am to take kids living with heart health issues to Catalina island. See? Now you feel bad for wondering what took me so long getting this up.

Initially I was going to have separate posts for Saturday and Sunday of The Lexus Grand Tasting, but an overwhelming majority of the dishes I enjoyed were on Saturday while there were a lot of misses for me on Sunday. I didn’t want to be such a Debbie downer, so I decided to combine my favorites from both Saturday and Sunday of The Lexus Grand Tasting!

This is an image-heavy post, so click the READ MORE for some hard-corn food porn!

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