2pm. That’s about the perfect time, for those who hate waiting, to arrive at Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles Annex. This was of course an additional restaurant to the one across the street. However, at this time, the original location incurred a lower health score, so I decided to try the annexed location. There was a small line at 1:30pm which cleared up after I finished lunch. And by cleared up, I meant no lines, and several open tables.
Inside, the majority of the place is dedicated to the ramen bar that surrounds the noodle chef with some individual tables off to the front of the store. At the bar, you can watch the masters in action and see how those heaping bowls of ramen are prepared. They are quite the sight – very Instagram worthy. I wish I had ordered one, but the day was a little too warm. So the final choice was the tsukemen, dipping ramen, with an additional small rice bowl. Yeah, I was very hungry. Sitting at the bar, watching things get prepared and carted off was brutal. Though, the wait wasn’t too long. That’s because when you’re the next party to come in, they will take your order outside. By the time you’re seated, all you’re doing is getting a nice cold beverage to cool you off from that LA heat.
Man I love ramen places that are this efficient.
Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles Annex
2050 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
+1 (310) 231-0222
Verdict: Want honest to goodness noodles, then get yourself here.
If you know Sawtelle Boulevard in West LA, you may know about all the wonderful Japanese restaurants there. Well, if you head a few blocks north and turn left on Santa Monica you can find Nanbankan. A restaurant serving up great Japanese izakaya at a surprising price. While they do have your classic dishes, including your favorite skewers, they do have specials which will have you coming back for more.
It was late, 9pm to be exact. Parking was pretty easy at this hour. Inside, the place was still packed, but we had reservations and our 8 person table was at the ready. Ordering was easy, so easy we had round after round of getting as much off the menu as possible. That’s izakaya for you. And even with a party of our size, we couldn’t cover the whole menu. Probably about half of it. And only one dish was a meh while the others were pretty damn good.
The service was great. Food came out in ample time and our server was never hard to find. Oh that was perfect to keep the drinks flowing.
My only wish was for this place to be open a bit longer. Their hours from 5:30pm to 10:30pm really makes it your starting off point for a Friday night. I guess if they’re opened even later, they’ll have to deal with stupid drunk patrons like myself. But how can one resist pairing drinks with such lovely dishes. I sure can’t. I guess next time I’ll have to start right after work, a happy hour, kinda like how they do it in Japan. Oh wait a second… I see what you did there.
11330 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
+1 (310) 478-1591
Verdict: For an affordable and delicious izakaya experience, you will want to give this a try.
You should have seen it coming. What makes it a trip to Los Angeles for us was finding a Korean BBQ joint to kick off the night. This time around it was Magal BBQ. A place full of energy that’s powered by its young and sometimes inebriated patrons. What that really means was that this was a place friends come to eat and drink. Because that’s exactly what we did.
There was a modest wait, although we had a seat if every happened to be there. Too bad this happened to be one of those rare cold as hell LA nights. We were really hating our unorganized selves. But within 30 minutes the host came out and let us know our table was ready. Needless to say we rushed in and got our menus.
We opted for two large Beef Combos, priced at $98.99 and meant to serve 3-4 people per combo, that included:
- Beef Skirtmeat
- Paper Thin Sliced Brisket End-Point
- Prime Beef Boneless Rib or Prime Beef Rib Eye (we had one per combo)
- Marinated Prime Short Rib
- Assorted Grilled Items (king mushrooms, shrimp, and some vegetables)
- Boneless Short Rib Sushi
- Soybean Paste Soup with Beef Brisket
There were 9 of us so of course, we we ordered more a la carte. I did miss a couple things in my photos, such as the pork belly, assorted grilled items, and the sides. Well, there weren’t too many sides to begin with. There was a cold soup which left us scratching our heads, a small plate of pretty good kimchi for the four of us, a couple bowls of salad to share, pickled celery, and some sauces and condiments. That was pretty much our banchan. Yikes. I think that’s why we left a bit hungry. Or maybe it was the fact that we were planning to end the meal with the Volcano Fried Rice only to find out that they ran out. Double yikes. How could they run out of their signature, yet gimmicky, dish? Oh the horrors of an amateur foodie.
Overall though, the meat quality was good. They focus on unadulterated meats, as in, not too much seasoning. We were fine with that. There were a couple of stand out cuts that made us look to one another with that “Oh yeah, that’s the stuff.” And the service, even for a hectic Saturday night, was attentitive. They made sure to come by and check on the grill, which was changed at least six times. Pretty good.
3460 W 8th St
Los Angeles, CA 90005
+1 (213) 383-1909
Verdict: Although it’s good in terms of quality of meats and service, I’d only go here to change up my Korean BBQ fix. I blame competition.
We headed to Far East Plaza early on Saturday for an early lunch, as in 11am early. There’s so many places opening shop in this plaza that I had to come back to check it out. This time it was to try out a Taiwanese restaurant recommend by a friend, Lao Tao. Yes! I’m so happy that I don’t have to drive into San Gabriel Valley to satisfy my Taiwanese craving. The shop is located upstairs on the second floor of the plaza. It’s pretty easy to find.
It’s a casual spot. Order, take your number, and pick a seat. Your food and drinks will be brought out to you while your chopsticks, forks, and napkins, well, you grab those yourself. No stress in that. The place feels like the local shops you run across in Taipei, unpretentious and very inviting. We chatted with the staff for a bit and picked our seats. Plenty to choose from.
The food came out quick. Of course, no one else was there. Still, glad to get our food quickly so we could start our day. The spicy foods we happen to pick used Sichuan peppercorns. The kind that numbs your mouth. Although, it’s not over the top to the point you can’t taste the food. I’m so happy about that. It let me taste the ingredients and daydream about being back in Taiwan. I think I’ll be back here again. The pork belly rice is on my next list.
727 N Broadway #207
Los Angeles, CA 90012
+1 (213) 372-5318
Verdict: A place to try if you know your Taiwanese foods and need a fix, a good fix.
Thanks to Instagram, I learned about a Korean craze around cheese ribs. Whole pork ribs prepared and wrapped at your table with gooey mounds of cheese. I had to give this a try. My friends wanted to give this a try. So, we all did. My search brought me to a place in Los Angeles that actually, as the name suggests, specializes in bossam, a meal where you wrap thinly slices of pork in lettuce or cabbage. The name of the restaurant was Mister Bossam and one of their popular dishes was the cheese ribs. Of course, with a group of nine we went for both.
Our reservation was actually set up for an hour before we arrived, but they still accommodated our large group, putting several long tables together. It was unusually empty for a Saturday night, but I’m not sure how many people would look for such a heavy meal after Thanksgiving. Well, besides us. Not knowing the portion sizes, the waitress worked with us as we ordered. Several times she hinted that we may have gotten too much food. We did. Not by too much though. But very happy she was kind enough to point it out and even helped portion the sizes to our party.
After we ordered, our drinks came out first. Then in about ten minutes they brought out four burners for our table. I thought we needed only two. To my surprise, the other two burners were to keep the pork belly warm. Not a bad idea. Not bad at all. We ate for about an hour, getting refills of sides and lettuce as we went. All included as part of the meal. By end, the only starch we had, if we had any room, was the fried rice. Also included in the meal. Gotta love leaving full and happy for such an attentive staff. I do wonder how it would have been on a busier night.
338 S Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90020
+1 (213) 388-5379
Verdict: I’m in love with this stuff and I recommend you try it out too, both the bossam and the cheese ribs.