Korean Food

El Chato Wins!

I’ve been wanting to check out POT in LA because it opened pretty recently and I heard great reviews about it. It’s a Korean restaurant with a modernized twist to traditional food. I thought it’d be fun to try out something new for Derek’s birthday with some friends. We had a rough start for this occasion though. Of course, because we were in LA, parking was hard to find. We didn’t want to pay for valet at the restaurant. So we drove around the location few times and luckily found a spot a few blocks away from restaurant. We got there after a little after 8PM and found that it was a TWO HOUR wait to get seated. Extremely disappointed by the wait time, we had to walk away.

Diagonally across the street was an all you can eat Korean BBQ called Castle 2 for $10! We walk over there and the wait was about 40 minutes long. Still a little disappointed by the wait time, we decided to stick it out. After five minutes of waiting, someone somehow mentioned El Chato. El Chato is a food truck that has one of the best burritos, tacos, and quesadillas at a very affordable price! According to Yelp, it has 4.5 stars with more than 600 reviews.

General downside of El Chato is that it opens at 9PM on the corner of Wilshire and Redondo Boulevard. So we were contemplating whether or not to stick with Korean food. Going for KBBQ meant that it was going to be all you can eat at a decent price but the wait was going to take awhile. On the other hand, there was El Chato where it’s cheap and good, but we would also have to wait for at least 30 minutes until they start serving.  The four of us were going back and forth a lot, not knowing how to decide.

Phil had a genius idea to resolve our contemplation. He yelled out excitedly, “Straw poll!” He sent us all a text of a poll.

Thanks to Phil, we were able to quickly decide on what to do. El Chato easily won all of our hearts according to the poll. It was logically the best decision because you can definitely get your money’s worth at El Chato and the wait was approximately going to be the same time as Castle 2.

We drove over to El Chato and waited in the empty lot for 15-20 minutes. We were the first ones there but slowly, other hungry eaters were trailing in. Keep in mind to get there early because the line can get long quickly!

Josephine and I decided to share the Carne Asada Burrito and the Al Pastor Quesadilla. 
Once we all ordered, it took about 15-20 minutes to receive our food.

We went over to Derek’s place to eat where we inhaled everything pretty quickly. We ate so fast that we wanted more. We thought we had ordered a lot but we realized, it’s never enough to have too much of El Chato.

El Chato’s meat is juicy and quite savory. The tender meat just melts in your mouth. Late night Mexican food always seals the deal somehow and El Chato is perfect for those late munchies. You won’t be disappointed with anything on the menu. It will easily satisfy your hunger.

We had to have dessert afterwards, so we headed to Ozero in Little Tokyo which is one of my favorite boba shops in LA. I got my favorite Brown Sugar Milk Tea for almost $4. The size of their drinks are huge so it’s best that you share. I on the other hand didn’t want to share because I love their milk tea that much! We all ended our night in Little Tokyo enjoying each other’s company!

Note to future self: Get to POT really early. Always buy more than you think you can eat at El Chato. When in doubt, use Straw poll!

Thank you, Phil, for the Straw Poll idea! Happy (belated) birthday Derek!

 

Night Tubing in Big Bear

Can you believe that it’s finally raining here in Southern California? What a perfect time to just drink some hot chocolate and get all cozy! Well, last Friday I was able to do just that! My friends and I needed to get out of town and relax somewhere far, far away.

We got a cabin through a convenient site called Air BnB. This cabin was so cute and cozy. We easily felt right at home. It had Netflix, all the appliances for cooking, and it was located close enough to the market and the slopes.

When we got there, Linda started making dinner for us. She made us some awesome homemade kalguksu (kahl-gook-sooh) aka knife noodles in literal Korean translation. So she made the noodles herself and added some chicken broth with some chicken and onions.

After eating, we went night tubing which was the main highlight of the trip! We each paid $20 for unlimited night tubing at Alpine Slide. It was about 20 minutes away from our cabin which wasn’t too bad. I’m glad we went to this place because they had flat escalators to take you to the top of the slope. After many rounds of going down, you actually get pretty tired surprisingly. So thank you Alpine Slide for having that flat escalator!

Here’s a clip of our adventures down the slope:

Oh man, I can’t get enough of that video. It’s just so hilarious to watch and it makes me want to go back now! I hope we can go back soon!

Later that night, we went to the market to pick up some late night snacks and relaxed in the cabin. We had some pizza as we were watching some movie thanks to Netflix!

Also had some hot chocolate! Thanks Linda for making us the hot chocolate!

It was one long night with these lovely ladies and I enjoyed every moment of it with them! Special thanks to Linda for driving and making us some YUMMY food!

Valentine’s Celebration

On Valentine’s Day, I went to LA with Linda to meet up with Sarah and her husband. Don’t worry, Linda and I didn’t crash their Valentine’s night! We met up at School Food Blooming Roll in Koreatown. They’re known for traditional Korean comfort food with some modernized twist to it.

We first ordered their kimchi fried rice. Don’t let the spicy look of this fried rice deceive you! It was actually nowhere close to being spicy. Even if you don’t like spicy food, this will not burn your tongue. The kimchi fried rice hit the spot really well because it had that homey taste to it just like how all kimchi fried rice should be. It reminded me of my mom’s cooking.

Now what was actually spicy was the labokki (lah-boh-kee). It’s ramen, rice cake, and fish cake with egg all mixed in some awesome spicy Korean sauce. The labokki was good but could’ve have been a lot better for a few reasons. One. The consistency of the spicy soup seemed a little off. It may have been a little too liquid-y but not bad enough to lose its taste. Two. There weren’t enough noodles in my labokki! Next time, I’m bringing my own pack of ramen to throw into the bowl. Three. The texture of the noodles were too soft for my liking. I think a lot of us who eat ramen like the noodles right before they’re fully cooked.

We ordered three different kinds of kim-bop which is Korean’s version of sushi. We got the spam roll. It’s a simple roll of spam wrapped around with egg. Nothing too special but having spam in anything always makes thing better!

We also ordered one of the Special Rolls and it wasn’t too special. For the most part, it was just like eating your ordinary kim-bop.

Lastly, the most unique one of all was the Squid Ink Roll. Though the color of the roll is pretty black, you can barely taste the ink itself. You can definitely taste and feel the squid as there are some pieces of it wrapped up in the roll. Eating the Squid Ink Roll wasn’t as exciting as the name sounded.

Out of the three rolls, my favorite would have to be the Spam Roll. I’m telling you, spam always brings justice to whatever you eat. Thank you, spam.

Overall, everything I tried was good. There wasn’t anything too exciting that made me want more. In general, it was pretty overpriced especially since they were all simple meals that you can easily make at home for a cheaper deal. Would I come back here again? Eh, most likely not. I’m just thankful that Linda and I were able to meet up with Sarah and Howard for dinner!

For dessert, we went over to Loft Cafe that was about 10 minutes away from School Food. As I entered into Loft Cafe, I really felt like I was in a Korean drama. I’ve never seen so many young and hip Korean couples in one setting before. I know it was Valentine’s Day, but still. The ambiance of the cafe and the people in there just brought the K-drama feel to it.

We sat outside in the patio where it was decorated with Christmas lights. They gave us blankets to stay warm since it was a tad bit chilly even with the heat lamps.

We ordered a waffle with scoops of vanilla and chocolate ice cream that were surrounded by strawberries and banana. It was all drizzled in chocolate and covered in sugar powder. That waffle was something. It was fresh and sweet! It wasn’t your ordinary Eggo Waffles where it’s bland but there was a light buttery sweetness to it.

Sweet potato is one valuable vegetable in the Korean culture. Actually, I’m not sure how valuable it is, but it is to me and my belly. We eat it with pizza, as dessert, and in lattes! Yup, lattes. So I got myself a $6 sweet potato latte. This latte is a little thicker than your normal latte from Starbucks. It’s a pretty heavy latte that can fill you up easily which it did for me. But I loved it! It’s best to drink it when it’s warm because once it gets cold, it almost seems like you’re drinking a sweet potato soup instead. When my latte got cold and I was down to the last several sips of it, it just didn’t taste as good as when I first got it warm.

After feasting for hours in good company, it was time to head back home. Thank you Sarah and Howard for treating us out to dinner on Valentine’s Day. It was a lot of fun just laughing at some old stories! Also, thank you Linda for dessert and spending some quality time with me! Can’t believe other people were in the way of our friendship! It was such a blessing to have hung out with you all!

Miho Korean Restaurant

I went on an afternoon date with my mom in Garden Grove. We actually did a few errands together and grabbed lunch at Miho Korean Restaurant. It’s a hole in the wall Korean restaurant in the Korean Town of Garden Grove. My mom likes to come here because they use more natural ingredients rather than adding MSG to make things more flavorful.

We ordered one of my mom’s favorite which is Kalguksu (kahl-gook-sooh). You can say that it’s the Korean version of chicken noodle soup. The difference is that the soup base is a little thicker and there’s different kinds of vegetables in it. It has a few different onions, squash, and potato pieces. Of course, there’s chicken and the noodles itself. It’s a simple meal.

We also ordered Gamjatang(gahm-jah-tahng). It’s a spicy soup with pork ribs topped with a handful of green onions and sesame seeds. Eating spicy Korean food like gamjatang is a love-hate relationship. You hate it because you have to pace yourself when you’re eating it because it’s so hot from being fresh. It’s also spicy hot so it’s hard to eat. But as you’re eating it, you love it because it’s good so you want more of it. The love-hate relationship for it then repeats. It’s a good battle to fight when you’re eating gamjatang.

My mom and I shared the kalguksu and gamjatang. We probably should have ordered just one or the other. Not both! I was more than stuffed after that. I don’t think I ate anything else for the rest of that day.

Thanks Umma (aka mom in Korean) for the date!

Happy New Year!

In the Korean culture,  on new year’s day you are to dress up in a traditional gown called hanbok. You wear this dress so you can do sebae. Sebae (seh-beh) is a way of bowing down to your parents or grandparents and in return they give you pocket money. In addition, you eat dduhk-gook which is a rice cake soup and sometimes there’s dumplings too. Afterwards, you play yunnori which is a traditional Korean game that you play with sticks.  You throw the sticks and depending on how they land determines the winner after some rounds. 

I don’t think I’ve ever done sebae or played yunnori before. I’m pretty Americanized when it comes to Korean traditions. So the only Korean thing I do on new year’s day is eat dduk-gook! Thanks to Mama Yun, she made some fresh and warm dduk-gok with kimchi dumplings!

Traditional Korean New Year's Day Food

Traditional Korean New Year’s Day Food

I hope the new year is filled with many challenges to overcome and grow from. May all 365 days be filled with blessings from above! Happy New Year, friends!