For about a year and a half, I’ve been wanting to try Beijing Pie House — a Chinese eatery in the heart of Monterey Park, CA. The restaurant boasts dumplings the shape of overgrown hockey pucks that squirt searingly hot liquid at the most benign of pokes, and as we all know, benign poking is truly my forte. Nevertheless, while it took me many months to finally visit BPH (as I’ve decided to call it), I finally gathered up a group of friends, including Sly and Abe, and headed East for a dumpling-tastic adventure.
Our group entered the restaurant tentatively — not because we feared what was inside but more because it was so deathly silent we momentarily assumed we had wandered into a library or perhaps funeral home. Not only was there no music, but the diners all spoke in hushed tones, almost as if the bright fluorescent lighting had beaten them into submission. I suppose I naturally assumed the restaurant would be loud and convivial as patrons burned their tongues and lips and chins with scalding hot dumpling liquid. But no. If people were in pain, they bore the brunt of it in steely silence.
For a few years now, I’ve been hearing about the Hwe Dub Bap at A-Won Japanese Restaurant here in Los Angeles. This Korean dish, which is basically sashimi piled on top of lettuce and other veggies, has been thoroughly documented by the local media, blogs, and various Yelpers over the years. However, I’d never actually tried it before. I certainly had come close — going so far as to actually sitting down at the restaurant with every intention to order the dish. The thing is that A-Won also specializes in albap, a rich rice bowl topped with a beautiful assortment of caviar, and try as I may, I simply am not one who can ever resist a giant bowl of fish roe.
This weekend, however, I finally decided to MAN UP and go for the much-heralded Hwe Dub Bap. I had spent much of Saturday afternoon ambling about Disneyland (as one does), and while there had been a midday corn dog to stave off a wave of violent hunger pangs, the shocking truth is that it simply was not enough to sustain me. By the time dinner at A-Won rolled around, I knew a meager bowl of fish roe simply would not due. Delicious, yes. But enough to counter a ravenous post-Disneyland appetite? Hardly. And thus, the landmark decision by me to eschew my beloved albap for hwe dub bap was made.
This was a good thing.
I’ve decided to start a new little section of the blog called “Restaurants Are Fun” (name subject to change) to document some of the random spots I go to with my friends (and sometimes enemies, but that is VERY rare). I wouldn’t say these are full on reviews per se, but they’re kind of a simple “I ate this, and it was good” or a “I ate that, and it was bad” kind of thing. Whatever. This is a blog, not the New York Times. Just let me DO WHAT I WANT.
Anyway, today I want to focus on two Asian restaurants I went to last month: Takara, the new ramen shop in Hollywood, and Sun Ha Jang, a Korean spot specializing in duck. Pics and thoughts after the jump…