THINGS I ATE: Pretty Much Everything at The Corner Door

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It’s Autumn in Los Angeles. Well, actually, it’s Autumn everywhere. Except the Southern Hemisphere. It’s Spring down there. I think. The point is that we — as a global community — are in a different season than we were, say, two months ago, and to celebrate the leaves changing color from green to slightly less green, The Corner Door in Culver City, CA has trotted out some autumnal cocktails. What better reason to head all the way down to this nifty gastropub for a media-comped meal, replete with cinnamon smoke and beignets.

Photos after the jump…

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THINGS I ATE: Korean Grub at Kobawoo House

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Kobawoo House in Koreatown is hardly a discovery. The place has been packing in eager diners for years and years, with hungry patrons lining up to taste the restaurant’s famed pork belly bossam (not to mention the expert seafood pancake also found on the menu). What exactly is bossam? It’s basically meat that gets rolled up in pickled radish or cabbage. That’s the simplistic, white-man’s version at least. Don’t worry — I have pictures.

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THINGS I ATE: Garlic Fun, Courtesy of Delancey and Jon’s

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Garlic. It’s the best. Who doesn’t love garlic, aside from vampires and other similarly closed-minded ghouls? I’ve recently been on a minor garlic quest to master the fine art of toum, a Lebanese garlic sauce formed from garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. One of my attempts (documented here) involved raw egg, which sent my mixture into aioli territory, which was delicious but not really what I was looking for.

It turns out that toum is not as simple as it would appear, and while normally that’s exactly the sort of challenge I embrace, I have to admit that I’ve thrown in the towel. Why? Well, I was recently at Jon’s grocery store in Los Feliz, and I came upon a no-frills container of “authentic garlic sauce” that claimed it was “great for dipping.” I’m not master chef, but it looked a hell of a lot like toum (spoiler alert: it pretty much was toum). Anyway, I indulged a whopping $2.50 on this sauce, and I can proudly state that my desire to make toum from scratch has fully dissipated.

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THINGS I ATE: Soft-Shell Crabs at Father’s Office

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Crappy photo courtesy of my iPhone. Sorry.

I love soft-shell crabs. How much? Well, on a recent visit to Father’s Office in Culver City, I skipped the restaurant’s famous burger in favor of a soft-shell crab special that was running that night. Let me emphasize something: I never skip the restaurant’s famous burger. Sure, Father’s Office has a full menu beyond its Father’s Office Burger, but in the ten or so years I’ve been going to Father’s Office, I have never, ever strayed from the burger. Leave it to my love for soft-shell crabs to mix things up.

You see, soft-shell crabs are highly seasonal, and there really aren’t too many spots in LA that serve them. Naturally, when I discovered that my little crabby friends were on the menu, I knew I had to pounce. I might not get another opportunity!

This of course leads to a significant question: was it worth eschewing the prized burger for a humble soft-shell crab?

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THINGS I ATE: Meat Cakes at Beijing Pie House

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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.

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THINGS I ATE: Dinner at Stella Barra in Hollywood

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After a recent viewing of Star Trek: Into Darkness, my friend jash and I felt the need to wildly decompress from two hours of explosions, Spock bangs, and futuristic 9/11 imagery. And so we too stepped into darkness by taking in dinner at the dimly lit Stella Barra on Sunset Boulevard. Attached to the ArcLight and cousin to Stella Rosa in Santa Monica, the new restaurant has a reputation for awesome pizza and killer cookies. Naturally, this was right up my (Kirstie) alley. That was a bonus Star Trek reference, in case you were wondering.

jash and I kept the order simple. He ordered a glass of wine and a spinach and kale salad with pecorino ramona, Medjool dates, shaved radishes, and mustard vinaigrette. I too wanted to be healthy, but resistance was futile. I wound up requesting a fennel bianco pizza, which featured fennel, burrata, rosemary, torn basil, and olive oil. The friendly waiter then informed us that the policy of the restaurant is that when something is ready, it’s ready, and the food will arrive as such. It seemed like a strange approach, but I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal — that is, until jash’s salad arrived five minutes later (sans wine), and we had to wait an additional fifteen or twenty for my pizza. Yes, we were warned of the policy, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

As for that salad, it was very tasty, but teeny tiny. We’re talking side-salad size. At $10, it veers into “overpriced” territory. More appropriately priced was my pizza ($15), which was strong flavor-wise, but was so soggy and oily in the middle that the slices were near impossible to hold. Still, structural issues aside, I enjoyed the burrata and fennel, and found I was able to crisp up the slices a bit more the next day when I flung the leftovers in a skillet and heated them up for five minutes.

Eventually, the waiter discovered that he had neglected to bring jash’s wine, and to apologize, he gave us a free chocolate chip Rice Krispie treat cookie that may as well have descended directly from heaven. This cookie was far and away the best part of dinner, and I would truly consider going back to Stella Barra for the cookie alone.

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THINGS I ATE: Hwe Dub Bap at A-Won; Also, Dessert at Cafe Mak

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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.

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THINGS I ATE: Papa Cristo’s

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Image via Food GPS

Los Angeles is not a city brimming with Greek food. In fact, I can only think of about six or seven Greek restaurants total — Le Petit Greek in Larchmont Village, The Great Greek in the Valley, Tony’s Taverna in Malibu, Ulysses Voyage at The Farmer’s Market, Petros in Manhattan Beach, and Joseph’s Cafe in Hollywood, which I think is probably closed by now, and I wouldn’t eat there anyway. But I digress.

Supposedly at the top of that Aegean totem pole is Papa Cristo’s, located in the Byzantine-Latino Quarter of Los Angeles. And yes, LA does have a Byzantine-Latino Quarter. It’s basically Koreatown. Anyway, Papa Cristo’s has earned raves from newspapers, magazines, and of course, lowly blogs. I’ve wanted to visit the place for some time, but annoyingly, the restaurant closes at 8 PM, which is highly inconvenient for me.

Nevertheless, the other night I managed to finally make my way into the BLQ an snuck into Papa Cristos with just under 25 minutes left before the doors shut. Did the place live up to the hype? A few grainy pics after the jump…

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THINGS I ATE: Cobb Salad at Square One Dining

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Square One Dining has hands-down the best French toast in Los Angeles. Canelé and The Griddle come close, and BluJam has its oh-so-tasty crunchy variety, but Square One still takes the crown with its brioche french toast with bourbon-pecan topping and vanilla whipped cream. This is the stuff dreams are made of, people. It’s also, however, the stuff that love handles are made of too, and we don’t want those.

Luckily, Square One offers up some pretty amazing salads too. Take the Cobb salad, for instance. Square One does a mean Cobb salad. I am aware that one does not often use the word “mean” when describing a salad, let alone a boring Cobb salad, but people, this is truly a MEAN Cobb salad. I’m surprised it didn’t arrive at my table on a motorcycle with a blaring electric guitar signaling its presence. And then the salad can take off its helmet, and we discover that it’s really a hot lady, maybe even Claudia Schiffer, and as she wags her head back and forth in slow-mo, her blonde hair cascades down and our jaws drop. Yeah, that’s pretty much sums up this salad. It’s awesome.

And as a healthy alternative to French toast, it’s an excellent choice. Although, buyer beware: this salad does feature bacon, humbolt fog cheese, and a buttermilk dressing; so it’s not like the pinnacle of low-cal dining… But you will feel much less guilty when you see restaurant regulars / professional beanpoles Adam Levine and Jake Gyllenhaal at the next table over…

Square One Dining
4854 Fountain Ave Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 661-1109 • SQUARE ONE DINING

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THINGS I ATE: Bagel Broker Edition

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Looking for a bagel in LA? Good luck. The city notoriously misses the mark when it comes to this hallowed specialty. Some say it’s because the water in LA isn’t the same as NY. Others blame general Los Angeles stupidity. I don’t really know where the problem lies, but I can assure you that hope is not lost. I’ve tried most of the top bagel spots: Brooklyn Bagel Bakery, Sammy’s, Noah’s, Western Bagel, The Nosh of Beverly Hills, and more. Some are solid (Western, The Nosh), some are overhyped (Brooklyn), and some are just expensive and wrong (Sammy’s). In the end, there’s only one bagel place that does it right (or as right as an LA bagel can be): Bagel Broker.

I’ve been going to Bagel Broker since the first week I arrived in LA back in 2001. It’s the best. Bar none. These aren’t perfect bagels — they’re slightly small, and sometimes they have a tendency to dry out on the bottom — but overall, it’s the best we’ve got in LA. I can assure you that I’ve had many divine moments of personal happiness biting into one of those doughy rings. My order of choice: sesame bagel with veggie spread (or lox spread if I’m feeling like a baller), toasted, and open faced. You can of course order in classic sandwich form, but I’m telling you: try open faced. There’s a difference…

Oh, one more warning: this bagel place has become increasingly popular over the years. Not only is it common to now see celebs like Seth Rogen and Charlie Hunnam in the mix, but also long lines. Don’t worry: the queue moves quickly, even when it’s out the door on the weekend. Additionally, the parking lot (located just off Orange Grove Ave and Beverly Blvd) is hellacious. It fills up quickly, often with idiot drivers. The good news is that people leave just as quickly as they arrive. Be patient. Or look for street parking. A good bagel is worth it.

Bagel Broker
7825 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
(323) 931-1258 ‎ · bagelbroker.com

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