Jinya Ramen Bar in Los Angeles

Shortly after arriving at LAX and being picked up by my sister/bride to be, we grabbed a quick and very satisfying lunch at Jinya Ramen Bar before we went off to pick up her wedding dress in Koreatown and then off to check into the house we selected to rent for the bridesmaids via VRBO. Before picking me up, the car had already gotten filled up at Costco with muffins, croissants, OJ etc to help stock our rental home.

But, we needed a little more fuel before we continued on, and Jinya Ramen provided that warm tummy to help us out.
Jinya Ramen Bar, at Mid-Wilshire in Los Angeles Jinya Ramen Bar, at Mid-Wilshire in Los Angeles Jinya Ramen Bar, at Mid-Wilshire in Los Angeles

It was ironic that I had just written a post about takoyaki and how it had been a couple years since I had it, but then within just this past few weeks I had an opportunity to have it twice!

This Jinya is in a small strip mall so there are several parking spaces you can grab right in front of the restaurant. If you come when it is busy, there will be a sign up sheet for you that you should add your name and party size ASAP. We arrived around 1:45, so after the lunch rush had already subsided, so we were seated within 5 minutes.
Jinya Ramen Bar, at Mid-Wilshire in Los Angeles

The service is quick, with us quickly placing our orders for their classic and best seller ramen, the Jinya Number 1 of Tonkatsu Black which includes pork broth, pork chashu, kirukage, and egg along with the regular expected ramen flavorings like green onion, dried seaweed/nori, garlic chips, fried onion and a ramen special that was a bit spicier with jalapenos. There are additional toppings you can also add to your ramen, varying from spinach to tofu to corn, wonton, chicken, bok choy, etc. They have 9 other ramens, such as those with chicken if you don’t eat pork, and even a vegetarian one.

Looking at this photo now, with the cooler weather and cold rains, I can’t help but crave some more ramen right now!
Jinya Ramen bar at Mid-Wilshire, their classic and best seller ramen, the Jinya Number 1 of Tonkatsu Black which includes pork broth, pork chashu, kirukage, and egg along with the regular expected ramen flavorings like green onion, dried seaweed/nori, garlic chips, fried onion

You can also get combinations with your ramen, such as adding on pork gyoza and salad, or california roll and salad, or a curry rice… At the Mid-Wilshire location, we opted not only for pork gyoza but brussels sprouts tempura.
Jinya Ramen bar at Mid-Wilshire, pork gyoza that you can get with salad in addition to your ramen to make a combo Jinya Ramen bar at Mid-Wilshire, brussels sprouts tempura

And we got takoyaki, or octopus balls!
Jinya Ramen bar at Mid-Wilshire, takoyaki or octopus balls Jinya Ramen bar at Mid-Wilshire, takoyaki or octopus balls

Besides the 3 location in Los Angeles, you can also find Jinya Ramen in Las Vegas, Houston, and Vancouver Canada, and I think there might be one in Seattle (Bellevue) as well?!

Jinya Ramen Bar on Urbanspoon

Do you ever crave ramen on a cold rainy day? Where do you get your ramen fix at?

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Son of a Gun in Los Angeles

On my last trip to Los Angeles, when I had been throwing my sister’s wedding shower, we had driven by Son of a Gun on the way to Dry Bar and I vowed to return on my next visit. I made good on that promise to myself on this most recent trip to LA.

My main focus was to try the shrimp toast sandwich and their famous lobster roll. Besides anything with cheese, I would say a lobster roll tops my list that if I see it on a menu, I will order it. And, I am willing to travel and do what it takes for a good version of a lobster roll. The one at Son of a Gun has been listed as one of the top 5 lobster rolls in LA, which further fueled my motivation. The signage is not that obvious, but look for the red door.
Son of a Gun, in Los Angeles Son of a Gun, in Los Angeles

Son of a Gun is mostly a seafood restaurant, which is why the large sections of their menu are divided into Raw, Shellfish, Fish, and only 2 options for Meat and 3 seasonals which are salads. But, one of those options for meat is their famous fried chicken sandwich. The other, which we did not have room for, is the Country ham sandwich they offer.

Unlike the shrimp toast sandwich and lobster roll, this thing is massive, served with a buttery roll and spicy b&b pickle slaw and rooster aioli.
Son of a Gun, fried chicken sandwich, spicy b&b pickle slaw, rooster aioli Son of a Gun, fried chicken sandwich, spicy b&b pickle slaw, rooster aioli

Meanwhile, the shrimp toast sandwich and lobster roll are more palm sized, so like me, you can order 1 of each. The shrimp toast sandwich with herbs and sriracha mayo is small for the price tag, as is the lobster roll, but are intense in flavor. The shrimp toast sandwich you can conceivably cut in half to share a taste as it is a bit greasy, but you will want to eat that lobster roll, with its very buttery roll that is melt in your mouth, all by yourself.
Son of a Gun, Shrimp Toast Sandwich with herbs, sriracha mayo Son of a Gun, Shrimp Toast Sandwich with herbs, sriracha mayo

Remember, the lobster roll is only palm sized, unlike many other lobster rolls that are hoagie sized, so set your expectations accordingly.
Son of a Gun, Lobster Roll with celery, lemon aioli Son of a Gun, Lobster Roll with celery, lemon aioli Son of a Gun, Lobster Roll with celery, lemon aioli

One disappointment during our visit was that service was slow. We arrived there a bit later to avoid the lunch rush, around 1:45 pm. It took almost 10 minutes before someone finally took our order and bring our waters, and so we didn’t see any food until 2:10 pm (verified by the timestamp on my pictures). Only shortly after receiving our food, while still eating, the waitress came over to ask if us if we wanted dessert or anything else as they were closing the kitchen (the restaurant closes at 2:30 to complete lunch service), not that they had the menu in hand when they asked so we could look. There were literally only a handful of tables occupied in the restaurant, so I’m not quite sure why they were slow to get to us. We paid cash in order to get out of there quickly. Hopefully, this was just a one-off experience on a waitress’ bad day.

Son of a Gun Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

Similar to how I will journey to find a good lobster roll, is there certain food you will go out of your way for when you travel?

 

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Fall Foliage in Upstate New York

Well, here in Portland we went from a nice long summer that lasted until early October straight into the grey and rain of what would be late October. So, I wanted to share a few photos from when I was in upstate New York and enjoyed the beautiful fall colors there.

I was driving and there were so many times I wanted to pull over, the colors and views just were so fantastic, particularly on the highways with all the rolling hills when they were all I could see to my left, right, and in front for miles. There were a couple times on the more local roads I was able to get a few shots. I was told this wasn’t even their peak yet since there were still greens…

So here’s a reminder of some of the colors of fall that are out there, despite our gloomy gray skies here!
Fall Foliage in upstate New York Fall Foliage in upstate New York Fall Foliage in upstate New York Fall Foliage in upstate New York Fall Foliage in upstate New York Fall Foliage in upstate New York Fall Foliage in upstate New York Fall Foliage in upstate New York Fall Foliage in upstate New York

Is there anyplace you go for fall colors? Particularly here in the northwest, I’ve had to get used to not seeing all the deciduous trees that I am used to from the Midwest and also from a few fall trips I’ve taken specifically to the East Coast like around New York, Massachusetts, and North Carolina to see the colors.

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Eight Korean BBQ in Los Angeles

In the past 2 weeks, my baby sister got married! Although we were busy with some wedding details and also spending time with family and friends, there were also a few opportunities for deliciousness that I captured and wanted to share.

This first one is in Los Angeles, for Eight Korean Barbecue, which I think might also be known as Palsaik Korean Bbq (Palsaik means 8 colors). What makes this Korean BBQ establishment really stand out is that they offer eight colorful flavors of pork.
8 Korean BBQ, or Palsaik Korean Bbq in Los Angeles, Koreatown 8 Korean BBQ, or Palsaik Korean Bbq in Los Angeles, Koreatown

Like any Korean BBQ, you start with a whole bunch of little side entrees, also known as banchan. If you run out of any, just ask for a refill. What is particularly special about the banchan here is that the kimchee and sprouts as well as some of the veggies (you can see squash, mushroom below) are warmed up on the grill, intensifying the flavor.
Grilled kimchee and sprouts at 8 Korean BBQ, or Palsaik Korean Bbq in Los Angeles, Koreatown Grilled kimchee and sprouts at 8 Korean BBQ, or Palsaik Korean Bbq in Los Angeles, Koreatown

Before the main party, we decided to indulge with Prime Ribeye. Along with the banchan, there is also a salad (no picture sorry) and a seafood soybean paste stew that comes with the dinner of a Palsaik Set Menu. At the end, they make fried rice with the scraps. Seriously, I love how my sister rolls.
Prime Ribeye addition to our set menu at 8 Korean BBQ, or Palsaik Korean Bbq in Los Angeles, Koreatown Seafood SoybeanPaste Stew that comes iwth the banchan and saslad at 8 Korean BBQ, or Palsaik Korean Bbq in Los Angeles, Koreatown

The star though is that you can get a flight of eight different marinated Mangalitza pork belly flavors.
The flight of eight different marinated Mangalitza pork belly flavors at 8 Korean BBQ, or Palsaik Korean Bbq in Los Angeles, Koreatown

The 8 flavors of pork you can try include
Eight different marinated Mangalitza pork belly flavors at 8 Korean BBQ, or Palsaik Korean Bbq in Los Angeles, Koreatown

  • Wine
  • Original
  • Ginseng
  • Garlic:.
  • Herb
  • Curry
  • Miso Paste
  • Red Pepper Paste

Ribeye cooking:
Prime Ribeye addition to our set menu at 8 Korean BBQ, or Palsaik Korean Bbq in Los Angeles, Koreatown Prime Ribeye addition to our set menu at 8 Korean BBQ, or Palsaik Korean Bbq in Los Angeles, Koreatown

Pork cooking: They do the first 4 (Wine, Original Ginseng, and Garlic, which is in order left to right below), and then do the latter 4 (pictured in the rightmost photo).
The flight of eight different marinated Mangalitza pork belly flavors at 8 Korean BBQ, or Palsaik Korean Bbq in Los Angeles, Koreatown The flight of eight different marinated Mangalitza pork belly flavors at 8 Korean BBQ, or Palsaik Korean Bbq in Los Angeles, Koreatown The flight of eight different marinated Mangalitza pork belly flavors at 8 Korean BBQ, or Palsaik Korean Bbq in Los Angeles, Koreatown

The tables they have fit 5 to each grill, and the staff will come to take care of the grilling for you and cut everything into chopstick-liftable pieces. The stools are storage stools, so you can lift up the cushion so you can put your purse in them, and they give you an apron to wear so everyone can be equally stylish at your table while you dine.

Us in our aprons…

Eight Korean BBQ family

A photo posted by @smashhitta on

Everything was absolutely delicious. As much as I love Portland, some of the ethnic eating like Korean in Los Angeles is something we don’t have to the same high level, and I do miss it. If you are visiting Los Angeles, I always recommend eating at the various ethnic “towns”, including this place in Koreatown! It’s easy to park as they are in a mini-strip mall so they have parking right in front of the restaurant. The sign says Eight Korean Barbecue as you can see at the very first photo in the post, with a very happy pig.

Palsaik on Urbanspoon

Have you ever had Korean BBQ? What are your favorite things to eat at a Korean BBQ? Where do you get Korean BBQ in Portland?

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Buki Food Cart and Takoyaki

When I heard there was takoyaki available in town, I felt the magnet pull immediately.

Buki is part of the new food cart pot on Division and SE 28th called Tidbit… as if Division Street wasn’t already kicking it in high gear with lots of delicious eats along those 10 or so blocks. The food cart just opened maybe a month ago, but it feels like a neighborhood center already. On my visit on a Friday, I saw many people arriving pushing a baby stroller or with some toddlers or with a dog, with several people greeting each other with hugs as they ran into each other. There is lots of seating, live music, and quite a lot of options with the the more than dozen carts situated here.

I resisted temptation when I saw the offerings of the other carts to focus on Buki and their takoyaki as a snack before dinner. So unfortunately I also restrained myself from their dessert offerings. Gee, I’ll just have to go back. I also noticed that Buki has the most ADORABLE DOG. He’s perfect.
Buki food cart in the Tidbit Food Cart Pod on SE 28th and Division, offering some Japanese Street food, most importantly Takoyaki Buki food cart in the Tidbit Food Cart Pod on SE 28th and Division, offering some Japanese Street food, most importantly Takoyaki Buki food cart in the Tidbit Food Cart Pod on SE 28th and Division, offering some Japanese Street food, most importantly Takoyaki
Buki food cart in the Tidbit Food Cart Pod on SE 28th and Division, offering some Japanese Street food, most importantly Takoyaki

I haven’t had takoyaki in 2 years, after all! Takoyaki are basically a flour ball made in a special takoyaki pan which is very remiscent of a aebleskiver pan (Aebelskivers are Danish filled round pancakes) in that the pan is full of round wells that the batter is poured in, followed by the filling, and then the rest of the batter to form the ball.
Buki food cart in the Tidbit Food Cart Pod on SE 28th and Division, offering some Japanese Street food, most importantly Takoyaki

A traditional Original Takoyaki is filled with pieces of steamed octopus (Tako), and topped with lots of takoyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, ao-nori seaweed and bonito flakes.
A traditional Original Takoyaki is filled with pieces of steamed octopus (Tako), and topped with lots of takoyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, nori seaweed and bonito flakes. From Buki food cart in the Tidbit Food Cart Pod on SE 28th and Division

The food cart Buki does offer alternates such as a Western Blend that has sausage and cheese on the inside with the same toppings as the Original. Or, there is the Bomber, with jalapenos on the inside and nacho cheese sauce and bacon bits on top. To up the spiciness, you might consider the Volcano version that has kimchee inside and a house special mayo sauce on top.

So it seems either way, there will be a lot of toppings. You will notice they serve the little hot balls in a little boat, and there will be a little stick that is used to poke the takoyaki and carry it to your mouth. DO NOT EAT THEM RIGHT AWAY IF THEY ARE FRESH as they will be SUPER HOT. You don’t want to burn your tongue and not be able to taste these!
A traditional Original Takoyaki is filled with pieces of steamed octopus (Tako), and topped with lots of takoyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, nori seaweed and bonito flakes. From Buki food cart in the Tidbit Food Cart Pod on SE 28th and Division A traditional Original Takoyaki is filled with pieces of steamed octopus (Tako), and topped with lots of takoyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, nori seaweed and bonito flakes. From Buki food cart in the Tidbit Food Cart Pod on SE 28th and Division

Each order has a generous 8 pieces, but it is made fresh so may take 10-15 minutes so place your order then wander over to get your beer  and perhaps a dish or two from other food carts to make it a “progressive” food cart dinner, with Takoyaki as your appetizer.

In addition, also from their menu Buki also offers bubble tea and Taiyaki, a waffle that is shaped like a fish and which inside is filled with sweet red bean paste (Original) or chocolate or nutella, your choice. So perhaps you might consider Buki for dessert as well.

The Takoyaki are crispy on the outside and meltingly soft and a bit gooey on the inside.
A traditional Original Takoyaki is filled with pieces of steamed octopus (Tako), and topped with lots of takoyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, nori seaweed and bonito flakes. From Buki food cart in the Tidbit Food Cart Pod on SE 28th and Division

Buki is open for lunch and dinner, with hours Wednesday and Thursday of 12-3 PM and 5-9 PM, and weekend hours of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of 12-3 PM and 5-10 PM. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
Buki food cart in the Tidbit Food Cart Pod on SE 28th and Division, offering some Japanese Street food, most importantly Takoyaki

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