Categories
Culture Restaurants

How dineLA Showed Us A Restaurant Doesn’t Have To Fit A Specific Mold To Be Successful

Photo: Dylan + Jeni

Once again, my fellow Angelenos, dineLA is upon us.

The two week-long annual dining event celebrates a milestone 10th year where more than 300 participating restaurants offer unique prix fixe meals to local patrons and tourists at a fraction of the normal price.

At a press event, a panel of acclaimed chefs and restauranteurs spoke about participating in the 15 days of dineLA and what it meant to them. That panel included chefs Susan Feniger (Border Grill), Roy Choi (Kogi), David LeFevre (Manhattan Beach Post), and Steve Samson (Rossoblu).

Photo: Peter Pham

David LeFevre, the owner of the Manhattan Beach Post brought up an inspiring quote that reignited the spark inside the dreamer in me who once wished to open his own BBQ spot.

You don’t have to fit a certain mold to be successful. You don’t have to fit a certain mold to be the best restaurant.

Just scanning through the hundreds of participants and cuisines taking part in the event brings us joy, seeing food celebrated so abundantly.

Foodbeast’s managing editor and Los Angeles resident Richard Guinto had this to say:

Success isn’t made from a certain mold or archetype and dineLA is a good example of that. To elaborate, it’s because dineLA is a good indicator of just how diverse and expansive the Los Angeles dining scene is.

He added:

Whether you’re doing fancy white table cloth type of dining or you’re the local gastropub with eccentric bar bites and a good beer selection or even if you’re a Thai restaurant serving up authentic flavors, dineLA features it. All of which have nothing in common but good food and the success they share as a result of it.

Take Roy Choi’s Kogi concept, for example. Nearly a decade ago, Choi changed the food scene with his Kogi food truck. College students, businessmen and women, chefs, and doctors alike were all waiting in long lines to get their hands on his Korean and Mexican fusion.

Choi now owns multiple concepts and brick-and-mortar Kogi locations throughout California.

Of course there are a few basic guidelines that provide a good foundation when opening a restaurant.

Entrepreneur lists four keys to opening a successful restaurant: perfecting the menu, hiring a great staff, comfy and appealing decor, and market the crap out of your spot.

As my publisher once said, you just have to do what you’re passionate about and the success will follow.

If you’re interested in checking out this year’s dineL.A. event, you can see all the restaurants participating here.

Categories
Culture Restaurants

This Restaurant Is Like A Mini Thai Vacay In The Middle Of Downtown Los Angeles

Angelinos looking for an authentic, full-service, Thai experience need not venture any futhur than Downtown Los Angeles.

So Long Hi, nestled in the heart of DTLA, is a Thai restaurant that offers the full Thai food experience without the hassle of TSA.

Essentially a mini Thailand getaway, the restaurant offers a bevy of authentic Thai dishes and street foods. The dishes are served “family style” so if you have a buddy you wouldn’t mind grubbing with, don’t be shy asking them to tag along with you.

Those looking to immerse themselves in the atmosphere can check out the patio area that boasts a vacation-inspired nook in the back of the restaurant or the bar for some fresh cocktails and beer.

We’ll take some Khao Soi and Pad See Ew to start. Maybe a couple of cold brews too.

Categories
Culture Fast Food Video

Fast Food Size Comparisons Between The US And Japan [WATCH]

Many of us eat fast food every day and think nothing much of it. We just need something cheap and filling to get us through our meal. Have you ever wondered the actual size comparisons between fast food served in the United States compared to other countries?

YouTubers Rachel and Jun decided to do a little experiment to see if there was any noticeable  contrast between a variety of iconic fast food items in both countries.

Check out the size comparisons video and see for yourself

While there were a few minor differences between fast food burgers in calories and price, the one major variance was the size of American soft drinks. A large in America is about double the size of a large in Japan. In fact, the YouTubers pour the contents of an American soda cup to fill a Japanese large and medium.

Watching this video really makes us reconsider ordering a large soda the next time we get some fast food. Perhaps we’ll just stick to the free water cup.

Categories
Cravings Fast Food Features

How Pepperoni Became The Most Iconic Pizza Topping

The doorbell rings and you scramble to find your pants before greeting the pizza delivery guy. As you fumble for your wallet, you can already smell the heavenly aroma of your cheesy pepperoni-topped pizza.

Why pepperoni?

There are dozens of different things pizza lovers can top their pies with, anchovies being our top pick. Have you every wondered, though, why pepperoni is such an iconic topping that it’s featured in practically every reference to the Italian dish here in American culture?

According to the Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, pepperoni was popularized when it arrived in America with Italian immigrants.

A post shared by Pete (@pham_bot) on

In the 1900s, pizzerias in New York found that customers would enjoy the combination of pepperoni and cheese the most. The two ingredients went together like lamb and tuna fish.

Cured salami was a mixture of meat and fat that was finely chopped and mixed with peppers and spices. Rolled into a pig casing, the pepperoni was air dried for up to ten months at a time before it was ready for consumption.

Over the last century, advances in science found ways to cheat the months-long pepperoni curing process to produce the meat in a matter of hours. This allowed companies to mass produce the popular topping to meet the demands of pepperoni-loving Americans.

Pepperoni consequently became so popular that brands would make “healthier” variations for customers to buy made from both turkey and soy.

A post shared by Pete (@pham_bot) on

Fast forward a century later and pepperoni is still the veritable champ of pizza toppings, reigning over nearly every pizza topping list. It could be a millennia before another ingredient comes along to claim that title, but today, pepperoni remains the people’s choice.

After anchovies, of course.

Categories
Celebrity Grub Culture Restaurants

Andrew Zimmern Says This Is The Best Ramen Spot In America

For years, we’ve been chasing the best bowl of tonkotsu ramen here in the United States. It seems we found a pretty big lead in the search, as world-acclaimed food travel host and chef Andrew Zimmern dropped some major ramen praise.

A recent visit to Menya Ultra prompted Andrew Zimmern to exclaime that the:

Best tonkatsu ramen in America might just be in San Diego!

This praise should not be taken lightly as Zimmern himself has been around the block a few times. The culinary authority has hosted such Travel Channel series’ as Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, Bizarre Foods America, and Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World.

It might be pretty safe to say he knows what he’s talking about.

A post shared by Menya Ultra (@menyaultra) on

Tonkotsu is a type of ramen broth made from pork bones which originated from the Fukuoka Prefecture in Japan. It’s arguably one of the best and iconic variations of the Japanese ramen dish.

Looks like we’re going to San Diego this weekend.

Categories
Alcohol Culture Drinks Video

Watch These Folks Try Alcohol For The First Time

Most of us of drinking age can remember that first experience with alcohol and whether or not we enjoyed the taste. As time went on, we got used to the strong flavor and welcomed the buzz that came with the drink. Sometimes we look back and wonder how we would handle our first alcoholic beverages if we could relive the experience again.

In their latest video, Facts found a trio who have never tried alcohol before to drink a variety of liquored up beverages for the first time. The drinks and cocktails they tried include cider, beer, alcopops (alcoholic soda), gin, and wine.

The panel seemed pretty unanimous about their dislike for nearly all of the alcoholic beverages placed in front of them. Hey, it’s not for everyone and that’s OK.

Check out the video and see if this experience triggers some of your first-time drinking memories.

Categories
Culture Restaurants

What It’s Like Inside An Authentic Lechonera In Puerto Rico

It figures you have to get out of your comfort zone to truly experience something life-changing. Like the time I tried an authentic Filipino breakfast, I was once again introduced to a traditional meal from a culture I’ve yet had the pleasure of experiencing completely with a brand-new pair of eyes.

On a recent trip to Puerto Rico, I was taken to a lechonera located in Trujillo Alto. A lechonera is essentially a South American restaurant that specializes in roasted pork from a spit.

Nearly an hour from San Juan, this spot was tucked away in the rolling green hills of the beautiful island. The drive didn’t feel nearly as long, however, as I pressed my chubby cheeks to the glass window and drooled over the breathtaking commute.

As my driver pulled over, he recalled tales of his youth fishing in the same lake that settled behind the restaurant we finally arrived at: Lechonera Angelito’s Place.

In the front of the establishment, there was a man hacking slices of pork with a machete. Every strike cut through the meat as if it were paper until the thud of the cutting board signaled the end of the motion.

I was hypnotized by the blade’s rhythmic movements and the entrancing aroma of the roasted meat.

The owner of the establishment, Yubetsy Toledo, asked if I would like to see how the pigs were roasted. I nodded eagerly, a veritable Augustus Gloop at the shiny gates of Willy Wonka’s factory.

Ms. Toledo took me to an area to the side of the restaurant with a giant cement sandbox covered with large pieces of sheet metal. She motioned for me to give her a hand lifting off the sheets, revealing an entire pig roasting in the space below.

Over a bed of charcoal, the pork rotates on a spit for six hours every day until the flesh is juicy and the skin reaches the pinnacle crispiness a pig can achieve. Six whole pigs could be roasted at a time, which are usually reserved for weekends when families and locals would visit the lechonera on their day off. Today, however, there were only two or three on the spit.

The pigs themselves are expertly seasoned before the roasting process and are free of any chemicals or hormones. I was told that their diet consists of leftovers from children’s lunches donated by a school in the area.

Noticing my amazement, she asked if I would like to go to see the pigs before they hit the spit. My boyhood innocence naturally assumed that I would be led to a pig pen where I could feed and pet and name my very own piglets. Cecil, I’d call him.

Once again, my naivety got the best of me and I was led to a basement freezer where full-grown pig corpses were hung from the ceilings. A truly sobering sight. Haunting and fascinating in one breath.

I was led back up to the restaurant where I was served a plate of fresh lechon asada (pork on a spit), arroz guisado con gandules (yellow rice and pigeon peas), guineito verde (boiled green bananas), morcillas (blood sausage), batata frita (fried sweet potato), and pastel (a tamale-like entrée typically stuffed with pork meat).

Initially, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to try any of the pork, having seen how the sausage was actually made. To my delight, I got over that pretty quickly and dove fork first into the salty flesh of the freshly roasted pork. Skipping breakfast played a pretty major role in this.

Tender and flavorful, this was arguably some of the best pork I’ve had in my life. The crunch from the pork skin echoed through the hills and over the valley like the crackling of thunder that heralds a storm.

Pork is considered one of the traditional staple foods in Puerto Rico’s diet, especially during the holiday season. While it’s readily available at most restaurants around the island, lechon is a little harder to come by.

Because preparing a whole pork on a spit requires space and time, many locals wait for the weekend to travel to the nearest lechonera to quell their pork cravings while enjoying a nice outing with the family. Many lechoneras are much more than a restaurant as they offer live music and a dance floor. Thus, a day at a lechonera can easily become a full blown party – especially if people invite friends and family along for the road trip.

A cold beer in hand, I enjoyed the rest of my meal and basked in the deliciousness of my Puerto Rican feast. As I eat, I notice crowds begin to form near the butcher, placing their orders faster than he can prepare them. Things were picking up on this bright Wednesday morning.

I can only imagine how packed this spot could be on the weekend. With pork that good, I wouldn’t be surprised if the lines went all the way down to the lake.

Categories
Culture Products Recipes

This Stunning Poster Features 25 Glorious Japanese Egg Dishes

Eggs are one of the most versatile foods around. We, as a nation, have grown complacent with simply throwing a fried egg on everything and anything. That’s fine and dandy for an Instagram photo, but that’s no way to broaden your egg-loving horizons.

Tamago, the Japanese word for egg, is featured in many dishes in Japan. A poster created by a talented designer named Fanny, AKA the Japanese Foodie, highlights 25 different Japanese dishes that feature the beloved tamago.

Items include dishes like egg jelly, egg omelette sushi, omelette rice, pudding, egg rice porridge, and rolled eel omelettes.

With about a week to go, the Kickstarter campaign has already reached more than its intended $1,000 goal. We’ll keep you posted with a direct link on where to buy it when we find out. Until then, there are a few spots left to fund this project and get an early version of the poster through the Kickstarter.

This is a definitely must-have for the ultimate lover of eggs.