Monday, May 27, 2013

3pm Meatballs from Chego!

3pm Meatballs from Chego!, originally uploaded by ~db~.
My obsession with Chego! continues. This week it was meatballs. Specifically, the 3pm Meatballs. It's three Korean-fried meatballs, sitting on top of an oh-so-soft fried polenta patty. There are chopped green onions and peppers, fried shallots, sesame, and a fantastic blueberry habanero salsa.

So much flavor in one little bowl! The meatballs were substantial, but not overly dense. I was skeptical about the polenta, but forgot that upon first bite and in the end was wiping the bowl with the last scrap in order to get the final drops of that sweet/hot sauce.

It's a perfect example of what I'm finding might be the top skill of Roy Choi and his team. Balance. The heat of the peppers tingles the entire mouth, but is met by a sweet roundness of the blueberry. And, importantly, neither asserts itself too much. The crunch of the fresh onions contrasts well with that of the fried shallots. All of it compliments the central player, the meatballs. Perfectly sized, they're a very nice appetizer or light meal. About $4.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Tiny's Prime Rib Rice Plate From Chego!

After discovering the new Chego! in Chinatown last week, I knew it wouldn't be long before I would be back. So it's no surprise I returned today, driving instead of taking the Metro.

I ordered Tiny's Prime Rib Rice Plate which, along with the beef and rice, includes crunchy water spinach and Chinese broccoli, a very nice creamed horseradish, some roasted garlic paste, and shallots. Everything is topped with a fried egg, this time done perfectly so the yolk would drip down and mix with the rice and veggies. That shoyu, or whatever it is, on the rice is absolutely fantastic. The meat was cooked right, though I wish the two big pieces were cut into four or six smaller pieces. While not quite as fantastic as last week's pork belly, this is still real good. Prime rib plate, about $11.

The Good Saint

The Good Saint, originally uploaded by ~db~.

One of my favorites from Vicious Dogs. The Good Saint has a nice meaty andouille sausage, grilled onions and tomatoes, some peppers for just enough heat, all topped with lots of cheese and melted into a poppy seed bun. Yum. Hot dog and small onion rings, about $9.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Return To Ricky's

Return To Ricky's, originally uploaded by ~db~.
I've mentioned my delight in finding the new Chego! had moved into Chinatown, but there was another wonderful culinary surprise that day. Ricky's Fish Tacos is a perennial favorite in L.A. I had visited its location in a parking lot on Virgil a few times, but was unaware that it had been shut down, perhaps by a jealous competitor. Blissful in my ignorance, I thankfully didn't have to bear the burden of thinking I'll never taste another of Ricky's creations.

So it was by chance that I discovered that Ricky's has found a new home, at least for now, in the parking lot of LAX-C market near Chinatown. Just a block and a half from the Gold-Line's Chinatown station, it's even easier to get to than the old location.

And yes, the taco. Still delicious. Still cheap. A bit saltier than I remember, but not too much. This time I drenched it with everything: creama, verde, and rojo sauces. Simple and good. Real good. Fish taco, about $3.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Chego's Chubby Pork Belly

Chego's Chubby Pork Belly, originally uploaded by ~db~.

Once there was a restaurant called B's Wonton Noodle House. It was special. And now it's gone.

So imagine my surprised pleasure when, on my way to get some duck at Kim Chuy, I found that Roy Choi has moved his brick and mortar restaurant Chego into the place formerly occupied by my beloved B's. I quickly abandoned my plans for duck.

Gone are the tables, replaced by stools and a counter wrapping around the wall. The place was full when I arrived, populated by a considerably younger crowd than during the building's previous incarnations. And despite the occasional odd looks from old-timers, this is a good thing.

Also good was the service. Everybody was very pleasant, and after the place cleared out and settled down a bit, I was able to talk to Barry, the person who brought my food, and had a nice conversation about the place and its move from the Westside. They had just opened the new place on the previous Saturday and are still getting used to it. But judging by what I saw, there shouldn't be a problem with drawing the customers. Even better if they are folk who normally don't come to the area.

But the best thing is the food itself, which was pretty great! Well, at least the Chubby Pork Belly I ordered. It's a "kochujang-laquered Korobuta rice bowl w/ fried egg, pickled radishes, water spinach Chinese broccoli, cotija, and peanuts." It was full of texture and very flavorful. The chunks of pork were as generous as they were unctuous. It had just enough heat and the peanuts gave a very complimentary roundness to the vegetables' crunch. The only minor issue I had was the egg was fried hard. It would have been nice if it was fried easy, so the yolk could have run out and mixed in with everything else. Other than that small quibble, it was a fantastic lunch and I'm sure to be back. Chubby Pork Belly, about $10.