Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Counter Burger

The Counter Burger, originally uploaded by ~db~.

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon and I didn't want to cook, and I didn't want to drive far to get something. I had been wanting to try out The Counter in Toluca Lake for a while, so I thought I'd head over there. It turns out The Counter isn't a burger shack as such, but rather much more of a regular restaurant, complete with a bar which, because it was so busy, is where I chose to sit.

It was busy. Very busy.

So busy in fact that I sat for about 20 minutes before my existence was acknowledged, and then only to have the bartender hand me a sheet of paper, allowing me to mark off what I wanted. That's because The Counter is a "build your own" kind of burger place, allowing you to explicitly choose the meat, bun, toppings and such.

I got a 1/3 pound beef patty cooked medium on a regular bun with roasted red peppers, Bermuda red onion, dill pickle chips, and a lettuce blend. I think that's Gruyere cheese, but I'm not 100% sure. I also got a red relish, which came on the side.

I also ordered a fifty-fifty plate of onion strings and sweet potato fries, but got regular fries instead of the onion strings. Likewise, when I got the burger, the patty was medium-well at best, with not the slightest hint of pink, even at its center. But because of the long wait, and my being real hungry at that point, I didn't complain and just started eating what I was given.

But in the end that was a mistake on my part. I ended up giving up halfway through. All the elements were really good, except the overdone (by my taste) patty was just too dense. Also, while the fries were okay, if too skinny, I wish I'd had a chance at those onion strings. The sweet potato fries were really good, though I was only able to make my way about halfway through. Also ordered, but unseen, is a draft Flat Tire ale, which is a favorite of mine.

So in the end it was a fine, if unsatisfying meal. I'll have to go back when it's not so packed. In fact, by the time I had finished, things were much quieter and the staff was noticeably more relaxed and attentive of the diners. Burger, fries, and beer, about $23.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Beefy T From Chego!

The Beefy T From Chego!, originally uploaded by ~db~.

Last week I headed to Chinatown for the first of its Summer Night festivals. And while there were many food trucks, with long lines, I chose instead to walk down the street to Chego, with its own long line. It ended up taking me about a half-hour before I could order, much longer then I had ever waited when I've visited during the day. But the crowd was young and enthusiastic, so the wait wasn't so bad. Especially knowing what was in store.

First a side note about that. Every time I go to Chego it seems most of the people there are visiting for the first time. Often they are fans of Roy Choi and his famous Kogi truck and want to see what his brick and mortar restaurant had to offer. It's fun hearing the discussion the first-timers have about whether to go for the Chubby Pork Belly or the Sour Cream Hen House.

But also, it's really important to note that Chego is bringing new business into Chinatown. On this night, nearly every other business in the plaza Chego inhabits was closed, including all but just a couple other restaurants there. Yet here I was with more than a dozen people standing in line to eat at Chego, a number which had actually increased by the time I left. I couldn't help but wonder why the nearby shuttered stores and restaurants didn't take advantage of this opportunity. Hopefully they will.

Now, onto the meal. The Beefy T is beef fried rice. Really good fried rice. And I'm sure it's really good drunk food too. There's hot chili, diced prime rib, fried shallots, and a big glop of braised shoyu garlic paste. That's all topped with a fried egg. Perhaps a bit less refined than other dishes I've had, it serves its purpose if your looking for a filling meal with a lot of flavor. Under $10.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Chego Sour Cream Hen House

Chego Sour Cream Hen House, originally uploaded by ~db~.

Unable to go last week, I was jonesing for some Chego! yesterday. The next thing to try on the list was the Sour Cream Hen House, described as a marinated grilled chicken rice bowl w/ fried egg, Chinese broccoli, sour cream sambal, Thai basil, toasted sesame and red jalapeno.

The chicken was cooked perfectly, though I wish the pieces were a bit bigger. As with their other dishes, the contrasts between the fried, fresh, crunchy, and unctuous elements all compliment each other very well. But the real central player here is that pink sambal. Starting with a small taste by itself, I was at first overwhelmed, in a good way, by its creamy texture and full flavor bursting in my mouth. Then I was overwhelmed, in a very different way, by its big big heat. Like Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! heat. Not a bad thing, it was instead a nice surprise. Taken as part of the whole, the sambal just adds yet more delicious contrast.

A really good dish if you're looking for in-your-face heat. Literally. Under $10.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Ricky's Shrimp Taco

Ricky's Shrimp Taco, originally uploaded by ~db~.

That's right. Ricky's Fish Tacos has more than just fish tacos. He also has shrimp tacos! Excellent shrimp tacos! $3

Monday, June 03, 2013

Guilty Pleasure

Guilty Pleasure, originally uploaded by ~db~.

Popeye's Tuesday Two-Piece Special, $1.29.

Bald Eagle Ripper

Bald Eagle Ripper, originally uploaded by ~db~.

Both simple and complex at the same time, the Bald Eagle Ripper from Fab Hot Dogs is a deep fried hot dog topped with a very spicy relish. I'm not sure what was in there, but it had a lot of flavor, a lot of crunch, and a lot of heat. In the end it was too much heat for me on a day where the temperature had already passed 100 degrees. I'll wait for a cooler day before trying it again. The onion rings however were perfect and devoured quickly. Hot dog and onion rings, about $9.