Ricky’s Fish Tacos – Silver Lake

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What’s better than eating at a food truck? How about eating in a driveway! Ricky’s Fish Tacos is frying up fish and shrimp Ensenada style with a house batter made to Imageorder. Tacos can be dressed with fresh cabbage, pico and a trio of sauces to choose from. It is quite a treat to enjoy such amazing food in the middle of what seems like someone’s driveway in Silver Lake. It almost feels illegal or a violation of some kind.

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Just look at those little fried puppies hanging over the edge of that fryolater. Topped with Ricky’s smattering of crunchy, juicy and saucy fresh fixings, each bite is a mouthwatering blend of crisp texture and Mexican flavor.

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You can check out Ricky’s hours on his vibrant Twitter feed where he also posts when the fish runs out or if he’s frying up anything special, like lobster! Wash your tacos down with a cup of home made horchata. There’s something that I love way too much about any restauranteur that focuses on a few small things really well instead of over loadingImage you with a bunch of crap. Ricky’s Fish Tacos is a fun treat to be had on any sunny day in LA. Pull up to Ricky’s on 1400 N. Virgil, Los Angeles, grab a place in line and be prepared to bite into the freshest fried fish taco you’ve ever scarfed down!

Nong Lá – Little Osaka

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Lunchaimer’s,

My apologies for the recent lapse between posts. With all the calorie cramming over the last few months since my first lunch love letter on New Year’s Eve, a gastronomic break was necessary. And as one door closes, another opens when I tried to take it easy during my lunch breaks and found Nong Lá’s Banh Mi Chay: Carrots, daikon, cilantro, house mayo, tofu, marinated oyster mushrooms and choice of fried egg enveloped by one of the freshest toasted baguettes I have ever crunched into. I have a doctorate in banh mi appreciation and I consider Nong Lá’s addition of the fried egg to its Vietnamese submarine as a revolutionary accoutrement …(Some of you might be thinking listen to this fat ass…He thinks going on a diet is scarfing down fried egg sandwiches). And of course the classic grilled pork, lemon grass steak and lemongrass chicken banh mi are available as well

nonglaThe sandwich is at the top of my list and I go out of my way to snack on it. My addiction has gotten so bad that the staff have insisted I either order something new or stop coming for a while so I don’t burn out! People like to call me a gross creature of habit. I call it loyalty.   

                                                                                                                                               Nong Lá’s atmosphere is clean and slick. You can plainly see the kitchen staff in the back frantically whipping up all of their menu items by hand with fresh ingredients. Classics like Bun rice vermicelli bowls, Pho, bountiful rice plates (I promise I am ordering a rice plate next time) and a variety of egg rolls/apps. Its a great spot for lunch and by far the best banh mi you can find without driving 80 miles round trip to Westminster.

nongla-4Don’t leave without trying their Cafe Sua: a Viet-style spice roasted coffee bean slow dripped over condensed milk (hot or over ice). It is a delicious treat that I have yet to figure out how to sip slowly. Check, please!

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The Elotes Man – Culver City Farmers Market

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The Elotes Man…Of all the goodness I have come across in my 6 years as an Angelino, this is my favorite slice of culinary tradition. Corn is sweet, crisp, snappy and juicy. Buttery at times…Maybe some salt. That’s as far as American’s have taken your traditional ear of corn. Leave it to Mexican culture to completely transform your flavor perception of those little golden nuggets. Butter, lime juice, salt, parmesan cheese, spices/seasoning, hot sauce and mayonnaise roasted in a 800 degree inferno of heat; that is The Elotes Man. Just press play and make your way to the Downtown Culver City Farmers Market every Tuesday afternoon/evenings from 2-7pm.
Thank you, Elotes Man!
#LuncHaim

Mexican Fruit Cart – Los Angeles

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If there is one piece of Los Angeles that has wowed me time and time again since arriving here almost 6 years ago, it’s the Mexican fruit cart. Littered across the entire city every other block or so, you can hear sharpened knives bouncing off cutting boards as succulent fruit slices fall like dominos. Watermelon, mango, pineapple, jicama, cucumber, orange, coconut and melon are scooped up, served in a baggie and doused with lime juice, salt and hot chile sauce if desired.

At $4 for a massive single serving or $6 for a weeks worth of diced fruit, to me, it is undoubtedly the best food deal in all of Los Angeles. I would love to see other countries and/or chefs take a stab at revolutionizing the fruit cart. Not because the Mexicans don’t have it covered, but because there is the potential to really make the flavors explode!

This LuncHaim goes out to LA and her Mexican culture. Enjoy the video!

“The difference between Los Angeles and yogurt is that yogurt comes with less fruit.”
~Rush Limbaugh
You couldn’t have said it any better, Rush!

Sotto – Beverly Hills

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Lets start with dessert. I have been a cannoli connoisseur since 1997. In my 6 years living here in Los Angeles I’ve uncovered ZERO cannoli spots. Italian restaurants, bakeries, cafes…Nothing of note. I’ve gone as far as having people fly me cannoli’s back from their trips to New York, Boston and Miami. It wasn’t until a recent trip to Beverly HIlls that I discovered an Italian kitchen called Sotto on Pico just off Beverwil. Sotto’s cannoli has a thinner and flakier crust inspired by traditional Sicilian recipes. According to the chef, they use red wine instead of marsala or cooking wine (shows what I know…Had no idea you needed wine to make crust!). The typical LA cannoli would involve one of those disgusting maraschino cherries or flakes of green-dyed coconut (Bay Cities…barf!).Image Here we have ends covered in coarse crumbles of pistachio and what looks like the cannoli was used for a q-tip. That isnt ear wax though, its fresh orange marmalade; a truly toothsome touch. The ricotta custard within is cool, fresh, dotted with crumbled chocolate chips and filled into shells on the spot. In my 15 years of cannoli connoisseurship I have not enjoyed a finer specimen.

ImageMy LuncHaimers…I’m starting to feel like you all think I am like the Double Rainbow Guy of food reviews. Think of me what you will, but have I steered you wrong? Lest the streak remain unfettered when I unveil to you Sotto’s Cauliflower Almond Zuppa: (pureed cauliflower and almond, chilies, capers, raisins, onion, garlic, honey). You look at it, you think cream. You taste it, you think cream. No cream. Supposedly, the almonds are cooked down and pureed with the cauliflower. The pureed almonds’ oils and fats provide the illusion of cream while your buds are smacked around with salty sweetness, herbs, charred capers and raisins. Served with toasted bread that stays crunchy despite the flavorful soup it soaks up. I deliver no lies. It is the best soup I’ve ever had that wasn’t Ramen or Pho. (But do you really count those as soups?)

 
Charred Little GemsBlistered Little Gems salad: slightly charred wedges of fresh greens covered with anchovy garlic pestata and breadcrumbs. The flavors going on in this simple yet extravagant appetizer are ones I strongly recommend your taste buds reckon with. The garlic and anchovy fillets when ground down to a paste go incredible together. The dish says bread crumbs, but they aren’t your typical bread crumbs. It more resembles a very soft sand with a completely pleasant texture rather than grit. The dish is drizzled in what I would imagine is some high quality olive oil and topped with thin slabs of freshly grated aged Caprino Sardo. The cheese, olive oil, garlic anchovy paste, bread crumbs and charred greens come to life in your mouth to form a flavor equation that must be broken down and experienced. I don’t think I’ve ever written such mouthwatering prose about a salad in my life.

Salsiccia e friarielli                                                                                                                                                    Oh right, Sotto also fires Neopolitan style pizzas (probably what they are most known for in Los Angeles). Pictured above is Salsiccia e friarielli. sotto-6 I am a rapini lover and the crumbled sausage could not be a finer dance partner for rapini’s wilted waltz atop the pizza dance floor. The dough            resembles thin crust but is by no means crisp or flakey. Instead the doughy foundation is the right combo and fluff and chew. Fired in Sotto’s high quality wood burning furnace, the final product comes out with charred imperfections which gives the pizza a surprising subtle crunch while the insides remain pillow soft. The chilies and mozz congeal the pizza’s Italian harmony.

In a city with notoriously bad pizza noteriety, the first question is: Is it the best pizza in LA? I’m telling you it is up there. But regardless of where or how you rank the pizza, Sotto is so much more than a swanky pizza parlor. Get to Sotto, stat! 

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Seoul Sausage Company – Little Osaka

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So It’s called Seoul Sausage Company and I start off with a piece of chicken? That’s because it’s not any old chicken. You all know Koreans love to take food that is already awesome and make it even more awesome. Da KFC (so succulently pictured above) stacks atop Korean B.B.Q.’s take on fried chicken. Korean fried chicken is known for being extra crisp, lighter on the batter and having that certain kick only Koreans know how to concoct. Seoul Sausage’s rendition calls for chunks of white meat with a softer fry, sprinkled with magic dust. I don’t know what this dust is. All I know is every time I undo that takeout box, dusty nuggets and a L7 of cornbread shimmer like gold! The cubes of pickled daikon, chives and sweet chili glaze coating the nuggets with a fork full of that cornbread is a bite of foodie love to be had. Only mistake I made is I wasn’t sitting down. It’ll knock you off your ass.

ImageUp next…Sausage? No. Try Seoul Sausage completely ripping Arancini a new one. The Lil’ Osaka, Flaming and Spam Musubi balls consists of seasoned Kimchi fried rice core and a flaky outer fritter. Topped with some provocative sauces for $3 a pop. The Lil’ Osaka (pictured right) is a homage to Seoul Sausage’s home on Mississippi and Sawtelle, AKA “Tiny Tokyo”. The recently launched Spam Musubi ball is salt cured beefy goodness. Seoul Sausage’s menu may be small, but their Korean remixes on foodie culture make you want to devour everything. Make some room.

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I would love to see the expression on a Montrealer’s face after eating the Galbi Poutine! The French Canadian specialty usually consists of not so amazing fries, gravy and cheese curds. Seoul Sausage’s remix: Galbi (Korean braised short rib), twice fried fresh sliced potatoes, chives, that damn good kimchi onion and a homemade crema. The braised short rib is made with time, love and perfection. I can’t really imagine finding a more unique way to eat a french fry in Los Angeles (no one tops the Dutch & Belgians!).

ImageWhen I asked for a takeout menu, they said take a picture!

seoul sausage edited-12My Lunchaimers, don’t get perturbed. There is no sausage in this glowing review. Blame it on this gang of Koreans for diving into their foodie lab and coming out with some incredible items to accompany their sausage and balls! The Galbi Poutine and DaKFC are two dish renditions I have not seen or tasted heretofore. Seoul Sausage has me hooked and I will be back to try their Korean B.B.Q. sausages incredibly soon. Much love to Yong, Ted and Kim for making sausages, not war!

Chego – Palms/West LA

ImageChego means “the best” in Korean slang. I assume its more like an onomatopoeia for a noise you make when you taste something downright delicious. Executive Chef Roy Choi creates and isn’t afraid to recreate dishes with his LA-OG-Korean-Mexican-Hawaiian goodness. Chego takes Bibimbap (Korean rice bowls) and goes all Bi-Bim-Bap on them bitches. Scoops of rice provide a canvas for Choi’s flavor palette as he paints the city of LA with food. The Chubby Pork Belly (pictured above) is the menu’s anchor. Its straight up Korean but Chego adds a Mexi-spin with some cojita cheese and sweetness along with radish, peanuts, spinach, basil, fried shallots. And don’t forget the piggy. The marinade creates a camralized char around the diced chunks of pork belly.

ImageI could go on writing about Chego’s rice bowls for days. I suggest losing all inhibitions you may have about food and dive in. Now to Exhibit A (pictured left). When Chego unveiled a burger on the specials menu, they tinkered with different toppings/sauces on a weekly basis and locked in on this meat wad. Half pound grass fed burger, cheese, mayo, chili sauce, fried shallots, wild arugula, Thai basil. The bun is grilled with a slight char. The burger has dimension…They call it a patty. Its more like a beef puck. Sweet, spicy, creamy, peppery herbs, caramelization and texture. Its a perfect picture and a ride down to flavor country.

ImageSo here’s the thing. Chego did have a dine-in restaurant, but there were some kitchen limitations and renovations needed. As we know it today, Chego indefinitely lives out of this truck parked out in front of Chego’s bones (pictured above). True OG! They still have seats and benches in front of the restaurant outside to enjoy a slightly down-sized menu. The staple items are still on the board, including interesting snacks like the Beehive Brussels Sprouts (pictured bottom right). Caramelized and deglazed w/ soy vinaigrette over yogurt curd and honeycomb, crowned w/ salsa ensalada, fried shallots and sesame. The sweetness of the dish combined with the salsa roja and sharp taste of the sprouts is a must try. If your were a Brussels Sprouts hater like me going in, you will be reintroduced to the veggie that once reminded you of steamed gym sock stench.

ImageYou can always tell when you spot a first-time Chego-er. Their eyes bulge a little, trying to get every element of Choi’s creation in focus. Then upon first chemical reaction of taste from tongue to brain, there is this inexplicable look on the face, as if they can’t believe this late in life they are now experiencing a new dimension of flavor. Chego will reinvigorate your soul and won’t even charge you more than $10 for a wild culinary ride through Korea Town, Little Tokyo, Mexi-Cali and the Pacific Islands.

ImageMuch love to the entire Chego crew!

Vitals:

  • where to find us

    3300 Overland Ave
    Los Angeles, CA 90034
    323.380.8680

    CHEGO TRUCK LUNCH
    Tues-Sat 11:30am-2:30pm
    Take-Out, Order Online

    CHEGO TRUCK DINNER
    Tues-Sat 5:30pm-11:30pm
    Take-Out, Order Online

  • our team

    GM: Jose Cervantes
    Sous Chef: Micko Ortiz
    Pastry Chef: Beth Kellerhals
    Executive Chef: Roy Choi