Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Seize the opportunity...that's what I was thinking when I had a business meeting out in the City of Industry. I knew on he way back we would be passing through Pasadena and have a chance to finally try Pie n Burger.
This famous LA burger spot has been around since 1963 and not many things have changed. As you walk in you notice it's a long restaurant with a counter to the right and a few tables on the left. When I say it's "long", by no means do I mean big. The place probably seats 20 at the counter and another 15 at the tables. The original menu is still on the wall, the kitchen is right in front of the counter. We sat at the counter right in front of where the pies are kept. Looking at the menu on the wall, it's not difficult to figure out what to order. The hamburger is listed front and center. We ordered two cheeseburgers and split an order of fries, splitting the fries was recommended by the waitress.
While we waited for our food, we scanned all of the pies that were available, Apple, Pecan, Peach, Strawberry, Cherry, Custard, Lemon Meringue, Ollallieberry, etc...the list goes on and on. Our burgers and fries where delivered and I couldn't hold back, I dove right into the burger. Thankfully my co-worker had enough discipline to take a few photos before diving in. The burger is a quarter pound beef patty with lettuce, red onion, American cheese, housemade Thousand Island and pickles. The bun is a typical soft hamburger bun, that is toasted. Just looking at it brings back memories of the All American classic. With the first bite I understood why so many argue it's the best burger in Los Angeles. The combination of beef flavor, pickles, and dressing with the crunchy texture of the lettuce and bite of the onion was perfect. Another great thing about the burger was the size, not overwhelming, not too small, just a perfect size. The burger was delicious.
The fries were average, but definitely not seasoned enough. Surprisingly I was pretty full and didn't think I could eat another bite of food. But sitting in front of the case of pies was too difficult to bear. We split a slice of custard pie and it was perfect, not too sweet and a nice smooth texture.
Pie n Burger is a classic American diner with a delicious burger. Whether or not I think it's one of the best is yet to be determinded, there are still too many burgers I have yet to try. But it's definitely up there with the ones I've had so far.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
This was my first visit to Genwa Korean BBQ. From the reviews I read, I thought it would be a good place to bring some Korean BBQ newbies. Genwa is located on Wilshire Blvd between La Brea and South Highland blvd. The first thing you notice when you walk in is the decor. It has a contemporary Asian feel and is very clean. It reminded me a lot of Gyu Kaku Japanese BBQ locations. The bbq grills are the same as Gyu Kaku as well, they are the circular grills and there are no overhead exhaust fans. The tables all seat four comfortably, but once you start ordering food, it gets crowded. With all the Panchan, appetizers and grill, there isn't much space for anything else.
The food came fast, we started with the Beef Mandu and Nakji Somyun. The dumplings were good, very similar to a steamed gyoza. The Nakji Somyun was described as a stir fry of vegetables, calamari and noodles, in a chili sauce. The portion was big and the dish had a nice spicyness to it. Immediately after we got our first entree, it was the Sizzling BiBim Bap, they mixed it for us and divided it into individual bowls. The Bibim Bap was good, nice mixture of vegetables and spices. But by dividing it up, it lost it's appeal and they did not have the classic egg mixed in.
Next up were the meats, we started with the Prime Galbi. The portion was nice and the meat was fresh. My problem with Genwa is the size and heat of their grills. With the circular grill, there is a lot less surface area and it didn't seem to get hot enough. I like a char when eating Korean BBQ. Genwa also offers duk bo sam, which are the rice wrappers and Daikon wrappers as well. The Galbi with the wrappers and a little Gochujang was good stuff. They also served the actual short rib from the kitchen, I always loved to gnaw on the meat off the bone.
Our final bbq item was the Bulgogi. Both of the marinated meats had a few vegetables that were also thrown on the grill. But a nice little surprise was the little pieces of duk that were also thrown on the grill. As with the Galbi, the grill just didn't get hot enough for the Bulgogi. The flavor was good, as was the portion. But nothing spectacular.
Genwa, is a decent option for Korean BBQ in Los Angeles. But with so many choices, it's probably in the middle of the pack overall. The one thing that sets it apart, is it's service. The staff was attentive and very accommodating. My friend brought a few bottles of wine, their corkage fee was $15 per bottle. The prices are reasonable, the total of our meal was $158. So another Korean BBQ restaurant marked off the list. I will be back, but it may be awhile since there are so many others on my list.
At the end of our meal we were still craving some food, possibly some dessert. We headed back toward home and stopped at the Aroma Bakery and Cafe in Encino. Open til 4am, it was midnight and we waited 30 mins to get a table. With an wide variety of food, this is a decent late night eatery. Another gastronomic adventure in LA.