December 14, 2012

discover the curious city

There are so many delicious and inexpensive hole-in-the-wall Peruvian restaurants in LA, so why would anyone want to go to a bougie/yuppie iteration of one? Well if Jonathan Gold hasn't already convinced you, then let me try.
If you were like me and thought Peruvian was just Lomo Saltado, then what a pity! Have you ever tasted alpaca (small llama) or paiche (largest freshwater fish in the world)? The Estofado de Alpaca is prepared with noodles in a stew and topped with an egg sunny side up. Break the yolk and let it ooze all over the noodles before gulping it down with a spoonful of the rich stew. I could drink this dish like water anyday. Hands down it is the mandatory, A-plus, knock out dish to get. The Paiche is cooked so tenderly that it's somewhere between flaky and firm/chewy (like a scallop) - a truly unique texture. It is set atop a bed of rice with a flavorful tomato sauce poured all over it. I tried being modest by letting everyone at the table get their share but alas, I ended up eating 3/4 of this dish all by myself...
The drinks and desserts are worthy accompaniments to the main dishes so Mo-chica is a standout eatery for me.
Caffe Village

For a working dinner meeting this week, I met with Sharon at Caffe Village. I will reveal one secret: Sharon is my walking Koreatown Yelp. She is my secret source of all things delicious in Koreatown, so when she suggested we meet at Caffe Village, I agreed right away.

Caffe Village is an interesting place, because it's part cafe, part (sports) bar, and part restaurant. I have seen some hybrid places before: cafe+restaurant, restaurant+bar, but never cafe+restaurant+bar.  I knew that Caffe Village would have drinks like tea and coffee, but I did not realize they would serve alcohol too! I also expected typical Korean bar food, but they had both bar food and real food. They are known for these dduk-bok-gi topped with cheese. Basically it's rice cakes, cheese, sauce, and other unhealthy things. Your body will hate you, but your mouth will love it.

It was relatively busy for a Thursday night, but not too packed. Like most cafes, it has free wi-fi. Unlike most cafes, apparently they also broadcast Laker games too. The decor and ambiance was just okay to me - nothing particularly special, but I really liked the outside patio area. I was eyeing it even though it was so cold last night, so I think I would definitely return on a warm summer night to people watch and have drinks.

One question I had was about the way "Caffe" is spelled. What do you think? My theory is that it's a hybrid of cafe + latte! Get it? No?

P.S. Recently, Sharon also took me to Cafe Scent, which is another interesting hybrid: cafe + flower shop! I really liked the ambiance there, so if you want to go on a romantic date with a friend or significant other, gaze into each other's eyes, and really talk - go to Cafe Scent! Not that I did that with Sharon... actually it was another working meeting... I swear!