While I have had a lot of close calls, I recently came upon what I can honestly call “the best barbecue” I’ve had in my entire life. And I owe that honor to a summer-long residency by Adam Perry Lang, who currently lives (that’s what the Airstream is for), cooks and feeds serious barbecue seekers on the Jimmy Kimmel Live! backlot in Hollywood.
From now until September 5th, he’ll be serving up his pecan wood-smoked specialties every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for lunch. Everything in this awesome ‘cue is made from scratch (okay, perhaps not the meats), from the charcoal in the Texas burn pit to his 2-ton, custom pit smoker – and even the cutlery, which he literally carves himself.
With The Foundry in the middle of an overhaul and Chef Eric Greenspan’s neighboring grilled cheese operative still under construction, the only place that Angelenos can get a piece of his comforting cooking is ironically in the middle of one of the best 360 degree views of the entire city. What better occasion than Independence Day to take advantage of not only the views but an affordable all-you-can-eat extravaganza?
I arrived to our 7-top reservation on account of an invitation from Josh of Food GPS, but only after first following the noise and crowd into the very popular Don Dae Gam, which was located in the same plaza. I turned to each occupied table (they all were), and when I didn’t recognize one face I went back out the door.
At LaOn, we were one of two parties total that dined there in the duration of our feast. As the only non-Caucasian in the party, I had also learned that before I arrived, the servers verified repeatedly that indeed, this was the restaurant at which they wanted to be, and not next door.
Don’t judge a palate by its cover…
As each cooked or uncooked dish arrived in the practically empty restaurant, it became apparent that we were one of the first to discover this little gem. The best thing about our big party was that we were able to order a lot to ensure getting a bite of everything while not leaving a scrap by the time we were finished.
With the same people behind Park’s BBQ masterminding LaOn, this surprisingly pleasant dining space – though furnished with the obligatory fans above each table – isn’t the spot to court your singularly focused meat-minded friends (often the stigma I’ve found associated with Korean food). Sure, you’ll get an on-table iron charcoalÂ grill on which to cook your skirt steak, beef tongueÂ and skewers (the bacon-wrapped duk, or tubular rice cakes, are a must), but you’d really be missing out if you overlooked the peewee fingerling potatoes in green pepper & green chile sauce to start, the pork/egg/shiitake/cucumber/carrot wrapped in daikon “tacos,” the rice paper-wrapped steak tartar topped withÂ quail egg,Â the garlic abalone dish, the roe-uni stone pot riceÂ … I think you get the point.
With the only included banchanÂ being pickled, thinlyÂ sliced cucumbers and more-than-decent kimchi, it’s clear that this isn’t a Korean restaurant that rests its laurelsÂ on filler. But the servers and chef/owner wereÂ more than courteous – even friendly. Now gone are the days where I had to “corner a Korean” (UCLA proved useful for this) just so I could have a go-to guy that could order for me without the awkwardness of the language barrier and risk of being taken a less-than-courageous customer.Â A nice surprise was a dish that we hadn’t ordered but was gratefully sent out: AÂ kind of chapchae, butÂ made with rice cakes, instead. I would definitely classify this as a staple and would order this next time.
The best part about it? The raw cuts are of quality whileÂ LaOn’s location and audienceÂ in Koreatown prevents the BBQ as well as theÂ small plates from being too precious. Just make sure that in a party this big, you order 2 of most things. Proof: By the end, we were stuffed, and had only spent $34 per person including tax,Â just oneÂ bottle of wineÂ and 20%+ tip (no dessert).
So go forth and visit LaOn. “Small plates” is the arguably hackneyed phenomenon these days, but this little Don Dae Gam-adjacent place in Koreatown is a stand-out gem that does it all so well.Â And for those cravings of theÂ Americanized KoreanÂ tradition of BBQ – there’s more than enough to go around.
Mon – Sat: 5 PM – 1 AM Sun: 5 PM – 11 PM
LaOn 1145 S. Western Ave Los Angeles, CA 90006 323.373.0700
Got a place to watch the Super Bowl this year? If not, you have a few options around town. These are great if you’re the kind of fan who doesn’t like to clean up afterwards. And there are other great lists which include those I’ve forgotten (see notes) on teh internets LA food pubsÂ so don’t forget to check these out:
Eater LA’s round-up – including The Hungry Cat (Hollywood), Wolfgang Steakhouse (Beverly Hills), The Dugout at X Bar (Century City), POP Champagne & Dessert Bar (an “anti-Super Bowl” party in Pasadena – no TVs!)…
The Super Bowl is as good an occasion as any to stock up on cheese. Squid Ink at LA Weekly reports that if you say (scream at the top of your lungs), “Who dat,” at Beverly Hills Cheese Store, you’ll get 10% off your purchase. Store hours have been amended to 10 AMÂ – 2 PM.
And if you can stand the clean-up and are really an entertainer at heart – starting in the kitchenÂ – you can always check out these Super Bowl appetizer recipes from the LA Times.
Pass the nachos…and watch the game at these spots (take-away after the jump):
Added: Big Wang’s (Downtown LA)
According to BlogdowntownÂ on Twitter, Big Wang’s is set to open its new downtown location ON Super Bowl Sunday. No word as to “specials” – my prediction is they won’t need any since South Park residents will be curious enough to stop by as it is. My recommendation? Get the wings. Simple.
Big Wang’s 801 S. Grand Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90017
Added: The Spanish Kitchen (La Cienega, West Hollywood)
The Spanish Kitchen is celebrating The Super Bowl by hooking up a massive projector-screen for the game. How does $5 margaritas and $10 bottomless Micheladas (described as “Bloody Mary but with Tecate”) sound? Appetizers are $5 the entire day.
WineÂ with The Super Bowl will never be the same (Pourtal has artisanal beer, too). Take notice of the notes in your wine glass while cheering on your team into the red zone and munching on tater tots. The game will be broadcast on 3 flat screens as you order from their Happy Hour menu, which is available until 7 pm.
Chaya has four big-screen TVs located throughout the restaurant so everyone is ensured to have prime view. The entire space will also adopt the Happy Hour Sushi & Bar menu usually exclusive to the lounge area. To sweeten the deal, they’ll also be giving away $25 gift cards at the end of each quarter.
$5 Albacore Sashimi Salads and Chefâ€™s Special Rolls $3 Domestic Beers $5 Margaritas
Z0MG barbecue!! And it doesn’t get any better than this in LAÂ – what a deal. It may be part of a strip mall that houses a Target, but it’s also in view of the historic Formosa Cafe. You best take Zeke’s Smokehouse seriously. Not only do they have an outdoor- and indoor smoker utilizing whole hickory logs (not just the chips), but during certain times of the day and week, you can build your own barbecue for only $9.95.
You get to choose 2 meats for this low price:
Dark 1/4 chicken
…along with 2 sides:
The barbecue – pulled pork and ribs, especially – is smoky and definitely tasty, too. The sides are a treat. What a great way to feed your barbecue jonesin’. And a secret for root beer fans everywhere: They have Sprecher root beer on tap. (That’s reason enough for me!)
“We ran out of The Donut.” Aaron Robins, owner of Boneyard, didn’t bother being gentle with the news. It seemed a common occurrence. But still. The chili donut with tangy mustard and spicy chili? No more? Not possible. I came over the hill and was in Sherman Oaks – how could I be denied “The Donut?” (Okay – the donut hole.)
There was the stellar fried chicken – with a perfect, fluffy layer of breading on the outside waiting to be pulled away to reveal succulent juicy meatÂ on the inside. And of course, the deliciously smoked BBQ and the spicy hush puppies. Yes, there were those. But no chili donut? That was a novelty item on the list to check off.
Aaron didn’t disappoint. And why would he? He’s always experimenting with different creations and I’m just happy to be on the sidelines. This particular night he brought out the cheesecake donut (hole). He decidedly made the cheesecake filling creamier than cheesy to compliment the soft, hot and golden shell. Accompanying the dessert was a dark, rich chocolate sauce made to pour and berries scattered around the plate. I shut up.
Perfect. Aaron did it again. Besides, I could always go for dessert.
First, it was a review on a South Bay establishment and today, we have one in The Valley. Sherman Oaks, that is. As they say, it’s good to stretch yourself. Expand one’s own boundaries. And what a great place for BBQ, at that. I would make the drive – after all, it’s always better to take a Canyon road than mess with the freeways – at least where I’m coming from.
I accompanied fellow food bloggers Mattatouille, FoodGPS and John of SocialDomain in the quest for BBQ. It was a Monday, and all brews are 1/2-off. This is a splendid place to enjoy such price discount because Boneyard Bistro‘s brew list is quite impressive – 120 to date, and from what it sounds like the list has just kept expanding with no signs of stopping. But more about the brews later.