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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Koreatown Gets a Good Burger Joint

Inspired by the Kogi truck, there is now the brand-new Kalbi Burger. The eponymous house specialty is made from a 50/50 mix of ground chuck and kalbi, in a kalbi barbecue sauce. It's a very likable, richly flavored burger, with the distinct taste of kalbi in every bite, says sku.

Also available: the Seoul burger, made from ground chuck and sautéed kimchee. "All of the burgers had good flavor, good use of condiments and a homemade-style bun that stood up nicely," says sku. There are also salt and vinegar fries, fried to a crisp, golden brown, with a subtle malt vinegar flavor and the perfect amount of sea salt.

Kalbi's not in competition for the best-burger-in-the-city crown, says sku, but it's a great neighborhood spot that he'll be visiting again.

Kalbi Burger [Koreatown]
4001 Wilshire Boulevard, Unit E, Los Angeles
213-738-7898

Discuss: Kalbi Burger in Koreatown

Family-Style at Mozza

A new happening at the beloved Mozza: Mangiare in Famiglia. This is a family-style dining event, every Friday in the classroom next to Mozza2Go.

It's genuinely family-style. There's one table that seats about 20. "Since it's one table, it all becomes one party. Nancy [Silverton] and Matt Molina are there during the entire dinner. Hosting, cooking, explaining ... It truly is as if you've come into her home for dinner. To the point of even keeping the same dinner plate during all the courses," explains Jennalynn.

The menu varies from night to night. On one night, Jennalyn experienced perfectly crusty, chewy focaccia; seasonal vegetables with garlicky anchovy bagna cauda for dipping; and deliciously rich bone marrow on buttered toast. And then thin-sliced short ribs with salsa verde. "There was a slight sweetness to the marinade and the herby salsa verde worked just perfectly with the grilled meat," describes Jennalyn. And then: slow-roasted, perfect oxtails. And then: crusty beef with Swiss chard and roasted onions.

For $75, you get three hours' worth of stunning food. It's actually an incredible bargain, says Jennalyn.

Mozza [Hollywood]
641 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles
323-866-5300

Discuss: Mozza2Go: Mangiare in Famiglia REVIEW

Chew on This

Here is a good lesson for the larcenous: Steal and you'll end up drawn and quartered inside a gumball machine. Then a red horse will come and drool over you in a disturbingly sexual way. There is something very Kafka-esque about this. READ MORE

Overheard on the Los Angeles Board

"Bite Bar now offers the best fried chicken I have ever tasted. Only open for dinner on Fri and Sat. Reservations essential." - maudies5

"See this truck on Ventura Blvd., a block or so west of Tujunga. Hungry. Pulled over. Ordered two rolls, grilled pork and shrimp. Fabulous! Fresh, tasty, every bit as good as what I've eaten in Little Saigon." - Sandra W on brand-new Vietnamese food truck Tao Truck

"You would be hard pressed to find better Neapolitan cuisine." - mucho gordo on Gio Cucina Napoletana

I’ll Have the Chicken, with a Side of Roaches

Airline food is gross. We knew that.

What we didn't know was how gross.

You know in the movie Airplane! when everyone who ordered the fish gets food poisoning? Then they start coughing up eggs, which, when cracked, set free little live birds?

This is so much worse.

READ MORE

Chinese Discoveries in a Northern Hot Spot

It's New York's emerging "power corridor" for northern Chinese food, suggests scoopG—the neighborhood centered along Main Street and Kissena Boulevard just south of downtown Flushing. The newest arrival, joining hound favorites like M&T and Golden Palace, is Jiang Li, whose menu ranges across several northern regional cuisines.

The high point of scoop's recent meal here was a hearty, soupy casserole of pork and lightly pickled cabbage, enriched by a topping of crab. "Absolutely wonderful," scoop sighs. Jellyfish head was another standout, marked by contrasting soft and crunchy textures and seasoned with sesame oil and black vinegar. Other winners were salt and pepper frog, cumin lamb ribs, pork skin aspic with garlic sauces, and butterfish (mistranslated as tuna) with salty, sweet, slightly sour "special sauce." If you read Chinese, be sure to check out the specials listed on the wall. That's where scoop's party scored succulent, delicious Shandong pork belly, served with choi sum.

Things change fast around here, and Jiang Li is a good example. Its owner used to run Hong Yi Shun on Main Street, which has been succeeded by a new restaurant called Rural, specializing in rich, rustic Dongbei chow from China's northeast. scoop and friends recently frolicked in "waves of deliciousness" highlighted by cumin flounder, hot and spicy frog, home-style beef tendon, and long-pickled sour cabbage with vermicelli.

Ask the staff about off-menu specials, which might include garlic tips with scrambled eggs or crispy/spicy Fifth Watch intestines. Rural lays out a budget banquet; "you can pig out like we did for $17 per person," scoop reports, "and that included a very healthy tip."

If your appetite is running less toward sit-down feast and more toward grab-and-go snacks, check out the street-level outposts of the mostly subterranean Golden Mall. Sharing a small storefront on the 41st Road side are two vendors, Home Noodle and Halal Food. scoopG sampled a Fuzhou-style peanut-topped bun at Home Noodle and pronounces it "very tasty."

Jiang Li [Flushing]
44-18 Kissena Boulevard (near Blossom Avenue), Flushing, Queens
718-353-0086

Rural [Flushing]
42-85 Main Street (near Blossom Avenue), Flushing, Queens
718-353-0086

Home Noodle [Flushing]
41-28 Main Street (entrance on 41st Road), Flushing, Queens
718-888-9051

Discuss: Flushing: Jiang Li - More Northern Chinese Food
Flushing Review: Rural
Golden Mall (Flushing): It may not be everyone's cup of tea

Chilling with Noodles at a Ramen Shop

Terakawa surfaced on the CHOW radar last year for its rich tonkotsu ramen. Now overheated hounds have discovered its hiyashi chuka, a lighter noodle dish served cold with chicken and vegetable toppings and a choice of seasonings: mustard (with a saltier broth) or wasabi with yuzu kosho, the citrus-and-pepper condiment. Both are terrific, reports bigjeff: agreeably chewy noodles in a generous serving. He forecasts return visits over the long hot summer.

Terakawa Ramen [Gramercy]
18 Lexington Avenue (between E. 22nd and 23rd streets), Manhattan
212-777-2939

Discuss: Terakawa Ramen

Two Takeout Finds in Brooklyn

"Better than mom's." That’s how good the chicken salad is at Brancaccio's in Windsor Terrace, declares noob, whose mom had better not be reading this. noob, who's been perennially disappointed by the local chicken salad choices, says this one, made with apples and raisins, is "as close to my platonic ideal as it gets—tangy, with just the right balance of salt, sweet and crunch."

But there’s much more than chicken salad at Brancaccio's, an Italian-leaning takeout shop whose chef-owner once cooked for the uptown gourmet grocery Agata & Valentina. Other good bets from the daily-changing menu include rotisserie chicken; glazed pork chops; orecchiette in tomato sauce; hanger steak in red wine-rosemary sauce; macaroni and cheese with bacon or truffles; and vegetable sides like broccoli rabe and Brussels sprouts. This isn't bargain dining, noob notes, but it's also "no more expensive than ordering an app and entrée from one of our few, mediocre delivery options, and infinitely better."

Greenpointers also have a fine takeout option in the "hot bar" recently added at Brooklyn Standard. Around 10 vegetable and meat dishes, emphasizing local ingredients, are sold by the pound from 5 to 11 p.m. "Everything I've gotten has been terrific -- glazed carrots, roasted mushrooms, grilled asparagus, roasted potatoes and stuffed peppers," chompchomp reports. "Such a nice, new option for quick, healthy meals on the go."

Brancaccio's Food Shop [Windsor Terrace]
3011 Fort Hamilton Parkway (between E. Second and Third streets), Brooklyn
718-435-1997

Brooklyn Standard Deli [Greenpoint]
188 Nassau Avenue (at Humboldt Street), Brooklyn
718-472-2150

Discuss: Brancaccio's Food Shop (Windsor Terrace / Kensington)
Brooklyn Standard on Nassau Ave in Greenpoint

Overheard on the New York Boards

"Definitely great value for $25! I had the squid salad that was very tender and flavorful (delicate rings of squid accompanied by fish sauce, cilantro, scallions and pearl onions). I also had the steak frites (4 thick slices of very beefy-flavored medium rare steak and rice fries—delicious!). Dessert was a 'taste' of cereal milk panna cotta and crack pie. I also had the pork spring roll that was very light (not fried); there were good sized chunks of very tender pork." – ellenost on the prix fixe lunch at Má Pêche

"Best bolognese and homemade pasta (orecchiette) I've had since I was in Italy. And their salad with fresh berries, tomatoes, walnuts and honey vinaigrette was heavenly. All in all fresh, creative and authentic Italian." – Meg on Il Punto

"We visited the original incarnation a couple of years ago, and liked it but didn't find it revolutionary. Went again a month ago ... and it blew. Our. Minds. ... While the lamb dishes had formerly been excellent, now the same level of detail seems to have been paid to everything on the menu, from the hummus to the kibbeh to the arabic salad to the knafeh. Dear lord, try the knafeh." – cjd260 on Tanoreen

"One of their roast pork buns and a cup of java (with cream) was a passport to paradise. And the hugest coffee urns and convivial atmosphere with so many local residents enjoying a coffee break. ... What a price we pay for 'development.'" – iraperelson on Chatham Restaurant, closed this month

N’Awlins Chef Sues BP for Losses

Susan Spicer, executive chef of Bayona, one of New Orleans's most acclaimed restaurants, filed a class-action lawsuit last week against BP on behalf of Bayona Corp. and other businesses similarly affected by the oil spill.

A key excerpt from the suit:

Much of Plaintiff’s business is based on the unique quality of Louisiana seafood, as well as the chain of delivery of that resource from the initial harvester (be it fisherman, oyster grower, or shrimper) either directly to Plaintiff or through processors with whom Plaintiff has long-standing relationships. In order to maintain the level of seafood quality required and expected by Plaintiff and its patrons, this chain of delivery is essential. Because this chain of delivery can not be maintained, Plaintiff’s business has been, and continues to be, materially damaged.

READ MORE