Ramen in Santa Monica, Finally!

Let’s talk for a second about how deprived Santa Monica has been when it comes to really damn good asian food. I’ve worked there on-and-off for the past five years. While there’s no shortage of green juices, if you get bit by the noodle bug, you’re shit out of luck. Better make the drive out to Sawtelle or Venice because there’s no ramen here for you my friend. 

However, in the past year, SM’s finally got its act together and opened not one, but two new ramen spots right off the main promenade. 

Silverlake Ramen

Silverlake Ramen is a chain hailing from (yup, you guessed it) Silverlake, CA! From the chain itself: 

“Silverlake embodies the free-spirit & casual vibe of Los Angeles. An unpretentious, original way of thinking. Similar to the  environment in which ramen was invented. Now, we are taking that vibe and serving up bowls of it in locations across California.”

I haven’t tried the regular ramen because I will honestly always choose the thick noodles and rich broth of a tseukemen first if it’s on the menu. That being said, the tseukemen is delicious! Tsujita is the gold-standard in my book, but Silverlake Ramen comes pretty damn close. The broth is deep with flavor and tastes amazing with the huge slab of fried pork belly it comes with. I always ask for a side order of spicy paste to mix in, too. Fair warning, you’re in for a heavy, salty AF lunch with this one. 

Ippudo Ramen

Just a five minute walk away, you’ll find Ippudo Ramen tucked into a non-descript alleyway on second street. Look for the small square sign with the squiggles, that’s your cue that ramen time is near. This Japanese chain made the big move to the States in 2008 with its New York location, shortly followed by its San Francisco one. 

Their ramen is more Hakata style. While there are slight variations (vegan, spicy, etc), they’re all more or less the same.  Expect thin noodles, a somewhat lighter broth, but no less in flavor or oil.  They do appetizers too, but honestly, skip the buns. They’re not worth the money and your tummy space is better spent on Kaedama (extra noodles).  My personal favorite is the Akamaru Modern.

Which is better? Honestly, it’s impossible to decide. They’re different styles and both hit the ramen spot perfectly! I’m so sad I don’t work right on that corner anymore. Maybe it’s better for my blood pressure anyways.

Boiling Crab Seafood Boil Recipe

If you’ve ever been to a Boiling Crab, Kicking Crab, The Crab Shack or any similar restaurants, you’re probably pretty familiar with the giant mess that is a cajun seafood boil. Funnily enough, despite being so heavily marketed as a Southern, Louisiana cuisine, these seafood shacks are very closely tied to Vietnamese American families. An influx of refugees ended up in the Southern states post-war. The social, hands-on casual style of the seafood boil is something that resonates quite strongly with the Vietnamese. We’re all about any type of finger food that you can slowly work through with a beer at your side surrounded by friends.

Ironically, I had no interest in Boiling Crab until college. (Too many shrimp heads, which baby Jeannie found gross). But then I tried it and went through a food phase where it was all I wanted every time I ate out. Unfortunately, the neighborhood I live in now doesn’t have a convenient one around for miles. Not even one close enough to deliver. So I had to make do. While this isn’t perfect, the recipe’s close enough to hit the spot!

20181210_210510 (1)

Ingredients

  • 1lb Shrimp shell-on
  • 1 Potato
  • 1 corn (I use the sweet frozen ones)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon red curry
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • A little bit of louisiana hot sauce if you want it spicier. You can also just add more cayenne pepper.

Instructions

1.  Bring pot of water to boil.
2.  Throw potatoes in for 10 minutes.
3.  Add corn and a couple minutes later, shrimp.
4.  Once shrimp turns pink, immediately pour whole pot out into a strainer. If you overcook the shrimp, it gets really hard to peel.
5.  Add butter and garlic to pot.
6.  Once the butter is all melted and the garlic has gotten soft, mix in all your spices.
8.  Add extra seasoning to taste.
9.  Combine shrimp, potato and corn in a big bowl with the sauce.
10.  Shake it up and eat!
Happy Eating!
Screen Shot 2018-04-18 at 2.12.00 PM

 

Mee & Greet | Culver City

So I’m kind of a skeptic when it comes to Vietnamese food in Los Angeles. Best case scenario it’s just okay and regardless, it’ll be overpriced. Make the extra 40 minute trek down to Westminster or Garden Grove. It’s just so much more worth. Or for me, the hour and half drive home to my parents, where everything is delicious and free. When Mee & Greet opened, I was kind of cautiously excited. It’s fusion. Most Vietnamese fusion is a banh mi but with non traditional ingredients. Or pho, but not. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mee & Greet walked the fusion line pretty well. I apologize in advance for the terrible looking photos. I only had my phone with me and the restaurant is lit like a lounge with dim, neon lighting.

20180621_205015

First course we ordered was the Hainan chicken, served cold with garlic, soy and spicy dipping sauces. Not too much of a twist here, but also not a bad hainan chicken. The portion was pretty sad though.

20180621_205258

My favorite dish of the night – Bo Luc Lac Saltado. Traditionally, Bo Luc Lac is stir-fried marinated beef tips, usually served on a sizzling hot plate or on bed of lettuce with slices of tomato and cucumber. A simple salt, pepper and lime vinaigrette will either be used to dress the salad or left on the side to dip the individual tips into. On the side you’ll get a small bowl of a light clear broth and white rice. This was one of my favorite dishes growing up. What could make it even better? Turns out french fries will do the trick. Preparing the the dish Peruvian style, stir-fried with onions, tomatoes and french fries, was a brilliant idea. Everyone please put more french fries in everything, thanks.

20180621_205337

Tofu Family Style – prepared with serrano peppers, cilantro and spring onions. Silken tofu, deep fried and sitting in a light flavorful sauce. Yum! Pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this one.

20180621_205551

Turmeric Fried Chicken – These weren’t as exciting. One of my friends absolutely loved them, but I have a hunch she feels that way about all fried chicken.

20180621_210811

Mad for Garlic Noodles – Imagine a less greasy, less heavy-handed version of the garlic noodles you get at crawfish places like Boiling Crab. Not exciting, but when has the classic combination of carbs + garlic ever done you wrong?

I also ordered the grass jelly drink, which was basically the canned version I drank as a kid. Points for nostalgia, but negative points for having to pay LA drink prices for it. Overall, I actually really enjoyed the food. The prices were kind of unexpectedly high for the portion sizes though. I wanted more meat with all of the entrees we got. Especially the saltado. There were a few tiny tips of beef amidst all that onion and rice.

That being said, I liked the vibe of the place and the food was good. I would definitely go back for a snack and a drink or two.

Happy Eating!

Screen Shot 2018-04-18 at 2.12.00 PM