Banchan, Burgers, & Banh Mi


My latest foodie adventures at some LA restaurants are brought to you by the letter B.

Lets start with Korean food. This is my new favorite food territory to explore. Sure, I have cooked galbi short ribs, had lots of delicious kimchi, and I’ve eaten some Korean fusion at Roy Choi’s restaurants, but I had never eaten a full Korean BBQ before. I live in Los Angeles, shame on me. My friend recently took me to Genwa, located in the mid-Wilshire area. It was a crazy good Korean smorgasbord. We had galbi, bulgogi, and seafood pa jyun. The galbi was meaty and rich. The bulgogi is sliced so thin it just makes it so easy to go back for more. The seafood pa jyun was a pancake filled with scallions and tender squid accompanied by a spicy dipping sauce – this sounds so simple, yet the flavors were so complex that I couldn’t stop eating it. And then there was the Banchan! It was so much fun to try all the different flavors and textures: lots of pickled vegetables, fish cakes, and little crunchy fish that I loved. I cannot believe I waited this long to try all this delicious goodness. Can’t wait to introduce my kids to this – I know they’re going to love it. Next stop, Honey Pig in Koreatown, where they make fried rice with your leftover banchan that you can have as a late night snack. How cool is that?! I highly recommend you seek out some Korean food wherever you live.


Next are Burgers and Breakfast from Hinano Café in Venice. Hinano Café is one of the last divey places around Venice. With Abbot Kinney nearby, full of overpriced, overhyped restaurants that are too cool to put a sign up with their name (a pet peeve of mine), Hinano is a gem. You can get a great burger with their special seasoning blend, along with chips, for 6 bucks. You can also get huge, satisfying breakfasts for 5 bucks (the Western Omelet with hashbrowns and sourdough toast = yum). And you can get beer, because it’s not only a café, it’s also a bar!   The burgers are good, the beer is cold, and the staff is friendly. One of the owners, Andy, recently coordinated donations of burgers and all the fixin’s to my kids’ elementary school for a fundraising carnival we were having. Their donation was so generous, down to every detail, and because we had Hinano Café headlining the food, swarms of people bought food and we raised more money than we’ve ever raised before! These are good people. If you live in the area, go and support them and eat some good food.   *You have to be 21 to enter, but if you want the kids to join you for some good grub, just get some food to go and walk to the beach for a picnic. They are located at the end of Washington Blvd., near the beach.


Aptly named, Banh Mi, this new restaurant serves, you guessed it, Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches. There’s not much Vietnamese food ‘round these parts, so this new place is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. I tried the Oink Mi: caramelized pork belly, golden-browned shallots, garlic country pate spread, pickled daikon/carrots/cucumber, cilantro, jalapeno, and chili mayo on a freshly baked baguette. The pickled veggies balanced the succulent pork perfectly. The sandwich wasn’t cheap at $13, but it was large. I should mention that I don’t really like sandwiches, mainly because I’m pretty picky about bread, and I think a lot of sandwiches are boring – with the exception of banh mis. The pickled vegetables, cilantro, and heat make them so interesting to my taste buds. Banh Mi has so many other versions of the classic – braised short rib, turmeric chicken, cod, and more. They also have savory coconut pancakes with prawn and mung beans and fresh spring rolls. Check them out next time you’re at the infamous Venice Whole Foods(if you haven’t seen this video, click on it if you want to laugh); they’re right across the street.