getting reacquainted after a break
my half-year break from los angeles has been agonizing - partly because i miss the food so much! i've been studying abroad in vienna and although the food has been wonderful, the city just does not have the kind of variety flavors that i'm accustomed to, having grown up in LA. i hardly cooked in LA but being here forced me to learn to cook seeing as wiener schnitzels and sausages get tired after awhile.
i am planning on having a reunion of sorts (i will be reuniting with the LA food scene) with a group of friends, probably 8-10 people. as my friends will be mostly students (age range is mid to late 20s), i am looking for a place that is cheap, fun, serves alcohol and most importantly, delicious. location: in or near downtown (los feliz/silverlake/ktown is ok too) and kbbq is off the list. am i asking for too much? i've been trying to think of a place for a group but so far i haven't been able to think of such a place..
thanks in advance!
Marouch on Santa Monica near Vermont. Last time that I went with about 8 people we ordered a mezze for 10 (actually it was one mezze for 6 and one mezze for 4) and the mixed grill (lamb, beef, and chicken kabobs); it was more than enough food and I think that we paid in the range of $15-$20 per person (food, non-alcohol drinks, tax and tip). They have beer and wine.
if i were you i'd go to dan sung sah on 8th and berendo... its my go to spot and great for a big group of friends to get wasted and eat a large variety of non bbq dishes and you can get bbq dishes too if you want (spicy pork ribs or spicy squid are my favorites off the grill). there is however, cigarette smoke if you have any annoying complainer friends in your group.
for thai i'd hit the restaurant on the second floor of thailand plaza mall. on weekends they have a stage show adn they have a large menu of dishes that arent often found at other thai joints...
mexican in those parameters i'd probably hit la parilla...theres one in ktown and one silverlake... it doesnt get much more festive than a large stone bowl of grilled meat covered in cheese and a bucket of beers while your guac is being prepared tableside!
if you can go further east into east la i'd number one hit the mercadito on first and lorena at one of the third floor restaurants with mariachi... that place freakin rules.
in all these choices im taking ambience into account for a fun group setting...
there is also best fish tacos in los feliz. not much ambience but its gonna be fast cheap and easy.
i've always meant to try out dan sung sah - can i make reservations? will there be a wait if i can't? and is it outsider-friendly? will some of my friends, whose only knowledge of korean food is bbq, not make "what the hell is this place and what are they trying to serve me" faces?
as for cigarette smoke - before my time out here in europe, i probably would have been very annoyed but not have said anything. now, i can't imagine going to a place without cigarette smoke! ah, just another great thing to look forward to - no smoke in restaurants!
theres are the things to get:
bbq spicy pork ribs
bbq spicy squid
fried chicken wings (aw yeah! - seriously, get these)
grilled ginko nut skewers (they have an assortment of skewers but they are not my favorite)
kim mahree - the dumbell things of japchae noodles battered and fried in a spicy sweet sauce.
tofu and kimchi
chicken gizzards with garlic and jalapenos
mung bean (?) jelly salad
otherwise just look around and point. they can generally speak english.
no rice, if you want rice you order kim bap (rolled sushi with meat and veggies in it)
if you dont want to vomit or be hung over the next day i suggest not drinking soju. i usually drink paek sehju or beer...
and im pretty sure you can make reservations...
If fun and beer are priorities as well as good inexpensive food, I'd choose Palm Thai on Hollywood Blvd. near Western. Good food, can be as simple as chicken with cashew or much more complex and "authentic," you can feed a group for about $10 a head before adding as many cheap beers as you want, and if you go late enough on a weekend there is the inimitable Thai Elvis.
I know others will flame me for this, but I love group dinners at Yang Chow in Chinatown. You can get one big table with a lazy susan. Start with the spicy won ton soup (on the specials menu, not the soups). For 8-10 you need two orders of slippery shrimp (specify two, not one large order). Get an order of the green beans in garlic sauce, the eggplant in garlic sauce, perhaps the Yang Chow lamb. One or two more dishes and you've fed a crowd to bursting for well under $20 a head (including tax and tip) and now you start adding the beers.