hi, i'm a student journalist at UCI, and i'm writing an article that explores the tastes, sensibility and ideology of offal-eating. i'm looking for enthusiastic organ or variety meat eaters to share their thoughts on cuisine, and possibly dine on some grisly (but hopefully not gristley) fare. if this sounds like you, or you have another interesting and outlandish food sensibility, please respond, thanks! hope to be trading tripe tips with you soon, or some such!
I'm a big fan of offal. My experience with offal comes from three different cuisines: 1) British, 2) French, and 3) Mexican. All three are quite big into offal. My favorite London restaurant, where I lived until recently, is Hereford Road (much better than St John in my opinion). See http://www.herefordroad.org/ As you can tell, offal figures quite prominently in their menu.
I'd be shocked if offal didn't also figure prominently in a host of other cuisines (Chinese comes to mind). After all, offal is all about simple, rustic, under-appreciated (and thus affordable) food that cooks often turn to during economic crises, when putting great food on the table requires a little bit more imagination and inventiveness than relying in the usual crowd pleasers.
If you are looking for shock value stuff, things like tripe/stomach and intestine are pretty accessible and at the bottom of the list. (except smooth tripe can be a little slimy.) The worst thing I can think of tastewise is the spleen that comes in the soup at han bat shul lung tang in koreatown. Like eating an ancient rusty iron sewer pipe... except made out of meat.
One of the coolest hits around is Anticucheria Danessi in Norwalk.They have anticuchos of beef heart,two kinds of tripe, and liver.Organ meats are there specialty.
A mexican barbacoa de borrego(lamb barbeque)has the pancita(stomach)of lamb, along with cabeza(lamb head meat).Of course menudo and tacos de tripas(tripe).The sonoran tripa de leche(milk ducts)is amazing.The closest thing we have in LA is the Mercado Buenos Aires(Argentine) with the chinchuline(milk duct) in their parrillada. The morcilla, rellena, or moranga(blood sausage) is also very special.There's also buche(pig stomach)and an authentic mexican carnitas place offers pig stomach, liver, intestines, shout, ears, and skin.
Danube, the only Bulgarian restaurant in LA has a tripe soup with a white broth, kind of like a northern mexican menudo blanco.
Oh yeah, I'm down for some "offal" eats.
By far the most strange I've had were the salted squid guts at Haru Ulala, a japanese izakaya in Little Tokyo.
Some of the very best Mexican street tacos are made from organ meats, such as buche (stomach) for example. They are delicious !
Finally! Nose-to-tail eaters are finally getting some attention! Most of my offal eating comes from Japanese and Taiwanese food and since you're in Orange County I suggest Shinsengumi for some of the best offal yakitori... my favorite is the tripe. I'm actually planning to do some research on offal eating since I have been eating it most of my life, so please email me if you need some dining tips and additional info. I'm also a UCI alum, Go 'Eaters!
Argentinian cuisine is fantastic for someone who loves offal... grilled sweetbreads with chimichurri are amazing... also true Roman cuisine is fantastic... i.e. Cervello spiedini.. veal brain skewers... Rome is known for the butchery arts...
The stewed tripe served with the dim sum at 888 is something I always have to get, with a nice big dollop of chile oil. The first time I got some I damn near had to hurl myself in front of the cart to make her stop - she couldn't fathom a gwai lo actually wanting this stuff. When I indicated that Yes I did, she filled up a bowl, then questioningly picked up the chile oil ladle. I nodded enthusiastically, she gave me a great big grin and lots of oil, and we've been buddies ever since.
Next best thing was watching the reactions in Nashville Mexican places when Mrs. O would suck down a big bowl of menudo, her favorite soup. Doesn't surprise anyone around here, though.