Monthly Archives: July 2009

Leftovers: Big Mike’s

Brute burger force for the District:


PHOTO by ROSHEILA ROBLES

If the current crop of gourmet burgers is built on finesse (hand-crafted ketchups and house-cured pickles), then the colossal creations of Big Mike’s in Bellflower are things of brute force. These aren’t burgers that land in your stomach with intestinal indifference—they sock you in the gut by the third or fourth bite. Burgers at Big Mike’s are ungainly mountains of meat in the truest American sense, sandwiches super-sized to skyscraping heights that bludgeon you into acceptance and, eventually, bliss.

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Leftovers: Gaja Moc

Lomita’s house of Japanese pancakes for the District:


PHOTO by ROSHEILA ROBLES

There’s no easy American analog for okonomiyaki, an amorphous Japanese dish defined by an infinitely variable cast of ingredients. All meals considered, it’s most like a pancake: a thick, savory batter is plopped onto a griddle, cooked to a golden brown, then flipped and lacquered with sauce. Okonomiyaki, however, needs no comparison—it’s a dish fully aware of its role as a homely stomach-stretcher best divided between three or four sets of chopsticks and equal amounts of alcohol.

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Leftovers: Ramen California

A new wave of ramen for the LA Times:


PHOTO by LAWRENCE K. HO / LA TIMES

Ramen California’s soups are startling, peculiar creations crowded with a garden’s worth of unconventional ingredients. Bobbing in a bowl might be florets of purple cauliflower, earthy chunks of celery root or broth-staining bits of beet. The restaurant’s produce-packed style marks a new direction for the noodle soup — one guided by ramen prodigy Shigetoshi Nakamura.

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Leftovers: Russian Dacha

Valley Village’s relatively hidden Russian for the LA Times:


PHOTO by KIRK MCCOY / LA TIMES

Russian Dacha is walled off to the world, concealed behind a picket fence erected to quiet the crush of cars along Laurel Canyon Boulevard. It doesn’t create a sense of isolation but, rather, one of solitude — the restaurant is an hommage to the dacha, a class of sprawling estates in Russia’s exurban forests that capture a kind of lost country living. And behind its fence, Dacha ably honors that tradition of leisure and ease.

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Leftovers: Bake N Broil

Simpler times at Bake N Broil for the District:


PHOTO by ROSHEILA ROBLES

Jongewaard’s Bake N Broil is a habit for some and a ritual for most, a Long Beach tradition so lovingly passed down through generations that it seems almost hereditary. The unfortunate few who are somehow born without this innate affection eventually develop it—Bake N Broil’s time-warped simplicity is too charming to deny.

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