Archive for the 'Pub Grub' Category

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Villains Tavern – Los Angeles (Downtown)

Villains Tavern - Downtown

From an eater’s perspective, it seems that the next chapter in Los Angeles’ gourmet food truck movement is just getting underway. Businesses that started by serving meals on wheels are transitioning into brick and mortar operations or popping up at established restaurants for limited engagements. Food trucking isn’t sustainable in the long run and as a result, businesses are expanding their brands and diversifying their services for a greater shot at success.

Kogi has grown its Korean taco empire to include two restaurants, Chego and A-Frame. Get Shaved has two independent shops in Northridge and Torrance. Komodo just opened a restaurant on Pico Boulevard. And in a few short weeks, Flying Pig will be serving pork belly buns in Little Tokyo.

Villains Tavern - Downtown

My friends aboard the Great Balls on Tires truck have been working toward expanding their concept as well. Every Tuesday night for the past few months, they’ve been serving an “off-tires” menu at Villains Tavern. I didn’t get around to checking out their new digs until a few weeks ago when Villains debuted their spring cocktail menu. There’s nothing like the promise of well-crafted libations and the best balls in town to get me out of the house on a weeknight.

Villains Tavern - Downtown

Before the parade of balls commenced, The Astronomer and I sipped on some very fine cocktails. I chose the Ma’at, which was made with Sagatiba cachaca, cantaloupe, citrus, and Chilean salt, while my partner went with the Isis made with pisco, basil, cucumber, lemon, lime, egg whites, and sugar. Created by in-house mixologist Dave Whitton, both drinks were well-balanced and delicious, in addition to being potent.

Later on in the night, we sampled the Osiris’ Punch made with rye whiskey, hibiscus, mint, citrus, spices, and bitters. It was a festive bowl of booze that packed quite a wallop.

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OB Bear – Los Angeles (Koreatown)

OB Bear - Koreatown

According to Google Reader, I subscribe to over 200 food blogs and have read 2,608 posts in the past 30 days. Considering these staggering numbers, it should come as no surprise that the information I glean online greatly influences my dining choices at home and out on the town. Whether it’s a professional site or an amateur effort, there’s something about the combination of mouthwatering photos and excitable words that sends my cravings through the roof.

OB Bear - Koreatown

The latest case of the blog-inspired hunger pangs occurred after reading The Roaming Belly’s write up on OB Bear. Amy’s potent words and photos left me with an intense hankering for Korean pub grub that needed to be satisfied as soon as possible. After exchanging a few of emails, Amy agreed to accompany me for another greasy, spicy go-round the following week.

OB Bear - Koreatown

My gochujang-covered dreams were realized on a random Wednesday evening. We were joined by The Astronomer, Danny, Hong, Remil, and Amy’s fiance Dennis—we took advantage of our large group to order quite a bit of food. And just in case you’re curious, the restaurant is named after a Seoul-based professional baseball team that was at one time sponsored by Oriental Brewery (OB).

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Ahn Joo – Los Angeles

Ahn Joo - Los Angeles

July 23, 2009—that’s the exact date when I fell in love with Korean rice cakes (duk). Since that deliciously chewy day at Cham Korean Bistro in Pasadena, I’ve eaten pounds upon pounds of the stuff and even successfully prepared an authentic version at home. Recently, an unofficial duk truck rolled into town. Chef Debbie Lee’s Ahn-Joo brings modern Korean pub grub to the streets of Los Angeles, including some bold renditions of my favorite rice cylinders.

The Astronomer and I chased down the truck yesterday afternoon at the CNN building on Sunset. Chef Lee was on the scene to greet us with a smile and to tell us more about why she decided to take her culinary act on the road.

Ahn Joo - Los Angeles

Following an appearance on season five of The Next Food Network Star, Chef Lee consulted at Culver City’s Gyenari and served “SeoulTown Tapas” at Breadbar. Although both engagements allowed her to introduce her unique style of fusion cooking to the public, the price point was ultimately too high to reach the masses. With Ahn Joo, Chef Lee hopes to spread her “Seoul-to-soul” dishes across the city and to provide an alternative to fast food.

Ahn Joo - Los Angeles

The menu is divided into four parts: Small Grub ($3), Medium Grub ($5),  Large Grub ($7), and Sweet Grub ($5). We began with an order of bacon-wrapped duk with jalapeño ponzu ($3). Bacon has a way of making just about everything better, and this was no exception. The smoky bacon and the citrus-laced ponzu provided the oomph that the simple rice cakes needed to shine.

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Dwit Gol Mok (DGM) – Los Angeles (Koreatown)


Dwit Gol Mok,* better known as DGM, is literally and figuratively a hidden gem. While its address reads Wilshire Boulevard, the entrance is actually tucked far behind the main drag. The Astronomer and I probably would’ve never found it had our friend Danny not provided us with detailed instructions. “Try to locate parking near Vermont,” he advised. “Then head down Berendo and through the parking lot.” We did what we were told and found ourselves in a dark and unassuming alleyway. There wasn’t an English sign in sight, but we followed the wondrous smells of smoky barbecue and pungent gochujang and made our way through the old wooden building blaring K-pop.


Once inside, we headed up to the second floor to locate Danny and the rest of our party, including the Two Hungry Pandas and the Starry Kitchen duo. Walking through the restaurant, I couldn’t help but notice the artful doodles covering every surface. I was kicking myself for not bringing along my collection of Sharpies to the restaurant. Next time around, I’m totally scribbling ‘Cathy+Vernon 4-Eva’ on the wall, surrounded by lots of little hearts.


The specialties at this two-story graffiti palace are a killer combination of Korean bar food and potent soju. The crowd is young, mostly Korean-speaking, and always seem to be having a rowdy time.

Continue reading ‘Dwit Gol Mok (DGM) – Los Angeles (Koreatown)’

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