DON’T PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD
WRITTEN BY: ED HALEY | PHOTOGRAPHED BY: KARL GARRISON
Get your tastebuds ready. We scoured the city and beyond to find some of the best interactive dining experiences in the greater Los Angeles area. Let go of your expectations of a confined dining experience and prepare your palates. Introducing the spiciest, the sweetest, the sauciest and the boldest in Mongolian, Taiwanese, Japanese and Korean cuisines, we offer you four places to cook your own food, utilizing unique ingredients. From raw egg yolks used for dipping to fermented tofu to saketinis, thinly cut raw meats and delectably refreshing treats, these places are sure to entice.
LITTLE SHEEP MONGOLIAN HOT POT
2575 Pacific Coast Hwy Torrance, CA 90505 310.517.9605 www.littlesheephotpot.com
If you’re looking for some great soup, the Little Sheep in Torrance has got the right attitude. They mean business when it comes to whipping up some serious “hot pots” as they call it, to fit any personality type, and the way they do it starts with the sauce. The sauce bar is a must, as it has pretty much every kind of sauce recipe you can think of to mix and scoop, then bring back to your table. We recommend the sesame oil, garlic peanut sauce…at maybe a medium spice kick. We also suggest you try the Half and Half Hot Pot with a mix of pork or beef meats, which your waiter will bring to your table frozen and raw on a plate. They will also bring you some bok choy and seaweed knots to toss into your hot pot with your chosen meats, which should now be boiling off the hot plate on your table. The great thing about the Half and Half Hot Pot is that it is split into two halves with one side being spicier than the other, giving you the best of both worlds. Once everything is tossed in, you can almost immediately start spooning it out into side bowls of rice, or noodles, and enjoy! Don’t forget to use your sauce for dipping! Cool it all down with their Passion Fruit Iced Tea. Also, try the Shrimp Balls and end with a dessert, like the Yam Mochi with red bean filling.
GENWA KOREAN BBQ
170 N La Cienega Blvd Beverly Hills, CA 90211 310.854.0046
Sitting in LA’s most popular restaurant night spots, Genwa Korean BBQ rises above its competition, having been voted the number one Korean BBQ restaurant in LA several times over. Owner Jay Kwon says, “There are a lot of Korean BBQ places that have popped up over the years, but we feel we went above and beyond in terms of quality and ambiance, especially when it comes to keeping things Korean. A lot of places you will see combine different cultures, like Korean with Chinese.” Given the location, it was a necessity to say the least, but Jay Kwon and the Genwa experience is pulling it off. The second LA location in Beverly Hills, the restaurant has been open for almost two years and has been stealing all the action. The style of the restaurant is five star but maintains a traditional Korean flare. One of the key things about this place is the dining set up. Most Korean BBQ restaurants have the smoke filtering ducts placed over the dining tables, making loud noises and obstructing the panoramic views of the dining area. Not here. The systems are placed under the actual tables and with zero noise and smoke, clientele can hang out, chat and cook their dishes on the table grill. It’s perfect for large groups or dates, and if you need a private room—they have it. Just be sure to go there hungry.
The staff is friendly and very helpful. They will wait on you hand and foot to keep all the scattered little plates full on your table. They will also be sure that your meats are being cooked properly. If you are a first timer, go with the Bulgogi and Prime Galbi. The menu has a lot to offer, so the only problem is what to pick. We also suggest ordering the Sizzling Bibim-Bap. It’s rice, egg with beef and vegetables brought out “sizzling” in a stone pot, which your server will mix right at your table. It’s a perfect side dish to go with your main courses. The restaurant prides themselves on making sure that all the food is carefully prepared and of the highest quality. Enjoy!
15488 S Western Ave, Ste 112 Gardena, CA 90247 310.225.5533 www.bpgroupusa.com
As the weather gets colder, hot soups get popular and none the better than the Boiling Point in Gardena. This corporate chain has got some of the best pots of soup a customer can get their spoons into. If you happen to be in the area, drop in and give it a try and don’t let the long line discourage you. The turnover is fast, so busy customers can get in quick, sit and be eating right away. If you do drop in, don’t be afraid to ask what’s good. Restaurant Manager Grace Chen says, “We have several items on our menu that are tailored to all types of clientele. If you want non-spicy to spicy, or seafood, meat or vegetarian—it’s all here.” Once you pick what you want, the soups are brought out on the restaurant’s very own custom made cook pot. The flame gets lit, and the soups start boiling. “All of our soups are pre- cooked right before we bring it out, so you can literally begin eating it right away, ” says Chen. “You don’t have to wait for it to boil.” As far as what is recommended to order, you can’t go wrong with either of the two most popular soups, the House Special Hot Soup which comes with a fermented tofu they call “stinky tofu” or the Beef Hot Soup. As far as how the tofu is fermented don’t expect an answer. It’s an old Asian secret, but all the soups can be picked from no spice to super spice, measured by four chili peppers on the menu. However, another popular soup, the Taiwanese Spicy Hot Soup, only comes in one temperature, that is “flaming spicy” only. “This soup is probably the most popular in the winter months, ” says Chen. “It has all the combos from seafood to different meats, along with tofu, Asian mushrooms and a variety of other veggies.” But, it’s spicy hot, so proceed with caution!
YOJIE JAPANESE FONDUE
501 W Olympic Blvd, Ste 102 Los Angeles, CA 90015 213.988.8808 www.yojie.com
Right next to the famed Staples Center in Downtown LA, Yojie Japanese Fondue opened in 2010 and has brought back the traditional way of enjoying fondue, or as owner Mendrick Leelin puts it “The art of dipping.” Leelin explains, “We wanted to bring back the traditional Japanese old school style of fondue.” Whatever they are doing, it’s working and customers might drop in just to have the thirst-quenching Green Tea Arnold Palmer—perfect for the summer months. However, their happy hour works just the same and if you’re on that special date, drop in, order an interesting Lychee Saketini, which is a sake-martini, kick back, relax and enjoy some old-style fondue. Make sure to ask for the “traditional” set up. The two most popular fondues, recommended by the staff, will be the Prime Rib and Salmon entrees, but you can’t stop there. Next will be to order the type of broth, which in our case is the “Sukiyaki, ” a soy-based broth used traditionally. Your server will bring this out in a hot pot and place on your tables hot plate, along with a raw egg in a dipping bowl. You might recall an episode of Rocky Balboa sucking down raw egg yolk before he hit the ring, but this isn’t exactly what you will be using it for. Here, it’s used for dipping, and once your Prime Rib and Salmon are brought out raw and finely thin cut on plates, you will dip them in the boiling broth for mere seconds and then immediately dip into the yolk, literally melting in your mouth. You haven’t tried fondue this style anywhere— maybe not even in Japan these days. Follow it up with Yojie’s signature dessert, Green Tea Chocolate Fondue, because it doesn’t matter how full you are. Try it and you won’t regret.