All of the following things happened in April: LA county qualified to move into the yellow tier, Youn Yuh-jung won the Oscar for Best Actress In A Supporting Role (if you haven’t seen Minari yet, here’s some inspiration), and we ate a lot of memorable meals. So many, in fact, we had to make a guide specifically for our favorites of the month. Find Japanese breakfast, tlayudas, and so much more below.
“Breakfast for dinner” is not our thing. Why would you eat eggs when you could have a steak and martini, noodle soup, or a couple kebabs? But Highly Likely’s Brekkie Sando is so herby and complex that we’d happily eat it for dinner. Between two oily-to-the-touch slices of Bub and Grandma’s focaccia are scrambled eggs so fluffy and cheesy, we fantasize about stuffing pillows with them. But what sets this sandwich apart are the roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs (parsley and dill to name a few), and herby schug sauce. The cherry tomatoes pop and ooze at the slightest hint of pressure, seeping into the eggs, bread, and sauce, ushering forth an otherworldly tangy experience. You have the option to add bacon, sausage, or ham, but that’s not even necessary.
Fish and shrimp tacos. Oh, and also the campechana
This tiny, order-at-the-window space on Sunset Blvd. has a shaded front patio and serves everything from shrimp aguachile to cheese quesadillas to mixed ceviche. When it comes to their tacos though, you can’t go wrong with the shrimp or fish. Both come perfectly beer-battered with a proper crunch on the outside, with moist, meaty interiors complemented by subtle heat from the pico de gallo and salsa roja on top. You can choose between flour or corn tortillas, and we recommend the chewy, translucent flour. Also, be sure to order a tomato-based campechana on your way out. It comes filled with crab, octopus, albacore, and shrimp, and is the ideal snack to have while walking around Sunset Junction.
Umma’s Lunchbox, mul-naengmyeon, and bibim-naengmyeon
The “Umma’s Lunchbox” deal from this Arcadia Korean spot kills. Choose from fried tofu, barbecue chicken, spicy pork, and bulgogi, and the generous leftovers of rice, japchae, and banchan will make a great midnight snack. Table barbecue here is pretty simple - mostly the hits like pork ribs and short ribs, plus some rosemary and garlic pork belly. What you really want to order is the super refreshing mul-naengmyeon (cold noodle, as it’s listed on the menu) and the bibim-naengmyeon (spicy cold noodle). They’re both hot-weather dishes that are sweet, spicy, and thirst-quenching. And if there’s no ice cube in your silver bowl, ask for some to make the broth extra frosty.
This tiny spot specializes in Japanese curry ramen - something you can’t find on Sawtelle or really anywhere in LA - and it’s the best bowl of soup we’ve eaten this year. The broth is a rich blend of earthy curry and salty chicken stock that’s topped with a slice of braised pork chashu, crunchy bean sprouts, and green onions. When it all comes together with the chewy noodles down below, it’s a delicious, expertly-made bowl of soup that we’ll be eating any day when May Gray and June Gloom threaten to ruin our summer energy.
Azay is a half-French, half-Japanese restaurant in Little Tokyo where you’ll find the only Japanese breakfast being served in LA proper. Their rendition is quite understated - nothing but a tray of broiled fish, tamago, tofu, miso soup, a side of rice, plus a few pickles. The broiled fish comes with a flakey top and charred bottom, but completely moist meat in the middle. Bright yellow eggs taste slightly sweet, and resemble the shape and size of an elementary school kid’s eraser. Plus, the portions are perfect - not too big, not too small, and you can walk away feeling full, without needing to undo a button on your pants.
The glistening, cylindrical kimbap from Ktown’s HK Market almost seems tailor-made for on-the-go snacking. The plastic container is packed to the brim with the colorful, seaweed-wrapped rolls stuffed with bright yellow daikon, fish cakes, carrots, and, yes, American cheese. The pieces are easy to grab, they never leave your hands too sticky, and make for the perfect complement to a cruise down Western Ave., admiring the weird, Googie KFC, and quickly breaking whenever someone makes an illegal left turn.
Tlayuda with chapulines or moronga
While both the tlayuda tortilla and bean paste recipe are the same as the ones found at La Mayordomía’s sister spot Expresión Oaxaqueña, this South Central spot offers the option to include chapulines (grasshoppers) or moronga as additional toppings. The latter is a delicious Oaxacan blood sausage that’s minced and cooked before generously topping a fully-loaded tlayuda. Its savory and metallic flavor pairs well with a generous spritz of lime and a dash of hot salsa roja. According to the manager, moronga is the true Oaxacan go-to order, so we suggest giving it a try if blood sausage is your thing.
A clam or vodka pepperoni pizza
U Street is a tiny, order-at-the-counter pizza shop in Pasadena that’s run by the same crew as Union, one of our favorite Italian restaurants in LA. While Union focuses more on pastas, the name of the game at U Street is crackly-crusted, New York-ish-style pizza with tons of California influences. Think red sauce made from locally-produced tomatoes and toppings that range from Fresno peppers to Petaluma mozzarella. Our favorite pies at the moment are the briny, buttery clam pizza and the vodka pepperoni that comes with cream, peppers, mozzarella and provolone, and a housemade vodka sauce we audibly professed our love to when we first tried it.