I know, my posts have been pretty infrequent lately. I'll blame my new job and their expectations that I actually do work. How dare they!
Anyway, I did want to jump back into the blogosphere but didn't really have a lot to say. I can however review a lunch last week at Pacci's and another LA ramen experience. I'll start with Pacci's.
It had been at least a couple months since we had eaten there. I think we did 3 visits in the first couple wks after they opened. We then tried to go back with a friend a few wks ago on a Friday night and could not bring ourselves to go in. You want to talk about crawling with kids. Wow! My single buddy trekking to SS from Adams Morgan was a bit aghast when he surveyed Pacci's. We agreed to come back another time.
So the missus and I walked up for a quick lunch last week to see how things were going. It was pretty quiet, just a few tables were full. Rosario, the pizzaiolo at the restaurant told us the lunch business had been a little slow. But we were definitely interested to see if they had worked out some of their initial kinks.
And granted I know this was not gonna be easy to tell over a lunch with just 2 people, but we still could get a general sense. Since it was working hours we passed on anything alcoholic and asked for tea -- but they only offered sweet tea. Where am I, McDonald's? At least the server pointed this out. He also said most folks are disappointed to hear they only serve sweet tea, so perhaps a non-sugar option will appear soon.
We shared a simple salad to start -- romaine, cherry tomatoes, olives, some fresh mozz, in oil and vinegar. Was good, not great. Perhaps the dressing could have been a bit more flavorful. But we came for the pizza, not the salad.
For our lunch we shared la verace -- tomato sauce, buffalo mozz, parmesan, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. While we both agreed the sauce was tasty, the pizza itself was a bit too limp for us. If you had picked it with one hand to try to eat, the tip of the slice would have been very droopy. You needed to use a knife and fork for the first bite and then hands-only would have been OK. I think next time we'll have to ask for it to be extra crispy. I've been making my own pies at home for a couple years now so we're certainly used to having a crispier dough.
I guess all in all it was a good experience, but it did not meet our expectations. But we'll be back to throw them some more business. However we'll definitely ask for our pies to be cooked a little longer than what they would normally do.
All right, on to ramen. So on the suggestion of Tina & Drew, a couple readers, I visited an LA ramen institution in Little Tokyo called Daikokuya a couple wks ago when I was out on the west coast for work. I had eaten at a well-known ramen place the week before, but Tina & Drew said I had to eat here. So I did.
Got to the restaurant after work, arriving about 8:00. I knew there would be a long wait so I was prepared with reading materials. After checking up some on the place on Yelp I knew to go in to write my name on the list. And while there were plenty of folks ahead of me, I thought, how long can it take to seat one person? Right?
Well, it can take almost an hour. It was a lively crowd of mostly young folks, mostly Japanese (descent at least) waiting to chow down. I seem to have been the only solo diner. Woe is me. Yes, was a long wait out there by myself. It was just before 9:00 when I got the OK to take a seat at the bar. Needless to say I was quite thirsty and famished. I quickly ordered a big Asahi and settled in to survey the menu.
I was told the tempura was a good way to start things and of course, I knew I was gonna have some ramen. There were other choices for dinner, but hey, if I'm waiting an hour because they have the best ramen in town - maybe the country - I am damn sure ordering ramen.
The service was friendly, but pretty no-nonsense. I got my beer fast and didn't have to wait long at all till one of the servers returned for my dinner order. I did try the tempura and also the Daikoku Ramen. The tempura was mix of shrimp and veggies. The batter was light, but not that flavorful. It came with a dipping sauce that also lacked any real character. It was a bit bland, so I added some Ichimi Togarashi -- Japanese red pepper -- to spice up the sauce a bit and it did help. But still, I was not wowed by the tempura.
My main course arrived and it was quite a dish. This pic really doesn't do it justice. It was a large bowl filled with lovely egg noodles, pork belly (yes, I cheated), bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, scallion and an egg. Of course it is surrounded by their special broth -- pork bones and joints that have been simmered to a wonderful concentration and then added to their special soy sauce. And yes, wow was the first word that came to my mouth when I tasted this broth. This was something special.
For a while I only sipped on the broth since it was so good. Then I finally got down to business and started slurping down the noodles - nicely cooked with a little bite, and then the veggies and pork. And to be honest, I could have done without the pork belly in the ramen. I know the broth is a pork broth, but I really didn't need the belly too. I would have been happy with some tofu thrown in there. And while I tried my best I could not finish all the broth. I did eat all the noodles, pork and veggies, but the broth was too much after starting with the tempura.
My final conclusion, while I really liked the Daikoku Ramen, I'm not sure how interested I'd be in waiting another hour - or longer - on a subsequent visit. One thing quite different than the ramen I ate the previous week was that this broth had no spiciness at all. I kinda missed that. I like my broth to have a good kick to it. At least for me, that is something I look for.
And while I probably won't have to get ramen my next trip out to LA, if I do start craving it, I'm likely to go back to Orochon Ramen where I can much more easily get a table and have my butt kicked with the spice. I know it's not right, but I like it when my nose runs when I eat ramen. What can I say?