MaDang 621 Korean BBQ Restaurant

621 S Western Ave
Ste 100
Los Angeles, CA 90005
(213) 384-2244


MaDang 621 is located in the same shopping complex as the CGV Theater on Western.  One of my Korean coworkers had recommended the lunch specials, since she knew that I love Korean food.  The lunch specials include set lunches, where you get your own individual banchans (side dishes)!

Parking is plenty in the large structure, and MaDang validates 4 hours.  For people who do not want to deal with the narrow parking spaces, I believe valet parking is also available.  MaDang 621 is located on the ground level of the complex, and is near the Western Ave side.  It is a pretty large restaurant, with a sizable outside seating area — although the outside area was not open during lunch.  The restaurant itself is pretty airy, with a modern Korean feel.  Our party of 6 was seated right away during lunch time, so not sure if reservations are needed for dinners.  During dinner time, I think the restaurant operates as a high-end Korean BBQ place.


Follow the sign!


The entrance leads into an open kitchen and bar area.  The seating area is just beyond the walkway.


The lunch specials menu — yes, even during weekends!!  ^ ^  The soo rah sang and jung shik sets come with individual banchans.  All of the other dishes come with large communal banchans.


The large communal banchans (from top left clockwise) – steamed broccoli, spicy radish and cucumber, dried anchovies/fish and walnuts, salted bean sprouts, spicy veggies, and kimchi slices.  All of the side dishes were really good.  Our favorite was definitely the dried fish with walnut!


The Jung Shik with Yun Aw Gui (grilled salmon).  The Jung Shik comes with your choice of meat or fish and similar banchans as the communal ones above, although it also had a marinated spicy garlic/jalapeno, and the spicy squid side dishes.  For rice, you get a choice or regular or purple rice.  Seaweed and the denjangchige (bean paste soup) rounds up the set.  Salmon was cooked perfectly and the side dishes all taste so good!!!  $12.99


Yook ge jang – spicy red chili soup with shredded beef, glass noodles, eggs and shitake mushrooms.  The noodle soup had enough kick, but was not overly spicy.  The shredded beef was pretty tender, and I really liked the glass noodles!  $9.99


Will definitely be back to try the other lunch specials!  Nom nom nom….

Lawry’s The Prime Rib – Tailgate!

One of my new favorite food finds is Lawry’s tailgate!!!  I love eating at the restaurant in Beverly Hills and did not know that they throw a catering tailgate at every USC home football game until this year.  I think they now have it for all UCLA home games as well.  So for all of you guys who love the restaurant experience, you will also love the catered tailgate as well!

The USC tailgate has grown in size, so now it is under a massive tent, near Gate 1 at the Coliseum.  I had gone to the homecoming tailgate, and it was around 30 tables.  Reservations must be made and paid in advance through Lawry’s.  Seats do get sold out so be sure to make reservations in advance!  Reservation details can be found on Lawry’s website.

The check-in table and the crowd by the open bar.  Line moves pretty fast though!


Tailgate is $75 per person.  However, it is ALL-You-Can-Eat and All-You-Can-Drink (including alcoholic drinks)!  Food is just like what they serve at the restaurant – prime rib and turkey carving stations being the staples.  The rest of the menu changes, by the theme/state of the opposing team.  The menu can be viewed through the Lawry’s website – it’s usually available 1 – 2 weeks before the game.


For the homecoming game, there was the usual prime rib, with Lawry’s famous creamed spinach and potato au gratin.  There were also buffalo wings, and a refreshing apple salad.  The prime rib is more thinly sliced than the restaurant portion, so that people could make sliders, if they wanted to.  Since it’s AYCE, go for seconds or thirds!  🙂


Save some room for dessert too!  Double Rainbow Ice cream was the dessert at the homecoming game and let me just say, the coffee flavor even beats the Haagen-Daz version that I love.  Nom nom nom….


Lawry’s Tailgate is such an awesome experience and not to mention value.  Will definitely be back for more next year!

Island Eats Hale Aina

19106 Normandie Ave
Ste 2
Torrance, CA 90502

(310) 329-3835


I’ve been on the hunt for good Hawaiian food in the South Bay.  There are actually quite a number of Hawaiian joints in South Bay, but not too many that have decent Yelp reviews.  Island Eats is one of the few that has 4 stars on Yelp, and is relatively easy to get to (just off the 405) and park.

Island Eats is located right at the corner of 190th and Normandie, tucked between two tall buildings (a credit union and a storage place I think).  There’s plenty of seating, both inside and outside.  The restaurant itself is pretty casual and relaxing.  Simply place your order and pay at the register, then wait for the food.  Everything is made to order so might take a while for the food to be ready! During most of the weekdays, Island Eats is only open for breakfast and lunch (until 2pm).  Fridays and Saturdays are the only 2 days that they open for dinner, so plan accordingly!

Island Eats serves up quite a variety of Hawaiian favorites, such as lau lau (pork wrapped in taro leaves), loco moco (hamburger patties covered with gravy, and topped with sunny side-up eggs), kalua pork, saimin, spam musubi, poke and garlic shrimp.

The restaurant has a small signage outside.  Look for the canopy!


Poke rice – recommended by a lot of Yelpers and it did not disappoint!  This is listed under one of the side items.  It is a meal by itself — generous amounts of tuna poke on top of wasabi cream sauce drizzled warm rice.  For those of you who do not know poke, it’s basically raw tuna marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil, then sprinkled with scallions, sesame seeds and seaweed.  Kind of like an Asian ceviche.  Yum!  $8


Uncle’s Fried Chicken plate – “island style” boneless chicken thigh pieces, comes with salad, potato mac and rice.  The island style chicken has a sweet batter (I think Hawaiian style chicken usually uses a bit of rice flour) and is well marinated.  It was freshly fried, so very crunchy on the outside and still juicy on the inside.  The potato mac was a little bland though.  Overall, decent portion size and well prepared.  $8.95


Will definitely have to come back and try other dishes that Yelpers also recommend, like the lau lau and the loco moco!  🙂

[Vancouver, Canada] Bistro 101 At Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

1505 2nd Avenue West | Suite 101

Vancouver, British Columbia V6H 3Y4Canada



Official site:

Trip Advisor reviews:



I was researching restaurants in Vancouver, and came upon this highly rated restaurant on Trip Advisor.  All of the reviews had nothing but great things to say about this place, so I quickly made a reservation when the date became available.  Totally agree with all of the reviews, this is one of the best meals I had in Vancouver!

Bistro 101 is located at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, right at the gateway/bridge to Granville Island.  The menu is prix fixe and changes monthly.  Reservations and the menu are online via the official site.  The 3 course lunch is CAD $20 and the 3 course dinner is CAD $26.  Since the Bistro is part of the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, all of the cooking is done by the students, with the supervision of the chef teachers.  Expect the service and food to be a little slow, since it is run by the students.  Also, please note that the restaurant is only open Mondays through Fridays.


There is a live kitchen camera which lets you watch the action in the kitchen.  Pretty cool.


Bistro 101 also has a pretty extensive wine list.  Prices were reasonable.


Complimentary basket of bread.  There were at least 4 – 5 different kinds of bread.  Although they were not warm, they were all pretty tasty.  These are made by the bakery students.


This was the aperitif(飯前酒) for June – Kir Petillant – segura viudas brut reserva cava enhanced with L’Hertier Guyot Creme de Cassis. It was light and refreshing,  tasted like a bubbly rosé.  Good way to start the meal. + CAD $7


We went for dinner, so it’s CAD $26 per person.  Appetizer – sea scallops three ways – ceviche, miso glazed and a la Veronique.  The scallops were sashimi grade and just barely cooked, but the sauces were not memorable.


Entree – pan-seared halibut filet with asparagus veloute and tomato confit.  This was the highlight of the meal.  They did not skimp out on the halibut at all.  Even though the fish was a big hunk, it was perfectly cooked — tender and juicy inside.  The asparagus puree also went well with the potatoes.  Mmmm….


Dessert – vanilla infused pineapple with coconut sorbet, coca nib streusel and lime foam.  The pineapple was meh, didn’t really taste the vanilla in it.  However, the coconut sorbet was outstanding!  The lime foam was a great thought, as it balanced out the heaviness/richness of the coconut sorbet.


Will definitely return on my next trip to Vancouver!!!

[Vancouver, Canada] Ramen Santouka

1690 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC V6G 1C7

(604) 681-8121


Official website:

Yelp reviews:


I know what you guys are probably thinking – there are already several Santouka’s in LA, why did I go try the one in Vancouver?  Shouldn’t I try foods that I can’t get in LA?  I know, I was kind of thinking that myself.  However, according to all the reviews that I’ve read, the Vancouver location more closely resemble the ones in Japan.  So I had to go try it.  My verdict:  it IS better than the ones in LA!

The Vancouver shop is literally a shop.  It is very small — seats about 30 people. It’s operated on a first come first served basis.  Since the restaurant is small, you might very likely be sharing tables with other parties, so prepare to rub elbows with your neighbors! The restaurant opens at 11am, so getting there relatively early is the key to avoiding a long line.  We got there about 11:30am and had  a ~20 minute wait.  When we left around 1pm, the line had grown very long. So, do the math!


The store front, with the usual display of the menu.  The Vancouver Santouka has received quite a few accolades!  There are 4 types of soup broths:  shio (salt), shoyu (soy-sauce base), miso and kara-miso (spicy miso).  You could pair it with the different rice bowls for a combo:  negi meshi (dried bonito with green onions), cha-shu (braised pork), ikura (salmon roe) and grilled salmon.  All of the combos also come with pickled radish and half of a braised egg.


Interior of the restaurant.  There’s also a communal table, where we sat.  But like I mentioned, it’s a really small restaurant.


The shio ramen (salt-based broth ramen) combo with the ikura rice (aka salmon roe) and braised egg.  The ikura rice bowl in LA doesn’t have the shredded egg, so that was a nice touch.  Portions are comparable to the ones in LA.  However, the broth is much more flavorful and less salty/greasy than the LA ones.  The noodles were also more chewy/al dente.  Yum yum yum….  CAD $15.90 for the combo


Almost every review I read raved about the toroniku ramen (pork jowl).  Basically, a bowl of the standard shio ramen comes with a plate of the pork jowl meat, and fixins (scallions, bamboo, wood ear and fish cake) on the side.  The toroniku was melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness, without being too fatty!  Let it warm up in the ramen broth for a few minutes for it to get more umami!  There’s enough meat for 2 to share.  Highly recommend!  CAD $14.50 for the Toroniku ramen.

[Vancouver, Canada] The Sandbar Seafood Restaurant

1535 Johnston Street
Vancouver, BC V6H 3R9

(604) 669-9030

Official restaurant site:



I had bookmarked a few restaurants to visit on Granville Island.  My first choice was going to be Go Fish Ocean Emporium but couldn’t find it on Granville Island, so settled for second choice, The Sandbar, instead. Turned out to be a good choice for lunch!

The restaurant itself is fairly large, and covers 3 floors.  For lunch, we were lucky enough to be seated in the outdoors patio area, which has a nice view of the harbor.


The Sandbar is easily recognizable — it’s near the public market on Granville Island, and has a large boat hanging by the restaurant.


The menu


There is also a supplemental menu sheet for the fresh catch of the day.  The items with a hole punch next to it means that it’s available.


Nice view of the harbor from the patio area.  There’s also a fireplace and plenty of heat lamps outside, in case it gets cold.  AND there’s a blanket draping on each seat, just in case!


Warm crusty bread.  Mmm…


Manila clams – steamed in leek and roasted garlic cream.  The clams were juicy and succulent.  Yum!  CAD$15


Salmon burger – an actual salmon filet prepared medium, with Yukon Gold fries. The salmon was perfectly cooked and the fries were crunchy on the outside, and piping hot and mushy on the inside.  Just the way I like them!  CAD$15


Arctic char – this was on the  fresh catch sheet.  We had seen it in the market, and Arctic char, being that it’s from sub-arctic waters, is hard to find.  When we saw it on the menu, we weren’t sure if we’d be served the whole fish.  Turned out to be a filet of the Arctic char, pan-fried in citrus butter sauce.  The texture of the fish is light and flaky, kind of like a flounder.  Glad we tried it, but it wasn’t as good as the clams or the salmon burger.  CAD $25


[Vancouver, Canada] Richmond Night Market

8351 River Road
Richmond, BC V6X 1Y4
Nearest metro:  Bridgeport station on the Canada Line, about a 10 minute walk
Hours:  mid-May through mid-October, Fridays through Sundays and holidays, 7pm to 11pm (Sun) and to 12am (Fri and Sat)

Official site:



Somehow, during my research for things to do in Vancouver, I stumbled upon the fact that there are night markets during the summers in Vancouver.  Legit Asian-styled night markets at that.  And not only one… I think there are 2 or 3, all around the Richmond area.  And since our hotel was literally next door to the biggest one, it was a no brainer.

This night market really puts the 626 Night Market to shame.  It is open during the weekends for the WHOLE summer!  Admission is only CAD $2.25 and there are about 100 food vendors, all serving different kinds of food.  Most of the food is reasonably priced, and even though there are tons of people around, waiting for food is surprisingly not too long (maybe 15 – 20 minutes).  Not only is there a large food area, there’s also an area for carnival games, and for vendors that just sells stuff (cell phone cases, cute phone cases, art, socks, etc).  There are places to sit/stand for eating, the stalls are inspected by the health department and it was pretty clean, even with the crowd.

Here are some of the offerings and what we tried:

There were a few squid vendors.  Some sold whole squid, some sold just the tentacles… and I think I saw one that had fried squid!


Yes, there’s even ramen at the Night Market!  There were a couple of noodle stands, like ramen, udon, soba, etc.


There are also quite a few vendors that sell grilled meats, although there was only one that sold whole grilled fish.  It looked and smelled so good, but unfortunately no room in the stomach!  CAD $10 – $15 for a whole fish


Even dim sum is served up fresh at the Night Market!  I saw a few of the dim sum vendors around and they all looked so good~~


Slavic rolls!  I saw these desserts when I was in Prague, had no idea that they can be found outside of Eastern Europe!


And of course there are Taiwanese night market favorites, like the fried chicken filet and popcorn chicken~


The night market is not just about Asian food, traditional fair food can be found too, like the smoked turkey legs!  Comes in 2 sizes, large and XL!


I didn’t think I can get fresh squeezed sugar cane juice in North America.  Guess I was wrong!  This was a pretty good substitute, of course it cannot beat the ones in Asia!  I think it was CAD 4.50 for a regular size and CAD 6 for a large.


The German roasted pork leg 德國豬腳 had a really long line, and smelled so divine that we just had to give it a try!  The vendor cuts it up into bite-sized pieces and serves it on a platter.  The pork was really juicy, but the skin was toughened/hardened from roasting too long.  Still pretty good ~~  CAD $13


Korean bento-box from the Korean vendor.  Choose any 3 items for CAD 10.  Portions were generous and the food was delicious!  The rice cakes were spicy but not overly spicy. The chapchae was tasty with a peppery tone.  Yum!


The tofu pudding from this vendor was sooo good!  We got it with taro and you add in the sweetener yourself.  Very authentically Taiwanese.  I wish they had this vendor in LA!  CAD 4.50


We were eating and heard people next to us raving about the “sandwich wrap” that they just tried, so we were tempted to check it out.  It’s genius what this vendor is selling — they took a Taiwanese-styled onion pancake, and used that as the “wrap”.  I wasn’t adventurous enough to try the more fusion types of wraps, like ham & cheese, curry chicken and kimchi beef.  I chose a more Taiwanese flavored one, the egg and dried pork.  OMG, it was super delicious!  The onion pancake is flavorful, crispy on the outside, but moist and flaky on the inside.  The filling went really well with the onion pancake. I’m still salivating at the thought of having one~~  CAD 6


There are tons of dessert to choose from at the night market.  We chose the one with the longest line, which happened to be serving this:  fresh mango  shaved ice, topped with ice cream!!!  It is a rather large portion, more than enough for 2 people to share.  The fresh mango was really sweet.  That combined with the shaved ice and ice cream is really refreshing.  Mmmm…. CAD 5.75


Tip: go early to avoid the lines.  8pm – 9pm is VERY crowded!  Also, since there are lots of food vendors, it’s best to walk around once, to check out all of the offerings, before making your selection(s).  Otherwise, you’ll regret that your stomach is only so big.


Have lots of fun at the Night Market!!!

[Vancouver, Canada] Rodney’s Oyster House

1228 Hamilton Street

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

(604) 609-0080

Nearest metro station:  Yaletown


Official website:  Rodney’s Oyster House



I had heard from a few people that Rodney’s is a must when visiting Vancouver.  So, it went on the itinerary and I must say that it did not disappoint!  The restaurant is just about a block away from the Yaletown station, so it’s very convenient to get to.  Happy hour, or “low tide” as referred to at Rodney’s, is a great way to sample their well-known seafood.  “Low tide” happens Mondays through Saturdays, 3pm – 6pm, first come first served.  Even though we arrived shortly before 3pm on a Saturday ( in case there was a line), we were seated promptly and handed the happy hour menu.  Within half an hour, the place was packed, so it pays to arrive early!



The happy hour menu


There are about 5 different house sauces on the table, in addition to the different Tabasco sauces.  The sauces vary by spiciness and tanginess.  My favorites were the Seawitch sauce and the White Boy Soul sauce.


Fresh warm bread is served complimentary.  I think it’s marble rye?  Soft and tasty!


Fresh shucked oysters are CAD $1.50/piece during low tide.  I haven’t had oysters this good since Fishing with Dynamite!  Best part about Rodney’s is the freshly grated horseradish!  I haven’t seen that anywhere else, so it was a real treat.  Highly recommend trying the oysters with the various sauces.  Yum yum yum…


Mussels were also awesome!  Mussels are steamed in dill butter, garlic and wine.  They’re so juicy and tender… not to mention, very well-cleaned!  The sauce was great for dipping the bread!  CAD $13.95


Will definitely be back to try some other items next time!

[Ketchikan, Alaska] George Inlet Lodge – Crab Feast

11728 South Tongass Highway

Ketchikan, AK



Trip Advisor page:  George Inlet Crab Feast

George Inlet official site:


I did a bit of research before the cruise to Alaska and this was the one excursion that all the travelers raved about.  Everyone claimed that this was the best crab that they had ever eaten, so I was curious to find out if it really was true.  We took Princess Cruises, and I think the crab feast is bundled with a few short excursions.  For the one that we took (the Rainforest walk with the crab feast), it was about $150 per person.  If you’re not visiting via cruise, reservations through George Inlet’s website are necessary.  Oh, and they do online orders for the crab, although it’s pretty pricey!


George Inlet is located right next to the water, very picturesque.  You will need to walk 70+ steps to get down to the restaurant.  Same goes for going back up.


The crab feast basically features ALL-You-CAN-EAT freshly caught and steamed Dungeness crab!    The meal also comes with salad and dessert (an awesome crust-less blueberry cheesecake).  All of the reviews were right — the crab is just so succulent and sweet, it is beyond compare!  The crab meat is full of crab flavor, and so tender.  The crab is served table-side, so just raise your hand for more and the waitresses will bring them right over.  The only downside to the crab feast as a cruise excursion is that you’re limited to about an hour of eating time.


I think there are also tours/excursions that take you out to the crab boats so that you see how they’re caught.  Will have to try that next time!  🙂

Tofu Village

15128 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90247

(310) 527-3737


This is one of my favorite weekday lunch spots, although I don’t make it out here often.  Tofu Village is located in a small strip plaza, near the corner of Western and Marine.  Parking is easy to find inside the plaza. Even though Tofu Village is usually pretty busy,  table turnover is fast, so not much wait during lunch time.  Service is normally good and quick.  Most of the clientele is Korean, so that should tell you about its authenticity!  I like it better than Lee’s Tofu down the street — the taste is more on par with the soon tofu places in K-town.  : )


Tofu Village is located inside this shopping plaza.


Sample of the lunch menu — all of the lunch specials look pretty good but I’ve only tried the soon tofu so far.


The banchans (side dishes) are all really good and usually includes kimchi, spicy pickled radish and cucumber, bean sprouts, potato salad and chap chae (Korean glass noodles).  There’s even fried yellow croaker (a small fish), similar to the ones at BCD Tofu House.  You can request for complimentary refills on the side dishes.


There’s an assortment of different soon tofu to choose from (seafood, combination, kimchi, etc), as well as the spiciness.  I usually get the combination medium (which has seafood and beef).  Comes with purple rice in a stone pot – the servers will scoop it up into the steel bowl for you.  At the end of the meal,  add water to the rice stone pot to make crunchy rice soup.   Yum yum yum…. $7.99