04/19/14

Food trucks and people watching at Ktown Night Market

If the folks behind this weekend’s Ktown Night Market had been wondering if they had managed to get the word out then their questions were answered by the ginormous line of people waiting for the gates to open. I arrived only an hour after the 4pm opening time and already the line was at least several hundred people deep.

Predictably, it was the promise of foodie adventures that got me to show up. That it was being held within a five minute bus ride of my apartment didn’t hurt either.

The Seoul Sausage food truck won the Great Food Truck Race within a month of when I moved to Koreatown. Yet, I have never had the chance to try their food. Their bricks and mortar shop is in a different part of Koreatown and whenever I have seen their truck in my part of town it has been closed.

Seoul Sausage truck

When I heard that they were heading up the Food Truck Alley portion of the Ktown Night Market, I figured it would be really bad foodie form to miss the chance to finally try them. The pot was sweetened when it turned out that they were bringing two other Great Food Truck Race winners,Grill ‘Em All and The Lime Truck, with them to the event.

Clearly,I was not the only Los Angeles foodie that didn’t want to miss out because, after waiting all that time just to get into the Ktown Night Market,I then joined another mega line to order from the Seoul Sausage truck.

Ktown Night Market food truck line

Positioning the headlining truck at the entrance to the food truck area did create a bit of a bottleneck. There were barely any lines for any of the other food trucks but the behemoth line for Seoul Sausage made it appear that the whole of Food Truck Alley was a cluster of intimidating lines. Yet, the foodies filed behind each other to get their fix.  It was fun playing ‘spot the other food bloggers’ game with myself while I waited.

Seoul Sausage Great Food Truck Race

Once I did finally get up the ordering window, I was a bit bummed to see that the Galbi Beef sausage was already sold out. Since it was only an hour into the Ktwon Night Market, I’m hoping that was a case of it never being on offer that day in the first place rather than having planned that poorly.

With the Galbi Beef Sausage unavailable, the only straight out sausage available was the Spicy Pork. As I frequently mention, I am a spice heat wimp but I had waited that long in the line for the chance to try something from their truck and it felt like if you were going to have one thing from the Seoul Sausage truck that it should be an actual sausage. So, I took the risk and ordered the Spicy Pork Sausage.

Seoul Sausage Spicy Pork

I would love to be showing you great food porn shots of the sausage but my camera flaked out and took weird double images of all the shots I took.  Which is a pity particularly because it would have been good to be able to show the deep red color of the inside of the sausage. It looked like it really should be mega spicy.

As it turned out, there was certainly a level of heat brought to the pork sausage from the Korean spices but it was just enough to tingle my tongue rather than blow my head off. Pairing the sausage with an apple cabbage slaw was a good choice. The sweet and slightly tangy slaw was delicious and both complimented the flavors of the sausage and tamed the heat.

I wanted to try their rice balls too but there were other food trucks to explore.

The Lime Truck

My next stop was The Lime Truck.  After waiting nearly an hour to get to the Seoul Sausage truck, it felt great to walk right up to a window and order. Though, it did make me wonder how they felt about the imbalance of the lines. I suppose they knew that the Korean fusion slanted trucks were going to have an advantage.

Lime Truck Food Truck

Foodie circles have praised The Lime Truck’s Carnitas Fries. So, I decided that would be the dish I tried from their truck.  The dish is a pile of fries topped with pulled pork, crema, guacamole,chipolte honey slaw and cotija cheese.

All of the toppings were very yummy indeed. The fries themselves were pretty nondescript but I suppose with that much going on on top of them they didn’t have to be doing too much of the work. A bit of seasoning on them would have been good but even with that said, I’d happily order them again.

Carnitas Fries Lime Truck

I feel a bit like I left my foodie side down but not trying anything from Grill ‘Em All.  Creative burgers that are named after musicians? Yeah, that kind of has me written all over it. The problem was though that they were a cash only truck and at $9 a burger that would have wiped out most of my cash. Apparently there were ATMS at the Ktown Night Market but I didn’t see any in the Food Truck Alley  area. Something which cost Grill ‘Em All a sale and me the chance to taste those great sounding burgers.

Grill 'Em All truck

Another thing that was missing from the food truck area was anywhere to sit to eat. Which would have been fine if there wasn’t a big dining tent on the other side of the fairground with the junk food stalls you see at every public event.

It did make for some interesting people watching though as folks tried to find the easiest way to eat their food truck delicacies in some sort of comfort.

Ktown Night Market

Ktown Night Market

Ktown Night Market

Ktown Night Market

Ktown Night Market

Ktown Night Market

If they keep the selection of food trucks interesting, I’ll be sure to be at the next Ktown Night Market event too. Though, I will probably try to be there as soon as it opens so that I don’t have to stand in that huge line to get in.  A line which, by the time I left, had easily grow three times the length. Yikes but job well done to the Ktown Night Market publicity team.

02/22/14

Philly cheeseteaks in Koreatown?

Today is a day where I am really feeling the distance part of a long distance relationship. We are working hard to close the gap.  Resumes have been going out and applications have been filled out in hopes that Chris can find a job down here and be in Los Angeles on a permanent basis. I know at heart that he will eventually be here but until then there are times when it is difficult to not be around  the person that I love.

Much of my life feels like a series of long distance relationships. Not just with people but also with places. When I lived in London, I would get a bit homesick for the States. Now that I am back in the States, there are times when I miss London and my British friends so much that it hurts. Then there is my relationship with the Philadelphia area.

To some extent, we are all products of where we grew up. My formative years took place in Bucks County, Pennsylvania which is not too far outside of Philadelphia. I haven’t lived in the area for nearly 18 years but yet there are times when I miss the culture of the area.  Philadelphia food is a big part of those homesick moments.

Which goes some way to explain why I was happy when  I noticed that a new cheesesteak place was opening in my part of Koreatown. For several weeks, there was a mystery as to what was going into the newly renovated space on the corner of Oxford and 6th.

We were driving by one afternoon when I saw a sign sitting in the door way that had the word ‘Whiz’ between a bun.Chris would have to confirm it but I may have actually squealed.

Whiz finally opened in Koreatown this week and I couldn’t resist checking it out.

From the outside,Whiz looks pretty good. Before they began their renovations,the space they are in was abandoned and a bit of an eyesore. I presume,they are responsible for repainting the storefronts of all the shops on that block to look uniform. It makes everything look so much better and helps to create the street corner joint they are trying to portray.

Whiz Koreatown

What I didn’t know before today was that is that the people behind Whiz in Koreatown are the same folks that run the nearby (and rather excellent) Beer Belly. I knew that there was a Philadelphian on the staff at Beer Belly. So, that does make sense but honestly, my brilliant power of deduction didn’t kick in until I noticed that it Jimmy Han taking my order.

Jimmy Han Whiz

Koreatown Whiz

I’m guessing other people already knew because the place was packed. It also shows that the areas has been aching for a place to get good fast food that is outside the Asian flavor profile.

Whiz is smart to be offering burgers as well as cheesesteaks on their menu. Carls Jr, a street away, is the only burger joint within blocks and is only ever a last resort if I have an unbeatable craving for a burger. The price point for the burgers at Whiz aren’t that far off the Six Dollar Burgers and they can’t possibly be worse tasting.

whiz cheesesteak koreatown

Burgers will have to be another day though because on my first visit to Whiz it was all about the cheesesteak.  I placed my order for their signature Whiz Wit cheesesteak and fries.

cheesesteak hoagie whiz koreantown

Perhaps if I didn’t know that Whiz had connections to Beer Belly I would be less critical of the fries. There was nothing particularly wrong with them but they were pretty much just fries. Beer Belly is the home of the famous duck fat fries which end up on just about everybody’s list of the best fries in Los Angeles.  So, just a normal fry feels like a bit of a disappointment.

fries whiz koreatown

As I said though, it was all about the Whiz Wit. The Whiz Wit is a Philly cheesesteak with grilled onions and housemade Cheese Wiz.

The cheesesteak from Whiz in Koreatown passed the first test by being on an Amoroso Roll. Forget about the meat and all the other elements, it isn’t a true Philly cheesesteak unless it is on an Amoroso Roll. There really is a difference.

I admit to being an Amoroso snob. If a place outside of the Philly area, just calls a cheesesteak a cheesesteak then I will cut them some slack. However, the moment they go the whole way and call it a Philly cheesesteak than it has to be on an Amoroso Roll. Period.

cheesesteak whiz koreatown

I’m happy to report that Whiz got their Philly cheesesteak just about right. The meat was chopped well and tasted good. The housemade Cheese Wiz was tasty. A compliment since I am normally part of the anti-whiz camp of Philadelphians.  Together, it all tasted pretty good.

However, there is room for improvement. What I have found from a lot of cheesesteaks I have had outside of Philly stands true for Whiz as well. The cheesesteaks are too dry. The Amorso Roll can stand up to meat juices and lots of gooey cheese. You should have to wipe your chin after taking your first bite and that just isn’t the case here.  Back home, I rarely put ketchup on my cheesesteaks but on several occasions, I found myself dipping my Whiz Wit.

It was still yummy and it is early days for Whiz. I’ll cross my fingers that they juice up the steaks a bit more and become the best Philly cheeseteak in Los Angeles.

There is a bunch of stuff other than traditional cheesesteaks on the Whiz Menu that look interesting. The Bacon American cheesesteak sounds intriguing. Hoagies that are actually called hoagies rather than a sub has my interest peaked too.

I think next on the list for me is going to have to be the Balls O’Bacon meatball sub. I overheard Jimmy telling somebody that was the sleeper item on the menu. So, I need to get my hipster on and tell everybody that I tried it before it was cool.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Whiz. We are glad to have you.

 

Whiz Menu

whiz cheesesteaks menu

whiz koreatown menu

menu koreatown whiz

koreatown whiz menu