Tokyo Fried Chicken Co. (Monterey Park, CA)

Tokyo Fried Chicken Co.
122 S Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Dining date: 4/11/14

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Tokyo Fried Chicken Co. garnered plenty of attention when it first opened (almost a year ago) for its fried chicken and Japanese-accented side dishes. Long waits for its no-reservation tables kept me away at first; like most restaurants, the initial buzz died down and a table became much more manageable. Monterey Park seemed like as good a place as any to open up an Asian-slanted fried chicken shop.

While a la carte is available, most order ‘chicken dinner sets’ at a not unreasonable $12.50 per person. It turns out to be about 2-3 pieces per person, a side to share and a bowl of chicken rice. Hungrier eaters can supplement with additional ~$2 for wing/drumstick, $3.50 for a thigh and $6.25 for a breast. Our party of 6 ordered a large chicken set with some supplemental side dishes.

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Bachi Burger (Las Vegas, NV)

Bachi Burger
470 E Windmill Ln
Las Vegas, NV 89123
Dining date: 5/10/14

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I’ve heard rave reviews about Bachi Burger and it definitely shot up on a list of Las Vegas restaurants to try off-strip. The restaurant is primarily known for its unique take on the burger with some Asian twists; the most notable may be its Shogun Burger with unagi, foie gras, and Asian fruits pairing with a traditional beef patty. Sounds good enough for me. On this most recent LV trip for Vegas Uncork’d, our family went to the original location for our last meal before heading home (it’s pretty close to the airport).

The restaurant’s success has led to a second Bachi Burger in the Las Vegas area, as well as consistent rumors of a location in the Los Angeles area. Sister concepts Shoku Ramen and Bachi Healthy Life Kitchen round out the group’s concepts. Shoku Ramen is actually next door and shares a wall, so their ramen-centric menu is on offer within this location of Bachi Burger. Our party of 7 was able to try quite a bit of the menu including one of the ramen.

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Kali Dining (Los Angeles, CA)

Kali Dining
Various Locations
Dining date: 6/8/14

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Kali Dining is one of the more well-known of the underground dinners in Los Angeles having been around for a couple of years now. Kevin Meehan is the chef behind the concept, who spent time in the kitchens of L’Orangerie and Bastide and most recently served as Executive Chef of downtown’s Cafe Pinot.

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With Kali Dining, Meehan takes his fine dining background and brings it to a much more casual atmosphere. Dinners have popped up in a number of locations around the city, primarily in downtown and on the Westside. My recent visit was to a dinner at a downtown artist’s loft; it was a gorgeous place for a pop-up dinner, where a communal table sat 20 strangers. All of the Kali Dining dinners are BYOB, ~5 courses, with a recommended minimum donation of $65pp.

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Sweets Raku (Las Vegas, NV)

Sweets Raku
5040 W Spring Mountain Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89146
Dining date: 5/8/14

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Raku has consistently grown in popularity in recent years, drawing a lot of attention for its off-strip izakaya. Known for a while as a local/insider spot that a lot of chefs visited, it’s really blown onto the scene even having an appearance on the current season of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. Its success has led to the opening of a dessert shop located in the same plaza – Sweets Raku. Raku is a tough act to follow, but reviews of Sweets Raku have been very strong in its first year.

13 seats surround a pristine white bar with two tables that seat four each. It’s an intimate spot, and each bar seat comes with a full view of dessert preparations. The restaurant’s attention to detail is on display, kind of reminding me of e by Jose Andres. However, this is an entirely different experience and meal.

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POT (Los Angeles, CA)

POT
The Line Hotel
3515 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Dining date: 4/30/14

So far, Roy Choi’s restaurants have represented a number of cuisines/concepts from Korean-Mexican fusion to Caribbean to Asian rice bowl-centric Chego, but POT is his first deep dive into Korean cuisine. POT is one of a few concepts Choi is in charge of at the new Line Hotel in Koreatown, which also includes the bar (in collaboration with Matthew Biancaniello), cafe and room service.

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The name of the restaurant is sure to get a rise out of many, but it’s a play on words for the restaurant’s focal dish – Korean hot pots. Approximately eight are offered at any point in time – some vegetarian, some with seafood, some with offals. Something for everyone, really, as long as the hot & spicy pots are your thing. Dozens of other Korean items complete the menu with a lot of variety.

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Yusho (Las Vegas, NV)

Yusho
Monte Carlo Resort and Casino
3770 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 5/7/14

Yusho is one of the more notable openings in Las Vegas this year at the Monte Carlo. A Chicago transplant, Yusho’s original location became popular for its concept inspired by a Japanese noodle house/yakitori shop. Matthias Merges, who worked almost a decade and a half under Charlie Trotter, went a completely different route from his fine dining background for this one. Ramen, of course, is on the menu, as well as a number of grilled and fried items and a handful of steamed buns. The restaurant is very casual, colorful and playful. I was invited in, bringing my parents along to try.

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