Quick Eats: Tofu Ya

Restaurant: Tofu Ya

Location: 2021 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, Ca 90025. 310-473-2627.

Date: Jan 06, 2011

Cuisine: Korean BBQ & Tofu Soup


Some friends of mine wanted Korean for lunch so I found this Westside place on Zagat (it was the best rated west of the 405 at 23 for food). Boy, is this place a great value! And good to boot. I’m not nearly as experienced a Korean eater as I am at Japanese, but this was certainly very tasty.

The tiny little Sawtelle shop front. Random Thursday afternoon at 12:30 and there was a 20 minute wait. An excellent sign.

The simple menu. Besides the ubiquitous BBQ meats this place seems to specialize in “soft tofu.” I didn’t know it exactly by this name, but this is my favorite kind of tofu. I’ve often gotten this in Japan. Served differently, but the same tofu. We’ll see some of it in a bit.

Not a big joint. Smells like BBQ meat. Yum!

The usual spread of small Korean dishes. Kimchi, sprouts, noodles, spicy marinated cucumbers, marinated tofu, eggs, etc.

The spicy tofu soup. I should have gotten a picture after the bubbles settled down. The soup is filled with lots of “soft tofu,” beef, and various seafood. I ordered it medium spicy and it wasn’t very hot by my standards, pleasant though. The soft tofu is that kind of medium-firm off-white tofu that has a luscious smooth texture.

It comes out sizzling. Click on this picture above to see a video of it going nuts.

Steamed rice.

Bibimbap. I’ve always liked this dish. Various veggies and meats. You jump the above steamed rice in.

Then add korean red sauce and stir.

Looks like this. Tastes good.

Galbi. Beef ribs, marinated to perfection and BBQed.

Bulgogi. More or less the same thing, but with no bones, and onions. After awhile the onions caramelized. Beef and cooked onions always goes well together. Full as I was, I could have eaten two plates of this stuff.

Teriyaki Chicken.

The tiny prep area.

Quick Eats: Chan Dara

Restaurant: Chan Dara

Location: 11940 W. Pico Blvd. (1/2 blk East of Bundy) West Los Angeles, CA 90064Phone: 310 479-4461

Date: December 19, 2010

Cuisine: Thai

Rating: Very good modernized Thai


Chan Dara is one of those funny places that doesn’t exactly fit the model of the traditional ethnic joint (which food-wise, it is). It has a bit more decor than the typical Thai place might, and it has a full bar and TVs running the game. But basically, this is a well run and reliable Thai restaurant with a big menu. Going with the decor, things are a little more Americanized, which is fine for most of my fellow diners, as a very traditional Thai place can be VERY spicy and/or use a lot of fish sauce.

Red wine doesn’t really go with Thai. My last bottle of this drier riesling. To me it tastes like flowers. “Lush lime scents are found in the delightful aromatics of the 1998 Riesling Cuvee Theo. This is a well-structured, pure, suave, concentrated, dense, yet elegant wine. Loads of spices, minerals, and fresh, crisp white fruits can be found in this chewy textured, medium-bodied offering. Projected maturity: 2002-2008.”

The very reliable chicken and beef satay. I love the juicy beef satay here. The sweet/spicy peanut sauce is great too, and the pickles.

Saigon,” roles. These soft rice crepe rolls are stuffed with various veggies. It’s all in the sweet sauce though.

Tom-Yum-Goong. The classic chili, lemongrass broth with mushrooms and shrimp. Given the cold and rainy day a little soup hit the spot.

Crispy Veggie rolls. My toddler’s favorite — well if you discount the rice crackers.

The sides for the coming dish.

Beef kabob on fire.

And here is the fire.  They dump some Bacardi 151 on top and light. Despite the show, the meat is wonderfully tender and has a great flavor.

Vegetarian pad Thai, with steamed tofu. This dish has the slightly exotic sweet/fishy tang that it is supposed to.

Pineapple duck curry. I love red currys, and this one is particularly good. Chunks of dark duck meat combine with the pinapple into a sweet/savory blend. Just a little heat (Chan Dara is a VERY mild Thai joint), but a lot of flavor.

Mango Salmon with cashews.  You can also see the coconut rice. Asian white rice is great, but a little coconut makes it even better. Then drench it in some red curry.

As usual, I ate too much.