Eat Drink Style The Village Pet Store & Charcoal Grill - Banksy's The New Chef in New York City


One of my favorite artists has to be the political/controversial, underground street artist known as Banksy. Most consider his art vandalism, but I think it's pure genius. With over 500 counts of vandalism in less than a decade, it's obvious Banksy has something he really wants to tell you. A few years back, I went to his show in Los Angeles in the downtown warehouse district. I waited in a line with over 700 people along with Immaeatchu underneath the beating sun. But man, was it worth it. His biggest exhibit was a real elephant set within a living room environment. The elephant was painted with a brick pattern to match the actual warehouse brick walls. Banksy was addressing the issue of homelessness, saying that literally, "homelessness is something big that we choose to ignore."

This time, Banksy has hit something that you and I would be most interested in... food, or the lack of 'real food' or treatment of 'food'. Banksy rented out the space in a real pet store in Greenwich Village called "The Village Pet Store" and tacked on the 'charcoal grill' part for irony, as you will see in a few moments. He even hired people to work as store clerks to play the 'parts'. I haven't seen anything more genius. Enjoy. "The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill" is on display till Halloween.

I must admit that seeing the chicken mcnuggets really hit me but for processed meat like spam, I'm not sure I can veer away from that!

Eat Drink Style Currently working on Charts & Graphs...

in Hawaii! I'm prepared to engorge myself in Hawaii's good eats. I'll be back next week to provide a full report. Have a good week.

Eat Drink Style Lord of the Ribs - Manna Korean BBQ

Genghis Khan. A term that means “universal king”, was given to a young man named Temujin. Temujin was successful in uniting all Mongol Tribes in the year 1202. By the year 1227, Temujin had led the largest allied army in the world, invading Russia, China, Southern Asia and Eastern Europe. Quite a feat for one man. Amidst all the fighting, Genghis Khan must’ve stopped along the road and said, “Man, I’m f*&!king hungry.” Interestingly enough, if it wasn’t for the Mongolians, we wouldn’t have a few favorites within the Asian Culture.

During his reign, he invaded Northeastern Asia, which neighbors Shandong and Korea. Because the Mongolians were almost always on the road tormenting armies and villagers, it was hard to lug a kitchen stadium through the Gobi desert. So what was their oh-so-clever, response? Slap the metal shields over the campfire and grill meat. Thus we have Mongolian BBQ, which I assume led to everyone’s favorite, Korean barbeque. Another interesting fact. Genghis Khan went as far south as Vietnam and carried with him many types of spices. Two of them being cinnamon and star anise. And as we all know, what’s better than having soup in a cold winter after bludgeoning and dismembering a whole army. Soup! The Mongolians would use their helmets as pots and boil soup with their spices. Another assumption that the Vietnamese adapted this recipe to produce another favorite for hungover people, Pho! (Which uses star anise and cinnamon sticks.) Thank you Genghis for heavenly barbeque, shabu-shabu hot-pot and soup!

778 years later, people are still employing the genius cooking methods of Genghis Khan. Well at least the 11 of us were. As well as the owner of the unbelievable Manna Korean BBQ on Olympic Blvd. For $14.99, Manna unleashes a smorgasbord of all-you-can-eat-before-you-puke beef, pork and chicken.

On Friday, we all met up at 8:30 pm and waited a good 45 minutes before being seated. I seriously felt like I was in Asia. A canopy hung over a hall of 300+ carnivores, drinking, laughing and smoking. It was a beautiful scene of barbarianism.

We started off with the essentials: Hite. Lots of it. And let me tell you, the food may be $14.99, but Manna gets you on the alcohol. So drink in moderation. We had 3 grills to ourselves and 3 settings of baan chaan.

As soon as the beer started pouring, we caught eyes on the pink, marbled meat being brought to us. We ordered the kalbi beef, which did not come with bones, and thin-sliced beef (I think it’s ‘cha-dol-peggi’). The kalbi beef isn’t flavored and just tastes bland. Nix to that. The real stuff is the thin-sliced beef. I personally like it because it’s the same cut of beef from Yoshinoya. Only that Yoshinoya probably uses zebra meat. (Joke.) I stared to stuff my face with 5-6 slices of beef at a time, dipping it in the salt/pepper/sesame oil sauce generously.

Gary then told me the better way to eat it. Take the square-cut rice noodle and add beef, lettuce, bean paste and sesame oil. Eat it like a taco. Now that was good looking out. I figured I should trust the guy since he almost ate at Manna 3 times in one week. He’s currently on P.E.T.A.’s most wanted list.

A great joke to play on unsuspecting people is the erroneous birthday song. We picked the weakest, most vulnerable-to-clowning of the pack and told the waitress to sing him a song. Haha. And within 5 minutes, a terrible, Korean-techno version of “Happy Birthday” blared through the Radio Shack speakers. It was awful. And to think, someone ACTUALLY bought this off iTunes for $0.99. Our waitress then came out with a candle and cheap champagne. She lit the candle and shook up the bottle to give some to the birthday boy, but instead, ended up giving one of our other friend, Dan, a nice cheap-champagne bath. The next thing we know, the whole dining hall starts clapping and cheering for him. It was hilarious. Gosh, drunk people consider anything to be entertainment. They might as well have brought out some midgets and balloon-shaping clowns.

After 13 plates of beef, 21 beers and cheap champagne, our bill came out to about $33 a person. Manna is definitely one of the better Korean barbeque buffets. If you’re in Orange County, you can read up on Seoul Garden in Tustin. I think we did some major damage to Manna, as well as our stomachs. I won't get into the details of the rest of my night, but let's just say, my body hates me. The original plan was to go bowling. Yeah right. Half of us didn’t even know where the hell we were. We had been so disoriented by the exorbitant intake of beef. Our blood had rushed down to process the intestinal madness going on, leaving us quite comatose. I am not going back to Manna for a good year. The thought of beef is unpleasant right now.

But as we drove back to West LA, I looked up into the heavens, and I saw a helmet-and-axe-bearing, Asian man, smiling and giving me the thumbs up

Genghis Khan: “Good shit, huh?”
Me: “Yeah, good shit.”

Manna Korean BBQ
3377 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 733-8516

Eat Drink Style The Notorious N.R.M.

No, it’s not the latest rap act out on the streets talking about making some c$sh and getting some @$$. Just a lame excuse to dress up the acronym for one of my favorite Chinese noodle dishes. NRM stands for “Niu Ro Mian”, literally ‘beef-noodle’. Kirk of Mmm-Yoso! and I decided to do a synchronized post on NRM. Like Vietnamese Pho noodles, NRM recipes vary by province. For example, Shanghai style NRM is bloody spicy – with the soup almost looking like lava. I can’t handle the heat so I devised my own recipe. I took the common ingredients and I guess I made it more Cantonese style. The broth is a little bit sweeter, heavier on star anise and five spice powder. I usually judge the quality of a restaurant by their ability to prepare NRM. Same goes with a Vietnamese restaurant’s ability to make stellar Pho. If they can’t get that right, chances are, the other stuff on the menu won’t fare too well. But that’s just me.

Here are the ingredients I’ve used:

??? of water
2 lbs. of beef shank
2 cloves of garlic
5 slices of ginger
2 green onions (smashed the white part with my knife)
Shaoxing rice wine
soy sauce (used for flavoring)
dark soy sauce (used for coloring)
star anise
five spice powder (wu xiang fen)
salt & white pepper
black vinegar
chili bean paste

Kirk also uses similar ingredients, only he uses dried chili peppers and peppercorns. I should definitely try that next time once I develop an iron stomach.

Start by adding salt and white pepper on the cubed shank meat. Mix it in a bowl with a little bit of Shaoxing rice wine, dark soy sauce and oil. Let that marry in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Heat up the pan and make sure it’s smoking hot. Add oil, garlic, ginger slivers and green onions, and let it brown for 1 minute. Add the marinated meat and cook till it’s a dark brown color. Fill up the pot with water and boil it on high heat. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium. You’ll start to see a raft of impurities floating on top. This is where you have to baby the NRM and check upon it every 15-20 minutes. You don’t wanna be drinking the ‘floaties’.

Next add soy sauce to taste, star anise, five spice powder and let this boil for 3-4 hours. I usually start cooking this pretty late at night, so I have to cook this over two days. So, a total of about 6-8 hours, depending on how tender you want the beef to be. Now after a few hours of boiling, the water will obviously evaporate, so you’ll have to keep refilling the water. This is my preference. Some people like to keep the soup a little bit thicker and full-tasting. Garnish with green onions, cilantro, Chinese pickled vegetables and hot sauce. Add your favorite greens on top and let it cook in the broth.

This is not the type of NRM you’d see at a restaurant. Kirk’s definitely looks way more authentic, and I’d suggest you try his before you try mine haha. But, if it helps, I have plenty of satisfied customers including my family. I like my soup less stocky and full of flavor. If you like a thicker broth, add corn starch to the beef marinade before you brown the meat. I also prefer thick 1/4” dried noodles over the skinny, spaghetti style noodles you’ll sometimes see at a restaurant.

In addition to making NRM, I have to have my side dishes – Chinese ‘Baan Chan’. A popular favorite is the spicy, garlic cucumbers. Simply use Persian, Japanese or hot house cucumbers or pickles and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Add salt, white pepper, garlic (lots!), chili bean paste (any kind of hot sauce will do) and sesame oil to taste. If it’s too salty, counter balance it with some sugar.

Same goes with another one of my favorites, shredded bean curd. Garnish with cilantro and thin slices of carrots. If you like rice vinegar, it’s a good addition.

This is a great dish to have during the winter. And during hangovers. Enjoy.

Eat Drink Style A Neighbor In Need

Ever since I moved into West LA, I made it a point to try and meet as many of my neighbors as I could. You know, just in case, I make a little too much noise after a night of partying, they’re less inclined to call the cops. My one neighbor, Luke, is probably the most hilarious and interesting of them all. Born in Michigan, he moved to LA to pursue a career as an actor. How cliché. He and I run into each other at the oddest times, usually late at night. It’s true, the freaks do come out at night. I’ll be smoking outside and he’ll be walking down the street, usually equipped with a trucker hat and unusual, artery-clogging snacks from 7/11 up the street. We often hangout on the curb, drink beers and talk about important things in life: like women. He had been dating a girl from San Diego and told me that their relationship, sadly, only existed through the phone because of a priority conflict. A few weeks ago, he came by and knocked on my door with a serious look.

“Hey man, what’s up?”
“What’s up?”
“So you know that SD girl I was telling you about?”
“Well she’s finally coming down to see me and I wanna do something nice for her.”
“Like what?”
“I wanna make her dinner at my place.”
“What’s wrong with the 7/11 hot dogs? Haha.”
“%*$# you. Haha.”
“Let’s do it.”

So he came over later that week and I told him we could do a practice run. She liked chicken so I wanted to pick something tasty, yet easy to cook. I didn’t want him to risk burning down his kitchen. I suggested Prosciutto & Cheese Stuffed Chicken with a White wine, shallot sauce served with grilled asparagus (my favorite) and basmati rice from Trader Joe’s.

Most people have a fear in using chicken breasts because of its tendency to taste dry and bland. But if it’s seared in a pan and thrown in the oven, it’s super tender and flavorful. I don’t suggest pan-frying chicken breasts, but if you do, cut them in half so that you get two thin pieces of breast meat. Cut a slit on the side of the breast and stuff it with two pieces of prosciutto and one slice of provolone cheese. Salt and pepper both sides and sear them in a skillet. (Go easy on the salt, the prosciutto and cheese have plenty of sodium as it is.) As soon as it’s browned, flip the breasts and throw it in the oven. 375 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, and once it’s done, let it sit outside so that the juices are re-distributed.

For the sauce, deglaze the skillet with any kind of white wine and scrape up the flavored bits from the chicken. Add some shallots and butter (garlic if you like), and let the sauce reduce. If you’re impatient like me, just add some flour and use a whisk to dissolve the flour. Add sugar if the sauce is too sour. This dish took no more than an hour to prepare and was pretty good. Most of all, Luke was able to pick it up pretty quickly. Not only did I get free food, I got a six pack for helping him out. I’d say that’s a fair trade.

A few days later, I saw Luke.

“So, how’d it go?”
“It went well.”
“She didn’t throw up right?”
“So you guys had a good time?”
“Yeah we did.”
“So when did she leave?”
A smile quickly formed on his face.
“The next morning.”

I nearly shed a tear in joy.

Eat Drink Style Anthony Bourdain: A Lunch to Remember

Anthony Bourdain Thai Town Noodle Whore

It's really a nice feeling when you get noticed for doing something you love. In my case, it's writing about noodles and food, in general. Two weeks ago, I got a call from the producer of Anthony Bourdain's show "No Reservations". If you haven't caught a glimpse of the show, the show follows the fearless chef/writer as he eats the unique foods of the world. In Indonesia, he ate Penis Noodle Soup. In Vietnam, he ate porcupine. In Europe, he ate the head cheese of a sheep. The list goes on. The producers came across my Noodle Whore site and read the review on a coffee shop in Thaitown that serves up some of the best Thai Boat Noodles in Los Angeles. The quirk factor: a broth made with cow's blood. After two weeks of correspondence, they asked me to be his sidekick at the Sapp Coffee Shop. Hmm, lemme think about it.

Two weeks later, I found myself leaving work for what would be a very, long lunch break. All the information I had researched on Thai Boat Noodle soup began spinning around my head like a laundry load in a washing machine. I said forget it, I'm just gonna have to play it by ear. I got to Thai Town about 15 minutes early. I stood outside my car and smoked a cigarette and again, started to think about what I would say. I felt like I was doing a last minute run-through on a college final/midterm. I grabbed my backpack which contained my chef coat and 3 books for him to sign. I started to walk down, staring aimlessly down the street. Within a few steps, I started to notice a very familiar figure: a tall, slender, grey-haired man wearing a black leather jacket, puffing away on a cancer stick... Anthony Bourdain. All of a sudden, I wasn't nervous anymore. I felt calm and relaxed. I walked directly to him and introduced myself and met the producers who were setting up the cameras.

We then walked into the restaurant which had about 5 occupied tables. All of them oblivious to what was going on because they were too busy inhaling their food. We picked a table and I was then mic'd up. *Note: you may not see it on the shows, but everyone is wearing a tiny mic that clips on to the underside of your shirt with the receiver tacked on to your belt like an old Motorola Bravo pager. We then decided on the dishes we would be ordering and took our seats. Mmm, Thai Boat Noodle soup and Pork Noodle soup. Anthony then stood up and said to me, "See you in a few minutes". He stood up and walked outside of the restaurant to film the shot of him walking into Sapp Coffee Shop. I sat there and took a deep breath and all of a sudden... pure silence. I turned around and gave one last look at everyone in the restaurant. The cameraman stood next to me, anticipating Anthony's entrance. The patrons, who really didn't give a f*ck about what was going on, were still inhaling their food. The crew sat in the back table also waiting for the camera to roll. The restaurant staff stood behind their counters holding menus. I then looked at the window of the neighboring store for a reflection and saw Anthony approaching. Here we go.

AB: "Hello Dylan, how's it going?"
Me: "Hey Anthony, how's it going?"

The waitress then came up to us and handed us menus. We ended up ordering the Thai Boat Noodle soup and the pork version of it, which includes pork blood. From there, a 20-minute conversation began. What are we eating? What's the story behind this dish? What's in it? What's up with the strip malls? What's up the 'C' rating? What do you do for a living? What kind of noodles do you like? Blah, blah, blah. I could tell Anthony liked the noodles. Not only was he building up a sweat, he actually finished a bowl of noodles before I did. People that know me, know that I inhale, rathen than eat. It was so weird eating next to him. Each few bites, he let out a moan of satisfaction in the food. This guy really eats anything and everything. When the camera wasn't rolling, I took every opportunity to ask him questions. I told him that my friends and I had tried to do the same things he did in Osaka, Japan. I asked him about the importance of blood in French cooking. I asked him about his experience in China. Just a few of the many questions I fired at him.

Me: "How do you like the food?"
AB: "This is good stuff. Americans really underestimate the power of blood as a thickening/flavoring agent."

As soon as he was done with the Thai Boat Noodle soup, the cameras stopped rolling. Before he could leave, I pulled out my chef coat and books and kindly asked for his autograph. I asked him to draw his trademark chef/skull logo which is displayed in his book, The Les Halles Cookbook and in tattoo form. You can see it in one of the Miami Ink episodes. I held the chef coat and folded it neatly back into backpack. And before I knew it, Anthony stood up, shook my hand, took a photo and quietly put his black blazer back on and was out the door back to his hotel. Wow, very cool.

Anthony Bourdain is someone I highly respect. After reading his Kitchen Confidential novel, I knew I wanted to try my hand as a cook/caterer. He's funny, drinks, smokes and is probably more open-minded than anyone out there when it comes to food. He's the anti-Food Network celebrity and is a true badass. Most of all, I admire the fact that he knows how to enjoy life, and will never stop pursuing it until the day he dies.

Thank you Anthony Bourdain for your time, this means a lot to me. Thanks to everyone for reading.

"No Reservations" Season 3 will air sometime in January and will feature the Sapp Coffee Shop segment including Phillipe's French Dip and many other LA establishments. Eat here soon before it gets crowded. It's good!

Eat Drink Style A Good Time for Thai

My father’s side of the family comes from Laos and Thailand. And with them, they brought an interesting addition to the, already vast, world of Asian cuisine. My parents trained us to develop a Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese palate, and to this day, I’m still preparing myself for chicken feet at dim sum restaurants. Or even live octopus. Maybe if it was included in the final stage in one of those Fear Factor episodes with an open view of $5,000 in a briefcase, then… maybe.

It’s always interesting to visit other countries and see what they like to eat. Especially with snacks. When my sister and I were younger, we often got dumped off at the relatives while my parents ran errands. Because they were immigrants, they were obviously not going to be stocked with ‘safe’, American-made snacks for us to munch on. Not a single sight of Funyuns, Corn Nuts or candy. It was always something bizarre like, Calbee shrimp chips, cuttlefish jerky or dried salted prunes in a plastic, heart-shaped container. If you could just imagine the sour face I wore for a good amount of years. I actually grew to love these kind of snacks, but my elementary school classmates didn’t. My pack of seaweed, haw flakes, white rabbit candy, cuttlefish snacks and soy bean milk were never even considered for trade. I usually just got a lot of odd glares from them, as they lunched on Doritos, Fig Newtons and Capri-Sun. Bastards.

Well, when you’re stuck in a foreign land, you’ve gotta adjust somehow. Time to borrow MacGyver’s brain. A-ha. At my aunt’s house, there was an endless supply of Kung-Fu instant noodles – the ones that come with a beef-flavored packet that were strategically placed to give the noodles a ‘food-like’ taste. Brilliant. We’d then crunch up the noodles while the bag was still sealed and made sure the noodles were crushed into bite-sized morsels of crap. Sauce time. First went the food-flavored powder. Then the spicy powder. Shook it up and shared the wealth with everyone. I remember going thru a good three to four packs in one day.

Laos borders Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The languages are similar in tones, as with Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese. Almost all Southeast Asian countries shared the same ingredients in the kitchen. Fish sauce and shrimp paste being the most common. And let me tell you, this stuff is STILL pungent in my opinion. My palate has definitely grown but nothing can prepare you for the dual potency of fish sauce and shrimp paste -- combined. And you’ll be glad to know it’s in the ever-so-popular Thai Papaya Salad.

It was only recently, that I started to eat more and more Laotian and Thai food. For 20 years I stared at my relatives in disbelief as they ate fish mixed with coconut milk, eggplant with shrimp paste, etc. You get the picture.

So now that I spend a good amount of the week cooking, I thought I’d cook a sympathetic meal for the ones I gawked at. The Chinese partake in a ritualof presenting actual dishes of food in the backyard, called "Bai-Sun", for the ancestors to eat, as a gesture of respect. I guess I’m doing the same, only I don’t have any incense sticks on me at this time. It’s my way of saying, “Oops, I’m sorry I disrespected your food. Maybe I should’ve tried the food when I had the chance, because now, I love it.”

I started out with Thai chicken curry. A great dish that leaves a spicy, yet satisfying coat of heat inside your stomach. I used regular chicken leg meat and marinated that with fish sauce, white pepper, sugar, corn starch and rice wine. After 30 minutes in the fridge, I fried the chicken and added Thai curry powder (available at all markets. You can even use Indian curry.) I threw in some garlic, Thai chilies, red bell pepper, basil leaves, onions and sautéed them till they still had some bite to it. Then I added some coconut milk and fish sauce and let it simmer for 30 minutes. That’s it.

This next one is a take on the popular Chinese dish, Sauteed Green Beans with Garlic and Chilies. In Cantonese, it’s ‘gon-bean-say-gwai-dao’ (sautéed, four-season green beans). I deep fried the beans for about 30 seconds, took them out and patted them dry. I then sautéed some ground pork, Thai chilies, garlic and green onions. Instead of just using salt, the Thai recipe calls for fish sauce. Warning: turn on your overhead fan. Heat and fish sauce are not good.

Almost every country in Asia will have soup noodles. Thai cuisine is big on beef ball noodle soup. In most Thai restaurants, you can find the Thai Boat noodle soup. It got its name from villagers that would make a living by providing a kitchen on water. If you’re hungry, you simply flag down your ‘restaurant’ and they’ll pull right up to you and serve it right there. Kind of like a roach coach that is at your mercy. Here, I simply made a broth with fish sauce, chicken bouillon, sugar, white pepper and fried shallots. I used Vietnamese ‘banh pho’ rice stick noodles.

For appetizers, I made two types of salad: Papaya salad and Thai beef salad. Both of which use the same ingredients pretty much. Luckily at my 99 Ranch Market in SGV, I can buy pre-grated papaya. Only $0.79/lb! I’m not about to buy a machete and hack my way at the papaya. I mixed micro-planed garlic (if you’re a regular on my blog, you’ll see that ‘micro-plane’ term a lot. I love this tool.), lime, chopped-up Thai chilies, crushed red pepper flakes, fish sauce, shrimp paste and white onions into the grated papaya. Mix it up and throw it in the fridge. I personally think it tastes better cold. For the Thai beef salad, I used all of the fore-mentioned ingredients EXCEPT garlic and shrimp paste, and added green onions. I used round steak and cooked it in the oven till it was pink in the very center. I sliced it up and let it cool off and hand-squeezed any remaining blood. Mix it up and chill as well.

My last dish is a simple pork mixture that has fish sauce, pickled vegetable and one egg on top. Simply steam that for 30-45 minutes and devour.

By the way, I used way too many chilies. My stomach is KILLING me. Thanks for reading. Thai noodles such as pad kee mow, pad thai and laat nah (raat nah) are next on my plate.