Mendocino Farms

I used to be one of those people who distrusted people who were (what I considered) overly nice to me. It’s a good thing I grew out of that, because this place has stellar customer service.

Now, for those of you that don’t already know me well, sandwich assembly is one of the few things I get snobby and elitist about. But, it’s not coming from my ego. It’s because I grew up on my mom’s expertly assembled sandwiches, with even distribution to all edges and structural integrity (a favorite term of hers). And of course they are delicious. 

Kurobota Pork Belly Bành Mì

“So what are you doing for lunch today?” “I’m just brown baggin it. With this here $12 sandwich.”


This sandwich was, as you can see, well assembled. That surprised me given how fast it came out after ordering. The overall flavor profile is basically that of a Westernized bành mì, perhaps due to a lighter pickling on the vegetables, but therich and not overly hoisin-y pork belly itself was excellent. The ciabatta proved to be a worthy vehicle for the filling, as well as a neat window into an alternate Italian Indochina history.

A solid 10/10.

As good as this sandwich was, it didn’t really do anything for the curious squirrel. 

 

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Star BBQ (Byul Daepo – Star BBQ)

I first went to Star BBQ as a Japanese final exam celebration (as in, after we took the test) with a group such as one often sees around Irvine and Garden Grove—white people (including me), a couple Taiwanese people, Japanese, Korean, African-American, Indian—and we weren’t even the most diverse group eating there. We had decided to go here on the recommendation of one of the Korean guys, who also seemed to know someone who worked there.

Jump forward a year or a year and a half and now I’m with another group of friends looking for a good place to have a KBBQ reunion dinner. I suggested this place and related the story from above, and they all agreed.

We were there to celebrate, so we sprung for the $19.99/person menu. This was the first wave:

Beef tongue, brisket, pork belly, and bulgogi.

Brisket, beef tongue, pork belly, and bulgogi.

The menu is far too large for 4 people to try everything in one visit, but we certainly ate our share that night—beef belly, abomasum (4th stomach of a cow), spicy chicken, black pork belly, more bulgogi, a couple of other meats, and two very nice beef tenderloins to finish.

Beef belly, black pork belly, bulgogi, and beef tenderloins.

Beef belly, black pork belly, bulgogi, and beef tenderloin. The “tenderloin” looks more like the whole loin, but it was really good.

Several bottles of Kooksoondang Draft Makkoli, a rice wine, were also consumed. Makkoli was originally made by and for farmers, but it’s been in fashion with Korean 20-somethings/cocktalians/students for some time now. This brand is unique because it comes out of the bottle carbonated—it’s made to replicate Makkoli as it’s served on tap in Korea—though it has a shelf life of just 2-3 months.

Before we had even finished eating, we all agreed that this was the best KBBQ we’ve ever had. We ended up leaving a note for our exceptional waitress, but of course we didn’t leave without partaking of the free frozen yogurt, available in two flavors. I think they change, but that night the two options were “pineapple” and “tart.”

We all opted for the "mixed" option.

We all got the “mixed” option.