Tag Archives: Korea

Hungry Eats… Ramen (Little Tokyo, Los Angeles)

If you read the title you know that there are a lot of good things going on so this has to end well. Hungry’s favorite soup and potentially his favorite food is ramen. Most of you are probably thinking why would Hungry love ramen; it’s not good for you and it’s disgusting. That’s what a lot of people I know say until I get them some real ramen. Ramen is a type of noodle popular in Asian cultures such as Japan and Korea.

You can find it in American supermarkets made by Maruchan and Top Ramen for anywhere from 15-25 cents a package. It’s almost completely nutritionally void or negative with dead calories and large amounts of sodium and abundant processing. But I love it. Ever since my sister ate ramen in high school, I have loved it. Luckily, I live a generally healthy lifestyle so I do not feel guilty or see the negative effects of eating it, even in excess, but you need to be careful consuming these supermarket brands (but the real stuff is okay!). BUT this all is going to be saved for another time because I didn’t mean to say this much about ramen. This is a restaurant review for Men Oh Tokushima Ramen in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles.

Little Tokyo

Little Tokyo (you can see Fit on the left corner!)

Daikokuya is the most popular ramen spot in Japangeles. It is always packed and it was very busy when we went with our party of 6. We decided to pass it up and continue to Men Oh because of reviews on Yelp. It is not in the main drag of Little Tokyo and is hidden in a strip mall so it can be hard to find. You need to find it. The 6 of us (Fit’s family and family friend) walked in the Sunday night before Memorial Day. It was empty but by the time we left it was completely full although it is small. The menu is tiny but I can assure you that nearly everything is amazing since we had nearly everything. Everything we had was amazing so we figure everything is just as good.

The Menu

The Menu

The atmosphere mimics a perfect, small ramen shop but not ramen stop. It was very clean and cute. The staff was organized, kind, professional and efficient. The food was ridiculously filling, delicious and cheap as dirt. It also was much healthier than your store-brand ramen. Their theme is ramen influenced by Tokushima Prefecture on the smallest of Japan’s 4 major islands, Shikoku Island. The industry here is based on raising pork so the ramen has broth heavily flavored by pork bones and filled with pork meat. We got 4 of their 3 ramen dishes available (custom) and all were nearly flawless. I was the only one with great ramen experience but even people having it for the first time were as thrilled as I was.

Awesome painting

Awesome painting

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My dish

My dish

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Fit's dish (without meat or pork broth)

Fit’s dish (without meat or pork broth)

I can’t say much more than this is the perfect spot. You get a cheap, delicious, and filling meal that is quickly served by an efficient and kind wait staff in a clean and enjoyable environment. We will go back whenever we can and bring whoever we can. Michelin might not give this place a star, but I certainly do. And that says a lot. Really. Hungry approved. More to come about my obsession and history with ramen in the future!

Hungry & Fit chowing down

Hungry & Fit chowing down

 

Double-fisting...finishing everybody else's broths

Double-fisting…finishing everybody else’s broths

Health and Fitness Reviews: King Spa (Fort Lee, NJ)

While I was in Korea, I spent a lot of time in a place known as a jjimjilbang. It’s essentially a spa, translates into heated bath room, but it’s unlike those I’ve found in the United States (Not that I go to many spas). Although King Spa is not as extravagant, in terms of activities to do, it is an excellent destination. Essentially I want to discuss these places so that you can look for one near you and experience something amazing.

It’s a treat for the body and mind. The ones in the United States, including King Spa, are ridiculously more expensive than those in all parts of Korea. I’ve stayed in ones in Seoul, Boryeong, Jukjeon, and Donghae. Maybe some others but I can’t really remember. I spent the most time in Jukjeon because it was so close to the school I attended so I frequented those jjimjilbang and they were obviously my favorite. But moving on to why they are so amazing.

King Spa

King Spa

At King Spa, you can park your car and enter the spa for a full day and night of peace and relaxation… and delicious food! Obviously the choice of food and television is Korean and there are mostly Korean Americans at King Spa, but you get other individuals that have discovered the magic within as well. They have lots of showers and different temperature baths. There is a nice warm one, a burning hot one, and a freezing cold one.

There are also equivalents for steam rooms. These are painfully hot. In my opinion, the main attractions are these dome like rooms that are typically made of mud that contain special scents and materials that help heal the body. These domes are also temperature controlled and they range from hundreds of degrees to freezing. Some rooms require wearing burlap sacks and some have snowmen in them. There are chairs for watching television and relaxing and rooms dedicated to complete sleep and relaxation. There are tons of delicious food to snack on and if you want to find out more about the food there… then make sure to read our review on Korea House in Boulder. Alana also gave her go at Korean food too.

I don’t want to go into too much depth because King Spa doesn’t have as much to offer as places in South Korea, but it is your responsibility to treat your body right. Find a spa like one of these and treat yourself to some rest, relaxation and recovery. It will make you healthier and stronger and such a happier person. Find a jjimjilbang if you want to stay hungry and fit!

Us at King Spa

This picture was AFTER all-you-can-eat sushi at around 11pm after no sleep from flying to NJ. But still happy

Bibimbap: Korea’s Perfect Meal

Let me start off by saying I’m pretty proud of myself for creating this dish tonight after a day’s worth of work and a workout. It took a good bit of work and time, but it was so worth it. Most of you are probably wondering…what in the heck is bibimbap? Well thanks to my Korean-obsessed partner, I am now blessed to the amazingness that is Korean food (and yes amazingness is a word). Bibimbap is basically mixed rice with vegetables, but is so much more. It really proves why and how Koreans are so healthy and why the obesity rate is so low there. I can’t wait to move to South Korea one day where this will be a regular meal.

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You can really make it your own, using a variety of vegetables and proteins. I used this recipe and this one as well, deciding from each what I wanted to do. Chris had a so-so day so I wanted to surprise him with a Korean dinner that he would really enjoy. Now that I know how to do it from heart, I believe I will be doing this on the regular (I know that makes Chris happy).

  • Prep Time (for n00bs like me): 20-40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Serves: 2.5 normal people (Chris isn’t normal)

It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but it really is a simple dish once you get the hang of it. Let’s first start off with a special sauce that is for non-spice people (Chris unfortunately can’t have spice). It’s easy and delicious.

Ingredients

  • 4 green onions
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame teriyaki 
  • 1 clove minced garlic 

Directions

  • Chop up the green onions and put into small bowl
  • Pour in the soy sauce
  • Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Stir well

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Now onto the good stuff– the bibimbap!

Ingredients

  • red cabbage
  • 2 small zucchini
  • bag of bean sprouts
  • spinach
  • 1 cup (uncooked) rice
  • 5 mushrooms (any kind)
  • 4 baby carrots (you can use regular)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Korean radish
  • sesame seeds
  • soy sauce
  • sesame sauce
  • garlic
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  • First off, I didn’t include cooking time of the rice. I did a running and core workout, so before I started that, I put the rice on ahead of time. DO THIS
  • Rinse your bean sprouts and cook them in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain them and season them with your special sauce and some salt

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  • Bring a pot of water to a boil (doesn’t need to be much water). Grab your spinach (whether it be a bunch or separate leaves) and put into boiling water for 1 minute. Take out and drain, run cold water over it, wring it out, then season with salt and sauce.

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  • Cut all your veggies into thin slices and sprinkle salt over  

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  • Separately, saute each veggie one by one [except for carrots] in pan over medium-high heat. You can use oil and garlic, or use the special sauce we created earlier to season and wet them. You only need to cook them for a few minutes to heat them up and infuse them with flavor.
  • You can either put them back on the cutting board OR have the rice ready in a wide bowl. Place the veggies in a circular fashion on the rice, leaving the middle open
Waiting for a few more ingredients..

Waiting for a few more ingredients..

  • For the carrots, just throw them in the hot pan for 30 seconds, so that they’re still crisp
  • For the last ingredient, throw your egg (or eggs if you’re making for two or more people) in the pan on medium heat. You want to cook it sunny side up (over easy). Put the egg in the middle
Ready to be eaten

Ready to be eaten

Pour the special sauce over the top for extra flavor. And that’s it! Not so hard, is it? It looks like a long list of ingredients, but once you get the hang of it, it can be done quickly (as I found out the next night–yes, I made this two nights in a row…red cabbage goes forever!). You can cycle a ton of different ingredients into this. Whatever you have or whatever is fresh at the market. Last night, I used green pepper, beets, and tofu as well as some from the night before.

A traditional way to do this is to serve it in a hot stone bowl, so that the rice gets crispy on the bottom. I did this style for Chris, but it was less attractive as it was a little too big. But that same fresh delicious FILLING flavor.

Chris' "plate"

Chris’ “plate”

It didn’t last long as we both dug in and watched Chopped All-Stars. I, of course, couldn’t finish it all so Chris ate his huge serving AND the rest of mine. Big surprise.

After we tore into it

After we tore into it

Enjoy! And use this recipe to…stay hungry and fit!

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Happy Birthday, Alana!

So, I failed Saturday because I was feeling lazy and Alana bailed me out, AND yesterday I was feeling sick and she didn’t bail me out. So here’s a few-days overdue post of our plans for Alana’s birthday and how they actually worked out. So basically…

We wake up on Saturday, September 8th and Alana is nearly 22 years old, American age. She’d be 23 in Korea. Now, she says she was born around 10 am Pacific time, so it’s not quite her birthday but that’s fine. So, actually at midnight, the night before, Alana opened her presents/cards from my family back home (thanks Mom, Dad, and Andrew for the check) and her family back home, thanks Kai for making so much and being so generous, and thanks mum and Dad for the jandals, tiger shirt, and being so generous. So, back to Saturday morning.

Marga invited us out for breakfast and we found ourselves at 10 a.m. at Tangerine on Iris and 28th. It was SOO busy so we knew it was a trendy spot with most-likely delicious food. Two minutes into the meal we got a surprise when Ben showed up. Ben and Marga got lattes, Alana got a chai, I drank water, and the food came out really quickly (it is breakfast food, but fancy). Alana got a vegetarian eggs benedict highlighted with pesto. The pesto was powerful and the eggs were cooked to perfection, along with some well seasoned taters. Marga got a prosciutto di parma wrapped egg-based dish, I think. It was really good and Ben eventually stole it because he wasn’t in the mood for his classic Belgian waffle with fruits and nuts on top. I couldn’t decide, because being a new pescatarian isn’t compatible at a breakfast place usually, and I got the flight of the pancakes, which is their sampler of three different pancakes. One was classic buttermilk, one was whole grain with some interesting toppings, and one was sweet with ricotta and blueberries on top. The maple syrup was good and by the end of the meal, after some plate passing, everything was finished off.

We sat around for a while and had some great conversation, about the democratic national convention and our political views. It is Boulder after all, so talking about politics was safe for us. Marga and Ben split the bill because they’re awesome. Ben had to leave to coach his girl’s soccer team and, as we left, Marga being the ridiculously nice and thoughtful person she is, gave Alana a present wrapped in a bag and some pet spot smell remover for our kitten accidents.

So, we got back home, Alana opened the beautiful wine glasses from Marga (thank you!) and we decided to go to the Boulder Farmer’s Market. We didn’t need much so we just got some Persian garlic. We walked there and back since it’s close and it was a beautiful day… it’s finally been getting cooler and I hope it wasn’t just a phase. Afterwards, we took a nap with the kitties and really did little to no work or chores.

5:30 rolls around and we have plans to visit my friend in Englewood (near Denver). The Buffs game ended hours ago and the Broncos didn’t have a game so we thought traffic wouldn’t be that bad. Well, it wasn’t LA or New York, but it took 80 minutes to go 33 miles on all highways. We stopped at Whole Foods to pick up some hard cider and a salad for our get together. We were going to make a salad at home, but our greens weren’t fresh and we weren’t about to serve them to friends.

So we roll into Englewood, interesting little area, and Garrett lets us into the parking garage. Now, Garrett was my co-worker at Hollister during high school. We played against each other in soccer and basketball in high school. I went to a small public school and he went to a smaller private school. We were both really bad schools for sports in general so nobody really won or lost. I haven’t seen him since high school because he went to CU Boulder and never returned because he loved it so much. Their apartment is beautiful and twice the size of ours, but they only have an original x-box and no matter how many emulators you have for retro-gaming, after selling 90% of my systems, our gaming is better.

But I digress. I was feeling very sick by the end of the day, but we still had a great time, meeting new people like Garrett’s better half “Lee.” She has a fun story having two parents in the military/government, I can’t say more because then my life might be in danger. Oh well, we just ate and hung out and caught up and can’t wait to see them again. Thanks everyone for an amazing birthday. Oh, and I got Alana a Star Wars the Old Republic graphic novel, Super Smash Brawl, and a huge zodiac tapestry for the bedroom wall. And that’s about it! OH and thank you Grandpa and Grandma Powell for the super generous card!!! :)