Monday, October 24, 2016
My Howlin Rays adoration is well-documented. However, after my previous visit -- when I waited a measly 45 minutes -- I swore I would not return any time soon. Despite the fried chicken sandwich transcendency, the line proved too insufferable. Yet, yesterday, bored by shitty football games, a working significant other and the local coffeeshop being closed for no reason whatsoever, I foolishly convinced myself, "It's Sunday! It's 3 pm and they close at 4, there won't be anyone there!"
Well, I'll cut to it: I was wrong. Really, really wrong. There weren't just some people there. The scene immediately reminded me of the local K-Mart Christina Aguilera CD-signing I attended as a kid during her heyday (don't hate, girl's got lungs). Complete and utter mayhem. Just replace tweenage shrieking with grumbling adult stomachs. I immediately considered returning to my domicile, but I reasoned I owe it to my grandparents who taught me to never, ever give up on things that mattered. And I saw other people's sandwiches.
So I stayed - giving up an entire beautiful Southern California Sunday to stand in a never-ending, slightly damp, too warm, Chinatown line for a hot fried chicken sandwich.
You know, for my grandparents.
While in the over one hour and a half line, I started to Live Tweet my status. As the time progressed, silly line observations turned into a cathartic experience, so I'm going to re-tell it here in its entirety. ((Note: most of these are straight from my Tweets yesterday and are in quotes. Although I've added a few to fill in blanks.))
3:01 pm - Leave West Adams for Howlin Rays - full of vigor (and hunger).
3:22 - Can't find parking near the Far East Plaza. Circle the surrounding Chinatown blocks multiple times. Finally, quite a ways away from HR, I locate spot. Put on blinker. About to turn in, when guy, out of nowhere, making illegal left turn, tries to poach it. I get the spot. The guy proceeds to eye me down as he drives away.
3:27 - In line: "I got my lazy ass out of the house and here. But apparently so did 100 others."
3:39 - "Near the '45 minutes-1 hour' sign! Which is clearly a sign that I'm an idiot with way too much free time."
3:45 - "This is a conundrum. I adore Chego, which has NO line."
3:54 - "Guy reading whole LA Times in line and I want to start 'Guys Read LA Times in Howlin Rays Line' Insta."
3:56 - "Proof:"
3:57 - "Couple behind me now on minute 6 of domestic spat over how she looked at him last night at the bar."
4:02 - "Note: I am now reading the LA Times."
4:05 - Now in view of Howlin Rays, "Despite the mayhem, Chef Johnny looks cool as goddamn cucumber."
4:06 - "Who wants to start a mobile soft drink business together RIGHT NOW? Could kill with line patrons."
4:21 - "A great 'Master Of None' LA episode could be shot in this line, in real time."
4:22 - "Moral of the episode: Los Angelenos are idiots."
4:26 - "I am now stuck with the LA Times the guy gave me. I have no where to dispose it. Stuck under arm."
4:35 - "I've now befriended the (now amicable) couple behind me. I fear they will find my previous tweet about them."
4:36 - "- because I want to vacation with them. Maybe a cruise. Real salt of the Earth peeps."
4:39 - "There appears to be a whole punk rock band in front of me. By far, most fashionable in line."
4:41 - Then shit starts to get real: "They just announced there are only 16 sandwiches left. Guess what number in line I am? 16. DRAMA."
4:53 - Everyone in front of me orders only one sandwich each, so I'm still set. Until three friends (two ahead of me in line) order FOUR SANDWICHES FOR THE THREE OF THEM. Greedy fucking bastards. Thus the guy in front of me, the LA Times Reader, gets the last sandwich. With none of their signature breasts left, I order a quarter fried chicken mild (once again, don't hate - even their mild is kinda spicy, bro!).
4:55 - I'm not really that upset. The bone-in chicken will be just as tasty. However, apparently I was delusional by now and not good at math: "After 1 1/4 hours I'm finally home."
5:16 - They gave me free coleslaw. And the chicken was as good as ever: "Guy in front of me got last sandwich. I'm happy though. Night all."
5:39 - Howlin Rays now officially closed (besides customers eating): "Benefit of being there at end of a Sunday..."
5:57 - "They sold 450 sandwiches today. Couldn't happen to nicer duo. Kudos, Amanda and Johnny." I mean that. Most cordial restaurant proprietors in LA.
6:35 - Go back to my car, buzzing on my eventful Sunday adventure: "When parking I just beat a guy to a spot. He eyed me down. When returned: tire slashed."
6:35.5 - Freak out.
6:36 - Collecting self, use the Honk app for first time: "Awaiting tow truck. Man, what I do for food."
6:49: "Thank you to the Honk app for the quick service!" Highly recommend the app. It was my first time using. Former AAA'er, which no longer seems necessary for newer cars. Even if a local slashes your tire because you took a parking spot you certainly deserved so you could get a fried chicken sandwich you didn't end up getting.
TODAY: Took car to Davis Bros Tires. And they were able to patch the tire up, so the assailant isn't as skilled as he thought! I declare myself the winner.
CONLUSION: Who wants to wait in the Howlin Rays line with me soon?
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
I get asked on occasion/often/too much, "What are you digging RIGHT NOW in LA food?" I usually respond with, "You know, nothing really. Please go away..." Before begging them to stay as I launch into an hours-long, passionate Tom Cruise-in-A-Few-Good-Men-level diatribe.
Since I haven't been around these blog parts in a long while, I thought maybe I should use this forum to share these current random LA food thoughts... So here it goes. If you like these musings, drop me a comment below or on Twitter, and maybe we'll make it a monthly to-do. If not, well, screw you, bro.
- Huckleberry (Santa Monica) is doing Monkey Bread now. It's so good I'm wholly convinced it could win this election as a 3rd Party candidate. At the very least, it knows the name of one foreign leader.
- Howlin Rays (Chinatown; pictured atop the post) is not just the city's best hot fried chicken sandwich. It's LA's top chicken sandwich period. Maybe even sandwich-sandwich. It's the tits. Line sucks though. Advice: go early, or post-lunch hours. You can also order 10 sandwiches or more and skip the line before they open. I would happily go splitsies and eat five.
- Lodge Bread (Culver) does a very, very solid shakshouka in the morning. This on top of their already superior Avocado Toast, and Sunday Pizza Nights, their expansion next door can't come soon enough. Added bonus: LB smells like the "fresh bread from the oven" car air freshener that should exist.
- Mozza (Hollywood) still, after all these years, offers the town's superlative "bar deal." A deal I first wrote about all the way back in... 2011 still stands strong. Six hours a day, Monday through Thursday, you get any pizza, a glass of wine and dessert for TWENTY DOLLARS. It's a great example of one of LA's most successful, pricey, busy restaurants making itself accessible to all. Others could learn a lesson.
- Delicious Pizza (West Adams) also recently started a not too shabby Happy Hour. Half off ALL FOOD, 4-6 pm when you dine in.
- My four favorite LA burgers -- Plan Check's The PCB (pictured above; Sawtelle/Fairfax/DTLA), The Tripel's Pretzel Burger (Playa), The Standing Room's Cash Burger (Hermosa), Stout's Stout Burger (Santa Monica/Hollywood) -- all made Josh Scherer's "The 50 Best Burgers in L.A." LA Mag list. This means either Josh is legit or I'm legit. Or we're both total frauds.
- Kogi Taqueria (Palms) is even better than the truck.
- Sweet Rose Creamery's (Palisades/Brentwood/Santa Monica/West Hollywood/Studio City) Butternut Squash With Sage Brittle stands as the early favorite for "LA's Top Autumnal AF Ice Cream Flavor." Although I'm eyeing Rori's Pumpkin Creme Brulee for next week. Will report back.
- Finally, although it was months ago, I still think about my dinner at Kato (West LA). It may be in an unassuming strip mall off Santa Monica Blvd, but few meals pack more flavor for the dollar.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
If you've found yourself wondering the past few months, "Mike sure hasn't written much recently" or "Man, this blog kinda blows now," or "I hate him," or, even, "I didn't really notice any difference, what's this all about?," I have an answer for you:
I also have been encumbered by work obligations, but the main hindrance has certainly been the move as first open houses, then bidding, then escrow, then packing, then moving, then unpacking, then deciding wall placements for all my Little League trophies consumed my every waking hour.
The good news: it's pretty much over and things are beginning to resettle to the norm.
The (maybe) bad news for some of you: I moved... EAST.
Now, before you stab me with your butter knives, rest assured: I moved east... by seven minutes. Yes, I am now seven minutes east of my Culver City location in West Adams. Or, as I've been describing it to friends, "West West Adams" as I'm a mere few blocks from the Culver border. Nonetheless, according to the LA Times, there's a lot of fun stuff, food included, about to happen here. This is on top of the rich culinary tradition already about.
The conclusion to all this is my coverage, hopefully, will be ramping up again and, even though I'm now no longer technically on the westside, UE coverage should remain about the same of all regions of town. In fact, with the more centralized spot, it may be enhanced. Know this as well: I am a westsider at heart and nothing, not even my address, can take that away from me.
I want to thank everyone who has read the blog over the years. I don't say it enough: I appreciate your appreciation of my little food musings. I eat three meals a day, so it's fun to share my views with a (mostly) receptive audience.
Thus far in WA, I've enjoyed the Pesto Pepperoni pie pictured above from Delicious and many a fresh juice from Vee's. Any other recs?