Chicago Tribune Nails the Excitement of Eating in L.A.

Could tortas be a better bet in Monterrey Park than Din Tai Fung's dumplings?
Could tortas be a better bet in Monterrey Park than Din Tai Fung’s dumplings?Photo: Scaredy Kat via Flickr

Kogi’s trendsetting and eating with “locals who look like they came from the “90210” extras tent” at The Bazaar helped Los Angeles earn “best food scene” nods from The NY Post last week. But it’s the Chicago Tribune’s food blog The Stew that really understands what makes this an exciting town to eat in. Stew writer Monica Eng reminisces today on the “tastiest dishes” she had in L.A. and hits our dining scene’s bulls-eye when she finds that tired stereotypes and media-driven hype rarely deliver the best bites.

As a perfect example, Eng finds the famous Asian food in Monterrey Park “disappointing,” echoing the same complaints that native Taiwanese make about our imported Din Tai Fung location. Instead, she finds Mexi-llence in M.P. at Cook’s Tortas, going crazy for “the chili sauce dipped ahogada” with slow-cooked pork. Without the unexpected greatness of our unassuming Mexican restaurants, our excitement over eating here would have long-ago sputtered under the weight of so-much farm fresh arugula.

Similarly, Eng finds more delicious cultural mishmash over her pork chops and fried rice at Uncle John’s Ham n’ Eggs, where “everyone acts like a counter diner serving Cantonese American breakfasts cooked in woks by an all Chinese staff is just the most natural thing in the world.” Her final choice is a familiar (and deserving) one to those who follow critics’ praises and the rapidly budding animal parts trend at L.A. restaurants: Fried pig ears at Church & State. It appears this out-of-towner has nailed the essence of L.A. eating’s widespread pleasures, and thankfully didn’t just stay inside some West Hollywood hotel during her stay.

The 3 Tastiest Dishes I Ate in Los Angeles (Eng’s Version) [Chicago Tribune/The Stew]