Can a glowing review on Chowhound and 20+ 5 star reviews on Yelp-hell be wrong? Hell yes. Call it irrational exuberance. Mr. Greenspan is no longer vogue, but his biography was a good read and by god, The Open Door’s food is just not that good.

Beyond the various chazuke, a dish which pre-dates sushi, from the Heian Period (794 to 1185), there is absolutely nothing of interest on the menu. Not the much loved (by truffle oil frauds) truffle butter edamame, not the miso cod, and DEFINITELY not the Bar Hayama’s tuna tartare on crispy rice cracker doppelganger. C’mon man. How long has Hayama, a mere 23 miles away, been open? Since July ’07. Tuna tartare over crispy rice? Wait for it… is so ’07.

pix of chazuke (hot tea soaked rice with various fixin’s):

After browsing the menu front to back 4 times, it was decided no crudo plate would be ordered. Want raw fish in Monterey Park? Go to Sorafune. Want Edo style nigiri near Monterey Park? Toshi in Little Tokyo. What remains? Not a whole lot. With no certainty of the origins of the unagi used over the don, no clue the pedigree of the kitchen (the rumors of the chef at a certain Las Vegas Hotel fusion/lounge establishment fails to inspire), fail safe items such as kurobota wieners (also available at the Yelp loved Ruby Table), soy braised pork belly, grilled prawns (3 for $4.50, holy shit !?!?) and chazuke were ordered. After the moderate bill came, a secondary stop at Old Country Cafe (to which a whole photojournal should be devoted) was deemed necessary to stomp the appetite.

Braised pork belly craze in LA Japanese restaurants can trace its origins to Katzuto Matsusaka’s Beacon, erected in 2004. Its braised pork belly dish made LA Mag’s top 25 of ’04 and the rest of the city rode the wagon. Now this once lowly fatty discarded chunk of porcine is touted by all Angelenos living in a country currently obsessed with bacon explosion. In this case, the dish isn’t lousy because it’s dated – pork will never be dated again. It’s lousy because I can braise a better chunk of pork loin. No shit. The fat globules dressed in over obtuse dark soy didn’t melt, the skin of the piggy recalls tough cheese rind. Salty chewy lard isn’t sexy. Nuclear failure.

And to the kitchen staff/owner/family member/operator: them 2 cute Korean girls you wanna hire? Whom you were trying so hard to impress with free food + booze? Quit trying so hard. They don’t know Bar Hayama, they don’t know Bincho, they don’t know Robata-ya; they, much like the lil girls on Yelp, think miso cod is sooooo good. Seriously? Miso cod? That whore of a pesces dish from Nobu’s book, circa 2001? Please. Regarding the uppity gent w/ the obnoxious DSLR in 1 hand, chopsticks in the other, silently dissecting your “specials” menu? You might want to send some of your house finest over yonder instead cuz albacore with gochuchang miso is about the most heavy-handed cop outs in crudo history.

Now someone on the Internet owes yours truly $25 for writing a buncha loquacious praises.

PS: The restaurant was doomed by the rudimentary “What is Izakaya” Q&A printed on front page of menu. No chance.

The Open Door
Monterey Park, CA
The Open Door on Urbanspoon



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  • Danny

    Damn, was I more interested in my date than the food that night??

  • I bookmarked on my Yelp because of the solid 5 stars rating. Now I’m so glad I didn’t go!

  • Emily

    You’re an asshole! Why are you so damn mean to crush this restaurant to pieces. This restaurant is so much better than you give it credit for….

  • Erica 313-2113

    This guy sinosoul is a fucking retard because this place is amazing. I’ve been there 3 different times… the food tastes great, they use a high quality food, the people who work there make you feel very welcome, and I tell everyone I know who have “good taste in food” to go there.

  • Haha Tony, you generate so much hate. Why do these people care so much if you don’t like their favorite restaurant? If I was doing izakaya, I’d still go South Bay though

  • jen

    I agree wholeheartedly. I was also excited to try it based on the 5 stars on yelp. You’re right. Everyone is wrong. This place is just so wrong. It’s good if you’ve never tried Izayoi, Bincho, Shinsengumi, Musha. I can go on and on.

  • stop deleting my post on chowhound you fucken retard…its not my fault you look like a fag from your picture on yelp.

  • I agree with you tonyc. I feel as if the food was a little salty and needed something else with it, however the sashimi was really good. Some people enjoyed the food and some didn’t, I indeed have a mixed review on the food, but the service was great.

  • TonyC

    bwahahahahaha.. I’m an asshole, and a fucking retard twice over. SCOREE! and anonymous commenter above? please note effin’ douchebag: I am not a moderator on Chowhound, and hence, of course, can not delete your post. maybe it just sucks so hard it had to disappear. kudos!

  • Woah, what’s with the harsh words Tony and Tony?…..I’ve tried this place based on the mixed chowhound and yelp reviews and it’s a decent place compared to most Japanese restaurants around the Monterey Park area, I do believe that the quality and price is a lot better than what i’ve been eating in this area. Of course if you want really good Japanese food, head to J-town or the south bay, but it’s always good to have a decent Japanese restaurant around where I live. It does look promising that a lot of Japanese are moving into the Monterey Park area and openning restaurants, hell what do we have here? Shin-sen-gummi? love the place but kind of expensive. Toros?? way too expensive and it is ok. Sorafune and Taihei? Great for sushi and sashimi, however I heard Sorafune is closing down…..anyway it’s great that more restaurants are openning in Monterey Park and I would like to keep it that way.

  • TonyC

    Osho’s for sale. $250k and you can buy Osho. Sorafune has NEVER seen the biz it deserves. I’m truly saddened by that.

    Toros is Chinese owned. Not sure why only local restaurants are being concerned. Surely all of us eats from Southbay up to Sawtelle to Glendale.

    Open Door is NOT up to snuff relative to other joints in LA, period.

  • Sorafune, isn’t really that good if your comparing it to J-town or the south bay, like you said before, since your comparing restaurants in the Los Angeles area…… Osho isn’t that good either so that’s why i’m comparing it to restaurants in Monterey Park?? get it?? It’s like saying if you want really good Japanese food go to Japan or New York then. It’s seems as if your post has a really biasis statement and you seem to be bitter about “the open door”. Does it matter if Chinese people own “Toros”?? obviously not because mexican’s make better sushi than Japanese people in California. What is your point in comparing the food to food that has been made by someone else??? were you born in the Heian period? who cares about Nobu’s?? if someone can replicate a dish and make it better so what…..I believe you will be the only grumpy person in Monterey Park that does not appreciate a change when it happens, learn to adapt and grow up…nobody likes a cocky food blogger.

  • Yeah..I have my suspicions when restaurants get full 5 stars on YELP. Just because they put truffle on everything doesn’t mean it’s a top notch place.

    Nanciful´s last blog post..Hong Kong – Peking Duck on Scallion Pancake Pizza

  • Liz

    I really liked my food at The Open Door. But food, like life, is subjective. Even when you are bashing someone I enjoy your writing.

    Liz´s last blog post..An Aside: I am becoming my mother.

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  • :):)
    I AGREE!!!!
    It was really bad and yelp should just die in a fire by now. lol. just kidding, I’m happy someone agrees.

    You sound like a food pro, I’d like to become more acknowledgable as I grow older.

    Jennifer Ko´s last blog post..The Open Door – Monterey Park

  • tony

    Tony C. you know you love “The Open Door” and you post on yelp all the time, so stop putting on a front like your better than everyone else, you’ve visted the restaurant many times! Now go fuck yourself, idiot.

  • tony

    Don’t be mad because of those korean girls because they were talking to the waiter or owner. Tony, maybe if your lucky you’ll find a nice waiter to comfort you someday. Now go fuck yourself

  • TonyC

    ^^ Hey Smart Guy, read the first post. See that Korean girl? Not a waiter [sic], and yes, mine, wearing a ring no less. Never set foot back at Open Door again. Only fools with dog palates would think it edible. BTW, if I can fuck myself, I’d stay home all day.

  • Chie

    Aww c’mon, too harsh. The Open Door makes a solid effort and executes well. The place has excellent service, tasty bites, and a fun, unpretentious atmosphere. There’s honest to goodness care taken to create a good dining experience for its patrons and that’s rare in this town… especially in the SGV. (Btw, Toro’s sucks giant monkey balls. Terrible food, even worse service.)

  • TonyC

    Chie, thanks for your comment. I’ve never eaten at Toro. Ever. It was merely a commenter’s mention. As you know, LD’s room is mostly dead now. Little Fat Sheep, busy. Little Open Door, not so much. Shinsen is always across the street when I must do izakaya in Western SGV. That’s unpretentious. Attempting to explain “izakaya”, in English no less? No fun at all.

  • janet

    TonyC you are an idiot, I was going to pass up this restaurant because of your review and I am so glad I didn’t.

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  • The comments are as entertaining as the post.  I recently ate here, and will do a blog post on it soon.  Though I didn’t hate the place, it was over priced for what it was.  It has an identity crisis — Its kind of a relaxed joint that charges and serves food on the high end scale.

  • sinosoul

    Thanks for the update. 

    I drive by weekly. Happy they’re still there & contributing to the city’s coffers; happy I’ve kept my word & haven’t returned in well over 3 years. 

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