In random order, but realize someone did puke up a certain rather famous lobster roll in 2012.
1) Nick & Stef’s.
Apparently one may order a pork chop cooked medium rare here as the wait staff said OK, yet the piece of well portioned swine came out well done, TWICE. The second well done pork chop was doggy bagged, and the bag was literally given to the dog (bless his heart, RIP Cody, don’t ever say you didn’t eat well) That said, they did comp the entire meal, so .. a bad meal with a happy ending, which is never as enjoyable as a happy ending. This occurred early in the evening and with a need to return home stat. The experience doesn’t seem bad on a computer screen, but I was rather close to an aneurysm due to time sensitivity.
Hart and the Hunter’s aurally offensive walls and ceiling, AND floors.
2) Hart and the Hunter
I know Friends of Eater, and Friends of SinoSoul (not that there are many left) universally loved this place, BUT. $3 for boiled peanuts? The 45 minute wait with almost no service in the hotel “lobby”? Well, actually, that part was lovely because your acquaintances are probably lovely, but every time anyone wanted a beer, a 10 yard jog to flag down a “server” was necessary. And the jet engine noise within the confines of a miniscule space completely subway tiled? Call me geriatric, I lost my voice the next morning. H&H is louder than Red Med, louder than Tar & Roses, louder than Baco Mercat, louder than any other restaurant in LA, even on a late Tuesday. Blow your ear drums out with two air horn before entering and the fantastic kale salad, as well as the brussel sprout salad, would be somehow tastier than they already are. The venison carpaccio at Osteria Drago was superior (though pricier), and the “apple dumpling” dessert, though affordable, was absolutely uninspired when compared to Bestia’s fine tart. Chalk this one up to: “I’m too old for this.”
3) Dalian Small Pot Pot, December 25
The server began the evening by telling advising the high chairs were tables to “hold the newspaper”, carried on by not bringing rice with the first dish served, continued with not bringing rice bowls along with the rice, and finished off strong by never bringing the check, and moving like a sloth before being asked to boxed up the left overs. The mamasan/chef/owner started by completely ignoring us after tossing menus, continued by recommending two dishes with nearly exact flavor profiles, and finished off strong by delaying dishes even though she was able to re-made some her fellow countrymen’s myriad of entrees. And yes, she upsold the most expensive dish during the recommendations. It was that kind of meal — on Christmas Day. I hope you guys close in 90 days. The waiter is clearly a social idiot/low-functioning Aspergers even though I couldn’t but help LOL after he apologized for not understanding the concept of high-chairs since he literally just arrived off the boat. In addition, the menu is much too deep for the tiny space to handle. To think this place took over Bebe’s makes me want to cry for the Republic of China.
4) Black Hogg.
Fried pork everything, with shitty sauces on the side. Zero imagination, runny chicken liver, gross lamb burger reeking of butter, poorly excecuted brussel sprouts and a rather subpar uni. Popcorn bacon? Left the balanace untouched after sampling two. First one just to try, second one to affirm the first one was disgusting. There is no execution nor quality control here. Everything is a mess. If a chain can produce a great lamb burger, a hipster joint charging $17 for ground lamb better do better. Much like Oinkster, never again. I mean, never, never again. I don’t care if there’s free corkage.
Would you like some mayo’d lettuce with that trout?
5) Son of a Gun [February 19]
The lobster roll + greasy fried ground seafood paste on bread + more fried shit in more mayonnaise in between buns were puke-worthy. That’s not a metaphor. Someone puked shortly after dinner. Bon App’s Rapaport listed the shrimp toast as one of his favorite bites of ’12…. Surely he must have one of the most experienced palates in the world.
6) Kainan Sa Kanto, Bellflower January 6
A few pile of lukewarm slop marked the pathetic offerings of this point-point steam table joint in Bellflower. I started off the year by promising myself I’d retry Filipino again and again this year. And after only 6 days into the new year, I hated every Filipino cook on the planet. Filipino food never fails to fail, but this one failed harder than most. I have no idea how they’ve stayed in business when the Artesia Filipino community is replete with better turo turo joints.
7) Smoke Star BBQ, March 3
Shuttered after a year of operations. Need I say more? Yes, I need. I hit 3 new Q shops in March, and this, beyond Rudy’s Southern BBQ, was the worst I had. No smoke, horrible texture, super nice owners. This shows why even BBQ competition champs are reluctant to open a B&M. Laters gators, perhaps turn it into KBBQ joint?
8) Darakbang, September 8
3062 W 8th St
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Insipid soups; restaurant had nothing but four dishes available out of a ten-dish menu. Horrendous panchan. Korean restaurants are notorious for mischarging, but this ajuma was such a shyster, she took a look at the $20 bill in my hand as I asked for the bill, and decided the sullungtang and yuk ke jang sums up to $20. It was the only time in 2012 when no tip was left. I hope a taxi hits the building facade, you shrew.
It tastes even worse than it looks
9) Rudy’s Southern BBQ March 28.
Just because it’s a mom & pop BBQ shop doesn’t mean it’ll be any good. I was recommended the BBQ chicken, but it arrived looking like a plate of baked chicken, and the corn starchy sauce was bar none the most disgusting sauce, BBQ or otherwise, in ’12. What a great way to serve your impoverished community: overpriced, poorly executed soul food. Reported closed by November, 2012. Why am I not surprised?
129 N Market St
Inglewood, CA 90301
Knorr isn’t MSG.
10) Emperor’s Noodle
These dumplings are the emperor’s new clothes. Sorry, had to go there. The shen jian bao are fine, but during the first visit, the dumplings had so much Knorr that the filling was sweet to the point of cloying. Emperor’s Noodle is just another pointless carb shack in the West San Gabriel Valley. Another odd observation: since JGold’s write-up, Emperor’s entire dining room often consists nothing but ABCs, or inter-racial couples, who can’t speak a lick of Chinese. It’s either this strip of Las Tunas/Main caters more to the post-gentrification third generation Chinese of Temple City, or the FOBs just don’t think this place is any good. I’ll go with the latter.
[Ooops. Major errata. Better correct this, lest the anons to get all prissy and leave nasty comments.]
10) Should be Hui Tou Xiang. Upon checking the photo + dates, the dumplings above appear to be from Hui Tou Xiang. Emperor Noodles at least had the good shen jian bao. Hui Tou Xiang has absolutely nothing. And this is interesting because Luscious Dumpling is equally horrific, which means there are two inedible dumpling houses sitting right next to each other; one is extremely busy, one takes the sloppy seconds like a cheap trick.
704 W Las Tunas Dr Ste 5
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Bonus Round 1:
Most disappointing burger in an otherwise lovely restaurant: Cook’s County, February 11.
Impossible to eat, impossibly expensive. All the accoutrements on the side, and the grass fed beef carried no char, resulting in a lukewarm puck of loose bloody beef. It tries too hard to be even more annoying than the tasty Pug Burger at Hungry Cat. It’s so odd a place so lovely can produce a burger so airheaded, with a bun (house made) so pointless. And yes, even undemanding Yelpers agree. It’s also $14 without fries. That doubles the hurt.
Bonus Round 2:
Worst “meal” that isn’t a meal, inside a place that’s not actually a restaurant: Cafe 168
I know this is a Vietnamese tittay cafe. But seriously, $10 (tip/tax included) for an avocado shake and you couldn’t add a few more slices of avo, then hit the blender button for a few more minutes to actually smooth out the ice? There’s no food at tittay cafes, so these avocado shakes essential serve as meals. I’m leaving it in as a worst of ’12. Back to Cafe M Cutie we go; sorry no pictures.
13959 Harbor Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92843
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