MSG150's good friend Tien has been talking up LA Cafe for years. It was not in the path of our original route so it went untouched. Now, as we expand east, LA Cafe gets its day. Not having had much luck with previous "cafe" types our crew was skeptical when we arrived at the Pacific Rim Center to get it on LA style.
Luncher: EmmettLunch: Rice with Preserved Meat and Steamed Frog in Hot Pot - $8.95
Dude our trip into the heart of darkness keeps getting better. LA Cafe -- sounds like they sell crappy pizzas with goat cheese and no sauce -- has a lot of glitter and LED going for it on the outside. It is decorated like a diner, and gestures, invitingly for us to come in and gossip about the latest Beverly Hills Cop and how awesome A-Ha is.
Like these other Hong Kong Style diner places, the menu is immense. I asked the waiter to boil it down to one simple option - what does he like the best. Without hesitation he recommended the Rice Hot Pot with Chinese Sausages and Frog. Hells yeah BRING IT. I've had frog before (grew up in FL -- we eat weird) so I was initiated. However this was a new discovery for the ID. I dove in.
The rice was cooked well done, had very little flavor. The sausages were tasty, though not outstanding, definitely enhanced the rice. The frog legs were small, bony, a bit fishy and chickeny. The sauce it came with rounded out the flavors with some salty savoriness.
For dessert we had the black glass jelly. Try to pronounce that if you're an ESL kid and you'll sense our confusion as we ordered dessert. It was unlike anything I ever tried. It was bitter, cold, like jello. Jet black. Interesting. Apparently homemade as well. It cleansed the palate, leave my mouth fresh, clean, black.
Our server was fantastic. Prompt courteous service, and he encouraged us to try new things. The variety was definitely a refreshing change. My meal wasn't the greatest but I'm excited to come back, and see what else is in store.
Luncher: AdamLunch: Grilled Chicken Steak - $6.99
Back up to the Pacific Rim Center. I'm sure everyone will mention this, but we had a coworker, Tien, who absolutely loved this place. Geary sent her a message that we were going here, and she came back with a recommendation to get the "Grilled Chicken Steak."
I ordered the Grilled Chicken Steak... which apparently means Fried Chicken Steak. So, here comes a shocker: the fried chicken was friggin' delicious. I had my choice between 4 different sauces, and I went with the Garlic Sauce. So I've got this piece of fried chicken that is covered in what is essentially Garlic Gravy. All I can say is "winner." Get it.
The lunch special comes with all sorts of choices. I got to choose the sauce for my chicken steak. I got to chose between Seafood and Tomato Soup (I went with the Seafood, it was very sea-foody, and good). I got to chose between Mango Yogurt and Black Glass Jello for dessert (the Mango Yogurt was awesome!)
Lots of food. Lots of choices. Tien was right to love this place.
Luncher: GearyLunch: Braised Ox Tail with Red Wine Sauce - $8.99
Self promotion is not their strong suit. If you didn't know it existed you would have almost no way of finding it. Other than a small sign near the parking garage entrance there is no exterior signage for the LA Cafe. East meets West in an odd way here. The interior looks like a fifty's diner but with clear Chinese accents like TV blaring Chinese soaps and the case of Chinese buns and other baked goods. The menu is a mix of Cantonese favorites plus western derivatives. The lunch specials come with a choice of white rice, spaghetti, or fries. In addition to traditional rice bowls and noodle dishes they serve club sandwiches and chicken fried steak. I went with Ox Tail in Red Wine Sauce with a side of rice. We also had a choice of tomato or seafood soup. I went with seafood.
Service was very friendly however even though it was not crowded our lunches took a while to come out. The seafood soup was good but not like anything I'd had before. It had a clear broth with tiny bits of chopped up, completely unidentifiable, seafood, small cubes of tofu, and carrot flakes. The Ox Tail was unexpectedly delicious. It wasn't anything that would show up anywhere near a Michelin star, but given the surroundings I was impressed. The meat was fall apart tender and the brown wine sauce was rich and tasty with peas, carrots, and mushrooms thrown in per spec. Seeing the amazing variety of the other dishes at the table makes we want to come back many more times to look for other gems in the vast menu. Way to go LA.
Luncher: JaredLunch: Fried Egg and Beef with Rice - $6.99
LA Cafe PhotosLA Cafe
LA Cafe Lunch Menu
LA Cafe Lunch Menu (cont.)
LA Cafe Interior
LA Cafe Interior
Street sign for LA Cafe on the side of the well cemented Pacific Rim Center
Grilled Chicken Steak
Fried Egg and Beef with Rice
Braised Ox Tail with Red Wine Sauce
Rice with Preserved Meat and Steamed Frog in Hot Pot
Behold the frog
Dessert went too fast for photos