Monday, June 1, 2009

Lunch #77: LA Cafe

LA Cafe 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.

LA Cafe, Seattle
Address: 900 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA, 98104
Cuisine: Chinese
Average rating: 3.8 chopsticks
Lunch date: 5/19/2009 @ 11:47:00
Time taken to be seated: 0 minutes
Time to take order: 5 minutes
Time for food to arrive: 17 minutes
Total lengh of meal: 63 minutes
Chopstix quality: Forks!
Do they use MSG?: Likely
Where is the owner/chef from?: Guangzhou
Number of tables: 22
Number of occupied tables: 6 (27%)
Number of business lunch tables: 4 (66%)
Number of "local" tables: 5 (83%)
Healthcode Score: 0
Links: Yelp!, Urbanspoon
LA Cafe

Luncher: Emmett

Rice with Preserved Meat and Steamed Frog in Hot PotLunch: Rice with Preserved Meat and Steamed Frog in Hot Pot - $8.95
Rating: 4 Chopsticks

Emmett's Review

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: Adam

Grilled Chicken SteakLunch: Grilled Chicken Steak - $6.99
Rating: 4 Chopsticks

Adam's Review

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: Geary

Braised Ox Tail with Red Wine SauceLunch: Braised Ox Tail with Red Wine Sauce - $8.99
Rating: 4 Chopsticks

Geary's Review

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: Jared

Fried Egg and Beef with RiceLunch: Fried Egg and Beef with Rice - $6.99
Rating: 3 Chopsticks

LA Cafe Photos

LA Cafe
LA Cafe

LA Cafe Lunch Menu
LA Cafe Lunch Menu

LA Cafe Lunch Menu (cont.)
LA Cafe Lunch Menu (cont.)

LA Cafe Interior
LA Cafe Interior

LA Cafe Interior
LA Cafe Interior

Street sign for LA Cafe on the side of the well cemented Pacific Rim Center
Street sign for LA Cafe on the side of the well cemented Pacific Rim Center

Seafood Soup
Seafood Soup

Grilled Chicken Steak
Grilled Chicken Steak

Fried Egg and Beef with Rice
Fried Egg and Beef with Rice

Braised Ox Tail with Red Wine Sauce
Braised Ox Tail with Red Wine Sauce

Rice with Preserved Meat and Steamed Frog in Hot Pot
Rice with Preserved Meat and Steamed Frog in Hot Pot

Behold the frog
Behold the frog

Dessert went too fast for photos
Dessert went too fast for photos

7 comments:

Joey said...

mmm, frog legs...

Anonymous said...

My Asian co-workers first took me to this place when I started here two years ago. It was funny, they described it as 'western'. It hit me when he ordered beef stew, and they put down what I though was a dinner roll first. Kinda like a Bonanza style, or an Asian take on what Americans eat.

I really wanted curry so I ordered Singapore noodles, it was on par with other places.

Tien said...

Yumm, the chinese sausage and frog legs in hot pot sounds delicious..

elicia said...

it's Black Grass Jelly ~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grass_jelly

Geary Eppley said...

Thanks for the link. Initially we thought he was saying "Black Grass Cherry". I looked for this at Uwajimaya recently and found one labeled "Black Grass Jerry". :-) I have seen Grass Jelly at the bubble-tea shops so that makes sense.

elicia said...

any way you pronounce it: its yucky. i'm an ABC and i've always been so disapointed when black grass jelly's served as a dessert. we called it 'ass jelly'.

FoodDog said...

Went there yesterday and my son ended up in the emergency room at Swedish. It appears they put peanuts in a lot of dishes...peanut butter I suspect. My son had the Oxtail Stew, which unknowingly had peanuts in it...who would have thought! So if you go here and have peanut allergies you'd better ask if the dish you order doesn't contain peanuts. In fact they told me even the spaghetti sauce contains peanuts.