Was going through my backlog of places to try and re-discovered this LA Times link.
Went there this Saturday for lunch with the parental units. We put in 3 orders of the meat pies; lamb, beef and a pork leek combo. In addition, we got the homeland meat cake, soup dumplings and beef roll. The last two items were a mistake and I wouldn’t get them again. To call them average would be a compliment. However the meat pies and the meat cake were glorious!
The meat pies were not anything at all like I expected. I was envisioning something akin to an empanada with a baked crust and the ground meat filling inside. Instead the crust was more like a fried bun, crisp but not cracker crisp. I loved the fact it would have some give when I bit into it but there wasn’t any doughy gumminess. Furthermore despite the warning from the article, I was not ready for the inside to be so full of juices. It was like eating a pie soup dumpling! These are shaped like a hockey puck and a touch larger. When we were first seated, we each received large saucers, I thought they were for mixing your own dipping sauce. Well, they are actually just a little larger than each meat pie. The trick that worked for me was to place a pie in the saucer and gently crack it open to let the juice pour out onto the saucer. Break the pie up into manageable pieces, since the meat is pretty firm and not a loose filling, pick up with chopstick and slurp some of the juices out of the saucer. I’m not sure if this is the right way to do it but it worked for me. At least it was better than my first try when I picked up a pie, bit into it and managed to send juices spurting all over the place and down my hands. I’m sure I was an amusing sight.
Mechanics aside, I really liked all three of the fillings. Although the pork one was light on the leeks. Each meat retained it’s distinctive flavor. The seasoning was just right to my tastebuds, you just tasted the meat. I loved the combination of the crust and meat. I did like to add a touch of the table side chili oil to a bite now and then. I was intrigued by how the bun managed to keep its firmness and integrity while still containing so much juice. The inside layers past the crust wasn’t soggy gummy at all. I’ve just never had anything like this before. I want to go back and try some of the other fillings.
If the meat pies reminded me of soup dumplings, the homeland meat cake was like a savory version of a baklava. There was the multiple layers of flaky pastry with meat sandwiched in between. Although not as flaky as phyllo, the layers all retained a nice crust and flakiness but firm enough to hold up to the meat filling. Just pick up a triangle and munch away. Loved the contrast of the different layers.
Meat pies come four to an order, all around $7. The homeland meat cake contained about 10 half sandwiched sized triangles about an inch thick, an order for $9. All in all it was a great deal for wonderful food. I want to go back and try some of the appetizers and the soups. This is a small place with about a dozen four person tables. Be prepared to wait if you come during peak hours. Parking is horrendous as to be expected in this part of town.
I saw several people stop by to pick up orders to go. Seeing how well the buns held up, I’d say it’s a great option. I took home a couple of buns and a few triangles of the meat cake. Heating it up gently in the toaster oven, the quality of the crust held up pretty well without getting greasy and soggy. What was even more delightful was the filling and juices warmed fine inside and didn’t leak out during re-heating.
Overall, a successful trip in trying a new place.