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on Mi India Bonito, Toad, El Abajeno's carnitas, and LA Magazine

Thi N. | Sep 8, 200404:38 PM

First of all, a brief story:

so, I was being interviewed, in terms of my role as Editor of Chownews (hey kids! subscribe! support this here board!) by Los Angeles magazine. Which basically consisted of their senior writer taking me around and paying for my meals and getting me to talk about food.

This, if you know me, is not exactly a difficult thing to convince me to do.

Anyway, at one point, he wanted me to take him to "new places", you know, be a "real Chowhound". So I went to some places I'd heard of on the board but had never went.

First Toad House in Koreatown.

Lemme tell you - the black pork belly was good - but the panchan was empty and single-flavored, like cheap supermarket panchan, the cooking was kind of mediocre on all cooked items, loveless and carelessly marinated, and basically the black pork belly was of high quality, partially because they didn't have to do anything to it before it came out.

It was good black pork belly, probably the best, pure meat-wise, I've had in K-town, but I have no desire to go back there, ever.

To cover this disappointment, I figured I had to figure out some sure-win place that I hadn't been before.

The answer: Mi India, which had been closed twice on two various attempts and which, it seemed to me, would be sure-fire.

It was, it was, it was. Glory be, hallelujah, thank you to all who have written about it, it was.

Albondigas - deep, overwhelmingly pure - not overwhelmingly beefy, but fragrantly beefy. And tenderest meatballs.

Cocido de res - crystal clear, healing, wonderful.

Carnitas torta - sort of flavorless meat and a lot of mayo. Certainly inferior to the tortas available around K-town even in various trucks, certainly inferior qua torta to Super Tortas. Carnitas was curiously flavorless.

I don't understand the love for this carnitas, as I don't particularly understand the praise for Al Abajeno's carnitas - which is decent stuff, but glorious? I don't have particular prejudices in carnitas - I like it soft, I like it crispy, I like it try, I like it wet - but I tend to dig it for a kind of intense porkified porkiness - a sort of pork squared - which neither of these carnitases have. I mean, my favorite carnitas of all time is gone (Denise's Antonijito's of old) but there are tons better. For example, one easily accessible one: La Indiana Tamales' take-home carnitas in East L.A. Deeply, deeply porky. Also, tons of trucks are, to my mind, better.

Could somebody explain the difference in taste?

Anyway - so, yeah, so there's this article about Chownews and me in this month's L.A. Magazine, which is pretty amusing, and slightly embarrassing. He caught me in a particularly hyper week. But I am proud. It is my one, and probably only, moment of semi-fame, before I sort of slide into academic obscurity.

He did leave out of the article, however, the part where me and my friend Sarah took him to the grandma bar (6th street, block over from western, K-town, with the delectable grilled things), got him drunk off his ass, and then refused to answer his questions, hid his notebook, and proceeded to grill him until he spilled the beans on his whole sordid romantic history.

It was awesome.

"Who's the interviewer now, big boy?!?!?"


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