Wednesday, December 23, 2009
For the past year, food trucks serving fusion cuisine have been the talk of the town. After having had my share of food from some of these trucks, I decided to take a break from all this mixed culture food for awhile. That lasted until Robert, an Assistant Organizer from my dining group posted an outing to Red Hot Kitchen, which serves Asian-Mexican Cuisine. A fusion food experience at a brick and mortar restaurant was definitely a change of pace, so I thought I'd give it a try.
Upon our arrival, a few of us planned our lunch attack and ordered items from both their regular menu and their specials menu to share while others ordered on their own. To keep things separate, I'll get into the specials first, starting with their Kalbi (Short Rib) Burger which came with a side of salad. The burger had a coarse as opposed to a fine grind, and the meat was juicy with a hint of sweetness to it. I'm not sure whether that sweetness came from the meat being marinated or because of some kind of glaze on top of the burger. Regardless, the flavor was pretty good.
Unfortunately, the Chicano Dog with Kimchi Slaw was disappointing. There was just too many toppings. I found the addition of lettuce, red cabbage and tomatoes a little too overwhelming. It was hard to find the hot dog and the kimchi under that barrage of salad. Taking a bite, all the ingredients were falling around your mouth and to the table and the bun was falling apart at the same time. All you got out of that effort was a too salty hot dog and little slivers of kimchi. This is one dog I'd pass on.
The Kimchi Quesadilla was my absolute favorite of the entire meal both from the Specials Menu and the Regular Menu. What I liked was that they weren't shy when it came to the cheese. Looking at the side of a quesadilla slice, you could see the thick layer of cheese. Other ingredients also included kimchi and ground beef. Of the various kimchi quesadillas I've had in the past year, this one had the most kick to it and the most flavor. I should also mention that this is the only kimchi quesadilla that had meat added to it. Perhaps that's one of the things that made a difference.
There were a couple of specials that were ordered that I didn't sample, but I thought I'd show you the photos anyway. First, there was the Korean Taco Saam which was basically a lettuce cup with romaine lettuce, rice, ground beef and red pepper sauce. The second item was a Kalbi Bowl that I ordered to go for my Mom.
Now let's get to their regular menu. Again, there were a couple of dishes that I didn't try, but wanted you to see pictures of them anyway with one being the Mushroom Poppers filled with Crab Meat and Green Onions. It looked pretty tasty and got a some good comments. I'll have to save it for a return visit. The other dish was a Chicken Teriyaki Bowl.
From the regular menu, one of the things we ordered was the Sumi Salad with Sesame Dressing. Simply, it's a mix of cabbage, red cabbage, carrots and red peppers topped with sesame seeds. The veggies were fresh and crunchy and I liked that the sesame dressing wasn't too tart or too sweet, but just right.
We also enjoyed their Spicy Chicken Wings which was very similar to Korean Fried Chicken and the same heat and garlicky goodness to it.
Of course, the meal wouldn't be complete without checking out what they refer to as their Red Hot Kitchen Tacos. There were five to choose from, but we went for their short rib taco and their spicy pork taco. Neither really did it for me. The short rib meat was a little bland and while the spicy pork had good flavor, there was a texture to the sauce the pork was cooked in that felt grainy to my palate. Also, just like the hot dog, the tacos were overwhelmed by just too much stuff that didn't add much value. Even at just $2.00 each, I wouldn't spend that on either of these tacos again.
The final item from the regular menu was their Chorizo Fried Rice which I also brought home for my niece's lunch. There was actually some left over the next day, so I heated it and had it for lunch and man, was it good. If I had known how good it was, I may not have given it away so casually. You actually taste the chorizo in every spoonful of rice and I liked the addition of the green onions and bean sprouts which added some Asian flavors to this dish.
When we made our selections, we tried to choose those items that had that fusion food element to it, but we also had foods that were pretty straightforward like the spicy chicken wings and the sumi salad. Other things on their menu include things like Beef Fried Rice, Chicken Cutlet Teriyaki Bowl and California Rolls.
Fusion or straightforward, there were hits and misses, but considering that there was nothing over $6.00 on the menu, there's definitely a lot of room to experiment and try different things. Overall, I liked Red Hot Kitchen and while it's not a restaurant I'd go out of my way for, I wouldn't mind stopping by if I were in the neighborhood.
Red Hot Kitchen
4625 Valley Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90032-3831