Past few days of fooding. Started off inauspsiciously on a Friday night at 123 Pho Playa Vista, a very whitewashed pho place with indifferent pho and downright terrible popcorn chicken. They managed to even screw up spring rolls (goi cuon) and didn't have peanut sauce. Considering the neighborhood they serve, expecting to be whitewashed is reasonable, but food this mediocre was still disappointing.
With LA Marathon weekend had effectively wrapped up, late lunch later at Jackson Market in Culver City. I am not sure why this place is friggin' slammed all the time? To be fair, the food is quite decent, even good, with a quality pastrami rueben on panini (?!) that works. Might have to go back for breakfast at some point-- hopefully will be less crowded too? Verdict: pretty good but does not justify the crowds or the hype.
Fujiwara Tofu Cafe, inspired by the old Initial D anime, was Sunday afternoon's stop. If you can catch the ricer crowd I can imagine it's kinda cool to hang out. Unfortunately I was a bit too late to catch all the ricers, and while dessert tofu is good, it's hard say you'd want to linger too long here due to the limited menu and the fact that it's in an otherwise very dull plaza right off the freeway and the Thrifty Ice Cream factory in El Monte.
Sunday's dinner was at E.A.T Bistro in Rosemead. It is a fine example of a very generic Hong Kong style cafe menu, with equally generic quality. Many of their competitors, for better or worse, have more character, better food, or both; so while E.A.T. Bistro isn't bad per se, the overall experience feels kind of meh compared to Garden Cafe, Ho Kee Cafe, Baccali, P P Pop, U2 Cafe, Henry's Cuisine, etc.
Finally, Monday breakfast at Pop's Bagels in Culver City, at the Culver City Steps. I remain a bit clueless as to why the Los Angeles bagel scene is considered so up and coming. Pop's Bagels and Western Bagels in particular have been middling at best, with Pop's Bagels at least doing a fairly quality bagel yet lacking on quality of the lox compared to the best in New York. The very much unheralded The Bagel Factory does a better bagel (although I'm not sure on the lox), and the very much overhyped New York Bagel and Deli is a long-established place in the LA bagel scene that, while solidly average, at least has earned their stripes as an old hand that has lived without the hype. With Pop's Bagels right next door to a Mendocino Farms and a Philz' Coffee, clearly they cater to the crowd who wants to be scene, so at least they know their target audience?