When I travel on business I’m usually alone and my schedule consists of attending meetings all day, then writing up notes and acting on assignments at night. If I get wild and crazy, I might watch half an hour of television then fall asleep. Thus I devote an inordinate amount of attention to the one likely source of pleasure and adventure on the trip: the chance to eat something local and unique. Here are some slices of a day in the life of a wandering glutton.
On a recent trip to see a client in downtown Los Angeles, Hotwire plopped me in the world’s seediest Ramada in Koreatown. Perfect: I’ll get some Korean barbecue. But with dozens of places within a couple of blocks, which to choose?
My first resource, always, is Yelp. Seasoned users know how to find the good reviews and then filter the information by recency (very old reviews might not reflect today’s conditions, even if they are very detailed and well written) and frequency (I wanted places with good sides, or panchan, so I did a search for that in the reviews of each restaurant). I discovered that the “better” places only serve very large and expensive entrees (i.e. the specific meat you want to cook) which is impractical for the solo diner. That narrowed it down to a few all you can eat establishments, which I corroborated with reviews on Eater and (found through Google search) L.A. Weekly.
I ended up at a very popular place (nearly 2000 reviews) called Hae Jang Chon. Unfortunately, I was turned away because the barbecue grill tables were for two or more. By now somewhat hungry and desperate, I remembered a place right across the street from the Ramada called Star King BBQ. I checked Yelp again. Only 94 reviews, but most were positive.
I had a pretty decent and well priced meal, which I reviewed on Yelp. (You’ll have to look it up if you are curious, for reasons explained below.) It was not until I got back to my hotel that I realized Guelaguetza, a Oaxacan mole place I’d been lusting after, was only a few blocks away. Ah well. Something for the next trip.
Update: turns out Yelp has so much business, they don’t want any links to their site. So you’ll have to go to Yelp and search if you want to see reviews of these places.