You know what’s great in life? Getting exactly what you want.
And when it comes to food no knows exactly how you want things to taste more than you do.
So maybe it’s time to get back to the basics and start DIY-ing (do it yourself-ing) some meals when dining out.
The cool thing is that some of L.A.’s tastiest restaurants and food vendors provide you with everything you need to have it your way, from tools and seasonings to delicious cuts of meat ready to cook to grills, pots, and most importantly, fire.
And you know what? When you taste the final product, it’ll be hard to argue with the results.
So join us in breaking out of the ordinary and check out these tasty food spots where you cook your own meal.
Just make sure to tip yourself…. you’ve earned it.
List starts after the jump in no particular order.
1. Jae Bu Do
This Korean establishment specializes in charcoal grilled seafood. There is a grill at every table and ash can be seen floating in the air, if enough tables are grilling. The feast sized platters are meant to be shared, in the platters are shrimp, clams, scallops even lobsters on some nights. Toss them on the grill and watch the your food cook before your eyes, be careful clams are known to pop with juice from the heat sometimes. Sides of corn cheese, steamed egg, ceviche, noodles and kimchi and sweet potatoes accompany all meals here. It’s best to come hungry and don’t come dressed to the nines, unless you want your clothes to smell like smoke.
2. The Dollar Hits Truck
Everything at this Filipino street food truck is mostly a dollar and it’s worth every penny. The menu is made up of mostly skewers ($1) with the exception of some specialty items like the beef stew ($3) and a partially-formed duck embryo egg ($2). Grab a menu, mark what you want and head on over to one of the communal grills to grill your already simi cooked food. Mingle and eat at your leisure, the grills go till 11:00pm Thursday through Sunday. One last thing, order the cantaloupe drink it’s bottomless for, you guessed it, a dollar.
3. Genwa Korean BBQ
One of the best Korean BBQ restaurants in L.A. is Genwa, it’s so good even celebrities (Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, Bruno Mars) drop by for their Korean BBQ fix. Your meal come in course options from option A to F each option a variety of dishes to accompany your grilling items. Genwa might be a bit pricer than other Korean BBQ places but they managed to build a state of the art smokeless grill, thats right you won’t leave smelling like a bbq, thanks to the downward suction feature if the grills, thats fancy stuff. Like most Korean restaurants, an assortment of traditional banchan dishes are accompanied with every meal.
4. Shabu Shabu House
Located in Little Tokyo this shabu shabu joint never ceases to be crowded. Folks flock here for the freshly sliced cuts of tender red meat, a perfect ponzu sauce and a chance to learn the art of simplicity that is Japanese Shabu Shabu. You get the option of 10 pieces or 15 pieces of sliced meat and your meal comes with raw veggies to cook, noodles to boil and a bowl of steamed rice. Once the soup is present, simply toss your veggies into the pot and dip your beef into the boiling soup. Lightly dip your cooked items in the ponzu sauce and consume with rice. Only go for dinner, at lunch time they only serve curry. No cell phone use while eating per a paper sign on the wall and it’s cash only.
5. Chengdu Pot
Chengdu Pot seems to be the only Chengdu style hot pot in Los Angeles. Traditionally the soup base is made with chili and oil, i.e. SUPER SPICY soup. If you can’t do that spicy opt for one of several soup base options that range from mushroom to a mild original soup. Choose from a variety of meats, seafood and vegetable to boil in your soup pot right at your table. Just watch out for the dipping sauces and don’t accidentally burn your tongue off. For those needing more convincing, Chef Tony Xu of Chengdu Taste fame has placed his stamp of approval on this place.
6. Thien An Bo 7 Mon
This Vietnamese spot from Westminister, Orange County is available in the SVG at it’s sister location. Popular for their “7 courses of beef” a family style meal of cooked and raw items to grill. The second course, where thin slices of raw beef and raw shrimp are cooked table side atop a heated iron dome is the only DIY portion of your seven courses. After you grill your beef you wrap them in rice paper and raw vegetables like lettuce, cucumber and mint into a skinny burrito and dip it in fish sauce. Look out for the marinated ground beef rolled inside a lalot leaf it’s already grilled for you and it’s crazy delicious.
7. Feng Mao Lamb Kebab
This Korean Chinese spot specializes in kebabs you grill over a fire at your table. Tender, juicy and well-marinated items of up to 36 kinds of kababs, vary from seafood, vegetables, and meats to offal options like chicken heart and bull penis. Explore and order some lamb kidney or beef belly, at $2 a pop you can afford to get adventurous, trust me it’s good. Kebabs are charged individually or in sets, cooked dishes made to order are also available.
What are your favorite DIY L.A. restaurants? Let us know in the comments below!