November 12, 2010

Laxy Ox Canteen, Little Tokyo

Ramen and shabu shabu usually comes to mind when I think about dining in Little Tokyo, but as downtown LA continues its revitalization, restaurants like the Lazy Ox Canteen will continue to pop up in unexpected locations. This restaurant is the only dining establishment on the block, which is unusual since I'm used to eating at places on 2nd and 1st street between San Pedro and Central. The Lazy Ox sign is illuminated by bright yellow light bulbs and difficult to miss when driving by at night. After hearing all the positive feedback about this place, I finally decided it was time to pay a visit.

A late dinner was perfect because the two hour metered parking expired at 8 p.m. The hostess said it would be a few minutes for a table so I walked over to the bar. The bar tender was very knowledgeable and patient as I sampled over four beers before I found the tripel karmeliet 8.4% Belgium, which was $9 for the glass. After the bar tendered handed me the beer, the table was ready. I ordered a few things off the menu that caught my attention and sat back to enjoy the beer. The food arrived quickly and I couldn't wait to dig in.

Crispy surf clams with caper & pickle aioli

The clams were fried to a warm golden brown, with a crispy crust on the outside and tender clams on the inside. The aioli was nice, but it needed more caper flavor. I quite enjoyed the fried clams on its own because the addition of aioli made the dish too heavy. If there was more caper flavor, it could have balanced the fried clams and the two combined would not have been as heavy.

poblano pepper soup with crispy pork belly & creme fraiche

The soup was an appetizing shade of green and I couldn't wait to dig in and fish out the pork belly. The soup was well balanced with a subtle poblano flavor that stood up well against the creme fraiche. The crispy pork belly was a welcomed substitute for croutons, but were too soggy after sitting in the soup. The soup was very addicting despite the soggy pork belly and very refreshing after the heavy clams.

dashi marinated yellowtail with avocado, hash brown & tonburi

The yellowtail was very fresh and smooth. The avocado provided a nice creamy flavor. The hash brown needed a little more time on the fire for a needed crisp and some salt for flavor. Fortunately, the hash brown didn't ruin the dish because I didn't notice its absence. A generous portion of yellowtail on the plate and I look forward to ordering it again.

pig ear "chicharon" with radish salad & lime

A huge pie of fried pig ears arrived and I couldn't stop smiling. It was the dish I looked forward to the most and I was not disappointed. Although it's hard to go wrong with fried pigs ears. The squeeze of lime really finished off the dish for me and I was so happy I forgot about the radish salad. The ears were crunchy with bursts of fat and very well seasoned. A perfect dish to end the meal.

Overall, the food was good and the pig ears were memorable. The restaurant had a very casual atmosphere and a good selection of beers. The only down fall of this restaurant was the table service. The waiter was hard to track down and when he did stop by he was in a hurry to run off. Even a smile would have been nice. Maybe they were under staffed, but the lack of service took away one star from the dining experience. Too bad I didn't save room for the pudding. I will have to go back on another night and hopefully have a better experience with the service.

3 out of 5 stars

Lazy Ox Canteen
241 S. San Pedro Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Metered parking on the street and several public lots in the area.

Lazy Ox Canteen on Urbanspoon

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