Sometimes as much as you wanna be a rock star, you just can't. Maybe you don't have the money. Maybe you don't have the talent. Maybe you don't have the looks. Whatever the case, you're just never going to be the real thing.
But if you live in LA, there might just be a place for you even if you're not the real deal because where else have you ever seen so many posers, wannabes, knockoffs and straight up keeping-up-with-the-joneses? Let's be honest, you know you secretly want to grace the homepage of Perez Hilton one day. You made reservations at Geisha House on a weekend night wanting to be seen in the slinky top you just bought from Forever 21, and then the next morning you head out to brunch at Toast Bakery Cafe on 3rd, not so much to eat, but to be seen waiting amongst all the other young starlet wannabes in their perfectly messed up bed head-do's and velour track suits. You can hardly afford to pay your bills every month so you've considered buying that Prado, Louis Wuitton or Channel bag the last time you were at the Alley, but are afraid someone's gonna see you for who you really are.
Same thing goes for the food world. One minute there's Red Mango and Pinkberry. Next minute there's Blue Apple and Green Peach and a thousand other fro-yo knockoffs. One minute there's Kogi BBQ truck, the next minute we'll be seeing lines of people outside of Chinese-Puerto Rican fusion or Japanese-Ethiopian fusion trucks. One minute there's Corner Bakery Cafe and California Chicken Cafe, next minute there's...
...Los Angeles Corner Chicken Cafe???? Or is it Los Angeles Corner Kitchen Cafe???
Based on lots of positive reviews on Yelp including raves about their naeng-myun, My girfriend H and I had originally wanted to have the fifth and final stop of my Rock Star Lunch Tour end on a cold-arrowroot-noodle-note at Yu Chun in Koreatown. To our surprise, however, Yu Chun was nowhere to be found when we arrived at the 6th and Alexandria corner minimall. We asked the valet guys where Yu Chun had gone and they told us that it had changed ownership, and that the new place was good. (Really, Valet Guy, really???? Or do you just want our tips?) Hesitantly, we walked into the sterile, next-to-no-atmosphere cafe and paused.
"Uh, is this place trying to be Corner Bakery or something?"
"Yeah, but it's Korean"
"Wanna try it?"
"Yeah, I don't feel like driving anywhere else. And they do have bibim naeng-myun. But the Corner Bakery thing kinda weirds me out."
"I know, right?"
I suppose the small variety of noodle and rice dishes such as naeng-myun and bibim-bap along with roasted chicken are to Corner Chicken Cafe as what sandwiches, soup and salads are to Corner Bakery Cafe. Although the roasted chicken is what this K-town wannabe chain restaurant seems to be promoting, H & I went straight for the bibim naeng-myun.
And just like the food at Corner Bakery Cafe is, in my opinion, mediocre at best, our bibim naeng-myun was certainly nothing to write home about. Its flavor was probably its best asset, with a nice balance of spicy, sweet and sour notes coming from gochujang, garlic, sesame and vinegar. The black arrowroot noodles, on the other hand, were too tightly packed into a tangled lumpy mess. Chilled beef slices that have a slightly drier texture are to be expected in this spicy cold noodle dish, but beef slices that have the texture of thawed-out freezer burn and that are pretty much grey in color are a whole other nasty ballgame.
Aside from the great company, I was pretty bummed that my Rock Star Lunch Tour Week had to end this way. Corner Chicken Cafe just didn't have that star quality for me, at least not in their bibim naeng-myun. Sorry, Corner Chicken Cafe, maybe if you stop trying to be something you're not and just try to be yourself, you'd have much better food. That's not to say I'd never give you another shot, but for now there's just too much competition in this town--and especially in K-town--for you to make the cut this time.
Thanks for following me on my week long Rock Star Lunch Tour! It's back to the grind I go!
Los Angeles Corner Chicken/Kitchen Cafe
3470 W. 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90020
(I can't find their phone number anywhere because it's not listed anywhere yet. C'mon yelpers, get on it!)