It’s an old question, and oft answered. When you meet for a meal at 3 pm is it lunch or dinner? Unfortunately, the answer is not, as we say in law biz, “well settled.” In this case, the associations with Kevin Costner’s Sci-Fi efforts, Dinches With Stamps, and Dinches With Fish trump.
So? So, Dinches With Knives it is.
The knife part came with two of my Labor Day dinch companions, KC and Jon Broida.
If you don’t know KC Ma from his myriad internet appearances as kcma (clever nick, neh?), he’s a talented and forward looking, high-end executive chef. The guy knows tons of stuff about Japanese western and Asian style Japanese knives, is acquainted with a very large number of brands, and can talk intelligently about them. What really separates him from the rest of the herd is his skill using them. He’s also one of the few people on the planet, I’ll readily admit sharpens better than I do.
So? So, now meet Jon. Jon Broida used to cook with KC before KC moved up. Jon is an excellent cutter, and excellent sharpener and knows more about the Japanese aspects of Japanese knives than anyone I’ve ever met. After all the conversation, I pretty much knew he was at least as good a sharpener as me. After thumb dragging a few of his western edges, it’s easy to say that compared to me… uhm… well… maybe not that easy to say. Close call. Okay, he’s better.
So? So, we ate well. KC and I took Jon, one of KC’s roommates, and an old friend of his from college, to Har Lam Kee on Garfield in Monterey Park.
We were shooting for Dumpling Master, but KC got there first and called to tell me it was closed. Damn! They’d been on the market for so many years, I didn’t believe it would ever happen. It seems they didn’t sell the business, but someone else has the space. Damn, damn, and double damn. There went one of the best restaurants in the world.
Part of the point of the whole exercise was to feed Jon with the sort of food he doesn’t see on the west side – including first class xiaoloon tong bao, so we agreed to meet at Mama’s Lu.
But when we got there, there was a huge crowd – mostly comprised of one extended family – waiting outside for a table and the traditional Labor Day dumplings. No way Mama’s Lu* could handle a party that big without crashing the kitchen, and there had already been too much schlepping for a trip to Dumplings 10053, so we decided to just go across the street to Har Lam Kee.
If you’re in SoCal and you like Chinese food – no holds barred real Chinese food – you should give it a try. They’re a bit of a deli, with an extensive menu an eclectic fusion of Hong Kong bar, Hong Kong street, and Hong Kong family restaurant food. What they aren’t is a Hong Kong dim sum/seafood restaurant – which is something of a relief.
We had blood tofu, abalone which was really conch, fried capelin, jelly-fish salad, fried quail, Budweiser, more Budweiser, and a bunch of other stuff you won’t find without looking for it.
So? So, if you ever get there, aren’t part of a crowd, my favorites are the Trolley Noodles, and Aberdeen Noodle Soup with crab and flying fish roe in the fish balls.
The five of us ate enough for ten, then moved on to a tea house for dessert. Now that’s dessert. We had shaved ice with red beans and everyone else shared some other sweet stuff while I ate more than my share of squid balls in pepper.
I know. Selfish.
So, I learned a lot. One of the things – probably of no interest to you – is that the handle on the 270mm Konosuke HD gyuto is – as far as I could tell from waving the knife around in a parking lot after lunch – very comfortable, at least if you have a soft grip.
Anyway, if you’re shopping for a knife, add Japanese Knife Imports to your list as one of the two best e-tailers of Japanese made knives in the United States.** The other is Chef Knives To Go.
Jon has a narrow, rather specialized inventory. He’s an excellent cutter, a cooking toy junkie, and combines a knowledge of cutting with Japanese knives, sharpening Japanese knives, the Japanese knife business and related things Japanese that’s unparalleled in my experience. If you’re looking for a Japanese made knife with exemplary character, and you want to know what sort of edge you can expect to put on it yourself, Jon’s your man. If you’re looking for a Japanese made knife with expemplary character, you should look at his well-edited inventory.
So? So that’s about all there is to this. An unsolicited tribute to a store I’ve bought nothing from. If you’re interested in serious Japanese cutlery, you should definitely check Jon and Japanese Knife Imports out. Highest Recommendation.
So? Ah so-des.
PS. Jon’s going to be in Japan for the next three months meeting with suppliers, speaking to possible new ones, further studying Japanese knife sharpening, and eating some good fish. So, if you want to talk to him, use the e-mail.
* Mama’s Lu does a very nice xiaoloon bao, better than and not as precious Din Tae Feng; 10053 Dumpling’s is good but not in the same league. Several of their other dumplings kreplach of joy.
** The joke contained within the idea of adding a second name to a list of two is dedicated to Keith De Grau who likes that stuff more than he probably should.