Monthly Archives: May 2011

Wok on the Wild Side: Inglewood’s Chinese-Soul Fusion

Hot Link Fried Rice

Here in Los Angeles, the words “Inglewood” and “Chinese food” when used in the same sentence, don’t always inspire the greatest confidence. In fact, they bring to mind the greasy, goopy fare found at the countless versions of the “$1 Chinese” shops across the city. So I was a little suspicious when a friend recommended “Wok on the Wild Side”, an Inglewood Chinese restaurant in a two-story strip mall between a nail salon and a Louisiana Fried Chicken. Few things good have come out of pun-titled eateries. However, my state of mind began to change when another friend recommended the restaurant yet again, and this time referred to a specific dish, the Hot Link Fried Rice. Chinese-Soul Food fusion? Now, I was intrigued.

Owner Li Kung and her husband Chi Ge run the restaurant by themselves, with Li working the front of the house and Chi Ge working the kitchen. Li was previously a health food cooking instructor in Manhattan Beach, until she and her husband, who was at first reluctant to jump into the restaurant world, decided to open Wok on the Wild Side. Li’s husband, Chi Ge, is a tall, burly man who could pass for an Asian-version of the Soup Nazi. When I ask him about being a chef, he bluntly tells me that he has never liked cooking for others. He wants to cook his way, and doesn’t liked being nitpicked by customers. Li is much more ameliorating. The business does a brisk amount of take-out, and you will often see Li suggesting customizations for unsure customers on the phone. Like many marriages, they’re opposing viewpoints seems to somehow mesh well together, that is, if the food is any indication.

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Songkran Festival 2011 at Wat Thai Temple: I Came, Issan, I Ate

Wat Thai Temple

A good rule of thumb when spending the day in unfamiliar territory is to show up early and eat a good breakfast. When I arrived at the Wat Thai temple in North Hollywood I had followed only one of those rules; It was a few minutes before 10am and the vendors had just started to unload their wares. Needless to say, I was incredibly hungry. It was Songkran, celebrated in Thailand as the first day of the new year. The event was an eclectic mix of past and present: bald, orange-robed Buddhist monks roamed the grounds, vendors bowing politely as they passed; children ran through the temple gardens brandishing super soakers (Songkran is also know as the Festival of Water) while a youthful rock band on the main stage alternated between traditional Thai songs and those of Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift. Continue reading

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