On our first night in Los Angeles for bachelor party weekend, we wanted to take it easy as we had an early date with a deep sea fishing vessel the following morning. We stepped out of our hotel and walked across the street to Sloopy’s Beach Cafe for dinner. There was a blues band playing inside, which for some reason, seemed wholly out of place and anachronistic. But we went in anyway.
When we got inside, we were greeted by a large fireplace. This, too, seemed out of place to me. I didn’t think people in California ever used fireplaces. But apparently, in the winter, it rains. And on this particular night, it was about 70 degrees, which presumably is fireplace weather.
Walking around the fireplace, we were sat at a table in a side corner of restaurant. We were sat at a table that I think was made by taking a slice out of a California redwood. Surrounding me were pieces of tropical flora, coral, and a variety of things stuffed into hollowed out pineapples and palm tree trunks. Sitting there, I felt like I was sitting on a live-action set of SpongeBob SquarePants. And it weirded me out more than just a little bit. The rest of the restaurant isn’t that intense – just where I was sitting.
The six of us ordered a round of budweisers, which they were out of.
A preliminary look at the menu was pretty much what you’d expect out of a place called Sloopy’s Beach Cafe. But then, I saw the Kogi Tacos.
Kogi Tacos are tacos with Korean bulgogi inside. These are the kinds of tacos made famous by food trucks. I’d never had bulgogi taco, so I was eager to try it. (note: gogi or kogi translates to meat, usually beef. bul translates to fire.)
The kogi tacos were fantastic. Pico de gallo and bulgogi go together so wonderfully and effortlessly. You wouldn’t think that this was fusion food. The flavor combinations played together really well, as if this is a dish that people have been eating this way for generations. The dish came with three. I could have eaten half a dozen.
Also impressive was that the bulgogi tasted like bulgogi. It wasn’t some So-Cal beachcomber’s take on what bulgogi is and it wasn’t some sort of fusion bastardization of bulgogi flavors. It was just straight up bulgogi – in a taco. Nice.
And the tortillas were quite remarkable as well, although I kind of expected that they would be. They had nice texture but never got too doughy. It was almost as if they were aerated with the aroma that comes out of the oven when you bake something really nice. For some reason, out of the entire meal, it’s the tortillas that stand out most clearly in my memory.
(Sloopy’s Beach Cafe is in Manhattan Beach, California, a town whose inhabitants, I’m told, are categorized as either sand people, tree people, or hill people. I’m not making that up.)