OKI'S DOG: MY INSIDES FEEL VIOLATED, BUT IN A GOOD WAY
As I write this, Twitter is alight with posts from those attending a meal for "The 50 Best Restaurants in the World" awards. Very nice it sounds too, particularly a dish of scallops with morels.
Someone was actually kind/foolish enough to invite me as their guest at this year's occasion and, even though I find the concept of the competition slightly specious, I would have happily gone along if it had not been for the simple matter of 6000 miles and a looming wedding to contend with.
I am sure I would have enjoyed the meal a great deal. However, I am also equally sure that, despite the fact I have had more than my fair share of fine dining experiences over the years, that is not where my heart truly lies when it comes to eating.
No, my heart truly lies at places like Oki's Dog in the Pico/La Brea area of Los Angeles. It is not much too look at from the outside. In fact, it is not much to look at from the inside either. There is a take out hatch facing the street and, around the back, a small dining area with cracked Formica covered tables and walls covered by ageing black & white pictures of people of whom I had never heard.
The place is Japanese owned (the name apparently comes from the owner's origins in Okinawa) and has a large menu including hamburgers, teriyaki chicken and the rather infamous "Oki-Dog" wrapped in a tortilla. That's what I ordered, along with some chili fries and a couple of drinks.
At least, that's what I thought I ordered until our food arrived. Somewhere between my mouth and the ears of the young assistant behind the counter, my clear and precise order of "Two Oki-Dogs please" delivered with my best Rex Harrison impression, had been transformed to "Two hot dogs covered in the slurry like contents of a cesspool. Oh, and bung some of the same shit on the chips and all, while you are at it"
What we had received instead were two chili cheese dogs. By now, a queue had formed and we decided just to carry on eating regardless of the mistake. When we opened the wrapping to reveal the contents of our lunch, it looked like someone else had already revealed their lunch over our dogs and fries. It looked fairly grim, but then as I have discovered to be the case, so much delicious food often does.
It probably tells you all you need to know about me that not only did I polish off my hot dog and more than my fair share of the fries, in about ten minutes, I actually rather enjoyed them. The dog gave a nice "snap" when I bit into it and although any flavour it might have had was covered up by the coating of chili, the overall result was not bad at all.
The bun had been lightly toasted and it too played its part adding a slight sweetness to the whole affair. The fries were covered in another thick slick of chili, which had enough heat about it to make us slurp loudly from our drinks containers before we finished up, threw out our rubbish and headed back out to the car $10 lighter of pocket.
We were not quite finished for the day as Sybil also had some shopping to do on Melrose. We stopped in for dessert of cookies and ice cream at The Village Idiot. As we sat on our bar stools, both our stomachs began gurgling noisily enough to be heard above the sounds of Brit pop blaring from the P.A and continued to do so for the rest of the day. Oki's Dog, the meal that keeps on giving.
As I finish writing, people are still tweeting the final courses of their delicious sounding meal back in London. I wish I was with them, but there is no reason why people can't enjoy all ends of the spectrum is there?
So, if I am not in the UK or not invited again next year, no harm done. You will be able to find me at the sort of place which makes me really happy. A sort of place very much like Oki-Dog.
Just follow the sound of the gurgling stomachs.