In addition to showering twice daily, we also somehow managed to eat a lot of great things during the month of July. That includes a luscious clam chowder bowl, tangy seafood tostadas, and Hainan chicken rice that we love so much, we won’t hesitate to argue with strangers online about. Here are the eight best dishes we ate in July.
Clam chowder bread bowl
This is Neptune’s Net signature dish. One time, deep into the pandemic when we lost our grip on reality, we came here and didn’t order the clam chowder bread bowl. Big mistake. We had to watch our friend happily enjoy his bread bowl (and the little bread hat that comes with it) while trying not to look too desperate whenever he offered us a bite.
Hainan chicken rice
If LA’s Hainan chicken scene were a kingdom, Pearl River Deli would be its emperor. This tiny Chinatown spot serves the best possible version of the dish in the city. Thick, juicy pieces of chicken lay upon a bed of rice, like an exhausted noblewoman in a renaissance painting. The chicken rice – which is equally as important as the poultry – has been simmered in a rich ginger-garlic broth then fluffed with chicken fat, down to each and every last grain. To say this dish is a masterpiece would be an understatement.
“Pep’d Up” pizza
Bootleg is a pizza-truck-turned-brick-and-mortar specializing in a type of square pie that, frankly, is a bit hard to define. One could make an argument that it’s Sicilian, Detroit-style, or even traditional pan pizza, but it’s kind of a mix of all three - heavy on the tomato sauce, topped with everything from veggies to pastrami, and featuring a thick, crispy crust with a soft interior that makes every bite feel like a custom-made pizza pillow. Pies rotate frequently, but the pepperoni-covered “Pep’d Up” is a mainstay and should always be on your order.
The Hawaiian Royal plate (with a few frames of bowling)
Gardena Bowl Coffee shop isn’t much of a cafe, but rather a fantastic Hawaiian restaurant serving favorites you usually don’t see on this side of the Pacific Ocean. The Hawaiian Royal reigns supreme - it’s a generous plate of sweet Portuguese sausage, eggs, and green onions, which are scattered throughout a bed of rice-like gems in a crown. We also like the loco moco and wonton saimin, the latter being especially great whenever the weather gets cold (read: below 75 degrees).
A full BBQ spread (with plenty of sides)
There isn’t a more talked about and sought-after BBQ spot on the West coast than Moo’s BBQ. So what’s all the hype about? Central Texas-style BBQ that rivals the best of central Texas. Think pork ribs, smoked turkey, pulled pork, and the best brisket we’ve ever eaten. That said, the highlights on Moo’s menu aren’t just limited to big slabs of meat. The mac and cheese is crusty on top and properly gooey inside, the dill-heavy potato salad is light and fragrant, and if you show up to your next friend picnic with some of their tres leche pudding bread pudding (they recently started offering pre-orders for large groups), you’ll be the star of the afternoon.
Mariscos 4 Vientos in Boyle Heights is a one-stop shop for every mariscos craving we’ve ever had. The truck’s tostadas also run the seafood gamut by offering toppings like shrimp, fish, octopus, and even imitation crab. But unlike other places that cut their fish into small chunks, they finely mince their fish ceviche to create more of a seafood paste that gets slathered on the salty tostada. The tomato, onion, and cilantro really come through here, and the large slices of creamy avocado make for a rich final touch.
Curry katsu plate
Interstellar is the best sit-down breakfast and lunch option in Downtown Santa Monica. The small cafe’s Korean-American co-owners nail lots of dishes from lots of cuisines - like bulgogi burgers, katsu curry, pasta, chilaquiles, breakfast burritos, club sandwiches, and more. It’s practically meditative slicing through the crunchy katsu with your knife, and scooping it up with a bit of rice and curry to craft the perfect bite.
Jerk chicken plate
Massive portions, affordable prices, and plantains so juicy, you’d think they were a song by Doja Cat – the jerk chicken plate from Blessed Tropical Jamaican Cuisine comes bathed in a sweet and spicy sauce that’ll send you straight to heaven. A meal at this classic Inglewood spot is great any day of the week, but come on a Wednesday, and you’ll be treated to their wonderful lunch special – an entire plate of expertly cooked jerk chicken for just $10.