Acquired Taste: Blood Rice Cakes With Timothy DeLaGhetto and Justina Valentine
While you could go to Fogo de Chão and spend all the money you have to your name, you could also head over to M Grill and get some dank Brazilian meats (try the picanha cut, which many people swear is better than FDC’s) for less than half the price. In addition to BBQ, you can also hit up M’s hot buffet full of tasty snacks like fried plantains, collard greens, and mashed yuca. It has discounted prices for your (unfortunately) vegetarian friends, too.
Ya see? You can totally find other things in the SGV aside from Chinese food! And it’s hard to argue with unlimited hummus, especially when the hummus is as good as it is at Wahib’s. Party hardy with the buffet lunch for a glorious $10.95 (or $15.95 for dinner), and don’t forget to eat a thousand pounds of the house pickles (or kebabs, if that’s more your thing).
We can all agree that the only thing better than brunch is, well, more brunch. If you’re looking to brunch hard, Cafe Sierra does a Saturday brunch buffet (for a cool $32) from 10am-2pm. Though it’s pricey, the options are excellent, and include specialties like corned beef fritters, Chinese sweet buns, har gow, and all the breakfast specialties you’re craving. Not fancy enough for you? Check back on Sunday for the $50 brunch buffet, which features live jazz, hand-cut prime rib, and more seafood than you can shake a stick at (though we don’t recommend doing that).
These days, most Angelenos seem to be fiercely allegiant to a particular K-Town BBQ spot. We’re not ready to pick just one favorite, but when it comes to AYCE, HJC definitely rocks the house. Expect not-so-typical meat options like spicy BBQ chicken, hot dogs, and intestines (seriously, try them if you never have) as well as other goodies like kimchee fried rice, radish wraps, and miso soup. Do it up at lunch for $21.99 and dinner for $23.99.
From Tuesday to Friday, you can swing through the beloved Culver City spot for a nearly unbeatable $12.95 AYCE lunch buffet ($15 on the weekends). Get up close and personal with Mayura’s Kerala fish curry and masala dosas (big pastries stuffed with potatoes). Oh, and that Jonathan whatever-his-name-is guy seems to love this place too.
On the other hand, do come to India’s Restaurant expecting the popular Indian food you know and love. It features a killer weekday $10.95 lunch buffet full of the classics, like the knockout saag paneer. If you’ve yet to explore this strip mall outside of Thai favorite Wat Dong Moon Lek, you’ll be very glad you did. (And don’t worry -- what India’s Restaurant lacks in a creative name is made up for by the food.)
Don’t come to Rajdhani expecting the popular Indian food you already know -- Rajdhani is so much more. Specializing in vegetarian, Gujarati-style eats, Rajdhani lets you stuff your face with delicious treats like potato & green bean curry, yellow dhokla (a spongy snack made from rice and chickpeas), and a ton of excellent rice dishes. Those bad boys (and so many more) can be yours for an under-$15 AYCE price. Bingo.
Sixteen dollars will score you an AYCE pass at Happy Family, where you can just keep ordering more things until your DNA changes into actual Chinese food. Though this San Gabriel Valley fave rocks a mostly vegetarian menu, meat eaters constantly give Happy Family respect. Try the house “chicken” (made of mushroom), squab (actual squab) lettuce wraps, stir-fry spinach, and well, everything else, 'cause you can order it all.
Chris Oh’s Korean BBQ spot has been crushing it in Culver City with a menu packed full of wonderful meats and banchan, as well as nutso house specialties like uni-topped steamed egg pots, and bone marrow corn cheese (#RealLife). Now, all day, every day, you can put your appetite to the test with Hanjip’s new all-you-can-eat menu. Lunch will run you $18 (for nine items), and dinner can either set you back $25 (for 14 items) or $30 (for 20 items). We’re not gonna tell you which one to choose, but we will tell you that the $30 deal includes beef bulgogi and rib-eye. So, yeah, guess we are telling you which one to choose.
HB&G kind of goes nuts with salads -- in the best possible way. There are tons of ‘em, like hummus (because that totally counts as a salad), shirazi, cabbage, and pretty much all the other tasty morsels you want. Lucky for you, that means there are tons to gobble up, as more will be brought to you the second you finish any of ‘em. It’ll run you $12 without an entree, or $7 with one.
It might seem like $32 is expensive for an AYCE Mexican seafood buffet (though really, can you put a price on beauty?), but it might help to sway your mind knowing that price also includes an all-you-can-drink option. La Paz sets up a taco bar, plus specialties like baked salmon, fried whitefish, ceviche, and even a full dessert station. One word: no-brainer.
Vegan or not, it’s impossible to say no to the spread at Rahel Woldmedhin’s (formerly of Messob) vegan Ethiopian spot, which is unlimited from 11am to 3pm every single day. If the combination of her heavenly injera and greens don’t bring a tear (or several) to your eyes, then, well, we just don’t know about you.
Playa del Rey
You like steak, don’t ya? Of course you do, you’re a human being with a heart. Playa del Rey’s own Bacari PDR does Beefsteak Sundays, which is an AYCE petite filet extravaganza (also served with fries, onion rings, and an OPEN BAR). Hit it up every last Sunday of the month for $40 per person.
Some people seem to have no limit to the amount of sushi they can eat -- present company very much included. If you’re one of ‘em, stop by The Sushi by Jin for three rounds of ordering whatever you want (smaller portions, but truly whatever you want) on the menu for a chill $22.95 at lunch and $27.95 at dinner. Caution: You’ll get charged for whatever you don’t eat, so start training your body and mind for the task.
Roy Choi’s popular former-IHOP spot is always a winner-winner, especially when that means an unlimited chicken dinner. Head in on Sundays from 5-10pm to do just that and chow down on your choice of Cracklin beer can chicken, Mochiko chicken, and Korean chicken Wings. That $23 price is a steal, especially since it’s all served with farmer salad, corn on the cob, togarashi fries, Hawaiian rolls, and house sauces.
Culver City sure knows how to eat. Check out Bella Vista for yet another appetite challenger, featuring pizza (even sweet pizza, like the brigadeiro com morango, with chocolate, condensed milk, and strawberries) and salad. Cost runs you $12.99 & $15.99 for weekday lunch and dinner respectively, and $17.99 all day on weekends.
Beverly Hills & Downtown
You’ve probably heard of Fogo de Chão, as it’s essentially LA’s premier Brazilian steakhouse. You’ve probably also heard how expensive it is, and it’s true: a full churrasco dinner here will run you $60 (though you can snake a weekday lunch special for $36), but it’s nothing you’ll regret. The place is like Disneyland for meat, an insane stimulus explosion of servers with skewers of meat that can leave even the most rapacious of carnivores begging for a halftime. FDC’s salad bar is also nothing to scoff at -- it’s even better than Sizzler!
Possibly one of K-Town’s most underrated restaurants, and definitely one of K-Town’s best AYCE values, Oo-Kook absolutely needs to be on your radar (if it isn’t already). $24 will get you a weekday lunch special with all the delectable meats you crave, plus banchan. The servers bring you about three meats at a time, too, which should curb your needing-more-meat anxiety pretty handily. Get over there quick: You know you want that cheese corn in your life.
By all accounts, Taku-Ya shouldn’t be as good as it is. It’s on a small street in Glendale next to a parking structure, and a five-minute walk from the other 75 (or so) sushi places on Brand, housed in a space for too big for its own good, making the restaurant look empty at all times. And yet, despite all this, the fish is extremely fresh, and there is a shockingly large number of things included in the AYCE menu (ikura! ramen! oysters!) -- for $30, you basically get free reign to order whatever you like. Truly nothing about Taku-Ya makes sense, but we kind of love it all the more for that.
Covina & Rancho Cucamonga
It’s hard enough for us to find Mexican buffets, let alone homestyle Mexican buffets of this quality, let alone Mexican buffets of this quality for under $15. Fonda Don Chon is a true miracle, and you’ll see why once you gorge yourself on that juicy asada, or that homemade molcajete stew, or those shrimp rancheros -- or, more likely, all of the above.