Chingu Chicken House
3322 E. Fountain Blvd., 572-5757
Chingu's in a rough-looking building next to a 7-Eleven, but more than makes up in flavor for what it lacks in aesthetics and location.
As with many Korean meals, our order of chicken bulgogi ($12.99) and fried chicken wings ($5) began with a litany of small, fermented sides, each as unique and dynamic as an individual entrée: seaweed and cabbage, potatoes, and bean sprouts. Corn tea, which tastes like Rice Krispies smell, followed, and then our mains.
The bulgogi was a perfect paean to all things grilled and charred, featuring crunchy onions and soft potato cubes, and a spicy, deep-red sauce that stained the chopsticks. The steaming, battered wings arrived golden yellow, sticky as glue, and covered in a citrus-y sauce full of heat and zing. Appropriately, it was all set to the dramatic sounds of the Korean soap opera Tasty Life. — Bryce Crawford
Ivy's Chinese Cafe
11550 Ridgeline Drive, #120, 487-8088, ivyschinesecafe.com
If you've been to Jasmine Cafe on Stetson Hills Boulevard, then you've been to Ivy's Chinese Cafe. And I don't mean that as if the places are just kind of similar: Menu-wise, they're the same. That's because chef and owner David Bang recently sold Jasmine and opened Ivy's, without a non-compete contract.
Colleagues recently visited and confirmed the continued excellence of past-favorite items like the Po Po platter, but we stopped in for a quick lunch — truly, service is snappy — of Kung Pao Chicken ($5.95) and Three Meat with Hot Pepper Sauce ($6.75). They were preceded by included egg drop and hot-and-sour soups, both textbook good, and delivered with a serviceable egg roll and rice option. The Kung Pao remains better than most and the chicken, beef and shrimp trio's heavy brown sauce isn't really spicy if you don't chomp the dried red chilies. All in all: cheap, easy, bountiful Chinese. — Matthew Schniper
Taste of Jerusalem Café
15 E. Bijou St., 477-1777, tasteofjerusalemcafe.com
Taste of Jerusalem, a frequent stop on our trips through the downtown alley arts scene, is an atmospheric place, and you never know which atmosphere you're going to get. Will it be stiflingly hot? Well air-conditioned? Thick with the smell of smoky grease from the kitchen? It was the latter the day I ate the lamb shish kebab sandwich ($6.99) and Ultimate Plate ($7.99), but it didn't hurt the flavors at all.
The plate's contents — slices of beef, lamb and chicken breast, falafel, hummus and pita bread — also work well in the similarly filled Ultimate Sandwich, but are perfect for combining items, like a crunchy ball of falafel with the delicious, creamy hummus, just so. The lamb came in juicy, pink-in-the-middle squares with a nice little sauce similar to a creamy Italian dressing, and tangy pepperoncinis. Definitely a multi-napkin bit of eating. — Bryce Crawford