Far East Joint
When we entered Lakes Entertainment Center in West Covina, we didnâ€™t expect to find any adequate cuisine. However, Far East Joint proves to be a humble little gem that provides noteworthy fusion Korean-American meals while also supporting a good cause.
We stopped by the restaurant for a light afternoon snack. The inviting wooden tables and booths offered a comfortable and casual ambiance in the relatively empty restaurant. The menu menu was equally inviting; it featured an extensive array of unique foods ranging from kimchi bulgogi tacos to bacon fried riceâ€”casual Korean dishes that have been given an American twist.
The first plate that arrived was the Spam N Egg Sliders, which included slices of SPAM and a sunny-side egg stacked between two Hawaiian sweet rolls. The lightly toasted buns were exceptionally soft and chewy, their sweetness contrasting well with the saltiness of the meat.
The Spicy Tuna Nachos were also something unique. We were taken aback at first because the fish was served as a raw paste, but upon tasting it, we realized it was surprisingly delectable. The spicy aioli mayonnaise mix delivered a satisfying kick to the palate and the house-made chips were remarkable. As opposed to serving bland store-bought corn chips, Far East Joint deep-fried their own pieces of flour tortilla, which had a nice, soft and fluffy texture.
The Joint Fried Rice presented a familiar yet foreign combination of flavors. It came with a generous amount, enough to satisfy two people. The grilled bulgogi beef was phenomenal, tender and perfectly spiced. The meat was mixed into the rice alongside spicy kimchi salsa, and together the ingredients created the perfect blend of Korean and American cuisine. While there was less kimchi than expected, the hot sauce gave it an appetizing taste that was bearable.
The least impressive dish was the Island Fries. With melted cheese, Thousand Island dressing and scallions, it reminded us of In-N-Outâ€™s animal-style fries. While the sauce was flavorful, the fries were ordinary and something that could be found in almost any other restaurant. It was by no means unpleasant, but it lacked the individuality that was evident in the other dishes we tried.
In addition to its unorthodox food, Far East Joint is also known for its generous Meal For Meal program, which aids in providing meals for children in Cambodia, Tanzania and North Korea. Meal For Meal CEO Arthur Han opened up the restaurant as a means to combine his love of cooking and desire for philanthropy. For each item a customer orders on the menu, up to 30 percent of the proceeds go to the foundation. As of now, Far East Joint has raised nearly 15,000 meals since its opening last October to help children in underdeveloped countries. We were awed by this remarkable feat, and it definitely made us consider returning for another meal.
Our visit has given us a new suggestion for regular restaurant choices. We were impressed by the all the plates we tried, which were palatable, affordable and aesthetically pleasing. With a beneficial program as its foundation, Far East Joint allows anyone to enjoy fresh and delicious cooking while feeling content about feeding a hungry child thousands of miles away.
By Cherie Chu and Sabrina Wan, Scene editors