423 Culver Blvd · Playa Del Rey, CA 90293 · Neighborhood: Playa Del Rey
If Buddha had a favorite dive restaurant, this would probably be it.
This tiny little gem is impossible to spot from the street, and I found myself driving back and forth a few times before my friend flagged me down from outside the restaurant. One could compare the experience of finding Destini Café to those trippy 3D Stereograms which slowly reveal themselves after you stare at them blankly for a while. Ahhh, there it is! I was never really good at those anyways. Luckily for me though, my friend arrived first and pointed the place out along with the adjacent alley where I would carefully drive down to park my car. We’re not in
Kansas Los Angeles anymore, kids. The view from the parking lot was stunning.
Then, I turned around.
The place is surely a no frills café. Very simple. There’s a tent covering the outside seating area with a huge flowing Buddha fountain in the center to bless your every bite.
The cuisine can be best described as Korean-Chinese with various Singaporean and Thai dishes sprinkled throughout the menu. You can get anything from Pad Thai to Bulgogi, Ramen or stir-fry. My friend and I came here for a mid-day lunch and lingered for a long while. They never once interrupted us, or hurried us out. I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the food.
They also have over 20 organic teas, which along with their other many beverage options take up an entire side of the menu.
I opted for the Spicy Hot Chocolate, which to me, tasted very much like a Chai Tea Latte. Regardless, it was very good.
Per my friend’s recommendation, I tried the Dol sot Bibim Bap. It is a Korean rice bowl topped with beef and vegetables and it arrived to our table in a sizzling clay pot that was very hot. I had never had it before so I didn’t know how to properly eat it. Shame on me. When it came to the table, I started to dig in immediately but my friend kindly instructed, “You’re supposed to mix it all up first!” She also informed me that if I didn’t scrape the rice off the bottom with the spoon it would get stuck and become burnt. Puerto Ricans call this crispy rice Pegao – which I make at home. Here, it was very crunchy and good!
Same dish. All mixed up.
My friend ordered the Black Bean Noodle Bowl. However, she told me that she recognized it as the Korean dish called Ja Jan Myeon. She said it was “originally a Chinese dish that Koreans have made into a street food – a favorite of college students, best at the end of a long night of drinking!” She said it’s usually made with pork but here they made it with beef. She ate it all up and called it “delish!”
Little places like this can be hit or miss, but Destini Café is legit. It’s a true gem that offers delicious and authentic Asian cuisine.
Special thanks to my AWESOME pal Hilary for bringing me here, 40 weeks pregnant, just a few days shy of having her baby!
Local’s come for brunch and rave about their (western style) breakfast such as an Apple Chicken Sausage Scramble or the Maple Bacon and Avocado Omelet. Drive down the alley to find free parking in back.