When I go to Chipotle, it’s not because I’m craving Mexican food. Chipotle doesn’t even register on my Mexican food radar. I go there because I’m craving Chipotle. Yes, their food is pretty generic and yes, everything tastes the same no matter what location you go to, but sometimes you just want something generic with no surprises.
So when I heard that ShopHouse, Chipotle’s Southeast Asian restaurant chain, opened a location in Hollywood, I decided I needed to pay it a visit. The setup is familiar to anyone who’s gone to Chipotle: you pick a protein, a type of starch to have it on, some accompanying veggies, some sauce, and then some sort of extra.
Will had the tofu bowl on white rice (they’re quick to correct you it’s jasmine rice) with eggplant, tamarind sauce, papaya salad, and some garlic and peanuts sprinkled on top. It was surprisingly tasty. The eggplant was charred well and to a soft texture, the papaya salad was crisp, and the sauce was flavorful.
I opted for the pork and chicken meatballs on half rice noodle half salad (which was just chopped napa cabbage), spicy green beans, tamarind sauce, pickled veggies, and a spoonful of garlic and peanuts. The meatballs were tender and garlicky, the spices reminding me of my family’s bun cha. The flavors were definitely bold, but I found it a bit on the salty side, even when I ate it with a bite of rice noodles and cabbage. The sauce was also a tad salty, so I had to make sure I mixed everything in the bowl thoroughly before digging in. The pickled veggies were nice and crispy with that slight pungent taste of pickled radish. My favorite part of the bowl was the charred green beans, which had a strong smoky taste and the right amount of spice.
I have to give Shophouse a hand for not shying away from strong Asian flavors like spicy and salty, even if everything I had was a little on the salty side. For a place that supposedly cares about where they source their food and tries to provide organic options when available, the price of the bowls are not bad. Sure, the bowls are not going to be as good as a bowl of cha gio bun from places in the SGV, but I don’t think that’s the demographic they’re marketing to. I know that when I’m stuck somewhere not in the SGV and want some Asian-style food, I would be glad to have a Shophouse nearby.
6333 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028