It's morning. You wake, head pulsating, room spinning. Whether it's because you had too many Independence Day beers by the grill or because your old college buddy convinced you that Jaeger shots were a good idea, the result is the same. You're officially hung over, and it's time to do what you can to fix it.
The debate as to what works and what doesn't rages on. Put me in the camp that believes firmly in the restorative power of food. Here are a few things to try if putting on a pair of sunglasses and sidling up to a plate of Norm's pancakes is getting old.
Mellow, calming and a time-tested hangover remedy in Korea, samgyetang is maybe the perfect post-party breakfast. At first, the bubbling pot of chicken broth, with a small, personal-sized whole chicken resting inside, stuffed with glutinous rice and ginseng, may seem a tad bland. But as you add accouterments, the soup builds in intensity and flavor. Plus, if you believe in things like "hair of the dog", they've got you covered there too, where you probably won't be the only one drinking shochu at ten o'clock in the morning. 1144 S Western Ave., Los Angeles, CA (323) 731-9999. (Their hilarious and informative Korea based website.)
The symptoms of a hangover seem eerily similar to the beginning stages of vampirism: you're hurt by direct sunlight, your skin has turned pale and you probably don't want to stand in front of a mirror or go to church. But since it's probably a bad idea to suck the blood from another human's neck, pork blood may be your safest solution, and Sapp Coffee shop, the inexpensive hole-in-the-wall in the heart of Thai town does it just right. Thai boat noodles, spicy, soothing and thickened, yes, with pork blood, is certain to do the trick. You can get the less frightening version there too, without tendon, liver and tripe. For the much less adventurous, they also make some tasty jade noodles, crab fried rice, and glass after glass of Thai iced tea. 5183 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 665-1035.
3. Al Noor
A hangover cure from a country where it's illegal for 97% of the population to drink alcohol? They may not get much use out of it in Pakistan, but their cuisine, the robust, aggressive response to Indian food, just so happens to be exactly what a ruined body is craving. The dark, murky and fat-painted nihari, a slow cooked, heavily spiced beef shank stew, has all the heat and refined power you're looking for. But you'll need a little starch too, so make sure to soak up the juices with an order of paratha, the layered, whole wheat bread that sweats butter like the Pillsbury Doughboy on an eliptical machine. 15112 Inglewood Ave., Lawndale, (310) 675-4700. http://www.alnoor-restaurant.net/
4. Monte Alban
Mexicans have been using menudo to cure hangovers for a long time. It's also the second dish to appear on this list that includes tripe, which is probably for a reason. Even if the word "tripe" sends you running for the hills, this is not the food you want to skip over when the underside of your skin feels like it's turned into a demilitarized zone. If it helps, you can just look at it as medicine. But frankly, the broth is a lot less intense than people think. It's probably the soft, floppy texture of tripe that frightens, but even if you discard it, opting just to sip the broth and soak it up with rolled tortillas, you are assured to leave in a much better position than when you walked (or crawled) in. 11927 Santa Monica Blvd., (310) 444-7736.
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5. El Katracho
There isn't much Honduran food in Los Angeles, and that's really a shame, since it's one of the most immediately accessible cuisines you're likely to find. Picture Mexican cuisine, but offered up with a heaping injection of jovial, Caribbean flavors. Their coconut milk and conch soup would serve you quite well the morning after ingesting unnecesary amounts of alcohol, but your best bet is probably the breakfast baleada-- a thick tortilla stuffed with scrambled eggs, sliced avocado, tasty beans, soothing cream and queso fresco. 14838 Burbank Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 780-7044.