A proper Fourth of July feast probably begins at the grill. And in contemporary Los Angeles, this all-American meal is as likely to be composed of yakitori and carne asada as hot dogs and hamburgers: Americans have been mixing and matching food traditions from our collective immigrant background since the beginning. With L.A.'s demographic diversity and strong cultural retention, you can actually trace the seams of our culinary identity on a barbecue grill -- grilling being a technique found the world over. Turn the page for eight ways of looking at your Weber.
Grilling is firmly esconced in Japanese cooking, and Japanese Angelenos have kept this culinary tradition alive. Still, between Little Tokyo and Little Osaka, restaurants strictly dedicated to robata and yakitori-- respectively, open-hearth charcoal grilling and grilled skewers -- are few. Most izakayas (taverns) like Honda-Ya will have such classics as grilled saba.
Korean barbecue can either be a three- or five-act play, depending on the menu and the diner's soju proclivities. Plates of banchan (side dishes) will open for bulgogi and galbi, after which a bowl of naengmyeon -- often mul, or water -- may drop in as the finale. Between Western and Vermont, Korean barbecue restaurants dot the blocks. Nearly any combo of ambiance (hole-in-the-wall or sleek), specialty (meat or seafood) and price point (all-you-can-eat?) can be found. The two-story Oo-Kook makes for copious eating at your comfort. Away from the perils of all-you-can-eat, Soowon Galbi Genwa and Park's will strain your abdominal walls less.
There is more that goes on a German grill than sausages, but the Deutsch wave in this form shows no sign of ebbing. Not exclusively German in sausage, Würstkuche caused the first set of ripples. Soon thereafter, Steingarten, Wirtshaus, and Berlin Currywurst cropped up.