What We’re Into: Pastrami fried rice at Baroo Canteen

LOS ANGELES, CA-MARCH 27, 2019: The pastrami fried rice bowl at Baroo, inside the Union Swapmeet in
The pastrami fried rice bowl at Baroo Canteen, located inside the Union Swapmeet in Los Angeles.
(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

The International Affairs di Pastrami at the new Baroo Canteen pop-up in East Hollywood is a distinctly L.A. food mash-up in a location that could only work in Los Angeles.

It’s a bowl of pastrami fried rice served at a swap meet by chef Kwang Uh and his fiance, Mina Park, who have reanimated a scaled-back version of their celebrated but now-closed restaurant Baroo opposite rows of Louis Vuitton-ish handbags, plastic cars and glowing jewelry.

In the International Affairs di Pastrami, which comes in a compostable takeout container, funky caraway-scented kimchi plays off umami-heavy fried shallots, and smoky pastrami is offset by fresh sprigs of dill. Uh said he was inspired by the fried rice at Sea Harbour in Rosemead and the pad kee mao at Night + Market.


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The scorching temperature of the wok gives the rice that coveted texture of crisp and chewy — like the layer of rice at the bottom of the stone pot at your favorite Korean restaurant. And the pastrami, which takes about two weeks to make and has been flavor-blasted with a Sichuan-peppercorn-and-sansho-pepper-infused brine and a dry rub, may rival the stuff at your favorite deli.

Halfway through the bowl, it hit me. This dish is me: a half-Chinese, all-Jewish woman growing up on the fried rice in the San Gabriel Valley, the Korean BBQ in Ktown and the pastrami sandwiches at Langer’s Deli. This dish is Los Angeles.

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