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Five ways to eat beef tongue around Los Angeles

By Jef Harmatz
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Much of the apprehension to eating beef tongue may be related to the fact that, in its natural, uncooked state, it looks eerily similar to a human tongue—only comically outsized. But when stripped of the fibrous, taste-bud laden membrane and cut appropriately, beef tongue is meaty, lean, tender, juicy and just a little bit funky. A cow’s tongue can become one of the best things you can put into your own mouth—and to prove it, we found five different, delicious styles of beef tongue to try in Los Angeles.

Hot tongue sandwich at Langer's Deli
Known primarily for their thick cut pastrami, Langer's has a hot tongue sandwich that’s just as tasty. The delicatessen’s tongue is, flavor-wise, a kissing cousin to their corned beef, but leaner and more mildly spiced. Thought it’s cut thin, the bright pink tongue stays moist between two slices of Langer’s crusted rye bread.

Charred tongue at Gyuatan Tsukasa
The first state-side outpost of a popular tongue-focused Japanese chain, Gyuatan Tsukasa has enough variety to win over even the most nervous eater. One of the many amazing stalls at the Mitsuwa Market food court in Costa Mesa, Gyutan Tsukasa specializes in thick cuts of tongue charred over their indoor-charcoal grill. The focused menu also dishes out spicy ground tongue over rice, soup with soft-braised tongue, and hamburgers made from a combination of tongue and chicken cartilage.

Tongue tacos at King Taco
A ubiquitous and delicious chain of inexpensive and authentic tavo purveyors, the L.A.-based King Taco may be the city’s single largest seller of undisguised organ meats. Offal like tongue, tripe and cheek fill the menu alongside more traditional meats like chicken, carnitas and chorizo. The lengua (Spanish for tongue) tacos at one of King Taco’s many east side locations are juicy, tender and even tastier when topped with onions, cilantro and salsa. 

Tongue sandwich at Attari Sandwich Shop
In a quiet courtyard tucked away on busy Westwood Boulevard, a small cafe famously serves some of L.A.’s very best Persian cuisine, including a tongue sandwich unlike anything else in town. In a perfect fusion of classic American and Persian flavors, decadently soft braised beef tongue is cut thick and served hot with lettuce, herbs, tomato, pickles and mayo on a freshly baked hoagie-style roll.

Barbecued tongue at Park's BBQ
For those still squeamish about chowing down on tongue, having it brought raw and cold to the table may be a bit much. For the rest of us, there’s Park's. In the traditional Korean barbecue style, tongue, along with other cuts of beef and pork, seafood and veggies, are cooked on a grill built right into each dining table. The tongue at Park's is unadorned, graded “Prime”and sliced paper thin.

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