Red Moon Cafe – It Ain’t Called "Lunacy" for Nothing

red moon cafe, west los angeles, ca - soft noodles

Red Moon Cafe

11267 National Boulevard (@ Sawtelle)
West Los Angeles, CA 90064

Why don’t we all sit back with a little Windex on our faces while I go through a little entomology, shall we?

And while you’re looking at impaled crickets, I’ll do a little word study.

The word “loony,” which is synonymous with “crazy,” or according to the God of all things, Wikipedia, “mentally ill, dangerous, foolish or unpredictable,” is derived from the Latin word “lunaticus,” but since no one but five people including the Pope knows Latin, we say the normal word we all associate with the moon, la luna, which might spark some strange ‘80s nostalgia for hardcore Duran Duran fans who actually know the song in which Simon Le Bon croons, “last time la luna, I light my torch and wave it for the…”

New Moon on Monday.

But the moon, lunes en espanol, and crazy Mondays is just taking it a little too far with the Bangles, don’t you think?

This derivation of lunacy from the moon likely stems from the popular association made in folklore between insanity and the phases of the moon. Full moons cause all kinds of abnormal behavior, including but not limited to higher reported numbers in silverware stolen from restaurant tables (I swear, this is true) to unusual growth of facial and bodily hair as experienced by Michael J. Fox, but not Jason Bateman because no one pays attention to bad sequels. (No comment, please, about the fact that the first movie is available in VHS format only.)

So what does this all have to do with anything?

Stay with me now. I’m almost there (wait, how many times have I said that before?)

The full moon has many names, depending on 1) which month it is and 2) the global culture. For example, let’s take the full moon in August, which happened to be on August 9th of this year, which I know because I am a goddamned, mother effin’ Internet wizard! In Native American cultures, the full moon is known as the Sturgeon Moon because, I am guessing now on why the Iroquois (and I didn’t even have to look that up, thank you Mrs. Galayda!) would name a moon after a fish, the sturgeon go crazy and flop out onto the beach during the August full moon, in Hindu cultures it is called and Ranami Purnima because I have no idea, and in American cultures it is called the Full Moon because really now, Americans have no culture.

In Asian cultures, the August full moon is called the Red Moon.

red moon cafe, west los angeles, ca
august full moon cafe

Yes! The Red Moon is a full moon, and it is absolutely coincidental that I am writing about Red Moon Café on a day that represents utter lunacy in my life!

Life has been crazy, but crazy in a good way. Like crazy coincidental and crazy busy. At least that is what I tell myself every night as I pour myself yet another cup of coffee, then sit down at my laptop for another almost-all-nighter of answering emails, blogging and editing, all of which I try to do (but don’t do) during the day between taking my parents to the airport, visiting with my baby niece, putting more miles on my car in three days than I have all year to take care of things for my parents whilst they are away, having lunch with my sister, going to movie screening, losing my sunglassees, and…


Let me start with Red Moon Café. I went there twice within two days, both times to satisy a craving for pho, neither time actually satisfying that craving.

Sheesh. For all the pooh-pooh-ing of Southeast Asian food that I do, I sure do eat a lot of pho and Thai food, don’t you think? Just think of it like that ickie gross obnoxious annoying boy in fifth grade who used to pull your hair and made you cry. You end up marrying him.

So with a craving for pho, we went to Red Moon because I decided that I wanted to expand my phorizons (ew, did I just blog that? I ahte myself) beyond the two-minute walk to Pho 99, beyond the two-minute drive to Le Saigon, and beyond the three-minute drive to Phoreign, and “try something new.” Yes, I felt adventurous enough to go on a five-minute drive to Red Moon Café in West LA.

Red Moon Café is tucked neatly into an inside-out mini mall on the corner of National and Sawtelle Blvds. Parking is in the rear, and as we walked toward the front door which is really the back door, we felt slightly dirty amongst the high-school kids milling about the parking lot in front of the internet café next door.

There is a nice, quiet ambiance about the place. In keeping with its name, the walls are painted crimson, the tables and chairs are dark, and the staff wears red bandanas on their heads that totally throws off the ambiance, but hey, at least they’re red.

red moon cafe, west los angeles, ca
so ambient, it’s empty
red moon cafe, west los angeles, ca, 33 export beer
vietnamese for “beer”

The menu is slightly different from a regular pho place (not that I’ve been to more than three). The restaurant serves Vietnamese and Chinese food, so there are soups, many rice and noodle dishes, and typical Chinese-style dishes like Mongolian Beef, Cashew Chicken, and Kung Pao AnythingYouWant. The selection titled “Vietnamese Noodle Soup
” is limited to only a half dozen, and half of those didn’t even have pho in the name (simply called noodle-soup), so I decided to go with something else. So much for satisfying that pho craving.

The description and the luxurious $5 price of Vietnamese Vegetarian Spring Rolls held promise, but they were a major disappointment. When I looked at the plate, I raised an eyebrow at the two, yes two, pallid pencil-thin rolls. I am not saying the spring rolls were bad. It was the first time I had tried spring rolls wrapped in rice paper that were deep-fried, so perhaps they were meant to be tough and chewy and disgusting and leak excessive oil all over the plate and garnish. Like I said, I’m just used to the light, flaky crisp of regular spring rolls wrapped in thin eggroll-type skins and wasn’t expecting what I actually got.

red moon cafe, west los angeles, ca, vegetarian spring rolls
vegetarian rubber pencils
red moon cafe, west los angeles, ca, soft noodles
soff noo-doh

The Soft Noodles (that is what they are called) were better, but there is nothing especially remarkable about them. I am quite certain I can get an equivalent dish, in both taste and price, for much closer than ohmigod (!) so far away in West LA!

Here is the “cra-” part of “crazy.”

Even with the less-than stellar food at Red Moon Café for my first time there for dinner, I went back not two days later for lunch. “Crazy,” because I rarely go back so soon to a restaurant after disappointment, but I did simply because Red Moon just so happened to coincidentally be on the way to his next appointment. Also, “crazy” because it wasn’t just lunch, it was a lunch meeting. In the real, business world, we might call it a “pitch” or “sales” or “bizdev” meeting with a potential “client.” Perhaps even a “business contact curation” meeting. In the Delicious world, we call it a date. I was meeting a *gasp!* ex-something (not BF, but definitely an ex-something) to discuss my potentially doing something for him. Marketing-related something, sicko. I don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day. Or into bed, for that matter. Besides, he’s an ex-, and I don’t do that with ex-s.

Except that dinner at Red Moon Café two nights earlier was also with *ahem blush* an ex-something.

I had a pho craving, and this time, actually did order pho, asking the server if the kitchen could refrain from bleeding raw beef into my soup and add tofu instead. I am not afraid of beef. In fact, I love steak bloody rare. However, I have this “thing” for tofu pho. The red-bandana’d server was more than obliging. Ex-something ordered one of the lunch rice bowls called the Super Bowl because he is a super guy. So super, he’s an ex-.

Again, I was very disappointed with my tofu pho. The tofu was cut into tiny cubes and added to a broth that tasted like watered-down Swanson’s with a splash of lime juice. Take my experience with a grain of salt, because my standard was set by Pho 99 in that Mecca for Vietnamese cuisine, Brentwood. Make that a few grains of salt because Red Moon’s pho broth certainly needed it.

Basically, there was no negotiation during the meeting. There was no wheeling and dealing. He told me what he wanted. I told him I could do it. I will be contracting for him, and like Captain Kirk says, I get to name my own price. That is utter lunacy. I hope he doesn’t mind that I will be charging him $10,000 a day.

Now, here is where we get to the “-zy” part of crazy.

As soon as lunch was over, I went home and had a phone call with a lovely girl from a company to which I applied for a bloggy job earlier in the summer but had been rejected harder than Kate Moss from a Jenny Craig commercial. It stung, but I got over it.

Unlike other companies who let you down easily by saying they will “keep your resumé on file for any future opportunities” then promptly put it into the so-called-secure shredding recycler, this company actually kept it, and called me this time for a non-bloggy job. Like a job job. Okay, it’s a part-time job, but it’s a job job.

She asked me to come in the next day to meet the *gulp!* CEO.

I did.

And now I wait.

The –ziest part of “crazy” is that exactly one year ago today, I posted about my position being “eliminated” from my old job. Now I am editing/lead blogging two blogs, will “work” with an ex-, and might possibly, possibly, get a job job.

Who said “When it rains, it pours?” Yeah, I did. Just now.


And who knows, since good things come in threes, maybe I should go back to Red Moon Cafe for a third time. I might become the CEO.

Nah. Two *eh* meals and the possibility of a part-time job job is good enough for me.

** a year ago today, it was the fateful day on which my life was crushed under a truck full of lemons **

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anonymous October 27, 2006 at 7:33 pm

“In a crazy world, only the lunatics are truly insane.” :)

— Homer Simpson


2 onetomato October 28, 2006 at 3:26 am

it’s true. on those nights when there were particularly high number of lunatics at the restaurant that i used to work for, i used to go outside for a much needed cigarette break, look up at the sky to breathe out and see…the bright laughing face of the full moon taunting me in my misery.


3 Chubbypanda October 28, 2006 at 2:32 pm

Awesome! “She who has not tasted the bitter will never know the sweet,” and all that. I’m really happy for you.

As for the pho place, decor is too nice, food has to be bad. Attempts to sell upscale street hawker food usually results in heart-breaking loss of quality. Now, if you’re picture had mismatched plastic chairs, cracked vinyl tables, dingy yellow light, and a woman standing behind a counter with her hair in curlers, I would have held out some hope. =)

– Chubbypanda


4 sarah October 28, 2006 at 5:58 pm

anonymous homer: how true. how very true.

l.a.c.: i prefer to bake my own. i like ginger-apple a la mode.

onetomato: thank goodness you don’t work there anymore. and now YOU get to be one of those loonies. :)

chubbypanda: yep, that’s what i keep telling myself. all this craziness will pay off in the end. i hope.

and i totally agree with the dive places serving the best “dive” foods, although i absolutely refuse to go somewhere unless it has an A rating from the county (because even an A doesn’t mean much).


5 swati October 28, 2006 at 6:51 pm

It is actually called Ram Navami, ie. Ram born on the ninth moon. Ram is the mythological great hero of the Ramayana Fame.
Had the Wiki slipped up?


6 Anonymous October 29, 2006 at 2:04 am

Love that Duran Duran reference.


7 frankliou January 28, 2010 at 10:27 am

this is frank l am redmoon cafe boss on sawtelle l am in China right now thank you so much who came to redmoon cafe see you soon my phe # is 424 239 0956 if you want to talk to me wish everyone have good year & happy life ^_^^_^^_^^_^^_^


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