I wouldn't say that food sucks in the US, but the good stuff comes real expensive. We in LA are privileged to have many talented and creative chefs, but they have high overhead with limited access to quality produce. As a japanese native, I'm sorry to say that the sushi and ramen we get in LA I wouldn't pay what they charge. LA ramen doesn't even contain one ingriedent that defines ramen noodle; Kansui (alkline solution) which USDA doesn't allow to be imported. One insider tells me that almost every LA ramen joint starts out with well-crafted original soup base, but once the hipsters come en masse ready to yelp the shit out of any new place, they resort to adding pre-made soup mix just to maintain consistency. They start with a little bit, but when the yelpers react with an empty bowl and 5 stars bringing even more Top Ramen generation, they gradually up the pre-made/home-made ratio. The integrity comes into question, gets murkier as business is booming and customers are raving, and before long your soup tastes basically about the same as any tonkotsu shoyu in the area. But who's sad?
US folks never had a chance; while japanese kids had school meals that group of neighborhood moms cooked for us at the school kitchen everyday, they essentially had Pizza Hut and McDonald's, which by the way is probably better in Japan. My buddy Zach had their bacon potato pie a few years back (imagine their apple pie filled with mashed potato and bacon bits) and was puzzled why they don't offer this in the US. I wouldn't dare touch Yoshinoya in the states because its missing a key ingrideient; a raw egg, something US would never be able to offer. My ex-manager who's a Midwest boy through and through had to concede when visiting Roppongi that Japanese do barbecue better. Vegetables in general are cheaper in the states than Japan, yet you still pay upwards of $10 for a salad which often is too heavy on dressing. Ceasar Salad you get at most places don't have anchovy. I didn't even like olives before I had them at this hillside barbecue, and almost everything they brought this day requires, they said, "a really good olive oil" which are often homemade from their gardens. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
It's not that food sucks in the US. Although after traveling through 10 countries in my 30s, I'd say the only food I miss from Los Angeles is street tacos. And that's probably because I haven't been to Mexico.
Back to the hillside barbecue; there might've been a jam involving me trying to figure out the changes to Hava Nagila while Maya and the ladies sang three part harmony, but at that point there had been all the food that's mentioned above, beers consumed as water, wine and then some goddamn whiskey. What do you know ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ that fucking guy always shows up wherever I go. Peace.