Favorite Prepared Foods at local Supermarkets
- Sasha Jun 23, 2006 05:32 PM
I wish I had time to cook a meal every day, but life strikes. Sometimes the best I can manage is to stop by Ralphs or Gelsons on the way home and pick something out of their hot case. I've had more misses than hits. In fact, am currently noshing Gelson's turkey meatballs w/spicy bbq glaze. The glaze isn't bad - a tad too sweet, but the balls are dried out and lack much moisture.
I'd love to hear your favorite go to foods in the hot case or prepared food case at any of the local markets for the next time there's no time to cook dinner (Monday?)...
I don't do much Supermarket Take Out... but everytime we are in a Whole Foods, I MUST get the cranberry tuna. It's seriously crack.... in tuna form...
I also enjoy the Scallion Pies at 99 Ranch just for sheer greasy carby goodness...
One thing I didn't have, but wished I did was a Pupusa from Gigante on Slauson and Gage in South L.A. We went in there for a quick taco RIGHT before a wedding and the Pupusa girl was JUST setting up... We didn't have time to wait as she already had a line formed, but we saw her make just ONE pupusa and it was the biggest yummiest one I've ever seen... drat...
It's not tangy, but not overly sweet. It's lightly dressed, but I don't sense any lemon at all. It's mostly the combo of fishy tuny, sweet and mooshy cranberries and a bit of bite and crunch from the red onion. Ask for a sample next time you are in, they are really nice about it! :)
As I write this I am reading the label of a now-empty container of Whole Foods Cranberry Tuna, having polished it off (with Ak-Mak crackers) for dinner.
The ingredients listed on the label are: tuna, mayonnaise, red onion, dried cranberries, lemon juice. As Dommy! says, you really don't notice the mayo or the lemon much at all.
I also found that recipe from Boulder, but while it sounds good it doesn't sound quite like the one at the Whole Foods here in LA---for one thing it uses yellow onion while red onion is one of the dominant features of the local variety. And it sounds more lemony than the local one (although I suppose it's possible that the mayo negates some of the perceived lemon taste).
Vons (and Pavilions, they're both Safeway companies) soups.
Grilled lamb kabob from Karabagh Meat Market.
Tacos and horchata from the taqueria at any big Vallarta.
Not sure where you are located but, I find the Asian markets to be really swell when it comes to prepared stuff. I have a Korean market down the street where I buy their egg battered fish fillets, vegetable (korean style) sushi and at this market they have a Korean salad bar. I love the octopus salad, black beans (cooked in soy sauce and sugar)and Korean style spicy cucumber salad. YUM! Then, there's always Trader Joe's.......
i second the whole foods rec. sadly not all whole foods are created equal. the rolling hills branch is way better than pasadena. what i like there: sonoma chicken salad, kale, lobster bisque soup, seaweed salad, lemon tofu, smoked mozarella salad.
the korean market in the galleria on western & olympic has some great ready made panchan and sashimi.
The quiches (particularly Seafood quiche) and desserts at Wild Oats (in Pasadena) are practically must-haves for me.
Same with the small Italian-styled cookies @ Gelson's.
And of course, sushi/bento box deal whenever I'm at Mitsuwa (I used to love their chicken katsu curry too, but that has faltered as of late.)
Fried chicken at Albertsons and the prepared food at the 99 Ranch Market at Sepulveda and Victory in Van Nuys. I used to go by a few times a week when I worked in Sherman Oaks. Great place.
I posted this right as the website changed over last week and it vanished ...
Top Value Market has a hot food counter called Parviz Cafe.
They have a good deal with a whole roast chicken, rice, beans, tortillas and fresh salsa. The chicken is crisp and juicy. The beans are a little soupy, but in a good way and real tasty. Good, fresh salsa.
You can also get a chicken burrito (they have all kinds). What I like about the chicken burrito is they chop up the chicken right from one of the whole chickens they have ready to serve. They don't have a "vat" of chicken that's been sitting there drying out. They are pretty big, too. Three usually feeds my family of four.
Good hot wings are available, too. Not super hot, about like Tabasco, but a good spice and tangy, too.
I've heard there are a few Top Values around (mine is in Culver City) and that they all have a Parviz Cafe, but I've only been to the one.
Yeah, it's too bad about the Gelson's turkey meatballs; they used to be sure-fire but recently they changed the recipe, or the cooking method, or something, because now they're tough and not too tasty.
Although Gelson's (Century City) is our favorite grocery overall, I generally find their deli counter a disappointment, mostly--a bit stodgy. Some things I do like there:
the "lobster sensation" salad (about $13/lb but almost worth it, even though it's not all lobster--served on on a fresh split sourdough roll, it makes a decent Californicated version of a lobster roll);
macaroni & beef (I used to swear by the mac & cheese but they recently screwed that up too);
Italian wedding soup (a bit salty but in a good way);
turkey chili (more than a bit salty, but with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream it's quite good);
Their chicken tenders are not bad either, although you can do about as well with frozen so what's the point.
Whole Foods: Usually more interesting choices than Gelsons. Some are utter disasters (and that open serve-yourself ceviche bar terrifies me) but some of the things that we like include:
the tuna cranberry salad (as Dommy already mentioned);
grilled artichoke (if not too mushy)
sundried tomato field roast (I'm not generally crazy about the made-for-vegans stuff but this one has a nice strong flavor and a satisfying crunch);
chicken curry salad (the WF version is very meaty and dense).
Bristol Farms: As been recently discussed, the salads are all very expensive, and I'm not particularly fond of any of them, except that I do like the Mississippi Medley (blackeyed peas, collard greens). What Bristol does best, however, is soup: they generally have 8 or more soups either hot or packaged. Our family favorites include chcken chili; borscht; and Russian beef/cabbage.
Nijiya: their sushi was recently discussed in another thread--some days the deli counter is not as interesting as others, but on a good day they may have interesting choices such as the "diamond plate" (salmon roe, tamago, cucumber and tuna over rice; BBQ eel; all sorts of seaweed-based salads; and (a recent addition) a small selection of decent Chinese dim sum.
Love the roasted chicken at VONs. That + pita + Trader Joe's Eggplant Hummus + tomatoes = fave dinner.
Trader Joes Lite Chinese Chicken Salad, Asian Noodle Salad
Here are my faves:
Rotisserie Chicken @Jons
Pesto Agnotti (sp?) Salad at Ralphs
Garlic & Cheese Pasta Salad at Green Acres Market in Simi Valley
Tri-Tip - Green Acres Market in Simi Valley
Caldo de Pollo@Vallarta
Agua de Frescas Drinks@Vallarta
Deviled Egg Potato Salad@Pavillions
Prime Rib Sandwich@Pavillions
The red pepper hummus at Gelsons and a small baguette is all you need for a great quick meal. Also, somewhat surprisingly, the Wolfgang Puck chicken ceasar you can also get there is mighty fine. But yeah, i used to do Gelson counter for lunch every day, and it just seems off the last year or two. And don't even get me started on their yucky salad bar...
The pork riblets in tomatillo sauce with nopalitos at Gonzalez Markets
The mixed ceviche at super A in highland park
Cheese enchiladas at Tj's
The chinese sausage at Ranch 99
Maybe not quite (super)..but markets nonetheless:
Char Siu at that little market in chinatown off of broadway
and guilty pleasure...Menudo in a can..from anywhere
Fried pompano at the filipino place caddy corner from the metro station by LACC
Tortas at the little mexican store/carniceria on MLK and Main, across the street from the school
Desserts at Whole Foods, and almost anything at Trader Joes. I like Trader Joess fresh pizzas, salads, sandwiches.
Whole Foods carnitas burrito -- with everything except rice. My staple. Not every Whole Foods has a taco bar, but thankfully the one in Westwood by UCLA does! The salad bar is good also, but adds up. Before you know it you have an $8 salad!
As someone mentioned, be careful of the supermarket sushi. My husband and I got a very bad case of food poisoning from Gelson's California Roll. We reported to the county inspector, and he told us the culprit is most often the rice, not the fish. If sushi is rolled before rice has cooled all the way and put into the case, it doesn't adequately cool...
Gelson's Mexican Caesar Salad, Tuna w/herbs and Tarragon Egg Salad
Costco Rotisserie Chicken (they also have new burritos made from the Rot. Chicken that are quite good)
Whole Foods Smoked Mozzarella Pasta (hard to find, recently)
Starbucks has a couple of excellent sandwiches, including a Chicken and Bacon Sandwich and an Egg Salad sandwich (which has terrific grain bread)
I tend to get prepared foods at Gelsons, particularly the Gazpacho (during summer) and Mexican Diablo salad. I also like the curried chicken salad, which I prefer to Whole Foods version. The beef stew is quite good, when they have it, but it is insanely expensive because of the weight.
Costco rotisserie chicken (but Zankou is on my way to Costco), so it's a bit of a toss-up.
Ranch 99: Salt and pepper shrimp and har gow.
Whole Foods: The new pupusas and mini carnitas empanadas that they just added at the Sherman Oaks WF are quite tasty. I also like the grilled vegetables, hummos and deviled eggs. The "Indian candy" (smoked and sweetened salmon) sometimes available at the fish counter is a guilty pleasure.