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Weird "Chinese" food experience in Silverlake at LA Cafe

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Maybe you've seen this place and didn't think it was even open anymore. Maybe you have tried it and and you weren't impressed. I fall into both those camps, but I think it's still worth mentioning.

LA CAFE is a TINY storefront on Sunset right by Silverlake Blvd. It's dingy as all get out and the sign is so worn you can barely read it. The "OPEN" sign in the window gave me confidence, but walking into the place, with no odors of cooking, no patrons, nothing at ALL going on, gave me pause.

Turns out they were, indeed, open, Every day but Sunday from 1PM until 9PM (10PM Fri and Sat.)

I took a quick glance at the menu and my eyes bugged out! Nothing is over $5.00, except for a $15 Lobster dish. They have INSANE combo meals costing no more than $4.95 per person and including two apps, three mains, and cookies.

The egg rolls were recommended to me, they are hand made at the restaurant. 4 HUGE rolls came to an order, they were battered on top of the wrapper. The filling is hard to describe. It's basically some kind of savory mush. It's good, but I have no idea what it is. It's...salty and kind of creamy. I can't tell if there is meat in it or not, which worries me, but again, it filled my salt craving and my deep fried craving, so it was all good for me.

I also ordered the Pork Chow Mein. When I got it home, it was not what I expected at all. It was basically a very saucy mixture of fresh mushrooms, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, and some bamboo shoots. The pork was a normal meat color, not bright pink like I'm used to. (Fine by me, btw.) The noodles were crispy and came on the side. I have never had it like this, was expecting a nice soft noodle dish.

At any rate, again, the salty/greasy flavor hit the spot for me. The pork was a little gamey at times, but not in a bad way. Everything was piping hot because I was the only customer and they cook to order.

This is not an exotic place. They even offer 4 kinds of Chop Suey. The interior is WELL worn, it looks like something described in a crime novel, but having said that, it's also very clean, there isn't any greasy residue anywhere, and there is no smell of oil or cleaning product or anything unpleasant.

A few warnings...
No idea if they use MSG or not since I'm not sensitive to it.
The woman who works there, I'm figuring the owner from way back, is...um...curt. To put it politely. Don't expect a warm welcome, but play along and all will be cool. Don't expect fine cuisine. Just expect to fill yourself and a date to stuffed for under $15 total.

Would love to hear if anyone else goes...I need to know what to order next.

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  1. You've got to read this hilarious review done by two bloggers who challenged each other to eat there, and lived to tell the tale.
    http://www.losanjealous.com/2006/05/0...