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Japanese visitor - where to take them?

My sister is coming from Japan with her 8 year old son. Need a weekend chow suggestion...

I want to give them a quintessential L.A./American experience. But it has to be good food, and no hassle environment (= no Pinks, no Apple Pan, no Zankou). Also, she is a foodie, but doesn't need big portions.

Last time I took them to The Border Grill. I thought South-of-the-Border and decor might be interesting, but food was somewhat disappointing.

So far I thought of:

Primotivo (small plates - good)
The Counter (interesting burger concept)
Korean BBQ
Gardens Brunch (outside/LA scene)
Saddlepeak Lodge Brunch (outside - but will it be too hot in Calabasas?)

Any other suggestions? Westside preferred, but will travel if necessary..

thank you!!!

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  1. take em to el taurino for some real authentic LA mexican tacos al pastor!

    1. How about dim sum in the SGV? 888 (near Valley and Rosemead) is my personal fave. Maybe dumplings at Din Tai Fung in Arcadia? Or, Grand Central Market in Downtown. The food at Tacos Tumbras a Thomas is both cheap and amazingly good. I know both are quite a drive from Westside, but I lived in Japan for 1 year and couldn't find any Chinese or Mexican food, so I thought these would be interesting choices.

      1. i would definitely consider mexican. i was born and raised in japan and mexican food is really difficult to find.

        depending on where they live, asian food such as korean bbq and chinese are really good and abundant especially in tokyo. so i always think to steer clear from it but many japanese people like to eat asian food even when they're here. one thing i've learned is not to take them to seafood. seafood in japan is really good and it just doesn't compare to most places in the states. with one exception-oysters. raw oysters are not always available in japan like they seem to be here.

        i can't think of any off the top of my head but how about asian fusion type of restaurants? there's two (empress and yatai) but never been to either so i cannot say whether they're good or not.

        i would also suggest AOC. I know, i know. everyone here seems to have a bone to pick with AOC but japanese people love the small portions. dishes they serve at AOC are also difficult to find but also extremely expensive in japan.

        ok, enough rambling on...sorry my mind isn't together yet this morning...

        4 Replies
        1. re: trolley

          For oysters, Ocean Avenue Seafood's happy hour might work out well for you. Call for exact hours, but I think 3-7 on weekdays and 3-6 on weekends. It would be a great thing to do after a day at the beach or shopping on the Promenade. The atmosphere is casual, family friendly but slightly upscale, so I wouldn't worry about taking a kid there. It's not like taking him to happy hour in a dive bar. Or make it a foodie day and go to the Wednesday Farmers' Market, put your food away (I bring a big cooler filled with a little ice), and walk over to happy hour.

          They change the oysters they serve each day, so some days are much better than others. I'm personally a huge fan of the Fanny Bay oysters. If it matters much to you, call in the morning and see if they know what that day's happy hour oysters will be.

          $1.25 per oyster, and it's hard not to order two dozen per
          person.

          Edit: for an even cheaper oyster experience, if you're willing to shuck them at home. Santa Monica Seafood always has two kinds of oysters (usually Blue Point and Hama Hama, at least lately). 79 cents an oyster, and maybe $5 for a shucker if you don't already own one.

          1. re: Pei

            those are very good ideas pei. the farmer's market is another great place. california fruits and vegetables always please the japanese visitor. i took my dad and his wife to santa monica market and it made them very happy.

          2. re: trolley

            I moved down to LA from SF not too long ago. The food that I most associate with LA, and that I tend to treat visitors to, are Korean and Mexican. Since they probably have really good Korean food in Tokyo, that leaves Mexican. Perhaps a taco truck tour of LA?

            For oysters I like to take my friends out to Quality Seafood in Redondo Beach. Good, cheap oysters and other shellfish, and a good bit of sightseeing around the pier.

            1. re: trolley

              funny tho, in the past when j-associates came we've taken to the crab pot in long beach. the whole hammers/crabfest deal all over your table thing is such a novelty that they really enjoy it. plus they don't do (or even have) that sort of crab in japan for the most part...

            2. Some suggestions, in no particular order:

              The Dining Room at the Getty Museum

              Cut

              Dim Sum at Triumphal Palace (menu) or 888 (cart)

              Jer-Ne at the Ritz in Marina Del Rey

              Spago

              Norman's (for the pig roast)

              1. Providence...for impecable fish that isnt sushi.