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ny chowhound visiting LA, looking for eating recommendations

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  • surly Aug 22, 2006 09:28 PM
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i'll be in LA very shortly with some friends for a food tour of the city/region and was hoping to get some great eating recommendations from you guys. specifically, i was hoping that you could direct me to some of the best places to get the following*:

-vietnamese (mainly for the westminster area, but i'm open to wherever if it's excellent and authentic)
-thai (mainly thai town, but again, any location is fine)
-mexican (anywhere)
-chinese (incl. taiwanese, cantonese, sichuan, hunan as well as snack places serving boba, etc. i'm assuming most of the best places are in the san gabriel valley)
-japanese (sushi, noodle shops, izakayas, etc. looking for recs in the sawtelle/west LA area if possible.)
-burgers (other than in-n-out, apple pan, cassell's, tommy's, fatburger)
-desserts (other than mashti malone)

i'm also open to other cuisines, esp. if it's something that i can't really find in ny (e.g. armenian cuisine; if there's something other than zankou that i should definitely hit up, i'd love to hear!). not really looking to do indian cuisine on this leg of our trip, but am definitely open to cuisines such as cambodian, filipino, and other asian foods. i also have a lot of korean recs already but if there's something i shouldn't miss, please let me know!

*authenticity and high quality are a must, of course. decor/ambience doesn't matter at all. i'd also appreciate any recommended dishes, if possible.
**i'm willing to travel anywhere within greater LA, but would prefer to stay relatively close to the city wherever possible. of course, if there's something worth travelling for (e.g. vietnamese in westminster), i'd have no problem going there.

THANK YOU SO MUCH in advance for any/recommendations. i realize i'm asking a lot, but since my friends and i are going to try to eat as much as possible during our trip we wanted up-to-date suggestions.

and of course, i'd be happy to give you guys nyc food recs anytime. i'm a ny board regular (i don't always post, but check it everyday), so if you're ever planning a trip to ny, just post a similar request on the nyc board and i'll be sure to respond.

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  1. Hiya... In addition to the thai town choices, you really owe yourself a trip over the hill to the Valley's North Hollywood Wat Thai weekend-only street vendor experience. The temple grounds are swarming with hungry chowhounds and friendly thai folk selling very inexpensive street food from chicken and pork skewers to duck soups and noodle dishes to fragrant papaya salad to garlicky sausages to coconut custard cups to sticky rice and mango. Genuinely satisfying to all the senses. The neighborhood is often rife with construction and a sense of valley-drought, but the serene temple and the not-so-serene but amiable vendor scene is a must-taste treat. Oh, and you purchase tokens/chits to pay for the grub, mostly in the $1, $2, and $3 range. Enjoy...

    1. I just posted on the NY board asking for recs. Going in September and looking forward to it.

      Here's some of my recent favorites:

      thai: Sanamluang Cafe in Thai town.

      japanese: Kotohira in Gardena (udon that will haunt you forever -- get the dry udon without the soup base); in Sawtelle area: Chabuya for ramen (love the smoky miso soup base), kiriko for sushi; in Little Tokyo by downtown: orochon for ramen; in west LA -- just went recently, and I thought Sushi Zo was fantastic.

      dessert: definitely try the desert tasting menu at Providence. Providence is definitely worth it for an entire meal, but you can go there and just get dessert.

      1. Welcome to LA

        Here's my 0.02 for you ...

        TAIWANESE:
        *SinBaLa (651 W. Duarte Rd., Arcadia, 626-446-0886) for Taiwanese sausages, pork chop rice, fish ball soup and Taiwanese slush

        *Dai Ho (9148 Las Tunas Dr., Temple City, 626-291-2295), great beef noodle soup, dan-dan mein, and pickled veggies

        *QQ (9441 1/2 Las Tunas Dr., Temple City, 626-292-1128), literally a hole-in-the-wall, but if it's Taiwanese street food you want then you'll find it here (website: http://www.chineseypage.com/rest/food...

        )

        MEXICAN:
        *Babita (1823 South San Gabriel Blvd., San Gabriel, 626-288-7265), great haute-Mexican cuisine.

        I'm sure others will chime in with more recs ...

        Enjoy your stay.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ipsedixit

          QQ Kitchen got a new owner about a year ago. From what I've heard, it's not nearly as good as it was before. The original staff of QQ Kitchen has since started a new restaurant that seems to have opened just recently. It is located in the mini-mall directly east of its old location. It replaced a Korean restaurant. It's still a hole in the wall.

          Won Won Kitchen
          9461 Las Tunas Dr.
          Temple CIty 91780
          626-287-5500

        2. Izakaya: My favorite is Wakasan on Westwood (recommended to me by the chef at Urasawa of all people), it's a $25 prix-fixe omakase, about 9-10 small dishes. Also really liked the Torrance branch of Musha.

          Ramen: Santouka in the Mitsuwa center in Torrance, hands down the best. Daikokuya in Little Tokyo, also good. Shin Sen Gumi in Gardena, more festive and a lot more side dishes, great for hanging out.

          Thai: Nadpob in Silverlake. Fiery salads, very authentic.

          Desserts: Jin Patisserie on Abbott Kinney, a nice break during the afternoon.

          Indonesian: Simpang Asia on National, reasonably authentic Indonesian street fare. Indo Kitchen in Alhambra, also good.

          1. Sushi- Sushi Masu on Westwood Blvd. just south of Santa Monica Blvd. Very good, unpretentious, Masu is owner and sushi chef.
            Also, Sushi Echigo upstairs 1 block West of Bundy on Santa Monica also very good.
            Chinese-good hole in the wall- Hopwoo on Olympic and Sepulveda. Great lobster dishes.
            Mexican seafood-La Serenata Gourmet on Pico just West of Westwood blvd. One dwontown also more famous. Also love Casablanca at Lincoln and Rose. They make their own flour tortillas and have a great chicken casserole dish + all the other Mexican stuff.
            I eat at all the fancy places in LA, but these are some of my favorite ethnic places.
            Enjoy

            1. I have returned from NYC where I ate nothing but pizza slices on the street and damn it was the best food I've eaten in a long long time :)

              Thai -- Sanamluang is IFFY -- sometimes great and sometimes terrible. More reliable and great in its own right is Ruen Pair just across the stret. Still I end up going to Sanamluang most of the time cuz I love its "deck" outside near the parking lot -- very LA...Sanam's got nasty bathrooms too....

              Szechuan -- Head to Chung King at 1000 S. San Gabriel, right now

              Ribs -- Gotta go to South Central for ribs. Woody's? Leo's?

              Greek -- Papa Christo's at Pico/Normandie

              Mexican -- La Parilla on Cesar Chavez

              Oaxacan -- Gueleguetza on Olympic

              Enjoy! And report back, please....

              1. Viet: If you're going to the San Gabriel Valley, there's a vibrant Vietnamese community in Rosemead. Not as big as Westminster, but all the banh mi, banh cuon and pho shops you could ever want.

                Thai: If you end up in Orange County, go to Thai Nakorn on Garden Grove Blvd. in Garden Grove. It's truly excellent, and order off the specialities list that's the first page of the menu -- mango salad with crispy shrimp is one of my faves. Also definitely the Wat Thai on Coldwater Canyon one block south of Roscoe in North Hollywood (11-3, Saturday and Sunday only), get papaya salad for sure, and mango with sticky rice... just south of there on Sherman Way is another little mini-Thai town, between the 170 freeway and Woodman Avenue. Of especial note: the pad thai Krua Thai at Krua Thai, Thai spaghetti with basil sauce and pork at Bua Siam.

                Mexican: Babita Mexicuisine on San Gabriel Blvd. in San Gabriel; La Cabanita on Verdugo Road in north Glendale (may be Montrose) -- anything with mole or rajas is great; La Serenata Gourmet in Boyle Heights (for the seafood).

                I leave Chinese to the experts, other than to say that I've never had a bad meal at China Islamic on Garvey and Del Mar in Rosemead/Monterey Park, and some of our dim sum houses have to be seen to be believed (NBC Seafood on Garvey in Monterey Park, for example).

                Armenian/Lebanese: Go to Mandaloun in Glendale for nice sit-down; go to Carnival on Woodman in Sherman Oaks for mid-range with incredible mezze; go to Skaf's on Laurel Canyon and Oxnard in North Hollywood for no-ambiance great grilled meat and the best hummus.

                Filipino: Go to Manila Good-Ha on Colorado in Glendale for breakfast (7:30 to 10:30 AM) -- if you don't already know, Filipino breakfasts involve some kind of protein, garlic fried rice (sinangag) and fried eggs (itlog) -- so tapsilog is TAPa (grilled beef), SInangag and itLOG; longsilog has longaniza (sausage); dasilog has daing (flat fish). Also, if they have it that day, try champorado (chocolate rice pudding) with tuyo (dried fish) -- the fish is on the side, don't worry!

                Desserts: get Taiwanese slush at Shau May, in the Lincoln Garfield centre at the corner of (duh) Garfield and Lincoln, one block north of Garvey, in Monterey Park. For a very LA experience, get frozen yoghurt at Studio Yogurt at Laurel Canyon and Ventura in Studio City, or at Pinkberry in West Hollywood (good luck parking). Get all kinds of baklava at Baklava Factory, Sherman Way and Coldwater Canyon in North Hollywood, or get sweet black rice with taro, kanom krok and coconut pudding-stuffed kabocha squash at Bhan Kanom Thai (Thai Desserts), one light east at Bellaire and Sherman Way in North Hollywood.

                If you're in that area anyway, get the best ceviche in town at Las Quenas Peruvian Cuisine, also at Bellaire and Sherman Way, NoHo.

                Finally, I'd say to go to Meals by Genet, in the 1000 block of South Fairfax (just south of Olympic), for wonderful Ethiopian food in a white-linen setting. She has European food (a lot of pastas) as well in case someone in your group can't deal with eating weird food with his hands. By far the best Ethiopian in Little Ethiopia.

                As you can tell, I don't eat in "LA proper" very often...

                1. Lots of good suggestions already. I would add the following to your list:

                  Langer's Deli (http://langersdeli.com/ ). See if you agree with Nora Ephron that LA has the best pastrami in the country. (See http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content... ).

                  Taco's Baja Ensenada (5385 Whittier Blvd., in East LA, (323) 887-1980) has, I think, some of the best fish tacos anywhere. Really delicious and uniquely LA.

                  La Casita Mexicana (http://www.casitamex.com/english/home... ) has really good, high-end Mexican food. Well worth the drive to Bell, I think.

                  For desserts, you should absolutely try out the dessert tasting menu at Providence (http://www.providenceLA.com ). It is extraordinary. (Their seafood and regular tasting menu is pretty damn good stuff too.

                  )

                  Hope you enjoy your stay. Please report back and let us know what you end up trying and what you think of everything.

                  1. thanks so much for the great recommendations so far! i really appreciate your help.

                    one thing i haven't really heard from you guys is vietnamese in westminster (or thereabouts). any ideas on where the great places are right now?

                    and has anyone been to mariela's tacos (i think it's on 3rd/catalina on the northern fringes of koreatown) or el taurino (just south of olympic/hoover on the southeastern fringes of koreatown)? i've been to both in the past but was wondering if they're still good.

                    i've also been to ruen pair in the past - i thought it was better than anything in ny (including sripraphai). glad to hear it's still going strong.

                    any burger recommendations? i heard about some place in santa monica (the name has the word "farmer" or "farmer's" in it) which is supposed to be excellent. any ideas?

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: surly

                      El Taurino is still good, as is King Taco at Pico/Alvarado nearby.

                      Should try Sapp Coffee Shop in Thaitown for their boat noodles. Terrific!

                      1. re: surly

                        On LA Burgers: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... .

                        Sorry, can't help you on Vietnamese.

                        1. re: surly

                          ive been to mariela's and i think that it is decent. i think you should check out tumbras a tomas in the grand central market in downtown or el gran burrito on santa monica and vermont instead. carne asada at tumbras a tomas. al pastor at el gran burrito. delicious! enjoy your stay!

                          1. re: surly

                            There's a post about Little Saigon just above yours (that's in Westminster).

                            Go to Quan Hy; it's unusual and terrific. Professor Salt has a nice review:

                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                            1. re: Mrs Fang

                              Definitely Quan Hy. I've heard good things about Thanh My as well, but haven't been; haven't tried S Vietnamese but it's supposedly "upscale" Viet food near the Westminster Mall. There's Banh Mi Che Cali at Bolsa and Magnolia, and a few blocks down on Bolsa, next to the Asian Garden Mall, is a place to get hot vit lon.

                            2. re: surly

                              Hi.. I think, instead of 'Farmer's' in the name of the burger joint in S.M., you may be thinking of 'Father's', as in Father's Office. Great burger, great beers, great big lines and wait-time to be served...

                            3. taiwanese - SinBaLa, Cafe Fusion, Din Tai Fung

                              cantonese - New Concept, Ocean Star, MPV, Triumphal Palace,NBC

                              sichuan - Lucky Dragon, Chung King, Best Sichuan, Oriental Pearl

                              hunan - Hunan's Place (formerly Crown Cafe)

                              Shanghai - Mei Long Village, Green City

                              1. For Mexican streetfood consult Bandini's excellent blog on blogspot "The Great Taco Hunt." His very top rating goes to El Parian at 1528 Pico, just west of downtown near Hoover.

                                1. thanks again for the great recommendations. i've been combing the LA board and a lot of what you've said has been mentioned, so thanks so much for concisely providing me with these suggestions.

                                  one thing i'm intrigued about is the LA-style french dip sandwich. which is better--cole's or philippe's? according to this article from a few years back, it's cole's--but then again, this guy's from ny, writing for a ny audience. wondering what you guys think:

                                  http://www.villagevoice.com/nyclife/0...

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: surly

                                    Once upon a time, I might have said Cole's but it no longer cuts the mustard. However, my understanding is that the building has been sold and Cole's will be taken over (and changed) by the guys behind the Golden Gopher and a few other downtown bars.

                                    1. re: surly

                                      I never understood the enthusiasm for Cole's; even 15 years ago when I worked downtown. Philippe is far superior, particularly if you get a lamb dip (some like it double dipped) and embellish it with some of their spicy mustard.

                                      I hope you have a great trip!

                                      1. re: surly

                                        Phillipe's. Get the lamb. And their lemony cole slaw is good too. This place drips with Old LA feeling.

                                        1. re: surly

                                          No matter the meat, the mustard at Philippe's is a religious experience. My side item of choice is the pickled beets.

                                          Also, for Mexican there are so many good places it is hard to know where to begin. If you are near Hollywood, I would heartily endorse Tere's on the corner of Melrose and Cahuenga. Everything is home-made and my favorites are enchiladas fish, enchiladas michocanas or (of you have really low cholesterol) the mechudas.
                                          Even their vegetable soup (sopa fideo) is delicious - served with queso fresco, lime wedges and fresh corn tortillas. Also, they serve breakfast all day. The only thing I don't like at Tere's is their mole, which is not to my taste.

                                          Lastly, you may want to check out a great LA novelty, the car wash taco or even merely a stand-alone taco outpost. I don't profess expertise in this area but check out these taco-blogs: http://www.lataco.com/ or http://tacohunt.blogspot.com/ or http://www.babygater.com/index.php.

                                          Happy eating!

                                        2. What L.A. does better than or what you can't find in NYC:

                                          Thai - Go to the Tempe for Sat/Sun brunch. Here is a very good 67 slide show picture presentation (it goes by quickly) with brief comments that will illustrate exactly what to expect:

                                          http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLand...

                                          Korean BBQ - Here is a 4 stop investigative report with slide show presentation links:

                                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                          Sand Dabs
                                          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                          They are small flounders found only in the northern Pacific and are a west coast dish you will not find in NYC, or in St. Louis = In the 1955(?) movie "The Spirit of St. Louis" with Jimmy Stewart; he arrives unannounced at the North San Diego aircaft manufacturer only to encounter the head guy cooking Sand Dabs on a piece of sheet metal with his blowtorch...

                                          Where to have them?

                                          I don't know NYC that well, but do you have places in NYC that could be described as "Beach-Dive-Funky"? Ambiance like that of the places used in the 1960s Frankie Avalon Beach movies. Well, that's how I would describe:

                                          Chez Jay's - Santa Monica
                                          $17 - Dinner menu only (most of the rest of the menu not that good

                                          )

                                          http://www.chezjays.com

                                          Other Places with Different Ambiance:

                                          Pacific Dining Car - Santa Monica & Downtown
                                          $25.95 - Lunch menu only (expensive restaurant

                                          )

                                          http://www.pacificdiningcar.com

                                          Cafe Bizou - Sherman Oaks & Pasadena
                                          $12.95/$14.95 - Lunch/Dinner (afforable, $2 corkage

                                          )

                                          http://www.cafebizou.com

                                          Mexican - See "bodie" recs above.

                                          African - I did a search of NYC eateries and you have North African covered and you have Central Afican covered (from Ethiopia to Dakar), but South African you don't have (the only one RSA spot I did find on the CH NY board search website doesn't function, usually a bad sign of availablity). Peri Peri sauce as well as Bitlong (spelling?) can be very addictive and is available at:

                                          Springbok Bar & Grill - Van Nuys & Long Beach

                                          http://www.springbokbar.com

                                          Japanese Tapas - A picture speaks a 1,000 words, so 20+ pictures will save a lot of typing:

                                          http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLand...

                                          Musha - Santa Monica (& Torrance)

                                          1. Mexican:
                                            sit-down: La Casita Mexicana in Bell. Puebla State style cuisine and the food is amazing as is the price.

                                            Stand/Truck/other:
                                            For really diverse regional Mexican - go to Highland Park:
                                            On Figueroa and Ave 52 or so is El Metate - Michoacan style and everything is amazingly fresh.

                                            On Ave 54 and Monte Vista is the Tacos Sinaloa truck which has tacos from Sinaloa state.

                                            On York, starting at Ave 54 is Huarache Azteca for Morelos State style huaraches and tortas which are amazing.

                                            Just North on York is the El Pique taco truck which has D.F. style tacos

                                            Just North of that is Mariscos Sinaloa for seafood.

                                            North of that is Antojitos Guerrero from Guerrero state which on the weekend has amazing birria and barracoa.

                                            In the middle of all of this is Galco's soda pop shop which has anamazing selection of sodas and beers from all over the world.