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Jun 27, 2007 04:55 PM

Good Ethnic Eats in LA

I'm a NY chowhound coming to LA for the first time in over in 10 years. Good fancy food I've always found easy to find, but would love to hear some recommendations for the hidden gems you have that are not to miss destination for the weekend I'm in town. Ethnic cuisine is preferred especially things we maynot have here in NY, and it surely doesn't have to be fancy, clean, etc,just amazing eats.

I'm staying in Brentwood but will have a car and always willing to travel for a great meal.


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  1. Near Brentwood is one of my favorite Oaxacan places, Monte Alban (and next in the same mini-mall, a pretty decent taco spot whose name escapes me at the moment). You're also close to Sawtelle with some nice Japanese places like Orris and Kiriko.

    If you head a little east, you'll run into Little Ethiopia. Heading further east is Koreatown. From there you can head north into Thai Town.

    Tell us, what cuisines in New York do you prefer? Are there any types of cuisines here in LA that you may have heard that intrigues you? The options are really wide open at the moment, so any kind of specifics would be helpful.

    Beyond that, my suggestions would be Monte Alban for Oaxacan and then Beverly Soon Tofu for Korean. And the restaurants that is captivating me personally at the moment is Jitlada for Southern Thai.

    3 Replies
    1. re: SauceSupreme

      L.A. pretty much kicks New York's butt in anything Asian or Latin American. We've just got far bigger, and more recently arrived, populations of people from those regions. So stick to that.

      Since you'll be here for the weekend, you might want to go out to Wat Thai on Coldwater Canyon Blvd. at Roscoe in North Hollywood - Saturday or Sunday 11-5 for great, truly great, Thai food in a fun atmosphere.

      Since you've got a car, you might also want to cruise Cesar Chavez, Whittier or Olympic Boulevards east of downtown at night looking for taco carts. What you really want is a pushcart with a big round of al pastor turning in front of a real wood flame - there aren't many of them because they're illegal - but they are great and unlike anything you'll find in NYC.

      During the day on the weekend, it is also fun to go to the Alameda Swapmeet at 45th and Alameda (south of downtown) for a big variety of Mexican food and a great scene.

      Chichen Itza on 6th near MacArthur Park is a wonderful Yucatecan restaurant. Serenata di Garabaldi on 1st St. in Boyle Heights, east of downtown, is excellent for somewhat upscale Mexican seafood. For the best upscale Mexican food in town - Babita, on San Gabriel Blvd. just north of the 10 Fwy in San Gabriel.

      Koreatown is a lot of fun and very interesting. You might just show up at Chapman Market on 6th and wander around drinking and snacking at the different bars. There are so many places in Koreatown it's impossible to recommend just one without knowing specifically what you're looking for. There must be several threads on this board that can steer you toward what you want.

      The San Gabriel Valley, along Valley Blvd. has pretty much any sort of Chinese you would want. Also worth looking up some threads on this board. My current faves are J&J Shanghai (Valley Blvd. just west of Del Mar), Lu Din Gee (Valley Blvd. just east of San Gabriel Blvd), Dong Ting Spring Hunan, in the huge shopping mall with the Ranch 99 market at the corner of Del Mar and Valley; Kang Kang Food Court, 27 E. Valley in Alhambra, north side of street, just east of Garfield; actually, there's just too many, I could keep going on. My favorite dim sum with carts is 888 Seafood on Valley three blocks east of San Gabriel - get there by 10:30 on the weekend or be prepared to wait a while.

      If you want Cambodian, I recommend New Paradise on Anaheim St. in Long Beach (the biggest Cambodian community in the world, outside of Cambodia.) If you can get in on a Friday or Saturday night - they are often booked up with private parties - the food is good (not fantastic, but plenty good and interesting) and there is a very good, fun band and singers playing Cambodian pop music - which is a wonderful thing.

      Anyhow, there's a start for you. Good luck. Enjoy.

      1. re: estone888

        Wat Thai is a great recommendation. Even if you don't eat anything (in which case you've got the willpower of a brick wall) it's still a fantastic scene.

        While we're talking about street scene, there's also the Hollywood farmer's market on Sunday, where there are a handful of ethnic food stands. (I enjoy the pupuseria and the taco stand there on Selma, and I've always been intrigued by the Korean food stand.)

        1. re: estone888

          All good recs, Wat Thai L.A. is so good, unique and fun. For one of the best Fish Tacos anywhere try Tacos Baja Ensenada. There is so much good Chinese available in the San Gabriel Valley, I don't know where to begin. The op would have to specify a regional cuisine of interest or search posts by Jerome and others. I like Chung King in San Gabriel a lot but ipse dixit doesn't!

          For Thai I like Sri Siam and Krua Thai in North Hollywood as well as Yai in Hollywood.

          Tacos Baja Ensenada
          5385 Whittier Blvd
          Los Angeles, CA 90022
          (323) 887-1980

      2. There was NYCer who asked for L.A. recs back in Feburary. After he visited he posted back that his best (I believe) dining experience was at Babita where he said something like "If you live within a 100 miles of this place and you haven't been, shame on you". I cannot find the link to his report, but I did a search and found a link that referred to it. The bad news - from Brentwood it could be over an hour depending on traffic and weekend or weekday:

        Type Babita in the search function and you'll find lots of entries nearly 100% enthusiastically positive.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JBC

          Agreed. If your willing to drive, get in your car and head to Babita. You won't be sorry.

        2. Soot Bull Jeep
          Little Armenia is on Hollywood Blvd around Western and eastward
          Cafe Brazil
          Rahel, Meals by Genet, and Messob on Fairfax as suggested for Ethiopian
          Los Balcones de Peru
          Carnival or Alcazar in the Valley
          Magic Carpet
          Nata's Pastries
          Porto's Bakery

          1. and -- Terried Sake House and the one more that is next door - both Japanese Izakaya on Santa Monica Blvd. between Federal and Barry? something like that

            1. Sabor a Mexico for as real a deal Mexico City-style food in the Westside...