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Unique foods - LA?

I am doing a project for school that is due next week. I need your help!

I am going to write an article (and reviews) on restaurants in LA but these restaurants need to offer something unique. I'm trying to think "off the beaten path". Are there any restaurants in Los Angeles (and surrounding areas) that offer unique tasty dishes? Something you can't find anywhere else? Weird dishes or silly concoctions? These can be as cheap as roach coaches or up to $30-40 per person. Any unique alcoholic beverages or funky desserts? If you were me, what would you write about? This is my chance to taste some fun unique food and get my school work done at the same time. I need atleast 3 restaurants to write about. Please think outside the box. I'd really appreciate your recs.

I know you awesome folks out there can help. I love you peeps! xoxo

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  1. There was an article in last week's Calendar Weekend in the L.A. Times about Extreme Dining.



    1 Reply
    1. re: Amuse Bouches

      Eep! OK, I don't think I am that brave though. Live octopus and crickets! I was thinking food more unique (not extreme). But please let me know if any of you chowhounders have had experience with this. Maybe a few martinis could induce a bit more bravery in me.

      1. re: Burger Boy

        Cool. Anyone eaten here? Original Bill's Taco House. Any other recs? Hey I heard of a weird donut shop that has mochi donuts. Anyone know about this?

        1. re: missmodular818

          I have and I love it, there are 3 other places that do this, but this is the only one to go to!

          1. re: missmodular818

            mochi donuts!!!!! oh my gosh, please share if you find it.

            another unique street food is hodduk, a korean rice cake dessert thing you can buy at the california market in koreatown.

          2. re: Burger Boy

            A few week's ago on KCRW's radio show "Good Food," there was a piece on eyeball tacos, with a man who writes a blog on this very topic called "Deep End Dining."

            1. re: holleygolitely

              Oh, I am so not down with Cow eyeballs. Maybe I shouldn't have titled this post "Weird" although I am sure there are many weird concoctions/combinations of food that doesn't have to do with the left-over parts of animals. I know I know. I am wimpy. Maybe this post will be harder to answer than originally thought.

          3. I think breakfast at Doughboy's deserves mention -- those guys are doing things with pancakes that only an 8-year old boy with an unlimited grocery budget could dream of.

            4 Replies
            1. re: nick_r

              Here we go! Something I can eat. Serve them up. I've been meaning to try the Rice-Krispies Pancake with Marshmallow cream on top. Now that is unique - a pancake with rice krispie cereal mixed throughout with a dollop of marshie cream? Hello! Genius! Anyone try them?

              1. re: missmodular818

                If I'm not mistaken, Phong Dinh in San Gabriel serves snake and kangaroo, although their most popular dish is the rather mild baked catfish.
                They also serve wild boar and quail.

                1. re: missmodular818

                  I did.

                  I am glad I was brave enough to try them.

                  I will not be ordering them again.

                  If you get them, wear a giant poncho because the marshmallow. Gets. Everywhere.

                  That is all.

                  P.S. It's not really "marshmallow cream" but rather a whole freaking bag of mini marshmallows melted on top.

                2. re: nick_r

                  Griddle Cafe moreso than Doughboys!

                  Griddle Cafe
                  7916 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046

                3. You can get insects and other creepy crawlies at Typhoon, and there's also that restaurant Opaque where you eat in the dark. Also, Melt in Culver City specializes in grilled cheese (possibly too tame, but I like the idea and am dying to go). I've heard of restaurants that just serve PB&J or Spam dishes, but I don't know names/locations. It's a long hike (and not technically in LA), but Coldspring Tavern near Santa Ynez has interesting dishes featuring various game animals.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Juji

                    Creepy Crawlies = Hebejebees

                    That place Opaque seems really interesting. I checked out their website. That is really unique and cool BUT *boo hoo* outside the budget range. Needs to stay under $40 per person. I saw the menu was $99 per person.

                    Love you all but can we try and avoid insect and eyeball recommendations? xoxo

                    1. re: missmodular818

                      Cold Spring Tavern up north is a fantastic idea... it's an old stagecoach stop which has retained a fantastic rustic charm. Think rough timber, old west, dirt roads.


                      Oh yes, and pretty much the entire San Gabriel Valley for Chinese food.

                      Taiwanese Stinky Tofu? Check.
                      Islamic Chinese? Check.
                      Spicy Szechuan Hotpot? Check.
                      Freshly made hand pulled noodles in beef soup? Check.
                      Dumplings with soup that appears magically *inside* the dumpling? Check.

                      Mr Taster
                      Protect Chowhound
                      Boycott Avatars!

                  2. Mashti Malone's is the only Persian ice cream joynt I know of in the United States, so that's definitely an "only in LA" experience.

                    Some of the Korean places in LA are also pretty special and not nearly as prevalent in other parts of the country.

                    The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills has a much bigger variety of cheese than you can find in most cities in America (SF and NYC would be the only ones who match it), so that could be an interesting eating experience to write about.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: glutton

                      Oh, very good stuff. I went on the website for Mashti Malone's and it looks as if they are opening a new shop in Glendale. Rosewater ice cream. Sounds nice. I do enjoy the persian desserts that have the rosewater sugar syrup drizzled on top. Must try this.

                      1. re: missmodular818

                        The place in Glendale is already opened and has been for a couple years -- I don't think they update their websites very often. the rosewater ice cream is excellent, especially with a bit of the lemon or currant syrup drizzled on top. Or you could try their saffron flavor -- that's a personal favorite.

                        1. re: glutton

                          Is that what they have in the ketchup and mustard bottles? I thought it was lemon juice and sour cherry syrup.

                          1. re: rastan

                            Yes and do give it a try -- they're fantastic.

                      2. re: glutton

                        Mashti's is great, and the sorbet with noodles (forget the name) in it is truly a unique food. It's delicious!

                        1. re: gsw

                          I think it's called "faludeh".

                      3. What about Musha or one of the many izakayas in town? It's Japanese bar food and have many unique dishes on the menu without being super exotic. Plus, sharing a bunch of small plates is a really fun way to eat!

                          1. re: bulavinaka

                            Well of course this opens up the debate to Tito's as uniquely LA along w/ Pink's, both more for the experience of going than for the grub.

                            El Cholos green corn tamales!!!
                            Inn of 7th Ray if you can splurge
                            Nata's Pastries
                            Donut Man in Glendora
                            Porto's Bakery -- Mango Mousse or Pina Colada cakes

                          2. Not sure if this is still considered unique or exactly what you are looking for, but how about the whole raw food trend?
                            Cru, Leaf Cuisine, juliano's raw, rawvolution...

                            1. Four food places immediately spring to mind:

                              1 - Zelo's Cornmeal Pizza in Arcadia (never had anything like it anywhere else, and it's delicious).

                              2 - Donut Man in Glendora (for the strawberry [spring] and peach [summer] filled donuts - hard to describe, but heavenly - and never had anything like them elsewhere).

                              3 - Golden Deli in Alhambra (for their Cha Gio - thicker, tastier, incredibly addicting - and while other Vietnamese places serve Cha Gio, nothing comes close to Golden Deli).

                              4 - Oinkster in Eagle Rock ("slow fast food")

                              2005 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

                              Zelo Pizzeria
                              328 E Foothill Blvd, Arcadia, CA 91006

                              Golden Deli
                              815 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                              Donut Man
                              915 E Rte 66, Glendora, CA 91740

                              1. Chili My SOul in Encino offers chocolate chips as a topping for their chili. Not wierd, really, because so many pro chili guys use chocolate in chili..but the chips as a topping is something different...it's good, too!

                                1. Scoops Ice Cream is the ticket. It has really unique flavors that taste much better than they sound. My favorite was the black sesame green tea. They change their flavors every day. It is on 712 Heliotrope near Normandie and Melrose.

                                  Here is a link to a previous post mentioning their favorite flavors.


                                  712 N Heliotrope Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90029

                                  2 Replies
                                    1. re: Diana

                                      Oh, wow. That is a good one. Very unique and my boyfriend will go bonkers in there. I can't wait to go. Hope I can find the place.

                                  1. Although it is a chain, it did start here.

                                    California Pizza Kitchen's BBQ chicken pizza.

                                    Actually, isn't is a copy of Wolfgang Puck's BBQ pizza?

                                    So I guess if you could swing it, it be a good part of your report to mention how what was originally a "freaky LA thing" is now nation wide.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: Diana

                                      The problem with original LA food is that it all quickly goes nationwide or worldwide. Spago's and French fusion is originally LA. So is Phillippes French dip, the Cobb salad, California rolls, Spicy Tuna Rolls, Hot Dog on a Stick, Ice Cream cakes. And I will probably be taken to task for the authenticity of these claims.

                                      Diana is right. This could be a paper in and of itself.

                                      1. re: Ogawak

                                        here's a link to the website for chili my soul


                                        have a good time

                                        1. re: Ogawak

                                          I see - maybe this is a completely different topic then but what are the new food trends starting off here in LA?

                                          1. re: missmodular818

                                            if you glance over the boards, you can see.

                                            THings like churro milkshakes at the counter-shakes with actual chunks in them.

                                            Chefs are using a super freezy thing to make "ice cream" of anything.

                                        2. re: Diana

                                          Yes, I believe CPK is a rip off of Wolfgang

                                        3. How about a little okonomiyaki, (see link to review with photos below)? While it wouldn't be thought of as out of the main stream in Japan it certainly qualifies here in the US.


                                          10 Replies
                                          1. re: Servorg

                                            So I heard of a place that made these crazy donuts that (I think) is Japanese owned. I'm not sure if they used to make Mochi donuts or if they still do. Anyone know? Am I crazy?

                                            1. re: missmodular818

                                              Mochi donuts are extremely popular at donut shops throughout Japan. They're like your standard donut on the outside but on the inside have a really cool chewy, toothy texture. Really addictive. Anyone know where these can be had in LA?

                                              Mr Taster
                                              Protect Chowhound
                                              Boycott Avatars!

                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                Well, are y'all gonna tell me where to find those MOCHI DONUTS...I'm dying here...I gotta try 'em.

                                                1. re: tatertotsrock

                                                  If you're really desperate for one, just go to the nearest Chinese bakery and get one of those fried sesame balls, which is pretty much fried mochi filled with sweetened black bean. The Japanese ones are a little more delicate but the concept is pretty much the same.

                                                  Also, just want to note that the majority of the suggestions on this thread are not unique to LA, since one can find most of these items (except for Oki dog, Tito's, and Mashti Malone's) elsewhere in the US.

                                                  1. re: E Eto

                                                    What foods should I review at OKIDOG and TITO'S? I think I have Mashti Malone's covered. Thank you.

                                                    1. re: missmodular818

                                                      The Titos on Santa Monica/Stanley is the most entertaining...head to it around 12AM to chat with the Tranni Hookers and get a couple of taquitos and some beans and rice and a taco and anything else....feel free to bring a brown bag w/beverage of your choice-why not, everyone else is doing it...it's all good and the live entertainment makes it so much fun!

                                                      1. re: missmodular818

                                                        Tito's Tacos- The Tacos of course get them with cheese, I like the Burritos also. Used to like the tamales but they have fallen off lately. The Chips with Salsa & guacamole sauce are Good.
                                                        Oki Dog- The Trademark Oki Dog, It's 2 hotdogs covered with pastrami, chili & cheese all wrapped up in a flour tortilla.
                                                        The Pastrami Burrito- Pastrami,grilled cabbage, peppers, onions, chili & cheese. Or You could add a Fried egg also.
                                                        Chicken Teriyaki plate
                                                        Taco- Lightly fried corn tortilla, Hamburger patty chooped up with lettuce, tomato, hot sauce & cheese
                                                        Ask for seasoned salt on the fries, Look for Hot Pickled Cabbage pieces in the Hot Yellow chile container. Tell them Hiroshi sent you.

                                                        1. re: missmodular818

                                                          Review the oki dog, at OkiDog. It's unique. And, I think it's good, for what it is.

                                                      2. re: tatertotsrock

                                                        they also have them at korean bakeries - they're called chapsal (sweet rice flour) donuts and are also filled with sweetened red bean. there are ones that are sesame covered and ones that are not. galleria on olympic and western has a bakery on the bottom level that has them. i thought i also saw them at the bakery inside the little tokyo plaza.

                                                        1. re: fudisgud

                                                          Thanks fudisgud!
                                                          I have to go the the olimpic galleria to pick up some goodies so I'll look for 'em there.

                                                2. would the vegetarian 'fake meat' chinese food served at happy family restaurant in monterey park qualify as unique?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                    You can also get it at Vegetable Delight in the valley. It is not unique to LA, though, it is a very old chinese cooking style.

                                                  2. In Little Tokyo's Village Plaza on First Street, Mitsuwa Cafe makes a manju-like pastry called Imagawayaki, or dorayaki. They are pancake batter with sweet red bean inside cooked on a griddle. Honestly it's not as good as it used to be, but it's still a unique treat here, especially hot off the grill.

                                                    But I don't get what's special about Tito's. It's pretty good fast food Mexican, but is that unique?

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Ogawak

                                                      I agree, can someone explain Tito's?

                                                      1. re: Ogawak

                                                        I confess, I don't get it, either. Is it a "coming of age thing" -- fond memories drive current affection?