Your most memorable 1st time in 2007....
As the year draws to an end (well, soon), I find myself reminiscing all the wonderful NEW culinary experiences (not necessarily new restaurants but my 1st visit) that I had in 2007. Here's my most memorable, how about yours?
URASAWA...finally made a pilgrimage to this Japanese culinary mecca this week. What can I say about this place that hasn't already been said on this board? Well, the experience was simply sublime & flawless! Will definitly return but, with 2 kids in private school, probably not as often as my heart desires.
There are so many places to eat that you simply dont have the opportunity to get to them all. So...I rediscoverd an old favorite this year and was I ever glad I did. Angelini Osteria/ I went in one late afternoon, looked over the menu and ordered Spaghetti with sweet sausage, black truffle, truffle oil and a small shaving of pecorino. I was just knocked over by how good it was. The spag was done perfectly with just a little toothy feel to it, the sausage and black truffle combination was this hard to explain mixture of extreme earth-savory-slighly sweet-salty sheeps cheese goodness that just never seemed to stop. There have been a couple of other highlights but of all the things that I have been blessed with eating this year, this one dish takes the cake for sure.
actually carter you may really have something there. i was pretty disappointed with my last Angelini visit - my pappardelle tasted like it had been sitting under a heat lamp - and on a friday night with a swamped kitchen it probably was. but, even still at those prices with the hype of Gino Angelini - everything should be spot on.
I had 2 memorable first times this past year:
1) Enrique's in Long Beach. This modest strip mall store front of a casual appearing Mexica restaurant really puts out some well done food.
2) Tsuruhashi in Fountain Valley. I've yet to go when the 1st tier kobe short rib has been avaiable but, that 2nd tier is so good and the kimchi fried rice was so good as well.
re: bad nono
I also dined at Providence for the 1st time this year but didn't order the tasting menu because my friend who was paying for the dinner insisted we had their Australian lobster special which wasn't on the tasting menu. Each lobster was numbered and came with a certificate or something.....anyway, it was very very tasty but way pricer than if we've done the tasting menu. Also in my resolution to go back in 2008!
Providence's TM this year was a disappointment to me. I'd had it at the beginning of '06 and it was fantastic. This time around, it was less creative and surprisingly shoddy - 1 course had to be sent back due to being overcooked, and the longest wait between two courses was a slack 45 minutes.
For starters, its size. Imagine the city of Pasadena except entirely in Vietnamese. Second, I still think it's the next great Chowhound frontier. Few stalwarts like me even bother to go down there, and our OC friends only scratch the tip of the edge of a bit of the surface.
I love the San Gabriel Valley. I do. But with the exception of com tam, anything that SGV offers gets *smoked* by Little Saigon. Smoked. I mention com tam because I like Com Tam Thanh Kieu in SGV better than its Brookhurst sibling. And I'm not saying that SGV is bad. I'm just saying that it isn't the end of the road, an appropriate metaphor given Little Saigon's distance.
For me, the essence of what's good in Garden Grove is the nem nuong cuon at Brodard. I say that because the experience itself is stuff no guidebook will ever tell you. This place is the very definition of hidden. Not only do you have to go to Little Saigon in the first place (it takes me 45 minutes during lunch to get there from Hollywood), but once there, Brodard is tucked behind a mall store front, past a bunch of dumpsters and along a pot-hole filled back lot. But you step inside, and you're greeted not with some small eatery. Brodard is enormous! That place seats about a hundred people at a time, and I've sometimes had to wait half an hour! And while the menu, like a lot of places, will have Vietnam's greatest hits (a pho section, a bun section, a com section, etc, etc), the real treasure here are the grilled sausage spring rolls.
So part of the magic is sifting through large menus (some places in SGV, like Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa, offer a shorter menu, which I like a lot since it shows focus and restraint as opposed to being everything to everyone) and panning for gold.
Where and what is amazing there? There's gold in the hills, and the gold tastes good.
Point of comparison, I had the bun bo hue at NNNH last week, and I thought the noodles were great, but to be honest, it wasn't as good as Ngoc Hue, which might not even be a proper Hue-style restaurant (my ability to note subtle differences in Vietnamese tonal characters are, sadly, non-existent).
I beg to differ on the com tam front.
Com Tam Trung Qui Cap (sp?), located on Harbor/Edinger. PWNS Golden Deli into tomorrow.
Never tried Com Tam Thanh Kieu however, but if you tell me where on brookhurst, we'll see if I've ever been there...
and as a counter point, I hate Brodard ^_^. Well maybe not hate, but find it overrated to a fault. I thought the nem nuong place I went to in the 626 also pwns Brodard into tomorrow...
I know I contribute to its overrated nature, but that's only to stir up the pot and get others to talk about alternatives for me to jump ship to! I'm definitely not the type to be married to any one dish or one restaurant, and so I'll gladly "eat around". I'll dump Brodard in a split second! Or better yet, I'll visit another place and totally not tell Brodard. I like you, Pho 79 in Alhambra, but I'm secretly seeing Pho Bolsa on the side. It's not you, it's me.
In the same way that there exists debate over NY style pizza, or debate over the LA burger, I would *love* for there to be a debate over Vietnamese food, especially stuff other than pho.
So your post is an example of what the board needs more of: standing up to defend their favorite Viet places! THIS place! No, THIS place! That's the type of energy that gets casual observers kinda curious. Sure, some might say it ain't all that or just another victim to hype, but if it leads even just one new Hound down the garden (grove) path, the thread is already worthwhile.
Com Tam Thuan Kieu
14282 Brookhurst St Ste 2, Garden Grove, CA 92843
Several pleasant first time experiences for me the past year:
Thai Boom -- By far the best Thai I've had on the west side.
Porky's -- Gosh, the first time I tasted their pulled pork.
Victor Jr's -- Meatball sub, eggplant parm, pleasant service.
Amandine -- Finally a great croissant at a decent price.
Shamshiri -- Beef koobideh and chicken shwarma, huge portions.
Markie D's: Miss their huge cheesesteak with sweet and hot peppers.
Mama Voula's: Miss their gyros and crisp fries with tons of garlic, though El Super Taco brings good tacos and great habanero salsa closer to my home.
I am fairly conservative in my Thai tastes, though I like spicy. My first time there, I inquired about spicy dishes and my yellow curry came with beads of red chili oil on top and extra slivers of the hot peppers within -- fantastic! With a group for dinner I enjoyed the special shrimp in a dry curry butter paste, the eggplant, and the expertly grilled and attractively presented satay. Beef was dry. There are several reviews and recs on this board, particularly for the papaya or mango salad.
I can't say for sure, but there were a few good ones that sort of pile up next to each other
El Katacho Van Nuys-AMAZING! I loved the shrimp, the tortillas are unique, great service. I can't wait to try the HUGE blue crab soup.
Boneyard Bistro- Great beer, good bbq, and they were so nice. They made my burrito with the BBQ beans, something not on the menu. They kept bringing out basket after basket of corn muffins for our table. They let us try the brisket, free of charge, and gave us a HUGE "sample". The owner/chef came and chatted us up. Plus, since we are Maltose Falcons, we get 25% off all beer! Wheee!
Sabor A Mexico. I loved the veggie burrito. The tortillas are fresh. Super slow service, and my hiuarache was greasy and not what I expected. But the flavors! Amazing.
88 Seafood in San Gabriel (is that the right name? I was in a dim sum coma when I left) Good food for an amazing price. I
On the same trip we went to one other place:
Yum Cha cafe: great sweet sticky rice!
Fugetsudo-soft, yielding mochi, amazing flavors.
Sushi House of Taka: now on regualr sushi rotation
There are more, but I gotta think!
For me, it has to be the Mozzas.
We caught on late to the Pizzeria Mozza train, not visiting there until May of this year. We went for lunch, sneaking away late in the middle of the workday while our bosses were all on business trips or conferences. We were so smitten, we just kept ordering more food, more wine, more desserts - it was insane. I've had many great meals at Pizzeria Mozza since, but nothing was as incredible at that first time.
I was fortunate enough to score a reservation at Osteria Mozza on the second Saturday night they were in business. Everything was flawless - warm, knowledgeable service; flatware and stemware replaced smoothly; a great sommelier who found us the perfect wines; the perfect Negroni, complete with flaming orange peels. Oh, and all the food was really amazing, too. My second visit wasn't nearly as good, but that first meal was almost perfect.
Couldn't disagree more. Both Mozzas to me were perfectly good, but outrageously overpriced considering the majority of their dishes are no better prepared than in most of the good Italian restaurants in town. I went back-to-back two weekends ago to OM and the expanded La Buca, and if anything preferred the latter, especially when it came to the pastas.
A friend and I impulsively walked in to OM and were immediately seated at the bar. We each ordered a glass of wine, sparkling water, the most divine beets with horseradish and a pizza that I will never forget...without a doubt the best pizza I've ever eaten.....and that crust....whoa!! The pizza, which we could have eaten until we made ourselves sick, is designed to eat on the premises and 'taking it out' just doesn't work. If there is another restaurant in LA that has pizza that good please do tell...I love Casa Bianca, of course :).
We had no major revelations this year, but many pleasant first-time experiences. Central Park in Pasadena became a favorite place immediately; finally got to Auntie Em's and wondered why we'd waited so long, and the same with Square One. We took Mrs. O's parents out to Taix at their request, and found it both quaintly charming and quite good, though their menu needs some rewriting/editing by someone more literate in French. Our visit to the Redwood Bar & Grill really qualifies as First Time, since we hadn't been since before the change of ownership and remodel, and we found it even more comfortable than before, with very good instead of merely adequate food, a huge improvement. And then there's La Abeja in Highland Park, another J. Gold-directed discovery, and it was easy to see why he liked it so much. I got that kind of refried pork chop thing he recommended, and loved it so much despite (or because of) the 32 jillion calories that I've been afraid to go back!
these were relatively first-timers.... some more memorable than others.... many others to list but I'm just too shocked with all my eating out that I'm not morbidly obese.
Yum Cha Cafe - dim sum plates
J&S - cheese fries, bean n' cheese burrito, pastrami burrito
Vito's - pizza & sandwiches
Bollini Pizza - pizza & bread
Il Capriccio - pizza
Joe's (SM) - pizza
Joe's (MP) - pizza
Shamshiri - kabob plates
Shaherzad - kabob plates, yogurt appetizer
Dragon Mark - xlb
Lucky Devil's - kobe burger, fries, vanilla custard, red velvet cupcake, milkshake
Morton's (for that lunch burger)
The Counter - burgers and fries and shakes
Gus's - patty melt and fries
Tops - kobe bistro burger, chili cheese fries, carne asado tostada, pastrami sam
Marston's - breakfast
Arthur's - omelettes, homemade orange julius, etc etc
Paco's Tacos - cheese enchiladas and beans with cheese
Cemitas place on 1st - tacos de cueritos
Sea Harbour - dim sum
Elite- dim sum
Wiener Factory - polish dog
Sakura on Centinela - sushi and handrolls
Beard Papa - cream puffs, but I now get eclairs only
Aloha - Hawaiian breakfast
Hop Li - sweet & sour cod, orange chicken, house special chow mein
Bahn Mi Che Cali - bahn mi, pho, desserts, other prepared hot items
Shin Sen Gumi Hakata - ramen and appetizers and spirited waitstaff
La Brea Bakery
re: snooze button
Holy cow! Besides Urasawa (most memorable), here's some of my 1st this year.
* denotes somewhat memorable experiences:
Lawry's Carvery (Century City)*
Yam Cha Ya
Joe's Pizza (SM)
Bahn Mi Che Cali
Yummy Bake Shop
It was ordering the Suadero taco at Taco Zone. And after that just trying random taco trucks. Having Barbacoa in Tecate was really really amazing as well . . . .
I finally got to Skaf's and tried their baba ghannouj. Outstanding combination of smooth, but still chunky, with plenty of smokiness. Best in LA.
Thanks to the Chowhounders on this board I discovered both Soup Dumplings at Mei Long Village and Babita. Both were new unique experiences and have become favorites. Thank you!
I had never been to Sushi Zo at this time last year and I obviously had never tried their monkfish liver. Trying that for the first time was one of my most memorable experiences of '07.
TOPS - Kobe Bistro Burger & Zucchini Fries
Wow, I would have never tried Tops, if it hadn't been for Chowhound. I have driven by this place for over 10 years and have never gone in. But, thanks to y'all, I eat there at least once a week...I know, my cholesterol is probably off the charts, but hey, we only live once!!!
JAN. - Fleur de Lys (San Francisco)
FEB. - Urasawa (Beverly Hills)
March - D'Amico Cucina (Minneapolis)
APRIL - Grimaldies - (Brooklyn)
MAY - Orris (West LA)
JUNE - Angelini Osteria (West Hollywood)
JULY - Chez Melange (Redondo Beach)
AUGUST - Morton's (Downtown LA - Hamburger Lunch)
SEPT. - Cut (Beverly Hills)
OCT. - Asanebo (Studio City)
Nov. - Bastide (West Hollywood)
DEC. - Ritz Bros. (Newport Beach)
of course there are many restaurants fine dining and not i hit up this year
but the most interesting things i had was:
wolfgang pucks american wine and food festival
the tiradito at kotosh.
pizza at mozza
natas at natas
white slice at vito's
deluxe lunch chirashi at sushi sushi
black croque monsieur and the beurre echire at ludobites at bread bar.
tacos al pastor at el califa in mexico city D.F (not LA but the biggest revelation i had this year)