one night in LA
Would appreciate recommendations, preferably from someone familiar with SFBA dining, for a wonderful meal different from what can be found up north: ethnic, fancy, whatever.
Willing to drive 20-30 miles from Fairfax area, so location not that important.
Love meat but try to eat it infrequently for health reasons, so a place with good veg/fish choices appreciated.
Never met a cuisine we didn't like. Particularly partial to Chinese of all varieties but open to all suggestions.
Here are a few suggestions with phone numbers. Not one of them serves traditional Chinese food, but it sounds like you have had quite a bit of Chinese. Also, these are all fairly pricey, (especially L'Orangerie), except for La Serenata.
1. La Serenata de Garibaldi (323)-265-2887. Gourmet Mexican, with quite a bit of seafood.
2. L'Orangerie (310)-652-9770. Bust the budget, beautiful "high" French for a dress up in your best suit kind of place.
3. Matushisa (310)-659-9639. Super Sushi, plus with a menu large enough to rival the phone book. Unusual and eclectic.
4. Chinois on Main (310)-392-9025. French-Chinese from Wolfgang Puck. Noisy but the food can be incredible.
5. Campanile (323)938-1447. Delicious, inventive California cusine. Converted from an old church, so the architecture is interesting.
Hope this is helpful.
re: Mike Kilgore
I recently had dinner there on a Sunday night and the food was amazing. Though a bit odd in terms of decor, the flavors at Chinios are more creative than what you would find at Spago.
Chionis looked more like an appetizer restaurant to us so the three of us ordered 6 appetizers and 1 entree. This worked out amazingly well since all portions are meant to be shared anyways.
Four stunning appetizers were:
Hamachi Sashimi: Thin slices of silky hamachi with a creamy, slightly tangy sauce. The sashimi was excellent and rivals Nobu's new style sashimi.
Louisiana shrimp tempura with a honey mustard sauce: The shrimp were served on sticks which are perfect for dipping into the green honey mustard sauce (could not figure out what made the sauce green). Big and meaty, the shrimp were crispy and the flesh had a good spring to them.
Warm curried oysters: The oysters were medium sized oysters that were lightly dusted with curry, fried, and served in the shell with more of that green honey mustard sauce and topped with salmon roe "pearls". The curry flavor was subtle and played well with the soft warm center. The dish was a hit with my sister who was not a big oyster fan until the dish changed her mind.
Tempura Ahi tuna with fresh uni sauce: The rare tuna was wrapped with a layer of slighty chewy tempura batter and served on a stunningly ethereal uni sauce. Again, my sister who wrinkled her nose at the uni sauce changed her attitude towards uni after this dish.
Two appetizers that were very good but not on par with the other 4:
Sauteed foie gras with pineapple: The sweet pineapple was essential in resetting you for the next bite of the rich foie gras.
Diver scallops on lobster pancakes: Not as impressive as the other dishes. Seared scallops on coins of "lobster pancake". The pancakes reminded me of a vegetable fritter. The accompanying mushroom salad was good though.
Finally, for the entree, we got the charcoal grilled Szechuan beef. The beef was thick, tender, cooked medium rare and topped with caramalized ginger and onions. This was also a favorite of ours that night.
For dessert, we ordered the chocolate bento box and the passion fruit cheesecake with roasted pineapple dipping sauce. Though the bento box provided a fun assortment of chocolate desserts, the passion fruit cheesecake was unique and more impressive.
In my opinion, Chinois on Main gives visitors a taste of of that cal-asian cusine that one might not find elsewhere.
re: Mike Kilgore
Just don't miss Tiki Ti on sunset, next door to KCET. Only open wed-sat, but is the single greatest bar in the known universe (IMHO). The Rays Mistake is the Haut-Brion of tropical drinks. El Chavo right next door is good eats, and Sahags Basturma further west on sunset is unique-"the best Basturma in the U.S." according to the owner in his own humble opinion.
BTW, get to the Ti early if you don't like to stand in line. Also, the place is owner operated and they do allow smoking, which is perfectly legal, but may put you off.
Peace and Grub and happy hunting to you.
p.s.-Thanks J. Gold, where ever you are, for turning me on th Sahags.
Apologies. Basturma is an Armenian cured beef-pungent with a bullet. What I refered to as "a basturma" would be a sandwich of the stuff, but I am incorrect in refering to it as such. It is quite unique.
Before you write off the Ti, let me advise you that if you get there right when they open on a wed. or thurs. night (i.e. 6 o'clock) you will be able to avoid most or even all of the smoke. I find cigarette smoke pretty offensive myself, but I am telling you, this place is worth the risk. If you must, just get in, suck one back, and get out. These drinks are, IMHO, the best in the city (although I confess I've not been to every single bar-I stopped looking after I found the Tiki Ti. I have a fetish for Tiki drinks, and better drinks the the Ti's are unimaginable.)
However, if you show up any time after 8:30 or so, or any time on a friday or saturday, you will need an oxygen tank. I can't overstate it though-get there at six on wed or thurs, order a "Rays Mistake" or a "space pilot", and experience Tiki bliss. . .
Pineapples and Rum!
btw, the only food you'll find at the Ti are bar snacks-hence the rec for El Chavo next door for dinner. I'll be there tonight so anyone interested should look for the guy in black with a skull cap and goat. Thats me. The Ti's got quite a history-if you go just ask the bt for the lowdown (father and son bartenders-son is third generation Tiki-master)