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Desperately need real good chows in the West LA area!!!

Stranded in the Boonies! Jul 17, 2001 11:24 PM

Ok, my birthday is coming soon and friends are up for having good chows to celebrate my big day. The problem is, I live in a rural town called "Thousand Oaks" and we have exhausted every chow that this town can offer (it's fair to say that it didn't take long), and that we are a bunch recently relocated people...so I am resorting to you local know-how for some valuable insights...

I am looking for SERIOUSLY GOOD CHOWS in the West L.A area (because we are going bar-hopping afterwards). My personal favorites would be Californian, Asian, Italian, French food...I particularly love the happy marriages of cross-cultrual foods. It'll be for about 5-10 people for a B-day celebration, price is not a huge concern, but don't have to be expensive!!!

So if you know a great place that you are dying to share, please write to me soooooon.....many thanks!

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    Andrea RE: Stranded in the Boonies! Jul 18, 2001 02:10 AM

    If money is no object, Chinois on Main is about as good as it gets. I'd call it Cal-Asian-French, Wolfgang Puck but don't let that deter you.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Andrea
      Standed in the Boonies RE: Andrea Jul 18, 2001 01:01 PM

      Hi Andrea...

      Chinois on Main was great, but between the three of us, we spent $260 last time!!! I think for the amount of $$$ spent, it's over-rated! Any other more "fair" deal? I take it back, money is some object!


    2. m
      Mike Kilgore RE: Stranded in the Boonies! Jul 18, 2001 01:29 PM

      Two suggestions, and while not "fusion" both excellent in their own ways.

      Sabor Too on Pico Blvd. between 31st and 32nd streets in Santa Monica, or West L.A. (right on the border)

      Josie at 2424 Pico in Santa Monica.

      You should be able to find posts about both these restaurants on this board. If you choose Josie's I would check to see if they could handle the larger of you two numbers of guests.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Mike Kilgore
        Andrea RE: Mike Kilgore Jul 18, 2001 05:26 PM

        I second that, Sabor is great. And really cheap if you've never been is Versailles, cuban garlic chicken deluxe despite it's fancy name. Several locations.

        1. re: Mike Kilgore
          SIB RE: Mike Kilgore Jul 18, 2001 09:05 PM

          Hi Mike,

          Thanks, I'll let you know if I tried either one of them...


          1. re: Mike Kilgore
            carter RE: Mike Kilgore Jul 30, 2001 02:46 PM

            Mike's suggestions of Sabor and Josie are right on the mark. Sabor can be more fun-oriented, while Josie is for more serious dining. Another recommended Joe's, which is still probably the finest food at the fairest prices on the West Side, but large parties can only be accommodated in the patio at the rear. Book welllll in advance for larger parties. Enjoy!

            1. re: carter
              sunnyla RE: carter Jul 31, 2001 04:22 PM

              Joe's finished their remodeling and now has a larger space (nice, with glass paned wine cabinet) occupying the corner space adjacent to the original space. Better chances at getting a reservation now! The patio is temporarily closed for renovation.

          2. m
            muhlyssa RE: Stranded in the Boonies! Jul 19, 2001 09:25 AM

            I like Cafe Del Rey in Marina Del Rey, very asian-influenced Cal cuisine.

            Link: http://www.calcafe.com/marinadelrey/m...

            11 Replies
            1. re: muhlyssa
              Mike Kilgore RE: muhlyssa Jul 19, 2001 11:01 AM

              Hi Melissa, I have often been tempted to try Cafe del Rey, but I have been fooled into lousy meals by so many "finer" restaurants in the Marina that I have almost given up. When were you last there and what was good? With two entrees, two mains, two gasses of wine and coffee and one dessert what sort of tab would you estimate, pre tip? Thanks for any details and/or insights.

              1. re: Mike Kilgore
                muhlyssa RE: Mike Kilgore Jul 19, 2001 11:38 AM

                I don't consider most of the places in MDR to be fine dining (curious what other places you've been disappointed with). I haven't been to anything at the Ritz-Carlton except for a very overpriced brunch a few years ago.

                Cafe del Rey offers some very unique fare, something that I don't see in any other restaurants in MDR, I find that their mix of flavors extremely unique. The presentation of the food has always been nice and the service I have found to be very good. They also apparently have an impressive wine list, however I can't speak to that since I don't drink.

                The last time I was there was about two years ago (my parents took us there to celebrate our engagement). I usually start with the Kung-Pao Thai Shellfish Sausage. I've also had the Pan-Fried Goat Cheese Salad, Salmon Gravlax Pizza and Blue Crab Cakes and enjoyed them a lot.

                Usually for an entree I will have a fresh fish dish. I don't recall what I had when I was there last time.

                Consider trying it for lunch. You might find the prices to be a bit lower, thus less of a risk.

                1. re: muhlyssa
                  Mike Kilgore RE: muhlyssa Jul 19, 2001 11:45 AM

                  The Ritz was one, got suckered by some clever advertising a while back by the Charthouse saying that they were now featuring more interesting dishes than just surf and turf, ate recently at the Harbor House, terrible. The one place we used to go to and liked alot was Akbar's, (which was in the little shopping center just outside the marina inner ring road). They have moved down the steet a bit on Washington I think, but have not been back since they moved.

                  1. re: Mike Kilgore
                    muhlyssa RE: Mike Kilgore Jul 19, 2001 12:43 PM

                    I still like Akbar (someone posted here recently that they had a terrible experience there). But I think Cafe Del Rey is the "finest" dining in MDR. The rest are basically tourist chain traps (Cheesecake, CPK, Charthouse, Warehouse) A lot of MDR is still stuck in the 70's.

                    1. re: muhlyssa
                      SIB RE: muhlyssa Jul 19, 2001 07:18 PM

                      Hi Melissa, Mike and Andrea, Thanks for the input. At least I think I have a list of places to go beyond the B-day!!! That's wonderful!

                      The menu of Cafe Del Rey looks great! I was recommended another interesting place called Monsoon in Santa Monica...any of you tried it? How do you like it?


                      1. re: SIB
                        muhlyssa RE: SIB Jul 19, 2001 08:31 PM

                        Oh that's a tough choice for me, as I really like Monsoon Cafe (if that's what you are referring to on the 3rd Street Prominade).

                        Cafe del Rey is definately more of a special occasion place, more formal than Monsoon Cafe.

                        1. re: muhlyssa
                          Robby RE: muhlyssa Jul 20, 2001 07:36 PM

                          I haven't been to Cafe Del Rey, so.....I do find Monsoon to be a bit overpriced but in my opinion, the space is killer! Who'd expect to find an Indiana Jones-style vietnamese colonial two story restaurant on the Promenade?!

                          1. re: Robby
                            SIB RE: Robby Jul 25, 2001 07:36 PM

                            Thanks all for the opinions. They are so valuable!!!I have chosen Monsoon for my B-day gig on 8/4! I'd say it a rather "balanced" decision between excellent chow and fun!!! So if you happen to be on 3rd street Santa Monica that night, stop by to say hello!

                            BTW, I sure will give my two cents back to let you know what I think of Monsoon!

                            1. re: SIB
                              Muhlyssa RE: SIB Jul 26, 2001 09:35 AM

                              Hope you a great birthday. I went to Monsoon the night before my wedding with about 15 friends and we had a great time.

                              My favorite dish there is the Wonton Tuna Decker
                              (Thin slices of sashimi tuna layered on crispy wonton chips. Served with marinated Japanese cucumber, avocado & seaweed, wasabi dressing)

                              Link: http://www.calendarlive.com/infosites...

                        2. re: SIB
                          Richard Foss RE: SIB Jul 20, 2001 05:12 PM

                          Monsoon is a beautiful restaurant, but on my only visit I found the food to be good but not great and somewhat overpriced. Cafe Del Rey is also expensive, but the food is sufficiently good and inventive that I leave with the feeling that my money was well spent.

                        3. re: muhlyssa
                          Larry RE: muhlyssa Jul 21, 2001 07:34 AM

                          According to Zagat, the restaurants that you refer to as tourist chain traps stuck in the 70's are the places that people who participate in there survey go to the most. I personally don't go to them but if I were investing in a restaurant they are what I would pick.

                2. s
                  sunnyla RE: Stranded in the Boonies! Jul 19, 2001 09:26 PM

                  My favorite is Joe's on Abbott Kinney in Venice. It won't break your bank, but I usually go for birthdays and special occasions. It's much better than Hal's down the street. What always knocks my socks off are Joe's soups (any kind), and pastas. I prefer them to the regular entrees. I always ask for a chocolate suffle at the beginning since it takes the whole dinner time to make it. Then there's some bars on Pacific (Canal Club) and Main (Chaya, Rockenwagner) in Venice where you can go hopping after.

                  1. s
                    sunnyla RE: Stranded in the Boonies! Jul 19, 2001 09:28 PM

                    I also second Akbar (either on Washington in Marina Del Rey or on Wilshire in SM). My favorite for Indian. Try the Chicken Tikka Masala and the Chilean Sea Bass.

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