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L.A. meal I won't forget -- recommendations?

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Matt Gross Oct 2, 2001 02:41 PM

Well, that subject's misleading: I'm going to be in LA this weekend for a friend's wedding, and I'd love to go somewhere great Saturday night. Either neato New American whatever or so-called "ethnic" joints: LA's got amazing Thai and Japanese, right?

Price doesn't really matter; what matters is the meal: I want something I won't forget.

Suggestions?

-- Matt

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  1. c
    carter Oct 2, 2001 03:30 PM

    Lucques is an outstanding choice if you can get a reservation at 323-655-6277 (8474 Melrose near La Cienega). May be the best in LA for the total package. Great ambiance, superb food. call asap, tho. Is California/French-ish in nature. Not cheap either.

    1. b
      Bob Brooks Oct 2, 2001 03:37 PM

      If you're in the mood for seafood and, assuming you don't live in Seattle or Boston, I highly recommend The Water Grill.

      You might want to check out some of the recent posts about it.

      Good luck.

      1. s
        SusanB Oct 2, 2001 04:05 PM

        Well, if you want fabulous thai, and don't mine nonexistent atmosphere, Renu Nakorn is the place for you. See the archive for more posts about it - and don't worry that the owners are concentrating on other restaurants now. It is still fab! (And very spicy, if you like that.) Or, with slightly more atmosphere, but still not 'nice', is Krang Tedd, which has an amazing variety of interesting thai dishes.

        3 Replies
        1. re: SusanB
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          Phil Agre Oct 2, 2001 05:38 PM

          Where is Krang Tedd? Maybe I'm missing something,
          but I can't find it either by phone book, Web search,
          or chowhound archive search.

          Thanks very much.

          1. re: Phil Agre
            s
            SusanB Oct 2, 2001 05:48 PM

            It might be spelled Kruang Tedd . . . try that. It is around the 1500 block of Hollywood boulevard, about a mile east of the 101, in Thai town.

            1. re: Phil Agre
              c
              carter Oct 3, 2001 12:16 PM

              Tedd Kruang is at 5151 Hollywood Blvd across from Panos Bakery, per my reverse telephone directory (323) 663-9988.

          2. p
            Patty Oct 2, 2001 04:11 PM

            Lucques is great. If you want to go a little less expensive, and more new American than mediterranean, try The House on Melrose. It's excellent. For Thai, Jitlada on Sunset is always good. Japanese, I know most people would say Matsuhisa but I hear it's gone downhill. I like Hirozen and Ita-Cho on Beverly. I'm going to a wedding this weekend too!

            1. s
              Sandra W. Oct 2, 2001 06:17 PM

              Well, I agree with others -- Kruang Tedd is fantastic Thai food -- on Hollywood Blvd. I was there last week and had a red roast duck curry that was rich, filled with duck meat (some of the restaurants skimp). I also ate a shredded green papaya salad that was first rate. Check the boards, others have written about it and recommended their favorites.

              If price is no object, pick up the phone immediately and try to book a reservation for Chinois in Santa Monica -- Wolfgang Puck's place. Unbelievable food.

              Yongsusan, an upscale Korean restaurant, has been much touted around here -- although I confess I keep eating at all my cheap and cheerful Korean places and haven't made it there yet. Again, check the boards -- people wax eloquently about this one.

              Sandra

              1. v
                Vanessa On The Town Oct 2, 2001 06:26 PM

                I highly second the suggestions Water Grill and Ita-Cho. I've never had a bad dish at Ita-Cho. It's centrally located and you can order a variety of vegetable and meat or fish dishes that are all unique and flavorfull.
                Water Grill is the best seafood in town. Enjoy your trip!

                1. a
                  Andrea Oct 2, 2001 07:49 PM

                  No question, I'd go for Chinois on Main, if you can get in, even early or late. Fantasy Asian like you'll never taste again. Whole fried catfish, which is done at lots of places but this is divine, lamb chops with mint cream, a macadamia nut tart that is the best dessert I've ever had. You can't order wrong.

                  1. j
                    jerome Oct 2, 2001 08:55 PM

                    I say, hop in the rented convertible, since price doesn't matter, and drive up Malibu Canyon to Saddle Peak Lodge. It will be warm this weekend so reserve a table on the patio. Good food, good winelist and lovely setting. This is something you really can't get elsewhere, and you won't forget. Finding the place itself can be an adventure.
                    Yongsusan is good. If you're a party of 4 or more, order a private room. The set menu from $22 up is good. I wasn't crazy about the $19 menu. After $22, the price goes up with the amount of seafood on each menu.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jerome
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                      jerome Oct 3, 2001 05:40 PM

                      YongSuSan is Korean, and excellent (didn't specify in the last post).
                      For a classic LA fine dining, try Michael's, sitting outside. It was a breakthrough place twenty years ago but I went recently and it's still fantastic (and they have a great foie gras dish as well).

                      1. re: jerome
                        m
                        michael (mea culpa) Oct 3, 2001 06:59 PM

                        It's hard to believe that Ye Mucky Duck, a fish and chipper, was once the inhabitant of what is and has been for years Michael's (sadly no relation). The patio is great but unless you are a celeb or a regular it's difficult to obtain. On the other hand, if you're inside you might be seated near a Hockney.

                    2. m
                      michael (mea culpa) Oct 2, 2001 11:14 PM

                      Need to know who you are going with. A bunch of folks? Just yourself? Your (presumably male) friend?
                      A woman you might want to know better? Etc. Chinois is a good choice for just about all the above. Shiro in South Pasadena would be good if you want Franco-Japanese. Yujean Kang runs an innovative upscale Chinese place in West Hollywood and in Pasadena. See various threads for the numerous Chinese values in the San Gabriel Valley. If it's romance you want and price is truly no object, there's L'Orangerie or the Bel Air Hotel dining room. For really upscale Japanese, there's a sinfully expensive sushi place on Rodeo that has fans who come from Japan to pay $300 each to spend an evening tasting what is puportedly the best. The name escapes me at the moment but some of the Hounds will know.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: michael (mea culpa)
                        m
                        michael (mea culpa) Oct 2, 2001 11:29 PM

                        On the other end of the scale, if you go to Rampart & Beverly and consume a couple of Tommy Burgers with the chili sauce you won't soon forget them.

                        1. re: michael (mea culpa)
                          e
                          Eric Eto Oct 3, 2001 09:56 AM

                          Yes, Tommy Burger is definitely unforgettable and even better after midnight. Or for something unique to LA, go to Oki-Dog on Pico just west of La Brea.

                        2. re: michael (mea culpa)
                          m
                          michael (mea culpa) Oct 3, 2001 11:29 AM

                          The sushi place is Ginza Sushi-Ko, 218 N Rodeo, BH. On another front, if want a weird scene, Cafe la Boheme on Santa Monica near LaCeinega is a bizarre Gothic setting and the food is acceptable. Sort of Moulin Rouge meets Phantom of the Opera.

                          1. re: michael (mea culpa)
                            m
                            Matt Gross Oct 3, 2001 02:23 PM

                            Wow, I didn't realize I needed to disclose so many personal details to get an accurate recommendation (not that the recs so far have been disapointing; in fact, I've now got a nice list of potentials going).

                            Anyway, to complete the picture of my trip: Dinner will be with my girlfriend, who's Taiwanese. We both live in New York, so we're used to eating an enormous variety of really good food. What I think we want, more than romance or some sort of "LA dining experience," is at least one excellent meal.

                            I forgot in my first posting to ask this: What about Koreatown? Can someone name me a place that serves more than just bulgogi and the usual assortment of standard pan-chan?

                            These suggestions are great so far; keep 'em coming.

                            Thanks,

                            -- Matt

                            1. re: Matt Gross
                              m
                              michael (mea culpa) Oct 3, 2001 02:41 PM

                              Based on the details, I think Shiro in South Pasadena is the answer in that Shiro and his wife Chico are from Taiwan. 626/799-4774. Make sure Shiro is going to be there that nite and ask for him when you arrive. Get the catfish. Not competent to speak on Korean restaurants but Soot Bull Jeep and Woo Lae Oak in K-town have their fans.

                              1. re: michael (mea culpa)
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                                Adrian Hopkins Oct 3, 2001 09:09 PM

                                No offense, I think Soot Bull Jeep has great food, but the service there is definetly one of the worst in LA, (this is one of the places I gave a penny tip), not to mention the ambience is rather lousy. I would be highly reluctant to take a date there!

                                On the other hand, I would go to Youngusan under the circumstances. Albeit the food proabably isn't everyone's cup of tea either, it is a great place if you can appreciate the food.

                                1. re: michael (mea culpa)
                                  m
                                  michael (mea culpa) Oct 4, 2001 10:23 AM

                                  I awoke with a start from a deep sleep realizing that I have made a geographical faux pas. (Everything I know about geography I learned in the third grade and promptly forgot.) Shiro isn't from Taiwan; he's from Okinawa. Sorry for the misinformation. That said, I still think you'd enjoy the catfish (presumably domestic).

                                2. re: Matt Gross
                                  s
                                  Sandra W. Oct 3, 2001 09:41 PM

                                  Kruang Tedd (Thai) has been recommended before, is in Hollywood near Koreatown. Woo Lae Oak has two locations -- the one on Western (Koreatown) is upscale Korean Bar-B-Q -- great food, great room, safe parking lot. The WOo Lae Oak on La Cienega at the tip of Beverly Hills, is pricier, and veers into some kind of Korean/Pacific fusion kind of thing (help me out here, people). Don't go and expect to have a conversation, the room is LOUD. Yongsuan (not sure I spelled that right), has a lot of champions. All these places should make you happy. (There should be lots of info on all these places).

                              2. k
                                KPS@jefco.com Oct 3, 2001 11:00 AM

                                Try Rockenwagner, 5 Dudley, or Josies - all very good places. If you want Thai, I would second the Renu Nakorn suggestion I saw in another posting, although the drive to Norwalk can be a drag. Chinois is overrated, plain and simple. "Asian" cuisine (whatever that is) that is overdone and overpriced. Sorry to be the dissenting voice since everyone raves about the place, but that is my take on it. Can't comment on the other suggestions, since I haven't been to many of them in a while....

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: KPS@jefco.com
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                                  Sheryl Oct 3, 2001 04:24 PM

                                  You're not the lone voice of dissent. After years of hearing how great it was, I decided it was the place for my birthday. My husband (who hadn't been in many years but loved it back then) and I were both pretty disappointed. We ordered what everyone said was the must have foie gras and the curried oysters, and a bunch of other stuff. I don't get it at all. I've had way better foie gras just about everywhere I've had it, including Spago Beverly Hills. The oysters were lukewarm. The service was not good. Even the drinks were just adequate. It felt to me like the place was on autopilot. Sort of frozen in the 1980's. But it was a week night and packed, so what do I know?

                                  1. re: Sheryl
                                    m
                                    Michael Robertson Moore Oct 3, 2001 07:13 PM

                                    Try Yujean Kang's - the restaurant Chinois would like to be.

                                    1. re: Michael Robertson Moore
                                      s
                                      Sheryl Oct 3, 2001 08:07 PM

                                      I agree. Yujean Kang is terrific.

                                      1. re: Michael Robertson Moore
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                                        jerome Oct 4, 2001 12:46 AM

                                        actually, I've been disappointed with Yujean Kang as well.
                                        Since your friend is from Taiwan, it's very likely that she may be annoyed at the chinese fusion (barely fusion, pretty much just lifts) at Chinois. Why not try something new for the two of you?

                                      2. re: Sheryl
                                        k
                                        KPS Oct 5, 2001 03:50 PM

                                        ".......frozen in the '80's" - I like it. That is a good way to describe Chinois. Glad I am not the only one who has noticed. There is definitely a case of "The Emperor's New Clothes" going on with that restaurant.......

                                    2. l
                                      Liver Boy Oct 4, 2001 01:04 AM

                                      Well in my opinion Chinois is a bit overrated. Yes, the food is quite good, but Wolfgang's interpretation of asian food is definately on more of the unsophisticated sweet side. Almost every dish has some sweet sauce over it. But the main problem I have with Chinois is paying the same prices I would at Spago or almost any other high end L.A. restaurant while eating on plastic tables. the decor is absolutely horrible, not to mention cramped and uncomfortable.

                                      For a great overall dining experience I'd highlt recommend Spago Beverly Hills. Absolutely gorgeous restaurant and very good food, especially if you go all out and get the tasting menu. The service "ive experienced is also a good blend of casual, yet professional.

                                      If food at a high end place is your main concern though, I'd definitely opt for Rockenwagner. The man may be the second most famous austrian chef in town, but he is inarguably the better chef of the two. Lat time I was there I had an exquisite combination of smoked salmon and sturgeon on a bed of greens in a potato vinagiarette. The fish, particualrly the sturgeon was absolutely decadent and just melted in my mouth. And my entree? Wow! Slices of pork tenderloin, topped with goat chesse and paired with hazelnute spatzle covered in a cyclinder of baked apple slices. The whole dish was just so brilliantly conceived. Another winner was the salmon entree which I usually find boring in most restaurant salmon preparations. Not this one though. It was a salmon napoleon. Absolutely luscious slabs of salmon perched upon truffled whip potatoes in a basil or maybe artichoke sauce. Climbing high, first was the base of potatoes, followed by some wilted spinach and a slab of salmon, and topped with a potato chip like wafer. then more potatoes, spinach another orgasmic filet of salmon and another potato wafer. MMM... The decor of the place is also kind of art deco and romantic, but our server during our last visit left something to be desired. He was somewhat cold.

                                      Personally I find Josie to be overrated. Sure, the complimentary amuse bouche is good. It's usually a rick little quiche. But overall the majority of what I've eaten there was bland. An impressive looking tagine with cod and moroccan vegetables turned out to be bland, as did an appetizer of sardines. After eating the sardines, I felt they were comparable to canned sardines or perhaps less tasty. The room however is tranquil and classy.

                                      For good french bostro fare, Mimosa does a very good job with such standards as the best french onion soup, cassoulet, bouillabaise with a real soup de poisson, and even an authentic macaroni and cheese. With pork! And their apple tart and creme brulee are both decadent and that says a lot coming from me, since I usually find most creme brulees to be quite unappetizing.

                                      And I absolutely adore Soot Bull Jeep. Sure, other places have more numerous and better prepared panchan, but for overall BBQ, this place is tops. They have everything I could want in an authentic Korean BBQ joint, save the beef tendon. Tripe, beef intestine, whole baby octopus, kalbi, BBQ pork and beef. Oh, and lest I not forget that luscious steak tartare with the raw egg yolk they serve.

                                      Well those are just a few of my recommendations. Enjoy.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Liver Boy
                                        m
                                        michael (mea culpa) Oct 4, 2001 10:27 AM

                                        Second the nomination of Mimosa for bistro food. The charcouterie platter is a great starter. In Hollywood, the same team runs Cafe des Artistes, but I like Mimosa better.

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