HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >

San Franciscans planning LA trip

Robert Lauriston Feb 13, 2008 04:45 PM

We'll have a week to eat. Looking particularly for cuisines we can't get at home. Possibilities so far:

hand-cut fatty pastrami - Langer's?

Keralan - Mayura?

Oaxacan - Guelagetza? La Morenita? Antequera de Oaxaca? any of these have first-rate Mezcal?

Yunnan - Yun Gui?

Uighur - Malan?

Goan - Addi's Tandoor?

Liaoning - Shenyang?

Izakaya - ?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. m
    maudies5 RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 13, 2008 05:12 PM

    My brother lives in San Francisco and swears there is no decent deli there. Thus, he always opts for Nate 'n'Al's in Beverly Hills when he visits Los Angeles.

    1. Emme RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 13, 2008 06:35 PM

      langer's if you like pastrami yes. nate'n'al's is more of a nostalgic place; the food isn't that great. if you feel like driving, head to brent's deli in northridge. if not, there's also factor's deli on pico that's pretty good, and some swear by junior's on westwood, though i don't.

      mexican, guelaguetza is good. if you want to drive, there's also babita. you might look to tacos por favor or tacomiendo for an afternoon snack (don't take up a whole meal?)

      you could do ethiopian, persian, southern thai (don't know too much of the SF varietals), burger like father's office, sandwiches like bay cities deli... if any of thse cuisines appeal, we can give further suggestions.

      i'd hit the farmers' market one day too.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Emme
        Robert Lauriston RE: Emme Feb 14, 2008 10:59 AM

        Thanks for the tip on southern Thai. I'm not sure we have that.


        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          Das Ubergeek RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 14, 2008 11:57 AM

          Jitlada is the best place to go for the Southern Thai specialities, yes.

      2. Servorg RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 13, 2008 06:40 PM

        Izakaya = Musha http://www.chowhound.com/topics/401805 and here is an even better photo review of Musha Santa Monica: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/380055

        11 Replies
        1. re: Servorg
          ElJeffe RE: Servorg Feb 16, 2008 12:06 PM

          Yep, Musha or Wakasan both in Santa Monica.

          1. re: Servorg
            nosh RE: Servorg Feb 16, 2008 01:12 PM

            While Musha in Santa Monica is very good, I have a tough time categorizing it as an "izakaya" restaurant -- more an adventurous small-plates fusion. As such, I've got to recommend Orris on Sawtelle in W.L.A. Yep, even though Orris does not take reservations. But I'll admit it is a close call. I'd go to the online website menus to see if either offered more of your preferences. (And this is despite Orris's online menu not mentioning prices -- I'm told most are between $7 and $9 -- which is a big pet peeve.)

            1. re: nosh
              Servorg RE: nosh Feb 16, 2008 01:23 PM

              Musha has always been characterized as "Japanese pub" style food, which to me is the definition of an izakaya so I'm not sure what you mean? Orris seems much more of an Asian fusion restaurant in the style of Mako in Beverly Hills to me.

              1. re: Servorg
                nosh RE: Servorg Feb 16, 2008 01:53 PM

                I'm not going to quibble about the precise classification. If Robert's party is closer to Musha, great. But if he is going to devote one dinner to that style, I think the best dishes and overall vibe at Orris beats the equivalent at Musha. Close call, and could depend on which menu had the dish (grilled romaine at Orris) the diner craved.

                1. re: nosh
                  Robert Lauriston RE: nosh Feb 16, 2008 02:11 PM

                  My ignorant notion of izakaya (never having been to one) is that it should be more of a bar than a restaurant, the Japanese equivalent of a Korean soju bang.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    nosh RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 16, 2008 02:15 PM

                    Which is exactly why I differentiated Orris, and Musha as well. Both are tasty, innovative, and excellent. I can recommend either. If you wind up near the coast in Santa Monica, try Musha. But overall, I prefer my favorite dishes at Orris. And I think it is interesting to check out the Japanese enclave on the westside on Sawtelle.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      slacker RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 19, 2008 11:37 AM

                      Yeesh, go to Jtown or the new Shin Sen Gumi in Monterey Park for izakaya.
                      Jtown (Little Tokyo):
                      Izayoi (more upscale)
                      Haru Ulala (down home)
                      Honda Ya (I guess somewhere in between, it's the newest opening, nice space)
                      i love 'em all.
                      Also enjoyed all the variety at Shin Sen Gumi, they grill up everything. Plus they do shabu shabu. But all the "fun" loud yelling by the waitstaff got on my nerves after awhile.

                    2. re: nosh
                      Servorg RE: nosh Feb 16, 2008 03:32 PM

                      >>I'm not going to quibble about the precise classification.<< (While Musha in Santa Monica is very good, I have a tough time categorizing it as an "izakaya" restaurant -- more an adventurous small-plates fusion.)

                      Since I only replied to your quibble above in parens I am now totally confused.

                      We like Orris. I just didn't recommend it in the first place because it didn't fit the definition of an izakaya to me. YMMV

                      Closer to Orris is Place Yuu which is another izakaya we like. Also the Korean Raku (SE corner of Barrington and Olympic Blvd. in WLA) is another good izakaya.

                      Place Yuu
                      2101 Sawtelle Blvd
                      Los Angeles, CA 90025
                      (310) 478-7450

                      1. re: Servorg
                        Das Ubergeek RE: Servorg Feb 17, 2008 09:11 AM

                        Would you really classify Place Yuu as an izakaya? I always think of it as a karaoke bar that happens to have some food on the menu... more like a noraebang than a pub.

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek
                          Servorg RE: Das Ubergeek Feb 17, 2008 09:54 AM

                          It is kind of a funny, (but tasty) amalgamation.

                          1. re: Servorg
                            a_and_w RE: Servorg Feb 18, 2008 08:08 AM

                            Perhaps Musha is the Japanese equivalent of a gastropub?

              2. r
                RicRios RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 13, 2008 07:00 PM

                Birria estilo Jalisco at El Parian ( Pico & Union ).

                1 Reply
                1. re: RicRios
                  kare_raisu RE: RicRios Feb 13, 2008 10:09 PM

                  El Parian was the catalyst for my love of Mexican cuisine. The place changed my life.

                  Their birria is birthed in heaven.

                2. Chandavkl RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 13, 2008 07:14 PM

                  Yunchuang Garden in Monterey Park (the latest corporate incarnation of what used to be called Yunan Garden) would be a good choice since I'm not aware of any other Yunnan style restaurant in the U.S. (except for their second branch in Hacienda Heights). Malan is good for hand made noodles, but it's not Uighur in the sense of Uighur in Montreal or A Fan Ti in Flushing. Shenyang in San Gabriel or Northern Chinese Restaurant (8450 E. Valley Bl. in Rosemead), the latter having its Shenyang Fake Dog Meat would be something different, too. Might also consider one of the many dumpling restaurants such as Dumpling 10053 or Luscious Dumpling, since the few Bay Area choices (Tong Dumpling in San Jose or H C Dumpling in Cupertino) pale in comparison.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Chandavkl
                    ipsedixit RE: Chandavkl Feb 13, 2008 07:48 PM

                    Might also try China Islamic for Uighur type "da-bing", i.e. the thick sesame, green onion bread

                    Also, might want to consider Liuzhou cuisine and get some "Luo Si Fen" at NRN Noodle.

                    China Islamic
                    7727 Garvey Ave
                    Rosemead, CA 91770
                    (626) 288-4246

                    NRN Noodle
                    301 W Valley Blvd.
                    San Gabriel, CA 91778

                  2. Eat_Nopal RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 13, 2008 07:25 PM

                    Pastrami - Johnny's (not NY style but superior imho)

                    Oaxacan - Monte Alban... first rate mezcal... I think you have to go to TJ for that. Although there is some wannabe Alta Cocina restuarant in the S.F. Valley that has an extensive Tequila & possibly Mezcal selection... probably your best guess. But if you end up at Guelagetza I must warn you... the Mezcal is terrible... I actually think its doctored up gasoline.

                    Best Mexican cooking $ for $ (but not many exotic dishes) is at BIrriera La Barca (the Camarones a la Diabla & Goat Birria are superlative... the Molcajetes are top notch as well).

                    Alta Cocina... Babita, La Huasteca or La Casita.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: Eat_Nopal
                      Robert Lauriston RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 14, 2008 08:58 AM

                      Alta cocina's a great idea.

                      I visit Guadalajara regularly, so Jalisco cuisine's not a priority. The first-rate mescal I had in Ensenada came in a jug from the puebla, so that's just wishful thinking on my part.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        Eat_Nopal RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 15, 2008 09:04 AM

                        Some of the places in Tijuana like La Differencia source micro-distilled Mezcal from Los Danzantes (a well regarded restaurant with locations in Oaxaca City & Coyoacan).... the guys at La Casita are fairly in tune with Chow trends south of the border... they might be the best bet in L.A.

                        1. re: Eat_Nopal
                          Robert Lauriston RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 19, 2008 01:58 PM

                          You're talking about the La Casita in Bell?

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal
                            Robert Lauriston RE: Eat_Nopal Mar 19, 2008 08:27 AM

                            I was not very impressed with La Casita. Not what I think of as alta cocina, maybe you have to order a banquet to get that.


                        2. re: Eat_Nopal
                          wilafur RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 14, 2008 09:20 AM

                          skip johnny's. it's mediocre at best when compared to langers.

                          i wholeheartedly endorse monte alban for their oaxacan dishes, especially the brown and red moles. mm!

                          1. re: wilafur
                            Eat_Nopal RE: wilafur Feb 15, 2008 09:07 AM

                            Nah its great... like I said its not NY style...and as long as you expect that... its going to be great. All they really do is Pastrami... they probably make 200 sandwiches per hour during the lunch rush... everything is fresh, the spice blend on the Pastrami is perfect, the meat is supremely thin & fatty, the pickles are some of the best anywhere... crisp with strong flavors of garlic & anise... and the REAL hot mustard made in house is unsurpassed in L.A.

                            I personally think Johnny's style of Pastrami is superior to the NY style...

                            1. re: Eat_Nopal
                              Robert Lauriston RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 15, 2008 09:25 AM

                              I'm definitely not looking for thin-sliced pastrami.

                              1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                wilafur RE: Eat_Nopal Mar 3, 2008 03:46 PM

                                to each their own. but i find the pastrami at johnny's to be devoid of flavor, overly fatty and extremely gristly.

                            2. re: Eat_Nopal
                              a_and_w RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 15, 2008 11:38 AM

                              Definitely Monte Alban for Oaxacan.

                              1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                Robert Lauriston RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 17, 2008 01:18 PM

                                La Huasteca in Pasadena or Lynwood?

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                  Servorg RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 17, 2008 01:52 PM

                                  I think only Lynwood survives. Excellent, inventive food.

                                  1. re: Servorg
                                    Eat_Nopal RE: Servorg Feb 17, 2008 06:03 PM

                                    I don't know about inventive... but solid, traditional with some Alta Cocina flourishes... Central & Southern Mexican

                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                      Servorg RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 18, 2008 07:27 AM

                                      It seems so very inventive to me, most likely because it is so very different from the usual Mexican food we eat around our area. But I take your point.

                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                    Das Ubergeek RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 17, 2008 02:07 PM

                                    La Huasteca in Pasadena is gone. You'll have to come down to Lynwood. But Babita's better.

                                2. l
                                  LaLa Eat RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 13, 2008 07:43 PM

                                  Would concur with Monte Alban for Oaxacan, and that no 1st rate Mezcal will be found at any Oaxacan place here!
                                  For Izakaya, Izayoi in little tokyo
                                  Have not heard anything outstanding about Mayura (in Culver City?) seems like a standard Indian/Pakistan place with a couple of dishes from Kerala...but I could be wrong. Artesia is the destination place for Indian here...

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: LaLa Eat
                                    Robert Lauriston RE: LaLa Eat Feb 14, 2008 08:53 AM

                                    Here's the report on Mayura that piqued my interest:


                                    Is there a Keralan restaurant, or even a grocery with a snack bar? I find Kerala Delicacies (aka Kerala Store) in Artesia and Kerala Spiceland in Northridge.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                      LaLa Eat RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 15, 2008 08:41 PM

                                      That post does look intriguing. I was going on what a friend said who lives in culver.
                                      As you are on quest for specific regional food might be worth a try....?

                                      As far as Artesia there is good southern regional specific (many posts that you have probably already seen) Here is a recent j gold review- Tirupathi Bhimas.. I believe you have one in milpitas...I think Indian in bay area equals (surpasses?) what you find in Artesia.

                                      Not convinced that Indian should be a quest down here. (though Goan rest in Redondo might be, can not say, have not been).
                                      Do not have knowledge of Keralan places you mentioned. Hope others on here with more Indian food knowledge will weigh in....

                                      As far as Thai, as you stated there are a couple of Southern Thai dishes on menus up there (which makes me think Mayura as destination might not fit bill).
                                      Jitlada is also a stand out because of their extensive menu
                                      In case you have not seen it, recent post on additions to Jitlada menu-

                                      Also, yes there is Korean up there, but if you where on a quest of what food is done best here you would not want to skip the enormity of quality choices you have in Korea Town.

                                    2. re: LaLa Eat
                                      teach RE: LaLa Eat Feb 18, 2008 08:26 AM

                                      Izayoi is definitely good. Plus, it's right by the Japanese American museum and a branch of MOMA. As a person who grew up 20 minutes from downtown, I still get a kick out of going to the newly built up areas at night.

                                      There is another izakaya place called Haru Ulala around the corner from Izayoi. I've never been and have heard it's not quite as good, but they are open very late.

                                    3. Das Ubergeek RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 14, 2008 05:21 AM

                                      I wouldn't call Ma Lan "Uighur" -- assuming you're talking about Ma Lan Noodles, it's basically noodles and a few cold dishes. About the closest you might come to Xinjiang-type food would be at one of the Islamic Chinese places -- there's China Islamic in Monterey Park and Mas Islamic Chinese in Anaheim; Tung Lai Shun reopened as yet another Taiwanese restaurant (how spoiled we are to be able to call Taiwanese food banal!) and I believe Jamillah Garden in Irvine closed down.

                                      I have to admit that one of the only things these days that could make me cross the Orange Curtain and battle my way to the Westside would be Monte Alban. It's a total hole-in-the-wall but I love it. Eat Nopal is right on the money with the alta cocina restaurants -- I'll add that while La Cabanita in Montrose is not alta cocina, I feel it's well worth the drive (and what a drive it is!)

                                      My choice for izakaya would be Haru Ulala or, if you're going to be on the Westside anyway, Musha, but I don't eat in LA much these days so couldn't tell you if they're still as good as they used to be.

                                      Yes, Langer's for hand-cut fatty pastrami. I wouldn't recommend Brent's -- while they really do have very good food at Brent's the one time I asked for hand-cut it was very obviously machine-cut anyway.

                                      When I lived in SF and Berkeley the thing I always craved that nobody did right was real Ensenada-style fish tacos. Every fish taco up there seemed to be grilled and with whatever the interesting fish of the week was -- very tasty, to be sure, but not at all what I was hoping for. So hie thee to Tacos Baja Ensenada, or one of the El Taco Nazo or Senor Baja chain outposts (they're both local chains, and I bet they're one of the few chains in LA to get almost unanimous love on this board). If you go to ETN the winner is the shrimp taco.

                                      Also, I know that you have plenty of Vietnamese up there, but my recollection was that San Jose was populated with banh mi-erias and pho shops (and not much else, but I could be wrong) and SF had the fancy Vietnamese sit-downs, like Slanted Door and Golden Tortoise or whatever it is on Van Ness. There's really nothing like a day in Little Saigon.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                        a_and_w RE: Das Ubergeek Feb 15, 2008 11:39 AM

                                        Good call re the fish tacos, which aren't so hot in the SF Bay Area.

                                      2. SauceSupreme RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 14, 2008 05:28 AM

                                        Not sure if you'd call it first rate, but the Guelaguetza on Olympic has mezcal on hand, as opposed to the other one (6th? 8th?) which doesn't have a liquor license.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: SauceSupreme
                                          Eat_Nopal RE: SauceSupreme Feb 14, 2008 05:45 AM

                                          Gasoline Mezcal! I just had some last week... its pretty terrible.

                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                            nomo_fan RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 14, 2008 11:17 AM

                                            OK. I lived in the Bay Area for 10 years, and to see if our tastes match, my favorites are the following: House of Prime Rib, Nola, Santa Ramen, A Cafe for All Seasons, Cheung Hing, Hotaru, Pasta Primavera, Little Lucca's, Zachary's Pizza, Sweet Inspirations, Pancho Villa Taqueria, Universal Cafe.

                                            OK: What I couldn't find in the Bay Area that is down here:

                                            1) A good izakaya: Go to Musha (Santa Monica or Torrance) or Honda-ya (J-Town or Tustin)

                                            2) Good Korean food that is not BBQ; Seoul Garden (in K-Town has a Genghis Khan special of shabu-shabu and jook like no other) and Yong Su San (Korean royalty-style dinner)

                                            3) Good fried chicken: Nothing tastes like Golden Bird

                                            4) A good upscale Mexican restaurant: go to Babita in San Gabriel

                                            Hope this helps.

                                            1. re: nomo_fan
                                              Robert Lauriston RE: nomo_fan Feb 14, 2008 11:53 AM

                                              Thanks. Oakland has great Korean places with a wide variety of specialties, but I've never heard of any serving Kaesong cuisine.



                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                Das Ubergeek RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 14, 2008 11:58 AM

                                                There are two that I know of: YongSuSan, and Gaesung in Garden Grove. The latter may be inaccessible if you have no Korean -- not because you can't gesture, but because they're not especially gracious.

                                              2. re: nomo_fan
                                                susancinsf RE: nomo_fan Feb 14, 2008 07:43 PM

                                                as another SF poster, trust me, do NOT get Robert started on Zachary's... :-)

                                                I'd be interested in a report on Mozza...and definitely say yes to Jitlada...

                                                1. re: nomo_fan
                                                  namstermonster RE: nomo_fan Feb 15, 2008 09:48 AM

                                                  the bay area actually has their own decent j-town... and yong su san is north korean cuisine- just to clarify :O)

                                                  1. re: nomo_fan
                                                    Babette RE: nomo_fan Feb 16, 2008 12:01 PM

                                                    I second Babita:

                                                    1823 S.San Gabriel Blvd.
                                                    San Gabriel CA 91776
                                                    (626) 288-7265

                                              3. Robert Lauriston RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 14, 2008 11:08 AM

                                                Wood-oven pizza (my favorite food) - Mozza?

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                  ipsedixit RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 14, 2008 11:26 AM

                                                  Pizzeria Mozza is the obvious choice -- sort of in the same vein, vibe and atmosphere-wise, as A16 up in SF even though Mozza isn't Neopolitan.

                                                  Might also want to check out Antica Pizzeria. http://www.anticapizzeria.net/index.html

                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                    Porthos RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 14, 2008 04:34 PM

                                                    You have to try P.Mozza. I'll echo ipse's warning that it's not Neapolitan pizza. The crust is very crisp and the toppings are not restrained. It is delicious however. I would recommend you stay with the salumi or sausage pizzas and really warn you not to get the "Egg, guanciale, radicchio, escarole & bagna cauda" pizza. It sounds great but it has so much radicchio and escarole piled on it that it's almost like a salad or a CPK pizza. It pretty much violates the simplicity rule to pizza.

                                                    I would recommend the salumi with chile and the bianchi with fennel sausage for your LA pizza experience.

                                                    AOC or Lucques may also be to your liking.

                                                    I also second/third the korean recommendations.

                                                    Another SF-doesn't-have-this recommendation is Vietnamese/Chinese cuisine at Newport Seafood for their spicy special lobster dish (very reasonably priced).

                                                    1. re: Porthos
                                                      Robert Lauriston RE: Porthos Feb 15, 2008 08:39 AM

                                                      Dinner at AOC or Luques is definitely on my short list.

                                                    2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                      daveena RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 14, 2008 06:57 PM

                                                      Another yes on Mozza. I think the crust is similar to Pizzaiolo's, but there's a much wider range of toppings, many of which I have yet to see in the Bay Area (I really loved the long-cooked broccoli with caciocavallo and chilis). However, the thing that makes Mozza for me are the antipasti (I especially loved the farro polenta with robiola and guanciale).

                                                      I'll also vote yes for Langer's - the pastrami really tastes more like corned beef than pastrami to me (not a lot of pepper/smoke), but the other Jewish deli standards that I had (matzoh ball soup, potato pancakes, chopped liver... everything except the knishes) were actually much better than any version I've had in NYC (with 2nd Ave Deli as my benchmark).

                                                      1. re: daveena
                                                        Robert Lauriston RE: daveena Feb 15, 2008 08:41 AM

                                                        I had a pastrami sandwich (specified fatty) at the new 2nd Avenue Deli last month, and it was leaner and sliced thinner than I remember from 15+ years ago. So I have high hopes for Langer's.

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                          daveena RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 15, 2008 11:35 AM

                                                          Langer's texture is excellent, but the flavor is very different from my ideal (Katz's). In any case, it's definitely a must-try, just to be able to do the comparison.

                                                          1. re: daveena
                                                            dagrassroots RE: daveena Feb 15, 2008 01:34 PM

                                                            make sure you ask for the pastrami hand cut.

                                                      2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                        a_and_w RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 15, 2008 11:36 AM

                                                        Antica in the Marina for neapolitan style, Joe's in Santa Monica for NY-style.

                                                      3. choctastic RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 14, 2008 01:47 PM

                                                        Surati Farsan Mart. Nothing as good as this little place, even in South Bay.

                                                        Din Tai Fung for xiaolongbao

                                                        omg get some sushi while you're down here. I'm always hurting for remotely decent sushi when i'm in the bay area. i won't suggest a place since there are tons of threads and no doubt you have read them.

                                                        There is really no good Korean in the Bay area. if you can snag a Korean speaker, and you like naengmyun, go to Chilbo myunok. Was there the other day, still excellent. however, not english accessible at all. tip the valet a dollar or two. When I say excellent, I mean some of the best I've had in the States.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: choctastic
                                                          Robert Lauriston RE: choctastic Feb 15, 2008 08:44 AM

                                                          Surati Farsan Mart looks great, thanks.


                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                            mlgb RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 17, 2008 09:49 AM

                                                            As long as you're going to Artesia, there is also Rajdhani for Gujarit thali. They actually have parking in a terribly-designed structure on the side street.


                                                            and Rasraj, another sweets and farsan place

                                                            18525 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

                                                            18511 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

                                                            1. re: mlgb
                                                              Robert Lauriston RE: mlgb Feb 17, 2008 11:07 AM

                                                              Rajdhani sounds good. There are no proper Gujarati restaurants in the SF area, only occasional special menus.

                                                        2. n
                                                          nosh RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 14, 2008 09:25 PM

                                                          Where are you staying? There may be some places that are not destinations but good for a breakfast, lunch or quick bite.

                                                          I know there is a dearth of good BBQ in the Bay Area, especially with the close and much lesser reincarnation of the classic Flint's. My favorite by far is very convenient coming from or heading towards LAX -- Porky's, which is on Manchester. Superb pulled pork, tender, succulent, with crispy crusty bits. Also very good ribs and brisket. And just so you know, they are franchised to sell the Golden Bird fried chicken mentioned above. Exit the 405/San Diego freeway at Manchester (where the landmark Randy's Donut is displayed) and head east for about five minutes. Porky's is on the left (north) side, just before (west of) the Forum.

                                                          I also recommend stopping at Zankou Chicken for some of their rotisserie chicken and phenomenal garlic paste. Get the half-chicken (you need the dark meat to add moisture to the white) which comes with pita and the garlic, and make yourself some mini-wraps. Delicious! One location is in W.L.A. just off the 405 on Sepulveda, just south of Santa Monica Blvd., and another is west of downtown on Sunset at Normandie.

                                                          I appreciate your posts and input on the Bay Area board, and hope you have a tasty and fun stay in SoCal.

                                                          21 Replies
                                                          1. re: nosh
                                                            fdb RE: nosh Feb 14, 2008 09:39 PM

                                                            Without the garlic paste, Zankou Chicken is really nothing to brag about especially because they have the best chicken at Zuni Cafe in SF.

                                                            1. re: fdb
                                                              nosh RE: fdb Feb 14, 2008 10:03 PM

                                                              I love Zuni Cafe, and Judy Rodgers' roast chicken is about as good as it gets -- deeply flavorful, a bit smoky, moist but with crisp skin. But I believe its cost is gettling close to $50 for an order to share.

                                                              I will concede that Zankou's chickens can vary a bit, depending on how long they've spun and how busy the place is. That is why I emphasized getting a half-bird -- most detractors complain that the white section eaten alone can be dry and is less of a value. But saying the chicken is "nothing to brag about" without the garlic paste is akin to saying en elegant pasta falls flat without the truffles or a terrine is unimpressive without the foie gras. The whole reason for trying Zankou is to experience the chicken in pita with the garlic paste.

                                                              1. re: nosh
                                                                Das Ubergeek RE: nosh Feb 15, 2008 08:00 AM

                                                                I have to be honest, the garlic paste just doesn't do it for me at Zankou. Now maybe it's different at the Anaheim Zankou, but there are so many fantastic places to get rotisserie chicken (Juan Pollo -- YUM! King Pollo -- YUM!) that I just never seem to make it to Zankou.

                                                                That, and to get to Zankou I have to drive past Brookhurst Street, which distracts me.

                                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                  Servorg RE: Das Ubergeek Feb 15, 2008 08:04 AM

                                                                  The paste just isn't garlicky enough for me. On the other hand the aji salsa at Pollo ala Brassa at 8th and Western does jump start my taste buds.

                                                                  1. re: Servorg
                                                                    fdb RE: Servorg Feb 15, 2008 08:09 AM

                                                                    I say if a chicken needs a condiment to make it tasty, it just ain't right.

                                                                    1. re: fdb
                                                                      Servorg RE: fdb Feb 15, 2008 08:23 AM

                                                                      Funny, that's what I say about my condiments..(g)

                                                            2. re: nosh
                                                              Robert Lauriston RE: nosh Feb 15, 2008 08:48 AM

                                                              Oh yeah, Zankou's. Thanks for the reminder, I've been wanting to try that for years. Zuni's garlic sauce is more like mayonnaise.

                                                              I haven't been hurting for good BBQ since T-Rex got its act together.

                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                Eat_Nopal RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 15, 2008 09:11 AM

                                                                Zankou's has gone downhill.... Dino's is the new Zankou

                                                                1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                                                  Robert Lauriston RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 15, 2008 09:26 AM

                                                                  Zankou's garlic sauce isn't as good as it used to be?

                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                    Eat_Nopal RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 15, 2008 09:39 AM

                                                                    Since they started expanding... there hasn't been the same attention to quality & care... maybe the original location is still great... or some shifts are better than others... but Zankou is no longer a guarantee of a great meal like it used to be.

                                                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                                                      nosh RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 15, 2008 10:57 AM

                                                                      You know how it sometimes is on Chowhound: Repeated threads asking if Peter Luger's has gone downhill, posters in your area complaining that Zuni is mediocre, naysayers down here claiming that Pizzeria Mozza is dishing up glorified bread. Personally, I haven't noticed any change in the taste or consistency of Zankou's garlic paste. I do know that some 'hounds complained when they stopped handing out extras like candy and began to charge for extravagant additional servings that used to be comped. Others were outraged when prices increased by a buck or so. Here is a recent thread on the most garlicky dishes in SoCal where Zankou's garlic spread was analyzed and dissected with no complaints:


                                                                      I heartily endorse giving them a try. Go for their specialty, the half or whole rotisserie chicken with pita and garlic spread. Do not be distracted by the beef shawarma or the chicken tarna, beautiful as they are, or the falafel that have been under the warming lamp for days. And as you want your Langer's pastrami untrimmed and with fat, you want your Zankou chicken with dark meat included and the tasty skin mixed into your pita wrap.

                                                                      1. re: nosh
                                                                        Robert Lauriston RE: nosh Feb 15, 2008 11:08 AM

                                                                        Thanks. The garlic sauce is my main interest. I've had it at a couple of places up here and am curious to compare.

                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                          a_and_w RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 15, 2008 11:37 AM

                                                                          Skip Zankou and head to Sham in Santa Monica where the garlic sauce is the same and the food significantly better.

                                                                        2. re: nosh
                                                                          Eat_Nopal RE: nosh Feb 15, 2008 11:25 AM

                                                                          I am not saying I've had terrible meals at Zankou just a bit off... and I think its hurt them. But the major point... is that Dino's has become the new roast chicken cult obsession... I tried it in the last year or so.... and its as good or better than the highest peak ever reached at Zankou (imho).

                                                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                                                            nosh RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 15, 2008 12:08 PM

                                                                            I love Dino's -- and I'm assuming you are speaking of their west of downtown location on Pico at Berendo. There is no better $5 lunch in town. Their marinade for the flame-grilled chicken, with vinegar, garlic, a lot of turmeric, is tart and tasty and wonderful. They were part of my downtown lunch rotation and are a fantastic value. Big thumbs-up for Dino's!

                                                                            But if I'm sending an out-of-towner for one lunch, gotta choose Zankou.

                                                                            1. re: nosh
                                                                              Eat_Nopal RE: nosh Feb 15, 2008 01:12 PM

                                                                              I actually mean the Main St. at Griffin Ave. location in Lincoln Heights... and I would have absolutely no problem sending an out-of-town Chowhound... if they can't appreciate these types of establishments which are endemic & so characteristics of the Real L.A. then well they aren't real Chowhounds.

                                                                              Above all is supposed to be deliciousness... and frankly Dino's produces one of the very best burgers in the entire country... and would recommend it over & over again ahead of a nice place like Father's etc.,

                                                                              1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                                                                nosh RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 15, 2008 01:35 PM

                                                                                Wow, Nopal, that just surprises the pants off of me! That Main Street location is just east of Chinatown and does make a mean burger or burrito, but it is the Pico/Berendo location which is famous for the "crazy chicken" special. Please, try it out and let us know if there is a difference. And we should start a whole new thread about Dino's -- besides the chicken, the huge pastrami sandwiches, the carne asada, the burgers and even the dogs... And that marinade is fantastic with the thin-cut fries that I'd swear were cooked in lard.

                                                                                1. re: nosh
                                                                                  Eat_Nopal RE: nosh Feb 15, 2008 01:41 PM

                                                                                  Its the same family.... they also have the Crazy Chicken... they do three types an Armenian, Greek & Mexican version at the Main & Griffin. Its very popular there. I grew up in the neighborhood... and they never had it until the last couple of years.

                                                                                  I digress... but in the mid 90's the local King Taco on Broadway & Griffin... had Rotisserie chickens that were easily in the top 5 I've ever had.... sadly they didn't make it.

                                                                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                                                                    Servorg RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 15, 2008 02:51 PM

                                                                                    And speaking (clucking?) of chicken, there is the newish BCD Pollo Pillo in the MacArthur Park area as reported here on CH from an item in the LA Times:


                                                                                    1. re: Servorg
                                                                                      Robert Lauriston RE: Servorg Feb 15, 2008 05:57 PM

                                                                                      We've got lots of Korean chicken up here.

                                                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                    Das Ubergeek RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 15, 2008 08:15 PM

                                                                    If you're curious about it, it's worth trying. It's not BAD. I just don't get all hot and bothered about the sauce. Honestly, Skaf's is just as good, but it goes on chicken kabobs, which I much prefer.

                                                                    That said -- if you're going to Zankou, the one in Glendale is next to the Baklava Factory. Now THAT is worth going to -- unless you happen to be at the Zankou in Anaheim, which (sigh) is next to Sarkis Pastry... and that gets me hot and bothered just thinking about it.

                                                                2. Golem RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 15, 2008 06:55 AM

                                                                  I have family in the Bay Area, including SF. They all go directly to Brent's deli when in L.A. They say no other deli compares. I don't know about that, since I live fairly close to it's Northridge location, and it is my deli of choice and convenience. Other delis I like are Art's in Studio City and Junior's in West L.A.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Golem
                                                                    Robert Lauriston RE: Golem Feb 15, 2008 08:49 AM

                                                                    Do they order fatty pastrami? I'm not looking for deli in general, just great old-school thick-cut fatty pastrami.

                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                      Eat_Nopal RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 15, 2008 09:14 AM

                                                                      For thick-cut I think the consensus has to be The Hat... but you will have to drive East for that.. which you might combine to an East L.A & beyond place like Taco Nazo, or the Sinaloa style truck (somebody help I am blanking on name) with the Caguamanta stew & Aguachile preps.

                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                        nosh RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 15, 2008 09:17 AM

                                                                        When you go to Langer's, besides specifying handcut, you also are going to have to tell them you want it fatty, moist, and untrimmed. Unfortunately, the trend over the past couple of decades is lean, leaner, and anorexic, especially in LaLa land. So in order to make sure to avoid them thinking they are accommodating your tastes and doing you a favor by trimming, you have to specify that you're not afraid and you want the moist goodness and peppery, crusty fatty edges. Finally, their potato salad is not their strength. Get the crinkle-cut fries ordered welldone on the side, and/or start with a cup of matzoh ball soup.

                                                                    2. kare_raisu RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 15, 2008 11:41 AM

                                                                      I would go to Antequera de Oaxaca http://www.chowhound.com/topics/38772...

                                                                      and though I only had oax speciality drinks at el Rinconcito Oaxaqueno - I was impressed by the owners meticulous care and menu.


                                                                      You may be interested in checking out La Flor de Yucatan Bakery on a weekend morning for the best Yucatec food I have had ever.

                                                                      and dont forget el parian

                                                                      1. r
                                                                        RicRios RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 15, 2008 08:15 PM

                                                                        On a different note, if you just want to know what bread, croissants &etc are all about ( I know, I know; French friends were also skeptical, I always end up being righted...):


                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: RicRios
                                                                          Robert Lauriston RE: RicRios Feb 16, 2008 08:13 AM

                                                                          We've got several very French bakeries in the Bay Area.

                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                            choctastic RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 16, 2008 11:23 AM

                                                                            yeah, and they're just as good or better than what we get down here.

                                                                        2. Robert Lauriston RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 17, 2008 12:55 PM

                                                                          Thoughts on the following?

                                                                          Persian - Flame

                                                                          Uzbek - Uzbekistan

                                                                          Lebanese - Alcazar? Marouch?

                                                                          Sichuan - Chung King?

                                                                          26 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                            susancinsf RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 17, 2008 12:59 PM

                                                                            I thought Flame was rather mediocre, other than the flatbread, which they bake in a wood oven: that was truly wonderful. Nothing else stood out, and it struck me as being more about huge portions than about refinement.

                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                              Emme RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 17, 2008 01:16 PM

                                                                              Lebanese - Sunnin Lebanese Cafe on Westwood [Alcazar is good if you're in the valley, but I'm not a Marouch fan]

                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                Tinitime RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 17, 2008 01:29 PM

                                                                                Haven't eaten at Alcazar but loved the meal I had a Marouch. The raw kibbe is outstanding. Sunnin is a great little cafe but it's just that a cafe.

                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                  Das Ubergeek RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 17, 2008 02:16 PM

                                                                                  If you're talking about Chung King in Hacienda Heights, you need to beware. I assume that with a last name like Lauriston, you're probably not Han Chinese. So when you go to Chung King, you will be given a fork and a menu marked "Mr. Swiss" with the usual Panda Express-type food on it. I've been a few times and this happens every time. It's a truly sorry menu and it makes me wonder what the last five thousand years of Chinese culinary advancement were for if the face of their cuisine to the Americans is to be orange chicken and gloppy, brown-sauced, overcooked meat.

                                                                                  You must firmly -- rudely, if necessary -- decline the Mr. Swiss menu and demand the menu for Chung King. They have the real deal, with the cold appetiser bar, you just have to fend off the "you are white, you must want broccoli beef" nonsense firmly. You will also need to impress upon the waitress that when you say "ma la" you mean "ma la" and not a dash of red pepper here and there. Once you've glared your way into what you want, you are in for a real treat... the food is excellent.

                                                                                  As for Lebanese, Alcazar and Marouch are very good, but you may also want something a little "holier in the wall", in which case I suggest Skaf's (either location, though I prefer the original in NoHo) or Carnival. If you're on the other side of the hill, Sunnin is probably your best bet, and if you make it to Orange County, my current obsession is Al-Sanabel on Brookhurst, with the manakeesh and the kibbeh of wonderfulness.

                                                                                  I guess I don't think much of Uzbekistan except as a way to be able to boast that I've eaten Uzbek food. It's a lot like every other Central Asian cuisine, or so it seems to me. Now if we had a reliable source of Georgian food and not just the now-and-then specials of the place I lived near, I'd be there nightly.

                                                                                  I've been told (but haven't been) by others besides Susan that Flame is OK food with great bread. Since I can go get the flatbread myself at Wholesome Choice in Irvine and have it baked to order, I've never felt the need to subject myself to the horror of Westwood just to try it out, especially since we have Darya down here.

                                                                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                    Robert Lauriston RE: Das Ubergeek Feb 17, 2008 02:36 PM

                                                                                    I'm talking about:

                                                                                    Chung King Restaurant
                                                                                    1000 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                      Das Ubergeek RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 17, 2008 03:23 PM

                                                                                      Ah. I believe only the one in Hacienda Heights has the Mr. Swiss problem (and in point of fact the restaurant's name on the menu says "Chongqing" in English characters)... the one you're talking about used to be on Garfield (and in point of fact there is still a nasty HITW serving Sichuan food in the old address, but the old owners decamped to San Gabriel).

                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                        StephP RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 17, 2008 03:53 PM

                                                                                        it's worth going to, though you'll find a lot of overlap with that place in albany (china village?). Chung King won't have the huge menu and Chengdu cuisine that the Albany place has, but it will concentrate on Chongquing dishes. One thing that's worth mentioning is they do a szechwan version of kong shing tsai (empty heart vegetable) -- a spicy, charred version that's really good. normally, it's just your typical sauteed cheap veg in other restaurants.

                                                                                        The bay area has lots of chinese options i think that are as good as LA. The only exception would be northern chinese breakfast (only the yung ho dou jiang near san gabriel blvd and valley in LA is truly great but that really takes dough technique). I don't recommend northern chinese breakfast to everyone since fundamentally, its comfort food for northern chinese than a must-try cuisine. As for yunnan cuisine, though i've tried it in LA. I feel the dishes have been uninspiring in LA. The dish names are on the menu, but a good version of the dishes aren't available yet (compared to what's available in beijing).

                                                                                        Also in LA, i know everyone goes to tung lai shun for islamic chinese dishes, and there's one in the bay area, but the chef for the one in LA is just really good. from the fancier dishes down to basic, it's across the board just great. they also have some comfort beijing food that i like and isn't fancy restaurant cuisine --- xiao shao bing with ji sung (chicken diced) and he tsai di mao (or eggs topped on various veg sauteed) . i know most people order the lamb and da bin, but really the whole menu is great when the execution's good.

                                                                                        In general the best thing LA does is Korean (by a long shot) There's nothing approaching the depth and quality of korean food in LA. I think the same applies to a lesser degree for Japanese food (particularly sushi) in LA. And both cuisines will definitely be a LOT better than what's available in the Bay area. I really think the Bay area does that mid-priced Cal-Ital the best, French, and of course the quality of bakeries is way beyond anything LA has to offer. The only thing I can say is that everything you can get in SF as far as ethnic foods will be cheaper in LA, so if that's a big advantage, eat lots. Vietnamese and Indian has huge breadth as well but its mostly in Orange County area.

                                                                                        LA lists are generally just huge, but the most down to earth perspective on quality and breadth is probably the list from modernist. Of the places I've been to on the list, roughly 65% of the total, i'd agree with his assessment. I'd say if you haven't had something on the list, then mark it. If its korean or japanese and you've had it in the bay area, most likely there's a much better version of it on the list. the only quibble i'd have is that his version of the chinese list is very biased towards the monterey park/san gabriel area, but there are probably more quality options for shanghainese food and quality seafood banquets in rowland heights because the neighborhood is more affluent -- eg. Hsu Xiang Yuan or Fragrant Garden, maybe? (sorry don't know the english names, but maybe someone can translate) . Actually Prince Seafood in Cerritos has really great high quality dishes (it's been the best option for CHinese weddings in the OC/LA area for years). And I like Mon Land Hot Pot more than Little Sheep as well.

                                                                                        Other minor adds to the korean section are: Odaesan (Korean sushi house) didn't appear to be open anymore? and i like fancy korean sushi houses for one dish primarily, hwe dup bap, since they have lots of not sellable cuts of sashimi that they throw in. Sa Rit Gol with its black cod, daikon stew and dol sot bibimbap will be better, with great banchan, and more inexpensive than any version in Oakland.

                                                                                        here's modernist's list:

                                                                                        1. re: StephP
                                                                                          Robert Lauriston RE: StephP Feb 17, 2008 04:44 PM

                                                                                          Which sushi places in LA are a lot better than Sebo (all wild, daily deliveries from Japan) and not 2-3 times the price? Urasawa sounds great, but wildly expensive.

                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                            Porthos RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 17, 2008 05:11 PM

                                                                                            1. Mori
                                                                                            2. Sushi Zo

                                                                                            Both will run around $100-$120pp for the omakase. Mori includes some exquisite cooked dishes in the omakase along with pristine fish while Sushi Zo is pure sushi with an amazing variety.

                                                                                            I would give Mori the slight edge if you are going to compare to Sebo. Make sure you pay attention to the seasoning and texture of the carefully blended rice and his knifework...two things that bay area sushi places really neglect.

                                                                                            1. re: Porthos
                                                                                              Eat_Nopal RE: Porthos Feb 17, 2008 06:05 PM

                                                                                              Mori is okay... I used to eat there alot on an expense account... because it was down the street from our building... I don't think its anything I would recommend to an out of towner... particularly not a Chowhound its a bit soulless and pricey for what it is.

                                                                                          2. re: StephP
                                                                                            Das Ubergeek RE: StephP Feb 17, 2008 07:05 PM

                                                                                            Has Tung Lai Shun switched back to being Islamic Chinese? Last I checked they had turned into Yet Another Monterey Park Taiwanese Place.

                                                                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                              StephP RE: Das Ubergeek Feb 17, 2008 11:41 PM

                                                                                              hmm, i could be wrong, since i'm no longer in the city. has the restaurant changed ownership or the menu changed?

                                                                                              1. re: StephP
                                                                                                Das Ubergeek RE: StephP Feb 18, 2008 08:23 AM

                                                                                                The restaurant certainly seems to have changed hands, and the menu, as I said, went from Islamic Chinese (including the much-missed yangrou chuan) to Taiwanese literally overnight. As much as I like pei gu fan, there are a hundred places to get it.

                                                                                                Your options for Islamic Chinese these days are China Islamic, Mas Islamic Chinese in Anaheim and (if it's still open, which I don't think is true) Jamillah Garden in Tustin.

                                                                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                                  Robert Lauriston RE: Das Ubergeek Feb 18, 2008 08:51 AM

                                                                                                  We have some good Muslim Chinese in the Bay Area (noodles, warm pot, sesame bread, hot pot). Just no Uighur or Xinjiang places.

                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                    david t. RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 18, 2008 10:42 AM

                                                                                                    The "best" sushi restaurant is always going to change hands from city to city. But the point of LA being a sushi mecca is not that it has the one "best" sushi restaurants in the country. It's that it has an abundance of great sushi throughout the city. That's the sushi difference between LA and other american cities, with maybe the exception of Hawaii. Great sushi in LA is ubiquitous.

                                                                                                    1. re: david t.
                                                                                                      trolley RE: david t. Feb 18, 2008 11:04 AM

                                                                                                      agreed. after living in SF for 4 yrs i gave up and ate sushi in LA and NY. sushi ran is very good and probably up to par with mori and the ranks but it was a bitch to get there. somehow crossing town 1 hr here is easier for me than going on the GG bridge and getting to sausalito. i think it's just the way the cities are planned out. here you have zo, mori, kiriko and gen and quite a few other places to one restaurant, sushi ran in SF. the ratio of good sushi here far outweighs SF. those are the three i suggest. yes, sushi in japan is by far better in general but what do you expect? now when it comes to new american or faux european cusine (for the lack of better description) SF takes the cake. robert, i would go to AOC over Lucques. there are plenty of lucques-esue restaurants in SF that can beat "lucques" in quality and taste.

                                                                                                      1. re: david t.
                                                                                                        Eat_Nopal RE: david t. Feb 18, 2008 11:10 AM

                                                                                                        Very good sushi in L.A. is ubiquitous... I don't know about great... of course we all have our own definition of greatness. For me... Matsuhisa 5 years ago was great (in the top 5% of places I have eaten)... Hide Sushi to me is very, very good etc., The place next to Taqueria Sanchez is very good... and I think that level is quite common in L.A.

                                                                                                        So yes... if someone is moving to L.A. from most other places in the U.S. I would definitely recommend Sushi is something that will probably want to eat more often... but for a quick trip... someone coming from S.F..... I think there are more compelling things like Korean, Armenian & Thai and to some some degree Mexican and Ethiopian.

                                                                                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                                                                                          trolley RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 18, 2008 11:52 AM

                                                                                                          true. there is merit to that. the cuisines you mention all exist in SF but not in the way it does here. then the trips becomes about a matter of eating something that LA does better than sf or something that is not as readily available in sf? at least robert has quite a few options now to mull over.

                                                                                                          1. re: trolley
                                                                                                            Robert Lauriston RE: trolley Feb 18, 2008 12:10 PM

                                                                                                            I'm more interested in food we don't have than in what people think might be better.

                                                                                                            If LA really has better Korean food than Oakland, or better Thai food than Thai House Express, I'd rather not find out.

                                                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                              Das Ubergeek RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 18, 2008 03:02 PM

                                                                                                              I couldn't say if it's better -- but it's certainly a much wider selection, and it's not limited to K-town (though K-town is clearly going to be the biggest selection).

                                                                                                          2. re: Eat_Nopal
                                                                                                            Porthos RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 19, 2008 08:25 AM

                                                                                                            Funny thing about the moderators with the selective deletions regarding which LA vs SF threads to remove and which to keep in a discussion about LA recommendations for a SF visitor...

                                                                                                            The difference between SF vs LA sushi is as great as the difference between SF vs LA korean.

                                                                                                            Things that Mori does much better than any SF sushi establishment include: the blending, texture, and seasoning of rice, the wild japanese snapper marinated in konbu, the gizzard shad, the half-beak, and seasonal items such as buri belly. The skill it takes to prepare these classic nigiri sushi items is not what I would consider "soulless".

                                                                                                            1. re: Porthos
                                                                                                              Eat_Nopal RE: Porthos Feb 19, 2008 08:50 AM

                                                                                                              For me at least... there is a difference between technical precision and soulfulness... I just don't get the love at Mori... like I said its very unmemorable... you don't leave satisfied from that place.

                                                                                                              1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                                                                                                Porthos RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 19, 2008 02:34 PM

                                                                                                                And when a proprieter cares enough to offer seasonal items that others do not offer, cares enough to offer them at the highest quality and preparation, takes the time and cost to blend and cool and properly season sushi rice in the style of traditional edomae sushi instead of cutting corners and passing off mediocre sushi rice like most places in town...well to me, that's as soulful as the arepa lady on the street corner. It's not as romantic but definitely just as soulful in his dedication to quality and cuisine. That's the definition of a chow-worthy place.

                                                                                          3. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                            Robert Lauriston RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 18, 2008 11:37 AM

                                                                                            So Alcazar and Marouch are actually Lebanese-Armenian?

                                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                              Das Ubergeek RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 18, 2008 03:02 PM

                                                                                              No, Alcazar is Lebanese through and through. I believe Marouch might be, but I don't know.

                                                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                                Robert Lauriston RE: Das Ubergeek Feb 18, 2008 05:15 PM

                                                                                                Marouch and Alcazar both identify some dishes as Armenian on their menus.

                                                                                          4. notmartha RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 18, 2008 12:17 PM

                                                                                            Cuisine not available in SF is a tall order. I would second the Langer's, Taco Nazo, Babita, La Husteca suggestions.

                                                                                            Maybe Elite for dim sum, Boiling Crab or knockoffs for Cajun seafood (very messy but good - search on chowhound for reviews), or one of the many options for xlb (i.e. Din Tai Fung).

                                                                                            For a place that specializes in dumplings, I like Luscious Dumplings best, but it's really a dive and extremely small. You really just go there for the food. Not sure if SF has the beef rolls (in pancake), but 101 Noodle Express has the best version.

                                                                                            I have to say I haven't cared for much of the higher end restaurants here. I think you have plenty of those in SF/Napa areas.

                                                                                            1. Robert Lauriston RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 18, 2008 12:34 PM

                                                                                              Here's my list as it stands so far. More places than we'll have time for, but lunch choices will be determined partly by where we happen to go sightseeing / hiking / whatever.

                                                                                              101 Noodle Express (Shandong beef roll)
                                                                                              Antequera De Oaxaca
                                                                                              Cafe Tropical (cubano)
                                                                                              Cemitas Poblanas Elvirita #1 (Mexican Puebla)
                                                                                              El Parian (Mexican Jalisco)
                                                                                              El Taco Naso (fish taco)
                                                                                              Langer's (pastrami)
                                                                                              Magic Carpet (kosher Yemenite - eggplant)
                                                                                              NRN Noodle (Chinese Liuzhou - Luo Si Fen)
                                                                                              Pollo a la Brasa (Peruvian grilled chicken)
                                                                                              Rajdhani (Gujarati)
                                                                                              SeƱor Baja (fish taco)
                                                                                              Surati Farsan Mart (chaat)
                                                                                              Tacos Baja Ensenada (fish taco)
                                                                                              Zankou (garlic sauce)

                                                                                              AOC (wine bar / small plates)
                                                                                              Jitlada Thai (southern Thai)
                                                                                              Orris (Cal-izakaya)
                                                                                              Pizzeria Mozza (pizza, etc.)
                                                                                              Yongsusan (Korean Kaesong)
                                                                                              Mexican alta cocina: Babita, La Casita, or La Huasteca
                                                                                              Oaxacan: Guelaguetza or Monte Alban
                                                                                              Lebanese-Armenian: Alcazar or Marouch

                                                                                              Bar Marmont (gastropub), kitchen 12 bar 2a
                                                                                              Haru-Ulala (izakaya), 12 Mon-Thu, 2 Fri-Sat
                                                                                              Lou (wine bar - pig candy), 12 (cheese & dessert only after 11)
                                                                                              Musha (izakaya), 11:30

                                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                Eat_Nopal RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 18, 2008 01:16 PM

                                                                                                On the fish taco front... you can scratch off Senor Baja... that chain is owned by relatives of mine and its great, I like them alot... but honestly Tacos Baja Ensenada are a notch above... and people I trust rave even more about Taco Nazo which has been described as better than El Oasis (which 7 years ago was producing tacos that were the equal of just about any place in Ensenada).

                                                                                                1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                                                                                  Das Ubergeek RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 18, 2008 03:04 PM

                                                                                                  Senor Baja is owned by a split of the same family that owns El Taco Nazo. I have to agree that Senor Baja is an also-ran but even so it's so far superior to the fish tacos I've had in the SF area that it's worth a stop.

                                                                                                  Taco Nazo is, though, the top contender there. Just... unbelievably good.

                                                                                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                                    Eat_Nopal RE: Das Ubergeek Feb 18, 2008 03:15 PM

                                                                                                    Don't I feel dumb! The mini chain my relatives own is Senor Fish not Senor Baja. To their credit they did introduce L.A. to fish tacos back when Rubio's was still just in San Diego... no I have never eaten at Senor Baja... but for years whenever someone touted it... I used to just smirk but now I wonder what I missed out on.

                                                                                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                                                                                      Das Ubergeek RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 18, 2008 06:45 PM

                                                                                                      You don't have to have missed out on anything, Senor Baja is all over the place, they've got like 15 locations. Stop by sometime.

                                                                                                      I've never been to Senor Fish, but at some point I'll end up there.

                                                                                                2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                  trolley RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 18, 2008 01:35 PM

                                                                                                  sounds like you have a great trip planned. tell us how it went. good luck!

                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                    banquisha RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 19, 2008 09:07 AM

                                                                                                    The largest population of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam reside here in the "Los Angeles/O.C." area called Westminster. I highly recommend hitting up the area for some incredible Banh Mi at Banh Mi Che Cali (sp?), some spring rolls at Brodard's, and perhaps some beef of seven courses.
                                                                                                    For the places you've picked, I'd pick Mako Beverly Hills over Orris and Haru-Ulala over Musha.
                                                                                                    Another Place I'd add to the list is Sapp Coffe Shop for the boat noodles. Or, you could do what I did... since the bowl of noodles is small, have your boat noodles as an "appetizer" and then drive down to Jitlada for some entrees!

                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                      LaLa Eat RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 20, 2008 11:17 PM

                                                                                                      May I query why Cafe Tropical for Cubano? As a prior San Francisco resident for 20 years, I have found that there is not a cuban place here in LA save maybe Porto's that excel's much more in certain item's in cuban cuisine (savories). I do love Cafe Tropical's guava pastry... Seems like it would be splitting hairs with what I remember/know what SF has to offer (Fruitlandia?,Sandwich/bacalao place on 24th?,Laurel was new when I left and not good...have heard good things about Cafe Cubano place in downtown from cubans..) Are you looking specifically for pastries, sandwiches or other?
                                                                                                      When I first moved here i found Versaille to be a place with good dishes (loved the chicken, but have not been in awhile) that SF did not have..
                                                                                                      I was in Cuba a couple of years ago and the only food I found palpable was at private "palador" places, and It was because they knew what to do with the few food items they had and happened to had spices!
                                                                                                      Think Miami is were contenders for best cuban food would be currently..
                                                                                                      But with Castro stepping down and all, will be interesting to see what may, in some time, happen with Cuban cuisine... time.....

                                                                                                      1. re: LaLa Eat
                                                                                                        Robert Lauriston RE: LaLa Eat Feb 21, 2008 08:36 AM

                                                                                                        Jonathan Gold recommended the cubano at Cafe Tropical.


                                                                                                        There's no great cubano currently in SF. I'm not planning to go to Miami or Cuba any time soon.

                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                          Eat_Nopal RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 21, 2008 09:49 AM

                                                                                                          I am not sure there are any great Cubanos in Cuba... at least in the neighborhood paladares they really like the Medianoches and saw Cubanos as a Miami Cuban bastardization =)

                                                                                                          With that said if you just want a Cubano... unless thinks have changed... most people rave about Portos... I think its okay but I don't really get the appeal of the Cubano myself... maybe I am just too pro Fidel or I should say Raul =)

                                                                                                      2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                        susancinsf RE: Robert Lauriston Mar 9, 2008 08:56 PM

                                                                                                        I just had dinner at Babita and thought it was wonderful. Wow. Could be my new favorite restaurant. Nothing like it in SF, that's for sure, other than in the sense that it is small, with chef/owner in the kitchen, spouse doing FOH, and with a true love of the food and attention to ingredients and technique. To translate to SF terms: if there is such a thing as a Mexican equivalent of La Ciccia, this could be it, though if anything the presentation and cooking at Babita is more refined....

                                                                                                        Will have time to post a full report soon, I hope, but in the meantime: I have only two caveats: It's just a few (white tableclothed) tables, meaning that going with a group of more than four is probably not a great idea. Caveat #2: If you choose it, I'd bring a bottle of wine or two along. The wines available are so limited as to be virtually non-existent (unless there is a list I wasn't offered?), and the food deserves better....

                                                                                                        1. re: susancinsf
                                                                                                          susancinsf RE: susancinsf Mar 9, 2008 09:12 PM

                                                                                                          meant to add a link

                                                                                                          1823 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                                                                                      3. a_and_w RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 18, 2008 02:07 PM

                                                                                                        Robert, since you didn't make it to Babbo in NYC you might want to try Osteria Mozza to get a taste of Batali. You may also have an easier time getting in there than the Pizzeria, particularly if you dine at the bar. Try to snag a seat at the mozzarella bar, if you can, though that's Silverton's contribution, from what I understand. The burrata with bacon and escarole and the egg raviolo are two dishes not to be missed...

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: a_and_w
                                                                                                          Robert Lauriston RE: a_and_w Feb 18, 2008 02:28 PM

                                                                                                          I've already got a reservation at Pizzeria Mozza.

                                                                                                        2. notmartha RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 18, 2008 02:09 PM

                                                                                                          Forgot to mention - there's a review of Tzakaya Zero recently at LA Times:


                                                                                                          Viribila can be hit or miss, and I haven't been to that restaurant. But I went to Bluefin at Newport Beach many times and the food there was very good.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: notmartha
                                                                                                            david t. RE: notmartha Feb 18, 2008 04:34 PM

                                                                                                            Go to Pizzeria Mozza. Not for Batali, but for the quality of Silverton's pizza bread.

                                                                                                          2. Robert Lauriston RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 19, 2008 01:43 PM

                                                                                                            Do any of the following require reservations well in advance?

                                                                                                            La Casita
                                                                                                            La Huasteca
                                                                                                            Monte Alban

                                                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                              Eat_Nopal RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 19, 2008 01:56 PM

                                                                                                              Babita yes.

                                                                                                              Guelaguetza, Huasteca, Monte Alban, La Casita... I actually laughed. If you called Guelaguetza or Monte Alban about a reservation I don't think they would know what to do with it. Only the hot (not necessarily chowworthy) restaurants in L.A. ever require reservations.

                                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                                Eat_Nopal RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 19, 2008 01:58 PM

                                                                                                                One thing... no one has tried (that I am aware of) at La Huasteca is to call ahead and see if the proprietor could arrange some Mexicali style Sino-Mexican fusion dishes... I think its worth a try (the guy running it is Chinese ethnic from Tijuana).

                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                                  Debbie W RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 19, 2008 01:58 PM

                                                                                                                  We make a reservation when we go to Babita, but just a few days in advance. The room is small though, so it would probably depend on whether you're going during the week or weekend. Wine and beer only, there. I think Roberto really excels at soups so if whatever he has that day sounds good, then by all means try it. And if he still has chiles in nogada, which are seasonal, be sure not to miss them as they are amazing.

                                                                                                                  La Casita is a very small, extremely casual restaurant in a fairly sketchy neighborhood. The food was excellent the one time we went, and I would seriously doubt they would take reservations.

                                                                                                                  It wouldn't occur to me to make reservations at Guelaguetza or Monte Alban, nor am I sure you can. I've only been to La Huasteca once, for lunch, and recall it being very large - not sure of the reservation situation there. Haven't been to Alcazar, and it's been ages since I've been to Marouch, so someone else can help you there. For some reason I have it in my mind that Orris doesn't take reservations. I think I'd make a reservation at Yongsusan but not sure how far in advance is required.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Debbie W
                                                                                                                    mollyomormon RE: Debbie W Feb 21, 2008 08:52 AM

                                                                                                                    Debbie is correct that Orris doesn't take reservations. I've never had a problem walking in, though, especially during winter now that they've covered the front patio with a tent.

                                                                                                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                                    Das Ubergeek RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 19, 2008 02:54 PM

                                                                                                                    You'll want to reserve (a few days ahead is fine) for Babita and YongSuSan.

                                                                                                                    You CAN make a reservation at Alcazar if you want, but unless you're looking for a table for 8 on a Friday at peak time, I don't know that it's necessary.

                                                                                                                    The rest either don't take reservations or only for very large parties (8+).

                                                                                                                    LA, I'm happy to say, is refreshingly free of the reservation nightmares I have in New York (or even in SF, where I couldn't walk into an empty House of Prime Rib, I had to stand outside and make a reservation via cell phone). The trendy places you have to reserve for and unless you know someone, you can forget about 7 PM on a Friday, but 90% of the restaurants in the city you can walk in and sit down, with maybe a short wait at some.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                                                      Eat_Nopal RE: Das Ubergeek Feb 19, 2008 03:10 PM

                                                                                                                      Another great thing about L.A.... since nightlife is pretty much non-existent (compared to other cities its size)... dining at 9 or 10PM without a reservation - if a place still takes diners =) at those "crazy" hours - is pretty easy even at the trendy restaurants.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                                                                                                        notmartha RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 20, 2008 09:17 AM

                                                                                                                        Or alternatively, showing up when the restaurant first opens at 5PM you can pretty much waltz in without a wait or reservations. Works even for trendy places like the two Mozzas (assuming you are willing to sit at a bar).

                                                                                                                        1. re: notmartha
                                                                                                                          Robert Lauriston RE: notmartha Feb 20, 2008 09:19 AM

                                                                                                                          At 5:00 we'll still be full from lunch.

                                                                                                                    2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                                      SauceSupreme RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 19, 2008 08:01 PM

                                                                                                                      If you've got a big party, Marouch might need a res.

                                                                                                                      I don't know if Orris even takes reservations.

                                                                                                                    3. Robert Lauriston RE: Robert Lauriston Mar 3, 2008 02:58 PM

                                                                                                                      Any recommendations for a good place to drink some wine within walking distance of Mozza? We'll have some time to kill before a late reservation.

                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                                        JBC RE: Robert Lauriston Mar 3, 2008 03:54 PM

                                                                                                                        How about a short Cab Ride?

                                                                                                                        Carlito's Gardel - Agentinean - 13 blocks west on Melrose. Here's is a recent post:

                                                                                                                        ..."Also, Max, the bald guy who is the son of the owners of Carlito's Gardel on Melrose just west of Fairfax, loves wines, has an outstanding collection of Argentinean Malbecs that can be wonderful, and he knows which is which. Good decanting, great lomo with the best garlic fries(second only to David Haskell/Mike Bryant's duck fries at Bin8945). Always good to outstanding experience for wine lovers, and nearly always reds!!!"


                                                                                                                        Providence - 7 blocks East on Melrose

                                                                                                                        Avoid the Pig'n Whistle 20 blocks north, but then you already know NOT to go there!

                                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                                          New Trial RE: Robert Lauriston Mar 3, 2008 04:45 PM

                                                                                                                          For walking, your choices are rather limited and your best bet might be to simply drink at one of the Mozzas. There is Red Pearl Kitchen diagonally across the street but I would not bother. If you don't mind a fairly short drive, or an 11 block walk, I would suggest Lou's (on Vine near Melrose) for the drinks--and, that way, you could try the infamous "pig candy."

                                                                                                                          Lou on Vine
                                                                                                                          724 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90038

                                                                                                                          1. re: New Trial
                                                                                                                            Robert Lauriston RE: New Trial Mar 5, 2008 10:56 AM

                                                                                                                            I do want to try the pig candy at Lou's. We're big walkers, and it's on the way from the theater we're going to before dinner. Excellent! Thanks for the tip.

                                                                                                                          2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                                            Porthos RE: Robert Lauriston Mar 3, 2008 05:26 PM

                                                                                                                            Agreed. Drink at one of the Mozzas. PM has a dozen or so quartinos and pretty much every bottle is under $50. OM has some serious wines by the glass if you want to switch it up.

                                                                                                                          3. Robert Lauriston RE: Robert Lauriston Mar 19, 2008 08:24 AM

                                                                                                                            Thanks for all the tips. My reports:


                                                                                                                            Show Hidden Posts