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most underrated restaurants?

  • l

My husband and I are leaving LA for the East Coast and have 2 months left to try the best food in LA. There are so many high-end restaurants (especially in the french, american, californian categories), a lot of which are overrated. Anyone have a favorite restaurant that doesn't get as much buzz as it should?

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  1. If I were you I'd devote my time to Japanese and Korean. You didn't say where you were going on the east coast but I don't think you'll find anything anywhere to touch KaGaYa, Tsukasa, Yongsusan and others. I'm also very fond of Beverly Soon Tofu on Olympic at Vermont, and Excellent Dumpling on Third, also (I think) at Vermont. Otherwise: they're not unknown, but I'd try to spend some time at Ammo, Pastis, and Water Grill.

    Best of luck.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Deborah

      Can't agree on Pastis. Just ate there over the weekend. Liked the decor better than the food. To my taste, Mimosa in the same area of Beverly, Bouchon a mile or so away, and Axe on Abbot Kinney in Venice are better.

      1. re: mc michael

        sorry to hear about Pastis. Haven't been in some months. I always liked the frisee aux lardons and enjoyed their rotating wine list-- and great prices.

        Also am a sucker for bouillabaise and it's one of the few places I know. Have you been to any of their wine dinners? I haven't but have been impressed with the menus.

        1. re: Deborah

          I recently had a very nice meal at Cafe Beaujolais in Eagle rock. I ordered the John Dory with white asparagus and enjoyed it.

        2. re: mc michael

          sorry to hear about Pastis. Haven't been in some months. I always liked the frisee aux lardons and enjoyed their rotating wine list-- and great prices.

          Also am a sucker for bouillabaise and it's one of the few places I know. Have you been to any of their wine dinners? I haven't but have been impressed with the menus.

          1. re: Deborah

            As it happens, my wife had the bouillabaise which she said was good, but not as good (darker broth incidentally) as the seafood stew she had recently had at Axe. The rack of lamb I had, consisting of 2 double chops, was nicely flavored with mint but the lamb itself was a little tough. The profiterolles with chocolate on the inside (not a sauce over all) were good.

            1. re: mc michael

              I like "5 Dudley" alot better.

              1. re: russkar

                I liked the food at Dudley but didn't appreciate the "Bums Rush" we were given the SECOND that we finished our meal. There are other places in town that are at least as good a deal for quality/price ratio and they at least let you sip your coffee a few minutes after you have finished with dessert. This was absolutely not a case of overstaying our time either. We won't return.

        3. re: Deborah

          Can't agree on Pastis. Just ate there over the weekend. Liked the decor better than the food. To my taste, Mimosa in the same area of Beverly, Bouchon a mile or so away, and Axe on Abbot Kinney in Venice are better.

          1. re: mc michael
            m
            Michael Robertson Moore

            I've had a few unspectacular meals at Pastis, but overall I've found it pretty satisfying. And its Mediterranean/Provencal cuisine doesn't really compare to the more Northern, traditional bistro fare at Bouchon (which I also like.)

          2. re: Deborah

            i agree... i think it'll be much harder to find such a great selection of ethnic cuisine on the east coast. supposedly the korean and vietnamese restaurants in southern california are better than places in korea and vietnam, respectively.

            (my vote for most underrated is 2117 on sawtelle. it's in a mini mall but the food (cal-asian?) is great. they have a low corkage fee too.)

            japanese:
            sushi gen in little tokyo (also hamakawa). my family has been going there for at least a decade.

            korean:
            i second beverly tofu (so kong dong is also good. it's right across the street from beverly)
            soot bull jeep for bbq

            vietnamese:
            pho so 1 in reseda
            i don't venture to oc too often, but i'm sure you can find plenty of recs on this site.

            mexican:
            antonio's on melrose

            caribbean:
            cha cha cha in silverlake/hollywood (i've only been disappointed once (tough calamari)...otherwise their jerk chicken, paella, apple pancakes are the best!)

            1. re: michiyo

              Firefly, Ventura BLVD. Great food, the most expensive item is a tenderloin for $18.Very well priced wine list as well.

              1. re: Jack

                Can't find this place. Where is it exactly?

          3. OK, I have been resisting the temptation to post this for some weeks, as this is one of the most unchowhoundish restaurants I can think of (it's not cool, not ethnic, and not even in LA). But Deborah's mention of Bouillibase forces my hand.
            Coming off a string of high end expense account LA experiences (Matsushisa Omakase room twice, Patina, Ruth's Chris, Water Grill [the best]), I wasn't expecting much from Ventura.
            I was brought, unwillingly, to the Pierpont Inn (101 Freeway, Sanjon Rd exit). Maybe it was the utter lack of expectation, but this place is the essence of the underrated gem.
            Bouillibase is served in a huge, fiery hot cauldron; the perfect melding of garlic, thyme, and saffron is better than any I recall from three months in Provence several years ago. In addition there are simple, perfectly executed dishes: polenta in parmesan, almond crusted calamari, and hickory smoked pork loin (all the bacon flavor you can handle, without much grease). Even the butternut squash ravioli are impressive.
            Wines, mostly from Santa Barbara, are a bargain - Daniel Gehrs Syrah and Gainey Chardonnay are both $30 (less than 2x retail) and even a 1997 Opus One is $120 - also less than 2x retail.
            Total bill averaged less than $60 apiece - also less than 1/2 of the equivalent (or less) in LA.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Griller141

              Had their earlybird dinner special last year. Thought it was good, but seemed like it was trying to hard. Still, very good.

              For a real treat, I'd advise booking their Austin Pierpont Suite Sun - Thurs. Gorgeous, remodeled suite, with a view overlooking the ocean, sitting area, whirlpool tub...and all in a craftsman style. Wonderful...and a much better deal than the b&b's up the coast in Santa Barbara.