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Ethnic food to drive out to small-towner?

Help! Driving 3+ hrs this Saturday morning to friend living near Sequoia Nat'l Park. I asked her if she wants anything from L.A. and she said, "FOOD!!!" They have some Mexican food and one Thai place nearby, but that's it. She wants prepared food, not ingredients to cook.
I live in SGV so buying Asian food would be a snap, but hot food might not survive. Bummer, cuz I know that's what she really craves.

She does not want sweets (there goes my excuse to buy pastries!), but I might get some red bean stuff.
Prefer SGV places that stay open late or something off the 5 North that will be open early Saturday morning. Can't make it to the West side.

I already bought frozen dumplings from Dumpling Master that I'll bring in a cooler. I figure that's ok since it's easy to fry up.
I can also stop by Porto's and pick up some meat pies, but there's only so many bready things you can eat in one sitting, you know? So I don't want to get bao on top of that.
I'd like to bring a variety of foods. I haven't considered Middle Eastern yet; I don't know what's available for travel besides prepackaged hummus/tabouleh which she could find in a store.

What other savories, meats, etc can I buy (soon!) that will keep for the drive and heat up well?

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  1. I know this is a stumper for me, but ... anybody?
    There's got to be something I haven't thought of. Like should I bring pre-marinated Korean bbq to grill, or is that just asking for a mess in the cooler?

    1 Reply
    1. re: CookieEater

      I think bringing pre-marinated Korean bbq is a great idea... My family used to always do that when we went on any sort of vacation where we had to cook our own food. Also, if you're stopping by the K-market anyways, you might want to consider picking up some kim-bap (Korean style sushi rolls) for yourself to munch on during the drive. It was always my family's choice for road trip food!

    2. Get some Vietnamese sandwiches. But separate the fillings from the bread. Keep the fillings in a cooler. You can also get some Nem Nuong.

      2 Replies
      1. re: raytamsgv

        Where do I get the nem nuong? A grocery store or one of those restaurants on Las Tunas?

        1. re: CookieEater

          We usually just buy it at Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa. I personally like their versions the best. Here's the contact information:
          http://www.geocities.com/raytamsgv/vi...

      2. Mom's hummus and Mom's magic sauce!..ooh, farmer's market only.not to hot
        Get her a packed pint of Scoops or Mashti Malone's ice cream
        Take her some cold mezze from Courousel or hummus form Shamshiri
        What about a few banh-mi?
        Hit up Yum Cha cafe for some yummy things beyond bao
        How about a Kebab or something? Or a good Shawerma

        Sandwiches and stuff just seem to travel better, if you're not doing hot food, it gets more difficult. You know, a cooler can be used to keep things hot/warm, too, right?

        1. In my experience, most Chinese food reheats very well; though of course you won't have that immediate freshness (and you'll want to avoid items with crisp-fried coatings), to someone starving for this kind of thing nuked noodles beat hell out of no noodles. Or Chinese broccoli or whatever. You could also go to one of the Hong Kong-style places (such as MVP or 888) that have barbecued pork, chickens and ducks, and get something like that - those things reheat beautifully. A quart or so of soup might be a treat as well.

          And as long as you're at Porto's, while their meat pies are OK, the potato balls are divine, and they zap very well too. A friend brought two dozen to a party we had a couple of weeks ago and left the dozen uneaten ones behind, which I have only recently finished.

          1. When I lived in Santa Cruz, I would have killed for a Langer's pastrami sandwich.

            No good Delis in that area.

            1. Ooh, I know it's pre packaged,m but bring her some Kim Chee, too!

              1. The Central Valley isn't as much of a culinary wasteland as you might think. I'd post this query on the California board to get some take out tips for Bakersfield, Visalia and Fresno.

                There is quite a substantial Asian immigrant population in this corridor: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/316992

                1 Reply
                1. re: DiveFan

                  I'm just going by what my friend said. I looked for Visalia recs, but I thought it might be easier to buy closer to home so that I can check the place out and repack foods in tupperware if needed.

                  I'm totally on board with this Vietnamese thing. I founds recs for Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa, which is very convenient for me. Maybe they'd be willing to let me pick up early in the morning if I make a big enough order...

                  Chinese pork! Cuban pork! Vietnamese pork! Now with more pork! yummmmmm

                2. CHINESE:
                  Roast duck and soy sauce chicken doesn't taste that bad reheated.
                  Beef noodle soup might work also. Most places will separate the soup from the noodles, so you can just boil the soup and reheat the noodles.
                  Phoenix actually has a lot of cold dishes (marinated beef shank, chicken wings, etc.)

                  1. Sweet brown rice cakes from yum cha. Very good cold. Not open late, though.

                    Besides Langer's, I missed:
                    Amir's Falafel, or any good falafel
                    A good Shawerma from Zankou
                    good sushi ( i couldn't get to SF fro Cruz, and Cruz just paled in the face of LA.)
                    Ethiopian food
                    Believe it or not, Gelson's. There wasn't one there! I had to make do with Safeway. I had a friend who's whole family relocated from LA to San Jose, and his mom ordered two Viktor Bene's Alligators, shipped to her with the help of a friend, every 6 months. I missed the corn bread!

                      1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                        AH!!!!! Genius! True genius. Phillips BBQ would be recieved well I'd imagine.

                        I'll say that I've had plenty of Bahn Mi packaged up for road trips and they are just fine without separating the ingredients. They are probably better if you do but it isn't necessary if pressed for time.

                        You have so many good suggestions but I'll try to add if I can. The stuff that keeps the best in my experience are stews.

                        I'd say get a variety of moles from Monte Alban. Have them package them separately instead of as an entree.

                        Javan does the best job with Persian stews and rices although many like Darya better. Either one is good. I'd get the fesenjan and the gormeh sabzi as those two are my favorite stews. You can opt for either plain basmati or if you can splurge and get some of the more exciting polos.

                        Since you're out in the SGV, try Wahib's for your hummus or other Mediterranean needs.

                        Diana's suggestion of Ethiopian food is great since those stews ought to keep/freeze very well. The injera is usually moist enough to resteam and not lose too much of it's integrity.

                      2. KyoChon chicken wings keep surprisingly well. The doubly-fry method means it doesn't get really soggy, even after sitting there for many hours. It's better when it's hot, but it's not bad when at room temperature, either. Extra plus if you friend enjoys spicy food so you can get the spicy version, but the original is good, too.

                        If it weren't so messy to eat, I'd consider KyoChon wings the perfect picnic food!

                        I'm not sure how early they open so you might want to check that.

                        1. Okay let me tell you what I brought:
                          Frozen dumplings from Dumpling Master - she hasn't broken into those yet.
                          And the rest was from Golden Deli: Nem nuong, those awesome fried egg rolls, charbroiled beef, and charbroiled pork. That came with all the lettuces, veggies, and rice paper plus sauces. I bought the meats because I thought that would reheat well.

                          I did Golden Deli because I'd had it before. I tried food from Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa and my lips swelled up--I'm not sure what caused that, but I figured it was best to be safe.

                          We feasted on that all weekend, and her kids loved it too. Made the beef/pork into a salad with the lettuce and one of the sauces once. We didn't even have rice (I was nervous about it) and it was still awesome.
                          Didn't have time to stop by Porto's or Chinese bakeries, preferring to sleep instead.
                          There's no way I could do Ethiopian restaurants or any of the Valley Persian places at that hour but I do appreciate the recs.