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Chowhounding weekend report

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I had a friend visiting me this weekend so was able to try out several restaurants in the area. I had some great leads from Chowhound posts and had a couple of places in mind.

On Thursday night, I headed to Old Town Pasadena to search out Sol Y Azul per tokyoastrogirl’s post. Unfortunately, it was closed for some kind of film shoot. We ended up at Crocodile Café, which I discovered to be a chain after we sat down. Not recommended at all – mediocre food at best.

Friday lunch, a LA native pointed me to Noshi Sushi in Koreatown for lunch. They had great sushi for good prices. I’m pretty unadventurous with sushi, sticking mainly to rolls with cooked ingredients, but it was quite good. The green tea was nice and hot, and the attentive waitress kept my cup filled. Lunch total of 6 maki and edamame came to $27 before tip.

I’ve been wanting to try the huge Hong Kong style restaurants in Monterey Park so had dinner at Ocean Star that night. The food was good but with 2 people, I couldn’t explore the menu as much as I would have liked. The steamed red snapper was fresh, the salt and pepper spareribs were a bit greasy, and the kongxingcai stir-fried with garlic was perfect. A good deal at only $31 with enough leftovers for my dinner tomorrow.

On Saturday morning, I was introduced to LA’s Chinatown on the way to dim sum at ABC Seafood Restaurant. As a homesick San Franciscan, I’d have to say that it wasn’t as good as SF’s best, my favorite being Fook Yuen in Millbrae. I found the wrappers on the various steamed dumplings not as delicate as I usually like but it was all still delicious, especially the fried stuffed crab claws. Again, I found that food in LA seems cheaper than SF. For 2 people, we ordered enough food for 4, came away with leftovers, and the bill was only $21!

I was so full from dim sum, I wasn’t sure I wanted dinner. However, I really wanted to try out Z Sushi (another tokyoastrogirl recommendation) since it’s across the street from my apartment in Alhambra. I wasn’t disappointed – creative rolls with the freshest ingredients. I ordered the Z Special even though their menu doesn’t give a description, just “Don’t ask, just try it!” It’s a roll with shrimp, crab, salmon, and avocado served on a plate with mayonnaise, hot sauce, and jalapenos. Not to my taste although my friend gobbled up the remaining pieces. Their salad is a cut above other Japanese restaurants with a nice assortment of mixed greens and not just iceberg lettuce. I enjoyed the grilled Chilean sea bass entrée, served with a soy-based sauce, sautéed mushrooms, and a potato croquette. It was a bit firm, maybe just slightly overcooked? The service was a bit understaffed but friendly overall. The most expensive meal of the weekend (edamame, 5 rolls, 2 orders of nigiri, 1 entrée, Sapporo, and tea came to $72) but reasonable for what we got.

After stuffing ourselves to the gills Saturday, we were in the mood for a lighter brunch Sunday morning. Kim Tar in Monterey Park is a Chinese restaurant with Vietnamese/Teochew leanings. He got beef and beef ball rice noodle soup, which he devoured without offering me any. I got their wonton egg noodle soup, with lots of other ingredients like a prawn, fried fish balls, chicken, pork, and kidney thrown into the bowl. The wontons themselves were small and dense with chewy wrappers, not the best. I thought my meal was just OK. Lunch for 2 came to $9.

We grabbed an early dinner at Sam Woo BBQ before I had to drop my friend off at the airport. I understand that this local chain is a LA institution. It was packed at 5:45 on a Sunday night and we had to wait 20 minutes for a table. The food came quickly once we sat down. The Yangzhou fried rice had a good amount of prawns but was slightly greasy. My combo roast duck and BBQ pork over rice was decent but not great. For $4, it was a good deal but the ratio of meat to rice seemed too small. The BBQ pork was dry without the caramelization of the edges that imparts that crunchy, smoky flavor. I ended up eating all the rice, however, because it had soaked up all the yummy juices from the meats. Cheap dinner at $9.

Overall, I’m loving the food in LA although I am a bit homesick for my SF favorites at times. I’m looking for a good neighborhood Thai place near Alhambra (I heard Saladang was good but it looks a bit trendy). Any cafes where I can pick up a sandwich or good salad? Or in general, good non-Chinese food in the Alhambra area? I’m on a student budget so cheap is good!

Thanks,
Yvonne

Noshi Sushi
4430 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90004
323-469-3458

ABC Seafood
708 New High St
Los Angeles, CA 90012-2822
213-680-2887

Z Sushi California Cuisine
1132 N. Garfield Ave.
Alhambra, CA 91801
626-282-5636

Kim Tar
515 S. Atlantic Blvd.
Monterey Park, CA 91754
213-687-7491
(cash only)

Sam Woo BBQ
San Gabriel Square
140 W. Valley Blvd. Suite 107
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(cash only)

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  1. Have you tried Savoy on Valley blvd? They have good chicken rice.

    4 Replies
    1. re: tissue

      What kind of food is Savoy? By chicken rice, do you mean Hainan chicken rice or something else? Sorry, it's just not clicking in my head.

      1. re: Yvonne

        Yes Hainan chicken rice it is........
        The place has excellent food.......
        It's kind of an asian/italian place......
        They have pizzas and pastas as well as curries and rice dishes......
        Also have a duck salad that is pretty good....
        Try the garlic pizza.....
        Also expremely cheap, a very satisfying lunch can be had for 6 dollars.....
        Very small seating area inside, but has plenty of outdoor seating as well......
        On Valley Blvd 2 blocks east of Garfield, it's on the the southwest corner.

        1. re: slowrider

          Yvonne, here is a chowtip:

          GO eat hainan chicken rice at Savoy. (Note: I've never seen anyone get the pizza there, everyone gets curry or chicken rice). Then walk half a block east to Phoenix Dessert bar for dessert. THey have taro/tapioca drinks and mango mochi that is soft, made with fresh mangos and lightly dusted with a little bit of coconut.

          1. re: tissue

            ".....never seen anyone order pizza there....."

            Meaning??

            1. It's no good......?
            2. It must not be good because you've never seen anyone order it, or you've never had it yourself?
            3. People who have been to an aforementioned place and recommend something do not know what ther're talking about?

            curious......

            The Hainan Chicken dish there is excellent at Savoy, yes, they do have other items as well. If they do something well, gee, maybe some of their other items may also be good. Their Chicken/Garlic Pizza is pretty damn good.

            Fine Day.

    2. Very nice 'houndly report Yvonne. Try The Hat at Garfield and Valley for a greasy pastrami fix, they also have dogs and burgers. Great fries. You have In-N-Out up at Garfield and Huntington. You might also give TwoHeys a try, next door to In-N-Out, never been myself, but it is always packed.

      I think the Shakey's on Valley may be the original, the company that owned them was right next door (this was 20 years ago).

      If you drive north up Garfield, cross Huntington, stay on Garfield as it curves west (left), it will bring you to Bristol Farms on Fairoaks in South Pasadena. You have Gus's BBQ in South Pas, a couple of coffee shop type restaurants, and some fish taco joints that have been discussed on this board.

      Check out Fosselman's Ice Cream on Main, west of Garfield, very well known, highly regarded, they make it on the premises, and supply other establishments (like Soda Jerks in Pasadena).

      2 Replies
      1. re: chino wayne

        Thanks for the recs! I've tried The Hat, which was greasy and hit the spot. I asked for my pastrami with gravy, instead of au jus, on my friend's advice and loved it. I've avoided the In-n-Out so far because I know once I start, it'll be a downhill slide from there - I'll be picking up dinner every night from there. I did notice that TwoHey's has an all-you-can-eat ribs special 8/28-9/8 for Labor Day and was thinking about trying it out. Has anyone tried their ribs? You've been the second rec for Fosselman's and for Bristol Farms so those are next on my list. What's Shakey's?

        1. re: Yvonne

          Shakey's was one of the first pizza franchises in the U.S. many years ago. I used to walk over there and take home a medium pepperoni when I lived about a block away, many, many moons ago. Shakey's is not the best pizza around though. Scroll down the L.A. board for other pizza, or pose the question some time, I think you have your hands (or mouth) full right now.

      2. For Thai try Thai President on Rosemead Blvd., a mile or so South of Colorado Blvd......
        Very Very good..........
        Tell them you want level 4 spiciness.........
        They have reasonable lunch specials......

        1. LovebirdsCafe on First in Alhambra has very good sandwiches. I like the Thanksgiving Turkey one.

          1. t
            tokyoastrogirl

            Very houndy report! Too bad Sol Y Azul was closed; I hope you have a chance to try it soon. I will definitely try some of the spots you mentioned!