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Jul 10, 2008 01:59 PM

Best of LA's Asian Foods...

Coming to LA in about a week for a quick three-day trip. No reason to come except that if I'm in town, I can't stay away from work, so I need to get far away from Portland.

Here's what I'm most interested in: Thai, Japanese, and SE Asian cuisines more difficult to find elsewhere in the US, like Lao, Burmese, Malay, and Indonesian.

Looking to make a cheat-sheet for myself. I'll probably base what we do more on where I want to eat than choosing where to eat based on what I'm going to do. Six meals a day may be the rule. And I'm not exaggerating.

Hard part so far is that I'm not limited in location. Most requests of course are by location or are on single places. So I'm looking for "best of" the whole metro area. I know that's always a bit frustrating, but I couldn't find much in that way. I have copied and will be redacting Erik M's six month post. He was always a great help in Chicago.

I'm always interested in very regional, beyond-the-usual, but still especially good stuff. It's nice if a place serves a great green curry with beef, but it's better if they serve a great khanom jiin or gang hung lay or pad ped sator -- at least for my purposes. I am aware of Jitalda and it sounds great. It's at the top of my list. But beyond that, it gets murky for me. If you don't mind, a top 5 places or dishes that fit the bill, would be very helpful.

Not really interested in sushi too much. Just don't want to spend that kind of money. Maybe two "can't miss" or "best value" sushi places would be nice, as long as I don't have to get dressed up. I plan on being in shorts the entire trip.

More interested in ramen and izakayas, maybe yakimono. From my research, is there much reason to search out anything beyond these three?

Hakata Ramen
Santouka Ramen

Harder to find a comparison of izakayas. I see a lot of disagreement. I like both places sticking to the standards and places that are somewhat fusiony, like you find in Vancouver, BC, a lot. Open late is a big bonus. A top 3 or 5 of these would be very helpful. Always love suggested dishes.

Yakitori Bincho and Gaja sound like leading specialty places that may make the list.

Haven't had a chance to research other cuisines yet. We have a good number of very good Vietnamese places here in Portland, so I'll probably just skip that cuisine. But we have no Burmese, no Indonesian, and only one Malaysian place. I love all three of those cuisines.

Thanks for any and all help.

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  1. Izakaya: musha in torrance and terried sake house are delicious. I take all out of town visitors to musha. there's one in Santa Monica, but I like the torrance one better. get the itame somen. get two. If you want some of the most delicious japanese creme puffs you will ever taste (life-changing, i'd say) go to patisserie chantilly on lomita in torrance. black. sesame. creme puffs. get there before 3, they always sell out. i also always take out of town visitors here.
    if you want to try okonomiyaki, there's a place next door to patisserie chantilly. it's the ultimate japanese comfort food. (now that i think of it, maybe this is Gaja?).
    And on an unrelated note (well, the owners are Filipino)...get yourself to Delicieuse in Redondo. Don't bother to eat there, just get ice cream. Their lavender ice cream is like sex in a carton. i kid you not. if i had to choose between the two...well, let's just say, it would be a tough call. the father of the woman who owns it is always there to teach you about the process of making it, and give you (unsolicited) samples of every flavor. my mother paid 45 dollars to have some shipped on dry ice to Maine. and she's pretty cheap.

    1. yakitori bincho is currently not in business.

      I would recommend shin sen gumi in gardena (on western). I've been there twice this week alone haha.

      1. We have virtually no Burmese either, only Golden Triangle in Whittier, so if you ever get to San Francisco there's not much point. I'll leave Indonesian and Malaysian to the experts like Elmomonster, but we don' t realy specialize in those either.

        As for Thai, Eric M. has certainly done the research on the more obscure items. In addition to Jitlada, try to get to North Hollywood to either Swan, Sri Siam or Krua Thai.

        Your ramen list looks good. If you're in Little Tokyo (Downtown LA), I like the izakayas Haru Ulala and Iyazoi. Do you have any specialized tempura bars in Portland? We have two in the Torrance area that are interesting. (I can find the names if you're interested).

        What about Chinese? In my recent extensive research on your site, it looks like the selection in Portland might not be that large.

        (I'm coming to Portland this weekend and found your site invaluable, please email if you want to trade anymore info, thanks.)

        3 Replies
        1. re: Chowpatty

          Yeah, I've hit all the well-regarded Burmese in SF. Quality gets thin in a hurry.

          No places that truly specialize in tempura, just places that do it better than others.

          I'm not much of a fan of Cantonese. It's fine, but it doesn't really speak to me. Some bolder regional stuff, I like a lot more, but in general it's not one of my favorite cuisines (if you can lump such a broad set of foods into one cuisine).

          Check out and contact me through I'm not as good at checking my non-restaurant email these days. SauceSupreme and Erik M both have my contact info, though, probably, if you have theirs.

          1. re: Chowpatty

            One Burmese restaurant that has been favorably mentioned here is Jasmine in Culver City. It was also given good marks in a review by Jonathan Gold in the LA Weekly.


            1. re: Chowpatty

              There is a place called Yoma in SGV, on Garvey. I have been there once, and wasn't really sure what I thought, but would definitely try again.

            2. Why so much Ramen and no soba or udon? How about some sticks (yakitori, kushiyaki, etc)?

              Exilekiss did a great write up on the amazing Otafuko (soba specialist) recently

              Kotohira in Gardena is fantastic handmade udon.

              Kokeekoko (downtown) and Nanbankan (west LA) do nice stick work

              1. File under "OTHER" ... Battambang, a Cambodian seafood joint.

                Battambang Seafood Restaurant
                1806 South San Gabriel Blvd
                San Gabriel
                (626) 307-3938

                2 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Yes, and several Cambodian places in Long Beach too (Sophy's?) -- we seem to have more Cambodian than some of the others you mentioned.
                  Is Laotian very different from Cambodian?

                  1. re: Chowpatty

                    Some really interesting discussion of the difference between Cambodian and Laotian foods has been split to General Topics so more hounds can benefit. You can find it here: