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Sep 10, 2008 01:36 PM

Going to LA for a week - need recs for a killer meal?

Hi everyone,

I'm going to be staying with a buddy of mine and his wife in Sherman Oaks for a week, and as a thank you I want to take them out for a great meal.

While I'd love to say money's no object, it kind of is, but I'm willing to drop a couple of hundred on them (with alcohol) for something that's worth it. I'm a foodie - trained as a chef in NYC, worked in some fine dining here, and while i'm not a food snob - I enjoy a dirty water dog as much as foie gras - I like eating somewhere where I can say "Wow, never had that before!". But really as long as the meal is quality and made with love, I'm good. My friends, not quite as adventurous eaters, but appreciate a good meal. Pretty much open to all cuisines, and I love it hot and spicy.

I've heard great things about Mozza, and Ford's Filling Station,but where's a place to get a meal that you'd say to your friends "Oh when you're in LA you've GOT to go to _______"

Looking forward to hearing the recs


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  1. For bold flavors try Wolfgang Puck's original fusion restaurant, Chinois on Main in Santa Monica. Everything is served to share, concentrate on the starters and small plates and split one entree -- the sliced fillet in Szechwan sauce or the whole deepfried catfish with ponzu -- and leave room for dessert. For a beautiful Los Angeles evening on a happening patio courtyard think about Wilshire. To share a bunch of tasty small plates with an Asian twist go to Orris on Sawtelle in W.L.A. or Musha in Santa Monica. For tasty Mexican regional (Oaxacan) at a ridiculously low price consider Monte Alban in W.L.A. For an incredible view and a fun experience including a tram, consider dinner at the Restaurant at the Getty on Friday or Saturday night, just down the 405 from Sherman Oaks.

    4 Replies
    1. re: nosh

      Some great ideas! Chinois's version of catfish is memorable, and I hate catfish...

      1. re: nosh

        all good ideas. i think Wilshire is a great option, depending upon your alcohol choice. if you're willing to spend the money there, I also think places in Hollywood or WeHo, or LA, are worth considering like Hungry Cat or AOC...

        if you wanted to stay in the valley, Boneyard Bistro is a good place in Sherman Oaks. Palate in Glendale has gotten mostly good reviews here, and has a great menu, but some have complained about the service.

        i love Monte Alban, but in case you wanted Mexican but fancier, there's also Babita.

        1. re: Emme

          I second Babita for local flavor and unique spin.
          Can't go wrong there...

        2. re: nosh

          Cannot go wrong with the Catfish at Chinois - but Mozza is probably the ticket

        3. Welcome to SoCal - the land of immigrant cuisine! Although Sherman Oaks is in the San Fernando Valley, you will be very centrally located for LA concerns; you're right near the 405 and 101 - two major freeways that will get you to or connect you to most places, many probably within 20 minutes if the traffic is good. My experience in the San Fernando Valley is very limited, but you also might consider posting a seperate thread for places in the valley that would suit your desires. One place in Sherman Oaks that gets tons of love is Natas Pastries:

          One of the cuisines that seems to have a strong representation in the valley is Peruvian. It's one of my favorites, and I personally prefer Kotosh at Kamiyama in Lomita, El Rocoto in Gardena, and Wakatay in Gardena as well. But this part of LA is practically at the opposite end of the county for you. I haven't been to but one in the valley - Lima in Tarzana - and wasn't overly impressed, but Puro Sabor has gotten great buzz - check out these threads:

          I think most would say that unless you're after something in particular at Ford's, your trip to downtown Culver City would be better spent at Fraiche. But like so many things, it's a personal choice...

          Apple in West Hollywood has gotten very good initial buzz - check out the ever-reliable exilekiss's xlnt writeup. In fact, you should spend some time on his blogsite to seek out some other excellent eats as well...

          Another ethnic cuisine that folks from New York (right?) should consider is Persian cuisine. Primarily in Westwood, places like Shamshiri, Flame and Javan are always under debate as to who has the best renditions. We're so lucky to have so many choices in LA...

          I know New York eaters are very proud of the broad choices of ethnic eats in their town, but we are as well. You might also consider So Cal's true strengths: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mexican, Thai, and Vietnamese. Hopefully others will chime in with more detail, but here's some leads:

          Chinese: Dim sum at Sea Harbour or Elite

          Xiao long bao/Shanghainese experience at Mei Long Village, Jin Jiang, Din Tai Fung

          Japanese: Sushi at Mori, Sushi Zo or Kiriko.

          Izakaya at Honda-ya, Haru Ulala, or Musha

          Korean: Korean BBQ at Park's

          Mexican: This one is hard - great choices are many and are just about everywhere. Some of the tastiest versions of Mexican can be had at very reasonable prices, a lot of being served from catering trucks that are parked all over the city.

          Thai: Renu Nakorn, Jitlada or Khun Dom

          Vietnamese: Pagolac or Banh Mi Che Cali

          Much of the ethnic cuisine can be a drive from Sherman Oaks, but well worth it. I hope you have a wonderful stay and eat well...

          6 Replies
          1. re: bulavinaka

            This is a very generous post. Bulavinaka makes the excellent point that LA's strong suit is the daily food of immigrants, and less so upscale "professional" eateries, which NYC excels in.

            To this list, I'd say get a black sesame cream puff at Chantilly in Lomita on Lomita/Pennsylvania. Your mouth will be very happy.

            1. re: SecretAsianMan

              I could easily see the OP spending lunch (Kotosh), pastry-stop (Chantilly) and dinner (Gaja Mac) at that intersection... We usually do 2/3 when we go there...

              1. re: bulavinaka

                OP, read Bulavinaka's words above and consider them seriously. They are pure wisdom.

                When in LA, you must shed all notions of your past New York life and meet our city on its own terms, then you'll find the real joys of the place. Its organization spatially and aesthetically is unlike the East Coast and you must be prepared to accept gastronomical nirvana in many forms--mini-mall, roving silver truck, card table in parking lot, former fast food outlet converted by an immigrant family into a temple of food, Buddhist temples, on and on.

                1. re: SecretAsianMan

                  Amen...I've found my best eats off of a cart, out of a little hole in the wall, etc. Absolutely no pre-judging here.

            2. re: bulavinaka

              An enthusiastic second to Puro Sabor on (Van Nuys Bv. just south of Victory, I think) -- not fancy, but awfully, awfully good. It helps to speak Spanish, but the menu is in both languages. Their ceviche is just dynamite, as are the hot doughnuts with syrup for dessert.

              1. re: bulavinaka

                Really - you don't have to drive far from Sherman Oaks for great Thai food.

                Sri Siam, Krua, Bua, Sanamluang and many more are an easy drive up Coldwater Cyn. My current favorite of the bunch, Sri Siam, even offers free delivery.

                Here is a recent thread about the embarrassment of riches we have with respect to Thai food in the Valley.

                As far as your splurge meal, if you are staying over on a Sunday, I would suggest a Sunday Supper at Lucques which is a $40, 3-course, prix fixe and a lovely way to eat at one of LA's best restaurants for a moderate price.

                Happy eating.

              2. If you like hot and spicy and if you go to Pizzeria Mozza, make sure to order the pizza with Fresno chilies and the shrimp, melon and chili appetizer. Both delicious.

                1. The original comment has been removed
                  1. Ya'll are too kind. Thanks so much - lookin' forward to getting my eat on in LA.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: NYEpicuriosity

                      Glad you found this of some help. You might research and refine your choices, repost on specific categories or places, and you should get a ton of hits... :)