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Where MUST we go for sushi, Korean, and Vietnamese?

bennyt Jan 5, 2009 04:50 PM

We have incredible ethnic food here in Queens; but we will be in the LA area for a few days and we are looking for some recommended places for inexpensive and authentic food, in particular, sushi, Vietnamese, and Korean. We aren't overly familiar with LA, but we will have a car, a GPS, and will go out of our way for a great bite - so let's hear some recs (please be sure to provide addresses, though). What shouldn't be missed, and what dishes are recommended? Thank you!

  1. A5 KOBE Jan 9, 2009 04:08 PM

    Oomasa in Little Tokyo has decent sushi for pretty good prices.

    By far not the best sushi, but with sushi you really get what you pay for.

    Also, Golden Deli and Pho Pasteur have some good pho.

    100 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, Los Angeles, CA 90012

    1 Reply
    1. re: A5 KOBE
      ns1 Jan 9, 2009 04:35 PM

      Sorry dude, Pho Pasteur = crap

      I had to put so much lime/hoisin/siracha to cover up the crappy taste

      i went to pho minh a few days later

    2. c
      ceviche Jan 8, 2009 10:36 PM

      wow you guys are really hard on hodori. every few months i get a craving for their blood red beef & glass noodle stew...really hits the spot when you're studying til 2am.

      5 Replies
      1. re: ceviche
        noshie Jan 9, 2009 08:06 AM

        I like Hodori's Yukejang (this spelling, I'm sure, is off) too, and not just for late night. I also like their pan chan, particularly the potato salad and that yam paste stuff with sauce and green onions on it. I don't like how they've discontinued their melon gum with the bill.

        I recall the place next door was good the one or two times I was there, but I don't like the static-ey radio background.

        If anyone knows of another, better place with the same sort of general menu as Hodori (not BBQ, soon tofu or noodle joint or fancy Korean) I'd love to know.

        1. re: noshie
          spicychow Jan 9, 2009 10:58 AM

          I really like Hodori's yukgaejang! So good... but I admit, I've never had it sober, so not sure how much I'd like it if I went during the day. So funny about seeing drunk korean girls in club gear. You can also see how they (boys and girls) really look like under the harsh lighting, and it can be scary sometimes.

          For my favorite 24 hours korean place, it would have to be mountain cafe (san). I love their rice porridge with egg in it. Also the place on 6th and Alexandria, they have really good champong and it's 24 hours.

          1. re: spicychow
            CostcoWater Jan 9, 2009 03:26 PM

            If you like Hodori's yuk ge jang...check out E Moon Oak next to BCD(Western Location)

            Hodori isnt great, but its not too bad..consider it chain restaurant quality

            Whats the talk about North Korean cuisine? Mool Neng Myun isnt North Korean, they are known for bi bim neng myun.."ham hung" style

            Yong Su San is North Korean Food?? I don't know about that one either..

            1. re: CostcoWater
              ceviche Jan 11, 2009 10:37 PM

              thanks for the tip on E Moon Oak! i've added it to my "ktown to-do list".

              is the name of the place an americanized version of the korean last name "Ok"?

              1. re: CostcoWater
                ceviche Jan 23, 2009 11:02 PM

                wow i finally got a chance to go to E Moon Oak tonight, and it was great. good amount of spice, and the two types of kimchi (cabbage and radish) were good. the soup broth was pretty mild flavored but it had a pronounced (yet not overwhelming) beefyness to it. thanks so much for the tip!!!

        2. l
          liltamby5 Jan 8, 2009 12:37 PM

          Well the best sushi is in Little Tokyo....you can walk into just about any sushi restaurant down there and have a great meal.

          I went to this great Korean place called Hodori (off Olympic and vermont), but it's open 24/7 and they have great bulgogi and Kim chi soup!! Also, Gyenari is a great place for korean. it's more upscale, but have amazing service and the freshest kimchi ever!

          9 Replies
          1. re: liltamby5
            ns1 Jan 8, 2009 12:41 PM

            the best sushi is NOT in LT, and how the hell do you recommend hodori as a good example of LA korean food?

            hodori is one step above a korean denny's.

            1. re: liltamby5
              Das Ubergeek Jan 8, 2009 02:15 PM

              Hodori is the best 24-hour Korean restaurant within 50 yards of Olympic and Vermont.

              1. re: Das Ubergeek
                huaqiao Jan 8, 2009 02:23 PM

                Hodori is kind of known as the place you go at 4am after a night of clubbing and noraebang in Ktown. Great for checking out the drunk Korean girls in their club gear. Not exactly a shining example of Korean cuisine. Though I don't really think the food's as bad as some here make it out to be, but then I'm no Korean food expert. :P

                1. re: huaqiao
                  Das Ubergeek Jan 8, 2009 07:09 PM

                  Yeah, exactly. It's where you end up after you've gotten completely pissed on soju.

              2. re: liltamby5
                uwsister Jan 8, 2009 08:34 PM

                Hodori is mediocre at best, IMO. Like the above poster said, unless you're blitzed out of your mind at 4 a.m.

                1. re: liltamby5
                  esquimeaux Jan 9, 2009 07:39 AM

                  so weird how you recommend hodori and gyenari... one is the place you go to when you're too drunk to care what it tastes like. and the other is the place i would take my super-white friends who aren't even ready for a non-threatening place like chosun galbi in ktown.

                  1. re: esquimeaux
                    tofuburrito Jan 9, 2009 07:50 AM

                    "Super white friends"?

                    1. re: tofuburrito
                      raytamsgv Jan 9, 2009 09:00 AM

                      Perhaps "super white friends" are different from "mediocre white friends"?

                      1. re: raytamsgv
                        esquimeaux Jan 15, 2009 09:23 PM

                        haha none of my friends are mediocre! i mean those silly kids who haven't been fortunate enough to grow up in LA around tons of different kinds of food and are loath to try new things. gyenari is a good.... bridge.

                2. c
                  creepazoid Jan 7, 2009 07:31 PM

                  On the border of Burbank/Glendale, corner of Alameda and Victory, is Sushi Nishi-ya. Not really inexpensive, but it's because the fish is fresher that you will find most anywhere else and they have more exotic varieties of fish than you will find most anywhere else. The chef/owner is a master craftsman and the restaurant only serves sushi, nothing else. That's right, no edamame, no miso, no teriyaki. Don't even ask for a bowl of rice!! Nothing but traditional old school truly Japanese, historically and culturally accurate sushi. I've never been to a place where the serving of top quality sushi is treated with such Zen-like focus and reverence. That all being said, the location is laughable - in a little storefront in a strip mall. And there is no decor, which is actually a refreshing aesthetic, but all is forgiven when that first piece of raw fish melts in your mouth. If you've never had fish so fresh and tender that it melts in your mouth, then try this place. I wish I could afford to eat here more often.
                  1712 Victory Blvd
                  Glendale, CA 91201
                  (818) 244-2933

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: creepazoid
                    Porthos Jan 7, 2009 07:54 PM

                    Could you please elaborate on what types of fish he usually carries and which ones are imported? On average, how many varieties does he carry? Does he dress up or treat each piece of nigiri in any way? As for the rice, which school of rice does it most resemble? Sasabune, Zo, or Mori?

                    1. re: creepazoid
                      Das Ubergeek Jan 7, 2009 09:18 PM


                      Since when is there anything worth eating in Burbank besides Porto's??

                      And it's right by my frigging office too. I may have to investigate tomorrow. Are they open for lunch?

                      1. re: creepazoid
                        ns1 Jan 8, 2009 12:41 PM

                        cost PP?

                        1. re: ns1
                          Das Ubergeek Jan 8, 2009 02:14 PM

                          I went for lunch today -- don't have time to recap it now except to say it was very good and was $40 pp for the omakase we had (seven rounds or so).

                        2. re: creepazoid
                          Clyde Jan 12, 2009 11:59 AM

                          creepazoid, i want to thank you for reminding me about this place. i went here once a while ago and it was great. i went here again this weekend after reading this post and it was one of my most memorable sushi meals. i cannot stop thinking about it! i am surprised this place isn't more crowded. i can't wait to return!

                        3. westsidegal Jan 6, 2009 12:10 PM

                          for sushi, i have never tried the ethereal experience at urawasawa, but it sounds like the >$350/pp tab there would be over your limit any way.

                          here are the more earth-bound sushi bars that i like

                          1. for approx $80 to $150/pp

                          my favorite by far is sushi zo
                          9824 National Blvd Unit C Los Angeles, CA 90034 ..

                          at this price point (actually a little more expensive than zo) i also enjoy mori sushi
                          11500 W Pico Blvd in Los Angeles, CA

                          others on this board would probably add kiriko on sawtelle to this category.

                          2. Less expensive --approx $60/pp

                          9240 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

                          11043 Santa Monica Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90025-3523.

                          3. imho Best of the 'Bargain' sushi places under $50/pp
                          Hide sushi
                          2040 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: westsidegal
                            cls Jan 6, 2009 12:24 PM

                            I would concur, these are good choices given their relative merits. Unless the OP has something specific in mind for sushi.

                            1. re: westsidegal
                              Das Ubergeek Jan 7, 2009 08:51 AM

                              Just a note -- Hide Sushi is cash only. There's an ATM there (or there used to be) but they don't take plastic and they don't take cheques.

                              1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                anothernotch Jan 7, 2009 04:07 PM

                                I am a big fan of the sushi recs listed above, in particular, of Hide sushi because of the bang for your buck. However, If Hide is on your itenary I would suggest making the stop on a Wednesday or Friday as those are the days that they generally have aji, in my opinion, one of their better options.

                              2. re: westsidegal
                                Porthos Jan 7, 2009 04:30 PM

                                I personally would not recommend anything at the $80-150 pp price point for a NY visitor. While I love Mori and Zo, Sushi Yasuda is higher quality, greater variety, and better rice than either Mori or Zo for the same price (usually $100-120 for 20 pieces).

                                The $50 pp recs might better show off LA's sushi merits.

                                I do highly second Izayoi for sushi and izakaya though.

                                Das's K-town recs are awesome although I too am not a big fan of YongSuSan.

                                And agree, SGV will open your eyes regarding regional Chinese food if you're from NY.

                              3. Das Ubergeek Jan 5, 2009 09:22 PM

                                Korean food: LA's Koreatown is huge. The only problem is that the really excellent barbecue places get a bit pricey (you would have a hard time getting out of Park's BBQ, which is the very best, or Soot Bull Jeep, which nips right at its heels in the running, for under $30-$40 a person not counting alcohol).

                                That said:

                                I'm totally in love with the naengmyon at Shik Do Rak (of all places). It's not even a North Korean restaurant but I'm totally, utterly enamoured of their mul naengmyon (that's noodles and various toppings in absolutely ice-cold broth). Maybe not the right season for it, but still... Their barbecue is also not bad and they bill themselves as "the home of dduk bo ssam" (dduk bo ssam = rice crepes for wrapping barbecued meat).

                                The two doyens of soon dubu jjigae (spicy tofu stew) face each other across Olympic Boulevard at New Hampshire. I give the nod to Beverly Tofu House for slightly better soon dubu jjigae, but Sokongdong has much better panchan, so I usually end up at Sokongdong.

                                Have a set menu meal at YongSuSan. How many North Korean restaurants do you find even in the Outer Boroughs? Again, maybe a little more expensive.

                                If you like pork you've got to have pork neck soup and pork barbecue at Ham Ji Park.

                                Of course, you need to go have bingsu (shaved ice with various sweet toppings) from a dog bowl (really) at Ice Kiss.

                                There's a smaller, but still quite sizable, Korean community here in northern Orange County, between Little Saigon and the LA county border in Garden Grove, Stanton and Buena Park. Let me know if you're interested and I can guide you to places there.

                                Park's BBQ
                                955 S. Vermont Ave, Suite G, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                                Soot Bull Jeep
                                3136 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005

                                Beverly Soon Tofu Restaurant
                                2717 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                                Shik Do RAK
                                2501 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                                So Kong Dong
                                2716 W Olympic Blvd Ste 104, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                                Ham Ji Park
                                4135 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                                Ice Kiss
                                3407 W 6th St Ste 101A, Los Angeles, CA 90020

                                Yong Su San Restaurant
                                950 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                                18 Replies
                                1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                  ipsedixit Jan 5, 2009 09:24 PM

                                  I would skip YongSuSan. It's just not very good.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                    Das Ubergeek Jan 5, 2009 09:52 PM

                                    Has it gone downhill? I loved it the last time I went but that was 18 months ago.

                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                      ipsedixit Jan 6, 2009 06:56 AM

                                      No, it was never really good to begin with.

                                      More show than substance.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                        tofuburrito Jan 6, 2009 07:16 AM

                                        Is it worth planning a trip to Little Saigon for the Tet Festival? I'm wondering if it gives you a chance to try a lot of the places mentioned above in one trip.

                                        1. re: tofuburrito
                                          ns1 Jan 6, 2009 07:24 AM

                                          Go there (tet festival) for the experience, not for the food.

                                        2. re: ipsedixit
                                          Ciao Bob Jan 6, 2009 07:48 AM

                                          I agree 100% -- I never liked any menu I ever had there. The idea and surroundings were interesting but the food was pre-fab.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                            soniabegonia Jan 6, 2009 09:05 AM

                                            I disagree that it was never good. I've been about 6-7 times over the years and I would say it's been pretty consistent, though the last time I was there, I was a bit underwhelmed. But that had more to do with the fact that it's the same stuff every time and I'm just bored of it. The first time I went, I really loved it. It's Northern Korean, not BBQ, milder flavors, more formal than your average Korean. They do bossam kimchi rather well, and I still like their acorn jelly. I'm also fond of their pumpkin porridge and duk guk, which is on the a la carte menu. I think a first timer would rather enjoy it, unless they were set on BBQ.

                                            1. re: soniabegonia
                                              ipsedixit Jan 6, 2009 09:59 AM

                                              No, of course it's not BBQ; never said it was. YongSuSan purports to be Kaesong (Roya) fare, which is fine, but the food is just not very good -- maybe it's been dumbed down for Western clienteles.

                                              In some ways, this place borders on the Korean version of The Gardens of Taxco.

                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                Das Ubergeek Jan 6, 2009 11:06 AM

                                                I really think you're overstating the case... but we'll put you down for a "dislike".

                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                  songsta Jan 6, 2009 01:37 PM

                                                  i'm a big fan of yong susan. definitely not your run of the mill korean restaurant. the fixed menus are excellent.

                                            2. re: ipsedixit
                                              choctastic Jan 24, 2009 06:52 AM

                                              The comments about it being boring I understand. I think they should change up the menu with the season.

                                        3. re: Das Ubergeek
                                          Ciao Bob Jan 6, 2009 07:50 AM

                                          Ham Ji Park = excellent, for exactly the two dished Mr. Ubergeek cites.

                                          1. re: Ciao Bob
                                            noshie Jan 6, 2009 08:16 AM

                                            I love Favori's (Vietnamese) fried catfish, its a whole catfish with golden crispy skin, moist flesh below and sprinkled with green onions, cilantro. Its served with rice paper wrappers, green bananas, Vietnamese greens and you put some fish, green banana, greens in a wrapper, fold it up and dip it in the Nac Mon (sp) dipping sauce they give you. This is wonderful.

                                            They also serve yummy Vietnamese shakes, the avocado shake is wonderful (although not as good as Vans, I don't have the address for Vans)

                                            Favori is a nice sit down, fancier side restaurant (although great for families and kids too) that also serves classic French food. You can also get bun, etc. there, but they are known for the whole catfish, I don't think I've ever seen a table without one (people often get the hot pot soup things too).

                                            Favori, 3502 West 1st Street, Santa Ana (714) 531-6838

                                            1. re: noshie
                                              Das Ubergeek Jan 6, 2009 08:21 AM

                                              If you use the "Link to a place" link below the reply box you can look it up!

                                              Grill Restaurant at the TPC Fairmont
                                              17020 N Hayden Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85255

                                              Van's Bakery
                                              8926 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA

                                              Van Bakery
                                              9211 Bolsa Ave # 125, Westminster, CA

                                              Van's Bakery
                                              13221 Harbor Blvd Garden, Grove, CA

                                              Van's Bakery
                                              860 E Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA

                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                noshie Jan 7, 2009 07:01 AM

                                                Thanks! Ok, here it is.

                                                1. re: noshie
                                                  noshie Jan 7, 2009 07:07 AM

                                                  Whoops, here it is.

                                                  Favori Restaurant
                                                  3502 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

                                          2. re: Das Ubergeek
                                            spicychow Jan 7, 2009 02:37 PM

                                            I'm not a big fan of yongsusan either. I think it used to be a lot better, or maybe I simply got bored, but the last couple of times I was really unimpressed. Having said that, try it once, since their style is unique.

                                            For Korean restaurants, if you choose a place with different combos, it can be really satisfying and affordable. Shikdorak has that, and also Soowon Galbi. Shikdorak is the place that started the rice paper wrap, and it's pretty good. Their valley one (Near encino?) is much better than the LA one, but overall it's cheap and good.

                                            SooWon Galbi has combos too, and you get the bean paste soup, steamed egg, and alcohol with your combos. A Group of 5 can get full with their combo A, which is 100dollars. AND you can try different cuts of meat.

                                            Ham Ji Park is really good for their pork bbq... yummy.

                                            I think people have already recommended sushi zo in westside. I'd also recommend Sushi Gen if you're in downtown (japantown). Really good lunch specials, although the wait can be a while.

                                            Have fun on your trip!

                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                              ceviche Jan 11, 2009 10:40 PM

                                              co-sign on the pork neck soup and the bbq pork at Ham Ji Park.
                                              the pork neck soup in particular is probably one of the most delicious, most comforting dishes i've ever eaten. very earthy and full of pork flavor, it reminded me of how REALLY good home-cooked mexican food makes me feel.

                                            2. t
                                              the_doanster Jan 5, 2009 06:02 PM

                                              Pho Pasteur in Rosemead is your best bet for good authentic inexpensive Vietnamese food.

                                              8821 Valley Blvd
                                              Rosemead, CA 91770
                                              (626) 292-5888

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: the_doanster
                                                ns1 Jan 5, 2009 06:48 PM

                                                don't eat their pho.

                                                repeat. do not eat their pho.

                                                go down a few exits and go to pho minh.



                                                1. re: ns1
                                                  Das Ubergeek Jan 5, 2009 09:10 PM

                                                  Or save the SGV (626 area code, basically) for what it's best at (Chinese food that puts the #7 train to shame) and come down here to Little Saigon in Westminster, home of the largest Vietnamese community in the US. Specifically:

                                                  1. Quan Hy for banh beo and other little bites.
                                                  2. Com Tam Tran Quy Cap for "broken rice" with excellent, excellent toppings
                                                  3. Pagolac for bo bay mon (seven courses of beef, usually $12-$14 per person)
                                                  4. Vien Dong for cha ca thanh long (turmeric and dill grilled catfish), bun cha Hanoi (deconstructed vermicelli bowls with addictive pork in papaya sauce) and the very best nem ran (fried spring rolls) you'll ever have, all $10 or under except large portions of fish which are $15.
                                                  5. Banh Mi Che Cali (also available in the SGV) for ultra-cheap sandwiches ($2.25 each, buy two get one free) and che (coconut-based soupy desserts, $1.50 each, buy two get one free) but there is no place to eat so you'll have to take it out.
                                                  6. Xanh Bistro for "upscale" Vietnamese (much nicer ambiance than normal but prices are still under $15 for an entree).

                                                  There's so much down here...

                                                  Banh Mi Che Cali Bakery
                                                  13838 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove, CA 92843

                                                  Vien Dong
                                                  14271 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove, CA 92843

                                                  Quan Hy Restaurant
                                                  9727 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683

                                                  Xanh Bistro
                                                  16161 Brookhurst St, Fountain Valley, CA 92708

                                                  Com Tam Tran Quy Cap
                                                  16175 Harbor Blvd, Fountain Valley, CA 92708

                                                  Pagolac Restaurant
                                                  14580 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA 92683

                                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                    bsquared2 Jan 5, 2009 09:17 PM

                                                    The trip to Little Saigon is worth the extra gas. Those are all great choices. I would throw in Quan Hop, which is the sister restaurant to Quan Hy if you want Pho.

                                                    If you go to Quan Hy, you have to stop at Vua Kho Bo (The King of Beef Jerky) which is located a couple of doors down. There is also a great place for Che (VN dessert) in the same plaza.

                                                  2. re: ns1
                                                    bsquared2 Jan 5, 2009 09:18 PM

                                                    Pho Minh is the real thing. It also gives you an excuse to go to South El Monte.

                                                    1. re: bsquared2
                                                      Das Ubergeek Jan 5, 2009 09:52 PM

                                                      I haven't been, but people I trust say it's really excellent. I do remember seeing posts about bizarre hours-keeping, though. Honestly, though there is great Viet in the SGV, I can't imagine ever going there for Viet when there are so many insanely good Chinese places all over the place. I'd be so distracted.

                                                      I do feel like Little Saigon is worth the drive, but I'm sure that's because I live nearby. :)

                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                        ipsedixit Jan 6, 2009 06:56 AM

                                                        I actually think the Vietnamese food in SGV (esp. in Rosemead, Temple City, El Monte and San Gabriel) is as good, if not better, than what you can find in Little Saigon.

                                                    2. re: ns1
                                                      raytamsgv Jan 6, 2009 10:24 AM

                                                      I think the pho at Pho Pasteur isn't very good.

                                                  3. c
                                                    cls Jan 5, 2009 04:57 PM

                                                    Which area, and what's your budget. Sushi can be $50 per person or $500+

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: cls
                                                      bennyt Jan 5, 2009 05:00 PM

                                                      I guess I should have specified- good relatively inexpensive sushi. I'm open to any recommendations in any part of the city/surrounding area - I know this is overly broad, but having a good smattering of options would be ideal. Everybody has their favorite, and I want to hear what, why, and where.

                                                      1. re: bennyt
                                                        cls Jan 5, 2009 05:12 PM

                                                        You will get endless replies once the sushi hounds start chiming in.
                                                        I would say: consider Japanese food and sushi with Izayoi or Kappo Ishito downtown being my favorites. Also, if you find a sushi restaurant but it's over budget you may want to try lunch where frequently prices are less and there are specials. Lastly, for sushi, order one order at a time (two pieces, one piece each.) You will get to sample a lot and enjoy a more leisurely experience. There are so many sushi restaurants all over LA, it is best to specify an area where you are staying and there are undoubtably many quality places in the vicinity.
                                                        I'll let others post specific sushi restaurant recommendations (read fight it out.)
                                                        There are others who are much better for Korean and Vietnamese than me.

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