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Jun 2, 2004 04:33 PM

Favorite pickles of Los Angeles

  • t

This is heavily slanted towards Korean banchan right now. Please add yer favorites.

I've come to recognize that most K-town places have store-bought or shoddily-pickled banchan, and that very few places have serious pride in their banchan.

Favorite kimchee: Yongsusan.
Favorite kimchee at a regularly-priced place - the champagne-y, delightful stuff at Kobawoo. You can get a huge plate of it for $2 with the boiled pork belly dish.

It took me awhile to see and appreciate the fine kimchees -the ones that weren't just sweet/ferment/spice hit, but had that magical, bubbly-seeming, vinegary-champagney, delightful buzz.

Favorite pickled daikon: Jeon Ju. Unlike a lot of other pickled daikon, this really has an incrediblely intense, concentrated daikon flavor. This is radish, plus.

Favorite lightly pickled cucumber: Beverly Soontofu. (When I asked if they were for sale, the waitress gave me that grin that says, "No, that's how we get you here." It's a cross-cultural smile. I've seen it when a friend tried to negotiate the purchase of a gallon of aji at Mario's Peruvian.)

Favorite pickled soup: the radish-and-sprout-pickled cold soup at Sa Rit Gol, which has the same champagney ferment as the best kimchees, but more purely sparkling. This makes me weak. Still my overall favorite for banchan.

Favorite Armenian beet pickles: Sahag's, for savagery.

Favorite deli pickles: DAMN! What's that place on Sepulveda called? Johnnie's? I think it's Johnnie's. Er, their pastrami is little to me now, now that I know of Langer's, but this pickles still are a sweet, delectable marvel.

Otafuku, the Great Soba Joint, used to have truly stunning home-brined pickles, full of sweet, intensified life, but the LA county health dept forced a shut-down of all the home-brining Japanese-style pickling around the area. To my despair.

Favorite pickled carrots, Mexican style: El Gran Burrito. They just have great condiments all around. If you look carefully, there's sometimes a whole bulb of pickled garlic, which is almost more than my poor, weak heart can handle. Zippy!


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  1. Thi

    I like the pickled cabbage at Elenas Armenian/Greek in Glendale. Still tastes like fresh cabbage that is vinegary and still has a slight crunch to it.

    The Salvadoreno place Atlcatl on beverly has good curtido.

    Like the half sour pickles at Brents deli.

    Havent seen it around for a while but certain taco places must have onions sliced and mildly pickled in lime juice. Anyone out there seen these lately?

    8 Replies
    1. re: Ickster

      Ahhhh... curtido is the kind of veggie shreds that you put over the pupusas?

      Yes, Atlacatl has the best of that I've had. I forgot about that.

      Elena's fresh cabbage pickle is also great. Can't believe I forgot about that.


      1. re: Thi N.

        Oh! And, along the lines of Elena's cabbage, among Kobawoo's small bit perfect banchan spread is a bit of very finely sweet, fresh, crisp pickled cabbage. Perhaps a bit more delicate than Elena's. Very wonderful.


        1. re: Thi N.

          I didn't know that that mixture was called curtido either and don't have much to compare it to but I love Sarita's (Grand Central Market). Interesting that there is a similar Japanese shredded daikon/carrot (or maybe it's not carrot but gobo?) pickle that I like too and buy at Mitsuwa.

          1. re: Dbird

            I like the pupusas and curtido at Saritas. They come fresh of the griddle and are very fresh.

      2. re: Ickster
        Someone else

        How about the entire serve-it-yourself pickle bar at the Koretown Galleria supermarket? I've sampled only haft a dozen but damn they're great. One of my favorites is some flower root whose name I can't recall. Pickled roe is also yummy.

        1. re: Someone else

          Agreed! I love those 'Kim Chee' bars at Korean Supermarkets. My favorite has Baby Octopus... HEAVEN!!

          And thanks for the mention of the Pickle Guy in Pasadena... I have to make a trip soon!


          1. re: Someone else

            I think it is called bellflower root- even folks who don;t care for most Korean pickles scarf it up when I serve it

        2. Thi, when you've been doing your stuff at Langer's, have you left room for their half-sour dills (they call them "new" pickles)? IMO far superior to Johnnie's, but it's a different animal too. Great crunch, great flavor.

          1 Reply
          1. re: TomSwift

            And you can buy a jar of them to take home. That's key.

          2. On a somewhat more upscale note, the thinly sliced cukes (of a very narrow diameter), lightly pickled, that accompany sandwiches at Clementine. Nice bright taste, good crunch. Nice touch that the restaurant puts them in their own little bowl on the plate with the sandwich, so the juice doesn't encroach. Classy.

            1. The pickles at Canter's are far superior to most deli pickles. The spice combination gives them a much more complex taste of garlic and spices, whereas most pickes just come off tasting of vinegar.

              They sell them by the jar; I highly recommend picking one up.

              Also, this past Saturday I discovered a pickle vendor at the Pasadena farmers' market. Only got to sample one of the many varieties - the spicy dill - which was definitely worthwhile. I didn't catch the name of the vendor, and I've never seen them before at this or any other farmer's market. Definitely worth investigating.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Jack Flash

                I concur - the pickle guy at the Pasadena farmer's market is the greatest. He has several varieties, ranging from half-sour to full-sour, garlic and dill, also pickled tomatoes & sauerkraut. He's at the Pasadena market every other Saturday, so I assume he visits another market in between.

                My husband was born & raised in Brooklyn & swears he hasn't had kosher dills this good since he left the east coast.

              2. Pickled Tomato at Traktir

                Pickled Beets at Phillipes

                Bread and butter pickles at Clementine

                Pickled "myoga," Japanese shallot-like "herb" at Hirozen, served as nigiri sushi