NYC Chowhound Returns from LA (Langers, Sushi Zo, Izakaya Bincho and more)
just wanted to recap another excellent food trip to the LA area. i was mainly in the south bay or west side but did manage to eat some excellent food and had some notes i wanted to share.
-had lunch on friday at langers...finally. no wait for a table at 12:30 and it never seemed like there was a wait throughout my visit. service was friendly. ordered the pastrami platter with chopped liver, the #19 sandwich, strangely enough a plate of spaghetti and meatballs (long story) and some chocolate egg creams and cream sodas. im a born and raised new yorker and while my love for katz's deli has been waning lately, i will say it slightly beats the pastrami at langers...meat for meat that is. langers' pastrami was insanely delicious though...nearly tasted like pate or foie gras at times. that being said, i think langers overall has katz's beat. the rye bread at langers is absolutely perfect and i ate every bit of it with my chopped liver. id probably skip the #19 and opt for the straight platter next time but it was a very enjoyable meal.
-early omakase dinner at sushi zo was friday night. truth be told, i never should have eaten at langers that day if i was going to have a 6pm omakase with keizo-san but i had plans all night. the place was nearly empty at 6pm with just another couple at the bar and a few tables taken. ive been so bummed about the lack of quality sushi in nyc on the high end (particularly from a bad experience at yasuda recently), that i expected absolute greatness from this meal. and frankly, i was disappointed. the omakase felt very rushed...even at 6pm. i also was not entirely impressed with the fish selection. a preview on kevineats.com seemed to show that we had the exact same meal minus some key rare fish that were no where to be found. some highlights included the squid noodles with uni, the toro, the amberjack, the red snapper, and the sweet shrimp but nothing was remarkably amazing.
we had around 12-14 pieces each and probably was out of there in 45 minutes. bill was a nice $110/person not including tip. the good news is that it made me appreciate the fish in nyc at ushi wakamaru and yasuda on a good day...i think ill stick to the places i know best...or save $ for urasawa. i will say their kirin draft was insanely good.
-breakfast at original pancake house in redondo beach was a gluttonously good time. bacon-inflected waffles, dutch baby pancake, corned beef hash...all delicious and all solid for breakfast fare...particularly the dutch baby.
-dinner on sat at izakaya bincho also in redondo. definitely a hole in the wall. it was easy to find given our information but certainly something one must know about or would skip over. very nice husband and wife cooking and serving inside. we ordered around 10 items for two people along with some sake and sapparo. standouts were the spicy pork and kimchi which was delicious...so was the meat stuffed lotus root, the fried chicken with green onions, and the pork belly. nothing was particularly amazing or worthy of a special trip but if you are in the area, certainly worth a stop.
-dim sum for breakfast at sea empress in torrance was fantastic for the second time. standouts were the lotus cakes and the myriad of dumplings.
Good report, Sam -- thanks. It's nice to see a NYC guy who (apparently) doesn't have that big NYC axe to grind. Perhaps unfortunate that you didn't have any Mexican food while in LA; it's a pretty good place for it. Next time you're here try, say, Monte Alban for some fine Oaxacan. Or spend an evening with the taco trucks.
Langerr's is awesome. It's a split for me ... killer pastrami but the bread is incredible too.
Thanks for your review.
Nice...I'm glad you got a chance to come to lala land around the same time I went to NYC. Although I failed to ask for a fattier piece at Katz, the texture of Langer's pastrami is hard to beat for me. The bread and the cole slaw definitely puts the Langer's pastrami over the top. As for the yasuda-zo debate, my experience at yasuda was marred by ultra vinegary rice. Zo doesn't come close to the variety of yasuda, but I feel the fish that are chosen have a consistent melt-in-your-mouth quality I didn't find at yasuda. Save up for urasawa, it is an amazing experience. I'm currently saving.
maybe im just jaded on my nyc food choices but i have absolutely no axe to grind...im the first to readily admit that LA beats nyc in terms of food...at least for me for now.
kinda bothered me that i didnt try the kogi korean tacos at alibi room or tacos baja ensanada but ill be back very soon...girlfriend lives there.
on my last trip, i went to animal and had nothing but accolades and praise for it. it shouldnt work but we ate every last bit off of our plates.
While I am one of the bigger fans of Kogi here on these boards, next time you are here I would advise hitting the regular taco trucks first, rather than the new hot trend. Simply because it really typifies something that is unique culturally and culinarily (?) to Southern California. Were you in San Francisco, I would say go to the Mission and hit up a burrito place. If you have already hit a number of highly regarded Mexican taco places, then by all means do a Kogi run. The phenomena and spectacle are worthy. (JMO)
I always think of the the burrito shops in the Mission and surrounding neighborhoods when thinking of the Bay Area. Those be my former stomping grounds, and LA has nothing like it in terms of the style of shop and concentration of shops/choices. Unless there is some burrito shop neighborhood I have missed while living down here. If there is, please enlighten me. I miss El Farolito and La Cumbre. *cries*
I'm sorry lotta, as far as I can tell, there are no Mission-style burritos in LA. Give Eduardo's on Westwood a shot -- reminds me a bit of Papalote but without the orange crac-, er, salsa. Be sure to ask them to wrap it in foil as burstage is a problem. Another place worth trying is Tacomiendo, though the tacos are so much better than the burritos that I rarely bother with the latter.
Great report! I'm another NYC foodie currently living in LA and I'm already thinking about how much I will miss the tacos and dim sum here. I know of no Mexican food in NYC that is anywhere close to even the average here in LA.
I disagree with you about Sushi Zo though. I think the fish there is spectacular. When I ate there i made no special requests or anything like that and was really impressed with everything from to the toro to the more unusual fish (baby whole squid) that I've never been offered in NYC.
I'd be content here eating Chinese, Mexican and Sushi all the time. I do think there are better Italian options in NYC and probably more options when it comes to 4 star tasting menu type places. I ate at Mozza here and enjoyed it well enough but the food reminded me of a casual meal at Lupa in NYC but it seemed to be putting on more of a 'show' if that makes any sense. If you guys have Italian recs, let me know. I'd love to try some new places!
Maybe some New Yorkers try to eat the same way here that they do at home and then are disappointed? I can't imagine the nasty surprise LA Hounds get when they drop into a place for a casual Mexican meal in Manhattan! It's not the right place to eat that way. I also don't expect to have amazing pizza or bagels on every corner here in LA.
Thanks again for the great report! I can't wait to eat at your other recs.