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CALLING ALL CHOWS! CHOW EMERGENCY!

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Went to the ubiquitous Panchos tonight and as usual the line was out the door for the stalwart Mexican. In lieu of waiting 30 minutes for a table, I grabbed Mr. G and wandered around the corner to Sazon Latin Fusion. It's a small place on the corner of Centinela and Washington. There's an August thread with very good praise for this small, non descript hole in the wall. But Claudia, the owner/chef, makes it all worthwhile. Home cooking that covers all the latin countries from Puerto Rico to Peru and of course our cousin to the South. We had some of the homemade Agua Frescas, Tamarindo and Jamacia, both were deliciously refreshing on this hot day. My acid test is the sugar factor and her drinks were NOT sickeningly sweet. Perfect. She also uses vegetable oil and little or no salt, but lots of veggies and herbs for flavor.

Next up was a spinach/cheese empanada and a meat empanada. The spinach was still bright green inside, not some mush and really delicious. The meat was tasty if you like ground beef taste. There's a salsa bar with the great mexican style carrots.

I had the Pollo Saltado which is usually with fried potatoes but Claudia makes hers with roasted. Mr. G had the Pollo stuffed with spinach served with rice, beans and lovely roasted carrots, squash and broccoli.

Finally, an amazing dense flan, again not too sweet, but really yummy. Mr. G had no idea that flan didn't only come in a plastic cup off the taco truck,

For approximately $15 each we enjoyed a healthy, wonderful home cooked meal.

The problem is we were one of three tables tonight at 7pm. This lovely little restaurant just struggled through their first year and if it continues like tonight, they may not make their second.
Don't wait to eat at Pacos or Mariscos Chente, try Sazon for lunch, dinner or weekend breakfast.
It's important to help support these small establishments in our neighborhoods. Claudia is a worthy cause...she really cooks with her heart and the foods shows it!

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  1. what is there for a vegetarian to eat?
    my normal friday night crew contains an ovo-lacto vegetarian.
    we won't go to a place that only serves a token quesadilla or a bowl of rice for her--we need a place that serves some actual vegetarian entrees, preferable ones that are not loaded with fat.. . .
    also, if beans are served, they can't have lard in them.

    would Sazon Latin Fusion work for my group?

    7 Replies
    1. re: westsidegal

      Sazon should work for your group.

      http://www.sazonlatinfusion.com/

      1. re: ipsedixit

        the website seems to show just one dish that might be vegetarian--a salad.
        there is reference made to a vegetarian/vegan plate.
        do you have any idea what is on that plate?
        i'm sure it would have white rice? is there anything else?
        do you know if they use lard in the beans?

        honestly, judging from the website, it doesn't look like a good restaurant for us.
        our usual rotation includes: ayara, metro cafe, 26 beach, tlapazola, and antica pizzaria. all of these restaurants offer some really good vegetarian choices.

        what a pity. we're always on the lookout for a new place to add to the rotation.

        1. re: westsidegal

          I will say that Claudia does rotate the menu and we have had wonderful Calabacitas from there. We saw her at the Mar Vista Farmers Market Picking up Ingredients for A Corn Soup special on the menu that night. If you are really worried, give her a call and she will most likely put together a menu to fit your needs.

          1. re: westsidegal

            The two times I've been there I've never bothered to ask, but the menu does say that they use veggie oil in their beans.

            Who knows, but I would ask and would be surprised if the place would not accomodate any type of reasonable request as Matt points out above.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Last night's specials included a lentil soup and a veggie plate. The roasted veggies were nicely cooked, not to mush and yes, white rice and beans which I doubt have lard, but you can call Claudia.

            2. re: westsidegal

              At the bottom of the Menu it says:

              * * If you do not see it on the menu it does not mean we do not make it...ask! * *

              1. re: westsidegal

                2nd that Claudia is very accomodating within reason if you talk to her.

          2. I will definitely give this place a try. It sounds right up my alley. Thanks!

            1. If only I lived closer! She has mofongo on the menu. If anyone goes this place please order either of the mofongos and let me know how it is.

              For those who do not know mofongo is a Puerto Rican dish usally a street/beach shack food consisting of fried green plantains, chicharon (the kind with some pork meat still attached), olive oil, garlic and somtimes oregano. They are all smashed togeter and then either stuffed with a stew or rolled into balls and deep fries like a fritter.

              If I was closer I definately try this place.

              3 Replies
              1. re: SeaCook

                I'll definitely give it a try. I'm going back to PR soon and am looking forward to eating some decent mofongo. We'll see how it compares. :)

                1. re: annapurna7

                  Please do! The only other place I have it is Senor Big Ed's in Cypress and it's only so so. Thanks

                2. re: SeaCook

                  Sazon is in our regular rotation and I've had the mofongo a few times. But that's the only place I've ever had it so can't compare it to anything. I like it but it's more of a cold weather dish for me. Very stick to the ribs.

                  My original Sazon write up
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/542079

                3. Thank you for this post. I was just wondering about trying someplace new and she is located very close to me. Will definitely try it!

                  1. is this place anywhere near Wilshire and Sepulveda? I have a Dr apt. there and then will be heading home to Palos Verdes. So looking for something on the way home. We will not be hitting the 405 gridlock probably take Sepulveda home, but a detour is always doable as long as it isn't too far.
                    Thanks Jen

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: JEN10

                      this will be VERY near your route home.
                      several miles south of wilshire a short distance west of sepulveda

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        Thanks Westsidegal. I have lived in the beach cities all my life, I am clueless when it comes to town. We are going to hit this place up, I can't wait it sounds awesome.
                        JEN10

                        1. re: JEN10

                          Just make a right onto Washington BLVD (not Washington PL) from Sepulveda and go straight until you hit Centinela Blvd. It will be on your left hand side.

                          To go home, just take Centinela going south back to Sepulveda.

                          1. re: annapurna7

                            Thank you, Annapurna! I will report back!!!

                    2. In the OP I meant Paco's not Pancho's.

                      1. Just got home from Dr. apt. and Sazon,I liked Sazon much better than the DR. Hubby and I both had the spinach empanada, delicious, light, and a nice way to start the meal. Claudia was great, very friendly. We ordered 2 frescas, hibiscus and tamarindo, very refreshing, not to sweet. Shje brought out a lemonade for us to try, PERFECTO. We both ordered off of the special board. Today she had the Cammarones ala Picante, the sauce was a tamatillo, jalapeno mixture, out of this world good. I had ther Pollo Vinagre, a mixture of eggplant, onions, squash, and sweet potato cooked in Balsamic vinegar. Delicious, moist tender chicken with a nice mixture of vegtables. Be sure to stop by if you are any where near, it is fantastic!!!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: JEN10

                          We went a couple months ago. It was more like eating in someone's home. The owner is very sweet and personable, but I'm not sure that's what everyone wants in a restaurant. There are so many things going on that can and probably will sink this place, that one being really minor.

                          Just in terms of concept - ok, it's "fusion", but fusion with what, and to what end? It reminded me a lot of Babita in San Gabriel, which I know people LOVE but which strikes me as trying way too hard to be fancy and off-beat, and not really pulling it off. I had a visually impressive fish dish that was also pretty bland. The fish, a really small piece on some sort of puree, didn't flake off in buttery morsels, but was just kinda supermarket snapper-ish. Other dish - I think a slow-roasted chicken? - was totally unmemorable, though I remember wondering how they could serve bland salsa in what's basically the vortex of West Mexican eateries on the Westside.

                          Parking's really tough - a couple meters out front, on a really loud, un-walkable street (essentially no foot traffic) - and unless you're coming from Venice, it means several U-turns and/or a long walk next to speeding traffic.

                          No liquor license, at least when I was there.

                          I agree - this place should be saved. She's trying something different; unf., when we were there, I think there was 1 other table eating. I imagine if it were on Abbot-Kinney, or maybe had a decent wine list, she'd do ok, but it actually reminds me of "Wilson" on the other side of Culver City - wrong place for the neighborhood. Both are in really poor areas of town (yeah, crazy home prices now, but overall lots of poor families crowded into rentals not spending $50 on dinner!).

                          Am I being cynical? Yeah, probably.

                          1. re: cant talk...eating

                            Not a single entree over $10 with most under $8-9, not sure how you would equate that to fancy and expensive like the old incarnation of Wilson. This place strikes me as the furthest from fancy and off beat. More like straightforward home cooking but she's trying to make a nice presentation at reasonable prices.

                            As I understand it, fusion as in a fusion of latin flavors. She takes traditional latin dishes and gives it a twist with possibly non traditional seasonings. A home cook trying to make a nicer dish.

                            Plenty of parking in the back with access from Centinela, the only direction that would be tough turning into the lot would be going north on Centinela. Going south on Centinela, east or West on Washington, it's an easy turn.

                            You don't care for the fish which is fine. But every time I've been there seems like the Pescado tropical elicits good reactions.

                            Finally I can think of worse things than a restaurant where the owner is so welcoming you feel like you're in someone's home. I'll take that over snooty service anyday.

                        2. I tried Sazon last night.
                          Like Mr. G, we had the chicken stuffed with spinach. Did he enjoy it? Because we found it to be very bland. I also got the chicken mole which was ok, nothing special. Though it was stuffed with plantains, they didn't add much flavor to the dish at all. The third member of our party had the pork. The meat was not very tender. We also ordered a salad to split, which was a giant plate of chopped cabbage, a few black beans and some very unflavorful avocados.
                          We Really wanted to like this place, but all in all the food fell short. That said, the food did seem very healthy and the prices were outstanding and it did seem that Claudia was making an effort to do something interesting, which sadly is more than a lot of places. I'm willing to give it another shot, but I hope my next experience is a bit more flavorful.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: hyacinthgirl

                            just ask her to heat it up, she is more tham willing in my experience.

                            1. re: JEN10

                              Thanks to Jase for first bringing up this restaurant and thanks to Fresser for finally inspiring me to get my behind in gear to go try this place. I really liked this place. The food is very healthy and is very tasty. I'll admit I tend to eat in some pretty unhealthy places but my hammered taste buds still have an appreciation for food that's prepared in a healthy and delicious manner. I got the Pollo Saltado and my mom got the Pollo Rostizado. We both really liked what we got. Claudia was very friendly and explained much of what she does and her philosophy in cooking. I don't want to make it sound like it was a dry and boring dissertation. She's really into it and and it's very interesting to hear her tell it. Got some agua frescas too; jamaica and piƱa. Fresh and homemade. The pineapple is not yellow either. Interesting and good. I'm a big eater so I finished off what my mom left of her chicken (she's a small eater). That was good and I tried Claudia's flan. Best I've ever had, but I'll admit I normally find flan too sweet, but not this time. The place is a very inexpensive gem to me. I'm eating on Centinela a lot lately. Hours are 11am-8pm Sun to Thurs and 11am-9pm Fri/Sat.

                              -----
                              Sazon
                              12406 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90066

                          2. Good for you supporting a local gem! Here's hoping you succeed in your quest to keep them in business.