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East Cost CH needs greatest hits, only-in-LA Recs

I have just a week to visit, and will be staying with friends in Silver Lake, then West Hollywood. Will probably hit up Venice and Malibu, and have to spend some time near UCLA.

I would love to hear recs of yummy, only-in-LA places. I would do the research myself on CH, but unfortunately given the various neighborhoods we are visiting, I don't have much time to do so.

A few parameters:
- the significant other has already rejected Pinks as a destination
- we already know about Kogi and will definitely be hitting that up
- ethnic is a plus, not a problem! Love Mexican, South American, Central American, Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean (sig-o not a Japanese food fan)
- prefer hole-in-the-wall finds and good values to hot scenes and atmosphere (though would love to hear of place that combines both)
- not interested in "New American", organic, local -- we have that here in Boston, and while it's all good, I want authentic can-only-get-in-LA recs.
- would also love to hear about consistent, unsung heroes ... places that may not knock your socks off but are reliably tasty and trusted by a consensus on this board.

Thanks in advance, kind-hearted West Coast CHers!

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Kogi
Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA

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    1. re: mc michael

      Awh quit being a thread-killer right from the start! :)

      If the OP has no access to great Peruvian, I'd hit up that category. Mo Chica, Kotosh at Kamiyama and Puro Sabor.

      For Chinese in the general area, that would be like asking where's the good chowdah in New England. You will be blown away by the breadth and depth of Chinese cuisines and specialties here but if I had to create a real short list for someone visiting, it would be:

      Dim sum: Sea Harbour or Elite for menu-driven, 888 for carts.

      Xiao long bao: Mei Long Village or J&J/Jin Jian; Din Tai Fung if it's your first time trying these.

      Dumplings/noodles: JTYH or Luscious Dumplings

      Taiwanese Breakfast: Yung Ho or Yung Ho King Tou Chiang

      If you're Mandarin/Cantonese-challenged, you could still do each category but "Taiwanese Breakfast" might be tougher. The easiest would definitely be dim sum.

      Don't short-change yourself or your SO on Japanese. There are quite a few reputable places in most categories of this cuisine. For someone who is timid or blah on Japanese, I challenge them not to like Torihei, Izakaya Bincho or Musha. The permalink function shows Musha in Santa Monica, which it is, but the bigger (and probably better) location is in Torrance, right across the parking lot from Torihei.

      -----
      Din Tai Fung Restaurant
      1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

      Luscious Dumplings
      704 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

      Musha
      424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

      Kotosh at Kamiyama
      2408 Lomita Blvd, Lomita, CA 90717

      Mei Long Village
      301 W Valley Blvd Ste 112, San Gabriel, CA 91776

      Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
      3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

      Yung Ho Restaurant
      533 W Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

      Puro Sabor
      6366 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91401

      Izakaya Bincho
      112 N International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

      Torihei
      1757 W. Carson Street, Torrance, CA 90501

      1. re: bulavinaka

        I agree with bulavinaka's suggestion to not overlook Japanese...in my experience, most East Coasters equate Japanese with sushi (I know I did when I lived there), but L.A. is blessed with a dynamic Japanese dining scene that goes far beyond sushi. It seems like you won't make it down to bulavinaka's Torrance recs, but you may want to consider her suggestion of Musha's Santa Monica location (near Venice where you say you'll visit). You also may want to consider visiting some of the Japanese restaurants on Sawtelle Blvd, which is close to UCLA. There are lots of interesting restaurants in the area, but I think you'd really like Orris, which is Japanese-French fusion small plates. For hole-in-the wall Oaxacan Mexican near UCLA, check out Monte Alban. Mariscos Chente is a board favorite for Mexican seafood (although I still haven't been there myself). Animal is another board favorite that is not ethnic but is only-in-L.A.: meat-centric, high-end comfort food. Unfortunately, many of L.A.'s authentic ethnic hole-in-the wall places, as per your request, are not located near the areas you will be in.

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        Monte Alban
        11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

        Musha
        424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

        1. re: Nicole

          I was fortunate enough to attend a wedding catered by Animal the last time I was in town... and it was delicious!

          1. re: Nicole

            the fabulous chef at mariscos chente has left the building, permanently.

      2. How much driving around are you willing/able to do? This will have implications in your quest for Chinese and Taiwanese--all East side based. Where you are staying you should have access to good Mexican, Thai, Korean, and Peruvian (as mentioned) all kinds of burgers (if interested), lots of trucks. What say you? What's the budget?
        You will not find any scrod, Indian pudding, etc.

        4 Replies
        1. re: mc michael

          Thank you for the link. That was very helpful. As for driving, I am somewhat limited in that the husband is less willing to make a long drive specifically for a specific food item. So the recs nearer to where we are staying are more helpful. As for budget, I love cheap finds but will drop $50-70 (without drinks) on a meal if it's a tremendous, satisfying meal.

          1. re: astrid

            Given the pricing and driving parameters, give serious consideration to the first 25 or so of the under $25 list in this link. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6736...

            1. re: astrid

              If you've been here before, you know that having a smooth drive depends on the time, the area and a little luck. WeHo driving sucks. Everywhere else is a crap shoot. If you're planning on an easy egress/ingress for the San Gabriel Valley, I'd do it from Silverlake during the week mid-morning. It's also a good place to plan a trip to Koreatown from. Mario's is another Peruvian place you could hit up from either Silverlake or WeHo, as is Thai Town.

          2. How ethnic do you want to get?

            Live octopus Korean-style at The Prince?
            Pig's blood congee served Canto-style at Sam Woo?
            Taiwanese chicken knees at Indian?
            Liuzhou style snail noodle soup at NRN?
            Hong Kong sea turtle soup at China Bistro?
            Or maybe bull penis shish-kebabs at Feng Mao Mutton Kebab are more your type of deal?

            Let us know if those examples tickle your fancy and we'll be happy to provide more ...

            3 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit

              In response:

              Live octopus Korean-style at The Prince?
              I WILL TRY THIS BUT THERE IS NO WAY THE HUSBAND WOULD.

              Pig's blood congee served Canto-style at Sam Woo?
              I'VE EATEN THIS BEFORE, THANKS. I LIVE IN DORCHESTER, MA, WHERE THE VIETNAMESE POPULATION HAS THEIR OWN VERSION OF PIG'S BLOOD CONGEE (WHICH I LIKE!).

              Taiwanese chicken knees at Indian?
              ARE THESE LIKE CHICKEN FEET? I HAVE BEEN EATING THOSE SINCE I WAS A KID.

              Liuzhou style snail noodle soup at NRN?
              I HAVE EATEN THIS IN GUANGXI PROVINCE BEFORE, SO I WOULDN'T GO OUT OF MY WAY TO TRY IT AGAIN.

              Hong Kong sea turtle soup at China Bistro?
              HUSBAND WOULD NIX. I'VE EATEN TORTOISE SHELL -- IS IT SIMILAR?

              Or maybe bull penis shish-kebabs at Feng Mao Mutton Kebab are more your type of
              SO LONG AS ITS THE UIGHUR SPICE MIX (CUMIN/CHILI/SALT OVER BRUSHED OIL), I'LL TRY IT!

              -----
              Feng Mao Mutton Kebab
              3901 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019

              Sam Woo Cafe
              727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

              China Bistro
              8310 Valley Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770

              1. re: astrid

                Chicken feet and knees are different. Same idea, but different texture.

                Sea turtle soup is not like tortoise shell. The soup is very herbal, almost a bit medicinal like.

                Yes, the skewers are Ugher style.

                Enjoy your stay.

                1. re: astrid

                  That's as good a retort as has ever been written on this board.

                  I'll add for Silver Lake: Thirsty Crow on Sunset / Parkman, Viet on Glendale in Atwater, Pho on Sunset/ Parkman

              2. If you're staying in Silver Lake, you must try Cliff's Edge. I haven't been personally, since I live on the other side of town, and RARELY get over to that side, but it is supposed to be beautiful and all around lovely.

                With only a week's stay, I would skip the recs that take you down to Torrance, Lomita & Redondo beach, you will sit in traffic more than anything else. Most likely not worth it.

                Also Jitlada is the BEST Thai in town. Period. Strip mall locale in Hollywood, so it definitely fills your hole in the wall criterion.

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                Cliff's Edge
                3626 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026

                Jitlada
                5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                1. second the rec for Jitlada and Musha and Mario's Peruvian.

                  on your way to venice, hit up Monte Alban for Oaxacan. or stop for Mexican at Lares on Pico or Gilberts El Indio or Tacomiendo

                  you could do korean bbq at Park's BBQ or Soot Bull Jeep

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

                  Jitlada
                  5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                  Monte Alban
                  11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

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

                  Musha
                  424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                  Tacomiendo
                  11462 Gateway Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                  Mario's Peruvian
                  15720 Imperial Hwy, La Mirada, CA 90638

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Emme

                    Emme's recs are great; I love them ALL except Gilberts. I also second the rec for Alibi Room or Chego, Mo Chica, Sea Harbour. For a higher end fusion place, try Chinois in Santa Monica.

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                    Alibi Room
                    12236 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                    Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
                    3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

                    Chego
                    3300 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                    1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                      These are largely good suggestions, but some of them are out our your geographical range. But I would nix Chinois on Main. I recently went to Chinois for the first time and was decidedly underwhelmed...I think there are a lot of better places at that price point. Also, the decor brings down the food a notch...think 80's miami, and also imagine that it has not been renovated since the 80's. Dirty, chipping paint meets a $40 entree restaurant in the most unusual way.

                    2. re: Emme

                      Lare's, IMHO, is really terrible tasting to me lately, almost inedible. I don't kinow if I have learned more about truly good Mexican food or they never rebounded from the fire (both I guess) but it just ain't the same.