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Sep 5, 2005 06:36 PM

Fake Ethnic Tour of Los Angeles

  • s

The discussion of Chinese Chicken Salad got me to thinking... There are a lot of faux-exotic, Hollywoodized ethnic places in Los Angeles where they serve incredibly inauthentic foreign cuisine... "Hawaiian" ham and pineapple dishes, "Mexican" taco salads, "Chinese" chicken salad, "Italian" pizza buns on English Muffins, etc...

As a third generation Los Angeleno, I happen to believe that it is stuff like this that defines what Los Angeles is all about... recreating a fantasy version of some exotic place here in the arrid sagebrush of SoCal for plain folk with midwestern tastes. Disneyland and Forest Lawn are the ultimate examples of turning the blank slate of Los Angeles into an exotic concept that has been filtered through the sensibilties of "plain folks".

If someone wanted to take a tour "around the world (that doesn't exist)" in Los Angeles, what places would you recommend? The idea isn't that it's inauthentic/bad... but rather inauthentic/good for what it is. True Angelenos will know what I'm talking about.

I'll start the ball rolling...

Pinocchio's in Burbank on Magnolia has a deli with authentic cheeses and salamis, but the food cooked there strikes me as utterly American... tomato sauce, spaghetti and hamburger meat served from big stainless steel pans. The sandwiches are big and meaty with lots of "novelty meats". Salads are made by the vat. The walls are decorated with delightfully primitive paintings from Collodi and hundreds of thousands of moth eaten wine corks, and the booths are big, red and vinyl. You get the food at the counter and bus your own table. It reeks of white bread Italian. I love the place.

Your turn!


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  1. Great idea for a thread, Steve. As another native Angeleno, I hereby nominate the ever-controversial love-it-or-hate-it Tito's Tacos - specifically the tacos with cheese. What can be better inauthentic Mexican food - deep fried shells with nary a hint of corn flavor, 100% steer meat, a few shreds of iceberg lettuce, scads of orange cheese, all this topped with watery red not-even-slightly-spicy salsa. This delicious sin is compounded by the addition of the thinnest neon-green guacamole imaginable.

    1. Trader Vic's. I mean, really.

      And then, Heck, pick any theme eating place inside Disneyland.

      1. BAHOOKA - faux Hawai'in / Polynesian
        YANG CHOW - Slippery Shrimp cum "real" Chinese
        BENIANA - table side swordsmanship a la Japanese cuisine

        1. g

          As for the faux Asian tour, it must feature lots of California roll and dynamite and a meal at one of these "fusion" places where they mix your rice with mayonaise. (Yummy!)

          Let's face it, sushi isn't just a mobile Japanese fish and rice snack anymore, it's a surefire way for a savvy restaurateur to add 50-75 bucks to your check.

          But let's not get too uptight about this bastardization of ethnic dishes on our shores. Think of it as "intelligent creation."

          Gee, I'm craving a steaming bowl of "Ooh-dawn" right about now.

          "ISO Most Authentic Hard-Shell Tacos on the W-Side." Indeed!


          2 Replies
          1. re: Gohantabeyoka

            I find it interesting that most Japanese from Japan find mayonaise on rice more acceptable on rice than soy sauce on rice. Something about keeping the rice pure. I have been scolded more than once about sprinkling shoyu on my rice.

            1. re: eeka

              If this thread is going to continue to spin off into a general discussion of fake vs. authentic foods, and leave the specific subject of LA area restaurants that fit this criteria, then you will all need to start a new thread on the General Topics board. Any futher messages that don't address LA restaurants that specifically fit this bill will be removed.

              Thanks for everyones cooperation.

            1. re: Dorf

              I'm going there Friday! time for some fake, ehtnic, fun.

              I only hope they can do a tasting menu without nuts or oysters. No food is worth dying for.

              1. re: Dorf
                Silverlake Bodhisattva


                (See discussion of Pad Thai, above!)

                  1. re: Dorf

                    Spago is an interesting call. I find the fake Asian awful but the real Austrian is very good.