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Questions from visitors from Toronto, Canada

Dr. John Sep 14, 2010 05:06 PM

We are a couple who will be arriving this Friday night. We will be staying in the West Hollywood area for three days and then I will be staying a few days more in Pasadena. We have a car and will be happy to drive for a meal. That said, it might be easier for us to stick with nothing further south than LAX or further east than the Long Beach Parkway (except when I am in Pasadena). We are happy to drop hundreds of dollars for a really worth-it meal but are equally happy with a hole-in-the-wall that offers a unique flavour experience.

We are primarily interested in eating at places that are either unique to the LA area or are representative of what LA does best. After reading through various threads on this board, I have some ideas and wanted your feedback about them as well as any other suggestions.

It appears that Asian cuisine of all stripes is something LA does really well. Given that in we also have good Asian options in Toronto, these cuisines aren't a high priority for us with a few exceptions. We don't have particularly good ramen, so it appears that we should at least try Santouka and possibly Daikokuya. Thai boat noodles is something else we'd seek out. Sapp Coffee sounds like an option. Jitlada sounds like an all-round Thai choice.

Regional Mexican cuisine also appears to be a strength. Mariscos Chente, Chichen Itza, and Guelaguetza seem like favoured options at least. For fish tacos, we could try Ricky's or perhaps Tacos Baja.

I know there are many trucks with various other Latin American treats, but it is a bit dizzying trying to sort them all out. I think we might at least try to track down a Kogi BBQ truck given that it sounds unique and delicious.

If we want something a bit more upscale, we might consider either Providence or Spago. Perhaps Animal also for a nose-to-tail type meal. How dressy does one need to be in these types of places (I'd rather not need a tie and jacket)?

If we want a California style pizza, Pizza Mozza seems to be a good choice.

For more plebian pleasures, Langer's appears to be a top priority. Roscoe's is tempting just because chicken and waffles sound funny together. We might consider Philippe's for the historical aspect. We aren't particularly concerned about having the greatest hamburger or hot dog, unless someone can convince me otherwise. We've had plenty of good BBQ elsewhere so no need to sample that in LA.

Seafood would be another obvious choice, but we have been trying to stick with sustainable seafood and it is unclear to me if some of the favourites provide enough info for us to make our choices. If you can suggest places, that would be very helpful.

Any feedback and further suggestions are most welcome.

-John

-----
Daikokuya
327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

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

Spago
176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Chichen Itza
2501 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90057

Santouka
3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

Mariscos Chente
4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

Kogi
Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA

Tacos Baja
853 E Route 66, Glendora, CA 91740

  1. r
    reality check Sep 14, 2010 05:14 PM

    When staying in Pasadena, you could take the Gold Line to Daikokuya, Langers, and the place that is wrongly credited with invented and serving the second best French Dip in LA.

    There is a Roscoe's on Lake Ave, in Pasadena, unless you want to go to the original.

    -----
    Daikokuya
    327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

    1 Reply
    1. re: reality check
      Dr. John Sep 14, 2010 05:56 PM

      Would you be referring to Cole's for the French Dip? It's another one I see mentioned.

      -John

    2. ipsedixit Sep 14, 2010 05:19 PM

      Doc,

      I think your list is really well-thought out. You've obviously done your research.

      Don't have much too add except you do not need tie and jacket at either Providence or Spago (or really any restaurant in LA). Nice business casual dress is fine (i.e. khakis and sports coat is fine for men) just about anywhere.

      One other minor detail. Pizzeria Mozza isn't really "California style pizza". It's pretty darn good pizza (maybe some of the best in the U.S.), but I would not categorize it as "California style". I'm not even sure what California-style would entail. Mozza's pizza, I would say, is simply artisan or gourmet pizza. Nothing more, nothing less.

      Enjoy your visit and let us know if you have other questions, issues, queries, etc.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ipsedixit
        r
        reality check Sep 14, 2010 05:36 PM

        I think California style is a good description for Pizza Mozza, adding bad or overrated would make it a perfect description.

      2. l
        Layne Murphy Sep 14, 2010 06:33 PM

        Yowza. Post graduate level research here. Fab choices. I happen to like Pizza Mozza and think it would be swell for a visitor. Pasadena is unwhelming foodwise but Tonny's is a nice little workaday Mexican place that would be good for lunch or breakfast. My choice for life changing Mexican food would be Moles La Tia. Ricky the fish taco guy is amazing but I've heard from others that he's been a bit hard to track down lately. Based on my own experience in Toronto, I would load up on Mexican if I were visiting here from there. Of course we suffer a tragic dearth of roti...I'm not crazy about Roscoes. There's better chicken and waffles to be had elsewhere and if you search your soul you'll probably realize you don't really need to have them together. Even though the food isn't going to thrill--although not rotten if you order carefully (sand dabs, chiffonade salad), Musso's is quintessential old Hollywood with fab martinis and a great vibe.

        Again, your research is really impeccable and you're in for some amazing eats. I'm not sure what the Long Beach Parkway is but it sounds quaint. Welcome to LA!

        -----
        Tonny's Restaurant
        843 E Orange Grove Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104

        Moles La Tia
        4619 E Cesar E Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90022

        1. J.L. Sep 15, 2010 01:42 AM

          You've obviously done your homework. My 2 cents (worth less and less against 2 Canadian cents these days):

          Jitlada is a strong choice. Spago is quintessential L.A. (and the food is decent, too).

          Skip Daikokuya. The broth used to be worth the wait, but that was a year ago, and it's since gone downhill. Stick to Santouka.

          Toronto's Cantonese food scene is simply fantastic, on par with what we have in L.A. For Chinese food, I'd try the non-Cantonese genres (Taiwanese, Northern/Western Chinese), such as SinBaLa or China Islamic (on your Pasadena portion of the trip).

          No jacket or tie are necessary at any of the eateries you mentioned.

          You should have Korean BBQ while here: Go to Park's BBQ

          Yes, you should have our famous Father's Office Burger while here: Go to the Helms FO location, preferably mid-afternoon (less crowded). Please don't ask for ketchup.

          The Golden State is another gastropub with excellent burgers, AND also features our unique Scoops ice cream flavors (make a float!)...

          Welcome to L.A.!

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

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

          Spago
          176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

          China Islamic Restaurant
          7727 Garvey Ave, Rosemead, CA 91770

          Santouka
          3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

          Father's Office
          3229 Helms Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90034

          1. Dr. John Sep 15, 2010 03:45 PM

            Moles La Tia looks good. Musso's sounds interesting, but we'll probably pick better food over atmosphere in a short trip. Sinbala and China Islamic both look good while I'm in Pasadena. The latter looks like it has hand-pulled noodles. And what the hell is "haslet" on the menu?

            -John

            -----
            Sinbala
            651 W Duarte Rd Ste F, Arcadia, CA 91007

            China Islamic Restaurant
            7727 Garvey Ave, Rosemead, CA 91770

            Moles La Tia
            4619 E Cesar E Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90022

            2 Replies
            1. re: Dr. John
              ipsedixit Sep 15, 2010 03:59 PM

              Haslet is essentially pressed and slices of "meat" made from [insert animal]'s heart, liver, lungs, and sweetbreads. Consider it the chinese version of a more refined scrapple if you will.

              1. re: ipsedixit
                Dr. John Sep 15, 2010 05:46 PM

                Thanks! Sounds intriguing.

                -John

            2. p
              paprkutr Sep 15, 2010 06:01 PM

              I'm not crazy about Roscoe's. Langers is a good choice. If you want Mexican, I would go to La Casita Mexicana in Bell. They have great food and make everything from scratch. Pizza Mozza, is okay, but the portions are small and expensive. As far as trucks go, try some, I am not one that liked Kogi, I'd rather go to some of the really good taco trucks.
              Have a good time. If you want a good chili burger go to Carney's on Sunset you will be right there.

              -----
              La Casita Mexicana
              4030 Gage Ave, Bell, CA 90201

              Kogi
              Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA

              1. Dr. John Sep 29, 2010 06:30 PM

                Thanks to Chowhound recommendations, we had a very tasty time in LA. Not every meal could occur at a place of our choosing due to a conference I had to attend, but we did manage to fit in a number of options:

                Our first day didn't start off great as Langer's was closed due to Yom Kippur. We then tried to find Ricky's Fish Tacos and he didn't seem to be open (perhaps it was too early?). So we proceeded to Sapp Coffee and had delicious Thai boat noodles along with the equally delicious duck noodles. We found the broths nicely flavoured. We also had an interesting longan drink. Keeping in the noodle theme, we then had dinner at Santouka. The noodles were nicely firm and the "special pork" melted in the mouth.

                We then had a dinner at Spago and were not disappointed. We opted for the five-course tasting menu. This began with five amuses, including 1) a sesame miso brittle temaki with spicy tuna, 2) hamachi ceviche with ponzu, plum and fresh oregano leaf, 3) house smoked salmon on sweet corn blini with dill cream and salmon roe, 4) heirloom tomato bruschetta with basil aioli, and 5) confit of bacon en cruste. The oregano was a particularly nice touch with the ceviche, essentially giving it a Greek overtone in combination with the lemon of the ponzu.

                We cleansed our palates with a tomato sorbet with tomato radish basil aioli and tomato water.
                We then had a lovely heirloom tomato salad, Humboldt Fog goat cheese, basil aioli, basil oil, aged balsamic, and a cheddar pastry strip. The next course was a delicate Maine skate wing and leek puree with acqua pazza - shrimp, scallop, lobster, clams. The next course was a decadent dish of shaved fresh summer truffles, sweet corn agnolotti, and mascarpone. We then had a Sonoma rack of lamb with natural jus and olives, zucchini with sausage and summer vegetable ragout (with hazelnuts). Our dessert course included a chocolate bonbon with cherry mousse centre, cherries sauteed in port, homemade cherry sorbet, (salted) chocolate sauce and pistachios.

                We shared a wine pairing (we can't drink much) and the highlight was a Bricco Quaglia Moscato D'Asti 2009, which smelled liked gardenias and tasted of sweet grapes and apricots. Our service was also excellent.

                Back on a more simple trail, we made it to Langer's for the pastrami. In all, the plain pastrami sandwich is our preference. You can really taste the meat properly. The #19 is more like a Big Mac, with a swirl of flavours (albeit good ones). We had excellent fish tacos at Tacos Baja and great ceviche and fish dishes at Mariscos Chente (great lime flavours, great green chile salsa). We also had wonderful gelato at Pazzo (fig, balsamic, and mascarpone) and equally delicious ice cream at Scoops (coconut taro and pistachio rosewater).

                Thanks to the many posts on this board that led us to all this wonderful food. Please up to Toronto some time and I hope our board can do you the same service!

                -John

                -----
                Spago
                176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                Santouka
                3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                Sapp Coffee Shop
                5183 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                Mariscos Chente
                4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                Tacos Baja
                2050 N Grand Ave Ste 109, Santa Ana, CA 92705

                Ricky's Fish Tacos
                1400 N Virgil Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                1 Reply
                1. re: Dr. John
                  Dr. John Sep 30, 2010 01:15 PM

                  Oh, and I forgot to mention us tracking down a Kogi BBQ truck. Definitely the short rib tacos were the best with the kimchee quesadilla being the most singular experience.

                  -John

                  -----
                  Kogi
                  Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA

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