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Best Knock your pants off Paella?

n
norajeans Oct 31, 2010 12:34 PM

Maybe this has been asked before, but I haven't had any luck finding the posts. Besides it's always good to have new and updated information, right?

My boyfriend's birthday is coming up and he loves paella, unfortunately he has a sensitive palate and is picky as hell. His complaint is there aren't many places that serve good paella. They're usually "didn't use real saffron, just powdered" "rice isn't cooked right" etc etc.

So what has been the best paella you've had so far anywhere in the LA area (or OC)?

  1. J.L. Oct 31, 2010 01:02 PM

    Many, MANY threads already asking this exact question (in one form or another), but aside from anoyone's home kitchen, the answer is:

    La Espanola's takeout paella, made only on Saturdays. They are located in Harbor City.

    1. ipsedixit Oct 31, 2010 01:04 PM

      norajeans,

      If you and/or your boyfriend will settle for a Peruvian paella, I highly recommend Mo-Chica.

      http://www.mo-chica.com/

      -----
      Mo-Chica
      3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

      19 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit
        f
        foodiemahoodie Oct 31, 2010 11:37 PM

        First of all - there's nothing wrong with good powdered paella - your BF's being a bit of a snob. But don't tell him that (it's easier to use, and gives up it's taste much quicker than the threads which ideally should soak for a few hours - some say even more).

        Anyway - I haven't tried it and but it looked good - at Bar PintXO in Santa Monica. They have a big paella pan and they make it on a burner outside, on the street. It looked good. Call them and find out what night they do it. If anyone has tried - let us know what you think. I'm going to try to tap that this week.

        1. re: foodiemahoodie
          J.L. Nov 1, 2010 12:19 AM

          Been there, done that. Bar Pintxo's paella isn't great, but it's an edible facsimile. Nowhere near as good a La Espanola's.

          -----
          Bar Pintxo
          109 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

          1. re: J.L.
            f
            foodiemahoodie Nov 1, 2010 01:53 AM

            Thanks for the heads up. What would you say is the difference?

            1. re: foodiemahoodie
              J.L. Nov 1, 2010 02:13 AM

              Haste makes waste. They served the paella prematurely, before most of the water has burned off the pan... AKA soggy (a paella mortal sin). No socorrat either (again, because there was still too much water in the pan). It's safe to eat, but not as good to eat.

              1. re: J.L.
                f
                foodiemahoodie Nov 2, 2010 02:52 AM

                Whatta shame. You'd think they'd know better.

                1. re: J.L.
                  f
                  food_yum Nov 2, 2010 05:57 PM

                  I've been to La Espanola and had their Paella a couple of years back with a Spanish group from Long Beach, granted it may have changed since then. Ok, it isn't homemade (the oooooonly way to have good paella) but it definitely did not have any socorrat (the coveted char).

                  If you absolutely need to have traditional paella as if it was recently transported from Valencia, Spain, there must be soccorat, it must have been prepared using a huge brick oven, it needs to be smoked with a certain type of wood from the region and you never, ever mix seafood with land animals. The paella I had at La Espanola violated all of those conditions ... and more.

                  But, it was still good!

                  To be honest with you ... who cares if it isn't traditional? If it tastes good, it tastes good, right?

                  -----
                  La Espanola Meats
                  25020 Doble Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90710

                  1. re: food_yum
                    J.L. Nov 2, 2010 06:11 PM

                    Paella is as varied across Spain as BBQ is varied across the U.S. I had a wonderful paella prepared over a giant outdoor fire in Toledo, in a family home (stovetop preparation) in Barcelona, and I've had the Valencian brick-oven version (which you've alluded to) as well. Rabbit, chicken, cigalas, langostinos, squid, all sorts of toppings - I've tried so many (but we paella aficionados all know that the rice is the true thing to judge a paella by, isn't it?)...

                    I never said the La Espanola's paella had socorrat (that'd be nice, though), just that it's the best version of paella currently commercially available in Southern California.

                    1. re: J.L.
                      f
                      foodiemahoodie Nov 3, 2010 12:55 AM

                      I never said the La Espanola's paella had socorrat (that'd be nice, though)...

                      Actually, you did. I asked what the difference was and you pointed out two things - soggy and that it didn't have soccorat.

                      1. re: foodiemahoodie
                        J.L. Nov 3, 2010 10:15 AM

                        Two things I look for in good paella in general: Socorrat and non-sogginess. So when I try a new paella contender in SoCal (e.g. Bar Pintxo), that's what I like to see. Those were my thoughts from the Bar Pintxo visit. But...

                        I NEVER said La Espanola's paella specifically had socorrat (I think I found a trace of it just once in all my years of ordering from them). But, the taste is still the best to be found in SoCal (AND the La Espanola paella is never soggy). With the exception of the late, great Montefrio de Madrid in Burbank, no restaurant paella has had the proper socorrat in my search in SoCal so far.

                        -----
                        Bar Pintxo
                        109 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                        1. re: J.L.
                          f
                          food_yum Nov 3, 2010 02:59 PM

                          OMG... if anyone here finds a restaurant that serves paella with a good socorrat ... please don't hold back! Share the love!

                          I don't think anyone serves it that way and I'm not sure why. Is it cost/time prohibitive? Does it freak out the customers? Is there some kind of health code violation going on? I'm not sure, I just wish at least one eatery would serve it that way.

                          At this point, I'm willing to eat an old sock paella if they served it with the proper char!

                          1. re: food_yum
                            J.L. Nov 3, 2010 04:46 PM

                            I believe that eateries in L.A. don't make paella with socorrat for 2 main reasons:

                            (1) Table turnover: Paella with socorrat takes time. If a customer orders paella with socorrat, and the order goes to the chef, it'll take quite a bit longer to prepare (the water has to burn off). If a customer isn't willing to wait, then you have an unhappy customer. Also, that table can't "turn" as quickly for the next seating of the evening (which translates to less $ for the eatery.)

                            (2) Instead of lauding the eatery on its authenticity for producing socorrat (char), Restaurant owners are afraid that some customers will simply consider the paella as "burnt".

                            And believe me, if I do find proper char on a restaurant paella in SoCal, this ChowBoard will be the first to know!

                            1. re: J.L.
                              f
                              food_yum Nov 4, 2010 06:11 AM

                              Aahhh.... totally makes sense ... Damn you SoCal for your lack of patience and intolerance for "burned" rice!! ;)

                            2. re: food_yum
                              j
                              Jerome Nov 5, 2010 04:56 PM

                              Dona Juana caters her paella from La Espanola. If you want a paella without mixing seafood and land beasts, and you want socorrat - you can call la espanola, talk to juana or her daughters, tell them what you want and order it. it will be made for you with socorrat - and enjoy.
                              In general, if you like socorrat, dcheck out the persian restaurants in westwood and ask for the tah-digh. the charred rice from the bottom of the pan. the koreans also have something similar.

                              1. re: Jerome
                                Peripatetic Nov 5, 2010 08:16 PM

                                In Korean it's "nurungji":

                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nurungji

                                1. re: Jerome
                                  J.L. Nov 5, 2010 11:40 PM

                                  In Farsi it's called tah dig.

                                  Jerome, is Juana around on Fridays & Saturdays? The only contact person I've known at La Espanola is the ever-affable Alex.

                                  1. re: J.L.
                                    j
                                    Jerome Nov 6, 2010 01:00 AM

                                    don't know. but a quick call...
                                    good luck. tahdig is tasty.
                                    i've had the nurungi, but once it was mixed with hot water, and had unpleasant connotations.

                        2. re: food_yum
                          n
                          norajeans Nov 2, 2010 11:40 PM

                          Sounds good =)

                  2. re: foodiemahoodie
                    f
                    foodiemahoodie Jul 26, 2013 05:04 PM

                    I wrote paella - I meant saffron. Powdered saffron.

                    1. re: foodiemahoodie
                      k
                      kevin Jul 26, 2013 08:24 PM

                      No worries.

                      Saffron is the white truffles of the mid-east.

                2. maxzook Nov 3, 2010 09:10 AM

                  Never having been to Spain I can't speak to authenticity, but I suspect the paella at Jonathan's at Peirano's, on Main St. across from the Mission in downtown Ventura, is probably not authentic. But it certainly is good.

                  I don't care what others say, imho saffron definitely has a flavor, and you can certainly taste the saffron here. And there's a definite soccorat going on, as food_yum defined upthread.

                  Jonathan's serves a chicken and andouille paella and one with clams, shrimp, mussels and white fish.

                  -----
                  Jonathans At Peiranos
                  204-208 E Main Street, Ventura, CA 93001

                  1. Foodandwine Nov 5, 2010 06:34 AM

                    http://www.yelp.com/biz/el-colmao-los...

                    El Colmal while a Cuban Restaurant has a very solid rendition of Paella. I thinks it may be a tie with La Espanola in my opinion..

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Foodandwine
                      t
                      tven1 Jul 20, 2013 09:38 PM

                      Drove 40 miles two ways on this recommendation. Pella costs $32 first surprise. Ready for the second surprise? It tastes like a pile of salt that smells like fish.

                      1. re: tven1
                        n
                        ns1 Jul 21, 2013 12:15 AM

                        Ouch

                        1. re: tven1
                          j
                          Jerome Jul 24, 2013 05:40 PM

                          wear did you go? still like the Fiduea at LA PAELLA on San Vicente in Los Angeles (near the beverly center).

                          They have a few different paellas you can try.

                          The thing is, i like their tapas so much, i rarely get so far as to order the paellas.

                      2. n
                        Norm Man Jul 26, 2013 02:36 PM

                        Reviews look promising for the Paella at Michael Cardenas' new restaurant Taberna Arros Y Vi in Santa Monica.

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/904918#8124753

                        Taberna Arros Y Vi
                        1403 2nd Street
                        Santa Monica
                        310 393-3663

                        http://tabernala.com/

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: Norm Man
                          k
                          kevin Jul 26, 2013 02:54 PM

                          i didn't realize that joint opened already.

                          1. re: kevin
                            Ciao Bob Jul 26, 2013 03:06 PM

                            I am going tonight!

                            1. re: Ciao Bob
                              Ciao Bob Jul 27, 2013 07:57 AM

                              But never, ever again.....
                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/910049

                              1. re: Ciao Bob
                                k
                                kevin Jul 27, 2013 04:16 PM

                                Damn. It fucking sucked on ass ??????

                            2. re: kevin
                              t
                              Thor123 Jul 26, 2013 03:12 PM

                              If you lick the paper, it is less likely to open.....

                              1. re: Thor123
                                Ciao Bob Jul 26, 2013 03:17 PM

                                ?

                                1. re: Ciao Bob
                                  k
                                  kevin Jul 26, 2013 03:52 PM

                                  lick the paper ?

                                  1. re: kevin
                                    PeterCC Jul 26, 2013 10:01 PM

                                    Rolling paper. Joint. Et cetera.

                                    1. re: PeterCC
                                      k
                                      kevin Jul 27, 2013 04:17 PM

                                      My bad.

                                      You have to realize I only had a high school educ mation and some SMC.

                                    2. re: kevin
                                      t
                                      Thor123 Jul 27, 2013 10:39 AM

                                      Bad joke. Sorry. In reference to your love of "joints". Will try harder in the future.

                              2. re: Norm Man
                                J.L. Jul 26, 2013 03:44 PM

                                Been there, done that. Went the first week it opened.

                                I wasn't particularly impressed, and that applies to their vaunted paella. I'm considering a pictorial essay nonetheless, if you guys are interested.

                                1. re: J.L.
                                  k
                                  kevin Jul 26, 2013 03:53 PM

                                  Sure why not.

                                  But if it will detract from your posting of pictures duties on Shunji's or any other exceptional sushi parlor around town, then i would avise you not to.

                                  1. re: J.L.
                                    PeterCC Jul 26, 2013 10:03 PM

                                    Agreed. I enjoyed the fried green tomatoes and the pig ears more than the paella. I wrote a mini review on the other paella thread kicking around last week: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/910049

                                2. Tripeler Jul 26, 2013 06:53 PM

                                  This makes me wonder of Paella will become the next date-rape drug...

                                  1. t
                                    Thor123 Jul 27, 2013 10:41 AM

                                    Surprisingly, I have heard that Palomino in Westwood does a good one. Have not tried it personally.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: Thor123
                                      J.L. Jul 27, 2013 04:05 PM

                                      Skip it. Palomino's paella is awful.

                                      1. re: Thor123
                                        k
                                        kevin Jul 27, 2013 04:19 PM

                                        Palomino for paella ????

                                        You must be fucking nuts Thor.

                                        But seriously. It's great ?

                                        1. re: kevin
                                          J.L. Jul 27, 2013 06:19 PM

                                          But seriously. It's awful.

                                          1. re: kevin
                                            k
                                            kevin Jul 27, 2013 09:48 PM

                                            Sorry Thor. Didn't mean to call you nuts.

                                            I just was blindsided by the possible fact that Palamino had great paella when all the other eats there is pretty terrible in my humble opinion.

                                            1. re: kevin
                                              PeterCC Jul 27, 2013 09:50 PM

                                              Maybe they have the best put-your-pants-back-on paella?

                                              1. re: kevin
                                                n
                                                norajeans Jul 29, 2013 09:56 PM

                                                This made me laugh.

                                              2. re: kevin
                                                t
                                                Thor123 Jul 28, 2013 09:53 AM

                                                I have not had it. The only thing I have had there is the mushroom salad, which was very good.

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