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What restaurants have ruined you?

Sometimes the first encounter with a particular foodstuff will (for lack of a better word) stain you for life, for better or worse.

I want to discuss the "worse" kind here.

What I mean is, sometimes the first iteration of a particular dish you eat will forever make you think that that *is* the way that dish should be made, even if it is a subpar example.

Example. My uncle is a die-hard fan of the bun at Pho Pasteur for no other reason that this was the first place he's ever had bun thit nuong. While I think their version is ok, I definitely think there are better versions out there, e.g. Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa and Vietnam Restaurant just to name two places off the top of my head (with apologies to all those other great choices in the OC).

Another example. McDonald's soft-serve ice cream. For me this *is* the way soft-serve ice cream should be, even though many will argue that both Foster's Freeze and Dairy Queen, and even Baskin Robbins, puts the stuff McDonald's spits out to shame.

Another example. Bob's Big Boy Spaghetti with meat sauce. A friend considers this *the* way spaghetti with meat sauce (or any type of red sauce) should be prepared. Anything else, in her opinion, is just not right. Why? Her first encounter with what she calls "Italian food" was at (gasp!) Bob's Big Boy.

Any restaurant stain you for life with respect to a particular dish?

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Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa
9016 Mission Dr, Rosemead, CA 91770

Pho Pasteur
8821 Valley Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770

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    1. +1 on McD's soft serve
      Ruen Pair's papaya salad
      Yabu's kakiage
      Kagaya's shabu shabu
      Nanbankan's gobo maki (ok, I've never seen this anywhere else but so be it)
      Chez Panisse's panna cotta (I had it about 15 yrs ago and still remember the silky texture... never had anything remotely close even though panna cotta is such an easy throwaway dessert)

      3 Replies
      1. re: soniabegonia

        wth?! i totally missed the part about the BAD kind. Doh! oh well. these are the GOOD ones. and yeah, I would include McD's soft serve in the good category. heck yeah. making up my own game here...

        1. re: soniabegonia

          Chez Panisse's pana cotta is actually a Nancy Silverton restaurant. In one of their cookbooks and in my home...

          1. re: soniabegonia

            I stumbled onto this thread looking for something else, but briefly, the Panna Cotta made by Chef Isaac (who used to cook at Cucina Paradiso in Palms) isthe most silky, insane PC I've ever spooned. I mean just insane, the sole reason for eating dinner there when it was open.

            I think he's at Il Sole now, which leans toward an overpriced star and agent studded hole, but HAS to be worth a stop for dessert if he's making this.

            Just thought I'd throw that out. Let us know if you go!

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            Il Sole
            8741 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069

          2. Weird about Bob's -I always think of the chili spaghetti. I never realized they even had meat sauce.

            3 Replies
            1. re: BubblyOne

              I believe that's what she's referring to ... the spaghetti with chili.

              In the words of one Mistah Kurtz ... ""The horror! The horror!"

              1. re: ipsedixit

                "You're an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill."

              2. re: BubblyOne

                I still get the chili spaghetti whenever I go to Bob's. Have been eating it since I was a kid and LOVE IT!!
                I actually think the McD's soft serve is delicious! And now that I found Krokan at the Alpine Village Market, I will be eating it more often!

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                Alpine Village Market
                833 Torrance Blvd Ste 1A, Torrance, CA 90502

              3. The chicken fried steak at Eat At Joe's in Redondo Beach. I'm sure people think there are much better versions, but I can't find anywhere else that duplicates the taste of the meat and gravy for me.

                The chili fries at Tops in Pasadena (Walnut). It's just fries and nothing-special chili, but I love it.

                There's a carne asada burrito at The Burger Shack (used to be called Cypress Burgers) on Walnut in Pasadena that I crave about once a week. It doesn't taste like most other places but I have to have it.

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                Burger Shack
                9868 Garvey Ave, El Monte, CA 91733

                Eat At Joes
                , Redondo Beach, CA 90254

                3 Replies
                1. re: martyR

                  Speaking of chili fries ... I think the version at The Hat has forever ruined me (in more ways than one).

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Yes, it was eating chili fries at the Hat.

                  2. re: martyR

                    Oh man, those chili fries ROCK!!!

                  3. Can the experience be in the past...If so, Tommy's, early 80's, cheese burger (pickle and mustard) w/extra chili and a spoon. And, a chocolate yoo hoo. THE BEST esp. at 1AM.
                    I can't believe I used to eat that stuff but, back then, that was "the" chiliburger for me.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Kitchen Queen

                      I remember those late night Tommy's runs from my USC days, pulling all-nighters. It used to take a day or two (even with vigorous washing) to completely rid the chili smell from my hands. I still try and go at least once a year:)