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The usual question...but (hopefully) more challenging

  • r

So, I'm taking a trip to LA...staying in Santa Monica, but perfectly willing to drive (I'm planning on a pilgrimage to Orange for one meal in particular). Where would you suggest I eat?

Here's the rub:
No fine dining...it's just not what I'm looking for this trip. (unless there's someplace relatively new and would be a peer of places like Roberta's Pizza in Bushwick or Relae in CPH). Also, personally just not that into L the pop-up king or Jose with his little bit of LV in LA.

My goal is not to gather a "Best of LA" list, just a "soooo LA" list. If it's a place that you personally go crazy for, feel free to suggest it. If it's something you can't find anywhere in the world outside of LA, all the better. If it's someone doing something special, but not getting nearly enough recognition for the work they put in...I'm all for it.

No 2.5 hour waits in line...sorry Kogi!

I've been quite a bit in the past, but it's been a while so I'm looking for fresh recommendations....Pretty confident I could find decent korean in K-town, chinese in SGV, or make the burger/ramen roundup on my own. So I think I'm fine in those respects. Also, I've always had a soft spot for the sawtelle j-joints. On the other hand, I don't know anything about butchers, bread bakers, pastry shops, delis, or Ethiopian in LA...

And if that doesn't get your creative recs going...here are some explicit questions:

Excellent house made noodles? (Whether,buccatini, lamien, jajamyung, ramen or wonton mein, I'm down)
Crispy skin and delicious meat? (Porchetta, peking duck, suckling pig)
Who makes the most amazing vegetable dishes? What are they? (whether it's just a good plate of garlic sauce pea sprouts, or Jeremy Fox's peas, macadamia, white chocolate, I'm in)
Burned rice...I love the stuff, whether it's at the bottom of a paella pan or dol sot or toasted over open flame.
Frozen treats....I go crazy for it...my favorites at home are The Penny Ice Creamery, Scream Sorbet, and Pizzeria Pico (Soft Serve)
And if after all of that you still can't hook me up with a rec, feel free to suggest some great chowhounders who I could estalk (i.e. read backposts) or an LA based food blog.

Anyway...start suggesting away, and be sure to tell me *why* you think it would be for me.


Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA

Ice Creamery
6880 Caballero Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620

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  1. Where in Orange? Have you decided?

    1. Malan Noodles in Hacienda Heights -- unassuming place that hand pulls noodles to order, great chew, amazing elasticity. I love their spicy chicken noodles.

      Porchetta Panino at Mozza2Go -- Crazy delicious. Nancy Silverton bread (enough said, but I'll go on), with a slab of heaven tucked inside. Juicy Fatty Porchetta with a rim of crunchy skin. You'll be eating it on a bench on Melrose, but you won't be sorry.

      Bulgarini Gelato in Altadena -- If a piece of fruit could spontaneously combust into creamy smooth gelato, it would land at Bulgarini. This guy knows his ingredients. Pistachio, Olive Oil with Sea Salt, Pear... They're happy to give you a "tour" and let you taste everything before you decide. A don't miss experience.

      Tah Dig at Javan in WLA -- Crunchy toasted rice topped with amazing persian stews. I like the walnut/pomegranet Fesenjen and the eggplant bademjan topped version they do at Javan.

      So much food, so little time, hope you enjoy your trip.

      Bulgarini Gelato
      749 E Altadena Dr, Altadena, CA 91001

      11500 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

      Malan Noodles
      2020 S Hacienda Blvd, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745

      1. Frozen treats...Sweet Rose Creamery is just a few miles from you in Brentwood. Some of the best ice cream in town. The fresh mint chocolate chip just pops in your mouth. Really Good stuff.

        Sweet Rose Creamery
        225 26th St #51, Los Angeles, CA 90049

        2 Replies
        1. re: wienermobile

          Some of Sweet Rose's July summer flavors are Fig Jam swirl with goat cheese and toasted walnuts, Apricot, Peaches n' Cream and Sweet Corn

          1. re: wienermobile

            Oh, I can't wait. Hope they don't run out of any of those in the next three weeks.

        2. Who makes the most amazing vegetable dishes?
          Try Gjelina in Venice (Thumbelina Carrot with Cumin Yogurt, Orange, Sesame & Cilantro or
          Seared Okra with Black Olive Tomato) also Fig (Peas with Mint and Parsley) and Rustic Canyon (Fried Cauliflower with garlic, lemon capers and bread crumbs) in Santa Monica. All 3 are great!

          Rustic Canyon Wine Bar
          1119 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

          1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

          100 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

          1 Reply
          1. re: wienermobile

            OCEllen, I'm just going to be having lunch at an old friend's place...

            Thanks for the recs so far...out of all of them, I've only heard of Gjelina. So it sounds like I've come to just the right place. Thanks! and keep them coming. I can only apologize in advance that I won't be able to try every rec that I get here.

            1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

          2. The Bulgarini suggestion is prime. On a simpler note, Thrifty ice cream at Rite Aid is a bargain. The non-fat vanilla and non-fat chocolate frozen yogurt at Penguin's is good. I like the egg salad sandwich at either Europane. The Tucci's Special pizza at Tarantino's goes well with beer or wine.
            The Southern Thai at Jitlada, of course.
            Not sure if it's fine dining or not, but Shiro does some interesting stuff at Orris.
            Tacos and burritos at Yuca's.
            And if you want some good won ton soup or some macadamia nut pancakes, try Aloha Food Factory in Alhambra.

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

            2056 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

            2006 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

            Euro Pane Bakery
            950 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91106

            Tarantino's Pizzeria
            784 E Green St, Pasadena, CA 91101

            Rite Aid
            5575 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

            Aloha Food Factory
            2990 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803

            1 Reply
            1. re: mc michael

              I second Jitlada's Southern Thai menu. This would get my vote for the most exciting food in LA.

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

            2. Ethiopian: I like Meals by Genet and Nyala, both on Fairfax. Meals by Genet is a tad more "upscale", while Nyala is a great basic intro to Ethiopian cuisine. Get the Ethiopian coffee service with incense after the main meal.

              Pastry: Jin Patisserie for their macarons, or Patisserie Chantilly in Lomita, for their pastry filled with sesame choux.

              Spanish deli: While you're in Lomita, take a quick trip to La Espanola Meats for some Spanish groceries. I'd recommend calling ahead on Friday and ordering 1-2 orders of their house paella for pickup on Saturday - Since you like burnt rice, ask if they can give you some socorrat from the bottom of the paella pan with your paella order. When you actually go pick it up on Saturday, you can enjoy the paella there on their patio, or bring it back to Santa Monica for consumption later. Either way, you can hit Patisserie Chantilly in Lomita for dessert right afterwards nearby!

              More burnt rice: Tah dig at Shaherzad or Javan. Also, Koi (yes, Koi) for the only thing they do right: Spicy tuna on crispy rice... And Koi is "soooo L.A."

              Housemade noodles: 2nd the Malan rec. Also, JYTH's knife cut noodles have great "bite". I also like China Islamic's version, in their stewed beef (& beef tendon) noodle soup.

              Frozen treats: Scoops (go to the Heliotrope location, preferably earlier in the day, for best selection) for innovative, and often brilliant ice cream flavors. Also, Persian Ice Cream in Westwood has great cucumber ice cream (does that also fit into your "vegetable dishes" category?!) Fosselman's in Alhambra will make you taro and lychee ice cream milkshakes.

              If you're lazy and don't feel like driving to SGV for the (obviously better) Chinese food, then you can knock out the crispy skin and vegetable cravings in one place: Hop Woo on Olympic & Sepulveda. Get their pea sprouts in garlic sauce and their Peking duck: Both are very, very good.

              Patisserie Chantilly
              2383 Lomita Blvd., #104, Lomita, CA 90717

              1422 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

              China Islamic Restaurant
              7727 Garvey Ave, Rosemead, CA 91770

              Jin Patisserie
              1202 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

              La Espanola Meats
              2020 Lomita Blvd, Lomita, CA 90717

              Hop Woo Restaurant
              1 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

              Koi Restaurant
              730 N La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069

              15 Replies
              1. re: J.L.

                ditto on the Fosselman's rec

                Fosselman's Ice Cream Co
                1824 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

                1. re: mc michael

                  Don't go to Fosselman's expecting anything like The Penny Ice Creamery, though. Fosselman's is an old school ice cream parlor with a modicum of retro charm and decent -- sometimes even excellent -- ice cream (depending upon flavor). But it's not artisan ice cream. Scoops and Bulgarini are better bets for artisan ices/ice creams. Sweet Rose Creamery also gets high marks on CH, though I haven't been there yet.

                  1. re: Peripatetic

                    I just like the fact they have taro, ube and lychee ice cream, all right in the same case as vanilla & chocolate, all year long.

                    1. re: J.L.

                      I think the Asian flavors are what they do best. I often get the ube shake (made with Fosselman's ube ice cream) at Oinkster.

                      1. re: raytamsgv

                        I suppose it's a fuzzy concept, but I'd characterize it as ice cream where the maker has brought an extra level of craft and experimentation to the manufacture of the ice cream, typically sparing little expense in the quality of the ingredients.

                        The Penny Ice Creamery referred to by the OP characterizes their ice cream as "artisan":


                        A more cynical definition might be fussy ice cream with strange flavors served in an uptight environment by people with sanctimonious attitudes, and that wouldn't be entirely inaccurate. :)

                        1. re: Peripatetic

                          I agree: it's a very fuzzy definition, although I'd probably agree more with the "cynical definition." Of course, I'd add an extra factor to that definition: "expensive". To each their own, I suppose.

                          1. re: raytamsgv

                            Places like Carmela, Bulgarini, and Scoops are very good, though, and pretty much free of pretension, if a little expensive.

                        2. re: raytamsgv

                          To me, it just means it's not mass-produced, and using high-quality ingredients (a subjective term in and of itself)...

                          1. re: J.L.

                            Well said. And part of being made in small batches is it doesn't need the kinds of preservatives and thickeners commercial ice cream does.

                        3. re: Peripatetic

                          Best ice cream in the SGV is at Paradis.

                          Sorry to say it, esp. as a long time fan of Fosselman's.

                          Still love the old F, but it's a distant second to Paradis.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Hmm... You've been holding out on me, ipse.

                            I now have to go try Paradis. 411, please? (Yes, I too can Google, but I am feeling lazy after a long workday).

                      2. re: J.L.

                        I 2nd Meals by Genet. It's been a while since I've been there, but they do a fantastic Kitfo (spicy raw beef dish), and a particularly complex doro wat (chicken stew)

                        Meals By Genet
                        1053 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019

                      3. Hi... Look up the poster Elmo Monster, who never disappoints with interesting places in (I believe) Orange County. Usually he finds the quintessential versions of very specific chow, like crispy pata. His posts generally link to his food blog (he writes a tasty sentence), and he takes great photos of inexpensive ethnic chow in clean and friendly environments. Sounds like you'll be in Orange County minimally, but I bet while you're there, you could hit up a couple of places for to-go grub. Elmo's the Man!

                          1. re: burntwater

                            Thank you all again....really great, really specific recs. They could safely shut down this thread and I'd need at least a week to explore all of the places. So I've definitely got more than enough to go on at this point. Of course, if folks want to continue suggesting places...great!

                            On the point of ice cream...I can certainly appreciate many approaches...it's a big part of why I love the stuff (wait, you love ice cream? how revolutionary! I know). So with that in mind, I'll always love thrifty (sadly it's all but extinct here in the bay), mitchell's...which sounds like Fosselmans's analog here in SF and so on.

                            On the other hand, I also happen to have a technical love of ice cream as well....temperature, texture, mouthfeel, flavor release, etc. So I'm also always on the search for ice creams made with care beyond the norm. Sure the context of "artisanal" ice creams implies that kind of attention, but in practice, just because there are some young ice cream makers with a fondess for "out there" flavors does not necessarily mean that the product itself goes beyond average. In the other direction, there are quite a few "old school" ice creameries that definitely outpace the "artisanal" young guns (Aside from Mitchell's, Rick's in Palo Alto, Marco Polo)

                            Anyway...I'm looking forward to this trip...and digging more into this thread.

                            1. re: Renn

                              ... Having read this response, then all the more I'd recommend Scoops. Owner/Chef Tai Kim graduated from culinary school just to focus on all aspects of ice cream, not just interesting flavor permutations.

                              1. re: Renn

                                Fosselman's is probably a good one for you to visit then. I actually prefer the richness and denseness of Fosselman's over most other places. It's a more primal love for me. Scoops I like for the technical ability and interesting flavors. But it doesn't quite grab me on the same level. There isn't that rich butterfat that I personally prefer. Scoops attracts my head but Fosselman's grabs my emotions.

                                It's a personal thing of course and I can totally understand why some people think Scoops would be a superior product.

                                1. re: Jase

                                  Apples & oranges. I love both Scoops and Fosselman's, but for different reasons.

                                2. re: Renn

                                  As you are tooling around town, you might be on the lookout for some Dr. Bob's.

                              2. "Burned rice...I love the stuff, whether it's at the bottom of a paella pan or dol sot or toasted over open flame."

                                Musha, a Japanese restaurant in SM. Order one of the stone pot meshi bowls. Based on your post, I highly recommend this restaurant to you.

                                Shamshiri Grill, a Persian restaurant in Westwood. Order tah dig with your choice of stew.

                                Jeon Ju (or some other Korean place) in Koreatown. Bibimbap

                                "Who makes the most amazing vegetable dishes?"

                                I don't know that any vegetable dish is "amazing" to me, but Gjelina is definitely a good option for you. For cheaper and more downscale and totally LA, try Lemonade in Venice.

                                Shamshiri Grill
                                1712 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

                                1725 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501

                                1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291