Moving to L.A. - NEED to find great Asian food.
Japanese will be the easiest and closest of the bunch. Musha in Santa Monica is an isakaya. The "Little Osaka" area of Sawtelle Blvd. (from Olympic Blvd. going N to Santa Monica Blvd.) will need to be explored over time. Sushi at Kiriko or for less costly sushi at Hide (cash only) or U-zen (also on the reasonable end of the cost spectrum). Ramen at Jinya (which should be very close to opening). Also great ramen at Santouka in the food court of the Mitsuwa Market at Venice Blvd. and Centinela Ave. Those ought to get you started.
11301 W Olympic Blvd Ste 102, Los Angeles, CA 90064
424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066
U-Zen Japanese Restaurant
11951 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Hide Sushi Japanese Restaurant
2040 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
After moving here, I think you'll find that you have to adjust your driving radius depending on the route. Santa Monica to the San Gabriel Valley, where you'll find generally better Vietnamese and Chinese, is around 25 miles, but at times can take an hour+.
For Korean BBQ, Park's BBQ is probably the most popular on this board (and #1 for me as well). A bit pricier though.
The best Vietnamese you'll get on the west side is Pho 99 on Wilshire. Plus, they might just have the best egg roll in all of LA. Seriously bomb.
For banh mi... you simply must go to Banh Mi My Tho in Alhambra for the #8. Likewise, Top Baguette in Garden Grove for the #2.
For pate chaud, Boulangerie Pierre & Patisserie, also is worth the drive out in Garden Grove.
For Thai, Jitlada is a must for their mango coco salad, fried fish with crispy basil, and seriously savory curries. On the west side, Swanya is pretty good. For BBQ specifically, there's always Thai BBQ. Pretty darn good barbecue.
For Japanese... I'm at a loss for how so many are in love with Santouka, (me included), but don't express the same love for Sanuki right next to it!?! Their udon is so freaking good. Their broth is awesome.
For Chinese, I think Little Hong Kong is under-appreciated. Their chow fun is exceptional as is their orange peel chicken. It's superior to the average neighborhood fare. For dim sum, I like CBS Seafood in Chinatown for the dumplings while I'm in love with the Shrimp Cheong Fun out at Ocean Star in Monterey Park.
For sushi, I love Echigo, where it's served warm. Their food is something else. I'm also partial to California Roll Company on Santa Monica... with their enormous rolls. (This place is not to be confused with the awful chain, "California Roll and Sushi"... or whatever it's called.)
As for Korean, well... I simply refuse to pay $18 for the right to cook food myself. I also don't care if there are 10 million side dishes served when most of them are pretty nasty to me. Maybe I just don't have the palate for it. Of the places I've had in LA, Soot Bull Jeep would be my favorite. (Be sure also to check out Kyochon for Korean Fried Chicken. Now that place is bomb.)
Actually, I'd like to pose a Chowhound question here: where can I get some good Korean bbq for under $10? Anywhere? I miss that chain up in SF called Hahn's Hibachi.
re: Ciao Bob
Hey, thanks Ciao Bob. Glad you approve.
You know, I've been to Gushi many times... and I definitely appreciate Taco Miendo... but I've never been to Asian-Ya or the Mexican place at that strip. I need to try both. I see that you're right... and Asian-Ya has $10 Boxes for Kalbi and Bulgogi. I'll have to give it a shot. Thanks.
re: Ciao Bob
Asian-ya has a tan tan men ramen that really kicks ass. Since this person is moving to SaMo, it'll be convenient for them, so I recommend it.
Asian food is what LA does best. No question. Especially if you're willing to drive across town, LA has probably the best asian food in the world.
Great Japanese is all over the Westside. Agree about the place next to Santouka, but can never remember the name. So many new ramen places I can't keep up (Yamada-Ya, Tsujita, Jinya). Lots of Izakaya and sushi/sashimi (try Nanbankan for the former and, Yakitori-ya - especially if Daddy is paying, not spanking). Hide, as Servorg says, is great for cut-rate sushi. Manpuko on Sawtelle does the yakiniku thing pretty well. The South Bay has wonderful Japanese noodles (Sanuki No Sato, Kotohira, Oumi Sasaya).
Le Saigon (buns, not pho) on Santa Monica Blvd and Nom Nom Truck (banh mi) are both decent enough Vietnamese for the area but not as good as SGV or OC.
Chinese is not good near Santa Monica -- if you must, Mandarin Kitchen is capable of doing good stuff (especially if you tell them what you want). 101 Noodle Express has good beef rolls in the Culver City Westfield Mall.
For all things Korean get in the car and hit Ktown. Kyonchon is also in the Culver City Westfield and South Bay.
Really good suggestions here. If you go south on the 405 Freeway, you will find Fox Hills Mall (Westfield), the best food court in LA. Here you can find Kyochon Chicken (Korean), 101 Noodle Express (Chinese beef rolls and noodle soup), also Pho and Japanese fare.
A little farther south in Lawndale is the best Pho not in the San Gabriel Valley or Orange County. I recommend Saigon Dish. Also Pho Hoa is good.
A little farther south, maybe 20 miles away, is Gardena/Torrance, which has the best Japanese food in LA, although Sawtelle and WLA has better sushi. My choices:
Kagura for fine tonkatsu
Doya Doya for okonomiyaki and yakisoba.
Sanuki No Sato for Udon
Tamatebako for down home Japanese
Inaba for soba noodles.
West LA has great ramen, such as Santouka and Yamadaya. Gardena also has Mottainai, Yamadaya and Santouka. It's been a bit of a ramen renaissance here lately.
For Chinese, although the best Chinese in the US is found in SGV, passable Cantonese can be found at Hop Li and Hop Wu. I prefer the drive to SGV and even Chinatown, though.
Though Koreatown is a mere 15 miles away, decent bibimbap and bbq meats can be had at Tofuya on Sawtelle. Also check out Roy Choi's Chego for his unique take on bibimbap.
Amen to the gardena/torrence rec. Your pretty much going to have to be in the alhambra area for the chinese stuff. Its just terrible on the west side.
Banh Mi My Tho as reccommended eariler is a must. There is so much out there. Saigon flavor has great veitnamese, and is a bit less crowded then their other more famous resturant. Dim sum at elite or sea harbor. Be warned though these places get packed and the wait can be long, espescially for dim sum on the weekends.
If you like soba, you should hit Ichimi ann in torrence, or their other store a bit further south.
Torihei is a great yakitori/izakaya place, but make reserevations, its alaways packed. You can drop some money here, but as a couple w/a bottle of shochu our bill is around $100.
Tsujita for lunch and their ramen on sawtelle is hands down the best ramen in LA IMO.
Olympic Kalgooksoo in ktown is great for that dish and their mandoo.
If your schedule is flexible and you enjoy eating out for lunch Alhambra and Torrence are quite accessable IMO. Rush hour, forget it.
Interesting, this is the first I've heard of Doya Doya, which apparently opened a year ago last February. As a fan of Gaja Moc, I'll definitely have to try it. Here are the details:
2140 Artesia Blvd, Torrance, CA 90504
Besides Yelp, there doesn't seem to be much out there about this place. A food blog has this write-up (with great photos): http://www.dishygoodness.com/2011_10_01_archive.html
Ogawak, how does Doya Doya compare with Gaja Moc?
According to that blog, Doya Doya was opened by the owner of Beach City Baked Donuts in Redondo Beach: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/729420
First off welcome to Los Angeles, as I'm sure you're aware, its a wonderful food city as long as you are willing to drive.
Expanding a little on the korean recommendations:
If you're just looking for bbq, I'd say go to Road to Seoul, its all you can eat and the price vs quality is high (I think 17.99 pp?)
Beyond that Sokongdong has great soon tofu and a delicious raw crab panchan.
Mapo Kkak doo gee serves amazing panchan that seems to change every day. I like the soup with dough flakes, braised cod and pork with vegetables among others.
Gam ja Gol serves a delicious pork neck soup...
I second (or third?) the kyochon rec. I know I'm missing so much more, I feel like our k-town is a real gem that well rewards exploration and adventure.
Also, you didn't mention thai. Is that something you're interested in as well?
Thai town is fantastic
So Kong Dong
2716 W Olympic Blvd Ste 104, Los Angeles, CA 90006
Road to Seoul
1230 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006
Gam Ja Gol
3003 W Olympic Blvd Ste 107, Los Angeles, CA 90006
Mapo Kkak Doo Gee
3611 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020
Keep things simple.
chinese - san gabriel valley (cantonese south of 10 fwy, taiwanese north of it, everything else is scattered)
korean - duh... koreatown, i recommend making some korean friends to order for you
japanese - sawtelle st in the west, little tokyo downtown, torrance has the best though
vietnamese - little vietnam in westminster, naked girl coffee and pho = perfect afternoon