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What can I get in LA that I can't get in San Francisco

I feel like this must have been posted here at some point, but can't find it.

Going to be down for the weekend soon, and in particularly looking for obscure ethnic food not available in the Bay Area

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    1. re: ipsedixit

      can you be specific? there's a glut of good cantonese food in the bay area, as well as some very good sichuan places

      1. re: vulber

        Northern Beijing foods (dumplings, meat pies, etc.)

        Shanghai food (XLB, water boiled fish)

        Taiwanese (stinky tofu, pork chop rice)

        In other words, both the quality and variety are better down here than up there. The only restaurant up north that consistently is better than anything in LA would be Koi Palace (original location).

        1. re: ipsedixit

          I'd also say that Jai Yun was the site of one of my favorite Chinese meals anywhere in the world. I don't know if there's anything in L.A. that's equivalent to it but then again, my L.A. Chinese meals is very cheap-eats oriented and I don't believe I've ever had an equivalent prix fixe-style Chinese meal here as what Jai Yun does.

          1. re: odub

            I think you are right there is no Jai Yun equivalent in LA, but if you combined Joss with Mission 261 you might come very close.

      1. The wonderful Park's BBQ in Koreatown. Some of the best cut of beef in the city.

        5 Replies
        1. re: wienermobile

          Korean BBQ exists in SF - LA may be better overall but there are a couple good places in SF.

          There is no equivalent to YongSuSan in SF. I would go there instead for Kaesong cuisine.


          1. re: calumin

            There is no equivalent to YongSuSan in SF. I would go there instead for Kaesong cuisine.

            How about the YongSuSan in LA?


            1. re: ipsedixit

              I believe you've misinterpreted what calumin meant (that is to say; "SF has nothing to equal the food found at YongSuSan here in LA").

              1. re: Servorg

                Servorg -- right, that's what I meant to say. I wish they opened one up in SF!

          2. re: wienermobile

            How about non-BBQ Korean food? Mapo kkak doo gee, Ma Dang gooksoo, Yu Chun, Soban, etc. People like Seongbukdong, I don't but it might float your boat. Heck, I'd even try the Kogi truck if you happen to be around it, it's much better than the "real" Korean tacos from the Namu people(assault on my taste buds, blegh).

          3. Agree with Shanghainese food. Go to Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village

            Agree with Langer's and Park's BBQ

            I'll add:

            -High end sushi. Go to Mori or Shunji.

            -Persian food. Go to Shamshiri grill

            -Updated Singaporean food. Go to Spice Table. Get the fried cauliflower, lamb belly satay, beef rendang, kon loh mee

            -Red Medicine. Like a cross between Commonwealth, Atelier Crenn, and Slanted Door...but better.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Porthos

              Gasp, Porthos, not better than Atelier Crenn! I love RM and agree it is sort of like Commonwealth, but have to disagree that it's better than AC. Actually I think they're a little too different to compare side by side.

              1. re: baloney

                I meant Red Medicine would be like a cross between all 3 but better than said hyopthetical hybrid :)

                I loved Atelier Crenn. But I would have to say it is a bit too "molecular" for me. I prefer more "real" cooking. I think RM has that balance.

                1. re: Porthos

                  You know, after I posted, I thought about what you wrote and thought that's what you had meant. So my first post...moot!

                  I normally have a severe dislike of molecular cuisine but found AC to be such a thoughtful meal that I almost didn't even notice it.

            2. Good deli. Langers for pastrami.

              1. Is there good Oaxacan food in SF like we have at Guelaguetza?

                1. Night & Market for authentic Thai street food with a fun vibe.

                  1. Having spent a fair amount of time living in both metro areas, here's my brief take on who leads in what:

                    BAY AREA: French, Italian (including pizza), Spanish (notice a trend here? anything European), coffee, bakeries, "nuevo" Mexican, Indian, Cantonese, Sichuan, "other" SE Asian (Malaysian, Burmese, Laotian, etc.), classic California cuisine (e.g. Chez Panisse and its descendants)

                    LA/OC: Korean, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Shanghainese, southern Mexican and Central American, Ethiopian, Peruvian, Armenian

                    PRETTY MUCH TIED: Japanese, Thai, South American (except Peruvian), deli

                    BOTH LAGGING SAN DIEGO: Farm-to-table gastropubs with superior beer selection

                    Flame away! ;-)

                    20 Replies
                    1. re: Bradbury

                      Have also lived and eaten extensively and recently in both cities. French in both cities is probably equally weak compared to NYC.

                      I agree with you regarding Italian especially Neapolitan style pizza. However, Mozza's unique style gives us something SF doesn't have.

                      "Japanese" is too broad. Everyone knows SF sushi is surprisingly weak. LA wins handily with Mori, Shunji, Sushi Zo, and Urasawa. Ramen is about equal as far as I know. Izakaya/yakitori I may give to LA but I haven't had much izakaya/yakitori in SF. Tempura and soba I may also give to LA except I don't have much experience with dedicated tempura and soba restaurants in SF. Have you?

                      Regarding deli, I like Katz's better than Langer's. But I'm not aware of any place in SF that does pastrami as well as Langer's.

                      SF was first with farm to table by at least 5-10 years so I'm just going to call BS on the SD comment. :)

                      1. re: Porthos

                        You're probably right about Japanese. It's true that SF doesn't have anything to match, say, Urasawa, but then I was trying to compare overall experiences for your average (yet avid) diner, for whom Urasawa is usually out beyond the end of the bell curve anyway. I've had good izakaya in SF, but there's perhaps a better range of opportunities in Torrance/Gardena alone.

                        As for farm-to-table, SF is the leader and still champion on the high end, but I'd say SD is doing it better these days on the low end (i.e. actual pubs, not restaurants with a beer list)

                        1. re: Bradbury

                          I have also lived in both areas (Northridge, San Pedro, Redondo combined for 12+ years - San Francisco and Napa for 10 years).

                          When I go back to Los Angeles to visit, the eateries that are always on my list include Shin Sen Gumi in Gardena - the yakitori branch of the "chain." It is also worth going during a Sumo basho as that is when they serve chankonabe, but I'm even happy for getting there for lunch. Urasawa is special occasion for me, but incomparable.

                          Randy's Doughnuts by the airport is also a must-visit - their apple fritter is my benchmark and at .85 cents, a screaming deal.

                          As cheeky as it sounds, I crave the roast pork with black beans and rice and fried plantains at Versailles. San Francisco has NO good Cuban food whatsoever.

                          Philip's French Dip lamb with blue cheese. And Langer's, like others have said. San Francisco doesn't have a decent Jewish deli. I'll even take Canter's if I'm up late.

                          Lastly, Islamic Chinese food in Monterey Park - Tung Lai Shun (although this was almost a decade ago - there may be better). I still taste the duck tongues and various soups...

                          1. re: CarrieWas218

                            carrie, good to see you on this board too :)

                            how does shin sen gumi compare to ippudo in berkeley?

                            also, is the versailles in LA related to the one in miami ()which i've been to)

                            and how does tung lai shun compare to old mandarin?

                            1. re: vulber


                              For me, Ippudo is only more interesting than Shin Sen Gumi in that they have the raw chicken but after that, Shin Sen Gumi blows everyone else out of the water for price, quality, and just general convivial atmosphere.

                              I don't think the Versailles in L.A. is the same as Miami - different logos and website designs would dictate...

                              Old Mandarin pales in comparison to Tung Lai Shun, I think. I only went to Old Mandarin once and was not that impressed. It was though they were trying to hard with other cross-over dishes (sesame chicken and dim sum) without offering the "interesting" dishes that drew me to Tung Lai Shun like the dunk tongues and goose entrails... Old Mandarin did a few things okay, but didn't have as an authentic feel to it as Tung Lai Shun does.

                              1. re: CarrieWas218

                                Next time you're in town give Torihei a try. It may lack in convivial atmosphere, but it more than makes up in the level and quality of food.

                                1. re: vulber

                                  I think you mean Ippuku? Ippudo is ramen and there's no outlet in the Bay that I know of (let alone Berkeley).

                                  I haven't been to Ippuku in a minute so I can't compare the two but while I think SSG yakitori is great, I've never been blown away by it. Then again, I don't drink and I feel like the experience there is elevated when there's beer involved ;)

                                  Versailles in LA is fine but it's pretty run-of-the-mill greasy Cuban. Good but...

                                  1. re: odub

                                    Versailles might be run-of-the-mill, greasy Cuban, but considering the alternatives in San Francisco (or lack thereof), I'll take it!

                                2. re: CarrieWas218

                                  Ate in a Chinese Islamic rest in the Sunset(nr 30st?) that had been talked up a bit in the SF CH...not bad...the pancake a bit greasy....think we do better down here.

                                  1. re: lapizzamaven

                                    Lapizzamaven - that is Old Mandarin, essentially San Francisco's only Islamic Chinese and, yes, it is much better in Los Angeles.

                                    1. re: CarrieWas218

                                      If we're talking Islamic Chinese, then Omar's Xiangjiang Halal would be the choice in L.A. you're really NOT going to find in the Bay.

                            2. re: Bradbury

                              Yes, I think that is pretty list. Anything European and many more good bakeries in SF. The butchers have improved a lot in Los Angeles.

                              You might enjoy a visit to the Wednesday Santa Monica or Sunday Hollywood to see the difference in the seasonal markets.

                              1. re: Bradbury

                                where's good for armenian? and while SF itself doesn't have great ethiopian, is the ethiopian in LA significantly better than oakland/san jose?

                                1. re: vulber

                                  Mantee on Ventura Blvd in Studio City for excellent Armenian. For lamajeun, Partamian's on W. Adams in Midtown.

                                  If Yucatecan is absent in S.F., La Flor de Yucatan on Hoover will be a true lesson in this cuisine.

                                  Peruvian would be Kotosh, El Rocoto, Puro Sabor in Van Nuys and Pollo a la Brasa on Western.

                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                    Another great place for Yucatecan food is Chichen Itza in Mercado La Paloma just north of Downtown.

                                    1. re: WildSwede

                                      SF has plenty of good yucatecan :)

                                        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                          I'd second this. Yucatan you can get in the Bay but I don't remember there ever being a super-legit Oaxacan spot up there.

                                  2. re: vulber

                                    I think the quality of Ethiopian is better here but I don't think it's on some level better or different than the Bay.

                                2. Does SF have great artisanal ice cream/gelato like we have down here? Like Scoops, Bulgarini, Sweet Rose, Milk, Carmela, etc.?

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: aching

                                    oh, does it ever :)

                                    well, at least with ice cream. not too much artisanal gelato. then again, i love amazing ice cream anywhere, so i'm still find with that, unless there's a more unique dessert option in LA

                                    1. re: vulber

                                      We have a really excellent Thai bakery for sweets in Thai town/Hollywood: http://www.bhankanomthai.com/ which might interest you depending on what SF has in that particular category?

                                      1. re: vulber

                                        What about a Portuguese bakery a la Portos! And Croatian, like Pavich's Brick Oven Pizzeria?

                                        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                          Are you referring to Porto's in Glendale, Burbank and Downey? If so, their roots are Cuban. Good bang for your buck there, but stick with the Cuban specialties.


                                          A very good Portuguese bakery rec might be Natas Pastries in Sherman Oaks.

                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                            I went to Nata's. I was hoping it would blow me away—I was raised by a dad who took me twice a month to the bakeries in the Ironbound—and it didn't. It's not bad, and it scratches the itch, but it's not Newark or Framingham.

                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                              Portuguese is pretty thick back east - just the opposite out here. If you've got memories of places that pummel Natas, I can't help you there, but I sure enjoy it.

                                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                                Yea, they rule in East Providence, RI & New Bedford & surrounding in MA. I'm just thrilled I can find linguica in this part of the country.

                                              2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                that's how i felt about Portos.
                                                wanted so much to be blown away.
                                                didn't get anywhere near blown away.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            Well, for the sake of MY ass, it's good that I don't live there then! =)

                                        2. The snook,pescado zarandeado that Sergio makes at Coni Seafood in Inglewood.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: emglow101

                                            how has that snook been lately? Once it was fantastic.

                                            I had it as a repeat two years ago at Mar Vista
                                            and it had become disgusting, during their transitional phase.

                                            1. re: epop

                                              who cooked your snook at mar vista two years ago?
                                              imho the food at mar vista changed abruptly for the worse when the kitchen staff changed; that's what caused me to leave them.

                                              the snook in INGLEWOOD was wonderful when i was there last: two weeks ago.

                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                one of the heavier set men, but I don't think it was the owner. A brother?
                                                The shrimp were also nothing special, and I was left saddened, as
                                                it really was a gem once.
                                                Will go to Inglewood and check what's happening. I'm so tired of the
                                                quality, especially of seafood, plummeting everywhere.

                                                1. re: epop

                                                  i suspect that the man who prepared/ruined your food was either the owner's husband or one of his cronies.

                                                  there ought to be a law preventing any of them from going within 300 feet of any kind of kiitchen.

                                                  before starting your car to head toward inglewood, i'd call first to make sure that sergio will be cooking that night.

                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                    good idea, and thank you, WSGal.

                                                2. re: westsidegal

                                                  @WSG..."who cooked your snook?" love it!

                                                  1. re: lapizzamaven

                                                    If it turns out not to have been a snook were you "snookered" then? ;-D>

                                            2. Good tortillerias and tamale shops. I can't think of any places in SF that do those well. La Azteca in ELA is a family favorite

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: Ernie

                                                you must not have been to la palma

                                                1. re: vulber

                                                  No, I have not been to La Palma. Is that the only tortilleria in SF city limits?

                                                  In Los Angeles we have La Azteca, La Imperial, La Princesa, Lolita's, La Barca, etc. to name a few

                                                  1. re: Ernie

                                                    it's the only major one that comes to mind; while LA may have more variety, i'd be surprised if any of them surpass la palma in quality (although i'm sure many are equal)

                                                    1. re: vulber

                                                      Try La Azteca in ELA before you make assumptions about the quality in Los Angeles

                                              2. Great query. An all-time great CH post, in my opinion. I'm in San Diego and trust me-- whatever we got, somebody's got it better. This post alone proves the culinary strengths of SF and LA, and just reading it makes me homesick for somebody else's home. Let me venture to say, though, surely LA has SF beat at al fresco dining. That aint food, but it's something.

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: pickypicky

                                                  San Diego will seem a whole lot better to you if you consider California's other city, Sacramento. I am sure that whatever they have, SD does it better.

                                                  1. re: Tripeler

                                                    I've heard Sacramento's produce is the state's best.

                                                    1. re: pickypicky

                                                      the produce in sacramento was wonderful when i was in school there many years ago. when i've gone back subsequently on business trips, the APPEARANCE of the produce is superior, but the TASTE, imho, is not as good as it was in the old days nor is the aroma/smell of today's sacramento produce.
                                                      this was especially true for the tomatoes.

                                                      1. re: pickypicky

                                                        Don't listen - taste!
                                                        With Farmer's Markets throughout the state, with all varieties of produce being delivered over night throughout the state, nothing is less than totally fresh.
                                                        Then it becomes a matter of terroir, the grower, the particular breed of the fruit/veggie in discussion, etc.
                                                        Cannot imagine Sackatomatoes would still hold that title, as there is more money for quality produce elsewhere in the state - think LA & SF.

                                                    2. re: pickypicky

                                                      "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."

                                                      On the other hand, summer in San Diego... My first memory of al fresco dining was as an eight year-old having lunch on a family friend's rooftop deck overlooking San Diego's Mission Bay - "priceless."

                                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                                        Summer in San Diego? As long as it's not the June part.

                                                    3. OK, I've read the responses here and while everyone mentions their favorite restaurants and dishes, I don't see anything really answering the OP's request of: "...OBSCURE ethnic food not available in the Bay area." A lot of the suggestions here seems like they might be available somewhere in the Bay Area.

                                                      Sushi? XLB? Ramen? Pastrami? French Dip? Ice Cream? ¿Tamales? These are obscure ethnic foods?

                                                      I'm thinking of Phong Dinh Restaurant in Rosemead for the ostrich, rabbit, venison, kangaroo, goat, boar, alligator, & snake prepared Vietnamese style. Or maybe the bull penis at Feng Mao in Koreatown.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Mr. Roboto

                                                        Some regional Chinese is pretty obscure outside of China and the SGV.

                                                        1. re: Mr. Roboto

                                                          The OP said "particularly", not 'only".

                                                        2. Great thread! Maybe you guys can chime in on my current thread on the SF board?


                                                          1. Oops! I did not mean to post two threads I am sorry.

                                                            1. A suntan. LOL! Forgive me please, now I give a serious answer. Foodwise I do believe San Francisco is superior but every city has a gem. In LA I do recommend to try the sushi at Urasawa. It is special for sure and better than San Francisco!

                                                              1. How about a place like The Gorbals? Scottish, Jewish, Spanish, American. Very unique.


                                                                6 Replies
                                                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                  Except that it's not that great of a meal. Just my .02 but nothing special/memorable IMO.

                                                                  1. re: odub

                                                                    Ok, but do you have anything similar??

                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                        There are plenty of Scottish-Jewish-Spanish-Ameircan places up north?? Please elaborate so I can find them wheni go to visit my inlaws there, I'd appreciate it.

                                                                        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                          Canteen, Sons and Daughters, Marlowe, Street, etc.

                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                            Um, I've checked out all of the menus from the four restaurants you listed and I don't see any item even coming close to what The Gorbals offers. Just because they garnish a dish with sherry vinegar or Marcona almonds does not make it a Spanish-Jewish-Scottish influenced place? Just sayin.

                                                                2. Vulber: love this thread as someone who lived in the Bay from 90-06 and has been in LA since then.

                                                                  KOREAN. Above all else, the quality and variety of Korean food in LA has no remote peer in the Bay. Don't do BBQ here; it is better than what you can get in SF but it's not *uniquely* better. Do, say, Ondal 2. Or Laon. Or even Olympic Noodle. I could go on for days but trust me: Korean.

                                                                  Not to contradict what i just said about Korean BBQ, I would second the Langers recommendation because it is so much better than any equivalent sandwich in the Bay. Quintessentially L.A.

                                                                  Whoever said ice cream is better in the Bay is completely correct. I think LA has great ice cream but nothing you can't get in SF or Berkeley.

                                                                  Regional Chinese is a good call. Shanghainese food is considerably better as is most Northern and Western styles but it depends on how much you love Chinese food.

                                                                  Isaan Thai is something that I don't recall being strong in the Bay. Renu Nakorn or Spicy BBQ maybe?

                                                                  1. thanks, everybody for the suggestions.

                                                                    we did:

                                                                    -spice table. delicious, unique, affordably priced, refreshing for sure.
                                                                    -daikokuya. amazing broth, but weak toppings. assuming the santouka in LA is as good as the one in san jose, i'd probably usually go there.
                                                                    -jitlada - a bit inconsistent, but some very good items. hard for me to compare since i don't really have much experience with southern thai, but lotus of siam still blows it out of the water.
                                                                    -soowon galbi - really really good - better than anything i've had in SF.
                                                                    -animal - probably my favorite of the whole trip - incredibly innovative/delicious.
                                                                    -feng mao. delicious, and definitely unique (although the more traditional skewers were the best).
                                                                    -phong dinh - a bit inconsistent, but some very delicious meats for sure.
                                                                    -dintaifung - excellent soup dumplings, but was really hoping they would blow me out of the water, and they didn't.

                                                                    also went to the thai bakery - excellent call.

                                                                    had cocktails at varnish and the edison - some very good ones, some not as much.

                                                                    great coffee at the fix and demitasse.

                                                                    but yes, all in all, a delicious weekend.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: vulber

                                                                      Thanks for reporting back and for starting what turned out to be a great, informative and spirited thread that everyone can benefit from. We love Animal...so much creative energy along with the excellent taste of the food (which can get lost at times when places get creative but lose their way with the taste sacrificed for the creationism).

                                                                    2. Thought of another one: do you have anything like Fukuburger up there?


                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                          903 is the name of a sandwich-burger joint in Bernal Heights.