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Sawtelle Corridor - LA Neighborhood of the Month (Oct 2012)

Dave MP Oct 1, 2012 01:04 PM

Announcing the second Los Angeles Neighborhood of the Month: Sawtelle Corridor, between Santa Monica Blvd and Pico Blvd.

Here's a link to the voting thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/871237

Here's a link to the nomination thread, which describes the project in detail: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/870902

Collectively, LA hounds will try as many places as possible in the neighborhood during the month of October. Report back here with reviews, pictures, and lists of the best things to try when visiting this neighborhood. This particular neighborhood comes up frequently on Chowhound, but hopefully this project will help unearth some great new dishes and/or places to eat!

  1. PaulF Oct 1, 2012 01:44 PM

    Cool idea ... one of my favorite areas.

    We were there Saturday -- we really like the Japanese/Italian at Blue Marlin and really liked their Omrice. Sadly, Blue Marlin went out of business -- I don't think there is another place like it in the neighborhood and except for one or two spots in J-Town, I don't know of too many places that even serve Omrice.

    2 Replies
    1. re: PaulF
      i
      ilysla Oct 1, 2012 11:50 PM

      Blue Marlin went out of business??? I was only there 1-2 mo ago. That's too bad.... I also enjoyed their om-rice and their pastas. Can't say I'm too surprised, though; there were very few customers the last 2 times I was there....

      Curry house has omelette rice w/ meat sauce. It's quite tasty, but it's not the same thing as Blue Marlin's....

      1. re: ilysla
        PaulF Oct 2, 2012 08:33 AM

        It's a drag.

        We ate Italian food while in Japan and Blue Marlin reminded us of some of what was on the menus over there.

        Don't know of another spot quite like it in L.A.

        It was always doing business when we were there -- but it never caught on and had lines like a lot of places on Sawtelle -- no buzz.

    2. liu Oct 1, 2012 02:33 PM

      The Sawtelle Corridor gets my vote for LA Neighborhood of the Month...of the Year!

      We have tried most of the restaurants there, but I do not "understand" the rave reviews for Clusi Batusi, the new pizza place. If it had a Japanese edge, with perhaps some Japanese vegetable toppings, I might be interested. However, it was very ordinary. Yes, it is speedy pizza with friendly service, but it offers nothing unusual for me.

      2 Replies
      1. re: liu
        j
        JudiAU Oct 4, 2012 07:52 PM

        There is way too much good food on that stretch to even consider eating at "speedy pizza."

        1. re: JudiAU
          liu Oct 4, 2012 09:09 PM

          I SO agree with you, JudiAU!

      2. J.L. Oct 1, 2012 11:35 PM

        I didn't vote for Sawtelle exactly because it's already very frequented by the Hounds. Nonetheless, below is my "cut & paste" recon of Sawtelle from an earlier Chowthread I put together not too long ago (with some minor changes describing some very recent visits to some eateries)...

        Nanbankan*** (OK not really on Sawtelle but 1 block west, on Corinth) - Great grilling.
        Cafe Dahab* - Decent fuul & fries.
        Nina's Mexican - Not anything special.
        Bar Hayama* - Good late night option for sushi & sake, open air fireplace patio.
        Plan Check** - Great place to hang out; order the fried chicken, pastrami nosh, Japanese whiskeys.
        Ketchy's II** - Great fast food; I like their chili dog & fries.
        Mizu 212* - Wagyu beef shabu shabu; a good choice for cooler (shabu shabu) weather.
        Chabuya* - Summer ramen & noodles; chicken ramen.
        Orris Spaghetti House** - Good stuff; Japanese take on pasta.
        Robata-Ya* - Decent.
        Slicetruck* - So-so pizza. And I've been 3 times.
        Sawtelle Kitchen - OK food, but I never understood why this place was so popular.
        Asahi Ramen - I have no clue why there's a line outside. None.
        Tofu-Ya - Meh.
        Miyata Menji*** - Unorthodox (and tasty!) ramen; definitely worth a try.
        Hide Sushi* - Inexpensive but decent sushi = A value.
        FuRaiBo* - Izakaya food in a fun setting; try their teba saki.
        Nongla** - Solid Vietnamese food, nice service.
        Clusi Batusi*** - FANTASTIC pizza at a phenomenal price. Go.
        SushiStop - Run for your life.
        Tsujita*** - Fantastic tsukemen & tonkotsu ramen (both served at lunch only). Bring your own sudachi for the authentic Tokyo experience (else they give you a slice of lime). ** For their omakase dinners.
        Tomo Coffee* - Their WiFi works well.
        Blockheads Shavery** - Shaved ice & shaved snow! (I like the black sesame snow) A nice addition to Sawtelle.
        Seoul Tofu* - So-so, but better than Tofu-Ya.
        Volcano Tea** - A true Taiwanese boba tea house; they can get busy; try the lavender milk tea
        Restaurant 2117* - I still eat there after all these years; try the Kobe meatloaf
        Blue Marlin** - I liked their uni risotto. Sadly, out of business.
        Hurry Curry* - Pretty good.
        Gottsui** - Okonomiyaki house! Great place to meet friends and have a beer.
        Tatsu Ramen - You order your food via iPad (which is cool), but their ramen needs work (which is not cool).
        Manpuku* - Not bad.
        The closet of a storefront formerly known as Crepe Nazi - I haven't tried it yet under current ownership.
        Little Hong Kong Cafe* - Well-executed fast Asian food.
        Bear Papa's**/Mousse Fantasy* - Very fresh cream puffs, try their Paris Brest
        Yogurtland - Hipsters galore.
        Curry House* - I like their stone bowl curries
        Brian's Shave Ice* - Nice to have in the area; a different animal than Blockheads.
        Kiriko*** - Fantastic, superb sushi! Get the dinner omakase and try their homemade ice creams!
        Yakitoriya** - Solid yakitori on a street already filled with eateries serving grilled meat
        Pinkberry - Yawn.
        Morinoya*** - One of the best izakayas in L.A. - Outstanding food.
        Daichan Kaiten Sushi* - Fun time with sushi on conveyor belts
        Balconi Coffee*** - Sato-san is a master of caffeine; luscious coffees worth lingering over; try the almond latte also.
        Mapaya** - My new favorite find: Excellent savory and sweet crepes.

        South of Olympic: There are mostly chains: Starbuck's, Champagne Bakery, Panda Express, Which Wich* (which I really like as a chain), Baja Fresh, SushiMac, Ramen Jinya*

        * = I was okay the one or two times I went
        ** = Very good to great food
        *** = Excellent

        44 Replies
        1. re: J.L.
          liu Oct 2, 2012 06:16 AM

          Nice list, J.L.

          I agree with most of your stars, with the exception of Clusi Batusi. For me, it was good, but nothing different enough for my return visit. It is fast pizza, but hardly interesting.

          We have tried most of the others, but we have yet to try Morinoya. We have walked in a couple of times, but they were not yet open. I like the serene feel of the space and, with your three stars, it remains top on my Sawtelle dinner list.

          1. re: J.L.
            PaulF Oct 2, 2012 08:35 AM

            My take on Asahi Ramen.

            It's inexpensive.

            Also -- it's venerable. I remember when there were only a couple of restaurants on Sawtelle -- nothing like it is now -- and Asahi Ramen was there. It was a staple for all the UCLA students who get apartments in WLA. So, I think I lot of people go there because of the price and because of nostalgia.

            1. re: J.L.
              E Eto Oct 2, 2012 08:50 AM

              That's amazing. There are dozens of restaurants on several blocks on one avenue, but only 4 restaurants in East LA.

              1. re: E Eto
                Porthos Oct 2, 2012 11:31 AM

                LA is different than SF and NYC in that way. A noble and laudable effort that unfortunately ran up against the reality called LA traffic.

                Neighborhood of the week would probably work better in SF and NYC and dish of the week would probably work better down here.

                Just my 0.02.

                1. re: Porthos
                  E Eto Oct 2, 2012 08:52 PM

                  I doubt that traffic plays a large factor, especially considering that the LA board is full of posts by CHs going to the San Gabriel Valley from all parts of LA. Traffic should have deterred them too.

                  1. re: E Eto
                    Porthos Oct 2, 2012 09:35 PM

                    Depends where those hounds are from. If I'm driving up from OC to LA for the weekend and I get one shot at culinary satisfaction, I'm going with a place I know will please me in BH or SGV not a random place in East LA/Boyle Heights.

                    Maybe it's because LA hounds aren't that adventurous?

                    Maybe it's because East LA/Boyle Heights isn't the safest and most accessible area of LA?

                    Whatever the reason, it sure didn't look anything like that korean fried chicken thread on the SF boards.

                    JL has pretty much summed up the Sawtelle Corridor in 1 post.

                    Time for K-town with the caveat it can't be Korean BBQ or Tofu? I sure would like to get a list of some of those ultra specialized korean specialty dishes that most people don't know about. But that's a bit of a catch 22.

                    1. re: Porthos
                      Dave MP Oct 3, 2012 12:03 PM

                      While I think J.L. has provided a great list of places on Sawtelle Strip, I do not agree that it's the end of the discussion. In fact, it's just the beginning.

                      The point of this project is for people to go out and collectively eat at as many places as possible...within this current month. Thanks to J.L.'s list, we know that there are lots of good places (and some potentially mediocre ones) to try...the fun part of this is going out and reporting back, and making new discoveries. If you don't regularly go to the Sawtelle Corridor, make a special trip. If you do often go there, go somewhere new this time. Or try a new dish at a regular favorite.

                      I hope that as this project evolves, LA hounds can perhaps choose smaller neighborhood, which would make this type of reporting a bit more meaningful....even if that "neighborhood" is literally two blocks long, or is a particular pair of strip malls, or what have you....

                      Hope this makes sense!
                      Dave MP

                      1. re: Dave MP
                        J.L. Oct 3, 2012 05:01 PM

                        I hate to be the fly in the soup, but I'm still hazy on the concept.

                        I "listed" Sawtelle because I eat there a lot. A lot.

                        Why? 2 reasons: Diversity of selection & proximity to where I reside. Yes, I do make a significant a number of food pilgrimages all over SoCal for great chow, but each of these eateries is usually a known Chow-worthy target.

                        Don't get me wrong: I love serendipity in life and especially revel in finding culinary gems no one else has yet discovered, but just don't expect me to systematically canvas the grid in this pursuit. That's a lot of chaff to separate from the wheat.

                        Now for example, if the next neighborhood of the month is, say, Calabasas. Am I gonna shlep out there over the hill again and again over a span of 30 days just to "test the waters" out there?

                        I doubt it.

                        1. re: J.L.
                          Porthos Oct 3, 2012 05:22 PM

                          I'll add a beaten dead horse to the fly in your soup.

                          As I said from the beginning, we're probably better off playing dish of the month:

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/863167

                          I personally wanted Koreatown but didn't vote for it because Sawtelle Corridor is easier. If Sawtelle Corridor doesn't get a huge response, I don't know what will.

                          This thread sounds awesome for dish of the month:
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/871951

                          1. re: Porthos
                            PaulF Oct 4, 2012 09:17 AM

                            Based on another thread, this board could do corned beef hash for a month -- or a year.

                            1. re: Porthos
                              Dave MP Oct 4, 2012 02:48 PM

                              I'd very happy to see Dish of the Month on the LA board as well.

                              The reason why LA was selected as an initial spot for Neighborhood of the Month is that there are so many unexplored streets, blocks, strip malls, neighborhoods, etc. where there might be great food....it seemed like a natural place to begin experimenting with this idea. I do agree, however, that the downside of doing this in LA is that people are so spread out...so it's less likely that someone who lives in Santa Ana will venture up to Los Angeles simply to try a brand new place (which perhaps has never been reviewed on Chowhound).

                              The idea behind both Dish of the Month and Neighborhood of the Month is that people will try out new places, or perhaps dishes they otherwise wouldn't try. So I do understand the argument that Dish of the Month could work better for LA, since it wouldn't necessarily mean traveling.

                              But since Sawtelle Corridor is frequented by so many hounds, I'm hoping this discussion can unearth some new finds in an already-popular area, whether it's in the form of new restaurants, or simply new dishes.

                              1. re: Dave MP
                                Mr Taster Oct 4, 2012 03:24 PM

                                >> there are so many unexplored streets, blocks, strip malls, neighborhoods, etc. where there might be great food

                                Very true!

                                But if this is truly the goal of Neighborhood of the Month, then shouldn't we avoid churning the same old neighborhoods that are already well known Chowhound destinations?

                                Why not take the road less traveled in the way that Jim Leff's original Chowhound manifesto inspired us old-timers to do (when the San Gabriel Valley Chinese scene really was "off the map" for most Chowhounds)?

                                I tried to address this very issue in a post I made about a year and a half ago.

                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/776454

                                Mr Taster

                                1. re: Mr Taster
                                  liu Oct 4, 2012 03:48 PM

                                  While I agree with you, Mr Taster, that it is a great service of Chowhound to lead us to new, off-the-radar neighborhoods/streets/blocks/strip malls/holes-in-the-wall, I also find great value in posting about such a section as the Sawtelle strip with so many dining options.

                                  While we were keeping up over the past many years and trying out a new one as it would come in, it is difficult these days to keep up. There are new places on this Sawtelle corridor every week, so it seems, and there are still many spaces for more restaurants to appear.

                                  I appreciate the Chowhound help in weeding out the very good ones from the good ones from the fair ones. Of course, I am noticing that if I wait long enough, the fair ones can't stay...there is so much competition here now. But there are also more people and more generations represented -- it's not just UCLA students -- so "different strokes for different folks!" The various restaurants seem to have their loyal followers, for whatever reason.

                                  I think the Sawtelle Corridor is a fine selection for this project of Neighborhood of the Month! It is an area that is very much alive!

                                  1. re: liu
                                    monpetitescargot Oct 12, 2012 08:27 AM

                                    Okay, i'm usually pretty much a lurker but here's my bit on this subject.

                                    I'm actually a VA/DC hound who is relocating to Los Angeles at the end of this month so I have no idea about the city and I think the idea of breaking down such a large city into more digestible bits is a great approach. Especially since this is such a daunting city, given its size. Also, if it were organised and placed into a sticky thread at the top of the LA board, it could serve to diminish the amount of those pesky "I'm going to LA for 2 days and i need reccomendations and I'm staying in 'x' area.." threads that just take up space and re-hash the same things over and over again.

                                    Also, all of us sometimes end up in a neighbourhood we're not necessarily familiar with and it's nice to have some hound-approved places in an easy-to-find place as opposed to sifting through the threads from 2004 and searching through a thread about izakaya all over the city as opposed to what's pertinent to your location. It can also serve as a tool to increase communication between hounds and encourage people to maybe take a day trip to the other side of town to experience some amazing chow you never even knew existed.

                                    anyhow, point is, although it's only an infant of an idea, I'm already finding it useful. that's all. thanks, los angeles hounds.

                                    1. re: monpetitescargot
                                      liu Oct 12, 2012 08:49 AM

                                      Nicely said, monpetitescargot, and welcome to Los Angeles!

                                      1. re: monpetitescargot
                                        d
                                        Dirtywextraolives Oct 12, 2012 10:00 AM

                                        I agree, very well said and I find it both an interesting & valid point of view from an outsider looking in. And wholeheartedly agree with liu's sentiments, welcome to LA.

                                        1. re: monpetitescargot
                                          Servorg Oct 12, 2012 10:06 AM

                                          I also like the geographic approach much better than the dish approach for a couple of reasons. Not every dish remains on a menu over time, so the particular dish may well be long gone by the time you get around to trying the restaurant in question. And, knowing folks like my wife who intensely dislike certain ingredients and/or tastes, a more general outlining of restaurants works much better for our needs than any one particular dish.

                                          1. re: monpetitescargot
                                            Mr Taster Oct 12, 2012 10:37 AM

                                            I was recently in the DC area and had an Ethiopian meal with your fellow DC hound Steve so I'm happy to welcome you to LA.

                                            For those of us who have been around for a while and who regularly keep up with Chowhound, these neighborhood threads are not the treasure trove that they would be for a newcomer. But Chowhound is for everybody, not just the old-timers, and I definitely appreciate your perspective.

                                            LA rewards the intrepid Chowhound many times over, much more so than most other cities. The sheer vastness of LA, coupled with the density of Chowhound worthy places (and the in any given area might very well be unprecedented in this country. NY has density, for example, but not the vastness of LA County (Wikipedia: The 5 boroughs of NYC is 468.48 sq. mi, whereas LA County is 4752.32 sq. mi). In LA you can find greatness in the most unlikely of places, which is what my "Lynwood" thread was all about.

                                            Welcome to Los Angeles!

                                            Mr Taster

                                        2. re: Mr Taster
                                          Porthos Oct 4, 2012 03:50 PM

                                          Mr. Taster, Did you happen to see the East LA/Boyle Heights Neighborhood of the month? Just wondering since you didn't post on it when it was up. Not many people did. But that was the attempt at the road less traveled.

                                          I think K-town is worth a shot. With the caveat it can't be Park's, Chosun, Soot Bull Jeep, or Beverly Soon Tofu. If some K-town expert can provide us with a list of specialty restaurants and specialty dishes I'm game to take down a couple with pictures. Ondal1 or Ondal2 look pretty awesome.

                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/600475

                                          http://la.eater.com/archives/2012/02/...

                                          1. re: Porthos
                                            Servorg Oct 4, 2012 04:29 PM

                                            K-town would need almost a "block by block - street by street" approach, as the density of restaurants there would preclude any large scale approach.

                                            1. re: Servorg
                                              PaulF Oct 4, 2012 04:38 PM

                                              Replying to no one in particular, just happen to pick S's last post:

                                              I was thinking that L.A. would be perfect for "Street of the Month" because our streets are often really long.

                                              Take Washington Boulevard, for example. If you started at the ocean -- there are at least half a dozen restaurants (or more) right at the beach, including a Gaby's, a C&O and so on. Heading east, you'll pass (and I'm skipping a lot of places) 26 Beach, Sunny Spot, Ekkamai, Rockenwagner, Sazon, A-Frame, Waterloo and City, Corner Door, Rutt's, Alibi Room, Cafe Brazil, The Wood, Yamadaya, Zam Zam and we're just beginning to roll into Culver City where we'd find E.K. Valley and other places -- and that's just getting started because Washington Boulevard rolls on eastward.

                                              But due to the length of the boulevard, people could actually live in different areas and find places that were close to them. Sunset Boulevard -- same thing. Santa Monica Boulevard -- same thing.

                                              Anyway, I'm just procrastinating at work ... maybe it's a dumb idea? LOL

                                          2. re: Mr Taster
                                            d
                                            Dirtywextraolives Oct 4, 2012 07:08 PM

                                            Sawtelle Corridor may be very well known to you & other CHers, but that doesn't mean it's well known to everyone..... And I thought that was the point.

                                  2. re: Porthos
                                    Mr Taster Oct 4, 2012 12:14 PM

                                    >> Depends where those hounds are from. If I'm driving up from OC to LA for the weekend and I get one shot at culinary satisfaction, I'm going with a place I know will please me in BH or SGV not a random place in East LA/Boyle Heights.

                                    I don't understand, Porthos.... East LA/BH is the analogous Mexican/Latin American equivalent to the Chinese SGV in terms of food. If you're driving up from OC, BH/East LA is crazy chock-a-blok with good food... just off the top of my head there's 5 Puntos, Guisados, Elvirita Cemitas, Zacatecas Raspados, Manuel's El Tepayec, La Serenata, Moles La Tia, Tacos Baja Ensenada. These places are no more "random" than 101 Noodle Express, Din Tai Fung, Omar's Xinjiang, China Islamic, etc.

                                    Unless you just don't like the cooking, I don't understand your rationale for not going out of your way to eat in East LA the way you would for an equivalent restaurant in the SGV.

                                    Mr Taster

                                    1. re: Mr Taster
                                      Porthos Oct 4, 2012 12:52 PM

                                      Mr. Taster. The proof is in the pudding/thread.

                                      I am satisfied with the level of stewed pork ribs with nopales, barbacoa, etc. I can get down here in Santa Ana/OC and don't feel the need to make East LA a stop for Mexican food. Gas would easily exceed my meal cost.

                                      Shanghainese food, Shunji, Sotto, Red Medicine, Tsujita, etc. I cannot get down here.

                                      1. re: Porthos
                                        j
                                        Jase Oct 7, 2012 11:29 AM

                                        Except some people on that thread were disparaging how only familiar ones were being visited. And all due respect to JL's list, almost all those places are already familiar to most hounds. So what's the difference?

                                        1. re: Jase
                                          Porthos Oct 7, 2012 12:53 PM

                                          I was referring to our East/LA Boyle Heights thread vs the SF korean fried chicken thread (ie Neighborhood of the month vs dish of the month). Difference being the number of responses and how the road less traveled is the road less traveled.

                                          1. re: Jase
                                            J.L. Oct 12, 2012 02:12 PM

                                            Actually that list comprises ALL restaurants in current operation on Sawtelle, not just the well-known ones.

                                            1. re: J.L.
                                              liu Oct 12, 2012 02:21 PM

                                              Great list, J.L.
                                              ...and remember to check the streets again in a few days as there will be some new ones to add to the list!

                              2. re: J.L.
                                Servorg Oct 2, 2012 10:03 AM

                                Very shortly the Sawtelle list will be needing an * added to it as Seoul Sausage is about to open it's bricks and mortar location just a few steps around the corner on Mississippi as I noted in this earlier thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/861690 plus their web site can be found here for further updates: http://www.seoulsausage.com/ and a later blurb about their progress in opening can be seen here: http://la.eater.com/archives/2012/10/...

                                1. re: J.L.
                                  a
                                  Ave Oct 2, 2012 04:29 PM

                                  I believe Orris Spaghetti House is now closed.

                                  1. re: Ave
                                    liu Oct 2, 2012 04:34 PM

                                    Huh?
                                    But I guess I'm not too surprised. We walked by last week on our way to Gottsui and it was not busy.

                                    Ave or anyone, are there plans for them to reinvent themselves once again?

                                    1. re: liu
                                      a
                                      Ave Oct 2, 2012 04:55 PM

                                      I did not see anything on his further plans. There was a report that a chain serving hand made noodles was taking over the space.

                                      1. re: Ave
                                        liu Oct 2, 2012 05:06 PM

                                        Ave, thanks for responding and thanks for this information.

                                        I will miss the original Orris...aaah, that grilled Romaine with Parmesan shavings...but there are so many new Sawtelle restaurants now that our choices are many!

                                        1. re: liu
                                          c
                                          CLowe Oct 3, 2012 04:07 PM

                                          I hadn't made it to Plan Check until recently, and I was pretty sure I'd heard too much hype and would leave underwhelmed. Totally wrong.

                                          I may just be in the middle of a personal burger craze right now (I feel like there are some great burgers around LA and I'm starting to have a hard time deciding which few are my faves), but the Plan Check burger was totally what I wanted that night. The akaushi red wagyu beef patty was incredibly tasty, the ketchup leather something I hadn't seen before, and the mix of cheese, onions, and pickles was perfectly balanced and didn't overpower the meat's flavor. One complaint: the bun was a bit gummy, like it'd been heated a tad too long.

                                          Next up, the fries on special. At this point I don't recall exact details, but I think they were cheesy, bacon fries and they blew our minds. Gone in like 5 minutes, without any remorse. Get those if they're available.

                                          Despite being miserably full, I can never pass up donuts (these are cruller donuts, which I had to look up later -- a twisted donut that tends to be a bit more dense or cake-like), so of course we ordered those to share. Seriously the prettiest looking churro-esque donuts I've ever seen. It's awfully dark in the restaurant so this photo doesn't do them justice, but I was a happy camper. Perfect sugar-cinammon taste in my opinion, and fresh and hot. The banana and fluffy cream below made for a killer combo.

                                          I'm pretty swayed by atmosphere, and though my sensibilities are changing with age and it's a tiny bit too loud/echoey inside, the whole establishment has a busy, cheerful vibe that I liked. Part of the kitchen is open and it's one packed place, cooks and waiters hustling to and fro; to the right of that is the bar, where lots of people sip cocktails and beers while waiting for their tables. Definitely a social place, not where you'd go for a quiet romantic dinner or anything.

                                          Obviously plan check isn't new to many of you but it was new to me this month and I'll definitely, definitely be pointing friends in that direction.

                                           
                                          1. re: CLowe
                                            Porthos Oct 3, 2012 05:14 PM

                                            Great post!

                                  2. re: J.L.
                                    Ciao Bob Oct 4, 2012 09:43 AM

                                    Anyone have any more to say about Nongla?

                                    Pho and Banh Mi are so hard to find in that part of town and whenever a likely contender appears (Le Saigon, East-West Sanwiches, Nom Nom) they are roundly, and rapidly, trounced by knowlegable hounds. But, oddly, this place - in such a visible location - has draws neither ire nor fire.

                                    1. re: Ciao Bob
                                      liu Oct 4, 2012 09:56 AM

                                      I enjoyed a small banh mi at Nongla a short time after they opened. Mine was VERY good, and mostly it was about the bread. However, the owner told me that their bread comes from "far away" and that they had to pick it up to replenish daily. This sounded like a problem, and I do not know if they can consistently deliver such a good product as I had that one day. I have not been back since.

                                      However, the owner was extremely proud of her family operation here and she was quick to point out all the homemade items, particularly their sauces. I hope this was not just a Grand Opening enthusiasm and that they continue to shine as they did that one day that we were there.

                                      1. re: Ciao Bob
                                        t
                                        taiwanesesmalleats Oct 4, 2012 10:34 AM

                                        I've been to Nong La many times already due to its proximity to me. I've tried their beef pho, bun bo hue, cold bun, and banh mi. Each was surprisingly good. I find their pho to be light (not oily) but with a good beefy flavor. Some would consider it bland, but I find it to have an edge that makes it feel like pho I would eat at home if my parents made pho. They use a different type of noodle that is fresh and wider than the standard pho noodle. It's been decried as being "inauthentic" but from what I understand, it's commonly used in Northern-style pho.

                                        Bun bo hue is not something I usually order but I tried my dining companion's and it definitely lives up to the moniker of being pho's wild cousin. It lacks the common addition of pork blood, but it was tasty nonethless.

                                        The cold bun dishes also use fresh noodles which I think is great. They don't clump as easily and the meats are well flavored. The nuoc mam is good.

                                        The banh mi use fresh bread that they get daily. The bread is probably the best part of the sandwich. The crust is thin and crackly and the interior is light but with a decent chew. There could be more filling but that's a minor complaint. The problem I find with their sandwich is the lack of a good pate and their pickled daikon/carrot combo lacks the sweet tang I look for.

                                        Also, I have not tried their cafe sua da (iced coffee w/ condensed milk) but their passionfruit iced tea is really good albeit a tad sweet.

                                        1. re: taiwanesesmalleats
                                          liu Oct 4, 2012 11:33 AM

                                          Hi, taiwanesesmalleats!
                                          I agree with your assessment of the Nong La Banh Mi. Their bread is really good. I just hope that they don't opt for another bread supplier who is closer and delivers.

                                          The filling was not what I am used to; it is far more delicate at Nong La. For my tastes, this is good because it leaves room for a shave ice at Brian's just down the street!

                                          1. re: liu
                                            Ciao Bob Oct 4, 2012 11:53 AM

                                            Thanks so much...sounds very good!

                                            1. re: liu
                                              t
                                              taiwanesesmalleats Oct 4, 2012 12:08 PM

                                              Or Blockheads around the corner.

                                              1. re: taiwanesesmalleats
                                                liu Oct 4, 2012 12:26 PM

                                                Yes, Blockhead's is fun, too. Blockhead's is the shave ice cream experience! That's a meal for me because the ice cream sits a little more heavily than does the shave ice at Brian's.

                                                Both places take me back to when I was seven!

                                        2. re: J.L.
                                          b
                                          bulavinaka Oct 12, 2012 04:17 PM

                                          A few more for the list:
                                          Rex Persian Bakery
                                          Sawtelle Tempura
                                          Seoul Sausage
                                          Nijiya Market

                                          1. re: J.L.
                                            i
                                            inbadfaith Jun 14, 2013 03:24 PM

                                            Fuul at Dahab house is absolutely foul. Where else have you tried fuul because I haven't been able to find it anywhere. I suppose you'd have to go to someone's house to get fuul.

                                          2. o
                                            Ogawak Oct 4, 2012 10:24 AM

                                            Watch for Bachi Burger, opening at the old Save and Save Market between Hide Sushi and Sawtelle Kitchen. We tried the one in West Las Vegas and had fantastic Asian fusion burgers with incredible ice cream sandwiches for dessert. My blue cheese with spinach and mushroom burger was good, but the wife's kalbi and kimchee burger was great. Another great touch was the pineapple relish which actually tasted better than my beloved Heinz Ketchup. The ice cream sandwich is actually three different sandwiches, my favorite being the black sesame ice cream. There is also a burger that includes unagi (marinated Japanese River Eel), also Wagyu options.

                                            I doubt whether it will open in time for October, but it will be a most welcome addition to this great neighborhood.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Ogawak
                                              Servorg Oct 4, 2012 10:30 AM

                                              Sounds like Plan Check is in for some competition...

                                              1. re: Servorg
                                                o
                                                Ogawak Oct 4, 2012 10:51 AM

                                                That Plan Check review looked great, and PC is on my list. With gourmet burgers, pizza, Korean sausage and Vietnamese, Sawtelle is moving beyond being just Little Osaka.

                                                1. re: Ogawak
                                                  liu Oct 4, 2012 12:31 PM

                                                  "Sawtelle is moving beyond being just Little Osaka."

                                                  Oh, NOOOooooo!

                                                  I know, this is not very Chow-ish of me, but I liked it when everything was Little Osaka! I am not so much liking the Clusi Batusi pizza and the burgers...unless they have a Little Osaka edge to them.

                                                  Sawtelle is beginning to feel like a food court to me.

                                                  1. re: liu
                                                    n
                                                    ns1 Oct 4, 2012 12:44 PM

                                                    Stopped being little osaka when the mom & pop shops started turning into lofts.

                                            2. j
                                              JudiAU Oct 4, 2012 08:00 PM

                                              My favorite dishes on Sawtelle, and never can I order anything else:

                                              Sawtelle Kitchen - fish lunch special, eggplant salad, green beans with soy sauce-butter, which was life changing in terms of getting my kids to eat several green vegetables, katsu anything with curry

                                              Tsujita- for ramen, what else

                                              Mizu 212- non-CAFO beef with quite a good organic vegetable upgrade, very interesting selection + the interesting Korean waitress-made dipping sauce

                                              Kiriko - for cheap 3 hand roll lunch special or omakse; very good vegetable plate

                                              1. b
                                                BSW6490 Oct 6, 2012 06:19 PM

                                                Finally made it to Plan Check for lunch. Had the fried chicken sandwich with duck ham, pickles and pimento cheese. Also fries. The fries were very good and the sandwich great; although not so much an hour later. Speaks more to my ability to eat things like that for lunch than the quality. Alas, Langer's would certainly kill me. Anyway, for those who have a stronger gut, this is a great venue.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: BSW6490
                                                  c
                                                  compucook Oct 11, 2012 11:49 AM

                                                  I completely agree. Their burgers aren't for those of us whose stomachs are overwhelmed with too much fat. I wish they had a couple of healthier options on the menu. It's on my way home and the vibe was great, but I feel really guilty and overly full when I'm done. Adding a dessert or greasy fries might do me in.

                                                  1. re: compucook
                                                    d
                                                    Dirtywextraolives Oct 11, 2012 12:49 PM

                                                    Try the butter lettuce salad, not heavy nor too fattening, complete meal with protein....I crave it constantly, and never feels heavy after eating. But I usually eat a burger or sandwich, too....whaddaya want, I'm a hound......

                                                2. c
                                                  chewbacca Oct 8, 2012 11:30 AM

                                                  I need a place for drinks and, hopefully, a happy hour today at 4pm on Sawtelle. Are any of these places good for cocktails?

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: chewbacca
                                                    Servorg Oct 8, 2012 11:32 AM

                                                    Plan Check

                                                    1. re: Servorg
                                                      c
                                                      chewbacca Oct 8, 2012 11:43 AM

                                                      Thanks. That is what I was thinking but needed confirmation. Thanks much for your prompt reply.

                                                      1. re: Servorg
                                                        J.L. Oct 8, 2012 05:07 PM

                                                        +1

                                                        1. re: Servorg
                                                          b
                                                          budlit Oct 9, 2012 10:49 AM

                                                          +2

                                                          1. re: budlit
                                                            wienermobile Oct 9, 2012 11:14 AM

                                                            +3

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