HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
What's your latest food project? Tell us about it
TELL US

Quick Cheap Good Lunch After Golf at Encino/Balboa/Woodley?

n
nosh Oct 7, 2012 08:45 PM

I drive from Westwood to the SFV for golf often. I'm not very familiar with the Valley at all. So far I've found Philly's Best on Ventura Blvd. for a pretty good cheesesteak. A current thread has mentioned Firehouse on Victory at Reseda for good gyros -- I'm definitely going to check them out this week.

I'm interested in some of the best inexpensive fairly quick lunches I can grab in this area that will still get me back home easily via the 101/405. Particularly interested in a good Chinese combo lunch -- and please mention which dishes are best (I like spicy). A great burger, with really good fries or onion rings? A good sandwich place? Thai? Please let me know where to go to celebrate a good round or drown my sorrows with good food after a disappointing one.

  1. n
    nosh Nov 6, 2012 06:04 PM

    Just wanted to update that Bamboo Forest has become the regular on my post-golf lunch rotation. I have a regular order that the staff knows -- the aromatic shrimp, extra sauce, spicy, broccoli cooked in the sauce, with fried rice. Slightly crunchy two-bite shrimp, broccoli now softened a tiny bit. Comes with an eggroll and a fried wonton. Really good hot'n'sour soup -- hot in temp and tang. A cute little salad with some iceberg and a bit of carrot and cabbage and a touch of a sweetish dressing. All of this including tax and a generous tip for a $9 lunch.

    1. mucho gordo Oct 24, 2012 09:25 PM

      "Salads Galore" on Balboa/Ventura

      1 Reply
      1. re: mucho gordo
        s
        selfportrait93 Oct 25, 2012 09:44 PM

        Salads Galore in this location is now closed.

      2. n
        nosh Oct 23, 2012 07:47 PM

        Went back to Bamboo Forest today and found the winning dish, the aromatic shrimp. Really tasty shrimp that had a slight crispiness to them -- must have been coated in cornstarch and deepfried. Sweet'n'sour-type sauce and broccoli. Reminiscent of the slippery shrimp at Yang Chow but not as crunchy. Wish the broccoli was cooked more and in the sauce. But a very good dish. And at $6.25 with the hot'n'sour soup (which is growing on me) and a small salad of iceberg and fried rice, an egg roll and a wonton -- a great value.

        9 Replies
        1. re: nosh
          hhewitt Oct 24, 2012 09:40 AM

          Great to know! I live near Bamboo Forest, and only tried it once and found it just OK. Do you know if the lunch special is available 7 days a week, or just weekdays?

          1. re: hhewitt
            g
            GK in SO Oct 24, 2012 02:14 PM

            I too live near Bamboo Forest, and really enjoy it for what it is - Americanized chinese food.

            They are open for lunch Tuesday thru Saturday. Sundays they only open for dinner, and they're closed on Mondays.

            I really like their orange chicken, orange shrimp, mu shu chicken, aromatic shrimp, and shrimp sizzling rice soup. My nine year-old daughter loves their chicken wonton soup (which I think is bland as hell, and needs lots of chili oil to pep it up).

            They use really tender white meat chicken in their chicken dishes, which I know is not very Chow-ish, but turns out really nice and tasty. Their orange chicken is the "gold standard" IMO.

            But, as with any Americanized chinese resto, YMMV.

            1. re: GK in SO
              n
              nosh Oct 24, 2012 09:23 PM

              I asked for chili oil at Bamboo Forest and was brought the red, thick chili paste. Did you get actual hot chili oil there?

              1. re: nosh
                g
                GK in SO Oct 25, 2012 09:18 AM

                I didn't, Nosh.

                I usually get my food to go, and so I stock some La Yu (I think is the brand) chili oil at our house, purchased from the 99 Ranch Market on Victory/Sepulveda, just for this purpose.

          2. re: nosh
            j
            Jwsel Oct 24, 2012 10:16 PM

            Just worth a note. On the regular menu and websites like menupix/menupages, you won't find aromatic shrimp, but will find the same dish listed under the chef's specials as volcano shrimp. They also do a volcano chicken.

            1. re: Jwsel
              n
              nosh Oct 25, 2012 03:13 PM

              Had aromatic shrimp at Bamboo Forest for lunch again today. It is on their lunch combo menu. Asked for extra sauce (check), the broccoli cooked in the sauce (check, made them more tender), and spicy (no check, still just sweet and maybe a touch sour sauce). Really good dish. Lots of shrimp, and for me they are two-bite size. Love the slight crispiness.

              1. re: nosh
                g
                GK in SO Oct 25, 2012 10:50 PM

                Nosh, since you like Aromatic Shrimp at BF, I recommend you also try their Sweet and Pungent Shrimp, as well as their Orange Shrimp, of course customized as you request.

                Something for the next golf outing!! Let us know what you think.

                I'm really glad to see BF get some love on this board, especially from an established poster like Nosh.

                1. re: GK in SO
                  n
                  nosh Oct 26, 2012 10:08 AM

                  Do they cook the shrimp the same way in these dishes? With the slight crunch? The shrimp in the shrimp w/ garlic sauce dish -- not my favorite, too bland -- was simply stir-fried with no crispiness.

                  Bamboo Forest is a small, family-run operation (aunt and nephew working the floor most days I've been there) that appears to do a pretty good lunch business. On some days there is even a short wait for one of the few tables. Prices are very low -- $5.75-6.25 for a big lunch combo with soup, a small salad, entree and rice plus eggroll and wonton. Very convenient to the Valley public courses. My thanks to Jwsel above who clued me in.

                  1. re: nosh
                    g
                    GK in SO Oct 26, 2012 11:39 AM

                    The S&W shrimp is definintely cooked the same way (with a light coat of cornstarch, I believe). The Orange Shrimp, I'm not sure about the cornstarch part, but the shrimp in this dish definitely have that crispness to them.

                    Oh, forgot to mention, that the Orange Shrimp is not served with broccoli, so it sounds as if they'd have to add it to the dish for you. Sounds kinda good actually, to have their yummy orange sauce coating some broccoli!!

          3. boogiebaby Oct 15, 2012 10:32 PM

            For a good sandwich, try DeFrankos on Woodley and Saticoy. It's a tiny little shack, but they make good sandwiches. They have some picnic tables in the back if you want to eat there.

            1. c
              carter Oct 15, 2012 08:03 PM

              Head south on Hayvenhurst to Ventura Blvd., go to Gelson's and get what YOU want at the salad bar for $7.99 per pound. Best salad bar around, very reliable, very fresh.
              Corporate headquarters adjacent to store, so must keep the bar fresh, or the bosses will notice immediately.
              Eat at their salad bar nearly every day for lunch - never over $5, to go!

              1. n
                nosh Oct 13, 2012 08:48 PM

                Tried California Mediterranean Grill today, in the CVS minimall a block west of the one with Philly's Best on the south side of Ventura. Got the shawarma pita sandwich, with the turkey/lamb meat, without hummus. Garlic sauce and hot sauce on the side. A HUGE sandwich for just under (or was it over?) seven bucks total. Lots of meat. Pita disintegrated after a couple of bites so had to unwrap it and eat it knife and fork. Really wanted to like it, and it was filling, but a lot of problems. First, the meat -- while there was some caramelization, the meat lacked taste and spice. I understand the rationale for turkey rather than beef with the lamb, but for me it didn't work. Too bland. And wrong mouth feel. Had high hopes for the white garlic sauce, but couldn't taste the garlic. Just like a very white, gloppy mayo. Hot sauce was ok. Might come back to try something else, but hard to choose this over the good cheesesteak so close...

                2 Replies
                1. re: nosh
                  i
                  ilysla Oct 14, 2012 12:14 AM

                  One word: FALAFEL. I haven't tried any of their other items, but the falafels were the only things I ever wanted from there (esp if the old man was making them). Perfectly crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside. Yum, yum, yum...

                  1. re: ilysla
                    n
                    nosh Oct 14, 2012 05:07 PM

                    Thanks, ilysia. I could see that pita being better with some hot-out-of-the-fryer falafel. (And some garlic sauce -- from Zankou!! ;-) )

                2. n
                  nosh Oct 11, 2012 01:32 PM

                  Tried Bamboo Forest today, which is on Burbank at Kester. Pleasant little place, and the service was very good. Scent of incense a bit strong. Had the lunch combo with shrimp in szechwan garlic sauce as my entree. Hot 'n sour soup was ok, a touch overthickened. They include a small salad mainly iceberg with a touch of a vaguely asian dressing -- nice touch. Entree was nice-sized and pretty generous with the shrimp. But though I asked for spicy, the sauce and the whole dish, which included zucchini, carrot and water chestnut, was a bit bland. Certainly a good deal of food at $6.25 + tax + tip.

                  I'll try it again -- certainly convenient to the course and the freeway -- and order the kung pao.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: nosh
                    j
                    Jwsel Oct 16, 2012 10:49 AM

                    They will definitly make the food spicy if you ask. Just emphasize that you really want your food spicy. I prefer the kung pao to the garlic sauce. Also make sure you try their aromatic shrimp, which is a available as a lunch special.

                    I like my hot 'n sour soup thick, so I love their soup. What I particularly like is that it actually is sour. So many versions in the area are just too bland.

                    1. re: Jwsel
                      n
                      nosh Oct 16, 2012 06:44 PM

                      Thank you -- I will get back there and try their kung pao and the aromatic shrimp. Definitely willing to give them another try or two to find their best dishes.

                      1. re: nosh
                        n
                        nosh Oct 18, 2012 06:32 PM

                        Went back to Bamboo Forest today. Had the kung pao chicken -- better than the garlic sauce, but even though I asked for spicy still no burn at all. Asked for hot chili oil, they brought me a garlic chili paste and then told me they don't have hot chili oil -- bad sign. I definitely prefered the fried rice to the bland and a touch gummy steamed rice I tried last time. Hot'n'sour soup was better -- did indeed have a sour note. Will put sorta low down on my post-golf rotation -- filling and very inexpensive when I need a change from my cheesesteaks.

                        1. re: nosh
                          c
                          carter Oct 18, 2012 09:15 PM

                          For Hot & Sour soup, Kung Pao in Studio City, not Sherman Oaks, is what you are looking for. Actually all their soups are very good, their chili oil very powerful, and their lamb, tofu, shrimp dishes are all superb.
                          You like veggies not called onions, baby corn or shredded carrots - welcome to Kung Pao. The rest of the competition uses those ingredients for filler as they are cheaper than ....!
                          But in no way is it competitive with ANY cheesesteak, one of the truly gross food products on the planet.
                          One or, but not both!

                          1. re: carter
                            n
                            nosh Oct 19, 2012 06:22 PM

                            OK, Kung Pao gets the occasional rec for Chinese in the Valley. Not terribly inconvenient, so I can see checking them out. The Mongolian lamb on the lunch special menu is appealing -- I like Mongolian beef and lamb can only make it better. Do they have their own parking lot?

                    2. re: nosh
                      c
                      carter Oct 17, 2012 09:31 PM

                      Chinese restaurants with carrots or baby corn or water chestnuts should definitely be ignored.
                      Not only non- authentic, which may or may not matter, but are cheapening in the food costs. they are filler, just like onions are.
                      Yet you might like them, but try the real places where those items are not even in the building.
                      then you will realize the difference.

                    3. c
                      chuck Oct 10, 2012 07:11 PM

                      Try Smoke City Market for pretty good BBQ. It is located on Van Nuys Blvd just north of Magnolia, and Billy's grill.Try the Moist brisket.

                      1. n
                        nosh Oct 9, 2012 08:00 PM

                        OK, I tried Firehouse Gyros (at the corner of Reseda and Victory) after golf today. A lamb/beef gyro with fries and a drink was $11 including tax and change tip -- it is an order and pickup at the counter sort of place. It was very satisfying. They gyro was HUGE and well-filled with meat. I quickly gave up trying to pick it up and slipped off its paper/foil cover and ate it with knife and fork on the plate. Meat was plentiful and tasty, but it lacked caramelization either from the rotisserie or being fried on the flattop. Fries were skin-on but it appeared my order for well-done was ignored. Service and mood of the place was pleasant. I'll probably come back...

                        1. i
                          ilysla Oct 7, 2012 10:07 PM

                          Amirs Falafel in Encino (along Ventura, a little west of Balboa) is a good choice. For Vietnamese, I like Pho So 1 on Sepulveda near Victory (in the 99 Ranch strip mall).

                          For Chinese, there's Tampa Gardens (http://www.tampagardenchinesedelight.com/). You can find various mentions of it on the board. The last (and only) time I was there, I stuck w/ the *less* prototypically fast-food type items and was quite satisfied. Mandarin Deli in Northridge (https://plus.google.com/1173018767187...) is also quite good. Neither of these two places are really that close to the recreation center at Burbank/Hayvenhurst (which is where I assume you play golf?), but they're quite tasty.

                          For Thai, I think the best thing to do is to drive all the way to North Hollywood (which isn't super far from Encino, if there's no traffic on the freeway....). Sanamluang and Sri Siam get good reviews. I've been to both and prefer Sri Siam. Vinh Loi Tofu (vegan Vietnamese) also gets good reviews.

                          And for a good sandwich, I'd actually head down to Gelson's (Hayvenhurst/Ventura), but that isn't particularly celebratory (or consolatory), so....

                          16 Replies
                          1. re: ilysla
                            j
                            Jwsel Oct 8, 2012 09:06 AM

                            The Northridge places make no sense for Chinese, because they are ridiculously out of the way. In the general vicinity of the golf course, consider either Sam Woo BBQ at Victory and Sepulveda of Bamboo Forest at Kester and Magnolia. Sam Woo is in the center with the Ranch 99 and hs good roast duck and roast pork, which are available to go, as well as a sit-down area with a good variety, though I am less familiar with the offerings. My go-to Chinese is Bamboo Forest, which is a hole-in-the-wall place not too far on the other side of the 405 from the golf course. They have excellent hot-and-sour soup, very good kung pao, aromatic shrimp (a sweet-spicy shrimp), and Mongolian beef. It's pretty Americanized and won't make you forget the San Gabriel Valley, but its food is consistently good and I think it is among the best Chinese in that part of the valley. The lunch specials -- with soup, egg roll, won ton, and entree -- are well-priced. I think it is probably exactly what the OP meant by a cheap combination lunch.

                            For Thai, Thai 'n' I is good for bbq ribs or chicken. (Ignore everythine else.) You can get them in a combo with mee krob and pad thai. The North Hollywood places are far superior and have much better variety, but they are not easy to reach from the golf course.

                            If you like pho, there are two places on Sepulveda in the block north of Victory, so close to the golf course. One is in the center with the Ranch 99 and Sam Woo. The other is across the street. Both are quite good and inexpensive.

                            Do you like Mexican sandwiches? Don Adrian at Kester and Victory has very good cemitas. For a knock-your-socks-off sandwich, Takatis Peruvian is a little farther -- on Van Nuys, just south of Victory -- and has a sandwich called the sanguchon, which is rotisserie chicken, fried egg, fried yam, lettuce, tomato, and spicy peruvian sauce (you can get extra). It's a huge sandwich for under $5. The problem is that it can take a long time to make, so I recommend ordering ahead. You also can get tortas at the Vallarta market on Woodley near the golf course (the roast chicken and tacos there also are great, cheap eats).

                            If you are open to Indian, Anarbagh at Louise and Ventura (in the same center as Amer's Falafel and a block from Philly's Best) has very good lunch specials. The menu makes it sound like you can only get a generic "curry" but you can pretty much choose from the different chicken or lamb offerings and they will make the food spicy if you ask.

                            For burgers, there aren't a lot of great options that come to mind. Billy's Grill on Van Nuys Blvd. at Magnolia is probably the best in the area.

                            For drinks and celebratory, consider Larsen's steakhouse at Woodley and Ventura. It's a bit upscale, so it definitely doesn't fit the "cheap" part. But the bar is nice for drinks. Less-expensive options are Springbok Bar, the South African bar on Woodley, which isn't great for food (though they do a good fried calamari), or Robin Hood Pub at Burbank and Woodman, though it is a bit farther east (but does have some of the best fish and chips in the city).

                            1. re: Jwsel
                              n
                              nosh Oct 8, 2012 06:14 PM

                              Thank you both for taking the time to reply.

                              ilysia, i have used your link and i'm definitely going to try Tampa Garden. They have the combos i want to try. do you have a favorite dish or two there?

                              Jwsel, thank you so much for your lengthy reply. I will definitely check out Bamboo Forest -- some of the dishes you mention are my go-tos. You reminded me of Amer's Falafel (is it Amir's -- i'll look it up) and i will check out several of your other recommendations.

                              I'll post here as i sample these. thanks.

                              1. re: nosh
                                j
                                Jwsel Oct 8, 2012 08:52 PM

                                I always thought it was Amir's, but they changed the name a few years ago to California Mediterranean Grill by Amer's Falafel and the website is http://www.amersfalafel.com/

                                1. re: nosh
                                  i
                                  ilysla Oct 8, 2012 10:58 PM

                                  Alas, I didn't have any of the combos! The threads about the restaurant at the time suggested that the combos were nothing special. I had the XLB (dough was a bit too thick), one of the dumplings (perhaps the 3 ingredient dumplings?), the sin jian bao or guo tie (which I don't see on the menu, although I imagine they must still have it), and the cat ears (ditto; in case you're unfamiliar w/ it, it's like the Chinese version of orchecciette). The last 3 were very good (esp the cat ears... yum...). And the matron of the family (who literally started rolling out the dough after we placed the order) was so sweet and gracious.

                                  I think it used to be Amer's (not to be confused Amir's Falafel in Studio City, which is apparently totally different). I do vaguely recall when I went there once that it had "California Mediterranean Grill" written, uh, somewhere.

                                  1. re: ilysla
                                    j
                                    Jwsel Oct 9, 2012 12:09 AM

                                    If you go to Tampa Garden, don't bother with the regular Chinese menu. Stick to the Northern Chinese dumplings and the cat ears noodles (though I agree that the ELB dough was a bit thick). The Chinese offerings that you can get at most SFV places like kung pao, orange chicken, etc., were at best average fast-food Chinese.

                                    1. re: Jwsel
                                      boogiebaby Oct 9, 2012 12:26 AM

                                      Their homemade noodles made chow mein style are delicious too. Make sure you ask for the handmade noodles otherwise you get the usual dry boxed kind.

                                      1. re: Jwsel
                                        j
                                        Jelly71 Oct 9, 2012 09:26 AM

                                        I have eaten multiple times from both menus and have to respectfully disagree with your last sentence. The regular Chinese menu blows away average fast food Chinese. The shrimp with broccoli is fantastic. The shrimp are big and tasty and the broccoli is so fresh and green and flavorful. The orange chicken makes Panda Express weep with shame. And I don't know how they do this, but when you re-heat the leftovers, the orange chicken stays crispy.

                                        The bacon ginger fried rice is delicious and I have not seen that at any other Chinese restaurant.

                                        I am also a big fan of the cat ear noodles. Especially with chicken. The chicken just melts in your mouth and has so much flavor.

                                2. re: ilysla
                                  a
                                  Ave Oct 8, 2012 06:46 PM

                                  For something spicy and cheap (sorry, not Asian), try Salsa & Beer, 6740 White Oak Ave, Reseda, CA 91406 - according to Google Maps, it is 8 minutes away. Not fancy, often crowded, generally fast and above average American Mexican food (not La Super Rica but also closer).

                                  1. re: Ave
                                    n
                                    nosh Oct 8, 2012 07:20 PM

                                    Thanks, Ave. I love spicy -- is their salsa or hot sauce good? I've looked at the menu -- everything seems to be paired with rice and beans (rice is boring filler, and I don't like beans) but they do give a salad option. i wish I knew how much they charged for soft tacos and such by themselves... What are your favorite dishes? I go to Tacos Por Favor (al pastor, carnitas, and chorizo and cheese tacos, and their great hot sauce) or Taqueria Sanchez (shrimp tacos) on the westside. I will give it a try.

                                    1. re: nosh
                                      a
                                      Ave Oct 8, 2012 08:42 PM

                                      The last few times I had a spicy chicken salad. I have not tried the salsa or hot sauce so I can't help there.

                                      By the way, I believe there are 2 locations but I have only tried the one in Reseda.

                                      Have you tried the hot sauce at Yxta (or the west side version called Mercado) or Tlapazola on Gateway?

                                      1. re: nosh
                                        j
                                        Jwsel Oct 8, 2012 08:47 PM

                                        For quick tacos in the area, consider El Taco Llama in the strip mall at Haskell and Vanowen. I won't say the tacos are great, but the birria and asada are decent and what really sells the place is the salsa roja, which has great spice and a smokey flavor. (An even spicier version of a smokey salsa roja is at Rigo's tacos at Oxnard and Woodman, but that is a bit farther.)

                                        If you like chorizo tacos, I enjoy the chorizo tacos at Alberto's on Vanowen just west of Van Nuys. They are known for asada fries and California burrito (a burrito with meat and french fries), but I like their tacos Their weakness is the salsas, which I find don't have a lot of flavor though they do have spice. They have a five-taco special for under $5.00.

                                        1. re: Jwsel
                                          hhewitt Oct 9, 2012 09:31 AM

                                          For Mexican, I'd also consider Tacos Corona (7213 Balboa Blvd @ Sherman Way). I've only eaten there once, but their salsa bar (especially the grilled onions) was particularly impressive, and their prices seemed very fair. It's a mile or two up Balboa, pretty close to golf courses.

                                          I also second Sam Woo, Vinh Loi tofu, and Don Adrian for cemitas (although their bread is a littl dry for my taste).

                                          1. re: hhewitt
                                            j
                                            Jelly71 Oct 9, 2012 09:37 AM

                                            Tacos Corona can be a little hit or miss for me. But their beans are always great. They are the closest thing to my great grandmother's refried beans, so it's a definite comfort food for me. But their enchiladas left a funny taste in my mouth. Their breakfast dishes are always decent, though.

                                        2. re: nosh
                                          Servorg Oct 9, 2012 03:11 AM

                                          Another good option would be Vinh Loi http://www.vinhloitofu.com/index.htm

                                          1. re: nosh
                                            j
                                            Jelly71 Oct 9, 2012 09:30 AM

                                            The have a decent salsa bar and a few of them are really spicy and good. They have them labeled by heat and the hot ones definitely have a kick to them.

                                            i would recommend anything with chicken. They grill the chicken and it always has a great flavor. I have been eating there for over 10 years and have never had a bad meal. And they are such a great value. They must make money in volume because the dishes are really cheap and plentiful. But always very delicious.

                                            The shrimp tacos are a personal favorite. The shrimp is grilled very well.

                                          2. re: Ave
                                            g
                                            gr8pimpin Oct 24, 2012 04:29 PM

                                            I personally LOVE Salsa & Beer (though I go to the one in NoHo so this recommendation is based on those experiences). It IS Mexican-American but really great! I like the Tacos Al Carbon - the steak and chicken all has a great smokey taste. I have had the carnitas and the adovada as well! I have also had the chicken molcajete (they serve it on TWO huge platters). Awesome bottomless spicy bean dip (I do not like bean dip normally but theirs!!!). Under $7.00 for 2 really huge steak tacos (fresh charred to order) pile of spicy beans and rice. A bargain. I know you are driving but if you can hang for awhile, try the fresh margarita on the rocks. Really inexpensive..

                                        Show Hidden Posts