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Moderately priced interesting food in the South Bay.

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That won't freak my wife with OCD out. We can't go to any "authentic" Asian places, sadly... Preferably near Hermosa and Manhattan. The generously suggested Vietnamese places in Gardena and Inglewood were all nixed. What's am I to do?

ANY type of food will do.

Thanks in advance...

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  1. I guess if one nixes Vietnamese food, it's hard to tell what, "other food" might include. I found that once I started to understand the seemingly exotic names and the range of ingredients and flavors the seemingly of this cuisine, the food itself is both approachable and entertaining to the taste buds. In some ways the flavor profiles are similar to Thai, but more light and delicate in many ways.

    Anyway, it may help to know what kinds of foods/cuisines your wife might find acceptable, as well as a general price range that falls under, "moderately priced." One of the most prevalent examples of food in the South Bay is Japanese, and this can run the breadth of price ranges.

    1. since it appears that, in your case, "interesting" doesn't include exotic, i'd go with uncle bills pancake house for breakfast or lunch.

      imho (and there are many on this board who disagree with me here) stay away from the ultimately mediocre and boring kettle.

      8 Replies
      1. re: westsidegal

        Agree with westsidegal. Some other less exotic moderately priced places in the South Bay I like include:

        FishBar in Manhattan Beach
        North End Cafe in Manhattan Beach
        Lemonade in Manhattan Beach
        Houston's Manhattan Beach
        Old Venice (Greek & Italian) Manhattan Beach
        Martha's 22nd Street Grill in Hermosa Beach
        Mongolian Big Wok (build your own wok stir fry) Manhattan Beach
        Hot's Kitchen in Hermosa Beach
        Good Cuban Food at Havana Mania in Redondo Beach
        Umami Burger Hermosa Beach
        Original Pancake House Redondo Beach
        & Pitfire Pizza opening this week in Manhattan Beach

        1. re: wienermobile

          I have had some really stellar food at Hot's. It's also a good compromise place for our family with interesting food for those who want it and more standard food for those who don't as well as kids meals.

          El Pollo Inka is another one of our family compromise spots. The chicken is very good and appeals to everyone and you can go more exotic or add green sauce if you like.

          1. re: wienermobile

            do they still have the foie gras burger at hot's kitchen ???

            also, can you describe FishBar further ?

            that reminds me that i'm overdue on a visit to uncle bill's too.

            1. re: kevin

              Hot's had the foie burger last month when PETA was picketing them.

              FishBar is a casual full service seafood restaurant with a large menu of fresh fish both grilled and fried. Full bar. No ocean view but it is just one block away. Good prices. Good lunch menu and weekly specials too. Serves late, till 11pm and midnight on Fri. & Sat.
              http://www.fishbarmb.com/FishBar_Manh...

              1. re: wienermobile

                Is it an order at the counter grilled fish joint ?

                Btw, what do you think of Malibu Fish Grill ?

                1. re: kevin

                  FishBar is a full service restaurant, no ordering at the counter here. Complete table service. Great oysters and chowder too.

              2. re: kevin

                Hi Kevin, yes they still have it on the menu, last burger listed as: “THE” Burger balsamic thyme onions, whole grain mustard*
                *served with a complimentary side of foie gras
                I had one yesterday for lunch, it was excellent! Flavorful, rich and beefy at a very reasonable price but they are quite small. Plan on ordering more than just the one burger. They have primarily burgers and a long list of some pretty tasty 'gringo style' tacos and a long list of craft beers.
                I'd like to thank the PETA (People for the Ethical Eatment of Animals) blog for letting me know about this place........

                http://www.hotskitchen.com/the-menu/b...

                1. re: sel

                  Exacty. Sounds great.

                  And I will have to thank the PETA people too, soon.

          2. Thanks for all the ideas. Let's put it this way. Number Nine in Hermosa and Thai Dishes in MB are just fine. Yamadaya in Torrance really pushed the envelope and she won't step foot into 99 Ranch again. Other than that, the rules are unwritten...

            1. to help her break out of the bubble, take her to coni'seafood in inglewood. i bet she'll find it a revelation.

              7 Replies
              1. re: raizans

                raizans:
                i've tried taking unadventurous people to coni's before and it didn't go well.
                the unadventurous people insisted on ordering things that weren't on the menu (e.g. salads) and although coni did everything in her power to accommodate them, in the end, a mexican restaurant that did not serve lard-laden beans nor meat dishes, nor bland burritos made with commercial cheese, did not go over well with the chain-restaurant set.

                also the nonadventurous people had problems with spiciness, the lime-acidity, the use of cilantro, and the use of other ingredients that are found in the food at coni's and aren't found in any of the Stouffer's frozen entrees.

                1. re: westsidegal

                  Agreed - similar results for us w/ folks who typically carry a narrow palate. The OP's picky eater seems to have taste buds that suffer from ethniphobia.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    We've taken all manner of folks to Coni's... One thing that goes over well with even the pickiest folks is their Chicharon de Pescado... which is basically fried fish nuggets... Also their Sopa de Camarones is not too fishy and you can ask them to cut off the fish heads...

                    That being said, I probably still wouldn't take someone with OCD there... The thing that gets most people is their 'relaxed' service... If took my SIL there, she'd totally have a fit about the wait staff not refilling water glasses, not picking up plates. not giving her enough napkins...

                    --Dommy!

                    1. re: Dommy

                      the response i got from my "stouffers is the best" group about the chicharone was that they were overcooked, much more well-done than frozen fish sticks or the mcdonald's chicken nuggets.
                      (if during this meal a sharp knife had been on the table i would have committed suicide out of embarrassment)

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        darn, i guess in that case hounds, might just be 1/10 of 1% of the general population.

                        Your friends would have probably loved Sammy's Woodfire, Eddie's, etc.

                      2. re: Dommy

                        That being said, I probably still wouldn't take someone with OCD there... The thing that gets most people is their 'relaxed' service... If took my SIL there, she'd totally have a fit about the wait staff not refilling water glasses, not picking up plates. not giving her enough napkins...
                        ________________________________

                        I suppose that means about 90% of the Chinese restaurants in SGV are off-limits for your SIL.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          LOL! Actually she still RAVES about our Chinese banquet wedding because of the service we recieved and almost magical set up and then breakdown (She's runs a HUGE interior design business, so she's VERY into logistics)

                          She however was ready to slap a waiter at Ford Filling Station for being too drool...

                          --Dommy!

                  2. also, for interesting salads, sammy's woodfire pizza in el segundo plaza,
                    BUT
                    absolutely do NOT go near their pizzas.

                    1. We solved a WPP by doing the whitest thing possible. My brother was paying and he decided that we we were going to The Strand House. I was really, really surprised at how good the food was, after all it was a Sunday night and this is primarily a restaurant with a view. Both the waitstaff and kitchen were spot on.

                      Started off with the seafood platter. Every was fresh, and it was the perfect size for an appetizer for four. Next we ordered a few things to share. The filet, the octopus salad, and the charcuterie platter. Every thing was delicious, but the standout was the filet, which actually tasted like really good beef. I'm not sure who their meat purveyor is, but it was really delicious.

                      Dessert was molten chocolate cake for my 15 yo daughter, and the vanilla bean, caramel, and cranberry glazed donuts. Both were winners.

                      According my wife and the people at rehab, I can no longer drink, but the wine list looked interesting (Plumjack, etc...) but expensive.

                      We left our table at 8:00 and the restaurant was completely filled, with people waiting downstairs for tables to open up. I was really pleasantly surprised.

                      1. Eatalian in Gardena is a bit far by your parameters, but they have nice Neapolitan style pizzas and pastas, with italian pastries, coffees and gelatos.

                        Teresa's Mosaic is a good southern Mexican restaurant in El Segundo.

                        Flossie's is one of the best soul food restaurants in LA. Dine in or take out.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Ogawak

                          dang, i've never been to teresa's mosaic ?

                          Can you please describe it further ? WHat's good to get at teresa's, for some reason i have a gut feeling the food mighrt just be like alegria on sunset.

                          i always pass it on my way to the el segundo mega mall complex with the whole foods there.

                          1. re: kevin

                            It's very good for the South Bay, but I wouldn't go out of my way to eat there. It's not Monte Alban or as good as the best in East LA. Good tortillas, mole, stay with the Oaxuacan

                        2. does mb post count as moderately priced?

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: kainzero

                            For me a dinner at MB Post without drinks would run around $50.00 per person.

                            1. re: wienermobile

                              for me, a dinner at MB Post would be about $60 before tax and tip, drinking tap water only.
                              out-the-door about $80

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                Agree. They recommend 3 dishes per person. It can add up.

                                1. re: wienermobile

                                  ah, i see.
                                  when i went with my family for lunch it was $30 pp (includes tax+tip) with 5 people...

                                  1. re: wienermobile

                                    still,
                                    every fish dish i've had at MB Post has been exemplary.
                                    very few restaurants achieve that level of perfection with seafood.

                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                      damn, i'm overdue on visit. for some reason, the dreadful parking situation has drawn me away from the joint and the fact that MB Post, may be in some minds the greatest thing to hit MB since sliced bread. There may be dozens upon dozens of restaurants in LA proper with this style of food but not in MB.

                                      Btw, does anyone like the ice cream joint a few blocks away and Darrin's (sp?) directly across the street from MB Post, or Mama D's ???

                                      THanks.

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        I can't find it in search, but I recall asking about the place, Manhattan Beach Creamery since it's been around a long time. Somebody responded with a line similar to this L.A. Weekly review. http://blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/20...
                                        The line I recall is something to the effect that even though it was house made ice cream it was about the level of Dreyer's but with a touch more interesting flavors. They do have a website. http://mbcreamery.com The ice cream place that was favored was the dear, departed Glacier that was over on Sepulveda, which now houses Hot Doggers.

                              2. re: kainzero

                                only if you go for dessert.

                              3. For good, "interesting" food at a great price go to Chef Hannes on MAin Street in El Segundo. I've seen the food called european, and the menu is pasta, fish and meat dishes with an italian slant.
                                I've been for lunch and dinner and it ranges from good, if unremarkable to very good. The sea bass, soups and pastas are consistently great for the price. Well priced wine list and great strudel!

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: pnutbuddah

                                  strudel with schlag ? are there raisins in the strudel ?

                                  yeah, no one ever seems to drop a note about chef's hanne's bistro.

                                  What do you order there, do they still have the chicken sausage casserole, or rather cassulet ???

                                  1. re: pnutbuddah

                                    respectfully, strongly disagree with the recommendation of chef hannes.
                                    the food, in my experience, ranges from bad to really, really, horrid.
                                    the last time i was dragged there i was part of a party of eight; each of us ordered a different dish.
                                    after that evening, not one member of the party ever went there nor recommended the place ever again.

                                    the one thing that can be said about it was that it was practically empty on a weekend night when every other nearby restaurant had a wait.

                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                      Wow, so tell me how you really feel. :)

                                      Ok, I will stick with my infrequent jaunts to Original Rinaldi's or I do have a soft spot for The Good Stuff, i'm pretty sure you're not a fan of either.

                                      There used to be vegetarian filipino restaurant, Papillons, (sp ?),it's not there anymore right.

                                      Hmm, perpahs the best joint on that stretch of Main St. was during the Thursday farmer's market when BigMista used to show up.

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        actually, rinaldi's used to be pretty good.
                                        i'd presume that it is still pretty good.
                                        also, the blue butterfly used to have a veggie sandwich i liked.

                                        for vegetarian restaurants, my top choices are cafe gratitude in venice and the spot in hermosa beach. if i'm shopping at whole foods i'll sometimes go to the veggie grill in el segundo plaza, or i'll get a veggie burger at the counter in el segundo plaza. if i'm up for driving, happy family on atlantic in monterey park.

                                        the good stuff was never good nor was it bad. it just was.
                                        for neighborhood delivery pizza, the good pizza is closer to me and serves better pizza.

                                      2. re: westsidegal

                                        westsideal, I think I have agreed with every post I have ever seen from you, but my experience at Chef Hannes is very different. Of about ten dinners & lunches in the past 6 months, I have had one mediocre pasta meal there, and five or six very good meals (in particular the sea bass). I was there twice in the past three weeks. Last night the front and side rooms were full at 7:00 pm and there were three parties in the back room, and a few weeks ago the front room as full at 7:00. I've spoke to Hannes a couple of times and like him, so that's why I'm responding.

                                        1. re: pnutbuddah

                                          you've been there more recently than i and more times than i.

                                          my first hand experience with the place took place about a year and a half ago. went about 4 times with the same group. the food got progressively worse each time we went.
                                          finally, even the group members that selected restaurants solely based on convenience (i.e being able to walk in at any time and get seated immediately without a reservation or having to make a phone call) couldn't make themselves go back there anymore.

                                          i'm sorry, my food experiences there get an overall grade of D-.
                                          will NEVER eat there again, even if someone else is treating.

                                          if i'm going to eat near main street in el segundo, i understand there are some new decent restaurants that are near grand and main.

                                          thankfully my group moved on to Ayara Thai Cuisine in westchester. also, thankfully, Ayara is slated to expand so that the "convenience-at-all-cost" faction of the group will stop grousing about having to wait for a table.
                                          when the convenience faction gets control of the decision these days, we get take-out from the good pizza.

                                          i praying hard that the new mexican place that is going to open on manchester blvd actually serves good food. the restaurant itself is very large, so it may end up being convenient too. getting immediate seating for a party of 8 on a weekend night is tricky at best.

                                    2. What about Second St. Bistro in El Segundo? I've only gone a couple of times for an 'upscale' burger maybe about 18 months ago but remember that they were quite good. Has anyone tried more of their offerings?

                                      Also Chef Melba's Bistro in Hermosa Beach has been very good, dinner only.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: sel

                                        We go to Second City Bistro on a semi-regular basis. Their menu is somewhat limited, but I feel they do this to keep their quality up. I've never had a bad dish there, and their burger is mighty good - it's a solid classic burger. Had their pork chop and lamb loin chops on the last visits, which were also very good. I did notice on the last couple of visits though, that they don't offer rack of lamb dishes like they had in the past. If I had to guess, customers haven't been spending the $$ like before, which leads me to what might be an issue r.e. the OP's request: while Second City Bistro isn't a splurge many eaters' eyes, I think they might be considered above, "moderately priced." Apps are around $10, the burgers are $13-15, and mains are $23-30. IMHO, worth what they charge though.

                                        Second City Bistro is great for us because:

                                        - DT El Segundo is relatively easy to access at night and quiet. These factors are usually not the case in most areas on the weekends.

                                        - It's normally easy to get a table on the weekends.

                                        - We feel the food is very good.

                                        - The wine list is substantial so it's relatively easy to pair a wine for most budgets with any of their dishes.

                                        - The front end staff have always been friendly and very attentive.

                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                          i can hazard a guess about why the lamb is no longer offered;

                                          in the last Gelson's weekly ad it said that they are having a 35% off sale on rib lamb chops and rack roast. the SALE price is $15.99/lb.

                                          even assuming the wholesale restaurant cost is far less, it still makes for a mighty expensive item.

                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                            OUCH. They'd probably have to charge $40+ to put it on the menu. Thanks...

                                          2. re: bulavinaka

                                            Thanks bulavinaka, looks like I'll be checking out their offerings beyond burgers. Their posted dinner menu does look promising!

                                          3. re: sel

                                            What do you get at chef melbas ?

                                            1. re: kevin

                                              The other night I had the Ahi Tuna Tataki - Tostadas - Served with Tangy Habanero Sauce and Avocado Salsa, and Pibil Adobo Lamb Shank - Chorizo Chili, Creamed Spinach, and Onion Ring Hat and a Trappistes Rochefort 10.
                                              My guest had Organic Spinach Soup – Vegan followed by the Petrale Sole - Encrusted with Almonds and Caper Lemon Sauce. I tasted everything and except for the soup, which didn't knock my socks off it was all very good. Desserts have been good in the past but this time we passed on the calories.

                                              I must say that Chef Melba's is the antithesis of so many restaurants around today. The chef-owner prepares all the dishes when ordered in a small, open kitchen. No strutting about the dining room while sous chefs or line cooks do the work here. No celebrity pretense or other foolishness, just honest well prepared food. Many of the dishes are moderately priced, some a bit more expensive.

                                              1. re: sel

                                                Wow - someone's doing dishes like that in Hermosa? The red headed stepchild of the South Bay's beach cities is getting a new do - impressive!

                                          4. http://www.simmzys.com/

                                            http://www.opensesamegrill.com/

                                            1. How about Gina Lee's Bistro in Redondo Beach or Restaurant Christine in Torrance. Christine's maybe a little high priced but still great food.

                                              1. If you want some yakitori than Shin-Sen-Gumi on Western Avenue in Gardena has to be tried. It's one crazy Japanese bar with hibachi-grilled tapa like tasty nibbles. We're just plain ol'white folks and we've taken friends from out of state and out of the country and they all love it; can't stop talking about how delicious and fun it was. Not very pricy either.