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Nov 17, 2013 05:08 PM

Hong Kong foodie visiting for 1 day to eat: Where do I take her?

Literally, my Korean college roommate & I eaten our way through Japan, HK, Maine & NYC together this year. We've compared notes on KL, Singapore, the Philippines & Thailand. Now she has a one day layover in LA this Dec, and I've been tasked with showing her the highlights. She worked in a French resto in HK previously. Help!

The notes:
-- I live in Santa Monica, so we probably will work west to east.
-- Think we need to hit Sawtelle at some point because I talk about it so much, and because I've never come across a street with so many different kinds of Asian food before, even in Asia. But maybe that's a snack?
-- Traffic is a bitch and this is a weekday.
-- Baco Mercat? That's still on my brain from a good recent lunch. But is it The One?

Thanks, hounds!

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  1. Shunji
    Red Medicine

    1. Maybe Russian at the new Mari Vanna? That way you won't have to worry as much about falling short in comparison mode.

      1. key words: DURING THE WEEK

        if you do indeed end up going to the SGV, be sure to know the closing time of the restaurant you are planning to hit and to leave PLENTY of time.

        when last i tried to get to Happy Family during the week after work, the traffic was so terrible that the restaurant closed before we arrived. bummer

        12 Replies
        1. re: westsidegal

          Wow, Russian. That's a thought.

          I was thinking a stop at Seoul Sausage would be representative of LA at the moment. Or Kogi, seeing as she hasn't been here in 20 years.

          Trois Mec? Another thought.

          1. re: Margaret Santa Monica

            ... would be representative of LA at the moment."


            If that's your barometer, consider places like Alma, Alumette, Sotto, Red Medicine or even places like Providence or (the rebooted) Spago.

            1. re: Margaret Santa Monica

              Consider a taco crawl? IMO much better in terms of taste and value than the places you mentioned. The sausages @ Seoul lack flavor but their poutine is great, and kogi...well its just kbbq in tortilla. Guisados comes to mind as a more fulfilling street food destination, as well as Mariscos Jaliscos and Ricky's Fish Taco

              1. re: Margaret Santa Monica

                I would not say Seoul Sausage represents much of anything, LA or otherwise.

                Trois Mec is great and screams LA at the moment, as does Shunji, Red Med, n/naka, Baco Mercat, Orsa & Winston, chi spaccha, Tar & Roses, Gjelina, Providence, Alma, Alumette, Bucato.

                  1. re: jessejames

                    I've rolled them many times and it seems to come up all aces for me.

                    1. re: Ciao Bob

                      Same here. Jackpot all 6-8 times or more. Lucky us ;-)

                      1. re: Porthos

                        But not for all. I am glad u like it. I think mushy and snooty and have tried three times. Anyways not a lock for all like other choices.

                    2. re: jessejames

                      How about Red Medicine for late night bar snacks. They serve the dumplings and the bahn mi I think, both which I find to be sublime. That way you get a nice place to drink with really good food that is not the focus of your night.

                      1. re: set0312

                        No idea how Red Medicine is not more popular as a bar. It has the best bar food in LA. And the beers are usually great, plus, like $5...unheard of in LA.

                1. re: westsidegal

                  I'm w/ WSG regarding the traffic. What time of day are you planning to do this? If you can start at lunchtime, I think I'd actually rather go east to west than the other way around....

                  Maybe Cacao in Eagle Rock? Or Porto's? Ethiopian in mid-city? On the westside, I might think about taking her to Milo and Olive or Hostaria del Piccolo (or Gjelina, since so many other people like it).

                  Does she work in a very upscale restaurant? If so, she might like the cheap eats here....

                2. So you''ve dined in Japan, S'pore, KL, NYC, etc. etc. Sawtelle, aside from its variety of offerings, may not impress her too much. For example, in Japan, there is definitely as good (if not better) ramen as TsujitaLA. The following is a (sort of West-to-East) suggested itinerary:

                  If she works in a French restaurant in HK, maybe she'll enjoy the croissant at Maison Giraud in Pacific Palidsades for breakfast (even if it's only for the sake of comparison).

                  Get an Office Burger with a Tripel Karmeliet at Father's Office (Helms location) for lunch. Then walk across the street to TeaForest and get a few scoops of Bulgarini's incredible gelato.

                  Though I adore Shunji & n/naka, kaiseki format dining is commonplace in Asia. You two may be better off going to K-town for dinner (your friend is Korean, but I didn't hear you mention Seoul in your collective travels). Red Medicine is a good pick as well.

                  Or, traffic gods willing, you can hit the SGV for some Northern Chinese fare (Lord knows they have enough southern Chinese and Taiwanese in HK).

                  Actually, strike that. Even better is trying Chef Roberto's Mexican cooking at Babita in San Gabriel. Though it's recently been a controversial pick on this board of late, I will come out and say that what Chef Roberto is doing with so little resources in that location for as long as he has is nothing short of remarkable. Furthermore, there is definitely nothing like Babita in HK, that I'm aware of... The fact that it's a weekday means you two may probably be the only ones in the dining room (read: great service from the chef's wife and plenty of attention from the chef himself)

                  Finish up the day strong with a street taco crawl in East L.A. Then hit Varnish or some other watering hole in our "sparkling new" Downtown for drinks. Maybe at Perch or WP24.

                  Enjoy L.A.!

                    1. re: wienermobile

                      Yes, we haven't been to Seoul together. We mostly have eaten Korean together in NYC...

                      Maison Giraud! I had forgotten. And close. Thank you.

                      Will look into Babita. I do feel like Mexican has appear at least once in the day.

                      Haven't been to Father's Office in years but have loved that burger well, in my past.

                      Red Medicine I keep hearing so will look it up...!

                      1. re: wienermobile

                        Thanks for the reminder, wienermobile. I totally had forgotten that. Yes, hit that up in Macarthur Park for a merienda just before they close (at 4PM).