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Best authentic Ethnic food thats a good deal?

I'm visiting LA for a week and was wondering what some cant miss ethnic food restaurants are? Good deals would be much appreciated and near glendale/pasadena area is where im staying so close by would be good too.

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  1. You'll want to hit up some mom & pop Mexican, Thai, Korean and Chinese places.

    Pasadena is very close to the San Gabriel valley where there are a plethora of cheap Chinese eats. Do a search on this board and that will get you started.

    Pasadena is also nearby to Koreatown, just west of downtown. We have the best Korean food outside of Seoul.

    I'm sure other CHers will chime in with their personal favorites. Enjoy your stay.

    32 Replies
    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

      Thanks for the suggestions and Happy new Years!

      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

        FWIW, some of us pasadena residents consider pasadena to be part of the SGV even if there are no good chinese places actually in pasadena!

        but the recommendations are solid, though i might add a few vietnamese & japanese places to that list.

        choices for banh mi in the SGV include banh mi my tho & lee's, among others. 3 banh mi can be split between two people and will cost you about $8 total. for non-pho vietnamese cuisine, golden deli is a popular choice.

        good tacos to be found. the al pastor at la estrella in pasadena, and if you're in a taco truck mood, arturo's truck is bellevue & fair oaks from 6pm to 6am every day.

        some good armenian bakeries in glendale.

        1. re: barryc

          Yes, you're right, I lived in Pas for six years, and I should know better, it IS part of the SGV. I guess I was distinguishing it since many parts of the SGV are part of LA, and places like Pasadena, Monrovia, Arcadia, are their own cities.

          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

            " I guess I was distinguishing it since many parts of the SGV are part of LA, and places like Pasadena, Monrovia, Arcadia, are their own cities."

            While the SGV is part of LA County (just like Pasadena, the SFV, Monrovia, et al) it is made up of either independent cities (just like Pasadena and the others you named) or unincorporated areas and is not part of the City of Los Angeles.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Gabr...

            1. re: Servorg

              Okay, not part of LA city proper, but the metro LA County area.....

              Seriously, you just lurk at the keyboard and wait for someone to slip up, don't you....... ; >)

              1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                "Seriously, you just lurk at the keyboard and wait for someone to slip up, don't you"

                If that was the case I'd need to be glued to my keyboard 24/7/365 with no time off for chow or anything else. But having been born and raised out here I like to see the general factoids about my homeland kept semi-factual (if possible).

                And I know folks who come from the East Coast like to do the same with their "home fields" from what I see around here.

                1. re: Servorg

                  i actually lived in that 8 blocks of unincorporated LA county in between pasadena & san marino near the honeybaked ham store (i've noticed that all my landmarks are food related).

                  1. re: barryc

                    Yes, and before Pasadena, I lived in Altadena, around the block from Bulgarini's gelato.......

                    But perhaps I am confused....places like Altadena & Alhambra are considered unincorporated areas of LA County. Are Venice, The Palisades, & Brentwood considered the same? How about Inglewood, Topanga, & Van Nuys? These are all part of LA City, but but are they also considered part of the unincorporated areas?

                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                      i also lived in altadena at the corner of altadena & maiden lane, but the gelato place didn't exist yet.

                      1. re: barryc

                        I was very close to there, and yes, gelato wasn't there yet.... I was on Grand Oak, I think it was named....

                      2. re: Dirtywextraolives

                        Altadena is unincorporated but Alhambra is its own city. Venice is part of the City of Los Angeles, as are the Pacific Palisades, Brentwood and Van Nuys but Topanga is unincorporated. Normally you can tell about unincorporated areas because they are served by the Sheriff's Department and not the LAPD or their own local police force (like Culver City is or Santa Monica is). But all of these communities/cities are part of Los Angeles "County."

                        1. re: Servorg

                          What confuses a lot of people, I think, is that different parts of the City of Los Angeles are popularly known by other names, usually based on pre-Zip Code postal zone boundaries. Servorg cites Venice, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood and Van Nuys, but in the San Fernando Valley virtually all areas that people call by popular names -- Encino, Studio City, North Hollywood, Pacoima, Azusa, Woodland Hills, etc., etc., are parts of the City of Los Angeles.

                          1. re: ozhead

                            Exactly! The only way I could tell, other than whether the area was served by LAPD or the Sheriff's Dept, was how it was shaded on the Thomas Guide..... Never went anywhere without that encyclopedia in my car.....

                            1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                              you can also look at the street signs. LA county is blue with the off-white lettering.

                              1. re: barryc

                                Actually, City of Los Angeles signs are the ones you're probably referring to. All of the signs below are located in LA County, and they're all quite different.

                                Mr Taster

                                 
                                 
                                 
                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                  unincorporated LA county uses the signs i described with the light blue background and the offwhite lettering.

                                  and as someone noted, depicted in YELLOW in thomas guides.

                                  1. re: barryc

                                    Well, unincorporated LA county is different. But still, it's not quite that straightforward:

                                    http://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.ph...

                                    Mr Taster

                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                      it is in this context. if you care to figure out what it was being in the pasadena area. feel free to have the last word if it means you'll stop there.

                                      1. re: barryc

                                        I'm honestly not clear as to what distinction you're making.

                                        The first pic below is of the "blue blade" style, pulled from a random street in Rowland Heights (unincorporated LA county), and the second is from Venice (part of the city of LA), in the "blue trapezoid" style. While they're different physical styles, both share strikingly common characteristics; they utilize the same font (notice the angled cut of the lowercase "l") and both appear white(ish) on a blue field. They do not call attention to their differences in the way that the green/white signs of Burbank do, or the bold, fat font and golden strip on Santa Monica's signs do.

                                        According to that BBS I linked to earlier, the "blue blade" was used for county signage from 1973-1985 and the "blue trapezoid" from 1985-2010. From the ridiculously minimal amount of research I've done, it seems the city and county of LA use the signs interchangeably, even inasmuch as some county signs now have the City Seal of Los Angeles on them.

                                        It doesn't make any sense to me, quite frankly. But that's what the sign nerds on that BBS I linked to earlier seem to think, and I defer to their greater geekdom. Take it up with them if you feel otherwise.

                                        Unincorporated cities of LA County:
                                        http://ceo.lacounty.gov/forms/Unincor...

                                        Sign geeks (again):
                                        http://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.ph...

                                        Mr Taster

                                         
                                         
                            2. re: ozhead

                              How can you include Azusa in the above SFV group??? That city is nowhere near it.

                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                Azusa is its own city (with its own city government and police force). All the little communities in the SFV are part of the City of Los Angeles - with the exception of Burbank and Glendale (although the SFV has flirted with - more than flirted to be accurate - becoming their own city http://www.dailynews.com/20121104/sec... apart from Los Angeles).

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  But Azusa is in the San Gabriel Valley, not the SFV, isn't it??

                                  1. re: mucho gordo

                                    Yes, mucho, it is SGV as it is east of Pasadena.

                            3. re: Servorg

                              Of course, just to confuse the issue, some local cities contract their police services to the Sheriff's Department, such as Duarte, Rosemead, and Temple City.

                              1. re: raytamsgv

                                Right. That's why I qualified my statement with "normally" regarding the Sheriff's department. I think some small cities may even contract with another small city that has its own Local LEO and have them patrol their streets and respond to 911 calls/investigate crimes rather than the Sheriff's department. But as far as I know the LAPD does not provide contract services to any other cities for law enforcement needs.

              2. re: Dirtywextraolives

                In 2006, spent 3 weeks traveling through South Korea and, by and large, I found our food to be tastier and of higher quality than the food in Korea.

                I admit that this is possible not because of some inherent defect in the cooking skills or ingredients of Koreans living in Korea, but because I know the places to hit in LA, while in Korea we just followed our nose.

                Still, it was a rather shocking thing to discover. I'm glad I live in LA.

                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  Me too. I'm glad I don't have to go to Seoul to have some of their delicious food.....

                  1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                    >> I'm glad I don't have to go to Seoul...

                    But, you should go. It's a fascinating city. Wander through the winding back alleyways of the capital at 1am and marvel at life happening at full speed.

                    Mr Taster

                    1. re: Mr Taster

                      I know I should, and I would if I could..... I am putting two young boys through school tho, not much time for international travel at this point in my life.....

                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                        Bring the kids! I'd wager that they'll learn (and retain!) a lot more from that trip than they would an equivalent amount of time sitting behind a school desk ;)

                        Mr Taster

                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          Oh believe me, I would love to..... I traveled quite extensively with my parents as a youngster, and am sure I was a better student for it.....

                          The problem isn't the motivation tho ;)...... One of my boys is on three basketball teams this winter so our schedule is a tiny bit hectic.... Lol!

              3. Dumploid,
                It was your screen name that gave me the hint.
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/929731

                1. Zam Zam Market isn't close to you but it's absolutely amazing

                  1. Someone just posted on another thread about Adana (Armenian in Glendale). I think Porto's is worth a visit (good Cuban sandwiches and pastries), as is Cacao Mexicatessen (in Eagle Rock).

                    Agree that you should try to sample some of the Chinese food in the SGV.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: ilysla

                      I love Portos. I would skip the sandwiches and fill up on potato balls, chicken croquettes, beef pastries, and a feta/spinach danish. Then you finish with some of their amazing sweets: the board loves the guava/cheese roll, I love the strawberry cheese croissant and the pineapple cheese danish.

                      1. re: nosh

                        Love the potato balls and guava and cheese rolls. =) The potato balls should be eaten right away....

                        1. re: ilysla

                          The potato balls toast up great too.

                          1. re: ns1

                            Do they really? My first experience w/ the potato balls was someone brought them to work (presumably at least 1d after they had purchased them). Not good at all. Had them at the bakery, and they were terrific. Not clear if my colleague had warmed them up b/f serving, though....

                              1. re: ilysla

                                Did you put them in the toaster? Lol. I usually buy a bunch the day before so I can have them as snacks. 30 seconds in the microwave then into the toaster until they're nice and toasty.

                                They're terribad the day after unless toasted.

                                1. re: ns1

                                  Yup, that's the method!

                                  Their sandwiches warm up the next day nicely in the toaster oven as well, wrapped in foil.

                                  1. re: happybaker

                                    For the potato balls:

                                    Toaster oven or regular oven at 400 for a few minutes. If coming out of the 'fridge, about 12 seconds in the microwave will help take the chill out of the beef centers.

                                  2. re: ns1

                                    No, I didn't. I hadn't ever had the potato balls b/f, so I didn't know that they needed re-heating. And, given that the co-worker wasn't even there (he had another co-worker bring them for him), I would've felt badly about imposing myself in that way.... At least, I would've felt badly back then. Not so much now. ;)

                          2. re: ilysla

                            Definitely Portos!

                            One of my fav things is to take out of towners (esp. New Yorkers) to Porto's, buy tons of good food - and then have them guess what it costs. Yes, it's a small simple game, but it makes me happy : ) And they always love the food!

                            As for the SGV, yes, yes, yes. Dim sum but also, as mentioned - banh mi. For banh mi, my fav is Saigon Bakery - the fillings might be a teeny tiny bit sparser than some but the bread? Killer. So light and tasty. Well worth the drive. Buy three sandwiches (about $2.25 each) and you get a free baguette.

                            Then after you get your banh mi's, you can cross the parking lot to the San Gabriel Superstore and go to the gal who is cooking filled pancakes in front. Get the young coconut. Your only regret will be, not matter how many you get - you'll want one more. They crisp up beautifully in a toaster oven the next day. 50ยข each, I think.

                            Have fun and welcome to our world!

                            1. re: happybaker

                              i like saigon too; their banh mi with scrambled egg is a much better breakfast alternative than an egg mcmuffin or somesuch.

                              but if i wanted ethnic cuban, i'd rather go to some place like el cochinito on sunset for their bistec empanizado.

                              1. re: barryc

                                Barry -

                                Yes! Their egg bang mi is the bomb! So rich yet bright, a real treat.

                                We'll sometimes skip eggs at home on a weekend am (normally our egg time) just to go to Saigon and get the egg banh mi for lunch.

                            2. re: ilysla

                              Adana is actually Persian/Armenian/Russian.

                              Mr Taster

                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                Only made it part-way through the article you posted. Thanks for the correction.

                            3. Anywhere mid city to get a bag of crispy chiccarones?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: jessejames

                                they're not all that difficult to make at home, and if you take the step of rendering most of the fat at low heat first, you can create a couple of cups of garlic/anchovy infused pork fat as a byproduct for cooking.

                                1. re: barryc

                                  sounds great...ive had these greasy wax paper bags full of em before, with some meat still left on...so tasty...not sure why so many taco shops -- and good ones -- serve the flaccid (yes a very unappetizing word) type.

                                2. re: jessejames

                                  Don't know about mid city, but they sell them at Vallarta, the grocery store.