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Jan 8, 2014 08:15 PM

NY Hound coming to Santa Monica for a wedding in March.

I'm only in for two nights and both evenings are spoken for, this leaves me a Saturday lunch and possibly a Sunday Brunch to fill. I'd love to have a sushi lunch on Saturday, but the only things I can find within reasonable public transit range that are open on a Saturday are Hide and Sasabune. What is the story with Sasabune? Why does everyone hate on it so much? Should I just forget about sushi on a Saturday in LA and go to Tacos Por Favor or Santouka Ramen instead?

For the Sunday brunch, I'd love to do some really good Pho. Nong La seems to have some decent buzz and I get a distinctly "meh" vibe from LA hounds when it comes to Pho 99 and Le Saigon. Is it worth having pho in Santa Monica or should I just go to Fig and have steak and eggs?

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  1. Where are you from? Might help w/ recs.

    Never been to Tacos Por Favor, but I think Tacos Puntas Cabras is great. I think Santouka is past it's prime and would recommend Tsujita instead.

    Le Saigon isn't "bad," but the pho was totally insipid and boring the one time I went several yrs ago. Don't know anything about Nong La or Pho 99, but I'd say it's probably better to skip pho. If you don't mind the price, Lukshon in Culver City has great asian fusion. Not sure how accessible it is by public transport, though.

    Sunday brunch at Huckleberry (potentially a very long line), Milo and Olive, or Flores.

    4 Replies
      1. re: ilysla

        Hmm. Punta Cabras is a fish taco joint. Grilled or fried? Tsujita looks really good. Lukshon seems too far and Huckleberry seems pretty interesting. Thanks!

        1. re: corgi

          They deep fry the seafood in an incredibly light and crispy batter.

      2. I 2nd the idea of tsujita over santouka. as well as tacos punta cabras over tacos por favor. there's honestly nothing wrong with sasabune or hide. but nothing super special either. both good (not great) options. and there is a sasabune in nyc now right?

        1. <<Why does everyone hate on it so much?>>
          my problem with sasabune is:
          their fish is to other fish
          like beef treated with powdered tenderizer is to beef:
          mushy and flavorless

          lemme know if i'm not being clear.

          6 Replies
          1. re: westsidegal

            OK, that's clear. :) Is Hide any better?

            1. re: corgi

              Hide is good, but I think cash only. Tacos Puntas Cabras is very good. Fish, shrimp or scallops and homemade tortillas. And sometimes interesting specials. Bring your own beer. And I like Nong La; used to live nearby and it was a go-to spot for convenient Vietnamese. You can also double team it with soup dumplings next door at ROC Star, but understand that they may not compare to what you'd get in the SGV.

              1. re: Wayno

                I think the OP can get good XLB pretty easily in NYC? I'd skip ROC.

                I think TPC might be really interesting for someone from NYC. From what I understand, Mexican cuisine isn't very good over there?

                I assume OP can also get good sushi, do I'd probably skip that altogether.

                1. re: ilysla

                  NYC now also has excellent sushi and pretty good XLB, but my suspicion is that LA is still stronger. Our Vietnamese and Mexican cannot compare. I understand that my time constraints don't really give me a crack at best of breed places so I'm just looking for some yummy and the barest idea of what's on offer these days.

                  1. re: corgi

                    If yummy, convenient, and appealing to multiple palettes is the main priority, then I think Fundamental or Huckleberry/Milo and Olive might be the best bets. A bit on the pricey side for what they are (although worth it for the quality), very accessible food, a fairly wide variety.

                    And the crowd at these places can be so cartoonishly "LA" that you'll also have a chance to get splattered by some of the local color....

                2. re: Wayno

                  Yeah, I still like ROC but then again no one around here really does.

            2. I think if you're wanting sushi, check out Shunji on Pico. I wouldn't really make Santouka a destination. I've found them to be inconsistent lately.

              13 Replies
              1. re: Butter Fight

                Yeah it seems pretty clear that Tsujita beats Santouka. Shunji is not open for lunch on weekends, alas.

                1. re: corgi

                  I like santouka better. The special pork salt ramen is my favorite.

                  1. re: jessejames

                    Kindly disagree. Santouka is good. Tsujita is great.

                    1. re: wienermobile

                      agree to disagree...
                      tsujita's noodles are just not toothy enough for me, broth not hot enough or simply enough, and pork slightly dried out...i still like it, especially the hot mustard green condiment (too bad they don't have that across the street).

                      for me, the special salt broth, firmer noodles and slightly gelatinous special pork are all better at santouka with a better balance...

                      i frequent them both.

                      why do these fucking ramen mavens insist on cash only???!!!

                      1. re: jessejames

                        I just had the special pork miso ramen at Santouka last weekend and it was great, as usual. I will admit that if they offered the "soft" hard boiled egg that would make it a perfect bowl for me.

                        1. re: jessejames

                          You can't order the noodles "ha-gotai" at Tsujita?

                            1. re: jessejames

                              That's how they pay in Nippon. Authentic.

                              1. re: jessejames

                                ... the mouth of the "Chewbacca"?

                                1. re: jessejames

                                  >> just to find some yummy to eat, it doesn't have to be something I can't get in NY <<

                                  Try the biryani at Zam Zam, then.

                                  1. re: jessejames

                                    I don't judge anyone else, but for me . . .

                                    Couldn't agree more, JJ. I find Tsujita truly disgusting. The broth is the Japanese equivalent of a bowl of demi glacé. It's too concentrated and cloying. We're eventually going to reach a point in which we're just going to be asked to stick a boullion cube under our tongues while chugging a cup of rendered lard and slurping raw noodles.

                                    There. I just blew the tiny bit of food cred I might have had. Santouka 4eva!

                                    1. re: cacio e pepe

                                      Try the tsukemen. The dipping one. That's what makes Tsujita outstanding. I'm also not keen on their ramen.

                                      1. re: Porthos

                                        I have and I agree. That's where I started on the menu. I prefer ramen to tsukemen and that's why I don't seem to make it out to Tsujita as much as other dedicated ramen houses. It's not really fair to compare the two. It's just a personal preference of mine. But while we're on the topic, everything I find that doesn't work regarding the Tsujita ramen broth is exactly what makes for a good tsukemen experience.

                          1. If you're limited to lunch for sushi, I would opt for Tsujita for lunch over Santouka (There's a Santouka in New Jersey) instead. Skip pho on the Westside.; the ramen is so much better.

                            Next time for sushi, I would pick Shunji, Mori or Kiriko here on the Westside.

                            Tacos Puntas Cabras is closed Sundays, so keep that in mind.

                            The brunch options for Huckleberry or Milo & Olive are good choices. Excellent baked goods.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Ogawak

                              Huge lines on weekends if you try Huckleberry or M&O.