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

c
corgi Jan 8, 2014 08:15 PM

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?

  1. k
    kevin Jan 15, 2014 03:46 PM

    chez jays.

    1. Porthos Jan 9, 2014 02:34 PM

      You have Sasabune in NYC and Santouka in the Mitsuwa across the river in Jersey. No need to have those here.

      New York has a great ramen scene. The tsukemen (dipping ramen) at Tsujita is what you want. Make sure you order it with egg. The ramen itself I'm actually not too big a fan of. Perfect for your Saturday lunch. Then hop across to Annex for the ramen or their tsukemen so you can compare the difference in the broth. The thickness and chewiness of the tsukemen is really outstanding.

      You can actually skip sushi here in LA if you have sushi at Yasuda or 15 East.

      Grab some Persian food at Shamshiri grill on Sunday. Ghormeh sabzi and the koobidehs are my favorites there.

      45 Replies
      1. re: Porthos
        yizhang Jan 9, 2014 02:54 PM

        Definitely agree with everyone on getting tsukemen from Tsujita. It was one of my top 10 food experiences of all time.

        1. re: yizhang
          j
          jessejames Jan 9, 2014 02:59 PM

          id go to tacos por favor or another mexican place instead...something u definitely can't get in NYC...

          1. re: jessejames
            Porthos Jan 9, 2014 03:11 PM

            Contrary to popular belief, there is good Mexican in NYC. You just have to wander into Spanish Harlem or Queens. The Mexican population is the fastest growing population in NYC these days.
            =========================
            "New York City's immigrant population hit a new high of slightly more than three million in 2011, propelled by sharp spikes in Mexican and Chinese-born residents in the past decade"

            "Although the city's largest immigrant group still hails from the Dominican Republic, that population increased only 3% since 2000. By contrast, the city's Mexican-born population grew by 52% and its Chinese-born population increased by 33.9%"

            http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/S...

            1. re: Porthos
              j
              jessejames Jan 9, 2014 03:22 PM

              good to know -- i have yet to have anything other than overpriced mierda de perro in NYC.

              1. re: jessejames
                Porthos Jan 9, 2014 04:27 PM

                Well, if that's what you're ordering, no wonder you don't like Mexican food in NYC!

                1. re: Porthos
                  j
                  jessejames Jan 9, 2014 05:25 PM

                  Touché!

              2. re: Porthos
                c
                corgi Jan 10, 2014 07:04 AM

                So, yeah there's a lot of pretty good, by-the-book and authentic Mexican in NYC these days but there's not that much of it which is really delicious...

                1. re: corgi
                  j
                  jessejames Jan 10, 2014 08:50 AM

                  Gilbert's el indio is delicious and in Santa Monica area...want a smothered carnitas burrito, or one with chile relleno inside? all cash, sit down.

          2. re: Porthos
            c
            corgi Jan 10, 2014 07:02 AM

            My primary mission is just to find some yummy to eat, it doesn't have to be something I can't get in NY. The tsukemen definitely sounds interesting but the truth is that I am a bigger fan of pho than ramen which is sad when you consider how much excellent ramen we have around town and the dearth of truly excellent pho.

            As for sushi, I've had my share of excellent top-shelf omakase but one of the things I find remarkable about sushi on the west coast is that generally your more modestly priced mid-tier places are still pretty damn good.

            Shamshiri is interesting to me. The only place that I had REALLY good Persian food is at Mohsen in London. The funny thing about Persian food to me is that when it's delicious it's SUPER delicious, but if it's only good then I'm like an order of magnitude less excited about it. Is Shamshiri delicious?

            1. re: corgi
              Servorg Jan 10, 2014 07:21 AM

              "...but if it's only good then I'm like an order of magnitude less excited about it. Is Shamshiri delicious?"

              Like beauty, deliciousness is in (well, not they eye in this case) the mouth of the "bechewer". Only you can answer that particular question for yourself. The financial risk isn't so great at Shamshiri (just like most Persian places) and the reward may be great. Try it and see. I know I'd like to hear your take on the food.

              Another close by place (not Persian) to Shamshiri that we like is Fundamental LA http://fundamental-la.com/ - in case you are still considering your options?

              1. re: Servorg
                c
                corgi Jan 10, 2014 08:26 AM

                "The buds of the betaster?" Shamshiri is definitely in contention now. I do have quite some time to mull this over and it is possible that I will need to rent a car which of course would extend my range quite a bit.

                I am also travelling with some nonhound friends (one an <ugh> vegetarian), so it'd be nice to offer them some choice. Of course if they become too difficult, I'll just cut them loose and go off on my own.

                1. re: corgi
                  Servorg Jan 10, 2014 08:33 AM

                  If you don't like "betaster" I could always go with "b-eater" or, if you will, "beater" - but that brings into play its more common definition, which may well muddy the waters to a greater extent...(g)

                  1. re: corgi
                    v
                    VenusCafe Jan 10, 2014 12:16 PM

                    Try to be a good CH and not UGH veggies, just as
                    I refrain from MEH!@ antibiotic laden meat or ecoli drenched chicks.

                    1. re: VenusCafe
                      c
                      corgi Jan 10, 2014 02:25 PM

                      The UGH is about the additional constraints that dining with a restricted diet individual involves. This is true for any kind of restricted diet. A person who ate nothing but steak would get pretty much the same UGH from me.

                      1. re: corgi
                        v
                        VenusCafe Jan 11, 2014 10:05 AM

                        Oh, now I get it.

                      2. re: VenusCafe
                        c
                        corgi Jan 10, 2014 02:34 PM

                        Also, a quick glance at your profile suggests that you're what I would call a veggiquarium, :)

                        1. re: corgi
                          v
                          VenusCafe Jan 11, 2014 10:12 AM

                          An amphibian. I left the Crescents long ago ;-)

                    2. re: Servorg
                      k
                      kevin Jan 15, 2014 03:51 PM

                      But all the way from NYC for fundamental ?

                      He should hit up Attari, you definitely can't get those Persian sandwiches in NY.

                    3. re: corgi
                      Porthos Jan 10, 2014 08:05 AM

                      Pho options that side of town are mediocre. Don't know if they're any better than the versions you lament about in NYC.

                      Shamshiri is delicious in my book. Like I said, get the ghormeh sabzi, maybe even add adas polo for the rice.

                      Too bad you don't have a Friday lunch available for sushi. Then you can have your pick. Saturday lunch limits you.

                      If you're hankering for Mexican, go for it. Mexican food is a LA forte but not necessarily westside forte. Surprised no one has recommended Monte Alban for the mole. I don't like mole in general but if you do that would be your spot. More of a birria guy myself. Not aware of any Westside place serving birria.

                      1. re: Porthos
                        Servorg Jan 10, 2014 08:12 AM

                        "Not aware of any Westside place serving birria."

                        One option is Don Chuy's http://www.donchuysmexican.com/ in Mar Vista. I eat there for breakfast once in a while and like their food but don't know about their goat.

                        ADD: Another thing to be aware of is that the term "birria" can also mean lamb or mutton and not just goat. So if looking for goat specifically it's always best to ask if type of birria is not spelled out on the menu you are looking at.

                        1. re: Servorg
                          Porthos Jan 10, 2014 09:18 AM

                          I wouldn't mind if it's lamb or mutton. The consomme that comes with it is delicious and part of the package that I enjoy when referring to "birria".

                          1. re: Porthos
                            Servorg Jan 10, 2014 09:20 AM

                            It's just that some folks are looking for goat, as that is a much rarer beast (g) hereabouts than lamb...

                          2. re: Servorg
                            Beachowolfe Jan 11, 2014 08:49 AM

                            They serve birria on the weekends at Tacos Por Favor

                            1. re: Servorg
                              k
                              kevin Jan 15, 2014 03:53 PM

                              What was the name of the great birria joint that was reviewed in the LA Times a few years ago, possibly a decade ago, and then reviewed but not named in a NY Times article from a few months ago ??????????????

                              Thanks.

                            2. re: Porthos
                              c
                              corgi Jan 10, 2014 08:29 AM

                              Monte Alban is on my radar, but I too, am not that big on mole.

                              Pho mediocrity: Even Nong La? It seems relatively new and their website certainly expresses a commitment to quality. A few hounds have said good things, but there isn't an awful lot of buzz about it.

                              1. re: corgi
                                wienermobile Jan 10, 2014 08:59 AM

                                I do like Nong La. It's a nice neighborhood place but it's not a destination... but the ramen next door and across the street is another story….

                                1. re: corgi
                                  c
                                  corgi Jan 10, 2014 09:14 AM

                                  For instance, this pho round-up puts Nong La at #9 in LA, that sounds pretty darn good to me! http://www.laweekly.com/squidink/arch...

                                  1. re: corgi
                                    k
                                    kevin Jan 15, 2014 03:54 PM

                                    you can get the birria at Monte Alban and it's pretty damn good though maybe it won't reach the tremendous heights of a Boyle Heights birria.

                                    You should check out El Parian too.

                                    1. re: kevin
                                      Ciao Bob Jan 15, 2014 10:44 PM

                                      I've had the birria at MA and it was excellent.

                                    2. re: corgi
                                      TheOffalo Jan 15, 2014 06:37 PM

                                      I liked Nong La except for the fact that their noodles are too soft. I know are made in-house, which might be part of the "problem"--that they're too fresh. ;-) I just like my rice noodles more al dente.

                                      Look into Phorage. It may not pass for "authentic", but the oxtail pho is decent for Westside.

                                    3. re: Porthos
                                      n
                                      New Trial Jan 11, 2014 12:24 AM

                                      Monte Alban offers a nice barbacoa de chivo.

                                      1. re: New Trial
                                        c
                                        corgi Jan 15, 2014 05:54 AM

                                        Hmm. That sounds enticing...

                                        1. re: New Trial
                                          k
                                          kevin Jan 15, 2014 03:56 PM

                                          shoot, my bad.

                                          as a point of clarification is "barbacoa de chico" roughly the same as "birria" ?????

                                          Thanks.

                                          1. re: kevin
                                            e
                                            Ernie Jan 15, 2014 05:55 PM

                                            No, the first means "roasted young boy" and the second is a Mexican stew made with lamb or goat meat

                                            1. re: Ernie
                                              k
                                              kevin Jan 15, 2014 11:06 PM

                                              Chivo. My bad.

                                              1. re: kevin
                                                n
                                                New Trial Jan 17, 2014 01:52 AM

                                                With that correction, the two dishes are similar--regional variations some would say.

                                                1. re: New Trial
                                                  k
                                                  kevin Jan 17, 2014 11:50 AM

                                                  Cool. That's what I kind of thought.

                                      2. re: corgi
                                        e
                                        Ernie Jan 10, 2014 08:21 AM

                                        It sounds like you are familiar with Persian cuisine, in that case I would skip Shamshiri Grill and choose Javan or Shaherzad. Javan does the more traditional stuff much better than Shamshiri, e.g., fesenjan, bademjan, etc.

                                        Shamshiri was once a very authentic Persian restaurant in the 80s and mid 90s but they have continually diluted the menu over the years with more and more non-Persian dishes like falafel, shawarma, hummus and Caesar salads

                                        1. re: Ernie
                                          Porthos Jan 10, 2014 09:20 AM

                                          It's important to note Ernie is in the minority on this one.

                                          Look through this thread on Persian in Westwood:

                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/928348

                                          1. re: Porthos
                                            e
                                            Ernie Jan 10, 2014 09:28 AM

                                            It is also important to note that some of the supporters of Shamshiri in that thread are not entirely clear what are Persian vs. non-Persian dishes

                                            1. re: Porthos
                                              c
                                              corgi Jan 10, 2014 09:35 AM

                                              Y'know it's interesting. I'd read that thread already and there's a back-and-forthy, yeah-but, six of one half dozen of the other feel about that thread. I've read a lot of Chowhound posts and when a place really ROCKS, you can tell by the thread. For example, here's the Mohsen thread for comparison. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2639...

                                            2. re: Ernie
                                              v
                                              VenusCafe Jan 10, 2014 12:09 PM

                                              I'm with Ernie on this. Javan is the place. Best Tahdig, etc.

                                            3. re: corgi
                                              Beachowolfe Jan 11, 2014 08:47 AM

                                              I've pitched this place before and I'll do it again... good, moderately priced sushi with some creative options and a fun atmosphere. right on Main street in Santa Monica.

                                              Tsukiji Sushi Sen

                                              http://www.eatsushisen.com/

                                              1. re: Beachowolfe
                                                c
                                                corgi Jan 15, 2014 06:08 AM

                                                Interesting. They're open on Saturdays for lunch too. I just looked at the menu on their website. What does it mean when they have two prices separated by a slash? Sushi price/Sashimi price? http://www.eatsushisen.com/menu/

                                                1. re: corgi
                                                  Servorg Jan 15, 2014 07:02 AM

                                                  If you look at the header for the sushi/sashimi section it says 2 pieces of sushi (the lower price) or 4 pieces of sashimi (the higher price).

                                          2. p
                                            prawn Jan 9, 2014 01:28 PM

                                            We haven't been in a while but I believe Sasabune still pre-slices a majority of their fish which is a no-no for some purists. Chefs there also follow the Nozawa style of warm rice which is an issue for some folks. The space is huge though which generally means less of a wait and a more comfortable seating. Hide is tiny in comparison and a Sat lunch is probably going to be crowded. Out of the two, if you're just looking for good sushi without the ambiance or atmosphere, I would recommend Hide and plan to arrive 15 mins before they open. Sit at the bar, bring cash.

                                            I would forget about Pho in Santa Monica.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: prawn
                                              Servorg Jan 9, 2014 01:50 PM

                                              "The space is huge though which generally means less of a wait and a more comfortable seating."

                                              Not any longer. They moved to a much smaller space about 3/4's of a mile east of their old location - still on Wilshire - right where Armacost tees into Wilshire on the N side of the street.

                                              1. re: Servorg
                                                p
                                                prawn Jan 9, 2014 01:55 PM

                                                Wow, that completely fell under our radar. We might give the new location a shot if we're in the area - the old location really didn't resonate with us, too cavernous despite the elbow room.

                                                1. re: Servorg
                                                  k
                                                  kevin Jan 15, 2014 03:49 PM

                                                  And there's one on Olympic near Doheny in Beverly Hills.

                                                2. re: prawn
                                                  c
                                                  corgi Jan 10, 2014 06:40 AM

                                                  Interesting. It turns out that Sasabune is out also. They're not open for lunch on weekends either. The place that is open is "Sasabune Express"

                                                3. o
                                                  Ogawak Jan 9, 2014 12:29 PM

                                                  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
                                                    d
                                                    Dirtywextraolives Jan 9, 2014 01:53 PM

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

                                                  2. b
                                                    Butter Fight Jan 8, 2014 09:43 PM

                                                    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
                                                      c
                                                      corgi Jan 8, 2014 09:58 PM

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

                                                      1. re: corgi
                                                        j
                                                        jessejames Jan 8, 2014 11:12 PM

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

                                                        1. re: jessejames
                                                          wienermobile Jan 8, 2014 11:25 PM

                                                          Kindly disagree. Santouka is good. Tsujita is great.

                                                          1. re: wienermobile
                                                            j
                                                            jessejames Jan 9, 2014 11:00 AM

                                                            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
                                                              Servorg Jan 9, 2014 11:06 AM

                                                              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
                                                                c
                                                                corgi Jan 10, 2014 06:37 AM

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

                                                                1. re: jessejames
                                                                  k
                                                                  kevin Jan 15, 2014 03:48 PM

                                                                  there's got to be a sideline.

                                                                  1. re: jessejames
                                                                    J.L. Jan 15, 2014 11:03 PM

                                                                    That's how they pay in Nippon. Authentic.

                                                                    1. re: jessejames
                                                                      J.L. Jan 15, 2014 11:04 PM

                                                                      ... the mouth of the "Chewbacca"?

                                                                      1. re: jessejames
                                                                        J.L. Jan 15, 2014 11:05 PM

                                                                        >> 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
                                                                          c
                                                                          cacio e pepe Jan 16, 2014 10:01 PM

                                                                          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
                                                                            Porthos Jan 16, 2014 11:03 PM

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

                                                                            1. re: Porthos
                                                                              c
                                                                              cacio e pepe Jan 16, 2014 11:17 PM

                                                                              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.

                                                                2. westsidegal Jan 8, 2014 09:18 PM

                                                                  <<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
                                                                    c
                                                                    corgi Jan 8, 2014 09:58 PM

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

                                                                    1. re: corgi
                                                                      Wayno Jan 9, 2014 11:12 AM

                                                                      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
                                                                        ilysla Jan 9, 2014 11:20 AM

                                                                        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
                                                                          c
                                                                          corgi Jan 10, 2014 06:35 AM

                                                                          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
                                                                            i
                                                                            ilysla Jan 15, 2014 10:07 PM

                                                                            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
                                                                          k
                                                                          kevin Jan 15, 2014 03:47 PM

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

                                                                    2. g
                                                                      goldpackage Jan 8, 2014 09:07 PM

                                                                      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. i
                                                                        ilysla Jan 8, 2014 08:49 PM

                                                                        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
                                                                          c
                                                                          corgi Jan 8, 2014 09:02 PM

                                                                          Forest Hills, Queens, NYC.

                                                                          1. re: ilysla
                                                                            c
                                                                            corgi Jan 8, 2014 09:15 PM

                                                                            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
                                                                              d
                                                                              Dirtywextraolives Jan 9, 2014 01:59 PM

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

                                                                              1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                                                                                c
                                                                                corgi Jan 10, 2014 06:25 AM

                                                                                Thanks!

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