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Koreatown, Little Armenia and Thai Town most interesting restaurants?

I'm planning a weekend down to LA (from SF) to check out the ethnic restaurants in Koreatown, Little Armenia and Thai Town. What are the most interesting (different & delicious) places in these neighborhoods or any other ethnic neighborhoods that are 'off the beaten' path?

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  1. I'm very jealous! I used to live in Little Armenia/Thai Town when I was in grad school. The two neighborhoods basically overlap and are small, so you have some really good dining options in about one square mile.

    For Armenian, Carousel on Hollywood Blvd. is a neighborhood institution that serves good Armenian/Lebanese. It's also cheap. It's in a little strip mall, has a rather barren interior, and, most important, it's BYOB. They have great kebabs, and you can get a combo platter to mix and match skewers (I'd always get pork kebab, ground beef luleh kebab, and bulgur wheat pilaf).

    Marouch on Santa Monica and Edgemont is also supposed to be great for Middle Eastern, like a classier Carousel. Alas, as a broke grad student, I was never able to go.

    For quick Armenian takeout, go to Zankou Chicken on Sunset. They have decent falafel and kebabs, but their rotisserie chicken is outstanding.

    For Thai, probably the most famous is Jitlada on Sunset, which is great. People like Sapp Coffee Shop, too, I guess cause Anthony Bourdain shot footage there, or something. There are tons of other options though, esp. on Hollywood Blvd. Sanamluang and Ruen Pair are both great for noodles after the bars close, which reminds me--I highly recommend Jumbo's Clown Room for drinks and pierced/tattooed bikini dancers on Hollywood, across from Sanamluang. Courtney Love used to dance there!

    On Sunset, near Zankou Chicken, there's a southern Indian place named Paru's. They do great vegetarian dishes, and they have cool outdoor seating.

    On Western Ave, between Hollywood and Sunset, there's a great Oaxacan Mexican place called Rincon Oaxaqueno. They, too, have outdoor seating, and in addition to making a lot of dishes you won't find at your standard Mexican place, they make awesome tacos al pastor on weekend nights.


    15 Replies
    1. re: sevanchik

      For quick Armenian takeout, go to Zankou Chicken on Sunset. They have decent falafel and kebabs, but their rotisserie chicken is outstanding.

      For Thai, probably the most famous is Jitlada on Sunset, which is great. People like Sapp Coffee Shop, too, I guess cause Anthony Bourdain shot footage there, or something. There are tons of other options though, esp. on Hollywood Blvd. Sanamluang and Ruen Pair are both great for noodles after the bars close, which reminds me--I highly recommend Jumbo's Clown Room for drinks and pierced/tattooed bikini dancers on Hollywood, across from Sanamluang. Courtney Love used to dance there!
      Zankou's falafel are terrible, please don't buy them.

      Jitlada is very polarizing, to say the least. OP: Read up on the joint yourself.

      1. re: ns1

        agree with ns1's assessment of zankou's falafel.

        1. re: westsidegal

          honestly, if the OP is coming from SF, I have not found any falafel sandwich in LA as good as the one from "falafel drive in" - San Jose.

          Lots of good falafel in town, but nowhere can I find a falafel sandwich as good.

          1. re: ns1

            simon's cafe's falafels are incredible. just incredible. but that's nowhere near this area.

            1. re: ns1

              People don't talk about it much (probably 'cause it's a little out of the way), but the falafel at Elena's Greek-Armenian Cuisine in Glendale are hands-down the best I've had!

              1. re: film_score

                shoot, i haven't tried it yet.

                that's the oblong ones linus was always heralding.

                1. re: film_score

                  I just have to say, it's been years since I've had them - and I still drool, remembering Elena's fries.

            2. re: ns1

              I used to live in the neighborhood for 16 years, but recently moved to Culver City. Jitlada was my go-to Thai restaurant, but switched allegiances to Ruen Pair and Ganda.

              I've read great things about DeSano Pizza Bakery. If I didn't have gluten and dairy intolerances, it would be at the top of my list of places to try.

              Marouch is an old favorite. I used to get the Meza for Two, being partial to vegetables and appetizers.

              1. re: MaladyNelson

                DeSano is good, it just isn't Settebello good. No beer or wine yet. I'd return to try their other offerings but, again it's still Settebello by a long shot for a DOC Neopolitan pie where I only crave a plain old DOC pie.

                1. re: JAB

                  Thanks for your opinion about DeSano, JAB.

              1. re: kevin

                Falafel Arax--think it's on Santa Monica and Normandie.

                1. re: sevanchik

                  Yes, Falafel Arax---in the minimall on Santa Monica/Normandie that also houses Spicy Tai. Arax's shwarma is pretty good too.

            3. Forgot to mention Pa Ord Noodle on Sunset, near the intersection w/Serrano. It's a good spot for boat noodles.

              6 Replies
              1. re: sevanchik

                Severely disagree. Have had noodles twice there with too much liver and a grease slick about 1/2 inch thick on top.

                Hoy-Ka was great on Hollywood with the cheech and boat noodles... They moved to Sunset and Gower.

                Palms is good thai too but wait time is absurd and service is hostile (not good hostile, bad kind).

                Isaan Station is a must for great northern thai food and chill vibe. If you have a car checkout nite+market too.

                For Armenian specialties checkout GOLDEN STATE BAKERY. Have Armenian bread, dry cured shaved beef tenderloin and tarragon soda and or lassi (abali brand).

                  1. re: kevin


                    For Basturma, just go to a Jon's Markets, or Superking (my fav place) and they'll slice it for you.

                    I see it in the deli section all the time, not so much at restaurants. Then again, I don't eat tons of red meat, so maybe I'm just not looking for it on a menu!

                  2. re: MiserableNYer

                    Really? I always liked the noodles at Pa Ord. They also do a really good bbq pork w/egg noodle soup, which may be less greasy.

                    Golden State Bakery is nice, and so's Father and Son Bakery on Sunset for breads. Have you ever tried Taron Bakery on Hollywood for lahmajun and boreg?

                    1. re: sevanchik

                      Nice suggestions sevanchik. Pa Ord used to be great when it was small, but since the expansion it's gone a little downhill. I like the boat noodles best.

                      I also like the fresh bread they make, as well as the various dips at Golden State.

                      And I get lahmajun almost every Sunday from Taron. And last weekend we tried the tahini boreg. It's a little sweet, but quite a delightful treat.

                    2. re: MiserableNYer

                      Severely disagree? It's fine if you don't like them, but they're the real deal.

                  3. If you are going to have a car, and might need to head toward Universal City on the 101 Freeway, the falafel at Joe's on Cahuenga just south of Lankershim is superb.
                    Much other Middle Eastern food is also good there, but there is a reason the place is called Joe's Falafel.

                    I like Marouch, if you want a good Lebanese restaurant,

                    If you edge your way up toward Hollywood Blvd. at Vermont, Sidewalk Grille has very good Persian food in a fast casual format. Located just north of the BofA located on the actual corner.

                    18 Replies
                    1. re: carter

                      I'll dissent here (I do that a lot).

                      Don't like the falafel @ Joe's at all, but the chicken shwarma sandwich on fresh laffa bread w/ hot sauce is like the second coming of christ.

                      1. re: ns1

                        The shwarma bowl is also good at Joe's, with white beans, veggies, rice, shwarma, lettuce and cheese.

                        1. re: ns1

                          Don't like the falafel @ Joe's

                          I thought I was the only one. It's so far below the ilks of ARAX.

                          1. re: TonyC

                            I went back and had some and came to the same conclusion. They should rename the joint Joe's Laffa Shack

                            1. re: ns1

                              I find myself craving falafel all the time...not!

                              1. re: jessejames

                                i get strange cravings for the falafel sandwich @ falafel drive-in san jose.

                                1. re: jessejames

                                  cuz it doesn't have any marbling?

                                  just had a falafel sandwich, from a local shack, made by Lebanese fam? I believe. quite good.

                                  (apparently no one's working right now)

                                  1. re: TonyC

                                    I had a bit of a falafel addition when I went to school in Amsterdam, but heck I was broke and had the munchies.

                                    I like the ones fresh fried in olive oil and that have that addictive green pickled pepper relish/sauce.

                                    ps tsastiki or whatever its called is just the enemy by another name

                                    1. re: jessejames

                                      call me crazy but i actually sometimes crave the delicious crap (declisous in my mind, mind you) at Falafel King.

                                      there i did say it.

                                      Falafel King.

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        Stick to that f word and we re all good. I'm not a fan of the word police btw

                                          1. re: JAB

                                            That bill o Reilly thing still cracks me up. What a tool

                                2. re: ns1

                                  i admit i never get the falafel at joe's any more -- fear of ns1 is only part of the reason --, even though i never thought it was all that bad.

                                  that chicken shwarma bowl is a steal, though. it's a lotta food for the money.
                                  but, you don't get the laffa or hot sauce with it.

                                  there's really no happiness in this world. they always dole out that hot sauce with an eyedropper, too.

                            2. re: carter

                              jill agree i like the falafels here.

                              and i gid like the gyro luffas too.

                              and their hot sauce is liquid gold,

                                1. re: katydid13

                                  What do people get at Marouch?

                                  I went, and thought it was just ok. The quail was tasty, but overcooked...

                                  1. re: BacoMan

                                    Yogurt kebabs are outstanding (I usually get chicken), as are the roast chicken (allow at least 30 min. & ideally call ahead), hummus, tabbouleh, sugok, and lamb-shank special (Sat/Sun only), as is the baklava.

                              1. The Bun Shop in K-Town.

                                Where else are you going to get deep fried oreos as well as fried spam. Aside from the County Fair, that is.

                                1. dha rae oak in koreatown for korean duck platters. didn't even know that was a thing til 6 months ago.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: cdub

                                    That sounds great.

                                    More info please.

                                  2. Pailin for northern Thai
                                    Jitlada for southern.

                                    For Korean I like Mapo kkak doo gee for home style dishes (stews, fried fish, stir fries) and one of the best selections of banchan in the city.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Butter Fight

                                      second Jitlada just order off the southern Thai part of the menu and be prepared for delicious heat

                                    2. A couple other interesting Ktown spots: Pollos al la Brasa for Peruvian chicken, Kyochon for Korean fried chicken (they just reopened), Beer Belly for some good craft brews and fried beer-friendly food, Guelaguetza for Oaxacan, Papa Cristos for Greek, Jaragua for Salvadorian, you can go old school LA @ Taylors, the Prince or HMS Bounty...not to mention all of the fantastic Korean food (there are lots of other threads on this board to get that info)

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: LAgirl2

                                        Food is meh but everyone should go to the original El cholo at least once.

                                        Guelagatza rocks, order the tlayuda and mole sampler.

                                        Papa Cristos is ghetto-as-fuark or "ratchet" in Cali-speak but they have great spices on sale and the mythos beer and feta lamb sandwich is top notch but could use herbage.

                                        Fantastic Korean food is an oxymoron. The pastries in Ktown are inedible except for Paris Baguette. These bakeries are seriously disgusting. I got a curry roll from KOREATOWN PLAZA and the beef was MIA. Then I got a free "volcano bun" that looked like cream cheese on a cut roll but actually tasted like supersweet whipped cream. Don't even get me started on the other crap like the fish shaped pastries filled with bean paste.

                                        Avoid BEER BELLY at all costs. I'd rather go to Madangmall and watch a fake Korean movie while chewing on dehydrated squid and popcorn than wait 30 minutes for a nasty mac and cheese.

                                        1. re: MiserableNYer

                                          "Food is meh but everyone should go to the original El cholo at least once."

                                          Why do people say this? Especially here...which is a forum that is exclusively concerned about the quality of food...? I don't get it?

                                          1. re: BacoMan

                                            OP: do not go to el cholo

                                            Also: love how a miserablenyer is giving lessons on Cali lexicon

                                          2. re: MiserableNYer

                                            Papa Cristos is ghetto?
                                            Fantastic Korean food is an oxymoron?
                                            really? wow.

                                            Also, why avoid Beer Belly? It's a neighborhood craft beer hang out that serves pub food, not a restaurant that happens to have beer. In other words, go for the beer not the food. They have interesting beers on tap (lots of them local and/or seasonal). The food is hit and miss (stick with things that are fried vs cheesey), but I'm pretty happy having a couple of pints on a Saturday afternoon with some fries or pork belly chips while sitting on their deck.

                                            1. re: LAgirl2

                                              From that perspective, I like Beer Belly.

                                            2. re: MiserableNYer

                                              Wish I had seen your comment about Beer Belly earlier in the week. I went for the first time and it was very so-so. We had the duck French dip with was VERY LAME. We also had the fish and chips which were just decent. I had a sour beer recommended by the waiter. YUK! We also had a peach iced tea. YUK! The deep fried twinke with cookies and cream icecream was good but how are you gonna f_ck that up? Won't be back.

                                              1. re: orythedog

                                                Yeah, not a food destination. It's simply a local place to hang w/ your friends and enjoy a couple craft brews. btw--you can get a taste of any of the beer on tap before you commit to ordering a pint. that way you can avoid a new beer that may be in a style that you don't like. I've never tried the fried desserts (i'm not that into sweets) so I can't comment on that. But avoid their brunch items---not good. I was happy when they ditched their "breakfast" only items for brunch and added their regular menu of fries, etc

                                              2. re: MiserableNYer

                                                rms9004: respectfully suggest that you AVOID el cholo.
                                                imho, recommending a restaurant that is sub-par in every way to someone who travels here from out of town SPECIFICALLY FOR THE FOOD is mystifying.

                                            3. I thought that Glendale was a better place for Armenian?

                                              In any event, I had a nice, freshly baked lahmajun (and ayran) at Arax Bakery at 4871 Santa Monica Blvd.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                                Glendale is hugely great for Armenian.

                                                There are a few bakeries outside of Glendale that are fab. But overall - you want Armenian? Go to Glendale!

                                                And never underestimate the fun of Superking : )

                                              2. Taylor's Steakhouse, R Bar, Grainivore, Pollo ala Brasa only reason to eat in k-town. Stay away from the bakeries and sickeningly sweet coffee houses.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: nycbbq

                                                  Come on maybe all the AYCE and Kang Ho are too silly for you...but places like Park's or Soot Bull Jeep really aren't worth eating at in any sense in your opinion??

                                                  1. re: BacoMan

                                                    No, support El Colmao, they cook your food!

                                                    1. Definitely try Sapp Coffee Shop for the boat noodle soup and the jade noodles.

                                                      Marouch is really good--I quite like their quail.

                                                      K-Town ironically enough has Isaan Station which is one of the better northern Thai spots in town. It was recommended to me as the best Thai in LA by the Thai consulate general's wife.

                                                      Oh and if you have a car go to Night + Market as someone already suggested.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: set0312

                                                        What do you get at Isaan Station?

                                                        I tried to go once. It was closed on a Friday night at 9 pm.

                                                        In K-town, that is unconscionable unless under construction (didn't see any signs though)...so I figured they must've closed down. Are they in fact still open?

                                                        Are they closed on Fridays?

                                                      2. Falls in the off the beaten path Armenian

                                                        Old Gyumri Restaurant
                                                        4441 San Fernando Rd, Glendale, CA 91204

                                                        Excellent lamb chops and pork ribs! Caters almost exclusively to an Armenian clientele. Seems like a popular hangout for regulars. You may receive some odd glances when you step in...

                                                        For Korean, check out

                                                        Kobawoo for bossam (pork belly)
                                                        698 S Vermont Ave #109, Los Angeles, CA 90005


                                                        Jang Choong Dong Restaurant for Jokbal - braised pork trotter. Divey joint good for post golf sweaty dining and boozing
                                                        425 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90020

                                                        Across the other side of Thai town. Check out La Cevicheria for Guatemalan style ceviche
                                                        3809 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Sgee

                                                          thanks for this reminder.

                                                          no odd stares at Gyumri, just a really friendly staff. the lamb chops were a bangin' bargain. next time, basturma and stroganoff. what an LA gem.

                                                        2. I like palms thai. Good food good Elvis good times.