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Aug 4, 2014 10:43 AM

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

Hi. We're coming to LA for the week of Labor Day. I've been a couple times in the past but really don't know LA. I'd love a couple recommendations. Whenever I travel, I try to sample the best of local cuisine.

My favorite restaurants in NYC are Eleven Madison Park, Aquavit, and Dovetail--these are fairly innovative and yummy places with great service in my book.

In the Bay Area, my favorites include Fifth Floor, Firefly, Cafe Kati, Stacks pancake house, Baker+Banker, Park Tavern (wider range here--formal to casual, innovative to comfort food to Asian fusion to pancakes).

What should my L.A. favorites list include???

In addition, NYC doesn't really have a great Sunday brunch buffet, but I love them so I always look for a great one when I travel. Most recently had a great one at the Four Seasons in Georgetown and over the years have had others at the Park Hyatt Bellevue in Philly, the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes and Hyatt Grand Cypress in Orlando, Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay, and the Four Seasons in Las Vegas.

Top pick for a gourmet Sunday brunch? A little over the top is just fine!

Finally, I was hoping for an upscale Chinese place for my birthday. I love Peking Duck and Dongpo Pork. But if that isn't what L.A. does best, I'm open to other cuisines/ideas.

Lastly, my stomach is sensitive to hot peppers and garlic so those places that use them in every dish are not for me.

Thanks very much!


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  1. Try the 'Polo Lounge' for Sunday brunch (not a buffet), nice quintessential LA scene. You'll probably see some celebs there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sgee

      Thanks. My girlfriend found that the Four Seasons has a buffet brunch so we're probably going to do that.

    2. Brunch: Saddle Peak Lodge

      Chinese: Sea Harbour (skip the Peking duck and Dongpo pork, go seafood)

      Places to try: Providence, n/naka, Urasawa, chiSPACCA, Father's Office, Bizarra Capital, Alma.

      6 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          IIRC ipsedixit does have a favorite place for dongpo, but it's a hole in the wall type place, and that kinda sums it up for the vast bulk of what makes LA a great place to enjoy a diverse, authentic yet very affordable sampling of most regional chinese cuisines and dishes. a lot of these mom & pop places do one thing really well. a place that does a decent dongpo pork is likely to do a very indifferent duck (if they make it at all). as a matter of fact the only place i can think of that might do both would be shanghai no 1 - and the duck won't be peking duck. but it would be upscale in terms of decor and their braised pork belly is very good.

          however, dim sum is a different matter. what you would spend on brunch for 2 at the four seasons will get you a pretty exquisite meal at a place like sea harbor or elite. (yeah, this is the same sea harbor recommended by ipsedixit.)

          1. re: barryc

            Thanks, Yes, I saw those prior posts. Not looking for for holes in walls for Chinese food. I'll check out Shanghai No. 1.

            1. re: barryc

              I think if you do confine yourself to upscale hotel spots, you'll go back to NYC thinking there's nothing LA has that you can't get in New York. Have you ever been to New Orleans and noticed how you can get some great meals in some rather crusty places? To some extent that's true here as well. Maybe take a day or two and flip your concept from upscale to downmarket and see what you can find and enjoy.

              1. re: mc michael

                I've modified my request (above) because this seems to have been confusing.

                I was looking for one upscale Chinese place (given up on that) and one buffet brunch place (Yes, it's mostly hotels that do upscale buffet brunches in my experience--found that).

                Aside from that, I'm just looking for people's favorite restaurants that have menus that are not based on garlic and hot peppers.

            2. re: ipsedixit

              I'll check out those places to try. Thanks.

            3. Four Seasons Beverly Hills for Brunch But you might think about dim sum for brunch.

              1. I'm not familiar w/ the eateries you've listed, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that, if you're looking for food in LA that's going to meet the adjectives you've listed, you're going to be disappointed.

                IMO, our main advantage over NYC (from the little I know of NYC) is cheap and ethnic.

                You may also wish to let us know in what area you'll be staying and how much traffic you're willing to tolerate (although you might not actually encounter much after Friday evening).

                3 Replies
                1. re: paranoidgarliclover

                  Sorry if I made it complicated. I'd like to experience whatever L.A. does best in general, but not hole-in-the-wall Chinese. In terms of adjectives, I like NYC and SF each for its own strengths and hope to appreciate L.A. that way, too, but no garlic and hot peppers.

                  We're staying in Santa Monica, but we're touring around so we'll be in different places on different days (not sure of the specifics yet, but we're going to Hollywood, Griffith Park, Pasadena, Anaheim, Downtown, Pacific Palisades etc.). Not sure on driving limits; probably don't want to drive more than an hour or so unless it's one of our destinations???


                  1. re: StevenCinNYC

                    No, I think I understood what you're asking for, and that's why I think mc michael's post above is right on. From the numerous times people from NYC have posted (or, more accurately stated, from people who are looking for similar-to-this-in-NYC), my impression is that NYC does "middle-end" and "high-end" well (not technically terms, of course).

                    While LA has those kinds of places, the responses historically have been that NYC does that type of ambiance/cuisine/whatever much better and that looking for an LA-equivalent of middle- to high-end (when compared to NYC) usually ends up in disappointment.

                    LA does hole-in-the-wall Chinese really, REALLY well. I suppose the HK seafood places might have a more upscale ambiance, but I honestly don't know if they'd be upscale enough for you.

                    I sort of consider "Asian fusion" a dirty word unless you're talking about Lukshon. The prob is that some of the dishes are quite spicy.

                    Are the places you've listed in SF farm-to-table type places? We have those, too, in LA, but I don't imagine they're going to be better than they are in SF. But Gjelina (which is awfully close to your location) is probably worth a try.

                    We do Mexican really well. We do Thai pretty well. We don't do New American particularly well (at least, compared to NYC). We don't do Italian well (compared to NYC).

                    Regarding Pacific Palisades, don't really know if it's much of a destination unless you're planning to hike there or to go the Farmer's Market (which is quite nice, BTW). Otherwise, IMHO, it's a bit of an ultra-upscale suburb.... Great place to live, but....

                    1. re: paranoidgarliclover


                      To be clear, I'm not looking for NYC food or SF food or Seattle food (another place I love to eat). I thought for people who knew those restaurants, it would clarify the sorts of places I like in those locations and it might be helpful for identifying places in L.A., but based on what you and others have said, it's probably not a good approach.

                      I'm sure you're right about the differences between NYC and L.A., and understanding those differences is helping me adjust my expectations. I do really like New American so I'm glad you let me know not to look for it in L.A. SF does that well and a couple places in Seattle, too (Crush, for one, that is really good). Cafe Kati in SF does great Asian fusion, but it's the only place I know for it (and it's not spicy which is great for me).

                      I enjoy all kinds of restaurants as long as they garlic/hot peppers are not an issue. I've been fortunate to travel a great deal for work in the past, getting to sample foods from around the US, EU, Scandinavia, and one trip each to Asia (Taipei, Siem Reap, Bangkok) and S. Africa. I'm not looking to eat chocolate covered bugs or drink snake blood squeezed from a dying animal, but I do enjoy a range of local cuisine.

                2. It sounds like you favor upscale places attached to hotels. In that vein, you might enjoy WP24 and Cut for Chinese and steak respectively.
                  But if you can get away from hotels, the picks ipse presented have very good food.
                  Additionally, you might like Chosun Galbi for Korean BBQ.
                  You might also check out Night + Market for Thai innovations.
                  Red Medicine might also be worth a try.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mc michael

                    WP24 is a very good suggestion.
                    As to brunch, maybe Michael's in Santa Monica, or on the patio at the Hotel Bel-Air.
                    Rivera DTLA for an innovative take on Mexican/Southwest flavors. Not everything has hot peppers, but no garlic? Better check!
                    Crossroads on Melrose if vegetarian cuisine might be of interest.