Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Thai desserts

When in Thai town, don't forget dessert! Across the parking lot from Ruen Pair - next to Palms Thai - is a Thai dessert cafe with fine housemade Thai desserts and packaged sweets from many lands. You'll find that preserved durian is a shadow of its pugnacious fresh predecessor; pang chi (fried taro thingies) are great, though I haven't compared the kanom krok (coconut milk cake fried in a special pan with golf-ball sized holes) to the tasty versions served w/green onion at Wat Thai temple and the parking lot of Silom Thai supermarket on Hollywood Blvd. Also, there is a cool dessert spot called Kamon [= dessert] Thai that's further east on Hollywood closer to Sanamluang and Vim.

BHAN KANOM THAI [next to Palms Thai]
5271 Hollywood Blvd.,Hollywood, CA 90027
(323) 871-8030

BHAN KANOM THAI #3 12714 Sherman Way, North Hollywood, CA 91605 Tel: 818-255-3355
Giant North Hollywood branch with some unique features - dim sum for one.

KANOM THAI RAM 2 - this one is in Counter Intelligence I think
5185 Hollywood Blvd.,Hollywood, CA 90027
(323) 667-2055
Thai taco is an amazing hard shell thingy about the diameter of a coaster, folded in half, spread with something alarmingly like a thin layer of Miracle Whip and cradling tendrils of eggy orange sweet filling.

Wat Thai temple weekend hawker centre w/kanom krok stand
12909 Cantara, North Hollywood (Roscoe @ Coldwater Canyon)

Kanom krok stand in Silom supermarket parking lot (weekend only?). Great for $2 breakfast.
5321 Hollywood Blvd

Ruen Pair

A note about Ruen Pair. There's a section at the end of the menu titled "Rice Soup Ala Carte". This is a Thai-Chinese meal centred on a big ol' bowl of communal congee/jook/rice soup, in the plain not-too-watery Cantonese style. Accompanying dishes in this menu section include those recommended by Sandra W., plus some other great ones such as salt fish salad style (excellent) and preserved turnip fried with eggs into an omelette. It seemed like the sweet spot in the menu to me.

One more note about Ruen Pair. The popular morning glory or water convolvulus is perhaps better known as kangkong or ong choy - my favourite vegetable! No fermented shrimp paste to lift it into transcendent Malaysian fare, it's solid Cantonese/Thai stuff. Eat the chillis, it's tastier that way.

052805 Ruen Pair update.
Shared a great meal with Jim Leff and Tom Armitage of the Chowhound board here. Learned what a difference it makes to order the right thing, last time I was here I chose the dishes I like at Yai (such as pork leg with chilli and garlic) and was upset that Yai's versions were so much tastier. We had a bowl of rice soup and:
Ground pork with Chinese olives. Revelatory flavour from the pointy black olives which are preserved but not in a way that tastes anything like the Western olive (are they even the same species???). This dish is heavenly.
Morning glory with chilli.
Fried egg with salty turnip.
Like a mini omelette, the turnip shreds make up a lot of the dish and are actually kinda sweet. Plainer than the other dishes, a welcome contrast.
Green papaya with salty crab, hot requested. Almost inedibly spicy, as bodacious as the Thai temple version when hot is requested. I love the fermented tasting salty crab and ended up eating a lot of this.
Fried egg salad. Jim wanted this and it was exactly what one expected, a fried egg topped with fish sauce and Thai salad fixin's. Awesome.

Brodard II

Brodard II at 647 Valley Blvd in Alhambra is the sister restaurant of the very popular Brodard in Garden Grove, I believe both restaurants have been mentioned here and by J.Gold. Limster, Spoony Bard and I headed there on the recommendation of Melanie Wong - yet another confirmation of her chowhound greatness. It was some of the best Vietnamese food I've had, perhaps others can compare with the Little Saigon locale [note: some Chowhounds derided the Alhambra location, but I stand by my findings. Have not yet tried the Garden Grove one]. We ordered way too much, it's good value and Limster suggested the Atkins-esque approach of taking the starches and reheatables home. Highlights:

Claypot chicken rice. Excellent chicken which was rapidly devoured. Many diced vegetables and roast pork in the rice.

Banh xeo. Fried pancake with prawns, wrapped into lettuce leaves with mint, basil &c. Superb!

Spring rolls with pork balls. Very popular appetizer, contains a crispy fried something in the middle for textural contrast. Tremendous.

Hanoi style char-grilled pork with bun. Not the familiar bun where one mixes the vermicelli with vegetable fixings and throws in the nuoc cham. This one gets the lettuce leaf "burrito" treatment. Outstanding.

Broken rice with assorted stuff. I'm no expert but the broken rice texture was terrific, and the fish cake, peppery steamed egg, shredded pork, and grilled pork top-notch.

Many exciting drinks as per tradition! I like the soda with pickled plum.

Jerk Pit

Were one to rank the seduction potential of restaurant names, "Jerk Pit" (occupying the former Coley's Kitchen at 4335 Crenshaw) would surely approximate the nadir. Are the cooks the same as Coley's? As Rick Springfield might say, the point is probably moot, because the food is pretty great.

I didn't try the jerk chicken - any expert opinions re: grilling woods, sauce &c. would be welcome - but the long-simmered oxtails were terrific and the curried goat was steeped in enough spice to fuel one's chi for some hours afterward. Unfortunately, they don't have ackee and salt fish, even on weekends (Wi Jammin at 5103 Pico still makes it but had run out when I was there).

My favourite grapefruit soda is available of course, and for yuks one can say "I'll have some of dat Ting" to the counterperson.

Beef pattie is chili-hot and good. Crust thicker and flakier than the ones I had at Kensington Mkt in Toronto, rendering the sometime coco bread sheath less important (I did spot a pile of flat buns atop the warming oven so one might ask).

If your sweet thing likes the Jamaican fare you will find satisfaction at Jerk Pit.

Hakata Ramen Shinsengumi

Just like the best genre films (“The 36th Chamber of Ramen”?) the noodle shops that my friend Tomo and I treasure most are those that specialize! Here the only broth is Kyushu style “tonkotsu ramen”, milky-whitish and rich with the essence of many pork bones. The ramen eater faces important choices: opt for hard noodles which is how the Japanese have it. We also chose medium oil, yes on the pickled ginger and on the green onion. Noodles had commendable rubbery texture, while chashu (pork) was soft and very tasty. The style is different but overall I would pick this over Ramen-ya. An added bonus is the respectable selection of izaka-ya (Japanese bar) style snacks. We ordered the excellent cream croquette, a marvel of panko-breaded soft mash than nearly disintegrates upon a chopstick prod. It comes with the brown, okonomiyaki/takoyaki sauce. Nankotsu karaage (fried chicken cartilage) are definitely not for the middle of the road diner but the adventurous will savour the crunchy-chewy joints which are delicately fried and much more exciting than regular karaage. Last but not least we added the sutamina natto – yep, it means “stamina” which was appropriate seeing as both of us went back to work afterward. Amazingly, natto is mixed with two other sticky foodstuffs, yamaimo/Japanese yam and okra and a generous dab of mustard for a hard-to-eat but delicious combination. A party in one's mouth and everyone's invited.

Taqueria Vista Hermosa

A while ago pambazo de tinga fever gripped the San Francisco Chowhound.com board after the redoubtable Ruth Lafler posted about trucks in Santa Rosa and Oaktown serving this remarkable Mexican sandwich. I visited Taqueria Vista Hermosa in the Mercado La Paloma (3655 South Grand Avenue at 37th Street) and can recommend the pambaso as well as the tacos:

Tacos use handmade tortillas and are excellent. Pastor is drier than most but this serves to accentuate the deliciousness of the marinaded meat, which isn't masked by goopy sauce. Not El Taurino good to my taste but close. Pollo adobado is moist and intense, I often avoid pollo in tacos as it can be a whitebread alternative for the non-offal eater but here I'd order it again. Salsa roja is too mild and no encurtido bar, but overall a solid taco experience.

According to my limited understanding a pambaso is defined by dipping the roll in a red chilli sauce, at Vista Hermosa this is quite mild. Here it's a big ol' Mexican roll filled with choripapas (chorizo, potato) and lettuce, dunked in sauce, slathered with crema and sprinkled with queso freso. Perhaps the sloppiest of all taco truck foods, it is served with utensils at Vista Hermosa and makes for a filling and tasty meal. I wish (again) that the salsa were quite a bit mas picante, when I sampled the pambazo de tinga in Santa Rosa it was "HOT In Herre". Tinga - pork/chipotle stew - is also a superior filling to choripapas; does anyone know where to get a pambazo de tinga in LA?

Isla Buffet

Not for nothing are Filipino restaurants beloved of the low end theorist. Organ meats and exotic fruit drinks? Check. Cross-cultural confusion? How ‘bout adobo, lumpia shanghai and pancit canton rubbing shoulders. Bulk options for the community? You can probably fill your bathtub with $50 worth of pancit.

So I was excited when my Filipino friend May offered to take a party out for a traditional fish breakfast at Isla (formerly Toto’s Lechon Manok) at 4420 Eagle Rock Blvd. Breakfast is served weekends only as a $5.95 buffet – hooray for America! – and runs 8am til 10:30. I’d advise getting there early, not because it’s busy but because critical fried items are best fresh. Such as bangus, the lovable milkfish which is crisp and fishy, served in chunks including heads. I once went to a street fair where a Filipino comedian proclaimed “Pinoys, we got a lot of pride! We got pride lumpia, pride chicharron, pride bangus...”.

The heart of the steam table at Isla is the meatprefix-silog meal, where –silog is an abbreviation for eggs and rice. Hence bansilog = bangus, eggs, rice; tapsilog = beef tapa (dried ~ carne seca); and longsilog = longanisa sausage (the darker brown-red kind is the better of the two varieties).

Being a somewhat deluxe buffet there are other meat choices such as chicken and pork tocino, good examples of the Filipino sweet tooth that even extends to the amusingly toothsome fast food chain Jollibee. The longanisa is considerably sweeter than that you’ll find in Central American eateries. Other fine additions to the –silog basics are diced pig ears and eggplant, sticky black glutinous rice, addictively gingery congee and smoked and dried versions of the small tinapa fish. These are strong like mackerel, don’t miss the smoked one! Vinegar goes well with the bangus and tinapa. Another tasty condiment is the fried shrimp paste whose name escapes me. It lacks the deep funk of Malay belacan but is delicious in its own way. Unfortunately dessert is not included so you’ll have to pay extra for halo-halo, the godmother of shaved ice treats. Luckily it’s full of calories, I’m always reminded how at home they call taro/ube the Tongan steroid, despite the fact that its effect on one’s waistline is surely stoichiometric rather than catalytic.

Wa Sushi

This is well-trodden turf but I thought I may as well report my fine experience at Wa Sushi. $60 omakase included:

- Three shot glass size cups on one long dish. Herring roe in little rectangular cakes with dashi shavings; abalone in strong, dark sauce made from its innards (Iron Chef-like, surreally great); and mozuku = soft stringy kelp with quail egg. These were collectively outstanding, very tasting menu-esque.

- New-style sashimi with some white fish (?) and the citrus-y oil/soy dressing familiar from Matsuhisa/Nobu. Had a dab of tapenade on the fish! Extra delicate slices, a real treat.

- Nigiri: Salmon, mirugai, maguro, hamachi and the true gem - toro. Didn't look especially fatty but dissolved on my tongue. The tail end of winter for Ms. or Mr Tuna?

- Gigantic, oxymoronic ama ebi sliced lengthwise in shell like little lobsters, grilled with enoki, small cubes of something (squash?) and served with a beurre blanc, ikura and little red peppery berries. Fiddly but decadent and delicious, came with a warm towel.

- Crab and mushroom risotto. Matsutake season is over but this was quite delicious regardless, could have been too bland but the daikon and herb shavings on top made it fusion in a good way.

- Molten chocolate cake verging on pudding. Good quality chocolate, strawberry and kiwifruit slices.

Chefs were real friendly and the place was hopping, mix of wealthy looking Japanese folks, hipsters from West Hollywood and regular folks like us. It hit the spot for a needed splurge though if I were to do it again I might request all cooked or innovative dishes, the non-toro nigiri was good (even given Sunday-quality fish) but you can get this stuff elsewhere. Alternative desserts: pear compote or green tea flan which probably would have been very tasty. I refuse to make any choices at omakase so chef Hiro made the call on the chocolate thing. Quite a meal!


Torafuku is run by the Four Seeds Corporation of Tokyo and it's a fancy place geared at the expatriate crowd. Choice of Japanese or English menu at the door, shouted salutation from the open kitchen, Calpico water at an outrageous $3 on the drinks menu. Prices seem affordable but portions are very dainty. It's good value considering the quality.

For a place specializing in rice the menu has many sections. Sizzling plates, salads, things on skewers, sushi and sashimi. Fans of spicy tuna or Rainbow rolls will delight in the "California All-Stars" section. Oh dear. Most interestingly, under the Rice dishes were a few items earmarked "traditional" with a note warning off all but the "very adventurous". Like a red flag to any self-respecting chowhound.

I ate:
Gohan set. Rice with miso soup, pickles and a amuse-sized portion of saba (mackerel). The rice was very good but the difference between this and the best rice from my Japanese friend's fuzzy logic rice cooker -takes twice as long as regular, but done just right! - was subtle. The grains were very fat and fluffy and it seemed kinda translucent but the taste wasn't a revelation. It was improved by a liberal shake of the dashi/nori/sesame mix tableside.

Saba marinated in fermented rice bran. From the "traditional" section, this cost $9 and when it arrived I felt initially that I had wasted my money - note the nom de cuisine. However, the six thin slices of saba interleaved with daikon rectangles were quite delicious, extremely salty like the waitress warned but each containing enough flavour for 10 cafeteria teriyaki chicken bowls. I was reminded of the jamon iberico de bellota that I smuggled back from Barcelona - fortune favours the bold, or should I say the "very adventurous". Mmm... fermented rice bran.

Shiokara - "homemade squid legs". Raw tendrils of good and chewy squid in a cold, thick brown sauce that also tasted fermented and was very toothsome, almost like uni. From the "traditional" menu, a tiny portion but recommended.

Onigiri (rice ball) with spicy cod roe. Here the rice seemed tastier than in the Gohan set, eating it out of hand wrapped in the nori rectangle was satisfying and I savoured the nutty flavour highlighted by the dab of cod roe in the middle that tasted of the sea. I like to order onigiri and perhaps this one was extra good coming from the touted "kamado" oven that Torafuku boasts.

I'm no expert but Torafuku seems like a worthwhile addition to the Japanese restaurant kaleidoscope, it is just West of the Westside Pavilion and not far from Sawtelle. At least some of the clientele know what they like, the two Japanese cats sharing the counter with me discussed their salad at length with the chef and had it adjusted twice.

Dos Burritos

Dos Burritos is in Hollywood at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine (it's just moved and I don't know the exact coordinates). Mexican classics are tasty; pastor is not especially marinaded but grilled to a pleasingly crusty texture, machaca is a little too watery, killer rice and refried beans, above average encurtido esp. jalapenos, chile relleno (misspelled "reano" on menu to chagrin of counterman) is served with an amorphous mystery substance one later discovers is a fried hamburger bun. It's for the people and priced as such, a worthwhile stop in the neighbourhood and not to be confused with the two Los Burritos on Sunset or further west on Hollywood.

Perspex box of desserts was at fringes of my normal experience. Pressed milk/brown sugar things and coconut cakes in Mexican flag colours looked good but my friends and I opted for the chunks of geological camote/sweet potato/kumara, heavily sugared and coloured violent crimson. The dude suggested we take it with milk and picked out an extra good piece - it was treacly, starchy, and delicious.

Attari Sandwiches

My friend's Persian girlfriend turned us on to Attari Sandwiches, a hard-to-find lunch spot with sandwiches fit to provoke a teenage riot. The address is 1388 Westwood, but it's actually in a nook on Wilkins around the corner from a French place named Soleil. One the day we went it was packed with wealthy looking Persians in various states of repleteness, belying the low-end prices.

Some of the sandwiches on offer, made on banh mi sized baguette with good tomatoes (menu is mostly in transliterated Persian so ask):
- Tongue. Melting texture and delicious beefy flavour.
- Kotlet/cutlet. Chicken or beef, fried in a falafel-tasting batter. Excellent.
- Mayonnaisey chicken salad.
- Kuku, the Persian veg kugel made with egg and greens including parsley I think. Really good.
- Chicken (boring, for white-meat orderers only).
- Sausage. Didn't try it, probably a good choice.

The Persian soup ash-e (beans/lentils, yoghurt and mint garnish) is at the grandmotherly level, perhaps the finest dish in the place.

Several side dishes that I didn't recognize on other tables, including a haleem-looking meat paste. Desserts including the teeth-hurting honey confections zooloobia and bamieh. Canadian carbonated doogh in the cooler plus superior minted Shemshad brand. A casual cafe-style alternative to the local kebab palaces.

International Tofu House

It was too good to be true, International Tofu House is no more. Jet out to K'town for your soon tofu fix.

Don't look now, but there is actually worthwhile food in Westwood Village. The neighbourhood I moved into with dismay a year and a half ago has Philly cheesesteaks (South St), thin East-Coast style pizza (D'Amore's) and now acceptable soon tofu at International Tofu House, 1114 Gayley at Lindbrook. Despite the name, there are no Cantonese tofu desserts, ghastly pan-vegetarian scrambles or delicate Japanese salads here, let alone tempeh or seitan (sorry, would-be Indonesian worshippers).

Small menu befitting a specialist restaurant. I tried pork soon tofu. The soup was tasty and scalding hot, it came with a raw egg and rice w/refill, and spicy meant spicy. Only four types of panchan; cabbage kimchi, cucumber, a leafy green one and a delicious nutty root that I am probably misunderestimating as burdock. The proprietors need to replace the boring green salad with more panchan, and slip that tasty melon flavoured gum in with the bill.

Overall, International i.e. Korean Tofu House is no BCD, least of all because they don't have the chewy intestine soon tofu or that great oily fish in the panchan. However, the usual "darn good for the Westside" refrain applies and business is rather slow, so pop in and support something good in your 'hood.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

L.A. Eating Guide By Cuisine

L.A. Neighbourhood Eating Guide

Restaurants not in SF or LA

Here are the very incomplete lists of restaurants I have visited that aren't in San Francisco (361 restaurants) or Los Angeles.

Bay Area not in SF
Andersen's Pea Soup (Santa Nella branch)
Arenal Pizza
Banana Garden
Banana Leaf
Bette’s Oceanview Diner
Breads of India
Buddhist temple in Ukiah
Chez Panisse
Cluck U.
Dynasty Seafood Restaurant
Everett and Jones
Great China
The Happy Pescado
Little Sichuan
Long Life Noodle House
Oscar’s hamburgers
Rick and Ann’s
Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles
Su Hong
Top Dog
Tropical Paradise
VIK Distributors

Davis, Sactown and environs
Cafe Bernardo
Little Prague

SF post grad-school
Alfred's steakhouse
Chenery Park
La Corneta taqueria
Taqueria Vallarta

San Diego and OC
Maria Isabel
Spice and Rice

J. Paul's

Washington D.C.

Julia’s Empanadas
Malaysia Kopitiam
Pizzeria Paradiso
Primi Piatti
So’s Your Mom

Bangkok Cafe
Lee Wing Wah
Lou Malnati's
Mountain View Cafe
My Place
New China Cafe
Paul Zakopane Harnas Restaurant
Penang Seafood
Phoenix Dim Sum
Spoon Thai
Triple Crown

India Palace
La Terrasse

Buk Kyung
Cafe Brazil
Cafe Mami
Cheng Shin Yuan
Daily Catch
Il Capriccio
Neptune Oyster
Penang Seafood
Supermercado Brasileiro
Tuscan Grill

New York
2nd Ave. Deli
Habib's Place
Joe’s Pizza (West Village)
John’s Pizza (Bleecker St.)
Sucelt (Cuban)
Tierra Colombiana (Astoria)
Won Jo

Restoran Malaysia

Sun Sui Wah
Fortune House

Albert's (Aotea Centre)
Albert’s food court Mercury
Blossom Village
Cafe Bleu (St Heliers)
Cafe Cezanne
Chef 2 noodle house
Chicks Hainanese chicken rice Food Alley
Chinatown Lorne St
Continental Noodle House
Currach Pub (Great Barrier Island)
Dave’s Hamburgers
Ding How
Dragon Boat
Enjoy Inn
Fish Pot Cafe
Food Alley claypot stall
Food Alley roti stall
Food City Malaysian noodles
Food City Mamak Indian stall
Food City Aunties stall
Golden Gold
Green Elephant
Himalaya (Mission Bay)
Hong Kong Kitchen (GI)
Jade Garden
Jewel of India
KK Malaysian
La Trattoria
Lanna Thai
Mexican Cafe
Mong Kok Half Moon Bay
Mudbrick vineyard Waiheke
New Asia
Newmarket Food Court Malaysian
New Orient
Penang Cafe
Penny's yum cha Meadowlands
Peter’s Pies (upper Queen St)
Sam Bat (Dominion Rd)
Sam Woh Otahuhu
Seoul Cafe
Solla Sollew
Singapore Dried Pork and Beef
Star Seafood yum cha Botany Downs
Sun World
The Regent Brasserie
Tonino's pizzeria
Viet Hoa
Vietnam Cafe
White Lady

Kopi (Willis St)

Le Bon Bolli
Welcome Chinese Vegetarian Food Cafe & Takeaway

Bill's 2
Peter Lam
Prasit Thai
Shakespeare Pies

Bar Miami
La Taberna Alabadero

Casa Torcuato


Las Bravas
Museo del Pan Gallego
Casa Ciriaco
Museo del Jamon (Plaza Mayor)
Museo del Jamon (Calle San Jeronimo)

Granja Viaders
La Gardunya
Casa Jordi
Pans and Company
Bar Pinotxco
La Sanabresa

Hong Kong

Banana Leaf Apolo
Best Fried
Blue Ginger
Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao
Harbourfront food court
Kingfisher Cafe
Loh mee hawker, Chinatown complex
Prata and coconut in Tekka Centre
Sungei Katoh cafe
West End

The Restaurant List L.A.

Welcome to my blog, fellow low end theorist. Here is a list of every restaurant I have visited in Los Angeles and environs (n=341). It is divided into two sublists; restaurants from Jonathan Gold's excellent "Counter Intelligence", and other restaurants.

Happy eating,

Simon aka Low End Theory

Counter Intelligence (93 restaurants)

888 Seafood Restaurant
Aladdin Falafel
The Apple Pan
Bay Cities Italian Deli
Bu San
Buu Dien
Cafe Brazil
Cafe Tropical
Canary House of Sandwiches
Caribbean Treehouse
Carousel Glendale
Cha Cha Chicken
Chabelita’s Tacos
China Islamic
Curry House
El Gran Burrito
El Pollo Inka
El Parian
El Sazon Oaxaqueno
El Taurino
El Tepeyac
El Texate
Empress Pavilion
Guelaguetza Koreatown
Guelaguetza Palms
Guatemalteca Bakery
Hong Kong Low Deli
Indo Cafe
Jerk Pit
John O’Groats
Johnny Reb’s
Kim Chuy
Kobawoo House
Kruang Tedd
La Taquiza
Little Malaysia
M&M Soul Food
Ma Dang Gook So
Magic Carpet
Mandarin Deli
Mandarin House
Mario’s Peruvian Seafood
Mei Long Village
Mi Ranchito
Oki Dog
Palm Thai
Papa Cristo’s
Paseo Chapin
Philippe the Original
Phillip’s Barbeque
Pho 79
Pollo a la Brasa
Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles (Pico)
Ruen Pair
Sa Rit Gol
Sahag’s Basturma
Sanamluang Cafe
Senor Fish
The Shack
Shiang Garden
Sky’s Gourmet Tacos
Soot Bull Jeep
Stevie’s On The Strip
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Tay Ho
Texis #2
Tito’s Tacos
Tommy’s (Santa Monica)
Tung Lai Shun
Versailles (Venice)
Zankou Chicken

Non-Counter Intelligence (248 restaurants)
#A Bakery Dim Sum Restaurant
AAA Dim Sum and BBQ
Akane Chaya
Ambhala Dhaba
Alaska Seafood Restaurant
Angelino's Cafe
Aroma Cafe
Asahi Ramen
Asian Kitchen
Attari Sandwiches
Aunte P's
Baby Blue's Barbeque
Back Home In Lahaina
Bahay Natin
Baja Express
Banana Leaf
Barrio Fiesta
BCD Tofu House
Benito's Tacos
Best Szechwan
Big Tomy's
Blue Marlin
Brodard II
California Teriyaki and Sushi
Carmen Foods truck
Carnitas Michoacan #4
Cemitas Poblanas truck
Cemitas Poblanas truck (Tacos Junior)
Chichen Itza
Chung Ki Wa
Chung King
Cocina Azteca de Oro
Coffee Zinio
Cowboy Sushi
Crepe to Go on Sawtelle
Crown Cafe
DK's Donuts No 18
Damon and Pythias
D'Amore's Pizza
D.J. Bibingkahan
Din Tai Fung
Dip N' Roll
Don Antonio's
Don Don Tei
Dos Burritos
East West Sandwich
Eat Chop Chop
El Abajeno
El Criollo
El Nido
El Paladar Oaxaqueno
El Rocoto
El Taco Unico
Elysee Boulangerie
Empanadas Place
En Sushi
Enzo's Pizzeria
Falafel King
Father's Office
The Gardens
Gaucho Express
Giang Nan
Gloria's Cafe
Grand Casino
Great Western Hoagie
Green Village
Gumbo Shack
Habibi Cafe
Hakata Ramen Shin Sen Gumi
Han Bat
Harold and Belle's
Hollywood Fries
Hop Li
Housenka Yakiniku
Hurry Curry of Tokyo
Hu's Szechuan
India Sweets and Spices
International Tofu House
Isla Roasted Chicken
JC Cafe
Jerry's Famous Deli
Joe's Universal Restaurant
Johnnie's Pastrami
Jordan's Cafe
Jose Bernstein's
JR's Barbeque
Juquila truck
Kabob and Chinese Food
Kang Seo Myun Oak
Ka-San Korean BBQ
Kim's Korean Barbeque
Kinchan Ramen
King Taco
Kiraku Ramen
Krua Thai
Kyushu Ramen
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue
La China Poblana truck
La Isla Bonita truck
La Oaxaquena truck
La Dijonnaise
Las Quenas
Le Pain Quotidien, Westwood branch
Le Petit Bistro
Le Saigon
Little Hong Kong Cafe
Little Sheep
Mami King
Mama Voula's
Manoly's Sweet Tooth
Mariscos Guillen
Mariscos Tatiana
Max's of Manila
Mediterranean Gourmet
Mi Piace
Mien Nghia
Mission 261
Mongol King
Monte Alban
Mousse Fantasy
Mr Noodle
Napa Valley Grille
Native Foods
Nathan's Kosherland
Nature's Way Cafe
NBC Seafood Restaurant
New Concept
Noodle Planet
Nuevo Rincon Salvadoreno
Ocean Star
Off Vine
Olive Branch
Ono Hawaii BBQ
Osaka Grill
Paco's Tacos
Palms Market
Pearl Dragon
Philly West
Pho 999
Pho Bac Huynh
Pho Hoa
Pho So 1
Pinto truck
Pollo Campero
Port Royal Cafe
Raffi's Place
Real Food Daily
Regent Cafe
Ricos Tacos
Rubin's Red Hots
Saigon Sandwiches
Sak's Teriyaki
Sake House Miro
Sam Woo (Chinatown)
Sam Woo (San Gabriel Square)
Sarita's Pupuseria
Sawtelle Kitchen
Sepi's Giant Submarines
Shamshiri Grill
Shik Do Rak
Simpang Asia
Song Long Restaurant
South Street
Subbie's Roll-In
Sri Siam
Sunnin Cafe
Sunshine Thai
Sushi Isshin
Swan Restaurant
Taco truck Pico and Plymouth
Taco Chato
Tacos El Camaguey
Tahoe Galbi
Tama Sushi
Taqueria Los Tapatios
Taqueria Sanchez
Taqueria Vista del Hermosa
Taste of India
Terried Sake House
Tia Juana
Tomodachi Sushi
Tortas Mexico
Truck outside El Zacatecas nightclub
Uncle Darrow's
Vietnam House
Wat Thai (Thai temple)
Western and 4th car wash truck
Westwood Brewing Company
Wi Jammin
Yai Noodle
Ye Olde King's Head
Yunnan Garden

Taco Trucks of the Westside

God knows whether this blog will outlast the archives of Chowhound.com. Just in case, here is my list of taco trucks that are a short drive from work late at night. Not sure how the quality compares to East LA but at the best of these one gets a rush similar to that at El Gran Burrito, El Taurino, &c. I was pleased to get some love from the board about these recs. The proprietors of these vehicles are prone to peripatetic ways so don't get mad if they're not there - try again next time. The most reliable truck meats are usually al pastor (marinated pork) and cabeza (soft meat from the cow's head). I also like lengua = tongue, but never order pollo (chicken, boring). Tacos should be $1. See my taco truck glossary for menu help.

Santa Monica Blvd @ Stoner, outside Goodwill store. Nights.
An adjunct to the worthwhile Oaxacan place of same name across the street. Good tacos with the usual meats.

El Paladar Oaxaqueno
Santa Monica Blvd @ Westgate, daily 7pm-12/1am. Sometimes parks on Barry south of Santa Monica.
Technically a taco trailer, this tremendous eatery has an unusual folded version of the hubcap-sized Oaxacan tlayuda. It’s easy to eat and delicious. Also terrific taco meats including barbacoa, and excellent tortas. 053005 note - I love to meet fellow diners with exacting standards. Last night a surprisingly natty man (suit!) and a woman who looked like his mother chatted with me in the line at El Paladar. They requested a sample of quesillo before ordering dos clayudas, and were kind enough to share a string or two. I'd had it previously but was happy to hear that they pronounced it very good.

Ricos Tacos
In parking lot of "Mi-T-Mart", Santa Monica and Westgate. A stand, not a truck or trailer. Tasty pastor with exemplary salsas and excellent suadero, the rare-on-the-Westside rib meat.

011805 update:
Cocina Azteca de Oro replaces Ricos Tacos at Santa Monica and Westgate. Pastor just OK but excellent cabeza and the piece de resistance: memela with bean paste and cheese made from corn-tasting masa on the spot (they'll wheel out the big wooden press). Some unusual items, quesadilla frita and flautas but they were out tonight... [this truck hasn't been seen for a while. 080405]

Carmen Foods
Sepulveda North of Pico 7am-9:30am
Sloppy pastor torta is tasty and heavy on the beans at this breakfast-only truck.

Taco Chato
Venice Blvd east of Sepulveda. Daily 8:30pm-12am
Don’t listen to the dude, his cemita is a very poor cousin to Tacos Junior down the street. Other tacos are excellent, however, with tasty salsas roja and verde plus immaculate radish slices on the counter.

Tacos Junior [yellow truck, has bench seating!]
Venice Blvd just east of 405 in auto-repair driveway, walled in by old refrigerators, 5pm-12am daily
The cemita poblana de milaneza con todo: Domed sesame seed roll, flat breaded steak, quesillo, chipotle, avocado and papalo (the secret weapon, pugnacious Mexican coriander. May not be available in winter months but ask!). After the wondrous Cemitas Poblanas truck at Santa Monica and Bundy vanished into the ether I feared this godly sandwich had gone from my life forever. Here it is again! Other tacos available, but order the cemita and rejoice!
Note: Tacos Junior also serves a splendid sope, thick handmade CD-sized tortilla covered with frijoles and carne gusto/meat of choice. Corn-y and filling.

Garcia's Bros (added 052405)
Venice @ La Cienega, NW corner. 7pm-12am
Spiffy clean truck for dining to the romantic glow of naked 60W lightbulbs. Large menu with memelitas, clayudas, sopes and even guaraches, a menu item not found at other Westside trucks I have visited! I really liked brick-red salty al pastor but cabeza taco was even better, both served with kickin' salsa verde. More notes on the guarache below.

Ricos Tacos (added 111305)
Venice @ Melvil, south side. 7 days. 5:30pm-1am (2am Fri-Sat).
Here it is, a truck with nothin' but tacos on the menu! Luckily they are wet and messy in a good way with spicy salsa rojo, cabeza and lengua better than pastor. Expensive at $1.15, but if you have some pennies left the champurrado is fine.

Mariscos Tatiana
Venice Blvd @ Mountain View. 7pm-1 or 2am
These guys are so slick they have a business card – with no address! Excellent tacos including camaron, plus dude with pile of recent release DVDs outside for atmosphere. Popular. Update 0105: Mariscos Tatiana also has tremendous tortas and Oaxacan clayudas with very fine non-mariscos meats.

Nameless truck outside “El Zacatecas”
Venice Blvd @ Mountain View. Weekend nights.
Small operation with no menu, almost like a kitchen for the nightclub. Munch on some nice tacos and listen to booming ranchero coming through the door.

Cemitas Poblanas ALERT!
I haven't tried this truck, but drove past it at Venice and Centinela parked outside Mitsuwa supermarket. The time was 12:30pm Tuesday 5/05. Probably daytime only - shucks!

La Oaxaquena
Lincoln south of Rose. 6pm-2am.
Long line outside announces the best Oaxacan truck I’ve found. Amazing tlayuda, tacos, tortas. Oaxacan baked goods. Worth a special trip, and open late. Probably #1 on the Westside.

Nameless truck(s) south of La Oaxaquena
Lincoln south of Rose
A couple of trucks park here, one is a very sorry affair that looks about to disintegrate but has passable tacos. Try them out!

La Isla Bonita
Rose at 4th, 10am-5pm, no Thu.
A great truck for a summery weekend lunch or lazy afternoon, selling mariscos in taco, tostada and coctel format. Tostada de ceviche, taco de camaron both good. Non-mariscos meats too.

Sunset Blvd at Monument, 12pm-2pm Mon-Sat
A taco truck in Palisades??? Lunchtime only but good fare and a welcome stop for the disoriented visitor. There is another truck in the ‘hood that parks further west at a gas station. Keep your antenna out for trucks in otherwise expensive neighbourhoods – there is a mariscos truck I’ve yet to try that parks on Beverly Glen at Mapleton weekends.

Notes on the guarache at Garcia's Bros:
The guarache is a tostada variant built on a thick soft tortilla formed from masa dough in the shape of a rudimentary shoe (21cm = women's size 3 1/2). On top of the toasty fresh guarache were a layer of fatty, delicious pasta de frijol negro, shredded lettuce, tons of quesillo, salsas verde and roja, radish slices and to top it off a splash of crema. Quite a challenge to squeeze into one's piehole, and the plastic fork is inadequate cutlery - can you handle the jandal [brand of NZ flip-flops] as we say in the Antipodes.

Cecina and tasajo are the other guarache options, suggesting the obvious Oaxacan background of the truck - Oaxacan chorizo $5/bolsa. But I dig the quesillo, it's a little more aged and sharper-tasting than good ol' supermarket string cheese. Contrast also with the much younger and harder Armenian string cheese sold as pure white knots (sometimes with black caraway seeds).

Unfortunately, Garcia's Bros were out of tamales de frijol tonight so I tried another vegetarian option, the memelita. Thought this would be a thick hockey puck thing but it turned out to be another guarache with only frijol, salsas and some crumbles of queso blanco. Like a shell-toe to the tricked-out Air Jordan of the full guarache, it's all good.

The San Francisco List

This is where list-making began, and I'm confident I recorded almost every place I ate. The rules were simple:

1) Each restaurant had to be reachable by SF Muni bus.
2) Only full meals were recorded, maximum 3 restaurants/day.
3) No fast food chains (grey area, there was only one Yoshinoya and one Jollibee in SF).

Looking at the list I'm reminded of Homer Simpson's high school yearbook: "Sports - none. Activities - none. Honours - none... so many memories."

Alamo Square *
Albona ***
Alfred Schilling
Ali Baba's Cave *
Ana's *
Ananda Fuara *
Anh Hoang **
Art's Cafe **
Arizmendi ***
Asqew Grill
Avenue 9 *
Baby's Eatery and Palabok *
Bagdad Cafe
Balompie Cafe *
Bamboo Garden *
Bangkok 900
Bangkok BBQ San Francisco
Bashful Bull *
Beijing on Irving
Best Panda **
Big Nate's Bar-B-Q ***
The Blue Front Cafe
Botana *
Boudin Fisherman's Wharf
Boulange de Cole **
Bow Hon *
Brisas de Acapulco **
Broaster Chicken
Brother's *
Brother-In-Law's BBQ **
Buca di Beppo
The Burger Joint **
Burma Super Star *
C & M Bar aka Wong Kok **
Cafe Bakery and Restaurant *
Cafe do Brasil *
Cafe Kaleo
Cafe Rain Tree
Cafe Spiazzo
Cafe Tay Do
Caffe delle Stelle *
Canto do Brasil *
Canvas Cafe
Cajun Pacific ***
California Pizza Kitchen
Casa Aguila *
Cha Cha Cha **
Chapeau! *
Cheesesteak Shop ***
Cheng's Kitchen
Cheng's Kitchen Tokyo House
Chevy's in SOMA
Cinderella **
Citizen Cake **
Cordon Bleu **
Coriya Hot Pot City *
Cosmo Corner Cafe
Costa del Sol in Excelsior *
Costa del Sol in Outer Mission *
Courtney's **
Crepe Express *
Crepes On Cole
Crescent City Cafe
Destino **
Discount Deli
Doramon Thai Noodle
Doidge's **
Dottie's True Blue Cafe ***
Dou Hwa *
Dragon City **
Dragon River *
Dragon Well
E Komo Mai
Ebisu *
Einstein's Cafe *
El Balazo
El Castillito **
El Farolito 1 ***
El Nuevo Frutilandia **
El Patio *
El Toro *
Elite Cafe
Ella's ***
Empress Garden *
Eos **
Fountain Court **
Fringale ***
Frjtz *
Galette *
Garden of Tranquillity
Gatip *
Genki *
The German Cook *
Go Go Cafe **
Gold Mountain **
The Gold Spike
Golden City **
Golden Deer **
Golden Era
Golden Gate Pizza **
Golden Turtle on Van Ness *
Goldilocks *
Gordo on 9th
Grandeho's Kamekyo **
Gravy's ***
Great Eastern **
Greens **
Gui Lin *
Hahn's Hibachi **
Hama-Ko ****
Hana *
Hana-Zen **
Harbour Village **
Hawaiian Drive-Inn **
Henry's Hunan Restaurant *
Hing Lung (Broadway) *
Hon's Wun Tun House **
Hong Kong Seafood *
Hong Phat Noodle
Hot and Hunky *
Hotei *
House **
House Of Nanking *
HRD Coffee Shop
Hugo St. Cafe
Hukilau Da Bar
HuLu House Vegetarian Restaurant ***
Il Pollaio *
Indonesia *
Irving Cafe & Deli **
Irving St. Cafe *
Isuzu (Hana Hou) *
Jakarta *
Jewels **
Joe's Cable Car **
Jollibee **
JT's Diner
Just Like Home *
Just Won Ton **
Juban **
Jumbo **
Kadok's House of Mami Siopao **
Kan Zaman
Katana-Ya **
Kate's Kitchen ***
Katia's Russian Tea Room **
Kezar Pub Carl and Cole *
Kezar Club on Stanyan
Khan Toke Thai House *
Khun Phoa II
Kim Hoang **
King of Thai 1 Clement ***
2 Clement **
3 Taraval **
4 Powell **
5 Haight (Best of Thai) *
6 Geary **
Korean place on Taraval ***
Kasra *
Klein's Delicatessen
L'Avenida *
L'Osteria Del Forno ***
La Cumbre **
La Fina Estampa *
La Mediterranee
La Paz *
La Taqueria *
La Vie *
Lam Hoa Thuan *
Le Jardin **
Lee Hou *
Lhasa Moon
Little Bangkok *
Little Beijing
Loi's Irving
Loi's Taraval
Lol Tun *
Loongbar *
Lori's Diner
Los Guanacos *
Lucky Creation *
M's Cafe **
Mad Dog In The Fog *
Mae Thip
Mai's *
Maki ***
Mamaya **
Marnee Thai *
Matterhorn *
Maxim's Bakery *
Max's Diner *
Max's Opera House Cafe *
Mayflower *
Mel's Diner
Memphis Minnie's **
Mexican place next to Amoeba
Mi Lindo Peru ***
Mifune *
Milano's Pizzeria
Minako ****
Minh Garden *
Minh Tri
Ming Tai Wun Tun House***
Miss Millie's ***
Mission Villa *
Mo's **
Modern Thai
Mom Is Cooking ***
Mon Kiang (Hakka, Broadway) *
Mong Thu (banh mi) **
Mong Kok (dim sum, Noriega) *
My Tofu House **
Naan n' Curry *
Nanking Road Bistro
New Asia *
New Aux Delices *
New Cheung Hing *
New Eritrea
New Golden Turtle *
New Hai Ky *
New Hing Lung (Noriega) *
New Lun Ting *
New On Sang *
New Sun Hong Kong *
New Woey Loy Goey *
North Beach Pizza
Okonomiyaki place @ Post/Taylor *
The Old Chelsea **
Old Singapore Noodle House
Old Shanghai **
Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant ***
On The Bridge **
Oriental Seafood Restaurant *
Pacific Restaurant *
Pagolac **
Pakwan **
Pakwan in Tenderloin
Pancho Villa
Pasquale's Pizza
Park Chow *
Pasta Pomodoro
People's Cafe
Peter Bakery and Dim Sum *
Piccadilly Fish and Chips *
PJ's Oysterbed
Pho Hoa Hiep II *
The Pig and Whistle *
Pittman's BBQ Pitt **
Plouf *
Polk Street Station Diner
The Pork Store **
Potrero Brewing Company
Powell's Place 1 **
2 *
PPQ ***
Punahele Island Grill ***
Red's Java House *
Rosamunde **
Rubio's Baja Grill *
Saigon Sandwiches **
Sam Wo
San Miguel ***
San Tung **
Sapporo-Ya *
Shalimar ***
Shanghai Restaurant *
Shanghai place on Geary at ~18th
Singapore and Malaysian Restaurant *
Slider's Diner
South Sea Seafood Restaurant ***
Sparky's Diner
Straits Cafe
Submarine Center
Sunrise Deli
Sunset Star
Suppenkuche **
Suriya **
Sushi cafe in SOMA
Sweet Heat
Sweet Temptation ***
Taiwan Point *
Takara **
Taqueria Altena *
Taqueria Cancun 1 ***
2 *
Taqueria Guadalajara ***
Taqueria Menudo *
Taqueria on Ocean
Taqueria San Jose ***
Tart to Tart
Tennessee Grill *
TC Pastry *
Thai BBQ
Thai House **
Thai Spice
Them Ky *
Thep Phanom **
Ti Couz **
Tien Tien *
Tita's Hale A'ina ***
Ton Kiang **
Tommy's Joynt **
Tortas Boos Voni**
Tortas Los Picudos **
Tracy Garden **
Traktir **
Truly Mediterranean *
Tu Lan *
Two Jacks Seafood **
Uncle's Cafe *
Universal Cafe **
The Video Cafe *
Vietnam II *
Villa Romana
Washington Street Bakery and Cafe *
We Be Sushi
Whiz Burger *
Yellow Submarine *
Yoshinoya *
Yuet Lee *
Yumma's *
Yummy Yummy
Zazang Noodle House **
Zare *
Zazie **
Zona Rosa

Post grad school
La Corneta

Pollo Campero, Jollibee, Yoshinoya

Chain chain chain, chain of fools - Don Covay

Take these chains from my heart and set me free
- Hank Williams

Schooled in anticorporate attitudes from my Bay Area days, I was thrilled to discover two tasty fast food chains from overseas that are thriving in the face of Yanqui hegemony; Pollo Campero and Jollibee. Yoshinoya isn't as toothsome as the other two but good things do come in threes and there are commonalities. Mostly, all three are serving food that is substantially different from the American ideal yet modified from its original form to fit the standardised fast food model, with amusing results. Eat at Pollo Campero or Jollibee and stick it to the man!

Pollo Campero
1605 W. Olympic Blvd. (at Union). Open from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., seven days a week.
Pollo Campero is from Guatemala, and proffers delicious fried chicken spiced very differently from the famous Colonel. The main reason for visiting is to see what the local community went bananas over when they opened their store in Pico Union - lines around the block and widespread rejoicing (luckily the craziness has died down enough that one can waltz on in these days). My favourite Pollo Campero story is that of the woman who flew to LA - prior to the opening of the local outlet - with hundreds of pieces purchased from the Guatemala City airport branch and stored in garbage bags. She resold them at a high enough profit to make back her airfare!


139 W. Carson St. Carson, CA 90745
(310) 513 1941
A Filipino hamburger megachain, Jollibee reminds me of the new wave Party line "capitalism with Chinese characteristics". These folks are growing faster than McDonald's in their native Philippines, fueled by strangely familiar hamburgers that are nevertheless tailored to the Pinoy palate with soy sauce and a lot of sugar. I frequented the SF Jollibee often but have yet to trek out to Carson to scratch this itch. Sort of a pan-fast food restaurant, Jollibee prepares soft-n-squishy spaghetti, dogs, fried chicken and a few choice Filipino treats (fast food palabok - woohoo!) in addition to the aforesaid burgers, which are actually substantially better than the competition to my sugar- and soy-liking taste. I like the Pinoy-specific desserts such as halo-halo and the langka/jackfruit pie. I am proud to use my Jollibee key ring whenever I go to do laundry.

many locations
This was a cool place to eat in SF where there was only one outlet - in a lousy food neighbourhood near the Financial District - and its trashy fast food ultra-thin beef-over-rice bowl was actually a novelty (I never ate the sushi or other offerings). The attraction was mostly the amazing speed with which the food appeared, a truly frightening haste which didn't square with the passable quality - I suppose turnover must have been higher than it appeared. I still maintain its a better port in a storm than Jack-In-The-Box.

American: Jewish Deli and Bagel

Langer's Deli
704 S. Alvarado St @ 7th, Pico-Union. 213/483-8050
Touted as the best pastrami sandwich in the known universe by many; Langer's does not disappoint. The meat is thickly sliced and has a perfect balance between crusty edges and juicy, beefy inside. Light rye is a mirror image, just crusty enough but somehow not soggy on the inside. Go for an egg cream to complete the time-capsule feel of a legendary restaurant holding its ground in a strange land.

19565 Parthenia St - (818) 886-5679
Beloved and authentic Jewish deli in Northridge. Excellent reuben sandwich.

2379 Westwood Boulevard 310.475.5771
Pricey but famous deli with good pastrami sandwich.

Nathan's Kosherland
1636 Westwood Blvd. (310) 273-0303
Whitefish salad bagel is worth a stop though not in NY league.

419 North Fairfax Ave, 323 651 2030
Questionable quality at this famous Jewish deli on Fairfax but you might see stars. I liked the mishmosh OK.

Return to American main menu

American -

Choose from the following types of American food:

Jewish Deli and Bagel
Soul Food


A note about Vietnamese: for the full-on Vietnamese experience, head down to Bolsa Ave. in Westminster. It's a long drive but you won't regret it for a second. While there, sample the freshly squeezed sugar cane drink, it's incredible.

Vietnam House
710 W. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel, (626) 282-6327
Don't be afraid of the legendary seven kinds of beef, it is a truly wonderful meal that is paced by the necessary assembly and constructed for leisurely enjoyment. It is also amazingly cheap at Vietnam House in San Gabriel. Good bun bo hue - Hue style rice noodle with pig foot - and cha gio/fried spring rolls, but banh xeo is a little too fat at expense of crispness.

11 E. Main St., Alhambra, (818) 289-0239
Best pho I have had in L.A.

Tay Ho
9629 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA Tel: (714) 839-1389
Amazingly delicate banh cuon, rice sheets wrapped around various fillings. Banh cuon dac biet is a delicious and varied assortment where the rice sheets enclose ground pork and mushrooms. Also has very good banh xeo/Vietnamese fried crepe.

Song Long Restaurant
9433 Bolsa Avenue, Westminster (714) 531-0792
Little Saigon beef noodle soup joint. The brown, thick long-cooked kind.

Brodard II
647 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, 626-281-1840
Alhambra Vietnamese where I had excellent banh xeo (pancakes), Hue style barbecue and broken rice.

Pho So 1
7231 Reseda Blvd - (818) 996-6515
Top quality pho in Reseda.

Saigon Sandwiches
828 N. Broadway, #1. Los Angeles. 213-625-8721 Chinatown
Banh mi and freshly squeezed cane juice. An excellent little shop.

Buu Dien
642 N BROADWAY (213) 617-8355 Chinatown
Little banh mi shop with high quality sandwiches. Combination as always is reliable.

Pho Hoa
818 N Spring St, Los Angeles, 213 485-0074. Chinatown
Good quality pho.

Pho 999
6411 Sepulveda Blvd - (818) 782-1999
Van Nuys close to Ranch 99 supermarket. Acceptable quality pho.

East West Sandwich
1116 Westwood Blvd
Banh mi in Westwood? Wonders never cease. Get your <$3 Vietnamese combo sammidge here and steer well clear of all other menu items.


7077 Sunset Blvd. 323-464-3663 Hollywood
An unforgettable L.A. international restaurant that must be tried. Russia meets Central Asia with kebab plates and terrific pickled veges. Again, the deafening band (this time a violin-containing trio) with Russian graffiti for atmosphere in the booths.


A note about Thai desserts

As with my Persian page, the ratings system really breaks down in face of the sheer number of fantastic Thai restaurants in Los Angeles. Each of these restaurants has their personal classics which I've described either in my capsules below or in longer reviews. Try them all, and be thankful for our good fortune.

Wat Thai (Thai temple)
12909 Cantara St North Hollywood: (818) 997-9657 Weekends only
Papaya salad, kanom krok, e.t.c. at the true Motherlode of L.A. Thai eating. Weekends in the parking lot with the Thai homies, beauty contests and karaoke. One of the greatest food adventures in Los Angeles.

5757 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 462-0292
My favourite Thai Town joint! Salt fish specials, kickin' papaya salad, pork leg that will leave you speechless with delight.

Ruen Pair

5257 Hollywood Blvd: (323) 466-0153. Thai Town
Thai Chinese, basically on par with Yai as the best restaurant in Thai Town. Try the rice soup/congee with side dishes such as pork and olives, kangkong/morning glory, salty crab and other treasures.

Swan Restaurant
12728 Sherman Way, North Hollywood. 818-764-1892
Check out the golden rice salad and deep fried trout with house special spices at Swan. They are two of L.A.s most essential Thai dishes.

Krua Thai
13130 Sherman Way, North Hollywood, (818) 759-7998
My favourite Thai noodles in LA. I feel confident you will love anything from the noodle menu (and most of the other dishes too) but try the dry version of the General's Noodle for a stunning mix-travaganza that rivals the finest bibimbap.

Sunshine Thai 13212 Sherman Way, North Hollywood 818-764-6989
Yet more Thai deliciousness. Great pork 'n pig ear salad and a delicious seafood medley called "Shallow Sea". For the people!

Sri Siam
12843 Van Owen St. (818) 982-6161
North Hollywood Thai town stalwart, one of LA's great great mini mall restaurants. A true gem.

Sanamluang Cafe
5170 Hollywood Boulevard (323)660-8006 Thai Town
Wonderful noodle house open late - great prices and tasty flavours. Everything a Thai noodle house should be.

Yai Noodle
5401 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood
Outstanding noodles from the folks who brought you Yai. Soups with rich beef/anise broth, and pan fried classics.

Kruang Tedd
5151 Hollywood Blvd, 667-9800 Thai town
Hilarious Thai nightclub with teenage bands playing soft rock. Bar-style food is actually really good, especially banana leaf chicken.

Palm Thai
5273 Hollywood Blvd.; 323/462-5073 Thai Town
Elvis aside, the food is really very good here in my experience. Unusual specials are the best bet such as citrus-y fish maw salad - will try venison curry on my next trip.

5132 Hollywood Blvd.; (213) 662-1017 Thai Town
Innaresting, Thai food for Latino immigrants on Hollywood strip. Generous servings, a worthwhile cultural collision.

4156 Santa Monica Blvd Los Feliz (323) 661-5350
Kao sod noodle is a delightful peanutty curry dish, Silver Lake.


Magic Carpet
8566 West Pico Boulevard, ph: 310.652.8507 Mid-Pico
Yemeni ultrakosher place with ethnographic decor ala wedding diorama. Melawach is delicious pancake with buttery/crispy/layered texture that's very lovable. Fine eggplant dips, a destination worth the trip.


Texis #2
698 S Vermont Avenue - 213-387-8890 K’town
Salvadoran chain for that pupusa fix.

Sarita's Pupuseria
317 S Broadway Los Angeles in Grand Central Market, Tel: (213) 626-6320
Large range of pupusas, loroco and carne asada are solid. Also the delightful, bright red drink with "chia pet" seeds called chan.

Gloria's Cafe
10227 Venice Blvd, (310) 478-5259 Culver City
Solid Salvadoran on Venice Blvd.


El Hatuchay
12853 Sherman Way North Hollywood, (818) 765-9907
I've eaten a lot of Peruvian with my good friend Alvaro. We have found El Hatuchay to be our favourite, the classics like ceviche, lomo saltado and papa ala huancaina are fabulous here. One day I would like to try the very rare carapulcra which they have not had on our visits.

Pollo a la Brasa
764 S. Western Ave.; (213) 382-4090 K’town
My favourite roast chicken in L.A. and that's saying a LOT. Peruvian style with giant wood pile next door testifying to its greatness. On a traffic island with little atmosphere but who cares, it's the best in town!!!

Las Quenas
(818) 764-3962, 12708 Sherman Way
Great great ceviche and lomo saltado in the Thai ghetto. As you'd expect from the 'hood, this is an awesome Peruvian restaurant for Peruvian folks.

Mario's Peruvian Seafood
5786 Melrose Ave: (323) 466-4181.
Peruvian greatness on Melrose in Hollywood. Wonderful stir fried saltados and tallarin (spaghetti).

El Rocoto
1356 W Artesia Blvd, Gardena 310-768-8768
Not quite in the league of the North Hollywood kings, but a good Peruvian option in South Bay. I enjoyed the classic Peruvian breakfast ham sandwich, butifara, made with the "jamon del pais". For drinks, the maracuya/passionfruit is good.

Persian and Syrian

Notes on Persian:
With a huge and extravagant population, it's no surprise that Los Angeles has terrific Persian restaurants. The trouble is choosing which of the sit-down restaurants to try - the menus are very codified and there will always be kebabs, stews, and rice dishes, usually with the same few appetizers. Basically, Shahrezad is my favourite all around because of the bread and kashk-e-bademjan, Raffi's Place wins hands down for kebabs, Javan sports particularly good fesenjan and Darya is a solid all round option with ridiculous decor. All of these places are great in my experience, though particular dishes may vary at each one. Happy eating!

Raffi's Place
211 East Broadway Glendale 818-240-7411
Persian Glendale with exemplary kebabs. For the true meat and rice lover, you can even grill yourself under the heat lamps outside.

1442 Westwood Blvd. 310 470-3242
Persian distinguished by the bread - exceptional - and delicious brick shaped rice thing with lamb inside called tah chin. After several fine meals of late, my new Persian favourite.

Attari Sandwiches
1388 Westwood Blvd: 310-441-5488 Westwood (note- turn off Westwood at Soleil French restaurant, Attari is in small courtyard)
Outstanding and hard to find Persian sandwich spot that's totally for the people! Soup/asch is heartwarming and delicious. Sandwiches extrafine plus you can hang with the highly moneyed clientele for cheap.

12130 Santa Monica Blvd, (310) 442-9000 West LA
Persian recommended by my driving instructor. Really good kebabs, pollos (rice dishes) and stews, ghormeh sabzi (fenugreek) and fesenjan (walnut and pomegranate) are winners with tah dig (crispy rice).

11500 Santa Monica Boulevard (310) 207-5555
Fancier Persian place with excellent stews in particular, though kashk-e-bademjan is better elsewhere. Up there with Darya and Shahrezad as the best of a very good bunch in L.A.

Shamshiri Grill
1712 Westwood Boulevard (310) 474-141
Persian from the strip, good quality kebabs and stews.

Olive Branch
658 Foothill Blvd. La Crescenta, (818) 248-9876
Charming neighbourhood Persian, notable in particular for the seldom-spotted queisi polo, with apricots! Chicken koobideh and bademjan also worth a shot.

Canary House of Sandwiches
1942 Westwood Blvd, 310 441 2483
Persian lunch spot with amusing hot dog sandwich recommended by J.Gold.

Mediterranean Gourmet
10863 Venice Blvd, (310) 842-8291.
Syrian Venice Blvd hangout for the community. Tasty rice and meats.


Max's of Manila
313 W. Broadway, Glendale, (818) 637-7751
Don't be fooled by slick chain-y exterior, the menu is hardcore variety meats and Pinoy deliciousness. Lip-smacking lechon (deep fried pork belly) and fine pansit palabok. Karaoke for the cheezoid sensibility in all of us.

900 E Colorado St, Glendale (818) 662 0971
Ideal spot for Filipino fish breakfast, especially the intense smoked fish called tuyo-tuyo or the daing (milkfish/bangus marinated in fish sauce then fried). Also candy-sweet tocino/pork with your eggs and rice. Filling and ultra-cheap. Stop in at the grocery store next door for more Pinoy goodness.

Barrio Fiesta
3687 San Fernando Road Glendale; (818) 244-8502
Highly regarded Filipino sit-down place with great barbecued meat and grand pianist (I believe that is the adjective). For a celebration, of course.

Isla Buffet
4420 Eagle Rock Blvd Los Angeles: (323) 257-1902 Eagle Rock
Filipino breakfast buffet for the true believer. Fried fish and great steam table choices. Inevitable excellent value. Pinoy breakfasts rule!

DJ Bibingkahan
13760 Roscoe Blvd Van Nuys: (818)894-5688
In Panorama City Filipino ghetto, a turo-turo/steam table joint. I liked the pigs blood stew dinuguan, plus they had the exotic soda Sarsi!

Mami King
14650 Roscoe Blvd # 12 (818) 891-8581
Prototypical Filipino noodles and buns in Panorama City. Dirt cheap and stereotypically great.

Mexican: Other Regions

El Parian
1528 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 386-7361
Goat stew and little else on the menu in Pico Union. What a tremendous meal, fresh tortillas and gutsy, bone-in, soulful birria. Not to be missed.

Chichen Itza
3655 S. Grand Ave., (213) 741-107 South of Downtown close to U.S.C.
Mercado Paloma again for Yucatan fare - hard to find but delicious! Try the tamal, and of course authentic cochinita pibil/pork stew. A real treasure.

Mi Ranchito
12223 W Washington Blvd - 310-837-1461 Mar Vista west of 405
Veracruz! An uncommon regional style. The chilpachole soup is really good.

La China Poblana
3527 E. Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles
Truck in a parking lot with serviceable cemita not nearly as good as Gold claims. No chipotle when I visited or papalo, but rubbery queso blanco and milanesa are satisfying on the eponymous sesame seed roll.

2124 W. Seventh St. Los Angeles (213) 487-7474
A tamale tasting menu, possibly the most enticing pan-Latin meal a food-lover can imagine. Don't miss the nacatamal-like Honduran tamal! This place is for a good cause, but the main reason to go is to eat some of the best tamales you'll find anywhere.

SEAFOOD EXTRAVAGANZA (tough to categorize this one)
Alaska Seafood Restaurant
1112 Nagoya Way San Pedro, CA 90731 310-547-1961
Actually there are many seafood restaurants down here in Pedro, at the Ports O'Call complex. This one is particularly clean and is run by Koreans so there are non-Mexican items. Fine fine Dungeness crab and excellent camarones al mojo de ajo. Check out the norteno musicians and seaside atmosphere - Ole! for Ports O'Call!

Mexican: Oaxaca

Guelaguetza Koreatown
3014 W Olympic Blvd, 213-427-0608
Renowned Oaxacan giant does not disappoint. Should be on almost anyone's top ten list of Mexican, as this is hard to find in other cities. Marimba band adds zest to the incredibly complex moles.

Guelaguetza Palms
11127 Palms Blvd. (310) 837-1153 Palms
Oaxacan joint that I love. Grasshoppers, heavenly mole negro, deep red barbacoa stew. I always take friends here.

El Sazon Oaxaqueno
12131 Washington Place, 310-391-4721 Mar Vista/West of 405
Basically a panaderia with restaurant attached. Famous tlayuda/Oaxacan hubcap-sized "pizza" crisp tortilla that is head and shoulders above competition - with guacamole!

11619 Santa Monica Blvd- (310) 312-1079 West LA
Oaxacan with a down-home atmosphere and toothsome moles. Recommended.

El Texate
316 Pico Blvd - (310) 399-1115
Oaxacan in Santa Monica. I liked mole coloradito.

Monte Alban
11927 Santa Monica Blvd - (310) 444-7736 West LA
Oaxacan fare with no lard = points off. Still a nice little spot for the less adventurous.

Mexican: Taqueria

Also see my list of taco trucks on the Westside.

El Taurino
1104 S. Hoover St., L.A. 213-738-9197 Pico/Union
Jonathan Gold's favourite pastor and who am I to argue. One of L.A.'s most beloved taquerias, at the far end of the quality bell curve.

King Taco
2020 W. Pico Blvd. (310) 884-9984
Taco chain near the pinnacle of L.A.'s Darwinian proliferation of the species. Al pastor tacos and sopes that are out of this world. Highly recommended. Pico Union branch is closest to Westside. Awesome mollejas/sweetbreads.

Taqueria Vista del Hermosa
3655 S. Grand Ave. (213) 741-1251
Great taqueria in Mercado La Paloma near USC. Killin' pastor plus the rare and wonderful pambaso, a sandwich on roll drenched in salsa.

Tacos Baja Ensenada
5385 Whittier Blvd., East L.A.; (323) 887-1980
Best fish tacos I have ever tasted and real cheap! Immaculate freshness and crispy coating, also try jaiva/crab tostada.

El Gran Burrito
4716 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles - (323) 665-8720 East Hollywood
Exceptional taco stand that belongs in the pantheon. Asada, pastor, carnitas, extremely fresh. Not for nothing does J.Gold compare these to crack cocaine.

Tortas Mexico
3033 Foothill Blvd. - La Crescenta, 818.248.0099
La Crescenta torta shop, it's awesome! Try the Mexican version of a Cubano, not authentic but darn good eating.

Taqueria Sanchez
4541 S Centinela Ave, (310) 822-8880
Best taqueria on the Westside, need I say more? Also great tortas but the taco meats alone and salsa bar will keep you dancing.

Senor Fish
422 E. 1st St., 213-625-0566 Little Tokyo
Classic Mexican place with good fish tacos and better scallop burrito. Priced right and a local favourite.

La Taquiza
3009 S. Figueroa St: 213-741-9795
Right next to U.S.C., a juice bar and taqueria with the famous mini-quesadilla called a mulita - fabulous. I liked the six-juice drink.

El Tepeyac
812 N Evergreen St., Boyle Heights, CA 323 267-8668
Revered Mexican-American burrito temple in East LA/Boyle Heights with Brobdingnagian servings. Machaca is good and salty.

El Camaguey
10925 Venice Blvd - Los Angeles, CA. 310-839-4037 Culver City
Fantastic tacos and best of all - cubanos and media noches (Cuban pressed sandwiches) in a supermarket. I love to come here!

Dos Burritos
Hollywood and Vine, recently relocated. Do not confuse with Los Burritos!
Mexican dive in central Hollywood with outstanding plates including pastor burrito and crazy chiles relleno. Try some geological camote/sweet potato from the dessert cabinet.

4502 Inglewood Blvd, Culver City 310 915 0426
Handmade tortillas rule at Tacomiendo, surprisingly good Mexican fare on the Westside.

Chabelita's Tacos
2001 S. Western Ave.; (323) 734-0211 K’town fringe
Reliable taco stand open late. I like the greasy tortas.

Palms Market
3568 Motor Ave - (310) 202-1230 Palms
Get your taco fix inside this market. Barbacoa is especially good.

10855 Venice Blvd. (310)559-8891 Culver City
Good quality Mexican burritos and soft tacos on Venice Blvd.

Tacos Don Kike
Beaudry @ 2nd, Downtown (no phone)
Taco stand with passable pastor, extensive condiments - frijoles are free - and a great view of the Figueroa St skyscrapers. Good for post-Disney Hall dining.

Mariscos Guillen aka La Playita
3306 Lincoln Blvd (310) 452-0090 Venice
Lincoln Blvd mariscos shack with rock bottom prices and soggy but delicious fish tacos.

Manoly's Bakery
11771 Santa Monica Blvd, (310) 473-0622 West LA
Panaderia with lunch specials. Avoid American fare and tuck into some giant handmade tortillas in the taco special - barbacoa is good.


El Tepeyac
812 N Evergreen St., Boyle Heights, CA 323 267-8668
Revered Mexican-American burrito temple in East LA/Boyle Heights with Brobdingnagian servings. Machaca is good and salty.

El Abajeno
4515 Inglewood Blvd: (310) 390-0755 Culver City
Giant Mexican American servings for the people. This place is Filling with a capital F and not too bad. Culver City.

Tito's Tacos
11222 Washington Place, 310.391.5780 Culver City
Hard shell tacos, 1960s style. I actually liked it.

Sky's Gourmet Tacos
5408 W. Pico Blvd., 323-932-6253 Mid-Pico
Amusing African American overstuffed tacos with sweet lemonade. Good stuff.

Korean: Noodles, Soon-tofu, other

950 S. Vermont Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90005 (213) 388-3042
What a treat, multiple-small-dish Korean banquets with wonderful attention to detail. Stuffed "bosam kimchi" is famous but I also loved simple things like grilled scallops and fatty steamed pork. An essential LA restaurant.

2716 W. Olympic Blvd #104, Koreatown 213-380-3737
Wonderful soon tofu/soft tofu stew and a spendid spicy raw crab dish. You'll want to extricate every morsel.

Ma Dang Gook So
869 S. Western Ave (213) 487-6008 K’town
Gook soo = handmade noodles in delicious variety of soups. One of J.Gold's favourites and rightly so.

Kang Seo Myun Oak
3033 W. 6th St., LA 213-382-1717 K’town
Naeng myun palace for lovers of the cold buckwheat noodle. Perfect for a hot summer's day or any other day for that matter.

BCD Tofu House
3575 Wilshire Blvd (@Kingsley, (213) 382-6677 K’town
Soon tofu house that's open late. Great quality and large panchan selection (side dishes, free) with grilled fish a highlight.

Kobawoo House
213-389-7300 698 S Vermont Ave #109 Los Angeles, K’town
Mungbean pancake of legend is well worth a trip. Also try the classic dol sot bibimbap in stone bowl with mountain vegetables.

Han Bat
4163 W. Fifth St., (213) 383-9499.
Who said this blog was a big waste of time? A commenter recommended this very good sul lung tang/beef soup place, and I really liked it. Essentially a one-item menu but the bone-milky soup is hearty and good, as attested by satisfied slurping throughout the room.

610 S. Western Ave., (213) 383-6789 K’town
C rating when I went which has probably improved. Rib-sticking Korean hangover-cure soups with hearty flavour. 24hours? Check.

Back to main Korean menu

Korean: Barbecue

Sa Rit Gol
3189 W. Olympic Blvd.; (213) 387-0909
Right there with Chung Ki Wa as the Koreatown destination of choice. Absolutely killing barbecue with pork belly a highlight. Best panchan/small dishes in town according to the experts.

Chung Ki Wa
3545 W Olympic Blvd, 323 737-0809.
Great great Korean barbecue and exotic Korean dishes. Try skate wing for adventure! One of my top restaurants in K'town.

Shik Do Rak
2501 W Olympic Blvd, Phone: (213) 384-4148 K’town
Great Korean barbecue w/rice sheets called duk to wrap your meat in. Seafood pancake is greasy and filling. Highly recommended as a variation on the classic theme, great dipping sauces.

Soot Bull Jeep
3136 West 8th Street Los Angeles Phone: 213.387.3865
Charcoal makes all the difference to flavour at Soot Bull Jeep. You will smell like you've survived a forest fire, it is a deeply atavistic pleasure. Galbi/ribs can be scissored off the bone by the waitresses, bulgogi and tongue also excellent.

Ka-San Korean barbecue
3115 Foothill Blvd, La Crescenta, 818 249-550
Good quality Korean gas-fired barbecue with extensive panchan, rice sheets and radish slices for assembly. Also non-barbecue dishes, inevitable karaoke setup and post-church dressy Korean clientele for Sunday lunch.

Kim's Korean Barbeque
8384 Topanga Canyon Blvd - (818) 346-1590
Korean outpost in Canoga Park. Tasty bulgogi if in neighbourhood.

Back to main Korean menu

Japanese: Curry and Italian

Akane Chaya
1610 W REDONDO BEACH BLVD, (310)768-3939
Japanese Italian, an endlessly amusing fusion in Gardena. Pasta with tobiko/flying fish roe is just the start.

Hurry Curry of Tokyo
2131 Sawtelle Blvd., (310)473-1640 Sawtelle
Japanese "curry" cannot be truly written without inverted commas, but it's still a quintessential comfort food. I usually get croquettes.

Blue Marlin
2121 Sawtelle Blvd , 310-445-2522 Sawtelle
Sawtelle Japanese Italian and curry. Inventive specials.

Curry House
2130 Sawtelle Bl #200, 310-479-8477 Sawtelle
Japanese curry chain with many crazy specials like curry and omelettes. Good silly fun.

Sawtelle Kitchen
2024 Sawtelle Blvd, (310) 445-9288 Sawtelle
Nice neighbourhood fusion joint.

Return to main Japanese menu

Japanese: Yakiniku

Housenka Yakiniku
1601 Redondo Bch Blvd., (310)323-4129 Gardena
Yakiniku is Japanese version of Korean barbecue. Tongue is great, but other meats also exceed the standard for local yakiniku. Of course, this is the Todai plaza.

2125 Sawtelle Blvd., 310-473-0580 West LA/Sawtelle
Yakiniku thats really satisfying. Raw beef was my favourite dish.

Return to main Japanese menu

Japanese: Izaka-ya and small dishes

1725 Carson St., Suite B, Torrance, 310-787-7344
Torrance izakaya that's the best in town according to my researches. Drink yourself silly but also eat the terrific Japanese bar snacks that are crazy inventive. Grilled tongue and spaghetti swirled around in a giant Parmesan block are highlights. A must-try.

11678 Olympic Boulevard, 310-478-3090 West LA
Wonderful japanese small dishes from simple fare like delicious lotus root to baroque like shrimp-stuffed squash blossums. Tremendous.

10914W Pico Blvd (310) 470-0014, West LA
White rice is the specialty at this Japanese place - avoid sushi and get one of the tremendous specials from the Japanese traditional menu. On Pico. Onigiri/rice ball recommended.

2068 Sawtelle Blvd., (310)444-1432 Sawtelle/West LA.
Izaka-ya with unforgettable teba-sake wings and other treats. Pork belly is unstoppable.

1644 W Carson St Ste B, Torrance, (310) 787-0787
Another hyper-specialized LA Japanese restaurant, Komatsu is a high-end tempura bar. $50 set menu is expensive but worthwhile, best dishes include amazingly tender squid and large chunky sweet potato. Sea salt, yuzu salt and matcha/green tea salt, what's not to like?

Terried Sake House
11617 Santa Monica Blvd - (310) 477-9423 West LA
Izaka-ya/Japanese pub with nice grilled and cooked fare.

Sake House Miro
809 S. La Brea, 323-939-7075 Hollywood-ish?
Worthwhile La Brea izakaya/Japanese pub.

Return to main Japanese menu

Japanese: Noodles

Hakata Ramen Shinsengumi
2015 W Redondo Beach Blvd - (310) 329-1335 Gardena
Gardena ramen house with the milky Kyushu broth. Absolutely incredible compared with normal ramen standard. This is the best I've had. Also try silly snacks like cream croquettes and fried chicken gristle.

16525 S Western Av, Gardena, 310 532 9348
Amazing handmade white soba (sarashina soba) at Otafuku, made with buckwheat flour imported from Japan. Impossibly rare and irresistible.

2002 Sawtelle Blvd. (310) 473-1013
Japanese chain with super high-quality ramen, I like it almost as much as Shinsengumi. Very tender chashu/sliced pork and excellent broth. Open late, too. Amusing pork sandwich is made with sweet dough similar to Cantonese cha siu bao.

1747 W Redondo Beach Blvd - (310) 323-3966 Gardena
Handmade udon is a rare thing, this is the place for it. Eat it soup-less with small amount of dipping sauce. Todai plaza is a great place for Japanese food!

Kyushu Ramen
15355 Sherman Wy. Van Nuys, (818) 786-6005
The milky long-simmered broth with firm ramen noodles is yours in this rather un-Japanese neck of Van Nuys. Good n' tasty with fine cha shu/pork slices, plain shoyu is also worthwhile.

11555 West Olympic Boulevard, 310.575.9337 West LA
Fine ramen on Olympic. Shoyu (soy) and shio (broth) both good.

Return to main Japanese menu

Japanese: Sushi

Wa Sushi
1106 N La Cienega Blvd (310) 854-7285 West Hollywood
Insanely good sushi/fusion creations from ex-Matsuhisa chefs. Pricey but stupendous.

12217 Santa Monica Blvd, (310) 820-9787 West LA
Everyone loves Echigo, except for California roll-liking sushi neophytes. $11 lunch special needs no further advertisement but omakase at bar is transcendent experience.

Tama Sushi
11920 Ventura Blvd. (818) 760-4585
Studio City sushi row, with fine fish including some rare ones like kohada.

Sushi Isshin
1097 Glendon Avenue, (310) 209-2739
Westwood sushi with izakaya touches. Omakase acceptable quality, more of a sentimental fave than a destination.

Return to main Japanese menu

Italian and Italian-American

Bay Cities Italian Deli
1517 Lincoln Blvd - (310) 395-8279 Santa Monica
The godmother is one of L.A.'s most important sandwiches, containing a panoply of Italian sandwich meats that cannot fail to satisfy. No wonder it's a legend.

D'Amore's pizza
1077 Broxton Avenue, Westwood, (310) 208-5117
Superb thin crust pizza in the East Coast style. Beats the pants off most any pizza in Los Angeles.

Mi Piace
25 E Colorado Blvd - (626) 795-3131
Pasadena Italian, a bit fancy but I liked the pumpkin ravioli


13619 INGLEWOOD AVE, (310)644-6395 Hawthorne
Ohmigod, the best tandoori I have ever tasted. Urdu TV and totally Pakistani atmosphere with no hipster clientele. Curries are also out of this world. I haven't been to Artesia but it's hard to imagine better meat-centric Pakistani fare than this.

11833 Artesia Blvd, Artesia. 562 860 6500
Here is the South Indian restaurant to eclipse all others I've tried. Gigantic dosa/pancakes with multiple variations, the deep fried bhatura puff, and a magical condiment called milakai podi. A rare find.

15112 Inglewood Ave, Lawndale - (310) 675-4700
A little cleaner than Al-Watan but still dripping soul, this spot has great nehari (lamb shank curry) recommended by J.Gold.

India Sweets and Spices
9409 Venice Blvd (310) 837-5286
What a find, a real Indian grocery store with chaat counter on Venice in Culver City! Don't miss puris, giant puff = chana bhatura, classic idli sambar and masala dosa. Street food for almost no cash, highly highly recommended.

Ambala Dhaba
1781 Westwood Blvd. 310-966-1772
Westwood sister to Artesia restaurant with surprisingly good Punjabi style fare. Goat is good, so is ludhiana chicken. Puris/little puffs for appetizer, wholesome vege options and kulfi for dessert. Highly recommended.

10200 Venice Blvd. Culver City (310) 204-5500
Some "South Asians" claim that this South Indian spot is better than Woodlands, and it's certainly a rare outpost on this side of town. I only tried the lunch buffet which wasn't a fair comparison with made-to-order Tamil and Andhra pancake-like things. Still, the smallish saucer-sized dosa, fluffy idli, copious yoghurt and large array of dishes are a good value and quite tasty. Rasam (spicy tomato/lentil stew) and pale green coconut chutney are especially good. Kulfi and tea included!

Asian Kitchen
10406 Venice Blvd., (310) 559-9644, Culver City
Pakistani Indian on Venice Blvd. Haleem (meat and grain paste) and butter naan are great.

Indonesian and Malaysian

Simpang Asia
10433 National Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 815-9075 Palms
Indonesian grocery with wonderful foods from the Indonesian language menu. Highly recommended and better than most of the Indonesian restaurants around - food in a grocery store wins again!

Indo Cafe
10428 National Blvd. 310-815-1290
Indonesian in Palms. Pretty good.

Little Malaysia
3944 N. Peck Rd., #8. El Monte 626-401-3188
Malaysian food in L.A. that's actually worth eating, too bad it's in El Monte. The quality varies but most dishes here are rendered well, particularly roti canai (pancake with curry) and curry laksa noodles. Even char kueh teow/fried fat rice noodle is OK. My standards are unreasonably high so I give them a 6/10.

Guatemalan and Nicaraguan

Mama's Hot Tamale Cafe
2124 W. Seventh St. Los Angeles (213) 487-7474
Really a pan-Latin restaurant, Mama's offers essentially a tamale tasting menu, one of the most enticing meals a food-lover can imagine. Don't miss the nacatamal-like Honduran tamal! This place is for a good cause, but the main reason to go is to eat some of the best tamales you'll find anywhere.

Pollo Campero
1625 W. Olympic Blvd., Ste.1020: 213-201-2990
Legendary Guatemalan fast food chicken in Pico Union. No line around the block anymore but the crispy skin and spices will make you forget Colonel S. forever.

Paseo Chapin
2220 W 7th Street - Los Angeles, CA. 213-385-7420
Guatemalan classic in Pico Union. Good round-with-skin-on chorizo and marimba bands.

El Nido
Nicaraguan indo viejo is good here. They have exciting drinks.

Guatemalteca Bakery
4032 Beverly Blvd, East-of-Downtown 213-382-9451, 6am-9pm
Fight your way through the crowd for hearty Guatemalan stews with rice and beans and confusingly named antojitos/appetizers. Quesadilla is a very rich cake bread to be savoured in small quantities. This one's truly for the people, they will fill your own container with carne guisada!

Greek and Bulgarian

First off, an apology to my fiercely patriotic Bulgarian friend Theo. I couldn't make a separate Bulgarian page, as I have forgotten how to change the date on these Blogger posts (or else the function disappeared). So here you are lumped in with those insidious Greeks.

Mama Voula's
11923 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles, (310) 478-9464
Awesome Greek place for meze-type dips, mains like sausage and octopus, desserts, coffee and friendly service. For once, the Westside wins... fancier than Papa Christos but still cheap.

Papa Cristo's
(323) 737-2970- 2771 W. Pico Blvd, Pico/Alvarado-ish
Greek contender attached to grocery store. Excellent rack of lamb for very little dinero.

Danube Bulgarian Restaurant
1303 Westwood Blvd., Westwood, (310) 473-2414
Bulgarian fare here is hearty and good, with saucy Bulgarian waitresses and folk music on TV as extras. Shopska salad with superb Bulgarian feta cheese (the best of its kind) is essential. Also yogurt - the bacteria is called Lactobacillus bulgaricus for a reason - and the pepper/eggplant appetiser. Spicy kufta and pork chops are solid mains.