Los Angeles Area rss

Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the LA Chowhound community.

Everyone Loves Jerky

Nothing unites the world’s various cultures like dried meat. Lovers of jerky can find the stuff around town in establishments whose roots lie in Mexico, China, and (in theory, anyway) South Africa.

The Vietnamese love jerky, and Vua Kho Bo is just great, reports bsquared2, who says the name means “King of Beef Jerky.” Go for the lemongrass and chile beef. Clam jerky (!) is a personal favorite. There are a couple of branches in Little Saigon and one inside the San Gabriel Superstore, next to Yum Cha Café.

It’s not exactly gourmet, but People’s Choice jerky sits head and shoulders above the other snack brands, says rameniac. Western, teriyaki, and hot flavors are great, adds Skunk2Racer, who says you can buy it by the pound ($15) at headquarters.

Lindner Bison, based in Valencia, sells its excellent free-range, organic bison jerky made with just honey and salt at the Sunday Long Beach farmers’ market, says vickib. The market is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Teriyaki jerky at Prime Cut is positively addictive, says choysauce.

A&Z Nut Wagon’s jerky was named best beef jerky by Los Angeles magazine in 2006. It’s like nothing else, swears jasonsha.

Manhattan Meats makes its own jerky, and it’s pretty awesome, says Foodandwine.

Gallegos has great big peppery sheets of jerky—good stuff, says ellaystingray.

But there’s bad news for fans of the tender, spicy South African biltong at Springbok in Van Nuys: It’s no longer served there. Apparently the city got all up in Springbok’s business for not having the proper setup for meat processing, says Jerome.

Vua Kho Bo/New Jerky Mfg. [San Gabriel Valley]
Inside the San Gabriel Superstore
1635 S. San Gabriel Boulevard, San Gabriel

Vua Kho Bo/New Jerky Mfg. [Little Saigon]
9191 Bolsa Avenue #106, Westminster

Vua Kho Bo/New Jerky Mfg. [Little Saigon]
9717 Bolsa Avenue, Westminster

People’s Sausage [Downtown]
1132 E. Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles

Lindner Bison
Long Beach Southeast Farmers Market [Long Beach]
Alamitos Bay Marina (E. Marina Drive south of E. Second Street)


Prime Cut Beef Jerky [San Gabriel Valley]
2017 S. Hacienda Boulevard, Hacienda Heights

A&Z Nut Wagon [East LA]
816 S. Lorena Street, Los Angeles

Manhattan Meats [South Bay]
1111 Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach

Gallegos [Westside]
12470 Venice Boulevard, Mar Vista

Board Link: The Ultimate Jerky List

For the Birds

There’s a surprisingly good selection of authentic xiao chi, or little eats, at Cafe Idol, says huaqiao. Stuff you wouldn’t expect to find outside the San Gabriel Valley, at least: steamed rice cake in a bowl (wah gueh), thin noodles in a thick brown soup (mi shua), meatball in glutinous wrapper (bah wan). The Taiwanese sausage served with sliced raw garlic is particularly good. This is a good place to dip into Taiwanese food for those unfamiliar with it. Pork chop rice isn’t bad, but avoid the oyster pancake.

Cafe Idol [South Bay]
In the Torrance Crossroads Shopping Center
24631 Crenshaw Boulevard #J, Torrance

Board Link: Cafe Idol–Taiwanese in the South Bay

Excellent Ethiopian for the 714

“There really is something in the theory that the best food in Los Angeles is in horrid suburban-looking strip malls,” comments Das Ubergeek after a very successful recon mission to check out Tana Ethiopian Restaurant and Market. Located in a seedy west Anaheim strip mall and lighted by six-foot fluorescent bulbs, Tana makes it completely unnecessary for any OC resident to drive to Little Ethiopia in Los Angeles.

The menu is short: a half dozen meat dishes (mostly tibs, or sautéed meat), including kitfo, raw chopped beef blended with spiced butter; a vegetarian platter; and shiro (spicy lentils). There’s also doro wot in the guise of “chicken stew.”

Getting the veg platter plus shiro is redundant, since the platter comes with plenty of the lentil stew. There are three kinds of lentils, actually; cabbage and potato stew; green beans; two kinds of salad with tomatoes and chiles; and a salad made of injera, the slightly sour, pancakelike Ethiopian bread, torn into pieces and tossed with tomatoes, spiced butter, and chiles.

“Standouts were the green beans, cooked with onions until they were very nearly singed—these were so good that my wife ate green beans willingly for the first time in two decades; the collards had something in them (crumbly cheese?) that made it very savoury. The red lentils in the centre of the platter had a smoky, rich, almost mole-like quality to them that just drove me wild.”

The shiro is fantastic, but it has a helluva lot of spiced butter, which makes it very hard to scoop up (Ethiopian food is eaten with the hands, using injera to fold around the morsels).

Service is quick and gracious; injera is refilled automatically. They do Ethiopian coffee service, and even the regular coffee is shockingly strong and hot.

Vegetarian platter is $10; shiro is $7.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Closed Monday.

Tana Ethiopian Restaurant and Market [Orange County]
2622 W. La Palma Avenue, Anaheim


Board Link: REVIEW: Tana Ethiopian Restaurant, Anaheim

Mapping Out the Hot Spots

modernist’s exhaustive ultimate list of his top restaurants is a Chowhound favorite. Now there’s an application that will map restaurants from the list by cuisine or type (bakeries, Brazilian, happy hours).

DiveFan is on a quest to get us out of our cars and onto the subways and Metro Rail. Hence the Chow Line map, which pinpoints Chowhoundly places close to a rail station or subway stop (mapped separately; see link below). Related are threads on the Red and Gold lines, where hounds have posted their favorite eating spots near a given station.

Board Links: modernist’s ultimate guide google maps style
updated ultimate list to a lot of different types of cuisine
Chow Line–The Map
Chow Gold Line–rails to good food
So it turns out LA has a subway…

How Beautiful It Is

Café Bella Roma S.P.Q.R. opened in June, and it’s getting rave reviews like the early days of La Buca.

There’s nothing magically new here, just delicious chow. Chef Roberto Amico, late of Clafoutis and originally from Rome, is trying to re-create a casual restaurant in Italy. The presence of his friendly wife, Lisa, adds to the homey feel.

Crab cocktail is delicious, chock-full of fresh crab with fresh cantaloupe, lemon, and spices, says kotter. Branzino baked in salt is moist and perfect, served with sautéed spinach, potato purée, grilled polenta, and a lemon-caper sauce.

On weekend mornings, they serve brunch—the Italian breakfast plate has sliced meats and cheeses, breads, jam, and Nutella. There are also American-style egg dishes as well as various frittate (“just like an omelette, except ‘omelette’ is French,” says the menu).

They don’t have a liquor license so far; corkage is just $4.

The restaurant is small and cozy, with a comfortable patio. Lots of street noise from Robertson, though.

Café Bella Roma S.P.Q.R. [Mid-City]
1513 S. Robertson Boulevard, Los Angeles

Board Link: Bella Roma SPQR – Review

Make That Double Yum

Yum Cha Café has a new location in Monterey Park, adjacent to Shun Fat Market (south side). It’s smaller than the San Gabriel place but with all the same dim sum (no banh mi, though).

Shrimp balls are very tasty, and so are the barbecue pork flat noodles, which are superpopular and sell out fast. And don’t pass up the brown sugar rice cakes.

Yum Cha Café [San Gabriel Valley]
421 N. Atlantic Boulevard Suite 101, Monterey Park

Yum Cha Café [San Gabriel Valley]
Inside the San Gabriel Superstore
1635 S. San Gabriel Boulevard, San Gabriel

Board Links: Update on new Yum Cha Cafe in Monterey Park
Yum Cha Cafe—any seating?

Move Over, Orange Chicken

Pineapple fish, as executed at King Harbor, is quite possibly the perfect Cantonese dish, says Das Ubergeek.

The Cantonese tend to blend sweet sauces and fruit with protein, a tradition that in America has led down a slope slippery with cornstarch-thickened sauce, all the way to the orange chicken at Panda Express.

“King Harbor’s pineapple chicken, though, is large, deep-fried nuggets of flaky tilapia tossed with fresh pineapple and a sauce made from thickened pineapple juice. A few carrots lend an oh-no-what-have-I-done Western quality to the dish, but they’re easy to ignore. The fish is perfectly, perfectly cooked—flaky and, most importantly, still moist—but ripping hot.”

The house specials here are pretty good generally, says Tony, especially the squid and the chicken. Deep-fried tofu and pea shoots with garlic are solid too. Just make sure you stick with Cantonese dishes. It’s not quite San Gabriel Valley standard, but little outside SGV is.

King Harbor Seafood Restaurant [Little Saigon]
13018 Harbor Boulevard, Garden Grove

Board Link: REVIEW: King Harbor Seafood, Garden Grove

Something Like an Indian Burrito

Chutneys’s kebab rolls are something like an Indian burrito—and they make one filling and delicious meal, says Servorg.

Tikka-style chicken, moist and well seasoned, is piled onto a piece of extra thick, fluffy naan. Onions, raita, and a cucumber-tomato mix top it off, and for “salsa” you can grab a minty sauce (light green is mild, dark green is spicy). Ground beef kebab is kind of like a Persian lula kebab: not highly seasoned, but a good alternative to chicken. There’s lamb too.

Rather than a fusion product, it seems like a variation on the kati roll, says anthead, which was invented at a Calcutta restaurant and took the rest of India by storm. But unlike Chutneys’s, the Calcutta version usually has a fried egg tucked inside.

A chicken tikka “burrito” costs $5.41 with tax.

Chutneys [West LA]
2406 S. Barrington Avenue, Los Angeles

Board Link: Chicken Tikka Burrito

The Smart Choice in Silver Lake, Intelligentsia Coffee

“Could it be that something that came with three dozen donkey carts of hype actually lived up to them? I’d say so,” says Woolsey after experiencing the Yirgacheffe coffee made in a Chemex carafe-filter at the famous Chicago company’s newly opened cafe.

“It was fantastic, too, with no bitterness, a wonderfully clean finish. After slugging down so much bitter, harsh office coffee all day to fuel the drudgery, it was nice to have something so elegant. We were getting buzzed almost like it was wine, not coffee.”

The other fancy option is coffee brewed in a Clover machine. It’s grand, rich, and wonderful, says Suebee. Even an iced latte is distinctive, the espresso strong without any bitterness, and subtly creamy. Hot espresso is just as good, with beautifully formed foam.

The pastry selection is nothing out of the ordinary, but the muffins and breakfast breads are from Delilah in Echo Park, and Bread Bar supplies croissants, minibaguettes, and brioche.

Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea [Silver Lake]
3922 W. Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles

Board Link: Yes, Intelligentsia Was Worth the Wait: Review + Pics

Awesome Burger Bargains

In an age when pedigreed burgers come with a double-digit price tag, there are still a few bargain gems. Consider the half-pound American Kobe burger at Tops on Colorado in Pasadena—moist, tender, beefy beef; smoked mozzarella melding with caramelized onions like wine and cheese; fresh greens and tomato; and herb mayonnaise just to put it over the top. It comes on a fresh ciabatta roll with the right bit of chew—this sandwich, says JeetJet, would be excellent even without the meat. And how much is it? $6.45, my friends.

Note that we’re just talking about the Tops on Colorado in Pasadena, not the one on Walnut or the Tops Jr. in Alhambra, which have different owners and possibly even a different menu.

Over in Encino, the Stand is better known for hot dogs, but on Thursdays there’s jazz on the patio, $6 bottles of Merlot ($1.50 a glass), and a good turkey burger, all for $13 total, says joea.

High end but worth it: Burger Night (Sundays) at Grace. Burgers (prime, dry-aged Highland beef) go for $18 to $24; the most expensive comes with truffled cheese, and that’s damn well worth it, says tatertotsrock. Blue cheese is kind of overpowering, but the burger is delicious even without any cheese. Unfortunately, the house-made ketchup is a disappointment—you’d be better off smuggling in some Heinz.

Meanwhile, the Apple Pan’s prices have gone up and up over the years, and the burgers now just seem mediocre at about $10 for a where’s-the-beef patty with fries, says Burger Boy. Stick with the banana cream pie, says Diana—creamy, silky, bananas everywhere.

Tops [Eastside]
3838 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena

The Stand [West San Fernando Valley]
17000 Ventura Boulevard, Encino

The Stand [Century City]
2000 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles

Grace [Mid-City]
7360 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles

Apple Pan [Midtown]
10801 W. Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles

Board Links: Tops Kobe Cheese Burger is Tops
the stand in encino last night $13 for a burger and a BOTTLE of wine
Sunday Dinner Deals?
Apple Pan, Burger & fries $10