Los Angeles Area rss

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

Whole Lotta Hunanese Joints Opening Up

Hunanese restaurants are rising again in the SGV, with two new places in San Gabriel, notes Chandavkl. Both Hunan Mao Jia and Fortune Bistro have a full menu of spicy Hunanese specialties.

Although Fortune Bistro can easily be mistaken for a Hong Kong coffee shop (especially since it’s right across the street from the former Fortune Grill, an HK coffee shop), it’s straight-up Hunanese all the way, heavy on the salt and plenty of spices, says ipsedixit. Even the dishes that aren’t marked as spicy on the menu seem to have pepper lobbed in for fun. Smoked duck is good, as are fried chicken dishes. Cold dishes are solid, but no word on the stinky tofu.

Hunan Mao Jia [San Gabriel Valley]
Shopping center at NE corner of Valley Boulevard and New Avenue, San Gabriel

Fortune Bistro [San Gabriel Valley]
545 W. Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel

Board Link: Two New Hunan Style Restaurants In San Gabriel

Sawtelle’s New Sushi Sweet Spot

The lunch menu at Yuzando, which replaced Sushi Tenn on Sawtelle, definitely does it better, says ming, who declares, “This may just become our favorite west side sushi lunch spot over Mori, Kiriko, and Echigo (It is, of course, no match for Sushi Gen’s lunch special…but what is?)”

Sushi-sashimi combo ($18.50) comes with one piece each of ebi, salmon, tuna, and yellowtail sushi; three pieces each of albacore and salmon sashimi; and two pieces each of tuna, yellowtail, and snapper sashimi. The fish is fresh, the cuts generous. There’s also an eel and avocado cut roll.

Chirashi comes with a similar assortment of sashimi, plus kanpachi and flying fish roe. It’s really good, but a bit pricey for chirashi (also $18.50).

Yuzando [West LA]
2004 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles

Board Link: Yuzando (Sawtelle) Sushi Lunch

Great Chinese in the Far East … of the SGV

When people talk about great Chinese food in the SGV, West Covina doesn’t usually leap to mind. But one little gem should, says calabasas_trafalgar, calling Beijing Cuisine Garden the best northern Chinese restaurant since Tung Lai Shun (which recently closed after its conversion to a Taiwanese restaurant didn’t really take).

The cuisine in question is northern, but not Islamic, so plenty of pork is on offer. That’s in addition to, not instead of, the usual TLS-esque offerings. Try the beef roll, a burritolike wrap of spiced beef and cilantro, says monkuboy, who’s also a fan. And pineapple shrimp fried rice, while not typically northern Chinese, is delish.

Beijing Cuisine Garden [Inland LA]
965 S. Glendora Avenue, West Covina

Board Link: Beijing Cuisine Garden

Plot Points

Need a meeting point halfway between you and your friend in Pasadena? Looking for a great restaurant in your own ’hood? psyber has done a great thing for all Chowhoundkind by translating the annual (unofficial) favorite-restaurants poll into a map, with restaurants color-coded by price.

To avoid clutter, though, the popular but increasingly ubiquitous King Taco and Zankou Chicken have been left out.

Green = $
Yellow = $$
Cyan = $$$
Blue = $$$$
Magenta = $$$$$
Gold $ = Urasawa = $$$$$$

Board Link: Google Map of Chowhound Ultimate Los Angeles Restaurants

Crazy for Japanese Curry

Japanese curry is only vaguely related to the Indian original, but it’s got an appeal all its own. It’s easy enough to make from a package, so if you’re going to get it in a restaurant, they at least should be making it from scratch—like Sawtelle Kitchen and Bistro Laramie, says E Eto.

Café Hiro, a Japanese-Italian-French restaurant complete with red-and-white checkered tablecloths, manages to turn out some pretty good curry as well, says poptisserie.

There’s good curry in San Gabriel at Ducks, although lapchern finds it overpriced.

But the most competition for Japanese curry is on Sawtelle, where in addition to Sawtelle Kitchen, Blue Marlin, Hurry Curry, and Curry House duke it out for top honors and everyone seems to have his favorite. For curry on the go, check out Curry House’s new takeout shop on the first level of its Little Tokyo location and grab a curry pan (roll) or something.

Sawtelle Kitchen [Sawtelle Strip]
2024 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles

Bistro Laramie [South Bay]
18202 S. Western Avenue, Gardena

Café Hiro [Orange County]
10509 Valley View Street, Cypress

Ducks [San Gabriel Valley]
1831 E. Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel

Blue Marlin [Sawtelle Strip]
2121 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles


Hurry Curry [Sawtelle Strip]
2131 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles

Curry House [Sawtelle Strip]
2130 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles

Curry House [Little Tokyo]
123 S. Onizuka Street, Los Angeles

Board Link: Best Japanese Curry

So Long, Farewell, See You Again Soon

A Chowhound favorite for affordable, creative cuisine, Bistro Verdu closed abruptly June 24: “This weekend marks the ‘end for now’ of Bistro Verdu,” said owner Michael Ruiz in an email newsletter. “As many of you know, we are working on a new location and hope to have news soon.”

Those plans include a new retail/takeout operation called Ingredients, one block north of Verdu. On the shelves will be artisanal foods, domestic and imported; cheeses; spices from around the world; and prepared small bites.

Chef Laurent Quenioux, of the late lamented Bistro K (it still exists, but apparently isn’t flourishing under new management), was seen cooking recently at Vermont in Los Feliz. It’s possible he might do the guest thing at another restaurant this year, so sign up for his email list if you’re interested. If all goes according to plan, Quenioux’s new place will open downtown in late ’07 or early ’08.

Also no longer open for Chowhounding: the esteemed northern Chinese joint Heavy Noodling.

Bistro Verdu [Montrose/Glendale]
3459 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale

Bistro K info

Board Links: Chef Laurent Quenioux (nee of Bistro K) cooking at Vermont this week
Bistro Verdu Closing
Heavy Noodling in MPK is closed

Southern Food Packs a Punch

Now open in Eagle Rock, Larkin’s restaurant serves up well-seasoned Southern/soul food, says tatertotsrock.

The meatloaf sandwich at lunch is spicy enough to make your nose run, but the flavor’s amazing, and it comes on an excellent roll. Catfish po’ boy is really good too.

They don’t have a beer and wine license yet, so it’s BYOB: You bring the wine, they’ll provide the jelly jars. If you’re at all picky about stemware, bring that too. They do make a mean fruit punch, tasting of superfresh fruit (especially watermelon).

Call ahead to make sure they’re open, as they were closed recently for a family emergency.

Larkin’s [Eagle Rock]
1496 Colorado Boulevard, Los Angeles

Board Link: Larkin’s finally open!

Hungarian Restaurant Reincarnation

Hungarian restaurant Duna Csarda has gotten a new lease on life with the management and cook from the recently closed Hortobagy, says AndrewS.

For starters, korozott, Hungarian sheep’s cheese prepared with paprika, onions, and caraway seeds, is lovely with fresh red onion. They also have a nice gyuali, a cured sausage that seems like the one they used to serve at Hortobagy, which was made locally.

Chicken paprikas comes in a rich, complex sauce, although the egg dumplings are on the tough side. Transylvanian gulyas (a.k.a. goulash) is a tangy, slightly spicy paprika sauce blanketing sauerkraut and chunks of veal.

For dessert, chestnut torte covered in dark chocolate is done just as it should be, but that also means it’s tooth-numbingly sweet.

Service is a bit choppy, with some lulls and missteps, but extremely friendly and informal. The place is markedly spruced up, with clean water in the fountains, good lighting, and nicely trimmed greenery.

Duna Csarda [Hollywood]
5820 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles

Board Link: Csardas rising!

Nothing Says Party Like a Plate of Mole Negro

A late-night visit to Las 7 Regiones (it closes at 10) is like crashing a family party: lots of familial groups, friendly, and rather loud, says kiwi.

The clayuda, a foot-wide, thin disc of masa lubed up with black bean spread and topped generously with Oaxacan string cheese, is near impossible to stop eating. But the real show-stopper is the mole negro—complex, sweet, savory, and just a lot of deliciousness. With chicken, the meat is tender, juicy, and thoroughly infused with that addictive sauce.

Mole amarillo with beef, on the other hand, just isn’t very flavorful.

Las 7 Regiones [Midtown]
2648 W. Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles

Board Links: Las 7 Regiones: Mole Negro…WOW

Colonel Sanders, Eat Your Heart Out

Going to Kyochon, a new Korean fried chicken place that has recently expanded from Seoul to Torrance to K-Town, is an exercise in miscommunication and delayed gratification. But oh, the chicken—juicy and crunchy, but with a thinner crust than Southern style that’s melded to the skin. Original flavor has toasted garlic bits embedded in the crust, and a hint of soy sauce and the 23 secret ingredients that the company boasts of. Spicy kicks it up several notches: It may seem moderate at first, but the heat builds on you. For a side, you get pickled daikon cubes, a reprieve for your mouth after some spicy chicken.

In theory, the place offers wings, drumsticks (“sticks”), and whole chicken (cut up into small pieces), but in practice, you’ll just have to take what they have. Sometimes there’s nothing but wings, sometimes nothing but whole chicken. Sometimes (often, it seems) they run out of chicken altogether, so don’t plan on swinging by late in the evening. And planning ahead is essential if you’re thinking of getting takeout—call two hours in advance.

Although the place has the ambiance of a McDonald’s, there is table service, so if you are eating in, go ahead and sit down. Do not make the mistake of ordering at the counter—that’s for to-go orders only, and see the above paragraph about a two-hour wait. The servers are young and eager, and although they can’t do much about wait times they’re awfully apologetic about it. Note that the front area of the restaurant is a smoking section, with a large open window, so it gets chilly at night.

The menu is pretty chicken-centric; there’s also chicken bulgogi with rice, and spicy chicken with rice cakes, which is basic Korean home cooking. And then there’s french fries and fried cheese sticks. No beer, but the owner says he’s working on getting a license; there is, however, free soda.

A medium order of wings is $9, large is $16. Whole chicken is $16, spicy chicken with rice cakes $7, and fries/cheese sticks $2.

Kyochon [Koreatown]
3833 W. Sixth Street, Los Angeles

Kyochon [South Bay]
2515 Torrance Boulevard, Torrance

Board Links: Kyochon–Korean fried chicken