Los Angeles Area rss

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

As You Like it: Shabu Shabu Sliced to Order

At the new Shabu Ya in Hacienda Heights, they slice the meat to order, right in front of the shabu corner. It’s the standard shabu shabu house fare, in generous portions. House beef is super yummy, says MeowMixx, and they have Kobe as well. Vegetables are clean and fresh, and sesame sauce isn’t too sweet or overpowering. Ponzu sauce is also good. They also have appetizers such as grilled Japanese sausage and sea bass.

Decor is cute and clean; servers are attentive and on top of their game.

Shabu Ya [Inland of LA]
18184 Colima Rd., at Fullerton, Rowland Heights

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New shabu joint

If You’re Not Ready to Commit: Opus’s Bar Menu

From the many raves about Opus, you’d think that the tasting menu was the only way to go. But the new bar menu has a bunch of outrageously tasty small plates that don’t require as much of a commitment of time and money, says woojink.

Stuffed poblano pepper on a spicy ragout in a crust is a cool take on a chile relleno–spicy and really great. Fried pork belly sandwich with fried egg is like a fabulous alternate-universe version of an Egg McMuffin. Lamb meatballs–spicy, delish. Seafood salad with shrimp, octopus and squid satisfies; pan-fried soba with shrimp is like very good Japanese comfort food.

Some of the dishes are also on the a la carte menu. They’re all between $7 and $13.

Opus Bar & Grill [Koreatown]
3760 Wilshire Blvd., at Western, Los Angeles 90010

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Fried Pork Belly Sandwich with Fried Egg, Pan Fried Soba with Shrimp… GREAT Bar food

Cemitas by a Mexican Sandwich Genius

Moomin has had cemitas poblanas, those lovely sandwiches from Puebla, at most of the usual suspects around town: the taco trucks at Venice and Centinela, at Venice and Sepulveda, and at Pico and Cotner. A cemita with everything from La Zandunga doesn’t look much different from the usual cemitas: a seeded roll split and toasted, finger-thick segments of cheese, avocado, thinly sliced white onions, three whole chipotles in thick red adobo and a few slices of what looks like headcheese.

But one bite vindicates the genius sandwich artisan behind the counter at La Zandunga. “The balance of crisp toasted roll, smoky sweet spice of the chipotles, and unctuous richness of the cheese and the avocado makes the choice of meats nearly irrelevant,” says he. “Nearly, but not entirely. The sliced meats have both a porcine saltiness and a toothsomeness that most deli meats lack. It’s all melted together into a crispy molten mass that both tantalized and satisfied from first bite to last.”

They also have pambazos, another kind of sandwich dunked in salsa. But only after 6 p.m.

Pambazos and cemitas are $5 each.

In the same minimall, an Ensenada-style taqueria called Super Taco has replaced Mama Voula’s. Their selection of homemade salsas is excellent, and their fish tacos are fried, if a little limp. They’ve also got pretty appealing-looking tortas, on well-toasted rolls with black beans and the rest of the usual fixings.

La Zandunga Meat Market [West LA-ish]
11933 Santa Monica Blvd., at Stockton, Los Angeles

Super Taco [West LA-ish]
formerly Mama Voula’s
11923 Santa Monica Blvd., at Stockton, Los Angeles

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Rostiseria La Zandunga is seving fantastic Cemitas (and might just have Pambazos as well)!

Gotta Go to Go’s

To get to the sushi bar at Go’s Mart, you have to push your way through a bunch of shelves holding Japanese videos, refrigerated cases of sake, beer, and soda, and possibly other customers trying to make their way out. It’s worth it for a truly great unsung sushi joint, says kevin.

The bar itself seats only about eight, plus there are a couple of two-tops and one four-top.

Ankimo sashimi arrives beautifully sliced and cold, living up to its reputation as the foie gras of the sea. It’s sauced with sweet miso that complements it wonderfully.

Buri, a type of wild Japanese yellowtail, is a thing of beauty. Kawagishi toro is like toro tartare, no sinews or fibers–just beautiful bliss, melting in your mouth like pure butter.

But sushi isn’t the only pleasure at Go. There’s Kobe beef, straight from Japan. Thinly sliced and seared with a blowtorch, it’s delicious, with a beefy savor that kicks in later and lingers.

Grilled toro steak is pretty great too–and covered with gold leaf and a light ponzu–but doesn’t reach the heights of the regular or kawagishi toro.

Go’s Mart [West San Fernando Valley]
22330 Sherman Way # C12, at Shoup, Canoga Park

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Go’s Mart Sushi, Canoga Park–a little long

Malaysian Street Food and Island Fare

“We Malaysian transplants are hard pressed to find a suitable L.A. eatery that serves authentic fare,” says copacetic. Little Malaysiam however, is true to its name.

Some favorite dishes:

Char kway teow, the classic street food of stir-fried flat noodles. Get it hawker style by asking for it extra spicy, and get some chopped chile in soy sauce on the side.

Satay beef is a knockout, skewered on bamboo sticks and accompanied by chopped red onions swimming in a syrupy sweet sauce.

Seafood in garlic sauce is just plain delicious…and healthy.

Clear soup with fish balls is a reminder of the simple food from the island provinces.

Kankung belacan is vegetables with fermented shrimp paste–this one can be an acquired taste.

Beef rendang, complete with cloves, isn’t quite as good as that at Penang but still damn tasty.

Little Malaysia Restaurant [East LA-ish]
3944 Peck Rd. # 8, at Forest Grove, El Monte

Penang Malaysian Cuisine [Inland of LA]
987 S. Glendora Ave., at Vine, West Covina

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Little Malaysia Review

Two Foods Become One: Pastrami Pizza

One thing may bring you out to Downey Pizza Co: pastrami pizza. It’s like a pastrami sandwich on a pizza–pickles, mustard and all. Amazing, say russkar. Well, as long as you like pastrami. Everything else is more like Chef Boyardee, says ipse dixit.

Downey Pizza Co. [South LA]
9026 Florence Ave., at Lakewood, Downey

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Pastrami Pizza

Bowled Over by Smitty’s Burger

Never a fan of Smitty’s, The Oracle was surprised to find the burger can be described as a mound of heavenly goodness. The smokehouse burger has meaty slices of applewood bacon, a thick hunk of beef, the bread is delicious, and the cheese melts in perfectly overall. Fries are lightly seasoned, really nice.

Smitty’s Grill [Pasadena-ish]
110 S. Lake St., at Green, Pasadena

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Smitty’s Grill (Pasadena)–review —great burger!

A Nicer Place for Rice Noodles. Also, More Hunanese!

Guilin rice noodles at Dandan are as good as what you’ll find in Guilin itself, says Chandavkl, who should know, having eaten the stuff three times a day on a tour there. Rice noodle soup with fish fillet comes topped with peanuts and is very good. Not into fish? There are 18 different ways you can get your rice noodle soup, including with spicy beef, duck feet, tripe, and snail meat.

Dandan, it turns out, is actually a new, kind of upscale sister restaurant of Eight Café, another reliable place to get your rice-noodle fix.

In the same plaza as Dandan is another new restaurant, the Hunanese-style Dong Ting Spring. Fish head casserole is good, maybe even better than Crown Cafe’s, says WBGuy. The menu lists a lot of Dong Ting dishes, as well as paper pot dishes, hot pot and Chairman Mao’s braised pork.

Dandan Gulin Rice Noodle [San Gabriel Valley]
formerly Q Noodle
140 W. Valley Blvd. #203, at Del Mar, San Gabriel

Guilin Mifen [San Gabriel Valley]
a.k.a Eight Cafe or A Cafe
110 E Garvey Ave., at Garfield, Monterey Park

Dong Ting Spring [San Gabriel Valley]
formerly Green Village, Green City
140 W. Valley Blvd. #206, at Del Mar, San Gabriel

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Dandan Guilin Rice Noodle
SGV chinese rampage–new restaurants in focus plaza
Dong Ting Spring Hunan Restaurant in San Gabriel Square

A Solid Shanghai Choice

Among the not-so-interesting picks of New York Times writer Mark Bittman, who passed through our town recently, was Chang’s Garden, a Shanghainese spot near the Arcadia Supermarket. The discovery of the century it’s not, but it’s a solid recommendation for Shanghai-style food, says Hailyn.

Preserved pork with leeks is a goodly mound of chewy salted pork belly slices and sliced leeks, stir-fried with strips of moderately hot red pepper. There’s a nice whiff of five-spice, a tang of lemongrass and a shred of licorice root, all of which add up to a delicious and satisfying dish, says Will Owen.

Sauteed eel is actually baby eel–a bunch of them…kind of like spaghetti of the sea. Tons of shredded young ginger and fresh cilantro come on the side and get mixed in. The whole thing comes in a sauce that’s deep, rich, and rather sweet. The eels are pleasantly chewy, not fishy at all.

Dry pork ribs are really good, says ipsedixit, who cautions against the steamed ones–they’re OK, but not as good as the dry ones.

Hot and sour soup isn’t a Shanghai specialty (the real thing is from Sichuan), but it’s better than most, with some actual flavor and not too goopy.

What is Shanghai style is starting a meal with cold appetizers, says Hailyn. Smoked fish, drunken chicken, braised celery, sliced beef and kao fu are all good to try.

If you’re really set on kao fu (braised wheat gluten), a Buddhist temple in Downey makes some of the best around, says ipsedixit. It’s only offered on select Sundays when there are festivities. But the good news is, it’s free.

Chang’s Garden [Pasadena-ish]
627 W. Duarte Rd., at Baldwin, Arcadia

Buddist Fa Kwang Temple [South LA]
12110 Pomering Rd., at Rundell, Downey

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Chang’s Garden–thanks, Mr. Bittman!

Alert for Southland Southern Bakers

Southern bakers take note, at least one 99 Cent store carries Martha White self-rising cornmeal–THE standard ingredient in cornbread in Tennessee and most of the Southeast, says Will Owen. And if you want good cornbread, pretty much the only way to get it around here is to make it yourself. A 5-lb bag is…99 cents.

99 Cents Only Stores [Pasadena-ish]
140 E. Duarte Rd., at Santa Anita, Arcadia

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Martha White SR Cornmeal at 99¢ Only