I had a friend visiting me this weekend so was able to try out several restaurants in the area. I had some great leads from Chowhound posts and had a couple of places in mind.
On Thursday night, I headed to Old Town Pasadena to search out Sol Y Azul per tokyoastrogirls post. Unfortunately, it was closed for some kind of film shoot. We ended up at Crocodile Café, which I discovered to be a chain after we sat down. Not recommended at all mediocre food at best.
Friday lunch, a LA native pointed me to Noshi Sushi in Koreatown for lunch. They had great sushi for good prices. Im pretty unadventurous with sushi, sticking mainly to rolls with cooked ingredients, but it was quite good. The green tea was nice and hot, and the attentive waitress kept my cup filled. Lunch total of 6 maki and edamame came to $27 before tip.
Ive been wanting to try the huge Hong Kong style restaurants in Monterey Park so had dinner at Ocean Star that night. The food was good but with 2 people, I couldnt explore the menu as much as I would have liked. The steamed red snapper was fresh, the salt and pepper spareribs were a bit greasy, and the kongxingcai stir-fried with garlic was perfect. A good deal at only $31 with enough leftovers for my dinner tomorrow.
On Saturday morning, I was introduced to LAs Chinatown on the way to dim sum at ABC Seafood Restaurant. As a homesick San Franciscan, Id have to say that it wasnt as good as SFs best, my favorite being Fook Yuen in Millbrae. I found the wrappers on the various steamed dumplings not as delicate as I usually like but it was all still delicious, especially the fried stuffed crab claws. Again, I found that food in LA seems cheaper than SF. For 2 people, we ordered enough food for 4, came away with leftovers, and the bill was only $21!
I was so full from dim sum, I wasnt sure I wanted dinner. However, I really wanted to try out Z Sushi (another tokyoastrogirl recommendation) since its across the street from my apartment in Alhambra. I wasnt disappointed creative rolls with the freshest ingredients. I ordered the Z Special even though their menu doesnt give a description, just Dont ask, just try it! Its a roll with shrimp, crab, salmon, and avocado served on a plate with mayonnaise, hot sauce, and jalapenos. Not to my taste although my friend gobbled up the remaining pieces. Their salad is a cut above other Japanese restaurants with a nice assortment of mixed greens and not just iceberg lettuce. I enjoyed the grilled Chilean sea bass entrée, served with a soy-based sauce, sautéed mushrooms, and a potato croquette. It was a bit firm, maybe just slightly overcooked? The service was a bit understaffed but friendly overall. The most expensive meal of the weekend (edamame, 5 rolls, 2 orders of nigiri, 1 entrée, Sapporo, and tea came to $72) but reasonable for what we got.
After stuffing ourselves to the gills Saturday, we were in the mood for a lighter brunch Sunday morning. Kim Tar in Monterey Park is a Chinese restaurant with Vietnamese/Teochew leanings. He got beef and beef ball rice noodle soup, which he devoured without offering me any. I got their wonton egg noodle soup, with lots of other ingredients like a prawn, fried fish balls, chicken, pork, and kidney thrown into the bowl. The wontons themselves were small and dense with chewy wrappers, not the best. I thought my meal was just OK. Lunch for 2 came to $9.
We grabbed an early dinner at Sam Woo BBQ before I had to drop my friend off at the airport. I understand that this local chain is a LA institution. It was packed at 5:45 on a Sunday night and we had to wait 20 minutes for a table. The food came quickly once we sat down. The Yangzhou fried rice had a good amount of prawns but was slightly greasy. My combo roast duck and BBQ pork over rice was decent but not great. For $4, it was a good deal but the ratio of meat to rice seemed too small. The BBQ pork was dry without the caramelization of the edges that imparts that crunchy, smoky flavor. I ended up eating all the rice, however, because it had soaked up all the yummy juices from the meats. Cheap dinner at $9.
Overall, Im loving the food in LA although I am a bit homesick for my SF favorites at times. Im looking for a good neighborhood Thai place near Alhambra (I heard Saladang was good but it looks a bit trendy). Any cafes where I can pick up a sandwich or good salad? Or in general, good non-Chinese food in the Alhambra area? Im on a student budget so cheap is good!
4430 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90004
708 New High St
Los Angeles, CA 90012-2822
Z Sushi California Cuisine
1132 N. Garfield Ave.
Alhambra, CA 91801
515 S. Atlantic Blvd.
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Sam Woo BBQ
San Gabriel Square
140 W. Valley Blvd. Suite 107
San Gabriel, CA 91776