OK folks, here's the payback for all your help on the way to eating in LA--a way too lengthy recap of some of the spots we hit. As usual, I didn't get to everything I wanted to, which is the way these things usually go (especially when you start out with a list that's too long in the first place!) but I feel like I did pretty darn well. Really helpful was a host who squired us around to near anywhere we wanted to go, making some further flung spots reachable. In any case, to the breakdown--a virtual roach coach of the mind in a rough chronological order...
--first thing we ate in LA were sweet Korean pancakes from a vendor outside a grocery store somewhere in ktown. There was a fried squid vendor or some such as well, but we skipped that to go home and eat delicious kimchi quesadillas provided by our host.
--had some pastries at Wien Bakery on Olympic when we went for an early walk the next AM. Nothing special, but not bad. Place was nice too, and for a New Englander it was simply good to be able to sit outside and drink coffee on a December morning.
--Langer's--just *had* to go here and have the Number 19 and wash it down with a vanilla egg cream. It was really, really great and I was full for hours. In all honesty, I think this place is better than Katz's in New York--I'd be surprised if there were a better deli anywhere, in fact.
--Jitlada: one of the first places we went was also maybe my favorite. That specials menu is pretty overwhelming, but eventually we settled on the Jitlada steamed mussels, raw blue crab salad with lemongrass & chili and some rice dish with vegetables and yam. Everything was spectacular, and I wish I could stay and work my way through that entire list.
--La Flor de Yucatan: this little place is really excellent--the tamale colorado was so moist & flavorful, the empanada de calabaza was spot on and my gf loved her corn muffin. On top of that, the people who work here are warm and friendly and were totally impressed by my printout of Exile Kiss' blogpost on their spot. If you haven't gone here, please do--they deserve all the success in the world.
--Din Tai Fung: changed plans from Elite/Huntington library to Gamble House/Din Tai Fung, and it worked out nicely. Since it was Sunday we waited forever to get in (I fought temptation to run across the street to 101 Noodle express for a Shandong beef roll) but it was worth it. Dumplings galore--pork and crab, fish, veggie, red bean were all really delicate and tasty. Baby bok choy and rice cake w/ vegetable were nice accompaniments. Also had something just called generically "appetizer" (we ordered it because of that fact, actually) which turned out to be a good sesame oil/bean sprout/tofu thingie.
--Mariscos Chente: made it to the famed raw seafood spot and gobbled down many shrimp as ceviche de camarone aguachile. I don't think anyone else with me really cottoned to the fresh, nearly raw shrimp as I did, but oh well. Also good was the ceviche mixto (though the "crab" in this one seemed un-crablike) and my gf had a grilled sea bass which was fine. Staff was nice + they were having a sort of work party with blaring music they seemed to think was annoying us, since they kept asking us if it was too loud.
--So Kong Dong: loved the spicy raw crab panchan here (something I've not seen elsewhere) and the seafood soon dobu was a solid, comfort food lunch dish. Nice.
--Giang Nan: trucked out to the SGV for dinner here one night, + was surprised it only took 15 min or so. Did a little mis-ordering and got both chicken + chestnuts and eel in claypot, both of which were good but too similar. Degreased pork knuckle was tasty but a bit on the dry side. Vegetable dumplings were only fair. Standout dishes were the excellent hot braised eggplant and the fantastic meatball with duck egg yolk. The latter was probably the best Shanghai lion's head type thing I've ever had. Overall though, while this place was good I admit that I wasn't totally blown away.
--Shamshiri Grill; made this the pre-Burchfield show stop and was satisfied with the choice. House made doogh was nice, + the lamb shank zereshk polo was juicy with the barberries adding a nice piquant touch. Companions got felafel wrap + felafel respectively, with the former happy and the latter slightly disappointed by a "hockey puck" consistency. We all loved the fresh made bread, though.
--Daikokuya: another wait for this one, but again repaid itself with a spectacular pork ramen kotteri style. Noodles are nothing special, but the broth is totally delicious. Companion's chicken teriyaki bowl also satisfying and well made.
--Fugetsu-do: this mochi place is very cool in itself inside and the couple items that we sampled were very good. They were making the big giant New Year's ones that cause choking deaths in Japan every year too, but we didn't run that particular gauntlet.
--Tacos Tumbra a Tomas: walking thru Grand Central I noticed a long line of Latino-Americans at this place and a sign saying "special de hoy: trompa". Sold! Wolfed down a very tasty if fatty and a bit gristly snout taco smothered in hot sauce and lime. Now that's *real* breakfast food.
--Izayoi: some floundering on my part resulted in our going here twice, as it seemed a good spot for varying tastes the night after my gf & I had gone alone. That chopped my ability to go elsewhere for a meal, but I really liked this spot so no big deal. The litany of things we tried is very long: mozuku seaweed (slimy!), grilled dried baby barracuda and stingray fin, monkfish liver (I love this), homemade tofu + satsuma-age, curried king oyster mushroom, fried lotus & plum sauce, Izayoi potatoes, roasted garlic, miso eggplant, chicken gizzards, some sushi. All in all a solid spot, and one that happily accounted for a range of tastes across the spectrum.
--El Parian: since I had mostly abdicated on this choice to do the 2nd time around at Izayoi (their seemingly limited meat heavy menu not being the best group choice for all!) our host surprised me with a goat taco for breakfast when she picked us up to head to LAX. Though at this point my body was crying a Roberto Duran-like "no mas" given all of the above, I soldiered through about half of its goaty goodness at 8:30 AM and was really happy with the way it tasted. The tortillas were really fantastic, as well. I do wish that I could have made it to a sitdown here for some birria + the carne asada, but there's always next time.
Phew. That's about it beyond churros from a churro truck, some Little Tokyo baked goods and a chain frozen yogurt, I think. We did walk thru Phillipe's to check it out, but the long lines and 'hound input convinced me to skip it. Kind of missed out on the taco truck thing and I feel like I could spend weeks happily wandering the exotic strip mall cuisines of the SGV, but largely I had a deeply satisfying and filling week of eating in your fine city. Thanks again for the helpful pointers provided in both the pre- and post- research phases of my LA board experience. As always, the wealth of info here helped make my trip a worthwhile chow experience.
Lastly, for reference sake here's a set of the food related photos taken during the trip at some of the aforementioned places: http://www.flickr.com/photos/galenp/s...
1712 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024
327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
704 S Alvarado St, Los Angeles, CA 90057
1528 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015
315 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
132 S Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
So Kong Dong
2716 W Olympic Blvd Ste 104, Los Angeles, CA 90006
Tacos Tumbras a Tomas
317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
La Flor De Yucatan
1800 S. Hoover Street, Los Angeles, CA 90006
306 N Garfield Ave, Monterey Park, CA
4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Din Tai Fung Dumpling House
1088 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007