because the LA visitor season is just starting and because everyone i meet always asks me, i made list of good joints to chow at. i obviously have way too much time on my hands. i thought i'd put my phd in applied culinary anthropology to good use.
still a work in progress, just started and is by no means exhaustive:
davids chow list:
gaja - torrance - okonomiyaki/monjayaki restaurant (postwar japanese pancake osaka style/tokyo style - more watery) you make it on a grill on your table. the monjayaki is like cabbage burm containing a flour flood!
sushi-gen - jtown - high quality - good value. sashimi lunch (10.50)and dinner specials are unbeatable (you often get lots of toro) except by
kasen - orange county - sushi: best sushi in socal. very japanese. only salariman eating there. expensive except for chirashi sushi lunch. multiple grades of toro, uni, abalone, mirugai, hamachi and more all for $18. in a crappy minimall in fountain valley. i hear they discourage gai jin though have never seen it with my own eyes.
matsuhisa: good but overrated/priced. i ate next to marky mark last time. black cod and foie gras, exclusive tempura bar, sucky decor. nobu just hangs out and shakes hands. nobu in london sucks royally!
daikokuya - jtown - ramen - pork bone ramen only. i heard the signless glass brick spot across the street is a high end brothel!
orochan ramen - 3rd floor weller court. many levels of spiciness. eating the top levels gets your pic on the wall.
shinsengumi - torrance - robatayaki - screaming waiters and rock star gloved grill masters
furaibo - sawtelle - izakaya: teba saki specialist, great rare duck breast, fried halibut
2117 - sawtelle - euro with japanese twist - affordable gourmet, good prix fixe lunch. better than:
sawtelle kitchen - sawtelle - fusiony: where white guys take their asian girlfriends for "cute dinner".
urusawa - old ginza sushi co spot in b hills - for the rarified dining journey. 250/head. before drinks tax or tip. go during fugu season.
blue marlin - sawtelle- good curries and pastas done al dente. uni and spinach spaghetti is kind of unique. have lunch specials.
kiriko - good westside sushi. has good home made ice cream. black sesame, ginger, red bean. yum! chef/owner can get stressed.
yokohama shokusu - next to yokohama ramen in westside - konnyaku and beef tendon soup. feels like you're in someones living room. homestyle dishes you dont often find in LA. for some reason no one knows this place.
Umenohana - beverly hills - artisinal high end tofu tasting menu for foodies.
1000 cranes - in the new otani in jtown - high end tempura bar. pricey but worth it! overlooks roof garden.
kokekokko: little tokyo: grilled chicken in all its glory. no longer serves chicken sashimi which i had in tokyo last year.
r-23 - little tokyo near sci arc - designer sushi on nice ceramics. sit on cardboard chairs in a brick loft space. started by people who did nishimura and hump.
el taurino - hoover and olympic - tacos! al pastor! lengua!
tacos baja ensenada - east la - best fried baja style fish tacos, shrimp too. 99cent wednesday taco special
ciros - east la - flautas or taquitos (overrated) free fresh guac but old mexican american history. across the street from mexican american institution el tepayac, home of the hollenbeck burrito.
la china poblana- cemitas sandwiches (lighter bread than a torta) milanesa with avocado and panela cheese. from a truck in a parking lot.
la serenata de garibaldi - east la - where white people go for gourmet mexican. fish with delicate sauces
babita - san gabriel - the other gourmet mexican joint. many regions, shrimp tampolobampo - spicy!
large market - east la - mariachi mariachi mariachi! upstairs, dueling mariachi compete for your attention in this mexican dim sum sized restaurant. near evergreen cemetery on E 1st street and lorena. food upstairs soso, just snack on corn with chile and mayonaise, and other vendor snacks
la flor de yucatan - hoover north of 10 - yucatecan -best cochinita pibil in town, only on weekends. otherwise its a bakery. kibi meatballs, salbutos etc. much tastier than chichen itza at the mercado la paloma. yucatecan cuisine has moroccan influence so the cooking style is very different from most other regional mexican cuisines)
la parilla - silverlake and east la - grilled meats - stone bowl of meat, cactus and cheese and beer deal. good homemade guac
birrieria chalio - east la - birria - get your goat on. michoacano style!
Guelaguetza - ktown and westside - everybodys favorite oaxacan joint. moles. personally not too into it.
jalisco style, sinaloan, de efe style, etc still looking.
mamas hot tamales cafe - pico union - tamale collective! right next to langers deli where you must try the pastrami. see below!
juanito's - east la - artisinally crafted tamales. they sell out of certain ones. call ahead.
la fonda - macarthur park - only for margaritas and mariachi. food is whatever.
pupusas - salvadorean - all over town, try texis, or in the grand central market
cubano sandwiches at cafe tropical in silverlake (fresh juices and overbrewed strong coffee), portos in glendale (great baked goods, coffee and cheap) and floral bakery in atwater (homemade ice cream with exotic fruit flavors). garlic chicken at versailles is overrated but cheap.
chinese - all 10 minutes east of downtown in either san gabriel, monterey park or rosemead
important note: when eating chinese food - make sure health rating is b or lower. if it has A, theyre not "keepring it reer"
sea harbor seafood - best dim sum in town - fancier than most old school joints. no carts.
dai ho - best taiwanese style beef noodle soup, cold appetizers
chung king - authentic sichuanese
best szechuan - just up the street. - ask to order off of chinese menu
ma lan - hand pulled noodles. get the chicken and leeks with fat tagliatelle style noodles - like a uyghur dish.
Heavy Noodling - dao shao mian (knife cut noodles) hearty!
din tai fung - taiwanese style xiao long bao (soup dumplings - a bit pricey and more delicate, some say less flavorful)
focus plaza - aka: the great mall of china. eat anywhere in here. del mar and valley. shanghainese on second floor, islamic chinese, ay-chung second floor for taiwanese snacks
savoy - hong kong cafe style - everyone gets the hainan chicken rice. not to singapore standards but good. young scene
phoenix bakery - chinese desserts - puddings, warm porrigey desserts, melon delight
healthy dessert - mango in birdnest. sago. cocunut sorbet and mango ice cream permutations
tung lai shun - islamic chinese. baked sesame bread. lamb! yum.
green village in the focus plaza. shanghainese. xiao long bao, san jian bao, braised fish, sweet savory brown sauces. lions head meatballs.
yung ho tou chiang - dou jiang (soy milk soup for breakfast) -i like salty but can get sweet too. good shao bing you tiao (oil stick-fried cruellers wrapped in sesame bread that you dip)
luscious dumplings or dumpling master. many forms of jiao zi
huas garden - yunnanese food. guo qiao mian - crossing bridge noodles and other dishes.
my god too many to write down.
golden deli - vietnamese snack foods - pho, bun, good cha gio (fried spring rolls)
phong dinh - home of the famous baked cat fish (enough for three). lots of crazy game meats too. goat ribs. fox! venison!
lee's baguette - grand progenitor of the banh mi wars.
nga trang - formery brodard two of orange county fame - good summer rolls with little crispy cruellers in the middle. i like the bun hanoi, different types of grilled pork with vietnamese herbs to wrap
pho 79 - not the best but not bad. downtown la. check the large george nelson lamps. i tried to buy them once but they said they were rare japanese antiques, i didnt want to burst their bubble.
for real good vietnamese go to bolsa/westminster in the OC
golden triangle - whittier - mohinga (fish stew) onokowswe (coconut chicken noodle soup) lepet thoke (tea leaf salad)
udupi palace - artesia - southern indian. veggie. good dosas the size of garbage can lids, good everything actually
woodlands - artesia - similar to above
shan - artesia - muslim indian - meat (weekend buffet)
surati farsan - large selection of chaats, around the corner from udupi. just ask anyone. pani puri (like a dorito 3d that you crack and stuff with yoghurty potatoes and veggies then dunk into a tangy cold soup. crunchy, soft, creamy, sour all at once!)
bombay cafe - westside gourmet style indian. tasty but pricey!
india sweets and spices: westside and atwater village. veggie indian fast food that is completely passable although not particularly fine. westside joint is next to museum of jurassic technology which is defintely worth a visit! curator/creator won the macarthur prize a few years back. represent!
Ambala Dhaba on westwood blvd. authentic non veg indian food. home made kulfi ice cream
Shahrzad Restaurant - good home made breads, meze, lamb chops.
lots of persian on westwood blvd.
Rose Market - on westwood blvd south of santa monica- homemade persian ice cream - rose water, pistachio, served on little wafers and those little white noodle things and red sweet syrup if you want it.
Mashti Malones - similar to above but in hollywood.
near thai town
caroussel - glendale and little armenia - very tasty meze. stick to these. glendale spot is more elegant and tastier.
mandaloun - elegant lebanese armenian. weekends have set menu dinner with live band.
sahags basturma - ask sahag or his wife for a taste of his basturma. like a super powerful beef prosciutto cold cut. also make good homemade veal sausages with pinenuts and armenian beef spicy sausage called Soujouk. he can make these into sandwiches. buy
a bottle of pomegranate juice too! tell him the bearded chinese kid sent you!
if you like sausage check out the merguez sausage at Hadar Orthodox Kosher Meat on fairfax.
arax bakery - taste the lahmajune and maenesh (sort of mini pizza like things with lots of mediterranean herbs) fresh out of the oven. can toast in a toaster oven too. good snacks.
wat thai - thai temple north hollywood - weekend food stalls just like bangkok! good som tum (papaya salad), grilled meats, coconut desserts. near the 170 and 5 freeways
ruen pair - open to 3am. good food all around. poo dong (raw marinated crab with garlic, lime and chili) noodles
palm thai - only go for thai elvis. food is okay
thailand plaza second floor restaurant - large place good for big groups. thai singers and good food. have that spicy sour and salty soup with omlette. forgot its name but its not easily found in other restaurants that i've found. famous thai singers sing here)
kruang tedd - go after 11pm and drink beers and rock out to thai music with college kids. very fun! can also stop into jumbos clown room (ghetto strip club where courtney love used to dance) if you get bored.
sapp coffeeshop - closes early but it feels a lot like bangkok. lots of bangkok style thai chinese dishes.
renu nakorn - norwalk - supposed to be good, particularly for esarn food (near laos) never went cuz its so close to artesia indian restaurants.
sompun - silverlake - mainly for white hipsters but they have khao soi. the famous chiang mai creamy coconut curry noodle soup
note: if you get an in - many of the joints in thai town will serve you booze til 5am while you listen to people sing maw lam or look toong music (thai country music)
marios: hollywood - the joint that eveyone knows about. fried with fried. heavy but tasty...run by chinese peruvians. decent ambiance...
inti: if marios is too packed. zero ambience...
pollo a la brasa: ktown - rotisserie chicken grilled with wood. best taken away.
cafe brazil: westside - byob laid back joint with grilled meats and tasty apps near:
zabumba: live samba band and turns into dancing after dinner.
greek: papa christos on normandie and pico. go on a sunday when people from the orthodox church across the street pile in. good market for mediterranean goods too. cheap lamb chops! in the speakeasy district of south korea town. check out the club next door "catch 22" wonder what goes on in there...
have yet to check out the cambodian scene in little phnom phen in long beach.
Chhom Nimol, the famous classically trained singer who also sings with dengue fever sings at Dragon House. hear the food isnt good though.
i hear new paradise and hak heang are good.
in n out - everywhere - double double animal style protein style. fries well done animal style.
apple pan - westside- old school burgers. water in paper cones, guys pour ketchup for you with a seasoned flip of the wrist
cassells - old school foodie burger favorite in the heart of ktown across the street from tang song sah. home made mayo. crazy homemade grill contraption. garlicy potato salad. now owned by koreans but still og. i actually dont like the burgers as much as i
want to. i saw a guy plop a half peach on his burger once. respect!
pie n burger in pasadena. pies and burgers. old school!
fathers office: santa monica - sang yoon, old executive chef from michaels opened this joint. decent tapas but a rockin gourmet burger if you can stand the frat boys and noise and lack of seating.
tommy's - go to the original on rampart at 2:15 am. kinda gross but kinda awesome
jays jayburger - i hope they will resurface. chili cheese burger with bacon and a fried egg. who needs flexbile arteries?
see taylors steakhouse below. under old la
see mccormick and schmicks and nick and stefs under happy hour below
soot bul jeep - bbq ghetto style - but tasty. mesquite wood bbq. bring disposable clothes. and the fire gets really hot!
chosun kalbi - fancy designer bbq. cool architecuture with inside*inside/outside*outside concept)
sa rit gol - good pan chan get the black cod and daikon stew! dol sut bibimbap good too.
beverly soon tofu, sokongdong soontofu - you decide which one you like better. beverly has better atmosphere.
olympic kalgooksu - kalgooksu (knife cut noodles in garlic chicken broth) and mandoo, awesome wall paper
tang song sah - 6th and berendo - cool po jang ma cha (korean pub) like a war bunker feel. get the pork ribs, grilled squid, the fried battered dumbell things with the japchae noodles inside. grilled skewers. tofu kimchi and spicy salad.
my secret recipe - grilled octopus and onions in gochujang sauce. fry leftovers with rice and nori and sesame oil later. lots of cool bangladeshi markets around the corner
mandarin house - im a chinese snob, but i actually dont mind korean style ja jang myun. the other korean style chinese food can just disappear for all i care.
han bat - sullongtang. hangover rememdy. best at two am.
yong susan - fancy set course kaesang korean. avoid the cheapest set course.
odae san - korean style sushi restaurant. lots of side dishes. quantity over quality. heavy on the white fish like halibut - koreans like it chewy... chili vinegar dipping sauces. try sea squirt. freaky looking and tastes like the ocean! looks like an alien.
chin ko gae - 8th and berendo. black goat stew with lots of veggies! funky like maceo.
san - 8th + berendo - chinese character for mountain. abalone porrige that tastes like a wonderful risotto and cornish game hen stuffed with sticky rice made into a soup with ginseng and garlic. good for colds.
bok - (alvarado and james m wood) blowfish soup. they make the leftovers into jook at the end. lots of food!
prince hotel - walking distance from soot bul jeep. a piece of old la. red banquettes, oil paintings, beefeater lamps done up ajashi style! booze and bar snacks. way cooler than hms bounty.
chapman market - sixth and alexandria - for expensive mediocre coffee, booze and a procession of leased bmw's and the hot ktown girls that love the guys that drive those cars.
the corner place restaurant : famous for korean white somen noodles with the sour mool kimchi soup base. inexpensive bbq too.
a.o.c - suzanne goins newest. wines by the glass, charcuterie, cheeses. brought the small plates craze to LA. mediterranean
sona - david and michelle myers. high concept. very high. tastes good? you decide. seared scallop in tomato water drizzled with argon oil. that kind of shit.
angelini osteria - solid food. a bit cramped. good pasta primi's and sea salt encrusted baked branzini. gino angelini just won a james beard award this year. good italian wines. barolo!
spago beverly hills - wolfgang himself gave me a handshake!
patina - heard its gone downhill since the move to the disney concert hall. but you get to eat inside a gehry bldg! make sure you eat on someone elses dime!
bastide: french food with california experimentalism. deconstructed foods. frozen shit. crazy combinations. love it or hate it.
capo: santa monica - small italian restuarant with woodgrilled meats. last time i ate here i saw steven spielberg, tom hanks,larry david, albert brooks, dustin hoffman and wives. and this joints got maybe 30 tables.
jiraffe - santa monica - monday prix fixe dinner. french. good chocolate souffle.
lucques - west hollywood - suzanne goins original spot, 35 dollar 3 course prix fixe on sunday. good to share at the bar with a glass of wine.
josie - wednesday market dinner prix fixe. 30 dollar 3 course. only until they sell out.
nick and stefs - joachim splichals steak house downtown. good burger and aged steaks
ciudad - mojitos and finger foods downtown. mary sue milliken and susan feniger of border grill fame
mccormick and schmicks - not a bad burger for 2 bucks! the beverly hills spot feels like and is lit like vegas.
phillippes or coles pe buffet. both claim to have invented the french dip at the same time. old school! you decide. ask to get the sandwiches double dipped. lamb sandwich is good but sometimes is really fatty.
cliftons cafeteria - decent cafeteria food (think mac and cheese) check the upstairs, the chapel. way too much kitsch to take in!
uncle johns ham and eggs - think blade runner noir. chinese guys cooking diner food in a shotgun cafeteria. next to golden gopher. pork chop rice or ham and eggs or omlette with chinese chilis. inadvertant ghetto fusion.
the pantry - dick riordans family restaurant. never closed. so so diner food.
grand central market downtown. wander and nibble. good juice bar and tasty pupusas.
hanks bar in the hotel stillwell near staples. good dive bar with mirrors and mannequins. 'nuff said.
langers deli - do yourself a favor and have a pastrami here. best in the world. pay attention to the bread. hand carved pastrami. this place is a one trick pony so stick to the pastrami. i ate here and flew to new york the next day and ate at katz's and second avenue. this place is the best. al langer rocks! oh yeah, good noodle kuegel too.
taylors steak house - ktown - steaks, chopped steak burger, molly salad. old school la stuck in a time warp in current ktown and little central america. hear the culotte isnt very good. doesnt that mean panties in french? still has old ladies with blue hair eating here. reasonably priced too.
soda jerks - pasadena - old fashioned soda fountain and they serve fosselmans ice cream!
interesting cultural experiences one must check out:
lowenbrau keller - silverlake adjacent - craziest visual feast of a restaurant in town. good german food too! opened by billy wilders prop master and it shows. if not for food, just come and have a beer and wander around the restaurant. would take weeks to soak in the stuff in here. run by two old women.
babe and rickys inn - leimert park. 5 dollars gets you a show with micky champion the best 70 year old mike-less blues singer in the world and a soul food dinner. trick is the food isnt served till 11pm. mondays. she also sings downtown by jtown on sunday
prayer assembly of god - weekend bbq at a black church on el segundo and avalon. smokey but sometimes dry bbq.
also try phillips bbq on crenshaw. take away.
quality seafood - redondo pier - benches, cheap pitchers, 20 types of oysters in salt water tanks. crab and live uni etc.