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Restaurants & Bars 10

LA eats on my recent trip

Eric Eto | Aug 23, 200505:59 PM

Rita Flora (6th/La Brea)
Decent breakfast, weird service, bad coffee, and overpriced. But I love the setting in the flower shop.

Rose Cafe (Rose/Main)
Good reliable place for salads and sandwiches and simple fare. Nice and leisurely place for lunch and nice atmosphere sitting outside.

Playita Siete Mares (Sunset/Silver Lake)
Good reliable place for fish tacos (though not as good as Tacos Baja Ensanada) when you're in the area. But better are the shrimp tacos and the cocteles.

Empress Pavilion (Chinatown)
Had a banquet here with a bunch of people in one of their private rooms. Stuck with a simple menu without the extravagent items like sharkfins and such, and they mananged to do a good job despite another large wedding party going on. Our dinner consisted of:
1. Empress Pavilion Barbecure Platter with Roasted
Suckling Pig
2. Sauteed Prawns with Honey Glazed Walnuts
3. Empress Pavilion Seafood Soup
4. Black Pepper Beef
5. Peking Duck
6. Braised Black Mushroom with Snow Peas (Vegetarian)
7. Dungeness Crab salt and pepper style
8. Steamed Live Fish
9. Dried scallop and Egg Whites Fried Rice
10. Almond Gelatin
The surprises were the salt/pepper dungeness crab and the dried scallop fried rice. The dungeness crab really is difficult to eat, so it's probably not the right thing for banquet, but I took home a lot of leftovers and ate it at home. Really good stuff.

Angelini Osteria (Beverly/La Brea)
The lasagna verde might be one of the best things I've had in a while. The antipasto plate was very nice, as was a salad with white anchovies. The other pastas were also good, but I can't quite remember them like the lasagne.

Brodards (9892 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove)
Got a bunch of the special rolls for takeout to bring to a potluck. As usual, a big hit with the crowd. I have never had a finer roll.

Taiko (Irvine)
Not my choice to come here, but I think they might make the best california rolls I've ever had. I don't eat california rolls often, so I don't have much to compare except for those ubiquitous fake crab stuff. These are pretty mammoth and they use real crab meat. The lobster tempura was also pretty good, though kind of on the greasy side.

Philippe's (Chinatown)
Went with my usual lamb double dip and was not disappointed. I brought a couple first-timers and I think they split a pork with swiss. Not bad. Also love the pickled egg.

Cielito Lindo (Olvera Street)
Had room for a couple taquitos after Philippe's, so took my visitors here. Hard to pass this place and not get a couple. Unfortunately, none of us had any room for churros from Senor churros.

Bob's Donuts (Farmer's market)
When I get back to LA from NY, I usually hit some donut shop just for apple fritters, because they never heard of apple fritters. Really hit the spot.

Randy's Donuts (Manchester/405)
Haven't had one of these in a decade, but I was near the airport and needed a snack. Good stuff. Apple fritter not quite as good as Bob's but above average, and a good raised glazed (the benchmark of donuts).

La Brea Bakery (La Brea/6th)
Needed to grab a few things before a roadtrip. I really enjoyed the sour cherry brioche. I can't remember what else was ordered, but the savory pastry was also good. Surprisingly lousy coffee.

Golden Fish (Hollywood/Normandie)
Needed to get a bunch of takeout for a meal at home with the family, so we decided on getting a bunch of stuff at Golden Fish. Got a few pounds each of the lula kabab, beef kabab, and the sturgeon. Also got a load of the bbq vegetable salad, muttabal, and the red pepper puree (forgot what that's called), and a lot of rice and potatoes. My Japanese family is kind of new to Armenian food, but really loved it. Beef was nice and tender and cooked just right even to stay moist for a while. Good mattabal too.

Pollos a la Brasa (Western/8th)
The Golden Fish dinner was supplemented with a whole chicken from Pollo a la Brasa. As always, they do a great job with the chicken. I can get some good Peruvian roast chicken here in NYC, but I noticed that they take good care with their chicken. Most of the places I know quickly hack the chicken, while here, they use shears to cut it up, so you don't get those stray pieces of bone. Also, the chicken isn't seasoned as aggressively as I've had at other places, which allows you to really notice the smoky flavor, which I love. Always a crowd pleaser.

Don Felix (Virgil/Sunset)
I wanted to go to the other Don Felix down Virgil at Beverly, but they were closed on Tuesdays, so I made my way here. Pretty disappointed with the food. Ceviche was lackluster, as well as the papas a la huacaina. These are the Peruvian national dishes and they make it really unexciting. I'll try Mario's next time.

Dino's (Pico/Vermont)
I'm not sure how long Dino's has been around, but I've driven by here for decades without noticing it, so I had to stop and try it. All the raves for the chicken plate is worthy. And the best part are those fries, which are fresh. I noticed a ceiling-high stack of potato sacks when I peeked in the back room. And that chicken peeking from above the register is kind of freaky.

Bistro Laramie (Western/182nd St, Gardena)
I think this is the only real Japanese yoshoku restaurant in the US. It fills up quickly during the lunch hour with an almost exclusive Japanese clientele. I really wanted to try their curry, which is made from scratch. I got the hamburger curry, which is a meat patty along with the curry and rice. The curry here is quite good, though I think some will be disappointed that it's only the sauce (no vegetables or meaty chunks). Good deep flavor. You can get it regular, spicy, or extra spicy. I recommend the regular or spicy. Also good was the hayashi omu-raisu (rice omelette with beef hash). This is a very typical Japanese dish that will probably have many people scratching their heads at, but this version was pretty good.

Zankou (Sunset/Normandie)
Tarna with garlic sauce, muttabal, pickled beets. Just perfect.

Thien An (Bo 7 Mon--7 course beef), (13518 Harbor Blvd, Garden Grove)
I've had the 7 course beef at several places, here in southern california, Boston, NY, and I can't say I'm a big fan. While I find it pleasant, I don't get a wow out of it either. Thien An is the choice of the Vietnamese family I went with. The cook-it-yourself beef on the hot plate was nice, and the shabu shabu style fondue with the vinegared broth was also good. Again just no wow. Better were the rolled beef and the meatballs. The soup was also quite good. I don't mean to sound indifferent, as this was probably the best version of the 7 course beef that I've had. But I guess it's just not my thing.

Lee's Sandwiches (13991 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove)
When I'm in the area, I try to stop at Van's bakery on Bolsa to get the pandan waffles there, but they close too early, so my Vietnamese hosts opted to go to this branch of Lee's since they had them there too. It was fine, but the girls making the waffles were so overwhelmed with orders that some batches just came out really sloppy. Felt bad for them.

Armon's Coffee Shop (Eagle Rock)
I was just saying the other day that you can rarely find regular hashed brown potatos anymore, and someone recommended Armons just for that. Since we were around there early on a weekday, we decided to give it a try. Not bad. The potatoes come out a little too steamed for me, though the crust is nice and crunchy. Decent pancakes and eggs, at the right price.

Yongsusan (Vermont/James Wood)
Wrote about our experience with our $34 course dinner in a previous post. Very good, and enlightening for the first-timers.

Yuca's (Hillhurst/Franklin)
Had my brother bring a bunch of these for a potluck and they aren't bad. Unfortunately, I didn't specify the pibil, so we had carne asada. Good flavors working through the burrito, though far from perfect. We had a few leftover, so I took them on my flight back to NYC and ate them on the plane since they don't serve food anymore on American Airlines. Still pretty good at 35,000 feet.

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