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An LA - (semi) Chowhound weekend ... Campo's, Natalee, Jeff's Gourmet and Taqueria Sanches ... (and Ronnie's)

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An LA - (semi) Chowhound weekend ... Campo's, Natalee, Jeff's Gourmet and Taqueria Sanches ... (and Ronnie's)

PaulF | Oct 3, 2005 01:41 PM

The preamble is that for lunch on Friday we ate at Whole Foods in Westwood and I had a pretty good eggless (tofu) egg salad sandwich with hommos on panini. Whole Foods in Westwood is pretty crowded at lunch and their were fairly long lines at the sandwich counter, the salad bar and the hot food bar. They have pretty good food (I'd eat the same sandwich on sourdough next time, the pannini was a little dry).

Then, Saturday, for lunch I tried the turkey tacos at what I now know is the original (and supposedly best) Campo's - the one at Pico and 20th in Santa Monica. I really liked them. I was expecting ground turkey, but this was chunks of white meat turkey on a hard taco shell with lettuce and salsa (I order without cheese). The turkey was very juicy and tasty and while they were nothing like "authentic" I don't think, a couple of them made for a good, less than four dollar lunch. (There is also a three tacos and a soda deal for five and a half - mine was less than four but I drank plain water).

Saturday night I passed on the UCLA-Washington game on television and took my wife out to dinner. We wanted to try Literati II, but after a whole day of kid's soccer and football, didn't have the energy to drive over to West L.A. Instead we lit out east into Culver City with a thought of going to Natalee Thai for the first time or Gaby's again.

We decided on Natalee, which I read as a recommendation here on the board last week (in a thread where I mentioned Chandarette, then learned it was closed.)

Natalee was crowded at 8:30, we had no reservation so we didn't get seated until 9. Some people ahead of us got seated at the sushi bar, so if that's what you are looking for you might not need a reservation.

We didn't try any sushi, so I don't know how it was. Lots of people seemed to be ordering it, though, and some guy on his cell phone outside where we waited to get seated was raving about it into his cell phone trying to get his girlfriend to meet him for sushi so maybe it's good.

One bad thing about Chowhound is that it's sort of ruining sushi for me. I used to like several places in our neighborhood, but now I know that anything other than omakase sushi, a master chef (who hopefully will be rude to you) and a 125 bucks a head bill isn't good sushi. So, we didn't eat any sushi ... and if we ever try it, I won't tell you ... ha ha ha ...

Instead we ordered an appetizer called mee krob, a dish they call Hot Stuff and half a crispy duck. At Chandarette I liked prik king which is a spicy green bean dish and they had it at Natalee but we decided we couldn't eat that much.

The shrimp mee krob sucked. Six little shrimps with no flavor. All mixed into a haystack worth of fried noodles that tasted like cracker jacks. I have no sweet tooth (except for desserts after a spicy/savory meal) and hated this dish. My wife didn't like it either. We chewed on the shrimps and ate them but didn't eat the noodles. For all I know, this is the best mee krob in LA and I just don't like mee krob so feel free to try it ... next time we go with sushi for appetizers or this chicken wing dish stuffed with clear noodles that sounded good.

It's probably not fair that I wrote so much about the dish we didn't like, because we really dug the other two. The Hot Stuff we had was with chicken, but you could go with shrimp or beef. It was basically a saute with onions, peppers and chilis. I wouldn't say it was "hot" but it was spicy in a tasty way and went really well over the rice. I'd eat it again for sure and recommend it.

The crispy duck was good, too. I can't remember having duck before (my wife said I've eaten it at Chinese restaurants, so I probably have) and really liked it. I don't know how to describe the taste except to say it was "beefier" than chicken, the skin was crunchy with a drop of heat and the meat was really juicy, tender and not at all greasy. The folks at the next table asked us if it was dry (maybe duck is sometimes dry) but it was moist and tender. Good dish - I also liked saying we ate duck -- for some reason.

We didn't drink for whatever reason -- tired -- and just had a mineral water and a coconut milk in the shell and the whole bill was less than 40 bucks. Good deal ... we'll be back for sure, you need a neighborhood Thai place and now we have one.

Oh - the service was sort of hit and miss. Took sort of a long time to order. The couple next to us apparently got not broccoli in some dish they wanted with broccoli and by the time the broccoli came to add to the dish they were done eating and they were doing something with dishes near the ice machine and making a racket. Sort of a crowded chaotic place on Saturday night but maybe that's to be expected and I never felt stressed or anything. Just wanted to point out that it wasn't a quiet evening.

Sunday we did the barbecue thing (as I posted Friday). A couple of people cancelled so we didn't get steaks at Candy's. Just didn't need that much food.

But, I did try Jeff's Gourmet sausages for the first time - a place I learned about here on Chowhound. Jeff's Gourmet is on Pico sort of west of Robertson. Well, not sort of, it is really West of Robertson ... 8900 block I think. I bought turkey Italian, mergez (which is beef and lamb spicy), hot dogs and veal brats.

Did I mention that Jeff's is all kosher? Well, it is ...

The kid's loved the hot dogs, I didn't have one. The grilled really nicely and "looked" crunchy. I did have a couple of brats and a mergez. Really delicious. The mergez were spicy (again - not hot - spicy) and had a hot dog sort of consistency. I'm not sure I could tell they were lamb, but they had more flavor than a regular hot dog.

(ever notice how in a long post you run out of food adjectivies?)

The brats were great, too, even though I sort of let them bust open too much on the grill. The skins were a little soft so I should have been more careful when grilling them -- I got distracted by the sheer ineptness of the 49ers and Cardinals on ESPN.

We also had 10 pounds of carne asada from Taqueria Sanchez which was great but I won't write about here because I've written about it before.

P.S. ... I forgot to mention the breakfast burrito at Ronnie's for breakfast on Saturday, which I've also written about before.

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