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Seattle 'hound seeks solid/strange suggestions (specific questions)

dimsumfan | Mar 20, 200802:58 PM

Two of us coming in from Seattle soon (3/28-31). We always build our vacation days around food, whether it's finding all the best xiao long bao places in Taipei, following Bourdain/Zimmerns finds in NY, or looking for good holes-in-the-wall everywhere.

So, keeping in mind that we're not looking for high-end dining (we might do one meal at Fraiche, but that's about it - and not the highest end!), hoping for help:

1. Haven't had dim sum there in a few years, but used to like Empress in Chinatown and Ocean Harbor (?) in Monterey Park (better seafood there, I recall). Still good places? Better ones to recommend? Do they serve dim sum on weekdays, or only weekends? (Bonus: Where can we find more people to round our table to four, more ideal for dim sum!?)
2. Any good xiao long bao, aside from Din Tai Fung?
3. Any good ramen to recommend? Staying in Culver City, and recall some good, cheap places on Sawtelle, perhaps?
4. Is there a Thai temple that still does street food, or am I really dating myself?
5. Anything to recommend for the day headed down toward Irvine (there or Huntington Beach or Newport Beach) for the flight out?
6. Any fun food tours or events to consider? Weekend farmers markets?
7. Any place doing anything interesting with organ meats/offal?
8. Given the type of food I've been describing, any other suggestions for LA/Santa Monica spots to try? Again, we like unique, perhaps ethnic, unpretentious, etc. places. (Oh... maybe one sushi joint would be good, if it doesn't break the bank!)

Lots of questions...and lots of appreciation for any help!

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