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Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the LA Chowhound community.

New Bistro Is Flying High

TheManning2 gives a thumbs-up to the six-month-old Flight Bistro & Social Lounge. The arugula salad with Piave Vecchio cheese, candied walnuts, dried apricots, figs, and shaved apple was delicious and gorgeous—ready for its photographic closeup.

TheManning2 recommends the Caprese salad: “The heirloom tomato that topped the dish was served cold, which allowed its flavor to really pop.” He and his wife enjoyed the grilled vegetable flatbread with portobello mushrooms, asparagus, and goat cheese and the prosciutto panini served with a spicy aioli. Desserts hit the mark, including a panko-breaded fried banana served with coconut sorbet—“smooth yet crunchy.” TheManning2 says, “The cool thing about it is it’s priced reasonably for being upscale cuisine -- the most expensive item on the menu is $26.”

Flight Bistro & Social Lounge [Orange County]

8082 Adams Avenue, Huntington Beach

714-374-8300

Board Links:
Review: Flight Bistro and Social Lounge - Huntington Beach

OC - FLIGHT BISTRO - Huntington Beach

Oh Saya Can You See … the New Peruvian

fortunatopp eagerly shares a new find in LA: Saya Peruvian restaurant. Located inside the Santee Food Court, it serves “the best Peruvian food I’ve had in my life.” fortunatopp had the lomo saltado and Peruvian empanada. And, although it’s new, the word is out—there was a line out the door, so plan accordingly.

Saya Peruvian [Downtown]
718 S. Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles
213-489-7454

Board Link: New Peruvian Restaurant

Imported Pancetta

wj818 shouts out to the hounds: “Does anyone know of a good source for imported Pancetta, from Italy, in the Los Angeles area or online? I just want the real thing and I’m willing to pay for it.”

A number of hounds affirmed you can’t import pancetta into the United States. But JudiAU recommends online ordering from Niman Ranch or Salumi. They make quality products and, if you order from both, you can freeze what you don’t use right away.

pizzafreak says Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica and Domingo’s in Encino both sell a good pancetta. Claro’s Italian Markets (various locations) are another option.

notmartha recommends you drive to the Roma market in Pasadena, and adds: “Don’t get too put off by the strong cheese scent at the store, btw.”

Bay Cities Italian Deli [Westside–Beaches]
1517 Lincoln Boulevard, Santa Monica
310-395-8279

Domingo’s Italian Grocery [San Fernando Valley–West]
17548 Ventura Boulevard, Encino
818-981-4466

Claro’s Italian Markets [Various Locations]

Roma Italian Deli and Grocery [San Gabriel Valley]
918 N. Lake Avenue, Pasadena
626-797-7748

Board Link: Desperate for Pancetta from Italy

A Savory Trip to Southern India

Das Ubergeek offers up Tirupathi Bhimas in Artesia. The restaurant serves southern Indian cuisine, specifically Hyderabadi, the cuisine of Andhra Pradesh in central south India. You’ll be treated with kind and civilized service in a casual restaurant that is spotless and welcoming.

Das Ubergeek counsels: “When in doubt—and how do you choose from a list of idli (small round steamed lentil breads with sauce), dosa (huge thin crepes often wrapped round vegetables with dips) and utthapam (pancakes with various vegetables cooked in) anyway?—go for a thali. A thali is a bowl of rice in the centre of a dish with a lot of small samples of various foods surrounding it.”

It’s a great way to get to know what the kitchen is doing, because you get a little bit (maybe a half to three-quarters of a cup) of each dish, plus rice, pappadam (lentil cracker), and chapati (soft flatbread). You also get a choice of thali: spicy Andhra, nonspicy, and north Indian. A meal of a thali with a huge dosa and rice pudding with raisins and cashews comes to around $20.

The restaurant serves no meat, but it’s hardly missed, so it’s a great option for omnivores and vegivores alike. boogiebaby loved it, and enthusiastic CHOW posters are lining up for a visit.

Tirupathi Bhimas [Orange County]
18792 Pioneer Boulevard, Artesia
562-809-3806

Board Link: REVIEW: Tirupathi Bhimas, Artesia

Jitlada’s New Southern Specialties

The folks at Jitlada have added a dozen new dishes to the southern Thai menu, including turmeric-seasoned curry with lamb and jicama, and a robustly flavored coconut milk soup with galangal and frog’s leg. Once again, Erik M has done us the favor of translating the new items from the Thai menu (see thread).

Particularly recommended are deep-fried shrimp skewers with curry paste and wild tea leaves; soft-shelled crab stir-fried with curry powder and assorted vegetables; and whole Dungeness crab stir-fried with curry powder and assorted vegetables (advance notice required). Chileheads should make sure to get “demon style” sour and spicy soup with chiles, straw mushrooms, and eel—it’ll leave your wig on the floor, Erik says.

But his favorite meal these days probably consists of the as-yet-unlisted “kai khii-min,” or “deep-fried turmeric-seasoned chicken” (ask someone named Phii Tui for it), paired with one of the nonturmeric, vegetable-intensive Southern curries (such as green curry). With lots of rice, it’s heaven.

If you’re looking for something spicy, make sure to speak out—Bjartmarr received a gringo-fied order of khûa klíng phat lung, a spicy curry that arrived no more piquant than a stew flavored with black pepper. Even so, the spicy mango salad was “an out-of-this-world mixture of sweet mango, juicy shrimp, tart citrus dressing, and I-don’t-know-what-else that left a huge grin on my face and a happy, fiery sensation on my lips.” And the catfish/tea leaf curry is incredibly rich, earthy, and complex.

For the less adventurous, there are definitely safe standard Thai dishes too. You can sub tofu for meat, and they’ll dial down the spices. The space is very nice, cozy and clean, and the people are superfriendly.

Jitlada [Thai Town]
5233 W. Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles
323-663-3104

Board Links: Southern Thai Menu Additions at Jitlada
Jitlada
Jitlada OK for Pregnant and Paranoid?

Swept Away by Sushi

“You know how sometimes you start eating in a new place, and you sit down and all of a sudden you’re just swept away by this premonition that you’re about to have a really, really great meal?

“And you keep eating, and it just seems to fly by, and at the end of it you’re in this happy haze that stays with you for hours.”

This, says Das Ubergeek, was a recent omakase meal at Maki-Zushi, which comprises 28 pieces of the catches of the day. This includes three kinds of toro (yep, three), octopus, shrimp, live sweet shrimp (go on, suck on the head), giant clam, egg, razor clam, ankimo, Spanish mackerel, ahi tuna, yellowtail, salmon, and quite a few unidentifieds.

The toro is meltingly good, the sweet shrimp delicious. The winner by far, though, is the scallop: “There were two pieces of this on an enormous scallop shell with sudachi citrus underneath and cucumber above. Un-bloody-believable. The very best scallop in the history of history.” Another plus: kinmedai, which Porthos identifies as golden eye snapper, or alfonsino. Deliciously fatty, tender, and a real treat, its presence is usually a sign of a legit sushi establishment.

The cuts of fish are so generous that Ubergeek, a pretty big dude, can barely fit some of them in his mouth. They drape ever so slightly over the rice, enough so you can see the texture. The rice itself is a good temperature, but it’s not the warm stuff à la Sasabune.

A large pile of grated fresh wasabi comes alongside, as well as two small dishes of pickles. Miso soup is standard. You can upgrade to get clams in your soup; they’re perfectly tender, if not very flavorful.

The place is nicely decorated, but it’s no “hallowed hall of sushi,” and the staff are friendly.

The 28-piece sushi platter costs $70, or you can get 35 pieces for $90. Clam soup is $3.

Maki-Zushi [Orange County]
1641 Edinger Avenue, Tustin
714-259-0783

Board Link: REVIEW: Maki-Zushi, Tustin

Go On, Eat Your Heart Out

Haejangchon has risen to the top of the all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue heap for Bon Vivant, who especially likes the kalbi in a marinade that’s a nice balance of sweet and savory.

For $16.99, you get as much pork belly, sliced brisket, and kalbi as your heart (and stomach) desires, plus mild radish kimchee in its fermented broth (it’s actually quite refreshing); kimchee pancake; spicy soybean-paste soup with tofu; kimchee fried rice; and salad—as well as pickled daikon slices and rice noodle sheets (ttuk) for wrapping the meat.

The brisket is good, but despite the happy-looking pig on the restaurant sign, the pork belly lacks flavor.

The stovetop grill is a regional variety made of stone, with a hole in the end that’s tilted downward to let the juice and fat run out. They periodically sluice it with pickled radish water to rinse.

Haejangchon Dolgooi Restaurant [Koreatown]
3821 W. Sixth Street, Los Angeles
213-389-8777

Board Link: REVIEW (w/foodie porn flix and pix!) Hae Jang Chon - AYCE Korean BBQ

Chinese Lamb Kebab Quest

A long, sad quest for decent yang rou chuan, or lamb kebabs, has finally been fulfilled for sgvfoodie. At 818 ShaoKao, the lamb kebabs are pretty good eating, but the rest of the menu is of the Beijing/Tianjin variety rather than Uighur.

818 ShaoKao [San Gabriel Valley]
818 E. Valley Boulevard, San Gabriel
626-307-5128

Board Link: Chinese Lamb Kebabs Yang Rou Chuan

The Lebanese Pizza Variations

Al Sanabel is “another of those beautiful discoveries that make Brookhurst Street the Chow axis of Orange County,” says Das Ubergeek. It specializes in sfiha, a kind of Lebanese pizza that’s really close to lahmajoun. But where the Armenian flatbread typically comes topped with minced meat and tomato, Al Sanabel’s sfiha is available in a dozen or more varieties.

And they’re incredible, especially the cheese and za’atar (a tangy blend of dried herbs and spices). “It was so good that I am sitting here at 21:01, just over two hours after I ate it, thinking about how I can wangle my schedule tomorrow to be able to go have one for lunch,” Das Ubergeek says.

Cheese and spinach is similarly good, and so is the well-spiced lahmajoun. The yogurt-pomegranate combo, though, might be too tangy.

Each sfiha is about the diameter of a CPK pizza, but rolled or folded in half so it’s more like a calzone. One is enough for lunch, especially with a dip or a small salad. Two is a full-on meal.

Sfiha with just za’atar and oil is $1.25; most are $2.75; “the works” is $3.50. There are also decent falafel and hummus, for $4.75 and $3.99 respectively for a plate with extras like pita and pickles.

Al Sanabel Bakery [Orange County]
816 S. Brookhurst Street, Anaheim
714-635-4353

Board Link: Explorations on Brookhurst: Al-Sanabel, Anaheim

Eating (at) Crow, and Liking It

Comfort food taken to the next level, that’s what gastropubs are about. Like bangers and mash, where the sausages are from Fra’ Mani. Or french fries, cooked in duck fat. A pot of cucumbers, turnips, and asparagus deliciously pickled in a house-made brine.

This is what you’ll find at the Crow Bar, which opened last fall and is already bringing in well-heeled but raucous crowds of Corona del Mar hipsters on weekend nights.

It does justice to a Cubano sandwich and also ahi niçoise burger, says TheManning2. There are some great cheeses, paired with fruit compote. And of course, beer—a selection much like what you’d find at the encyclopedic BevMo!, including Pasadena’s own Craftsman beer.

There are inventive twists too, like the dessert “not just a ding dong,” which is an intensely chocolaty homemade version of the cream-filled minicake.

Most entrées are under $20; dinner could run $40 to $70, but you could just as well have a draft beer and a burger for less than $20.

The Crow Bar and Kitchen [Orange County]
2325 E. Coast Highway, Corona del Mar
949-675-0070

Board Link: Review: The Crow Bar and Kitchen - Corona Del Mar