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

Great Peruvian Food Down South

When it comes to Peruvian food, many Angelenos know only Mario’s, which is fine but often overcrowded. For Peruvian food that’s just as good or better, with Chinese or Japanese flourishes, head on over to Gardena.

Kotosh at Kamiyama does all the standard Peruvian dishes, but the preparation and balance of flavors are far better than Mario’s, says bulavinaka. Sudado mixto (steamed seafood in tomato-onion sauce) and pescado a lo macho (deep-fried fish in spicy sauce) are plate-lickin’ good, and the salsa aji is beloved by all. There’s also a sushi bar.

El Rotoco’s focus is Peruvian-Chinese dishes—tallarins, chaufas, and saltados—but the execution is also superior and the menu varied. If you like seafood, go for the jalea or picante de mariscos (mixed seafood with potato and hard-cooked egg, made in a thick, rich, milky sauce).

Nino’s Place is a Peruvian joint that also does some Mexican food. It’s small, the folks are nice, and so far the food is promising, says velozo155: suprema de pollo, breaded (or grilled) chicken breast with flavorful rice that seems like it’d been simmered in broth; and arroz con pollo, chicken with herbaceous, spicy rice. Salsa aji comes on the side. Daily specials, about a dozen of them, run $6.50.

El Virrey does really good sudado de mariscos and picante de mariscos, and has friendly service.

Mario’s Peruvian [Hollywood]
5786 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles
323-466-4181

Kotosh at Kamiyama [South Bay]
2408 Lomita Boulevard, Suite #C, Lomita
310-257-1363

El Rocoto [South Bay]
1356 W. Artesia Boulevard, Gardena
310-768-8768

Nino’s Place [South Bay]
16104 S. Vermont Avenue, Gardena
310-354-5925

El Virrey [South Bay]
1353 W. Rosecrans Avenue, #5, Gardena
310-327-1848

Board Links: Mario’s Peruvian

El Virrey–Gardena (Comida Peruano Mariscos)

Nino’s Place in Gardena (Comida Peruano y Mexicano)

Squeals for Oinkster Happy Hour

Changes are afoot at the Oinkster, where a happy hour menu just debuted with specials from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Deals include:

• Burger-fries combo, $3.99

• Belgian fries, $1

• Chili fries, $2

• Pound of Belgian fries (that’s a LOT of fries!), $5

• Pints of beer, $2 to $3

• Pitchers of beer, $7 to $10

As for non–happy hour Oinkster, Will Owen says the rotisserie chicken is his new favorite. Make sure to get one fresh off the rotisserie, and it’ll be succulent and luscious, with just aggressive enough seasoning and meltingly tender dark meat. Red slaw on the side is laced with fresh, nose-tingling mustard that’s balanced by some sweetness. And when the fries are on, they’re excellent.

Quarter chicken with fries, aioli, and slaw is $5.13 with tax. The Oinkster will soon start serving breakfast on weekends.

The Oinkster [East of Hollywood]
2005 Colorado Boulevard, Eagle Rock
323-255-6465

Board Links: Happy Hour at the Oinkster?
Oinkster chicken: move over, EPL!

Paperfish Has It Wrapped Up

Paperfish in Beverly Hills may be the newest outpost of Joachim Splichal’s Patina Group, but Chef Yianni Koufodontis is already known to some hounds as the former chef of the Greek-Californian restaurant Petros in Manhattan Beach.

At Paperfish, the focus is squarely on fish: oysters on the half shell with pomegranate granita mignonette, marinated and grilled octopus, and of course the namesake snapper en papillote. The restaurant opened for lunch and cocktails around the holidays and recently began serving dinner as well.

The chef will make a whole fish if you request it a day in advance, and it’s fantastic, says trojans, who got a rotisserie loup de mer, or branzino. It’s nicely charred on the outside and very moist. Candied hazelnut salad with blue cheese and apple also gets top marks.

Deconstructed “paella” is absolutely delicious, declares New Trial, and each element—saffron rice, two shrimp, two clams, one mussel, one large scallop, two strips of chicken, and two rectangles of lamb—is perfectly cooked.

As usual, russkar went for the tasting menu, deeming it surprisingly good.

But wasabica was totally underwhelmed by overly salty main dishes, including the short rib ravioli with overcooked scallops, and says the snapper en papillote tasted of ginger and nothing else. Plus, portions are wee.

Appetizers are $10 to $15, mains $18 to $30. Paperfish joins Patina in being the only Patina Group restaurants to charge corkage—a whopping $20.

Paperfish [Beverly Hills]
345 N. Maple Drive, Beverly Hills
310-858-6030

Board Links: Paperfish Beverly Hills
Paperfish
Paperfish—a good catch
PSA: No more free corkage @ Patina Group restaurants

Revived Vietnamese Restaurant Shows How It’s Done

There’s a lot of buzz in the local Vietnamese community about Pho Le Loi, which recently reopened under new family ownership, says Erik M.

The menu is a well-edited roster of about a dozen central and northern Vietnamese classics. You know that turmeric fish dish at Viet Soy Café folks have been talking about? Here you can get the real thing, cha ca thang long: turmeric-scented fillets with onion and dill, served spitting and sputtering in a cast iron pan.

Rice vermicelli with sliced grilled pork and pork patties in a warm dressing (bun cha ha noi) is another standout, besting the iconic version at Garden Grove’s Binh Minh.

There’s also bun bo hue, central Vietnamese–style noodle soup with pork hock, sliced beef shin, and house-made steamed pork loaf. Pho ga is considered a big draw, but Erik says it’s the same as what comes with Hainan chicken, and he found it overextracted.

Pho Le Loi [San Gabriel Valley]
107 Valley Boulevard, San Gabriel
626-307-5195

Board Link: Pho Le Loi

Taiwan’s Answer to the Hamburger

A “Taiwanese burger,” or gua bao, is a madly wondrous thing: a mix of lean stew pork and melt-in-your-mouth fatty pork belly, salty-sour pickled cabbage, cilantro, and peanut-sugar powder in a fresh steamed bun that’s probably taken for granted as street food back in Taiwan.

The one at Yi Mei is delicious, says PandanExpress. The pork is meltingly tender, the bun nice and soft and smeared with a delectable sweet sauce.

Note that the former Yi Mei by the San Gabriel Superstore on Valley changed its name to Yee May, so it may not be under the same ownership, points out Chandavkl. The one in Rowland Heights is still good, though.

Yi Mei Deli [San Gabriel Valley]
18414 Colima Road, Rowland Heights
626-854-9246

Board Link: 刮包 Gua Bao (taiwanese burger): HELP!

Indian Restaurant Has Flavor to Spare

India’s Flavor is pleasing the palates of Glendale-area hounds. The tiny place, which has cycled through several management teams, has tasty food and really nice owners.

Malai kofta, bhindi (okra), and the paneer in tomato sauce are stellar, says thewaz.

Meat samosas are delish, filled with a mix of lamb and chicken, says garvanza girl. They go really well with the chunky mint chutney.

Chicken saag has big chunks of chicken and creamy, flavorful spinach. The spicing is complex; order medium spicy, and what you get will have some nice heat and depth but won’t haunt you the next day (or in the middle of the night).

Also nice: chicken curry, vegetarian thali, and that eggplant dish with caramelized onions. Paratha and garlic naan are particularly good.

Saag paneer and coconut curry vegetables leave something to be desired, and the dal is pretty bland.

It’s truly small, just a half dozen tables.

India’s Flavor [San Fernando Valley–East]
3303 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale
818-957-5500

Board Links: Review: India’s Flavor, Glendale/Montrose
India’s Flavor, Glendale?

Swept Away by Coconutty Goodness

David Kahn was knocked out by a treat he discovered at Oaxacalifornia, the juice and ice cream stand at Mercado La Paloma. The magic treat is pepitoria de coco, a.k.a. coconut brittle, concocted of just coconut and sugar.

“It has a beautiful, complex, slightly bitter caramel flavor combined with a fabulous, chocolaty, toasted coconut taste. The texture is crisp, like a good English toffee. This stuff is one of the best Mexican candies I’ve tasted; it’s really, really good.”

Beware a similar candy made with honey and pumpkin seeds. It’s precisely as awful as the coconut brittle is good.

Oaxacalifornia [Downtown]
At Mercado La Paloma
3655 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles
213-747-8622

Board Link: Pepitoria de Coco (Coconut Brittle)

New Taco Joint Practically a Work of Art

Frida’s Taqueria, an offshoot of Frida Mexican Cuisine in Beverly Hills, has opened in the Brentwood Country Mart and is firing on all cylinders, reports techbod.

Mango salad with candied walnuts qualifies this place for destination dining: It’s a big pile of baby greens, diced mango, and a spicy-sweet mango dressing.

Best tacos on the menu: cochinita pibil and alhambre (steak, peppers, cheese, tocino). Just delicious. A carnitas sope is also really good, with a tender sope crust, lots of meat, crisp lettuce, cheese, and a drizzle of sour cream.

Other options are mole (saucy, tasty), barbacoa, asada (not so great the first day), and pollo (tastes like chicken).

Tacos are generously stuffed, and the sopes are also piled high, though they’re not the thicker rustic type.

Chips come with two kinds of salsa: a fresh ’n’ spicy green one and a smoky orange.

Sopes cost $3 to $4, tacos are $2.50 to $4, beans and rice sides are $1.75 each, chips and salsa (generous amount) are $1.50. Pricey, but less expensive than the $15 taco plate at the original Frida’s, which Dommy loves.

Frida’s Taqueria [Westside – Beaches]
In Brentwood Country Mart
225 26th Street, Santa Monica
No phone number available

Frida Mexican Cuisine [Beverly Hills]
236 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills
310-278-7666

Board Links: Cinco de Mayo came early this year–Frida’s Brentwood
Frida’s Taqueria–Brentwood Country Mart–Opening Day

Indian by Day, Burmese by Night

Jasmine Market and Deli is an unassuming place that serves up Indian food to a lunchtime crowd; at night it transforms, Cinderella-style, and offers the cuisine of the owners’ native land: Burma.

OK, the country may be known as Myanmar these days, but the food is still Burmese, and apart from Golden Triangle out in Whittier, it’s pretty much all we’ve got for this cuisine, a fascinating mix of Thai, Chinese, and Indian flavors.

The Burmese menu is fairly limited, says modernist, but fortunately it’s really good. Go for mohinga, a typical Burmese fish stew with banana tree root, and khaut swe, a coconut chicken soup that’s a sibling of Thai khao soi.

Khaut swe dhut (noodle salad) and asawn dhut (mixed salad) taste similar, with some hard-to-pin-down flavor that just says Myanmar.

The Burmese family who run the place couldn’t be sweeter. They seem to be really plugged into the local Burmese community, too.

As for the Indian food? It’s pretty good as well.

Jasmine Market and Deli [Westside – Inland]
4135 Sepulveda Boulevard, Culver City
310-313-3767

Board Link: jasmine market–burmese food–thx j. gold!

Great-Uncle David’s Chili Sure Rocks

Chili fans should definitely make their way to David’s Chili House, says WildSwede. And don’t worry if your companions aren’t into chili—there’s also fried shrimp, teriyaki chicken, pot stickers, egg rolls, and fish.

The chili is from a recipe by the owner’s great-uncle, and it’s really good stuff, with a nice kick. David’s chili spaghetti, with cheese, onion, and pickles on the side, is $3.95 for a substantial portion.

The restaurant has been open for only a few weeks, but friendly owner Debbie says she’s been getting a steady stream of customers, many of them repeats. Her brothers own a teriyaki-type restaurant elsewhere, which explains some of the eclectic menu choices—what’s represented are their top sellers.

David’s Chili House [San Gabriel Valley]
319 S. Azusa Avenue, Azusa
626-969-7888

Board Link: David’s Chili House – Azusa