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

Student-Raised Squash Is a Steal

Cal Poly Pomona’s farm store is bursting with an autumnal bounty, reports Mattapoisett in LA.

There’s an entire side patio devoted to squash, and a staff member commented that seven times that amount is in storage. These squash aren’t just your usual varieties but also include hubbard, turban, spaghetti, carnival, Chinese, and quite a few others.

Also available are serrano chiles for 29 cents a pound and student-raised steak, roast, and other meats.

Farm Store at Kellogg Ranch [Inland Empire]
4102 University Drive, Pomona
909-869-4906

Board Link: Get Squashed!

Szechuan Cuisine Declines in SGV; Hunan’s Star on the Rise

Best Szechwan, formerly known as Jia Wei, is no more, reports Jerome.

After selling Best Szechwan earlier this year, the original owners opened Golden River in Artesia. Unfortunately, the food hasn’t survived the transition, says ScottE. The new restaurant is bigger and better decorated, but over several visits he found that dishes that had been 9 to 10 points on a 10-point scale had declined to 4 or 5. Twice-cooked pork, which at Best Szechwan was the best version he’d had out of hundreds, was the worst at Golden River. For what it’s worth, though, the restaurant recently had an ad for its $7.99 crab special.

Demand for Szechuan food in LA seems to have declined, comments ipsedixit (who considers Hong Yei a pretender and Chung King just not very good). ipsedixit speculates that the new “It” Chinese region might just be Hunan.

Speaking of Hunanese, brwencino confirms that Hunan Seafood is owned by the proprietors of the late Hunan Restaurant, which burned down, and formerly of Crown Café. It’s been open just a few weeks, and the food is as excellent as ever.

Golden River Restaurant [San Gabriel Valley]
11700 South Street, Artesia
562-402-6666

Hunan Seafood Restaurant [San Gabriel Valley]
8772 E. Valley Boulevard, Rosemead
626-289-8389

Board Links: Best Szechwan/ Jia Wei 佳味川菜 has closed (i think)
S.G.V. SICHUAN RESTAURANTS, I’M CONFUSED
Hunan Seafood-Out Of The Flames!
Hunan Seafood Opens At Old Pho King Location

Look Past the Burgers and Tacos, and Go for the Arepas

You might not realize it right away, but the new Highland Park taqueria El Chile is Venezuelan-owned, and arepas share pride of place on the menu with burgers.

These fried masa patties are stuffed, like tacos or gorditas; arepa con pollo and con queso blanco are crisp, juicy, and delectable, says poormet. Yeah, they’re kinda greasy, but in a good way. Nice salsas are on the bar as a go-with.

The tacos are OK, and the chili cheeseburgers are a kid pleaser, adds Layne Murphy.

El Chile [East of Hollywood]

4017 N. Figueroa Street, Highland Park
323-221-5555

Board Link: El Chile in Highland Park

Another Clover Coffee Maker Downtown

A new independent café/coffee shop boasts one of the cultish, $11,000, single-serve Clover coffee makers. But Rick, the owner, doesn’t hype it—he says his focus is just on great coffee, reports foodfoodfood. Rick clearly gets all the subtleties of the process, from bean selection and roast to brew time. The place is easy to miss, tucked away in a small center of beautiful old red brick with lots of arches.

Café Corsa [Downtown]
2238 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles
213-746-2604

Board Link: Cafe Corsa–Clover #4 in LA!

Representing NJ-Style Pizza

“Go to Luigi’s D’Italia on State College in Anaheim. Order a large pizza with sausage. It is just like the pizza I had growing up in New Jersey,” says Das Ubergeek. “Please note that it is NOT like the very best of New York pizza (Totonno’s, Lombardi’s, etc.), it’s not coal-oven pizza, it’s not fresh-mozzarella margherita pizza with blackened bits on the bottom of the crust–if you want that, go back to New York because we don’t have it here. Luigi’s is good neighbourhood pizza like you find on a main street in any tristate town, except that here in LA it’s a standout.

“It’s just as tasty as Vito’s (Vito’s has a better crust but not by much) and it’s a hell of a lot faster for those of us that live in OC. The sauce is tangy enough and the sausage is sliced, not crumbled, the way it’s supposed to be.”

Luigi’s D’Italia [Orange County]
801 S. State College Boulevard, Anaheim
714-490-0990

Board Link: REVIEWLET: Pizza at Luigi’s D’Italia, Anaheim

Next Time, Have Someone Else Fry the Turkey

It’s too late for Thanksgiving (and no word on whether it was open on the holiday anyway), but if you want deep-fried turkey, save yourself the hassle and danger of making it at home and bring your bird of choice on over to Tasty Q, says Skunk2Racer. Cajun-style fried chicken is tender, juicy, spicy, and flavorful—and costs only $2.50 per pound to prep, marinate, and fry. Burger Boy, who’s also used the service a couple of times, seconds the suggestion.

Tasty Q Bar-B-Que [South LA]
2959 Crenshaw Boulevard, Los Angeles
323-735-8325

Board Link: Tasty Q Deep fried Turkey

A Filipino Take on Paella

“I’m lucky enough to have a colleague who, on a bad day, is easily 100x the chowhound that I am,” says ipsedixit. That colleague brought ipsedixit some takeout from Pondahan. It’s a tantalizing introduction to Filipino food, including deep-fried pork leg that’s almost caramelized and a tasty beef dish. The star of the show, however, is kare-kare: a sort of Filipino paella, with oxtail and tripe. It’s a bit oily but has a robust, peanutty flavor.

Pondahan Restaurant [San Gabriel Valley]
535 S. California Avenue, West Covina
626-856-0416

Board Link: Pondahan Restaurant (West Covina)

Attack of the Thin Crusts

LA just got a double whammy: Two New York pizza joints have opened up, one on the Westside and one on the Eastside.

Brownstone Pizza is serving thin-crust in Eagle Rock, and Detroit Slim, for one, is thrilled. “Proust had his madelines. I have my pizza,” says Slim. “The grease, the sauce, the crust… it was that old school pizza that I loved. This is hands down the most authentic slice of NYC pizza I’ve eaten outside of the five boroughs, and for my tastes, it’s a better slice than most of the slice-and-a-coke joints in the city.”

Reports are inconsistent, though, with some folks reporting lukewarm, flabby slices and mediocre cheese. When it’s good, though, it sounds very good.

Meanwhile, there’s a line out the door at Santa Monica’s Joe’s, which makes it a brilliant slice joint, says Professor Salt. As great as a cheese slice is by itself, order yours with toppings so it’ll go back in the oven for an extra-crisp crust, he advises.

Here, too, there are detractors, who criticize the tomato sauce and the flavor of the crust, and those who point out that the original Joe’s in NY is overrated.

Guess there’s only one way to find out.

Brownstone Pizza [Eagle Rock]
2108 Colorado Boulevard, Los Angeles
323-257-4992

Joe’s Pizza [Westside–Beaches]
111 Broadway, Santa Monica
310-395-9222

Board Links: New Pizza Joint in Eagle Rock
OMG! Just spoke to Joe’s Pizza!
Joe’s Pizza in SM is open! (And it’s GOOD)
Joe’s of Bleecker Street–Unbelievable

V Is for Vino, in Valentino

Valentino just opened its wine bar, and it’s a real bar for grown-ups. The food is sized for toddlers, though, so don’t expect to fill up. There are nice wines by the glass, as well as discounted wines by the bottle (at the bar only). Osso buco is a standout, but the pasta could use some work, says ipsedixit.

V-Vin Bar [Westside–Beaches]
3115 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica
310-829-4313

Board Link: Valentino’s New Vin Bar

Can I Get Some, Uh, Bastilla with that Shake, Shake?

Seems like whenever you want to get Moroccan food in this town, someone’s torso is in your way. That is to say, it’s hard to get bastilla without belly dancers.

The atmosphere may be cheesy at Dar Maghreb, complete with dancer, but the food is as authentic as it gets in LA and quite good, says hrhboo, who lived in Morocco for two years and says her Moroccan friends here love the place. The bastilla is excellent.

Chameau does a modern version of the traditional pastry, with duck instead of the usual hen/squab/pigeon. Although a little sweeter and heartier than the standard, it’s rich and excellent, says ElJeffe, who also enjoyed the whitefish in tomato fennel sauce, lamb shank that was fall-off-the-bone tender, and lemon potato tagine—the perfect side.

Dar Maghreb [Hollywood]
7651 W. Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles
323-876-7651

Chameau [Hollywood]
339 N. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles
323-951-0039

Board Link: Best Moroccan Bastilla in LA (sans bellydancers)