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

15 Scores High in Echo Park

The hipsterification of Echo Park continues, and La Paz and its pupusas are no more, replaced by 15, a restaurant where you can get stuff like herb-grilled Hawaiian opah.

It’s definitely spiffed up from its previous incarnation, with air conditioning and an imposing bar (empty, because the liquor license is still in the works; ETA about a month). A couple of TVs hang over the bar and another two across from it. Photos of Keith Richards, Slash, and Tommy Lee hang on the walls.

The menu is kind of small, but that opah is a winner: “A generous meaty portion, grilled but rare inside. Nicely served on sauteed spinach on a plate decorated with baby vegetables and pencil-thin asparagus. Definitely the most upscale dinner I’ve ever had in Echo Park,” says LA_Eater.

Flank steak, perfectly seasoned, is crisply grilled on the outside and butter-soft inside, says bethshax. It comes on a bed of spinach with some grilled garlic.

But the short ribs get mixed reviews: bethshax says they’re not perfect though far superior to Dusty’s; lil mikey says his were offensively oversalted. Some like the kick of horseradish in their mashed potatoes; some don’t.

There’s a pretty cool deal called “$15 at 15,” which is basically a three-course meal for $15. You pick an appetizer and main dish, and the dessert is preordained. Pray that it’s the chocolate croissant bread pudding.

15 [Echo Park]
1320 Echo Park Avenue, Los Angeles

Board Links: 15 Restaurant in Echo Park
Any reports on 15 in Echo Park?

The King of Fish Dumplings

The newly opened Kingburg Kitchen has “the best fish dumplings I’ve ever had—better than Dumpling 10053 or Dumpling House or anywhere,” says Chandavkl.

It’s pretty much a dumpling place, with seven types of dumplings: sole with leeks; pork with sea cucumber and shrimp; vegetable; cabbage with shrimp and pork; plain pork; pork with kau choy; and beef with onion, a rare find.

Vegetable dumplings are pretty good but a little short on flavor, notes chowchow12345678.

The place also seems quite proud of the beef noodle soup. It’s quite tasty, with good chewy noodles, lots of beef and tendon, and a dark, not-so-spicy broth, says suvro.

A few other kinds of noodle soup are on the short menu, a couple of rice dishes, fried noodles with pork and cabbage, and chicken soup. Also side dishes such as cold stewed beef tendon, simmered tripe, stewed eggs, cold tofu salad, and cold cucumber. Most menu items are $3.25 to $6.50.

As for the name, it translates from Mandarin as gold treasure, and its phonetic translation is dumpling, says goodtimer.

Kingburg Kitchen [San Gabriel Valley]
715 W. Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel


Board Link: Kingburg Kitchen–Chinese Restaurant in San Gabriel-Best Fish Dumplings in Town

Everyone Loves Jerky

Nothing unites the world’s various cultures like dried meat. Lovers of jerky can find the stuff around town in establishments whose roots lie in Mexico, China, and (in theory, anyway) South Africa.

The Vietnamese love jerky, and Vua Kho Bo is just great, reports bsquared2, who says the name means “King of Beef Jerky.” Go for the lemongrass and chile beef. Clam jerky (!) is a personal favorite. There are a couple of branches in Little Saigon and one inside the San Gabriel Superstore, next to Yum Cha Café.

It’s not exactly gourmet, but People’s Choice jerky sits head and shoulders above the other snack brands, says rameniac. Western, teriyaki, and hot flavors are great, adds Skunk2Racer, who says you can buy it by the pound ($15) at headquarters.

Lindner Bison, based in Valencia, sells its excellent free-range, organic bison jerky made with just honey and salt at the Sunday Long Beach farmers’ market, says vickib. The market is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Teriyaki jerky at Prime Cut is positively addictive, says choysauce.

A&Z Nut Wagon’s jerky was named best beef jerky by Los Angeles magazine in 2006. It’s like nothing else, swears jasonsha.

Manhattan Meats makes its own jerky, and it’s pretty awesome, says Foodandwine.

Gallegos has great big peppery sheets of jerky—good stuff, says ellaystingray.

But there’s bad news for fans of the tender, spicy South African biltong at Springbok in Van Nuys: It’s no longer served there. Apparently the city got all up in Springbok’s business for not having the proper setup for meat processing, says Jerome.

Vua Kho Bo/New Jerky Mfg. [San Gabriel Valley]
Inside the San Gabriel Superstore
1635 S. San Gabriel Boulevard, San Gabriel

Vua Kho Bo/New Jerky Mfg. [Little Saigon]
9191 Bolsa Avenue #106, Westminster

Vua Kho Bo/New Jerky Mfg. [Little Saigon]
9717 Bolsa Avenue, Westminster

People’s Sausage [Downtown]
1132 E. Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles

Lindner Bison
Long Beach Southeast Farmers Market [Long Beach]
Alamitos Bay Marina (E. Marina Drive south of E. Second Street)


Prime Cut Beef Jerky [San Gabriel Valley]
2017 S. Hacienda Boulevard, Hacienda Heights

A&Z Nut Wagon [East LA]
816 S. Lorena Street, Los Angeles

Manhattan Meats [South Bay]
1111 Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach

Gallegos [Westside]
12470 Venice Boulevard, Mar Vista

Board Link: The Ultimate Jerky List

For the Birds

There’s a surprisingly good selection of authentic xiao chi, or little eats, at Cafe Idol, says huaqiao. Stuff you wouldn’t expect to find outside the San Gabriel Valley, at least: steamed rice cake in a bowl (wah gueh), thin noodles in a thick brown soup (mi shua), meatball in glutinous wrapper (bah wan). The Taiwanese sausage served with sliced raw garlic is particularly good. This is a good place to dip into Taiwanese food for those unfamiliar with it. Pork chop rice isn’t bad, but avoid the oyster pancake.

Cafe Idol [South Bay]
In the Torrance Crossroads Shopping Center
24631 Crenshaw Boulevard #J, Torrance

Board Link: Cafe Idol–Taiwanese in the South Bay

Excellent Ethiopian for the 714

“There really is something in the theory that the best food in Los Angeles is in horrid suburban-looking strip malls,” comments Das Ubergeek after a very successful recon mission to check out Tana Ethiopian Restaurant and Market. Located in a seedy west Anaheim strip mall and lighted by six-foot fluorescent bulbs, Tana makes it completely unnecessary for any OC resident to drive to Little Ethiopia in Los Angeles.

The menu is short: a half dozen meat dishes (mostly tibs, or sautéed meat), including kitfo, raw chopped beef blended with spiced butter; a vegetarian platter; and shiro (spicy lentils). There’s also doro wot in the guise of “chicken stew.”

Getting the veg platter plus shiro is redundant, since the platter comes with plenty of the lentil stew. There are three kinds of lentils, actually; cabbage and potato stew; green beans; two kinds of salad with tomatoes and chiles; and a salad made of injera, the slightly sour, pancakelike Ethiopian bread, torn into pieces and tossed with tomatoes, spiced butter, and chiles.

“Standouts were the green beans, cooked with onions until they were very nearly singed—these were so good that my wife ate green beans willingly for the first time in two decades; the collards had something in them (crumbly cheese?) that made it very savoury. The red lentils in the centre of the platter had a smoky, rich, almost mole-like quality to them that just drove me wild.”

The shiro is fantastic, but it has a helluva lot of spiced butter, which makes it very hard to scoop up (Ethiopian food is eaten with the hands, using injera to fold around the morsels).

Service is quick and gracious; injera is refilled automatically. They do Ethiopian coffee service, and even the regular coffee is shockingly strong and hot.

Vegetarian platter is $10; shiro is $7.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Closed Monday.

Tana Ethiopian Restaurant and Market [Orange County]
2622 W. La Palma Avenue, Anaheim


Board Link: REVIEW: Tana Ethiopian Restaurant, Anaheim

Mapping Out the Hot Spots

modernist’s exhaustive ultimate list of his top restaurants is a Chowhound favorite. Now there’s an application that will map restaurants from the list by cuisine or type (bakeries, Brazilian, happy hours).

DiveFan is on a quest to get us out of our cars and onto the subways and Metro Rail. Hence the Chow Line map, which pinpoints Chowhoundly places close to a rail station or subway stop (mapped separately; see link below). Related are threads on the Red and Gold lines, where hounds have posted their favorite eating spots near a given station.

Board Links: modernist’s ultimate guide google maps style
updated ultimate list to a lot of different types of cuisine
Chow Line–The Map
Chow Gold Line–rails to good food
So it turns out LA has a subway…

How Beautiful It Is

Café Bella Roma S.P.Q.R. opened in June, and it’s getting rave reviews like the early days of La Buca.

There’s nothing magically new here, just delicious chow. Chef Roberto Amico, late of Clafoutis and originally from Rome, is trying to re-create a casual restaurant in Italy. The presence of his friendly wife, Lisa, adds to the homey feel.

Crab cocktail is delicious, chock-full of fresh crab with fresh cantaloupe, lemon, and spices, says kotter. Branzino baked in salt is moist and perfect, served with sautéed spinach, potato purée, grilled polenta, and a lemon-caper sauce.

On weekend mornings, they serve brunch—the Italian breakfast plate has sliced meats and cheeses, breads, jam, and Nutella. There are also American-style egg dishes as well as various frittate (“just like an omelette, except ‘omelette’ is French,” says the menu).

They don’t have a liquor license so far; corkage is just $4.

The restaurant is small and cozy, with a comfortable patio. Lots of street noise from Robertson, though.

Café Bella Roma S.P.Q.R. [Mid-City]
1513 S. Robertson Boulevard, Los Angeles

Board Link: Bella Roma SPQR – Review

Make That Double Yum

Yum Cha Café has a new location in Monterey Park, adjacent to Shun Fat Market (south side). It’s smaller than the San Gabriel place but with all the same dim sum (no banh mi, though).

Shrimp balls are very tasty, and so are the barbecue pork flat noodles, which are superpopular and sell out fast. And don’t pass up the brown sugar rice cakes.

Yum Cha Café [San Gabriel Valley]
421 N. Atlantic Boulevard Suite 101, Monterey Park

Yum Cha Café [San Gabriel Valley]
Inside the San Gabriel Superstore
1635 S. San Gabriel Boulevard, San Gabriel

Board Links: Update on new Yum Cha Cafe in Monterey Park
Yum Cha Cafe—any seating?

Move Over, Orange Chicken

Pineapple fish, as executed at King Harbor, is quite possibly the perfect Cantonese dish, says Das Ubergeek.

The Cantonese tend to blend sweet sauces and fruit with protein, a tradition that in America has led down a slope slippery with cornstarch-thickened sauce, all the way to the orange chicken at Panda Express.

“King Harbor’s pineapple chicken, though, is large, deep-fried nuggets of flaky tilapia tossed with fresh pineapple and a sauce made from thickened pineapple juice. A few carrots lend an oh-no-what-have-I-done Western quality to the dish, but they’re easy to ignore. The fish is perfectly, perfectly cooked—flaky and, most importantly, still moist—but ripping hot.”

The house specials here are pretty good generally, says Tony, especially the squid and the chicken. Deep-fried tofu and pea shoots with garlic are solid too. Just make sure you stick with Cantonese dishes. It’s not quite San Gabriel Valley standard, but little outside SGV is.

King Harbor Seafood Restaurant [Little Saigon]
13018 Harbor Boulevard, Garden Grove

Board Link: REVIEW: King Harbor Seafood, Garden Grove

Something Like an Indian Burrito

Chutneys’s kebab rolls are something like an Indian burrito—and they make one filling and delicious meal, says Servorg.

Tikka-style chicken, moist and well seasoned, is piled onto a piece of extra thick, fluffy naan. Onions, raita, and a cucumber-tomato mix top it off, and for “salsa” you can grab a minty sauce (light green is mild, dark green is spicy). Ground beef kebab is kind of like a Persian lula kebab: not highly seasoned, but a good alternative to chicken. There’s lamb too.

Rather than a fusion product, it seems like a variation on the kati roll, says anthead, which was invented at a Calcutta restaurant and took the rest of India by storm. But unlike Chutneys’s, the Calcutta version usually has a fried egg tucked inside.

A chicken tikka “burrito” costs $5.41 with tax.

Chutneys [West LA]
2406 S. Barrington Avenue, Los Angeles

Board Link: Chicken Tikka Burrito