Los Angeles Area rss

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

When You’re Craving Pasta in SGV, and Not Mian

The sign for Red Tomato Spaghetti House is in English and Chinese, but the menu is straight-up Italian, a nice option for San Gabriel Valley dwellers, says Chandavkl.

OK, so there are a handful of Chinese dishes, like Hainanese chicken, and you can get Japanese tofu pasta if you want it. But farfalle with crab and corn, a special, compares well with a favorite dish at Farfalla, and the owner emphasizes that they make their own sauces. The pasta selection is fairly standard—linguine with clams, fettuccine Alfredo, lasagne, ravioli, spaghetti Bolognese—about 15 choices in all.

Appetizers are a bit more eclectic, but the chicken quesadillas and smoked salmon carpaccio are pretty tasty.

Entrees are $6.95 and $7.95 at lunch, $2 more at dinner; appetizers are $4.95 to $6.95; and the portions are generous.

Red Tomato Spaghetti House [San Gabriel Valley]
125 N. Garfield, Monterey Park

Board Links: Red Tomato Spaghetti House in Monterey Park

Indian Mangoes Are Finally Here

The first mangoes to be legally imported from India have arrived on our shores, but even if you manage to score some, the waiting isn’t over.

Professor Salt was among the first in line, forking over $35 for a dozen of what are supposed to be the world’s best mangoes. Do they live up to the hype? Since they’re shipped green, we’ll have to wait to find out. Even ripe, though, they won’t quite be as good as the tree-ripened fruits back in India.

Devraj “Dave” Kerai, owner of Pioneer Cash & Carry (the biggest grocer in Little India), says he was determined to be the first to carry the mangoes in the Los Angeles area. The next shipment should arrive Thursday or Friday, and sell out by Saturday.

The high price, determined by the high cost of air freight, probably won’t drop much in the future. But look for more varieties grown in Mexico.

Pioneer Cash & Carry [Little India]
18601 Pioneer Boulevard, Artesia

Board Links: Mangoes from India

Surprisingly Authentic Foo Chow

Foo Chow is one of Chinese food expert Carl Chu’s favorite places. Get over the tourist patrons and the Rush Hour tie-ins, and order from the Special Style menu—the rest is “gwai lo fodder,” says Will Owen.

Foo Chow is known for its Fuzhou fish balls, with a core of ground pork. You can order them in soup—cfylong says his wife, who’s from Fuzhou, buys them to make at home. The restaurant also has weekday lunch specials starting at $2.99.

Thinly sliced pork comes in a red wine sauce that tastes like something a very good French chef might make if he were stuck in a Chinese restaurant: rich and smooth, with more than a hint of five-spice powder. Deep-fried boneless eel is colored an alarming magenta, but it’s light, tender, and utterly greaseless, not sweet at all.

There’s more than a little mystery in “fried seafood and meat with vegetable.” What’s the vegetable? Where’s the meat? The sauce is standard but satisfactory; the seafood is quite good.

Foo Chow–style cabbage with noodles isn’t that distinctive, but it’s tasty enough to make you clean your plate.

Foo Chow [Chinatown]
949 N. Hill Street, Los Angeles

Board Links: The Wayback Machine: Foo Chow in Chinatown

Mmmmmm … Doughnuts

Every spring for the last 10 years, sku has done a minitour of favorite doughnuts. This year, it got major, encompassing all of the city’s most fabled doughnuterias. The verdict, from an avowed lover of glazed?

Best Doughnut: Primo’s Buttermilk Bar (crisp and sugary outside, divinely buttery within)
Best Cake: Bob’s (perfectly crisped on the outside, soft on the inside, slightly sweet with a pinch of nutmeg)
Best Specialty: Stan’s (chocolate peanut butter)
Best Raised Glazed: Stan’s
Best All-Around: Stan’s

Notable omission: Glendora’s Donut Man. Yes, the famed fresh strawberry doughnuts are good, but not drive-to-the-edge-of-San-Bernardino good. The raspberry cheesecake doughnut has all the right ingredients, including a quality cream cheese frosting, but there’s so much of it, it just overwhelms the doughnut.

Honorable mention: The butterscotch doughnut at Grace, which is not exactly a doughnut shop, but a restaurant. The BD isn’t really a doughnut either, more like a beignet offered for dessert. But the butterscotch filling tastes of butter and caramel, though isn’t very sweet.

Primo’s Westdale Doughnuts [West LA]
2918 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles

Bob’s Coffee & Doughnuts [Mid-City]
6333 West Third Street, #450, Los Angeles

Stan’s Donuts [Westwood]
10948 Weyburn Avenue, Los Angeles

Stan’s Donuts [San Fernando Valley]
658 N. Moorpark Road, Thousand Oaks

Donut Man [Inland Empire]
915 E. Route 66, Glendora

Grace Restaurant [Mid-City]
7360 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles

Board Links: The Great Doughnut Round-up
Ok, friends, now I HAVE to try Primos Donuts!!

Fraîche New Look in Culver City

A major addition to the upgraded landscape in downtown CC is Fraîche—upscale, comfortable, a good value, great wine list, and food worth returning for.

The golden beet salad with mâche, hazelnuts, ricotta, and an oj dressing is a winner. The farro salad gets raves, too. It comes with grated cheese and sweet peas.

Monkfish in white wine and shallot sauce on a bed of spinach and mashed potatoes exceeds expectations. The kurabota pork and agnolotti get a solid recommendation. The steak is fine, and the lamb rigatoni comes with a hearty lamb ragù.

The wine list wows. The selections are well thought out and priced at about 1 1/2 times retail. Good wines at decent prices that enhance the food and the overall experience—what a concept!

Appetizers are $8 to $12, pastas $10 to $13, and entrees $18 to $23. It’s quality Cal-Med chow at an attractive price point.

Fraîche [Culver City]
9411 Culver Boulevard, Culver City


Board Links: Fraiche is Really Good

It’s a Hit

Itz-a-Deli in Lake Forest features not only a very tasty corned beef on rye with piles of meat and excellent bread, but also a veggie sandwich on squaw bread (wheat and rye sweetened with honey) that will be a favorite. The price is a deal at $5 for a sandwich and a small serving of salad (available before 11:30 a.m. and from 1 to 3 p.m., when they close).

Itz-a-Deli [South OC]
20651 Lake Forest Drive, Lake Forest

Board Links: One month in the OC, some pleasant surprises

Russian, Armenian, and Middle Eastern Bargain

That a meal of kebabs, tabbouleh, and moutabel, served on a silver platter, was a bargain at $15 is only part of the good news at Golden Fork on Santa Monica Boulevard. Here’s the rest: The food is terrific, and there’s lots of it.

The beef kebabs are nicely charred, tender, seasoned with pepper, and served with a red pepper sauce that complements the beef perfectly. The tabbouleh is minty and tasty, while the moutabel has a yogurty snap to it rather than a smokiness. The servings are generous, with plenty of rice and lavash. lil mikey couldn’t finish his meal, but he’ll be back. Everything was very fresh-tasting.

The menu is wide: chicken, pork and lamb kebabs, beef stroganoff, ribs, chops, sturgeon, salmon, and trout. Hummus, tabbouleh, moutabel, and Greek and Armenian salads along with borscht and khash soups make up the side dishes.

The venue is small—only five tables—and the proprietor can speak Russian with you. The entrance is across the street from the northbound 101 exit. (Note: There is another Golden Fork in Van Nuys.)

Golden Fork [East Hollywood]
5341 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles

Golden Fork Restaurant 2 [East San Fernando Valley]
13316 Vanowen Street, Van Nuys

Board Links: Golden Fork–Russian, Armenian, Middle Eastern

Number 1 Noodles in SGV?

It’s a top-contender beef noodle spot in SGV. It’s the No. 1 Noodle House in Rowland Heights.

The beef noodle has some fire in the broth, accents of star anise, and a nice pungent kick to it. The soy sauce accentuates the other flavors in the broth rather than overwhelming them. The kumquat peels used in the broth are from the owner’s backyard garden. The beef is good, the noodles are good, the soup is good. Go for it.

ipsedixit puts No. 1 Noodle House on a par with Dai Ho Kitchen in Temple City.

No. 1 Noodle House [San Gabriel Valley]
18180 Colima Road, Rowland Heights

Dai Ho Kitchen [San Gabriel Valley]
9148 Las Tunas Drive, Temple City

Some older Dai Ho Kitchen posts.

Board Links: No. 1 Noodle House

Poutine, Tourtière … Ah, Quebec

Café Casse Croute serves up some very tasty French-Canadian food, plus some south-of-the-border (well, the Canadian border) specialties, says Das Ubergeek. He was disappointed by the poutine, the French fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds, but more than satisfied with the tourtière, a spiced meat pie with a thin, tender pastry crust covered in gravy. With pommes lyonnaise/roast potatoes and garlic bread on the side, the pie is a mere $5.95. A fresh strawberry crepe ($2.50) for dessert is textbook, although the amount of alcohol is overkill.

Also on the menu: croque monsieur and madame, savory crepes, sugar pie, and cream puffs. For breakfast, stuffed French toast seems to be the specialty, with real Québecois maple syrup.

Service is casual—the older Vietnamese couple who run the place seem to be easily overwhelmed. If you don’t mind waiting a few minutes for a coffee refill, you’ll be all right. Cash only, though.

If you’re dead set on the poutine (and no, you can’t beg them to whip you up a batch at Casse Croute; they may have the gravy and potatoes, but there are no curds), a good standby is the Canadian Café in Monrovia. Poutine has also reportedly been seen, tasted, and enjoyed at Dusty’s in Silver Lake.

Café Casse Croute [Orange County]
656 S. Brookhurst Street, Anaheim

Canadian Café [San Gabriel Valley]
125 East Colorado Boulevard, Monrovia

Dusty’s [Silver Lake]
3200 W. Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles

Board Links: Explorations on Brookhurst: Cafe Casse Croute, Anaheim

Bao Chicka Bao Bao

Some of the best baked char siu bao around are at Chinatown’s Family Pastry. They’re big and loaded with roast pork for only about 65 cents. OK, the steamed chicken bao are pretty good too (85 cents). Also try the pork curry pastry, but the har gow tends to be doughy.

Out in Northridge, the unfortunately named Weinie Bakery distinguishes itself with steamed bao, freshly made in-house, says yclops. Vegetarian bao holds garlic chive, onion, and pressed tofu, tasty and not as pungent as some others. Barbecue chicken is decent, with chunks of both chicken and pork in a sweet sauce. Pork-veggie, on the other hand, is primarily cabbage and just bland. There’s also char siu bao, red bean/plain mantou, and an assortment of not-too-sweet Asian cakes and breads with corn, weenies (of course), taro, onions, and the like.

Family Pastry [Chinatown]
715 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles

Weinie Bakery [West San Fernando Valley]
9250 Reseda Boulevard #10, Northridge

Board Links: Cha Sui Bao–Early morning 6:30am?
Steamed BBQ Pork Buns in Chinatown
Weinie Bakery: fresh baozi in Northridge