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

Crustacean-Lover’s Delight

Crab stew three ways is the thing to get for crab-lovers at Ondal 2, says ipsedixit.

It’s worth braving a seedy part of town for number two on the menu, which comes out as:

1. Crab stew, straight up.
2. Noodles with crab stew.
3. Rice cooked in crab stew.

The crab stew is frighteningly red, but it looks spicier than it actually is. There are large chunks of crab, and sea squirts—which are kind of like sea cucumbers, but slimier.

The noodles are a lot like the hand-cut beauties at the late Heavy Noodling; they’re basically just clumps of dough ripped apart by hand. They’re great for soaking up the crab soup in all its glory. So is the rice, but at this point in the meal your stomach may be yelling, “Uncle!” Those bibs they give you really come in handy.

Ondal 2 [Mid-City]
4566 W. Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles

Board Link: Ondal 2 … crab lovers unite!

The Yum in Yum Cha

Yum Cha Café, a little place tucked into the San Gabriel Superstore, looks like a Hong Kong tea shop fallen on hard times: harsh lighting, stacks of metal trays, and melamine tables like you had in elementary school. But the food is eclectic and surprisingly good, and the prices unbelievably low, says Das Ubergeek.

The ladies at the counter are friendly and helpful. Make sure to get the brown sugar rice cakes, a treat you won’t find in most places.

The usual dumpling suspects are all delicious and very fresh—juicy shiu mai, un-rubbery har gow, just-made cheung fun, and sweet custard buns that manage to escape oversweetening. And the black bean spare ribs are the meatiest anywhere, adds monku.

Eight items run about $12, and there’s a tea charge of 25 cents per person (most regulars seem to bypass that by asking for a side bowl for their soup and filling it at the tea station).

A freestanding location on Atlantic Boulevard in Monterey Park is either open now or in the works—the address is on the menu.

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

Board Link: REVIEW: Yum Cha Cafe, San Gabriel

Burgers Beefed Up With Juice

In the day of the $15 burger, Bloom’s is $10 and weighs in at half a pound. NAspy prefers it to the more gourmet versions at Ford’s Filling Station and Literati 2. It comes on a nice soft wheat bun with your choice of cheese, lettuce, tomato, and garlicky aioli on the side. Order it medium rare, and that’s what you’ll get. The fries are crispy brown and oh so good.

We haven’t heard much about the York, the new incarnation of the Highland Park gastropub Wild Hare (different owners), but Chowpatty comments she had a nice, juicy burger with soft bread there.

Bloom Café [Midtown]
5544 W. Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles

The York [Highland Park]
5018 York Boulevard, Los Angeles

Board Links: Bloom has a great burger
Bar Marmont Burger (the old style)???
The York–quick update

“Field Chicken” and Other Delights from Szechuan

jenn says Hon Yei fills the Szechuan hole in her heart from when Home Style and other great outposts of Szechuan food closed.

Non-Chinese speakers should rely on Tony, a superhelpful waiter who speaks English well despite only having been here for a month.

The menu actually spans all of China, including the un-Szechuan mu shu pork and Peking duck. Follow the recommendations from the kitchen for fiery, amazing beef tendon; a nice, light stir-fried jellyfish; and “sweet chicken” (actually frog, which is known as “field chicken” in Chinese). Mapo fish is really yummy, and cumin lamb has huge amounts of leeks and chiles that explode in your mouth. The northern-style boiled dumplings, thick-skinned and juicy, remind jenn of a favorite place in Beijing.

There’s no liquor license, but they keep the tea and water flowing. Ample parking; this is a new building.

Hon Yei [San Gabriel Valley]
288 South San Gabriel Boulevard #103-104, San Gabriel

Board Links: Hon Yei (San Gabriel) Review
Visit to HongYei Restaurant [SGV-sichuan plus]

The Real Best Szechuan in SoCal

Best Szechuan (Jia Wei in Chinese) has been sold by the original management team. The quality of food at the old Best Szechuan has dropped under the new management, says jeebo.

The old, good management team has opened a new restaurant in Cerritos/Artesia. At the new place, the signature golden crab and lobster are still the best in town, and they also do great things with the usual Szechuan dishes. We do not have an English name for the new place, but we do have an address.

Best Szechuan owners’ new restaurant [Artesia-ish]
11700 South Street, Artesia

Board Links: I found it! I found it! Best Szechuan (Jia Wei) is now Golden River
Looking for the Original “Best Szechuan” (Jia Wei) Team in SGV

Getting Crafty

Tom Colicchio’s Craft is open in Century City, and brekkie_fan declares it’s well worth the round trip from Orange County.

Both the Los Angeles and New York Crafts get their produce from Santa Monica, and a crispy-fresh little gem salad with cipollini onions wrapped in bacon shows it hasn’t had to travel far. Roast quail is succulent and tasty; spaghetti alla chitarra is crazy fresh.

For dessert, take your pick from the glazed and fluffy signature doughnuts, a rich chocolate soufflé, and assorted gelatos. There’s also a cheese plate.

While the NY outpost is dark and cozy, Century City is light and airy. It’s open for dinner only for now, with patio dining on the horizon and lunch service come August.

Craft [Century City]
10100 Constellation Boulevard, Los Angeles

Board Link: Craft ~ worth the wait

More of Mozza

Osteria Mozza, the long-awaited counterpart to Pizzeria Mozza, is finally open … but good luck getting in the door. As with the pizzeria after opening, the osteria is booked solid for the next month—call first thing in the morning for a reservation a month from that day. You can try your luck at the bar, where they offer the full menu and take walk-ins.

It’s a little more formal than Pizzeria Mozza, but not so much that you wouldn’t feel comfortable walking in on a whim and eating at the bar, says Dylan, who had dinner there and saw Mario Batali dining with his family, orange clogs and all, while Nancy Silverton worked the line in the kitchen.

There’s a selection of mozzarella appetizers, and among the pastas, first responders are raving about orecchiette with sausage and chard melting together in a satisfying combo; an ultrarich giant raviolo filled with ricotta and a soft egg yolk in brown butter sauce; and pasta with Bolognese sauce.

For secondi, standouts are lamb chops with Greek yogurt; fish stuffed with herbs and served whole; moist and flavorful pork; guinea hen; and spot prawns.

Side dishes are small but delicious, such as a custardy slow-cooked broccoli, small Yukon Golds that seemingly had been poached in chicken broth and then sautéed in olive oil, and the spinach.

There’s a cheese course, and impressively interesting desserts including almond cornette, an almond croissant infused with floral syrup and served with an intense stewed plum; frozen Greek yogurt, like Mozza’s take on Pinkberry; olive oil gelato; and bomblini fritters—mini beignets served with raspberry coulis.

Wine list is all Italian, nothing local, but it looks good. Like at the pizzeria, you can order by the carafe for a few glasses rather than a whole bottle.

Osteria Mozza [Hollywood]
6602 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles

Board Links: Opening night at Osteria Mozza
I got my Osteria Mozza reservation!

Luck of the Draw

Formerly a Korean-Chinese joint across the street from hound favorite ice creamery Scoops, Pure Luck has changed hands and is now a pub with Fat Tire ale and other good beers on tap, plus … vegan appetizers.

No word on the food, but the beer is tops and the place works great as a neighborhood pub, says Normal Garciaparra.

Pure Luck [Hollywood]
707 N. Heliotrope Drive, Los Angeles

Board Link: The Pure Luck in East Hollywood

The Great White Loaf

Sometimes poptisserie craves the springy sweetness that only a processed white bread can offer. But that doesn’t mean Wonder Bread. Asian bakeries specialize in this stuff, and some of the best comes from Cream Pan, where the loaves are ethereally light.

Décor, a bakery inside 99 Ranch Market (warning: It’s not inside every 99 Ranch) makes a wonderful light bread out of some special wheat, says WHills. Also, Kee Wah Bakery has good, very fluffy bread that’s sliced double the thickness of a regular slice.

Try catching the bread at Diho Bakery fresh off the cooling rack, at about 9:45 a.m., advises arisu. It’s great even plain. A huge loaf will set you back $2.75.

Speaking of fresh off the rack, for fresh croissants hit the Frances bakery between 8:45 and 9 a.m., says gomagoma.

Cream Pan [Orange County]
602 El Camino Real, Tustin

Décor [Multiple locations]
99 Ranch Market

Kee Wah Bakery [Multiple locations]

Diho Bakery [Orange County]
14130 Culver Drive #J, Irvine

Frances [Little Tokyo]
404 E. Second Street (Honda Plaza), Los Angeles

Board Link: Asian Bakery with the softest, fluffiest, light as a cloud loaf of bread

Sea Smoke Signals in SGV

If you like wine with your Chinese food, stop by Wing Hop Fung when you’re in San Gabriel Valley, suggests mssreatalot, whose mention of the “big selection” of Sea Smoke Pinot Noirs set connoisseurs buzzing. There’s an impressive selection, reflecting a growing interest in wine on the part of the Chinese community.

There’s something for every budget, but the majority of wines are red, and on the moderately to very expensive side, says monkuboy. He did, however, stumble onto a tasting of three sparkling wines for $3.

As for the Sea Smoke, it may not be that hard to find, but wine shops sell out of it pretty quickly. The Southing goes for $75 at Wing Hop Fung, and the Ten is $110.

Wing Hop Fung [Chinatown]
727 N. Broadway #102, Los Angeles

Wing Hop Fung [San Gabriel Valley]
725 W. Garvey Avenue, Monterey Park

Board Link: Wing Hop Fung Wine!!