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

Having a Meltdown, and Never Happier

There’s nothing like grilled cheese sandwiches to remind you of lunchtime as a kid, but at Meltdown, the GC is definitely all grown up, says pleasurepalate.

Grilled farmers’ market vegetables, fresh and crisp, are the star of the Market Melt. It’s practically a crime to mess with locally grown produce, and the veggies are set up just right by caramelized onions, walnut pesto, and two cheeses, herbed chèvre and fontina, on ciabatta bread.

The classic three-cheese (that’s sharp cheddar, Muenster, and fontina) with applewood bacon comes on sourdough bread. It’s oozy and a little greasy, but definitely tasty.

Taking the GC to the next course, Meltdown offers “sweet melts,” which are basically dessert sandwiches. The Brie and apricot melt is a great combo of sweet-tart apricots, creamy Brie, and nutty walnut bread.

You should really have some vegetables. The fennel–red onion slaw is cool and refreshing, with tons of dill. There are also soups.

Meltdown [Culver City-ish]
9739 Culver Boulevard, Culver City
310-838-6358
Map

Board Links: Meltdown etc

Can I Get Some Fried Dough With That Shake?

Churro milk shakes are on offer at the Counter as the June milk shake of the month. Think vanilla with a blast of cinnamon and an undertone of fried dough. Actually, it’s more than an undertone—there are actual bits of frozen churro. Definitely worth a wait with the hipsters, says Dommy.

Want your churros straight up? In Echo Park, there’s a churro cart that sells eight for $2, says vibrant. Fresh, hot, and delicious. Catch them there till about 4 p.m.

On Olvera Street (off Alameda) downtown, you can get churros with old-LA flavor at Mr. Churro, another cart operation. They’re not necessarily freshly made, but you can get them that way if you ask, and it’s well worth it.

For a more upscale take on churros, Literati II and Cobras & Matadors both offer them for dessert along with a side of melted chocolate for dipping.

The Counter [Beaches]
2901 Ocean Park Boulevard, Santa Monica
310-399-8383
Map

Churros cart [Echo Park]
Echo Park Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles
Map

Mr. Churro [Downtown]
Olvera Street
845 N. Alameda Street, Los Angeles
Map

Literati II [West LA]
12081 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles
310-479-3400
Map

Cobras & Matadors [Mid-City]
7615 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles
323-932-6178
Map

Cobras & Matadors [Los Feliz]
4655 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles
323-669-3922
Map

Board Links: Anyone Tried the Churro Milkshake at the Counter
Best Churros in LA area?

Sushi at the Right Price

So you’re between paychecks and can’t go the distance for the $300 omakase meal you crave. Sushi is what you want, but at the right price. How about $20?

Daichan Kaiten-Sushi offers fresh, appealing sushi “conveyor belt” style. cupcake said, “Despite some misgiving, we loved it—fresh and great prices. We ate ourselves silly for $48. Plus it’s really fun to visit with a kid. How come no one mentioned this? I’m already planning my next visit.”

Pei posted a nice pictorial of her visit there. Spider rolls and California rolls are good choices.

It’s fun, cheap, and the fish is fresh—good enough for a good rating. Great sushi on a budget.

Daichan Kaiten-Sushi [Sawtelle Strip]
11301 Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles
866-997-8744 (866-99-SUSHI)
Map

Board Links: Kaiten-Sushi Daichan on Sawtelle

Tuna-Corn Pizza and Kosher Vegetarian in Reseda

Brahmi’s offers an eclectic menu ranging from kosher vegetarian pizzas and calzones to traditional Middle Eastern dishes like hummus and falafel to burritos.

writerinla says the pizza, calzones, and lasagne are quite good with wheat meat replacing the chicken and pepperoni. Brahmi’s also offers a tuna-corn pizza (nonvegetarian), said to be popular in Israel and the UK.

Brahmi’s operators are Orthodox Jews, so the restaurant closes Friday afternoon and reopens again Saturday evening.

Brahmi’s [West San Fernando Valley]
17736 1/2 Sherman Way, Reseda
818-342-0611
Map

Board Links: Brahmi’s Kosher Vegetarian in Van Nuys/Reseda?

New York–Style Bagels on Fairfax

A bagel as good as any in New York? You’re kidding, right? aylowe has been on a quest and found one at Blessed King Bagel on Fairfax just north of W. Third Street. The bagels are fresh and chewy, with an excellent flavor—the West Coast equivalent of a Big Apple staple.

They’re expensive ($4 with cream cheese) and the ambience can be described as some combination of charming, strange, and bus-stop-derelict. But the bagels make it worthwhile.

Blessed King Bagel and Bakery [Fairfax Village]
109 N. Fairfax, Los Angeles
323-933-3100
Map

Board Links: Underappreciated Bagels

A Go-To for Chiou Chow Chow

Das Ubergeek reports that the Rowland Heights edition of Seafood Village is worth the trip.

Start with tea and nibble on boiled peanuts and salted pickle. The shrimp and vegetable course features savory gai lan and juicy, peeled shrimp. The ong choi is just delicious; its red sauce resonates with pork and butter. Chiou Chow porridge is tasty—like exploded rice sunk in a delicious broth, but with plenty of seafood.

The crab arrived lightly battered and deep-fried, then tossed with sesame seeds, chiles, and fried scallions. At $6.99 a pound prepared, this is a chowlicious bargain. Sweet soup of beans and tapioca in coconut syrup finished the meal. Chiou Chow cuisine is one of the few regional Chinese cuisines that include dessert at the end of a meal.

Take-home leftovers were fine warmed up. The tab was $66 for three adults with enough left over to feed three again and still have some porridge for another breakfast.

Seafood Village Restaurant [Rowland Heights]
1463 Nogales Street, Rowland Heights
626-913-2338
Map

Board Links: REVIEW: Seafood Village, Rowland Heights

A Honey of a Treat

Caramelized honey is a treat with plenty of uses. Diana tops scones and biscuits with it, puts it in smoothies, and adds it to a marinade for grilled bass. It would be great with chicken or pork—mmm, caramelized honey ribs! glutton replaces sugar in jams and cookies with it and spoons it over Greek yogurt with sliced apples, apricots, or strawberries. Drizzling it on ice cream sounds like a tasty idea as well. And it adds wonderful flavor to home-brew.

Availability seems to be limited to the Bill’s Bees stand at the Santa Monica and South Pasadena farmers’ markets (Wednesday and Saturday in SM, Thursday in SP).

Santa Monica Farmers’ Market [Santa Monica]
Various locations, Santa Monica
310-458-8712

Map

South Pasadena Farmers Market [South Pasadena]
Mission Street and Meridian Avenue, South Pasadena
Map

Board Links: Caramelized Honey–So Good!

Fragrant Green Pandan Waffles

Aromatic pandan leaf is like the vanilla of Southeast Asia. It’s a natural partner for coconut, and has a whiff of pine as well as a kind of muskiness to it, says bulavinaka.

Green waffles might sound like something out of a Dr. Seuss book, but sweet, fragrant pandan waffles are a popular Vietnamese treat. It’s absolutely essential to get them hot out of the iron. At Van’s, they’ll make your waffles to order, and that’s the only way to go, says Professor Salt.

Oh, and while they have pandan waffles at Lee’s, no one orders them—for a reason. The neglected waffle iron is never hot enough when they pour in the batter, and the result is pathetically limp and dry.

Van’s Bakery [San Gabriel Valley]
860 E. Valley Boulevard, San Gabriel
626-288-7272
Map

Board Links: Looking for Pandan waffles in SGV

Incan Flavor on the Westside

A new Peruvian place has opened in West L.A., called Qusqo. The name is the Inca version of Cuzco, the closest city to Peru’s famed Machu Picchu.

The local delicacy in Cuzco is actually roast guinea pig, but that doesn’t matter much here—Qusqo specializes in seafood, and it’s sparkling fresh. Ceviche, shrimp chowder are excellent, as are the grilled or baked fish mains.

For appetizers, the tamales, potato cakes, and couscous salad are all good bets. Even a green salad stands out with crunchy-fresh corn and beautifully ripe, creamy avocado, according to Bria Silbert.

The restaurant has a cool, arty vibe that goes with its alter ego as a gallery (if you like the art on the walls, you can buy it). It’s a small place, though, with room for about 25 inside and a few more outside.

Qusqo Bistro & Gallery [West L.A.]
11633 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles
310-312-3800
Map

Board Links: Quspo—new restaurant?

Carne Asada with Attitude

Basically a taco table on steroids, Baja Rosarito offers up chilaquiles and other breakfasts in the mornings; various caldos de res; combo plates with chiles rellenos, tacos, or enchiladas; and, gloriously, burritos.

The carne asada burrito, at $4, is powerful stuff, easily the best broncosaurus has had in years. Crema is by request—get it. The extensive condiment bar holds two salsas, guacamole, a salsa verde, mounds of spicy carrots, and green salad.

Baja Rosarito [South Bay]
4500 W. Imperial Highway, Hawthorne
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Board Links: Sensors detect excellent carne asada burrito