Los Angeles Area rss

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

Hungarian Restaurant Reincarnation

Hungarian restaurant Duna Csarda has gotten a new lease on life with the management and cook from the recently closed Hortobagy, says AndrewS.

For starters, korozott, Hungarian sheep’s cheese prepared with paprika, onions, and caraway seeds, is lovely with fresh red onion. They also have a nice gyuali, a cured sausage that seems like the one they used to serve at Hortobagy, which was made locally.

Chicken paprikas comes in a rich, complex sauce, although the egg dumplings are on the tough side. Transylvanian gulyas (a.k.a. goulash) is a tangy, slightly spicy paprika sauce blanketing sauerkraut and chunks of veal.

For dessert, chestnut torte covered in dark chocolate is done just as it should be, but that also means it’s tooth-numbingly sweet.

Service is a bit choppy, with some lulls and missteps, but extremely friendly and informal. The place is markedly spruced up, with clean water in the fountains, good lighting, and nicely trimmed greenery.

Duna Csarda [Hollywood]
5820 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles
323-962-6434
Map

Board Link: Csardas rising!

Nothing Says Party Like a Plate of Mole Negro

A late-night visit to Las 7 Regiones (it closes at 10) is like crashing a family party: lots of familial groups, friendly, and rather loud, says kiwi.

The clayuda, a foot-wide, thin disc of masa lubed up with black bean spread and topped generously with Oaxacan string cheese, is near impossible to stop eating. But the real show-stopper is the mole negro—complex, sweet, savory, and just a lot of deliciousness. With chicken, the meat is tender, juicy, and thoroughly infused with that addictive sauce.

Mole amarillo with beef, on the other hand, just isn’t very flavorful.

Las 7 Regiones [Midtown]
2648 W. Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles
213-385-7458
Map

Board Links: Las 7 Regiones: Mole Negro…WOW

Colonel Sanders, Eat Your Heart Out

Going to Kyochon, a new Korean fried chicken place that has recently expanded from Seoul to Torrance to K-Town, is an exercise in miscommunication and delayed gratification. But oh, the chicken—juicy and crunchy, but with a thinner crust than Southern style that’s melded to the skin. Original flavor has toasted garlic bits embedded in the crust, and a hint of soy sauce and the 23 secret ingredients that the company boasts of. Spicy kicks it up several notches: It may seem moderate at first, but the heat builds on you. For a side, you get pickled daikon cubes, a reprieve for your mouth after some spicy chicken.

In theory, the place offers wings, drumsticks (“sticks”), and whole chicken (cut up into small pieces), but in practice, you’ll just have to take what they have. Sometimes there’s nothing but wings, sometimes nothing but whole chicken. Sometimes (often, it seems) they run out of chicken altogether, so don’t plan on swinging by late in the evening. And planning ahead is essential if you’re thinking of getting takeout—call two hours in advance.

Although the place has the ambiance of a McDonald’s, there is table service, so if you are eating in, go ahead and sit down. Do not make the mistake of ordering at the counter—that’s for to-go orders only, and see the above paragraph about a two-hour wait. The servers are young and eager, and although they can’t do much about wait times they’re awfully apologetic about it. Note that the front area of the restaurant is a smoking section, with a large open window, so it gets chilly at night.

The menu is pretty chicken-centric; there’s also chicken bulgogi with rice, and spicy chicken with rice cakes, which is basic Korean home cooking. And then there’s french fries and fried cheese sticks. No beer, but the owner says he’s working on getting a license; there is, however, free soda.

A medium order of wings is $9, large is $16. Whole chicken is $16, spicy chicken with rice cakes $7, and fries/cheese sticks $2.

Kyochon [Koreatown]
3833 W. Sixth Street, Los Angeles
213-739-9292
Map

Kyochon [South Bay]
2515 Torrance Boulevard, Torrance
310-320-9299
Map

Board Links: Kyochon–Korean fried chicken

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!