Los Angeles Area rss

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

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

Sussing Out the Best Blue Crab Rolls

A great blue crab roll should be flavorful and delicate, never heavy. But even at the best sushi places, the crab is sometimes overchilled, dulling the flavor. So where’s the best?

At Echigo, you get maximum crab and minimum dressing on supercrisp nori, says tanja.

Sasabune is another fave; if you want to avoid rice, you can get the crab mixture wrapped in an insane piece of squid, tentacles and all, says revets2.

Sushi Wasabi in Tustin gets several shout-outs, and so do the wonderfully large rolls at the pristine Kiriko.

But at Sushi Zo, the blue crab rolls are made with perfect precision, says glutton, balancing delicious crab, warm rice, and crisp nori. They’ve been known, though, to overchill the crab.

Still, Zo is trouncing Kiriko on the boards of late. Says Pei, “Zo’s fish is meltingly tender, obviously carefully selected from the best part of the fish. The aftertaste of each dish is sweet, sometimes with the lingering scent of the ocean. The blue crab handrolls, while tiny, are each a concentrated flavor packet. Sure, Keizo-san is curt, but I stand by my assessment that while stern he’s not without a sense of humor (albeit an easily misinterpreted, odd sense of humor).”

At Kiriko, the same $45 gets you bigger portions and quite good fish, but not a single bite is amazing. On the plus side, there are more nonsushi options, the chef won’t scowl at you, and the homemade ice cream (especially honey sesame) is lovely.

Echigo [West LA]
12217 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles

Sasabune [West LA]
12400 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles

Sushi Wasabi [Orange County]
14460 Newport Avenue #F, Tustin

Kiriko [West LA/Sawtelle Strip]
11301 Olympic Boulevard #102, Los Angeles

Sushi Zo [Culver City]
9824 National Boulevard #C, Los Angeles

Board Links: Who has the best blue crab handroll?
First time to Kiriko…

Chinese Chef Watch

The bad news: The first Vietnamese-Cajun restaurant in San Gabriel Valley has failed, hounds say. rameniac reports that a “now leasing” sign was seen in the window. mikeyas says it had plunged downhill anyway: nasty gumbo, fries undercooked in old oil, and bland crawfish seasonings. According to a waitress, the original owner and head cook both left.

The good news: Boiling Crab is coming up north soon.

If you’re in the Gardena area and hankering for SGV-quality Chinese food, Tasty Kitchen in Torrance has a chef (not Kam Wo Au) from the Kitchen in Alhambra working there on Tuesdays, says mpken. If you call in advance, you can even order abalone and such for dinner.

Crabulous [San Gabriel Valley]
8966 E. Garvey Unit C, Rosemead

Tasty Kitchen [South Bay]
1324 W. Artesia Boulevard, Gardena

Board Links: It’s Crabulous no more
Putting the Kitchen in Tasty Kitchen

Makin’ Whoopee … and Pizza Bread

Whenever red velvet comes up, so does Auntie Em’s, where the cake is moist, the cream cheese frosting is tangy, and you can get a whole cake, a giant cupcake, or a mini cupcake.

And now there’s whoopee pie, a treat straight out of childhood. The chocolate cake is meltingly moist, a chowhound experience in itself, says JeetJet.

Nearby is another of the pleasures of Eagle Rock: pizza bread from Eagle Rock Italian Bakery. JeetJet says, “This pizza bread is so simple, a thick round bread baked with a special olive oil that creates an eye-closing, tongue–nose–teeth sensation as you bite into the sun-dried tomatoes on top and into that crust around the edge. Add a pepperoni stick and that is what life is about.”

Auntie Em’s Kitchen [Eagle Rock]
4616 Eagle Rock Boulevard, Los Angeles

Eagle Rock Bakery [Eagle Rock]
1726 Colorado Boulevard, Los Angeles

Board Links: Come Saturday Morning…