Los Angeles Area rss

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

Cambodian Find in Echo Park

Phnom Penh is a little Cambodian gem, says lil mikey, who loves the beef salad. It’s much better than the similar beef salad at Thai restaurants, he says–fresher vegetables, tender meat, and perfectly mixed dressing with peanuts.

He’s never had a bad dish there, but the wonton soup is just so-so and the beef Szechwan style has pieces that are too big to eat without cutting–and you don’t get a knife.


Phnom Penh [Echo Park]
1305 Portia St., Los Angeles
213-250-5733
Locater

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Tasty beef salad

Free Crab Deal

Visit Top Island, a new Chinese restaurant in Alhambra, for dinner and get a free crab. The deal is one free crab for groups of five or fewer, two crabs for six or more.

Dim sum is run-of-the-mill but not bad; there’s an 88-cents-per-person charge for tea/setting, and all dishes are $1.88 each on weekdays, $2.08 on weekends. Lunch specials are $4.75.


Top Island Seafood [San Gabriel Valley]
formerly Sea Star buffet
740 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra
626-300-9898
Map

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Taking note of Top Island
Another new dim sum joint

Where to Chow and Fly

Once in a while, all Angelenos confront the question: Where can I eat near LAX?

There are a couple of great Pakistani restaurants practically a stone’s throw away: Al Watan (excellent tandoori) and Bilal.

The Googie-esque diner Pann’s is great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Dinah’s, another old-fashioned coffee shop, is best for breakfast: go for the legendary apple pancakes (more like apple fritters, with a crust of sugar and caramelized apples) or Dutch baby pancakes.

The Thai restaurant Ayara has become a favorite of some hounds, who head there even when they’re not heading out of the city.

Downtown El Segundo is a little neighborhood gem adjacent to LAX, notes cvc, who always recommends Chef Hannes.

Pann’s booster Will Owen puts in a vote for Second City Bistro as well, for good food, good service, good prices, and pleasant atmosphere.


Al Watan [South LA]
13619 Inglewood Ave., Hawthorne
310-644-6395
Locater

Bilal [South LA]
1117 W. Manchester Blvd. # G, at Aviation, Inglewood
310-641-4435
Locater

Pann’s Restaurant [South LA]
6710 La Tijera Blvd., at La Cienega, Los Angeles
323-776-3770
Locater

Dinah’s Family Restaurant [South LA]
6521 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles
310-645-0456
Locater

Ayara Thai Cuisine [South LA]
6245 W. 87th St., at La Tijera, Los Angeles
310-410-8848
Locater

Chef Hannes [Beaches]
411 1/2 Main St., El Segundo
310-640-0164
Locater

Second City Bistro [Beaches]
223 Richmond St., El Segundo
310-322-6085
Locater

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LAX eats

Dive Into Great Mexican in Orange

One of the best Mexican/Oaxacan places in OC is El Montezuma, a hole-in-the-wall in Orange, says robgue, who’s something of a Mexican food snob.

One favorite: pambaso. This sandwich is stuffed with potato, chorizo, and cream, and smothered in chorizo drippings. Mole plate is excellent, and so are enchiladas suizas. Quesadillas (get tinga or rajas) spill over with lettuce, queso fresco, and cream.

They have other Oaxacan specialties, like tlayudas and chapulines (crickets–off the menu). Aguas are all made from scratch.

The joint is pretty plain, but comfortable, not run down. Note that while the name is El Montezuma, the sign out front says La Calle in a holdover from a previous incarnation.


El Montezuma (sign says La Calle) [Inland of OC]
1740 W. Chapman Ave., Orange
714-546-0080
Locater

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Super-delicioso Mexican

A Vietnamese Orgy of Beef

The promiscuous lover of beef should try a seven-way, and there’s no better place in OC than Pagolac, says elmomonster.

Beef seven ways is a Vietnamese classic meal, and not as overwhelming as it might sound–most of the courses are pretty light.

1. You start with bo nhung dam, a shabu shabu-like dish of thinly sliced tenderloin that you swish in a simmering vinegared broth and then wrap up with herbs in rice paper.

2. Bo la lot are stubby meat stogies that pack a wallop of beefy, spicy flavor. The la lot wrapper tastes kind of like a cross between grape leaf and nori, with a peppery bite.

3. Bo sate (you may have noticed by now that “bo” means beef) is supremely tender pieces of grilled tenderloin, rolled up with slivers of ginger at the center. Like a great steak, but no cutting involved.

4. Steamed spheres of ground beef packed with mushrooms, peas, and bean thread noodles are known as bo cha dum. They’re crumbly-soft and pleasantly fatty–good with shrimp chips.

5. The best meatballs elmomonster has ever had are the bo nuong mo chai, beef sausage balls seasoned with a touch of five-spice and wrapped in caul fat so they baste themselves while broiling. Result: smoky scrumptiousness.

6. As you near the end, a salad is most welcome: bo bit tet. This time the sliced tenderloin comes sluiced with tart Italian dressing over a bed of refreshing butter lettuce.

7. The last course is chao bo, a clear soup of rice, minced beef, scallions, ginger, and star pasta–yep, just like that in Campbell’s Chicken ‘n Stars soup.

Seven courses of beef (bo bay mon) is $13.99 per person.


Pagolac Restaurant [Little Saigon]
14580 Brookhurst St., Westminster
714-531-4740
Locater

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Beef 7 ways at Pagolac

Dinner Rolls That Really Impress

Thee’s Bakery makes some damn fine dinner rolls, says the ever-picky JudiAU.

“When warmed in the oven they were revealed to be very fine with a soft pillowy interior, deep yeasty flavor, and a sheen that may in fact really be butter! I was impressed because nothing, ever, has come this close to my mom’s. Five days later an unopened package was still in great condition….I was very pleased, and to quote Mr. JudiAU–hey, how often does that happen?”

Thee’s is definitely underrated, chimes in Paliman, who puts in a vote for the hamburger buns, hot dog buns. and petits fours.

A dozen smallish rolls are about $5-6.


Thee’s Continental Bakery [Fairfax Village]
The Original Farmers’ Market
6333 W. Third St., Stall # 316, Los Angeles
323-937-1968
Locater

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Awesome yeasty rolls

Upscale Chinese at the Kitchen

An upscale Hong Kong-style restaurant based in the Bay Area, the Kitchen, has extended its reach to Alhambra, reports Chandavkl. He’s dined at the Millbrae original and says it’s one of the best Chinese restaurants up north.

Dim sum is very good and delicate, with some unusual dishes like cheung fun (rice noodle roll) with a crisp-fried exterior. Fish paste with egg white and milk is also a thing of custardy goodness. On opening, the dim sum menu was only in Chinese, but we hear they’re getting menus with English translations. It’s a hybrid ordering system, with dim sum circulating in carts and by order from the menu.

The dinner menu has a lot of innovative items. They’re also open late, till 1 a.m.

Food is kind of pricey–dim sum runs $1.90, $2.80 or $3.80 per order. Almost nothing on the dinner menu is under $10.


The Kitchen [San Gabriel Valley]
formerly NYC Jumbo Seafood
203 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra
626-289-4828
Locater

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Checking out the Kitchen

North Hollywood’s World of Bakeries

North Hollywood has a surprising variety of ethnic bakeries, and Das Ubergeek is your self-appointed guide:

For bolillos, you need to go to Panaderia Las Americas.

For Cuban bread and fantastic pastries, go to Porto’s.

For chorny khleb (Russian-style sour rye black bread) go to Blackjack Market.

For lavash and pita, go to Karabagh Market.

For sourdough, go to Tallyrand Restaurant, but don’t sit in any of the seats if you have clean trousers on…get the sourdough to go.

For standard pastries, go to Belwood Bakery.

For Portuguese pastries, go to Nata’s Pastries.

For Chinese-made cakes, go to Hing Lung Bakery.

For Filipino baked goods (pandesal, etc.) go to Good-Ha or the Seafood City bakery one block north of there.

For baguettes, croissants and wonderful mini-pies, go to La Spaghettata at the Studio City Farmer’s Market on Sunday mornings.

If you can make it to Eagle Rock, Eagle Rock Italian Bakery is worth it.

Finally, a bit out of the way but so, so worth it is Berolina Bakery, a Swedish bakery with very, very good pastries and prinsesstarta and outstanding bread.

And for a classic kosher bakery, adds GVDub, go to Continental, where they make wonderful rye (especially onion rye) and pumpernickel as well as excellent rugelach, cookies, strudel, and even some Israeli desserts. Their chocolate babka is fab, adds Das Ubergeek, but for regular babka (non-kosher) go to Olive Marketplace; and for challah, cross the street for Sam’s.


Panaderia Las Americas [East San Fernando Valley]
15047 Roscoe Blvd., Panorama City
818-893-2747
Map

Porto’s Bakery [East San Fernando Valley]
3614 W. Magnolia, Hollywood Way, Burbank
818-846-9100
Map

Blackjack Market [East San Fernando Valley]
12643 Sherman Way # G, North Hollywood
818-759-7818
Map

Karabagh Market [East San Fernando Valley]
13747 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys
818-781-4411
Map

Tallyrand Restaurant [East San Fernando Valley]
1700 W. Olive Ave., Reese Place, Burbank
818-846-9904
Map

Belwood Bakery [East San Fernando Valley]
12634 Ventura Blvd., Studio City
818-755-8853
Map

Nata’s Pastries [East San Fernando Valley]
13317 Ventura Blvd. #D, Sherman Oaks
818-788-8050
Map

Hing Lung Bakery [East San Fernando Valley]
12634 Ventura Blvd., Studio City
818-755-8853
Map

Manila Good-Ha Fast Food [East San Fernando Valley]
8205 Woodman Ave. # 101, Van Nuys
818-787-1882
Map

Seafood City [East San Fernando Valley]
8231 Woodman Ave., Panorama City
818-988-872
Map

La Spaghettata [East San Fernando Valley]
at the Studio City Farmers’ Market
12001 Ventura Pl., Studio City
818-655-7744
Map

Eagle Rock Italian Bakery [Eagle Rock]
1726 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles
323-255-8224
Map

Berolina Bakery & Pastry Shop [East San Fernando Valley]
3421 Ocean View Blvd., Glendale
818-249-6506
Map

Continental Bakery [East San Fernando Valley]
12419 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood
818-762-5005
Map

Olive Fresh Garden Marketplace [East San Fernando Valley]
12521 Oxnard St., North Hollywood
818-985-2662
Map

Sam’s Kosher Bakery [East San Fernando Valley]
12450 Burbank Blvd. # H, North Hollywood
818-769-8352
Map

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North Hollywood bakeries

Tamale Taste-Off

When a few hounds got together recently for a taste-off of tamales from across L.A., best in show was Mama’s Hot Tamales’ black mole tamale. With rich and complex black mole and moist and flavorful masa, it’s a real tamale role model.

Runners-up included:

La Indiana’s chile and cheese tamale, astounding with good rajas and a ton of gooey cheese, plus great onion and tomato flavor. It blows their dry, dull chicken tamales out of the water. (russkar claims that their best tamales are actually red pork.)

Guatemalteca’s chuchito is a Guatemalan tamale with well-seasoned chicken filling and a startling tomato sauce that seems like it should be on spaghetti, but complements the flavors really well.

La Fiesta Market’s beef tamale is chock-full of meat, and studded with peas and garbanzo beans–probably a regional variation, but hard to say whose.

La Flor de Yucatan’s colado, or Yucatecan tamale, is kind of divisive–the jello-like texture of its strained masa puts some people off, while others love the taste of the fresh tomato and epazote topping.

And Debbie W reports having a chocolate tamale at Babita–the chocolate apparently being mixed into the masa before steaming. Great stuff, says she.


Mama’s Hot Tamales Café [Downtown]
2124 W. 7th St., Los Angeles
213-487-7474
Map

La Indiana Tamales [East LA-ish]
1142 S. Indiana St., Los Angeles
323-262-4682
Map

Guatemalteca Bakery [Koreatown]
4032 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles
213-382-9451
Map

La Fiesta Meat Market [South LA]
15020 Hawthorne Blvd., Lawndale
310-263-0463
Map

La Flor De Yucatan Bakery [Downtown]
1800 S. Hoover St., at Washington, Los Angeles
213-748-6090
Map

Babita [San Gabriel Valley]
1823 S. San Gabriel Blvd, South of Valley, San Gabriel
626-288-7265
Map

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The great tamale taste-off

Ramen Champ Santouka Kills ‘Em on the Westside

The new location of Santouka in the West L.A. Mitsuwa is even better than the original location of late, says rameniac–they’re really on top of their game.

Shio ramen is the one to get: rich and flavorful, noodles nice and chewy, with seasoned bamboo and rich, lovely pork. For a little extra, you can get the “special pork”–it’s worth it, says sel. You might also want to order “oomori,” or large bowl, says rameniac–Santouka’s portions are, well, typically Japanese.

The menu is limited for now, with just the shio, soy, miso and spicy miso ramens, and no side dishes. One interesting variation on ramen, though, is tokusen torinaku ramen, where the noodle soup comes with a bunch of toppings, including super-fatty chashu (roast pork), for you to dip in the sauce.

And if you’ve acquired the taste for natto, the traditional and highly divisive dish of fermented soybeans, they’ve got it, says omotosando. A bowl of rice topped with natto and negi is $1.99; you can also get natto and rice with your ramen set.

Regular ramen is $6.49; tokusen torinaku ramen is $9.49.


Santouka Ramen [Beaches]
at Mitsuwa Marketplace
3760 S. Centinela Ave., Los Angeles
310-398-2113
Map

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Santouka for newbies
Santouka quickie
Natto at Santouka and elsewhere
what to get at Santouka