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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

House of the Rising Clay Pot

House of Clay Pot has expanded into a mini-chain almost overnight. And this is a good thing, as they serve interesting and very well prepared things, reports marlon.

Chicken mushroom clay pot is soft and fragrant. Roasted duck with taro is the best of many versions he’s tried. And General Tsao’s chicken is, suprisingly, truly wonderful. It’s not over-battered or over-fried, and actually has the right amount of spice and sauce. House vegetable goose is good, though served warm (usually it’s cold), and ong choy is well prepared.

Clay pot rice is excellent, too. Be sure to look around your table for cruets of their seasoned, soy-based sauce. Add some to the clay pot rice, then mix it all up. They won’t do it for you, and without the sauce, the clay pot rice will be underflavored.

There may a branch on Irving, as well, but we couldn’t locate it. Stay tuned!

House of Clay Pot Restaurant [Richmond]
5423 Geary Blvd., San Francisco

House of Clay Pot [Richmond]
844 Clement St., San Francisco

Board Links: House of Clay pot

Burgers, An Ode in the Key of Bleu

At Tim and Liza Goodells’ new burger joint, 25 Degrees, among the dozen cheese options is Big Woods blue, from Minnesota. The house burger features it, along with caramelized onion, bacon, and arugula, and draws raves. The burgers here might just be the best in a diner in LA at the moment, says kevin. But the fries are not so great, and the chocolate cake is a behemoth of an abomination.

Eating the French burger at Barney’s Gourmet Burgers is like dying (of a coronary) and going to burger heaven, says Nina. It includes a mound of blue cheese, plus bacon.

The blue cheese in the Hungry Cat’s Pug Burger is extra-tangy…great with their fries.

The Counter uses high-quality Danish blue cheese in its burgers.

Father’s Office’s legendary burger is made with Maytag blue.

You can often substitute blue cheese in a standard cheeseburger. At the Palm, go blue instead of the standard Cheddar–it’s fantastic, says SpongeBobSquarePegs.

And Pete’s Cafe will likely do the same with their Hellman Burger (made with fontina). Hell, make it a bleu-fest and get the blue cheese fries, too.

25 Degrees [Hollywood]
in Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
7000 Hollywood Blvd., Orange Dr., Hollywood

Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers [Wealthy Westlands]
11660 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles

Barneys Gourmet Hamburger [Beaches]
225 26th St., Santa Monica

Hungry Cat [Hollywood]
1535 N. Vine St., Sunset, Los Angeles

The Counter [Beaches]
2901 Ocean Park Blvd., 29th St., Santa Monica

Father’s Office [Beaches]
1018 Montana Ave., Santa Monica

Palm Restaurant [Beaches]
9001 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles

Palm Restaurant [Downtown]
1100 S. Flower St., Los Angeles

Pete’s Cafe & Bar [Downtown]
400 S Main St., Los Angeles

Board Links: blue cheese burger

The World in the Palm of Your Hands

The local mini-chain The Cravery, which began popping up around the LA area last year, is focused on pasties–handheld savory pies–with international flavors (like chipotle chicken fajita, Thai curry chicken, and eggplant parmesan). They’re excellent, says Dustin, but rich. There’s also salad, and they serve breakfast (great coffee) as well as lunch and dinner. Coming soon: a Los Altos branch.

The Cravery [South Bay]
1441 West Knox Ave., Torrance

Cravery Irvine [South OC]
6638 Irvine Center Dr., Irvine

Cravery [OC Beaches]
at Bella Terra
7811 Edinger Ave., Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach

Board Links: Aussie Meat/Seafood Pies In Los Angeles?

Sublime Roast Pig at Sunset Park’s La Fe

The best pernil around is at La Fe, a Dominican eatery right outside the 36th Street subway station in Sunset Park, says chishibuki. From a whole pig reposing in a large dish behind the counter, “they pull the meat off with tongs, which appears to take no effort at all. It is served with a chunk of the skin, dripping with fat and with a couple of lime or lemon wedges on top. The pernil is slightly garlicky, drenched in fat, and not too salty. One order with rice and beans–for just $5 or $6–will feed three waifish hipsters or one large voracious sports fan.”

La Fe Restaurant [Sunset Park]
941 4th Ave., at 36th St., Brooklyn

Board Links: Pernil

Corn on the Cob Shopping Etiquette

All those people at markets who tear back corn husks to expose the kernels (then toss the ears back for no apparent reason, leaving the corn to deteriorate) are practicing shockingly poor corn-buying etiquette, say hounds, who insist that it’s perfectly easy to find good ears without de-husking.

The selfish should note that this preserves the freshness of ears you yourself choose as well as those you’d otherwise have ruined for others!

ciaolette explains what to look for: The husks should be fresh and green, with no yellowing or dryness, and should sit close to the ear. The silk should be mostly green, with very little darkness. The cut stalk should be very fresh, not dried out. The ear should have good weight for its size.

Your editor, Caitlin McGrath, evaluates the kernels by running a finger up the outside of the cob to feel if they’re plump and uniform. Karl S points out that if you’re buying organic corn, there’s always a chance you’ll find a worm or some mold–it’s rare, but his smart solution is to always buy an extra ear, just in case.

Board Links
Farmstand etiquette

Cajun Seasoning Mix

This recipe for Cajun-style seasoning (courtesy of Fleur), can be used in many ways: as a rub, in flour for dredging, in salad dressing, mixed with olive oil as a marinade for grilled meat, fish, chicken, and vegetables.

2 1/2 T sweet paprika
2 T kosher salt
2 T garlic powder
1 T black pepper
1 T onion powder
1 T cayenne pepper
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried thyme

Combine all ingredients, mix well. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 2/3 cup. Keeps a long time, until you use it all up.

Board Links
Cajun seasoning???

Bounce Miracle Cure for Burnt Pots

Who knew? Bounce dryer sheets are a miracle cure for pots with bottoms burnt out and blackened when they’re forgotten on the stove and nothing else will do the trick.

Hot water and a couple of fabric softener sheets left to soak for a few days loosen up all that burnt-on gunk like a charm, swears Cynthia, who says the method even saved a pot from an impossibly crusted layer of would-be peach preserves turned to carbon.

Board Links
The Bounce Miracle Cure saved my stockpot!

Talking Pizza Way Uptown: Let George Do It

George’s may look like nothing special, but it makes the best pizza in Washington Heights, with decent cheese and chunky, piquant tomato sauce on a nice crisp crust. “A lot better than you’d expect for the area,” says surly. “If it were in Midtown or downtown, I have no doubt that it would be very popular.”

Delivery pies might show up undercooked, warns Spoony Bard, but a few minutes in your oven will bring the crust to proper crispness.

In Inwood, Grandpa’s Brick Oven Pizza offers a pretty good plain slice and bargain-priced 12-inch personal pizza (just $7 with one topping). But georgie warns us away from vegetable toppings, which are undercooked.

George’s Pizza [Washington Heights]
726 W. 181st St., betw. Broadway and Fort Washington Ave., Manhattan

Grandpa’s Brick Oven Pizza [Inwood]
4973 Broadway, at Isham St., Manhattan

Board Links
Any good pizza in/near Washington Heights?

Mother’s Finest in Forest Hills, and other Homey Blintzes

Among the homey comfort foods at Just Like Mother’s are satisfying Polish-style blintzes filled with meat or spinach (served with tomato or mushroom gravy) or cheese and fruit, reports mistahone.

Kasia’s and other old-school Polish restaurants in Williamsburg and Greenpoint also make very good blintzes, notes Brian S.

And Teresa’s, in Brooklyn Heights and the East Village, does delicious cheese blintzes with cherries, blueberries, or plum butter, reports Fleur.

Just Like Mother’s [Forest Hills]
110-60 Queens Blvd., between Ascan Ave. and 73rd Rd., Forest Hills, Queens

Kasia’s Restaurant [Williamsburg]
146 Bedford Ave., between N. 9th and 8th Sts, Brooklyn

Teresa’s [Brooklyn Heights]
80 Montague St., between Hicks St. and Montague Terr., Brooklyn

Teresa’s [East Village]
103 1st Ave., between 6th and 7th Aves, Manhattan

Board Links
good places for blintzes in Brooklyn/Queens/Bronx

Down Home Mexican in OC

For down-home Mexican chow in OC, Super Antojitos is right on target. Really good meats–pastor, carnitas, carne asada, and barbacoa–plus posole and menudo on weekends.

Beans are creamy and lardy, and dishes like camarones rancheros and pasilla chiles rellenos are outstanding.

El Farolito is another top choice, a no-frills family-run place with an emphasis on Mexican classics.

Other good options nearby: Q Tortas and El Taco Sabroso Grill (for the tasty beef stew).

El Gallo Giro is another local chain with good food, especially carnitas and al pastor. Tortillas are made in-house, and the aguas frescas bar offers horchata, tamarindo, platano, sandia (watermelon) and more.

In San Juan Capistrano, check out Ricardo’s.

Super Antojitos [South OC]
1702 N. Bristol St. #D, Santa Ana

Super Antojitos [South OC]
2731 W. Edinger Ave., Santa Ana

Super Antojitos [South OC]
2307 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana

Super Antojitos [South OC]
1130 W. Warner Ave., Santa Ana

Super Antojitos Restaurant [South OC]
2510 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana

Super Antojitos [South OC]
341 E. 1st St., Tustin

Super Antojitos [South OC]
2949 Fairview Rd., Costa Mesa

Super Antojitos Mexicanos [East LA-ish]
7518 E. Slauson Ave., City of Commerce

Super Antojitos Mexicanos [East San Fernando Valley]
809 S. Victory Blvd., Burbank

El Farolito [North OC]
201 S. Bradford Ave., Placentia

El Farolito Jr [South OC]
1339 N. East St., Anaheim

El Farolito [Koreatown]
2737 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles

Q-Tortas [North OC]
220 S. Bradford Ave., Placentia

El Taco Sabroso Grill [North OC]
214 W. Santa Fe Ave., Placentia

El Taco Sabroso [Inland of LA]
1945 W. La Habra Blvd., La Habra

El Gallo Giro [South OC]
1442 S. Bristol St. #B, Santa Ana

El Gallo Giro [Central San Fernando Valley]
315 San Fernando Mission Blvd., San Fernando


El Gallo Giro [East LA-ish]
7148 Pacific Blvd., Huntington Park

El Gallo Giro [Central San Fernando Valley]
8309 Van Nuys Blvd., Panorama City

El Gallo Giro [South LA]
3180 E. Imperial Hwy., Lynwood

Ricardo’s Place [South OC]
32082 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano

Board Links
In search of the most down home Mexican food in the OC…