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

Street Food: Not Just for LA Hipsters

Germany has brought us sausages and beer. Now we give back.

In true American-mixing-pot fashion, Laurie Isola learned some secrets of Mexican cooking while living in Los Angeles' Koreatown. And now, resident in Berlin, she spreads the joy of carnitas tacos from a weekend stand at the Flohmarkt am Mauerpark.

She details the process—from sourcing masa to finding a way to transport the food by bike—on her blog. But seriously, no Twitter feed: How will Germans find you, Laurie?

Love Pabst Blue Ribbon? Buy Part of the Company.

What began as a joke between two buddies in the advertising biz is rapidly snowballing into reality: an attempt to purchase the Pabst Brewing Company via crowdsourcing. And let's be clear here: What's "real" about this is the attempt, not the actual purchase. Pledges of about $120 million toward the company's asking price of $300 million have been made at since the guys' respective ad agencies, Forza Migliozzi and the Ad Store, launched the site on November 10, 2009.


Overheard on the Los Angeles Boards

"Let's hope the trend continues to push out all the rest of the existing Museum Square restaurants, and that they are replaced with restauranteurs that know and understand what good, simple, DELICIOUS fresh food is." - Mr Taster

"In Korea there is a street food sandwich that has a sweet egg as its main ingredient. Isaac Toast successfully made the move from street food to restaurant." - trojans

"Our server was really attentive and any attempts for us to try and cook any of the food ourselves was met with the tongs being taken away [from] us." - pleasurepalate

The New Fish Taco Tour

streetgourmetla put together an all-star taco-truck touring team, with some of the big names in the LA food-blogging scene. They toured the five most popular and highly touted fish-taco spots in town. And they found a clear winner: Ricky's Fish Tacos, the top pick for all four judges.

This is slightly unusual for a strictly authentic Baja fish-taco experience, says streetgourmetla. Instead of giving you a naked tortilla and fried fish and letting you top on your own, Ricky Pina hands you a fully dressed fish taco. He uses quality Vietnamese catfish, and assembles his tacos to order.

"The pico de gallo is vibrant, the mustard accented batter is made from imported Mexican wheat flour, the cabbage is fresh and razor thin, and the homemade crema is a veritable blend of mayo and 1 percent milk," explains streetgourmetla. "These are delicious fish tacos, and despite not being made from dogfish or angel fish as they are in Baja, you really don't miss a thing. His frying technique and the perfect consistency of the batter deliver satisfaction."

Ricky moves around a lot, but is most often found at the Sunset Junction in Silver Lake. To find out where he is, follow his Twitter feed.

Ricky's Fish Tacos [Silver Lake]
No formal address; for location info, see Ricky's Twitter feed
No phone available

Discuss: Taco Task Force: LA's Best Fish Taco

Tempest in a Milk Glass

An Atlantic blog post titled "The Real Price of Milk" looks at the dark underbelly of Vermont dairy farms, namely the collapsing price of milk and the demanding (and often dangerous) working conditions experienced by migrant workers.

The post is eye-opening, but a comment signed "New England Farmer" is a zesty rejoinder:

"Every one of the people in VT and NH that hires foreigners does it because that lifestyle is dead or moribund in America. There simply aren't children interested in the craft of agriculture. The foreigners that are hired tend very strongly to be farmers or farm laborers back home. They know exactly what is entailed. They are simply not shocked (as your WASPy readership seems to be) by the nature of what occurs on farms."

Best line of the page goes to the same commenter:

"I'll not tell you how to arrange your ikea, how to structure your 401(k) or what montesori school to select, but in return please concede that you really ought not explain to me the labor principles of my 7 thousand year old craft."

Mumbai Street Food

The newest addition to Artesia's lineup of provincial Indian food: Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se, a specialist in the street food of Mumbai, the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. "This cuisine is rarely found outside of Maharashtra, let alone India," explains losfelizhound.

You can get masaale bhaath, spiced rice, a traditional Maharashtrian specialty. "This dish demands spice, not heat, and that's exactly how it was," says losfelizhound. Sabudana vada, deep-fried tapioca balls, are a classic Maharashtrian snack. Here they're on the mark, and not at all greasy.

Sabudana khichadi, shallow-fried spiced tapioca, is an excellent balance of green chiles, cilantro, and fried stuff. It's terrific, like Mom's cooking at its finest, says losfelizhound. And puneri misal, another quintessential Maharashtrian snack, is a soupy broth of pulses and grams, with a twist of buffed, beaten, spiced rice. If you can take it, ask for it hot.

The dabeli is sort of like a vegetarian slider. It's a Gujarati snack, uncommon anywhere except the Gujarati areas of Mumbai (formerly Bombay). The potato patty filling is spicy and soft, with a topping of pomegranate seeds and spiced peanuts. It's a fabulous snack, says losfelizhound.

Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se [South Bay]
17705 Pioneer Boulevard, Artesia

Discuss: Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se: A Street-side Home-style Story.
Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se!

New Sichuan Noodle Star

New Chong Qing destroys the competition, says ipsedixit. It's better—and at $4 a bowl, cheaper—than its competitors. What are we competing in? Dan dan mein: Sichuan-style, spicy, sour, nutty noodles.

All of the famous Sichuan cold noodle places in San Gabriel are enjoyable, says JThur01, but New Chong Qing gets the edge for both flavor and value. The noodles themselves are spectacular, and the sauce is a red-pepper-infused slow burn.

Aside from the dan dan mein, the place makes fabulous kung pao chicken, says ipsedixit. The stir-fried lamb and seasonal vegetables are also choice, says CulverJack. But be aware that the "spicy and sour noodles" on the menu is an entirely different dish than the dan dan mein. It's still great, though.

New Chong Qing [San Gabriel Valley]
120 N. San Gabriel Boulevard, San Gabriel

Discuss: If you're look for the best Sichuan Spicy Noodle (or Dan Dan Mien) ...

How to Eat Less Meat

How to Eat Less Meat

Tips on de-meatifying your favorite dishes. READ MORE

Xian Street Chow Comes to Chinatown

In Chinatown, the landscape is shifting. Two-week-old Xian Famous Foods brings street bites from north-central China to a neighborhood dominated by Cantonese and Fujianese food.

Chowhounds know these dishes from Xian's original locations in the food courts of Flushing. A signature favorite, there and here, is the cumin-scented "lamb burger," a bit of hearty meat stew tucked into a griddled wheat bun. "It was spicy with intense robust cumin flavor, wonderful," sighs stuartlafonda. "It left that nice low level spreading warmth in the mouth."

The same lamb is paired with noodles, rolled and pulled to order, which Westminstress finds "awesome with the perfect amount of springiness." The Tiger Vegetable Salad, a bracing mix of cilantro, scallions, and other greens spiked with green chile, is "strangely addictive," she adds. Another specialty, cold liang pi noodles and wheat gluten, tossed with a lively mix of chile, cilantro, and vinegar, "sang with flavor," CalJack reports.

The address is 88 E. Broadway, but don't look for Xian Famous Foods inside the shopping center at that address. Instead head around the corner to the Forsyth Street side. And don't expect to eat there; there's a tiny counter, but this is mainly a takeout shop.

Xian Famous Foods [Chinatown]
88 E. Broadway (entrance on Forsyth Street), Manhattan

Discuss: Xi'an Famous Foods Opens Up Chinatown Branch A Week From Saturday
Flushing Mall vs Golden Mall?
Couldn't find Xian Foods 88 East Broadway Today

Free Pizza, Better Than It Has to Be

They're giving away pizza all over town these days, and mostly you get what you pay for. Enoteca on Court sounds like an exception. At this wine bar, spun off last year by the owners of Marco Polo next door, a $5 pint comes with a free five-inch margherita that Puppimus finds "phenomenal."

Pizza is just part of the parade of happy-hour freebies at Piola in the Village. "I ordered a Bombay Sapphire martini," small h reports. "They countered with pizza, bruschetta, guacamole and chips, curried chicken and rice (not my thing, but it looked fine), olives, fresh mozzarella and tomato, and spinach on pita. I ate, they replenished." This is one of a slew of budget deals offered around New York, small h notes. "It's not the awesome-est food experience you'll ever have, but Piola is providing a valuable service."

Enoteca on Court [Carroll Gardens]
347 Court Street (at Union Street), Brooklyn

Piola [Greenwich Village]
48 E. 12th Street (near Broadway), Manhattan

Discuss: Enoteca on Court St