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Looking for an authentic, memorably kick-ass, bowl of Hot and Sour Soup somewhere in the Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks/Studio City area. Any strong suggestions? Thanks.

I was wondering about that. I got delivery the other day and the soup was not nearly as good -- less spice and not as sour. The person taking my order seemed different.

It would be a shame to lose the one decent Chinese delivery place in the area. It took forever to find a decent hot and sour soup.

about 9 hours ago
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Great Dessert at the Grove Los Angeles

Morton's is a chain, but they do have a very good chocolate souffle. It's on La Cienega, only a mule or so from the Grove. That's probably the best souffle in close vicinity to the Grove.

1 day ago
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Hottest of the Hot? Spiciest of the Spicest? Recs please!

Bumping this thread to mention the orange habanero salsa from Birrieria Mexico in Van Nuys. I love spice and the flavor of the salsa is great, but after just a little on a bit of birria and tortilla, my mouth was burning and I was sweating.

Splitting from Best LA Trout thread

I believe trout is commonly used in the whole fish with Thai herbs dish at Sri Siam. The fish can change, but I recall it being trout most of the times I've had it.

Oct 17, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Birria - a perfect rainy day meal

Birrieria Mexico on Vanowen in Van Nuys, a few blocks west of Van Nuys Blvd. has excellent birria and barbacoa. The handmade tortillas are just like the ones described by the OP and the habanero salsa (one of several salsa options) is phenomenal. I may have to get some this weekend.

Oct 17, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Today is my lucky day, Ike's Place Westwood soft opens with free sandwiches!

My understanding is that biggest problem with Westwood is that there are certain landlords who own large amounts of properties and have been unwilling to make the necessary changes to improve the area. The biggest change has to be to improve the parking situation. Right now, parking is either non-existent or too expensive. It's not unlike what Beverly Hills experienced before the city put in the public lots that gave people two hours free. There have been efforts to convince landlords to improve the parking situation, but they have resisted. Until that happens, going to Westwood restaurants is more expensive and more of a hassle than going to restaurants in surrounding areas.

Sep 23, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

I need The Hottest Hot Wings in LA!

A place that I have never seen mentioned for wings is MB Chinese in Sherman Oaks. It is a strip-mall hole in the wall with so-so Chinese food and a large variety of wings. I don't actually recommend their buffalo wings, but love their salt and pepper wings -- crispy, fried wings with garlic, salt, and jalapeno -- and their General Tso's wings -- with a sweet and lightly spicy sauce. There are at least 10 different flavors to try.

What really stands out is the size of their wings. They are big and meaty, unlike the ones at most places in town, and well cooked. The only other place that consistently has wings of similar size is Ye Rustic Inn.

Sep 23, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Ipsedixit Was Right--Visit To New Port Seafood Beverly Hills

Not having delivery with their location is a big mistake. They could probably do a booming lunch business delivering to offices in Beverly Hills proper and Cedars Sinai.

I think one of the big problems for Westside Chinese restaurants is that many people who live there don't think of Chinese as food that you eat at a restaurant. With so many mediocre, but convenient Chinese places that deliver, it may take some time before people begin to look at places like Newport as dining destinations.

Sep 20, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Garlo's -- Aussie Pies in Westwood

I didn't see a thread about Garlo's, despite searching, so my apologies if there is one already. I went yesterday for the first time and have to give a big thumbs up.

I got there for a very late lunch/early dinner and ordered the all-day special -- pie with chips. mashed potatoes, gravy, and mushy peas, or salad, and a drink for $4.95. I had the curry beef pie and it was perfectly cooked -- crispy, flaky crust and piping hot (almost too hot) on the inside. The flavors of the curry beef are fantastic, reminding me a lot of the best curry hand pies I loved in England. I asked for chips, but they were out, so I got the potatoes and peas. They were good, but the texture of the peas was a little odd to me. They were a bit denser than I've seen in the past and seemed like they may have been mixed with potato. Still good though.

I also got some pies to go -- another curry beef, a sausage roll, and some sliders, which are mini pies (one beef and one chicken). Since I was going to be reheating them later, they gave me cold ones with instructions on heating them. It turns out that the instructions of 30 minutes at 350 degrees was right for the bigger pie, but in less than 10 minutes in a toaster oven, the top of the sausage roll and beef slider were burnt. We removed the burnt parts and they were just fine. The chicken slider was more of an American-style chicken pot pie, with peas and carrots, and was absolutely fantastic. I'll definitely be getting them in the future when I have a craving for a good chicken pot pie.

The ala carte prices are great $4.95/$5.95 for the pies and $2.50 for the sliders. Parking in the structure behind the restaurant is validated for one hour.

Good takeout/fast food Koreatown/Mid-Wilshire

We wound up getting take out from Guelaguetza, so I'm not sure that was much better. I completely over-ordered -- a tamal con mole, taquitos and molotes. The pictures of the taquitos and molotes made them seem much smaller than they actually were. Everything was good and the restaurant was great about providing what we needed to eat on the Music Center patio. I asked for utensils for two and extra napkins, but got about six sets of utensils and an inch-high stack of napkins.

Sep 19, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

It's late and I'm Hungry!

You could jump on the 134 west into the 170 north. Exit on Sherman Way and head a few blocks west to Krua Thai. Open until 3:30 a.m. daily.

Sep 19, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Good takeout/fast food Koreatown/Mid-Wilshire

I need to pick up something quick on the way from Century City to Downtown before I meet my mother at the opera tomorrow night (between 5 and 6). Most likely, we will be eating on the plaza at the Music Center, so I need something that is not very messy and will come with necessary utensils (if required).

Ideally, I would like to find a place near Olympic, since that is usually how I get to downtown. I also would like a place that has fairly easy parking and will not be a long wait.

Sep 16, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Noodles or Mongolian BBQ?

Are you sure about Mogo's? If you look at the photos on their Yelp page, there are pictures of dishes that have noodles in them.

Sep 11, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Cornesh Pasty in LA?

Robin Hood is open and has them on its menu. I've always had fish and chips there so I can't comment on their Pasty. Their sausage roll is pretty good though.

Sep 03, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

More Authentic Chinese Food in Champaign IL Than The Entire San Fernando Valley?

I find it weird that any list of supposedly "authentic" Chinese restaurants would include 88 Chinese & Sushi, which is not just Americanized Chinese, but bad Americanized Chinese with sushi.

Green Village suffers in my opinion for trying to cater to valley denizens who don't know regional Chinese dishes, including Shanghai specialties. So its menu is full of Americanized dishes that it doesn't do very well, while it has a number of phenomenal authentic dishes -- House Special Beef, Shanghai Green Bean Noodle, Fish Filet in Wine Sauce, Shanghai Pan Fried Noodle. I wish the owners would push the Shanghai dishes they do well and expand the menu to include things you can't get at every other Chinese restaurant on Ventura Blvd., but I understand the fear that customers won't respond.

Sep 02, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Ranch 99

I've only bought their very thin, pre-sliced ribeye and chuck for doing Korean BBQ at home. For that, the quality is fine.

I also used to buy organ meats -- chicken hearts and livers -- for my dog when she was dying and could not eat regular pet food. The price could not be beat.

Aug 30, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Brunch delivery

LA Bite begins delivering at noon on Sunday, so that might be later than you want. However, they have a fairly extensive list of restaurants to choose from, with a variety of different type of brunch items. You could advance order as well.

Aug 28, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Retail Natto in the Valley

Call Ranch 99 on Sepulveda/Victory.

Aug 23, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Kitchen Nightmare Over- Not so successful

I seem to recall some posts online after the show aired reporting that the owners said they were recruited by the show, but I can't recall where I read those.

To be honest, I'm not sure they needed to be on the show. I think they figured they would get a makeover and a new Ramsey-inspired menu that would provide some buzz, and the downside would be that Ramsey would pooh pooh their non-French menu (it had burgers, I mean "chopped steaks" on it) and they would play up some family drama for the cameras. It does seem to have worked out for La Frites, as it is one of the KN "success" stories since it is still in business when most of the restaurants on the show have long since closed.

Jul 22, 2014
Jwsel in Food Media & News

LA restaurant not too far from Woodland Hills

If you are interested in unusual food and not afraid of a total hole in the wall, just on the border of Woodland Hills, in Tarzana, is a very good Sri Lankan restaurant called Apey Kade. Consider if for a quick lunch too.

If you are looking more for fine dining, Saddle Peak is probably the best high-end restaurant in the relative vicinity, but I have been a bit disappointed by my recent visits. For the cost of the drive and the meal, I would look elsewhere. You might want to see if your hotel is by the Orange line bus, which is an express bus that runs through the valley and hook up with the subway line. That might be a way to go to downtown LA, Koreatown or Hollywood, where your dinner options are more varied.

Also, are you looking for dinners on the weekend or a weekday? That might make a difference when considering traffic. Weekend traffic to downtown might be much easier than to and from Malibu even though the distances would suggest Malibu is a shorter drive.

Jul 20, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Kitchen Nightmare Over- Not so successful

La Frite is around the corner from where I live and I've been going there for most of its 35 years in existence. A lot of the details in that episode don't mesh with our experience. For instance, the daughter was portrayed as someone who only recently came to work at the restaurant, but we've seen her there for decades. So a lot of the family drama seemed overblown.

Moreover, La Frite was a reliable neighborhood restaurant -- not phenomenal but it was not nearly as terrible food-wise as the show portrayed. It has always done a good brunch service on weekends and has generally been reasonably busy during evenings. Ramsay's retooling of the menu raised prices, which I think hurt it in the short-term. He also eliminated many of the best dishes on the menu, which were later restored in the backlash over the menu changes.

I'm not sure it was in the same dire financial straits as many of the other restaurants featured on the show were. If I recall correctly, the episode dealt mostly with the food quality and the family conflict, not with financial problems. Honestly, the main issue with the restaurant was its tired decor, though I'm not a huge fan of the show's choices for the remodel.

Jul 08, 2014
Jwsel in Food Media & News


Per La Maison Du Pain's Facebook page, they apparently had dacqoise in the shop a few weeks ago. There are some photos on their Facebook page. Here's one: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...

Jul 07, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Italian in the Valley

Oliva is pretty good.

Gio Cucina in Encino is excellent. Parking is a hassle. It's upstairs in a strip mall next to the Range Rover dealership. It's very small, but the pasts are top-notch and, imo, far superior to fabs.

Spumoni on Ventura, just west of Van Nuys, is a nice neighborhood Italian. Very mom-and-pop feel. They do good gnochi and have one of the best bolognese sauces in the city.

Jun 18, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Bow and Truss – Wanted to love it, but ended up liking it. (North Hollywood)

I went in May. Really enjoyed the paella la tierra and the fig bread. We also shared a salad, but I can't recall if it was the house chopped or a special that was quite good, and some lamb ribs.

One warning. It can be extremely noisy, even on the outside patio. We moved to a corner booth in the back of the interior, which was much quieter.

Jun 16, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Doboshe torte or sacher torte, etc ???? the dnemakrina goods roughly.

It's not exactly a traditional dobashe "torte," but Bea's Bakery does chocolate, mocha, and yellow cakes with dobash filling and fudge icing.

Jun 03, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Fifty Seven- a couple thoughts

I posted my thoughts a few weeks ago and also was very impressed. I'm glad to read your thoughts on the pork chop, because I mentioned that the members of my party who had the pork chop thought it a bit bland -- but they also were not regular pork eaters. I thought it was quite good. It's also funny that you noted the lack of a beef entree, because it was something we thought was quite unusual. I didn't mention the wine list, but your comments are well taken. Nice variety and a lot of different price points.

I'll be interested to see how the food changes under the new chef, and also what David Nayfield does next, since he said he was trying to sew up investors for a venture in LA.

Jun 01, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Good lunch downtown... that can do GF

Border Grill has a lot of GF options and labels them on its menu. I know Border Grill has its detractors here, but I have been fairly pleased in all of my recent visits.

May 25, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Fifty Seven LA and smoke.oil.salt?

So I can now report on Fifty Seven LA, and highly recommend it. I thought the food and service were outstanding.

We decided to do the prix fixe with a few shared items to begin. For shared items, we ordered deviled eggs (which turned out to be given as an amuse), fried chicken, pickled garden, and veal liver.

The deviled eggs came first. Excellent. They are described as having a celery relish, but they were very creamy, with a heavy mustard flavor and a touch of bacon. Everyone had questioned why I had wanted to order them, but was very glad we got them.

The fried chicken was not a karaage-style chicken like I expected. They were served almost in a triangle shape, with a mustard sauce, thin slice of jalapeno, pickled carrot, and slice of fried chicken skin. The chicken was perfectly cooked – very juicy – though I did begin to worry about the amount of mustard we were seeing.

Next came the pickled garden. Now I skipped this dish as I had already had a pickled carrot and I generally don’t like most pickled vegetables. Everyone else raved about it and my mom declared the pickled cucumber the best dill pickle she had ever had. I do like pickled cucumbers, but was late to nab one, so I was a bit jealous.

Finally, we got the veal liver, served with some toast. This came as a mouse with an onion jam and some nebbiolo sauce inside the mousse. It was so rich and decadent. One of the best faux gras’s I’ve had since the ban went into effect. Everyone loved this, even my brother who hates liver.

At this point, we were beginning to get full and were beginning to wonder if we had been silly in ordering a three-course dinner. Then they set down house-made butter and their bread – brioche roll and rye. Both were great and the butter was so good that one of my brothers took what remained of the butter home with him at the end of the meal.

Also around this point, Chef Nayfield came out and chatted with us. He said he would like to open his own restaurant in LA. He loves the quality of the product he can find here and says he is looking to solidify investment.

Moving on, we received the first of our three courses. For the first course, I had ordered the brassica, which was a play on a Caesar salad with a variety of vegetables instead of romaine (some pickled), breadcrumbs instead of croutons, and roasted garlic. It worked well for me. All of the different tastes came together to feel like a Caesar, but were also unique. One of my brothers, who has less of an adventurous streak when it comes to food, didn’t like it much.

My stepbrother ordered the Jerusalem artichoke with mole and crema, which he enjoyed immensely. I did not manage to get a taste of it. My other brother had vegetables a la greque, which was a mixed vegetable dish that he seemed to enjoy.

Mains were next. The standout was the roast Muscovy duck for two, which my stepfather and I shared. They first brought it out whole and asked us to name it, before returning it to the kitchen for carving. This was one of the best preparations of duck that I have ever had. The breast was served in two long rectangular slices, one of which had the skin, and there was also a cube of duck confit. It was served with a carrot puree and a simple mix of chickpeas and peas.

One of my brothers and my mother had the heritage pork with spatzle, mustard, beet and apple. Caveat. They are not big pork eaters. While they might eat pork in Chinese or Mexican or in sausage or bacon, we generally never ate pork chops or pork loin growing up. So I don’t think either of them really knew what to expect from the pork chop they received. First, they were both taken aback by the size, which was about three times as large as the duck portion. Second, the pork meat was much milder in flavor than I think they expected. They both thought the pork was bland, though everything around it was fabulous. I thought the pork was good, but I generally don’t expect a pork chop to have as strong a flavor as beef or lamb.

The remaining dishes – halibut with garlic and peas, and amish chicken and mixed vegetables – were quite good.

Interestingly, when my brother didn’t finish his pork and asked for a box to take his home, Chef Nayfield came out again to ask if everything was okay and if there was something else they could get him. We assured him that nothing was wrong and it’s just my brother’s hang-up in wanting to pack his own food. I was quite impressed that the chef would want to ensure that customers were happy.

For desserts, we all ordered one of two desserts the cherry, which was served as a large cobbler, or the chocolate, which was a small dense fudge cake, served on a wafer with a caramel ice cream with wild rice crispies. Both were very strong and intense. And excellent.

Dinner for six was about $550 before tip (but including tax). That included a bottle of Domaine Bruno Clair Marsannay for $110, one glass of white wine, a couple of extra non-alcoholic drinks, and some sparkling water.

Also, one of my brothers was supposed to upload photos that he took so I can copy them here. But they don't seem to be up yet. Once they are, I will add them.

May 18, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

"Baja Sub" Sri Lankin in Northridge?

How does it compare to Apey Kade in Woodland Hills? I love their deviled chicken and kotha roti.

May 16, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Fifty Seven LA and smoke.oil.salt?

A friend of mine raved about Fifth Seven so much that I'm having my birthday dinner there tomorrow night. I should have a report soon.

May 16, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area