Jwsel's Profile

Title Last Reply

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.

1 day ago
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

Cafe Bizou Sherman Oaks for Mother's Day?

I wish I had thought to warn you away from that mushroom appetizer. It really is terrible.

You would have been better off with the soup or salad for $1 or $2.

May 13, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

ISO restaurants in Woodland Hills, CA

Another very good sushi bar is Sushi Ichiban Kan, at Ventura and Corbin. It is not as expensive as Go's Mart, but has better quality fish than most sushi bars in the area. It also has a lot of Americanized sushi rolls so you can either go for traditional nigiri or crazy rolls.

A total hole in the wall in the same area is Apey Kade for Sri Lankan food. The Deviled Chicken is one of the spiciest dishes in Los Angeles, and definitely something unusual.

May 11, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Sattdown Jamaican Grill (Studio City)

Love it. The jerk chicken, curry goat, and oxtails are all superb. I usually don't even love jerk chicken, but Sattdown's is fantastic. I also have tried their various patties. I seem to recall the beef being quite good, but the seafood ones being disappointing.

If you get there early enough, Passions Pastries in the same strip mall may still be open. They have great cupcakes.

May 09, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Cafe Bizou Sherman Oaks for Mother's Day?

I have gone to Bizou for Mother's Day and other events multiple times. It may not wow you, but it's very reliable and the salad/soup with entree makes it quite reasonable for what you are getting.

My go-to dish is the monkfish with saffron risotto, fried carrots, and lobster sauce. I also recommend the pork tenderloin, veal sweetbreads appetizer, and the rack of lamb.

May 06, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Indian restaurants in Hollywood area....can any make Chicken Tikka v. Fajita Tikka?

It's not in Hollywood, so I'm not sure it's close enough for the OP. But that would be my recommendation for Indian west of downtown. They do a very good tikka.

This link is to a photo posted on Yelp last month; http://s3-media1.ak.yelpcdn.com/bphot...

Apr 28, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Downtown LA--dinner spot for 10 coworkers. Help!

Border Grill is definitely in your price range. I know it has its detractors, but I always find it a reliable dinner option downtown.

If you were to go into the surrounding area, Guelaguetza for Oaxacan or a Korean BBQ place might work.

Apr 27, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

My son wants steak for his graduation dinner

Am I the only one who loves the steaks at Larsen's in Encino? The bone-in ribeye is consistently as good as the best steaks I've had at Mastro's and Cut. They use a combination of dry and wet aging. I don't know if it's special enough for a graduation dinner with no spending limit, but it is an excellent steak.

Mar 16, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Wanted: El Yucateco - Salsa Picante de Chile Haberno

Amazon carries all of the different habanero sauces -- red, green and XXX -- and sells a four-pack that includes the chipotle. If you have Amazon Prime, there is no shipping cost.

Mar 06, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Josiah Citrin Opening Casual Venice Restaurant

Citrin has done casual before. He opened a more casual place that didn't do well. I think it was named Cache. (Also, I believe Citrin is connected with Lemon Moon, though it is a much more limited concept.) I wish him well. I just hope it doesn't take him away from Melisse too much; it's one of the gems of LA's restaurant scene.

Mar 06, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Any Mexican restaurants that serve Goat? (Glendale/Burbank)

In addition to the birrierias, I believe most of the taquerias in the Vallarta markets have goat birria (some birrias are made with lamb or mutton). The Yelp page for the Vallarta location in Burbank contains a few mentions of Birria, so you might want to try it.

Mar 06, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Moving to the Valley, what's good?- Sherman Oaks/Van Nuys

I posted in the original thread, but figure I'll just post new.

Sri Siam at Vanowen and Coldwater also has phenomenal Thai. There are great threads on it, but the northern Thai specialties like the crispy rice salad and the fish with Thai herbs are not to be missed. Also, Krua Thai on Sherman Way in North Hollywood has no shortage of posts. It is still the go-to place for pad thai. The ribs and chicken at Thai 'n' I in Encino are still fantastic.

For BBQ, Smoke City BBQ on Van Nuys, just south of Chandler, has great brisket. I'm meh on most of their other stuff. For fried chicken, southern desserts, and, depending on if you like it slightly sweet, mac 'n' cheese, Mom's BBQ at Hazeltine and Vanowen is excellent.

There are a lot of good taquerias in the area. There are several El Taco Llamas, including one on Van Nuys Blvd.; Alberto's on Vanowen, just west of Van Nuys, has great rolled tacos and burritos (and is under new management, so they actually smile at you when you order); and Rigo's at Oxnard and Woodman has my favorite spicy salsa roja and pastor on a spit on weekends. The carniceria at the Vallarta markets -- there are several near you -- are great for takeout and I prefer their rotisserie chicken to the local markets and Costco. The tres leches cake at Vallarta is fantastic.

For Vietnamese, I'm a fan of Pho 999 on Sepulveda at Victory (on the west side). Good, inexpensive pho and vermicelli.

For Chinese, the Sam Woo BBQ across the street has a good takeout BBQ area and the dishes are about as good as you can get this side of the San Gabriel Valley. Green Village in Encino, just west of the 405 has some Shanghai specialties -- stick to the specials like the French Beef and the soy noodles, not the Americanized favorites (they don't do those as well). For Americanized Chinese, I recommend Bamboo Forest at the corner of Kester and Van Nuys. Great hot and sour soup, volcano/aromatic chicken, mu shu, and egg foo yung.

MB Chinese at Woodman/Ventura (in the center with Jinky's) makes my list, but not really for its Chinese food. It has the best chicken wings in the area -- but skip the buffalo wings. They have something like 20 different flavors. My favorites are the General Tso's and the Salt and Pepper (a fried, crispy spicy wing). I still haven't tried most of the flavors though. MB also is one of the few places that have xiao long bao in the valley (they are decent) and do a nice green onion pancake.

Someone mentioned the Armenian market/BBQ place. It's called Sweet One Bakery and Kebab Factory or sometimes The Kebab Factory. It's a hidden gem for buying inexpensive produce and meat at the butcher. They will also cook the meat. I was in there yesterday and, for under $13, bought 3/4 lb of marinated, boneless chicken breasts; 1/2 lb of seasoned ground bison for kebab/patties; two potatoes, two onions, a broccoli crown, 3 lbs of carrots, and a stalk of cilantro. The lamajeune -- like a very thin Armenian pizza -- that they sell at the bakery also is very good.

A new breakfast and lunch place is BluJam at Ventura and Noble. It's always busy, but the food is quite good. It can definitely be a go-to brunch spot.

Cafe Bizou is rather staid, but it is a reliable go-to place for dinner with visitors.

Three Italian recommendations. For a good, casual neighborhood place, both Spumoni on Ventura, just west of Van Nuys, and Gio Cucina, also on Ventura, but west of the 405 in Encino, are good. Gio is a little more gourmet, but also a little more expensive. Both are good. I also recently had a great dinner at Oliva on Van Nuys, just north of Ventura, on Valentine's Day. The food was quite good and a friend of mine goes there regularly and sings its praises.

Japanese has no shortage in the area, though the better sushi is west in Encino (Katsu-Ya), Tarzana (Sushi Iki), Woodland Hills (Sushi Ichiban Kan and Sushi Spot), and Canoga Park (Go's Mart), and east in Studio City (Kiwami, Katsu-Ya, and Sugarfish). For ramen, Yamadaya at Ventura and Noble is probably the best locally.

I have to make a special mention of a place that has not been mentioned here, but Gyoro Gyoro in Encino (in the Bed Bath & Beyond center) is a great izakaya. There is a huge variety of small plates and they do a lot of different foods well.

I definitely second the rec for Puro Sabor. Another Peruvian place that is worth trying is Takatis on Van Nuys (I believe it is just north of city hall). The chicken is just okay, but the specialty is the Sanguchon, a sandwich made with shredded chicken, fried yams, and a fried egg, topped with their special sauce. Jonathan Gold raved about it -- and he was right. The only problem is that, while the sandwich may be the cheapest item on their menu, it sometimes takes 20-30 minutes to make, so your wait can be interminable.

Mendocino Farms just opened a branch at Hazeltine and Ventura. Parking sucks around there, so I haven't been in, but I like the other Mendocino Farms.

Also, food trucks sometimes park in front of Guitar Center on Ventura, just west of Hazeltine, and on Tuesday nights, there usually are a few that park in the lot in front of Pep Boys/Costco on Sepulveda.

For burgers, you might try Outlaw Cafe on Van Nuys north of Oxnard. I was meh on the burger, but it does get great reviews -- and is big. The steak fries are basically fried quartered potatoes. I hear great things about the burgers at the Blue Dog Tavern, which is o Saugus, just east of Sepulveda and south of Ventura. For fast food burgers, you have In 'n Out at Van Nuys and Moorpark and Fatburger at Ventura and Beverly Glen. There are Umami, Counter and Five Guys in Studio City.

For pizza, I tend to go with Mulberry on Ventura, west of Sepulveda. I've never tried Lido's at Sepulveda and Victory, though I have heard good things about it -- it's takeout only, no delivery. Joe's in the Fashion Square mall is also pretty good, but expensive.

Mar 02, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Fried Chicken at Mom's Bar-B-Q House (Van Nuys)

I just saw this thread and, ironically, got takeout from Mom's for the first time in a few years. The fried chicken was fantastic -- with a nice crust with good flavor, but extremely moist inside.

I was less impressed with the pork ribs and the hot links. The ribs just didn't have much flavor and the links were not spicy enough for me (Roger's in Northridge has great links). The greens were great -- and I normally don't love greens -- and I enjoyed the baked beans and mac and cheese. The mac and cheese has a little sweetness so I can understand why not everyone will like it, but I thought it was pretty good.

Feb 14, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

What restaurant do you really really really miss that is now closed ?????

I miss Swensen's. There was one in Encino that was a traditional ice cream shop. Then they opened in the Galleria. Now I want some Sticky Chewy Chocolate.

Mon Grenier. The best bouillabaise in the city.

China Inn in Encino. It closed in the 80s and I have not found comparable kung pao chicken.

Pinot Bistro in Studio City.

Red Onion (the original)

Hamptons on Highland. The burgers, with all their odd combinations of toppings were good, but they also had great potato salad and incredible desserts (the "Chocolate Mort" -- as in death -- was aptly named).

I'll also echo those who miss Love's (mostly for the baked beans) and Wiener Factory.

Feb 07, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Chowhound or Cuisinepoodle?

I don't get this. Generally, high end restaurants are considered the "best" restaurants from an overall standpoint when you include factors like service, environment, and food quality. So when someone asks for the "best" restaurant, the answers will include a lot of high end restaurants.

When someone asks for one day, which means limited meals, it's not surprising that a lot of people will mention higher-end restaurants.

But if you read threads asking for several meals or a foodie itinerary, the responses invariably include more economical choices. That is reflective of the variety of chow options in LA.

On a personal level, Chowhound has introduced me to a lot of hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Just off the top of my head (and being a SFV denizen), I would list Fab Hot Dogs, Tampa Garden, Sri Siam, Krua Thai, Smoke City BBQ, the pho places on Sepulveda at Victory, and a half-dozen taquerias as places I first read about here that have become part of my current local circle of places I eat. My newest discovery is Apey Kade, a Sri Lankan restaurant in Woodland Hills, which has about two tables and is located in a strip mall. There is nothing at all elitist about it.

Jan 29, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Armenian Meat Market throwdown: Karabagh vs Golden Farms vs Super King

I agree about the one in Valley Glen. I am never 100% sure about the name. It is often listed as Sweet One Bakery & Kabab Factory.

The marinated, boneless chicken breast and thighs are fantastic for $4.99/lb and $4.59/lb respectively. The lamb is good and I have enjoyed some of their rib eyes I've bought (usually on sale for $4.99-$5.99/lb). It's not the highest-quality beef, but I can usually find a well-marbled steak.

Jan 25, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Where to find these and other (obscure/Northern/Isaan) Thai dishes in LA?

Sri Siam in North Hollywood has a lot of Northern Thai items. The nam prik num is incredible. I've also had the khao soi and nam prik ong, which are good, but not really to my taste. The salad you describe sounds similar to their crispy rice salad, but that has sour pork (or for a kosher version, they do it with chicken). I suspect you could get the others; they have a lengthy menu on the wall that is completely in Thai and not translated. Nam prik num, for instance, is only listed on that menu, not the regular one.


Jan 06, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area