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Your favorite grocery store ice cream

I'm not a big blueberry fan, so I haven't tried the blueberry crisp. I have had the Peanut Butter and agreed that it is good, though my favorite peanut butter ice cream is the Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter Fudge Core.

FYI, I found some pints at a local Ralphs. They had limited flavors -- the two caramel sea salt (regular and chocolate), espresso chip, and the blueberry crisp. I think Ralphs base price is $1 less than Gelsons, and these pints were on sale for $5.99.

2 days ago
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

$10 and under near the Grove/Fairfax area

I haven't lived in the area for awhile, but my go-to Mexican was Chulada Grill on San Vicente at Hauser. The rolled tacos at Benitos Tacos on Beverly are also great.

One of the better Indian restaurants in Los Angeles outside of Artesia is India's Grill, which is at San Vicente and 4th, right by the Beverly Center. They have lunch specials under $10.

Aug 25, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Food delivery services: your experience?

I also like Eat24. The best thing is that there aren't a lot of extra fees and the prices are the same as on the regular menus.

Grubhub and Seamless are a little more costly than Eat24, but I'll use them if a particular restaurant isn't on Eat24. There is a lot of overlap.

LA Bite is an old standby for certain places when I have a strong craving. But the added fees -- delivery charge, gas charge, and then they include their charges and tax in the tip calculation.

If your order is missing items and you are using a delivery service that has its own drivers (unlike Eat24, where it is the restaurant's delivery peopl), the fault is with the delivery service. They should check every order for completion before leaving the restaurant. You can always call the delivery service and get a refund or have them go back to the restaurant to get the missing items.

My experience with LA Bite and Eat24 is that if a restaurant doesn't have something that you have ordered, they will call you pretty quickly to let you know. And they have been good if an item is missing. I sometimes feel guilty when a driver has to go pretty far to correct an error, so if I can live without the item, I'll just ask for a refund. I also have come to learn that some places just can't orders straight.

When I used to order from Hoagies & Wings in Sherman Oaks, there always would be one or two items missing -- a drink, an extra sauce, an order of fries. It got to the point that, in the special instructions for ordering, I would list how many little containers of sauces, drinks, and and fries should be in the final order. That was not the fault of a service; they had their own drivers with orders placed through Eat24.

I was considering using doordash for the first time the other night, but I think the menu prices for a lot of the restaurants are significantly inflated.

Aug 24, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Recs in the San Fernando valley

It's tiny and the parking lot is a nightmare, but the meats, tortillas, and salsa are great. The only bad thing I've had was a pollo with mole sauce. That's not their forte.

Aug 24, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Antonio's Pizza/Barone's Pizza-Sherman Oaks

Both are on Ventura. Spumoni is on Ventura, north side, just west of Van Nuys. They are known for their gnocchi and their bolognese is phenomenal. The owners are really friendly and you usually get free tiramisu.

Gio is a few blocks west of the 405, south side in the strip mall next to the Land Rover lot. The restaurant is upstairs and parking in the lot sucks. All the pastas are freshly made and soups are good. I always get their ravioli, which allows you to choose three types of ravioli and sauces. Usually I get a double veal ravioli with bolognese and a pumpkin tortellini with sage and brown butter. I've never tried their fish or meat entrees, but my brother said he had a very good filet a few weeks ago.

I consider Gio a little more upscale with a more ambitious menu, as a slightly higher price point. Spumoni is a good neighborhood Italian, very homey and reliable, and good bang for the buck.

Aug 24, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Antonio's Pizza/Barone's Pizza-Sherman Oaks

Growing up, I occasionally had Barone's pizza and was not very impressed. However, a few months ago, I moved to a new house just a few blocks away and gave it a try. It was excellent pizza, and I have continued to enjoy it since. The crust is thin, but has a nice chewiness; the sauce has good flavor, and the toppings are balanced. The only pizza that left me slightly disappointed was one with fresh tomato, which felt a little soggy. I think that came from cooking the toppings under the cheese; the water had no means of escaping. So I have avoided tomato since then. I do wish they delivered.

I've also had a few non-pizza meals at the restaurant. The pastas I've tried -- penne pesto and angel hair with meatballs -- were both fine. In the area, I probably would go with Gio or Spumoni for pasta, but Barone's were fine, old-school red sauce Italian dishes. My brother really likes Barone's steaks, but I haven't tried them.

Aug 22, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

L.A. Dish of the Month, August 2015 -- HOT DOGS/SAUSAGES

Fab Hot Dogs - Mexicali Dog with Spicy Polish Sausage (with guacamole, sour cream, adobo sauce, and grilled onions)

Your favorite grocery store ice cream

I love the Gelato Fiasco brand that is now available at Gelsons (and I think at some Ralphs). The Dark Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt is incredibly rich, but not overly sweet. It has the exact flavor of an artisan chocolate salted caramel. (The regular salted caramel is quite good too.) The Raspberry Truffle Sorbeto also is incredible -- and I don't normally like fruit flavors.

I also like Nancy's Fancy Caramel Budino.

Aug 11, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

keeping queso and mac and cheese creamy

It probably is sodium citrate, which helps make cheese sauces more creamy without having to add too much milk and cream. I haven't seen reference to it specifically keeping the cheese from hardening when it cools, but it is the likely additive.

Aug 10, 2015
Jwsel in Cheese

Birthday Dinner on Strip for 16 year old

I'm not a fan of Cut. My last two visits, the steaks were poorly done. One, a Kobe, was so heavily charred that it was impossible to appreciate the tenderness of the Kobe. The second time, I got a grass-fed ribeye that was little more than a chunk of fat.

After that experience, I began going to Carnevino for my Vegas steak-fix. I can't recommend it highly enough. The pastas and non-steak items are excellent, and provide some opportunities for an adventurous eater.

The original post did not mention price, so the caveat is that prices are very high. The other night, two of us had a New York strip each, a shared octopus appetizer, two sides, two desserts, one glass of wine, and two cappuccinos. Price after tax was approximately $280.

Aug 09, 2015
Jwsel in Las Vegas

Recs in the San Fernando valley

I wrote a long post the other day and Chowhound ate it, so I'll try again. I'll try to stick to Encino proper, but will offer some options in the surrounding areas.

Thai 'n' I on Ventura, east of White Oak. Get the BBQ ribs or chicken, which are addictive. They can be ordered in combo with their mee krob (also great) and pad thai (decent). Everything is very sweet. I usually stick to those items and avoid most of their curries and stir fries. Beyond that, get accustomed to going to North Hollywood for Thai. Sri Siam and Krua Thai are my favorites.

Larsen's is a good, but expensive steak house. The sides are nothing to write home about, but the meat is some of the best around.

For sushi, Okumura and Sushi 4 on 6 are good, basic options. For non-traditional rolls, Cho Cho San in the Smart and Final center at Balboa has a lot of offerings. The rock and roll (baked scallop and avocado) handroll is a personal favorite. The best quality nigiri is available at Sushi Iki in Tarzana. For a good balance between quality of fish and non-traditional offerings (i.e., you can get good nigiri and creative rolls), I like Sushi Ichiban Kan on Woodland Hills.

Le Sanglier in Tarzana is very traditional French. It has been there since the 1970s. The bouillabaisse, onion soup, and lamb are particular standouts.

At Victory and Sepulveda are two Vietnamese restaurants. Pho 999 on the west side is my preference, but Pho So 1 in the Ranch 99 market is also good. The Sam Woo BBQ is also quite good. They do take-out roast duck and BBQ pork. Cash only.

Shiraz is my favorite Persian. The albaloo polo and fessenjan are excellent. Meats can sometimes be dry.

Someone previously mentioned Apey Kade for Sri Lankan. The deviled chicken is one of the best, spicy dishes around.

Anarbagh and Taj Mahal are both serviceable Indian. Nothing fantastic, but they are better than most Valley Indian places. Anarbagh has good lunch specials.

Birrieria Mexico at Vanowen just west of Van Nuys has excellent birria and barbacoa, plus tortillas hechos de manos and incredible molcajete and habanero salsa. (The habanero is probably the spiciest thing I've ever tasted, but oh so flavorful.) Most Mexican in Encino and Sherman Oaks is terrible. Get used to going to Reseda or Van Nuys. Salsa and Beer and Las Fuentes in Reseda (or North Hollywood) are two of the better sit-down places, though both are very casual. Some of the El Taco Llamas are good for a taqueria and I like Albertos in Van Nuys for California burritos and rolled tacos.

Aug 03, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Recs in the San Fernando valley

The pastas also are very good. I usually get the choice of three ravioli plate, typically with veal ravioli with bolognese and pumpkin tortellini with brown butter and sage sauce.

Aug 03, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Recs in the San Fernando valley

I haven't been to this Lum-Ka-Nad, but my family went once and said it was the worst Thai food they had ever had. It was so bad that they refuse to even consider giving it a second chance.

Jul 27, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Information about Marconi's Restaurant in L.A., 1970s

Are you thinking of Martoni's restaurant on Sunset? It was a music industry hangout opened by Ciro "Mario" Marino, who later owned Marino Restaurant, now run by his son Mario. His other son, Sal, owns Il Grano.

Jul 13, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area


Gelsons carries it. I've been making my own ice cream, but when I saw the Gelato Fiasco Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel, I decided to buy a pint. Wow. It was unbelievably good. Not very sweet at all, but the flavors are intense. I bought another pint the other day, and also picked up the regular Salted Caramel and the Peanut Butter Stracciatella. The Gelsons on Laurel Canyon had them and other flavors on sale for $5.99 a pint.

Jul 13, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

August visit - 1 lunch, 2 dinners - how are my choices?

Grand Central Market is not near Santa Monica, so it doesn't work for Friday lunch. It's not open late, so it's not a viable option for Friday dinner. And Saturday at GSM is a zoo, with near hour-long waits in line for Eggslut.

Langers is too far for Friday lunch and they close at 4 pm, so it won't work for either dinner.

For something "new," I would recommend Korean BBQ. Parks has the best meat, but for someone who isn't familiar with Korean BBQ, I would recommend a place like Genwa in Beverly Hills (which also is closer than Koreatown). The sheer amount and variety of banchan would allow the OP and her friend to try a lot of different things. The courses also make it easy to order. And they have nice drinks.

For Thai, the best options are in Hollywood. Jitlada or Night and Market.

Jul 12, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Restaurant suggestions near Woodland Hills

I'm not a fan of either of the Brothers Sushi places. I would recommend Sushi Ichiban Kan for less traditional offerings, though the quality of the fish is still very good. You also could look at Sushi Spot or Sushi Iki for traditional nigiri. I prefer all of those to Sugarfish. Omakase at Sushi Spot or Iki could run pretty high. Ichiban Kan will do omakase if you call in advance, and they have different prices. Ask to be seated in front of Hiro, the owner.

If you're willing to brave a total hole in the wall, Apey Kade is a Sri Lankan restaurant in Woodland Hills. The "deviled chicken" is an extremely spicy, but incredible dish, and the egg and string hoppers are great. I think they have a lunch buffet every day.

Jul 06, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Ethnic restaurants near Beverly hills

I think Genwa is better than decent. The meats are fine, but the banchan -- little dishes that are served with the meal -- are fantastic. You get 20+ different banchan with the meal.

LA does not have great Indian food, but one of the better places in the city is India's Grill at La Cienega and San Vicente. That's just a few blocks from Cedars.

Nonna's Empanadas is very close to Cedars on 3rd Street. They are not the most traditional empanadas, but have a variety of fillings. If you want to grab a bite while walking around, it is a good option.

10 favorite cheeses

No particular order:

Mt Tam
Cazelle St L'Affrique
Red Hawk
Midnight Moon
Garbiel Coulet Le Petit Cave
Rogue Creamery Brutal Blue

Jun 22, 2015
Jwsel in Cheese

In search of incredible lox?

Seeing that Odessa Grocery has a store in Valley Village, which is close to my house, I decided to try their smoked fish. The salmon I got was not very salty, so I suspect it was Nova, but it was still excellent if you like a more mild flavor. It was buttery and tender. The salmon was $13.99/lb. (The salmon was very similar in taste to the smoked salmon I had at Wexler's a few weeks ago, which also was fairly mild.)

Odessa also had a lot of other fish, so I asked which was the best. The woman working the counter told me to try the "Capitan," which the LA Weekly article says is smoked escolar. Wow. This is salty and oily and utterly fantastic. I would have it over traditional lox any day of the week. The Capitan was $17.99/lb.

Jun 20, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

French speaking restaurant in LA or OC

Le Sanglier is a very old-school, small French restaurant that has been in Tarzana since the 1970s. I can't confirm that the servers speak French, but their accented English strongly suggests they are. The food can be hit or miss, but if you choose well, it is usally quite good. A few highlights -- the bouillabaisse (a fantastic version that is usually on the specials menu), rack of lamb, French onion soup.

Wherever you go, I would suggest you tell them in advance that you would like to give a teen a chance to practice French.

Jun 17, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Up-to-date Korean and Chinese recs, please

I don't know the thread either, but it would help to know: (1) where you will be staying; and (2) if you can drive to the San Gabriel Valley for Chinese and Koreatown for Korean.

There are a lot of recent threads on Chinese food in the LA area. But they probably do not refer to "Chinese"; instead, they are likely to refer to a certain Chinese food (xiao long bao, beef rolls, etc), the region of the cuisine (Sichuan, Taiwanese, etc.), or to a restaurant by name.

For Korean, you might search for threads with "Koreatown" in their title.

Jun 14, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Where to eat Brunch/Lunch 4th July near Sherman Oaks?

Warren's Blackboard (the restaurant at the Beverly Garland closed. There will be a new restaurant at the site, the Front Yard, but I don't think it is open yet. (Warren's Blackboard was supposed to be a temporary preview of The Front Yard, which Warren Schwartz was supposed to run. I don't think Schwartz is attached any longer; the last I heard, he was involved with the delivery service Munchery.

As alternatives, in Sherman Oaks, I believe the new Public School and La Frite have bottomless mimosa brunches.

The Sheraton Universal is a high-end buffet brunch. I haven't been in years so I cannot speak to its quality.

Jun 10, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

good catering ideas (Mexican, maybe) for a 3 year olds birthday...

Where are you located? I recently had catered tacos from Pepper Mexican Grill in Van Nuys, but served them as a taco bar. The different fillings -- chicken, cochinita pibil, and cream-cheese filled, bacon-wrapped jalapenos -- were in chafing dishes next to warm tortillas and the different salsas. People just made their own tacos. They fillings were delicious, stayed warm, and did not dry out.

Jun 03, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

russian(?) soup dumplings in glendale

I tried the ones they have at Sherman Way Grill & Pizza in North Hollywood, a little hole in the wall. They were pretty soupy with a fair amount of liquid. They didn't have as much flavor as Chinese xiao long bao, but were tasty. I think they were $10 for about 5 or 6, with sides.

I haven't had them since, because I always get their buffalo wings, which are some of the best in the city.

May 31, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

LA Restaurateurs Think the $15 Minimum Wage Hike Spells Doom for the Industry

I'm not understanding the complaints from those owners. They seem to be saying that waitstaff and FOH people already earn more than $15 in base pay, so what is the problem? If they get tips on top of that, they will earn more than the BOH people who will now get at least $15. How many BOH employees per restaurant are there who are making under $15 per hour at places like Republique, Terrine, or AKASHA? Even if it were 10 people per restaurant who are now making $15 instead of $10 and they actually work 40 hours per week (many probably work less), you're talking $500 per week difference.

May 22, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area


I should have mentioned the reservation situation in my post. We were told they are booked through mid-July.

Even before Chef's Table, weekend seats were difficult. I thought I was crazy for booking on March (March 20, to be exact), but even with two months advance, only the 5:30 and late seating were available.

May 18, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area


A report from my birthday dinner last night. The dinner was possibly the best meal I've ever had. With one small exception, every dish was exquisite. I feared that the meal would not live up to expectations raised by the long wait since we booked (in March) and the Chef's Table profile on Chef Nakayama. Thankfully, the meal exceeded those expectations.

Here is a summary of the meal.

We arrived just before 5:30 and waited a few minutes for the restaurant to open. We were seated immediately.

First course: Oyster with salmon roe, uni, and kumquat or snow crab with salmon roe and pea puree. During my call with the restaurant last week to discuss dietary restrictions, I mentioned that one member of our party does not eat red meat and that I had received a request to not have oysters. I was asked if I liked oysters and when I said I did, I was told: "You will get oysters." (Actually, two of us had oysters and the others had the snow crab.) The oyster was a perfect opening bite, a nice interplay of textures and flavors. I had a bite of the snow crab, which was very delicate and enhanced by a subtle pea puree.

I should add that we split two wine pairings between four people, which worked perfectly for us. We did not have very heavy drinkers so individual win pairings would have been far too much. But splitting the pairings allowed us to experience the pairings. The pairings included sparkling wine to begin, followed by wine, sake, and even ale with the ensuing courses.

Second course: Seasonal Appetizer consisting of four items: (1) lobster tempura with spicy aoili; (2) grilled cod with miso sauce; (3) Tazmanian sea trout sashimi; and (4) stuffed squid with crab, quail egg and squid ink. This was a beautiful plate and each item elicited raves. The tempura lobster was fried in a light, crunchy batter that did not take away from the lobster flavor. The cod was wonderfully carmelized, sweet and smoky. The sea trout sashimi was buttery and tender. And the squid was fun, as you were supposed to mix the yolk from the quail egg into the squid ink to create a sauce for the squid. This was paired with a Spanish white wine, a 2013 Martinsancho Verdejo.

Third course: Bonito sashimi with black mustard flower and shiso paste. I've had bonito sushi a few times, but it was never this tender and flavorful. This was paired with a cold sake that, despite my general dislike for sake, I enjoyed.

Fourth course: Clam with ginger, carrot, and seaweed in a clear broth. Wow. This was earthy and flavorful. It was served with an Alsatian white wine that, on first sip, I thought was too sweet and did not like. But it paired perfectly with the earthy soup.

Fifth course: Toro, oyster, kampachi with cucumber, red snapper, octopus on watermelon radish. For the people who did not eat oyster, they received uni (though my mom gave me a share of hers). All of the sashimi was delicious. The toro was by far the best I've ever had. Again, this was paired with a cold sake, though I did not like the sake as much as the previous one.

Sixth course: Grilled branzino with pickled daikon, ginkgo nut and bamboo. Wow. This fish was just amazing. Sweet and carmelized that contrasted with the daikon, which brought a small spiciness to the dish. The bamboo was a revelation, tender with the texture and flavor of a perfectly cooked artichoke. The fish was paired with a Hitachino Nest White Ale, a wheat beer that may have been the smoothest, mildest beer I've ever tasted.

Seventh course: Snow crab chawanmushi with shitaki mushroom and shiso leaf. The custard had a thin layer of sauce or broth on the top. The flavors were mild and subtle, a nice change from the stronger flavors of the prior dish. The wine pairing -- a Pazo Senorans Albarino -- was probably the only miss of the night for me.

Eighth course: Spaghetti with abalone, cod roe, and truffle. Utterly ridiculous. I remember this dish -- n/naka's signature dish -- from my first visit several years ago and it was still phenomenal. It amazes me that a pasta at a Japenese restaurant could be better than any I've ever had at a top Italian restaurant. From the first scene of the truffle and garlic to the last bit, nobody wanted this dish to end. Paired with a 2013 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre, which was dry with some floral notes and fit well with the pasta.

Ninth course: A5 wagyu served on a hot rock with vegetables -- cauliflower, beet, cauliflower, mashed potato puree, and a beet chip -- and daikon horseradish and sea salt. Another incredible dish. I don't know what to say other than this was perfect. The wine pairing was a complex Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2013 Alamos, that I absolutely loved.

Tenth course: Firefly sunomono (cucumber and seaweed) with tomato and a mini yuzo sake. This was an interesting and challenging dish. I really liked the tiny squid, which had an almost-livery taste. The yuzo sake served with the dish was refreshing and tasted like a wonderful lemonade. I could have drank several more cups of it.

Eleventh course: Sushi -- six types served in pairs. Toro and whitefish, Spanish makerel and sweet shrimp, uni and octopus. After the sweet shrimp, we received a clear miso both with some of the shrimp head in it. I know I'm repeating myself, but every piece of sushi was fantastic. The octopus deserves special mention. I don't know how it was so tender. Only once before, at Kiriko, did I have octopus that was tender like this. Paired with another sake, which everyone else liked.

Twelfth course: Melon sorbet with rose granita. This was the only dish that I did not love. Not because of the taste. The sorbet was intensely flavorful. The sorbet was just a little too cold and icy, making it hard to eat. This was served with a hot macha.

Thirteenth course: Malted meringue with popcorn ice cream, homemade chocolate-covered raisin, lemon drop, and caramel sauce. This made me giddy. The popcorn was buttery and the meringue was crispy and melt-in-your-mouth. The lemon drop was particularly exceptional. This was paired with a Hannya sweet chili plum wine that was wonderfully sweet and spicy.

Extra dessert - green tea pot de creme. For my birthday, I received a special dish. This was subtle and creamy.

Overall, it was a spectacular meal. Multiple courses elicited "oh my god" reactions. The plating was exquisite (photos can be viewed on my brother's blog: Service was impeccable and, when Chef Nakayama came to the table, she was remarkably self-effacing and modest.


Not surprising. Even before the Netflix show, it was hard to get reservations. I booked dinner for tonight on Open Table nearly two months ago, and, even then, I only had a choice of 5:30 pm or after 9 pm.

May 16, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Great sushi between calabasas and burbank

Monday is going to be difficult. I would have recommended Sushi Ichiban Kan in Woodland Hills and Sushi Iki in Tarzana, but both are closed on Mondays,

May 13, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area