Jwsel's Profile

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L.A. Dish of the Month, March 2015 -- SEAFOOD SANDWICHES

I was one day early, but had the Little Jewel po' boy yesterday. That was a great sandwich. The shrimp was fried perfectly -- not greasy and not overcooked. The batter had a slight spicy kick to it that helped avoid it being overpowered by the rest of the sandwich fillings. And it was filling. My friend and I thought we would split a shrimp po' boy and a roast beef po' boy. We ate the shrimp first and never unwrapped the roast beef.

about 14 hours ago
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Molecular/ Modern Cuisine in LA or Malibu

The single-best molecular gastronomy meal I've had in Los Angeles was at the former chef's table at AnQi in Costa Mesa. The chef at the time, Ryan Carson, is at The Munchery and has done a pop-up restaurant, Prive. You might want to contact him via Facebook to see if he could cater an event.

2 days ago
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

L.A. Dish of the Month, February 2015 -- BURGERS

Sorry, no pictures, but I had a great burger yesterday from Eat That Burger in North Hollywood (ordered via delivery). I got a Double Bacon Cheeseburger with grilled onions and guacamole. The meat was cooked a perfect medium rare and had good flavor. It wasn't a very thick patty, but not super-thin either. The combo with fries and a coke, plus $0.50 for the onions and $1.25 for the guacamole, came to $9.74. The burger alone would have been $4.99 and the combo, without extras, would have been $6.99.

This will definitely be a regular place I stop or order from.

Feb 26, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Best place for fun graduation dinner near ucla

You're responding to a three-year old post. They probably celebrated the graduation already.

Feb 25, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Where to eat INSIDE LAX

That isn't completely true. A few terminals are linked via tunnel -- not a pleasant walk -- but you can sometimes go to a terminal with better food options. I believe terminal 6, which is horrid, can access terminal 5, which has Lemonade, Loteria, and some other superior options.

Feb 16, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Pepper Mexican Grill - Valley Glen

In a nearly empty strip mall across Fulton from Valley College is a tiny hole in the wall taqueria called Pepper Mexican Grill. Having recently moved into the area, I decided to give it a shot a few weeks ago and was very impressed. Subsequent visits have confirmed that this is a neighborhood gem.

The menu is very limited, but it has recently changed to provide expanded offerings. Tacos, burritos, tostadas, and nachos, plus some breakfast items are it. I have only tried the cochinita pibil and carne asada tacos and tostadas, and the diablo -- a bacon-wrapped, cream-cheese filled jalapeno taco (there's a photo below of the woman wrapping the jalapenos in bacon). The cochinita, especially, is a winner. It is intensely flavorful, though today's was a little on the dry side. The diablo has a nice kick, but the bacon and cream cheese give it nice balance. Tacos are $1.80 and tostadas -- with plenty of meat -- are $3.00

My sole gripe is that they are skimpy with their delicious salsas. They put salsa on the tacos and you can get extra in small cups, but there is not nearly as much as I would like. The smokey roja and tangy verde salsas are both thick, so I would love to tuck into a big bowl of them with a platter of chips.

The staff is great and I hope the restaurant does well. I worry that the location is overlooked. There is a Mongolian BBQ and a Subway in the same lot and the storefronts next to Pepper promise that some type of food court is coming. But it has largely been empty every time I've gone. Hopefully, 'hounds will give it a try.

Feb 16, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Visiting Burbank/NOHO area

It is early, but if you have a little time, I would recommend you go to northern North Hollywood (not the arts district) and try some of our excellent Thai restaurants. There will be good options for your vegetarian daughter. You also could pick up some Armenian pizza (lamajeune) and pastries at one of the Armenian bakeries in the area.

For Mexican, on Sherman Way, Salsa and Beer is probably the best sit-down place at the moment (and undoubtedly will still be there this summer). (There are numerous hole-in-the-wall taquerias in the area, too, and we can recommend some when you are in the area.)

Post again in a few months and I'm sure you'll get a lot of responses.

Feb 14, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Korean BBQ or any fun rec for bday gathering for small group

I've always had terrible food from Streets of India (delivery, not in the restaurant). Of the Encino/Sherman Oaks Indian, I prefer Anarbagh, Taste of India, and Taj Mahal, but none of them are particularly great.

Feb 14, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Korean BBQ or any fun rec for bday gathering for small group

x2 on Apey Kade. Get the deviled chicken -- one of the spiciest dishes in LA, but with phenomenal flavor. Haven't tried Ay Papa Que Rico, but I recently moved closer to it, so plan to go.

Other "ethnic" holes in the walls I recommend -- the two pho places on Sepulveda and Victory (across the street from one another, but I prefer the one on the west side); La Baguette on Reseda for banh mi; Puro Sabor and Takatis on Van Nuys for Peruvian (Puro Sabor for ceviches; Takatis for the Sanguchon); Sweet One Bakery & Kebab House for incredible marinated chicken and kebabs (you can buy the meat raw or get it cooked), plus lamajeune; Thai 'n I in Encino for bbq chicken and ribs (the mee krob also is a guilty pleasure); Pepper Mexican Grill (a new place by Valley College with a very limited menu) Albertos (love the rolled tacos), and El Taco Llama (several locations, but the Sherman Way in North Hollywood one is my favorite), but there are numerous taquerias in the Valley; El Criollo for Cuban; Amer's Mediterranean Grill in Encino for Middle Eastern.

A few places that I don't really consider holes in the wall, but aren't exactly formal dining include Sattdown Jamaican Grill in Studio City; Sri Siam and Krua Thai in North Hollywood; Salsa and Beer in North Hollywood and Reseda for Mexican; Portos for Cuban sandwiches and baked goods; Carnival for Lebanese; Shiraz for Persian; Falafal Bar in Tarzana for Middle Eastern.

For Japanese, Gyoro Gyoro in Encino is very underrated for izakaya. Sushi runs the gamut from cheap, non-traditional at Cho Cho San (Encino and Tarzana) to moderate places like Sushiban Ichiban Kan in Woodland Hills and Okumura in Encino to expensive places like Sushi Ike in Tarzana and Go's Mart in Canoga Park.

Hope that provides a starting point for Valley holes in the wall.

Feb 12, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Chi SPACCA - Tomahawk Pork Chop

I know it sounds odd, but there could be a liability concern. If a customer gets injured performing a task normally performed by trained waitstaff, they could argue the restaurant was negligent for letting the customer do the task. Yes, it seems silly since you are a butcher and using your own knife, but I also could see the restaurant being concerned that others, less skilled than you, might want to carve their own meat.

You might email the restaurant, explain your preferences, and ask why they said you cannot do so again. You might be able to work out an understanding. (For example, if the concern is liability, could you sign a waiver of any claim that might arise if you hurt yourself while carving your own meat.)

Feb 11, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Korean BBQ or any fun rec for bday gathering for small group

Huh??? I just don't get the claim that the valley is like death valley when it comes to ethnic food.

The valley has an some of the area's best Japanese, Thai, Mexican, Armenian, Persian, Lebanese, Jamaican, Peruvian, Vietnamese, Cuban, and Sri Lankan places, to name a few types of ethnic foods. I would qualify that by saying many of those places are holes in the wall and not upscale, but to say there is a dearth of "ethnic" food is mind-boggling. Obviously, there are some types of food that are lacking -- I haven't found any great Chinese or Korean -- but you could say that about most parts of the city outside of Koreatown for Korean and the San Gabriel Valley for Chinese.

Feb 09, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

now that it's back, where are the best foie gras dishes?

I had that the other night. Phenomenal.

Feb 01, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Where to buy Buffalo Wings for Super Bowl party?

If you are in Burbank, Ribs USA on Olive used to have very good buffalo wings. I have not been there in a few so I don't know if they are still good. The rest of the food there is awful.

Jan 29, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

"The top 13 places for fried chicken in LA, as chosen by 8 LA food writers" - Yes, it is a list, don't click on it if you don't want to!

Just read this thread and looked at the link. Not a single person on the list cast a vote for Mom's BBQ House in Van Nuys? Seriously? That is just ridiculous.

Jan 27, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Where to buy Buffalo Wings for Super Bowl party?

You didn't mention where you are, but here are a few thoughts.

Ye Rustic Inn in Los Feliz has the best buffalo wings in the city. I believe 18 pieces are $14 or $16, so they will be more expensive.

I find Hoagies and Wings better than any of the three you listed in the original post, but their wings tend to be very small.

If you don't need "buffalo" wings, I would recommend a completely unknown place. MB Chinese Food in Sherman Oaks is nominally a Chinese restaurant, but they have some fantastic wings. They are bigger than nearly every place I have found. The problem is that their buffalo sauce is not terribly good. Instead, I get their General Tso's wings, which are not cripsy, but have a delectable sauce with a little spice, and their Salt and Pepper wings, which are fried crispy and served with some jalapeno and garlic. (They have about a dozen other sauces too.) 50 pieces are $34.99.

Jan 27, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Dish of the Month, Los Angeles -- February 2015 -- Nominations

Joining the Foie love. It would be nice to get out and taste what restaurants are doing now, particularly the new ones that haven't had Foie on the menu before.

Jan 23, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Best Modernised Sushi in LA

At Ichiban Kan, my personal favorites are the BSC (baked scallop over California, which I am told Hiro, the itamae, created in the late-80s/early 90s), the Volcano (no rice, but cooked crab, whitefish, shrimp, tamago, avocado and asparagus cooked in a large round with eel sauce on top), yellowtail special (cucumber, avocado inside, with yellowtail outside and spicy mayo), baked mussels (mussels, avocado, and mayo cooked in the shell). The spicy tuna is quite good as are the regular nigiri.

At Matsuhisa, the crap with creamy spicy sauce (a baked dish), tiradito (Peruvian sashimi), and yellowtail with jalapeno sashimi are all great.

Can't speak to Katsu or Roku, because I don't go enough.

Jan 04, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Kalbi short ribs, non-marinated

You may want to check Ranch 99, which usually has a supply of thin-sliced meats for Korean BBQ. I can't recall if they have short ribs, but I know I have purchased sliced rib eye, bulgogi, and pork.

Jan 04, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Best Modernised Sushi in LA

Where are you staying? I really like Sushi Ichiban Kan in Woodland Hills. It has exactly what you describe in terms of modernized sushi, but the quality of fish and rice is much better than most non-traditional places. However, it is probably out-of-the-way.

The Katsu restaurants also probably fit the bill, but I find them overpriced for what you get.

On the very high end, Nobu or Matushisa aren't always "sushi" but have innovative preparations of fish that would satisfy a modernist taste. Roku was opened by former Matsuhisa chefs, so it is similar.

Jan 03, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Good God, Sri Siam Cafe!

I went tonight for the first time in a few months and, sadly, I think Charlie's retirement has taken its toll. The food is still good, but the flavors seemed muted. The O-Lou was well-cooked, but lacked the same strong shrimp flavor. The crispy rice salad did not have the vibrant flavors of the sour pork, lime, and chili. Similarly, pad kee mao and green coconut curry were just okay.

Service also was lacking. The waiter was extremely nice, but a simple request for napkins had to be made multiple times and I finally had to get up and ask for them. Our tea was lukewarm (as was the tea for another table).

I'm hoping this was just an off-night.

Dec 30, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Best Fried Chicken in the Valley?


Mom's is the best I've had in the valley.

Dec 29, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Best Mexican in Sherman Oaks?

Unfortunately, in Sherman Oaks proper, you have very limited offerings -- El Torito Grill, El Torito, the wretched El Mariachi and some very casual places. Most of the best places in Sherman Oaks/Van Nuys are hole-in-the-walls, so trying to fit a large group could be a challenge.

If you expand your target area, Loteria in Studio City is good, but expensive. Sol y Luna in Tarzana also can probably do a group. Casa Vega is very hit-and-miss, but it has a very retro vibe and good drinks. Salsa and Beer in Lake Balboa has good food, but might struggle with a party of 15.

Dec 25, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Broguiere's Eggnog - where is it??? Ventura - Woodland Hills

I got some at Gelsons in Encino, so I assume other Gelsons are likely to have it. (Someone posted a picture of it from the Westlake Gelsons on the Broguiere's Facebook page.) I also see it at some higher-end Ralphs.

Also, on the Broguiere's Facebook, someone posted that Jim's Fallbrook Market in Woodland Hills carries it.

Dec 15, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Rivera Closing by End of the Year

I was at Rivera last night for dinner. Delicious as always and we were told that they may try to reopen Rivera on the Westside in several months. I think that would be more successful. Currently, they seem a little too far from the core of downtown business and the Music Center.

Good luck to them.

Dec 14, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

L.A. Dish of the Month, December 2014 -- TAMALES

Went to Rivera tonight one last time before it closes. Had to post about their acorn squash tamale. It's a whole acorn squash, cooked and then filled with short rib, masa, and cheese. You spoon out the traditional tamale fillings along with the squash.

Not really a tamale in the traditional sense, but when it tastes this good, who cares?

2014 - Best Sushi Omakase

Sushi Iki is the best traditional sushi in the area, except it is very expensive and the cuts are very large. I think you mentioned Kiriko being large cuts; these dwarf Kiriko's. But the fish cannot be beat for quality and freshnesh.

Okumura in Encino (in the CVS center) has a chef who trained at Sushi Zo. The quality is quite good. They don't have an omakase on their menu, but I'm sure they would do one.

Dec 13, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Asada Tacos and Rolled Tacos in San Fernando Valley

I'll try San Marcos again. I used to go fairly regularly and I loved the chile relleno they had as a daily special. But I remember thinking their meat was rather tasteless the last few times I went.

Dec 13, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Los Angeles Restaurants in the 80's

Did Viva la Pasta take over for The Fettucini Bar? That was on Westwood north of Santa Monica. You would select your pasta and then the sauce. My dad's office was near there, so we went on a number of occasions.

Dec 12, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Ms. Shanghai Rose-Murphy is taking over the SFV with all-day, everyday, dim sum

It's odd, because Green Village has a terrible parking situation too.

I like Green Village for its Shaghai items -- House Special Beef, some of the noodle dishes, and the fish sticks -- but not for the more common Cantonese dishes. It's odd to me that Shanghai Rose does not seem to have the best items from the other menu.

As for dim sum, the only significant dim sum place in the valley is A&W Seafood in Northridge, so this definitely fills a niche.

Dec 10, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Asada Tacos and Rolled Tacos in San Fernando Valley

For the past few years, my regular taqueria has been Alberto's in Van Nuys for rolled tacos and carne asada tacos. The rolled tacos are phenomenal -- crispy with guacamole and fluffy shredded cheese. I wouldn't place the tacos at the same level, but they are better than average, with flavorful meat.

A few weeks ago and then again today -- both on Saturday afternoons -- Alberto's has been closed without explanation. (They were open one time in between.) Having already purchased salsa at Birrieria Mexico a block away (Alberto's roja salsa is terrible), I needed an alternative.

So any suggestions for good rolled tacos and/or flavorful asada tacos in the valley? Van Nuys would be preferred.

For the record, here are places that I sometimes go to, but have not found to be as consistently good as Alberto's (and none have good rolled tacos):

El Taco Llama: Van Nuys Blvd. and Haskell locations. Great salsa roja, but the asada tacos don't have much flavor. The barbacoa is better, but I can get better at the aforementioned Birrieria Mexico (which doesn't have asada). The El Taco Llama on Sherman Way in North Hollywood has been better, but it's trek.

Pico Pico Rico (Magnolia/Kester): Very good carnitas and homemade tortillas. The asada is flavorless.

Rigo's (Woodman/Oxnard): Great salsa roja, but the rest of the food is bland. Asada tacos are mushy and the weekend pastor on the trompo never is as good as it looks.

Tacos La Fonda truck (Vineland/Vanowen): Nights only and a trek. These are the best tacos I've found in the valley to date, but it is not convenient.

Le Sirenita Express (Sherman Way/Sepulveda): Got tacos and ceviche here this afternoon. The ceviche was quite good, but the asada and deshebrada tacos were bland. (The deshebrada was so dry that it resembled beef jerky.)

Dec 06, 2014
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area