l

losfelizhound's Profile

Title Last Reply

Musing in Fremont

Maybe a more apt title is "Gormandizing in Fremont", but musing is easier on the ears.

In the last three-four months I have figured out Fremont is a one-trick pony. A Kentucky derby level one-trick pony, but still in essence a one-trick pony. The cuisine of choice here is pan-Indian; mostly northern, some southern, and some in between. Let's begin with a discussion of the northern. What is commonly packaged as "Indo Pak" cuisine, is in essence more Pakistani than Indian. In my opinion its actually a good thing. It's a euphemism, the genesis of which is rooted in any business's DNA: profitability. The intent here, is to ensure the Indians visit as frequently as the Pakistanis.

There are at least five restaurants in this category, four with Pakistani roots, and one of Indian origin. The four are: Pakwan, Shalimar, Chutney's and Bismillah and the Indian is Tandoori-and-Curry. Having tried all five at least once, I do have a favorite: Bismillah. This under the radar, cash only, divey joint serves awesome kebabs and curry. Notable are the chicken seekh, the chicken boti, the chicken kofta curry, the lamb bhuna and the fantastic lamb biryani. Bismillah is all about no compromises and honest food - greasy, artery clogging curries and spicy grilled meats. The kofta curry is hot, the kofta (meatball) is spicy - the combined effect is lip-smacking goodness. The biryani as I understand is "pakka" style, i.e. the meat is cooked separately and then mixed with rice that is cooked separately, differing from the "kachcha" style or "dum biryani" that is popular in southern India, particularly Hyderabad. The naan is typical Pathani - north west frontier type, than the typical naan offered in Indian restaurants. From what I have heard and read, its chefs are former Pakwan alums, who opened this place. More power to them.

My second favorite is actually Tandoori-and-curry. One caveat about TnC is don't waste your time and money with the Sunday brunch - its nothing great. But do go at other times and order the Chandni Gosht or the Chicken Handi - again great curries made with unflinching honesty. The chicken and lamb biryani is also excellent. A common theme you will observe is that "unflinching honesty" usually translates into grease. Welcome to real muslim food from India.

A few words about the others: Pakwan is good, probably a toss-up for the second place. The curries at Shalimar are good, but the kebabs don't stand out. Chutney's has a more cleaner dining room, but basically is overly greasy and nothing really stands out, except the mango lassi.

There are also quite a few restaurants of Indian origin - Masala Grill, Biryani Bowl, India Grill (haven't tried) and a bunch of others. Masala Grill is good, but in Fremont good, is not good enough. The Tangri (leg) Kabab was disappointing, the Rogan Josh was OK (agreed, I am trying a Kashmiri specialty in a Hyderabadi restaurant), the Desi Chinese (Hakka Noodles) were insipid (like most Indian Chinese). It's really not as bad as I make it sound to be, but its not the first place I would go to especially if TnC and Bismillah were open.

If you are in Fremont, you must also try Peacock Indian Cuisine. I have tried the buffet three times, and its solid food. The Andhra sambar and vegetables (bagara baingan?) are usually very good. The Hyderabadi Biryani is a big draw - and is perhaps the best rendition I have had in a while. I am yet to make it for dinner which is served a la carte. Peacock is a safe bet. The bad for Hyderabadi food in my opinion is Biryani Bowl. I mean for fuck's sake if you call yourself "Biryani Bowl" and your eponymous dish doesn't stand out - especially in a place like Fremont, you've got problems. Paratha Point suffers from the same malady - mediocre parathas.

Since we are more or less in the South, let's discuss some south Indian joints. I have tried three - Amma's (Chettinad - below average, hit Anjappar in Milpitas). Woodlands - good solid (Udupi/Kannada-style south Indian) - good sambar/rasam/vadas; dosa was OK. Ganesh Bhavan - good sambar, great chutneys, better dosas (better than Woodlands) If I am correct its Andhra-style south Indian. Point to note, all three are in Newark. I am yet to try the Sarvanna Bhavan (someday...)

The remaining big potato is chaat. Some nominees from the "been there" list: Chaat Paradise, Chaat Bhavan, Chaat Cafe, Chaat Paradise (Mountain View, but they opened a branch in Fremont) Lovely Sweets and Snack and Chatpatta Corner.

I find Chaat Bhavan ovrerrated; I don't get it, I simply don't get it. My gold standard for testing a chaat restuarant is paani puri and on a good day, I think Chaat Bhavan's pani is good, but not Fremont good. However, Chaat Bhavan offers a rather diverse set of items - and a lot of them are quite good (e.g. methi puri, sprouts bhel - I like it because its a different take on Bhel, yes I know its technically chaat, some parathas)

For Fremont good, I maintain that if you want to eat awesome chaat especially Paani Puri head to Chatpatta Corner in Ardenwood.

The others: Chaat Paradise (OK, don't get what the deal is), Chaat Cafe (beer + chaat + "non-veg", e.g. chicken tandoori wrap) is good food, but doesn't stand out.

Now for the surprise. I think Indian food largely is holistic: the sum of the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. A good example is Lovely Sweets and Snacks. This divey, definitely not the most hygienic restaurant possibly serves some of the best Samosa Chaat and Dal Kachori Chaat I have ever had. In the Bay Area, I am sure you will find better Chole, better Samosas or better Chutneys, but LSS has the secret formula and it bloody works. I haven't tried anything else there, but the increasing girth is testament to dozens of Samosa Chaat (BTW, FWIW, one of the worst Samosa Chaats I have had was at Chaat Bhavan).

What else.....

I tried Wang's Kitchen (Indian Chinese); had the classics "Manchurian"/ Hot and Sour and all that good stuff. This is strictly for those who grew up thinking Chinese food is supposed to taste like this. I did, but I also spent seven gorgeous years wandering through the alleys of San Gabriel Valley, so in all honesty, I don't care much about it. I enjoy it once a year, but otherwise its basically more of the same "Schezwan" or "Manchurian" sauce.

I miss Los Angeles; Yunchuan Garden, Mariscos Chente (or wherever Sergio's cooking), Park's BBQ, Porto's....the list is endless, but thats not the point. I am here, and its about now.

I like Darda's Seafood near Ardenwood (next to Chatpatta Corner). Andy's Tofu House on Thornton serves pretty good Soon Tofu (Yay!). Some other notes - if you love beer, Fremont is quite mediocre - no Beer Revolution, let alone Toronado/O'Briens/Father's Office. There are three craft beer stores/"pubs". California Craft Beer - probably the most respectable. Mission Spirits and Cork-and-Cap (or some combination) also have a decent selection - nothing out of the ordinary, but yes, at least you won't end up with Coors Light.

Cheers. And welcome to Fremont.

p.s. I am sure many will disagree with me, and rightfully so. It's your opinion, you are entitled to it. So am I. :)

Aug 31, 2012
losfelizhound in San Francisco Bay Area
1

The Bizarre(?) Bartender of Blind Tiger Ale House, Manhattan

ROFL...since "no one on this board was there", lets assume (a) you were in retail and (b) they had high tolerance to pain...:)

Jul 10, 2011
losfelizhound in Not About Food

The Bizarre(?) Bartender of Blind Tiger Ale House, Manhattan

I think the "sounds weird" argument is a judgment call. What's more important is the response to a weird request, and under ideal and almost every condition is to decline it politely. That was a clearly an option that was not exercised.

I wrote to BTAH and they responded in a matter of hours and offered an apology (accepted) and wanted to send me a free tshirt (politely declined). The only explanation they could offer for the behavior was that she was having a bad day.

Jul 10, 2011
losfelizhound in Not About Food

The Bizarre(?) Bartender of Blind Tiger Ale House, Manhattan

As I said, there was a really nice guy, who was engaging and knowledgeable...I like to isolate and identify my problems with a particular place before I decide on return visits. Moreover, everyone deserves a second chance. :)

Jul 10, 2011
losfelizhound in Not About Food

The Bizarre(?) Bartender of Blind Tiger Ale House, Manhattan

I didn't want to get into any over generalizations. Though in that kind of heat and humidity, tempers can flare more quickly!

Jul 10, 2011
losfelizhound in Not About Food

The Bizarre(?) Bartender of Blind Tiger Ale House, Manhattan

Haha...that's a funny argument. Having said that, I hope you are not into any business requiring interaction with customers :)

Jul 10, 2011
losfelizhound in Not About Food

The Bizarre(?) Bartender of Blind Tiger Ale House, Manhattan

I think the "sounds weird" argument is a judgment call; one can argue either way. The more important point here is the response to a weird request: politely declining it is a reasonable option that can and should be exercised. Rebuking a customer is

BTW, I wrote to Blind Tiger, and they responded very quickly with an apology (accepted) and an offer for a free tshirt (declined). The only explanation for the the bartender's behavior was the she was certainly having a bad day.

Jul 10, 2011
losfelizhound in Not About Food

The Bizarre(?) Bartender of Blind Tiger Ale House, Manhattan

Late last week I made a quick trip to Manhattan. Given the schedule there was an opportunity for one meal with friends. As I was waiting for my friends and given the heat and humidity and the proximity to Blind Tiger Ale House, a quick trip to BTAH seemed like a good idea.

As I entered, there were 2 bartenders, and 3 when I left. 2 were females, 1 was male. I ordered 3 beers each served by a different bartender. There were about 4 customers when I entered and about 6-8 customers when I left. I had a great conversation with the male bartender who was quite engaging (I mentioned to him how BTAH was popular on the West coast and that I was surprised to see so little Allagash given its proximity. He said the listings were very dynamic, and I am sure they are!). All three bartenders offered samples and I had 4 samples and ordered 3 beers. My first exchange was with a female bartender and I asked her for the check as she had opened the tab for me. This is what followed:

Me: "Can I have the check please?"
BT: "Sure."
BT brings me the check.
Me: "How much are the BTAH t-shirts for?"
BT: "$22"
Me: "Ohhh..." (shrugged a little indicating it was a little expensive) "Hey, but you guys can get free publicity in Los Angeles (where I live)" (smiling as I said that).
That's when I noticed a discrepancy in the check. They had billed me for 2 beers instead of 3.
Me: "Hey, you haven't charged me for a beer. I had 3, there are only 2 on the check". Again smiling at her I said "So maybe you can give me a new check and a discount on the tshirt"
BT: "You know what, SHAME ON YOU!! WE DON'T NEED YOUR MONEY AND YOU DON'T NEED TO PAY FOR THAT BEER".
BT went over to the other side of the bar, as I was bewildered at what had just happened!

I paid for the two beers ($17 and left a $3 tip, lower by my standards, but reasonable given the exchange) and left after having waited to make sure she wasn't returning with a different check.

Funny way to do business?

Revenue so far: $17
Additional revenue: $8 - $30 (depending on the price of the tshirt). All you have to do is give me a new check and possibly smile and say "sorry, its $22".

I am sure $8-30 doesn't make a dent in BTAH's annual revenues, but what a bizarre way to respond to a paying customer, who has recognized an error that is to your advantage and is willing to pay for it (and possibly more!) Mind you there were operating at 10-20% of their capacity and there were 3 bartenders, so there really wasn't a lot of pressure on them.

As I thought about the situation later, I realized was haggling for the tshirt price was a bad idea?
A. I wasn't asking it for free
B. Poor form or not, I am a paying customer and I am being as nice and funny about it. Just say no, you don't have to SHOUT back at me!

Will I ever return to BTAH? In all honesty, its a great establishment serving hard to find beers and being a channel for smaller craft brewers. And I must say 2/3rd of the employees did a fine job! Though, I have decided to send an email to BTAH because maybe this is a repeat offender.

Jul 10, 2011
losfelizhound in Not About Food

Anjappar Chettinad, Milpitas

You are welcome. I think I have said this before but the South Bay area is to Indian food, what the San Gabriel Valley is to Chinese food. The immigrant populations are diverse enough to support regional specialties that are hard to find in other provinces of the the country of origin. For example, Anjappar has branched out of Tamil Nadu to several other nations but not to any other state within India.

@daveena: good to hear from you. This place is a blast. Though avoid going there at Indian meal times (lunch: anytime after 1 pm and dinner: after 8:30 pm). When we entered there were probably 5 tables occupied (out of 25-30) at 12:30, by the time we left at around 1:45 pm it was packed to the gills. My dining companions said it was the same story everyday.

@jhinky: I wanted to try the prawn sukka varuval too, but we had ordered the mutton, and felt it would be the same spice mix, so ordered the egg masala (yummmm!). I got the same entrees to-go, and got them with me to LA, and I think I will be done by tonight. I need to send them an email, and ask them to open one up in LA.

@osho: Don't miss this! There's a lot of other stuff that needs to be reported on, so I am looking forward to your reports :)

-----
Anjappar
458 Barber Ln, Milpitas, CA 95035

Jun 13, 2011
losfelizhound in San Francisco Bay Area

Anjappar Chettinad, Milpitas

Another quick trip to the bay area, another notable mention. Some very near and dear friends (and chowhounds) recommended Anjappar Chettinad, as we were in the mood for some hot and spicy chicken/fish South Indian. Wikipedia says Chettinad is a part of Tamil Nadu (state in Southern India)...so now we are getting very specific, not just a particular state, but a particular region within a state.

Anjappar Chettinad is in Milpitas, and using the search feature, I realized there is some love for it on this board already; and it is certainly well-deserving. There are some entrees that can be ordered either "dry" or "masala". Dry = No Gravy or Curry and Masala = Gravy or Curry.

We tried four entrees (two curries, one "dry" and a rice entree). Both curries were hot and spicy, yet very distinct. One used tomato (Egg Masala), the other coconut (Pepper Chicken). One was heavy on curry leaves, the others not so much.

Standout entree of the day was: Mutton Sukka Varuval. One word, kickass. The Egg Masala was also surprisingly good (tomato-based curry). The Pepper Chicken was also very good (strong curry leaf flavor and HOT black peppercorns). We ordered the "Masala" version, so there was curry, which was finger-licking deliciousness. The roti was good, but not great. The rice entree was the Natta Kozhu Biryani: basically a "country" chicken biryani. In India, they make the distinction between poultry raised in farms ("broiler") versus the free-range ("desi"). For obvious reasons, they taste different back there...I for one, couldn't make out the difference here. It was good, but not outstanding.

I believe some have mentioned this, but I think, food is not made to order, because within less than five minutes of ordering, we were served. But getting good Chettinad food is so rare, I am willing to compromise a little bit.

I must add, this is for the serious heat and spice seeker. The food is not just HOT it is also SPICY. So not for the faint-hearted. Trust me, most people of Indian origin wouldn't be able to handle this kind of heat. When I visit next, I want to try to kozhambu's, some of the vegetarian stuff, and the parottas. The portions are somewhat measly, which is a let down, but all is fair in the name of good chow.

Also note, Anjappar is an international chain with locations in North America and Asia. LFHound to Anjappar: What is the point of having Indian Chinese and Tandoori Chicken on the menu? I mean really, who cares? Secondly, why are appams missing?

Anjappar Chettinad Indian Restaurant
458 Barber Lane
Milpitas CA 95035
(408)-435 5500
http://www.anjapparca.com/index.htm

-----
Anjappar
458 Barber Ln, Milpitas, CA 95035

Jun 12, 2011
losfelizhound in San Francisco Bay Area

Maharashtrian Fast Food at India Chaat Cuisine, Sunnyvale

On a recent and short trip to the Bay area, I was told about some Maharashtrian delights appearing on the menu at India Chaat Cuisine (ICC). Having griped about the unavailability of this cuisine in the Bay area (or the US in general) I had to make the trip. From what I have seen, ICC wants to be the "pan-Indian Chaat" restaurant in the Bay area, because they have North, South and West quite well-represented, and in addition they also have Indo-Chinese. I tried the Maharashtrian stuff, so have no idea the quality of other cuisines.

Long story short: Bombay or Mumbai is the capital of the state of the Maharashtra. "Maharashtrian" food is quite varied, but all over the state there are some common staples: Pohe, Zunka Bhakar, Sabudana Vada, Vada Pav, Misal. ICC offers most of these items, and then some (I wish I had taken a picture of the menu, but too little, too late). This is some of the stuff I sampled:

Vada Pav: This is classic Bombay street food. The Vada is made up of boiled potatoes sauteed with some basic spices and curry leaves and then rolled into balls, dipped in a chickpea(?) batter, and deep-fried. Pav is simply bread (similar to a burger bun, but smaller and different in taste and texture). The condiments are usually a red chutney made from dessicated coconut, red chillies and some other ingredients. While individually the items were average (except the red chutney which was DA BOMB), overall the Vada Pav was quite good. I don't want to get into comparisons in terms of authenticity or taste or flavor, simply because its rare to get it here.

Puneri Misal: This was a letdown. Not only did it lack heat, it was almost sweet. Misal is a hot soupy curry made with sprouted beans (or other pulses) and some "farsan" or snacks thrown into the mix. Usually Pav is the accompaniment.

Sabudana Vada: Tapioca mixed with potatoes, corriander powder, cumin powder made into disc like shape and deep fried. This is literally "fast food", i.e. Maharashtrians eat this when they fast. I know the obvious logical fallacy with what I just said, but basically the argument goes that when Maharashtrians fast, they don't eat what they do on a regular day. For example, everything is cooked in ghee and not oil. They don't eat rice (a staple) and substitute it with something else. The sabudana mix at ICC was fresh, and even though it was fried, it wasn't greasy and the accompanying chutney was really good!

Sabudana Khichadi: Similar ingredients as above, but it is not made into a disc or fried. Again, this was also really good.

Thalipeeth: Another classic Maharashtrian staple. Different flours are used to make the dough: wheat, millet, chickpea and are mixed with spices, chillies, cilantro and has naan like thickness. It is then cooked on a cast iron pan. This was also very good (though, I would have preferred more heat), it had the right texture and flavor.

There are quite a few items that I need to try, but in case you have, please report! Overall, for those enthusiastic about trying some of these food stuffs, this is a good find and deserves mention on Chow.

EDIT:
Also tried Peacock's Chicken and Lamb Biryani. Great stuff! It's been a while, so I am not making any comparisons to Annapoorna or Kebab Corner, so please update me on the Biryani scene if you can. Thanks!


-----
India Chaat Cuisine
1082 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

May 23, 2011
losfelizhound in San Francisco Bay Area

A & J Hot Point Opens Up In Rosemead

Thanks, Chadavkl. To add: they offer five broths, "regular", hot & spicy, korean-kimchi, japanese-curry and mongolian-herb. We ordered the mongolian-herb and the hot & spicy, both were good, the latter more spicy than hot. While the hot & spicy was delicious, because of the whole spices, it became somewhat cumbersome to separate the whole spices from the meat and the vegetables and to avoid chewing them. The lamb was of better quality than I have had at Mon Land or Little Sheep, and the vegetables were fresh.

I must say, the service was excellent (it kind of helps, if the restaurant is not crowded; there was only one table other than ours that was being served). We got the 10% new customer discount and also a "frequent flier" card (50% off, on the 10th visit). I would definitely return, but it would have helped their cause, had they opened in December or January when things were relatively colder. Now with spring looming around, and summer not too far its not exactly hot pot season as ipse dixit mentioned. Nevertheless good bang for the buck!

EDIT: Like Midori, if you don't finish what you ordered you pay the a la carte price for the unconsumed items. I am not sure how they implement it because it is clearly not as straightforward as unconsumed sushi.

-----
Little Sheep
227 W Valley Blvd # 3, San Gabriel, CA

Apr 03, 2011
losfelizhound in Los Angeles Area

Pollo A La Brasa, Western & 8th

The expansion will be completed by February. They do have a small sit-down area even in their current setup (4-6, 4-top tables).

This is a case of personal preference - to say one is better than the other, tell us nothing about either one of them. Moreover, PALB and Dino's use different cooking techniques (iirc, slow-roasted vs. flame-grilled), spices, and condiments. If I said, I preferred the Tandoori Chicken from an Indian place over Dino's (or PALB) it doesn't sound like a fair comparison.

Aug 25, 2010
losfelizhound in Los Angeles Area

Mariscos Chente Lennox

EK: They take credit cards - I am sure about Visa/MC, not sure about Amex.

Apr 25, 2010
losfelizhound in Los Angeles Area

Moderately Priced Ethnic Restaurant for Graduation late lunch/dinner? (in from out of town)

For Lebanese you could head to Phoneicia, or Carousel in Glendale. My personal favorite is Phonenicia, but Carousel has a wider array of mezzes to choose from.

-----
Carousel Restaurant
304 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91203

Phoenicia
343 N Central Ave, Glendale, CA 91203

Apr 21, 2010
losfelizhound in Los Angeles Area

Sergio Penuelas has left Mariscos Chente

I certainly hope this is a small bump. With Sergio's talent, they will need a bigger space, sooner than later.

BTW, on that note, they don't serve the fish/shrimp tacos/soups at the Inglewood location. It is the "original" Mar Vista menu, minus the pescado zarandeado.

Apr 18, 2010
losfelizhound in Los Angeles Area

Sergio Penuelas has left Mariscos Chente

Thanks for the heads up SGLA. We went to the Inglewood location on 04/17 for a late lunch. Sergio was there, and needless to say the food was as spectacular as we were used to in the Mar Vista location.

However, the pescado zarandeado was not available, because the grill is still in the Mar Vista location, and I was told, they should be able to move it and start offering pz by the start of summer. Secondly, the Inglewood location is small (3-4 tables for 4 persons/table, and 3-4 bar stools). So when the word spreads around of Sergio's transfer, get ready for long waiting times :(

Apr 18, 2010
losfelizhound in Los Angeles Area

Jitlada - first time visit

"Effective" and "genuine" are different constructs. Remembering your preferences is a necessary (and perhaps even sufficient) condition for being "effective", but certainly it is not sufficient for being considered "genuine". My point is, effectiveness is easier to ascribe than genuineness. Lastly, the existence (or absence) of one, says very little about the other.

I am glad to hear your experience about Jitla Da was different from mine. As you mentioned, in Thai and some Chinese restaurants, the order of serving food is not the same as one expects (e.g., soup > entree) and that's alright, as long as all ordered items are served before the diners call it a day.

Mar 30, 2010
losfelizhound in Los Angeles Area

Jitlada - first time visit

I think there is a difference between nonchalance, and ineffectiveness. At a number of Asian eateries that I go to, I expect the service to be nonchalant (it usually is) but at the same time it is effective, i.e., they get the job done.

My problem with Jitla Da is that it is not just nonchalant, but also ineffective, i.e. they don't get the job done. On our last visit, one of the entrees we ordered was served *after* we had finished our meal (and in spite of a couple of requests about its status). That said, the food is great, but sometimes one just get tired of the service, and has enough options to allocate limited resources.

That said, with a Hummer you are already expecting a low mpg, but if the actual mpg, is significantly lower than your already low expectations, then, I think it is valid to raise a stink.

Mar 30, 2010
losfelizhound in Los Angeles Area

Chowhound challenge - cheese manakish, anywhere in LA??

I think you may find what you are looking for at Zaatar Bakery & Factory in Burbank.

-----
Zaatar Factory & Bakery
2909 N Glenoaks Blvd, Burbank, CA 91504

Mar 19, 2010
losfelizhound in Los Angeles Area

What is the best Indian restaurant in LA?

Beg to differ: Udupi is very mediocre (even by LA standards). In Artesia, I would head to Woodlands (or Tirupati Bhimas, if I want Andhra-style), in LA, I would head to Paru's (Tamil, not Udupi) on Sunset.

Mar 18, 2010
losfelizhound in Los Angeles Area

REVIEW w/ pics: Marvelous Mumbai Vegetarian Street Food at Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se

Moomin, the problem with MKGS is their inability to showcase their strengths. The diverse menu is a true reflection of the Mumbai street food scene, though it is incomplete, and in some cases inaccurate. For example, they don't serve any meat, which is not the case with the Bombay street food scene, e.g., the Muslim neighborhoods of Bombay are well-known for their delectable kababs, phirni, etc., especially during Ramazan. I would say it is inaccurate, because traditional (e.g., curries) North Indian food is not really "street food" in Bombay (it is in Delhi, but certainly not in Bombay).

That said, I think MKGS offers dishes that nobody else on Pioneer Blvd., does, e.g., Sabudana Vada or Sabudana Khicahdi (not sure about this), or Masale Bhaath, or Puneri Misal. Most of these items are not "street food" in the strictest sense as they are usually served in fast-food type restaurants. But, as I said in my review, they are hard to find elsewhere in India, leave aside North America. How do they compare to what you get in Bombay? I would say close enough, obviously places in the Maharashtrian neighborhoods that have survived for decades have mastered the art of making Piyush or Sabudana Vada, but MKGS does a very respectable job.

So the "drivability index" for MKGS comes with a caveat: go for things that you can't find elsewhere.

p.s. I haven't had respectable Pav Bhaji anywhere in Southern/Northern California. The Northies have no clue how to make it, the Gujjus haven't perfected it by any means, though it is almost their staple Sunday evening diet in their neighborhoods of Bombay. It's not that hard, but somehow...

Feb 09, 2010
losfelizhound in Los Angeles Area

Anyone into Persian food?

Thanks for the insight. Just a quick question: Why is the menu at Raffi's similar to other Armenian joints in Glendale, and a subset of the Persian joints in Tehrangeles? For example, almost all Persian joints in Westwood serve polos, and stews, which are not available in Raffi's, or weren't until recently. Is that a result of their clientele being largely Armenian, or is it not part of the Persian-born Armenians diet?

Feb 04, 2010
losfelizhound in Los Angeles Area

Anyone into Persian food?

Raffi's is technically Armenian. However, they recently added a number of new Persian-style rice offerings (polos). In addition, if I remember correctly, they also serve Dizi now.

Feb 03, 2010
losfelizhound in Los Angeles Area

Taco Task Force:LA's Best Fish Taco

I think he offers it all day, SGLA is right - fish, shrimp gobernador and I guess marlin. In addition, they also offer sopes.

Jan 07, 2010
losfelizhound in Los Angeles Area

Taco Task Force:LA's Best Fish Taco

FWIW, Mariscos Chente has also joined the fish/shrimp taco bandwagon. From what I remember, I enjoyed them more than the ones at Tacos Baja Ensenada or Best Fish Taco in Ensenada.

Jan 07, 2010
losfelizhound in Los Angeles Area

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

Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se (MKGS) literally translates as "From the streets of Mumbai (Bombay)". While the name suggests street food from Bombay, they also offer a number of regional (south/north/west) or "fusion" (Indian-Chinese) specialties. The north Indian is not available currently, but will be offered soon. Mind you, a number of street foods from Bombay are not necessarily vegetarian, but MKGS is.

We stuck to the basics: street food from Bombay or more precisely: Maharashtrian food. Note, Maharashtra is the state that the city of Bombay is the capital of. Bombay is a cultural melting pot, the rest of Maharashtra, not so much. The "natives" of Maharashtra speak "Marathi", have a rich culinary heritage, which is quite diverse ("coastal" versus "heartland", "rich" versus "poor", "refined" versus "rustic"). This cuisine is rarely found outside of Maharashtra, let alone India. MKGS offers a few, and that is in some sense, pushing the envelope of "Indian" cuisine, and it's great that it happened in LA, and not in the SF Bay Area, where such occurrences are frequent, if not entirely commonplace.

We ordered #36 through #41, (except #39). In addition we ordered #49. Note the portions are small, but so is the price ($4-6 per item). For the three of us, we spent about $55 (including tax and tip).

#36: Masaale Bhaath ("Spiced Rice"). This is a traditional Maharashtrian specialty, especially during weddings, or special occasions. They certainly got the right "masala" i.e. it had the right level of spice. This dish demands spice, not heat, and that's exactly how it was, however, it did not have as many vegetables as the recipe usually demands. Overall, it was delicious, in spite of lacking some basic ingredients (though I must add that some of these vegetables are not grown or are hard to find in North America).

#37: Sabudana Vada ("Deep Fried Tapioca Balls"). This is a classic Maharashtrian snack. Bombayites spend hours arguing over who makes better "sabudana vadas", ala pastrami at Langer's or Oinkster's. I found this a tad sweeter than my personal preference. But, this is a Gujurati making a Maharashtrian specialty, and "Gujju" food is usually a tad sweeter than Maharashtrian. Otherwise, it was on the mark and not at all greasy.

#38: Sabudana Khichadi ("Shallow Fried Spiced Tapioca"): . This had the right amount of green chillies (Thai chillies), and cilantro, and was perhaps lacking coarsely ground peanuts, but, given the abundance of peanut allergies, it's probably a good thing (though this is being overly-anal). This was terrific, "mom's cooking at its finest" good.

#40: Puneri Misal ("The Misal, Pune-style"): Misal is one of the quintessential Maharashtrian snacks. Pune is the cultural capital for Maharashtrians, and a former seat of power. The "Misal" is a soupy broth of pulses and grams (moth beans, black grams etc.). The "Puneri" twist is adding puffed, beaten, and spiced rice. It is topped with "farsan" and onions and cilantro. We asked them to make it hot, and they gladly accommodated, and it was delicious. And hot. Kudos.

#41 Batata Vada ("Deep Fried Potato Balls"). This was good, but not great, the batter a little thicker than my personal preference, and was slightly underspiced.

#49: Dabeli ("The Vegetarian Slider"). The owner doesn't like the reference to slider, but heck, it has serious explanatory power. This is a Gujurati snack, and is uncommon even within the non-Gujurati areas of Bombay. There are three components which make this dish tick: the bread, the "filling" and the condiments. The bread was OK, the filling was terrific (spice, heat, and texture - or lack thereof). The condiments - pomegranate seeds, and spiced peanuts. This was FABULOUS. Wow.

Please note, MKGS is not handled to manage the significant increase in their clientele. It's still a mom-and-pop operation, so ordering in advance or over the phone maybe a good idea. Else, a 15-20 minute maybe "normal". In my opinion, this food is best enjoyed in the restaurant, than as "to go", so the wait maybe well worth it. Also, I have been there just once, and I usually don't like sample size of one stories, but I think its imperative to put it out there.

Also, they also offer a number of Gujurati dishes that are available in Rasraj, JayBharat, etc., though I can't comment if they are better (or worse) than the competitors, since I did not try them. What I do know is JayB and RasR got lucky: Yogiraj folded a few years ago. Why did I wait for the LA Times review, and break the CH code? A "reliable" source told me an year ago, this was "...bad, and don't waste your money". Hmm.

All in all, MKGS deserves kudos for being innovative (not one more butter chicken-saag paneer Indian restaurant), and I hope they continue the good work.

Mumbai KI Galliyon Se
17705 Pioneer Blvd
Artesia, CA 90701
(562) 860-6699

Dec 30, 2009
losfelizhound in Los Angeles Area

PLEASE POST YOUR VOTES HERE: Ultimate Los Angeles Restaurants 2009

Thanks!

Over $25
1. Mori Sushi
2. Water Grill
3. Park's BBQ
4. Angeli Caffe
5. Pizzeria Mozza

Under $25
1. Mariscos Chente
2. Wurstkuche
3. Woodlands (Artesia, CA)
4. New Chong Qing
5. Bulrocho

Dec 09, 2009
losfelizhound in Los Angeles Area

Armenian roast chicken alternatives to Zankou?

Thanks for the Soumarelo recommendation. I will try it sometime in the near future. Roro's, by the way, is Lebanese and not Armenian. There is another similar sounding rotisserie chicken outlet called "Sepan Chicken" in Atwater Village on Glendale Ave. However, I didn't think much of it (i.e., the chicken) on my only visit there.

Sep 09, 2009
losfelizhound in Los Angeles Area

Armenian roast chicken alternatives to Zankou?

I would say give Sevan Chicken a try. I have been there just once (Glendale), but was pleasantly surprised to find the chicken juicy and tender, compared to the dry and rubbery taste of Zankou's chicken. Sevan is a local chain with a couple of other locations, so Google before you head to Glendale.

In my opinion, Sevan is certainly better than Roro's or Zankou - however not as flavorful as say, Pollo a la Brasa. I wouldn't compare Dino's to any of the aforementioned places, due to the different cooking style (fast versus slow cooked).

-----
Sevan Chicken
601 W Glenoaks Blvd, Glendale, CA 91202

Sep 09, 2009
losfelizhound in Los Angeles Area