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LADave's Profile

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Where does one go for authentic Americanized Chinese food?

"Authentic" is slippery, but there are multiple Chinese-hyphen-something cuisines. I have had Cuban-Chinese, and Chinese-Thai in L.A. I have also eaten Chinese in Prague and Kathmandu, but local influences were hard to pin down except for no beef in Kathmandu.

So it could be interesting to research how Chinese food plays out in different expatriate settings. I believe you take this a ways without leaving L.A. After running out of restaurants you could talk to immigrants about their Chinese food experiences back home. There could well be recipes from different countries comparable to ours before China opened up..

Oct 23, 2013
LADave in Los Angeles Area
1

Where in the hell does a New Yorker find some REAL ITALIAN FOOD?

Los Angeles was never a major destination for emigrants from Italy. San Francisco was, but for Northern Italians, and so it's a different cuisine from New York's Southern-Sicilian.

Oct 20, 2013
LADave in Los Angeles Area

South Indian traditional

It would be great to have format AND food in one package but it seems to be either/or. Perhaps the Hare Krishnas are the only ones with the feeding-the-multitudes format Too bad it means sitting through hours of proselytization, and the food is just something else entirely.

As for the food per se, I have attempted the southern rice meal at home with sambar and rasaam mixes from Bharat Bazaar on Washington. There is also a coconut to sacrifice for the distinctive chutney. This still needs some refinement but is within grasp, to a point where driving to Artesia or deep into the SFV for the food without the format doesn't seem like such a great idea anymore.

Moving along past the rice meal in the OP, the breakfast snack items ARE a draw, if well prepared and the selection is reasonably complete. Some are harder to cook at home. I have never managed to make a really thin, crisp dosa. Idlis should be steamed in a special tray. Vadas are deep fried. Also these things are traditionally eaten early, not for brunch or lunch. Most places here don't seem to open until lunchtime.

Oct 19, 2013
LADave in Los Angeles Area

Matzo Ball Soup

As the joke goes, "Wow, that must have been some matzo!"

Oct 19, 2013
LADave in Los Angeles Area

Pyromania at Chengdu Taste in Alhambra

tofu = dofu. Asian languages often distinguish between aspirated and unaspirated consonants. We tend to aspirate T but not D which makes them easier to tell apart. Unaspirated T is almost interchangeable with D.

Oct 19, 2013
LADave in Los Angeles Area

Best Mexican - Ready, Set, Go!

La Serenata de Garibaldi. The original place on the eastside, not the Santa Monica knockoff. Ate there years ago and it was awesome. Especially loved watching the tortillas being patted out by a couple abuelitas. Only problem was rowdy gringos treating it like a dive bar. According to Yelp it's still good.

Oct 19, 2013
LADave in Los Angeles Area

Offaliest Single Dish for Solo Diner

A little off-thread but this reminds me of going shares on a goat in Nepal. You got back a little of everything, right down to skin, lung and intestines. We would cook up two separate dishes. One limited to meat in the usual sense and one with everything else. You'd be surprised what you're willing to eat when it only comes around once every couple months!

Oct 19, 2013
LADave in Los Angeles Area

Remember these Restaurants?

Golden Star on Sunset or Hollywood Bl. in late 70s. We liked the charbroiled burgers with "everything". Apparently many of Hollywood's hookers liked them too. To quote Molly Picon in "For Pete's Sake", "Eat. You'll need your strength!"

Oct 19, 2013
LADave in Los Angeles Area

South Indian traditional

I live in Culver so Mayura is close.. I'll definitely give them a whirl. Thanks!

Oct 18, 2013
LADave in Los Angeles Area

South Indian traditional

Boogiebaby - It was many years ago and things have undoubtedly progressed since in may places. I suppose the glass is half full. India's middle class is at least as large as ours in the U.S. And half empty. At least a half billion population lagging behind.

Have you visited http://ramkicooks.blogspot.com/ ? You have to dig past his recent cosmopolitan work on european and east asian "thalis", but Ramki has interesting material on cuisines as ultra-specific as I mentioned.

I suppose the most traditional -- and cheapest -- mass dining venues would be the last to set aside the practice of having only Brahmin cooks and servers. Breaking those rules would alienate some clientele while following them looks harmless. Even if it really isn't.

Anyhow thank you for the leads. Getting some South Indian breakfast is on my list for this weekend. I think DW and I can just about manage to eat our way through the usual suspects.

Oct 18, 2013
LADave in Los Angeles Area

South Indian traditional

Hare Krishna food is a cuisine in its own right, not from any specific region of India anymore. Rajdhani apparently serves vegetarian Gujarati food which is somewhat northern although it is not the non-vegetarian Mughlai cuisine that the majority of L.A.'s Indian restaurants serve.

South Indian food is different. The rice is medium-grain, red or something similar, nothing like Basmati. Instead of dal you get sambar and rasam. Chutneys are often coconut-based and veggies are prepared differently.

This doesn't come into play in fixed-price main meals, but southern snacks are also distinctive. Idlis (steamed rice dumplings), dosai (thin, crispy crepes), uttapam (thicker crepes with chopped chili, onion, tomatoes and whole spices in the batter), upma (seminola with spices etc.), vada (fritters). Accompanied by coffee rather than tea.

Unfortunately southern Indian food is hard to find even without the traditional setting. I think the Krishna feasts probably have a lot of that setting and Rajdhani may have some of it, but without the cuisine.

I'm using "south Indian cuisine" in a broad sense. A native person could object that there are dozens of cuisines according to exact place, caste and even the gender and household status of the diner. For example widows have their own sub-cuisines because they are not supposed to eat certain things.

Oct 18, 2013
LADave in Los Angeles Area

Where does one go for authentic Americanized Chinese food?

It wasn't more than a few miles off I-5 and not grand at all. Cafe-style. I'm pretty sure I ate at a counter and not a table.

Oct 18, 2013
LADave in Los Angeles Area

Where does one go for authentic Americanized Chinese food?

I remember getting off I-5 somewhere in the Central Valley and eating at a Chinese-American place that was like "Back to the Future I". They pretty much had it all from chop suey with the original fried noodles, sweet and sour and egg drop soup to bottomless tea and fortune cookies. Point being, this cuisine is probably easier to find out in the hinterlands.

Oct 18, 2013
LADave in Los Angeles Area

South Indian traditional

The whole gestalt. South Indian food. Communal tables. Eating off banana leaves with your fingers, and servers in dhotis. Come to think of it, not all were boys but I think they all must have been Brahmins. Strict Hindus won't accept water -- or food cooked with water -- from a lower caste than theirs. A Brahmin server is good to go regardless of the customer's caste.

I have found restaurants that serve the food, but you have to order everything in small a la carte portions. It simply isn't the same experience when you have to eat it at individual tables, from ordinary crockery, with fork and spoon.

Oct 18, 2013
LADave in Los Angeles Area

Mark Bittman's Rhetorical Question: Should You Eat Chicken?

And then there is the issue of the horrible lives the critters are forced to live on factory farms.

Oct 18, 2013
LADave in General Topics
1

Western Mass trip report

If you get off the 'pike in Westfield and take Route 20 up into the Hilltowns, the Russell Inn is in -- where else -- downtown Russell. Their pizza is damned good. They have other Italian-American specialties I haven't gotten around to because I never get past pizza. Locals also swear by Four Main Street Bar & Grill in Huntington, about five miles further up the river.

Oct 18, 2013
LADave in Southern New England

South Indian traditional

In southern India I ate at dining halls where you sat at long communal tables and ate off banana leaves. Food was brought around in brass buckets by boys in dhotis (or whatever they are called down there) and dished out. Is there any place in greater L.A. that recreates this experience?

Oct 18, 2013
LADave in Los Angeles Area

Best Korean Restaurants in K-Town

You would be hard put to find a bad restaurant in K-town. Since they tend to be highly specialized, it isn't like once you've seen one you've seen them all. Why not pull a Jonathan Gold and eat your way down a few streets?

Oct 17, 2013
LADave in Los Angeles Area

San Gabriel Valley self-guided food tour … suggestions please.

Awesome! It would be interesting to see how this compares to Jonathan Gold's initial project -- and he only got to Century City. Do you read Chinese? Did the food start getting repetitive?

Nov 21, 2011
LADave in Los Angeles Area

San Gabriel Valley self-guided food tour … suggestions please.

VB probably deserves to be a team effort. There are mere blocks that would be significant projects. J. Gold only got as far as Century City and Valley Blvd. must be more challenging. For one thing the language barrier is a lot higher. I mean someone who reads Chinese really well could still have problems with regional dialects and stuff like that.

The second link above is nothing but a Viagra ad now. pity!

Nov 19, 2011
LADave in Los Angeles Area

San Gabriel Valley self-guided food tour … suggestions please.

Jonathan Gold got started by eating his way along Pico Blvd., downtown to the ocean I guess. Has anyone attempted this on Valley Blvd etc.?

Nov 19, 2011
LADave in Los Angeles Area

Describe your ideal coffee house...

Are these chains or mom-and-pop affairs? Would the pastry chef be resident? I vaguely remember these in Europe, but that was many years ago and I don't remember enough detail to guess what the business plans were like.

Aug 25, 2011
LADave in Los Angeles Area

What are your favorite dives and cheap eats WORTH THE DRIVE?

The Norms chain is variable but the one on Lincoln in Santa Monica must be about the best for food and ambience. We think they make soup from scratch and do their own butchering. Their steaks vary from so-so to excellent, depending on the animal I guess. When we want family-style American food at around $10 a head or under, that's where we go.

Aug 10, 2011
LADave in Los Angeles Area

What are your favorite dives and cheap eats WORTH THE DRIVE?

Speaking of Russian baked goods, we enjoy two bakeries at Fairfax and Santa Monica. To the north a few doors west of Whole Foods is Stolichnaya Bakery and across Santa Monica is Tbilisi i Yerevan (respective capitals of Georgia and Armenia). We especially like the borodinsky bread at Stolichnaya: a dark "rye" flavored with coriander instead of caraway. This bread actually commemorates the battle at Borodino outside Moscow in the War of 1812 where Kutuzov fought Napoleon to a draw and set the war's terrible end game in motion.

The only problem with these bakeries is their "rye" breads seem to be diluted with a lot of wheat, and aren't made with the intensive sourdough process that you can find in Russia. It only takes a couple hours to make yeast bread; a really good sourdough probably takes at least a whole day.

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Stolichnaya Bakery
7875 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

Aug 10, 2011
LADave in Los Angeles Area

Best store-bought kim chi and where to find it in LA

My wife teaches at Peary Middle School in Gardena and used to buy kimchi at a place that makes their own very near the school, maybe just across the street (Gardena Bl., Dalton Av. or 162nd). It's a good chance to chat up the people who make it and can educate you on ingredients and process.

She stopped buying kimchi when we discovered that it's actually pretty easy to make kimchi at home in your own refridgerator. You'll find plenty of recipes online and the underlying salt fermentation process is adaptable and forgiving.

Aug 10, 2011
LADave in Los Angeles Area

Tabasco substitute?

Exactly. Excellent writeup and expansion of the concept. Just chiles and salt. Fermentation adds to the flavor profile. 99 Cents Only stores sometimes have Fresno chiles and they work very well.

Mine didn't last for "months" however. Maybe it would last better in 8oz or pint canning jars used in succession so mold has limited time to develop between first re-opening each jar and using it up.

Aug 02, 2011
LADave in General Topics

"Typical" Boston Food?

My grandmother lived with my maiden great great aunt in a Boston suburb. They were actually from Rhode Island, but I suppose the food is similar. I remember swordfish and halibut pretty regularly. Codfish cakes (made from salted, dried fish), johnnycake, hash browns, brown bread steamed in a can, Pies and cakes. Apple Brown Betty. Veggies were mostly overcooked. I don't remember many salads except maybe coleslaw.

Jul 25, 2011
LADave in General Topics

Favorite type of rice, and preparation?

In Nepal, my cook scored a few kilos of rice that was both long- and small-grained. I don't think he was given a name for it, but he bought it from a local farmer who ordinarily would have kept it for himself but needed a little extra cash. It was just delicious. Not a basmati-type rice, but with excellent, subtle flavor. I've been looking in Indian markets for a Bengali variety called "Govinda Bhog", hoping it will turn out to be the same thing.

Jul 25, 2011
LADave in General Topics

Tabasco substitute?

You can put fresh red chilis through a food processor with some salt and let them ferment a couple days. Once fermentation is well underway you can move them into the fridge to slow things down. This has a finite shelf life and eventually goes moldy, so you need to make it in batches small enough to use up in time. Chilis have enough sugars or carbos to ferment. Fermentation adds some sourness but it's more subtle than a vinegar-based sauce.

I especially liked Fresno chiles made this way, but you should experiment with other varieties depending on how much heat you want. If fresh chiles are hard to come by, I'd try dried chiles plus water.

Jul 25, 2011
LADave in General Topics

Can anyone tell me if May Lin China Inc. still makes Black Bean Hot Sauce

Just learn to cook with packaged fermented black beans. I get them from 99 Ranch but suspect just about any authentic Chinese market would carry them. They cost about two dollars a point and go a long ways.

Jul 25, 2011
LADave in General Topics