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mikeinla10's Profile

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Best Chana Masala

I've become vegetarian about 70% to 80% of the time. Naturally, I find myself eating a lot of Indian food since that cuisine gets real flavor into its veggies. I'm a Chana Masala fanatic.

Nizam on Pico in Westwood has the best I've had. So flavorful and savory. Not watery like other places. Maybe a little heavy on the salt. But still, it's freakin' great.

Any recommendations on great Chana?

And please, spare me all the "Americanized" and "inauthentic" comments. I just want to know who you think has the best. I've been up and down all the places in Culver City. I've done Al Noor and Al Watan, etc.

Thanks.

Jan 26, 2014
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thanks for the tip, Paprkutr. Next time I'm doing Asian out in Alhambra / Monterey Park, I'll be sure to check that out.

Aug 25, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Kalguksu

No, I have not... and thanks to you, that'll be the next place we try.

I should also mention that I liked the bean pancake thing we had at Miari. What's that called? Do you like those? Do you like Miari?

Aug 25, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Kalguksu

My wife, daughter, and I have quickly become fond of kalguksu, or kal gook soo, or whatever would be the proper English spelling of it.

So, I'm asking all you Chow folks... what's your favorite place for the chicken version of it?

So far, we've been to Olympic Noodle a couple times and Miari Noodle House. We thought Miari had better flavor, but unfortunately the broth had some heat and my daughter is too picky for it. They must throw some kimchi in it. (On a tangent, I'm not generally a fan of kimchi, but Miari's might be the best I've had. Here I'm talking about the kimchi outside of the soup.)

For those who haven't had chicken kalguksu... it's a relatively bland and benign chicken soup, but hearty and pleasing. The broth is cloudy which I believe comes from egg, but I'm not sure. The places in K-Town use quality chicken parts, there's generally some onion and I believe zucchini as well... and the star of the show, by far, is that the noodles are homemade. That's what makes the soup such a hit. The noodles are al dente and just really freakin' bomb.

In my view, this soup is up there with a good Jewish Matzo Ball, a Greek Lemon Chicken Soup, a Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup, etc. One of the better chicken soups on planet Earth.

Aug 25, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm responding to the thread I created back in February. Thank you to all who responded.

At this point, I'd have to agree with the consensus, Clementine wins. I just wish they had a milk chocolate chip version.

Aug 25, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Quiet Dinner on the Westside

Zoe,

I'm with you on both La Bruschetta (thumbs up) and Guido's (thumbs down).

Jun 05, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Quiet Dinner on the Westside

If you want quiet and outstanding Italian at a reasonable price, the answer is definitely Caffe Carrera. One of the best kept secrets in LA.

Sure, it's a little bit east of where you're looking, but you won't find a crowd and will find truly great food. The soups are fantastic, his pastas amazing, and he does a white pizza with ricotta and prosciutto that's out of this freaking world. I cannot recommend it enough.

Some people don't like it because the owner isn't the world's most gregarious chap, but the service is fine. It's not like you have long waits or don't get your drink refilled or anything.

I wish more people would go there. The food is that good. Oh, and one other bonus, there are no parking issues. There's a lot right next to adjacent to a Starbucks where you can park for free.

Jun 03, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Looking for really great French bread on the Westside or even on the West end of the Valley.

I understand that you're looking for something on the west side or west valley. And Bay Cities, while good, is ridiculously over-praised and not relevant to French bread.

The sad thing is that for what you're looking for, only the Vietnamese are doing it right. And for this, you have to head way down to Westminster. Boulangerie Pierre makes fantastic French bread and pate to go with it. Their Pate Chaud is out of this world and a must-try destination for any LA foodie. And then, if you head to Top Baguette, you'll find perhaps the finest banh mi in all of LA, the #2 with beef and lemongrass. Dear lord is it perfect.

Anyway, sorry to be the guy who isn't answering specific to what you're looking for... but not only do I think it's not here in West LA, but if it is... you're probably going to pay an arm and a leg for it... which is ridiculous for such a staple item.

Jun 03, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Carne Asada Burrito or Taco in Los Angeles

I'm with Culver Jack.

I love TacoMiendo... great Carnitas taco. But nobody in this town is really doing carne asada justice as far as skirt steak. Got to get back to Chi-Town.

TacoMiendo has a GREAT albondigas. Highly recommended. One of the best broths I've had of any soup in all of LA. Well balanced, flavorful, outstanding.

May 07, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Carne Asada Burrito or Taco in Los Angeles

Who doesn't have better quality meat than LA? (I'm being serious.)

May 07, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

My New Favorite Treat - Paletas

You're welcome, Baron.

What did you get? Did you try the paletas? What flavor?

May 04, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Carne Asada Burrito or Taco in Los Angeles

God, carne asada is SO much better in Chicago.

I believe it's because it's generally skirt steak there which I believe is abdomen, right? It makes such a difference. It should be thinly sliced and pounded. It's so hard to find here in LA.

I commend Sprouts for having it on their shelves. I just wish more taquerias would follow suit.

May 02, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

My New Favorite Treat - Paletas

I live not too far from Mateo's on Sepulveda and have fallen in love.

Their strawberry paleta is simply the perfect summer treat. The pineapple is awesome too. I tried mango w/ chile also but wasn't thrilled with a spicy frozen fruit bar. But I'm still glad I tried it.

Anyway, what are some people's favorite places for Paletas?

And sorry in advance that I had never had a Paleta until a couple months ago. My bad. It's a complete mystery to me that both agua frescas and paletas have not become more popular in the US. In my mind, they should both be as popular as ice cream, doughnuts, froyo, iced tea, soda, etc. Who doesn't want fresh fruit, some sugar, and some water?

May 02, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Carne Asada Burrito or Taco in Los Angeles

I love La Fonda. Their tacos are bomb. And they always have fresh agua frescas.

(And I don't need any comments about "fresh agua frescas" as many places have those awful preserved versions in the plastic containers.)

May 02, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

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

Okay, I'm not going to argue with you.

Now to be fair, I haven't been there in a couple years now. However, if the logic is "Jack In The Box = good, Del Taco = good... La Fonda = bad," we'll simply have to agree to disagree.

La Fonda's tacos are very flavorful. Their agua frescas are great. I just don't get it.

Apr 24, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

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

Okay, so keeping score here... Jack In The Box tacos... and Del Taco... good. But, La Fonda... bad?

Seriously?

What did you order? And did you get an agua fresca?

Apr 23, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Moving to L.A. - NEED to find great Asian food.

Just a slight nitpick here.

Whatever you do... do not get pho from the Vietnamese place in Fox Hills Mall. It's oily as heck and lacking real flavor. Wife and I couldn't believe how bad it was.

But we love Kyochon and 101 Noodle with their unreal beef rolls.

Feb 07, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Moving to L.A. - NEED to find great Asian food.

Hey, thanks Ciao Bob. Glad you approve.

You know, I've been to Gushi many times... and I definitely appreciate Taco Miendo... but I've never been to Asian-Ya or the Mexican place at that strip. I need to try both. I see that you're right... and Asian-Ya has $10 Boxes for Kalbi and Bulgogi. I'll have to give it a shot. Thanks.

Feb 07, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Moving to L.A. - NEED to find great Asian food.

The best Vietnamese you'll get on the west side is Pho 99 on Wilshire. Plus, they might just have the best egg roll in all of LA. Seriously bomb.

For banh mi... you simply must go to Banh Mi My Tho in Alhambra for the #8. Likewise, Top Baguette in Garden Grove for the #2.

For pate chaud, Boulangerie Pierre & Patisserie, also is worth the drive out in Garden Grove.

For Thai, Jitlada is a must for their mango coco salad, fried fish with crispy basil, and seriously savory curries. On the west side, Swanya is pretty good. For BBQ specifically, there's always Thai BBQ. Pretty darn good barbecue.

For Japanese... I'm at a loss for how so many are in love with Santouka, (me included), but don't express the same love for Sanuki right next to it!?! Their udon is so freaking good. Their broth is awesome.

For Chinese, I think Little Hong Kong is under-appreciated. Their chow fun is exceptional as is their orange peel chicken. It's superior to the average neighborhood fare. For dim sum, I like CBS Seafood in Chinatown for the dumplings while I'm in love with the Shrimp Cheong Fun out at Ocean Star in Monterey Park.

For sushi, I love Echigo, where it's served warm. Their food is something else. I'm also partial to California Roll Company on Santa Monica... with their enormous rolls. (This place is not to be confused with the awful chain, "California Roll and Sushi"... or whatever it's called.)

As for Korean, well... I simply refuse to pay $18 for the right to cook food myself. I also don't care if there are 10 million side dishes served when most of them are pretty nasty to me. Maybe I just don't have the palate for it. Of the places I've had in LA, Soot Bull Jeep would be my favorite. (Be sure also to check out Kyochon for Korean Fried Chicken. Now that place is bomb.)

Actually, I'd like to pose a Chowhound question here: where can I get some good Korean bbq for under $10? Anywhere? I miss that chain up in SF called Hahn's Hibachi.

Feb 06, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I can tell you this... I will most certainly be making a trip to Clementine's soon. I thank you both for the tip.

Feb 06, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Next time I head out to Alhambra for Vietnamese, I'll be sure to check out Euro Pane. Thanks for the tip.

Feb 05, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Excellent and fair point, Peripatetic. I've often wondered what makes their cookies so freaking good.

I found that online recipe which pretends to teach you how to make Mrs. Fields tasting cookies at home, but it was basically just the Toll House Recipe with more brown sugar. Plus, it tells you to refrigerate the batter before baking and to bake at a lower temperature. I must say, those tips do indeed help. But still, it ain't Mrs. Fields.

And yet, shouldn't a competitor be able to do better for near $1.60? I mean, that's more my question here. Can any Bakery really touch Mrs. Fields for price-and-product?

I knew a guy who has a cookie shop up in SF called "Hot Cookie". He told me the primary expense is the butter itself.

Feb 05, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thanks for the tip guys, but I'm sorry I have to emphatically disagree about Diddy Riese. I'm not a fan of their cookies at all. They taste cheap to me, are often stale, and lack good chewy texture. Perhaps when you've gotten them re-heated, they're better that way.

IMHO, those cookies are designed to go with ice cream... not to be good cookies.

Feb 04, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm growing really irritated by $3 cookies.

The reason for this is... Mrs. Fields is still damn good for around $1.60. So, here's my question, Chowhounds:

Is there anyone in LA making an excellent chocolate chip cookie for under $3?

I had a good one at Aurelie in Santa Monica place, but it was $3.

I've been to Jamaica's Cakes, Susie Cakes, Vanilla Bake Shop, Essential Chocolate Desserts, Sweet Lady Jane, Patine, and more... and have yet to find a cookie that beats Mrs. Fields for $1.60.

And please spare me any judgment on Mrs. Fields for being corporate / a chain / outdated / etc. Yes, it's all of that... and they still make the best chocolate chip cookie.

Thanks in advance for any tips.

Feb 04, 2012
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

great pizza in west l.a - yes. it's true.

Julie's is okay. "Decent for LA". But be sure to get some chicken chow fun with the gravy on top from San Hing next door. It's bomb. They have a pretty good Szechuan chicken as well. Cheap and huge portions... cash only.

Also, about 50 feet away, Ugly Roll sushi is one of the most affordable and decent sushi places you'll find on the west side.

Dec 21, 2011
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

HELP!! What are the BEST ASIAN MARKETS around town?

The other one that drives me nuts is basil. Why is it so hard to get at Vons/Ralphs/Albertsons... and why does it cost so much? Even Sprouts doesn't make it easy.

You can go to Sinai Butcher on Pico in the Pico-Robertson area... and get the largest and best Khoubideh Kabob in all of LA for $4... along with a huge bushel of basil, free. The amount of basil alone would cost you $4 at Ralph's... where it comes in those weird, think plastic containers... and you hardly get any.

Kaffir lime leaves... and basil should be more readily available and cheaper at standard grocery stores. They're both easy to get at 99 Ranch / Shun Fat / Thai Town grocers, etc.

@DMasut, just curious, (the obvious question)... what's your restaurant? Or, are you not allowed to promote here at Chowhound? Thx.

Dec 21, 2011
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

great pizza in west l.a - yes. it's true.

Pitfire is guilty of the radius crust ratio problem.

I swear, with their pizza... almost 40% of the pizza's radius is crust. It's ridiculous. Otherwise, the flavors are good. It's a shame.

Dec 21, 2011
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

HELP!! What are the BEST ASIAN MARKETS around town?

God bless Shun Fat market for at least one thing.

Growing up white and from the midwest, I only ever knew that one buys garlic, peels it, and then chops it.

Several years back, I encountered 99 Ranch. It was a revelation. For $2, you can buy a whole bunch of peeled garlic and keep it refrigerated for a few weeks. All you need to do is chop. Very convenient.

And within the last year, I found myself at Shun Fat market where, lo and behold, one can buy about a half pint of minced garlic, refrigerated, for the same $2. Thank you Shun Fat. I love you for this.

Dec 20, 2011
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

Most Divisive Restaurants?

I fail to understand how anyone could have a good experience at Tom Colicchio's Craft LA. One of the most overpriced jokes I've ever experienced.

Pink's... I just don't get it. In Chicago, every neighborhood has a hot dog stand superior to that place. Is it a marketing thing as with Robert Mondavi or something?

In N Out. I can understand why Californians love the burgers. I simply don't get it when it comes to the fries. No texture, no flavor.

Tito's I feel is okay... but not worthy of the hype.

Dec 18, 2011
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area

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

Man, it seems to come up in every thread:

Banh Mi My Tho, the #8. $2.75 and out of this world.

Or, head to Little Saigon for a foodie adventure. Get some delicious Pate Chaud at either Gala Bakery or Boulangerie Pierre... or some Banh Mi at Top Baguette. That beef with lemongrass is somethin' else.

For tacos, make it to the La Fonda truck at Vanowen and Vineland, up in the SFV. Or, close to downtown, make it to El Parian.

Glad to see Jitlada on the list. Goodness... the Coco-Mango Salad and Fried Fish w/ Crispy Basil are two of the greatest dishes I've ever had anywhere.

Dec 18, 2011
mikeinla10 in Los Angeles Area