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joe's NY pizza in santa monica = hyped & awful

Joe's BLOWS
Best thing that can be said about the dismal slice of uninspired dough they sold me with third rate cheese and bland sauce was that it made me think of how much I miss seriously great pizza in New York...

Dec 22, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Doughboys WeHo?

They now are saying February - currently in the process renovating the WeHo location and moving the ovens downtown where they will now bake all their goods -- also expanding the baking operation. This information is as good as last week when I spoke with the owner...

Dec 22, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

In London looking for Indian food, pubs and comfort food

Cinnamon club is fine for "white people's" idea of Indian food... (if this is an idea of a solid recommendation should also recommend Benares, Tamarind or Chutney Mary's while you are at it - all look very nice - are a bit up tight - equally expensive and serve watered down westernized Indian food) which means basically it is better than what you can get in Boston but far from the best Indian food London has to offer.
The majority of the Indian restaurants on Brick Lane are touristy and outright suck - I wouldn't recommend any of them.
Go to LaHore Kebab House - doesn't matter what you order but they will also have a special of the day (we tried grilled lamb curry special last time I was there) - thank me later. It is a bit out of the way - but you already flew the distance - with the extra money you have left over from not going to Cinnamon Club - pay for the cab. This is truly amazing food.
Also what most people think is Indian food in London is actually Pakistani and/or Bangladeshi.

Oct 27, 2007
chowpuppy in U.K./Ireland

Ketchup - what should I order?

You should order take out from Dominos - this place absolutely blows so much you'll be looking forward to the pizza...

Oct 23, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

LA food for weekend visit

Wow
The best "only in LA" type experiences people can recommend are taco trucks - barbecue - and fast food hamburgers... No wonder you can't find a Michelin Star restaurant in this town...

As you said you are willing to travel beyond where you are staying...

Try the Grill In the Alley for lunch in Beverly Hills - dine next to power brokers from agents to studio heads to mega producers - only in LA will you see this (food is ok but it is about an LA experience right...? This only works on weekdays - weekends are dead there - but you might try the Ivy and if you have to ask which one -- skip it).

Eat sushi - Nozawa - Sasubune - Sushi Gen - Katsuya or a host of other equally good places depending on your time and location -- LA does few things right if not better than other cities and sushi is one of them.

Go to the Central Market downtown and eat something from Lotteria (taco, torta, etc). It's a small Mexican market worth the trip for lunch - walk around.

Go to Melrose and get in line at Pinks - its an LA hot dog institution - has national recognition from the Tonight Show and its only in LA (I don't eat at Pinks - but whenever guests come to town they ask me where it is).

Go to Campanile - take a table in the front room - look around as you eat your salad - where else can you say you ate lunch in Charlie Chaplin's original studio/offices - only in LA.

Go to the Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel - sit at a table out on the patio - enjoy the 80 degree sunshine in October... So nice - so much Hollywood history - so LA...

Saturday while heading out to Pasadena - keep going to the San Gabriel Valley (near Pasadena) and have dim sum at Elite or Harbour Seafood - while you can get dim sum elsewhere the best and most cutting edge cuisine coming out of LA at the moment is Chinese and it is coming from this area. Afterward pick up a Vietnamese iced coffee from Lee's and time permitting go get a $20 one hour Tibetan foot massage.

Oct 22, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Any opinions on Il Cielo?

Il Cielo is an exact personification of what plagues the LA restaurant scene in general - the location is leagues better than than the food (and I think the decor is as dated as their customers).
This is the bottom of the barrel of "high end" restaurants in LA and is way past its expiration date.
I was recently forced to eat there two months back and - had a seafood (consistency of oatmeal) and a mixed salad (hard to srcew that up although the greens looked like they were from lebdog's wedding 16 years ago...) Overall experience can best be described as ughghghghhg...

Oct 22, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Great Brisket, Hot Links ... How Is This NY Barbecue?

Based on the above recommendation I had the great misfortune of eating at NY Barbecue this past Wednesday night.
I stopped by NY Barbecue at 8pm and was the only customer.
I ordered 1 lb of rib tips - 1 lb of brisket and 4 beef hot links with a side of Cole slaw and greens -- all to go.
To start each of the meats were wrapped in plastic and unwrapped and cut to my order (which means I assume they pre make everything and store it in a steam table wrapped in Saran wrap) I mention this as I have never seen a barbecue place here in Los Angeles (or elsewhere) do this before and thought it a bit strange (my experience with Los Angeles barbecue includes Phillipes - JRs Barbecue - Ribs USA and Hoggly Woggly -- with Phillipes and Jr's coming out on top as my choices for the best barbecue I have eaten that is available in LA (I use the term "best" in a relative sense but I digress...).
NY Barbecue has one sauce, which they apply to everything. It is a sweet mildly spicy/hot tomato/vinegar/sugar based sauce which was fine - nothing special - not horrible but also not memorable.
As I watched in horror as the nice woman unwrapped a slap of meat and cut my rib tips - placing them in a plastic container and put into the microwave - the brisket and links came right from the steam table (albeit also wrapped in plastic but I guess warm enough to serve).
The tips were tough - fatty and aside from the two I ate and three I fed to my dog basically inedible. The brisket was tender but fatty and not anything special. The links were the biggest disappointment - and while Droyal may be from Louisiana pedigree - that says nothing to how well he/she may have eaten while he/she lived in Louisiana (a lot of people hail from New York too very few fortunate to eat at Gramercy Park Tavern or Le Bernadine…) As for me I have had much better links in Louisiana the several times I have visited - and these fatty - grizzled – tasteless imposters were disappointing at best.
NY Barbecue was such a colossal failure we threw out our order and called Vegan Glory…

Oct 21, 2007
chowpuppy in Features

Sweet Lady Jane's

I've had/seen and enjoyed service with an edge and that would be Musso & Frank's in Hollywood - Peter Luger's in New York or even the Wiener Circle in Chicago - Sweet Lady Jane's is 100% service with an "assh*le" - and the only way I could describe that kind of shopper is unknowing that there are better bakeries in Los Angeles that also know how to treat their customers and can handle the pressure of running a service oriented business.

Oct 21, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Sweet Lady Jane's

Another Chowhounder posted a topic about "Best Dessert Places In Los Angeles" several days ago and I responded with a recommendation for Sweet Lady Jane's. I was surprised at the number of critical responses relating to rudeness of their service which I had experienced as somewhat brusque but never outwardly rude.
After this afternoon I have completely changed my opinion.
I visited Sweet Lady Jane's this evening to pick up a cake. The line was about 6 persons deep. What I witnessed from the three people working the counter (including Jane herself) was nothing less than unprofessional - unacceptable and outwardly and unacceptably rude by any standard.
I don't care how good I think their desserts are (for the record I do believe they put out consistently "good" confections for the Los Angeles area). But the way in which they treated the several customers in front of me (rushing them - not having time to answer questions - and in the case of one customer where they admittedly acknowledged they had made a mistake in his order but then quickly brushed him off) was nothing less than astounding.
I have been to and seen much busier bakeries on the East coast where the line went at least 50 people deep for goods that I and Jane both could only wish she had the capacity to recreate -- and in each of these cases the staffs of those bakeries handled their customers professionally - competently and with respect. I am amazed at how this can continue and can only explain it as a lack of competition in the LA area of competent bakers and bakeries that have like or better goods. But as I don't have much of a sweet tooth and Sussina and Al Gelato are each relatively close by to their location - I will never go to Sweet Lady Jane's again as I would rather frequent and respect those establishments with my patronage instead of going somewhere that may know how to bake but doesn't know the first thing about dealing with their customers in a professional manner.

Oct 20, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Pickles

Guss' Pickels Orchard Street - Manhattan New York. They've been doing it since 1910 and they deliver. If you've never had the sours or half sours or sauerkraut or any of the other other pickled vegetables they prepare - and/or your "best" experiences have been elsewhere - I just feel sad for you. And if you happen to be fortunate enough to actually go to their shop - make sure to go across the street to the bialy shop and get a real bialy and don't stop there as you might as well get a box of fresh made matzos right out of the oven (don't be shocked that they're round not square -- that's how they originally hand make them...).

Oct 18, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Why I still adore JAR

Agreed. I feel Jar is often overlooked (by myself included) - I actually hadn't thought about it for a while until I saw your post. The pot roast - the clams - brussel sprouts and the steaks are all excellent. They just put out consistently good food and have for sometime now. I think I might just grab dinner there this weekend... Thanks.

Oct 18, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Take the Cannoli ... but from where?

I'm new to this board. But never have posted about a topic what which I have only a slight knowledge of have not been to the source of origin so that I have a solid basis on which to make my comparison.

Canoli’s originate in Sicily (like me). They are made from dried ricotta cheese which is made from sheep's milk and which has an entirely different flavor than ricotta's made cow's milk. The shells are made with lard - pig fat - this too adds an entirely different depth of flavor. Outside of Italy - a few bakeries in New York and my own home I have not seen a "cannoli" of this making.

The cannoli's for the most part that are sold in America (including New York and Chicago - and LA) use Cows milk and vegetable shortening (albeit of varying qualities) While I have had several cows milk cannolis here in the states that have been excellent - they are all together different in flavor and none exist here in LA.

I have been to the majority of the places listed on this post and can't believe half the sh*t I am reading about "cannoli's" and how "excellent" and great they are here in LA.

While what people sell here in LA are labeled as cannoli's and to the best of the knowledge displayed here they are "amazing" they are far from what a cannoli truly is and not even to the standards of what can be had in New York or Chicago.

This dessert is truly all about the cheese and how many cheese mongers in LA even make or have fresh ricotta cheese on a daily basis??

Since joining this board I've read a lot of postings about food I didn't know a lot about and some things I did. But I've read a lot more by people who wax poetic about food and experiences they have very little relation to and know even less about.

So tell me where can I find that "really good" cannoli in LA - Gelsons but not Gelsons...??? I think while in Los Angeles I’ll stick with the churros…

Oct 18, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Top Szechaun in the SVG or greater LA Area

banjoboy
1000 San Gabriel blvd - does it make a diference?
notmartha
I will definitely give Manie's a try - thanks

Oct 16, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Top Szechaun in the SVG or greater LA Area

Went to Lucky Dragon last night. I didn't find it dingy - nothing special and a bit rote but not dirty. Our waitress was a bit rude/cold (spoke directly with my dinner companion (in Chinese) recommending the dishes that "most white ghosts" order) we laughed about it and ordered - shaved pork in pepper/pickled tongue and seaweed for appetizers which were each fine - not spicy at all and average at best. For the mains we ordered beef in broth, crab with Szechuan pepper and sauteed string beans.

While overall our meal was not nearly as greasy as Chung King - it also was not nearly as spicy nor did they use any authentic Szechuan peppers.

The beef in broth was slimy and bland. The sauteed string beans were fine. The crab was overcooked and lacked any punch or pungency (or szechuan pepper).

I thought overall a very disappointing experience.

I will try Hong Yei next.

Oct 16, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Ciudad - don't get it

Ummm... may I be so bold here to imply that Ciudad absolutely s#cks. I have been there several times over the past three years and found the food consistently salty - lack luster - overpriced and bland. I've had far better frozen tamales and street food than what this place has to offer (don't even get me started on their desserts). I also don't understand why this place stays in business except that for a time it was the only choice for the downtown work set. Let's see how it fares in the coming years with all the new options opening up downtown - my bet is not so well. Ciudad is honestly something I would expect see posing as a hot venue somewhere inside a strip mall outside of Bumblef#kc Iowa. The decor reminds me as if Bobby Friendly and Paris Hilton had a retarded child and dressed him up as a pinata (and the food equally tastes as if they are preparing it as well). The drinks are fine - but this isn't "drinkhound" its "chowhound".

Oct 15, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Top Szechaun in the SVG or greater LA Area

I'm off to try both! Yeah JGold also suggested several other vast disappointments this year (Fraiche/Lou and an Indian in Artesia my girlfriend still won't let me forget about - which reminds me I should post about it as several people recommended it here on this board as well...) . Although someone on a pizza posting here also recommended Buonos Pizza in Long Beach which I had the misfortune of eating last night as I was in the area - wow - we should have just stopped at Ralph's and picked up pizza flavored Goldfish - but I digress - this topic is Szechuan and I'm off to find it.
Thanks again.
Thank you and will let you know how it goes.

Oct 15, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Harold and Belle's -- last night

Ughghgggg - I hate that I love the food here - it is as authentic as it is unhealthy - and on top of that the portions are huge (probably a good idea to get individual appetizers and split an entree). The gumbo - etoufee and fish dishes I've had there were all the real deal. I ate there last week and had the fried mixed fish plate (oysters/shrimp/fish) all were lightly dusted and fried to perfection - everything on my plate was golden brown - crisp - succulent - flavorful (the oil was clean) -- so unhealthy but so good. It is pricey and the location is a bit sketchy but worth the splurge and the surge in your cholesterol once a year - use the valet.

Oct 13, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Best burger in Westwood?

Have to agree Apple Pan is the best burger in Westwood - and as it is across the street from the West-Side Pavillion off Westwood Blvd - it's Westwood to me - albeit a bit South but if you want the best burger in Westwood its worth the additional 5 minute drive.

Oct 13, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Top Szechaun in the SVG or greater LA Area

Since visiting Chengdu I have been searching LA for comparable Szechuan cuisine in the SVG and failing miserably.
Sauteed chicken cubes in a mountain of Szechuan peppers is a dish I have dreamt about ever since as well as a crab hot pot dish that set my mouth on fire and made me cry sweatful tears of joy.
This evening I checked out Chung King in San Gabriel (pickled cucumber/pigs ear with peppers/fried chicken with pepper/fish in broth/leek with dried tofu). The chicken was fried to a leathery texture and the spice while there was pulled way back - and it was GREASY - not at all the dish I ate in Chengdu (the chicken in Chengdu was flash fired - almost sauteed so as to be succulent morsels full of flavor and peppery heat/spice) -- the Fish in Broth at Chung King was equally greasy and a bit bland. The other dishes were fine - but nothing was special.
I have also recently tried Best Szechaun and had a worse experience than described above.
I had heard about another restaurant called Best Szechuan Seafood near Garvey but took the ride out to discover it's owners had turned it into a Taiwanese pub.
Am I searching for the elusive unicorn of restaurants or can someone please help me?

Oct 13, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Daikokuya fading?

Had dinner there last week - and aside from the ridiculous long wait - lack of ventilation and uneven service - it was exactly what I have come to depend on - amazing noodles - succulent pork and amazingly rich broth - Daikokuya remains one of my favorite places to eat in LA.

Oct 13, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Best place for dessert in LA?

Diana
Admittedly the staff at Sweet Lady Jane's are a bit of a terror but -- too many customers at peak times for far too small a space - try Al Gelato

Oct 13, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Best place for dessert in LA?

I can't recommend Milk - their ice cream is sub par and the baked goods look much better than they taste -- if you must eat something sweet immediately in that area go West to Baskin Robbins (seriously Baskin Robbins has better ice cream) or East to Sugar Plum Patisserie for better baked goods and coffee -- but if you are willing to drive a bit....

Al Gelato (on Robertson South of Wilshire) - gelato and Italian sorbets to die for all hand made and with an assortment of home made baked goods that are equally incredible (the apple pie and tiramisu equally incredible)

Sweet Lady Jane’s (on Melrose East of The Bev Center) - Baked goods (turn overs - cakes - pies and a mixed berry whipped cream cake that is the star of the show) also a solid assortment of potted teas.

Fosselman's (on Main Street in SGV) - very solid old fashioned hand made ice cream - old time feel and and an awesome treat.

Oct 13, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Best Dim Sum

I'm not a dim sum specialist but I have been going out for either Chinese breakfast or dim sum almost every Saturday morning here in LA for the past year (something about having a Chinese significant other...). What I have noticed is that competition for dim sum in the SGV is fiercely competitive and constantly changing - with places coming and going as soon as one restauranteur can manage to steal a top chef from another.

Currently my favorites are as follows

Elite
Sea Harbour
Mission 261

But by this time next year I am sure my list will look completely different.

Oct 13, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Fraiche in Culver City

I had dinner at Fraiche about a month ago.
What a staggering disappointment. We had chosen to visit based on an article by Jonathan Gold and thought we would give it a try. My partner's sea bass was undercooked and after sending it back my own entree came back cold -- less than a stellar dining experience (especially as the sauce that came with her fish was equally insulting). Overall I couldn't get over the strip mall suburban decor and the feeling of how hard this place was trying to be "hip". I was equally unimpressed with the wine list. Best of all was the host and wait-staff. Who hires these people Our waitress was dressed like a hooker and the host who sat us seemed to be drafted directly out of some horrible lounge act off the Vegas strip - it was amusing and horrifying all at once - but did add for some dining giggles. But - back to the food - ughghghgh!!! If this is the best LA has to offer on the new restaurant front I'd rather stay home.

Oct 13, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Grace or AOC or Angelini Osteria

Grace - recently had two consecutive bad meals - something is up with the kitchen
AOC - solid all round - food and atmosphere
Angelini - by far the best of the three but cramped and loud

Oct 13, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Ultimate poll

This was tough. But I took the challenge seriously. I have lived in Los Angeles for almost ten years and when here eat out almost every night. I travel abroad about two months each year, originate from New York City and frequent the cities of New York, Chicago, San Francisco, London, Rome and Shanghai the most. In setting my criteria of what is essentially the best five LA restaurants – I thought – I could easily list my five favorite Chinese restaurants in Monterey Park, San Gabriel or Alhambra and be done with it. As no other city in the country is hitting the levels of the Chinese culinary explosion than what is currently happening here in LA. Yes I love Mozza - but there is much better pizza in New York and Chicago. What are the places - thinking equally across the board – where I could bring friends to in LA where upon returning back home they would have trouble recreating the same experience or would have to fly to particular location to relive its authenticity. Valentino and La Buca are fine restaurants but you can fly to Vegas and have your Italian doors blown off on higher levels at two or three places without even having to mention going to New York or Chicago for at least 10 better levels of Italian. I wouldn't go near French in LA. My friends in Berkeley know Thai on a whole other level. And as for next generation high-end eateries (Spago/Maestros/Patina/Cut/Providence/etc) - one could easily name 5 restaurants in the cities of Chicago - San Francisco and New York high on the cutting culinary edge, which can sadly pummel the "best" high-end eatery LA has to offer. Of note what is missing sadly from my list (and almost everyone else’s) is a Korean or Mexican restaurant. I eat Korean at least three times a month and while LA has some fine Korean restaurants none hit the levels of what I have eaten in either Seoul or even mid town Manhattan. Mexican in Los Angeles breaks my heart. There is no reason why we should not have ten of the top Mexican restaurants in this country. I eat in La Paz or in Mexico City and wonder not what is going on with the Mexican restaurant scene in Los Angeles but where is it – as it truly doesn’t exist – not even on the same levels as it does in Texas and/or Arizona – not even close.

Thus my list.

1. Dai Tai Fung (25% the dumplings - 75% the cost of having to buy a ticket to Shanghai or Taiwan to experience the same dumpling)

2. Campanile (25% one of the most consistent kitchens in LA - in addition to the wine list and having its own bakery next door -- 75% the restaurant situated within Charlie Chaplin’s old film studio/offices)

3. Pacific Dining Car (downtown location only) - 25% they dry age their own meats - Denzel Washington shot a scene from "Training Day" in the main dining room - an amazingly impressive and affordable wine list - incredible steaks and 75% where else will you find this high level of an eating establishment open 7 days a week 24 hours a day in any city?

4. Daikokuya - 25% the homemade broth - 75% the handmade noodles -- it is dingy - yes the line is always long - but it is eclectic is hip and to me it is essentially LA - go on a cold fall night - eat the raumen and sleep well knowing you’ve just eaten one of the best dishes LA has to offer.

5. Sushi Nozawa - This was hard. As I truly believe if no other list on this board look nothing alike one thing in common should be that each one should have listed a Sushi restaurant as what LA does better than almost anywhere else in the country is Sushi and the variety of places to experience it here in Los Angeles is unparalleled in the US. Nozawa got my vote, as it was one of the first sushi restaurants I visited upon arriving here in LA and it is still serving consistently reliable and amazing sushi. Yes there are fancier places - yes I enjoy certain dishes more at other restaurants - but I gave my vote to Nozawa's crab roll and having overall served some of the best sushi I have eaten in LA for over 10 years.

Oct 13, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area

Mode : Downtown LA 24 Hour Dining?

Best 24 hour spot in all of LA is The Pacific Dining Car on 6th downtown - open 7 days a week 24 hours a day - amazing steaks - incredible breakfast menu - and one of the few restaurants in Los Angeles with any character.

Oct 13, 2007
chowpuppy in Los Angeles Area