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Now that Mr. Tasterâ„¢ is gone, can we please discuss Gjusta?

Haven't been able to try their sandwiches, but I had their duck rillettes and head cheese, and they were my favorite rillettes and head cheese in LA. Also had a rabbit terrine that was pretty good. Everything was quite pricey, but to me, worth it.

Pok pok phat thai

(in response to J. Gold, not so much barryc)
I'm guessing this is J. Gold's way of not really saying anything bad about the place, but so the party line is that phat thai is supposed to be bland? What about pad see ew and hoi thawt? When I ate there and thought it was bland, I meant every plate we had was bland, not just the phat thai.

We added the sauces. I've mainly heard about saucing the eponymous dish, but we're supposed to be adding some of the sauces to everything? Doesn't that just make every dish taste more or less the same? Was I supposed to add sugar to the hoi thawt? (I didn't, just used the hot sauce and fish sauce)

Feb 24, 2015
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

Impossible Expectations?

I think what's a bit offensive (to me, but maybe this will extend to others) and triggers that nativist attitude is that some time ago, LA was considered a culinarily poor city. People from NY and SF (generally speaking, of course) would talk about their great dining scenes, and how LA was superficial. All style, no substance.

People from here know that we've had great Asian and Mexican food for a while, but outsiders never seemed to give those cuisines the respect they deserved. Now that casual Asian food is the hottest thing, every big city wants to hype up their place like it's the second coming (i.e. Pok Pok, Mission Chinese). But we've been LIVING in this space for a while. Authentic Asian food is a part of life in LA; not just a novelty that hipsters flock to because of the trend.

Thinking along those lines, the opening of Red O comes to mind. The audacity of someone to come in and say that he is going to introduce LA to authentic Mexican food is a bit infuriating. Not to mention that in another interview, he stated that Mexican food in San Francisco was better than in LA.

Pasadena help, please!!

Shiro feels to me like 90s Asian Fusion, but the catfish is always good. If you're looking for something a little different, Shiro is probably the place to go. I end up at Houston's the most out of the 5 just to satisfy my french dip cravings every now and then. Arroyo Chop House is probably the safest bet for your average steak and a salad kind of meal. Nicer ambiance than Houston's, and quieter as you'll be probably dining with more of the blue-haired folks from San Marino.

Not a fan of Smitty's and Gus's.

Feb 05, 2015
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

Pasadena help, please!!

That's what I came here to post. Union is my favorite restaurant in Pasadena by a mile.

As a side note, I would take that other site's reviews in Pasadena with a grain of salt. I feel like the locals have a case of Stockholm syndrome after being stuck in a food desert for so long.

Feb 05, 2015
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

Favorite Asian-Style pastries in/around SGV?

+1 on that
Also, my gf says it's gross, but I have a thing for the super-mayonnaise-y pork sung bun from JJ Bakery and the pork sung roll from Jim's Bakery. I think it's from growing up on a similar one from Cathy Bakery.

Jan 27, 2015
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

honeymoon thru Cali (2.5 nights at LA)

Don't want to spark any sort of argument, but I've got to vote against The House. I really don't think they're anywhere near the best of what San Francisco has to offer.

Jan 21, 2015
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

HK style desserts

Everything is in the same vicinity, so I prefer going to each place for whatever it is they tend to do better. You can get pretty much everything at Tea Station (for example), but I would just stick to the drinks, and leave the sticky rice soup and sesame balls to Phoenix, shaved ice to whoever else (haven't eaten that in a while), and HK egg waffle to Tasty Garden.

Jan 13, 2015
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

CA Foie Gras Import Ban-Struck Down by Court

Shunji comes to mind for me.
As soon as Animal puts that biscuit back on the menu (fingers crossed), I'm heading straight there.

And there are a few newer restaurants that I would like to see what they could do with foie; particularly, Chi Spacca and Rustic Canyon

Jan 08, 2015
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

Pok pok phat thai

I did not enjoy it. I thought the flavors were very tame, similar to an average Thai takeout place. I guess I was hoping for something more aggressive.

The hip-looking couple with their 2 kids that sat next to us seemed to really enjoy their food though... so there's that.

Jan 05, 2015
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

Pok pok phat thai

Went on Saturday at 1PM. The short line moved quickly and the food was delivered within 10 minutes. I think they may have their food timing issues sorted out, so that shouldn't be too much of a deterrent.

The food on the other hand...

Jan 05, 2015
andytseng in Los Angeles Area
1

Singapore Leaf Gone Already?

The coming soon sign also says "Henry's Cuisine". No idea what that is.

Dec 15, 2014
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

Pho Ha Long (San Gabriel) already gone, replaced by Spiceone

Spiceone closed down (well, that was fast), and now open in its space is Ko Ichi Sushi. It will take a braver hound than I to report back on the new place.

Nov 14, 2014
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

Cafe Bizou, Pasadena?

Don't mean to harp on about Union, but they have plenty of items that are pretty straightforward, done very well. And it's Italian... who doesn't love that? That's all I'll say about that.

And to address the Cheesecake Factory thing, I didn't mean to say that Cafe Bizou and CF are the same/worse/better. I just think the average non-adventurous person, who I imagine eats at CF, would think that Bizou is fine. Personally, I would rather eat at Cafe Bizou than CF, but grab a slice of cheesecake at CF after.

Nov 07, 2014
andytseng in Los Angeles Area
1

Cafe Bizou, Pasadena?

It's not loud. I would never choose to go there, but I think people who don't care too much about food or are perfectly fine eating at cheesecake factory would find it to be not bad.

I think Union around the corner would be a much better option, though harder to reserve.

Nov 06, 2014
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

Petit Trois, No Reservations, No Phone, No Cash & No tipping...

I ended up going last night (Tuesday) for a late dinner.

Showed up at 8:35 (party of 2), and the hostess told us it would be about 25 minutes. We got seated at 30 minutes, so pretty accurate (nothing the hostess could do about two ladies sitting there, meal completed, bill paid, playing on their phones).

Service was pretty spotty throughout the night. We didn't receive bread or water for a little bit, but the waitress, chefs, and busser were all plenty nice. They ended up sending us a complimentary gougere to make up for the lack of bread service.

We had the salmon rillettes, escargot, chicken leg, and omelette. I thought everything was tasty, and expertly prepared. No issues with the food whatsoever. The dishes are not overwrought like I thought they were at Trois Mec. The thought crossed my mind that, okay this is just escargot or this is just an omelette, but I don't know where else you could find things like this so flawlessly executed in LA (maybe Bouchon).

The night ended with a few service hiccups. I ordered a napoleon and a cappuccino to finish off the meal. The napoleon was delivered (tasty) but it was a while before I could catch the waitress's attention to ask for the cappuccino. She apologized, went to go check out, and then came back and let me know that their espresso machine was down. Also, she dropped off the check at this point.

I wanted to ask if they had regular coffee available, but dropping off the check was the last interaction we had with her. I think she had some friends dining at the restaurant that night, who she went outside to talk with for a little bit. Normally, I don't think that would have a huge effect on service, but she was the only waitress.

I would normally just aggressively flag someone down, but I wanted to test the limits of this, so we sat and waited, credit card in hand for about 10 minutes. My gf eventually got tired of it, so we just walked up to the bartender to pay.

This experience makes me a little curious if this is the flaw with having a service charge built in. I get the feeling most servers pick up the service towards the end to work for that extra tip. At the end of our night, we were basically ignored.

The cocktails were spot on. I loved the food. But the service issues will keep me from returning on a regular basis.

Oct 15, 2014
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

Solo Business Trip to LA area - Recommendations?

I'm gonna disagree here. DTLA is the hot new thing for us, but it's a revival of city living, which the OP gets plenty of. Venice may not have the best in food, but it has an experience and atmosphere that is very LA (laid-back, beachy vibe), and very not NY.

Anyway, I like the new plan as far as logistics go (SaMo->DTLA->WeHo)

Oct 14, 2014
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

Petit Trois, No Reservations, No Phone, No Cash & No tipping...

I was thinking about checking this place out tonight, but I wanted to see what the wait times are like. Especially after the reviews came out.

So how about it? Has anybody gone recently, and how has the wait been?

Oct 14, 2014
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

Solo Business Trip to LA area - Recommendations?

I've only skimmed the thread, so there will probably be some redundancies, but my eyes glazed over from all the transportation talk.

I would actually try to change the location timings a little bit. Rustic Canyon, Gjelina, and Tar & Roses are all very "California," but RC and T&R only open for dinner. Unfortunately, this puts you in the beach-y areas at later hours.

You could do an early lunch at GCM, which I don't think is the best food, but the environment is nice and fun.

Then you could do a late lunch at Guerrilla Tacos (Personally meh about it, but most people seem to like it, and represents a very ubiquitous, nouevau hipster LA scene), or Ricky's Fish Tacos or Kogi.

Ricky's Fish Tacos would also put you pretty close to good Thai food, but the meals are starting to pile up.

What's more LA than either of these taco experiences is going to a regular, ol'-fashioned taco truck. I would probably choose a taco truck based on what part of the city you're in, versus going out of your way to find a specific one.

Night+Market (original or Song) is kind of like Pok Pok in that it's pretty aggressive, good Thai food, but most of the people in there are white (which would usually be a bad sign, but not so much in this case). I think N+M Song is one of the hotter restaurants in LA atm.

I would also try some ice cream. I think something like Sweet Rose is very different from the places I've been to in NY.

Downtown LA is not great for dinner. Options are pretty limited and a lot of it is Italian and not near the quality of NY. I hope you find a replacement for Peking Tavern though... If you left LA with that being your only "Chinese" food experience, I think a piece of my Chow-heart would die.

Oct 12, 2014
andytseng in Los Angeles Area
1

The burgers at Dog Haus (Pasadena Biergarten)

I've only tried the fancy western bacon cheeseburger and it tasted like a fancy western bacon cheeseburger (which is my favorite fast food non-straight-burger burger. It's not terrible, but I won't be going back for burgers anytime soon.

Sep 30, 2014
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

Wexler's- meh.

I think it's a little weird that you would expect much from the sandwiches, considering that Wexler's #1 ranking on a top 10 Pastrami list spawned a 500+ post, contentious thread.

If you're ever so inclined, I would give the smoked fish a try... I don't think you can get any better in the near vicinity.

Sep 30, 2014
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

Red Medicine Announces It Will Close at the End of October

I think a certain (read: tiny) segment of the city can support these types of places, but that's it. But just look at the size of those restaurants vs. a Red Medicine. How many seats are at Trois Mec? 25?

Sep 27, 2014
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

Red Medicine Announces It Will Close at the End of October

I think the problem is that you're asking the wrong person. It seems like bula was willing to give it a go, but the average person who doesn't visit an online forum to talk about food and restaurants every day (and whose business is probably more important to the success of a restaurant) wasn't interested, and how something looks for that person might be a deterrent.

Anyway, for me, the statement from the recent closings (plus allumette) is that LA doesn't like the protein-rolled-in-ash, paintbrush-streak of sauce, dots-of-sorrel-oil, edible-flower-topped dishes. Maybe you could say that people aren't into creative, or interesting, or challenging type foods. I just think that creativity is less of a factor when it comes to the average LA diner's decisions.

Sep 24, 2014
andytseng in Los Angeles Area
1

Fifty Seven - Joining BOS in restaurant purgatory

Didn't Test Kitchen try the rotating chefs thing? Has that worked anywhere?

Edit: FIXED!

Sep 22, 2014
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

Today is my lucky day, Ike's Place Westwood soft opens with free sandwiches!

Some Yelpers left 1-star reviews (that managed to stay up there) because they were reacting to news that they didn't completely understand and had nothing to do with food or service in any way.

And that is why Yelp is the greatest.

I'm sure if Ike wants to fork over some cash, that confusion could be cleared right up.

Sep 19, 2014
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

JapaDog May Be Coming to L.A.!

I had it for the first time a few months ago. Thought it was pretty good. Didn't blow my mind, but certainly would not hesitate to get another one if I happened to see the truck.
The concept seems easy to replicate, so I would imagine if you loved it in Vancouver, you would probably love it here

Trendy, good food for out of town guest from Hong Kong

Just wanted to +1 these sentiments.

Was in HK about a year ago, and tried a Vietnamese place near Central that had a giant line outside of it during lunch, and the much-lauded, now-closed TBLS that does some sort of new-American. Both very underwhelming to say the least.

Sep 11, 2014
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

Singapore Leaf Open in Alhambra

Wow.

Well, thanks for taking the hit for the rest of us.

Sep 10, 2014
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

Gordon Ramsay - The London?

Just FYI, I don't think Gordon Ramsay has anything to do with this location anymore, other than it still bearing his name. Don't know whether that could affect your plans. Might have to do some googling.

Sep 10, 2014
andytseng in Los Angeles Area

LA "Musts" Tailored to a Strategic New Yorker

Not to rub it in, but I think the prime rib bowl is one of the best things there, and it's not super sauced up like the other bowls.

The SO is pretty sensitive to salt and she's never had an issue with it at n+m, so I might chalk that up to an off night, but I don't think you need to give it another shot.