Tuesday, June 15, 2010

IsItEDible in Los Angeles

Last month, I spent a few days in Los Angeles for a training. While I was there, I revisited one of my favorite restaurants, Daikokuya (see the past posting here) and was introduced to some new (to me) places by my LA based colleagues and friends.

327 E. 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 626-1680

This place is every bit as popular as it was when I first visited it in December 2008. There isn't a host/hostess so be sure to sign in on the clipboard when you walk in. Although their gyoza is quite delicious, I opted to start off with fried spicy tuna ($5.95), a plate of 5 dumpling-esque bundles of spicy tuna wrapped in a shiso leaf which is then dipped in tempura batter and deep fried. This comes with a little bowl of dipping salt (perhaps MSG) and a lemon wedge. Place a little of both on each "dumpling"and you are in for a treat! Note that the deep-frying does cook the tuna so don't expect the same consistency of a raw spicy tuna roll.

Their signature dish, the Daikokuya Ramen, is still delicious and still only $8.50. This time, I asked for the "kotteri" flavor which uses added soup extracted from the back fat. It was a huge bowl of savory deliciousness!

Lazy Ox Canteen
241 South San Pedro St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 626-5299

Two of my LA colleagues recommended this canteen that focuses on fresh, seasonal ingredients. If you go, do so with a group of friends so you can order a bunch of small plates. And if you go between 5 pm - 7pm on Monday through Friday, they have a special five for $5 happy hour menu. I really enjoyed their pigs ear chicharon ($9) even though it was not quite what I expected. Instead of they typical pork rinds type chicaron, these were cut into strips that were chewy yet still crispy. I also really enjoyed the dashi marinated yellowtail with avocadao, hash brown, and creme fraiche.

Salad Farm
3675 Wilshire Blvd (at Hobart)
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 249-9835

This small chain of restaurants had a location near the training I attended. I liked it so much I actually ate here twice. The ingredients are quite fresh and the salads are made to order (or as they say on their website, "We even toss your salad right in front of you!"). Definitely try the fajita steak salad ($7.75) which comes with mixed greens, tomatoes, sweet corn, grilled peppers, grilled onion, steak, avocado, and homemade salsa and served in a fried tortilla bowl. The Philly salad ($8.95) was also good. It comes with romaine, tomatoes, mushrooms, grilled onions, grilled peppers, steak, and cheese.

Brazil Express
3500 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 382-5659

Tucked inside the Normandie Plaza food court, this little Brazilian BBQ counter offers quite a deal. For $8.49, you can have partake of their lunch buffet which included barbecue chicken and steak (Brazilian style) and various side dishes included fried yucca and black beans and rice.

El Cholo
1121 S. Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(323) 734-2773

This place has been around since 1922! On their menu, they claim to have invented nachos and the margerita. A large group of us went here for happy hour and dinner. The wait-staff couldn't have been any more accomodating or nice considering the size of our group. I tried their award winning (see the Rachel Ray Taco-Off) filet mignon tacos with cilantro rice and refried beans.

Hugo's Restaurant
12851 Riverside Drive
Studio City, CA 91607
(818) 761-8985

Ok, so this is technically in Studio City, but they also have a location in West Hollywood. For my last meal in LA, I had a chance to finally catch up with my long time friend Josh who I sang in a co-ed acapella group with in college. In all honesty, I was a bit overwhelmed at first by the extensive menu. And typically my gut reaction is that if a restaurant has too large of a menu, then the chefs/cooks don't really have a chance to perfect their dishes. But, we both quite enjoyed the Hugo burger ($12.85) featuring hormone and antibiotic free ground beef and the Cuban sandwich ($12.85) with grilled chicken breast, honey-chipotle sauce, fried plantains, goat cheese, organic mixed greens, tomatoes, and grilled red onions. Try it as a wrap! Hugo's burgers and sandwiches come with your choice of crispy fries or organic mixed greens. Beware, the fries are quite addictive.