Sushi Takeda (Los Angeles, December 2021)


Here finally is my last meal report from our trip to Southern California in late-December. Somewhat improbably, I have wrapped up all these reports in less than two months from the end of the trip (you can find all the others here). We had a lot of good restaurant food on this trip but this dinner, eaten on our penultimate night, may have been the true highlight. In this I suppose it follows the pattern of most of our recent trips to Los Angeles: we typically eat one expensive sushi meal as the splurge on the trip. After this trip, however, I’m not sure that this will always be the norm for us going forward. This is not because our dinner at Sushi Takeda was bad; far from it—it was in fact excellent. But the rapidly intensifying price race in the high end of the sushi market in Los Angeles makes it unlikely we’ll be able to continue to partake of it. Continue reading

Garden Grove Korean x 2: Jong Ro + GamjaTang House (Los Angeles, Dec 2021)


This is an account of our last restaurant meal in Los Angeles in December but it’s not my last meal report from the trip. That will come next weekend—a write-up of dinner at Sushi Takeda. This meal comprised Korean food picked up from two different restaurants in the Korean enclave of Garden Grove (where we went earlier for an excellent dinner at Mo Ran Gak). There were a number of things we wanted to eat: sullungtang (beef bone soup_, soondae (blood sausage), gamjatang (potato and pork neck stew) and also yeomsotang (black goat stew). Specialization being all, we decided to get the first two from Jong Ro and the latter two from GamjaTang House—both located on/off Garden Grove Boulevard. A short drive back to Seal Beach and we ate it all on my mother-in-law’s patio in the midst of late-December Southern California rain. 10/10, would do it again. Herewith, the details. Continue reading

Luv2Eat Thai Bistro, Take 3 (Los Angeles, December 2021)


The loss of Koreatown as a home base on our trips to Los Angeles—now that my mother-in-law has moved to Seal Beach—has not meant only the loss of the excellent Korean restaurants that used to be all around us—to say nothing of fantastic Korean markets. It has also meant the loss of easy access to Thai Town. Usually we’d be 20 minutes away from the main drag on Hollywood Boulevard; now we don’t really know where to go for good Thai food in the South Bay or Orange County. But we did manage one good Thai meal on this trip. On a day that promised rain we decided to take the boys to the Petersen Automotive Museum which meant we were within easy range of one of our favourite Thai restaurants, Luv2Eat Thai Bistro—which is located quite a bit west of Thai Town proper on Sunset Boulevard but is up there with the best of Thai Town in our estimation. Here’s how it went. Continue reading

Jidaiya Ramen (Los Angeles, December 2021)


With this report I come to the end of our first week of eating in Los Angeles. No, there wasn’t an entire second week of eating: only three more restaurant meals after this one. This, our seventh meal out, took us back to the scene of the first. Jidaiya Ramen is, you see, located in the same strip mall in Gardena as Shin-Sen-Gumi Yakitori. Indeed, while leaving Shin-Sen-Gumi after lunch that Monday we’d noticed people eating outside Jidaiya as well and that is a big reason why we picked it as the scene of an early lunch on our way to wander around the Manhattan Beach pier. Things didn’t go quite according to plan. Despite it being a bright, sunny day they told us they weren’t going to be setting the outside tables up as they were expecting to be too busy to be able to staff both the inside and the outside. But we’d got there right after opening and there was no one else there yet and so we decided to make a quick lunch of it indoors anyway even though they too were not checking vaccination confirmations. Continue reading

Chennai Dosa Corner (Los Angeles, December 2021)


Yesterday I reported on a brief stop at Surati Farsan Mart in Artesia to eat paani puri and chaat. After that tasty start I made my second stop: at Chennai Dosa Corner for, well, a dosa.

Chennai Dosa Corner has been open for about eight years (so the gent at the counter told me). It is now one of several South Indian specialists open on and off Pioneer Boulevard. Back in the day if you wanted a good dosa in L.A County you had to go to Udupi Palace further up Pioneer Blvd. (Well, Paru’s in Hollywood was also quite good but didn’t have quite the same ambience for the immigrant nostalgist; nor did Sunset Blvd. have a branch of the State Bank of India right at the freeway exit.) My local informants tell me that Udupi Palace is still the gold standard in Artesia, and as an immigrant nostalgist of the old school it would have been my first choice except for one problem: yes, no outdoor seating. Thus Chennai Dosa Corner just a little bit up the road. Here’s how it went. Continue reading

Surati Farsan Mart (Los Angeles, December 2021)


I noted in my review of dinner at Mo Ran Gak earlier this week that my mother-in-law’s move to Seal Beach a couple of years ago has meant the loss of Koreatown as our base of operations on our trips back to Los Angeles. But as an unfortunate bearded bloke once said, what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts. For us this has meant greater proximity to the Japanese restaurants of Gardena and Torrance. And it has also meant even greater proximity to Artesia whence is located Southern California’s premier Indian enclave. Back when I lived in Los Angeles in the 1990s and early 2000s, trips to Artesia to eat on the long drag of Pioneer Blvd. were always special—there not being very good Indian food in Los Angeles proper (a situation that is still probably true). But it was also a major pain in the ass to get there from the Westside. Now, it’s a short 15 minute drive from my mother-in-law’s door to Pioneer Blvd. And so on a day when the boys demanded burgers from In-N-Out I abandoned the family and sallied forth in search of chaat and dosas. My first port of call: Surati Farsan Mart. Continue reading

Mo Ran Gak (Los Angeles, December 2021)


When my mother-in-law first told us in 2019 that she considering moving to Seal Beach we thought this was going to be a rather dramatic shift for her. This because she was leaving Koreatown where she had been based for 30 odd years, in the embrace of what is probably the most hardcore Korean enclave outside the two Koreas. It turned out, however, that the retirement community she moved to has a large population of Korean seniors; and that just 10-15 minutes down the freeway there is another Korean enclave in Garden Grove. Now this is not news to anyone in the South Bay but back when we lived in Los Angeles—or when we visited Koreatown every year—places south of the Orange County border weren’t really on our radar. But Garden Grove has a significant Korean population too, along with major grocery stores and lots of restaurants. It’s not Koreatown but there’s enough there to not make us mourn the loss of our Irolo/James M. Wood base too much either on our trips back. For example: Mo Ran Gak. Continue reading

Shin-Sen-Gumi Yakitori (Los Angeles, December 2021)


We got back from Los Angeles about 10 days ago. Given how maniacally we ate out while there, we’ve been taking a break from eating out since we go back. We’ll probably get back on the horse next weekend. Until then I’ll be posting more meal reports from the Los Angeles trip. Unlike from trips past—where I have posted reports 6 months to a year after the meals were eaten—I’m hoping that this time I’ll be done with all of them before we get too far into February. Here now is the 4th report of the 10 meals we ate out. It is, as it happens, an account of our very first restaurant meal on the trip: at Shin-Sen-Gumi Yakitori in Gardena. Continue reading

Holbox, Again (Los Angeles, Dec 2021)


One of our favourite meals on my last visit to Los Angeles before the pandemic was at Holbox, the seafood-centered counter at Mercado La Paloma from the people who first brought us the excellent Chichen Itza. We have been plotting a return ever since, never expecting that it would take another three years. Of course, dining out on this trip was complicated. While proof of vaccination is required for dining in at restaurants in Los Angeles proper—the mandate is not really being followed elsewhere in LA County—our preference was also for dining outdoors whenever possible. Thankfully, both sets of caution were in evidence at this meal: proof of vaccination was checked stringently on entry to Mercado la Paloma to order our meal and there was excellent outdoor seating out front on a lovely, sunny day. And so, our meal. Continue reading

Sushi Nozomi II (Los Angeles, December 2021)


If dim sum is one of things we most look forward to eating in Los Angeles, so is sushi. My views on Minnesota sushi being just about as beloved as my views on Minnesota dim sum, I will say no more about that. I will instead only reiterate that it is very easy to find good sushi all over Los Angeles county—you don’t need to go to the temples of sushi in order to eat very good fish served atop very good rice. And if you’re in Torrance one of the best choices for that combination is Sushi Nozomi. I’ve previously reported on a meal eaten there six and a half years ago, a bit on the run on the way to the Long Beach Aquarium. We stopped in again on this trip—Torrance being much closer to our new base of operations in Seal Beach than to our previous in Koreatown—and this meal was even better. Herewith the details. Continue reading

Dim Sum at Capital Seafood (Los Angeles, December 2021)


This was not the first restaurant meal we ate on this trip to Los Angeles (now at the halfway point) or even the second, third, fourth or fifth. But today is Christmas and having posted a review of a Christmas-themed malt yesterday I feel I should keep the Christmas spirit flowing with a review of a meal at a Chinese restaurant. And so this brief account of a meal at the Arcadia location of Capital Seafood.

Dim sum is always one of the things we most look forward to eating when we visit Los Angeles. (I will spare you another installment of my very popular views about dim sum in Minnesota.) We usually hit up one of our San Gabriel Valley mainstays—Sea Harbour, Elite or Lunasia—but in these times the most important criterion for us is outdoor dining and from what I could find out it appears that Capital Seafood’s Arcadia location might be the only place in the SGV that has a patio and takes reservations for parties of eight and up. As we were going to be a party of eight I called a week ago and made the reservation for a patio table. Continue reading

Ahgassi Gopchang (Los Angeles, January 2019)


Here finally is my last meal report from our trip to Los Angeles in late December/early January. And it indeed a write-up of the last meal we ate out on this trip. Our brats had wanted to eat Korean bbq on this trip and we decided to got Ahgassi Gopchang, a specialist in intestines (gopchang). No, our brats didn’t eat the intestines—you can also get more standard meat options for grilling, as well as other Korean dishes. But intestines are the star here and the adults in attendance enjoyed the hell out of them. We were joined at this meal by 50% of the Sku clan. Alas, it was probably our last meal together in Los Angeles. By the time we next get there, they will have moved across the country to Washington DC—which seems like a bit far to go to get away from me. But to the food! Continue reading

Dim Sum at Lunasia, Again (Los Angeles, January 2019)


Dim sum is always high on our eating agenda when visiting Los Angeles. While there are some in the Twin Cities who seem to genuinely believe that there is dim sum here as good as anywhere else in the US, this has not been our experience in the 12 years we have been eating dim sum in Minnesota. And believe me, I would really, really love it if that were true. There are indeed cuisines and culinary genres in which the Twin Cites now have solid representation that matches well with all but the biggest and most diverse metros but dim sum is not one of those. On our trip to LA this winter, however, dim sum was not very high on my agenda. This because I was just a few weeks away from having eaten a number of dim sum and other dumpling-related meals in Hong Kong (see here). The missus, of course, was having none of that, not having been in Hong Kong with me. And so off we went to the San Gabriel Valley, the day before our return to southern Minnesota. Usually we’d go to Sea Harbour or Elite but on this occasion we decided to go back to Lunasia. We really enjoyed our meal there a few years ago with Sku and his family. Alas, the families couldn’t get together for dim sum on this trip—though we did eat some excellent Korean food together (on which more soon)—but we did manage to enjoy this outing by ourselves. Continue reading

Raku, Again (Los Angeles, December 2018)


There’s a lot of eating out our boys look forward to when we plan trips to Los Angeles—dim sum, Korean barbecue and soups—but on this trip for the first time there was a specific restaurant they wanted us to return to: Raku. They didn’t remember its name from our lunch in late 2017 but they were clear that they wanted to go back to what the older brat remembered as “the Japanese place with the grilled stuff” and the younger one as “the awesome restaurant”. Luckily, it was near the top of our lists as well and we hit them up for our first family meal out after I got to L.A from Delhi, on our way to the Museum of Jurassic Technology. Continue reading

Shin Sushi (Los Angeles, December 2018)


A visit to Los Angeles for us always means a good sushi dinner. As my readers in the Twin Cities are sick of hearing—and as many are enraged to hear—we have a very low opinion of the sushi options here (including the much-lauded Kado no Mise) and prefer to not eat sushi at all in the Twin Cities. Of course, we have the advantage of being in Los Angeles once or twice a year to visit the missus’ family and so going without is easier with anticipation of much better sushi to come. We’d thought that on this trip we’d eat that much better sushi at Shiki in Beverly Hills. We’d eaten a very good lunch there in 2017 and had been surprised to discover Chef Mori Onodera was then working there. Though he was not working that lunch service he’d invited us to come back and sit with him at dinner on our next trip. This we had planned to do. Alas, in the intervening period Shiki raised their prices through the roof (omakase there is now even more expensive than at Mori, the restaurant that still bears Chef Onodera’s name). So, it was off our list*. We thought of going back to Mori again—always a treat, if a very expensive one. Then I read reports of a new place in Encino, started by a Mori alumnus: Shin Sushi. Almost as good as Mori, sources said, for much less money. That sounded like a good combination to us and so off we went on a Sunday evening in late December. Continue reading

Rui Ji Sichuan (Los Angeles, January 2019)


On our recent trips to Los Angeles our Sichuan eating has happened entirely at either Chengdu Taste or Szechuan Impression in the San Gabriel Valley (in the Alhambra motherships of both restaurants). This limited focus is not a mistake on our part: these are probably the two best Sichuan restaurants in the US. As our last meal at Szechuan Impression was in 2016 we’d planned to go back there on this trip. However, late-breaking extended family plans on the day we’d set aside for that meal saw us heading down to the South Bay instead. Casting around for possibilities in the general area we were going to be in I lighted upon a reference to Rui Ji Sichuan in Lomita. The cousins we were dining with were only too happy to give it a go and so we arrived for lunch in a large’ish group: four adults, one teenager and four kids below the age of 10. I am happy to report that all were very pleased with their meal. Continue reading

Ruen Pair (Los Angeles, January 2019)


It remains a truth universally acknowledged that Los Angeles has the best Thai food in North America. Well, I’m sure there are people in Portland and New York who would like to disagree but why bother with folly? On longer visits we eat out in Thai Town a fair bit. On this trip, however, I was only going to be there a week (the family had already been there another week before I got there from Delhi—aren’t our travel details fascinating?) and so we’d planned on just one Thai meal and Night + Market Sahm was going to be it. But after the disappointment of that dinner—which we’d been looking forward to, we had to eat a better Thai meal before leaving L.A. The thing to do was to go back to a Thai Town classic. But which one? We considered returns to Pailin or Jitlada but in the end decided to go back to a Thai Town institution that we hadn’t been to in a decade and a half: Ruen Pair. And it was a very good idea. Continue reading

Night+Market Sahm (Los Angeles, December 2018)


The original Night + Market opened in West Hollywood in 2010 (I think). I think it first flashed on our consciousness a few years later. We’d been planning on eating there ever since but somehow never got around to it—don’t feel too bad for us: we were mostly feeding our Thai food desires at Jitlada at the time. Somewhere in there they opened a second location in Silverlake (NIght + Market Song) but between menus that did not seem particularly kid-friendly and a no-reservations policy at Song, we never got around to it—it didn’t help that Luv2Eat opened in that period. Last year they opened their third location, Sahm, in Venice, and despite the fact that it’s the furthest of their outposts from our usual base of operations in Koreatown, that ended up being our first-ever Night+Market meal. We ate it as our last meal of 2018, in the early evening after a day spent with the kids on the beach and at the Santa Monica pier. I would love to say that our first Night+Market experience and our last meal of 2018 was great but, alas, it was not. That is not to say that it was bad; it was not bad, but it was, in our opinion, far from the quality of the best in Thai Town. Continue reading