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This is yet another incarnation of my personal blog. Here's where you can read about what I do when I'm not at work: hiking, seeing plays and other shows, eating, traveling, etc.

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Los Angeles–The Food

Posted by gck Friday, January 20, 2012

Right before Snowcopalypse 2012 hit, Mike and I spent an extended weekend in Los Angeles. He lived there for a few years way back when, so he’d get all nostalgic as we drove and walked around (to the point where we were in a parking lot and he was like, “Oh, I remember these stairs…”). Both of us really like food, so it’s unsurprising that some of the things he’s most eager to revisit are restaurants. There were only so many restaurants we could hit without our stomachs exploding so there was no way to visit all of his favorites. We did a nice mix of both old and new.

[mole tamale from Monte Alban]

Mike pretty much vetoed in In-n-Out suggestion (fine, I will go to the Bay Area soon and get it then), but I did insist that I wanted a tamale. And good mole sauce. So he found a little Oaxacan place called Monte Alban that reputedly had a delicious tamale with mole sauce. It did not disappoint. I don’t necessarily prefer the flatter, banana leaf-wrapped Oaxacan style tamale to the more common corn husk-wrapped one (they’re just different shapes to me), but the tamale itself tasted great, and the mole was rich, sweet, and flavorful. There’s a similar one that I’ve had at La Carta de Oaxaca in Seattle, but it’s twice as expensive (and possibly not as good). I also tried a yellow mole empanada with cactus, but the flavor of the sauce was a little weird for me. I wish we had more places like this in the Pacific Northwest because there was a lot that looked good on that menu that I’d want to try.

Along the same lines, we had a huge lunch at Versailles, Mike’s favorite Cuban restaurant in the area. The name bothered his dad a lot because he couldn’t figure out what connection the name “Versailles” had with Cuba. This small chain of restaurants is known for its delicious garlic mojo sauce, so we split the lechon asado (roasted pork in mojo sauce) and the signature dish, the “Famoso Pollo Versailles” (roasted half chicken in mojo sauce). They came with rice, black beans, and my favorite thing at a Cuban restaurant, fried plantains.

[California roll “sushi” burger from 26 Beach, photo from Yelp]

We ate at 26 Beach twice in one day based on Mike’s friend’s recommendation. It was breakfast and dinner, though, so the food was completely different. He eventually realized that this restaurant was one he remembered from when he lived there, but he had forgotten the name and it had changed locations. The breakfast menu had a long list of delicious looking French toasts, but alas, I’m not one for sweets in the morning, so no Tiramisu or S’mores (?!) French toast for me. They had a lot of other interesting things, like scrambled eggs over pasta and rice. That seemed odd so we instead requested the Chorizo scramble with potatoes instead of rice, and it was tasty.

For dinner, there were a bunch of “normal options,” but what the restaurant is most known for are their burgers, which are gigantic. They’ve been voted the best burger in LA before, so they’re doing something right. You can get things like a PB&J burger, a Bombay burger (with coconut curry and mango chutney), or their famous “sushi” burgers. There was a California roll burger and spicy tuna burger, but the wasabi aioli sounded a little weird to me so I opted instead for the Mori Eel burger, which was challenging to eat gracefully but also quite delicious.

[“The Original” at Killer Shrimp]

I’ve heard Mike rave a lot about a hole-in-the-wall with a line around the building called Killer Shrimp. It had closed down a few years back, but he realized when planning for this trip that a new location had opened up, so it was something we had to go do. He ended up preferring the atmosphere of the old location to the sleek, modern look of the new one, but it’s nice to be able to eat inside. They’ve also added things to the menu, but the thing they are known for is a bowl full of spicy, herby broth with 13 huge prawns, served with French bread, pasta, or rice. The bread is the way to go, it’s perfect for sopping up the yummy broth. I’m not a huge fan of eating messy things with my hands, but for this meal, I’d make the exception.

[Kale salad at Gjelina]

SoCal seems like it should be all about healthy stuff, and up to this point, I had gorged myself on huge plates of meat, spicy shrimp, and a giant burger. Enter Gjelina, a restaurant I’d heard praised a lot on Chowhound. Dinner reservations were supposedly difficult to come by, so we chose to go on a weekday lunch instead and had no problem getting in. A few days back, we walked through the Santa Monica Farmers' Market and saw a booth giving out free food samples. It was a kale salad, and I generally hate kale, so I let Mike eat it first. When he said it was good, I tried, and much to my surprise, it was. The secret, the guy said, is to let the salad sit for about 10 minutes after adding the lemon juice because it softens it. The recipe is available on True Food Kitchen’s website. With this in mind, we ordered the kale salad at Gjelina, and it was pretty tasty. Mike ate a lamb burger, and I had pappardelle with wild mushroom ragout. There were a lot of other yummy-looking things on the menu, like a mushroom, goat cheese, and truffle oil pizza. Be aware, however, that “changes and modifications are politely declined.”

Our last meal was at Sushi House, a hole-in-the-wall sushi place that Mike used to love because they had a reggae theme. Sadly, ownership might have changed, and now it’s just a regular sushi restaurant that has a few Bob Marley posters (all that remains of the theme). The food was good, but the charm was gone.

It was a lot of fun eating our way through a small part of Los Angeles, and hopefully we return to do it again soon!

1 Responses to Los Angeles–The Food

  1. This post has made me very hungry! That kale salad in particular looks delicious :)


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