SoCal Restaurant Report

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We returned from Los Angeles late last night. The trip was a nice break from work, writing, and other responsibilities. Met up with a few old friends and had some pleasant dining experiences. Most of these restaurants were covered in a previous post but here is a short report:

First, Woodlands Chatsworth/Topanga Canyon vs. Woodlands Artesia. For those who don’t know, Woodlands is a South Indian vege restaurant that has quite a few locations outside of India. We went to the Topanga Canyon location as it is located somewhat close to the Hindu temple in Malibu where I attended an event for one of my wife’s relatives. We had the buffet which was good, not great. The choices were fairly standard: vadai, idli, sambar, dosas, etc. The dosa was pretty weak actually. All in all, I give it a B-/C +. The next day the inlaws wanted to hit Little India in Artesia for some grocery shopping and lunch. Their choice for lunch? You guessed it, Woodlands (again). I was kind of dreading buffet (again) and was happy to see their menu offered bhel puri and some other chaat offerings. The buffet and chaat were a lot fresher tasting than the other Woodlands location so they get an A-. Woodlands Artesia wins hands down.

I also had some homemade dosas and other South Indian veg food made by my in-laws and my wife’s aunt. Auntie made some of the best vadai I have had. Seriously. Even better than in India. I ate way too many of them.

[Tang Cang Special Lobster image swiped from Flickr.]

I went back to Tan Cang with J. We had the Tang Cang special lobster (with scallions, chillies, ginger, etc.) and salt baked squid. Baked is a misnomer as it is actually lightly battered and deep-fried and then served with salt, pepper, and chillies.

It was so delicious I went back with a group of friends who drove down from Santa Barbara. We ordered the same thing with the addition of a delicious beef dish (beef loc lac or “French style”) because one of the gang does not eat shellfish. The beef loc lac was composed of bite-sized pieces of tenderloin with a light soy-based sauce on top of romaine lettuce, bean sprouts and other veges. I was very interested in the opinion of my friend R. who is a professional chef and he said the lobster was the “best he has had in his life” and that includes lobsters he has cooked.

Wifey and I went to Casa Alvarez. Three days in a row. I had the shredded beef tacos with guacamole as usual. What can I say? I know what I like…

My buddy C. and I had some excellent Korean bbq at Ong Go Jib. We ordered the bulgogi (commonly refered to as “Korean bbq beef”) and the beef short ribs lunch specials. The bulgogi was good but the star of the meal was the ribs which are sliced incredibly thin, cooked medium rare and incredibly tender. The lunch also includes a piece of tempura shrimp, a few tempura veges, and an assortment of kimchi. In addition to the standard spicy pickled Napa cabbage, there was also crispy baby bok choy in a dark red marinade that was not as hot as it looked, excellent pickled daikon, mild bean sprouts, and some sort of dense (rice?) noodle that looked like tofu. The total bill was about $20 (without beer). I will definitely go back again.

Biggest disappointment? Karina’s Mexican Seafood in Leucadia. I’ve been a couple of times and it was good. This time it was nothing to write home about. Not sure if I would go again.

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