David Gorney’s Los Angeles
We recently were in Los Angeles for a whirlwind wedding weekend, and while we didn’t have time to check out any of the father-of-the-groom’s eating recommendations, I wanted to save them for future reference, and share them with all of you.
Here’s a photo of the guest blogger, David Gorney, on his sailboat. He can be found wearing his signature mustache, shorts, and crocs most places he goes. And he even wore crocs with his suit at his son’s wedding. David is a total character who is passionate about good food. His recommendations follow, along with photos he provided, unless otherwise noted.
While Driving To or From LAX
If you know me, I’m the last person to suggest a trip to the mall. But only in LA can you actually find a food court worth a damn located in the Culver City Westfield mall (aka Fox Hills Mall), just off the 405 (San Diego Freeway). Don’t take my word for it, read Jonathan Gold’s article.
You’ll want Korean style fried chicken @ Kyochon and the Shandong (East Central China) beef roll @ 101 Noodle Express; will save you trips to, respectively, K-town and the San Gabriel Valley where, trust me, you’ll fall in and never come up for air (Chinese food-wise), which all things considered could be a good thing. You can also find burgers, Japanese, halal meat, pho, and bahn mi.
Burger and pie anyone? Why, yes! Apple Pan in West LA (Pico, just east of Westwood) for a hickory burger and banana cream pie. Accept no others. They make a fine tuna fish sandwich but why bother?
Googy’s diner architecture and “oven pancakes” (German and apple cinnamon – ask Elyse)? Dinah’s is for you, on Sepulveda, just off the 405. Feel like fried chicken with that diner architecture, resist the greasy offerings at Dinah, and do a minor backtrack to Panns on La Tijera. Better chicken, nice architecture, and a cool sign.
Stand at any corner of 8th and Vermont and you might as well be in Seoul. Too many places and a bit of a drive but worth the effort. You can get Korean BBQ just about anywhere so here’s something different but approachable. If it’s cold, you’ll be hankering for a handmade, knife-cut noodle soup and dumplings (24 hours I think), so head to Myung DongKyoja at Harvard and Wilshire. For David Oberstein, this has the most pungent and garlicky kimchi.
For Korean comfort food at it’s best, you’ll require soontofu (Korean spicy tofu soup). Skip entirely if you don’t like spicy food. If you’re OK, then by all means dig in; tons of banchan (small appetizer plates) and the hottest tofu soup around (spice and temp). A boiling, steaming caldron of red. Very nice. I think the best is Beverly Soontofu on Olympic west of Vermont. You also can’t go wrong with BCD Tofu on Western and 9th (24 hrs); plus there is a Valley branch on Saticoy east of Lindley. You can get BBQ beef and other nummies there as well. And eat the entire fried fish and say ‘yes’ to the egg.
Unless desperate, stay away from any place with the word “Jerry’s”. If willing to drive and tolerate the horrible hours (8-4 M-Sat; closed Sun; you’ll understand once you see the neighborhood), go to Langer’s near McArthur Park for a plain and simple pastrami sandwich. Best in the world. Better than NYC. Park in lot a block away; it’s an “interesting” albeit short cross-cultural walk in the Westlake District.
You’re on your own if you want basic tex-mex, margarita-salsa-chips type of place, or any place groovy. For tacos, any reasonably safe looking truck is a better bet than most brick-and-mortar places, but if you’re coming in late from Burbank Airport or just feel like eating in a sketchy part of down in the parking lot of a closed car wash, it’s Taco La Fonda’s truck. All the faves including lengua and (usually) cabeza. (If you have to ask, you won’t like; if you don’t, you’ll drool in anticipation).
I go out of my way for hearty soups for breakfast, including menudo (again, if you have to ask …) and not because they are the traditional hangover cure (hiccup!). But, while they do have quesadillas and other basic fare, it’s worth a trip to Lenchitas on Van Nuys Blvd in Pacoima for real hecho a mano tortillas made by the slapping hands of women I would not want to arm wrestle, considering the exercise they get from making these puppies. Decent homemade salsa. And you will likely be the only gringo in the place; don’t worry, the waitress switches to English once you say ‘hello’. Open early too. Muy local.
And, if you’re skipping shul on Saturday morning (I wouldn’t) or simply want an interesting trip to downtown LA on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning, visit Grand Central Market in downtown LA before it goes gringo in the just-starting renovation. For some Salvadoran pupusas, try Sarita’s (fried masa cakes with cheese and other yummy fillings). Do not refuse the side of curtido (cabbage salad). While at the market, check out the old fashioned Chinese food counter loaded with Mexicans. Only in LA.
Once fortified, take a ride on the funicular railway at Angel’s Flight across the street and the Bradbury Building.P.S. A peek into the lobby is free. Plus, it’s a short walk for architecture lovers to see the Frank Gehry-designed Disney concert hall.
And to make your cross-cultural jaunt downtown complete, pull off the SB 101 at Sunset and turn east for an authentic Thai-Chinese breakfast at Siam Sunset. Come early (they open at 6 am) for the sweet fried Chinese donuts, dipped in hot soy milk, and tuck into a steaming bowl of duck rice porridge (aka jook or congee). Yes, you will be sated and tired but no worries; the diner is attached to the Best value (u-huh) motel.
For pho (beef noodle soup), a short drive to Sepulveda and Victory in Van Nuys where two choices await you across the street from one another, Pho999 and Pho So 1. I’m partial to Pho So 1’s broth and fried bread and egg roll (plus, it’s near the Ranch 99 Asian market), but Sarah swears by Pho 999 because they have fish ball soup (not what it sounds like but intriguing, no?)
I don’t know about you but I love ethnic supermarkets, especially where I am the demographic. Check out Cambridge Farms on Burbank east of Whitsett in North Hollywood; aka the “Jew Store” where everything is glatt kosher including the best supermarket sushi to be had anywhere. You’ll think you’re in Tel Aviv by the amount of Hebrew overheard while waiting for your number to be called at the hot “to go” deli that tends towards the Mizrach side. Plus, check out Continental Bakery next door for great parve baked goods. They close early on Friday (probably 2 pm) but are open at 7 am on Sunday.
Burgers, Fries and Shakes in the GU part of the Valley
None other than the Munch Box on Devonshire east of Owensmouth in Chatsworth, 50’s architecture and sunshine (we hope). Yeah, it’s a dive but you knew that.