Erin's Kitchen is leaving LA! Before I go, I'm asking Angelenos to share their favorite food spots--east to west, high to low. Want to share your favorites? Email me: erinskitchen [at] gmail [dot] com.
LA Favorites #3: Jonah, founder of LA Foodblogging and creator of Digesty Los Angeles
How long have you lived in LA?
Since July 1999. I grew up in OC (Huntington Beach), went to school and worked in Santa Barbara for a while.
What neighborhood do you call home?
Quick--a favorite LA food memory. What's the first one that comes to mind?
Well, the first real LA food memory I have is from when I was in 5th or 6th grade. My best friend's dad had closed a big business deal and wanted to take us all out to a special dinner. This is when I lived in Huntington Beach and we drove up to Little Tokyo. We ended up at Tokyo Kaikan (yes, the place where the California Roll was invented). I hadn't had sushi before and wasn't really interested in trying it but my friend's dad was doing all the ordering for us. I tried pretty much everything and when I thought I was full on sushi we moved to the main dining room where I was brought a personal hibachi grill to cook my marinated beef. Overall, it was this over the top (to me at that time) meal of foods and traditions that I hadn't been exposed to before. I didn't really get into eating sushi again for another decade, but that was a great introduction.
That's what LA dining is to me now, it's this open book of experiences that you can have just by driving to one neighborhood or the other.
What food or drink does LA do best? And where can I find it?
Hmmm, I am so bad at picking the best anything. If we are talking one type of food, I might lean towards sushi. No, scratch that, I'm going to say Mexican. And when I say Mexican, I mean all the individual regions. You can get generic Mexican in any town, but not many places boast regional Mexican cuisine like Oaxacan, Veracruz, etc. Actually, I'm not sure if there is any other city that has such an outstanding selection of Korean joints. Korean BBQ alone may be worth staying. I think what I'm getting at here is that LA isn't a city of "bests" it's a city of options and thank goodness for it.
Top three spots (restaurants, taco stands, stores, bars, etc) I should visit before I leave LA? What should I order?
Well, I'm fresh off a meal at Hatfield's and if you haven't given them a shot yet, definitely set aside a couple hundred dollars and enjoy a meal that is worth every cent. I had the duck and scallops, both excellent. My wife has the lamb though and it was like no other lamb I ever had because of the mint crust on the outside. Also, save room for dessert, we ordered two!
For something more reasonably priced, go to The Nook (make reservations). The food is fantastic and I like the communal aspect of it. The chicken and the albacore are good, but the best reviews I have had are for the pork chop.
For some cheap good eats and vegetarian goodies, try the Samosa Factory on Washington two blocks west of Sawtelle. The food rotates daily, but definitely get a samosa, then try at least three or four of the hot dishes.
palm tree photo by Eric Richardson.