Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Linda Burum

The Find: Khybar Afghan restaurant in Reseda

Khybar

"What about the kala pocha?" asks someone at our table at Khybar Afghan restaurant in Reseda. Our waiter, dressed in black track pants and a Nike soccer shirt, shakes his head. "You don't want that," he assures us. "It's for breakfast."

The soup, made with boiled lamb's head and feet and a few innards, would undeniably be an eye-opener.

But we decide instead on qabili palau, which our waiter says is "Afghanistan's most fabulous rice dish."

What else to get? The menu lists but doesn't describe the dishes offered (the regulars probably already know their favorites), but fortunately our waiter -- who we later discover is Khybar's owner, Mohammad Safdari -- gives detailed answers to even the most arcane cooking questions.

Which is a good thing, because, despite Afghanistan's present poverty, the country's cuisine is richly layered and complex, interweaving elements from its Persian, Indian and Chinese neighbors, who contributed centuries of culinary innovation via the Silk Road.

For the rest of Linda Burum's  story, click here.

Photo: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Sandwiches gone global: Finding ethnic L.A. between two pieces of bread

Sandwiches-gallery-thumb

As soon as you place your order at Pita Pocketsin Northridge, a cook slaps a soft round of dough onto the wall of a blazing tandoor-like oven. After a few moments, a bubbly disk of laffa, catacombed with air pockets and rich with yeasty char, is ready to be filled. Next a counterman slathers the chewy flatbread with lemony hummus, then loads it with grilled vegetables or juicy marinated kebabs.

The hefty hand-held feast -- just one culture's take on the sandwich -- doesn't quite fit the dictionary's narrow definition: "food between slices of bread," but in L.A.'s sandwich universe this stuffed laffa has lots of delicious company.

Take pav bhaji, the Mumbai street vendor's answer to burgers. The rich vegetable curry, mounded onto slider-style buns, draws droves of homesick expats to Little India's snack shops. Mexico's mighty pambazo, a chile-sauce-drenched roll heaped with chorizo and potato filling, then drizzled with crema, is finding its way onto more and more menus. And gua bao, a steamed round of flatbread folded over great slabs of juicy roasted pork -- the Chinese equivalent of a towering pastrami on rye -- was rarely found outside Taiwanese dives and Chinese bakeries until its recent appearance at Take a Bao in Century City, where the fillings run to spicy Thai peanut chicken and pomegranate glazed steak.

To read the full story, filled with delicious details and a gorgeous gallery, click here.

-- Linda Burum

Photo credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

The Find: Michelle's Pancake in San Gabriel

Michelle's-Pancake-blog

No, this is not a story about breakfast food. It is a story about Chinese pancakes, which are distinctly different from the fluffy American variety that we so lovingly drench in sweet maple syrup. In this week's Find, Linda Burum describes them as "griddle-baked Chinese savories ranging from flat, crispy-edged breads and tiny stuffed pillows of handkerchief-thin sheets of dough to flaky rounds enclosing a meaty filling."

Being a savory girl myself, I think I might enjoy these better than regular pancakes. Michelle's Pancake's menu has 38 items and focuses on "specialties of northern China's wheat-eating tradition."

To read the full story with all its juicy details about "thick slabs of lean meat rimmed with a generous border of translucent, quivery fat that anoints every bite with smokiness," click here.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: A smoked pork and scallion pancake at Michelle's Pancake in San Gabriel. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.