Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: The Find

Sattdown Grill's vision jibes with the multi-culti zeitgeist

Diner
The menu at Sattdown Jamaican Grill is instantly intriguing. Scanning its pages past the salmon with garlic-orange zest crust and the shrimp seared in olive oil with jerk seasoning, to the vegetarian curry roti, you quickly realize, we're not in Kingston anymore, Toto. It's just one of the reasons why the Sattdown Jamaican Grill is our Find of the week:

Photo: Nini Hyde takes a diner's order at Sattdown Jamaican Grill. Credit: Christina House / For The Times

The Find: Olive Tree Restaurant in Anaheim

Kebabs
You want something...different? Check out this week's Find: The Olive Tree in Anaheim, Abu Ahmad's 5-year-old restaurant that serves up regional recipes from Palestine, Jordan, Syria and elsewhere.

Photo: The kebab combo plate at Olive Tree Restaurant. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

It's all about the dough at Beijing Restaurant in San Gabriel

Chopsticks600
If you're on a quest for the holy grail of noodles, then go to the newly opened Beijing Restaurant, a homey restaurant on the second floor of one of the classier strip malls in San Gabriel.

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Photo: Fried ge da and jasmine tea. Credit: Christina House / For The Times

Updated hours at Eatalian Cafe

When Eatalian Cafe debuted in this week's Find, dinner was not yet a reality at the Gardena eatery. But owner Antonio Pellini and wife Eugenia write to tell us that the restaurant is now open evenings. Its new hours are Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Eatalian Cafe, 15500 S. Broadway St., Gardena, (310) 532-8880.

Photo: Garran Smith, 4, of San Pedro, chooses a gelato flavor at the newly opened Eatalian Cafe in Gardena. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

Your eyes aren't playing tricks on you: Have a slice

Eatalian
It seems a mirage at first, an apparition of a restaurant improbably hidden among manufacturers and repairmen in Gardena. Yet Eatalian bustles with a very real and unexpectedly upscale energy: Its parking lot is a stable of European luxury, and inside are the power brokers who hold the keys. Read more here about this week's Find:

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Photo: A waitress carries Porcini Pizman and Marlon Drandon pizzas to a table at the newly opened Eatalian in Gardena. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

The Find: Casa Don Rolando offers the best of Cuba, in food and decor

Platter
Casa Don Rolando sits on secluded Parthenia Place, a one-block street that curves between a row of tawdry gentleman's lounges and rundown taquerias on Sepulveda Boulevard and a vast, gaudily lighted stretch of auto dealerships and tire retread shops in North Hills.

But step inside the restaurant's set piece of a dining room and you might feel a bit like Alice having traveled down the rabbit hole to Wonderland — or in this case into a fantasy of a magnificent old Cuban hacienda whose grandeur has been softened by years of patina. Read more here from Linda Burum about this week's find.

Photo: Cuban combo platter. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

The Find: Hayat's Kitchen in North Hollywood

Hayat600 

Who would have expected it? The best plate of fries in Los Angeles is hidden in a Lebanese kitchen, completely invisible in the back corner of a Burbank strip mall, near a gigantic neon clown sign hawking liquor.

The place is Hayat's Kitchen, and the dish is potatoes harra, and this may be the only place in the universe you can get this particular version, with freshly fried American-style French fries in a pool of fragrant olive oil, doused with sautéed cilantro, red pepper flakes and . . . what's this white goopy stuff? Is it melted cheese? Nope, it's pungent, creamy garlic paste. This plate of fries is so intense and over the top that you might be able to use it to revive the recently deceased.

And then there are the desserts....read more here in C. Thi Nguyen's report.

Thien An Bo Bay Mon in Rosemead: Get your seven-course all-beef dinner fix

Thien-blog
When Vietnamese food lovers spot the neon sign of Thien An Bo Bay Mon, they know exactly what to expect at the Rosemead restaurant. Bo bay mon (often spelled bo 7 mon) denotes the famous Saigon-style all-beef dinners of seven courses, brought to the table one by one, each dish cooked by a different method.

Since the earliest days of Little Saigon, the fame of a seven-course beef specialty house such as Pagolac or Anh Hong has risen and fallen on its mam nem, a pungent dipping sauce that for some is an essential part of the meal. Based on aged, fermented anchovies (think Limburger cheese to the 10th power), it can be shockingly intense to the untrained palate. We would always request the more familiar sauce nuoc cham chua ngot.

At Thien An, the mam nem sauce is a world apart from those trés funky versions. "It's the southern style," says co-owner Lien Pham. "In the northern and central regions, people prefer stronger, saltier flavors."

To read the rest of Linda S. Burum's story, click here.

Photo: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Indian snack attack at Samosa House East in Culver City

Samosa-House-blog
This is how to eat an order of pani puri at Samosa House East, home of some of the best Indian snacks in Los Angeles. First, roll up your sleeves. Pani puri is chaat -- Indian street snack food -- and demands to be eaten with the fingers, lustily, and with some degree of abandon.

Then get ready to move. Pani puri comes in parts, and it demands a certain degree of focus and speed to assemble. There's the puri -- half a dozen or so egg-sized, eggshell-delicate balls of crisp, transparent fried bread. And there is the filling: raw onions, raw tomatoes, chickpeas, intensely sauced with mint chutney and tamarind. Finally, and most important, there's a small cup of jarijirra -- dense green mint water, laced with cumin and fennel.

You place a puri in your palm, and carefully, oh so carefully, break a small hole in the top. Take the utmost care not to breach the bottom of the shell. Slight, quick taps of your forefinger will do. Imagine that you are a tiny woodpecker, gently exploring a bonsai tree. Then spoon in some of the filling through the hole -- gently, or you'll shatter the shell.

To read the rest of C. Thi Nguyen's advice on how to eat a pani puri, click here.

Photo: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

J.R. Bistro brings a taste of the San Gabriel Valley to Chinatown

JR-Bistro-blog
"This broth is surprisingly good," admitted my friend the fastidious Sinophile, swishing an abalone mushroom through the roiling, scarlet liquid in our hot pot at J.R. Bistro in Chinatown. At around 10 p.m. nearly every surface of our table was covered with plates and platters of raw ingredients: glistening shrimp and rosy beef slices, a tangle of emerald-green pea tendrils, Chinese greens and the combination plate of wild and fresh mushrooms -- half a dozen varieties arranged like a bouquet, each ready to soak up the simmering liquid in the pot.

Earlier, there had been a heated discussion about where to go for the hot-pot dinner we were craving. "Chinatown?" he wailed. He had long ago joined the legions who'd written off the neighborhood for the splendors of Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley -- the crowd for whom no drive is ever too long, no traffic too snarled, no decor too spartan, if a taste of the best Taiwanese stinky fermented tofu or the most perfect Shanghainese river moss-enrobed fish in America were on offer.

But after he'd polished off nearly half a plate of crackly fried calamari with spicy garlic salt and a glass of Chardonnay, he settled in to the cozy dining room, tossed a chunk of pork kidney into the simmering pot and murmured something about the restaurant "not serving chop suey, at least."

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

Photo: Stefano Paltera / For The Times

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.