Sushi & Salads
In L.A., why eat anything else?
Modern salad traces its roots to Wolfgang Puck, who invented the Chinese chicken salad at the old standard Chinois on Main (310-392-9025). There are also the small, sophisticated salads of celebrity chef Suzanne Goin at the popular A.O.C. (323-653-6359)—try the frisée, served in bread; and, in Venice, the constantly rotating menu of salads piled on open-faced sandwiches at Axe (310-664-9787), where all the produce comes from a local farmers’ market. Also check out L.A.’s take on the Caesar at industry spot Campanile (323-938-1447), where the leaves are served whole, or at the retro-kitsch Jar (323-655-6566), where romaine is replaced with red endive. Raw fish? L.A.’s high end is Matsuhisa (310-659-9639), in Beverly Hills. Also try the equally expensive Nishimura (310-659-4770), and nosh in beautiful, minimalist environs across from the Pacific Design Center. Katsu Michite’s Tama Sushi (818-760-4585) in Studio City is considered the best in town by some, and it offers a very affordable omakase lunch ($30). There’s even an L.A. “Sushi Nazi,” a.k.a. Studio City’s Sushi Nozawa (818-508-7017): Goopy, complicated rolls are not allowed, and there’s a blinking neon sign behind the chef that reads trust me.
the top five
From sushi bars to burger joints, many of L.A.’s most popular restaurants are word-of-mouth jewels inexplicably nestled in strip-mall eyesores.
1. Zankou Chicken: Next to a tobacco shop in a seedy Hollywood strip mall, this Middle Eastern rotisserie is always packed with locals happy to tolerate the fluorescent lighting and Formica for gut-busting plates of sliced shawarma and the addictive garlic sauce that accompanies it (323-665-7842).
2. Alegria on Sunset: If you eat one Mexican dish while you’re in L.A., make it the carnitas quesadilla at this friendly spot in Silver Lake that shares a parking lot with Baskin-Robbins (323-913-1422).
3. Ye Rustic Inn: While there’s nothing “Ye” about it, this Los Feliz dive bar has the best burgers in the city and a hair-metal-stacked jukebox to boot (323-662-5757).
4. Blue Hen Vietnamese Kitchen: Like the name suggests, poultry is the guest of honor at this Vietnamese oasis in Eagle Rock: Try “Grandpa’s Porridge,” a rice-porridge-and-shredded-chicken concoction that works miracles for a hangover (323-982-9900).
5. Hirozen: You may feel packed in tighter than a slice of unagi in an eel-and-cucumber roll,
but food in this tiny Beverly Boulevard mini-mall gem is worth it. Don’t leave without trying the buttery toro, Kobe-beef tataki,
or the “Toro & Foie Gras Tower,” layered with banana and black-bean sauce (323-653-0470).
Instead of the usual California-French cuisine, eat. on Sunset (323-461-8800), located in the old Pinot Hollywood space, offers an All-American menu (oysters, pork belly) and non-fussy décor (pairs of daybeds and an outdoor patio). Ford’s Filling Station (310-202-1470), a gastropub opened by Ben Ford (Harrison Ford’s son), has a seasonal menu with organic produce and cured meats from Mario Batali’s dad. If you’re more in the mood for burgers, macaroni and cheese, or fried chicken served with a considerable scene, seek out the alleyway entrance to Citizen Smith (323-461-5001), on the south end of the Cahuenga Strip. New Yorkers addicted to Maury Rubin’s ginger cookies will be relieved to know his melted chocolate-chip ones at the new City Bakery (310-656-3040) in Brentwood are just as good.
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