J Gold 101 2017


It says something about Gold’s stature as a writer, critic, and foodie that the most thoughtful, interesting, and useful commentary on his list is his own.

His counterpart in SF, Michael F. Bauer, just digs himself a deeper hole in his followups to his annual thing.


Interesting list, although I haven’t been to many of the restaurants.

Craft? Haven’t been lately, but always feel ripped off when I eat there. Nothing is ever bad, but nothing is ever great either (other than the service, which is always outstanding). Nice room too, but I’m kind of in it for the food.

I think Mayura is awful other than the breads. I hated Taco Maria on my one visit. Maybe idiosyncratic, but enough to keep me from returning because I also hated the location in a suburban shopping mall and the room as well.

Will have to try Meals by Genet. I eat at Buna across the street at least twice a month – I adore the place – and am curious whether I will eat at Meals by Genet and say, “Oh my God, this is what Ethiopian food is supposed to taste like.”


I think meals by genet is a cut above other Ethiopian restaurants for quality of food preparation. For atmosphere, it’s completely different from other Ethiopian restaurant – upscale Western instead of casual Ethiopian.

I don’t like Mayura much either, in multiple tries. But Indian is a weakness of LA unless you include Artesia. Maybe J Gold feels he needs an Indian restaurant on his list.


Did you try the dishes Gold mentions? Appam pancakes, fish curry, ven pongal, and avial?


Yes, I’ve had all those before. To be fair, I’ve never been a fan of ven pongal or avial generally. I do remember liking the appam pancakes, but I wouldn’t say they’re as good as the (similar but more complicated and flavorful) uttapam pancakes I’ve eaten in Artesia (or for that matter, the ones I made at home) . If J. Gold is going to go to the OC for Vietnamese food on his list, I’d say it’s pretty indefensible not to include at least one restaurant in Artesia. Surati Farsan Mart would be an obvious one. I like Udupi Palace and Rajdhani too. These are all vegetarian though. But I think there are better non-vegetarian Indian/Pakistani restaurants around too, like Al Noor or Al Watan. Locally, I think Manas is probably better than Mayura.


I’ve tried the appam pancakes and those were good. I found the fish curry disappointing – I don’t they are using very good or fresh fish and I didn’t find it that complexly spiced. Just a disappointment.


@Barolo - finally tried Meals by Genet and I just didn’t think it was worth the money. Tried the vaunted chicken dorowat. Tiny portion of chicken on the bone for $23. Absolutely nothing came with it other than injera bread. Didn’t find the dorowat as swoon worthy as Gold seems to have found it, and if I had wanted a balanced meal with vegetables, I would have been spending well over $45, which I didn’t feel like doing.

By contrast, at Buna, I can get fish, injera, collard greens, cabbage, split peas, lentils and chopped tomatoes, jalapeño and onion salad – in other words, a whole balanced meal – for $15. I try to eat both protein and vegetables at every meal and it just too cost prohibitive to do that at Meals by Genet. So basically I just didn’t find the price to quality value there and I’m much happier eating a blanced meal at Buna.


I can’t speak to price. One thing I’d say is – I would never go to an Ethiopian restaurant and not get the vegetarian combo. At Meals by Genet, I strongly recommend getting the vegetarian combo and a main dish (like the dorowat). The vegetarian combo has roughly 10 dishes, as I recall. Everything is plated beautifully on one big injera plate, with the main dish in the center. Personally, I think the dorowat at Meals by Genet is excellent and don’t think it’s too small a portion.

I like other Ethiopian restaurants in Little Ethiopian too, but I can’t remember which one is which. I’ll check out Buna next time.


Yes, I wanted the vegetarian combo and the dorowat, but that would have cost $44 before tax or tip, and I just wasn’t in the mood for a $44 dinner, so I only ordered the dorowat, which I found too skimpy by itself and I’m not a huge eater. I was by myself, so I suppose Meals by Genet is a more economical if two people can share the vegetarian combo. But at least now I can say I have tried Meals by Genet and I can go back to my $15 meals at Buna. Plus, at Buna you can bring your own wine at no corkage. I have found that champagne goes extremely well with Ethiopian food. The acidity of the champagne cuts some of the grease.


Yeah. Champagne is a good call with rich Indian food too. Both the acidity and the substantial body (compared to light whites like New Zealand sauvignon blanc) are what make it a good pairing, I think.


I’ve eaten at 45 restaurants on the list. With only a handful of exceptions (Shibumi, Mayura, Little Sister, Rice Bar, and Langer’s), I would say I like the restaurants on the list, and it contains most of my favorites. So I think it’s a pretty good list.

I feel there are some restaurants that clearly should have made the list but did not. These restaurants are:

Urasawa. One of the finest dining experiences in the U.S. The meal can be criticized for over-indulgence and lack of balance, but the quality is exceptionally high. I get that it’s expensive, but so are many of the other restaurants on this list. Urasawa would be in my top 5 for sure. I’d probably put it #1.

Mori Sushi. It saddens me that J. Gold never recognizes Mori Sushi for its outstanding omakase. Mori Sushi would be in my top 20. Zo would make the top 101 too.

Water Grill. I’ve eaten at Water Grill over 100 times. I think the quality of the ingredients and preparation is clearly higher than many if not most of the restaurants on this list. Often, it seems that the list favors new, hip, and/or ethnic over quality of food. I’d put Water Grill in my top 50.

WP-24. I’m sure I’ll be scolded for this, but WP-24 would be a no-brainer for my list of top 101 restaurants. Sure, it’s inauthentic, but Lukshon is inauthentic too. In my mind, WP-24 is a better restaurant than Lukshon.


Couldn’t agree more about Mori Sushi. Not only has Maru-san been humbly, consistently and deliciously plying his trade for a decade now, but the restaurant could use the “J. Golden touch” given that it flies under many people’s radars.

As for Urasawa, my understanding is that it gets no love on the list because of its past labor controversies. To be honest, that’s the reason I’ve never gone, even though I’m sure it’s exceptional.


Does Mori Sushi serve the finest traditional sushi in Los Angeles? Does the staff spend as much time thinking about the rice as most of its competitors do about their fish? Is the juxtaposition of Santa Barbara uni and Hokkaido uni equivalent to a graduate-level seminar in sea urchin roe? How many needlefish is too many needlefish, or is such a concept even possible? You may prefer the sushi at Zo, Nishamura or Urasawa, but know that Mori’s partisans are ready to fight you to the death.



that’s how i feel about Genet too… my choice has been Awash for years now… haven’t tried this Buna.


His explanation makes perfect sense to me. The newness of Vespertine. The other-worldliness is more impressive in the beginning rather than after it has been tried and true. Other places that we can relate to easier are the opposite


I will truly never understand J. Gold’s love for Lukshon. It’s fine, and not inexpensive. Every thing I eat there is a cheap facsimile of the real thing. His khao soi is just horrible.


I prefer the sushi at Mori Sushi to the sushi at Zo and Urasawa. Never heard of Nishamura.


It’s Nishimura, and Nishimura’s been closed for quite some time. It WAS located adjacent to the Pacific Design Center.


I find the Lukshon rating inexplicable as well.


I’m sure the staff at Urasawa, who work very hard, would appreciate your business.

I believe it’s $550 or $650 a person now. :gasp: Yet it doesn’t feel overpriced given the extravagance of the experience. Over-indulgent, perhaps.