It’s Time For OUR List: Introducing The FTC47, LA/OC Edition

The FTC47

Tired of “the man” dictating his jacked-up “essential” and “best” restaurant lists to us FTCers? Well, it’s high time we started our own curated list of all things pertaining to LA/OC food that we really dig here at FTC!

I’d like to call this compendium “The FTC47” - It’ll also serve as an end-of-year summary of our collective favorites, at all dining levels and all genres of dining for LA/OC. The FTC 2019 will be something you can refer to for out-of-town guests as they visit our City of Angels.

The FTC47 will NOT just be another inanimate listing of restaurants! In addition to suggesting restaurants, you can include favorite LA/OC people, dishes, concepts, trends, events, places, etc…

Why 47? Because the 47 Ronin fought for what was right. That, and 47 is a prime number. Mostly, I’m just too lazy to compile 101.

Obviously, there will be disagreements. But this spawns discussion, and that is good.

Submit (on this thread) however many (or as few) as you like for this year’s list. Give us your subjective opinion (a sentence or two or five) about WHY those picks should be included on The FTC47.

My rules: Deadline for submissions will be on 12/19, 12noon PST. If you’ve dined with me in the past and you’re on FTC, you get to be on my FTC47 Team to help decide which 47 make the final cut. I will release The FTC47 final cut on Christmas Day 2019, so we can all escape for a few moments from that family event with the non-Broguiere’s egg nog to kvetch about (or hopefully cheer on) our new little contribution to the scads of end-of-the-year lists on the interwebs.


I will try to get the ball rolling for The (inaugural) FTC47 with my LA/OC picks (in no particular order):

Langer’s Deli (Westlake) - Best pastrami on rye in America.

The Pescado Zarandeado by Chef Sergio Penuelas, and the 106 Seafood Underground playground (Lennox) - There are few better ways to while away a lazy SoCal afternoon than eating spectacular Sinaloan seafood, downing micheladas, and plane-spotting jets on LAX final approach, all while chilling in the chef’s own backyard.

Northern Café (Monterey Park) - Two monumental noodle dishes there: Big plate of chicken and clear broth beef noodles.

Somni (Beverly Hills) - Wows me each and every time.

Hayato (Arts District) - Does Chef Brandon Go ever sleep?!

Nanjing Duck House (El Monte) - Everyone goes on and on about them roasties, but this largely unsung way of brining ducks from Northern China is one of my favorite ways to eat duck.

Bang-banging Attari Sandwich Shop & Saffron Rose Ice Cream (Tehrangeles) - Because they are right across the street from each other. (If thy gullet permits, bang on with nearby Shaherzad and their fresh naan and lubia polo…)

Finding greater enjoyment from sake by drinking it with stemware - Thanks, @beefnoguy!

The on-again, off-again, and ultimately on-again business of Broguiere’s Dairy (Montebello).

The baby abalone spaghettini at n/naka (Palms) - Question: Why is my favorite high-end pasta dish in L.A. not at an Italian restaurant and is instead part of a Japanese modern kaiseki tasting? Answer: ‘Cuz it’s L.A.

Front of the line fast-passes from Howlin’ Ray’s - If you’re fast enough on the (virtual) draw to get them.

LA & OC strip-mall dining gems - Take that, Michelin inspectors!

Chef Yu Bo - For bringing the conversation about rigorous technique and delicate finesse in Chinese gastronomy (which has always been there) to America.

Toru Unagi & Sushi (West Hollywood) - Power food for the people.

Jade noodles from Sapp Coffee House (Thaitown) - It’s irresistible whenever I’m anywhere close to this place.

The Donut Man (Glendora) - August is the magic time, when strawberry season overlaps with peach.

Alejandra, the huitlacoche quesadilla cart lady (Echo Park) - I love corn smut.

Iki Ramen (K-town) - Just next level noodles, man…

Holbox (University Park) - And there’s even parking! (sometimes)

Kawamata Seafood (Capistrano Beach) - Ridiculously tasty reason for a Southern Orange County culinary stop on the way down to San Diego.

The 36-hour cappellini at Jame Enoteca (El Segundo) - Chef Jackson Kalb hits it out of the park with this signature dish.

Mori Sushi (West LA) - Maru-san’s rice. Oh, that rice…

Saturday paella afternoons at La Espanola (Harbor City) - Aceitunas, vino, bocadillos, paella, churros, all enjoyed outdoors on their back patio. Don’t forget to place your order for the paella on Friday!

Bulgarini Gelato (Altadena) - The pasta Leo serves may be controversial, but damn if his gelato isn’t flawless victory.

Porridge & Puffs (Historic Filipinotown) - In trying to classify Chef Minh Phan’s cuisine, I find that even though I cannot quite pigeonhole her dishes, it doesn’t make the food here any less delicious.

Nobu Malibu - For the afternoon view of the Pacific. (Switches to people-watching at night.)

Shin Sushi (Encino) - Take-san is sincere, friendly, and very likely refining his sushi even more as I type.

Shunji & Yuko at Shunji Japanese Cuisine (West LA) - Takes care of their customers, their staff, and their ingredients (and does wonders with fruits & vegetables). One of the most consistently great sushi counter experiences in L.A.

Ham Ji Park (K-town) - Greatest ribs in L.A. Bang-bang with the tremendous galbi jjim from the nearby (and open 24/7) Sung Non Dan!

The Lost Spirits Distillery Tour (Arts District) - Since the fire last year, it’s back, and better than ever!

Looking forward to your feedback, gang!

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Hi @J_L,

What a fun idea, thanks for bringing this up. :slight_smile: (Although I wonder if it’s fair to burden you with compiling this? I remember our FTC Dish of the Month burning people out. But then again it’s only once a year?) :wink: Thank you in advance!

(In random order, since we’re just throwing out nominations.)

Hayato - One of the most enjoyable, pure, focused dining experiences in L.A. Chef Brandon Hayato Go is showing mastery in every one of his courses at this traditional Kaiseki restaurant! And he’s so humble and amiable as well.

Mori Sushi - Maru-san’s Sushi remains my favorite in L.A. Just an awesome itamae, stunning Rice to carry on the tradition of his mentor (Morihiro Onodera), and one of the most exquisite Sake lists in L.A. to match.

Ngu Binh - Can there be a more satisfying bowl of Beef Noodle Soup locally? Perhaps not. The Bun Bo Hue is stunning in how warming, soulful, and absolutely delicious this Central Vietnamese bowl of joy can be! And for a very affordable $8.95.

Howlin’ Ray’s - It is stupid how good the Fried Chicken is from Chef Johnny Ray Zone and team. Whether Classic (non-spicy) or in any of the spice levels, every level being nuanced and different, to making the best Fried Chicken Sandwich in L.A. as well, Howlin’ Ray’s puts out consistently great Fried Chicken that even the chef-driven full kitchen restaurants around L.A. fail to come close to (cough Otium, Republique, etc. cough).

Shunji Japanese Cuisine - Shunji-san is one of the nicest itamae we’ve ever met. And it doesn’t hurt that he makes some of L.A.'s best Sushi as well, with great variety and amazing seasonal offerings. Don’t forget about his mastery of Truffles, celebrating its greatness (not for bling), from his Truffle Gohan (Rice) to his Truffle Ice Cream and beyond.

Langer’s Deli - The best Pastrami Sandwich I’ve ever had. SO GOOD!

Gjusta - There are so many things that Gjusta excels at, it is silly. From the best Smoked Seafood case in our city (Smoked Salmon Belly, Cold-Smoked Kanpachi, Octopus, Sardines, Hot-Smoked Trout, Classic Lox, Gravlax and beyond), fantastic Breakfast items, stunning Sandwiches that redefine your notion of “Sandwich” (usually “meh”) with its fresh-baked, multiple times a day, array of Breads (10+), and great Salad case. Probably the best Italian Sandwich (with their own Housemade Salumi), Turkey Sandwich (with fresh, in-house Roasted Turkey that they hand-carve every day!), a stunning Falafel Sandwich, and the simply named Veggie Sandwich that is so flavorful it’s one of the best Sandwiches in the city, period. (And it’s vegan to boot! @hanhgry and others.) That, or as @CiaoBob @PorkyBelly @A5KOBE and others would say: Prime Rib Butcher please! :slight_smile:

Cindy’s Kitchen (Hacienda Heights) - This is just outstanding, quality Taiwanese cooking. While Dai Ho has gotten much hype and mention over the years, Cindy Kitchen’s array of 30+ Lu Wei (Small Plates / Chilled Appetizers), its Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup, Zha Jiang Mian (Soybean Dry Noodles), great Handmade Dumplings, and that Ground Pork & Mushroom over Rice (and more) is that much better! It’s comfort food that we wish we had in all our neighborhoods.

Patisserie Chantilly - Pastry-Chef Keiko Nojima’s delightful French-Japanese Bakery in a quiet strip mall in the South Bay is creating some of the most delicious, cute Pastries & Desserts in our city. If nothing else, be sure to try her Black Sesame Cream Puffs (and original Cream Puffs). They are the stuff of dreams, so light and airy and fragrant, redefining what a “Cream Puff” could really taste like.

Villa Moreliana (at Grand Central Market) - Perhaps the most consistently delicious Carnitas specialist in town, Villa Moreliana features 12(!) different types of Carnitas, beautifully seasoned (without being a salt bomb), moist, fresh-tasting, delicious due to high volume of customers. They allow you to mix and match 2 or 3 types of Carnitas in your Tacos, which results in the glory that is their Costillas Carnitas (Stewed Pork Ribs) + Orejas Carnitas (Stewed Pork Ears) Taco, a bite that is succulent, moist, tender slow cooked Pork meat with delightful crunchy-soft bits of cartilage. Or perhaps get some Espaldilla Carnitas (Stewed Pork Roast) + Trompa Carnitas (Stewed Pork Snout) with their freshly fried Chicharrones (Fried Pig Skin), for some amazing crunch mixed in with the tender lusciousness.

Angler (L.A.) - In delivering some of the Best Bites of 2019 without the use of “bling” ingredients, Chef Joshua Skenes and his staff are truly cooking up something special. I still dream about the Radicchio with Radicchio X.O., the Sweet Chicory Caesar Salad is absurd, Housemade Parker Rolls & Housemade Butter Infused with Seaweed, Live Spot Prawns with Harissa, the list goes on and on. Add to that the best professional service staff in L.A. that’s on par with S.F.'s Michelin starred best, and you have reason to celebrate.

(To Be Continued - I’ll add more later today.)

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I can only go by where I’ve been, don’t have 47 entries:

Mori Sushi - killer dashi (in particular one abalone owan I had one time), insane washoku and kappo kaiseki techniques, well rounded under Maru san and the sushi is delightful for what he does. With the right profile drink, it’s a solid place to experiment even affordable level sake and dry white wines with. I’d say he set the bar high with hybrid kaiseki and sushi without resorting to gold flakes, truffles, caviar, wagyu etc.

Shunji - Shunji san’s adept and swift command of blending Californian, western, and Japanese elements together in a genius way with his creative small plates/appetizer type dishes that is still kappo washoku at its core, and fantastic with the right sake once the profiles are figured out, and probably great with dry white wines as well. Plus going there just for his exclusive sake made only for Shunji by Suehiro Brewery is already worth the admission (and it’s damn good). Yuko san is awesome as well, so much fun chatting with her and geeking out on sake.

Hayato - once you realize the amount of skill, time, effort, dedication, and passion that goes into every intricate detail Chef Go does, you’ll hopefully come to understand he’s the real deal kaiseki shokunin exactly like those in Tokyo. So much complexity and depth in his execution, techniques, and flavor profiles in what appears deceptively simple for all his dishes. If you appreciate killer sake and wine, this is the right place to enjoy them to their fullest too, unicorn or village plebian level. His mindset is exactly like Akira Yoshizumi’s.

Langer’s - that crazy aromatic rye and that ridiculously awesome crust is the price of entry for me. I’ll gladly combo the meats in my protein and carb only sammy’s: corned beef and tongue, or pastrami and tongue. Although I might try straight up corned tongue next time. I actually had a one cup sake during that lunch and was even secretly thinking of whipping it out, but didn’t want to incur the wrath of our awesome waitress. I’m sure there are other delights to be savored…need more visits (and major weight loss prior)!

Tacos - I haven’t been to enough taco places so this exists as a single entry. If you come visit LA, you can’t leave without trying tacos, whether it’s Guerilla, the tacos inside Grand Central Market, Tire Shop, that mushroom taco from Loqui although I haven’t had it in a while etc

Connie and Ted’s - if only coming for raw oysters and clams, it’s awesome already. Bring your favorite sake, wine, or champagne for even more fabulous pairings and fun. Their cocktails are great too amongst other things

Dan Tana’s: if you have fast access to your car after a show at the Hollywood Bowl, this classic Italian American place could just squeeze you in on time. Not only does it have its charm, the dishes are very refined upscale too compared to Northern California. Even something simple like a carbonara is very tasty and surprisingly not like a typical Italian American joint. Something about them reminds me of Mama Leone’s (defunct) in NY.

Yakiniku Yazawa - I’d go here even if only for just the yazawa yaki, and finish it off with the hayashi curry rice (highly recommended by Maru san as well)

Korean in LA - Unfair for me to name a single place. It’s ridiculous not to have any Korean on a must try list. The breadth and depth blow away Northern California and many out of state places (maybe New York is close).

SinBala - Taiwanese sausage fest

OC Entries:

Ngu Binh - Yup that Bun Bo Hue is the stuff of dreams

Cha Oc Gia Huy - sea snail sausage delight. It’s a deli with a lot of frozen to go, but also Central Vietnamese noodles with it inside. My favorite is the Cha Oc La Lot (wrapped in grape leaf and grilled). While you are at it, pandan waffle is delightful. This is like SinBaLa but different.

Mai Phung - crab banh canh does it for me

I’m sure I’m missing a bunch.

P.S. I would vote for Sergio’s, Bulgarini’s Toku Unagi & Sushi, and Somni even though I haven’t been there (Bulgarini I have not had their pasta or pistachio…but the little I’ve tried I enjoyed it). I think I would need at least a month’s worth of visiting to try all the greatness of all the hot 47!

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Here’s my personal list (not complete)

Shunji – there’s a reason we go here every year for my wife’s birthday. The food is excellent. The cooked dishes are outstanding and the sushi is exceptional. I think it will always be a favorite\

El Ruso – everyone loves the flour tortillas at Sonoratown and they are indded great , but I found the fillings for the tortillas lacking. For a great combination of both filling and flour tortillas , head to El Ruso in Boyle Heights.

Porridge and Puffs – something so comforting, I’ve never had Porridge like this and that’s what makes it a revelation for me

Angler – the food is great, high level of cooking. But as I get older, service and ambiance is becoming a bigger thing to me, especially at these kinds of restaurants, it matters more and they excel, maybe the best thoughtful, knowledgable service in LA (IMO)

Cosa Buona -one of the regular places I go to, service is also excellent and the consistent food they put out

Guerrilla Tacos – there’s always something new on the menu, always makes me come back to try more things. Sometimes inconsistent but that’s ok. But overall, I am always happy eating here.

Hayato – everything about Hayato is magnificent, and it always feel extra special to eat here. The whole experience is the best in LA.

Somni – this is like going to the theatre, from the food to the showmanship. They make you really feel like we understand you spent a lot of money to be here and we will show you your money is well spent.

Iki Ramen – their mazemen and the other offerings of ramen besides tonkotsu is what I love about this place

LASA – doesn’t get enough love, as a filipino, I see what they’re doing and I love it. It always tastes familiar yet new to me.

Furaibo – my first introduction to Izakaya was here in the early 90’s and its nostalgic and consistent. I usually order the same things everytime and its never been bad.

Majordomo- there’s always something new here too and the cooking and service are still really strong. i cant get enough of the whole plate short rib and the rice that comes along with it. and the soup that comes with the boiled chicken, wow!

Everson Royce Bar - just my favorite bar, when people visit LA , i always take them here for drinks and a great simple burger.

Connie and Ted’s - my favorite American seafood spot

Holbox - my favorite Mexican seafood spot.

Underrated food event - Chinatown after dark, a few chefs testing and cooking food. free event, just pay for your food. i’ve had some wonderful soulful meals here from Chef Johnny, Chef Royce, Chef Isa and also Wax Paper.

The Table at July - Miles Thompson, best ticketed popup event i went to this year.

Best Newcomer

All Day Baby – went 2 days in a row because everything on the menu was something i wanted to try. I only made it through a few of the items.

This is all I can think of right now, I will add to this later when i have time

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Outstanding feedback thus far! As a lot of us tend to fete “what’s new in town” on this site, let’s all use this opportunity to give love to the places on our regular rotation as well.

You can write as much or as little as you like about your picks.

And remember, the list isn’t just limited to restaurants! Food people, events, concepts, and trends can count as a pick as well.

Keep it comin’, gang!

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Is it okay if i just keep editing my original post? i don’t want to clog up the thread.

Of course!

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Discourse has a special kind of topic for that.

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Providence
Hayato
Shunji
Beijing Pie House
Angler
Porridge and Puffs
Ham Ji Park
Felix
Majordomo
Cut (or should I say Puckplex?)
Holbox
Luv2Eat
Chi Spacca
n/naka
Hatchett Hall
Pollo A La Brasa
Yakitori ya
Chengdu Taste
Orsa + Winston
Giorgio Baldi

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Sergio’s 106 underground: one of LA’s best kept secrets in my opinion. Amazing food, atmosphere, and service as well as BYOB- what more can you ask for?

Nightshade: I think what Chef Mei Lin is doing at Nightshade is pretty special. One of the only restaurants this year that stood out to me as achieving perfect balance between two (or more) cuisines.

Brother’s Sushi in Woodland Hills: Low key the best sushi in the San Fernando Valley. Hard to find seasonal ingredients, great sake list, and they have TOTO toilets. ‘Nuff said.

Somni: Like everyone so far has mentioned, Chef Aitor is doing exciting stuff. Like Cirque De Soileil but with food.

Ototo: I love this place. Probably the best sake list in LA and every food item on the menu hits the nail on the head for Japanese/LA snacks that pair well with drinking. The Karaage and katsu sando are must haves.

Bavel: Perfect place to go to with out of town friends. Middle Eastern/ Israeli food meets Los angeles creativity.

Paiks: Located in Granada Hills, I have to show Paiks some love since I eat there once a week. They have few dishes on the menu, but each one is very solid.

Angler: My new favorite spot in Los Angeles. So much thought has been put into each dish, it’s hard not to be impressed; especially since the food is so damn good. The Radicchio and Caesar salad could be the best vegetable dishes in the city.

Howlin Ray’s: Best chicken sandwich/fried chicken in LA. Customer service is great; the team is always going above and beyond while remaining fun and casual.

Guerilla tacos: It’s always a fun place to visit. Unique tacos paired with unique cocktails.

Majordomo: Another great spot to take out of town friends to. Or your in-town friends. Or family. Or anyone really. Apotheke being next door is a plus!

Tsubaki: I’ve read others on this board not liking it, but it’s my favorite izakaya in LA (now that Matt is no longer at Aburiya Raku). Food portions might be a bit on the small side, but everything is always great and the sake menu is also huge.

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My favorite and most memorable dining experiences of 2019. Places I can’t wait to go back to and always on my list.
Majordomo
Howlin Rays
Cosa Buona
Angler
Langer’s
Gjusta
Playground 2.0
Superfine Pizza
Chantilley Patisserie (thanks @Chowseeker1999)
Republique
Monkish Brewery (beer has carbs)
J Zhou
Sidecar Donuts

The NY Times gets in on the LA action with their 10 favorite LA dishes of the year. For those who cannot get past the firewall. They did not list the dishes in numerical order.

Pickle & Jam Porridge at Porridge & Puffs
Corned Beef & Frites at Birdie G’s
Koji Marinated Sweet Potato at Onda
Foie de Poulet à la Strasbourgeoise at Pasjoli
Deluxe Plate at Teddy’s Red Tacos
Boiled Whole Chicken at Majordomo
Bento Box at Hayato
Coco Jack at Spoon & Pork
Fried Chicken at Alta Adams
Hamachi Collar at Amacita

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Big boo on inlcuding OC. Great job though and look forward to finding time to feedback. We need to get to a list of 47 places that we agree on (consensus/vote system)… Then we can try and rank via vote.

neorest 700H toto @ sgo

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let’s come up with a list based on the quality of their toilets

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Hahahahaha. That’s a good one.

Get a list of places from everyone who wants to participate, consolidate it, sort by descending count.

I’m not sure there’s any reason to cut off at 47. Arbitrary counts are just marketing bullshit intended to make eye-catching headlines / clickbait.

Hatchet Hall is a victim of recency bias. It’s great and I feel like people kind of sleep on it these days.

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Okay, so this. 95% of my list I’ve eaten at this year. The others are solid enough that I put them on my every year list. Is that okay?

I’m private messaging myself my list until I’m ready to post.

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