March 2017 Weekend Rundown

They have a good location off the freeway. I saw it stuck in traffic and made a beeline straight to the place.

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Soup

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Thanks for the report, @Chowseeker1999. That’s really too bad about Kawaba. Had they left your omusubi sitting around for a while? Well, I shall stick with Sunny Blue then. Plus, their black sesame soft serve is lovely.

I was about to say that your filet looked better than the one I had months ago, until I realized I was looking at the hash brown! :wink:

So you recommend trying it? I saw them at the SM Smorgasburg (took pics last weekend but have been too busy to post).

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Hi @MaladyNelson,

Thanks. No, we were the only(!) customers in the restaurant… at lunchtime… on the weekend. :frowning: That might’ve been a sign.

We saw them prepare and bring it out to us right from the kitchen.

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Wax Paper

After hearing so many positive posts on their Italian Sandwich, we figured it was time to make the drive out to Frogtown to try Wax Paper. :wink:

Wax Paper is a tiny Sandwich Shop literally buried behind a residential neighborhood; it’s easy to miss.

In speaking with the staff, it seems Wax Paper outsources a lot of their primary ingredients: They get their Bread from Bub & Grandma’s, and Etxea, and their cold cuts for their Italian are from a manufacturer in Portland.

Larry Mantle (Herb Bologna, Capicola, Pecorino Pepato, Mama Lil’s Pickled Peppers, Lettuce, Pickled & Raw Red Onion, Oregano Vinaigrette on a Sesame Roll):

While most of their Sandwiches use Bread from Bub & Grandma’s, for the Larry Mantle, they outsource it to Etxea Basque Bakery in Torrance. It looks intimidating, but taking a bite:

A soft, fresh Sesame Roll gives way to this incredible amalgamation of flavors: The Capicola and Herb Bologna is tender, meaty and wonderful! :slight_smile: Then you get the crunch from the Pickled Peppers, Lettuce, Pickled & Raw Onions… the Oregano Vinaigrette adds enough moisture to each bite to keep things enjoyable.

This is probably the best Italian Sandwich I’ve had outside of Gjusta! :heart: Thanks @Ns1 @ipsedixit @A5KOBE @Aesthete @aaqjr @Luluthemagnificent. :slight_smile:

Ira Glass (Avocado, Cheddar, Sprouts, Pickled & Raw Red Onions, Cucumber, Garlic Aioli on Seeded Wheat):

This is a Seeded Wheat Bread from Bub & Grandma’s. I heard the staff say they just got their bread that morning from Bub & Grandma’s (more on this later), so the Ira Glass was fluffy, soft wonderful sliced Wheat Bread, and the flavors were excellent! For a Sandwich featuring no meat whatsoever, this was delicious! :slight_smile: The Avocado was ripe and creamy, the Sprouts added that vegetal brightness, Cucumbers were fresh and crisp, the Cheddar giving it a bit of good fat and some nice balance to the veggies, and then the piquant and spiciness of the Pickled and Raw Onions. :slight_smile:

I was shocked. Definitely our 2nd favorite Sandwich at Wax Paper! :blush:

It doesn’t reach the heights of the Veggie Sandwich at Gjusta (which is phenomenal!), but this is probably the 3rd best vegetarian Sandwich I’ve had recently. :slight_smile:

It was so good, that we had to come back for another visit a few weeks later.

2nd Visit:

Lakshmi Singh (Shaved Seasonal Vegetables, Pickled and Balsamic Onions, Pecan Pesto on a Baguette (Vegan)):

Considering how good their Ira Glass veggie Sandwich turned out, we were excited to see what this one would be like. Sadly, this is where the limitations of the small Sandwich Shop which outsources some of their key ingredients falls short:

The Baguette from Bub & Grandma’s was stale. :frowning: Super hard and crusty, the inside was dryish as well. It really ruined the Sandwich. :cry:

Bread obviously doesn’t spoil after 1 day, so we’re getting into the limitations of them having to outsource their Bread from others and just how often they get it.

The rest of the ingredients were OK. The Balsamic Onions were really piquant and strong, overpowering the Seasonal Vegetables and even dominating the Pesto. :frowning:

Kai Ryssdal (Pole-Caught Tuna, Celery, Green Onion Vinaigrette, Lettuce, Kalamata Olive Aioli):

Their Tuna Sandwich was served on the same Etxea Bakery Sesame Roll as their Italian, but unlike the incredible freshness we had last time, this time, the Sesame Roll was just OK. It tasted slightly dryish, but thankfully much softer and not as stale as their Baguette.

The Tuna tasted like Canned Tuna. To be fair this is much better than a Tuna Sandwich at Subway, but it tasted simply like the sum of its parts. Thinking on something like the Tuna Conserva from Gjusta, and there’s simply no comparison. :frowning: (Gjusta’s Tuna Conserva is sublime and just a stunning Sandwich. It will ruin what you think of Tuna Sandwiches :smile: ;).)

Wax Paper manages to achieve some greatness even with its limitations of not baking its own Bread, nor making their cold cuts. For a tiny Sandwich shop, they make one of the best Italian Sandwiches in the city, and their Ira Glass Vegetarian Sandwich (when their Bread is fresh) is also worth considering.

But it’s no Gjusta (which bakes all of their Breads fresh every day), and fresh roasts their Turkey, Prime Rib, Porchetta, along with stunning Smoked Fish and other Seafood (and Pastries, etc.).

But we’ll be back whenever we’re in the area for that Italian and Ira. :slight_smile:

Wax Paper
2902 Knox Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Tel: (323) 284-8857

http://www.waxpaperco.com/

Happy Noodle

We were excited to try this place after @ipsedixit mentioned it to be the home of the best Vegetarian Dumplings around. :slight_smile:

Vegetable Pan Fried Dumplings:

Happy Noodle makes their own Dumplings and Steamed Buns from scratch. For the Pan Fried Dumplings, it arrives flipped inverted, with the leftover slurry on top. As @J_L says, this is probably the sign of being legit. :wink:

Their Vegetable Pan Fried Dumplings are made with Chinese Chives, Vermicelli and Egg.

Note: Don’t forget to add a bit of Black Vinegar & Soy Sauce as you enjoy the Dumplings. :wink:

Taking a bite, and their Dumpling skins are medium-thickness, with a nice chew and mouthfeel. The Chinese Chives, Vermicelli and Egg make for a pretty tasty, light filling. :slight_smile:

Steamed Dumplings with Squash:

Their Steamed Veggie Dumplings use a different filling (which is pretty unique around here (usually restaurants use just 1 type of filling for all variations)): The filling here is (transliteration from the waitress) Xi Hu Lu Squash, Wood Ear Mushrooms and Vermicelli.

And the taste is so delicious! :blush: I can see what @ipsedixit is saying. It’s a very uncommon filling (I haven’t seen it before at the restaurants we’ve tried in the SGV, but then again, we don’t make it out there that often).

But the Xi Hu Lu Squash adds a really unique texture, soft, silky, but having a nice inherent Squash sweetness (just a touch), the subtle crunch of the Wood Ear Mushrooms and Vermicelli, and having had them Steamed, I’d say the Steamed Dumplings are the way to go.

They have this wonderful chewiness, that “al dente” type quality, not mushy, not too soft, just really nice.

We would agree: These are definitely the best Chinese Vegetarian Dumplings we’ve ever had! :blush: (And they’re Vegan! @MaladyNelson)

Shan Dong Stuffed Bun - House Special Stuffed Buns:

These are the type of Bao (Buns) that are seared and steamed, so they arrive with a slurry that’s been cooked off as well.

The Buns are a touch soft (feeling like they’re a touch undercooked?), but still very fresh.

Their House Special Stuffed Bun is unique compared to most Bao / Steamed Buns: They saute Marinated Ground Pork and Mushrooms first, and then stuff the Buns with the wok-fired ingredients and then steam & sear the Buns (instead of putting in raw ingredients and cooking it through that way).

The result is a flavor bomb of intense savoriness: The Marinated Ground Pork and Mushroom Saute filling is delicious! :slight_smile: and its strong flavors match perfectly with the plain, simple outer Steamed Bun.

2nd Visit:

Chilled Seaweed:

This was too salty. :frowning: Just too much Soy Sauce and Salt in general.

Lamb Pan Fried Dumplings:

Having tried their Vegetarian Dumplings we wanted to see how their Lamb turned out on this 2nd visit. It is a really gamy, intense burst of Lamb! :open_mouth: If you like gamy Lamb, then this is for you.

We thought they were pretty tasty, balanced by the dab of Black Vinegar.

Fish Boiled Dumplings:

Listed simply as their “Dumpling” section, we wanted to see how their classic Boiled Dumplings were like. They use Grey Sole Fish and Chinese Chives for the filling here, and they cook these Handmade Dumplings perfectly. Nice chew, mouthfeel, and the Grey Sole and Chinese Chives were pretty balanced.

Not the best Fish Dumplings we’ve had, but not bad either.

Pan Fried Stuffed Bun with Squash:

Under their top Shan Dong Stuffed Bun menu, this is other way to enjoy their unique Xi Hu Lu Squash, so we decided to try it via these seared and steamed Buns.

I will have to say the filling is still as unique and tasty as before: This Xi Hu Lu Squash, Wood Ear Mushrooms and Vermicelli combination is wonderful. :slight_smile:

However, in this larger seared & steamed Bun form, it’s not as interesting overall. Too much surface area of Steamed Bun (plain carbs), with an inherently delicate, light Vegetarian filling.

They have a huge menu of cooked dishes that seem to be all over the map, but we avoided that due to @ipsedixit’s recommendation to stick with their Handmade Dumplings and Buns.

At Happy Noodle, our favorite combination seems to be the Steamed Dumplings with Squash (Xi Hu Lu Squash), and their House Special Stuffed Buns. Their Vegetable Pan Fried Dumplings and their Lamb Pan Fried Dumplings are also pretty good. Thanks again @ipsedixit. :slight_smile:

Happy Noodle
4815 El Monte Ave.
Temple City, CA 91780
Tel: (626) 279-7558

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Take out from Top Round. Only 5 minutes from home, so everything stayed nice and hot.

While the terrific roast beef sandwiches are the thing to get here, I decided to try their breaded chicken sandwich. It was basic, but solid – nice and crisp chicken breast, moist, and as noted, piping hot. Simply dressed with mayo and pickles on an onion bun, it is basically a better version of Chick fil-A.
And…just had to get one roast beef sandwich while we were there. The Black & Blue – roast beef, black pepper, Bleu Cheese and caramelized onions on a sesame bun. It was great, as always. Add an order of the beef fat fried curly fries, along with an LA Mill coffee malt, and you have a perfect (if artery-clogging) high end fast food experience.
Not exactly cheap – a little more than $24 – but you are paying for the high quality ingredients. (And the branded LA Mill cup…)

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It’s cool that you finally made it out to Wax Paper!

I agree about the Singh and the Kai. Sadly, you’re right, they can’t quite compete with a place running full force like Gjusta. I’m not sure I can ever eat another tuna sandwich anywhere else after having Gjusta’s tuna conserva haha

But the Mantle and the Glass are unique and awesome.

Out of curiosity, what is your 2nd favorite vegetable sandwich (you indicated Gjusta as #1 and Glass as #3)?

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Thanks for taking the hit on that place! They had me just intrigued enough that I was thinking of trying it out haha

I was wondering what they meant with all the Bone Broth stuff and how it differed from Pho, Ramen, Sulung tang, or Gamjatang etc…

I was thinking it was some kind of unique Taiwanese preparation or something. The interview with the chef promoting the spot real hard by the LA Weekly was what made it sound interesting:

Kind of makes me highly suspicious of the Weekly’s practices. Was that a paid-for interview in light of how miserable of a rip-off Bone Kettle is in reality? It feels like it should almost be illegal to charge $50 for shitty pho/ramen in Los Angeles haha Instead the Weekly brands the chef as “a culinary star”…:confused:

I was a bit weary given the Komodo pedigree; a place that is known for phorritos, which are the type of CA fusion that seems more targeted at hip youngsters who follow Yelp and Instagram versus diehard foodies, but… I like to give places the benefit of the doubt typically.

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Thanks @Aesthete. It was your early report that got us interested in trying it. :slight_smile:

The 2nd favorite recently? Gjusta’s Falafel Sandwich. :slight_smile: (Yah, Gjusta’s Veggie Sandwich, Gjusta’s Falafel Sandwich and then Wax Paper’s Ira Glass.)

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I was at Wax Paper on Thursday. I actually called to order a Larry Mantle but she got me with “do you want to hear our special?”

It was a corned beef with horseradish and stuff. Whatever it was, it didn’t make me a corned beef convert and it gave me instant buyers remorse. The corned beef itself was pretty good but the sandwich as a whole didn’t meet the mark.

Evidently Thursdays are their busiest day. It took us 40 minutes from the time we placed our phone order to get our food.

Thanks for the warning @Ns1. Good to know.

Santa Barbara - Les Marchands - cheese (bucherone, point reyes blue, manchego, sottocenera) and charcuterie (calabrese, nduja); Helena Ave Bakery bread with a full head of roasted garlic perfectly done; Brussels sprouts Caesar salad, pancetta - great way to serve sprouts raw- excellent!; grilled eggplant mezze lune, ricotta, butternut squash puree pinenuts and calabrian chili (kinda crazy mix, but it all tasted good). 2 bottles of wine - 4 people - more than enough food, and I suppose, enough wine. Sit outside.

I agree… In addition to the Nori, the rice is also better seasoned at Sunny Blue. The only think Kawaba has is that Egg Omusubi. If I am in the area, I stop in there just for that!

–Dommy!

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Hui Tou Xiang in San Gabriel.

I’m a little obsessed with the complimentary kimchi that they give you. Gingery garlicky goodness. :yum:

Crab xlb:

Wontons in chili oil:

Pork hui tou:

Fried noodles with shrimp:

I know what we ordered might be considered boring here, but everything was really tasty and satisfying.

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Filet 'O Fish $1.79 fridays!

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Kotosh in Lomita.

Jalea mixta with salsa criolla:

Lomo Saltado:

Great as always.

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Combined weekends (since the start of the month?). Posting from my phone, so text later (edit: now adding text… :))

Pho So 1
We stopped at this place on our way to see the cherry blossoms at Lake Balboa (thanks, @J_L for mentioning the ones in the SFV!). The love the egg rolls here, and you can get a half order so you feel less decadent. :slight_smile: I don’t know this compares to other Vietnamese places, but I find it quite respectable.

Smorgasburg Santa Monica

Hot-Star Chicken. The pic doesn’t show just how big this piece of chicken is. Partner said it was the size of a dinner plate. This was actually a small piece b/c we got the last one (bwahahahaha). Not a revelation, but I ain’t complaining for $5.

Mama Musubi. Still have yet to get to Sunny Blue, but I enjoyed these (salmon and eel). What should I be looking for in a well-constructed musubi (other than it tasting good?)

The goa pork tacos were delicious, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around spending $9 and still being quite hungry. Still, they had an army of people working there, so perhaps it’s quite work intensive.

Belle Vie
This place ain’t cheap, but it still remains deeply satisfying. However, they’ve changed the recipe of their beef burgandy tacos!!! Argh. The beef itself is still delicious, but they’ve added picked veggies and a small piece of bacon. It’s too much (both flavor-wise and in terms of folding the taco). Not sure if the change was based on feedback or just b/c they felt kind of bored w/o the original. They have a seasonal cassoulet (available for $30). It’s big enough to share, but you’d still probably want another entree. The cassoulet was lovely, and very subtly seasoned. I was also hoping for crispier skin on the duck, but the meat was pretty good. Sausage was simply perfectly cooked. Dessert was lemon curd + citrus slices w/ a ring of meringue that had been torched. SO delicious.

Happy Noodle
What can I say? I’m a devoted follower of trend. :wink: The veggie dumplings are indeed delicious, and the skin is JUST thick enough to have pleasant chew. The lamb dumpling is REALLY gamey (as @Chowseeker1999 said) . I like gamey, but this might be a bit too gamey even for me! :wink: Partner loved them, though. Are the orange flecks carrot? For whatever reason, I think the lamb flavor would go better in a shen jiang bao. The beef roll wrapper wasn’t quite crispy enough, but I thought the filling was quite good (and way better than the very flaccid version I had at 101 Noodle Express Culver City this last wk).

Bulgarini Gelato
We were planning to go from Happy Noodle to Me Gusta Tamale. Bulgarini is on the way, and partner had never been there. I had the pear + pistachio and partner had coffee + chocolate. All delicious, as usual. Also sampled the hazelnut (which I love but find too intense for an entire scoop).

While driving somewhere through Sunland, we saw this…

Eating Me Gusta tamales now but too lazy to take a photo. :smiley:

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Looks like you had a wonderful eating weekend! :slight_smile:

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Egg Slut and Bay Cities Meat Loaf Sandwitch …

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