Los Angeles: Top 8 Sizzling Foods
Around the globe to Korea, Greece and Vietnam
A number of cultures around the world have dishes that arrive to the table on sizzling platters — adding drama and heat to meals, which becomes especially important as Los Angeles begins to gets “cold” for the winter. Here are eight of our favorite places.
Joshua Lurie is the founder of Los Angeles-based restaurant and travel blog Food GPS.
Actor Tsuyoshi Ihara’s house of “Dancing Bonito” celebrates okonomiyaki, the savory griddled Japanese pancake that’s available with options like beef, scallops or mochi. To get the best sense of the Little Osaka restaurant, opt for Original Okonomiyaki — an omelet mashup with pork, tender shrimp, squid and potato. Staffers then drizzle on mayo, sweet and savory okonomiyaki sauce and the aforementioned bonito, micro-thin sheets of dried fish that move when heated. Since Gottsui means “great” in Japanese, they may as well plant a flag in the pancake. Which, they do. 2119 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-478-0521, gottsui-usa.com
Mohammed Mumtaz’s Indo-Pak restaurant near LAX is not all about smoke and mirrors — though mirrors line the wall and smoke rises from the sizzling plate. The house specialty, mixed tandoori, features four types of beef and chicken that beings in the Hawthorne restaurant’s clay oven. An oily bed of caramelized onions supports bone-in tandoori chicken, boneless chicken tikka, herb-flecked minced beef seekh kebab and spiced slices of beef boti kebab. There’s so much meat that it resembles a mountain, and two people can scale it with a solid effort.13649 Inglewood Ave., Hawthorne, 310-644-6395, alwatanrestaurant.com
3. FIESTA SA BARRIO
This Filipino restaurant relocated to Eagle Rock Boulevard in 2009 and now has an outdoor patio and dining room with pastel green walls. Owner Frank Enriquez, who hails from Mindanao in the southern Philippines, has a quartet of sizzling dishes, including sisig (chopped pork chop) and gambas (shrimp with egg, tomato paste and bell peppers). But it’s best to go beefy. Bulalo steak involves slabs of broiled beef shank and bone marrow that enriches white mushroom gravy. Green beans, carrots and thick-cut French fries complete the picture. Kenchi steak is similar, but served off the bone. Order a metal pail of steamed white rice to sop up the rich sauce. 4326 Eagle Rock Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-256-4380
4. GENWA KOREAN BBQ
This highly regarded Korean BBQ house near Hancock Park features a sleek wood and stone design and bowling pin lanterns. Dinner is cooked D.I.Y. (that is, at the table at a communal grill). But at lunch, everything comes on a sizzling cast iron skillet, prepared in the kitchen, so business meetings don't become smoky or distracting. The best options: Prime galbi (marinated short rib) and omega 3-rich yellow corvina and spicy pork that rests on a bed of onions that caramelize in the residual pork fat. 5115 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-549-0760, genwakoreanbbq.com
5. JAVA SPICE
The eastern San Gabriel Valley has a large Indonesian presence, and one of the best options resides in a Rowland Heights strip mall. Java Spice, from Gary Nanda and wife Mary, brings the sizzle with Cah Kangkung. The crisp hollow-stemmed green (called ong choy), joins soft-boiled quail eggs, fresh shrimp and garlic-pepper sauce, which forms savory, caramelized sludge that brings maximum flavor to the platter. 1743 Fullerton Rd., Rowland Heights, 626-810-1366
6. PAPA CRISTO’S
This Greek market and café dates to 1948 in the Byzantine-Latino Quarter. Mustachioed proprietor Chrys Chrys, who inherited the business from father Sam, features foods from the mother land. Sizzling Feta touts tangy slabs of imported Greek sheep's milk cheese, grilled tomatoes and Kalamata olives that cook in Greek extra virgin olive oil. A sprinkling of oregano and Greek seasoning completes the picture, along with a disc of warm pita. 2771 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-737-2970, papacristo.com
7. PHONG DINH
The chefs at this famously exotic Vietnamese restaurant comb the globe for creatures with shells, wings and tails. The owners even allow customers to grill some of the beasts themselves. Marinated, burgundy-hued kangaroo arrives in thin slices and joins butter on a blazing hot dome-shaped griddle. For less hands-on diners, Phong Dinh provides a sizzling platter with venison chunks that cook with black pepper, wine and slices onions. Squeeze with lime and dip in salt and pepper to achieve savory satisfaction. 2643 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead, 626-307-8868
8. WOLFGANG’S STEAKHOUSE
Wolfgang Zwiener, who spent over four decades at Brooklyn’s legendary Peter Luger steakhouse, opened a series of eponymous restaurants with son Peter, including the heart of Beverly Hills. Porterhouse for two combines New York strip steak with filet mignon. The well-marbled corn-fed beef dry ages for 28 days and graces a grill before appearing on a sizzling platter in a shallow pool of butter, which creates a winning sear. Eat quickly, since the steak keeps cooking. 445 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-385-0640, wolfgangssteakhouse.com
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