My 10 Favorite Places to Eat in L.A. (So Far)

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Imagine a giant hour glass filled not with sand but with calories. That’s pretty much a perfect visual for this first year of living in and exploring L.A., eating my way from ocean to desert, hopping from cuisine to cuisine. As I said in my post yesterday, for my budget and interest-level, L.A. has more to offer than New York. You can eat extraordinarily well without breaking the bank. So here, then, are my 10 favorite places to eat here… the ones I’ll miss the most when I’m gone for 3 1/2 months. Are they objectively the best? Not by any means; they’re just the ones I’ll be running back to when the plane lands at LAX in January.

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Park’s BBQ, Neptune’s Net & Marouch

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As I gear up to go to New York for three months, I’m starting to check things off my L.A. “first year” bucket list. Korean BBQ was pretty high up there, and in my browser where I have a folder called LaFood and subfolders like “Chinese,” “Ramen,” “Sushi,” “Thai,” there’s a folder that says “Korean” and Park’s BBQ is featured prominently in there. So this past Saturday, I gathered up a group, including our new L.A. transplant friends Jim and Jess and we headed to Park’s in Koreatown.

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Two Days in the San Gabriel Valley: Lunches at Tasty Noodle House

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In the latest issue of Lucky Peach, Jonathan Gold talks about a Taiwanese restaurant that he really didn’t like at first. “I went and I really hated it…[But] I could tell that it wasn’t a bad restaurant. People were really dressed up and obviously they were there on purpose.” Gold ended up going back 17 times. “I was back there so often–this place that I detested–that one of the waitresses tried to set me up with her daughter.”

17 times. That little nugget stayed with me after I read it: I go to a restaurant, eat there, take pictures, and write about it. I rarely go back. So last week, I decided to Goldify myself: I made the pilgrimage to the San Gabriel valley, home of some of the nation’s most authentic Chinese food, to eat at Tasty Noodle House. And the next day I went back to eat there again.

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Rodded & Ramen Jinya

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A funny thing about L.A.: you can drive past a place over and over again, not think anything of it, and then–out of the blue–have a food friend tell you to meet them there on a Thursday afternoon, at which point you discover that this place you’ve been driving past and ignoring has really excellent food.

Such was the case with Rodded and my friend Zach Brooks of Midtown Lunch. I met him and Noah (who gave me that great Katz’s Deli advice) and Zach’s “Food is the New Rock” co-host Chuck P for lunch there last week.

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“The Finest Hot Pastrami Sandwich in the World” (Lunch at Langer’s)

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I remember reading the New Yorker in 2002 when Nora Ephron declared the pastrami sandwich at Langer’s in Los Angeles “the finest hot pastrami sandwich in the world.”

As a New Yorker who grew up on the east coast (both in New York and Florida, major pastrami territories) I found this hard to believe. When I shared this tidbit with others, they’d be offended. “The best pastrami’s in L.A.? No way,” would be a typical response. On Saturday I brought Craig, Mark and Diana to Langer’s to experience this blasphemy firsthand. All three of us moved to L.A. from New York in the past year; would Langer’s really hold a candle to Katz’s? Was Nora Ephron just being provocative? Did we really want to eat pastrami on a hot summer’s day? These were important questions and after a short drive on the 101 (exit: Alvarado) we were ready to answer them.

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Shaken Dosirak at Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong

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Mad at myself, I flung open–as much as you can virtually fling something open–Jonathan Gold’s epic article “60 Korean Dishes Every Angeleno Should Know” and said to myself, “You big jerk! You’ve been in L.A. almost a year and you’ve barely scratched the surface of Koreatown. You’ve never eaten any of this food. Eat some of it right now!”

My eyes settled on something called “Shaken Dosirak” and I decided I would go eat that thing, whatever it was, this very instant.

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Blue Plate Oysterette

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See the way the light is hitting the white wine in my glass?

That’s a summer moment, a California moment; it’s a moment that transcends anything critical I might say about the restaurant where this moment took place. Not that I have anything critical to say. Blue Plate Oysterette is situated on Ocean Blvd. in Santa Monica and if you took this same restaurant and relocated it to a shopping mall in Minnesota, you would think it had no reason to exist. And you would be right. But sitting there in Santa Monica, as it is, facing the Pacific ocean, the sun hitting it on its way down in the sky, it’s a perfect summer seafood restaurant.

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