When in LA eat ethnic

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I don’t have a vast amount of experience eating in LA but it’s clear to me that the best food available is the ethnic food. I was first made aware of this on last year’s trip to LA when we had Korean at Jeon Ju. There my bibimbap was hugely reminiscent of those I had eaten in Seoul and for days after I hankered for more of that crunchy yet creamy spicy rice. My love for all things ethnic in LA was elevated on our latest trip where I was simultaneous letdown by the pizza at Gjelina and had my heart set on fire by some outstanding Thai town delights. Let me explain more….

On Saturday night we walked from our place in Venice to the oh so desirable Abbot Kinney. We had checked out the dinner options online before we arrived and had settled on waiting for a table at the popular Gjelina. We put our name (and number) on the wait list and had a drink in The Brig to pass the time. Then when we were done waiting we checked in at Gjelina to find out where we were in the line. We were told “sorry not yet but we will call you” and so headed for a drink in The Otheroom. And then we waited some more. And some more. The promised phone call never came but when we finally wandered back to Gjelina at around 10:30 pm we were met with murmurs of “oh you’ve been waiting a long time” and were quickly taken to our table inside.

Finally seated the waiter rushed through the drinks orders and we were off. We started with a cheese plate that was reasonable although sadly overwhelmed by too many sweet accompaniments. Unfortunately I can’t share what the cheeses were because the waiter, when explaining, clearly messed up the descriptions by indicating that the goat’s cheese was a blue cow’s cheese from France so, frankly, I have no idea what we ate. Quickly following the cheese plate came our guanciale and hen of the woods pizzas. They were tasty but were more than a little burnt on the edges. And then, as if to balance out all the time we had waited, or more importantly so the waitstaff could go home, our check arrived and we were outside again. No longer hungry but with little more than a faint dusting of charred pizza on our lips we walked home feeling slightly deflated… until Sunday.

On Sunday after viewing LA from the Griffith Observatory we found our way back down the hill to be met by the best Thai food we have ever eaten. We used the Chow best 10 list to help us select the best eats and began at Ruen Pair. There we started with the sweet, spicy and savoury papaya salad. It was so delicious that I denied it was over when it was all eaten and was compelled to fish the remaining peanuts out of the dribbles of leftover sauce. The salad was accompanied by the seasonal morning glory and the broccoli with pork belly. Although both dishes look similar each green had its own unique flavour and texture with just enough spice to keep it interesting. All dishes were served up quickly and with a smile. Full and happy but still ready for more we were unable to stop there. First we crossed the street to buy cupcakes and coconut treats from Bhan Kanom Thai. And then we followed our dinner with the best Tom Kha and Tom Yum noodle soup we’ve ever had at Pad Ord. Served medium spicy the Tom Kha was bright, fresh and tangy. It looked beautiful and smelled wonderful. I’ve been pining for it ever since.

And that is the story of a weekend’s food that proved to me that when you are in LA you should skip hip and eat ethnic.

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