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Trip Report Trip report--Los Angeles food experiences

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Had several meals out in Los Angeles and here's the report. Listed first is the name, then LA neighborhood located.

Phillipe the Original, Chinatown. There are two places in LA that claim to have invented the French dip sandwich and this is one of them. It’s a counter service spot like Katz’s Deli (NYC) or The Varsity (Atlanta). A turkey French dip double dipped (bread and sandwich) was tasty, on a modest sized French roll and only wet enough to flavor, not make the sandwich fall apart. The spicy mustard on the table was good used sparingly. The sandwich was fairly small, though. Accompanying potato salad was very good, with hints of mustard, egg, and onion.

Jody Maroni's Sausage Kingdom, Venice Beach. Possibly the best sausage I've ever had. Got the chicken apple, which is flavored with sage, nutmeg, and sherry, on an onion roll. Just enough char and snap to add character, with nicely softened onions and peppers, the flavors were well balanced and subtle for a sausage.

Tops Burgers, Pasadena (Walnut St.). A fast food style spot, but the food was notably better than expected. A tuna sandwich and garden burger were surprisingly fresh and well executed for this kind of place.

Langer's Deli, Westlake. Wanted to try their much-praised pastrami, and the kudos are well warranted. The meat is a worthy rival to Katz's in NYC, thick cut with subtle spicing and smoke flavor. With just brown mustard on rye, the meat rightly took center stage. Only caveats: the bread crust was tougher than expected, and those wanting an overstuffed sandwich will be disappointed. Excellent.

Yang Chow, Chinatown. This place is known for slippery shrimp, and rightly so. Lightly battered and sautéed shrimp in a complex sauce both sweet (sugar) and savory (garlic, cayenne, scallions), this is the Rolls Royce version of sweet and sour shrimp. Yummy. Unusual for a Chinese place, there's lots of local sports memorabilia here.

The Apple Pan, West Los Angeles. A diner with a u-shaped counter and swivel stools that’s known for burgers and pies. Picked up an apple pie slice to go, which was good if maybe not the best ever had.

La Serenata de Garibaldi, West Los Angeles. Along with that at San Diego's Lucha Libre, this place offered up a stunningly fine burrito. Got one with chicken, beans, rice, pico de gallo, and guacamole that balanced the ingredients perfectly.

1919 Cafe, Huntington Library, San Marino. Reports suggest this is a better and cheaper option than their high tea at the Rose Garden Tea Room. And it was excellent. A turkey burger and veggie burger were beautifully cooked and seasoned, not tough or rubbery as sometimes happens, on brioche buns with the usual fresh veggies.

In-N-Out Burger, Pasadena. Folks rhapsodize about how special this chain is, and while the fries are kind of generic, they're definitely right about the burger. Got a single cheeseburger animal style, like a Burger King whopper that's actually top quality. The veggies are fresh, the burger is perfectly cooked, and the mustard style saucing is luscious.

Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles, Pasadena. Fried chicken is done wonderfully well here, nicely breaded and not too greasy. Making this smothered (adding gravy atop) is almost overkill, but works well enough. Greens were fully cooked, but lacked seasoning. The waffles were wonderful, with a distinctive malty taste; some may want to order them cooked crisp (these had an almost pancake like texture), but I was fine with them as is.

Pie Hole, Hollywood. Liked the pie at this pastry and coffee type spot very much. Had a sample offering of Earl Grey pie and a slice of banana butterscotch pie, both rich with great mouth feel.

Musso and Frank's, Hollywood. The oldest eatery in LA, a warm clubby spot with dark wood and plush booths. Appetizers were not very successful; an avocado cocktail was a nice piece of this fruit drowned in 1000 island dressing, while a mushroom appetizer was over the top musky between the 'shrooms, red wine reduction, spices, and Roquefort, resulting in a solid case of heartburn later. But the main courses were excellent; sand dabs were perfectly cooked with a subtle meunière sauce and capers that were a fine complement, while angel hair pasta was nicely done with a low-key tomato sauce featuring plenty of cooked cherry tomatoes. There are several waiters with long-running careers here -- ours was 85 years old, had worked there for 44 years, from Panama, and very accomplished.

Central Market, Downtown. Sampled several things here. Eggslut: got a breakfast sandwich on brioche with scrambled egg, caramelized onion, chives, and sriracha mayo -- a decadently luscious treat. Berlin Currywurst: tofu sausage prepared currywurst style, cut in chunks with added toothpick -- assertive and most appealing. G & B Coffee: espresso to go -- sturdy but not bitter, very good.

Cole's, Downtown. Also claiming to have invented the French dip sandwich, this place is an old paneled wood bar. Liked their turkey French dip slightly better than at Phillipe's, on a brioche type sub roll and a little more generous with meat if still not overstuffed. Dipping is do it yourself here. Garlic fries were enough to scare off the bravest vampire.

Orochon Ramen, Little Tokyo. Made famous on "Man vs. Food" for its super spicy ramen options. Decided not to be so courageous and ordered a bowl of ramen non-spicy. Actually quite good with softer than expected noodles and tiny pork chunks, but there’s better in this part of town. See below.

Shin-sen-gumi, Little Tokyo. My nephew and his wife know this neighborhood well, and chose this spot for ramen. And it the best I've had. Got hakata ramen with spinach and fried onions, which was substantial with delightfully chewy noodles, nicer pork pieces, and a sturdy, complex flavored broth. An albacore carpaccio appetizer was scrupulously fresh raw fish nicely embellished with a mix of little goodies.

Cafe Dulce, Little Tokyo. A great little bakery with Oriental style donuts and caffeinated beverages. A green tea roti was more bun than donut, with liquid tea inside, but delicious. Decaf Vietnamese iced coffee nicely balanced dairy and sweetness with the coffee, letting the slightly bitter bite of the coffee shine through.

Fugetsu Do, Little Tokyo. This shop is indeed the last word in mochi, a gelatinous Japanese candy usually dusted in corn starch. Sampled several fruit flavored and filled examples, all yummy but not cloyingly sweet.

Disneyland, Anaheim. Several options here were tried, and generally the food was far better than expected. Royal Street Veranda: a coffee stand; got coffee and banana fritters -- both good, fritters were not overbreaded and were cooked right. Jolly Holiday: a bakery and sandwich shop; got coffee and a chocolate chip cookie -- again good coffee, large cookie that was soft and yummy. French Market: a cafeteria with New Orleans style options; jambalaya, roast chicken with mashed potatoes and carrots and green beans -- the former was presented in deconstructed style as a stew over rice but pleasantly spicy, while the latter was basic but fine. Tiki Juice Bar: a juice stand; Dole whip, pineapple juice, Dole whip float -- this was really special, believe it or not the best park option; Dole whip is essentially soft ice cream without the dairy, scrumptious but not overly sweet and addictively tasty, also perfect in a float sitting in pineapple juice; went back to this one again.

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