A “Southern” Thanksgiving Food Adventure: Los Angeles

My hubby is a true Northern Californian and obviously believes in its “superiority” and almost had me believing that San Francisco does everything better, especially food.  I was convinced until I bought Saveur Magazine’s Special LA food issue (March 2010).  That Saveur issue had me on a mission to get us to LA for a food adventure.  We were recently in LA over Thanksgiving and I cannot wait to go back and rediscover the ethnic neighborhoods we did not make it to.

First stop, Ganda Thai in Hollywood’s Thai Town (yes, this is in Hollywood and is my favorite part of Hollywood – forget the stars!).  Hands down, the best Thai food I have had in the US.  How can a place that still has it’s menu in Thai be anything less than authentic? There are a ton of other restaurants to chose from and I am sure they are all good.  We picked Ganda Thai primarily because it came highly recommended by James Oseland who is the Editor in Chief of Saveur Magazine.  The meal was mind-blowingly good and inexpensive – my favorite combination – “yummy and cheap.”  We asked for “mild” for Ria and even that had flecks of chilli in it (she managed to eat it).  Totally my kind of place – even mild food has a good amount of chill in it.  Yay!

Din Tai Fung is a chain but it is an AMAZING chain restaurant.  One year, it was named by NYTimes  as one of the top 10 restaurants in the world.  It should be called “Dumplings to Die For” and we are lucky enough to have an outpost in the US in Los Angeles.  This has been on my “must-try” list for ages and we finally made it.  We’ve eaten at the Din Tai Fung in Singapore which is why we know how ridiculously fantastic this place is.  The restaurant runs like a well-oiled machine and it seems they have figured out the most efficient way of getting people in and out (there is always a line) as fast as possible without making you feel rushed.  In fact, you appreciate their efficiency as you are blown away by how yummy the food is.  If you are in LA, this is worth the hike to Arcadia.  This is worth the hike from San Francisco. 🙂

There were other awesome meals in between, some at a friend’s place (legendary Indian puffed bread – bathuras –  and curry and a meal at Luques) and we ended our eating expedition in LA at the Farmer’s Market near downtown LA.  So many options, such little tummy space.  There is a Brazilian, Mexican, French, Korean, Chinese, Creole…I can go on but you get the point.  We settled on Banana Leaf (Singaporean) and it was an enjoyable meal.  Not super authentic but it hit the spot and cured the longing I feel for Singaporean food for about a day.  Loteria, a Mexican joint round the corner looked mouth-wateringly good and if we are back, we will eat there for sure.  Super fun place to visit with the kiddos – there is a shop called “Sticker Planet” (enough said) and for me a shop called “Light My Fire,” that sells all kinds of hot sauce!

The little munchkin enjoyed it all and has been saying “Ganda, is my favorite restaurant”.  She is just imitating me but I could tell she loved it.  There is so much left to explore and I feel as if we barely scratched the surface.  There’s Koreatown which we did not even make it to and I cannot believe we left LA without any Mexican food.  This might become our Thanksgiving tradition – a trek to LA for yummy food!