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Favorites from the past sometimes morph into sad shadows of formerly vibrant flavors, but other times they not only retain their vibrancy, but they improve on it! Yabu has been a steadfast outpost for homemade soba for decades, and when I lived around the corner, it was an easy choice for quality Japanese food.

I’ve become addicted to good pickles, so to clear my palate, this plate of napa pickles with home made nukazuke was the first order for $8.

One of my favorite sushi is the aji or horse mackerel and their version for $8 continues to be an excellent rendition.

The only slightly disappointing dish was the asparagus with butter and soy for $8. This was my favorite asparagus dish in Los Angeles and I frequently ordered 2 because I could not get enough of it. Sadly four of the bites were too woody to eat, and the recipe has changed enough to have lost me as a fan. It’s still a decent vegetable side dish, but nothing to rave about anymore 😦

The fried calamari for $8.50 was tender and lightly battered; theirs is a good version of the ubiquitous appetizer.

The Albacore tuna tataki for $15.50 was spectacular! Lightly seared, served with an assortment of seaweed, grated ginger, scallions, spicy radish, and garnished with fried garlic, it converted a non albacore eater into a fan 🙂

Sometimes you can come (close to) home again and find old friends and favorites are still as heart warming as your memories of them.

There are some great BBQ spots in Los Angeles, and one of them is Moo’s Craft. They are so well known for their BBQ that the lines at Sunday’s weekly Smorgasburg are usually over 30 minutes long. The Sunday I went, TWO of my chef friends also went and we all feasted on their glorious beef rib and fatty brisket. The bark and smoke were masterfully done and the meat was perfectly tender and moist. They are now my favorite beef rib place in Los Angeles!

A few stands down is Ugly Drum, the best pastrami I’ve eaten on the West Coast (as an ex-NYer that is the ultimate statement! The uglies (ends) and their sandwiches on Bub & Grandma’s bread with perfect mustard and giant pickles, makes for a nostalgic trip back to NYC without the hassle of planes, time changes, and weather 🙂

For pork ribs, my favorite is at Bludso’s, where even their Bloody Mary comes with a hot link and pickles!

 All the sides are as fresh and well made as their BBQ

Definitely over order on the pork ribs, get some tips, and take some home with extra BBQ sauce (I mix the hot and the regular)!

After this meat spree, I’m ready for some raw kale…

Recommendations by people who share my tastes led me to Doma Kitchen. If you like or would like to try Eastern European foods, Doma is a wonderful place to begin your journey. It’s also just a great place for anyone who appreciates fresh, well prepared food. The wine list impressed me with the geographical scope they included, and when I saw a Greek wine I had not drunk since I was  in Greece, I had to order it! If you would like to sample more of their wines and just a few bites, they have a happy hour menu from 3-6pm Tuesday-Friday offering 2 for 1 on all beers and wines!

I came for dinner with a friend, and we tried to sample as many items as possible with just the two of us. Their very crisp falafels for $11.95 were huge and the garlic dip was very potent. This could easily have been a meal for one big appetite, as it was we each ate one to save some room for the rest of the meal.

Their Quinoa salad for $13.95 was fabulous for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone who loves a good mix of avocado, dried cranberries, cherry tomatoes, Quinoa, spring greens, almonds, and red onions. I was not a fan of the dressing (too much oil in the ratio), so I was glad it came on the side. 

My friend is a pickle fiend, eating them with everything, so we ordered the pickled vegetables for $8.95. It was the first time we had ever tasted pickled cherry tomatoes so it took some getting used to the taste when you usually expect an unpickled tomato taste! 

The highlight of the evening was the panko crusted and herb butter filled chicken Kiev for $24.95, on a bed of pearl couscous and vegetables. This was so delicious that we savored every bite even though we were completely stuffed by they time it arrived at our table! The vegetables were lightly cooked, the chicken was moist with the butter streaming out once we cut into it, and the panko crust was fried to crisp perfection. 

They have art on the walls, music on some nights, and friendly servers who have regulars, so if you are looking for a respite from the loud, bland chains, come to this neighborhood spot hidden in a shopping center next to a supermarket (where Aunt Kizzy’s used to be). 

Chan Dara was my go to place, walking distance from where I used to live. When I came back to the US, I was saddened to see the restaurant was gone and replaced by new construction, even though changes can sometimes bring great new experiences. 

Pikoh has opened and already become my new favorite spot in West Los Angeles for coffee, breakfast, brunch, and lunch. I will be trying their dinner menu soon and will keep you posted as I eat my way through their new all day menu.

Depending on your barista, you may get your coffee with some beautiful art! They serve some of the best coffee in the area, and drinking it from well made ceramic cups makes it an even more enjoyable experience. My coffee partner usually adds sugar, but drank the latte here with no sweetner because it was so smooth and satisfying.

They offer table service in the evening and during brunch on the week-ends, otherwise you order at the counter and take a number. They have some new additions to their brunch menu, as well as old standards like fried jidori chicken and waffle for $16. The chicken was fabulous, crunchy, moist, and perfect, but sadly the waffle was a bit too thick and underdone. 

Their version of croque monsieur used high quality ingredients, but has since been replaced by some new items.

For those who want to standard Californian breakfast fare, they offer a breakfast burrito for only $8 that you can add bacon or chorizo to for a few dollars more. 

The beef bangers and mash for $16 is a sure fire winner for anyone who loves meat and potatoes in an elevated form. I don’t usually like mashed potatoes, but the kizame mashed potatoes made me a fan.

For a sweet brunch option, their French toast for $15 comes with an algarrobina cream sauce (carob based) and bruléed bananas. This was a bit too sweet for brunch for me, but it would have been a great dessert item.

My favorite choice for brunch is their eggs shakshuka for $14 which comes with four prawns, two eggs, wonderful toasted ciabatta, and a spicy tomato bonito stew that had me using a spoon to scoop up every bite. I could eat this every day!

For those who want more lunch than breakfast, the pork tonkatsu curry for $18 is a solid choice, with enough to fill any hunger. I found the curry sauce a bit too sweet for my taste, but the depth of flavors was fantastic, and the quality of the ingredients was outstanding.

I love this new addition to West LA with the light airy greenhouse decor. Thoughtful touches like foot rests at the booth and bar stools are a small indication of the attention to detail that go hand in hand with the quality ingredients and the deft execution of culinary skills from the kitchen. 

One of the owners, Robert, came over to introduce himself after having seen repeated visits within a few days, a personal touch that all good neighborhood places should emulate: recognize your regulars:)




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