8 thoughts on “Non-Hawai’i Restaurant Reviews

  1. L.A. Restaurants

    Ones that live up to the hype:

    The famous L.A. critic Jonathan Gold called this the best Oaxacan restaurant in the country. I associate Oaxacan cuisine with moles (although I met someone that told me there are several Mexican regions that make mole, but mole originated in Puebla). I was only familiar with one type of mole, the negra, which is the black-brown mole, but Guelaguetza serves five different types. We tried three different ones–the negra, red, and coloradito. The latter is served with complementary tortilla chips. It was the best sauce in my view. While we had enchiladas and a tamale with the sauces, they don’t matter. It was all about the moles, and they were as good as advertised. Then again, I haven’t had a lot of moles, so I should say they were the best ones I’ve had.

    One note. If I went here again, I’d go with a larger group. They have a dishes meant to be shared, like a grilled meats platter and the tlayudas, which seems like a big tostada, which some describe as a Mexican pizza.

    Langer’s Delicatessen
    We went back to try the #19–pastrami, swiss, cole slaw, Russian dressing on rye. The crust didn’t have the fresh crunch as the last time, but the sandwich overall was still wonderful.

    We also went to Wexler’s and tried their version of the #19, which they call the MacArthur Park, and we got a corned beef and pastrami combo. Verdict? It wasn’t as good. The main reason is the quality of the rye bread. The pastrami and corned beef were really good, though, and I can see some people preferring Wexler’s because of this. Overall, the synergy of ingredients at Langer’s makes it the best sandwich in my opinion–maybe the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten.

  2. L.A. Restaurants, Continued

    Some quick reviews

    Taste of Tehran. I think Yelp listed this as one of the best Persian restaurants in L.A. Verdict? The food was far from bad, but significantly inferior to Mini-Kabobs or Raffi’s Place in my opinion. (The former is Armenian, but the food is similar.) I will say that their yogurt sauce that came with the salad was better than the garlic mayo served at Mini-kabobs.

    John O’Groats
    This is a breakfast/diner that I heard about because they supposedly had great buttermilk pancakes. They were just OK, in my opinion. The place reminds me of Eggs and Things twenty years ago.

    Jon and Vinny’s
    The owners have several restaurants, and this is a popular Italian restaurant, which also serves breakfast. The breakfast was a lot better in my opinion. We got a breakfast pizza and pancakes, and a few smaller items. Both were good.

    For dinner, we had their popular spicy fusilli, LA woman pizza (very similar to a Magherita), calamari, gem salad (their take on a Caesar). Good, but not mind-blowing.

    The prices were kinda pricey for the portion size. Think of Ed Kenney’s restaurants.

    Plan Check
    After seeing a video of the Plan Check burger, I wanted to try this place. The one hesitation was that the original chef/owner sold the place to corporate entity. The hesitation was warranted. The burger wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything special, either, in my opinion.

    B.S. Taqueria
    I liked the pork belly with charred brussel sprouts and fermented corn salsa. Other than that, everything else was just OK in my opinion. Actually the baja fish tacos were a little less than OK–the fish and cream sauce was very bland.

    A place that specializes in breakfast sandwiches. We tried the Fairfax, a simple egg and cheese sandwich with a siracha aioli sauce, and “the Slut,” which was a soft-boiled egg over mashed potatoes, served in a tiny jar with small pieces of toasted bread. Both were solid.

  3. Mole = gravy in American terms? Is there anything that all moles have (ie: chilis)? Just wondering what makes a mole a mole.

    1. I wouldn’t say mole is equivalent to (brown) gravy (but I’m not entirely sure what you mean by that). It’s a gravy-like substance, but it seems pretty unique. (You could say tomatillo sauce is also a type of gravy.)

      I think there’s a lot of ingredients that go into, but I think the one distinguishing ingredient is chocolate. Los Chapparos on Beretania serves dishes with mole. There might be other places in Hawai’i, too, but that’s the only one that comes to mind, now.

      1. What I mean, is gravy is sort of generic term to describe a lot of different stuff. Yes there is brown gravy, but there is also turkey gravy and the white stuff on chicken-fried steak.

        Do you think all the moles you had in LA had chocolate? I didn’t think they all had chocolate. I wonder if you can make mole with coffee beans??? Or vanilla beans??? I could be on to something here.

        1. I don’t think “mole” is a generic term like “gravy” or “sauce.” I think it’s more like marinara, alfredo, etc.

          I think all the moles I had in L.A. had chocolate, but there’s a green mole (that I didn’t try), and that one may not have had chocolate. (It would seem kinda odd if it did.)

          I wouldn’t be surprised if you can add coffee or vanilla beans. My sense is that there are a lot of ingredients in the sauce.

          1. Hmmm that’s an interesting take, that it’s more like marinara and alfredo. Marinara is always red (tomato based) and alfredo is always white (cheese and cream based), but your descriptions of mole make it seem like it can be just about any color. Which makes me think it could be made out of just about anything… I’m still a little confused, but whatever the bottom line is that it’s a sauce with lots of stuffs in it and it usually taste delicious.

  4. Don,

    Here’s the wikipedia definition:

    Mole is a traditional sauce originally used in Mexican cuisine, as well as for dishes based on these sauces. Outside Mexico, it often refers specifically to mole poblano. In contemporary Mexico, the term is used for a number of sauces, some quite dissimilar, including black, red/colorado, yellow, green, almendrado, de olla, huaxmole, guacamole, and pipián. Generally, a mole sauce contains a fruit, chili pepper, nut, and such spices as black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, and chocolate.

    The Coloradito sauce I had really seemed to have a type of fruit in it (I guessed, apricot). All three sauces were really rich, not necessarily heavy at first, but I don’t think it’s something you can eat a lot of.

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