Friday, June 09, 2006

Good Eats!, Vol. 2

I've been eating out a lot lately, and I've been too busy to do much posting. Last week--well, I guess it's two weeks ago now--my office took me out to lunch on thursday for my birthday. I had suggested that we all go to my favorite Thai place, Saladang in Pasadena (there's probably better Thai places in town, but I haven't eaten at them, and besides, the waitresses at Saladang are just smokin'), but since work is so busy, nobody really wanted to make that investment of time in lunch, so I chose a nearby place that I've been wanting to try.

Las Cazuelas is a pupuseria in Highland Park. White people tend to refer to all latino/hispanic people in L.A. as Mexican, without realizing that many of them come from places like Nicuragua, Guatamala and El Salvador. Pupusas are the traditional fast food of El Salvador, and that's the main item at Las Cazuelas. It's sort of a cornmeal pancake with a filling. I had one with roast pork and refried beans, another with chorizo. At first I thought they had brought me the wrong one, because I couldn't detect any chorizo in it, but it was in there, among the melted cheese, in small pieces that were just about perfect to add a complimentary flavor to the cheese they swam in. Pupusas have the same earthy, greasy taste as most Mexican food--in fact, from the food, you might think El Salvador was a region of Mexico, except that it is served with some sort of sour, pickled cole slaw. They cost about $1.50 each, and I managed to get the two pupusas plus a carne asada taco and a coke for about $5.

The next day, some other office people offered to take me out for Thai, but knowing that I'd be spending a lot of money over the weekend, I opted to skip Saladang and instead go to the local Classic Thai, which is nice anyway because they have a deck you can eat on, and the weather was warm and sunny. Wasn't as good as it had been in the past--I got red curry, which wasn't all that spicy, and we all shared the papaya salad, which is usually amazing, but since one of the girls asked for it to be not too spicy, it lost some of its appeal. Garlic shrimp were pretty good, though.

Saturday: the main event! Met up with friends at 6:00 for drinks at the Tiki Ti. I started out by ordering the house drink, the Ray's Mistake, which is basically a Mai Tai with a float of dark rum on top. Well, there's probably more to it than that, but that's the basic ballpark of the taste. And ordered Bobbie a Milky Way, which is some sort of Kahlua/Baileys/Amaretto mixture. For the second drink, I had a Mai Tai, which I actually prefered to the Ray's Mistake. I've tasted Mai Tais before, but this one had a really vibrant, citrusy taste, really came alive in the mouth, like drinking gold.

The place opens at 6:00. We arrived around 6:05. The place was overflowing by 6:30. Really crowded. Tiny place, with every inch of the walls covered with decorations of some sort. There were bowls of what Bobbie described as "the chit'lins of snack mix" on all the tables--a really nasty mix of cheap snacks nobody would want under any other circumstances. From there, we traveled a mile or so down Sunset to my favorite Mexican place, La Parilla. If you like grilled meat, this is the place. And they bring a cart by to make guacamole by the tableside. No liquor license, though, so it's beer or "wine margaritas" (ecch!)

The next weekend was Bobbie's birthday, and we went to Bahooka in Rosemead. This is another trapped-in-amber place with every inch of the walls and ceilings covered with nautical flotsam. The only light is from the hundreds of fish tanks that fill the place. Their Mai Tais aren't quite as good as Tiki Ti's, but they definitely get the job done. I had some photos I was gonna post, but blogger's being a bitch, so fuck it. They'll come later.

Finally, while downtown going through bureaucratic hell, I realized I had a chance to finally try out Langer's Deli. Even New Yorkers have admitted that the pastrami here is better than at any place in NYC. To get New Yorkers to admit that Los Angeles does ANYTHING better than New York is an accomplishment, but if it's something as closely associated with NYC as pastrami? I had to experience that myself.

Now, I don't know from pastrami. The only other place I've ever had the stuff is at The Hat in Pasadena, so I can't make too much of a comparison, but I can say that this is an entirely different beast from what they call pastrami at The Hat. The Hat stuff has a strong, overpowering taste. This was powerful, but it was also tender and soothing. I ordered the #19, which was supposedly the most popular item--pastrami with coleslaw, russian dressing and swiss cheese on rye--and a root beer. Not cheap. After I payed a decent tip, the whole thing came out to about $17 for a sandwich (didn't even come with fries). But I can kinda see why. This was definitely high quality meat.


Blogger Unknown said...

The next time you want Thai food, try Patakan in SouthPas. I was so sad when the the restaurant closed in Old Pasadena.

Little did I know that they just moved to SouthPas and relaunched as a much more casual place with the same great food.

It's at 711 Fair Oaks in SouthPas. The Dancing Shrimp Salad is one of my favorites.

1/22/2008 11:35 AM  

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