Tag Archives: artesia

Leftovers: Magic Wok

The wonders of Magic Wok’s Filipino food for the L.A. Times:


PHOTO by FRANCINE ORR / L.A. TIMES

Magic Wok is a porcine palace, a restaurant where the pillars of Filipino cooking are fortified by all things pork. Kids chomp on shards of pig skin as crisp as potato chips, grandparents leisurely ladle hunks of pork from sour tamarind soups — the homey restaurant went whole hog long before quivering cubes of pork belly cropped up on happy-hour menus and bacon became an almost de rigueur dessert.

Perhaps even more than most, Filipino cooking is a tradition that you’ll be told time and again is best experienced in the home. Restaurants, it’s often said, simply can’t replicate the custardy feel of an aunt’s cassava cake or the loving, peanut butter-rich base of a mother’s kare kare. But out on the periphery of Artesia’s Little India, Magic Wok has been making this familial food for decades.

The restaurant has never been one to be bothered by timeworn trappings — its drop ceiling, wood paneling and even its name (a holdover from when the space once housed a Chinese fast-food chain) all came with the place. Nor is it now concerned with visibility, as after a recent strip-mall remodel, Magic Wok is without a sign. Those searching out this hog heaven for the first time need only look for the constant crowds to find it.

Read the rest here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Leftovers: Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se

Artesia’s Mumbai street food for the L.A. Times:


PHOTO by CHRISTINA HOUSE / L.A. TIMES

Pomegranate seeds spill from the sandwich after each bite, brilliant and glistening like freshly polished rubies. Peanuts tumble out too, speckled with flecks of cumin, cinnamon and ground chiles. They land with a percussive patter that completes the sensory experience that is the Indian snack dabeli, a White Castle-sized, potato-based slider that’s a staple on the streets of Mumbai. At Artesia’s Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se, dabeli is just one of Sailesh and Shruti Shah’s edible odes to their former home.

The husband and wife brought the pulse of Mumbai’s cosmopolitan streets with them to the United States a decade ago. Sailesh spent most of his years here as a software engineer, all the while accumulating the knowledge and resources required to launch a restaurant. A year and a half ago, he put programming in the past and opened Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se with Shruti.

Much about the Little India restaurant is familiar: Its tableware is disposable (plates are Styrofoam, cutlery is plastic) and its ambience depends on whichever choreographed bit of Bollywood happens to be dancing across the TV. But Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se (literally “from the streets of Mumbai”) is unique to the neighborhood. While Gujarati chaat shops offer an increasingly familiar cast of snacks, Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se is the only eatery to focus on the flavors of India’s largest city.

Read the rest of my story in the L.A. Times.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Leftovers: Jay Bharat

A Little India standby for the District:


PHOTO by ROSHEILA ROBLES

Twenty years into its venerated tenure, Jay Bharat is still stuck halfway between a snack shop and a restaurant. A stretch of lilac lights illuminates one specialty: a display case filled with a rainbow of sweets, some shaped like tiny watermelons, others like shrunken slices of pie. The kitchen, however, focuses on thalis, diverse, compartmentalized meals divided into seven or eight separate tastes. Tradition connects the sweet and the savory here, but Jay Bharat continues to anchor Artesia’s Little India because it expertly prepares the best of those two Gujarati worlds.

Gujarati cuisine, the predominantly vegetarian fare from India’s western, Pakistan-bordering state of Gujarat, is well represented on Pioneer Boulevard. Yet none of Jay Bharat’s peers offers quite the same variety. As excellent as Surati Farsan is, it’s best at small bites and take-away snacks. Rajdhani, meanwhile, is defined by its all-you-can-eat thalis, endless meals that litter its tables with constellations of steel cups. Jay Bharat strikes the ideal medium.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Leftovers: Pizza and Chicken Love Letter

Korean pizza for the District:


PHOTO by ROSHEILA ROBLES

Korean pizza has little history. Unlike other global creations—the so-called Mexican pizza, for example, has an antecedent in the Oaxacan tlayuda—Korean pizza is a pure product of globalization, and a recent one, at that. It wasn’t until the 1990s, when American flavors crept even farther into Korea, that homegrown pizza chains started reshaping our fast-food traditions to fit the local palate. Artesia’s Pizza and Chicken Love Letter follows this formula, serving American-style pies tweaked to slightly different tastes.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Leftovers: Portugal Imports

Elusive Iberian tastes in this week’s District:


PHOTO by ROSHEILA ROBLES

The history is written all around us—carved into the craggy curves of Portuguese Bend, drawn into the wet sand of Cabrillo Beach—but other than a few geographic reminders, there isn’t much left with which to trace the port’s Portuguese past. Although this is probably a result of a bottomed-out population, it’s also at least partly tied to the unpronounceable turns of the Portuguese tongue—words that sever their connection to Spanish with unfamiliar Xs and Õs. But as the sole local representative of all things Portuguese, Artesia’s Portugal Imports doesn’t need any translation: Its appeal is indisputable.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Leftovers: Seoul Soondae

Korean blood sausage from this week’s District:


PHOTO by ROSHEILA ROBLES

Seoul Soondae ties together all the details you’d expect from a restaurant of its age: maroon booths buffed to a dull, diner-like sheen, regulars intimating orders with little more than a nod of the head. Seoul Soondae, after all, has been around for 20 years, helping to define the Korean cooking of Artesia and Cerritos long before the cuisine got upscaled and exported to places like Beverly Hills. Every aspect of the place seems a constant—the communal copy of the Korea Daily, the seasonal colds nursed over pots of steaming soup—but if there’s one fact that remains as true as ever, it’s that Seoul Soondae is as much a front as it is a restaurant, an expertly designed vehicle to sell sausage.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Leftovers: Udupi Palace

Ripping through dosas in the District:


PHOTO by ROSHEILA ROBLES

Pioneer Boulevard stutters to a stop only a block or two past South Street, the Sunday traffic tangled together in a clog of cars so dense it’s impossible to angle your way out. On Artesia’s side streets, more cars spill from parking structures meant for only the most compact among us. Even the sidewalks are stuffed—it takes a couple contortions just to break through the first few feet of people. Supermarket doors are frozen open from the flood of customers; smoke twists its way up from cramped outdoor grills. And down in the distance is a corner lit up in a rotating rainbow gradient, teasing out multicolored memories of those prismed pylons outside LAX. But at Udupi Palace, a South Indian anchor in Little India’s ever-expanding center, things are as peaceful as ever.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Leftovers: Formosan

From The District:


PHOTO by ROSHEILA ROBLES

It starts with the menu, Formosan’s bilingual list of meats so long it leaves you susceptible to almost any suggestion. Then, after a quick pick, you wait, watching with an anxious appetite as steaming meals are sent to every corner of the dining room. Finally, it ends when a sizzling iron skillet is set in front of you, emitting the kind of culinary white noise that can wipe away nearly all personal power. And it’s then that you fall fully under Formosan’s control—the place is well practiced in hypnosis.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews