Seeking Asian (and South Asian) Comfort Food

I could eat Indian/Thai/Chinese/Vietnamese/Japanese/Korean food all day long, every day. Unfortunately, Los Angeles’s Westside neighborhoods suffer a dearth of said restaurants. Not that said restaurants don’t exist, they just aren’t as good as what you can find in the further eastern and southern reaches of Los Angeles county (case in point: Chungking Restaurant in San Gabriel, which I will feature more about soon).

You won't find this in Los Angeles—the amazing food my Chinese Baba cooks me every time I visit Beijing

Nevertheless, on my quest to find decent Asian and South Asian food on the Westside, I’ve made the following ‘finds’ — definitely worth a trip if you live locally and are craving a culinary adventure:

1) Cholada Thai, Malibu: I shouldn’t be writing about Cholada. The restaurant is already small enough (a shack off the PCH) and the line snakes out the door on weekends, but it really is the best Thai restaurant on the Westside. I’m obsessed with the Nam Sod Kaw Tod, Cholada Pumpkin, and even that sweet sticky rice mango dessert. The standards (Pad Thai, Pad See Ew, Tom Kah, etc.) are also the best I’ve had in L.A. In order to prevent further crowding, I’m omitting the address. Only the best Google sleuths deserve entrance.

2) Akbar Cuisine of India, Santa Monica: Every girl gets a craving for Indian every few weeks, right? Well, at least this girl does. Happened to me last weekend and I couldn’t dare attempt the same old local standbys that lack flavor and inventiveness. Enter Akbar. A simple google search put Akbar at the top of the ‘Indian Restaurants in L.A.’ list on Gayot (for really good Indian food, you need to venture south to Little India in Artesia). The Aloo Aam Tikka appetizer was amazing, as was the Chana Masala. Best perk: lots of vegetarian options and not unbearably pricey. 2627 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA

3) Yabu, West Los Angeles: We were introduced to this hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant years ago by relatives in the area, and we always can count on Yabu for great soba and udon noodles. Their sushi is decent, but you don’t come to Yabu for the sushi bar (although it is quaint and reminds me of spots I visited in Tokyo). You come for the extensive noodle soup menu (i.e., soba and udon). Slurping encouraged. 11820 W. Pico, Los Angeles, CA

4) Chang’s, Brentwood: It’s Chinese New Year and I needed my 饺子 (Chinese dumpling) fix. Unfortunately, the best Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles are at least 35 miles from my house, and that’s in bumper to bumper traffic (read: up to 90 minutes of driving, EACH way). Not ever trying any Chinese on the Westside for fear it would be terrible, I took a risk with Chang’s of Brentwood and was pleasantly surprised. The ingredients were all very fresh, the food was Southern Chinese in nature (i.e., lots of Chow Mein and Mu Shu on the menu), but the dumplings were chewy and flavorful, the hot and sour soup was almost as good as its Mainland match, and the Yuxiang Eggplant, while not as pungent as it should have been, was still tasty. I was also very pleased to speak with the delightful owners—a husband and wife pair from Hangzhou who have been in the States for over 20 years and barely blinked at my ordering the meal entirely in Mandarin. 11726 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, CA

Any other Westside suggestions appreciated!

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About Kaitlin Solimine

Kaitlin Solimine was raised in New Hampshire but has considered China a second home for the past two decades. She is the author of the award-winning forthcoming novel Empire of Glass and co-founder of Hippo Reads, a media start-up connecting academic insights with real world issues. She lives in Singapore.
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