A Los Angeles food columnist’s favorite insider restaurants - Ahulan

A Los Angeles food columnist’s favorite insider restaurants


Los Angeles native food journalist Jenn Harris recommends Heng Heng’s garlicky chicken rice and Roma Market’s 60-year-old panino

Stereotypes like avocado toast cults and celebrities “inventing” superfood smoothies predate Los Angeles’ culinary scene. But Angelenos realize that this wide metropolitan sprawl is home to a rich ethnic variety best experienced via its food. The City of Angels has several famous restaurants, from Nancy Silverton’s Osteria Mozza to Musso & Frank Grill, but its culinary heart is in its neighborhood eateries.

We invited award-winning Los Angeles Times culinary journalist and native Angeleno Jenn Harris to reveal this LA.


“I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that this is the best food city in the country since I’ve been able to talk,” she adds.

Jenn Harris grew up in Los Angeles, traveling for food. She was on the James Beard Awards committee and writes a popular weekly blog for the Los Angeles Times about the greatest foods she’s eaten, which she publishes on Instagram.


Jenn Harris’ broad culinary origins go beyond Los Angeles’ restaurant scene. “My mom’s family is Chinese and my dad’s is Jewish,” adds. “My grandma fed me dim sum and huge Chinese dinners. I learnt to cook matzo ball soup and latkes with others. My childhood weekends were spent traveling around town eating tacos and tahdig.”

Harris knows where to uncover LA’s culinary heart. “What’s unique about LA’s food scene is that you can find just about any cuisine and culture represented in the city,” adds. “There are several restaurants. Our diverse neighborhoods allow you to fully experience a cuisine.” The discovery process is most affected by LA’s layout. “Because it’s hard to get around and you need a car, many people stay confined to one area,” he explains. “Just know where to search. You must leave Hollywood.”

Jenn Harris’s five favorite under-the-radar LA restaurants provide as an introduction to the city’s ethnic cuisine culture.

1. Casual lunch favorites: Heng Heng Chicken Rice

In LA’s Thai Town micro-neighborhood in East Hollywood, Heng Heng Chicken Rice is a quiet restaurant close to a hotel. “The poultry-intensive menu centre on Hainan chicken and rice, chef Eve Ramasoot’s favourite childhood comfort food,” Harris adds. It’s also popular due to the crispy pork’s pungent flavors. Every taste is hot, acidic, peppery, and sweet.”

Tips from Jenn Harris for finding hidden gems:

I ask restaurant and bookshop personnel where they prefer to dine. I’ve discovered amazing eateries in LA and abroad this way.”

Be alert.”I may bookmark another restaurant on my phone on my route to one. Drive into unfamiliar neighborhoods.”

Follow experts.”Always searching social media for new areas. I also check Downtown LA’s Smorgasburg food market. Its owner, Zach Brooks, finds suppliers well. Many of them are new and don’t have stores.”
Harris suggests Heng Heng for a relaxed alone lunch, lunch with a companion, or group lunch since the cuisine is simple to share. “[The chicken] is sliced and arranged on top of rice or noodles, both of which are fragrant with garlic,” he explains. Besides the eponymous meal, Chef Ramasoot produces a popular Zaab crispy pork marinated in soy sauce and deep fried with lime, dried chilli, red onion, coriander, and green onion.

Site: https://henghengchickenrice.com

Location: 5420 Hollywood Blvd, LA, CA 90027

Phone: 323-380-7875

Hengheng_chickenrice on Instagram

2. Best for dumpling crawl: Kang Kang Food Court

Sheng jian bao are “part yeasted bun, part potsticker, and a soup dumpling all in one,” adds Harris. I’ve tried the greatest LA sheng jian bao at Kang Kang. Bottoms are crisp and golden, tops are fluffy like baos. The stuffing is juicy and somewhat porky.”

Harris says Kang Kang cuisine Court in the San Gabriel Valley, known for its great cuisine by Jonathan Gold, makes him “feel lucky to live in Southern California” due to its variety. The cafeteria-style, cash-only Kang Kang Food Court has been a highlight in a neighborhood full with great eateries for over 20 years. Harris encourages bringing a group to order more and share.

Website: kangkangfoodcourtca.com

27 E Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91801.

Phone: 626-308-3898

Instagram: @kangkangfoodcourt

3. Best for Mexicali tacos: Asadero Chikali

“Often, our most beloved restaurants aren’t big, splashy openings,” he explains. Their modest companies are in city retail centers or may not have four walls. Trucks and stands are great LA restaurants.”

Harris likens Asadero Chikali to perfection. It’s one of her favorite taco vendors for its fresh flour tortillas. “They’re textbook perfect with a mottled surface that’s wonderfully chewy,” adds. Customers may choose from a morning taco with spicy chorizo and scrambled eggs to a rich barbacoa and smoky beef asada on their perfect tortillas.

Location: 1321 S Atlantic Blvd, East LA, CA 90022

Call 323-396-1563

Asaderochikali on Instagram

4. Best for lunch-to-go: Roma Market

Some of LA’s hidden gems are iconic. Roma Market, a 1946-founded Italian grocer, received a “Pasadena Legacy Business” plaque for their wall. The $6 [£4.75] pre-made sandwich is the restaurant’s best-seller.

“[It’s] capocollo, mortadella, salami and provolone on good crusty bread with a drizzle of olive oil,” he explains. Although Roma Market creates hundreds of sandwiches daily, wrapped in their pink wax paper, this sandwich is only known to the insiders.

Address: 918 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104.

Phone: 626-797-7748

Instagram: @romamarket

5. Best frozen treat: Moom Maam

Harris claims Sun Valley’s Wat Thai Temple’s weekend market has the city’s greatest Thai cuisine. The temple parking area becomes an outdoor café with booths and tables each week. While all the vendors and meals are popular and excellent, Thai gelateria Moom Maam has outgrown its one stand.

This popular ice cream vendor now has a permanent place at Downtown LA’s Smorgasburg food market, showcasing its distinctive flavors. Visitors may enjoy blue corn with caramel, uji matcha, Thai tea, piña colada, fior di cocco, and Harris’ favorite frozen dessert, The Special, in Los Angeles. It has “mango and coconut gelato with sticky rice in a crunchy bowl cone,” she explains.

It’s on the web.

Location: 7333 Fulton Ave Unit 5, North Hollywood, CA 91605

Call (818) 636-4532

On Instagram: @moommaamfood

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