20 Cuisines You Probably Didn’t Know L.A. Had
From Burmese tealeaf salads to Aussie meat pies doused in ketchup, some uncommonly delicious tastes you must try.
5660 W. Pico Blvd., Mid City, 323-938-0742
The original Olsons opened 65 years ago. Since buying it in May, Christian Kneedler has expanded the operation by adding a sit-down café next door. The lox and pickled herring—both cured in-house—are top orders here, but don’t pass on the assortment of Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian meats and cheeses. For a true smorgasbord layer rye crackers with falukorv—a bologna-like beef, veal, and pork sausage that can also be sliced thick and fried in a pan—and västerbotten, a hard cheese that resembles a more mellow Parmesan.
4153 W. 3rd St., Koreatown, 213-386-7799
Less a restaurant than a market with a prepared-foods counter and a few tables, Swadesh is a hub for Bangladeshi fare. Mild yet complex curries highlight proteins such as goat, fish, egg, chicken, and beef. Curried cauliflower and stewed lentils are offered alongside less common vegetables like bitter melon, which tastes exactly as it sounds. A cup of mishti doi, a sweet, fermented yogurt similar to Mexican cajeta, makes for a cool finish.
Daw Yee Myanmar Café
111 N. Rural Dr., Monterey Park, 626-573-8080
The cooking of Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma, shows off the influences of its neighbors: Thailand, India, and China. At Daw Yee Myanmar Café, the Burmese tealeaf salad is a colorful mosaic of fermented tea leaves layered with toasted peanuts, fried chickpeas, butter beans, sesame seeds, diced tomatoes, green chilies, and lime, all ramped up by a funky hit of fish sauce.
Al Watan Halal Restaurant
13619 Inglewood Ave., Hawthorne
Local Pakistani fare doesn’t have a nerve center the way Indian food does in Artesia, but those seeking dishes like haleem, a chunky stew of lentils and shredded beef, make for Al Watan in Hawthorne. Flatbreads—from the simple naan to the aloo paratha, which is stuffed with seasoned potatoes—are baked in the tandoor oven, which also puts out such favorites as lamb biryani (a shank of meat atop fragrant rice). Vegetarians can indulge in aloo palak: creamed spinach with potatoes, turmeric, and other spices.
309 N. Virgil Ave., Silver Lake
All hail the chuchucara! The platter of roasted pork ribs, empanadas, fried plantains, and toasted hominy at Silver Lake’s El Caserio is a hefty example of that country’s highland cuisine. More adventurous is the gautita, a rib-sticking stew made with beef tripe, potatoes, and creamy peanut sauce. Lap it up with a lla-pingacho, a dense, cheese-stuffed potato cake.
2530 Overland Ave., West L.A.
Balkan cuisine tends toward the starchy and comforting. The archetypal meal at West L.A.’s homey Aroma Café starts with börek, a flaky, S-shaped pastry packed with feta cheese. Follow that with cevapi, springy beef sausages on rounds of focaccia-like bread, and cap it off with a shot of Turkish coffee. Served in a traditional copper cezve, the brew is strong, bitter, and comes with a cube of rose water-flavored Turkish delight.
Back to The Food Lovers Guide: Global Eats