Who needs a passport? Last year Noah Galuten the culinary explorer behind the blog Man Bites World, tried the food of a different country for 102 consecutive days while staying put in Southern California. Here Galuten discusses four less common cuisines that will take your taste buds abroad but leave your cash—most of it, anyway—safe at home
Tara ’s Himalayan
10855 Venice Blvd., Palms, 310-836-9696
Nepalese food comprises the Indian-inspired dishes you’d crave after climbing to the top of, say, Mount Everest. After sipping hot Nepalese milk tea while being lulled by a soundtrack worthy of a Buddhist monk, you can dig into an array of flavorful dishes. The star: chicken sekuwa ($8.49), which sizzles on a hot platter like vibrant fajitas.
5340 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village, 818-752-7222
Influenced by Russia, the cuisine of Uzbekistan includes rib-sticking noodles, dumplings, breads, and rice. Tashkent Produce feels like a traditional Russian market. Hidden in the back is one of the best take-out stalls in the city—well, at least that serves the Uzbekistani national dish plov ($5.99), a lamb-laden rice pilaf liberally seasoned with cumin and garlic.
4135?½ Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, 310-313-3767
Muslim Burmese food shares elements of Vietnamese, Laotian, Thai, Chinese, and Indian cooking. Jasmine Market may not have much in the way of atmosphere, but it offers some delicious Burmese specialties—like lamb kabobs and a marinated tofu salad—for next to nothing. It’s a weekends-only special that put Burma at the top of my must-visit list: the catfish noodle soup ($3.49), a soothing, spicy broth of cellophane rice noodles and ground catfish.
217 E. Nutwood Ave., Inglewood, 310-674-0696
The Belizean diet is built around stewed meats with rice, beans, and plantains. Little Belize serves plenty of this as well as something else I desire: beer and delicious little deep-fried bits made from corn and topped with beans and cheese (garnaches) or stuffed with meat (panades). My favorites are the salbutes ($1.50), crispy disks of cornmeal with shredded chicken, tomatoes, pickled cabbage, and a house-made habañero sauce.
Photographs by Jessica Boone