In new territory at Omar’s Uighur Restaurant in San Gabriel

By Linda Burum | Special to the Los Angeles Times

When the platter of steaming, saucy chicken chunks is set on our table at Omar, a months-old Uighur restaurant in San Gabriel, it’s clear we’re in uncharted culinary territory. The sauce is dappled with tingle-inducing Sichuan peppercorns and chocolate brown star anise pods. Cardamom leaves poke out from a layer of sliced garlic cloves that blankets the meat. But the wide, flat handmade noodles soaking up those juicy flavors resemble a Moldavian grandmother’s handiwork. [[ read more ]]

Korean Charcuterie hits L.A. at Jangchung-Dong Wong Jokbal

By Linda Burum | Special to the Los Angeles Times

Now that thrill-seeking diners have advanced beyond pork belly and crispy pig’s ears and are going hog wild over snout-to-tail pork events, it may be the perfect time to check out Koreatown’s best jokbal. The braised pork foot and shank, Korea’s answer to charcuterie, often shows up boned and sliced as anju — the snacks served in pubs and other hangouts for hard-drinking night crawlers. But few versions will thrill the souls of pork junkies as completely as jokbal from the homespun Jangchung-Dong Wong Jokbal on Western Avenue. [[ read more ]]

The Find: King’s Burgers/Got Sushi?

By Linda Burum | Special to the Los Angeles Times

Truffles shaved onto wild-caught yellowtail sashimi orkanpachi nigiri splashed with black caviar might begin your omakase at Got Sushi? Or the chef might enrobe supple ribbons of pristine snapper in creamy cured unibrightened with the sharp citrus snap of yuzu and house-made soy sauce. Close your eyes and for a moment it’s easy to forget that this tiny sushi bar is squeezed into a corner of King’s Burgers, a fully operational burger joint in Northridge. [[ read more ]]

El Mesόn Criollo’s Columbian Specialties

By Linda Burum | Special to the Los Angeles Times

Peek inside Antojitos Latinos, a tiny Colombian deli and market in Van Nuys, and there’s little inkling of its status as a treasured comfort food institution. Over the last 16 years, under owner Patricia Blancheteau’s guidance, this tidy but plain shop has blossomed into the go-to Valley spot for traditional baked goods, steamy soups crowded with meats and vegetables, and home-style bargain lunches. [[ read more ]]

A Rare Flouring of Finest Japanese Traditions

By Linda Burum | Special to the Los Angeles Times

Otafuku’s buckwheat noodle dishes show its owner’s affinity for artful cooking.

In the year or so since Otafuku opened, word of owner Seiji Akutsu’s stunning handmade sarashina soba has spread through the Japanese foodie grapevine. Akutsu may be exactly the right guy to introduce us to the subtleties of artisanal buckwheat noodles. He was raised in a family business that organized formal events, occasionally for Japanese royalty, and his upbringing was steeped in michi, the Japanese reverence for precise adherence to tradition and protocol. [[ read more ]]

Doner kebabs and dumplings: A guide to Turkish restaurants in Southern California

Sofra salad kebab 1

credit: Linda Burum

By Linda Burum

The proliferating sizzle of grilled doner kebabs and scent of baked borek are heady signs of the growing number of Turkish restaurants in Southern California.

In Orange County, Doner G in Anaheim is expanding into Irvine. Another branch of Canoga Park’s Doner King recently popped up on Ventura Boulevard in Woodland Hills. Also relatively new, two Turkish bakery-cafes — Ikram (Fountain Valley) and Gulluoglu (Granada Hills and Garden Grove) —  offer a fantastic array of savory pastries and breads. Meanwhile, 2-year-old New Anatolia Cafe in Westwood has been working on its bakery next door for more than a year. “It’s almost ready,” the owner says.
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