DineLA Restaurant Week Dinner at Farsi Cafe in Westwood

DineLA Restaurant Week Dinner at Farsi Cafe in Westwood

Farsi Cafe sits in the location where the original and famous Shamshiri Restaurant (not to be confused with Shamshiri Grille up the street) operated for years before the original owner closed the restaurant in the mid-1990’s.

Farsi Cafe is participating in DineLA Restaurant Week, which runs from July 13th through July 27th.  They are offering a $15 2-course lunch or a $29 3-course dinner (actually, more like 4 courses as you get to choose 2 items from the appetizer section), and it is a lot of food.  Persian restaurants are known for serving large platters of food:  kabobs or stewed proteins served with a huge amount of basmati rice, and here it was no different.  By the time you finish you appetizers, some lavash bread and the plate of raw white onions, mint, basil and tarragon leaves (used with butter to wrap in the lavash for a pre-meal nibble), you’re almost full.

The food was excellent, and the service was solid.  The Tahdig & Stews were nice and hearty.  The lamb shank was huge and could easily feed 2 or 3 people.  Tachin (crusted rice mixed with yogurt, eggs and saffron with layer of boiled chicken at the middle served with sautéed barberries on the top) is also offered on their DineLA menu, but only until 7pm, that is if they don’t run out of it earlier in the evening,  as was the case during our visit.

The Persian Ice Cream dessert was probably the most interesting of the 3 options, as the ice cream is made with the combination of saffron, rose water and pistachios, sandwiched in between 2 waffle wafer layers.  Unfortunately, the combination of flavors were more muddled than distinct, and the waffle wafer layers were just soggy from being a pre-packaged item.

DineLA Restaurant Week Menu, July 2018
DineLA Restaurant Week Menu, July 2018
Naz Khaton
Naz Khaton – Yogurt blended with grilled eggplant, walnuts and herbs
Olovieh Salad
Olovieh Salad – Chicken and potato salad mixed with egg whites, peas and pickles
Tahdig and Stew
Tahdig & Stew – Default choice was Gheymeh, chunks of beef shoulder cooked in tomato paste with split yellow peas and crispy potato strips.
Tahdig & Stew
Tahdig & Stew are served separately. Here, I poured my Gheymeh all over the crispy basmati rice.
Mirza Ghazemi
Mirza Ghazemi – Grilled Eggplants mixed with tomatoes, scrambled eggs, and sauteed garlic
Soup & Salad
Soup & Salad – Split Yellow Pea
Soup & Salad
Soup & Salad – Side salad.
Chicken Breast Kabob
Chicken Breast Kabob with saffron basmati rice, grilled tomato and grilled serrano chile
Grilled Salmon
Grilled Salmon with Baghala Polo, lima bean and dill infused basmati rice
Lamb Shank
Lamb Shank, served with a side of Baghala Polo
Lamb Shank
Seasoned, Boiled Lamb Shank
Baghala Polo
Koobideh
Ground Beef Kabob (Koobideh)

Tahdig & Stew – Stew choice here was the Ghormeh Sabzi, made with parsley, spinach, fenugreek and chives (vegetarian version) Black Chocolate – Three Layer Chocolate Cake Persian Ice Cream – Saffron, rose water and pistachios Persian Ice Cream (Sandwich)

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Sichuanese and Cantonese Food at Hop Woo Restaurant 合和 in West LA

Sichuanese and Cantonese Food at Hop Woo Restaurant 合和 in West LA

I can remember when Hop Woo first opened on the Westside.  It was around 2000, and I was working for a solo practitioner/attorney in Bel Air at the time.  I discovered them when I was running errands in the area.  At that time, much like their sister restaurant in Chinatown, they were serving solid Hong Kong style Cantonese food, as well as offering a deli section with roast pork, BBQ pork, roast duck and soy sauce chicken to name a few.  However, when the interest plateaued over the years, so has the quality of the food.  And with that, the crowds became smaller at nights and weekends.

Recently, noticing the Los Angelinos’ craze for authentic Sichuanese cuisine, a new manager brought in a chef who specialized in preparing popular Sichuan dishes, and the result, from word of mouth, was packed dining rooms full of Chinese expats who work in the area or work/study at UCLA.

When ordering the Sichuanese dishes, ask specifically for the Sichuan 四川 menu, a paper menu, separate from the regular menu.  When ordering dishes such as Mapo Tofu or Kung Pao Chicken, which appear on both menus, indicate you want the Sichuan menu preparation, so that you don’t end up with the Americanized version.

The highlight of the menu is the Spicy Chicken (口水雞, cold chicken in spicy chile oil), where the meat is moist and silky, the type of chicken meat you expect in Hainan Chicken, but only now, it’s drenched in a bath of red chile pepper oil with sesame seeds.  Add Sichuan peppercorns, and you have an amazing dish that tingles you mouth nicely.

Their other dishes are quite good as well, especially when you ask them to reduce the amount of salt used in the preparation of the Sichuan dishes.  Sichuanese and Hunanese restaurants in the US, for some reason, use a lot of salt in their dishes.  Sometimes it enhances the Ma-La 麻辣 flavor (balance of the numbing sensation from the Sichuan peppercorns (or Ma 麻) and the spiciness from the dried red chile peppers (or La 辣).  Sometimes, after the spicy burn settles, it’s just salty.  Asking them to cook with reduced salt seemed to have solved that issue for us, though I wonder with the reduce salt, if it might have altered the flavors somewhat at all…

One disappointment has been the lack of Spicy Cold Jelly (Noodles).  It’s never been available every time I’ve eaten there in the last 3 months.    Oh, and parking here is a bitch.  Arrive early to find parking in the streets in the area.

Click on the thumbnail to enlarge the photo.