In our ongoing quest to get people out of Benito's, we're back in West L.A.'s Oaxacan Corridor to look at three options for dependable Asian eating. West L.A. is slightly more famous for its surplus of Japanese eateries than it is for its renowned lack of decent Chinese, and here we have a surprisingly fresh and affordable sushi joint run on youthful energy, a favored neighborhood pick for notably scarce Vietnamese, and a go-to for Thai that also does Chinese better than many of its area competitors. Take a look at three pleasing and low-cost options for eating Asian cuisine in West L.A.
Sometimes we rush to judgment and in the case of B.A.D. Sushi, we figured the name and low prices probably said it all, especially with our profound feelings of loss over Terried Sake House. So it was surprising to finally sit down at B.A.D. and find a high energy audience captivated by a busy cluster of young men who handle seafood and sushi with a surfeit of zeal and dedication. More importantly, the fish was noticeably fresher than your typical cost-saving sushi spot as we got swept up in the first of a few quail egg and oyster shooters and a plate of hamachi sashimi.
The popular specialties here are the rolls, this is after all the same block where you'll find constant crowds at California Roll Factory. There are some pretty crazy inventions here, like a pork chop roll and eel garlic roll, with such intriguing names as Fire Snow, Naughty Girls, and Crying Tuna that convey the off-beat angle and passion here. But the fellas are doing a lot, with octopus and albacore carpaccios, hot dishes like seven-dollar short ribs, calamari tempura, chirashi bowls, and a five-dollar side of sausage, along with meaty salads, noodle soups that we're yet to brave, and combinations that offer two dish choices, including tempura, teriyaki, and rolls, with a miso soup, salad, and rice for nine bucks at lunch and twelve at dinner. Another lunch special finds two hand rolls with miso for six dollars and a daily four-hour happy hour with half-off sushi (3:00-7:00 P.M.). Yes, B.A.D., which stands for "best and delicious," is lower-priced, but so far has proven a reliable alternative to the nearby places that made us believe "low-cost" and "good-sushi" were forever oxymorons.
B.A.D. Sushi, 11617 Santa Monica Blvd. West L.A. 310-479-4910.
Vietnamese on the Westside boils down to three options: Palms' Super Pho, Venice's China Beach, and this cozy diner in West L.A. Super Pho can feel like more like a methadone shot for pho junkies and bahn mi addicts who can't reach Westminster or head east, and we skirt China Beach like it's a pit of punji stakes (or more appropriately "gluten ham"). Le Saigon is arguably the best option, with a charming dining room that masks its approachable prices. The menu is fairly small in scope, involving a few servings of pho, bun, and rice plates, plus expected sides like tom nuong shrimp skewers and imperial rolls, plus an option to make your own rolls. We usually head straight for the refreshing rice-paper wrapped goi cuon, a plate of the sliced pork in fish sauce bun cha, or beef on rice with peanuts bun bo xa with a café sua da, and leave satisfied from this quick Vietnamese fix where most dishes fall under ten dollars.
Le Saigon, 11611 Santa Monica Blvd. West L.A. 310-312-2929.
There's a lot of Thai on the Westside, though as we noted last week in this same feature, it doesn't necessarily show the same drive or offal tendencies as Hollywood's scene. The restaurants seem to move at a slower, homier pace, with shorter menus heavy on the usual suspects. In West L.A., every spot seems to have its big fans, whether it's Evergreen or Talay Thai, but Siam Chan is our personal favorite in the neighborhood. Like the exterior here, nothing too fancy is being done inside, just a menu heavy on Chinese dishes and traditional Thai by way of the U.S. They serve a fairly long menu with seafood specialties, egg flower soup, squid and "waterfall beef" salads, a short selection of Thai curries, and flavorful noodle dishes. Siam Chan has one of our favorite versions of cream-cheese stuffed wontons and we love their duck curry, mummy shrimp, pad see ew, and coconut tom khai. Better yet, the service is as kind as the sparse room is cozy.
Siam Chan, 1611 Colby Ave. West L.A. 310-444-4981.