Rod-Ded. Rod-Ded is well-known in the Thai community for its pungent bowls of duck noodle soup, as well as for a delicious dish of stewed pork leg with homemade pickles and the crustiest, most delicious fried bananas you have ever tasted. And Rod-Ded’s version of pad kee mao, rice noodles stir-fried with basil, is usually pretty good, slightly charred from contact with a really hot wok, and brought up to breathtaking heat with fresh and dried chiles. 5623 Hollywood Blvd., (323) 464-9689. Lunch and dinner Wed.–Mon. 11 a.m.–8 p.m. No alcohol. Street parking. Cash only. Lunch for two, food only, $10–$14. Thai. JG $
Hi Thai Noodle. Both a collegiate hangout and a serious noodle shop, Hi Thai is a bright, noisy shotgun marriage between a fast-food restaurant and a high-style café. The menu is basic, a few different noodle dishes from the Bangkok street-food playbook assembled a few different ways; but this is a pretty good place to experience the offhanded excellence of real Thai cooking: vivid flavors, fresh ingredients and luscious textures, put together with something like love. 5229 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 465-4415. Lunch and dinner seven days 24 hours. No alcohol. Street parking. MC, V. Lunch or dinner for two, food only, $10–$14. Thai. JG $
Antequera de Oaxaca. Antequera de Oaxaca specializes in botanas — bar munchies, more or less. The botanas are assembled into a big combination plate for one, two or four people: crunchy balls of chorizo, dried beef, professional-strength slabs of fried pork rind, a tangle of shredded string cheese, Oaxacan-chile relleno stuffed with a sweet-sour chicken stew, chunky, rustic guacamole. The pace is just right. The dining room is pleasant. And the plate is enough for two or three hungry people. 5200 Melrose Ave., (323) 466-1101. Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days 9 a.m.–8:30 p.m. No alcohol. Takeout. Street parking. MC, V. Lunch for two, food only, $9–$15. Oaxacan. JG $
Luscious Dumplings Inc. There are the usual kinds of dumplings and noodles here. But the pan-fried pork dumplings at Luscious Dumplings Inc. can be absolutely magnificent things — flattened hemispheres blackened to a luminous, carbon-edged crunch, heavily caramelized, then exploding in the mouth with a blistering, onion-scented pop, a primal flood of juice, of heat, of flavor. 704 W. Las Tunas Drive, No. E4, San Gabriel, (626) 282-8695. Lunch and dinner Tues.-Sat. 11 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5–8 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–2 p.m. No alcohol. Lot parking. Cash only. Lunch for two, food only, $10–$16. JG $
Northern Chinese Restaurant. Northern Chinese Restaurant specializes in the food of Shenyang — basic, hearty stuff, probably better suited to long, hard winters than to California summers: The casserole of pickled sour cabbage is a neat Chinese version of Strasbourg-style choucroute, a full quart of soupy sauerkraut garnished with slabs of stewed duck or fat house-cured pork belly. It also serves that other Shenyang specialty, fake dog meat, which is actually a low heap of cold, shredded pork, gritty with ground cumin and strongly scented with vinegar and garlic. 8450 E. Valley Blvd., Rosemead, (626) 288-9299. Lunch and dinner seven days 10:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m. No alcohol. Takeout. Lot parking. Cash only. Dinner for two, food only, $12–$22. Chinese. JG $
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Meals by Genet. Situated on Fairfax Avenue’s Little Ethiopia strip, Meals by Genet is more or less an Ethiopian bistro, which is to say a homey, soft-lit dining room that looks at least as French as it does African. The menu is short: crisp-skinned fried trout, half a dozen stews, and Genet Agonafer’s delicious version of kitfo, a dish of minced raw beef tossed with warm, spiced butter, as well as a few of the requisite Italian entrées. And their doro wot is a serious one, vibrating with what must be ginger and black pepper and bishop’s weed and clove, but tasting of none of them, so formidably solid that the chicken, which is well-cooked, becomes just another ingredient in the sauce. 1039 S. Fairfax Ave.; (323) 938-9304, ---- www.mealsby-genet.com. Lunch and dinner Wed.–Sun., 11:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m. Beer and wine. Catering. Street parking. MC, V. Dinner for two, food only, $19–$27. Ethiopian. JG $