Agung has all the stuff that would be standard if Indonesian food were as common as Thai: good, clumpy fried rice with scallions and ham; delicious bakmi noodles, a sort of spicy Indonesian chow mein, fried with dark soy, shrimp and plenty of cabbage; the chicken soup soto ayam, thick with fresh vegetables and fragrant with spice. There‘s also good satay, sweeter than the Thai kind, of grilled chicken, pork and lamb, along with an unusual Sumatra-style satay where the skewered chunks of grilled tongue are stewed first, then served with a pasty Indonesian veloute. And don’t miss the smoky dendeng belado, sliced beef fried until it reaches the size, shape and crunchiness of a Pringle, then served with a searing chile dip. 3909 Beverly Blvd.; (323) 660-2113. Open Mon.--Sat. noon--9 p.m. Dinner for two, food only, $18--$30. No alcohol. MC, V.
Furaibo specializes not just in chicken, but in spicy skewered teba sake chicken wings: not a whole wing, but rather that spindly middle segment of wing in which a couple of bones form sort of a frame protecting a sweet, if minuscule, oblate ellipse of meat. They‘re made for deep-frying the way a chicken breast is for grilling, deeply absorbing Furaibo’s tart, spicy marinade, greaseless and practically all brittle, crunchy skin. After the chef has dusted them with various white powders and heaped them on plates alongside scoops of shredded cabbage and mayo-intensive chicken salad, you could gnaw through a million of these wings, sucking out the meat, seeking out hidden crunchy bits with your teeth. 368 E. Second St., Little Tokyo (and other locations); (213) 613-1854. Open Mon.--Fri. for lunch and nightly for dinner. Lunch for two, food only, $9--$14. Beer and wine. DC, MC, V.
This little carryout place is run by a Japanese-influenced Iranian chef taking on an Italian-tinged California-grill menu that happens to include tacos. Got that? Beyond the multiculti stuff, you’ll find the standard array of kebabs: tender things made from grilled filet mignon; garlicky lamb kebabs; heartily spiced minced-beef kebabs called kubideh; black-edged chicken kebabs; tastefully underdone kebabs of tuna and halibut, crisped at the edges and soft, almost melting within. Kebabs here generally come with a big salad, a mountain of saffron-tinged basmati rice and a charred ripe tomato. If you linger by the pickup window, the owner may try to ease your wait with a complimentary appetizer in a Styrofoam cup. 1075 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena; (626) 799-7575. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Dinner for two, food only, $12--$21. Takeout and delivery. AE, CB, DC, MC, V.
Marouch is as good as it ever was. For a long time, I stopped by here at least twice a week: midmornings for a piece of baklava and a thimbleful of Turkish coffee, late afternoons for a bowl of dense lentil soup. Then there was the dinner combination meza, essentially everything on the left-hand side of the menu: hummus; the Lebanese thickened-yogurt cheese labneh; veal and bulgur-wheat kibbeh; fattoush, a tart, spicy salad of sweet peppers, onions and tomatoes; and more. Indeed, it could be -- still is -- overwhelming facing down a dozen plates of food and realizing that grilled quail, succulent kebabs and stuffed lamb shank are yet to come. 4905 Santa Monica Blvd.; (323) 662-9325. Open Tues.--Sun. 11 a.m.--11 p.m. Dinner for two, food only, $14--$22. Beer and wine. Takeout. Lot parking. AE, CB, DC, Disc., MC, V.
My particular favorite tacos come from the truck that spends its weekends parked behind the downtown Mexican restaurant El Taurino. Inside the truck, a gleaming column of marinated pork al pastor rotates on a great big stick before a simulated shepherd‘s fire, as nubbins of the outside layer of meat caramelize and drip juice. Somebody hacks off a few slivers, slivers you know are meant for your very taco, and rushes to anoint the pork with finely chopped onion, cilantro and a stupendous, dusky hot sauce that perfectly accents the sweetness of the meat. These tacos tend to get eaten before you reach your car. Truck operates on weekends behind 1104 S. Hoover St.; (213) 738-9197.
In the San Gabriel Valley, ethnic institutions are layered as intricately as microchips -- an apt setting for what is probably the most polymorphous of all the world’s cuisines, a shotgun wedding of Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Thai and indigenous Malay cooking. The satay at Yazmin is especially good, strips of grilled beef or chicken crusted with ground cumin and coriander seed, burnt and crunchy at the edges, floating in that hazy area of perfection between sweetness and charred bitterness -- and set off just right by an extremely fine sauce of chile and ground peanuts, and a big heap of acar, a spicy Malaysian pickle stained bright yellow with turmeric and showered with ground peanuts. 19 E. Main St., Alhambra; (626) 308-2036. Open Tues.--Sun. for lunch and dinner. Dinner for two, food only, $13--$20. Beer only. Takeout. Lot parking. Disc., MC, V.
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