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--8:30 p.m. Dinner for two, food only, $18--$30. No alcohol. MC, V.
The essential appeal of By Brazil: You eat meat until you die. Massive, garlicky heaps of short ribs and spareribs and sausage and rump roast and chicken are sliced off metal spears onto your plate by a parade of meat-bearing waiters, all for the fixed price of $16.90. And while the buffet -- which is to say, the entire menu at weekday lunch -- may be nothing to write home about, come evening there’s the classic churrasco (barbecue), brought to your plate until you cry uncle. 1615 Cabrillo Ave., Torrance; (310) 787-7520. Open for lunch and dinner Tues.--Sun. Lunch for two, food only, $10--$14. Beer and wine. Lot parking in rear. AE, CB, Disc., DC, 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. 1741 W. Redondo Beach Blvd., Gardena; (310) 329-9441. Open Mon.--Fri. for lunch and nightly for dinner. Lunch for two, food only, $9--$14. Beer and wine. MC, V.
This little carry-out 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: garlicky lamb kebabs; heartily spiced minced-beef kebabs called kubideh; black-edged chicken kebabs. 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) 799-7944. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Dinner for two, food only, $12--$21. Takeout and delivery. AE, CB, DC, Disc., MC, V.
Hot Dog on a Stick
It‘s a hot dog. It’s on a stick. It‘s fried in a sweetish corn batter and served by pretty college girls who wear tall, multicolored caps that look like something that might have been worn by a Pan Am stewardess on The Jetsons. If you are an Angeleno of a certain age, a mere whiff of a Hot Dog on a Stick is enough to transport you back to the old P.O.P., where you probably ate your skewered weenie while waiting in line for the Bob-o-Sled or something with your mom and dad. Frankly, as regional hot-dog styles go, Hot Dog on a Stick may not rank with Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island or the Vienna dogs served outside Chicago‘s Wrigley Field, but the stands in those cities have no spectacle that even comes close to the sight of a short-skirted Hot Dog on a Stick employee pumping up a tankful of lemonade. At various food-court locations, including Santa Monica Place, Muscle Beach, Glendale Galleria and the Westside Pavilion.
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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; 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 for lunch and dinner Tues.--Sun. 11 a.m.--11 p.m. Dinner for two, food only, $14--$22. Beer and wine. Takeout. Lot parking. AE, 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.