Dear Mr. Gold:
Two friends and I have been sharing our cultures with one another via restaurants, and it’s been really fun. While Korean restaurants are easy to find, and Japanese restaurants are, too, it’s my turn now, and as somebody whose ancestry shakes down as German, Dutch and Scottish, the choices seem a little more limited. What do I do?
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Decent German restaurants are not thick on the ground here, but if foaming oceans of beer and waitresses in dirndls are no drawback, there’s always the Red Lion in Silver Lake. Or hell, Wurstküche in the downtown Arts District, which is less German than sprechen-sie-hipster but has great sausages and the requisite number of umlauts. Maybe by the time you read this, Ilan Hall will have his “Scottish-Jewish’’ Gorbals running again in the old Alexandria Hotel down on Spring and Main.
Dutch cooking in the area seems to be no more, and the wonderful Dutch pastries and such from the late Artesia Bakery are no more. But the Dutch here tend to be obsessive about Indonesian food — never have colonizers had such tender thoughts about their former colonies — and on weekend mornings, Dutch used to be the primary language you’d hear at places like the late Susie’s Deli.
The Indo Café in West L.A., recently reborn from the ashes of an electrical fire, is both good and comfortable, with excellent fried-chicken dishes, spicy Javanese curries and a crisp murtabak, a sort of omelet-stuffed Indonesian pastry, that will make you dream. (The more informal Simpang Asia across the street is good, too.) But if you’re going for exotic one-upmanship, you could always suggest an open-air Indonesian food court that pops up Saturday mornings behind the Duarte Motel out on Route 66. Most of the cooking is at the level of what you might find at a Jakarta family barbecue, but the variety of grilled meats is good, the oddball Indonesian drinks are great, and it’s fun wandering among the vast array of Indonesian noodles. 10430 National Blvd., West L.A. (310) 815-1290.