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Eat What Bourdain Just Ate: Laksa, Tacos, Bun Cha and Other Worldly Street Eats

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Thu, Aug 6, 2009 at 2:00 PM

Monday's episode of No Reservations was a clip show, showing off some of the best street eats (as well as train and boat eats) from throughout the show's history. We may not be able to travel around the world like Bourdain, but living in L.A., we sure can try to eat like him. We'll start things off with the handmade Mexican blue corn quesadillas, stuffed with squash blossoms, which you can get at at a street cart on on Echo Park Boulevard, just off Sunset.

click to enlarge Bourdain eats on the streets of New York. - TRAVEL CHANNEL, L.L.C.
  • Travel Channel, L.L.C.
  • Bourdain eats on the streets of New York.

Meanwhile, you can eat laksa, the wildly popular spicy noodle soup in Malaysia and Singapore, at a lot of locations in LA. But while the laksa at Singapore's Banana Leaf in the Farmer's Market can be a little hit-and-miss, you can get a solid bowl of the stuff at the oft underrated Simpang Asia in Palms. Then, for the Singapore staple of "chicken rice", sometimes called Hainan chicken rice (a dish easily subjected to an array of personal modification), go for the oft-enjoyed version at Savoy Kitchen in Alhambra.

click to enlarge Laksa from Simpang Asia in Palms. - N. GALUTEN
  • N. Galuten
  • Laksa from Simpang Asia in Palms.

In an old Jamaica episode, Bourdain ate jerk chicken, and while there aren't street vendors in downtown LA tossing dead fowl in refashioned steel drums, you can still get a good version at Jamaican restaurant Natraliart. Then, to switch gears completely, if you really want to recreate Tony's Irish train breakfast, you can grab a bar stool at Finn McCool's in Santa Monica for eggs, tomatoes, soda bread, sausage and Irish bacon (feel free to grab a pint of Guinness, too, if you'd like). For a bowl of pure and delightful pho, a beef noodle soup that also moonlights as The Official Dish of Vietnam, go to Pho Minh in South El Monte. Then, to continue the noodle kick, you too can have yours rolled out by a bamboo pole, this time, at the appropriately named Bamboodles in San Gabriel Valley (try the green tea pork noodles).

But for perhaps the most impressive expression of LA's diversity, note that you can eat great versions of both Vietnamese and Mexican street food within two blocks of each other, and in West LA no less. So feel free to grab a bowl of bun cha (rice noodles with pork) at Le Saigon, followed by a movie at Laemmle's. Then, if you're still up for a snack, simply walk south on Barry Avenue for some massively under-appreciated late-night westside tacos, which, like on No Reservations, are best when ordered with lengua (tongue) and cabeza (head meat).

Lastly, Mr. Bourdain sung the praises of the local versions of street hotdogs from across the globe. For yours, well, you already know what to do. It's bacon wrapped, and available outside bars across Los Angeles. Enjoy.

Quesadilla Street Cart, 1246 Echo Park Ave, LA., Simpang Asia, 10433 National Blvd # 213, L.A., (310) 815-9075., Savoy Kitchen, 138 E Valley Blvd, Alhambra, (626) 308-9535., Natraliart, 3426 W Washington Blvd, L.A., (323) 732-8865., Finn McCool's, 2702 Main St, Santa Monica, (310) 452-1734., Pho Minh, 9646 E. Garvey Ave., No. 108, South El Monte, (626) 448-8807., Bamboodles, 535 W. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel, (626) 281-1226., Le Saigon, 11611 Santa Monica Blvd, West L.A., (310) 312-2929‎., El Parador Oaxaqeño Taco Truck, Barry Avenue, just south of Santa Monica Boulevard in West L.A..

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