Dear Mr. Gold:
My son would like to go a kosher restaurant for his birthday. Do you have any recommendations?
The local universe of kosher dining is better than it used to be, when nine-tenths of my meals with observant friends were at the Pico Kosher Deli, but there still may not be the broad range of attractive choices that, say, the Muslim community enjoys. Fish Grill, Pat’s, Milky Way and Habayit are decent enough, but you’ve already been. Things are definitely going to get better — anybody who has run into the madhouse that is Jeff’s Gourmet Sausage knows that — but way too many kosher restaurants tend to be tired retreads of existing nonkosher places. I yearn for a kosher Yemenite place as good as Magic Carpet used to be, or a Bukhara-style joint of the sort that seem to exist three to a block in certain stretches of Queens. But the new wave of Israeli places in the San Fernando Valley is pretty exciting: the malawach and surly Tel Aviv attitude at Aroma, the excellent salads (but iffy kebabs) at Hummus Bar and Grill in Tarzana, or the fairly awesome outlet of the Jerusalem restaurant Itzik Hagadol, where grilled meats are preceded by what seems to approach an infinite number of Israeli-style salads.