Los Angeles is a big city, with endless strip mall dining options. So far, we've covered mega-sites like the nine stop strip mall on Vine in Hollywood, and a small Marina del Rey mall with big, saucy meatballs, but the city extends far beyond those borders. This week offers a glimpse of a low slung strip mall, just off the main drag (if such a thing exists) in Northridge, deep in the heart of the San Fernando Valley.
With more than thirty years in the game, Golden Hunan Chinese Restaurant in Northridge should probably apply for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The cavernous Chinese food spot has been running delivery orders and hosting dinners with every octogenarian in a five-mile radius since day one, and that's exactly what to expect from them now. Lunch specials are as cheap and ample as ever, with most hovering right around $6.95, including complimentary won tons, a side salad and some hot & spicy or sweet & sour soup. Don't expect the wok-fired dishes to have you booking a flight to Guangzhou any time soon, but for slippery lunch fare or an early bird dinner, Golden Hunan is always a safe bet. Just ask the neighbors, who have been sinking into the teal and pink booths for more than three decades. Golden Hunan Chinese Restaurant opens daily at 11:30 a.m., and closes at 9:30 p.m. on weeknights, 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 9 p.m. on Sundays. They also happily take credit cards. 10334 Reseda Blvd., Northridge; 818-363-5511
If you feel the need to work up a little sweat before your next sushi lunch, Musado Sushi Roll might be the spot for you. That's because the man behind the sushi bar, Master Ma, also owns the Taekwondo studio next door, and he's not afraid to let you know as much. It's also the reason Musado Sushi doesn't open until 7 p.m., when the school has closed up for the night. At least they stay open until midnight, with a beer and wine license to keep you happy until the open sign clicks off.
The sushi itself comes large and thick, which (depending on your preferences) is either a great value or a sign of questionable quality. Still, if you're fine with eating strips of pollack from Northridge Fish & Chips next door, you shouldn't have any reservations about the sliced stuff here. All you have to do to ensure yourself a good time at Musado is sit back in your tiny wood-lined booth, sip on a cheap bottle of beer and order up a big plate of heavy, sticky, satisfying sushi. Musado Sushi is open daily from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m., and accepts credit cards. 10328 Reseda Blvd., Northridge; 818-212-8212.
On the hunt for freshly fried fish, but don't feel like braving a drive to the beach? You could certainly do worse than Northridge Fish & Chips, the long-running fry shop on the corner of Reseda Boulevard and Devonshire Street. The squat rectangles of pollack are actually reminiscent of the flaky white fish you'll find on the streets of London, crisped along the edges but still plenty plump in the middle. Even with a shake of salt or splash of provided malt vinegar, you won't be transported across the Atlantic, but not having to drive to Malibu for serviceable fish and chips is certainly something to be happy about. Especially when a filling one-piece order is listed on the menu at the über-specific price of $3.28.
You won't find much inside except for the four walls and service counter, with scattered tables and hard-backed chairs pushed around the room. Don't expect much chatter from the smiley old man behind the counter either — he's amenable enough, but the lack of ambient music or decorations of any kind seem to indicate a level of seriousness to his work. Northridge Fish & Chips is open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday and closed on Monday. They probably don't even have a telephone, so bring cash. 10336 Reseda Blvd., Northridge.
If you don't know what a Shakey's is — or what they serve — you haven't truly experienced the nuanced cuisine of Los Angeles. Mojos, fried thickly and tossed with all the saltiness of a sailor, emerge from the kitchen with molten levels of oil still clinging to its surface. Pizzas, rich with low-grade cheese and glowing a golden orange from a combination of grease and pale tomato sauce, are the perfect compliment to a cheap pitcher of beer so low in quality it's practically see through. This is a Shakey's. It will always be a Shakey's. They're open forever, on every street corner, and they're never going to close and you can only pay with shattered dreams. 10340 Reseda Blvd., Northridge; 818-360-2151.
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