Come January, after the caloric blow-out of the holidays, everybody decides they need to start eating healthier. It doesn't really last, since most people equate healthy with things like undressed salads and unmarinated tofu. But it doesn't have to be like that. Eating healthy can mean lots of Indian and Middle Eastern sauces, whole grains, Vietnamese specialties, local vegetables, and Japanese food galore. Tons of fun: low fat, no sugar. Take a look at some of L.A.'s best spots, in no particular order, for enjoying your culinary resolutions.
10. Square One: Before we get to the near-legendary breakfasts, let's put in a good word for the lunch stuff, too: the veggie club is almost pure rabbit food – sprouts, frisee, etc., with just a bit of cheese – that will do a most alluring dance of the herbivore on your tongue. Breakfast fans should try one of the inventive omelets: shiitake, oyster mushroom and feta, or perhaps grilled asparagus, squash, basil, and goat cheese. 4854 Fountain Ave.; Los Angeles; (323) 661-1109.
9. Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa: The way Vietnamese food is served makes it pretty much up to the customer how healthy it's gonna be. This cult favorite's specialties (bun bo hue, beef noodle soup, and nem nuong, grilled pork patties) come with side plates of herbs and lettuces – one could make the meat the garnish. Plus, broth and noodles are excellent stomach fillers. And try a Vietnamese dessert, too. Not low-fat, but way lower in sugar than western desserts. 1700 W Valley Blvd., Alhambra; (626) 943-7645.
8. Carousel: Hummus and moussaka and most of all muhammara, the heavenly dip made of walnuts, peppers and pomegranate. Don't fight it, just eat a bucket of it. Revel in walnut's status as a good fat. And all the meats on sticks are broiled, which is a fairly healthy preparation.304 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; (818) 246-7775.
7. Tender Greens: They made salad cool again. Something like a chicken Cobb can't be called healthy, but there are other huge plates, like the grilled vegetable salad and the flatiron steak with beets and radishes over greens, that are relatively low-cal and fill out the color wheel. Plus Tender Greens is all about the local and sustainable, so conscientious omnivores can get their protein fix here.9523 Culver Blvd., Culver City; (310) 842-8300.
6. Samosa House: This Indian grocery and steam plate place is vegetarian, which to many is shorthand for healthy. (…It's not, but that's a divisive discussion for another day.) Still, vegetables are always good – maybe less so if you get 'em fried in the popular namesake samosas, but still. This is also a good place to try jackfruit in savory preparations. It's a popular way of adding heft to veggie dishes in Southeast Asia, it kind of tastes like a root vegetable (but mostly like whatever suce it's served in) and it's fat-free. 11510 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 398-6766.
5. Annapurna: One would have to try rather hard to eat unhealthily here. Plus it's all beautiful to look at. Legumes, vegetables, rices and dairy products that tend toward the lower-fat, like paneer and yogurt. It's South Indian, where most Indian restaurants here are northern, so it's a culinary adventure as well. 10200 Venice Blvd., Culver City; (310) 204-5500.
4. HealthyCA Foods: No butter! Anywhere! And that's the real diet killer at restaurants, the stealth butter in unexpected places. And the salads come with a side of salad, so there are essentially no opportunities to chew the fat, as it were. Even the cookies are made with quinoa. In need of protein? One of the sandwiches, the Venetian, comes with chicken, pesto tofu and provolone (plus peppers, onions and lettuce). 4724 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; (818) 505-1035.
3. Komasa: We're all in agreement that sushi is more or less healthy? Good. Komasa's offerings are as among the best in Little Tokyo, yet somehow so much cheaper. Which means you can fill up on fish and rice to your belly's content. 351 E 2nd St., Los Angeles; (213) 680-1792.
2. Simply Wholesome: Whole foods (even the junk, like organic sodas), with kind of a Jamaican bent. Fruit juice-sweetened desserts like carrot pie; all manner of patties, including spinach (okay, these are healthy in the sense that they're so spicy you can only take a few bites); jerk tacos. There are a lot of fish dishes, from sandwiches and burritos to grilled fillets. 4508 W. Slauson Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 294-2144.
1. Daichan: Does it get any healthier than a bowl of veggies and raw fish? No, it does not. Daichan is generally referred to as Japanese soul food, means something very different than American soul food. But it is home cooking. Instead of a lot of sushi, there are noodles, poke bowls (that's the raw fish), and seaweed in everything. Avoid the porky fried items, obviously, but otherwise go nuts. 11288 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; (818) 980-8450.
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