Name of the restaurant: Golden Lake Eatery
Who’s behind the restaurant: A mother and daughter team from Cambodia
Which dishes represent the restaurant and why? The beef lok lak and the dried combination noodle with soup on the side. Their lok lak is similar to Vietnamese shaking beef and the dried combination noodle with soup is the Cambodian equivalent to hu tieu. This makes sense, as Cambodian cuisine (or Khmer cuisine) shares many commonalities with Vietnamese cuisine; the French colonized both countries in the late 1880s. Lok lak is quickly-seared beef, cooked tenderly and served with a marvelous dipping sauce that consists of lemon juice, fish sauce and a crazy amount of pepper. The noodles, called kuy teav in Cambodian, are made out of rice and seasoned with shallots, thinly sliced meat and fish. The star of the show is probably the umami-rich beef knuckle soup that's served on the side.
Concept: Home-style Cambodian food with Chiu Chow and Vietnamese influences. They keep prices low here – most dishes are $5 to $7.
Who’s at the next table? A frenzy of Chinatown locals looking for inexpensive and fast food.
Appropriate for…: Lunch, preferably on the days you’re perfectly OK with roughing it and fighting for parking in Chinatown.
Uh-oh: While the food is solid, service isn’t their strong suit. English is a second language for the family, and it can be difficult to communicate. The menu has photos, so when it comes to ordering, your best bet is to point and nod.
Service: Awkward and clunky. They have good intentions, though, and are happy to show you how to eat your noodles and which sauces to use.
What are you drinking: Fresh coconut juice.
Info: 424 W. College St., Los Angeles, (213) 509-4035.