* The food critic is host of “Feed Your Face” on KLSX-FM (97.1) Saturdays and Sundays, 5-7 p.m. He is also an author of several cookbooks and co-editor of the Zagat Survey.
Absolute Favorite: The place I would go as much as possible if I could afford to would be Matsuhisa on La Cienega in Beverly Hills. Every time I go there, it’s like I’ve never eaten before. They do uni, which is sea urchin, wrapped in a shiso leaf and then tempuraed, which is unique and seemingly impossible. Yet it comes out perfectly. The shrimp in pepper sauce is amazing. Basically, I put myself in the hands of the chef and say, “Surprise me,” and they always do.
Slippery Shrimp: Consistently, the Chinese place that I eat at the most often is Yang Chow in Chinatown. I love the slippery shrimp, which is a dish of battered, deep-fried shrimp in a sweet and peppery sauce. I think everyone at Yang Chow gets it. I don’t think there is a table that doesn’t have slippery shrimp. I also like the cold noodles with sesame and chicken. It’s a taste that’s so unique that you never tire of it.
Amazing Apples: Just about every Sunday, I am at the Santa Monica Farmers Market on Main Street. My daughter goes there for the pony rides, and I go there for the lady who sells the amazing Fuji apples. Actually, my all-time favorite stall, which is only around part of the year, is at the Saturday morning Organic Farmers Market, the one on Arizona in Santa Monica. There’s a tomato guy named Ed who sells heirloom tomatoes and they are amazing.
Not Your Usual Waffle: My favorite old coffee shop diner is probably Uncle Bill’s Pancake House in Manhattan Beach, a great beach dive. They serve a waffle with cheddar cheese and bacon baked into the waffle. I’ve had that so many times over the years, I’m not even sure what else they serve. Sometimes, one gets into ordering the same dish over and over again, because you can’t believe how good it is.
The Middle of Nowhere: In the town of Olancha on the way up to Bishop along the 395 Highway is a placed called the Ranch House, where the food is basically corn bread and beans. It’s wonderful. The atmosphere is like a dive or a dump. But I love the place. It’s a ritual stop when I’m heading up to Mammoth.
Homey American Grub: A recent discovery is a place up in La Canada Flintridge called Dish that is as American as can be. It’s like an old pair of jeans, it’s incredibly comfortable, the prices are low, the service is good and the food is just perfect. They make a great classic Cobb salad up there.
A Town for Dining: When I want to have some fun, I say, “Let’s head to Monterey Park and see what we can find,” and I always find something amazing. I look for places that are busy. If there’s a crowd there, I figure the public knows what’s going on.