Trendy Japanese-style sandwiches
Chef Dani Sobel and her business partner Brian Leung are crafting some of LA's best Japanese-style sandos within the freeway-friendly CloudKitchens, decorating each black box with an image of the Ijuu (a mythical monkey bear monster that roams Japanese forests). The sandos feature soft, toasted and buttered shokupan -- crusts trimmed -- from Little Tokyo’s Yamazaki Bakery. They have traditional options like beef and pork, but transcend expectations with deep-fried proteins like juicy soft-shell crab, which sports a thin, crispy crust, finely shredded cabbage, garlic confit, punchy cornichons, and tartar sauce. The ham katsu sando is another highlight, teaming thick-cut smoked ham with cabbage and karashi (mustard) mayo. Sides with similarly colorful flourishes include chilled noodle salad and potato salad studded with Japanese pickles.
Where to order: Doordash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats
Flavorful rice packets extend beyond traditional Japanese traditions
Carol Kwan and her brother Phillip created a popular stand at farmers markets and Smorgasburg LA, and now turn out Japanese rice balls and teriyaki plates at Eats On Madison on a Pasadena side street. The siblings craft triangular onigiri and rectangular, nori-wrapped musubi with an interesting mix of classic and signature fillings. Their three-ball set is a great way to taste Mama Musubi's variety. The SPAM and tamago (Japanese omelet) is pan-seared, soy-glazed, and judiciously sweet. “Mama's special” sports a savory furikake coat and contains sweet bay shrimp, imitation crab, and piquant yuzu aioli. They also serve an oh-so-California bacon and avocado rectangle that’s fairly spicy. Each trio comes with cabbage salad, edamame, pickled radishes, and cucumbers.
Where to order: Doordash, Grubhub, and Postmates
Filipino rice bowls perfect for the lunch crowd
The Filipino Food Movement continues to celebrate Pinoy culinary heritage in various forms across LA, and Rice Guys does so from the lineup at West & Mel Food Co. Owners Andrew Marco and Ralph Hsiao turn out rice bowls featuring meats like adobo chicken wings, longanisa, and tocino, but the binakol may be their most impressive achievement: tender, coconut-poached chicken thigh paired with sticky, chicken broth-infused rice grains, refreshing cucumber and tomato salad, fried garlic shallots, and atchara (pickled vegetables). An accompanying lumpia -- crispy Filipino-style egg roll -- contains juicy ground pork, peas, carrots, and onions, and comes with sweet chile dipping sauce.
Where to order: Caviar, Grubhub, and Uber Eats