Better of Los Angeles Meals & Drink: A

best Asian bistro:: nomad

The Hui people, an ethno-religious group in northwest China, follow Islam. This means that their food has to be halal and they don’t eat pork, even though this is the most popular meat in China. Typical dishes include lamb offal soup, cumin and lamb, braised oxtail, braised beef with hand-cut noodles, and roti chicken wrap – all you can try Nomad Asian Bistro in Long Beach.

Located on Long Beach Marketplace, Nomad looks like just another fast food restaurant. Inside, however, there are Islamic accents such as the lettering behind the front counter. About half of the menu represents Hui cuisine, which absorbed Persian and Middle Eastern influences from Silk Road travelers. The rest spans other regions, from Cantonese walnut prawns to flavorful Szechuan green beans to a mandarin seafood hotpot.

Other Hui dishes include Xi’an lamb tripe, fried with Szechuan peppercorns and spring onions, sesame bread, and salt and pepper fish.

There is a Vietnamese dish, filet mignon with black pepper sauce. Restaurant manager Cary Huynh was born in Vietnam and can arrange catering menus with fusion dishes that are not on the regular menu. All dishes are halal and many are gluten-free.

Nomad’s menu is as extensive as any other in the San Gabriel Valley, and on weekends the restaurant is as busy as the places there. Six years old, it is one of the few Chinese Islamic restaurants in the Los Angeles area. – Barbara Hansen

6563 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach; (562) 430-6888.

Nomad (Barbara Hansen)

Best New Restaurant: Auburn

My love affair with Auburn began long before I stepped into the sleek, open zen room in West Hollywood designed by the Klein Agency.

It started every Saturday morning at the less-traveled farmers market in Virginia Park, Santa Monica, where I went hand-in-hand with either owner and chef Eric Bost or chef Armen Ayvazyan, choosing sturdy purslane, kohlrabi, and hot purple radishes from Valdivia Farms.

The affair ended when good friend Hema and I dined under a starry sky next to the purple acacia tree and explored Bost’s innovative tasting menu that turned these sturdy vegetables into culinary magic and artistry.

The radishes were transformed into delicate flowers that covered the Hiramasa Crudo with blackberries and finger limes in a refreshingly cool celery broth. The black cod is served in a sauce made from its own bones, which is smoked over embers with brown butter and watercress. The aged Sonoma duck is paired with roasted figs and perfectly cooked mustard greens. For dessert, the delicate Peruvian pichuberry with seaweed ensures an icy finish that is unique in LA

There are 12 choices on the constantly changing seasonal tasting menu, with four courses for $ 85, six courses for $ 115, and nine courses for $ 160; Wine pairings are extra.

What puts Auburn in the A + category is service. There is no question that they cannot answer right away, or a dilemma that cannot be resolved. When I discovered that I had left my reading glasses in the car, I had a brief visual emergency while reading the menu. When the waiter heard my panic, he appeared on cue with reading glasses of my personal strength. Prepare for an ethereal experience. – Michael Stueven

6703 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; (323) 486-6703,

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