A Delicious But Dirrty Affair

This year, my hometown of Los Angeles did not make it onto Gourmet Magazine’s list of top five dining cities in the United States. Us Angelenos have known this all along: L.A. is a big city with some decent fancy restaurants, but other cities have much more impressive high-end dining rosters.

lomosaltado.jpgWhile Los Angeles may not be great for gourmet cuisine, it is unmatched for ethnic chow. You know what I’m talking about- those secret (or sometimes not so secret) hole in the wall gems that serve up delicious concoctions from the Middle East, South America, Asia, and everywhere else. You name it, we’ve got it. And it’s so authentic, it tastes just like it does back home. Wherever that may be.

A while ago, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services began requiring all eating establishments to post their inspection rating by the front door. The details of the inspection results are also posted on the County web site. The Health Department’s grading system is like the school system’s: Total score of 100 points, with “A” being the highest letter grade.

friedporkchops.jpgI just looked up two of my favorite LA restaurants on the Health Department website- Mario’s Peruvian and Lee’s Garden. The results were just as I figured. Because for food to taste good, it must be just a little bit dirrty. Makes sense, right? How good could Lee’s pork chops taste if they didn’t have a dash of Lee’s Special “Chutney”? Like with all delicious- mysterious recipes, I’ll eat it, but when it comes to knowing what’s in Lee’s Special Chutney, I have a strict Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell policy. Just like the U.S. Navy.

So now you know all about Los Angeles’ role as the ethnic chow capital of the world. Where the food is authentic and delicious. And inexpensive, to boot. And if you forget to tip, next time they’ll even throw in the hepatitis for free.

Favorite Restaurant 1:


Current Score: B (84 out of 100)


  1. Risk for contamination
  2. Food Storage
  3. Improperly Cleaned/Not Maintained Clean
  4. Storage
  5. Unapproved Type/Improper Use/Improper Installation
  6. Wiping Rag
  7. Deterioration/Unapproved Materials/Facility Not Fully Enclosed

Latest Inspection Date: 10/12/2005

Inspection History
Date – [Score] – Letter Grade
06/03/2005 – [90] – A
04/05/2005 – [90] – A
03/24/2005 – [74] – C

Favorite Restaurant 2:


Current Score: C (76 out of 100)


  1. Holding of PHF
  2. Cooling
  3. Thawing
  4. Food Storage
  5. Ready to Eat Food
  6. Improperly Cleaned/Not Maintained Clean
  7. Unapproved Type/Improper Use/Improper Installation
  8. Deterioration/Unapproved Materials/Facility Not Fully Enclosed
  9. Not Maintained Clean
  10. Sink and Fixtures/Floor Sink/Floor Drain
  11. Drain Line/Supply Line
  12. Hood

Inspection Date: 10/12/2005

Inspection History
Date – [Score] – Letter Grade
05/13/2005 – [80] B
03/26/2005 – [81] B
03/17/2005 – [71] – C

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I so want to file this under the “what I don’t know, won’t hurt me” way of thinking.

So what were the top 5 cities?

Janet: Yeah, don’t even think about the grossest thing you’ve ever eaten and not known about. Even the 10th grossest thing. Probably a dead insect. Or several of them.

Kevin: If memory serves, they were: New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Las Vegas, and New Orleans.

I would be getting a lot more of my orders to go.
Rather than “don’t ask, don’t tell” I prefer don’t see, don’t know.

We get the GT awards in Australia as well, and it’s usually the same top end restaurants that get voted year after year, so their prices just go up!

Hey, we use the same system here in S’pore too. And as in ur post, the best and most popular eating places do tend to score not so well on the inspections. Only goes to prove that we are ruled by our tummies rather thean our brains ;-P

That sounds right for the list of the five cities. My uncle used to work in restaurants so I’ve seen a few kitchens. It has taught me to not think about what goes on behind the scenes at all times. Now when what should have been behind the scenes ends up landing on my table, then we’re talking something else. Case in point, I went to a restaurant in San Diego years ago only to have a roach drop from the ceiling onto a serving plate in the middle of the table. Never went to that place again.

You’re sooo right! They’ve got to be a lil bit dirrrrty! Don’t you find that street vendor foods taste way better than mummy’s!? lol!
I started avoiding the dirt after the price of sandal episode I told you about though!!! :-)


A little bit of E-Coli will spice up a dish no end.

Yes, sometimes it’s better not knowing.

i thought NY was the top ethnic food capital of the world?


They have the same policy in Georgia. I have a strict “don’t look” policy if I’m anywhere near the front door. Eyes on floor. Well, actually that worked UNTIL I saw a mouse run across my foot. I tried to tell myself that only the best tasting food would draw mice but it didn’t quite work.

I could deal with knowing the letter grade, after all, C is average and average is all I need. I can’t deal with knowing WHY though… that’s gross.

JustRun: O that’s a great strategy- that way you can avoid seeing anything nasty in the restaurant!

ChickyBabe: O yes…I’m sure those places are great, but I never get a chance to patronize them! Too busy eating Mario’s lomo saltado off their formica table!!!

Fresh Ink: O yes the tummy vs brain thing that’s for sure. For guys the decision tree goes: p***s, tummy, then brain third.

Dagny: Ok that roach story is GROSS!!!

Fitèna: Street vendor food is AWESOME, but when I travel these days I avoid it because I don’t want to spoil my vacation by getting sick. Once though we were travelling and my friend got so sick he had to go to the hospital. Turns out it wasn’t the street food- it was the Swensen’s Ice Cream from the mall! Crazy.

Gav: Yes E-Coli is a special item on every respectable menu.

Annush: Having spent lots of time eating out in both cities, I would say that NYC clearly has much better gourmet stuff. And NYC also has a lot of good ethnic stuff, but not nearly as much as LA.

Cruisin-Mom: Hahaha eww is right.

Angie: What tastes good to a mouse may not taste as good to oa human, methinks.

Bre: Hahaha yes C is average, but from looking at the details a lot of gross stuff has to be noticed to earn a C! :)

I live by the theory that dirt and germs helps our immune system work better. All this anti-bacterial stuff is for the birds!

I admit, there was one Vietnamese restaurant in Omaha that was beyond even MY limit, though.

And, I do suppose food contamination goes beyond some germs on the scale…

no health inspector certificate is going to put me off – the only ting that does that is puking up Mustafa’s yemen-flavoured rice through my nostrils the next day. and even then, I’ll go back again after a few weeks.

Screw those damn sanitary nuts.

They just need to hire some more illegals to clean the place up.

No, Jack. Gross was the way the waiter looked at me and my friends when we pointed out the roach. He acted like we had brought that thing in with us. Oh, and actually it fell onto an empty platter. Someone had just grabbed the last item on it seconds before the insect’s arrival.

Knowing what you now know, will you be venturing back to either?

Wendy: I agree totally. I don’t use any anti-bacterial soap. I do use soap, though. Most of the time. 😉

Karen Little: Yeah that is the worst kind of vomitting. Through the nose, I mean.

Dagny: Yeah that’s not very nice of the waiter. I mean, it’s not like you tucked a severed finger in your purse and dropped in your chili! :)

Rachh: O yes I go back more often now because they clearly are prioritizing cooking over cleaning, which means it tastes that much better! How’s that for flawed logic!

There is also a FANTASTIC Taco truck right next the Blue Light in Korea/Downtownish…

Oh the Blue Light is a tranny bar with really potent Apple Martini’s… usually served in a brandy snifter.

You could use a taco after and evening there

You eat a peck of dirt before you die. T’was what my grandmother always said.

Nothing like a bit of samonella on the side of your salad or whatever. I’m sure if they did an audit of our kitchens at home most of us wouldn’t pass either (except probably me because im obsessive about kitchen clenliness but hey)


Crackpot Express: Nice. A tranny bar I haven’t been to yet. O wait, that’s a comment for my other blog.

Erin: ‘Twas, ’twas indeed. :)

AMS: My kitchen would definitely not pass. Especially since I mainly use it to cook up meth.

Kevin: I don’t doubt it. It’s much better there than here I think for the higher end stuff.

I sometimes wonder what kind of grade my own kitchen would receive. And then I stop thinking about it. Because I already know that it wouldn’t be a good one. 😛

Candace is a Geek: The lower the grade, the better the food!!!



What do they want to do? weaken the human race!?!?!

DAMMIT!!! Natural selection! we’re not supposed to be afraid of a little dirt, and girms, and bacteria, and what not! We’re supposed to wallow in it!!! that which does not kill us, suggests that we remain in the gene pool baby!!!

Doc-T: My sentiments exactly! We’re getting soft! What will we do when fish evolve and start talking to each other and competing with us as the dominant species on the planet! 😉

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