11938 West Washington Blvd, Los Angeles 90066
Tel: 310 699 7205
Leaf Cuisine brings the organic and kosher ideals of the natural “raw food” movement to Culver City. Everything is prepared fresh, and nothing is cooked over 118 degrees. This traditional cooking method – which chef Rod Rotondi observed when he worked in the Middle East – ensures that the food’s enzymes and micronutrients are preserved and easier to digest, but never lose any of the taste or good stuff.
The dÃ?Â©cor is a pleasing mix of lime, mango and bright white, and it’s open and bright, with windows all round and seating inside and out. This continues behind the scenes; the kitchen is large, so Rod has plenty of space to work his wizardry.
For him and his German partner Jeannette Andreas, this is simply a part of their lives, and they enjoy entertaining and feeding people in the best way. Enormously passionate without being overwhelming, they are looking to make Leaf an “inclusive, not exclusive” restaurant that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers nothing but the best “good fast food”.
Rod kindly cut me a wrap ($6.50). A huge collared green leaf is the shell, and inside is a big dollop of guacamole lying on a bed of mesclun greens, sliced tomatoes and sunflower, alfalfa and mungbean sprouts – all fresh and crisp, as you would imagine.
Following the gorgeously orange miso-carrot-ginger summer soup ($3.95 cup, $4.95 bowl) with it’s delightful kick, the various tastes and textures of the wrap filled me with energy for the afternoon. Rounding off lunch with a “Very Berry” smoothie ($4.95) – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and banana – I went home healthier, happier and wiser.
Rahel International Vegetarian Cuisine
1047 South Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90019
In the block or so that is known as “Little Ethiopia”, Rahel’s is the only 100% vegan Ethiopian eatery – not just here, but in the world! Rahel herself welcomed us inside, and we looked at the paintings and photographs lining the walls as we decided which stew to try.
We chose a sample of all of them, picking the Hudade Special Combo ($9.95), which included Shiro wot (chick pea stew), split lentil stew, YeAtkilt stew, split pea stew, string beans mixed with carrots, Yeshimbra assa (powdered chick pea stew), greens, Yebaqela Siljo (broad beans paste), stuffed greens, peppers, tomato salad, sunflower mixed with Injera, and salad.
You picked off a section of Injera – a barley -based aerated bread that seems rather elastic but actually helps digestion – and dug in with your fingers, sampling a smidgen of, say, chick pea, then a piece of tomato, and some lentils. It was all utterly delicious and rather messy fun, and seemed to be ideal for either a romantic meal or sharing with friends. We also chose a Yeshiro Alicha – a slightly spiced mild chick pea stew that came, bubbling happily, in a small black crock pot ($7.95) – and used it as a topper for whatever fingerful of delights we picked.
To drink, I selected a refreshing carrot juice ($1.95) and something I had not tried before – Besso, a natural barley drink ($2.95) – which was sweet and slightly malty, like an ideal bedtime nightcap.
Instead of dessert, we chatted to Rahel. She is passionate about her restaurant, and having never tasted Ethiopian food before this, I can now highly recommend her cooking.
5140 Sunset Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90027
The bars on the door are no indication of the delights that are to be found within the gates of Paru’s. Once you have been buzzed in, you step into an unexpected and colorful little wonderland. You can choose to sit at one of the tables on the patio, or you can go past the parasols and inside.
Around a dozen tables are snugly fitted into a welcoming room that is covered with pictures of yogis, colored silks, red taper lampshades and drawings and paintings of Ganesha. You drink from large, rounded goblets, and the colored fairy lights everywhere give the restaurant a distinctly continental, almost otherworldly, feel.
With a handy guide as part of the menu to explain some of the items on this South Indian vegan menu – lentils, potatoes and chick peas were a staple ingredient of most dishes – we chose a samosa with chole, a filling crisp turnover spiced with potatoes and peas, and a vadai (urid), a savory lentil donut with sambar and chutney (both $3.95). They complimented each other perfectly.
For the main course we almost chose the uttapam – ” a sort of Indian pizza – but spicy!” from the Ã?Â la carte menu, but instead we had the Indian thali dinner ($13.95). It came with rice, two poori, two curries – the spinach lentil curry was exceptional – sambar, rasam, papad, yogurt, pickle and a dessert. We also had a Delhi durbar entrÃ?Â©e – stuffed paratha Indian bread with chickpeas curry, raitha and chutney ($10.95).
The selection of sweet and spicy sauces allowed you to customize your meal just the way you wanted, and with plenty left over to take home, we felt that Paru’s was that rare thing amongst restaurants: great food that is reasonably priced, and offers a menu that matches it’s unique dÃ?Â©cor and style.