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First Impressions

East Becomes West at Flags

December 04, 1987|RUTH REICHL

The people who brought Franco-Japanese food to Los Angeles have a new idea. It's called "Cal-Asian cuisine" and it is served at Flags, 8800 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (213) 657-2083.

But if you expect to find anything like their previous restaurants, La Petite Chaya or Chaya Brasserie, you are in for a rude awakening. And a loud one. The roar in this room with its open kitchen is deafening--even when almost empty. I shudder to think what it will sound like when full.

And it is bound to be full, if only because the price is right. For while the Franco-Japanese food the previous two restaurants offered was delicate, beautiful and expensive, this is the direct opposite. Sitting in this Spartan room you can order hefty pitchers of draft beer and pig out on big plates of pasta (Chinese spaghetti, fried dumplings, cold chicken noodles . . . ) for about $5. "Grilled sticks" (yakitori) start the meal, along with "fried specialties" (little dishes of fried chicken wings, calamari, zucchini and other crispy creations). Main courses, which tend to be things like hearty baby back ribs in apricot-pineapple sauce or chicken in mango sauce, come with French fries and cost $7-$8.

For dessert there are barbecued bananas (no false advertising here), passion fruit cheesecake and that coffee jelly that is all the rage at New York's China Grill. It's an Asian dessert, all right, and here in California it costs only $2.

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