It's springtime, and peas--English peas, sugar snap peas, snow peas--are fresh and being consumed at various stages of growth: as sprouts or tendrils, as shoots, as young pods and fully mature.
* Tung Lai Shun: This Chinese Islamic restaurant serves lightly sauteed pea sprouts with plump, sweet, barely braised shrimp. It's light and fresh, and an inspired combination. Snow peas are served with stir-fried beef or chicken, and with snow cabbage and bean sheets, a noodle made from tofu. Don't forget to order the sesame bread with green onion! (Dishes with peas and pea sprouts, $7.95 to $12.95.) Tung Lai Shun, 140 W. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel, (626) 288-6588.
* Yujean Kang's: Try fresh sugar pea sprouts sauteed with fried tofu and Japanese shaved bonito dressing. Snow peas can be ordered steamed or sauteed with ginger, rice wine and sesame oil. Seasonal fresh fish is served with snow peas, as are fresh sea scallops in a chile sauce, Mandarin style. (Dishes with peas and pea sprouts, $6.95 to $16.95.) Yujean Kang's, 67 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, (626) 585-0855; 8826 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, (310) 288-0806.
* Chu's Mandarin: Pea sprouts are not on the menu here, but you only have to ask for them. Fresh, quickly sauteed so they're just wilted, they're delicate and delicious. (Pea sprouts, $7.95.) Chu's Mandarin, 1140 W. Valley Blvd., #207, San Gabriel, (626) 572-6574.
* Rix: Inventive chef Neal Fraser serves John Dory with sweet pea risotto, pearl onions and a pea and corn nage (call it a sauce). Also look for his English pea soup, which rotates on and off as the soup of the day. (English pea soup, $7; John Dory with peas, $24.) Rix, 1413 5th St., Santa Monica, (310) 656-9688.
* Patina: For springtime on a plate, try the Sterling salmon with white asparagus, morel mushrooms and three kinds of peas: peeled and split English peas, pea sprouts and a sauce of peas. Or have the spring pea soup with ricotta cheese gnocchi and prosciutto. For vegetarians, there's the pea soup with tomatoes poached in olive oil and tarragon. (Salmon, $32; spring pea soup, $17.50.) Patina, 5955 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 467-1108.
* Il Pastaio: Green risotto is back on the menu at this Beverly Hills Italian cafe. The dish, a rich mix of spinach puree, fresh green peas; chewy, slightly al dente rice and Parmigiano, is a startling yet lovely--and highly edible--green. (Green risotto, $11.50.) Il Pastaio, 400 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, (310) 205-5444.