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How they stack up

February 14, 2007|From Times staff

The new fast-food chains are quick and colorful, with cross-cultural menus and fresh-to-L.A. formats. Here's a cheat-sheet to some of the grooviest.

Where to find 'em

*

Chain:

Pollo Campero.

Family-friendly fried chicken with a Latin American touch.

Where to find 'em:

14 locations from Long Beach to Panorama City; check www.campero.com/index_eng_flash.php.

Owner:

Pollo Campero Guatemala; also has branches in Spain, Mexico and five Central American countries.

Best bets:

Fried chicken, Campero beans, grilled chicken bowl.

Decor:

Orange and yellow linger-awhile family booths.

Plus you get:

No trans fat.

*

Chain:

Famima!!

Convenience store with everything you'd need to pull an all-nighter.

Where to find 'em:

12 area stores; check www.famima-usa.com

Owner:

Japanese chain Family Mart; also has branches in Okinawa and Korea.

Best bets:

Barbecued-eel hand roll, chicken \o7korma\f7, vegetable breakfast panini. (Avoid: the hot-case "crustini.")

Decor:

Milan Design meets anime\o7.\f7

Plus you get;

On-site nuking.

*

Chain:

Tous Les Jours. Franco-Asian bakery and sandwich shop.

Where to find 'em:

Koreatown, Northridge, Torrance (one in Freshia Market, one a.k.a. Cafe TLJ), Rowland Heights.

Owner:

Korean food giant CJ Foodvill, which also runs eight restaurant chains in South Korea and China.

Best bets:

Red bean doughnuts. \o7

Decor:

\f7Minimalist-industrial with, at some branches, a \o7soupcon\f7 of natural wood.

Plus you get:

Nine kinds of tea.

*

Chain:

Jollibee. Because kids like rice as much as they like French fries.

Where to find 'em:

Six local branches, from Eagle Rock to West Covina; check www.jollibee.com.ph.

Owner:

Jollibee Food Corp. of the Philippines, where it's the largest fast-food chain; also in Vietnam, Hong Kong, Brunei, Guam.

Best bets:

\o7Sotanghon \f7soup, Amazing Aloha Burger.

Decor:

Stand-alone outlets with bright, arresting signage outside, kid-centered photo murals inside.

Plus you get:

Pachinko with orders of more than $15.

*

Chain:

Santouka. Ramen noodles in pork broth the way they make it in Japan. Cash only.

Where to find 'em:

In the food courts of Mitsuwa Marketplace stores in Torrance, West Los Angeles and Costa Mesa.

Owner:

Santouka Ramen chain, originating in Asahikawa, Japan.

Best bets:

Tokusen \o7toroniku\f7 ramen, \o7shio\f7 ramen.

Decor:

Stylish food court. You eat at polished wood tables carved in sleek, dolphin-like shapes.

Plus you get:

Your ramen in a ceramic bowl.

*

Chain:

Pinkberry.

Korean-style frozen yogurt that really tastes like yogurt -- in just two flavors.

Where to find 'em:

Nine branches from Koreatown to West Los Angeles. Coming soon to other neighborhoods; check www.pinkberry.com.

Owner:

L.A. residents Shelly Hwang and Young Lee.

Best bets:

Medium original yogurt with three fresh-fruit toppings.

Decor:

Glass and polka-dot wonderland informed by swirled Le Klint lamps and Philippe Starck's Louis ghost chairs.

Plus you get:

The chance to buy whimsical Alessi ware, such as a plastic bunny-carrot paper towel dispenser.

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