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MY FAVORITE WEEKEND / ANDREW ZIMMERN

L.A. visits filled with exploring and naturally, food

His 'Bizarre Foods' show takes him to different corners of the world, but when he's in Southern California, he goes for the tried-and-true basics.

August 28, 2009|Mark Sachs

As anyone who has watched Andrew Zimmern's Travel Channel show "Bizarre Foods" can attest, the host's wildly adventurous palate knows no bounds. Lamb's eyes, eggs with legs, testicles of all stripes, everything's fair game.

But beginning Tuesday, he's expanding his horizons with a new series, "Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre World," in which he explores unusual cultures and unexpected traditions in his own inimitable way.

Zimmern -- who, when not gnawing on camel kidneys in Ethiopia, lives quietly in Minnesota with wife Rishia and young son Noah -- also just came out with his first book, "The Bizarre Truth: How I Walked Out the Door Mouth First . . . and Came Back Shaking My Head," chronicling his globe-trotting exploits.

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Family fun

I come to Los Angeles every couple of months to visit friends and do business, and I just love it.

I bring the family, and there are always things we have to do, like going to a Dodger game and to Disneyland. The first time we brought my son out here, he saw the Santa Monica Pier, and so now we have to go there every trip.

We like to rent bikes either near the boardwalk by the pier, or there's another place just south of there by Shutters, and then cruise all around, which is fantastic fun.

We also like the Long Beach aquarium, and we love to do the art thing at LACMA and the Getty.

Another place I always go to is Sportie LA on Melrose. Absolutely fabulous for sneaker shopping.

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Foodie favorites

I'm foremost a food guy, so that means I have to take the family for pasta at Madeo.

And my son is addicted to the mini Kobe beef burgers at Cut, Wolfgang Puck's steakhouse in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. I think they come three to a plate, and he likes to be able to sit there with one in each hand.

The restaurant itself is superb -- a big, airy space with excellent service.

It has a misconceived reputation as an expense-account-only steakhouse, and that couldn't be further from the truth. The heirloom tomato salad is a wonderful light thing to order before you head out on the town.

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Bizarre eats in L.A.

People ask me how they can have a "Bizarre Foods" experience without traveling to the ends of the Earth, and I always tell them they can start by looking in their own backyard. In Southern California, I might send them to Koreatown, which has some fabulous places that have food many might consider strange.

There are also a lot of seafood restaurants in L.A. that do the live-octopus thing that you can't get anywhere except there or Korea.

And even Cut has a bone-marrow flan that is served on toast points with a truffled wine sauce that is spectacular and so unusual that it fits into that category for most people.

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People watching

For a romantic spot, I think any of Suzanne Goin's restaurants are really good, especially Lucques.

And if the weather is permitting, the garden at Spago is still as lovely a place to dine as any around.

I never consider the external view of a restaurant when I'm dining in Los Angeles. When I come here -- and this is going to sound incredibly rube-like coming from a guy from Minnesota -- I want to see the people who are coming in and out of the door. The people-watching at Nobu's place [Matsuhisa] in Beverly Hills on a Wednesday night is just fantastic. And certainly much better than any sunset.

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mark.sachs@latimes.com

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