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07/30/2012: "Streets Eats: Sunset through Silverlake, Part 2"
Yeah, it's officially "Silver Lake," but even many of its denizens spell it "Silverlake," which I find to be typographically more felicitious. And it sounds the same, so just close your eyes when you say it, if you're an administrative purist.

Which is to say, I've decided to initiate an irregular series of restaurant reviews, starting with Sunset Boulevard through that neighborhood immediately west of Echo park, and limited to establishments that qualify as bike-friendly, whether by intent or just circumstance. They won't be full-scale reviews, especially since as a vegetarian I won't sample the full range of wares at most places, and couldn't afford to anyway. But I can give an idea of the range of offerings, how good a meal or two I try there turns out, and whether the atmosphere is exciting, relaxing, homey, elegant, whatever. What the street life is like around each place, and what form the bike-friendliness takes.

It's really just an excuse to eat out more, and a guide to those who need no excuse and are heading out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner on two wheels.

Second victim: Blossom on Sunset
This is cheating a bit, as I've eaten at its sister restaurants many times. I believe the first to be established was Via Café in Chinatown, with Blossom on Main Street following. The menu is the same in all three outposts, which is to say light but savory Vietnamese food, including curries, crepes, banh mi, Vietnamese coffee, and a variety of beers, including local brews and brews local to the folks back home in Ho Chi Minh City.

Blossom on SunsetThe Silverlake outpost is on Sunset just west of Sunset Junction, just where the street life starts to peter out, but still within easy strolling range of the Junction itself, Sunset Triangle, dozens of boutiques, and a number of excellent bike shops, foremost among which is Golden Saddle Cyclery.

The atmosphere inside is calm and unostentatious but elegant in a spare, subdued way, the staff is always competent, and the food is excellent. This time I ordered a rice noodle salad with egg rolls, a cold dish, as it was a hot day and I'd been riding for many long miles, and of course a most satisfying beer to go with it. In the past (at the other outposts) I've had the curry, the banh mi, and the sweet potato fritters, which are a sort of tempura but richer-flavored and more complex than the usual Japanese variety. Everything comes with basil as a garnish, and usually a bit of lettuce and some sprouts. Is it authentic? Probably—I was introduced to them by a Vietnamese friend.

There are bike racks in front of the Sunset and Main outposts, and there's an old conduit I lock up to at the Chinatown location. And every visit has been worthwhile. (They don't mention the Chinatown location on their website, but go there anyway!)

Oh, and the Silverlake restaurant has a stunning underground lounge that's open only in the evening. Said to be quite busy already.

4019 W. Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 953-8345
Lunch & dinner; open till midnight on Friday & Saturday

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