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J. Gold on Hai Di Lao's Hot Pot; B-Rod on Union

This week, Jonathan Gold takes a lengthy look at Hai Di Lao, the higher end hot pot restaurant at the Westfield Santa Anita in Arcadia. Though located in an odd part of the mall, the expansive eatery boasts some top notch noodles and more:

You will be steered toward one of the combination plates, thinly sliced beef or lamb to swish through your individual pot of broth, plus tofu, sturdy nappa cabbage leaves, lettuce, sweet potato and a fistful of noodles...

And then you swish, boil, dip, simmer, slurp, swish and repeat, until finally the lithe, athletic noodle dancer shows up to do his routine with a lump of dough, possibly nicking you on the back of the head when the noodles stretch too quickly. He flicks them into your soup. You are full and happy. The hot pot satiety has kicked in.

The Goldster ends by laying out the landscape of hot pot spots around town, saying that all of them are cheaper than Hai Di Lao, but none features a noodle dancer. [LAT]

Besha Rodell hails Bruce Kalman's new Cal-Ital restaurant, Union, in Old Town Pasadena as a great neighborhood restaurant, with mostly positive things to say. But then the LA Weekly critic hits the place on Mother's Day, and things down turn out so great:

While simplicity is certainly a good guiding principle, Kalman really seems to shine when he veers in a direction that's slightly more unexpected. Mussels with guanciale were that much better for the bright green pea shoots added to the mix, their curlicue sweetness giving the dish a whole new dimension....

Service can be a little wonky, and I encountered long waits for tables even with a reservation. But aside from small slip-ups, my main beef with Union arose the time I found myself there on a Sunday night, and not just any Sunday night: Mother's Day.

The Elsewhere: Unemployed Eater tries Zelo in Arcadia, Darin Dines enjoyes Guerilla Tacos, The Offalo goes to Belcampo in Santa Monica, and FoodGPS likes Eggslut.
· All Week in Reviews Coverage [~ELA~]

Hai Di Lao

400 South Baldwin Ave. Ste 2015 Arcadia, CA 91007

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