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DODGER FARE HITS A HOMER; FAMED FOOTLONGS, SAUSAGES, SUSHI, MICROBREWS PLEASE FANS.

Byline: Larry Lipson Daily News Restaurant Critic

What kind of person would go to the ballpark on a beautifully sunny, Sunday afternoon and not eat one peanut or one Cracker Jack?

A restaurant reviewer like yours truly, of course.

Yep, the major league baseball season is here once again, and at our local stadium there are some notable food additions that may really be worth a try.

Like the oh-so-L.A. sushi that can be found at the Dodger Food Court. It comes prepackaged in one of those plastic containers like you get it at the supermarket.

But beware, the Food Court area is only open until the end of the fourth inning, as I found out when I returned in the fifth to purchase carne asada tacos from the Mexican food section there.

Darn it. Never did get to sample those tacos. And what happened to the ceviche?

There was supposed to be ceviche sold somewhere in the park. But neither the ushers nor anyone from the Aramark-run food stands knew where I could find it.

However, there was still plenty of new stuff to taste as I went up and down the escalator at the Dodger-Yankee exhibition game, trekking through the concourses at each level of the stadium, waiting in line, checking out as much of the new and a bit of the old as possible.

Here it was, the day before opening day (already long sold out), and a happy, relaxed crowd watched the home team win.

As for the new sushi, it was pretty good, considering this is stadium fare and not expected to be premium sushi-bar grade.

In the black bottom/clear top container was a neatly arranged, colorful grouping of two rice ovals topped with butterflied shrimp, two pieces made with rice wrapped in tofu skin and four sliced pieces of roll that contained cucumber, imitation crab (surimi) and tamago (egg).

The needed dab of green wasabi paste, a small cluster of pickled ginger shavings and a small foil wrapper of Kimlan soy sauce rounded out the presentation. The price: $7.

On the meatier side, it would certainly be heresy to pass up the timeless ballpark hot dog experience, so two hot dogs were bought, one the Super Dodger footlong dog, the other an all-beef frankfurter.

Guaranteed grilled, following the controversy a few years ago over the boiling and not grilling of the beloved Dodger Dog, these are both tasty specimens with perhaps a slight edge given to the more pronounced flavor in the beef rendition.

Incidentally, as the top-selling ballpark in the majors of hot dogs, Dodger Stadium's concessionaire Aramark had projected sales of 46,000 hot dogs and sausages on opening day.

That number no doubt includes the return of the Jody Maroni haute-dogs, now available on the Field Level behind home plate, also on the Orange (Aisle 143) and Blue (Aisle 5) levels.

I picked Maroni's deliciously messy chicken andouille sausage sandwich ($5.25), which yielded mouthfuls of spicy, herbal, smoky satisfaction enhanced with grilled yellow and red bell peppers and onions. No need for anything from the condiment stand with this sandwich.

The untried alternative is Jody Maroni's Italian chicken sausage at the same price, one to which a nearby fan, a recent transplant from the East Coast, gave a glowing testimonial.

The Gordon Biersch people snagged the better part of another $10 bill from me. The microbrewery-restaurant's 12-ounce cup of Marzan Export brew ($5) provides a refreshing complement to Jody's robust sausage, as do its power-packed garlic fries ($4.25).

You get fairly decent snap on the dogs and sausages here, with the natural casing of the Maroni sausage offering a harder, thicker bite than those on the regular franks.

Biersch's full-seasoned fries possess an impressive mixture of crispness and softer potato texture, tasting better when hotter, of course.

The variety of fast food for regular fans appears endless.

Peanuts now come with peppery Jalapeno flavor. Burgers, pizzas, nachos and every kind of soft beverage can be found.

The food court has cheese enchiladas, burritos and the like for Mexican food aficionados. There's a do-it-yourself salad bar, baked potatoes, pies, cakes, also veggie burgers, pasta and deli sandwiches there.

TCBY yogurt and Carvel ice cream are available.

And just prior to the end of the game, I noticed a guy in the aisles hawking small plastic packages ($2.50 each) of peeled, freshly sliced apple.

Could be the healthy alternative to cotton candy that no kid in his or her right mind would ever request.

THE FACTS

The venue: Dodger Stadium.

Where: 1000 Elysian Park Ave., Los Angeles.

When: During baseball season.

Behind the scenes: Aramark is the concessionaire.

Recommended items: Hot dogs (Dodger and all-beef), Jody Maroni chicken andouille sausage sandwich, garlic fries, Gordon Biersch beer, warm pretzel, sushi.

How much: Super Dodger footlong dogs are $3.50, the all-beef jumbo dog is $3.75. Food court (cafeteria) prices vary considerably according to item. Sushi is $7. Burgers (Carl's Jr.) run from $3 to $4.50, and pizzas (Pizza Hut) are $4.25 each. Ice cream (Carvel) and yogurt (TCBY) range from $3 to $4.50, and regular beer is $4 for 16 ounces, $5 for 20 ounces. Gordon Biersch and other microbrews are $5 for 12 ounces.

CAPTION(S):

2 Photos

Photo: (1) Dodger Dogs hit the spot for Allyson May, 5, and Mike May at Dodger Stadium. The traditional baseball treat is available in both the original and all-beef versions.

(2) Top picks for hungry fans include Gordon Biersch's garlic fries and Jody Maroni's sausage sandwiches.
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Restaurant Review
Date:Apr 9, 1999
Words:930
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