Some Like It Hot

Howlin Ray's
There’s a little bit of Nashville going on right now in Chinatown. Howlin Ray’s, which opened this month amid the souvenir shops and Chinese herb merchants in Far East Plaza, has brought Nashville-style Fried Chicken aka “Hot Chicken” to our fair city and it’s spectacular.

Expertly breaded and seasoned, spiced to your tolerance level (I prefer mine lip-burning and perspiration-inducing), and fried to crispy golden perfection, this chicken has people queued up way out the door. I waited in line for over an hour and have no regrets.

The menu is as simple as can be: hot chicken, hot chicken sandwich and, on weekends, hot chicken and waffles with butter and maple syrup. There’s a side dish that changes daily, but there’s always seasoned crinkle cut fries and pickle chips. Daisy Duke and Boss Hogg would no doubt approve.

Howlin Ray’s is located at 727 N. Broadway, Los Angeles (Downtown, in Chinatown).

Hot Chicken

Hot Chicken Wing

Hot Shake Fries

Hot Shake Fries

Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and Waffles served with Butter and Maple Syrup

Extra Pickles

Pickle Chips

"The Sandwich" with Boneless Breast, Slaw, Comeback Sauce, Pickles and Butter Bun

“The Sandwich” with Boneless Breast, Slaw, Comeback Sauce, Pickles and Butter Bun

A little bit of Nashville in Chinatown

A little bit of Nashville in Chinatown

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Filed under Downtown

Bosam Buddies

Kobawoo
If you live in Los Angeles and you’re not eating in Koreatown on at least a semi-regular basis, you’re doing it wrong. As the home to the largest number of ethnic Koreans outside of the Korean Peninsula, Los Angeles, not surprisingly, has an incredible breadth and variety of Korean food. Most people are at least familiar with Korean Barbecue, but that’s just the tip of the Korean cuisine iceberg.

Bossam, which consists of warm tender slices of seasoned and boiled pork belly wrapped in cold, crisp cabbage leaves or paper-thin slices of radishes, is one of my favorite Korean dishes. The best Bossam in town is at Kobawoo House, where they have you create your custom-built mouth-watering wraps with spicy fermented shrimp paste, jalapeños, and pickled radishes.

There are other tasty offerings at Kobawoo House. Their Haemul Panjun, a giant sizzling Seafood Pancake with Scallops, Shrimp, Oysters, Squid, Clams and Green Onions, is first-rate Korean comfort food, and their Braised Black Cod with Radish in Spicy Sauce is one of the most delicious versions of this dish I’ve ever eaten. Parking can be a hassle and there’s often a wait, but it’s well worth it.

Kobawoo House is located at 698 S. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles (in Koreatown).

Bosam

Bossam. The best in town.


Braised Cod with Radish in Spicy Sauce

Braised Black Cod with Radish in Spicy Sauce


Kimchi Chigae

Kimchi Chigae


Haemul Pajun (sizzling seafood pancake with scallops, shrimp, oyster, squid, clam and green onion)

Haemul Pajun (sizzling seafood pancake with scallops, shrimp, oyster, squid, clam and green onion)


Dolshot Bibimbab

Dolshot Bibimbab


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Filed under Koreatown

The Great Blogiversary Giveaway

Five Year Blogiversary
Consuming LA is celebrating its fifth blogiversary! As a thank you to my readers who have made Consuming LA one of the top food blogs in Los Angeles, I am giving away gift certificates to many of the places that I’ve written about and recommended. There are ten prizes in all.

Here’s how to enter to win: If you do not already subscribe to Consuming LA, you can enter simply by subscribing (which is free). If you are already a subscriber, you can enter by simply emailing me at Howard@ConsumingLA.com. Once you become a subscriber or if you have already been one, you can enter additional times by referring new subscribers. You will receive one entry for each referral and you can enter as many times as you want. The deadline to enter is April 20, 2016. Click here to see the official rules. Here are the prizes:

Marinated Kurobuta Pork Belly

Marinated Kurobuta Pork Belly

$100 Gift Certificate from Hanjip. Favorite dishes include Kimchi Fried Rice Sauteed in Brown Butter, Bone Marrow Corn Cheese with Shaved Parmesan and Bonito Flakes, and Marinated Kurobuta Pork Belly.

Skirt Steak with Oregano Chimichurri and Sea Urchin Butter

Skirt Steak with Oregano Chimichurri and Sea Urchin Butter

$100 Gift Certificate from Maré Favorite dishes include Branzino with Fig Pomegranate Sauce, Skirt Steak with Oregano Chimichurri and Sea Urchin Butter, and Blood Orange “Trifolo” with Semolina Cake and Fruit Compote.

Albacore Poké with Mango on Jasmine Rice

Albacore Poké with Mango on Jasmine Rice

$100 Gift Certificate from Sweetfin Poké Favorite Dishes include Spicy Tuna Poké on Kelp Noodles, Mango Albacore Poké on Jasmine Rice, and Sriracha Tuna on Citrus-Kale Salad.

Cheese Burger from Cassell's Hamburgers with House Ground Prime Beef Patty and Cheddar Cheese on a Parker House Bun.

Cheeseburger from Cassell’s Hamburgers with House Ground Prime Beef Patty and Cheddar Cheese on a Parker House Bun.

$50 Gift Certificate from Cassell’s Hamburgers This is my favorite burger joint in the city! Favorite dishes include the Cheese Burger, the Patty Melt and the Dulce de Leche Pie.

Frozen Popcorn

The best popcorn ever!

$50 Gift Certificate to California Mad Poppers Favorite items: “South of the Border” Cheese Popcorn with Jalapeños and Cheddar, “Bacon on the Brain” Caramel Corn with Maple and Bacon, and “Elvis” Caramel Corn with Peanut Butter, Banana and Bacon.

Maple Bacon Doughnut

Maple Bacon Doughnut

$50 Gift Certificate from Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee This is my favorite donut shop in LA! Favorite donuts include the Butter & Salt Doughnut, the Huckleberry Doughnut, and the Breakfast Doughnut with sliced country ham and a poached egg inside.

Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce

Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce

$50 Gift Certificate from The Independence Favorite dishes include Ricotta Gnudi with Asparagus, Bacon and Parmesan Cheese, Angus Burger with French Onions, Gruyere and Herb Aioli on an Onion Bun, and Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce.

Aussie Pie Tiger Stack

Aussie Pie Tiger Stack

Lunch or Dinner for Two at Aussie Pie Kitchen Favorite Dishes include Ground Beef and Shiraz Pie, Chicken and Tarragon Pie, and any pie served “Tiger Style,” which means it’s served on a pile of Garlic Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes and topped with a scoop of bacon-laced Mushy Minty Peas and a ladleful of Creamy Thyme Gravy.

Crab Hand Roll

Blue Crab Hand Roll

Lunch or Dinner for Two at KazuNori Favorite dishes include Blue Crab Hand Roll, Bay Scallop Hand Roll, Toro Hand Roll and Lobster Hand Roll.

Figueroa Philly

Figueroa Philly

Lunch or Dinner for Two at Figueroa Philly This is my favorite cheesesteak place in Los Angeles. Favorite dishes: Cheesesteaks and Hot Pastrami Sandwiches.

Good luck!

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Filed under Culver City, Downtown, Hollywood, Inglewood, Koreatown, Mid-City, Santa Monica, West Hills, West Hollywood

Small is the New Big

French Onion Soup
It’s a simple law of nature that small versions of everyday things are cute. Babies, puppies, Mini Coopers; all are friggin’ adorable. We should also add Petit Trois, a diminutive version of a French Bistro, to this list.

Petit Trois is the younger sister and strip mall nextdoor neighbor of Trois Mec. Both restaurants are tiny and are helmed by heavily tatted, reality tv-starring, bad-boy chef Ludo Lefebvre. But unlike Troi Mec, which serves creative and cutting-edge cuisine, the food at Petit Trois is more traditionally French, with offerings such as French Onion Soup, Confit-fried Chicken Leg with Brioche Butter and Frisée Salad, Croque Monsieur/Madame, and Escargots. All are excellent. The one non-traditional item on the menu is the “Big Mec,” an awesome gourmet cheeseburger with caramelized onions, garlic aioli and a red wine bordelaise sauce made with foie gras.

There are no tables at Petit Trois. All seating is either at a bar facing an open kitchen or at a counter facing the back wall. So it’s not the kind of place you want to go with a big group, but it’s perfect if you’re dining alone or with a single companion. I also recommended going at an off hour to avoid a wait; they don’t take reservations.

Petit Trois is located at 718 Highland Ave., Los Angeles (in Hollywood).

Baguette and Butter

Baguette and Butter

Confit-fried Chicken Leg with brioche butter and frisée salad

Confit-fried Chicken Leg with Brioche Butter and Frisée Salad

"Big Mec" Double Cheeseburger

“Big Mec” Double Cheeseburger

Frites

Frites

Napoleon with Tahitian Vanilla Cream

Napoleon with Tahitian Vanilla Cream

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

It's in a tiny space.

It’s in a tiny space.

Some of the most authentic and delicious French food in LA

Some of the most authentic and delicious French food in LA

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Filed under Hollywood

A Perfect 10

San Bousek
Although its name sounds more like a hotel room number than a restaurant serving some of the best Lebanese delicacies this side of Beirut, 10e is the upscale Lebanese-Armenian eatery that LA has been waiting for. It’s surprisingly not located in either of the Armenian meccas of Glendale or East Hollywood, but rather in the heart of Downtown LA in a space that feels like a Middle Eastern palace with ornate vaulted ceilings. The lighting is dim and there is live music every night; perfect for a romantic dinner with your sweetheart or a clandestine assignation with a mysterious stranger — take your pick.

The food is impressive. The puffy and hot-out-of-the-oven Lebanese bread is mouth-wateringly excellent, especially when paired with the Hummus or Labne Yogurt Dip. I recommend starting your meal with some Mante (Armenian Beef Dumplings with Garlic Yogurt Sauce and Sumac), San Bousek (deep fried Puff Pastries stuffed with Ground Beef and Pine Nuts; pictured above) or Beef Fried Kibbeh (made with Bulgar and Onions).

You’ll probably want some veggies after all of that fried goodness, so I would order a Fattoush Salad with Purslane, Romaine, Cucumber, Tomato, Radish, Mint, Pita Chips, Sumac, Lemon and Olive Oil. From there, I suggest getting an order of the perfectly seasoned and grilled Lamb Chops with Za’atar, Roasted Pepper Sauce and Parsley Sauce. Dessert of course is Baklava covered in sweet syrup; the perfect ending to your Middle Eastern feast.

10e is located at 811 W 7th Street in Downtown Los Angeles.

Yogurt Dip

Yogurt Dip

Puffy Lebanese Bread

Puffy Lebanese Bread

Kibbeh Nayyeh (Steak Tartar with Bulgur, Onion Parsley and Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

Kibbeh Nayyeh (Steak Tartar with Bulgur, Onion Parsley and Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

Beef Fried Kibbeh with Ground Beef, Bulgur, Onion, Pine Nuts and Greek Yogurt

Beef Fried Kibbeh with Ground Beef, Bulgur, Onion, Pine Nuts and Greek Yogurt

Vegetarian Flatbread with Eggplant, Basi, Cherry Tomato, Roasted Pepper, Kalamata Olives, Kashkaval Cheese, Mushroom and Avocado

Vegetarian Flatbread with Eggplant, Basi, Cherry Tomato, Roasted Pepper, Kalamata Olives, Kashkaval Cheese, Mushroom and Avocado

Fattoush Salad

Fattoush Salad

Chicken Lule Kebab with Grilled Pita, Red Onion, Parsley and Sumac Garlic Toum; served with Salad and Rice

Chicken Lule Kebab with Grilled Pita, Red Onion, Parsley and Sumac Garlic Toum; served with Salad and Rice

Lamb Chops

Lamb Chops with Za’atar, Roasted Pepper Sauce and Parsley Sauce

Feels very Middle Eastern inside

Feels like a Middle Eastern palace with ornate vaulted ceilings

In the heart of Downtown

In the heart of Downtown

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Filed under Downtown

Kinder, Gentler Sushi

Sashimi

Sasabune was one of my first great sushi loves. Originally located in a small house on Sawtelle, Sasabune served the freshest and tastiest raw fish west of the 405. Its warm-rice sushi was similar to the sushi served in the Valley by legendary “Sushi Nazi” Kazunori Nozawa (who trained Sasabune’s chef) and, like Sushi Nozawa, they wouldn’t make California Rolls or Spicy Tuna. But I’ve never witnessed customers getting kicked out of Sasabune like they did at Sushi Nozawa for not following the rules. It was the kinder, gentler Nozawa.

Sasabune eventually moved to a cavernous space in Brentwood and then to smaller digs down the street, but seemed to lose a little of its magic with each of those moves. But with an additional location in Beverly Hills presided over by sushi master Ei Hiroyoshi, Sasabune bounced back to the top. The Beverly Hills branch serves insanely good sushi and one of the best omakase meals in the city.

Sushi Sasabune is located at 9162 W Olympic Blvd in Beverly Hills and 11917 Wilshire Blvd in Brentwood. A third LA location just opened in Glendale at 101 N Brand Blvd.

Cucumber and Seaweed Salad

Cucumber and Seaweed Salad

Maguro and Toro

Maguro and Toro Sushi

Mussel with Japanese Mayo

Mussel with Japanese Mayo

Oyster

Oyster

Mussel with Garlic Butter and Seaweed

Mussel with Garlic Butter and Seaweed

Ikura (Salmon Roe) and Uni (Sea Urchin) Sushi

Ikura (Salmon Roe) and Uni (Sea Urchin) Sushi

Fried Shrimp

Fried Shrimp

Butterfish

Butterfish Sushi

Lychee Sorbet

Lychee Sorbet

Head Sushi Genius Ei Hiroyoshi

Sushi Master Ei Hiroyoshi

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Filed under Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Glendale, West LA

Best. Doughnuts. Ever.

Ham and Egg Doughnut
This is going to be the best year ever. I can just feel it. Goals will be met, miracles will happen, and dreams will come true. But if none of that turns out to be the case, there’s always doughnuts.

A couple years ago, I ranked the best doughnut shops in LA. If that list was written today, there would be a new #1 pick. Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee opened right before the holidays with doughnuts so incredibly good, I can legitimately say that this place is a complete and total game-changer. Utilizing the finest ingredients and a secret other-wordly recipe, the talented artisans at Sidecar craft their mouth-watering creations with amazing flavor and a perfect texture which is crisp on the outside and supermoist on the inside.

The menu consists of permanent offerings, as well as several seasonal monthly specials. My favorite off the list of regulars is the simple yet perfect Butter & Salt Doughnut, but the Huckleberry one is not far behind. If you’re looking for something more nutritious, there’s a doughnut offered in the morning that is filled with sliced country ham and a poached egg, and topped with fresh basil (pictured above). It’s the breakfast of champions.

Happy New Year, food lovers!

Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee is located at 631 Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica.

Maple Bacon Doughnut

Maple Bacon Doughnut


Butter and Salt Doughnut

Butter & Salt Doughnut


Huckleberry Doughnut

Huckleberry Doughnut


Gingerbread Doughnut

Gingerbread Doughnut


Madagascar Vanilla Twist

Madagascar Vanilla Twist


Apple Fritter

Apple Fritter


My new favorite doughnut shop in LA!

My new favorite doughnut shop in LA!


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Filed under Santa Monica

The 10 Best Things I Consumed in 2015

2015
2015 was a year of surprises. Caitlyn Jenner, Rachel Dolezal and the gold and white dress that some people saw as blue and black; things were not always what they appeared to be. The food scene in LA was no exception, as I discovered many unexpected pleasures this year in unlikely places. Here is my annual list of the ten best things I consumed and wrote about in the past year.

Gyoza from Beni Tora

Gyoza from Beni Tora


10. Gyoza from Beni Tora. Beni Tora is not the most popular restaurant in Sawtelle Japantown, but their excellent gyoza, which comes in nine different varieties, is reason alone to dine there.

Peanut Brittle Brownie from Beverly Hills Brownie Company

Peanut Brittle Brownie from Beverly Hills Brownie Company


9. Peanut Brittle Brownie from Beverly Hills Brownie Company. I love peanut butter more than almost anything. So when I met this dark chocolate brownie made with chunky peanut butter and peanut brittle from See’s Candies, it was love at first bite.

Rabbit Baklava with Bing Cherries, White Beans, Pistachios and Carrots from Birch

Rabbit Baklava with Bing Cherries, White Beans, Pistachios and Carrots from Birch


8. Rabbit Baklava with Bing Cherries, White Beans, Pistachios and Carrots from Birch. “Rabbit” and “Baklava” are words that you usually don’t see paired together on a menu. The combo though is surprisingly great, especially when prepared by the talented chef of one of my favorite new restaurants.

Spicy Tuna Poké with Creamy Togarashi Sauce, Hijiki, Avocado and Chile Marinated Oranges from Sweet Fin Poké

Spicy Tuna Poké with Creamy Togarashi Sauce, Hijiki, Avocado and Chile Marinated Oranges from Sweet Fin Poké


7. Spicy Tuna Poké from Sweet Fin Poké. Poké is a food trend that exploded in LA in 2015 and something that I can’t get enough of. My favorite of the new raw fish joints is Sweet Fin in Santa Monica and my favorite thing to order there is creamy Spicy Tuna Poké with avocado and spicy chili marinated oranges.

Patty Melt from Cassell's Hamburgers

Patty Melt from Cassell’s Hamburgers


6. Patty Melt from Cassell’s Hamburgers. This year I went in search of the best burgers in LA. The winner was Cassell’s in K-town. But as much as I love the burgers at Cassell’s, their Patty Melt is even better.

Milk Bread Focaccia from Orsa and Winston

Milk Bread Focaccia from Orsa and Winston


5. Milk Bread Focaccia from Orsa and Winston. I’m a sucker for hot-out-of-the-oven bread and it doesn’t get any better than this fusion of Japanese milk bread and Italian focaccia topped with parsley, parmesan and speck.

Black Sea Bass Sushi with Kelp from Sushi Zo

Black Sea Bass Sushi with Kelp from Sushi Zo


4. Sushi from Sushi Zo. Los Angeles is the sushi capital of the United States and the best of the best here is Sushi Zo. Their omakase is pretty much a religious experience.

Blood Orange "Trifolo" with Semolina Cake and Fruit Compote from Maré

Blood Orange “Trifolo” with Semolina Cake and Fruit Compote from Maré


3. Blood Orange “Trifolo” with Semolina Cake and Fruit Compote from Maré. My favorite dessert of the year came from a clandestine hot spot which was full of surprises. Served in a mason jar, this unusual layered desert is tart and sweet and truly incredible.

Marinated Kurobuta Pork Belly from Hanjip

Marinated Kurobuta Pork Belly from Hanjip


2. Marinated Kurobuta Pork Belly from Hanjip. I’m not sure what “Hanjip” means in English, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Korean for “pork belly to die for.”

Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings from Pok Pok LA

Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings from Pok Pok LA


1. Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings from Pok Pok LA. Earlier this year, I wrote about my food adventures in Portland, Oregon, where my favorite restaurant was a creative Thai eatery called Pok Pok. As luck would have it, Pok Pok just opened an LA location in Chinatown, where they serve their incredible signature chicken wings, which I like to refer to as “meat candy.” It is my favorite thing that I consumed and wrote about this year.

If you enjoy Consuming LA, please subscribe, like me on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter at the top right of this page. Also you can now follow me on Instagram @ConsumingLA. And please forward to your friends!

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Filed under Beverly Hills, Cheviot Hills, Downtown, Hollywood, Koreatown, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, West LA

I Like Your Gold Grillz

Hanjip

Featuring a mohawk-sporting badass chef, gold grills (not the kind that were an unfortunate hip hop fashion trend several years ago, but the ones you cook on), and bone marrow luges, Hanjip is the new cool kid on the block. Chef Chris Oh of Seoul Sausage fame, along with top LA restauranteur Stephane Bombet, have created something very unusual with Hanjip: a top notch Korean BBQ joint which is traditional, yet also super hip and modern, and located not in Koreatown, but on the Westside.

A meal at this Korean house of hedonism should start with some of their decadent appetizers. The Seafood Pancake and the Kimchi Fried Rice Sauteed in Brown Butter are great choices, and the Bone Marrow Corn Cheese with Shaved Parmesan and Bonito Flakes is an absolute must-have. After eating the marrow, you can order soju, which your server will gladly pour into your mouth by way of a “luge” created with the bone.

Then it’s on to the grilling action! The Tomahawk Steak with Foie Gras Butter is as excellent as it sounds. The Carabineros Prawns are also amazing. But my favorite thing to cook here is the Marinated Kurobuta Pork Belly. It’s sweet and savory and truly exceptional.

Hanjip is located at 3829 Main St in Culver City.

Seafood Pancake with Curry Dipping Sauce

Seafood Pancake with Curry Dipping Sauce

Kimchi Fried Rice Sauteed in Brown Butter

Kimchi Fried Rice Sauteed in Brown Butter

Bone Marrow Corn Cheese with Shaved Parmesan and Bonito Flakes

Bone Marrow Corn Cheese with Shaved Parmesan and Bonito Flakes

Bone Marrow Luge

Bone Marrow Luge

Uni Steamed Egg with Salmon Roe

Uni Steamed Egg with Salmon Roe

Marinated Kurobuta Pork Belly

Marinated Kurobuta Pork Belly

Carabineros Prawns

Carabineros Prawns

Pork Neck/Jowl and Banchan

Pork Neck/Jowl and Banchan

Chopped Tomahawk

Tomahawk Steak with Foie Gras Butter

I love this place!

I love this place!

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Filed under Culver City

My Safe Space

Nettle & Ricotta Gnudi with Asparagus, Bacon and Parmesan Cheese
While over-indulged college students these days are looking for “safe spaces” to avoid “micro-aggressions” and “triggers,” I’m just looking for a good place to eat. This is particularly hard in very touristy parts of the city where restaurants don’t have to cultivate repeat business from locals and need to merely have a good location to draw in out of town visitors. So I was surprised to find a new place in the uber-touristy Third Street Promenade/Downtown Santa Monica area that actually has really great food.

The Independence is a gastro-pub with a cool modern interior, creative cocktails and an eclectic menu of small plates. Some of my favorites dishes are the Ricotta Gnudi with Asparagus, Bacon and Parmesan Cheese (pictured above), the Purple and White Cauliflower with Romanesco, Thai Chili and Preserved Lemon and the Grilled Octopus with Smoked Beans, Grapes, Celery and Pickled Chili. If you’re a burger fan, their French Onion Soup-inspired Angus Burger with French Onions, Gruyere and Herb Aioli on an Onion Bun does not disappoint. For dessert, I recommend the Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce. Eating it puts me in my own personal and blissful safe space.

The Independence is located at 205 Broadway in Santa Monica.

Blue Crab and Shrimp Ceviche with Smoked Tomato Water, Cucumber and Avocado

Blue Crab and Shrimp Ceviche with Smoked Tomato Water, Cucumber and Avocado

Purple and White Cauliflower with Romanesco, Thai Chili and Preserved Lemon

Purple and White Cauliflower with Romanesco, Thai Chili and Preserved Lemon

Shaved Salad with Fennel, Endive, Almonds, Pear, Manchego and Pancetta

Shaved Salad with Fennel, Endive, Almonds, Pear, Manchego and Pancetta

Grilled Octopus with Smoked Beans, Grapes, Celery and Pickled Chili

Grilled Octopus with Smoked Beans, Grapes, Celery and Pickled Chili

Angus Burger with French Onions, Gruyere and Herb Aioli on an Onion Bun

Angus Burger with French Onions, Gruyere and Herb Aioli on an Onion Bun

Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce

Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce

Cool and casual

Cool and casual

A very long bar

A very long bar

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Filed under Santa Monica

Forget Your Troubles

Boiled Gyoza
With all the atrocities going on in the world today, sometimes you just want to consume comfort food and, specifically, a heavy does of consoling carbs. Beni Tora on Sawtelle has nine different kinds of gyoza, which equates to a whole lot of carb-y comfort or at least a food coma that will dull the pain for a short while. You can get these Japanese dumplings boiled, fried, filled with pork, shrimp or vegetables, and even a la gratin.

Another way to feel better is by way of a really good, reassuring bowl of fried rice. They have that too at Beni Tora, along with very tasty and soothing Dan Dan Men soup noodles. And if you’re worried that this Japanese carbfest will set your diet back for weeks, then I recommend an order of Beni Tora’s delicious Spicy Tofu, which will provide a complete healthy and protein-laden offset for all those fattening carbs. The math works.

Beni Tora is located at 2002 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles (in Satwelle Japantown/West Los Angeles).

Spicy Tofu

Spicy Tofu

Dan Dan Men

Dan Dan Men

Fried Rice

Fried Rice

Vegetable Stone Bowl Rice

Vegetable Stone Bowl Rice

Another great option when dining on Sawtelle

“Ben Tora” means “Red Tiger” in Japanese

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Filed under West LA

Consuming Portland

FullSizeRender

My daughter Chloe and I recently spent a long weekend in Portland, Oregon. It was the first time there for both of us. Chloe wanted to see Portland because her favorite television show is “Portlandia.” I went for the food.

In the past several years, Portland, just like LA, has been touted as one of the top food cities in the country. After completing a rigorous schedule of seemingly non-stop eating over the three days of our trip, I was not disappointed. I found Portland’s reputation as a foodie haven to be well deserved and I look forward to my next visit to this awesome city.

If you’re thinking about planning your own food trip to Portland, here are the places that I recommend visiting:

Maple Blazer Blunt, Portland Cream, Old Dirty Bastard and the Marshall Mathers Doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnuts

Maple Blazer Blunt, Portland Cream, Old Dirty Bastard and Marshall Mathers Doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnuts

Voodoo Doughnuts It’s undoubtedly the most popular food destination in Portland, with long lines usually outside its door. The kitschy and over-the-top decor and doughnut varieties are great fun, with the added bonus that the doughnuts are actually really good.

Bread with Fresh Sheep Cheese, Tomatoes and Basil from Ava Gene's

Bread with Fresh Sheep Cheese, Tomatoes and Basil from Ava Gene’s

Ava Gene’s This rustic Italian restaurant is owned by the founder of Stumptown Coffee Roasters and has quickly become one of most venerated spots in town. Although we had fantastic meat dishes here, the stars of the menu were their spectacular vegetable dishes.

Charcuterie Plate (including Steak Tartare, Quail Egg Toast, Foie Gras Bon Bon, and Beef Tongue Pastrami) from Beast

Charcuterie Plate (including Steak Tartare, Quail Egg Toast, Foie Gras Bon Bon, and Beef Tongue Pastrami) from Beast

Beast We were lucky to get into this tiny restaurant that has two seatings a night and serves everyone in the house the same extraordinary meat-centric tasting menu at the same time. The experience was intimate and magical. The food was divine.

Korean Pork Shoulder Sandwich with House Kimchi, Chili Mayo, Cilantro and Lime from Lardo

Korean Pork Shoulder Sandwich with House Kimchi, Chili Mayo, Cilantro and Lime from Lardo

Lardo This gourmet sandwich shop was our first stop in Portland; we went directly there from the airport. Even better than the sandwiches were their hand-cut and crispy “Dirty Fries,” which are topped with chunks of pork, marinated peppers, fried herbs and parmesan.

Blue Star Donuts

Blue Star Donuts

Blue Star Donuts This is the refined adult version of Voodoo Doughnuts. It sells small batch donuts made with the best ingredients in such varieties as Blueberry Bourbon Basil and Valrhona Chocolate Crunch. I was happy to learn that an LA location is opening on Abbot Kinney in Venice soon.

A Biscuit and a Brownie from Pine State Biscuits

A Biscuit and a Brownie from Pine State Biscuits

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Pine State Biscuits It’s the hippest, coolest restaurant chain in PDX. It specializes in biscuit sandwiches and other biscuit concoctions and is perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack. We went there twice.

A Trio of Hot Buttered Buns (with Pimento Cheese, Dungeness Crab, and Hot Chicken) from The Woodsman Tavern

A Trio of Hot Buttered Buns (with Pimento Cheese, Dungeness Crab, and Hot Chicken) from The Woodsman Tavern

The Woodsman Tavern A great place for Portland hipster watching, as well as consuming some super-tasty gastropub fare. We did some major carbo-loading here.

Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings from Pok Pok

Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings from Pok Pok

Pok Pok We had our favorite meal in Portland here. My daughter said it was the best meal of her life. Pok Pok has an extensive menu of insanely amazing creative Thai cuisine. The Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings are other-worldly. Lucky for us, they are opening an LA branch in the next few weeks.

Green Fennel & Maple and Carrot Carrot Cake Ice Creams from Salt & Straw Ice Cream

Green Fennel & Maple and Carrot Carrot Cake Ice Creams from Salt & Straw Ice Cream

Salt & Straw Ice Cream This shop had some of the best artisan ice cream I’ve ever tasted and was well worth the 45 minute line we had to wait in. Their regular flavor are excellent, but their special seasonal vegetable flavors like Carrot Carrot Cake and Green Fennel & Maple were even better.

Portlandia!

Portlandia!

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Filed under Outside Los Angeles

Carnivorous Consumption

Beef Tartare with Smoked Oysters, Cornichons, Shallot & Belcampo Yolk
Belcampo Meat Co. is one of my favorite stalls at Grand Central Market downtown. It’s an upscale butcher shop (part of a Northern California chain) that also serves some of the best burgers in the City. So I was really excited when I heard they were opening another location in Santa Monica that included a full-blown restaurant.

The new Santa Monica eatery has the feel of private club dedicated to hardcore connoisseurs of exotic game. Located behind the butcher shop, the windowless, dimly-lit dining room is sleek and art deco-esque with “animal hide” art hanging on the walls. A large illuminated bar is manned by gregarious hipsters who craft unique and tasty cocktails such as a House Bloody Mary with clarified tomato juice, bacon pepper vodka, celery ice cubes and candied bacon garnish, and a BBQ Old Fashioned garnished with housemade beef jerky.

But while Belcampo’s ambiance and menu signal an exotic food adventure, it has unfortunately been a disappointing one for me each time I’ve gone. I absolutely hated the fishy-tasting Beef Tartare made with smoked oysters. The bland Lamb Tartare was a little better, but I wouldn’t recommend that either. Other disappointments included the Grilled Beef Heart, a dish I’ve enjoyed before at other restaurants but missed the mark here, and a very gamey plate of Mutton Chops. My recommendation if you visit the restaurant is to sit at the bar and order the super tasty Cheeseburger with Beef Tallow Fries. Sometimes simplest is best.

Belcampo Meat Co. is located at 1026 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica. Its original Los Angeles location is still Downtown in Grand Central Market. A third location serving mainly burgers and hot dogs recently opened at 8053 W. 3rd Street, Los Angeles (Mid-City).

Lamb Tartare with Turmeric Oil, Spiced Yogurt & Papadum

Lamb Tartare with Turmeric Oil, Spiced Yogurt & Papadum

Pork Ribs with Apricot & Hot Mustard Sauce, with Jicama Slaw

Pork Ribs with Apricot & Hot Mustard Sauce, with Jicama Slaw

Grilled Beef Heart with Roasted Fennel & Peppers, Mizuna and Salsa Verde

Grilled Beef Heart with Roasted Fennel & Peppers, Mizuna and Salsa Verde

Meatballs with Pickled Fresno Chiles & Vietnamese Coriander

Meatballs with Pickled Fresno Chiles & Vietnamese Coriander

Mutton Chops with English Peas, Pomegranate and Mint Chutney

Mutton Chops with English Peas, Pomegranate and Mint Chutney

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with House Chorizo, Tequila & Apple Cider Vinegar

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with House Chorizo, Tequila & Apple Cider Vinegar

Belcampo Cheeseburger (this one is from the stall in Grand Central Market)

Belcampo Cheeseburger (this one is from the stall in Grand Central Market)

Banana Cream Pie

Banana Cream Pie

Butcher shop upfront

Butcher shop upfront

Knife covers!

Knife covers!

Not a fan of the decor

Not a fan of the decor

Although the bar is cool...

Although the bar is cool…

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Filed under Santa Monica

Son of a Birch

Hamachi with Grapefruit, Horseradish and Olive Oil

I’ve often heard that when God closes a door, he opens a window. I’ve recently found this to be true, except instead of God, it’s Chef Brendan Collins, and the door he closed was at Waterloo & City, his now-defunct modern British gastropub in Culver City. The opened window is Birch, Collin’s impressive new foodie haven of shared plates and creative cocktails. Nestled among the wood paneled bars and velvet-roped lounges of Hollywood, Birch and its stellar cuisine are welcome additions to a neighborhood where appearances are everything and, especially in the case of restaurants, form usually dominates at the expense of substance.

The menu is eclectic and seasonally driven. Of the dishes I’ve tried, my favorites are the Sweetbreads with Potato Gnocchi, Cauliflower and Preserved Lemon, the Hamachi with Grapefruit, Horseradish and Olive Oil (pictured above) and the Red Wine Foie Gros Risotto, which is so amazing it overshadows the Roast Baby Chicken that it accompanies. I also recommend the Rabbit Baklava with Bing Cherries, White Beans, Pistachios and Carrots. For dessert, the way to go is the hot Skillet Toffee Pudding with Burnt Sugar and Ice Cream “Defo Share.” Everyone loves a Hollywood ending and this one does not disappoint.

Birch is located at 1634 N Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles (in Hollywood).

Za'atar Flatbread with Persian Yoghurt

Za’atar Flatbread with Persian Yoghurt

Rabbit Baklava with Bing Cherries, White Beans, Pistachios and Carrots

Rabbit Baklava with Bing Cherries, White Beans, Pistachios and Carrots

Sweetbreads, Potato Gnocchi, Cauliflower and Preserved Lemon

Sweetbreads, Potato Gnocchi, Cauliflower and Preserved Lemon

Salmon

Grilled Salmon Wrapped in Birch Wood

Roast Baby Chicken with Red Wine Foie Gras Risotto and Bitter Greens

Roast Baby Chicken with Red Wine Foie Gras Risotto and Bitter Greens

Skillet Toffee Pudding with Burnt Sugar and Ice Cream "Defo Share"

Skillet Toffee Pudding with Burnt Sugar and Ice Cream “Defo Share”

An eclectic menu

An eclectic menu

In the heart of Hollywood

In the heart of Hollywood

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Brownie is the New Black

S'mores Brownie
Sometimes a cupcake just won’t cut it. You want something richer, denser, chewier. Macarons are too bougie. Pie slices are too proletarian. Filling this unfortunate baked dessert void is Beverly Hills Brownie Company, purveyor of elevated versions of a childhood favorite.

Beverly Hills Brownie Company serves 28 varieties of brownies and blondies, although not all of them of them are offered each day. Flavors include Classic Buttercream, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip, Mocha Latte, Poppyseed Blondie, Vanilla Salted Caramel Blondie, Peanut Brittle (made with dark chocolate, chunky peanut butter and peanut brittle from See’s Candies) and S’mores (a blondie made with graham crackers, toasted marshmallow and Hershey’s milk chocolate).

Prices vary between $3.75 to $4.25 per brownie (similar to that of Sprinkles Cupcakes) with discounts when you order a dozen. There are also mini-sized brownies for those who only want to dip their toe in chocolatey decadence and, for the ultimate hedonistic splurge, brownie ice cream sandwiches.

Beverly Hills Brownie Company is located at 315 N. Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills.

Vanilla Salted Caramel Blondie

Vanilla Salted Caramel Blondie

Peanut Brittle Brownie

Peanut Brittle Brownie

28 Varieties!

28 Varieties!

In the heart of Beverly Hills

In the heart of Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills Brownie Company is located at 315 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills.

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The Secret Patio

Skirt Steak with Oregano Chimichurri and Sea Urchin Butter
Summertime in LA and the livin’ is easy. Hot new dining spots are jumpin’ and the frequency of al fresco dining is high.

One of the coolest restaurants to open lately is Maré, where walking in is half the fun. You enter through a fast food grilled cheese shop owned by Maré’s chef, Eric Greenspan. Walk to the rear of the shop and continue along a hallway and up a few stairs through what appears to be an employee-only back area with rows of bulk goods, hanging uniforms and cleaning supplies. At last you you will reach a wooden door with a mysterious red symbol of a sailboat on it. On the other side of the door is paradise; a small outdoor waiting area with a foosball table and, beyond that, a beautiful clandestine dining patio where candles flicker and festive strings of lights hang from above.

After you are seated, plates of olives, peppers and kumquats are brought to your butcher paper-covered table, along with lemons and large seeded baguettes to enjoy with a fruit muddled cocktail or glass of wine. The feast has begun. The short menu consists of rustic Mediterranean-ish cuisine served on wooden platters. The best thing, by far, is the savory and sweet Branzino with Fig Pomegranate Sauce; it’s truly exceptional.

Also worth getting are the bowls of mussels, clams or shrimp with your choice of broth including Leek and White Wine, Spicy Sausage Romesco, and Vadouvan Curry and Green Apple. These shellfish dishes are served with bowls of spaghetti, poached eggs and instructions to create a second tasty dish by pouring the leftover broth onto the pasta and cracking the egg on top. The other featured entree, the Skirt Steak with Oregano Chimichurri and Sea Urchin Butter, is OK but sounds better than it tastes. I would avoid the Salt Roasted Potatoes, which were undercooked and had to be sent back at my recent dinner there. For dessert, go for the Blood Orange “Trifolo” with Semolina Cake and a tart Fruit Compote, which comes layered in a glass jar. It’s the best dessert I’ve had so far this summer.

Maré is located at 7465 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles (in Mid-City).

Seeded Baguette, Peppers, Olives, Kumquats and Lemon

Seeded Baguette, Peppers, Olives, Kumquats and Lemon

Crudité of Vegetables with Almond Romesco and House Ranch

Crudité of Vegetables with Almond Romesco and House Ranch

Arugula Salad with Red Onion, Cherry Tomatoes, Dates and Capers

Arugula Salad with Red Onion, Cherry Tomatoes, Dates and Capers

Pastilla of Duck Confit with Apricots, Pistachios and Spinach

Pastilla of Duck Confit with Apricots, Pistachios and Spinach

Mussels in Beef Broth with Sweet Corn, Pickled Onions and Oxtail

Mussels in Beef Broth with Sweet Corn, Pickled Onions and Oxtail

Part 2 of the mussels dish:  pour the broth on top of past and add an egg

Part 2 of the mussels dish: pour the broth on top of pasta and add an egg

Manila Clams in a Leek and White Wine Broth

Manila Clams in a Leek and White Wine Broth

Branzino with Fig Pomegranate Sauce

Branzino with Fig Pomegranate Sauce

Salt Roasted Potatoes with Bold Aioli

Salt Roasted Potatoes with Bold Aioli

Roasted Broccolini with Chili and Garlic Chips

Roasted Broccolini with Chili and Garlic Chips

Chili Chocolate Crepe with Nutella and Coffee Whipped Cream

Chili Chocolate Crepe with Nutella and Coffee Whipped Cream

Blood Orange "Trifolo" with Semolina Cake and Fruit Compote

Blood Orange “Trifolo” with Semolina Cake and Fruit Compote

Enter through Eric Greenspan's Grilled Cheese Shop

Enter through Eric Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese Shop

Continue through the restaurant's supply closet

Continue through the restaurant’s back supply area

The door to the secret patio

The door to the secret patio

Foosball while you wait

Fooseball while you wait

The end of your journey:  a beautiful restaurant patio

The end of your journey: a beautiful clandestine dining patio

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Filed under Fairfax, Mid-City, West Hollywood

The 10 Best Burger Joints in Los Angeles

Cassell's Hamburgers
If there’s one food that we excel at in Los Angeles, it’s hamburgers. There are no shortage of excellent eateries in this city at which to celebrate the holy marriage of grilled meat patty and bun, preferably with a thick slice of melted cheese, a whole mess of sautéed onions and a couple strips of bacon in between. It has been a life-long mission of mine to identify the very best of these local burger establishments. Here are my top ten favorites:

"The Burger" from Golden State with Harris Ranch Beef, Fiscalini Farms Cheddar,  Applewood Smoked Bacon, Arugula and Ketchup

“The Burger” from Golden State with Harris Ranch Beef, Fiscalini Farms Cheddar, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Arugula and Ketchup

10. The Golden State (426 N. Fairfax, Los Angeles) This little gem lies in the middle of all the hip hop shops and Jewish bakeries on Fairfax. All ingredients in their awesome burgers and other menu items are locally sourced from California including high-end Harris Ranch beef and award-winning Fiscalini cheddar.

Piku "Fig" Burger from Pono Burger with Housemade Drunken Caramelized Fig Jam, Organic Beef Patty, Fermier Brie Cheese, Niman Ranch Bacon and Crushed Hazelnuts

Piku “Fig” Burger from Pono Burger with Housemade Drunken Caramelized Fig Jam, Organic Beef Patty, Fermier Brie Cheese, Niman Ranch Bacon and Crushed Hazelnuts

9. Pono Burger (829 Broadway, Santa Monica) The funky looking metal structure that houses this joint (it looks like a mini airplane hanger) will draw you in. The Hawaiian-style burgers, sweet potato fries and salted caramel shakes will keep you coming back.

Chef Katsu's Original California Roll Hamburger with Snow Crab Salad, Avocado, Sushi Ginger, Boston Lettuce, Tomato, Nori, and Wasabi-Shoyu-Mayonnaise

Chef Katsu’s Original California Roll Hamburger with Snow Crab Salad, Avocado, Sushi Ginger, Boston Lettuce, Tomato, Nori, and Wasabi-Shoyu-Mayonnaise

8. 26 Beach Restaurant (3100 W. Washington Blvd in Venice) There are several places that have an extensive menu of over-the-top themed burgers such as a Peanut Butter & Jelly Burger. 26 Beach is the best of that lot. They are especially known for their “Sushi Burgers” including a California Roll Burger, and Spicy Tuna Burger and a Mori Eel Burger.

Cheese Burger from Pie 'n Burger with Homemade Thousand Island Dressing, Pickles and Lettuce

Cheese Burger from Pie ‘n Burger with Homemade Thousand Island Dressing, Pickles and Lettuce

7. Pie ‘n Burger (913 E. California Blvd, Pasadena) This old school diner with a long winding counter is a mandatory stop for me when I go to the Rose Bowl or am otherwise in Pasadena. As you can glean from the restaurant’s name, you’re missing out if you don’t order both a hamburger and a slice of one of their amazing pies.

Griddled Cheese Burger from Ledlow with American and Cheddar Cheeses, Red Onion, Dill Pickle, Dijon and Garlic Aioli

Griddled Cheeseburger from Ledlow with American and Cheddar Cheeses, Red Onion, Dill Pickle, Dijon and Garlic Aioli

6. Ledlow (400 S. Main St in Downtown) The newest restaurant of local superstar chef Josef Centeno (Baco Mercat, Bar Ama, Orsa & Winston), Ledlow is more than just a burger joint. However, their Griddled Cheeseburger seems to be the speciality of the house and has quickly drawn much-deserved acclaim from LA foodies.

Double Double from In-N-Out Burger

Double Double from In-N-Out Burger

5. In-N-Out (all over Los Angeles) Yes, it’s a fast food chain, but don’t hold that against it. At $3.60, the Double Double is the best deal in town and is better than most of the pricey burgers at nice restaurants. I like to add toppings from their secret menu, including chilies, grilled onions and pickles.

Hickory Burger from The Apple Pan

Hickory Burger from The Apple Pan

4. The Apple Pan (10801 W. Pico Blvd in Westwood) This 68-year-old diner is an LA landmark. All seating is at a U-shaped counter, where you’re served by uber-efficient grumpy old men. It’s super fun, especially late at night, and their Hickory Burgers are awesome.

Cheeseburger from Belcampo with Dry Aged Grass Fed Beef with Cheddar and Caramelized Onions

Cheeseburger from Belcampo with Dry Aged Grass Fed Beef with Cheddar and Caramelized Onions

3. Belcampo Meat Co (317 S Broadway in Downtown; also 1026 Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica) It’s perhaps more of a gourmet butcher shop than a burger joint, but the cheeseburgers sold at this stall in Grand Central Market are phenomenal. They’re made with a special Wagyu-Angus meat blend and are served on fresh sesame seed buns. Belcampo just opened a fancier restaurant in Santa Monica where you can also get a burger, but I’m partial to the ones served downtown.

The Hatch Burger from Umami Burger with Roasted Hatch Chilies, House Cali Cheese and Roasted Garlic Aioli

The Hatch Burger from Umami Burger with Roasted Hatch Chilies, House Cali Cheese and Roasted Garlic Aioli

2. Umami Burger (multiple locations) In a short period of time, this revolutionary burger restaurant has expanded into a ubiquitous chain throughout Los Angeles and has been widely emulated. Their burgers are made from specially seasoned meat blends and their Portuguese-style buns are sweetened with milk and honey. It’s a toss up for me as to which of their burgers is the best: the decedent truffle burger or the spicy hatch burger made with four types of green chilies.

Cheese Burger from Cassell's Hamburgers with House Ground Prime Beef Patty and Cheddar Cheese on a Parker House Bun.

Cheeseburger from Cassell’s Hamburgers with House Ground Prime Beef Patty and Cheddar Cheese on a Parker House Bun.

1. Cassell’s Hamburgers (3600 W 6th St in Koreatown) This is my new favorite burger joint in LA. First established in 1948, this restaurant recently reopened in a cool retro space in the historic Hotel Normandie. Now under new ownership, their burgers have some similarities to the ones which made Cassell’s an LA institution, but are significantly improved. They are now the perfect combination of gourmet excellence and classic style.

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Filed under Burbank, Canoga Park, Downtown, Fairfax, Glendale, Hermosa Beach, Hollywood, Inglewood, Koreatown, Los Feliz, Marina del Rey, Mid-City, North Hollywood, Northridge, Panorama City, Pasadena, Porter Ranch, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Toluca Lake, Tujunga, Van Nuys, Venice, West LA, Westlake Village, Westwood, Woodland Hills

Love Me Some Poké, Mon

Mango Albacore Poké with Ponzu-lime Sauce, Macadamia Nuts and Ginger
Swimsuit season is just around the corner. Time for spinning, pilates, cross-fit and the sad reality that getting in shape is going to involve some serious restraint in feasting for the next month or two. Fortunately, LA’s hottest food trend is a great way to eat healthy and ultimately shed some LB’s.

Hawaiian poké joints are all the rage right now in Los Angeles. For those unfamiliar with this Polynesian delicacy, poké is a raw salad usually made with fish. My favorite new poké place is Sweetfin Poké, which opened in Santa Monica a few weeks ago. It’s a fast food concept specializing in bowls of super fresh, cubed and sauced ahi, albacore, snapper and salmon prepared by Top Chef alum Dakota Weiss.

You can choose from one of Sweetfin Poké’s signature bowls or have them build you a custom version from an extensive list of ingredients. My favorite signature bowls are the Spicy Tuna Bowl with Creamy Togarashi Sauce, Hijiki and Avocado, and the Mango Albacore Bowl with Ponzu-Lime Sauce, Macadamia Nuts and Ginger. Each concoction is served on top of your choice of Jasmine Rice, Citrus-Kale Salad, or my favorite — super-low carb Kelp Noodles and Cucumber Slaw.

I recommend enjoying these Hawaiian delicacies with one of the restaurant’s housemade unsweetened infused ice teas or coconut waters in flavors such as Banana Date, Orange Mint, Guava and Coconut Basil with Lemongrass. Their crispy taro chips are not going to aid in slimming your waistline, but are delicious nonetheless.

Sweetfin Poké is located at 829 Broadway in Santa Monica.

Classic Tuna Poké with Classic Sauce, White and Green Onions and Red Chile over Citrus-Kale Salad

Classic Tuna Poké with
Classic Sauce, White and Green Onions and Red Chile over Citrus-Kale Salad


Spicy Tuna Poké with Creamy Togarashi Sauce, Hijiki, Avocado and Chile Marinated Oranges

Spicy Tuna Poké with Creamy Togarashi Sauce, Hijiki, Avocado and Chile Marinated Oranges


Red Snapper Poké with Yuzu Koshu, Chopped Serrano's, Fresh Ginger, Mango, Napa Cabbage and Chili Marinated Oranges

Red Snapper Poké with Yuzu Koshu, Chopped Serrano’s, Fresh Ginger, Mango, Napa Cabbage and Chili Marinated Oranges


Taro Chips

Taro Chips


Orange Mint and Guava Ice Teas

Orange Mint and Guava Ice Teas


In Santa Monica on Broadwayd

In Santa Monica


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Filed under Santa Monica

Checking All The Boxes

Chocolate Pie with Rye Crust, Peanut Crumble and Vanilla-Malted Ice Cream
Odys + Penelope, the most recent undertaking of the owners/chefs of the late Hatfield’s, checks every box of a new trendy LA restaurant:

1. A name which is actually two names connected by a “+” or a “&” such as Faith & Flower, Barrel & Ashes, Pine & Crane; who do we blame for starting this trend?
2. A space with an interesting lineage; O+P’s building originally housed a printing press; hence the restaurant being named after characters from Homer’s The Odyssey
3. A modern industrial chic interior which includes a communal table; O+P’s look is uber cool with exposed brick, a steel high beam ceiling and a concrete floor; the communal table is made from reclaimed wood
4. Creative craft cocktails; chipotle infused tequilla, anyone?
5. Small plates and/or bigger platters, all of which are intended for sharing
6. A themed twist on an otherwise eclectic menu; O+P’s specialty is Brazilian charrasco dishes
7. A commitment to local and sustainable ingredients
8. Some sort of unorthodox practice in connection with gratuity or additional amounts on your bill; here it’s a mandatory 18% service charge
9. Brussels sprouts
10. Kale

What distinguishes Odys + Penelope from many other new hot spots is that the food, for the most part, is really good and some dishes are exceptional. Pre-summer diets be damned, I highly recommend the Fried Wild Mushrooms with Persian Garlic Sauce. And although it looks like the odd man out on the menu, the House Made Pappardelle with Pork Belly Bolognese and Fried Sage is not to be missed. I also love the Marinated Niman Ranch Skirt Steak with Carrot Ginger Purre, Chilies, Cilantro and Radish. If you don’t order the Chocolate Pie with Rye Crust, Peanut Crumble and Vanilla-Malted Ice Cream (pictured above), you’re massively missing out.

Odys + Penelope is located at 127 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles.

Hot Skillet Focaccia, Dandelion Greens and Ricotta

Hot Skillet Focaccia, Dandelion Greens and Ricotta


Raw Hamachi Salad, Chickpea, Avocado, Cucumber, Preserved Lemon and Blood Orange

Raw Hamachi Salad, Chickpea, Avocado, Cucumber, Preserved Lemon and Blood Orange


Fried Wild Mushrooms with Persian Garlic Sauce

Fried Wild Mushrooms with Persian Garlic Sauce


House Made Pappardelle with Pork Belly Bolognese and Fried Sage

House Made Pappardelle with Pork Belly Bolognese and Fried Sage


Smoked Lamb Lettuce Wraps

Smoked Lamb Lettuce Wraps


Dry Aged Churrasco Sirloin Cap with Crispy Onions and Horseradish Cream

Dry Aged Churrasco Sirloin Cap with Crispy Onions and Horseradish Cream


Marinated Niman Ranch Skirt Steak, Carrot Ginger Puree, Chilies, Cilantro and Radish

Marinated Niman Ranch Skirt Steak, Carrot Ginger Puree, Chilies, Cilantro and Radish


Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Roasted Almond, Caper and Dried Apricot
Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding with Roasted Apple, Candied Pecan and Lime Ice Cream

Warm StickyToffee Pudding with Roasted Apple, Candied Pecan and Lime Ice Cream


A Beautiful Space

A Beautiful Space



Odys and Penelope on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Mid-City

And Then There’s Maude

Sturgeon with Tea, Tomburri and Dandelion

Maude is the pretty new girl at the ball that everyone wants to dance with. An ultra-ambitious endeavor by celebrity chef Curtis Stone, Maude serves solely a nine course fixed price tasting menu inspired by one seasonal ingredient which changes every month. This past January I dined with my wife and friends on a Pomegranate-centric menu. Other past monthly themes have included rhubarb, artichoke, morels, parsnips, berries and truffles.

The restaurant is beautiful, cozy and intimate. The whole place seats only 25 diners, and some of the courses are served directly by Curtis Stone himself. Reservations are extremely difficult to get and can require a lot of repeat dialing.

As for the food, while I thought it was good, the Pomegranate menu did not blow me away. Maybe my expectations were too high given the praise heaped on Maude by several friends and fellow bloggers. It’s not surprising, though, that a nine course menu which completely changes each month might not always be uniformly amazing.

The price each month varies based on the seasonal central ingredient, but ranges between $90-$125 with the exception of the truffle menu, which costs a whopping $250. This excludes wine, tax and a madatory 18% “service charge,” which they inform you is for the kitchen staff as well as your server, and you’re encouraged to leave a separate “tip” as well for your server. This is a new trend which I’m not a fan of. It’s confusing, makes you feel cheap for leaving 18-20% all-in, and is not the best way to end a nice evening of upscale dining.

Maude is located at 212 S. Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills.

Carrot Salad with Sunchoke, Blood Orange and Leeks

Carrot Salad with Sunchoke, Blood Orange and Leeks

Salmon Crudo with Rye, Radish and Celery

Salmon Crudo with Rye, Radish and Celery

Duck Terrine with Braised Red Cabbage and Frisee

Duck Terrine with Braised Red Cabbage and Frisee

Duck Raviolo with Winter Greens, Celeriac and Valoute

Duck Raviolo with Winter Greens, Celeriac and Valoute

Lamp Rump with Turnip, Cous Cous and Chard

Lamp Rump with Turnip, Cous Cous and Chard

Chocolate with Burnt Orange, Tarragon and Hazelnut

Chocolate with Burnt Orange, Tarragon and Hazelnut

Cookies

Cookies

Intimate and romantic

Intimate and romantic


Maude on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Beverly Hills