Consuming Chicago

Chicago is known for horrible weather, a population of friendly, unpretentious sports-loving folks and some of the best restaurants in the country. I recently spent five glorious, gluttonous days there. Together with my good pal Sandy, who directs TV shows in the Windy City and is a regular on the local foodie circuit, we went on an epic food adventure. Thankfully, I had gone on a diet for a month as preparation for the damage I would do on this short trip. Here are the rapacious details:

Chicago Mix at Nuts on Clark

Welcome to The Second City: Nuts on Clark Upon arriving at O’Hare Airport, I smell something amazing. My nose led me to an airport shop right outside my arrival gate that sells gourmet popcorn, a Chicago favorite, including this “Chicago Mix” of incredible savory Cheese Corn and sweet Caramel Corn (the latter of which is hidden below the Cheese Corn in the photo). It was the perfect way to kick off my food trip.

Mentaiko Kimchi Udon with Spicy Cod Roe, Kimchi and Seaweed from Mott Street

Meal #1: Mott Street This is Sandy’s favorite restaurant in Chicago and I could see why. The restaurant has awesome Asian-influenced cuisine, super-tasty cocktails and the coolest vibe in town.

“The Fat Rice” at Fat Rice

Meal #2: Fat Rice I loved the global-inspired Macanese cuisine at this uber cool eatery in Chi-town’s Logan Square Neighborhood. It has its own bakery next door for Portuguese Egg Tarts and Taro Morning Buns.

Hearts of Palm in Five Sections (Vanilla Pudding, Fava Beans, Bulgur Salad, Prune Purée and Black Truffle) at Next

Meal #3: Next I have been wanting to go to Chef Grant Achutz’s restaurant Next since it opened seven years ago and I finally go the chance on this trip. The menu, cuisine and dining experience at Next completely changes every four months. The menu while I was there was a retrospective on the first five years of Alinea, Achutz’s ever evolving and groundbreaking restaurant which I dined at the next night, providing an interesting contrast.

Do-Rite Donuts

Snack Time: Do-Rite Donuts After having viewed chef and owner Jeff Mahin’s mouthwatering donut porn on instagram for many years, I knew I had to include Do-Rite Donuts in my itinerary. I was not disappointed.

Cheeseburger from Au Cheval

Meal #4: Au Cheval This small hipster diner has been touted frequently for having the best cheeseburger in America. Of course I ordered one and added the optional thick-cut bacon and a fried egg. I was massively impressed.

Molecular Gastronomy Magic at Alinea

Meal #5: Alinea Grant Achutz’s renowned restaurant is one of the best in the world and the first place I made a reservation at when I booked my trip. It’s molecular gastronomy mixed with magic, insanely fun and creative, and a once in a lifetime experience. I was blown away.

Deep Dish Pizza with Sausage, Mushroom and Jalapeños at Pequods Pizza

Meal #6: Pequods Pizza I did a ton of research before selecting which pizza joint I would visit in a city which is famous for its thick crust pies, and I think I chose well. The individual pies at Pequods are baked to order and we waited a crazy long time to get our food, but the wait for these amazing culinary feats was worth it. The best part of the pizza was the caramelized cheese on the side of the crust.

Tomato and Onion Salad at Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse

Meal #7: Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse Sandy and I went old school at this iconic joint in the “Viagra Triangle” neighborhood. Our massive steaks did not photograph as well as they tasted so I’m posting this Tomato and Onion Salad.

Hot Dog at Portillo’s

Meal #8: Portillo’s Chicago-style hot dogs are another must-have for any visit to the Windy City. The ones at this famous and cavernous restaurant are perfect. I also consumed one of their famous Italian Beef sandwiches, as well as a vanilla frozen custard.

Wedding Rings Pasta with Pecorino, Clams, Meatballs, and Lemon at Giant

Meal #9: Giant Having dined at mostly Chicago classics during this trip, I wanted to visit one of the newer hotspots. Giant impressed me with with its fantastic New American Cuisine and amazing pasta dishes.

La Quercia Prosciutto with Multigrain Bread and Farm Butter at Publican Tavern

Meal #10: Publican Tavern My biggest regret leaving Chicago was that I could not squeeze in a dinner at The Publican. Fortuitously, on my way home, I discovered an O’Hare Airport location of the restaurant, where I enjoyed not only some damn fine charcuterie, but also the best spicy pork rinds I have ever consumed.

Wrigley Field

Airport send-off

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This Place Israeli Good

Halva is a confection made of sweetened sesame seed paste formed into a flaky block and is most often found at the cashier counter of a Jewish deli next to the chocolate covered jelly rings. At Bavel, halva is combined with foie gras and dollops of date paste to create a dip that is one of the best and most unique things I’ve tasted in a long time.

The Baba Ghanoush at Bavel is made not only with the traditional smoked eggplant, but also red walnuts and lemon chili salt. The Roasted Cauliflower is served with a green hawaij chile sauce and crème fraiche serrano dip with pistachios & edible dried flowers. In other words, this is not your mother’s Israeli restaurant (or, in my case, my mother-in-law’s Israeli restaurant since my wife’s parents are actually from Israel).

This is expertly executed Israeli fusion, presented for your enjoyment in a converted warehouse in the Downtown Arts District. It’s a buzzing hipster foodie scene with tasty craft cocktails and an open kitchen presided over by the talented couple that brought you Bestia a few block away. It’s well worth the shekels!

Bavel is located at 500 Mateo St, Los Angeles (Downtown in the Arts District).

Foie Gras Halva with Creamy Pâté, Date Paste, Black Sesame and Buckwheat Loaf

Baba Ghanoush with Smoked Eggplant Burnt Bell Pepper, Red Walnuts, Lemon Chili Salt and Fried Pita

Scallop Crudo with Pomegranate Molasses, Citrus, Burnt Serrano Chile Oil, Charred Cucumber, Mint and Black Sesame

Cucumber & Strawberry with Feta, Purslane, Tarragon, Citrus Vinaigrette and Nigella Seeds

Buttermilk Fried Quail with Cardamom Date Sauce, Pickled Celery, Smoked Yogurt and Herbs

Roasted Cauliflower with Hawaij Chile Sauce, Crème Fraiche Serrano Dip, Pistachios and Dried Flowers

Malawach with Ancient Grain Crispy Layered Bread, Grated Tomato, Dill Crème Fraiche, Aged Egg and Strawberry Zhoug

Grilled Lamb Saddle Chop with Licorice, Lime, Honey, Borage Vinaigrette, Green Almonds and Herb Salad

Wagyu Beef Cheek Tagine with Braised Cheeks, Chiles, Preserved Lemon, Turnips, Green Garbanzo and Couscous

Laffa Bread

Strawberry Sumac & Sweet Cheese Pastry

Vanilla Date Crème Brûlée with Soft Candied Orange Peel Shortbread

Rose Clove Chocolate Donuts with Bar au Chocolat Ganache and Sherry Diplomat Cream

Licorice Root Ice Cream Bonbon with Sour Licorice Caramel, Muscovado Cake, Caramelized White Chocolate and Maldon Salt

In the Downtown Arts District

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Something to Talk About

Hidden behind a door marked only with the letter “K” on the second level of the Third Street Promenade food court, an exciting adventure is being had by foodies. One of Chicago’s top chefs, Dave Beran, has relocated to LA and opened an intimate restaurant that serves only a tasting menu of approximately 18 course of New American cuisine with French and Japanese influences. The menu completely changes every three months with only a single dish linking each quarterly menu to the next.

The experience each night is akin to storytelling as Beran weaves an epic culinary tale that progresses through the seasons of the year with many surprises along the way. The attention to detail at Dialogue is staggering and while not every dish is a standout, many are excellent and all are interesting and thoughtful. This is a meal best appreciated by thinking about it as a whole rather than focusing too much on any of its many small parts.

You will need to purchase a ticket for this adventure rather than secure a traditional reservation. Gastronomic excellence of this nature never comes cheap and this experience will cost you between $175 and $200 plus tax (all service charges are included in the ticket price), but not including optional wine pairing for an additional $125-175 plus tax. Although there are a few tables in the restaurant, my recommendation is to go with just one other person and sit at the bar where you can converse with Beran as he and his staff compose each dish right in front of you. This kind of experience makes it well worth the splurge.

Dialogue is located at 1315 Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

Oyster Leaf with Lychee Mignonette

Spring Lamb, Green Blueberry, Nasfurtium

Frosted Geranium Leaf

Hamachi in Monochrome

Perilla, Fermented Cauliflower, Comma Song

Earl Grey, Pine Nut, Rose

Strawberry Sphere

Golden Osetra Caviar, Leek Fondue, Smoke

Sea Kelp, braised and fried

Sour Cherry Surprise

Fermented Black Bean, Watermelon Radish, Cocoa Nib

Spot Prawn, Long Bean, Chocolate Mint

Sun Gold Tomato and Pork Belly

Thirty Day Dry-aged Ribeye and Charred Watermelon

Foie Gras Acorn and Barrel-aged Quine Soda

Parsnip-Chai Pie

Chestnut, Malt, Honeycrisp

Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwich

Located in a secret room…

…in the Third Street Promenade food court.

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Filed under Santa Monica

Melrose Place

While looks aren’t everything, when it comes to food, it’s certainly true that we eat with our eyes first. Great chefs know this and no chef in Los Angeles is more talented in composing visually stunning plates than Kevin Meehan. At Kali, Meehan expertly arranges colorful edible flowers, delicate dehydrated lemon slices and wispy pea tendrils to create beautiful works of art.

Besides looking amazing, the seasonal California cuisine and drinks at Kali taste pretty awesome too. I recommend starting your meal with a “New Pad Thai” cocktail made with Green Chili Vodka, Aqua Perfect, Lime and Coconut Ice, and garnished with bean sprouts and a thin slice of carrot. Enjoy your cocktail with an order of Kali’s signature Black Barley “Risotto” with Fermented Garlic Tea and Fiscalini Cheese Crisp. For entrees, I recommend the Ribeye with Buttermilk Garlic Cream, Charred Onion, Potato, Mushrooms and Ash Sabayon, and the Duck Breast with Smoked Sunchoke, Sage, Squash and Coffee. For dessert, go for the hot sugary Buttermilk Doughnuts. You’re welcome.

Kali is located at 5722 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles (on the border between Hollywood and Larchmont).

Cocktails! New Pad Thai (St. George Green Chili Vodka, Aqua Perfecta, Lime and Coconut Ice) and On_the_DL (Vida Mezcal, Blood Orange, Salt & Pepper, Lime and Jalapeño)

Ridgeback Prawns with Citrus, Nasturtium, Pickled Kumquat, Chive Oil and Preserved Lemon Foam

Yellowtail Crudo with Charcoal, Avocado, Rice Chips, Nasturium and Charred Lemon

Beet Root Tartare with Whipped Creme Fraiche, Tender Garden Herbs, Black Garlic Vinagrette and Toast

Burrata Salad with Dill Pickled Carrots, Almond Granola, Mustard Frills and Whole Grain Toast

Black Barley “Risotto” with Fermented Black Garlic Tea, Wheat Grass and Fiscalini Cheese Crisp

Agnolotti with Smoked Parsnip, Egg Yolk Pasta, Fermented Turnips, Burnt Kale Oil and Almonds

Duck Breast from Liberty Farms with Smoked Sunchoke, Sage, Squash and Coffee

Black Cod with English Peas, Mint Oil, White Chocolate, Almond and Pea Tendrils

Ribeye with Buttermilk Garlic Cream, Charred Onion, Potato, Mushrooms, Ash Sabayon

Pork Loin with Tahitian Squash, Potato Gnocci, Raisin Gremolata and Swiss Chard

Duck Breast with Whipped Polenta, Fermented Blackberry, Fava, Coffee Oil and Kombucha

Bass with Preserved Lemon Steam, Tomato Raisins, Fermented Fennel-Kraut, Garden Herbs and Olive Foam

Buttermilk Doughnuts

Cool, modern and minimalist decor

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Filed under Hollywood, Larchmont, Mid-City

Haiku Review

Shibumi is a Japanese word which refers to an aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty. The LA restaurant Shibumi more than lives up to its name. Hidden away behind a signless facade and located on the ground floor of a parking structure in Downtown LA, the dimly lit restaurant has a cool minimalist vibe.

The food is modern Japanese and it’s across-the-board excellent; small plates of understated elegance featuring highly nuanced and subtle flavors. To describe my three favorite dishes at Shibumi, I’m going to employ another Japanese creation that also features simplicity and understated grace: the Haiku.

White Miso Almonds
Creamy, crunchy perfection
My new obsession

Hello yummy pork
Perfectly seasoned and grilled
Get in my belly

Sakura Mochi
Cherry leaf-wrapped sweet rice treat
Best happy ending

Shibumi is located at 815 S. Hill St., Los Angeles (Downtown). My book of food haikus will be published later this year.

Lotus, Sweet Potato and Young Burdock Chips

Steamed Rice Bread stuffed with Mushrooms and Pine Nuts

Rice Balls with Cherry Blossom and Green Peas

Grilled Heritage Pork in Koji, Pickled Daikon and Leek

Holstein Beef Strip, Fresh Wasabi and Nara-zuke Pickle

Japanese Chizu-keki (Cheesecake) and Pear

Sakura (Cherry Blossom) Mochi

Hidden away at the bottom of a parking structure in Dowtown

Dimly lit with a cool minimalist vibe

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Filed under Downtown

The Room Where it Happens

Thomas Jefferson is experiencing a pop culture renaissance these days. As the preening, scheming villain of the hip-hop musical Hamilton, Jefferson is portrayed in a surprisingly less-than-flattering way. But I was equally surprised recently to see homage paid to Jefferson at Felix, one of the hottest new restaurants in LA, where a portrait of our third President hangs on the wall of its temperature-controlled “Pasta Lab” and the kind of pasta machine used by Jefferson sits on display.

Jefferson apparently was a master gourmand and a huge fan of pasta just like Felix’s talented chef, Evan Funke. But while Jefferson preferred Macaroni and Cheese, Funke wows patrons with Pappardelle Bolognese, Rigatoni All’ Amatriciana and Gnocchetti with Oxtail Ragu. All are handmade and exceptional.

Although the pastas are the standouts at this Abbot Kinney Italian Trattoria, the anti-pasti (appitizers), pizzas and meat dishes are also excellent. I especially love the spicy Diavola Pizza with Pomodoro Sauce, Smoked Fior di Latte Cheese and Salame Napoletano. For dessert, I strongly suggest you order the super moist Olive Oil Cake with Cara Cara Orange Crema, or you may find yourself asking “What did I miss?”

Felix is located at 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Los Angeles (in Venice).

Ricotta con la Vignarola

Misticanza Salad with Lettuce, Radish and Herbs

Pappardelle with Ragu Bolognese “Vecchia Scuola” and Parmigiano Reggiano

Sottadita D’Agnello (Lamb Chop) with Peas and Herbs

Olive Oil Cake with Cara Cara Orange Crema

The Pasta Lab

The Dining Room


Filed under Venice

My New Best Friend

If Here’s Looking at You (HLAY), the new small plate hotspot in K-town, was a person, I’d want us to be best friends. HLAY collects old books and is a fan of classic films; in addition to its Casablanca-inspired name, its yummy cocktails are called things like “Cutting Room Floor,” “Femme Fatale” and “Dickensian Villian.” Gregarious, creative and quirky, HLAY is a blast to be around.

Most importantly, HLAY knows a thing or two about amazing eats. HLAY’S Beef Tartare with Red Chili, Ramps, Yolk and Turnip is raw awesomeness. Its Momotaro Tomato Salad with Bagna Cauda, Lap Xuong Sausage and Creme Fraiche is a playful and incredibly delicious take on a BLT. And its Pork Belly with Vadouvan, Pistau and Dates is fatty and fabulous. Yep, HLAY and I are going to be seeing a lot of each other.

Here’s Looking at You is located at 3901 W. 6th St., Los Angeles (in Koreatown).

Beef Tartare, Red Chili, Ramps, Yolk and Turnip

Yellowtail with Wakame, Soubise, Kiwi, Serrano Chili and White Soy

Momotaro Tomato, Bagna Cauda, Lap Xuong, Creme Fraiche

Sprouted Broccoli with Ginger, H.O.P., Seeds and Nuts

Pork Belly, Vadouvan, Pistau and Dates

Hamachi Collar, Hot Paprika, Apple and Snake Peas

Beef Cheek with Daikon, Dashi and Aleppo

Yuzu Sherbet, Saffron, Sesame and Koji Cream

A Happening Spot in K-town

I’ve been hunting for a cool place like this to eat.


Filed under Koreatown

14 Best Peanut Butter Treats in LA for 2018

I am a peanut butter fanatic, a peanut butter fiend, a peanut butter junkie. I am nuts about peanut butter and I love it more than almost anything else. If a restaurant or bakery has a peanut butter dessert on the menu, I automatically order it. And I always keep a jar at home in the fridge for snacking or adding to other desserts. After years of dedicated research, I share with you my 14 current favorite peanut butter treats in Los Angeles (in no particular order).

Peanut Butter Meringue Pie from Pie 'n Burger

1. Peanut Butter Meringue Pie from Pie ‘n Burger (913 E. California in Pasadena) This is one awesome pie. Creamy and delicious peanut butter pudding in a delcious butter crust topped with meringue. They serve it every other day, alternating with Butterscotch Meringue Pie.

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream from Mashti Malone's

2. Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream from Mashti Malone’s Ice Cream (1525 N. La Brea Ave. in Hollywood) This frozen treat is rich and creamy with chunks of peanut butter and chocolate. It’s surprising that a store famous for their Persian rosewater ice creams and sorbets would make the best peanut butter ice cream in the city, but they do!

“Old School” Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam Sandwich from PBJ.LA

3. “Old School” Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam Sandwich from PBJ.LA (317 S. Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles) The hippest new stall in Grand Central Market is a purveyor of old school goodness, including this round sandwich of house-made peanut butter and house-made jam on two slices of soft crustless white bread which have been pressed together around the edges to form a pocket.

The Huell from Stan's Doughnuts

4. The Huell from Stan’s Doughnuts (10948 Weyburn Ave. in Westwood) Stan’s actually makes three amazing peanut butter doughnuts: a Peanut Butter & Banana Doughnut, a PB&J Doughnut and “The Huell,” with chocolate chips and peanut butter, named after local TV celebrity Huell Howser.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Cake with McConnell’s Double Peanut Butter Chip Ice Cream from Charcoal Venice

5. Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Cake with McConnell’s Double Peanut Butter Chip Ice Cream from Charcoal Venice (425 Washington Blvd, Marina Del Rey) If this rich, moist layer cake made with chocolate and peanut butter wasn’t decadent enough, it’s served with a generous scoop of McConnell’s incredible Double Peanut Butter Chip Ice Cream.

Peanut Butter Popcorn from California Frozen Poppers

6. Peanut Butter Popcorn from California Frozen Poppers (7138 Shoup Ave, West Hills) If you’ve never had frozen popcorn, this is a good place to start. The Peanut Butter flavor at this awesome store is crunchy, salty and perfectly sweet.

Peanut Brittle Cookie from M Street Kitchen in Santa Monica

Peanut Butter Cookie from M Street Kitchen

7. Peanut Butter Cookie from M Street Kitchen (2000 Main St, Santa Monica) This is my favorite peanut butter cookie in town. It pairs well with a nice glass of milk.

Peanut Butter Chip Cupcake from Sprinkles Cupcakes

8. Peanut Butter Chip Cupcake from Sprinkles Cupcakes (9635 S. Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills) This is my all-time favorite cupcake. Chocolate chip-studded peanut butter cake with peanut butter frosting covered in chocolate sprinkles. They only have them on Tuesdays and Sundays.

Peanut Butter and Marshmallow Cakewich from Cake Monkey

9. Peanut Butter and Marshmallow Cakewich from Cake Monkey Bakery (7807 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles) Happiness is a yummy yellow cake sandwich filled with peanut buttercream, housemade marshmallow and coated with bittersweet chocolate.

Peanut Butter Icebox Pie from Magnolia Bakery

10. Susie’s Nutty (Whoppie Pie) from SusieCakes (Locations in Los Angeles, Calabasas, Woodland Hills, Studio City, Brentwood, Manhattan Beach and Marina del Rey) Who wouldn’t love two chewy peanut butter cookies sandwiched with peanut butter buttercream?

Susie’s Nutty (Whoopie Pie) from SusieCakes

11. Peanut Butter Icebox Pie from Magnolia Bakery (8389 W. 3rd Street in Mid-City) This is one of several peanut butter offerings from one of my favorite bakeries in the city. It has a super light, creamy and delicious filling which sits atop a denser crust. I can devour a slice in about five seconds flat.

Peanut Butter Stuffed Mochi from Fugetsu-Do

12. Peanut Butter Stuffed Mochi from Fugetsu-Do (315 E. 1st St. in Little Tokyo/Downtown) This sweet shop has some of the best mochi in town and my favorites are these soft and chewy mochi disks stuffed with peanut butter. It’s the Japanese equivalent of an Abba Zabba bar!

Deep Fried Fluffer Nutter with Fresh Bananas from Black Market Liquor Bar

13. Deep Fried Fluffer Nutter with Fresh Bananas from Black Market Liquor Bar (11915 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City) Top Chef’s Antonia Lofaso has created this dessert sandwich of peanut butter, marshmallow and bananas on sweet brioche, which is covered with panko bread crumbs and deep fried until golden. It’s wicked good!

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwich from Diddy Riese

14: Diddy Riese Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwich (926 Broxton Ave. in Westwood) There always seems to be a line outside Diddy Riese, which bakes up delicious cookies. I love their ice cream sandwich made with Dreyer’s Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream and peanut butter cookies. At $2.50, the price can’t be beat!

If you enjoy Consuming LA, please subscribe, like me on facebook and/or follow me on instagram and twitter at the top right of this page. And please forward to your friends!


Filed under Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Calabasas, Downtown, Hollywood, Manhattan Beach, Marina del Rey, Mid-City, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Studio City, West Hills, Westwood, Woodland Hills

Great Danes

Denmark is ranked every year as the happiest country in the world. With the amazing food scene they have there, this is hardly a surprise. My daughter and I recently visited Copenhagen for the first time and, in addition to falling in love with this beautiful Scandanavian metropolis, we had one of the best and happiest meals of our lives at a mind-blowing restaurant called Kadeau.

Dinner at Kadeau involves a fifteen course tasting menu celebrating the tiny Danish wilderness island of Bornholm, where Kadeau’s sister restaurant resides and from where many of the ingredients have been sourced and harvested. There are savory tarts of king crab, tomato, caramelized cream and sugar kelp, as well as flower-shaped ice bowls cradling mini apples spiced with black currant leaf, rhubarb root and silver fir. There is homemade bread roasted with herb butter infused with cherry wood embers, as well as hay-roasted slices of celeriac on beds of white asparagus sauce which are whimsically (and, yes, deliciously!) peppered with wood ants.

Every dish is amazing and the experience is transcendent; a brilliant blend of creative culinary mastery and Danish hygge (the cozy enjoyment of life’s simple pleasures). Service is impeccable and, if you play your cards rights, you can get a tour of the kitchen, hang out with the friendly chefs and hear about the philosophy of the restaurant. Dinner at Kadeau is, just by itself, worth the trip to Copenhagen.

Smoked Mackerel, Cockles and Wild Carrot


Preserved Vegetables, Cherry Blossom and Salted Gooseberry

Sauerkraut, Parsley, Oysters and Lyme Grass

Smoked Salmon, Figs and Rosehip Vinaigrette

Roasted Bread, Herb Butter Infused with Cherry Wood Embers

Tart of King Crab, Tomato, Caramelized Cream and Sugar Kelp

Scallop, Horseradish and Scots Pine Flowers

Celeriac, Buttermilk Whey, White Asparagus, Woodruff and Ants

Barley, Parsley Seeds and Cured Duck

Cured Danish Beef, Kale, Hemp and Bone Marrow

Chicken Wing, Black Garlic, Beach Onions and Leek Flowers

Ymer, Buttermilk Fudge, Potato and Chamomile

Plum, White Currant and Schnapps

Honey Cakes made with Bees Wax

Caramelized Buttermilk Tart topped with Pinecones

The Library Lounge where your adventure begins with a pre-dinner cocktail

The Dining Room

The Kitchen

The Chefs


Filed under Outside Los Angeles

The 10 Best Things I Consumed in 2017

As we bid adieu to 2017, let’s just focus on the good stuff. And by “good stuff,” I mean the food we consumed to tantalize our taste buds, lift our spirits and provide a bit of pleasure in these ever-changing and uncertain times. Keeping with tradition, here is my annual list of the ten best things I ate and wrote about during the past year:

Shul Lung Tang (Korean bone broth) from Han Bat

10. Shul Lung Tang from Han Bat. Is bone broth a miracle elixir that will cure all your ailments, align your chakras and balance your chi? Probably not, but there’s nothing better than a hot bowl of this soup on a cold rainy day.

Pork Chop “Niman Ranch” from Salazar

9. Pork Chop “Niman Ranch” from Salazar. The penultimate dish on my top ten list is smoky, fatty and juicy. As excited as I am about this pork chop, I’m equally excited about using the word “penultimate” in my post.

Flaky Bread with Labneh, Preserved Lemon and Honey from Kismet

8. Flaky Bread from Kismet. The servers at Kismet are flaky and so is the hipstery restaurant’s best dish: a melt-in-your-mouth pan-fried bread served with labneh, preserved lemon and honey.

Banchan from Genwa

7. Banchan from Genwa. We all like free things, and the ridiculous amount of complimentary banchan (side dishes of fermented vegetables, fishcake, seasoned peanuts, braised beef, scallion pancakes and other Korean delicacies) at this Korean BBQ joint has the additional benefit of being exceptionally tasty.

Ceviche Tostada from Holbox

6. Ceviche Tostada from Holbox. How do you make an octopus laugh? With ten-tickles. The Ceviche Tostada at Holbox is a lot better than that joke.

Macarons from Ladurée

5. Macarons from Ladurée. The French know a thing or two about creating incredible baked confections. I know a thing or two about eating them.

Marinated Short Ribs from Chosun Galbee

4. Marinated Short Ribs from Chosun Galbee. I know what you’re thinking: Where’s the beef? It’s right here at #4 and it’s amazing.

Fresh Uni in the Shell from Jolly Oyster

3. Fresh Uni in the Shell from Jolly Oyster. Fun fact: uni is actually a sea urchin’s gonads. These gonads are especially delicious when eaten right out of the shell at the Jolly Oyster stall at DTLA’s weekly Smorgasburg.

Pastrami Sandwich from Ugly Drum

2. Pastrami Sandwich from Ugly Drum. “Oy gevalt!”…is something you will not be saying when you eat this pastrami masterpiece (which is also found at Smorgasburg).

Carrot Mole Enchiladas from Trois Familia

1. Carrot Mole Enchiladas from Trois Familia. You haven’t really had carrot mole enchiladas until you’ve had the ones from Trois Familia. They are insanely good and the best thing that I consumed and wrote about in 2017.

If you enjoy Consuming LA, please subscribe, like me on facebook and follow me on twitter and instagram at the top right of this page. And please forward to your friends!


Filed under Beverly Hills, Frogtown, Koreatown, Los Feliz, Mid-City, Silverlake, South Los Angeles

10 Best Korean BBQ Joints in LA

There are few things in the world that I love more than Korean BBQ. Nothing beats gathering around a fiery tabletop grill with your friends while marinated meats are cooked to perfection right in front of you. Grab a hot piece of caramelized short rib with your chopsticks and pop it in your mouth followed by a swig of cold Korean beer. Yes, life is good.

After years of extensive research, here are my 10 favorite Korean BBQ restaurants in LA:

Kang Ho-dong Baekjeong

1. Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong (3465 W 6th St, Los Angeles) Part of a chain from Seoul owned by a comedian/wrestler, this place has everything you want in a Korean BBQ joint: a super fun and bustling atmosphere, fantastic service and incredible food. The only downside: they don’t take reservations and there is always a long wait.

Chosun Galbee

2. Chosun Galbee (3330 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles) While the food here is authentic and traditional (and absolutely amazing), I’ve found Chosun Galbee to be very accessible for Korean BBQ novices and it’s where I usually bring first-timers. Everything here is big — the menu, the restaurant (including a large patio) and the flavors. There are private rooms in the back which are perfect for parties. My favorites here are the chadol (thiny sliced brisket), spicy pork bulgogi and marinated galbi.

Magal BBQ

3. Magal BBQ (3460 W 8th St, Los Angeles) Magal is the cool new kid in town. It’s a recent import from a successful chain in Korea and has a party-like atmosphere. Make sure to check out their signature Beef Sushi and Volcano Fried Rice.

Genwa Korean BBQ

4. Genwa Korean BBQ (5115 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles and 170 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills) The big draw here is the banchan, the little side dishes of kimchi and other fermented vegetables, sliced pancakes, potato salad, boiled peanuts, braised beef and other Korean delicacies. While most Korean BBQ places give you between 4 and 7 different kinds of banchan, Genwa gives you around twenty different varieties and, as with virtually all Korean restaurants, they’re all refillable upon request.

Park’s BBQ

5. Park’s BBQ (955 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles) This joint is the top choice for ballers and foodies who demand the highest quality meats and don’t mind paying the highest prices. Their heavily marbelized Wagyu beef may ruin you for all other Korean BBQ.

Soowan Galbi

6. Soowan Galbi (856 S Vermont Ave B, Los Angeles) While the decor of this small strip mall eatery is a bit plain and the atmosphere is a bit staid, the BBQ is anything but dull. The quality of the food here is incredible and their marinated meats are among the best in town.


7. Hanjip (3829 Main St, Culver City) Owned by celebrity chef Chris Oh and LA restaurant maven Stephane Bombet, Hanjip is one of the few great LA Korean BBQ places outside of Koreantown. It’s also my favorite of the all-you-can-eat joints. In addition to the meats, make sure to order their incredible Kimchi Fried Rice, Uni Steamed Egg and Bone Marrow Corn Cheese. For extra fun, enjoy Soju poured into your mouth through a marrow bone “luge.”

Quarters Korean BBQ

8. Quarters Korean BBQ (3465 W 6th St, Los Angeles) Located in historic Chapman Plaza in the center of K-town, this is where I usually wind up when the line is too long at neighbor restaurant Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong. It’s fun and modern and they have great banchan and excellent bulgogi.

Soot Bull Jeep

9. Soot Bull Jeep (3136 W 8th St, Los Angeles) The pork baby back ribs here are insanely good. All of the meat is cooked at your table on charcoal grills, which adds a great smokey flavor to your food. The charcoal smoke fills up the restaurant and creates a magical atmosphere on a cold wintery night. The fact that the smokey smell remains in your clothes and hair when you leave is a small price to pay for all of that charcoal grilled goodness.

Chung Ki Wa

10. Chung Ki Wa (3545 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles) This traditional looking joint has old school charm and solid BBQ. The galbi is especially good here. Make sure to also order their famous cold buckwheat noodles.

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Filed under Beverly Hills, Culver City, Koreatown, Mid-City

The New Cruelty

Kismet, a newish hipster hot spot in Los Feliz, does a couple things right and couple things horribly wrong. On the bright side, their Mediterranean fusion fare is pretty awesome. Their melt-in-your-mouth “Flaky Bread” (similar to Roti) is phenomenal, especially when dipped in a combo of labneh, preserved lemon and honey. Their Shakshuka (poached eggs in a tomato stew) which you sop up with chewy seeded Barbari Bread is also a winner. Their signature daytime dish, called the “Turkish-ish Breakfast,” is the best of all with little tastes of different yummy things such as olives, dates, persian cucumber salad, marinated feta and a spiced soft-boiled egg.

However, as good as the food is, a dining experience is always going to leave a bad taste in your mouth if the service is bad, and unfortunately the service at Kismet is surprisingly disappointing. Vanishing servers, hour long waits to get your food after ordering, and an air of indifference from the front of house staff are major buzzkills. Adding insult to injury is the fact that Kismet adds a non-discretionary 20% service charge to all bills, which might contribute to the lack of hospitality of the serving staff who take home generous tips regardless of satisfied patrons.

The other thing to be wary of at Kismet is the food is quite overpriced. That “Turkish-ish Breakfast,” for example, costs a whopping $24 and if you want more than the couple pieces of bread they include with the dish (which you probably will), you will get charged extra for that. It’s expensive to be an Eastside hipster foodie.

Kismet is located at 4648 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles in Los Feliz.

Turkish-ish Breakfast

Marinated Feta with Tomato, White Grapefruit and Marigold

Soft-boiled Eggs

Flaky Bread with Labneh, Preserved Lemon and Honey

Sesame Walnut Granola with Fruit and Yogurt

Lemon Verbena Custard with Apple with Strawberries and Salt & Pepper Tuile

Located in Hipsterville


Filed under Los Feliz

Not for Bro-ing Down

Ladurée is not a good place to bro-down. It’s not ideal for hanging with the guys, drinking craft beers and discussing snowboarding or Blake Griffin’s dominance on the court. Ladurée is for sipping fragrant and flowery teas that have names like “Josephine,” “Mathilde” and “Marie Antoinette.” It’s for nibbling dainty finger sandwiches on fine china between shopping jaunts at Chanel and Van Cleef. It’s for purchasing delicate Rose Petal and Lavender Macarons in cute little pink boxes.

Located among the luxury shops of Beverly Hills, Lauderée is part fancy bakery counter and part French café/tea room. It’s an import from Paris, where the chain is known for incredibly delicious macarons, as well as incredibly long lines of tourists. The savory food, which unsurprisingly includes several salad options, is pretty good. They also serve high tea so it’s perfect for grandma’s birthday celebration or a post-ballet recital treat. If you really need to bro-down, Mastro’s Steakhouse is only a couple blocks away.

Ladurée is located at 311 N Beverly Dr in Beverly Hills. There is also a location in The Grove.

Delicate Pastries

Pastel Macarons

Pretty Boxes

Petite Lobster Rolls

Cute Mini Burgers

Fragrant and Flowery Tea

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Filed under Beverly Hills, Mid-City

Happy Breakfast to Me

Some people love breakfast. I am not one of those people. In ranking breakfast, lunch and dinner, breakfast comes in a distant third for me. This may be partly because I don’t love eggs or cereal, but mainly it’s due to my preference of getting extra sleep instead of having a sit-down morning meal. But if I am going to be dragged out of bed early on a Saturday or Sunday to meet friends for breakfast, then I’m probably going to insist we dine at Trois Familia.

Trois Familia is the third collaboration (after Trois Mec and Petit Trois) of three of LA’s most talented and inventive chefs: heavily tatted French bad-boy Ludo LeFebvre and the dynamic duo of elevated comfort food, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (of Animal and Son of a Gun). Located in a strip mall in Silver Lake, the restaurant has everything you want in a breakfast or brunch joint and many things you didn’t know you wanted: an eclectic menu of creative French and Mexican specialties, glossy white picnic tables, a display of vintage hula dolls over the counter, and a horde of Eastside hipsters queuing up to secure a table.

There’s icy cups of Horchata, edible asterisks of Maple-chili-glazed Bacon, hot plates of Churro French Toast topped with melty Salt & Straw Ice Cream and mind-blowing Carrot Mole Enchiladas. And to celebrate your success in getting out of bed and procuring such a delicious breakfast, you can end your meal with a yummy slice of Tres Leches Birthday Cake served with a lit candle. Singing and presents are optional.

Trois Familia is located at 3510 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles (in Silver Lake) and is open daily between 9am and 2pm. If you enjoy Consuming LA, please subscribe, like me on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter or Instagram @ConsumingLA at the top right of this page. And please forward to your friends!

A Bacon Asterisk! (Nueske’s Bacon with Maple-chili Glaze)

Carrot Mole Enchiladas with Crème Fraiche and Cilantro

Churro French Toast with Salt & Straw Vanilla Ice Cream and Mexican Chocolate

Crispy Hash Brown Chilaquiles, Sunny Side Up Egg, Cotija and Salsa Macho

Double Decker Potato Tacos, Lime, Crème Fraiche, Carrot, Pico and Jack Cheese


A very hipstery brunch place

“French-Mexican Food”

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Filed under Silverlake

Go Fish

Some of my favorite Mexican food in Los Angeles comes from a stall in a hidden food court/marketplace called the Mercado la Paloma in South LA, a few blocks from USC. The stall is Chichen Itza and it serves amazing and unusual specialities from the Yucatán region of Mexico including a mind-blowing Queso Relleno. Now the chef of Chichen Itza, Gilberto Cetina Jr., has opened up a second stall in the Mercado la Paloma which specializes in Yucatán seafood dishes. The new creation is called Holbox and it does not disappoint.

The Ceviche Tostadas at Holbox with local wild-caught Red Rock Fish, Ocotopus and/or Shrimp are not to be missed. I also recommend the sweet and tangy Cocktel de Cameron (Shrimp Cocktail) and the Wood Grilled Fish Tacos. If you like your food spicy, make sure to try Chef Cetina’s housemade salsas. My favorite is the smokey Chili de Arbol Guajillo. Muy delicioso!

Holbox is located in Mercado la Paloma at 3655 S. Grand Ave, Los Angeles (in South LA).

Scallop al Carbon (Wood Grilled single diver scallop served in its shell with Chile X’cotic sauce)

Cocktel de Camaron (Shrimp Cocktail)

Quintet of Hot Sauces

Chef Gilberto Cetina Jr. shucking oysters

Mercado la Paloma

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Filed under South Los Angeles

Brooklyn’s Here

Of all the neighborhoods in LA, Downtown remains my favorite in terms of interesting new restaurants and unique food experiences. With Smorgasburg now happening every Sunday in the Arts District, Downtown has gotten even cooler.

A spinoff of Brooklyn’s outdoor foodie market of the same name, Smorgasburg in LA has something for everyone and, for someone like me, it requires a lot of tough decisions. Do I go for a Peruvian Pomegranate-glazed Pork Belly Taco or a giant Korean Shrimp Mandoo Dumpling with Carrot Juice Dough? Should I satisfy my sweet tooth with a Filipino Blue Velvet Butterscotch Ensaymada or a Donut stuffed with speculoos (Belgian cookie butter), glazed with chocolate and topped with sea salt. Usually my answer to these dilemmas is “all of the above,” but with the large amount of excellent vendors each week curated by expert food blogger/podcaster Zach Brooks, choices unfortunately need to be made.

Of course there are some easy calls. The insanely amazing sliced-to-order Pastrami on Rye Sandwich from Ugly Drum is an absolute must-have, as are the BBQ Pork Ribs from Black Sugar Rib Company. Fresh Uni in the Shell from Jolly Oyster is also something not to be missed. Besides all of the food options, Smorgasburg has live music, craft vendors, a beer garden and picnic benches to eat on. It’s all located in an outdoor section of an exciting and newly gentrifying mixed-use warehouse complex called ROW DTLA, which has a few really cool high-end shops already open and and will add many more unique shops, as well as restaurants, in the next several months.

Smorgasburg is located in ROW DTLA at 777 S. Alameda St, Los Angeles and happens every Sunday between 10am and 4pm.

Fresh Uni in the Shell from Jolly Oyster

Mandoo Korean Fusion Dumpling from Workaholic

Awesome BBQ from Black Sugar Rib Company

“The Nomad” (Chicken Burger with Truffle Mayo, Frisée & Pickled Shallots) from the NoMad Truck

Serio Smoothie from Verde with avocado, macs, kale, dates and almond milk.

Brothecary Dumpling & Broth

Lobsterdamus and Little Llama Peruvian Tacos

Lychee Butterflypea and Thai Float from Popdup

Bubble Waffle with Chocolate Ice Cream, Marshmallows and Honey Crackers from Yellow Business

Lots of choices of Filipino pastries from Ensaymada Project

My old friend Donut Friend is here.

Something for everyone

Which way to the Beer Garden?

Live music!

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Filed under Downtown

No Bones About It

There has been no food in the past couple years trendier than bone broth. Pitched as a miracle cure for all kinds of ailments and an elixir to make you look and feel younger, both Silverlake hipsters in flannel shirts and Santa Monica health food fanatics in yoga pants are lining up to buy overpriced jars of the stuff. But long before the bone broth craze, Han Bat was selling steaming hot bowls of Shul Lung Tang — Korean Bone Broth — in a divey little hole-in-the-wall in the heart of Koreatown.

The menu at Han Bat could not be simpler. They serve only two kinds of dishes besides the complimentary kimchi and rice: Suyuk (boiled beef) or Oxtail Soup with noodles and either brisket, flank steak, tongue, mixed meats or, for the adventurous, a combo of intestines, tripe and spleen. The soup is milky white as a result of the bones being boiled down for hours and it’s served with containers of green onions and salt so you can season it to your liking. I’m not sure if there are any real health benefits to bone broth, but the Sul Lung Tang at Han Bat is tasty and inexpensive; the perfect comfort food for a rainy day or a cold winter night.

Han Bat Shul Lung Tang is located at 4163 W 5th St, Los Angeles (in Koreatown)

Cabbage Kimchi

Radish Kimchi

Salt and Green Onions to season your soup

Spartan digs

A menu without complicated and confusing options, but with Intestine, Tripe & Spleen!

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Filed under Koreatown

Frogtown Hipster Hang

There’s a bike path that my family loves along a revitalized section of the LA River where much of the concrete has been dug up and replaced with tropical plants and populated with exotic birds. It starts at the edge of Griffith Park, runs down the border of Atwater Village and Silver Lake, and continues through a quiet hidden neighborhood called Elysium Valley aka Frogtown, where the path ultimately ends not far from Dodger Stadium and Chinatown. As a result of this beautifully restored section of the River, Frogtown is poised to be the next newly gentrified neighborhood in LA. So I knew it was only a matter of time before some hipstery, happening restaurant would open up nearby. Salazar is that restaurant.

In many ways, Salazar is the quintessential LA restaurant. It’s a much buzzed-about hotspot and hard to get into during prime times. It has an impressive menu of cocktails made with tequila or mezcal. The design of the restaurant is a mix of new and old (the bar and kitchen are in a converted auto body shop), with almost all of the tables located on a sprawling, dimly-lit outdoor patio. The food — Mexican specialities of grilled meats and vegetables — is mostly good, although quite overpriced. All in all, this is a place to go mainly for the atmosphere, and not the food, and to go when the weather is nice, especially after a bike ride through Frogtown.

Salazar is located at 2490 N. Fletcher Drive, Los Angeles (in Frogtown).



Carne Asada and Pollo Asada Tacos with Avocado, Salsa Vaquera, Cilantro and Onion

Carne Asada and Pollo Asada Tacos with Avocado, Salsa Vaquera, Cilantro and Onion




Pickled Vegetables

Cocktail de Cameron

Cocktail de Cameron

Pork Chop "Nieman Ranch"

Pork Chop “Nieman Ranch”



Garden Plate with Egglpant, Squash and Heirloom Tomatoes

Garden Plate with Egglpant, Squash and Heirloom Tomatoes

Frijoles Puercos with Pinto Beans, Pork Belly and Queso Fresco

Frijoles Puercos with Pinto Beans, Pork Belly and Queso Fresco

Cornbread Cuatro Leches

Cornbread Cuatro Leches

Corn Flan with Popcorn, Candied Pistachios and Whipped Cream

Corn Flan with Popcorn, Candied Pistachios and Whipped Cream

Al Fresco Dining

Al Fresco Dining

Making tortillas

Making tortillas

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Filed under Frogtown

The 10 Best Things I Consumed in 2016

best of 2016
As we prepare to say so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye to 2016, it’s time to look back at the LA gastronomic highlights of the year. If you haven’t tried all of these things, I’m sure they’ll still be around in 2017 for you to stuff in your pie hole. Here is my annual list of the ten best things I consumed and wrote about during the past year:

"Big Mec" Double Cheeseburger

“Big Mec” Double Cheeseburger from Petit Trois

10. “Big Mec” Double Cheeseburger from Petit Trois. The “Big Mec” is the only burger to make my list this year. It has foie gras in it, so basically they’re not playing fair.

Maguro and Toro

Maguro and Toro from Sasabune in Beverly Hills

9. Sushi from Sasabune in Beverly Hills. Sushi is an expensive habit. If you’re looking to save some money in the new year, don’t even try the insanely good and addictive sushi at Sasabune in Beverly Hills.


Bossam from Kobawoo House

8. Bossam from Kobawoo House. If you read this blog regularly, you knew there was going to be some awesome Korean food featured on this list. This is it.

Noorook from Baroo

Noorook from Baroo

7. Noorook from Baroo. There are a lot of o’s in the name of this vegetarian dish and also a lot of ingredients, including something called “Job’s Tears,” which I’ve never heard of before but am going to start eating regularly.

Hot Chicken

Hot Chicken from Howlin Ray’s

6. Hot Chicken from Howlin Ray’s. I know what you are saying: enough with the healthy stuff on this list. So, here’s some deep fried awesomeness.

Foie Gras Funnel Cake from Otium

Foie Gras Funnel Cake from Otium

5. Foie Groas Funnel Cake from Otium. This is what carnies eat when they’re trying to act all sophisticated.

Nona Elvira's Lasagne Verde

Nona Elvira’s Lasagne Verde from Angelini Osteria

4. Nona Elvira’s Lasagne Verde from Angelini Osteria. This is the best lasagne ever. No exaggeration. It’s made with beef, veal and chopped chicken livers — each of the three major protein groups.

Garlic Cheese Bread from The Smoke House

Garlic Cheese Bread from The Smoke House

3. Garlic Cheese Bread from the Smokehouse. I updated my best restaurant bread list this year, and guess who came out the winner again. Yes, it’s of a color that doesn’t exist in nature, but don’t let that stop you from experiencing garlicky, cheesy nirvana.

Butter and Salt Doughnut

Butter and Salt Doughnut from Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee

2. Butter and Salt Doughnut from Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee. Is it “donut” or “doughnut”? I don’t know. Does it really matter? Go to Sidecar and prepare to be blown away.

Tempura Uni

Tempura Uni from Tempura Endo

1. Tempura Uni from Tempura Endo. I dare you to find anything better in this town to put in your mouth. It’s 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 also follow me on Instagram @ConsumingLA if you like to see lots of pictures that will make you hungry. And please forward to your friends!

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Filed under Beverly Hills, Burbank, Downtown, Hollywood, Koreatown, Mid-City, Santa Monica

La Dolce Vita

Nona Elvira's Lasagna Verde

Things that I love from Italy include the films of Frederico Fellini, the art and architecture of the Renaissance, and a really good lasagna. Truth be told, if I had to pick just one, I would chose the lasagna over the other two.

The best lasagna I’ve consumed in LA is the one they serve at Angelini Osteria. It’s called Lasagna Verde “Omaggio Nonna Elvira” (English translation: Green Lasagne in tribute to Grandma Elvira) and it is spectacular. It is cheesy and meaty with ground beef and veal and chopped chicken livers, and it’s layered with spinach lasagna noodles and gloriously topped with a mound of crunchy fried spinach leaves.

Far from being a one trick pony, Angelini Osteria has many other awesome dishes as well, such as Uni Linguine, Lamb Chops Scottadito with Arugula, and Whole Mediterranean Branzino roasted in Sea Salt. Their bread basket with crispy Cracker Bread is one of my favorites in the city. Service is impeccable and the interior is bright, modern and cozy. Although with tables pushed so close to each other, don’t expect a lot of privacy. On the other hand, it’s perfect for making new friends.

Angelini Osteria is located at 7313 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles (in Mid-City).

Spaetzle Amuse Bouche

Spaetzle Amuse Bouche

Uni Linguini

Uni Linguini

Ahi with Eggplant

Ahi with Eggplant

Italian Chicken

Italian Chicken



Grilled Lamb Chops allo Scottadito with Arugula Salad

Grilled Lamb Chops allo Scottadito with Arugula Salad

Bread Basket

Bread Basket

One of the best Italian restaurants in LA

One of the best Italian restaurants in LA

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Filed under Mid-City