I’m a Seoul Man

Banchan

Los Angeles is home to the largest Korean-American population in the country. As a result, we have a ton of amazing Korean restaurants here, especially in Koreatown, where the varieties of Korean cuisine seem vast and endless. Most Koreatown restaurants have a single dish that they’re well known for, such as Duck Bulgogi or Abalone Porridge. But one of my favorite K-town eateries, Ham Ji Park, is known for not one, but two spectacular specialties. As befitting a restaurant whose first name is “Ham,” both dishes are of the porcine variety.

First there are the most delicious Korean barbecue pork spare ribs that you’ve ever eaten. The ribs are marinated in an insanely delicious slightly sweet sauce and served on a sizzling platter of onions. They remind me of really great galbi, except they’re larger and pork instead of beef. They are served with table cutlery that we don’t see much in this country — a pair of scissors, for easy separation of the meat from the bone.

The other specialty of Ham Ji Park is Gamja Tang, a spicy Pork Neck Stew. The hot and flavorful broth of the stew is great all by itself, but with potatoes and braised meat which is falling off of cooked neck bones, this dish can’t be beat. Of course, as with all Korean restaurants, there is complimentary Banchan; small side dishes such as kimchi and spicy marinated turnips. Cold Barley Tea is provided to wash it all down.

Ham Ji Park is located at 3407 W 6th Street, Los Angeles (in Koreatown).

Pork Ribs

Korean Barbecue Pork Spare Ribs

Pork Neck Stew

Pork Neck Stew

Salad

Salad

Cold Barley Tea

Cold Barley Tea

In the heart of Koreatown

In the heart of Koreatown


Ham Ji Park on Urbanspoon

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Not Your Routine Poutine

canada
Canada is the home of gold medal winning female bobsledders, an incorrigible rapscallion/pop star known as “J-Biebs,” and a corpulent crack-smoking mayor that bears a striking resemblance to the late great Chris Farley. But foodwise, the greatest achievement of our neighbor to the north is poutine.

For the uninitiated, poutine is Canadian fast food that originated in Quebec. It’s fries with a brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds. A good plate of poutine is salty and unctuous, and perfect for late night binging, noshing at a hockey game, and consuming while listing to the song stylings of French-Canadian chanteuse Celine Dion.

LA chefs, especially those at local gastropubs, have been obsessed lately with poutine and have lovingly put their own spin the dish. Below are some of my favorite non-traditional poutines served around town, with a couple of more classic ones thrown in for good measure.

Chicken Tikka Poutine

Chicken Tikka Poutine

1. Chicken Tikka Poutine from Badmaash (108 W. 2nd Street in Downtown Los Angeles).

Bahn Mi Poutine

Bahn Mi Poutine

2. Bahn Mi Poutine from The Gorbals (501 So. Spring St. in Downtown Los Angeles)

Galbi Poutine with Pickled Kimchi Onions

Galbi Poutine with Pickled Kimchi Onions

3. Galbi Poutine with Pickled Kimchi Onions from Seoul Sausage (11313 Mississippi Ave, Los Angeles in West LA)

Pastrami Gravy Fries with Beef Tallow Fries, Pastrami Bits Pastrami Gravy, Melted Swiss Cheese and Chopped Pickles

Pastrami Gravy Fries (with Beef Tallow Fries, Pastrami Bits Pastrami Gravy, Melted Swiss Cheese and Chopped Pickles)

4. Pastrami Gravy Fries (with Beef Tallow Fries, Pastrami Bits Pastrami Gravy, Melted Swiss Cheese and Chopped Pickles) from Plan Check Kitchen + Bar (1800 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles in West LA and 352 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles in Mid-City)

Truffled Poutine Burger

Truffled Poutine Burger

5. Truffled Poutine Burger from Umami Burger (Locations in Santa Monica, Studio City, Los Feliz, Mid-City, Hermosa Beach, Downtown, Burbank, Hollywood, Thousand Oaks and Pasadena)

Gravy Fried with Roast Brisket and Cheddar

Gravy Fries with Roast Brisket and Cheddar

6. Gravy Fries with Roast Brisket and Cheddar from The Bowery (6268 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles in Hollywood)

Poutine with Ground Beef and Sauteed Onions, Peppers & Mushrooms

Poutine with Ground Beef and Sauteed Onions, Peppers & Mushrooms

7. Build your own Poutine (this one has Ground Beef and Sauteed Onions, Peppers and Mushrooms) at Jay’s Bar (4321 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles in Silverlake)

Smoked Meats Poutine with curds and gravy

Smoked Meats Poutine with Curds and Gravy

8. Smoked Meats Poutine with Curds and Gravy from Little Fork (1600 Wilcox Ave., Los Angeles in Hollywood)

Poutine, Oxtail Gravy, Cheddar

Poutine, Oxtail Gravy, Cheddar

9. Poutine, Oxtail Gravy, Cheddar from Animal (435 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles in Mid-City)

Poutine Île-du-Prince-Édouard with mussels au gratin

Poutine Île-du-Prince-Édouard with Mussels au Gratin

10. Poutine Île-du-Prince-Édouard with Mussels au Gratin from Soleil Westwood and P’tit Soleil (1386 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles in Westwood)

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Filed under Burbank, Downtown, Hermosa Beach, Hollywood, Los Feliz, Mid-City, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Silverlake, Studio City, Thousand Oaks, West LA, Westwood

Le Mediocre

Prairie Prime Pork Chop & Belly
There has been a lot of press lately about the 3% Obamacare surcharge added to all patrons’ checks at LA’s hot new French restaurant, Republique. The surcharge is intended to pay for health care insurance for restaurant employees, and for those diners who find the surcharge objectionable, the restaurant recommends deducting it from the gratuity. Whether this is a well meaning attempt to provide better benefits to restaurant employees, a slam on Obamacare, or a brilliant publicity stunt, personally, I don’t like it. What’s next? A surcharge for electricity or for paper towels in the bathroom? Republique should do what all other restaurants do; factor its total overhead into its food prices.

But the problem with Republique increasing food prices to pay for healthcare insurance is that the food there is overpriced to begin with. Sure, the place (it’s in the old Campanile space) is hip and fun and they offer a mezcal-based cocktail called “Speaking in Tongues.” But to me it’s all about the food, and the food at Republique, just like the Lakers this season, is sadly mediocre; merely good and unfortunately not great. Dining there recently left me thinking of that Peggy Lee song “Is That All There Is?” — the answer to which in this case is “yes and you get to pay an additional 3% for it.”

Republique is located at 624 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles (Mid-City).

Grass-Fed Beef Tartare with Tarragon Aioli, Pickled Red Onion and Potato Chips

Grass-Fed Beef Tartare with Tarragon Aioli, Pickled Red Onion and Potato Chips


"Eggs on Toast" with Santa Barbara Uni and Soft-scrambled Eggs

“Eggs on Toast” with Santa Barbara Uni and Soft-scrambled Eggs


Tart a L'Alsacienne with  Stinging Nettles, Asparagus, Leeks and Drake Family Farms Goat Cheese

Tart a L’Alsacienne with
Stinging Nettles, Asparagus, Leeks and Drake Family Farms Goat Cheese


Hand-Cut Fettuccine with Maine Lobster Bolognese

Hand-Cut Fettuccine with Maine Lobster Bolognese


Maine Bouchot Mussels with French Fries, White Wine and Garlic

Maine Bouchot Mussels with French Fries, White Wine and Garlic


Mediterranean Branzino with Thai Curry, Carrot Coconut and Peanuts

Mediterranean Branzino with Thai Curry, Carrot Coconut and Peanuts


Banana Cream Pie with Hot Chocolate and Peanut Buttter

Banana Cream Pie with Hot Chocolate and Peanut Buttter


Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake with Milk Eau de Vie

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake with Milk Eau de Vie


In the old Campanile space on La Brea

In the old Campanile space on La Brea



Republique on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Mid-City

Love at First Bite

Pancotto
When it comes to LA restaurants, I am a serial dater. A new eatery may capture my fancy one weekend, but invariably my attention quickly turns the next weekend to the even newer and more promising place on the block. Like a gastronomic lothario, I run from establishment to establishment in search of a seemingly unobtainable dining ideal. So it is quite surprising that lately all I can think about is one restaurant; a place with which I am hopelessly, head-over-heels in love.

The object of my affection is The Factory Kitchen. It recently opened in the Downtown Arts District and has a cool industrial chic interior with a large open kitchen and an atmosphere abuzz with fervid excitement. It has superb service, a fun cocktail menu and a thoughtfully curated wine list. But, most importantly, the food is phenomenal. The cuisine is Italian and the menu is full of all kinds of awesome.

Every dish I’ve had there has been excellent so it’s hard to recommend just a few. The Pancotto (Duck Egg, Red Potato Vellutata Sauteed Greeens, Semolina Bread Crostone and Speck; pictured above), the Peparu (Soft Cheese Stuffed Sweet and Spicy Peppers, Grana Padano and Arugula Oil), and the Proscuitto di Parma on lightly fried Sage Dough (kind of like a savory donut) with Stracciatella are not to be missed. It would also be a travesty to not get an order of the Focacinna Calda de Recco al Formaggio, an insanely delicious flatbread which is crispy on the outside and stuffed with gooey melted cheese. One or more of the handmade pastas are also must-haves, especially the unique and amazing Mandilli di Seta (Handkerchief Pasta with Ligurian Almond Basil Pesto). For dessert, I highly recommend the Cannolis with Ricotta, Pistachios and Orange Marmalade; they’re the best I’ve ever had.

The Factory Kitchen is located at 1300 Factory Place, Los Angeles (Downtown).

Peperu (Soft Cheese Stuffed Sweet and Spicy Peppers, Grana Padano and Arugula Oil)

Peperu (Soft Cheese Stuffed Sweet and Spicy Peppers, Grana Padano and Arugula Oil)


Prosciutto (Parma Prosciutto 24 Months, Lightly Fried Sage Dough and Stracciatella)

Prosciutto (Parma Prosciutto 24 Months, Lightly Fried Sage Dough and Stracciatella)


Frittura (Baby Leek, Beer-Batter and Chickpea Fritters)

Frittura (Baby Leek, Beer-Batter and Chickpea Fritters)


Focacinna Calda de Recco al Formaggio

Focacinna Calda de Recco al Formaggio


Schiaffoni (Gragnano Pasta, Swordfish, Red Onion and Spicy Tomato Puttanesca)

Schiaffoni (Gragnano Pasta, Swordfish, Red Onion and Spicy Tomato Puttanesca)


Mandilli di Seta (Handkerchief Pasta with Ligurian Almond Basil Pesto)

Mandilli di Seta (Handkerchief Pasta with Ligurian Almond Basil Pesto)


Cappe Sante (Pan Roasted Sea Scallops with Cabbage Salad, Aromatic Bread and Bell Peppers)

Cappe Sante (Pan Roasted Sea Scallops with Cabbage Salad, Aromatic Bread and Bell Peppers)


Cannolis with Ricotta filling, Pistachios and Orange Marmalade

Cannoli with Ricotta filling, Pistachios and Orange Marmalade


Vanilla Gelato and Chocolate Sorbet

Vanilla Gelato and Chocolate Sorbet


Sweet Jane (Barrel Aged Genever, Rhubarb and Lavender Honey)

Sweet Jane (Barrel Aged Genever, Rhubarb and Lavender Honey)


In the Downtown Arts District

In the Downtown Arts District


Chef Angelo Auriana making pasta

Chef Angelo Auriana and colleague making pasta



The Factory Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Downtown

A Good Place to Get Crabs

Scallop Carpaccio
Hipper and more mainstream than most K-town eateries, EMC Seafood & Raw Bar is a fun place for cocktails and iced shellfish of all sorts. It’s located in the City Center mall, home of the awesome Zion Korean supermarket, as well as one of the best Korean spas in the city. The atmosphere is boisterous and party-like, especially during happy hour, which features $1 oysters and $5 draft beers.

Despite its location in the heart of Koreatown, the food at EMC isn’t actually Korean, although it does have a strong pan-Asian influence. My favorite menu item is the velvety Uni Pasta with Cream, Fish Roe and Dried Seawood. I’ve ordered this dish at many Japanese restaurants and the version at EMC is one of the best I’ve ever had. I also love the tasty Congee (rice porridge) with Abalone and the super-fresh Hokkaido Scallop Carpaccio with Yuzu Kosho, Ponzu, EVOO and Smoked Salt (pictured above). I am less enamored of the Crispy Garlic Clams and recommend avoiding the overly-battered and fried Crispy Soft Shell Crab.

EMC Seafood & Raw Bar is located at 3500 W 6th St, Los Angeles (in Koreatown).

Uni Pasta with Cream, Fish Roe, Chives, Dried Seaweed

Uni Pasta with Cream, Fish Roe, Chives, Dried Seaweed


Crispy Garlic Clams with Manila Clams, Green Onions, Jalapeños, Pepper

Crispy Garlic Clams with Manila Clams, Green Onions, Jalapeños, Pepper


Congee with Abalone

Congee with Abalone


Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Ponzu

Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Ponzu


A fun place

A fun place for cocktails and oysters



EMC Seafood & Raw Bar on Urbanspoon

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Popping and (freezer bag) Locking

Frozen Popcorn
As explained in the opening and closing scenes of the film Pretty Woman, Hollywood is the land of dreams and everyone here has one. In the case of Josh Chaney, his dream was to invent and sell the world’s first gourmet caramel corn that you eat frozen. Chaney, who is the great, great grand-nephew of legendary silent film star Lon Chaney and the great grandson of a caramel-maker, has turned his dream into a reality with California Mad Poppers. Located in the nether regions of the San Fernando Valley in the same Canoga Park strip mall as sushi bar extraordinaire Go’s Mart, California Mad Poppers is a dangerously good place to sample and purchase a unique and incredibly delicious frozen treat.

Chaney and his girlfriend/partner Sulmaz Rahimpour have created over 200 flavors of gourmet popcorn and offer around 40 such varieties to their customers at any given time. Some of my favorites are masterful concoctions of salty and sweet, such as “Bacon on the Brain” (Maple/Bacon/Caramel) and “Elvis” (Peanut Butter/Banana/Bacon/Caramel), but I also love their savory cheese flavors which are made with real melted cheese (not powder) and can include chili/lime, jalapeños, habaneros or ghost peppers.

California Mad Poppers invites you to sample as many flavors as you like and I have shamelessly abused this offer and tried dozens of varieties on a single visit. When you’re ready to purchase, they can layer multiple flavors in a single bag. Many flavors are vegan and/or gluten free with no preservatives and all are made with air-popped non-GMO popcorn, so you’re pretty much improving your health by consuming, right?

California Mad Poppers is located at 7138 Shoup Ave in Canoga Park near West Hills.

Menu

Menu


Frozen Popcorn

More than 200 varieties


Over 200 varieties

Who froze my popcorn?


Get a bag layered with multiple flavors

I’m not sharing!


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Filed under Canoga Park

We Be Jammin’

Brioche Toast, Cranberry Bourbon Jam and Nut Butter
Located on ungentrified Virgil Avenue in East Hollywood, SQIRL is an exceptionally good breakfast and lunch joint and one of the biggest hipster haunts in the city, packed with more vintage-clad, irony-obsessed, artisan-loving neo-bohemians than an organic food co-op in Williamsburg. The name of the restaurant is a combination of “squirrel” and “girl,” and refers to owner Jessica Koslow, a former producer of American Idol and a girl who “squirrels” things away by making jams and other preserves. SQIRL’S homemade jellies, jams and marmalades feature prominently in the menu and come in such flavors as Blackberry + Meyer Lemon, Pakistan Mulberries + Thai Magic Basil, and Moroblood Orange + Tonga Vanilla Bean.

One the best ways to sample the preserves is by ordering an obscenely thick slice of brioche toast slathered with nut butter and jam. While I love this open-faced PB&J, as well as SQIRL’s Malva Pudding, a decadent spongy caramelized pudding-cake, my favorite dish is their breakfast rice bowl. It’s unlike any rice bowl I’ve consumed before and made with Kokuhu Rose Brown Rice, Sorrel Pesto, Preserved Meyer Lemon, Lacto Fermented Hot Sauce, French Feta, Pickled Radish and a Poached Egg. It’s one of those perfect dishes where artisanal ingredients with disparate flavors are creatively fused together to produce something that seems both harmoniously simple and wonderfully complex. I’m completely obsessed.

SQIRL is located at 720 N. Virgil Ave., Los Angeles (in East Hollywood near Silverlake).

Kokuho Rose Brown Rice, Sorrel Pesto, Preserved Meyer Lemon, Lacto Fermented Hot Sauce, French Feta and Poached Egg

Kokuho Rose Brown Rice, Sorrel Pest, Preserved Meyer Lemon, Lacto Fermented Hot Sauce, French Feta, Radish and Poached Egg


Sunchoke Hash with Cheddar, Potato, Scallion and Fried Egg

Sunchoke Hash with Cheddar, Potato, Scallion and Fried Egg


Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Pomegranate, Hazelnut and Lime Vinaigrette

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Pomegranate, Hazelnut and Lime Vinaigrette


Malva Pudding

Malva Pudding


Sweets for sweet hipsters

Sweets for sweet hipsters


Squirl, that's my jam

SQIRL, that’s my jam



SQIRL on Urbanspoon

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Filed under East Hollywood, Silverlake

The 10 Best Things I Consumed in 2013

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 12.23.02 AM
2013 was a year of unrestrained action and fervid movement; a year of twerking and not treading lightly. We experienced the exuberance of the Harlem Shake, the fury of the Red Wedding and the whirlwind of Sharknado. And the Los Angeles restaurant scene was no exception. 2013 saw the continued meteoric rise of Los Angeles as one of the dominant food cities in the world. Of all of the offerings from LA culinary movers and shakers that I wrote about in 2013, the following are my ten favorites.

Hannosuke Tendon
10. Tendon (Tempura Rice Bowl) with Fresh Salt Water Eel from Hannosuke. This stand in the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Mar Vista is the only place in LA that serves the kind of tempura that you would find in Japan. Their Tendon is a glorious pile of golden brown, crispy, salty and unctuous tempura with a slightly sweet sauce piled high on a bed of rice. Plus there’s a tempura soft-boiled egg to break open and mix with your rice. Need I say more?

Spicy Albacore Tuna Tartare from Fishing With Dynamite
9. Spicy Albacore Tuna Tartare from Fishing with Dynamite. I wouldn’t normally get that excited about tuna tartare, but Chef David LeFevre’s unusual version of the dish at his fun new South Bay seafood joint is exceptionally good. It has complex layers of flavor, a nice kick of spice and it’s served with two giant crispy shrimp chips.

Pulled Pork Sandwich from Roadside Eats
8. Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich from Roadside Eats. This unexpected discovery in Hollywood is my favorite new sandwich of the year. It’s overflowing with a mixture of crispy, tender and sweet shredded pork, vinegary coleslaw and pickle chips.

Shaved Mushroom Pizza with Gruyere, Melted Onions, Black Truffle, Torn Parsley, Rosemary and Thyme from Stella Barra Pizzeria
7. Mushroom and Truffle Pizza from Stella Barra Pizzeria. This is hands-down my favorite pizza in the city. With Stella Barra’s new second location in Holllywood, Eastsiders who won’t schlep to Santa Monica can now experience umami pizza greatness.

Chocolate Soup (served with Vanilla Ice Cream and Baklava) from Tagine
6. Chocolate Soup from Tagine. This is the only dessert to make my list and it’s incredible. Served with vanilla ice cream and baklava, this “soup” is the crescendo of an incredible meal of modern Moroccan cuisine. Its rich flavor reminds me of Frozen Hot Chocolate from Serendipity in NYC.

Chubby Pork Belly Rice Bowl from Chego
5. Chubby Pork Belly Rice Bowl from Chego. Roy Choi is a genius at elevating street food and the rice bowls at Chego are no exception. My favorite thing to order there is the comforting yet complex “Chubby Pork Belly,” an insanely good combination of kochujang-lacquered Kurobuta pork belly, fried egg, pickled radishes, water spinach, Chinese broccoli, cotija cheese, peanuts and steamed rice.

Anticucho de Pulpo (Grilled Octopus with Roasted Potatoes and Jalapeno Sauce) from Mo-Chica
4. Grilled Octopus with Roasted Potatoes and Jalapeno Sauce from Mo-Chica. This is my favorite of all the new dishes introduced by chef Ricardo Zarate when he moved his Modern Peruvian eatery to its new location on 7th Street Downtown. It’s a sublime mix of savory flavors and textures, and easily the best octopus dish I’ve ever eaten.

Chicken Liver Toast and Date Jam from Alma
3. Chicken Liver Toast and Date Jam from Alma. There are so many dishes I love at Alma, but if I had to pick just one, this would be it. I love the combination of sweet and savory, and this pairing of the most delicious chicken liver mousse I’ve ever tasted and toast covered in a delectable date jam is total perfection.

Potato Pulp
2. Potato Pulp from Trois Mec. Trois Mec was the most anticipated restaurant opening of the year and the incredible food and intimate dining experience I had there certainly lived up to the hype. The Potato Pulp has quickly become the restaurant’s signature dish and combines potatoes, brown butter, onion soubise, Salers cheese and bonito flakes into a plate of transcendent awesomeness.

Lamb Neck with Creamy Oats from The Gorbals
1. Lamb Neck with Creamy Oats from The Gorbals. Tender, juicy, incredibly flavorful and falling right off the bone, this is the best lamb dish I’ve ever eaten. Uber-talented chef Ilan Hall serves it atop a risotto-like bed of deliciously creamy oats. It’s wonderfully rich and decadent and it’s my favorite dish that I 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, Downtown, Hollywood, Manhattan Beach, Mar Vista, Santa Monica

Mighty Good Eats

Pulled Pork Sandwich
I’ve passed by Roadside Eats many times on my way in and out of the Arclight Hollywood, and never thought to go in, probably due to its corporate looking logo and signage, which make it seem like a slick new fast food concept restaurant hoping to become the next Chipotle. I was pleasantly surprised when I finally did check it out because even though the decor was clean and modern, the food reminded me of the great mom and the pop barbeque joints I encountered on a recent road trip through Kentucky and Tennessee.

You order at a counter from a menu which features mostly sandwiches. There’s Hickory-Smoked Tri-Tip, Low and Slow Brisket, Pecan Fried Chicken, and even a classic Fried Bologna, Egg and Cheese. But the must-have sandwich here is the Carolina Pulled Pork; an overflowing mound of crispy and tender pieces of shredded and sauced meat topped with vinegary cole slaw and pickle chips, all on a sweet bun. As they say in Dixie, it’s flat cold good!

There’s also a large variety of Southern sides. My favorites are the Baked Beans with Trimmings, a Southern-inspired Brussels Sprouts Salad, and crunchy, tart and salty Fried Green Tomatoes. You can end your down-home meal with a slice of pie — chocolate pecan, buttermilk custard or apple, deep-fried on request and served a la mode. It will leave you grinnin’ like a possum eatin’ a sweet tater.

Roadside Eats is located at 6374 W Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles (in Hollywood) across from the Arclight movie theaters.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes


Mac & Cheese

Mac & Cheese


Brussels Sprouts Salas

Brussels Sprouts


Hickory-Smoked Tri-Tip Sandwich with Smoked Onions and Spiced Aioli

Hickory-Smoked Tri-Tip Sandwich with Smoked Onions and Spiced Aioli


The pies have it.

The pies have it.


Across from the Arclight Hollywood

Across from the Arclight Hollywood


Cleaner and more modern than any roadside BBQ joint I've ever eaten at.

Cleaner and more modern than any roadside BBQ joint I’ve ever eaten at.



Roadside Eats on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Hollywood

Thanksgiving Por Favor

Loteria Thanksgiving

I’m sure it’s a surprise to no one that food-centric Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. While I love all the traditional foods like roast turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, I also like to shake it up a bit and eat things that are twists on holiday classics. I’ve written before about places to buy candied yam ice cream and turkey gravy cupcakes, and this year I recommend spicing up your Turkey Day dinner with special Thanksgiving-inspired Mexican side dishes from Loteria Grill.

Loteria Grill is one of my favorite Mexican restaurants in the city. What started as just a stall in the Original Farmers Market on Fairfax, has grown into a chain of five restaurants that serve some of the tastiest gourmet Mexican grub this side of the border. I’m prettty much addicted to their spicy salsa, and their Chicharron de Queso (crispy griddled cheese which looks like a large party hat) is incredible!

This year, Loteria’s owner and executive chef Jimmy Shaw has put together a menu of special Thanksgiving side dishes and desserts for take-out to serve at your holiday dinner. These are not your grandmother’s Thanksgiving dishes (unless perhaps you call your grandmother “abuela”), but they do include many of the same ingredients you find in the holiday classics. My favorites are the Mashed Roasted Sweet Potatos al Chipotle served in hollowed out orange rinds, the Jalapeno Corn Bread and the Almond and Apple Tart with Goat’s Milk Cajeta. Happy Thanksgiving, amigos!

Loteria Grill is located in Hollywood, Santa Monica, Studio City, Westlake Village and the Original Farmers Market on Fairfax.

Mashed Roasted Sweet Potatoes al Chipotle

Mashed Roasted Sweet Potatoes al Chipotle


Jalapeno Cornbread

Jalapeno Cornbread


Chiles Rellenos de Requeson, Manzana y Nuez

Chiles Rellenos de Requeson, Manzana y Nuez


Calabacitas

Calabacitas Rellenas


Esquites (Toasted Corn Off the Cob)

Esquites (Toasted Corn Off the Cob)


Pastel del Elote con Rajas de Chile Poblano a la Crema

Pastel del Elote con Rajas de Chile Poblano a la Crema


Rajas con Crema, Elote y Queso

Rajas con Crema, Elote y Queso


Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Chile Poblano

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Chile Poblano


Almond and Apple Tart with Goat's Milk Cajeta

Almond and Apple Tart with Goat’s Milk Cajeta


Pumpkin Mini Cake with Piloncillo Sauce and Ice Cream

Pumpkin Mini Cake with Piloncillo Sauce and Ice Cream


Loteria Grill on Urbanspoon
Loteria Grill on Urbanspoon
Loteria Grill on Urbanspoon
Loteria Grill on Urbanspoon
Loteria Grill on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Fairfax, Hollywood, Mid-City, Santa Monica, Studio City, Westlake Village

Delmy You Love Me

Delmy Pupusas
Of the eighty or so weekly farmers markets in Los Angeles County, the biggest and best is the one that pops up every Sunday in Hollywood. Branching out in all directions from the intersection of Vine and Ivar, the Hollywood Farmers Market is the perfect place to spend an hour shopping for organic persimmons and sampling artisan goat cheese while listening to a heavily tatted hipster discuss fair trade co-ops with a dreadlocked neo-hippie. Musicians are scattered throughout, including a bluegrass band, a reggae drummer, a guy that makes music with rubber bands, and my favorite local hot jazz combo, The California Feetwarmers.

The prepared food section has a lot of great choices, but Delmy Pupusas is my favorite. Pupusas are a popular street food in El Salvador. They’re thick round corn cakes that are stuffed with a variety of fillings such as cheese, vegetables, beans, shrimp, chicken and chorizo, and cooked on a griddle until golden brown. Delmy serves these hot stuffed Salvadoran treats with homemade salasa, a spicy and vinegary cabbage relish called curtido, guacamole and some fresh crema. A couple pupusas make a nice hearty lunch and are best washed down with Delmy’s homemade horchata or agua fresca, which comes in several flavors including watermelon, strawberry, mango and raspberry. For dessert, I recommend an order of Delmy’s fried plantains served with a side of black beans and fresh crema. Muy delicioso!

Delmy Pupusas can be found at the Hollywood Farmers Market every Sunday morning and early afternoon and at several other farmers markets including Torrance, Downtown in Pershing Square, Atwater Village, Echo Park and Silverlake.

Fried Plantains with Black Beans and Crema

Fried Plantains with Black Beans and Crema


Aguas Frescas

Aguas Frescas


Every Sunday morning in the Hollywood Farmers Market

Every Sunday morning in the Hollywood Farmers Market


Delmy

Delmy


Enjoy your pupusas with some live music.

Enjoy your pupusas with some live music.


My favorite farmers market

My favorite farmers market

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Filed under Atwater Village, Downtown, Echo Park, Hollywood, Silverlake, Torrance

Batter Up

Hannosuke Tendon
No country is more obsessed with food than Japan. The chefs there are all specialists and dedicate their lives to perfecting and serving one type of dish, such as sushi, yakitori, ramen and even tempura. Tempura chefs in Japan use special proprietary batters, the highest quality fish, vegetables and oil, and have mastered the frying process. The result is tempura that is delicate, lightly coated, super fresh and full of flavor. Hannosuke, a Japanese import in Mar Vista, is the only place in LA that I’m aware of where you can get this kind of amazing tempura.

Located in the food court of the Mitsuwa Marketplace, Hannosuke is a few stalls away from Santouka Ramen, my favorite ramen joint in all of LA. The specialty of Hannosuke is Tendon, a tempura rice bowl. There are several varieties of Tendon at Hannosuke: shrimp, white fish, vegetable, chicken and the specialty of the house, fresh salt water eel imported from Japan. Whichever one you choose, you will get a glorious pile of golden brown, crispy, salty and unctuous tempura with a slightly sweet sauce piled high on a bed of rice. Your bowl of fried excellence includes a piece of tempura seaweed and a tempura soft boiled egg, ready for you to break open with your chopsticks and mix the warm runny yolk into the rice. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Hannosuke is located at 3760 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles (in the Mitsuwa Marketplace).

Shrimp Tempura

Shrimp Tempura


Tempura Soft Boiled Egg

Tempura Soft Boiled Egg


The best tempura in LA!

The best tempura in LA!


In the Mitsuwa Maretplace

In the Mitsuwa Maretplace



Hannosuke on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Mar Vista

Animal Magnetism

Grilled Quail
My recommendation list for food lovers visiting our fair city changes all the time, but almost always includes Animal. Hidden among the Jewish bakeries and hip hop clothing stores of Fairfax Avenue, Animal is the jewel of the LA foodie scene. It’s a gastronomic temple of carnivorous delights; an exotic pageant of nose-to-tail creative culinary brilliance; an adventure.

It’s helmed by genius chef duo Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, who have two other amazing eateries in LA — Son of a Gun and Trois Mec. The interior is small, dimly lit and packed every night with a boisterous mix of hipsters, celebrities, Hollywood “suits” and hardcore foodies. Almost everything on Animal’s ever-changing menu of small plates is phenomenal. Prior to the California foie gras ban, my favorite dish was the sweet and savory Foie Gras on a Biscuit with Maple Sausage Gravy. I still mourn its premature demise.

Other longtime favorites include the deliciously unctuous Poutine with Oxtail Gravy and Cheddar, the crispy and light Kampachi Tostada and Animal’s version of chip ‘n dip: Spicy Beef Tendon Chip with Charred Onion Pho Dip. Animal’s perfectly seasoned and seared Iberico Pork Secreto is truly spectacular and one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. For dessert, the Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche and the Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar with Salt & Pepper Ice Cream are not to be missed.

Animal is located at 435 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles (Mid-City).

Veal Tongue, West Indian Gherkin, Steelhead Roe, Black Mustard

Veal Tongue, West Indian Gherkin, Steelhead Roe, Black Mustard


Kampachi Tostada, Herbs, Fish Sauce Vinaigrette, Peanut

Kampachi Tostada, Herbs, Fish Sauce Vinaigrette, Peanut


Spicy Beef Tendon Chip with Charred Onion Pho Dip

Spicy Beef Tendon Chip with Charred Onion Pho Dip


Santa Barbara Uni, Heirloom Cucumbers, Za'atar, Fried Cheese, HB Egg

Santa Barbara Uni, Heirloom Cucumbers, Za’atar, Fried Cheese, HB Egg


Duck Breast, Charred Cabbage, Liptauer, Mustard

Duck Breast, Charred Cabbage, Liptauer, Mustard


Roasted Peaches, Hazelnut, Buttermilk, Currants, Prosciutto di Parma

Roasted Peaches, Hazelnut, Buttermilk, Currants, Prosciutto di Parma


Shrimp & Rabbit Sausage Spring Roll, Minutina, Green Curry

Shrimp & Rabbit Sausage Spring Roll, Minutina, Green Curry


Charred Octopus, Black Sriracha, Finger Lime, Gooseberry

Charred Octopus, Black Sriracha, Finger Lime, Gooseberry


Mexican Street Corn, Epazote, Serrano, Parmesan

Mexican Street Corn, Epazote, Serrano, Parmesan


Sweetbread, Corn, Fennel, Crema, Raymundo's Tomatillo Salsa

Sweetbread, Corn, Fennel, Crema, Raymundo’s Tomatillo Salsa


Poutine, Oxtail Gravy, Cheddar

Poutine, Oxtail Gravy, Cheddar


Santa Barbara Rock Crab, Shallots, Verjus, Avgolemono, Sourdough

Santa Barbara Rock Crab, Shallots, Verjus, Avgolemono, Sourdough


16oz. Iberico Pork Secreto, Marinated Onion, Peruvian Mint, Yuca

16oz. Iberico Pork Secreto, Marinated Onion, Peruvian Mint, Yuca


RIP. Foie Gras, Biscuit, Maple Sausage Gravy

RIP. Foie Gras, Biscuit, Maple Sausage Gravy


Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche

Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche


Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar with S&P Ice Cream

Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar with Salt & Pepper Ice Cream


Blueberry, Frozen Brown Sugar Crumble, Yogurt, Bay Leaf Ice Cream

Blueberry, Frozen Brown Sugar Crumble, Yogurt, Bay Leaf Ice Cream


Clandestinely located among the Jewish delis and hip hop shops on Fairfax

Clandestinely located among the Jewish delis and hip hop shops on Fairfax



Animal on Urbanspoon

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Lovely Rita

Rita's Water Ice
Although Autumn officially starts this weekend, the hot summer weather does not appear to be going away any time soon. So this week I have a recommendation for a cool way to cool off. Rita’s, which has been a mandatory stop on my food itinerary whenever I visit Philadelphia, has now expanded to Los Angeles, bringing two kinds of frozen treats that were previously hard to find here.

The first is Water Ice aka Italian Ice. Denser than shaved ice and smoother than a snow cone, this sweet, slushy and sugary dessert is served in a cup and consumed with a spoon. Rita’s offers many rotating flavors, including Root Beer, Blue Raspberry, Cotton Candy, Juicy Pear, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Swedish Fish and Pineapple. They also usually have a flavor or two of “Cream Ice,” a dairy version of Water Ice in flavors such as Pumpkin Pie and Red Velvet Cake.

The other specialty of Rita’s is Frozen Custard. It’s similar to soft serve ice cream but denser and richer since it’s made with egg yolks. Rita’s serves both Vanilla and Chocolate Frozen Custard and sometimes other varieties such as Coffee or Strawberry. If you can’t decide between the Water Ice and Frozen Custard, do what I do and have both. Rita’s Gelati is a delicious concoction made with a bottom layer of Frozen Custard, a middle layer of Water Ice, and a topping of more Frozen Custard. It’s well worth the attendant risks of brain freeze and sugar coma.

Rita’s is located at 2307 Main Street in Santa Monica, 403 N. Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach, and 468 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge.

Gelati with Chocolate Peanut Butter Water Ice and Vanilla Frozen Custard

Gelati with Chocolate Peanut Butter Water Ice and Vanilla Frozen Custard


Cotton Candy Water Ice

Cotton Candy Water Ice


Dancing Water Ice

Dancing Water Ice

One of the only places to get authentic frozen custard in LA

One of the only places to get frozen custard in LA





Rita's on Urbanspoon
Rita's Italian Ice on Urbanspoon

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Filed under La Canada, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica

ROC My World

ROC Soup Dumplings
Few things bring me as much joy as dumplings. I like to think of them as little wrapped presents that I open in my mouth. Well-crafted Chinese dumplings are especially nice gifts, the kind that I buy for myself after a particularly grueling work week or as a reward for doing my best to navigate the chutes and ladders of modern life. Sometime I gift dumplings to myself for no special reason at all, and occasionally I will even purchase them for others.

The best place for Chinese Dumplings is the San Gabriel Valley, but when I don’t have time to schlep out that far, I usually go to ROC Kitchen in West LA’s Asian food mecca known as “Little Osaka.” ROC opened last December and, despite a recent expansion into the space next door, there is almost always a wait for a table. The decor is modern and minimalist, with the focus, as it should be, on the food.

A meal at ROC should properly start with Xiao Long Bao aka Shanghai Soup Dumplings; little doughy sacks of broth and meat that explode in your mouth as you eat them whole. After that, I recommend moving on to the Crispy Dumplings with Pork and Shrimp — eight fried dumplings that have been fused together to form a crispy pancake of sorts, followed by some fluffy Steamed Pork Buns. Take a brief respite from the carbs and try the Three Cups Chicken with Fresh Chilies, Thai Basil & Roasted Garlic or the Pepper Beef. Both are excellent. For dessert, you can resume carbo-loading with sweet red bean or taro dumplings.

ROC Kitchen is located at 2049 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles (in West LA).

Xiao Long Bao aka Shanghai Soup Dumplings

Xiao Long Bao aka Shanghai Soup Dumplings


Scallion Pancake with Gingered Soy Dipping Sauce

Scallion Pancake with Gingered Soy Dipping Sauce


Pickled Szechuan Cucumbers

Pickled Szechuan Cucumbers


Steamed Pork Bun

Steamed Pork Bun


Beef Rolls

Beef Rolls


Crispy Dumplings with Pork and Shrimp

Crispy Dumplings with Pork and Shrimp


Pan Fried Pork Dumplings

Pan Fried Pork Dumplings


ROC Rice Cake with Chicken, Napa Cabbage & Spinach

ROC Rice Cake with Chicken, Napa Cabbage & Spinach


Three Cups Chicken with Fresh Chilies, Thai Basil & Roasted Garlic

Three Cups Chicken with Fresh Chilies, Thai Basil & Roasted Garlic


Pepper Beef

Pepper Beef


A dumpling house for Westsiders

A dumpling house for Westsiders



ROC Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Land of the Rising Sun

Golden Palace
Although I travel a lot, I rarely write about my food adventures outside of Los Angeles. However, I recently returned from an amazing first-time trip to Japan and I feel compelled to share. My family and I visited bustling and futuristic Tokyo, charming and spiritual Kyoto and, because of its reputation as a foodie haven, Osaka. In each of these places, the food was absolutely incredible. We were there for 2 1/2 weeks. If we had been there any longer, I would probably start looking like one of the sumo wrestlers pictured below. Here are the 14 best things (in no particular order) that I consumed in the Land of the Rising Sun:

Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo

Sushi from Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo


1. Sushi at Sukiyabashi Jiro This sushi bar in the Ginza subway station is so renowned, a documentary was made last year about it and its octogenarian owner/chef called “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” Jiro served me some of the best raw fish I’ve ever eaten.

Okonomiyaki in Osaka

Okonomiyaki in Osaka


2. Okonomiyaki in Osaka A specialty of Osaka, this is a savory pancake filled with things like pork, shrimp and sweet potato, and topped with a special sauce. They’re typically served on built-in tabletop griddles and everyone at the table is given their own little spatula to cut off pieces.

Tsukemen from Rokurinsha in Tokyo

Tsukemen from Rokurinsha in Tokyo


3. Tsukemen at Rokurinsha Thick chewy noodles are served in one bowl, with a complex and concentrated ramen broth served in a companion bowl for dipping. This kind of “dip ramen” is called “tsukemen” and the best is served at Rokurinsha, a restaurant so popular that it had to change locations when its neighbors complained about the hordes of people (sometimes in excess of 300) constantly lining up outside to eat at their tiny counter.

Molecular Gastronomy from Narisawa in Tokyo

Molecular Gastronomy from Narisawa in Tokyo


4. Molecular Gastronomy at Narisawa This was our one fine dining meal in Japan and it did not disappoint. The restaurant ranks number one this year in San Pellegrino’s list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. The cuisine is an über-inventive combination of classical French cooking, local Japanese luxury ingredients and a generous dose of molecular gastronomy. The 12 course meal was entitled “Evolve with the Forest” and included bread prepared and baked right at our table, Hida beef coated in carbonized leek, and other unusual and drop-dead gorgeous dishes that tasted amazing.

Matsusaka Beef from Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M

Matsusaka Beef from Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M


5. Matsusaka Beef at Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M Forget Kobe beef. Matsusaka beef is even better and I had it for the first time in Osaka. The flavor and texture of the meat blew me away. To get this quality of beef, the cattle are raised on quiet farms, fed beer, massaged regularly and listen to soothing music. We cooked the beef on a little charcoal grill on our table, similar to LA’s own amazing Yakiniku restaurant, Totoraku (aka The Secret Japanese Beef Restaurant).

Ramen in Crab Broth from Kanisenmon Keisuke

Ramen in Crab Broth from Kanisenmon Keisuke


6. Ramen at Kanisenmon Keisuke The largest subway/train station in Tokyo has a “Ramen Street” where eight of Tokyo’s top ramen chefs were invited to open up outposts of their famous restaurants. One of the best is Kanisenmon Keisuke, which makes its most popular ramen with miso crab broth and serves it in bowls in the shape of Hokkaido, Japan’s Northernmost island.

Tempura from Shinjuku Tsunahachi

Tempura from Tsunahachi


7. Tempura at Tsunahachi The tempura in Japan is insanely good and nothing like the tempura we have here in Los Angeles. Some tempura houses in Japan have even received Michelin stars. The best tempura I had was at a little restaurant called Tsunahachi in the neon-signed shopping mecca of Shinjuku.

Tofu Kaiseki from Tosuiro Kiyamachi in Kyoto

Tofu Kaiseki at Tosuiro Kiyamachi in Kyoto


8. Tofu Kaiseki at Tosuiro Kiyamachi The food scene in Kyoto is all about kaiseki, artistic multi-course meals of small beautiful plates. At Tosuiro Kiyamachi, we had a spectacular kaiseki meal composed of all tofu dishes while sitting on a beautiful deck overlooking the Kamogawa River.

Yakitori from Kokekokko in Tokyo

Yakitori at Kokekokko in Tokyo


9. Yakitori at Kokekokko Perfectly seasoned and grilled skewers of chicken breast, thigh, heart, liver and gizzard, as well as quail eggs, were the focus of this yakitori joint that we stumbled upon in Tokyo. Since no one working there spoke a word of English, I was unable to ascertain whether there was a relationship between this restaurant and the Kokekokko in Little Tokyo here in Los Angeles.

Tonkatsu at Tonkatsu Maisen Tokyu-Toyoko

Tonkatsu at Maisen Tonkatsu


10. Tonkatsu at Maisen Tonkatsu One of the most popular dishes in Japan is fried pork cutlet called tonkatsu. The best tonkatsu I had was at a restaurant on the top floor of the Tokyu department store called Maisen Tonkatsu. It was crispy and juicy, was made from high-end Okita Kurobuta pork loin, and melted in my mouth.

"Burnt-style" Miso Ramen at Gogyu in Tokyo

“Burnt-style” Miso Ramen at Gogyu in Tokyo


11. Burnt-style Miso Ramen at Gogyu The Japanese love ramen and there are so many creative versions of the dish, especially in Tokyo. One of my favorites was at Gogyo, where the ramen is made with dark seared miso.

Tokoyaki from a street stand in the Dotonburi region of Osaka

Tokoyaki from a street stand in the Dotonburi region of Osaka


12. Takoyaki in Osaka Takoyaki (aka Octopus Balls) are dumplings made of a delicious batter, pieces of diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger and green onion. They are cooked in stalls on the street using special pans and then doused with sauce and bonito flakes. To eat them, you put each piping hot dumpling in your mouth whole using a couple long toothpicks.

Taiyaki from a department store food hall in Kyoto

Taiyaki from a department store food hall in Kyoto


13. Taiyaki Some of the best places in Japan to get food are the elaborate and extensive food halls in the basements of big department stores. One of my favorite treats there are these fish-shaped hot cakes which are prepared fresh right in front of you and filled with custard or sweet red beans.

Mochi Ice Cream

Mochi Ice Cream at Tokyo Station


14. Mochi Ice Cream at Tokyo Station These ice cream treats were truly spectacular. Varieties included Apple Pie, Sweet Potato, Custard Pudding, Caramel Macchiato and Raspberry Mille Feuille. For each piece, the ice cream had one flavor, the mochi casing had another and there was a liquid filling inside the ice cream such as caramel or condensed milk.

Sumo!

Sumo!


Geisha!

Geisha!


Jiro!

Jiro!


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

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Filed under Outside Los Angeles

A Hot Mess

The Boiling Crab
The Boiling Crab feels like a guilty pleasure, not because it’s unhealthy, but because it’s insanely messy. Here’s how it works: You drive to Koreatown, Alhambra or Rowland Heights and wait for an hour or two because this is a popular restaurant chain that doesn’t take reservations. When you’re finally seated, you’re given a bib along with your menu.

Order a cold beer and a couple appetizers. The spicy gumbo and the fried oysters are a good call. But the main attraction here is the peel ‘em and eat ‘em shrimp, four different kinds of crab, crawfish and lobster, all of which are ordered by the pound and placed in clear plastic bags with your choice of seasoning (Rajun Cajun, Garlic Butter and my favorite — Lemon Pepper), and boiled to perfection along with corn on the cob and spicy sausage.

When the bags arrive at your table, the real fun begins. Hands get sullied, propriety is abandoned and chaos ensues in a whirlwind of twisting, cracking, digging and consuming. At the end you’re left with a glorious mess of discarded shells, dekerneled cobs and a mountain of crumpled, sauce-drenched napkins. Give everyone at your table a high five and never speak of this experience again, especially to uptight friends or significant others who frown upon such gluttonous depravity. What happens at The Boiling Crab should stay at The Boiling Crab.

The Boiling Crab is located at 742 W. Valley Blvd. and 33 W. Main Street in Alhambra, 18902 E. Gale Ave. in Rowland Heights and 3377 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles (in Koreatown).

Fried Oysters

Fried Oysters


Gumbo

Gumbo


Cajun Fries

Cajun Fries


Shrimp with Rajun Cajun Seasoning

Shrimp with Rajun Cajun Seasoning


Snow Crab Leg with Lemon Pepper Seasoning, Corn and Sausage

Snow Crab Legs with Lemon Pepper Seasoning, Corn and Sausage


Worth the wait

Bibs are the new must-have fashion accessory.


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


The Boiling Crab on Urbanspoon
Boiling Crab on Urbanspoon
The Boiling Crab on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Alhambra, Koreatown, Rowland Heights

Welcome to the Club

Uni Bowl
Uni (aka Sea Urchin) is one of my favorite luxury ingredients, right up there with foie gras, truffles and lobster tail. So when I heard of Maruhide Uni Club, a new Japanese restaurant in Torrance where almost every dish is made with uni, it was hard to contain my enthusiasm. I was further excited by the fact that this restaurant calls itself a “club.” If Los Angeles had an uni fan club, I could envision myself running for president, or at least sergeant-at-arms. That’s how much I love uni. Naturally I made a beeline down to the South Bay to check it out.

Maruhide Uni Club is owned by a processing company and wholesaler of Santa Barbara uni. As a result, the uni at the restaurant is super fresh and the same quality you would get from a high end sushi restaurant. It’s creamy and tastes of the ocean (but not in a fishy way) with a slight sweetness and nuttiness. Dishes at Maruhide Uni Club include an Uni Rice Bowl, Uni Soup, Shrimp and Scallop Gratin with uni on top, Uni Croquettes, Tuna and Uni Carpaccio, Uni Omlette and a Marinated Uni and Squid Roll; basically everything except for Uni Ice Cream.

But while I love the concept of the restaurant and the food was surprisingly inexpensive for the generous amounts of uni in each dish, I didn’t love Maruhide Uni Club as much as I thought I would. Despite the use of one great ingredient, the dishes I had were, on the whole, disappointing. Also, the restaurant’s decor left a lot to be desired; it looks like it was decorated by Levitz and Lamps Plus. Service was not great either. Maybe I’ll bring these things up at the next club meeting…

Maruhide Uni Club is located at 2130 W. Redondo Beach Blvd., Torrance.

Scallop and Uni Carpaccio

Scallop and Uni Carpaccio


Marinated Sea Urchin with Squid Roll

Marinated Sea Urchin with Squid Roll


Sea Urchin Cream Pasta

Sea Urchin Cream Pasta


Uni to go

Uni to go


Looks like it was decorated by Levitz and Lamps Plus

Looks like it was decorated by Levitz and Lamps Plus



Maruhide Uni Club on Urbanspoon

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Don’t Wear Your Lederhosen

Original Vienna Schnitzel with Lemon, Lingonberries and Potato Salad

Original Vienna Schnitzel with Lemon, Lingonberries and Potato Salad

BierBeisl in Beverly Hills gets an “A” for authenticity. For a place that serves sausages and beer, it has a surprisingly formal and corporate vibe that initially turned me off. It’s more like the von Trapp household when the Baron made his children march in unison to his whistle commands, then the lovefest when Julie Andrews shows up, dresses everyone in curtains and gets them singing about small white Austrian flowers. But then I remembered that the upscale restaurants I’ve dined at in Austria exude the same sort of feeling.

The food at BierBiesl is wunderbar. The star offering is the schnitzel, the national dish of Austria. Just like the schnitzel you would find in Vienna, tender veal (or pork or turkey if you prefer) is pounded flat, breaded, fried to a golden crisp and served with a lemon, tart and sweet lingonberries and potato salad. It’s salty, crunchy and über-delicious. I also recommend the sausages, especially the Kasekrainer which has melted Swiss cheese oozing out of it and is served with spicy tarragon mustard and freshly grated horseradish.

For dessert, the delicately layered Apple Strudel with Vanilla Ice Cream is a must have. To drink, I recommend starting with a Stiegl Radler, which is half beer and half grapefruit soda, before moving on to one of BierBeisl’s many Austrian beers or wines. After a few drinks, you may feel the urge to start singing about small white Austrian flowers too.

BierBeisl is located at 9669 Little Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills.

Bread with Potato Spread

Bread with Potato Spread


Kasekrainer infused with Swiss Cheese and served with Tarragon Mustard and Fresh Horseradish

Kasekrainer infused with Swiss Cheese and served with Tarragon Mustard and Fresh Horseradish


Sauteed Veal Sweetbreads with Salsify, Yukon Gold Potatoes, Quail Egg, Melted Leeks and Black Truffle Oil

Sauteed Veal Sweetbreads with Salsify, Yukon Gold Potatoes, Quail Egg, Melted Leeks and Black Truffle Oil

Apple Strudel with Vanilla Ice Cream

Apple Strudel with Vanilla Ice Cream


Prost!

Prost!



BierBeisl Authentic Austrian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Jewish Soul Food — A Guide for Goyim

Delicatessen
Oy Gevalt! We’ve heard a lot lately about how Jewish delicatessens are a dying breed in New York. But here in LA, delis are holding their ground, and perhaps even thriving. Yes, iconic deli Junior’s in Westwood closed at the beginning of the year, but it was immediately replaced by Lenny’s Deli, which doesn’t seem that different.

While adventurous Angelenos love checking out restaurants that serve exotic cuisines they are not familiar with like Bolivian, Laotian and Napalese, many don’t realize that beyond the sandwiches and bowls of matzo ball soup, Jewish delis offer delectable Eastern European specialties unfamiliar to a lot of foodies, especially non-Jews. Below are some of my favorites.

As for the best places to consume these dishes, there are many divergent views in the LA Jewish community, which reminds me of the saying “With two Jews, you get three opinions.” Brent’s (in Northridge and Westlake Village) is my favorite Jewish deli in the city and has the best food overall. I also love Canter’s on Fairfax, especially because of its excellent bakery, its cool retro look and the fact that it’s open 24 hours for late night noshing and kibitzing. Langer’s (Downtown) ranks next on my list because of its amazing pastrami. My other favorites are Billy’s (in Glendale and Torrance), Nate ‘n Al (in Beverly Hills) and Greenblatt’s (in West Hollywood).

Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup

Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup from Brent’s Deli


1. Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup Every fresser and his brother orders Matzo Ball Soup at a deli, but I prefer this hearty soup instead. The best versions contain succulent pieces of braised short rib called “flanken.”

Kasha Varnishkes

Kasha Varnishkes from Langer’s Delicatessen-Restaurant


2. Kasha Varnishkes Like two inseparable Jewish friends from the old country, this dish is a classic combination of Kasha, a cereal usually made of buckwheat, and buttery bowtie pasta.

Cheese Blintzes

Cheese Blintzes from Brent’s Deli


3. Blintzes These are thin crepes wrapped around a filling, which is usually sweetened ricotta or farmer’s cheese, but can also be potato, blueberry or cherry. They’re topped with powdered sugar and served with sour cream and jam.

Bubbe made a kishka

Bubbe made a Kishka! But this one is from Brent’s Deli.


4. Kishka aka Stuffed Derma This was made with cow intestines back in the day, but now it has a sausage casing and is stuffed with a filling of flour, carrots, onions, celery and paprika. It tastes like stuffing and is usually served with gravy.

What am I?  Chopped Liver?

What am I? Chopped Liver? Yes, from Canter’s Deli.


5. Chopped Liver Schmear some on a slice of freshly baked rye bread and place a piece of raw onion on top and you’re in business. I also like to eat my chopped liver with hot and sweet mustard.

Fried Kreplach with Gravy from Brent's Deli

Fried Kreplach with Gravy from Brent’s Deli


6. Fried Kreplach A kreplach is a dense doughy dumpling filled with ground meat. It’s often served in a bowl of chicken soup instead of a matzo ball. Kreplachs are amazing fried up and topped with sauteed onions.

Beef Knish from Billy's Deli & Cafe

Beef Knish from Billy’s Deli & Cafe


7. Knish This is essentially a little baked hand pie made with a thin layer of dough surrounding a filling of either mashed potatoes, ground meat, kasha, sauerkraut, mashed sweet potatoes or cheese.

Stuffed Cabbage from Canter's Deli

Stuffed Cabbage from Canter’s Deli


8. Stuffed Cabbage aka Holishkes It can be described as meatloaf which has been wrapped in cabbage and cooked in a sweet and sour sauce. What’s not to like?

Black & White Cookie

Black & White Cookie from Brent’s Deli


9. Black & White Cookie Really more cake than cookie, this saucer-shaped treat has chocolate icing on one half and vanilla icing on the other half. Jerry Seinfeld referred to these cookies as “two races of flavor living side by side in harmony.”

Poppyseed Hamataschen from Brent's Deli

Poppyseed Hamataschen from Brent’s Deli


10. Hamantaschen My favorite Jewish bakery dessert is named after the triangular hat of a real life villain named Haman who tried to exterminate the Jews in ancient Persia. We celebrate his defeat by “eating his hat.” These cookies have fillings such as apricot, prune, cherry, chocolate or my favorite — poppyseed.

Halvah

Halvah

11. Halvah This dense and flakey confection made with sesame seeds is an acquired taste. You can usually find them at the deli cashier’s counter next to chocolate covered raspberry jelly candies.

Dr. Brown's Soda

Dr. Brown’s Soda


12. Dr. Brown’s Soda This is the drink of choice at a Jewish deli. The flavors are Black Cherry, Cream or Cel-Ray, an old school celery seed soda that was originally developed as a tonic to promote good health. L’Chayim!

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

Brent's Deli on Urbanspoon
Canter's Deli on Urbanspoon
Brent's Deli on Urbanspoon
Langer's Deli on Urbanspoon
Greenblatt's Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Beverly Hills, Glendale, Mid-City, Northridge, Torrance, West Hollywood, Westwood